Tuesday, 19 May 2009

In Passing

Warning: Administration to make crime “illegal”

Well, duh!  Dept.

The Washington Post
Amnesty International and immigrant advocates warn that the change could lead to immigration checks in other arenas and the “criminalization” of illegal immigration.
I thought that was why it’s called “illegal”.

Via:  Daily Pundit and The Corner

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Monday, 18 May 2009

The Press

Lawyers stuck on stupid

Oh joy:  Two more lawyers who haven’t figured out that internet thingy:

Google’s products (and profit) would look a lot different if, for example, the law said it had to obtain copyright permissions in order to copy
I wonder if anybody has ever explained to these guys that whenever somebody loads a web page, their browser makes a copy of it, and what’s more, the browser might even keep a copy (in cache) after the page is closed.  Just think of all those millions of “unauthorized” copies that might be lurking around the web!  Horrors!

(Yes, the likely target here is Google’s cache function, which is defeatable, and which becomes remarkably useful when somebody- most often a news organization- “disappears” a URL.)
and index Web sites. Search engines have instead required copyright holders to “opt out” of their digital dragnets, and so far their market power has allowed them to get away with it...
No, “market power” has nothing to do with it: That’s the way the internet works.  Put up a page, and it’s world readable- unless you take measures to block it.  Don’t like the rules, go start your own network.
Publishers should not have to choose between protecting their copyrights and shunning the search-engine databases that map the Internet.  Journalism therefore needs a bright line imposed by statute: that the taking of entire Web pages by search engines, which is what powers their search functions, is not fair use but infringement.
Erm... lets parse that one carefully: “not have to choose...” “protecting copyright...” “map the internet.”  So: You do want the pages to show up when someone looks for them, right?  Well, I must admit that I’m not clever enough to figure out a way to index a page without reading its entirety... mental telepathy, perhaps?  (But then I’m not a lawyer...)
Such a rule would be no more bold a step than the one Congress took in 1996 rewriting centuries of traditional libel law for the benefit of tech start-ups.
Yeah, all those “tech start-ups” like AT&T.  Why, it was just awful how the phone company used to get put in jail every time somebody used its lines for unlawful purposes.  Good thing they fixed that![1]
It would take away from search engines the “just opt out” mantra -- repeated by Google's witness during the Kerry hearings -- and force them to negotiate with copyright holders over the value of their content.
As if Google is going to pay somebody for permission to index their pages.  Guys, that’s long gone.  What Google ought to be doing is charging websites to be included in the index.  Let’s remember who is getting the real benefit here.

No, what this would do is remove all copyright-protected content from search results.  You know, content which, I assume, the owner put on the web with the intention that someone would access it.  Otherwise, why put it on the web in the first place?  Because if you didn’t want anyone to look at it...

Doctor, I’m confused!

These guys also suggest some equally lame non-internet legislation in the name of “saving journalism:”
Federalize the "hot news" doctrine.  This doctrine protects against types of poaching that copyright might not cover -- the stealing of information not by direct copying but simply by taking the guts of the content.
As if the legacy media don’t spend most of their time copying each other (when not copying The New York Times).  Still wanna make that illegal?  Fine.  I just want the popcorn concession down at the courthouse, where I’ll eagerly await the prosecution of the next network to build a breaking story by stealing somebody’s Twitter tweet.
Eliminate ownership restrictions...  Congress should abolish caps on ownership of broadcast stations and bars on newspaper and television ownership in the same market.
Because we all know how well consolidation worked for the radio and music businesses.
Use tax policy to promote the press.
Ummm... no.
Grant an antitrust exemption...  Antitrust immunity is necessary because most individual news sites can’t go it alone by walling off their content for fees -- readers will simply jump to sites that are still free.
Yeah, How Dare those Readers Take Advantage Of a Good Deal?  This sounds more like “government-imposed charges for content” to me.  Because all the antitrust immunity in the world won’t protect the Content Cartel from the first competitor who figures out how to make free content pay for itself.

(I swear, if this is what passes for legal reasoning today, I shoulda gone to law school.)



Via:  Radley via Roberta
[1]  Yes, I know the DMCA had nothing to do with the phone company.  But it applied longstanding common-carrier immunity precedents to the internet, since the internet people had this problem with being made common carriers.  So...

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In Passing

Den Beste notes the CSM noticing gun bloggers...

... and takes on Brian Anse Patrick:

“Common sense”?  What an arrogant prick. Who says that it’s “common sense” that more gun control is better?

Besides which, he’s being redundant.  His “conventional wisdom” and “elite opinion” are the same thing, because it’s clear he thinks “conventional wisdom” comes from the elite.  It was never “conventional wisdom” among the masses that more gun control was a thing to be desired.
Early on, the RKBA folks were forced to argue uphill, against elite opinion reinforced by media bias and ignorance.  In a classic example of “what does not kill me makes me stronger,” they had to refine their arguments, back them up with facts, and make their case to the uninvolved one-at-a-time, with no help (indeed, with hostility) from the establishment press.  Meanwhile the “established experts” on the gun-control side had their often-erroneous “conventional wisdom” and sloppy arguments accepted without question by a complaisant press and political establishment.

It’s easy– and incomplete– to say the change in the legal climate was “all because of the internet.”  Easy, because the effects of the internet are obvious: A self-organized interest/advocacy community, wide availability of hard data and scholarly opinion, and the ability to “route around” the established gatekeepers and agenda-setters.  Incomplete, because it ignores the fact that the National Rifle Association was already an important political force at the time the internet was just getting started.

Out of necessity, the NRA’s political action was mostly reactive, although vital: By monitoring congressional performance and reporting it to its members, the NRA made it politically dangerous to vote for new gun control measures.  But once the NRA’s clout had been demonstrated, the MSM scrambled to paint it as a bunch of “gun nuts” (meanwhile accepting without question the latest statements from the Brady Campaign).

But then came the internet, and, IMO, its most important consequence, which Den Beste nicely nails in one of the comments:
...the dissolution of anti-gun peer pressure. When you can get online and find hundreds or thousands of other people who, like you, feel guns should not be banned and who, unlike you, are vocal about it and unashamed, it becomes easier to become vocal yourself and to stop being ashamed of what you think.
And that applied to scholars, intellectuals, and law professors, not just ordinary citizens. As the internet overthrew the MSM’s characterizations, RKBA advocates discovered that they weren’t some scattering of wackos, but members of a large body of normal citizens whose thoughts, feelings, and opinions on this issue were largely in agreement. By creating legitimacy, the internet made it easier for RKBA to make the transition from being a defensive, holding movent to being a pro-active one.  And thanks to their prior baptism of fire, its members already had the legal, logical, and political arguments that would defeat the anti-gunners.

Perhaps there’s a lesson for conservatives here.


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Sunday, 17 May 2009


Indy BlogMeet is hours away...

This time beginning at Locally Grown Gardens, ten blocks south of the usual Broad Ripple venues, with a possible move up the Monon to Canterbury Park. 3:00 p.m.  See you there.

Later:  Reports from Roberta X (with pictures promised UPDATE 090519: Oh, they’re over here. • UPDATE 090520: and here.), Tam, Shermlock.  Also present: Joanna, Turk, Shermlock Jr.  (What’s this, no posts since February.  Hey, get back to work!), Shootin’ Buddy, and Mad Jack.  In spirit: Nathan.

I’ll second Roberta’s “sky as clear and burnished blue as a fine ceramic bowl.”  After last week’s rains, Sunday was one of those spring days when the air is absolutely clear, the humidity low, and the sun bright:  You could count the leaves on the trees across the way, if you had wanted to, and could sit in the direct sun without discomfort.  Was wearing a sweater, but still picked up a bit of tan on my peripheries.

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Saturday, 16 May 2009


Loud noises heard from the back room

...thumps, bangs, and occasional curses.

(Later:  It’s late Sunday morning, and we’re still here!)

So we’ll hang up the notice again, just in case:


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“Statue of Limitations”

It was a life-size rendering of Al, dressed in a toga and wearing a laurel wreath.  In one hand, he held a thermometer (reading 85 degrees, Fahrenheit) and in the other, a globe (it appeared that the Arctic polar cap was melting, but the first thing that popped into my head was a recollection of the logo of the Sherwin-Williams paint company – you know, the picture of an upturned can of red paint slopping its contents over the earth).  To complete this comedy in bronze, there was a bird standing on one shoulder. I guess it was supposed to be a dove, but it looked more like an oxpecker, to me: the kind of bird that eats ticks off the backs of rhinos.
...and what’s more, it’s vanished!

But do not despair, America!  Detective Paco is on the case.

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Long way down...

The observation level of Moscow’s Ostankino TV tower has re-opened, and a few days ago Victor rode up 337 meters to take some pictures.

[Google translation]


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Wednesday, 13 May 2009

In Passing

Once you’ve met your backup ammo requirements...

...you may want to start stocking up on light bulbs.

“In the U.S., 78 percent of the public is completely unaware that traditional light bulbs will be phased out in 2012,” said Charles F. Jerabek, president and chief executive of Osram Sylvania, a unit of Siemens.  By law, bulbs must be 30 percent more efficient than current incandescent versions beginning that year. - The New York Times
The targets:  Generally anything 60 watts or greater, including the reflector versions.

And thanks to our Wonderful Government, there are some types which have already disappeared.

Via:  Blair

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Dear Diary...

Looks like a noisy afternoon


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Tuesday, 12 May 2009

In Passing

“Slight” change

The Wall Street Journal:

The Obama administration said Monday that it expected even wider deficits this year and next than previously forecast, and Congress could undermine the administration’s push to narrow the gap by slashing the revenue generated by the president’s plan to curb greenhouse gases.

On Monday, White House budget director Peter Orszag revised the fiscal 2009 deficit upward by $89 billion to $1.84 trillion, 12.9% of the economy.  That is a level not seen since 1945.  Next year’s deficit forecast was raised $87 billion, to $1.26 trillion.
Looks like I need to modify that chart a little bit...

Blogger note:  There were two deficit stories on Monday: This one (the White House revision), and the Congressional Budget Office making its March estimate of $1.85 trillion in 2009 and $1.4 trillion in 2010 (charted above) “official.”

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