Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Translation Assistance

Hope you don't need this page, but it's always best to be prepared.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Suggestion For My Atlanta Falcons

....go 0-16 and take Colt Brennan with the first pick of the 2008 draft.

Ten Years For Nothing

People have forgotten about Steve Tucker.

It's because he was in prison for ten years for the crime of "conspiracy to manufacture marijuana", a federal crime that he was prosecuted for despite there being no evidence that he had owned, possessed, used, sold, or transported marijuana. All Steve Tucker did was work at his brother's hydroponics store.

Oh, and he told a DEA agent who wanted to put hidden cameras in the store to go fuck himself.

And it wasn't just Steve. His brother, Gary, died of cancer after being neglected and not getting medical help while serving a 16-year-sentence. Gary's wife, whose only involvement was to do the store's books part-time, was imprisoned, too.

Because they were selling light bulbs. Because they wouldn't roll over and cave in to the threats of DEA thugs.

Click the title for the full story.

Friday, August 17, 2007

We Resemble This Remark

Leadership in this society here would naturally fall to the paranoids. . . . But you see, with paranoids establishing the ideology, the dominant emotional theme would be hate. Actually hate going in two directions; the leadership would hate everyone outside its enclave, and also would take for granted that everyone hated it in return. Therefore their entire so-called foreign policy would be to establish mechanisms by which this supposed hatred directed at them could be fought. And this would involve the entire society in an illusory struggle, a battle against foes that didn’t exist for a victory over nothing.
--Philip K. Dick, Clans of the Alphane Moon, 1964

I stole the quote from an interesting rumination on Dick by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker which comemmorates the publication of some of Dick's best work by the Library of America.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rove Resigns, Sees Opportunities To Maximize Evil In Private Sector


I have grave doubts about this. From today's New York Times article:
...from the time he leaves office, Mr. Rove will no longer have the protection of White House lawyers and will be more on his own when it comes to dealing with Congressional subpoenas
Well, sure, but Bush will just command him not to testify about anything. How convenient. And when he was asked in today's Wall Street Journal whether he was leaving office to avoid scrutiny, Rove replied,"I’m not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob.”

Hi Karl, we're the mob. And while we are provisionally pleased that you are leaving, we have doubts as to whether that matters much at all. Because you'll always be a phone call away from W, who just don't know how to function without his beloved Turdblossom. And now that you're in the "private sector" you can drop even the pretense of conforming to any sort of normative ethical standards.

And the "spending more time with my family" excuse has really become a ritualistic slap in the face.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Get With The Times, NFL

It's 102ยบ outside and football season is almost upon us. Thus, an overheated post about the NFL and the DMCA.

Law professor Wendy Seltzer brilliantly demonstred the down-the-rabbit-hole absurdity of the state of intellectual property law by posting a clip of an NFL broadcast to YouTube for her students' reference. The clip in question is that exact paragraph that NFL fans have mocked as long as it's been on TV -- you know, when the solemn voice intones:
"This telecast is copyrighted by the NFL for the private use of our audience. Any other use of this telecast or of any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game without the NFL's consent, is prohibited."
She posts this to YouTube as an example to her class of a copyright holder overstepping their bounds; think about it -- they're essentially saying that you need their permission to discuss the game with your friends the next day.

And here's where we go down the rabbit hole. Prof. Seltzer is explicitly demonstrating the ideas behind the principle of fair use to her class, so what does the NFL do? Yup, they send YouTube a DMCA takedown notice and YouTube pulls the video. So Prof. Seltzer sends YouTube a counter-notification (.pdf). They put the clip back up.

Great, system worked, right?

Not exactly. Twelve days after the clip was put back up, the NFL sent another takedown notice, and YouTube pulled the clip again. So the NFL leans on YouTube twice to get them to take down an example of how the NFL was already over-reaching as a claimant of copyright. Head-spinning yet?

Well, it just gets worse. The Computer & Communications Industry Association (a trade group with members like Google, Yahoo!, Red Hat, Oracle and Sun that has a sunnily positive attitude toward use of copyrighted material) has petitioned the FCC, and blogs are busily overthinking the matter.

Seems like if the second sentence of the NFL disclaimer read "Any other unauthorized use.." that'd take fair use into account and everyone would be happy. I guess that's too simple.

And in a similar vein: If you are a baseball fan and a stats freak, you have great resources available online. I can lose an afternoon playing with this site, and I'm not even that big a fan.

There's no similar repository for football information, though this site comes close. Or you can get some basic stuff straight from the league. But I'll bet they wouldn't be pleased if I scraped their site and dumped the data into, say, an Excel spreadsheet I could use for fantasy football and team tracking. Why not? That's a perfectly legitimate use of the data, and as long as I'm not selling the spreadsheet, what's the problem?

The problem is that all the major sports statistics are compiled by one company, the Elias Sports Bureau, and they don't let just anyone have it. In fact, their website is like a brick fucking wall that says, "Move along, nothing here to see." So fans have to compile their own stats, and there is no quality control over that data other than a good faith effort.

This is stupid. For every game in every league, there should be a an official file of stats that is not only available but useable by anyone.

So let's start a blog crusade, sports fans! FREE THE STATS!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Agoraphobia! Or Maybe I'm Just Lazy. Or Both.

I find myself increasing reluctant to leave the house. I've never been the hermit type, but with Mom pretty much housebound I find fewer and fewer reasons to go anywhere. I make it to the bank, the post office, and the grocery store, but every excursion is coming to seem like an adrenalin-fueled white-knuckled ordeal instead of just running to the store to buy milk, eggs, and bread.

I hate answering the phone (so I don't), I jump when the doorbell rings, and my daily human contact is usually mediated through the Internet.

That can't be healthy. But I can't join a gym -- when would I go? I'm sure not going to church or signing up for pottery classes. And pretty soon the few friends I have will stop calling when they realize I never answer my cell phone, which has been set to silently vibrate for weeks now.

Oh well. Poor poor me.

Huh. As I typed that, my cell phone rang, and it was my pal Ace who is down here from Yonkers for a couple of weeks to see his parents. He's coming back from Apalachacola and is going to swing by to see me and Mom. Cool! Socialization, and I don't have to leave the house! Best of all possible worlds!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Ending Before It Even Begins



Tyrone Prothro's professional career, that is. With the fifth-year senior being declared "medically ineligible" to play this season, hopes dim that the standout wide reciever and kick returner will ever be able to play football again. Does anyone besides me remember that Alabama had a 31-3 lead over Florida in the middle of the fourth quarter when Shula put Prothro back in? Snaptacular call, Mike. To celebrate what could have been, view the highlight reel, above.

Friday, August 03, 2007

RSSkolnikov

Always wanted to read Crime and Punishment but can't find the time? Break Dostoevsky's 1866 meditation on murder and madness (which was, after all, originally published in serial form) into a more manageable 241 parts and read one a day in your RSS feed at DailyLit.

This is totally gimmicky, but it may be the only way I'll ever be able to make myself read Middlemarch.

On the other hand, it'll be nice to have these guys waiting for me in my browser...