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.

permalink | January 28, 2016 at 07:57 PM | Comments (0)

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.

permalink | August 16, 2015 at 08:29 AM | Comments (2)

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.

permalink | July 16, 2015 at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

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.

permalink | July 8, 2015 at 02:09 PM | Comments (0)

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.

permalink | April 30, 2015 at 04:40 PM | Comments (0)

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.

Interesting parts:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

permalink | April 21, 2015 at 09:24 AM | Comments (2)

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!

permalink | March 23, 2015 at 09:42 PM | Comments (3)

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.

permalink | March 16, 2015 at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

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.

permalink | March 10, 2015 at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

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.

permalink | September 28, 2014 at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2014

The Effectiveness Of DUI Checkpoints

There were three DUI checkpoints last night that were operated by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department: Perris, Coachella, and Norco.
DUI Checkpoints 8-16-2014

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%).

permalink | August 17, 2014 at 12:57 PM | Comments (1)

June 30, 2014

More About The FAA's Rules On Drones

Bruce Simpson shares his well informed opinion on the FAA's recent "recommendations" regarding UAVs.

permalink | June 30, 2014 at 10:48 AM | Comments (4)

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!"

permalink | June 21, 2014 at 07:21 PM | Comments (1)

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:

Facebook.

permalink | April 24, 2014 at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

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.

permalink | April 22, 2014 at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

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.

permalink | January 8, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

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."

He is the author of High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society

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.

permalink | January 7, 2014 at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

January 4, 2014

Cannabis Legalization Update

A survey of what's happening with marijuana legalization outside of Colorado and Washington:

permalink | January 4, 2014 at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)

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.

permalink | December 14, 2013 at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

Barbara Branden Dead At Age 84

She died this past Wednesday. She was the author of the biography The Passion of Ayn Randand had been living in West Hollywood.

permalink | December 14, 2013 at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)