January 28, 2016
Fall River Police
After illegally seizing a man's iPhone after he videoed a cop working a traffic detail, Fall River (Massachusetts) cops inadvertently wiped and reset the iPhone to factory settings by wrongly guessing at the passcode 10 times. It sounds like their forensic team thought it was some kind of malicious magic perpetrated by the Wizard George Thompson. So I guess no one at Fall River Police owns an iPhone. The ten-wrong-passcodes feature is something that comes with iOS and can be turned on or off by the user...and this is the very thing it is designed for.
Another feature on the iPhone which is switched on by default, is automatic background uploading of photos and videos. Either Wizard Thompson had that turned off, or the phone never got a Wi-fi signal for long enough to upload the video.
August 16, 2015
More Gross Over-Reaction By A Public School
In response to a question as to whether he had "made out" with a female teacher at his school, Senior Reid Sagehorn tweeted the words "Actually, yes." For this heinous offense he was called into the principal's office at Rogers High School in Rogers, Minnesota, and then suspended from school for five days. Then his parents moved him to another school. The Police Chief likened the tweet to shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. Really. I would like to understand the Chief's point of view. Does he think that this tweet will somehow cause all of the male students in Rogers High to immediately descend on the unnamed teacher in a lemming-like attempt to make out with her. Or maybe it's more like snake mating where multiple males coil around one female. The Chief (who apparently was never a teenager) also suggested the tweet was a felony.
The local prosecuting attorney got law enforcement to climb down from its hysterical perch, so now young Mr. Sagehorn is suing to have his disciplinary record expunged and for monetary damages.
July 16, 2015
Uber & Bush
On Wednesday a California administrative judge recommended Uber be forced to suspend operations in California and pay a $7.3 million fine for refusing to conform to regulations that have been in effect since 2013. On Thursday Jeb Bush took Uber to "Thumbtack, a consumer-service technology company" in San Francisco.
July 8, 2015
Meanwhile In One Of The Darker Corners Of The World
Myanmar has advanced marriage rights by requiring that any Buddhist woman who longs to marry a non-Buddhist man must must register that longing with the government. And "if there are objections" the marriage can be stopped. We all know that god said that marriage was intended to be between one Buddhist and another Buddhist. If you can't find that in your Bible, try one of the newer translations.
April 30, 2015
ACLU California Video App
The California ACLU is making available an app that allows one to upload a video of a police encounter directly to the ACLU. You can also configure it to lock your phone as soon as the video is complete, which will prevent browsing by the police, but won't stop the old fashioned smash-the-phone-on-the-pavement technique.
The app is called "Mobile Justice - California" and is available for iOS and Android.
April 21, 2015
Two Interesting Things In This Story
This story: man invites salesman into apartment; man gets naked without so much as a "by your leave;" offended salesman departs. But those aren't the interesting parts.
- The undressed man, Colin Maher, "said his religion requires him to be naked." Unfortunately for Mr. Maher, this story took place in Oklahoma where the state is not as enlightened as Indiana where this sort of statement would, assuredly, cause the police to immediately back off and release the perp who expressed his sincere belief that his rights were being substantially burdened. I think that would cover the window he kicked out of police car, too, if he can work it into his religion fast enough.
- But the real eye-grabber in the story is that the salesman was a door-to-door magazine salesman! Yes! Those are from back when we used to get eggs and bread delivered to our front door twice a week. Unless "magazine salesman" is a new euphemism for something like "marijuana dispensary operator," then this unnamed salesman actually walks from residence to residence to sell, face to face, subscriptions to stacks of paper that would be brought to the subscriber's home on a regular basis by the postal service. The subscriber would entertain himself for a time by perusing the magazine, even though it contained no audio or video files, just text and still photos. Once the subscriber finished perusing the magazine he just set it aside and either kept it or threw it into the regular household trash as there are almost never any environmental hazards in a magazine. So, rather than being able to return the used magazine to get a discount on the upgrade price of next month's magazine, you just get a whole 'nother magazine delivered and the process repeats. The cycle continues without end until either the landfill or the subscriber's home is completely filled. If it's the subscriber's home, then some distant relatives will come along and commit the subscriber to a facility where no magazines are delivered, thus bringing about healing or death, whichever comes first.
March 23, 2015
Gotta Draw The Line
Sure, you can have all the guns and marijuana you want and you can use your computer like an 8-lane highway for porn, but our gummint still wants to protect you from your TV. As I interpret this news report, WDBJ in Virginia pointed a camera for three seconds at the website of a woman who was volunteering for the rescue squad. The station's staff failed to note a little video ad for porn videos somewhere on the edge of the screen.
The FCC has proposed a fine of $325,000.
For the sake of clarity the FCC report includes this helpful description: "the Station broadcast an image of sexual activity involving the graphic display of an erect penis being stroked during a news report about a former adult film star who had joined a local volunteer rescue squad."
But that's not entirely all. The FCC has described some other things that could be seen in that news report, including "other images of the woman who is the subject of the story displayed at various times during the report, including one in which she appears to be sitting on a bed, wearing a bra." Oh no! Where is Chicken Little to spread the word!
March 16, 2015
The Free Market
In libertarian wet dreams, free markets mean a greater supply, higher quality and lower price - generally. And sometimes that happens. Like, frinstance, marijuana. A couple of legal states plus lots of medical marijuana states means the market is a little freer than it was. And now, the United States may become an EXporter of marijuana. The Mexicans are in a buying mood.
March 10, 2015
L.A. Sheriff Deputies Are No Longer Empowered To Be Photo Critics
The LAPD, Long Beach police and the LA County Sheriff had adopted guidelines saying that taking photos with "no aesthetic value" was sufficient to stop a photographer for questioning. I would dearly have liked to sit in on the class where every cop in those agencies were trained to appreciate the aesthetic value of photos they couldn't even see. But now, L.A. County has come to a settlement with the ACLU in which they agree to stop doing that. The ACLU will provide training material for the Sheriff.
The training, supplied through a newsletter detailing the LASD policy and given to all new recruits and to all deputies assigned to patrol, states that members of the public "have a First Amendment right to observe, take photographs, and record video in any public place where they are lawfully present" and prohibits deputies from "interfering, threatening, intimidating, blocking or otherwise discouraging" photographers from taking photos or video unless they are violating a law.
September 28, 2014
iPhone 6 Encryption
The new iPhone 6 will encrypt "emails, photos and contacts based on a complex mathematical algorithm that uses a code created by, and unique to, the phone's user." "Breaking the code, according to an Apple technical guide, could take 'more than 5 1/2 years to try all combinations of a six-character alphanumeric passcode with lowercase letters and numbers.'" That, of course, would be a brute force method, and I'm pretty sure the NSA and FBI have more sophisticated techniques than that.
The FBI objects to this.
At Apple and Google, company executives say the United States government brought these changes on itself. The revelations by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden not only killed recent efforts to expand the law, but also made nations around the world suspicious that every piece of American hardware and software — from phones to servers made by Cisco Systems — have "back doors" for American intelligence and law enforcement.