Archive for December, 2003

The Laughing Wolf tells a tale of being evil at Christmas by messing with the head of a very young child. I don’t think that’s particularly evil, nor is it really Christmas-related save in the sense that it happened at Christmas.

If I wanted to perpetrate some Holiday Evil, I’d do it on Halloween. One obvious maneuver would be to buy some really good candy (something like full-size candy bars) and make a small tear in the wrapper of each one. Kids are psyched because they got a piece of great candy, and then crushed when their safety-conscious parents take it away because it might have been tampered with. This takes the virtues of the parents and the focus of the holiday and twists them into a tool for sowing family dissent. A bonus is that the younger the child the more hurtful the result.

Now that’s being evil for the holidays.

(For the record, I’ve never done this, or anything remotely like it, and I never will. Anybody who would actually do this is one sick little monkey.)

My stance against illegal immigration has earned the animosity of some people who read my blog, as you can see from comments on some of the entries. In case you ever wondered if such people are all talk and no action, you can rest assured that physical threats are not beneath them.

Tim Bueler, a high school student in California, has discovered that publicly endorsing a crackdown in illegal immigration not only gets him in trouble, but the teachers threaten him too:

The 17-year-old junior says that stance inspired threats from which teachers have refused to protect him. Some faculty members even started a public campaign against his group, which seeks to promote “the pillars of the Bible, patriotism and conservative beliefs as balance to the mostly liberal viewpoints of teachers,” according to its newsletter, “The Conservative Agenda.”

Earlier, he said he was eating lunch in a classroom when about seven Hispanic students surrounded him. Worried for Tim’s safety, his father, Dennis Bueler, said he asked for help from a teacher who was also in the room.

“The teacher told him, ‘When you say things like that, you’ve got to expect that things like this are going to happen. Why don’t you go out the back door?’ ” Mr. Bueler said in recounting the incident.

The teachers not only refuse to protect this kid, but they join with his tormentors in harassing him:

Tim said teachers have also joined in the name-calling. One called Tim a Nazi, while another described the club as “a bunch of bigots.” In a parody of the newsletter, biology teacher Mark Alton called on students to “take a stand against the neoconservative wing-nuts who call themselves Americans.”

This same Mark Alton makes an interesting statement about this situation:

“No one at the high school opposes the formation of the Conservative Club,” Mr. Alton said. “What bothers me is the extreme views that border on racism or homophobia, the negative tone, and the hot line that calls teachers ‘traitors.’ “

Can’t have people actually saying what they think, now, can we?

Well you know, Mr. Alton, that’s just talk. Free speech you know. But this physical harassment thing, and teachers refusing to protect the physical safety of students, and implicitly condoning these threats, is a little beyond the pale. Don’t you think? It’s the responsibility of teachers in a public school to behave objectively within the context of their profession, and to make sure their students have a safe place in which to learn and develop their minds.

Don’t you think?

And what’s this with “extreme views that border on racism or homophobia”? Are you saying that they don’t actually rise to the level of racism or homophobia? Even if they do, what are you worried about? That people might actually talk openly about something that makes you uncomfortable?

Let’s suppose for a moment that a Hispanic student had published something that offended a few white kids, and those white kids began harassing the Hispanic student. What do you think would happen? Would the results be the same as they have been for Tim Bueler? I don’t think I have to elaborate.

Man, why does the word “Nazi” always come up in these things? We should have a rule in public discourse like the custom that’s been used on Internet forums for many years. The rule is: whenever there’s a flamewar, as soon as somebody mentions Hitler, it means that the conversation has degraded to the point where the only thing going on is namecalling and personal insults, and the discussion is therefore automatically over. This is also known as the “Hitler Hitler Hitler” rule, since a second custom evolved in which people would type the name 3 times in order to halt a flamewar they believed had gotten out of hand.

And these so-called “liberals” want me to believe that they are champions of free speech and diversity? That they tolerate all beliefs and cultures? That they are the future of enlightened society?

Looks to me like a big step backwards, historically speaking. It’s called racism, dictatorship, and oppression.

Hitler Hitler Hitler.

Kyle adds: Speaking as someone who read Usenet pretty consistently from 1989 through to about a year ago, I have to make two minor corrections to the above. First, the rule Anne refers to is known as “Godwin’s Law”. Second, there is a corollary saying that any attempt to invoke Godwin’s Law deliberately is doomed to failure.

That said, pretty much everything else she says above is bang-on, IMHO. No student should have to be physically afraid at school. Sadly, a lot of school administrators seem more interested in playing stupid power games than in doing their jobs. This was true when I was in high school and it only seems to be worse today.

Once again reality collides with Michael Jackson’s personal world bubble. In his recent interview on 60 Minutes, he made a number of claims that are manifestly false:

“They were supposed to go in, and just check fingerprints, and do the whole thing that they do when they take somebody in. They manhandled me very roughly. My shoulder is dislocated, literally. It’s hurting me very badly. I’m in pain all the time. This is, see this arm? This is as far as I can reach it. Same with this side over here.”

The police, however, have pretty convincing evidence to the contrary:

“Mr. Jackson was treated with courtesy and professionalism throughout the arrest and booking process,” according to a statement posted yesterday afternoon on Sheriff James Anderson’s official Web site, sbsheriff.org.

“Both his attorney and his personal security thanked the Sheriff’s Department for the level of cooperation and professionalism demonstrated throughout the process.”

“I am not saying he did not dislocate his shoulders, but as he walked out of the jail, he raised both shoulders giving peace signs to media,” [Retired Sheriff Jim] Thomas said. “Both arms; no wince of pain or anything else. It does not connect with me.

Also, and this is pretty important, the police videotaped the entire booking process. It was also witnessed by about 20 people, including some inmates. That wasn’t the only mistreatment Jackson alleged, either:

MICHAEL JACKSON: Then one time, I asked to use the restroom. And they said, “Sure, it’s right around the corner there.” Once I went in the restroom, they locked me in there for like 45 minutes. There was doo doo, feces thrown all over the walls, the floor, the ceiling. And it stunk so bad. Then one of the policemen came by the window. And he made a sarcastic remark. He said, “Smell — does it smell good enough for you in there? How do you like the smell? Is it good?” And I just simply said, “It’s alright. It’s okay.” So, I just sat there, and waited.

ED BRADLEY: For 45 minutes?

MICHAEL JACKSON: Yeah, for 45 minutes. About 45 minutes. And then — then one cop would — come by, and say, “Oh, you’ll be out in — in a second. You’ll be out in a second.” Then there would be another ten minutes added on, then another 15 minutes added on. They did this on purpose.

First of all, his booking only lasted 35 minutes total, so that 45 minutes is obviously exaggerated. Did Michael have a watch with him in the bathroom? I doubt it. The condition of the bathroom itself is also highly suspect:

“There are no bathrooms like that there. Jails don’t smell that great, but there would not be a bathroom with stuff like that on the sides and floors.”

Regarding the search of his property at Neverland Ranch, Jackson is apparently extremely miffed that the police, well, searched:

“My room is a complete wreck. . .And they had 80 policemen in this room, 80 policemen in one bedroom. That’s really overdoing it. They took knives, and cut open my mattresses with knives. . . I’m not sure what they took. They never gave me a list. . . They had the whole house to themselves to do whatever they wanted. And — they totally took advantage. They went into areas they weren’t supposed to go into — like my office. They didn’t have search warrants for those places.”

Lemme ‘splain something to you, Michael. A search warrant entitles search of the entire property for which it’s issued. If your ranch was on that warrant (which it was), the police can go wherever they damn well feel like to search it. There’s no such thing as “places they’re not supposed to go.”

Cutting up mattresses in sex cases is pretty routine, because a mattress can contain physical evidence (blood, semen) that may be used against the suspect in a trial.

The claim of 80 policemen in one room is ridiculous. Unless Jackson has a bedroom the size of the Santa Clara convention center, 80 cops in one room would get in each other’s way. They wouldn’t be able to search because they’d be too busy elbowing each other.

As to the accusation that he was not provided with a list of the seized items:

“Someone was given a list. If they had not, you’d hear [Jackson’s lawyer] Geragos screaming about it.”

Perhaps Michael himself has not seen that list. But that doesn’t mean one was not provided. California law requires a list of items seized in a search warrant to be provided, and there’s no reason not to do so in this case. Plus, as pointed out, if that were true, plenty more people than Jackson would be screeching about it.

So what do we have here? Is Michael Jackson consciously lying in order to make himself out to be the victim that he so loves being? Or is all of this true within the confines of his own little, warped world?

It may all be a matter of perception. Jackson claims that his mugshot and booking was an attempt to belittle and humiliate him. Of course, everybody who gets arrested goes through that same process, but he’s Michael Jackson. Isn’t he entitled to special treatment because he’s rich and famous? Of course not. Being arrested is not supposed to be a dignified event. A little humility is certainly warranted, and perhaps some shame that one has come to the police’s attention, depending on what one is being arrested for.

I’m sure that the jail restroom is not the nicest place in the world. It’s probably old and abused, with fixtures that need to be replaced and/or walls that need to be repainted. It probably smells pretty unpleasant. In short, a far cry from the sort of restroom Michael Jackson is accustomed to using.

But feces smeared on the walls? C’mon. And I don’t believe the accusation that the cops locked him in there and mocked him. A case this high-profile is going to make police be on their best behavior. I’m sure most of them are completely professional the rest of the time, but for this arrestee in particular, they’re not going to do anything to bring attention to themselves or give the public a reason to criticize them. They even videotaped the whole thing.

Now granted, none of this means that Michael Jackson is guilty of the crimes of which he is charged. But a person’s credibility is of vital importance in situations where the only witnesses were the suspect and the victim. Jackson has established here (or re-established, for some of you) that he is not a credible person and cannot be trusted to accurately convey reality.

If Jackson really believes he was mistreated the way he claims, then other aspects of his personal witness must also be suspect. Is he in denial? About more than just his treatment at the hands of the Santa Barbara police? Time will tell.

UPDATE:

Anderson played portions of the video and audio tape capturing parts of Jackson’s transport from Neverland Ranch and his arrival at the sheriff’s office in a private chartered jet. His handcuffing was also shown on video.

But the sheriff said he was treating Jackson’s televised accusation as a formal citizen’s complaint against the department, and as such he has launched a state investigation into the matter.

If the singer’s allegations are found to be untrue after the probe, Anderson said he’ll file a complaint against Jackson for making a groundless accusation against an officer.

Good for them. They shouldn’t let such slander go unpunished. There is also some video available at Fox News.

For two days now I’ve been reading news articles about the 6.7 earthquake in Iran, which has completely destroyed the historic city of Bam and rendered its population of 80,000 either dead or homeless.

Lots of countries are sending aid, even offering to do so before Iran put out a general call for such assistance. Germany, Spain, and Belgium were among the first to respond, along with Russia, Turkey, Canada, Britain, Kuwait, the U.A.E., and the United States (among many others).

Various nations around the world have offered their condolences even if they cannot offer any kind of material aid. Words of sorrow, even if perfunctory, have poured into Tehran.

There is, however, one country that is conspicuously absent from all of these proceedings.

France.

Not a peep in the media about any kind of aid, an expression of sympathy, or even a public statement or a press release. What’s up with that?

I’ve always thought Yoko Ono was nuts. I wasn’t around for the whole Beatles thing, so my perception of it is viewed through the lens of history and conversations with people in my parents’ generation.

But this has me floored.

On one film, for the classic song “#9 Dream,” Ono has edited herself into the original video. There you will find her mouthing the backup vocals that were sung on the original hit recording by Lennon’s girlfriend at that time, May Pang.

None of this comes as any surprise to those who saw the TNT tribute to Lennon in the fall of 2001. Ono edited all the footage of Lennon from his Beatle days so that none of the other Fab Four appeared. And no reference to the Beatles was ever made, as if Lennon had simply arrived on the scene singing “Imagine.”

What is this woman’s deal, anyway? Megalomania? Mental Illness? Greed? All of the above? I have a hard time understanding the motive for this kind of behavior. Did/does she really idolize John Lennon so much? Is there some purely selfish motive such as money? If so, what money are we talking about since presumably she was the beneficiary of Lennon’s estate when he was killed?

Somebody please explain this to me.

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court’s ruling in the case of RIAA vs. Verizon. The issue in dispute is the interpretation of § 512(h) of the Copyright Act. § 512(h) was modified by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. The Circuit Court defines the issue thus in its opinion:


The issue is whether § 512(h) applies to an ISP acting only
as a conduit for data transferred between two internet users,
such as persons sending and receiving e-mail or, as in this
case, sharing P2P files. Verizon contends § 512(h) does not
authorize the issuance of a subpoena to an ISP that transmits
infringing material but does not store any such material on its
servers. The RIAA argues § 512(h) on its face authorizes
the issuance of a subpoena to an ‘‘[internet] service provider’’
without regard to whether the ISP is acting as a conduit for
user-directed communications. We conclude from both the
terms of § 512(h) and the overall structure of § 512 that, as
Verizon contends, a subpoena may be issued only to an ISP
engaged in storing on its servers material that is infringing or
the subject of infringing activity.

Although § 512 on its face does appear to permit subpoena of any ISP involved in any capacity, the law overall is fairly specific. Particularly, §§ 512(a)-(d) are relevant:

(a) . . .A service provider shall not be liable for . . . infringement of copyright by reason of the provider’s transmitting, routing, or providing connections for, material through a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider, or by reason of the intermediate and transient storage of that material in the course of such transmitting, routing, or providing connections. . .

There is much more to the section, which the reader may peruse and I won’t duplicate in full here.

While the RIAA may have a legitimate problem concerning the theft of copyrighted material, the DMCA’s addendum to Copyright Law does not provide any legal basis for compelling an ISP to turn over information regarding the identity of subscribers when that ISP is acting only as a conduit, and is not actually storing or providing illegal material:


Finally, the RIAA argues the definition of ‘‘[internet] service provider’’ in § 512(k)(1)(B) makes § 512(h) applicable to an ISP regardless what function it performs with respect to infringing material – transmitting it per § 512(a), caching it per § 512(b), hosting it per § 512(c), or locating it per § 512(d).

This argument borders upon the silly. The details of this argument need not burden the Federal Reporter, for the specific provisions of § 512(h), which we have just rehearsed, make clear that however broadly ‘‘[internet] service provider’’ is defined in § 512(k)(1)(B), a subpoena may issue to an ISP only under the prescribed conditions regarding notification. Define all the world as an ISP if you like, the validity of a § 512(h) subpoena still depends upon the copyright holder having given the ISP, however defined, a notification effective
under § 512(c)(3)(A). And as we have seen, any notice to an ISP concerning its activity as a mere conduit does not satisfy the condition of § 512(c)(3)(A)(iii) and is therefore ineffective.

In sum, we agree with Verizon that § 512(h) does not by its terms authorize the subpoenas issued here. A § 512(h) subpoena simply cannot meet the notice requirement of § 512(c)(3)(A)(iii).

It must be noted that this court decision does not say that RIAA does not have the legal right to subpoena an ISP that does meet the requirements of § 512(h). In other words, this ruling is not a declaration that the RIAA cannot sue people. It is not a ruling concerning copyrighted material, per se.

This ruling merely states that the DMCA is not legal authorization for some of the stunts the RIAA has been pulling (such as forcing an ISP that is just a conduit and not a host of illegal material to hand over data on its subscribers). The DMCA predates the explosion of P2P file sharing and does not make reference to it.

RIAA has been attempting to lay some kind of legal responsibility on the shoulders of ISPs that are not in violation of the DMCA as written. There is probably also an implicit threat of “give us this information or we’ll sue the ISP, too”. This case only came about because Verizon refused to answer the subpoenas RIAA gave them. Other ISPs had complied with the requests.

It pays to have lawyers who know what they’re talking about.

Michael Jackson has officially been charged with 7 counts of child molestation and 2 counts of “administering an intoxicating agent to a child for purposes of committing a felony”.

Those last 2 charges are interesting, as is the statement in the filing that Jackson had “substantial sexual conduct” with the boy. Fox 411 has reported earlier that the intoxicating agent in question may be wine or sleeping pills.

Ouch. I’ll be interesting in hearing the details of these charges.

…or, “The Return of the King.”

I skinned out of work for the day, hooked up with a couple of former co-workers, and went to see “The Return of the King.” It’s good. Very good. This may be the first film trilogy whose conclusion completely lives up to what went before. It was around 3 and a half hours long, and it was too short. That’s saying something.

Peter Jackson better get his “Best Director” and “Best Picture” Oscars this time around, or I’ll be forced to conclude that Hollywood is filled with idiots. Wait… Hollywood *is* filled with idiots. Well, Jackson better win anyhow.

I’m a little surprised that in this day and age, there are still people who hang out at playhouses and theaters in order to rough up people wearing fur. PETA has nothing better to do, however, which is not a surprise. That they would stoop to such low tactics as these is also not surprising:

Animal rights advocates will single out small children at performances of “The Nutcracker” in the next few weeks by handing out fliers saying “Your Mommy Kills Animals” to youngsters whose mothers are wearing fur.

The fliers include a color drawing of a woman plunging a large bloody knife into the belly of a terrified rabbit. The fliers urge kids to “ask your mommy how many dead animals she killed to make her fur clothes.

“And the sooner she stops wearing fur, the sooner the animals will be safe. Until then, keep your doggie or kitty friends away from mommy – she’s an animal killer.”

This is fucking sick. That’s the only word I can think of for it. Isn’t there some kind of law against accosting children in public places?

Showing a gory, violent drawing of animal slaughter to children, and lying to them about their mothers having personally killed the animals in their fur coat, and that mommy secretly longs to murder the family pets to make fur coats from their pelts? This is beyond disgusting. I’d punch somebody who tried to give something like that to my child.

And what about leather? This article mentions only fur, but leather comes from slaughtered animals, too. There’s a good chance that almost everyone attending that ballet has something on them made of leather; shoes, purse, coat, etc. Why not target them at the same time, and including a nice, juicy drawing of mommy skinning a dead cow?

Why are strangers allowed to bother children like this? Isn’t this illegal? Using kids as pawns in the ideological wars between adults is cowardly and only highlights the lack of a persuasive argument on PETA’s part. Yes, PETA, we get it. We understand you don’t like people wearing fur. We don’t care. Get over it.

Update: More discussion of this here.

Apparently even meteorologists get really bored (which is saying something considering that weather is inherently dull most of the time). NOAA has already taken down the forecast that was posted, but it was this:

NON PRECIPITATION STATEMENT
URGENT – WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE KANSAS CITY-PLEASANT HILL MO
1055 AM CST WED DEC 17 2003

…TEST…TEST…TEST…

.UNUSUALLY HOT WEATHER HAS ENTERED THE REGION FOR DECEMBER…AS THE EARTH HAS LEFT ITS ORBIT AND IS HURLING TOWARD THE SUN.

MOZ012-021-172251-
ANDREW MO-CLINTON MO-
1055 AM CST WED DEC 17 2003

…EXCESSIVE HEAT WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THIS AFTERNOON TO LATE TONIGHT…

UNUSUALLY HOT WEATHER WILL OCCUR FOR AT LEAST THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS AS THE EARTH DRAWS EVER NEARER TO THE SUN. THEREFORE…AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WATCH HAS BEEN POSTED.

STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO AND OTHER LOCAL MEDIA FOR FURTHER DETAILS OR UPDATES.

$$
HEINLEIN
—————————————————————————— —

Why, exactly, this Hazardous Weather outlook would only affect Turney, MO, I’m not sure. But clearly it’s going to be very hot there. Or something.