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  • Sep 30th, 2015 @ 6:04pm

    In defense

    Microsoft: "Come on, what you don't know won't hurt you."

  • Sep 30th, 2015 @ 6:01pm

    There's gold in them there ISP's

    Ever hear of "joint and several liability "? That's the law that allows a car company to be sued along with the man who negligently pushed the woman's wheelchair into the street, so that the car company pays if negligence is found.

    That's what this is about: the theory is that when someone who is a pauper hurts my feelings by calling me "a pencil-necked geek" I should be able to sue them and the ISP, joint and several, and make the ISP pay me the cool million that the pauper will never have.

    Instead of section 230 being eliminated, it should be spread to other areas of liability.

  • Sep 30th, 2015 @ 5:44pm

    Defending corporate greed

    If only we could get the states to defend their citizens' civil rights and comforts as avidly as they defend corporate greed, this country would be a vastly more wonderful place.

  • Sep 30th, 2015 @ 5:27pm

    Excuses up front, please

    (When even the notoriously lax DOJ has concerns...)

    DEA spokesman Joseph Moses said that often happens because it's not until after the Board of Professional Conduct makes its recommendations that employees get to fully present their side of the story. That can prompt human resources officials ultimately to opt for lighter punishment.
    So, what are you saying, Mr. Moses? That there was a good excuse for "Distributing Drugs"? For "Falsifying Official Records"? For "Theft?" For a "Civil Rights" violation?

    Because what you're saying is that, yes, Board of Professional Conduct found they did wrong, but later on they told their side of it and they had a good excuse, so we let it slide.

    Maybe we need to import a variation on that caution from Great Britain, "You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your case if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on as a defense."

    If you save something from the Board of Professional Conduct, you should not be allowed to present it as an excuse later.

  • Sep 29th, 2015 @ 4:26pm

    Thank you

    Thank you and everything, but as far as intrusiveness goes, you rank somewhere under the carpet.

    I swear, the other day when I visited a site, the screen scrolled up and a grasping hand came out wrapped around my neck and another hand came out and slapped me twice across the face; as a sepulchral voice said, "Now pay attention...!"

    (Or at least that's what would have happened if one of these infernal advertising companies could figure out a way to make it work.)

  • Sep 28th, 2015 @ 11:53am

    Papers, please

    I think we can come up with a reasonable analog to this problem in the physical world.

    Suppose a defendant is being charged with a crime, and the government wants certain papers that are presumed evidence. The government is certain the papers exist, as they were seen by another person and (without explanation) we'll also say the government is reasonably sure they were not destroyed.

    But suspecting an upcoming arrest the defendant has hidden the papers somewhere.

    The government can, of course, search anyplace the papers might seem to reasonably be, and has searched without success.

    The question is: Can the government compel the defendant to reveal the hiding place, without violating the defendant's Fifth Amendment Rights?
    To me, it seems the answer is no, because revealing the location of the papers inevitably leads to the defendant's incrimination. Therefore, to compel the defendant to reveal the location is to compel him to inevitably incriminate himself: a violation of Fifth Amendment Right.

    Likewise, as mentioned in the article, the password seems to lead inevitably to incrimination and should be subject to Fifth Amendment protection.

  • Sep 26th, 2015 @ 10:24am

    Re: Re: Re:

    And yet I don't get to declare my massive consumer fraud a "simple training intervention to improve the intelligence of dumb consumers." Imagine that.

  • Sep 26th, 2015 @ 9:11am


    (Disclaimer: I was bullied as a kid---suffered all the creative ways they could think of to bully me including being threatened with a knife and choked to unconsciousness--so I have damned little sympathy for bullies.)

    I think this is an overreaction. The reality is that anything you do can be used as evidence against you in court, in the right circumstances. For example, buying a baseball bat is fairly innocent--unless you are accused of clubbing someone to death, whereupon it becomes very relevant indeed.

    I think a relevant question is, "In the absence of any other bullying activity, would unfriending constitute bullying?"

    Let me quote again, with edits, Josh Bornstein:

    "What the Fair Work Commission did find is that a pattern of [...]

    unreasonable behaviour, [and]
    hostile behaviour, [and]
    belittling behaviour

    over [a long] period

    which [features] a range of different behaviours...

    including berating, [and]
    excluding and
    so on,

    ...constituted a workplace bullying.

    Perhaps his statement isn't the clearest that could be made, but parsed out, it is clear that that it wasn't the unfriending by itself that got Bird in trouble.

    What got Bird in trouble was the (from the ruling) evidence of "18 separate instances of unreasonable behavior" against Roberts, just one of which was Bird unfriending Roberts on Facebook.

    So what is bullying?

    "Mr. Boyd was shocked by the actions and tone of voice of Mrs. Bird." When the third party visitor is shocked, that's evidence of bullying.

    When Roberts complains that a work item is deliberately left undone in an inbox for 9 days and Mr Bird is told it was filed "in the wrong folder", that's certainly of interest. But Roberts showed the request form to Mr. Bird on that date...did she get it from the inbox or from the "misfiled folder"? Evidence of bullying.

    Mrs. Bird willfully damaged Roberts' relationship with clients: evidence of bullying.

    When you accuse an employee of being a lesbian because the client is, when you tease the employee about sexual matters, that's evidence of bullying.

    Etc. Frankly, I think even these few are enough, so I'm not going to bother to continue.

    Unfriending is just icing on the cake.

    So taken on whole, yes unfriending can be evidence. It's not proof by itself, but if you're a bully then you will show lots of nasty behaviors (including maybe unfriending). When all that proof of your misbehavior is brought into court, you will--or at least should--get what you deserve.

  • Sep 25th, 2015 @ 2:29am

    Hemp without psychoactives

    "Other scientists have coaxed yeast into producing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), one of the psychoactive compounds in marijuana."

    What I've been waiting for is someone to produce a hemp plant without any psychoactive compounds. I think having such a variant would add a lovely level of confusion to the ban on hemp plants, because hemp is valuable for other reasons besides smoking.

  • Sep 25th, 2015 @ 2:11am

    Settling doesn't mean a weak case

    Come on, plaintiffs in a lawsuit offer to settle all the time, even if the case is strong. In fact, especially if the case is strong, because it saves all those lawyer fees.

    We're all familiar with this approach, we've seen it on TV: "This is a nice little place; you wouldn't want anything to happen to it. Give us a little 'gratuity' to keep it safe."

  • Sep 21st, 2015 @ 10:09pm


    What the world is wrong with Hayward PD? If you want an FOIA request to go away, you need to demand, like, $300,000. You gotta use the big hammer if you want these slimy snoops to crawl back under their rock.

  • Sep 19th, 2015 @ 12:19pm

    Despotic authority

    I don't know why this is such a surprise. Fact is, TSA doesn't give a shit about any aspect of security.

    What it does care about, and always has, is its authority: its ability to impose despotic requirements on citizens, make the citizens jump through hoops, spend lots of taxpayer money (influence buying), and (from time to time) its authority to arrest citizens on trumped-up charges.

    Take that three ounce requirement for liquid containers. How many people seriously think that a limit of three ounces (actually, 3.4 ounces, 100 mL) of nitroglycerin or acetone peroxide is likely to save the plane? Right.

    No, in my estimation, the 100 mL limit was set for one reason alone: because it was not possible to buy a container of mouthwash/whatever of 100 mL or less. In other words, an absolute ban, with a pretense that it's not really absolute because, "We permit 3.4 ounces," and an absolute ban might be seen as "unreasonable".

    Power, despotic authority, that's the only goal. If you get a little pretend security on the side: nobody's perfect.

  • Sep 18th, 2015 @ 11:34am

    Third Amendment

    It must violate some of their Rights, it just has to. First Amendment, Second Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Fourth Amendment. They'd claim it violated their Third Amendment rights if they could come up with a theory...wait, military possible...

  • Sep 17th, 2015 @ 8:14pm

    Dumbest. Law. Ever

    "A hoax bomb includes a device that by its design causes reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency."

    Over-broad? This is positively pan-galactic.

    According to this, a camera flash that causes a blink is a bomb. All those cellphones, I've seen a officials react to the phone ringing in their they should be arrested, right?

    "Kid shakes teacher's hand with a hand buzzer...convicted of having a hoax megaton nuke. Details at 11."

  • Sep 16th, 2015 @ 11:20am

    Coming soon? Hope springs eternal...

    Moore's Law and other advances in computing pretty much guarantee that 76 percent success rate will rise inexorably...

    If the Jordanians have done this publicly, you can bet that NSA has done it, and better, in secret.

    NSA builds this technology and uses it for years; snickering evilly behind its black cloth. Then someone comes up with a public version and everyone thinks it's "new." Hope springs eternal in the human breast, but in the case of the NSA, there is no hope: only surveillance.

  • Sep 14th, 2015 @ 9:38am


    The original story was page one, "China Spies!!" in 220 point red ultra bold type. Now they are "showing their ass" in section D, page 12, the 2 inches at the bottom of the fourth column, right under the nude boobies. Now which do you suppose has the greatest influence on the public and the politicians, hmmmm?

  • Sep 14th, 2015 @ 5:30am

    The life and Rights of one citizen

    That's one of the biggest problems we have with "law and justice" these days: First, it is neither law nor justice. Second, collateral damage is irrelevant. Who cares about the life and rights of one citizen when DOJ is trying to deter lawbreakers? Especially when they can make political propaganda at the same time?

    And if the poor, pitiful, picked-on "widdle" citizen feels he's been wronged, he can always go to court and grab a million or two of taxpayer money. See? All better now, and we didn't even have to admit wrongdoing.

    One citizen at a time, like potato chips. But it's not like there's a pattern of activity here that needs to be reigned in, oh no. These are all isolated incidents.

  • Sep 11th, 2015 @ 6:21am

    We're off...really off...

    Follow the yellow brick road! ♪♫♩
    Follow the yellow brick road! ♪♫♩
    Follow the yellow brick road! ♪♫♩

  • Sep 10th, 2015 @ 5:44pm

    Re: Re: Breach of contract

    Okay, yes, mea culpa, it's Telluride that was sued, not Elliot or WB. It changes nothing: It was Telluride that was about to cause the breach.

    WB apparently had an agreement with Franklin. That's what the lawsuit says. And part of the agreement was that WB had a duty, and another part of the agreement was that WB had to pass that same duty on to anyone it sold any rights to; and that, should it happen, that party in turn had a duty to pass that duty on to anyone it sold any rights to. That's what "and assignees" means, it means that you can't shirk the responsibility by selling the rights to your shell corporation so the shell corporation can do what it wants.

    So however Telluride got the rights, it has that duty, because it is an assignee. Maybe it wasn't told of the duty, in which case Elliot or WB already breached the contract. That does not change Telluride's role as assignee; the contract binds it whether it knew about the duty or not.

    Someone sells you a property, and there's an easement on the property. You didn't find that out, for whatever reason, and the seller carefully neglected to mention it. But when the owner of the easement shows up to claim his right, you are stuck: neither your lack of care nor the seller's breach overcomes the right of the easement owner.

    Franklin owns, or claims to own, the equivalent of an easement in this property. If her lawsuit is true, she is entitled to relief because of the right that she owns: It's not a First Amendment issue and not a copyright issue in that case; it's a contract issue.

    (Copyright is about binding people you do not have a contract with, in order to protect your property rights. That's very different than where you have an explicit contract right.)

    It is entirely premature to say, "She took their First Amendment right," if her property right is antecedent. It is just as premature to say this is a copyright issue, even though there's a touch of that claim in the lawsuit. The primary claim is an issue of property ownership that, as stated, means they owe her action before they can take action.

    I don't see what is so hard to understand about this.

  • Sep 10th, 2015 @ 8:26am

    Breach of contract

    Sorry, this one is over the top. Assuming the filing is accurate, the owner/assignee of the film had an affirmative contractual duty to obtain Franklin's permission before showing it; and possibly to make payments that were never made. This takes it out of the realm of IP law and into the realm of contracts--and breach of contract.

    Elliot, who is the putative assignee, may not have been told of this when he purchased the rights, which actually makes WB the party that committed the breach. But if Elliot were to be allowed to show it, the specter of irremediable harm raises its head, also know in our world as, "Ha, ha! We already showed it! What are you going to do about it?"

    Fait accompli. Blocked before showing, Franklin has leverage over Elliot (and possibly WB, which I suspect failed to disclose the duty to Elliot). They're cornered: it must be resolved before showing. After showing: WB and Elliot can drag out the court arguments for years; gee, where did their urgency go?

    Brought to a judge's attention in time, an incipient contract breach promising irremediable harm will always get an injunction.

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