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Thursday, July 8, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Yet another reminder to bug your local (national, global) politicians about stuff like marriage equality and medical marijuana and all like that. (Assuming you're in a jurisdiction that doesn't already have it right.)

On the other hand I turned away a couple of cute young people who came to the door last night with a Working Families Party petition to raise the New York minimum wage from $5.15 to like $7 or something. I listened to them, but then I said that I've never been sure about raising the minimum wage, since there's an obvious case that it causes suffering in terms of lost jobs, and I wondered if they had a good answer to that worry.

One of the young people said "yeah, it might do that, it's hard to say". The other one said that it's mostly "big companies" that pay minimum wage (and she said "big companies" the way one might say "organized crime" or "Satan"), and since big companies need a certain number of people working for them, they'd have to raise salaries rather than firing people. I found that utterly unconvincing, and said that if I were an employer and some employee was doing me six dollars worth of good every hour, I'd gladly pay that person $5.75, but if I had to play him $7 I'd rather not employ him at all.

They just sort of nodded, and then said "but this effects millions of people now; no one can live on $5.15". I said that it's also hard to live with no income at all, and they agreed with that. So I said that while I admired their dedication I wasn't convinced enough that it's a good idea to sign their petition. We parted amicably.

Now if those kids had had their factsheets ready, and could have told me about all the places similar to New York where minimum wages had been raised without significant job losses, they might (might) have gotten me aboard.

Complicated place, the world.

Bill points to a new Vernor Vinge story in the Fairmont High setting. Good stuff (and short). Last time I talked to Vinge (heh heh what a great phrase) he said that his next novel (which was at the time expected out in Spring 2005) would be in that setting; so maybe this one and Fast Times at Fairmont High itself will be chapters in it.

Bill's pointer led me to a bit of reading and surfing around about Vinge and the stories and myself and so on, and when I surfaced out of that net-fugue I felt the mild "what am I supposed to be doing here again?" disorientation that I sometimes feel when surfacing, along with the vague twinge of guilt that I hadn't been doing something more worthwhile.

One of the things about the Vingeian universe is that the stuff that one does (or that many people do) when down in the net-fugue is in fact worthwhile, in the strict remunerative sense (i.e. it helps pay the bills). Some bits of my job are quite wired, but I'm not a professional knowlege-broker to the extent that I can pay the bills by just following my momentary interest around the Web and (say) writing a Weblog about my findings. Or maybe I'm just not brave enough to try to make a living that way. *8).

Since Plurp seems to have forgotten his duties, Cthulhu-watching chores fall to the rest of us. Long Story Short Pier points us at The LiveJournal of Zachary Marsh:

This morning the authorities entered the home on Babson and found it deserted, the floors slick with mud and seaweed. On the computer was the LiveJournal of Zachary Marsh, with a notice reading "Update Successful."

And while we're poaching links from lssp, here's an interesting item from volokh on the legal meaning of "prurient" (which is relevant to our perennial wondering about the Porn Exception to the First Amendment). It's not surprising that this is puzzling, since even the Justices can't seem to keep the Official Meaning of the word straight.

And in our final poached link, yet another annoyingly exquisite weblog that I'm forced to add to my already too large list of feeds. Very good microfiction. Or something. Recommended for, say, fans of Kafka and Yourgrau. And everybody.

More evidence that everything is on the Web: a wiki about TV clichés (well, tropes). Fun reading, actually. Found while doing my usual tour of the reviews after watching an episode of Babylon 5 on DVD. (The episode "And Now for a Word" is an example of The Documentary.)

Dutch brothels may get "seal of quality". (Insert obvious joke about the uses of seals in brothels here.) That annoying Dutch sanity again; they trying to make the U.S. look bad?

No special reason, I just like the design.  And I've been idealizing Vermont lately.

More poetry from spam subject lines:

Kharkov, in the apartment
is the most terrible
tapping the glass with
Re: announce the sentence in
Re: my novel without trembling.
Meigel? I'm listening. Yes.
His powers of observation
Re: crowd, which produced the
about this Lovelace, unless
costs thirteen roubles fifteen
demanded an immediate miracle
Re: The pious, or, to
Re: The pious, or, to
clock stopped. Hella, whose
Re: Maximilian Andreevich was considered
with hatred repeated his
Re: But me procurator, motionless
Re: floor, began muttering something,
local authorities and condemned
Re: and high boots, probably
Sadn! Glowing! Satin! And

Yeah, kinda long and not of the highest quality. But I'm listening. Yes.

A reader writes:

How about my 2 fave spam subject lines this week, clearly related: (1) "dont ask me that clod forbear" followed immediately by "dont ask me that chlordane spumoni".

We got some from that generator also! Some samples:

dont ask me that protrusive cabana
live large mississippian speedometer
my day is better now speakeasy hookworm
you are an exception inflationary lopseed
if only you had added gogh
its way better now cormorant celibacy
now that i am ocelot phosphor

Don't ask me that protrusive cabana. It's way better now, cormorant celibacy, now that I am ocelot phosphor. If only you had added Gogh.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Just a brief note on that there INDUCE Act that I mentioned yesterday.

I noticed that Senator Leahy, who usually has some clue, is one of the sponsors. So I looked it up and found this statement:

The law only penalizes those who intentionally induce others to infringe copyrights. Thus, the makers of electronic equipment, the software vendors who sell email and other programs, the Internet service providers who facilitate access to the Web - all of these entities have nothing to fear from this bill. So long as they do not conduct their businesses with the intention of inducing others to break the law - and I certainly have not heard from anyone who makes that claim - they should rest easy.

This sounded a bit Bowl of Cherries, and a quick look around found that others had the same impression:

Leahy is a condescending fool to offer such a glib reassurance. Copyright law should be radically revised because he hasn't heard that the consequences would get out of hand? Besides Leahy's eye-popping arrogance, he misses the point. With the so-called Induce Act as law, no technology company in the country would dare innovate new products such as TiVo or MP3 players. The bill would place the future of technology directly in the hands of content companies like Disney and Warner Brothers Music, who could (and certainly would) slam lawsuits into any new service or consumer electronics product that threatened their status quo.

So is it just a straightforward clarification of copyright law along the lines of existing patent law, as Leahy's statement says? Or is it a radical revision of copyright law, playing into the hands of the content consortium? Or is it perhaps a superficially reasonable law that could be abused? Or even a superficially reasonable law that's designed to be abused?

Well, if this is actually the entire act, it's pretty short. Should be obvious what it does, eh?

Or not.

The fake complaint page on the EFF site has a pretty succinct analysis of why they're worried. In particular, they're worried that the act would get rid of the current case law, which says that a Thingie is okay if it has "substantial non-infringing uses", even if it also has infringing ones. INDUCE, they fear, would replace this test with something more abusable.

And they give a pretty convincing (to my untutored mind) and extremely concrete example of how the Consortium might abuse it (talk about Open Source Law).

I'm pretty convinced. I wonder about Leahy...

Monday, July 5, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

Won't you take me down
  to Funky Town?

Given my rather pathetic posting history lately, it may not have occurred to even the most devoted and long-time readers that the most recent silence was due to the Sixth Annual July Fourth Outing.

But it was. Honest!

Just me and the little boy again, and this time neither horrible heat nor drenching rain nor even more than bearable numbers of bugs. Lots of fun (the pool on Friday, the ocean on Saturday, a water park on Sunday), the main imperfection being that we had to leave before fireworks on Sunday (and so we watched them at home, all three of us including M piled onto the big bed, which wasn't bad either).

Before we drove down I went through my Log entries for all the previous years which have log entries (all cleverly chain-linked together) to see if there was anything I shouldn't forget to take. That went pretty well, and I thought of a few things, but...

Memo to future selves reading this in early July to get ready for that year's outing: bring food. I mean, usually we forget to bring very much food, but this year I brought hardly at all (except for some salsa and chips and soda and some homemade fudge) and had to mooch off the other families (there were five other families this year) even more than usual.

So: bring some dry cereal for breakfasts, bring sandwiches for the first day's lunch and/or dinner (according to timing), bring fruit, bring bread and peanut butter and jelly in the cooler, bring some knives and forks and a coffee mug and some cups, bring some raisins, some crackers, some of whatever's lying around the kitchen that doesn't need freezing or cooking.


A couple of foam pads couldn't hurt, either. It's Manly to sleep on the tent floor with just a sleeping bag, but it's also more painful than it really needs to be. People don't really seem to have been designed to sleep on hard things (I mean, if that had been a design point there are just a couple of smallish spots where just a little more padding would have helped alot).

Oh, and that quote up there is because we listened to the Shreck 2 soundtrack CD in both directions in the car. It's a good soundtrack. Pretty good movie also (the three of us saw it this afternoon). Funny and all.

A few links I have lying around here waiting to be logged:

Oppose writing bigotry into the Constitution some more.

Good Salon article about yet another clued-sounding person saying that the current Weight Panic is just stupid. This is one of those cases where I don't actually have primary evidence one way or the other (i.e. I haven't studied the studies), but the people on one side seem to have their heads on so much straighter than the people on the other.

Another Salon article about the recent Supreme Court decisions relevant to the issue of whether the President can randomly lock people up without having to tell anyone why.

The last big raft of Scotus decisions had lots of good reading and thinking material that I still haven't given enough attention to. See for instance the Scalia and Stevens dissent in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld; given that I generally think Scalia is (roughly) a theo-fascist loon, I feel obliged to point out that he's on the side of liberty here, at least for U.S. citizens. See in particular his understated "The case was not this Court's finest hour" in reference to the one time the Supremes said something that might be read as authorizing treating a citizen as an "illegal combatant".

And of course see also Ashcroft v. ACLU, where COPA lost yet again. Another interesting dissent here; in this case J. Breyer worrying that the opinion, while on the face of it a victory for freedom of expression, might in fact result in less freedom of expression for pragmatic reasons. I really need to read this more carefully.

No doubt you know that Nader's campaign is financed by the Republicans (Salon again; I hope y'all can read these things even if you don't have Premium Memberships or whatever it is that I vaguely think I have).

And finally, remember the DTPA? We're getting there:

What is the INDUCE Act?
JUNE 28, 2004: The INDUCE Act is legislation being pushed by the record industry that would allow them to file lawsuits against companies that make unrestricted music hardware or software, such as the iPod or filesharing programs. The INDUCE Act will restrict technological innovation, limit free speech, and threaten one of the most vibrant sectors of the United States economy. Instead of taking advantage of new opportunities to build new business models, the record industry is pressuring Congress to stop music sharing with more lawsuits and regulation.

Is the iPod really at risk?
Yes! The INDUCE Act would create liability for any company whose product could be used to copy music without permission from the record industry.

Funky Town!


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