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.
August 17, 2014
The Effectiveness Of DUI Checkpoints
The numbers for the three checkpoints combined are
DUI: 7 (0.4%); Invalid/No/Suspended License: 50 (2.5%); Other arrests 8 (0.4%); "Clean" 1,920 (96.7%).
June 30, 2014
More About The FAA's Rules On Drones
June 21, 2014
U.S. Congress Chipping Away At Anti-Medical Marijuana Actions
A brief article about Senator Rand Paul's introduction of a budget amendment that would bar the DEA from using federal funds to go after medical marijuana operations in any state where it's legal. The House has already approved a similar measure.
Also, Senator John Walsh of Montana has introduced an amendment that would block ATF from using federal funds to violate the Second Amendment rights of medical marijuana patients. Here's the text of Walsh's amendment:
SA 3285. Mr. WALSH submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill H.R. 4660, making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:
At the appropriate place, insert the following:
Sec. __. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, none of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms , and Explosives may be used, with respect to registered medicinal marijuana patients in the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to enforce the provisions of subsection (d)(3) or (g)(3) of section 922 of title 18, United States Code, against a registered medicinal marijuana patient based on either the status of the patient as a registered medicinal marijuana patient or the lawful use of medicinal marijuana under the laws of the State in which the patient resides.
He has listed the states where medical marijuana was legal when he proposed the amendment on the 18th. This seems an odd way to do it. Why not just say "where it is legal." New York state is on the verge of legalizing medical marijuana. Will the Senate re-write the amendment or will the medical marijuana patients in New York be left to the meager mercy of the ATF?
I find the strange jargon of the Senate to be interesting. The appropriations bill "was ordered to lie on the table." Then it "was ordered to get up and dance, dance if you value your life!"
April 24, 2014
Freedom To Sweep Nevada
Hell's Angels, the Gay Men's Chorus of L.A. and no toilets! Just try to keep me away!
If you don't like the message from the long-haired hippie wing, maybe you'll prefer this one:
April 22, 2014
Meanwhile In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's Attorney General has wisely refused to defend his state's ban on same-sex marriage, so the office of Governor Corbett (a Republican) took on that task. But the defense is no defense. The Governor's office has said they will call no expert witnesses and they will not dispute any of the specific harms caused to the plaintiffs by the marriage ban. Essentially, then, this would seem to be like the Oregon suit - defenseless. But it's got one advantage over Oregon because there is a nominal defendant. The defendant (the Commonwealth) agrees with the plaintiffs that there is no need for a trial so they will not be going through the motions. Both sides are filing requests for summary judgement.
Governor Corbett is to be commended for saving taxpayers' money and minimizing everyone's misery while still staying faithful to what he thinks he has to do as Governor.
Judge John E. Jones III who will be making the decision is a Republican appointed by George W. Bush in 2002. He is a native of Pennsylvania. He ruled in 2005 that a school district's mandate to teach "intelligent design" was unconstitutional. Thereupon, he was attacked by Phyllis Schlafly and Bill O'Reilly; O'Reilly calling him a fascist activist judge. He has defended himself saying that his duty is to the Constitution, not special interests.
OTOH, when he was the Chairman of the state Liquor Control Board he banned the sale of Bad Frog Beer after determining that the frog on the label was giving the finger. Anyone who looks at the label will see that the frog has only 4 toes on both front feet and all 4 toes are extended on both feet. IMO "the finger" was in the mind of the beholder. But even if it was flipping off the drinker, it would seem to be a free speech issue.
January 8, 2014
National Review Tepidly Supports Legalization of Marijuana
National Review Online says "It is perhaps a little dispiriting that of all the abusive overreaches of government to choose from, it is weed that has the nation’s attention, but it is a victory nonetheless." And "One of the worst consequences of marijuana use is the development of saucer-eyed arguments about the benefits of legalizing it."
The payoff is not in tax revenue gained but in losses avoided. A great many people will avoid being convicted of crimes for a relatively benign recreational indulgence — and those criminal convictions often have much more severe long-term consequences on pot-smokers’ lives than marijuana does. The business of policing covert marijuana dealers has been replaced with the relatively straightforward business of regulating them in the open. A large and fairly nasty criminal enterprise has lost its raison d’être, at least so far as the Colorado market is concerned.
January 7, 2014
A Different View On Drug Addicition
Dr. Carl Hart was interviewed by Amy Goodman. Dr. Hart is a tenured "professor in the sciences at Columbia University, where he is an associate professor in the psychology and psychiatry departments. He is also a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse and a research scientist in the Division of Substance Abuse at the New York State Psychiatric Institute."
There is a video of this interview but I read and copied from the transcript.
One of his main points is that 80% to 90% of people who use drugs (alcohol, marijuana, crack, meth, all recreational drugs) are NOT addicted.
If we were really concerned about drug addiction, we would be trying to figure out precisely why each individual became addicted. But that's not what we're really interested in. We are interested, in this society, of vilifying a drug. In that way, we don't have to deal with the complex issues for why people really become addicted.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Carl Hart?
DR. CARL HART: On the one hand, I applaud Sanjay. But on the other hand, I might be embarrassed if I was a physician and I'm this late in the game. The evidence has been overwhelming for quite some time. And if you read the literature and have been reading the literature, this position or this change should have come earlier. But still, it takes some courage to say you were wrong. But I think that it's been overstated how much praise he deserves.
And when we think about the dangers of marijuana from a scientific perspective, let's really evaluate this. When we think about the dangers of marijuana, they are about the equivalent of alcohol. Now, I don't want to somehow talk about the dangers of alcohol or to besmirch the reputation of alcohol, because I think that every society should have intoxicants. We need intoxicants. And every society has always had intoxicants. So alcohol is fine.
January 4, 2014
Cannabis Legalization Update
A survey of what's happening with marijuana legalization outside of Colorado and Washington:
- Of course, in California we've got petitions for four different initiatives in process.
- The State of New York legalized medical marijuana in 1980 (that is not a typo), long before California. But then they forgot about it! It was a very limited program. It was only legal for people with cancer or glaucoma. Each patient had to be approved by a medical review board. The marijuana itself would be obtained by the State Police! Well, that might have been the part that made this unworkable. The State Police could simply claim they had none or refuse to provide it, citing federal law. So now the state is considering breathing life into that old dead thing. Bills to make medical marijuana workable have passed in the State Assembly four times, but they have all died in the Senate. So Governor Cuomo is going to announce an executive action that will allow medical marijuana in 20 hospitals for only cancer, glaucoma and other diseases approved by the state Department of Health. It is expected to go into effect in 2014.
- In New Hampshire House Bill 492 would legalize recreational marijuana. It's scheduled for a vote on January 8, 2014. But even if the House approves it, chances of getting past the Senate and Governor are slim. Last year the Senate rejected a bill to decriminalize marijuana.
- In Alaska a petition has garnered 44,000 signatures, 15,000 more than the minimum necessary to submit legalization to the voters. It proposes a $50/ounce tax. Local governments will be permitted to ban retail sales. Here's a copy of the petition. Public consumption would be banned. How is "public" defined in Alaska? If you are in the middle of a vast wilderness where the next nearest human is 500 miles away and you light up outdoors, would that be considered "public?" Would the caribou be alarmed?
- Missourians have been inspired to submit 10 petitions to the Secretary of State for approval. They are all basically the same, varying only in permitted quantities. After the Secretary of State approves them, NORML will do public polling to find out which one is likely to have the greatest public support. Aside from petitions, the legislature is expected to have 5 or 6 legalization bills to consider this session.
- One legislator in New Mexico says he will submit legislation for a constitutional amendment. The Governor of New Mexico opposes legalization, but the constitutional amendment process bypasses the Governor.
- Campaigners in Florida have obtained 900,000 signatures on a petition to legalize medical marijuana via constitutional amendment. Their goal is to have 1,050,000 signatures. The number of valid signatures required is 683,149. Here's a blank petition. Medical marijuana would be permitted for cancer, glaucoma, HIV positive status, AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis "or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient." The text is only two pages long, lacking much of the detail you see in proposals in other states. It mostly just gives an order to "make it so" to the Department of Health.
- The Alabama Legislature will be considering a bill "to allow parents of children with certain neurological and epileptic disorders to possess cannabidiol." Cannabidiol has also been shown to be the substance in marijuana that helps with glaucoma.
- Meanwhile in Maine, the first state to impose alcohol prohibition (in 1851), the Women's Christian Temperance Union is trying to bring itself back from the grave like a zombie in order to oppose legalization of marijuana. "It's not that we want to be self-righteous and condemn you because you're drinking or drugging or you're smoking pot. It's not that. We want to love you but tell you that there are ill effects," said Rev. David Perkins. Yeah, we know how that goes when a Christian leader tells you he loves you, but just has a few points to discuss with you. The WCTU also opposes gambling, pornography, abortion, gay marriage and sex outside of marriage.
December 14, 2013
Nudes Restored At San Bernardino County Government Center
For five years the Hispanic Employees Alliance of San Bernardino County has hosted an art display at the San Bernardino County Government Center in observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month. This year the exhibit included a few nudes. The county removed those from the exhibit on November 26. A first amendment issue was raised by the ACLU and the National Coalition Against Censorship. The county settled yesterday, agreeing to put the nudes back on display and extend the exhibit until January 17. Originally it was to end on December 2.
It sounds like if the county had rules set up ahead of time as to what could not be displayed then that would have worked, but removing a work from display constituted censorship.
I think that as long as Desert Hot Springs has Dot Reed curating the exhibits at the Carl May Center we will be able to steer clear of any interference from the ACLU.