August 4, 2013
At the DUI checkpoint set up last night on Monterey south of Country Club, 527 of 528 drivers screened were sober enough to drive - that's better than 99.8%. Nine drivers were arrested for suspended license, no license, or outstanding warrants.
July 1, 2013
Riverside Mayor Bailey Demonstrates His Inability To Influence People
Letitia Pepper was removed from a Riverside City Council meeting (upon direction from the Mayor) and arrested by police for clapping after public comments with which she agreed. Jay-zus. That's the best use of their police authority?!
What I have observed at Desert Hot Springs regular city council meetings is that at first people generally don't clap for public comments. But eventually someone will make some politically neutral, but positive comment about the city - maybe something about a volunteer or charity opportunity - and that will generate wide applause. After that, just about every comment will get applause. Sometimes, there's a political comment that will get a small amount of applause from its supporters. I can't see what's wrong with this. People interested in the city show up with opinions and are willing to have their opinions known. There are far, far worse things that could happen; like nobody showing up, nobody having an opinion, or people afraid to express their opinions.
This is the second arrest of a citizen during public comments at a Riverside City Council meeting. There's got to be a money-hungry attorney who sees this opportunity as clearly as I do.
June 18, 2013
Report On Federal Anti-Medical Marijuana Efforts
Americans For Safe Access runs the numbers and includes patient's stories in this 56-page PDF (6.7 MB). Highlights of the highlights: 34% of the American population lives in a state with legal medical marijuana. There are a million medical marijuana
users patients in the U.S. Over the last 17 years there have been 528 federal raids on medical marijuana; 270 (a little more than half) have taken place under the Obama administration. The Bush administration spent $200 million "on enforcement efforts in medical marijuana states." Notice that this careful phrasing does not say that the $200 million was all used against medical marijuana. The Obama administration has spent $300 million "on enforcement efforts in medical marijuana states." That's 4% of DEA's budget.
June 12, 2013
Google's Response To The NSA Story
First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a "back door" to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.
Second, we provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don't follow the correct process. Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users' data are false, period. Until this week's reports, we had never heard of the broad type of order that Verizon received—an order that appears to have required them to hand over millions of users' call records. We were very surprised to learn that such broad orders exist. Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users' Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.
Yesterday they published another post that is a copy of a letter to Attorney General Holder asking him and FBI Director Mueller to "help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures."
On this page Google publishes aggregate data on the number of requests they receive from governments and courts for user data. Here is the data for only American requests. In 2012 they began to break them out by source of request: search warrant, subpoena and "other." Subpoenas make up the great majority of requests. "Other" is the smallest. These data reports cannot show even aggregate numbers of requests that Google is not allowed to make public at all, so there's some invisible dark matter there that we have no way of measuring.
June 9, 2013
According to the Guardian, Snowden is a 29-year-old high-school dropout who trained for the Army Special Forces before an injury forced him to leave the military. His IT credentials are apparently limited to a few "computer" classes he took at a community college in order to get his high-school equivalency degree—courses that he did not complete. His first job at the NSA was as a security guard. Then, amazingly, he moved up the ranks of the United States' national security infrastructure: The CIA gave him a job in IT security. He was given diplomatic cover in Geneva. He was hired by Booz Allen Hamilton, the government contractor, which paid him $200,000 a year to work on the NSA's computer systems.
May 29, 2013
Who Will Be John Galt?
Chances are, you are not one of the seven people who watched both Atlas Shrugged: Part II, but if you were you noticed that there was a complete change of cast. Dagny Taggart went from lightweight Taylor Schilling to Samantha Mathis who at least looks like she's done some work in her life. John Galt, who won't take front stage until "Part III," was played by Paul Johansson in "Part I" and by D.B. Sweeney in "Part II."
And now the people making "Part III" are asking the public for their input on who should play John Galt this time. You will recall that this is the part of the novel where John Galt gets his sex scenes AND delivers the undramatically gargantuan "Galt's Speech." They pose the question this way:
A. As long as the actor looks and acts like John Galt, I don't care what his personal beliefs are.
B. The actor needs to possess a deep understanding of, and passion for, Ayn Rand's ideas first and foremost.
Obviously, choice B will lead to a laughable failure of a movie, but commenters on the page are ignoring the question and simply suggesting actors. Lets see who they want:
Plus this comment: "It's a movie. These are actors. 99% of actors are socialists. You could cast an Objectivist, but he probably would have zero acting ability."
Obviously some of those are jokes (Donald Trump?!), but most seemed to be sincere. John Galt is supposed to be in his 30s, so I've indicated the ages of those who are 60 or older, plus the one teenager. I don't know if these commenters have a blind faith in the ability of an unlimited makeup budget, or if they've never noticed that actors age at the same rate all of us do. Also, the film is supposed to be fairly low budget. Some of these top rank actors would wipe out the whole budget.
California Senate Approves Rational Bill To Regulate Privacy From Unmanned Drones
Nothing radical, crazy or wildly mistaken in SB 15 that I can see. It was passed by the Senate yesterday, 38 to 1. (The No vote came from Senator Anderson.) Basically, all they've done is amend the existing privacy laws to also make it clear that they extend to unmanned drones. It is, for instance, against the law to peep in your neighbor's bathroom window. It will also be against the law to fly an unmanned drone with a camera up to your neighbor's bathroom window. As for law enforcement, if they would have had to get a search warrant to look where they want to look, they still have to get a search warrant if they want to look there with an unmanned drone.
14352. (a) A law enforcement agency shall obtain a search warrant when using an unmanned aircraft system under circumstances where a search warrant is required.
(b) A search warrant is not required for the use of an unmanned aircraft system under circumstances where there is an exception to the search warrant requirement, or under exigent circumstances.
The search warrant will have to specify if an unmanned drone is to be used.
The only completely new thing in the bill is that it forbids installing weapons on unmanned drones. No exceptions. The fine for that is $1,000 (or three months in jail).
Here's the core rule about privacy:
1708.8. (a) A person is liable for physical invasion of privacy when the defendant knowingly enters onto the land of another person without permission or otherwise committed a trespass in order to physically invade the privacy of the plaintiff with the intent to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a personal or familial activity and the physical invasion occurs in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person.
But there is an exception in (g):
1708.8. (g) This section shall not be construed to impair or limit any otherwise lawful activities of law enforcement personnel or employees of governmental agencies or other entities, either public or private who, in the course and scope of their employment, and supported by an articulable suspicion, attempt to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of a person during an investigation, surveillance, or monitoring of any conduct to obtain evidence of suspected illegal activity or other misconduct, the suspected violation of any administrative rule or regulation, a suspected fraudulent conduct, or any activity involving a violation of law or business practices or conduct of public officials adversely affecting the public welfare, health, or safety.
I don't think this is new. But it means that if you think you can use an unmanned drone to capture a video of some government official lounging around his backyard pool on a weekday when he's supposed to be working at his desk, then go right ahead. No law against that! I only ask you to consider if you really want that guy working at his desk, or is he doing less harm at the pool.
May 15, 2013
"Misusing the right of free expression"
In Bahrain "misusing the right of free expression" includes insulting King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (1 year imprisonment), "insulting members of the majority Sunni community," and "insulting the security forces." One wonders what the "right of free expression" is for in Bahrain.
"Bahrain is home base to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet and is also a major offshore financial and services centre for its Arab neighbours in the oil-rich Gulf."
Wikipedia article about Bahrain. An interesting history of being tossed back and forth between regional and global powers, during which there was never any real "right of free expression." The article says human rights improved from 1999 to 2007, and then things went back to normal.
April 27, 2013
The Bill Of Rights As Deconstructed By Fox News
Turns out there's only one amendment in the Bill Of Rights that actually has to be respected. But you knew that already, didn't you?
April 22, 2013
John Waters talks about filth, obscenity, Fred Phelps and crackpot evangelists.
Pasoloni's grave. John Waters says he wants his gravestone to look like Pasolini's. Is this really what he has in mind?
Mr. Waters recommends Salò and Irreversible. I don't know about Irreversible, but you should not go out and rent Salò without doing a little training first. Were you able to watch Pink Flamingos without turning away from the screen - ever? Did you find Caligula entertaining? Do you consider Sebastiane a must-see? If you answered yes to all three, then go ahead, you may be ready to watch Salò.