lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
You know, politicians seem to love the pattern: Tragedy! - Something must be done! - This is something, therefor it must be done!

So if I was to say I think our current crop of politicians were making these tragedies more likely to occur by inflaming things... They would be all for having panels set up to investigate them and suggest how to rein in their extremist tendencies, right?

Yeah. Didn't think so. They're only in favor of nonsense when it's pointed by them at others.

Behaving sensibly sadly is about as likely as their pushing to improve mental health care, supporting community policing over antagonistic occupation policing (why yes, our local sheriff does indeed have an armored personnel carrier, not a van with ego issues but an actual APC complete with fifty-caliber machine gun), or put significant increases into basic science and engineering R&D.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
One nifty thing about the United States Constitution is that it is a rather brief and to the point document. For instance, here is Article III Section 3:

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."

Also interesting to note is that like much of the US Constitution it works by restriction. Treason shall be these things and no other: levying war against the US, or adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. Further, you need two eye witnesses or a confession in court. Pretty simple reason, the founding fathers were tired of treason being trotted out as a catch-all, "We the powerful don't like you, so we will call you a traitor for an easy excuse to hang you and defame you." So the highest laws of the US define treason strictly to war against your own country or aiding those at war against your country. If you don't do that you might still be guilty of a crime but you are not a traitor under the law of the land.

And here is Governor Rick Perry who wishes to be president, speaking about Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke. "If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous, or treasonous, in my opinion."

Hmm. Let's see. Is he accusing him (Bernanke) of taking up arms against the United States... hmm. Nope. Ah! Maybe he's saying Bernanke is giving the money to terrorists? Wait, no, he just says printing money, so not even aiding those at war with the United States... Huh. You know, I don't see anything in that statement that meets the requirements in Article III Section 3.

Rick? Do you mind if I call you Rick? Rick, the United States Constitution isn't a difficult document. It's short and to the point. You can carry a copy in your shirt pocket and still have print that isn't hard to read. If you wish to be president I don't think it's much to ask that you read what is the most important key foundational document of the federal government. So how about a deal? You agree to shut up until you have read through it at least once -- come on, you can do it in less than an hour while still taking notes. In return I will stop teasing you for trying to run for president after saying the state you were governor of ought to consider secession as a bargaining position.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
So, we have yet another executive saying we should stop with all this privacy talk. In this case, Randi Zuckerberg who is Marketing Director for facebook. In fact based on what she's said, "I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away. People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. … I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors." (source: blog post on the EFF's website Randi Zuckerberg Runs in the Wrong Direction on Pseudonymity Online) she thinks that people won't misbehave if their real names will be attached to their actions...

rest of rant below cut tl;dr version: I might listen to you if you voluntarily give up all privacy yourself first )
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
Giffords returns to House for debt vote

Gabrielle Giffords missed seven months of work after being shot in the head in a failed assassination attempt (sadly six others did die), but she made it in to give her vote on the debt bill. I am not from Giffords' district, but as and Arizonan I like what I've heard about her.

I find myself wanting a rule that says that members of Congress must inform their constituents of any votes they missed along with the reason for which they missed it. I suspect most of the reasons would fall well short of, "I was undertaking physical rehabilitation after surviving a gunshot to the head." I'll cut off anything else I have to say here before I ruin the moment with ranting about both parties.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
Spurred by some tweets and a LJ posting of [livejournal.com profile] djinni's, comes the idea of the Hot Chocolate Party.

Here is my thoughts on what the position of the Hot Chocolate Party should be.


  • Have a mug of cocoa, it's good for you.

  • We all live here, so remember when you fight, you're fighting with family

  • When the voices get too loud -- come calm down with some hot chocolate, we'll even add your preference of marshmallow (mini's, full size, spoonfuls of fluff)

  • Neither side has a monopoly on truth, both the liberal and conservative world view are valuable


    • One serves to remind us of our values, our history, and tradition

    • One tells us to live up to our values, and considers if some traditions are better left to the past.


  • Chocolate rules! Coffee drools! (Er, wait, that might be a more personal comment there :p)

  • Everything is better with some cocoa (there, that's better).

  • Extremists lead to ruin, no matter which world view they claim to enforce.

  • No, really, we're serious about the cocoa. It's far better we sit and talk than for us to fight, even if we walk away still disagreeing with each other.



In case you're wondering if I'm serious? This is definitely a Ha ha, Only Serious post. One that is both humorous, and yet contains truth to hopefully be considered.

So, what do you think the Hot Chocolate Party should stand for?
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
This started as a comment elsewhere, but grew large enough I decided to make it a post.


I think a large part of the problem with copyright law today is that much of the law is pre-Internet and the powers that be (both government and in the major corporate publishers) are reluctant to change the law in anything but a "Squeeze tighter" direction. Ever increasing copyright lengths (really, are you really going to be encouraged to do more work because your great-great-grandchildren instead of just your great-grandchildren will have possession of the copyright?). I think of it in some ways as being like the 13 Colonies and Britain. Declaring independence was not inevitable. Had parliament and the crown been willing to look for a compromise position then the Commonwealth Realms might well include us as well as Canada, Australia, Jamaica, etc.

But currently you have things like Adobe initially saying that, "Yes, reading an ebook to your child is a license violation," music companies suing students and initially saying "We'll make this go away if you let us tell you what degrees you may and may not work towards" (and only backing off when the college said, "Whoa, what? We may have to rethink whether or not we will cooperate with your information requests"), DVDs that use 'copy protection' that doesn't actually prevent commercial pirating operations (or even give them a moments headache) but does help them prevent you from fast forwarding through ads like you could on VHS and does make it illegal for you to attempt to make use of fair use rights, and a Congress that happily puts in another extension to copyright length whenever the earliest Mickey Mouse works are about to expire. And the more they do this the more average people start to see copyright as something illegitimate, something akin to their city using eminent domain to seize the land homes are one and hand it over to developers who just happened to make campaign donations. And that is a bad thing because copyright *IS* worthwhile and worth keeping. Useful things like open source licenses are only enforceable because of copyright law. Get right of that and they aren't even worth they paper they aren't printed on.

Keep in mind another word for a copyright violator is 'potential voter' (I really wish I could remember who I first heard saying this). If the various concerned groups on all sides of the issue don't sit down and look for a reasonable compromise then some politicians might start looking at some of the more extreme push-back positions as a way to increase popularity. And I've heard of some extreme positions. Not merely banning software patents but software copyright as well. Or putting software in a separate category with a much shorter length (heard as little as six years suggested) due to the speed at which things computer related change. There is the Founders Copyright movement which suggests rolling back copyright terms to 14 years, with only the first term automatic and the one allowed renewal requiring registration (the argument being that if something is viewed as holding value then the owner will take the time to renew it, and if they can't be bothered to fill out the paperwork then why not let it fall into the public domain).

Or, possibly even more likely than drastic reductions in copyright length is the dreaded "T" word. I've heard people ponder a number of times, "If Intellectual Property is property, then perhaps there should be a property tax on it. If Mickey Mouse is going to be copyrighted forever then shouldn't the Disney Corporation pay the public for that privilege and not just congressional campaign funds?" And won't those moves to strike back at the major corporations be oh so fun for small businesses and individuals who get caught up in it? "We see that you have a blog. You will need to fill out form SE-IP-EZ, the worksheet is only two pages long, that's easy isn't it? Oh, you have two blogs? Well then you'll need to fill out one for each, plus another for your Flickr account. What? No, of course this isn't already taken care of by your having paid income taxes on your salary. Next you'll claim you shouldn't have to pay taxes on your house just because you already pay income taxes."

Now, this is the point where one would commonly point to the Japanese and their hands off attitude towards Dojinshi (fan comic books, and related works including written fiction, visual novels, etc). And the Japanese have found a compromise position that works for them. The people making fan comics, etc, do in fact sell them for cold hard cash (a position that would have even many American fan fiction supporters frothing at the mouth) but in return voluntarily restrict the number of copies made. The various publishers turn a blind eye to the fact that this whole market is in violation of Japanese Intellectual Property laws, and in return the next generation of comic book writers, artists, programmers, etc, come to them already having learned to fit their work into standard lengths and write/draw on a deadline. One could say that the Dojinshi market it like the media version of minor league sports, where people learn the basics and the majors go to recruit new talent.

But there is that pesky bit above, "turn a blind eye to the fact that this whole market is in violation of Japanese Intellectual Property laws". Get new management in one of the companies and there could be a team of lawyers walking the isles of the next Comiket handing out preprinted cease and desist letters left and right. I've heard this is unlikely because the companies would fear turning their fans against them, that if say (for the sake of argument) Sunrise was to start going after Gundam dojinshi, you'd see otaku burning their model collections and emailing the TV stations saying, "Take Gundam XYZ off and put something else, something NOT by Sunrise in its place or we'll boycott the whole station and all your advertisers". Maybe that does keep it in check. But as for me, I'd prefer more than just an unwritten gentlemen's agreement when you consider the potentially hefty penalties for IP violations.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
The depressing thing about the success of the Irish peace process? Is that of every last country in the world with such a problem, the Irish have been the only ones with the guts to actually work towards peace. For near as I can tell every other place with a similar problem has either refused to try, or at the first problem the collective leadership of both sides wet their pants and throw a, "Wah! Peace is too hard! We're just not good enough, if we can't have it for free we'll just give up and screw everyone else!" tantrum. Hello? If it was easy the Irish situation would have been solved so long ago that no one would have any idea that there ever was any trouble.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
So I run across another article about photographers being harassed by police and find myself thinking once again that in these cases the officers should be given two choices. 1, admit to dereliction of duty and be drummed out. Or, 2, admit to incompetence and be taken off active duty and be sent back for retraining.

Really, even if terrorists were prone to standing around blatantly taking photographs, they are so outnumbered by actual professional photographers, amateur photographers, tourists, and anyone else you can think of who would be innocently taking photos that to use photography as an indicator that someone needs to be questioned is utter stupidity. The ratio of false positives to actual positives is going to be so lopsided that frankly I think even under the US Constitution's strict definition of treason, you could actually make an argument that it is indeed 'aid' to the enemy. Has even one person anywhere in the world who was stopped solely because they were taking photographs turned out to be a terrorist? How can this kind of time wasting on the part of those who are tasked with the job of protecting us be anything but dereliction of duty? Frankly I see it is no less intentional time wasting than if they were to find a quiet spot and pull out a game boy for a few minutes of Tetris or Mario.

Although at least that last option would have the positive of not being harassment that will cause a group of people to start viewing the police as an enemy.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
Another post got me thinking about pharmacists who want to be allowed to pick and choose which prescriptions to fill. Now, there are some reasons I can think of why this could be reasonable. They might see that Doctor A has prescribed Medication X while Doctor B has prescribed Medication Y, which in combination will have serious side effects. It would be reasonable for the pharmacist to say, "Whoa! I don't think Doctor B knew what Doctor A prescribed. You really, really ought to make sure he knows this. If you want we can call his office and ask if he still wants you to take Medication Y when you are also taking X, or if it really has to be that medication we can call the other doctor and ask if he can change his prescription." Or perhaps they might have just received some kind of notice about previously unknown side effects. Perhaps most importantly they might see reason to believe that the prescription is fraudulent. (I actual saw this happen about a month back. The pharmacist said they wouldn't be able to fill the prescription until the next day. Then as soon as the person left, they called the doctor who had supposedly written the prescription. Strange, but the doctor's office says they have no patient by that name, nor is other information on the form correct.).

That said, whenever people come out arguing for pharmacists to get to pick and choose what to fill, they hardly ever seem to be giving more than token time to these issues. Probably because pharmacists are already able to take those issues into account. Nope it's given as a moral argument. "But it would be horrible to force the poor pharmacists to fill prescriptions that offend their beliefs."

To which I have to say, "Yeah, and who held a gun to the pharmacists head and told them, 'Go take pharmacy classes, get licensed, and work as a pharmacist -- or die!'? No one? Really? Then how is the possibility of this occurring a big surprise?" Should I be allowed to get a job as a bartender, and then say, "Whoa! Wait! Hold on! I'll serve people soda, or soda water, or if they insist mock cocktails, but I don't believe in drinking alcohol. No way I'm serving beer! And don't you dare fire me for this, I'm just obeying by moral principles!" I'd get laughed out of court, and if I went to ask my state or federal reps to change the law for me, I'd get laughed out of their office.

You know, you walked into the job eyes open. Either fill the prescriptions without a darn good reason, which doesn't include, "But I don't wanna," or maybe *you* ought to pay the expense of hiring your replacement.

It makes about as much sense to me as the kid who enlisted in the Marines, and then come Gulf War I said, "Whoa! Wait! I only joined for the college money, I don't believe in killing people, even in time of war, let me out!" Really? In you joined the Marines? The Gung Ho, storm the beach, kick the door in, and clear the way for the rest, Marines? You're a pacifist and you somehow didn't realize joining the Marines might mean going into battle? Right. You think my IQ is lower than my height in miles, don't you.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
Based on an item on the news todayyesterday:

State court tells guy he never paid a ticket in 1999 and that he will have to pay it, plus almsot $1k in interest/fines. Guy says not only did he pay it in 1999, but that he is especially irked because a few months after paying in 1999 he was told he hadn't paid and had to go back to court and show that he had indeed paid. Sadly he apparently decided after some years of not being gone after to stop looking after the financial records with a paranoid eye.

Which raises two questions for me.
1) Shouldn't there be record of his going back to court to show that it had been paid. And shouldn't this be something that can be used to quash the current claim?
2) Isn't it normally the one making a claim that is expected to prove it. "You never paid!" Should be answerable with, "Okay, produce the complete file, and explain why for a decade a supposedly unpaid claim wasn't pursued."

And additional bit, a DMV official on camera said with a straight face and without apparently thinking there was anything wrong with it, "When you pay your ticket, hold onto the proof." "For how long?" "I'd say forever."

Um. Yeah.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
From "5 Myths About Health Care Around the World," at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/21/AR2009082101778_2.html

Under the header, Foreign health-care systems are inefficient, bloated bureaucracies. "U.S. health insurance companies have the highest administrative costs in the world; they spend roughly 20 cents of every dollar for nonmedical costs, such as paperwork, reviewing claims and marketing. France's health insurance industry, in contrast, covers everybody and spends about 4 percent on administration. Canada's universal insurance system, run by government bureaucrats, spends 6 percent on administration. In Taiwan, a leaner version of the Canadian model has administrative costs of 1.5 percent; one year, this figure ballooned to 2 percent, and the opposition parties savaged the government for wasting money." (emphasis added)

Can we at least have a rational debate about improving out health-care system? While we're at it can we also be honest enough that if it's going to be government run that we make that pass constitutional muster (with something more palatable than the "let Congress do any bleeding thing it wants to do" Interstate Commerce Clause AKA The "Limitations? What? You thought we were serious when other sections imply any kind of limit to Congressional Authority" Clause).
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
Frankly I think those who feel that Mary Jo Kopechne is the only thing we should remember about Ted Kennedy are as misguided as those who feel that that incident should be stripped from memory.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
As reported on Slashdot, an appeals court has ruled that the USDA can ban any testing beyond the current USDA testing for Mad Cow Disease. 2 to 1 the judges ruled that the USDA can can prohibit test kits from being sold or used to test for the disease. The USDA's argument is that even though the test kits aren't used until after the cows are killed, using them amounts to a medical treatment of the already deceased bovines.

Um. Right. Pull the other one.

It is at least fortunate to know that one of the judges still has functioning brain cells. "I find unpersuasive the Department’s arguments that a product with no other use than the diagnosis of an untreatable and invariably fatal disease is a form of 'treatment.'" Wrote Chief Judge David Santelle in his dissenting opinion.

This case came about because a Creekstone Farms Premium Beef decided to see if they could export successfully to places like Japan and South Korea if they pledged to test 100% of what they sold. Only there was that pesky USDA rule that said no one was allowed to do any testing beyond the USDA tests.

It is also fortunate to see that there isn't a total lack of brain function in the judges who ruled against Creekstone Farms. While they have upheld the USDAs authority to prevent the sale and use of the test kits, they did send the case back to the lower court to decide whether the ban was arbitrary and capricious. Hopefully we'll the lower court will rule in favor of a safer food supply.

I also have a suggestion. Go ahead an allow the USDA to ban any further testing. But also rule that in any case where the rancher can document that they asked to do additional testing and were denied, USDA official who ruled against testing (not the agency, but the individual official) shall bare full legal liability in the event anything does slip through. They won't mind being required to carry heavier liability insurance than surgeons, right? After all, the current testing is sufficient enough to require banning further testing, right? Right?

Thought so.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
Consider, if we aren't going to give any immigrants a break, not even spouses of people serving in the military in combat zones... Has it occurred to them that this means having to deport Superman as well. After all, where are his papers?
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Boston government)
Not to bad for a few minutes work on Photoshop Elements. Might redo it, the second frame wasn't supposed to just read Boston, I'm sure most of the people there are far smarter than their government.

I need to play with Photoshop more.

(Changed the icon a bit. Now an all purpose "Out of the gene pool!" icon.)
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
If zero tolerance is a good idea when dealing with students, how about a zero tolerance policy regarding any misbehavior on the part of school administrations. "Sorry Principal Smith, you didn't smoke on school grounds but you did have the pack in your briefcase. You get a month of unpaid time off. What? Mortgage payments? Should have thought about that before."

Somehow I suspect with the gun at their heads they'd suddenly have a much different opinion on zero tolerance policies.
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
So, 105 - 71% yes and 106 - 51% yes; 201 - 54% yes and 206 - 57% yes.

What happens if all four of those pass? I can't recall anyone saying what the rule is. Assuming the ratios stay the same would 105 and 206 win because they passed with a greater margin? An initiative run off? Legislature picks and choses between the two like Congress's conference committee? (Well, when the conference committee isn't inserting their own entirely new stuff) The universe explodes due to paradox? All four get written into law making for guaranteed court cases to argue out the contradictions?

Maybe this has been in the news, I've largely been avoiding TV and Radio for the las week...

EDIT: D'oh. Okay, clearly I'm too tired to read the results correctly. 105 and 106 are both those percentages voting no, and no is leading on 206 as well.

Still, the question still is interesting to ask. What does happen if such mutually contradictory initiatives pass?
lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
Unless I am very confused, there is a very confused person out there putting their own signs on campaign signs. I thought that Prop. 106 had to do with trust lands and how much should go towards the Preserve and how land can be sold and traded. Yet I have run across two Prop 106 signs so far that have handmade signs taped over their upper left corners. Signs reading, "VOTE OUT REPUBLICAN CHILD MOLESTER".

Okay, if this person wants us to vote out all republicans, then they have a plurality problem. If there is a specific republican they want us to vote against, they really ought to have given a name. Mainly what confuses me is, why the Prop 106 signs? Why not tape them up over the signs of republican candidates? Fourthly, while the news that is coming out is highly disturbing to me, it's a bit unfair and extreme to paint them all with the child molester brush. Hearing unsettling rumors and doing nothing, or next to nothing, is not the same thing as actually attacking a child. Enough to make me question someone's worthiness to be in Congress, enough to make me wonder just what else they would ignore; but not the same level of ickiness as someone who is actually commiting rapes.

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lilfluff: On of my RP characters, a mouse who happens to be a student librarian. (Default)
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