And I quote: "Ah, if that were vodka." My professor said this after taking a hit off his diet, caffeine Pepsi.
He followed this with: "We've got ten minutes left, I'm getting giddy, folks."
That's the last line of an essay in the latest Atlantic entitled "In Praise of Chain Stores". The question is directed at urbanists who want to revitalize downtown areas but refuse to allow stores that actually carry and successfully market things that people actually want to buy. That would seem to be a pretty good place to start.
"[T]he same local activists who oppose chains 'want specialty retail that sells exactly what the chains sell—the same price, the same fit, the same qualities, the same sizes, the same brands, even.' You can show people pictures of a Pottery Barn with nothing but the name changed, he says, and they’ll love the store. So downtown stores stay empty, or sell low-value tourist items like candles and kites, while the chains open on the edge of town. In the name of urbanism, officials and activists in cities like Ann Arbor and Fort Collins, Colorado, are driving business to the suburbs."
"Chains do more than bargain down prices from suppliers or divide fixed costs across a lot of units. They rapidly spread economic discovery—the scarce and costly knowledge of what retail concepts and operational innovations actually work. That knowledge can be gained only through the expensive and time-consuming process of trial and error. Expecting each town to independently invent every new business is a prescription for real monotony, at least for the locals. Chains make a large range of choices available in more places. They increase local variety, even as they reduce the differences from place to place. People who mostly stay put get to have experiences once available only to frequent travelers, and this loss of exclusivity is one reason why frequent travelers are the ones who complain. When Borders was a unique Ann Arbor institution, people in places like Chandler—or, for that matter, Philadelphia and Los Angeles—didn’t have much in the way of bookstores. Back in 1986, when California Pizza Kitchen was an innovative local restaurant about to open its second location, food writers at the L.A. Daily News declared it 'the kind of place every neighborhood should have.' So what’s wrong if the country has 158 neighborhood CPKs instead of one or two?"
You want to revitalize your downtown area? Fine. Stick something there that large numbers of people will actually frequent. The tiny little boutiques may be aesthetically pleasing, but when's the last time you ever bought something there? Honestly now. So those stores close and people complain about the death of downtown. Stick a Gap down there and see what happens.
The following is from Noble v. Bradford Marine, Inc., 789 F.Supp. 395 (S.D.Fla. 1992).
"In short, Prime Time's most bogus attempt at removal is 'not worthy' and the Defendants must 'party on' in state court."
The judge also sought fit to add section headings to his opinion, which are as follows:
"Like a Winged Monkey Flying Out of the Ashes..."
"A Schwing and a Miss"
I am not making this up.
The MPAA is lobbying Congress to pass a bill that would require the authorization of every "home theater". It would cost $50 and would send detailed information about the content being shown and the audience back to the MPAA. What constitutes a home theater? A 29" TV and a couch. So basically every living room in the country.
"Just because you buy a DVD to watch at home doesn't give you the right to invite friends over to watch it too. That's a violation of copyright and denies us the revenue that would be generated from DVD sales to your friends," said Glickman. "Ideally we expect each viewer to have their own copy of the DVD, but we realize that isn't always feasible. The registration fee is a fair compromise."
So, you can buy a DVD, but you're the only person allowed to watch it. You can't actually show it to anyone else. Which is kind of the point of buying a DVD in the first place.
I think it's high time that we eliminated the legal fictions that make this kind of insane posturing possible. Strip copyrights down to 15 years and eliminate all penalties except for distribution. This has gone far enough.
Please. Don't. Read this and you'll see why.
All I need to know is that it isn't compatible with Microsoft's own software. If it isn't compatible with what I'm using anyways, I'm not going to jump through hoops to use a gadget that doesn't provide access to features that I want.
Which is why I use one of these. Go and get one.
Just fixed a completely random error I was experiencing in Windows. In preparation for heading home for Thanksgiving, I copied a few video files from a show I've been watching from my desktop to \My Documents on my laptop. The next time I booted the computer, Windows went straight to a Data Execution Prevention error and shut down Explorer. This is not ideal. I hadn't connected copying the files with the new error, and just assumed that I'd either picked up a virus from somewhere or that Windows had spontaneously screwed itself, as happens from time to time.
I did a bit of searching, and most people seemed to suggest that the solution was to disable DEP for Explorer. While I'm sure that would work, I wasn't satisfied with that, as the concept of DEP strikes me as sound. I started with a system restore, which one would think would fix any actual errors, but the thing kept crashing on me. I did a bit more searching, and saw one or two people mention thumbnail files, but without much real direction. So I moved the files from \My Documents to a different directory, and bingo, the error went away.
Conclusion: try to avoid putting files that generate a thumbnail file in the root directory of My Documents.
This, I contend, is a completely silly way of running an OS.
The increasingly popular game Second Life is running into problems. Unlike, for example, World of Warcraft, Everquest, and such like, SL actively promotes the interaction of its online currency with real currency. So if you run into a griefer or cheater in WoW, you contact the admins, and they may ban the guy, but even if they don't, the worst you suffer is annoyance. But if you're selling $500 a day in virtual goods, this becomes a bit more important.
The world is also plagued by organized groups of anti-social types, which are taking on many of the characteristics of gangs and mafias from the real world. What do you do if a group of people prevent you from accessing a public area? In the real world, you sue the bastards, but in the virtual world? It's pretty clear that state and federal laws aren't going to help you at all.
So we turn to the problem that faces all human societies, real or virtual: a society not governed by laws is no society at all, and such groupings can only survive for a very limited period of time. The virtual world has two things going for it that the real world does not. First, being virtual, the imposition of remedies and penalties is straightforward, non-negotiable, and absolutely enforceable. If you ban someone, they're done. Second, it's possible to create a world which restricts human interaction to the point that serious offenses are simply not possible. Most games go this latter route. But if you're trying to make a world as ambitious as Second Life - note the title - you're going to run into many of the same problems that face "first life", i.e. people.
You're also probably running into what may as well be the zeroth law of economics: a good or service is worth exactly as much as you can find someone willing to pay for it. So the devaluation of SL goods and property by copying programs does pose a significant threat to the viability of the economy as such. This is definitely a problem the real world doesn't have: physical goods are not reproducible. They can be counterfeited, but not duplicated.
In what will almost certainly become a landmark case on the issue, Barrett v. Rosenthal, the California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that those "who use the Internet to publish information that originated from another source" are immune from liability related to the content of that information. The relevant appeals court had ruled to allow the liability, and the supreme court reversed. The court relied heavily on the Communications Decency Act of 1996, codified in 47 U.S.C. § 230, particularly § 230(c). It also discussed Zeran v. America Online, Inc., 129 F.3d 327 (4th Cir.1997). Though the court recognized difficulties with the ruling, the holding is that until such time as the US Congress chooses to address the issue, "plaintiffs who contend they were defamed in an Internet posting may only seek recovery from the original source of the statement."
This has the potential to be huge. Amazon, AOL, eBay, Google, etc., your standard short-list of internet heavyweights, all filed amicus briefs for the defendant, as a ruling for such liability would expose all of them to a torrent of lawsuits. The net effect seems to be that if you find something on the internet that you consider to be libelous, you can only sue the person who created the content, not the website that publishes it.
In the course of filing its indiscriminate lawsuits against consumers, the RIAA may have bitten off more than it can chew. Here we have Arista v. Greubel. The RIAA alleges he downloaded songs off the internet using Kazaa. Okay.
Most defendants choose to settle at this point, as the complaint against them can easily run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Greubel decided to throw the book at them, and his attorneys are to be applauded for mounting a truly fascinating defense.
The answer to the complaint can be found here. Most of it is simply making the proper pleadings and allegations to preserve options on appeal, and on the majority, the defendant has no hope of winning. There isn't any way of defeating jurisdiction of the court in whose territory you live. Sorry, nice try.
Doesn't matter. The key thing to look at here is the first affirmative defense offered, namely that by suing Shaman Networks, the creator of Kazaa, and failing to join any Kazaa users in that lawsuit, the RIAA and associated plaintiffs have already received satisfaction for their complaint, and are barred from seeking further damages. Stunning, really.
The argument goes, and I quote, "any recovery from Defendant Greubel for alleged copyright infringement arising from the use of KaZaA would be duplicative of the damages obtained from Sharman Networks." Which it clearly would. And courts tend not to like double-dipping. They're arguably attempting recovery twice from different parties.
If this is sustained, it will probably put an immediate end to any and all lawsuits against consumers. This is what we call "strategic miscalculation" on the part of the recording industry.
Yeah, apparently it's not just for apartment rentals. But this kind of thing is just more evidence that people think about the internet in ways do not comport with reality. The internet isn't a place where the law doesn't apply. It isn't really subject to privacy (laws or no). If you can't do something in the real world, you can't do it online either, and the fact that enforcement is only starting to catch up doesn't change the legal situation.
So I stumbled across this today. It's the complaint from uTube v. YouTube, currently being litigated in the federal courts, N.D. Ohio. Six months ago I would have thought the document looked a little imposing, and wouldn't really have understood large sections of it. Now I really feel like I have a grasp of what's going on. We just talked about 28 U.S.C. § 1331 in Civil Procedure this morning, and it's clear from 28 U.S.C. § 1338 that this could only have been filed in federal court, as it's a trademark issue. You can see the lawyers for uTube hitting all the right bases, pleading all the relevant facts, and stating a cognizable claim with cognizable relief.
This is, as far as I can tell, a pretty well-written complaint.
Maybe sometime over Christmas, once finals are over, I'll do a run-down of law the same way I did a run-down of medicine a while back.
What we have here is a UCLA student getting tazed in a computer lab by the cops for producing an attitude in place of an ID. Granted, the cops in this situation weren't being particularly reasonable here. But not complying with the orders of an officer of the peace, for any reason, is a crime in and of itself, which is something this particular punk and the students nearby don't seem to comprehend. When the cops ask you to do something, you do something. Screaming about the Patriot Act and abuses of power is not particularly likely to make the officers sympathetic, and is quite likely to get you tazed again. Which is hilarious.
As unpleasant as this incident was, the officers were probably acting within their rights. They found an individual in an educational area that could not prove he had a right to be there, and they asked for ID. He couldn't produce ID. We don't have the tape of what transpired before he got tazed, but it's pretty clear that he refused to leave. So the cops took action.
What these kids don't seem to get is that, yes Virginia, there are authority figures out there that can make you do things you don't want to do, and you don't get to act out just because you don't like it. Just because you're a college student doesn't make you any more immune to the law than a high-school dropout who knocks over a 7-11. If you fight the law, the law will win.
Sit down, punk.
Congress, for one reason or another, but probably mostly for the rhetorical value, doesn't like online gambling. Fair enough. That notwithstanding, it has refused to ban it. This isn't immediately intuitive, but remember, it is Congress we're talking about, so *ahem* all bets are off.
Enter... Antigua? Yeah, Antigua. Infamous tax-shelter, data haven, etc. Antigua regulated and promoted internet gambling based on its island almost as soon as the idea was born. Fair enough. Problem is, Congress doesn't really like that kind of thing, and has attempted to prohibit credit card companies from processing payments for interstate and international gambling sites. Ooookay.
Response? Antigua files a complaint with the WTO, arguing that as the US does not ban online gambling, under its pre-existing free-trade agreements it cannot restrict foreign access to the online gambling market. The WTO, logically enough, agrees, and orders the US to either ban online gambling completely or stop messing with people. Fair enough.
The US does nothing for the year it was given to fix the problem, and then announces that there is no problem, and that we've been in compliance the whole time. Uh-huh.
Solution? Antigua files another WTO complaint, this time asserting that if the US refuses to honor its free-trade commitments with Antigua, Antigua is under no obligation to honor its free-trade commitments with the US. But as Antigua is almost exclusively an import market, and as the US is its biggest trade partner, retaliatory tariffs aren't exactly a good idea.
What's a tiny, Caribbean island nation to do? Why ignore intellectual property laws, of course! If the US doesn't fix its gambling problem, Antigua is likely to become a bonanza of legally redistributed copyrighted material.
I wasn't ever particularly skeptical, but today I may my first PayPal withdrawal of the money I've earned from payperpost. The total was $46.00, with another $22 and change yet to be disbursed. Is that a lot of money? No, not really. Though with my level of income currently sitting pretty steady at zero, we aren't complaining. But when you consider the fact that this took me almost no time, that's not bad.
I am interested in comments as to whether what readers I may have think about my posts in the past month. Can you tell when a link is sponsored? Does it bug you? Do the things I wind up posting about vary in noticeable ways from my usual fare? Comment away.
German lawyers have filed a lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld for alleged human rights abuses in both Iraq and Cuba. Oddly enough, German law seems to allow the prosecution of "war-crimes" regardless of the country in which they happen. But that does not confer jurisdiction upon the courts of Germany over an American citizen. He need not show up, and even if he does, the German courts cannot subject him to jurisdiction there. Regardless of the domestic laws in a given state, you can't sue foreign nationals for acts against other foreign nationals that took place in foreign countries. You just can't.
This is stunt, pure and simple.
Scientists have isolated a molecule in saliva that is potentially as much as 3 to 6 times as effective as blocking pain than the current pharmacological trump card, morphine.
The scientists say the molecule is quite simple and should thus be simple to synthesize.
This could be a real breakthrough.
Here's a video with a concise, complete tutorial for cracking any Masterlock combination lock. You need not destroy the lock, and you will wind up knowing what the combination is. It takes a bit of manual dexterity to figure out the third number, but the first two are trial and error. Somehow, the author of the video has figured out how to reduce the possible combinations from 64,000 to only 100.
This had to happen eventually. Just because there are 64,000 possible numerical combinations in a lock with dial settings from 0-39 doesn't mean that all 64,000 combinations are legitimate cryptographic solutions. As far as I can tell, there are only 4,000 or so legitimate solutions to a Masterlock combination lock, so solving for any one number will cut that down to a size for n that can be cracked using brute force methods. All you need is a few minutes' worth of patience.
I always knew there was a reason to stick with keys...
Pelosi had an opportunity to show some actual statesman-like character in her choice of whom to support for Majority Leader. What does she do?
She gives her support to her friendly, neighborhood moonbat, Murtha.
The new Senate leadership is also promising to draw down troops in Iraq.
I mean, this isn't surprising, but it is discouraging.
There is a report that Israel may have used some kind of uranium-based weapon in Lebanon during the recent conflict. It is not exactly clear the nature of the weapon used, as the yield was low enough to avoid immediate suspicion and the results of testing done in the area are apparently downright odd. Some suspect that it may be a "thermobaric" weapon that essentially burns uranium the same way a conventional weapon burns TNT, a chemical rather than a nuclear reaction. Another possibility is the use of a fairly standard bunker-buster fortified with uranium to increase its penetration capabilities.
No one is suggesting the use of a standard fission- or fusion-based nuclear weapon, as such a device would have been immediately detectable.
It is worth pointing out that both of the above links are from sources that I would classify as being highly suspect, but the allegation is serious regardless of the source.
Here's a pretty concise statement of our opposition.
Yeah, all they really want is for the colonialists to leave them alone. Then they'll instantly transform into stable and mature members of the international community. All we really need to do is to understand the root causes of their animosity, and surely this will all resolve itself without violence. Because, remember, violence doesn't solve anything.
The Iranians love it, the Iraqis hate it.
Money quote: "If it was up to the Democrats, we would still be living under Saddam's tyranny."
The Ayatollah is saying that the Democratic gains on Tuesday are a victory for Iran.
Thing is, I'm not sure they're wrong. Time will tell. If the moonbats get their way, the terrorists will probably win.
On the other hand, it's worth pointing out that Democratic presidents tend to be more hawkish than Republicans, oddly enough. I mean, seriously now, it was JFK and LBJ that really got us into Vietnam, and it was Nixon that got us out of it. Carter gave us the disaster of the Iran hostage crisis. In terms of getting involved in messy armed conflicts, the Dems are still way ahead for the past century.
These people are moving things you never thought it was possible to move with a bike.
A few dozen chickens?
I suppose it happens even to the best of them.
I know finding this hilarious makes me an unqualified geek, but it's still funny.
That's what Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) is, as of 9:15pm tonight. That would be the senator from my home state.
Thing is, yes, at the moment 69% of the vote is for Casey, but what I don't understand is why they're calling the election with 5% of precincts reporting. I mean, yeah, it looks bad, but we could be looking at two to three times the tabulated votes still uncounted. As Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have already reported, I think Casey has already tabbed the places he's most likely to have a really wide margin.
As of 9:17pm, the lead has already dropped to 66%. I wouldn't put any money on Santorum just yet, but I wouldn't call the race until at least, I don't know, 25% of precincts reported.
Another reason DRM is bad: when the service imposing the regime goes belly-up, support for your files goes away.
Microsoft is discontinuing it's MSN Music service in favor of Rhapsody, which is designed to be compatible with its new Zune player. This isn't entirely surprising. What is surprising is that MSN files won't play on the Zune, nor is there any way authorized way for upgrading those MSN files to something that will.
You aren't buying your music. You're leasing it. I don't think it takes a Ph.D. to see why this sucks.
Don't use the Google real-time network monitoring widget when using BitTorrent. It'll immediately use all of your available CPU cycles.
To date, the vast majority of criticism of Wal-Mart that I have heard comes from an ill-begotten collection of BANANAs, hippies, cultural elitists, labor organizers, and general purpose moonbats. Needless to say, conflict of interest essentially disqualifies any of them from making serious contributions, if they haven't already been disqualified under standard "don't listen to idiots" rule, and the arguments they advance tend to be painfully self-serving, not to mention largely spurious.
Of course labor organizers don't like Wal-Mart. That doesn't mean anything. Of course hippies don't like Wal-Mart. That doesn't mean anything either.
Then comes one Barry C. Lynn, of the New America Foundation, a think tank which truly answers to the description "non-partisan", and appears to generate some truly significant scholarship and commentary. [Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind working for them someday.]
Lynn recently had this article published in Harpers entitled "Breaking the Chain", which is a detailed, carefully-reasoned, and in-depth account of the motivations and foundations of US antitrust law, reaching the conclusion that Wal-Mart constitutes a monopsony. Whereas monopolies exist where there is only one seller amongst a plurality of buyers, a monopsony exists where there is only one buyer among a plurality of sellers. While many have made the argument that Wal-Mart is capable of exerting inordinate pressure on suppliers, this is the first argument I have come across that advances cogent reasons why this is actually a problem.
This is the best and most well-reasoned criticism of Wal-Mart which I have ever read, and is clearly worth reading in its entirety.
Also! Post 1100.