Natura non facit saltus
Debunking the Paradigm Shifters
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Friday, Feb 28, 2003
The facts are slowly emerging concering the RI nightclub inferno.Joe responds:
I haven't followed this too closely, but are we talking about using polyurethane indoors without covering it with fire-rated drywall? A building owner or inspector is a complete idiot if he doesn't know that any sort of insulation of this type must be covered with taped, fire-rated sheetrock. This is about as basic as it gets. Any insurance company safety inspector would know this as well.Andy responds:
Joe, the flammable polyurethane was the soundproofing. I don't see how it could be covered with fire-resistant drywall.
The 9th Circuit is digging in its heals, and sticking to its opinion that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. AP story here. The ruling says that it was a violation of the 1A for Congress to pass a resolution adding the phrase "under God" to the Pledge. I guess they want the US Supreme Court to clarify some earlier opinions. Look for a 9-0 reversal.
I still say that Michael Newdow wants to get God out of his life, he should change his name. Michael is a biblical name meaning "he who is like God". (From BabyNames.com)
John sends this ABC News story saying that the RI nightclub bought cheap foam packing materials, not acoustic insulation. The seller had fire retardant foam at twice the price.
Free college for illegal aliens
A PR campaign is publicizing the California law that lets illegal aliens avoid the tuition fees that out-of-state citizens pay. The SJMN says:
California was one of the first states in the United States to adopt such a law, along with Utah and New York. Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Wisconsin are considering similar proposals. Texas has a more generous law: It allows undocumented students to also apply for state financial aid.I thought that NYC had quit giving a free pass to illegal aliens, but I guess not. I think the argument is that the illegal aliens are more likely to stay and live in the state than out-of-state citizens, so it is better to have them educated. I think that illegal aliens should be deported.
An Eagle Forum newsletter says:
SHOULD ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS RECEIVE IN-STATE TUITION BREAKS? Most state systems of higher education charge a much higher tuition rate to out-of-state students, on the theory that while it is beneficial to have students from other states and nations on campus, the schools are largely supported by the taxpayers of the state, and should primarily benefit the state's citizens..
Thursday, Feb 27, 2003
Why do CPUs need so many pins? The Intel Tejas is going to have 775 contacts.
I'm still wondering about the building code violations at the nightclub "The Station," which tragically burned down in only three minutes in Rhode Island. Newspaper reports say that its use of the highly inflammable polyurethane soundproofing predates the fire inspection and approval last December. The governor's spokesman was quoted as saying that "If it was (polyurethane), then the governor's going to want an answer to the question, 'Why was it there?'"I doubt that the building code lists all the things that not allowed. It probably says that the ceiling or sound insulation has to have a certain fire resistance rating, and the inspectors didn't check the actual material in use. Maybe he should have, but inspectors don't check everything.
It is a good point that all these regulations should be online and readily available. It shouldn't be so difficult for the news media to find out.
I checked the Rhode Island statutes and rules some more, and found that it does limit interior materials based on their "flamespread rating." And how is that defined? As follows:I guess Andy is suggesting that 96 people died because some fire code was copyrighted. But I'm still having trouble connecting the dots. NFPA is National Fire Prevention Association, ASTME is American Society of Tool & Manufacturing Engineers, and UL is Underwriters Laboratories. No doubt these organizations take what should be public domain standards, and claim bogus copyrights on them. And yes, asbestos is out of favor because of junk science, primarily. But the nightclub wanted soundproofing material on its ceiling, not insulation, so it wouldn't be using asbestos anyway. And did the copyright really keep the inspector from knowing that polyurethane is highly combustible?"(40) Flamespread rating. The term "flamespread rating" shall mean the classification of materials in accordance with the method of testing the surface burning characteristics of building materials as described in N.F.P.A. pamphlet 255, A.S.T.M.E.-84, and U.L. 723, in which asbestos cement board rates zero (0) on the scale, and red oak lumber, one hundred (100). "Two for the price of one! First, asbestos is so perfectly fire resistance that the scale for flamespread is defined by using it as 0. Yet it is banned based on junk science.
Andy refers to an ongoing legal battle over who owns the law. The latest is Veeck v. SBCCI, which said that laws like building and fire codes cannot be copyrighted. The US Supreme Court is deciding whether to hear the case.
According to this site,
In the Station fire, for example, while the band and the nightclub’s owners argue over whether permission to use pyrotechnics was given, neither side considered safety measures like those suggested by National Fire Protection Association 1126, Standard for the Use of Pyrotechnics before a Proximate Audience.As a result of the RI fire, the NFPA has agreed to post its publication 1126. It says:
This document is copyrighted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). By making this document available for use and adoption by public authorities and others, the NFPA does not waive any rights in copyright to this document.It goes on to say that lawmakers can copy the code royalty-free to the extent that they need copies to pass the laws, but that everyone else has to pay. It was first published in 1992, with minor revisions in 1996.
So normally it has not been readily available on the internet. Some states, including Oklahoma and Texas, have apparently adopted it into law (with NFPA's encouragement). In Texas, the controlling legal authority says that laws and codes can be put on the internet. This wasn't. I don't know whether RI had adopted it.
It seems theoretically possible that if Veeck v. SBCCI had been respected nationally and legally binding fire codes were put on the web, then either the RI nightclub or the band would have downloaded and read NFPA 1126, and 96 lives would have been saved. A similar statement might also be true about the soundproofing material.
If the US Supreme Court agrees to hear Veeck v. SBCCI, then it will be swamped with amicus briefs by NFPA who will argue that restrict access with copyright is somehow in the public interest. That's what they did in the 5th Circuit, and the argument convinced some of the judges.
The argument is that the codes would not exist, or have lower quality, if there were no copyright. But I think that this is false. According to this NFPA article, the pyrotechnic codes are enthusiastically endorsed by Disney and other amusement parks. I wouldn't be surprised if the codes were written by Disney safety officials. These companies have a strong interest in safety procedures, and in having a public consensus in what those safety procedures are. They want their customers to be safe, and if anything does go wrong, they want a paper trail that shows that they did everything properly and according to industry norms. Disney has no interest in the copyright to the codes. It lets NPFA have the copyright because it wants NPFA adoption. NPFA in turn makes money off of the copyright as states enact the codes into law, but that money probably does not go into writing better codes.
Banned words from textbooks
John sends this SacBee article:
See if you can guess what these 12 seemingly disparate words and phrases have in common: Lumberjack, one-man band, junk bonds, heroine, hut, extremist, fraternize, dialect, busybody, senile, fanatic, minority group.It is censorship from the Left.
InstaPundit has this link to a Jonah Goldberg piece on McCarthyism, and this response.
The American Left pretends that the greatest abuses of govt power in world history are the 1940s Japanese internment and the 1950s McCarthyism. And yet it is difficult to find any harm that came from McCarthy's activities. The above response can only mention the Fred Fisher episode. That was a Senate hearing in which McCarthy had been asked repeatedly to name someone who belonged to a Communist organization, and he named Fisher. Another senator denounced McCarthy for smearing Fisher, but McCarthy was completely correct. He was not betraying confidential info either, as the NY Times has said the same thing 2 months earlier. You find more details in this McCarthy article. I've seen the TV footage of that Fischer episode, and I couldn't see anything wrong with what McCarthy did. Articles praising McCarthy can be found here and here.
In looking this up, I found a story that McCarthy had made a deal with his adversary, Sen. Welch, that Welch wouldn't mention Roy Cohn's homosexuality if McCarthy didn't mention Fisher's commie past. (Cohn worked for McCarthy and Fisher worked for Welch.) Welch first broke the deal by referring to Cohn on national TV as a "fairy".
McCarthy was censured by a bipartisan vote of the US Senate for making reckless accusations. How do you explain that?The resolution to condemn McCarty is here. It passed 67-22. It really only concerned McCarthy's dealings with committees that had been set up to investigate McCarthy himself. It said that he failed to cooperate with one of them, and that he publicly called the other one a "lynch party". All other charges were dropped. It sounds like it was a lynch party to me.
InstaPundit gets flak on this, such as:
What McCarthy did do was accuse everyone under the sun of being a communist. If you had belonged to the communist party as a student in the 30s, you were a communist. If you belonged to the ACLU, you were a communist.No. McCarthy didn't want commies in the State Dept deciding foreign policy. His main accusation was that there many commies in the govt, and that commies are traitors, and he was right.
Affirmative action bake sale
John sends this story about Cal and Stanford U. students having bake sales with different prices for whites, orientals, and blacks.
Man shoots dogs
John sends another wacky California dog story. A man shot a couple of pit bulls that climbed into his apartment window and killed his extremely rare purebred dog. The sheriff said the shooting was justified because the dogs kept attacking him and he was in fear of his life. I would think that it should always be justified to shoot pit bulls on your property.
Europe speaks English
John sends this Economist article about how the European Union has switched from French to English as the standard language for euro communications.
FROM his desk at the European Commission's office in Warsaw, Bruno Dethomas has been gloomily monitoring the decline of his native French within the European Union. “When I left Brussels in 1995,” he remarks (in perfect English), “70% of the documents crossing my desk were written in French. Nowadays 70% are in English.” ...There has been a world-wide trend towards English as well. The French language has become almost completely useless. (The French people too, for that matter.)
Wednesday, Feb 26, 2003
Things are looking bleak. GWB has mortgaged everything -- the economy, govt spending, foreign relations, domestic credibility -- on taking over Iraq. Worse, many conservatives are following GWB down this rathole. Human Events may never recover from this. How much is this fiasco costing us in secret deals with Mexico, Turkey and others to buy their support?
Product compatibility is a crime
It had been considered settled law that a game company could legally sell games that plug into a game console and evade whatever technology it might have to limit the game playing to licensed games. Eg, see Sega v. Accolade or Sony v. Connectix. Isaac says:
I think it's settled law that copyright law does not prevent writing games for a game console without permission from the console manufacturer, and that game emulators do not infringe unless the emulator contains infringing code.
Those cases were before the DMCA. Now the feds have shut down a site that sold Msft Xbox and Sony PlayStation mod chips that allowed users to play unlicensed games. The feds have seized the domain name. John sends this MSNBC story.
This is unfortunate, and unnecessary. The only reason those Xbox mod chips work at all is because of Msft bugs. Msft shouldn't need criminal to protect its revenue stream from customers taking advantage of bugs to play additional games.
I didn't know that dogs could be racist.
Right to protest
Andy criticized M. Estrada because he wrote a brief supporting applying RICO laws to abortion protesters. He was working for Clinton's US DoJ at the time.
Today, the US Supreme Court just decided not to apply RICO to abortion protesters. Abortion protesters have rights that other political protesters have. The vote was 8-1, with only Stevens dissenting. A critical point is that the RICO charge required proving extortion, but that is impossible because the protesters never asked for any money or property from the abortion clinics.
So Estrada wrote a brief for what must be considered a radical pro-abortion position. It doesn't really prove anything, because he was following Clinton's orders.
How to smoke scallops
You can learn to smoke scallops at the Kitchen Conservatory in St. Louis. Anne sells gadgets online, and they are all top-quality.
Stuart Taylor has a defense of Poindexter's TIA. He says:
Poindexter's job is limited to developing software. And even without the Wyden amendment, TIA would give investigators access only to databases and records -- government and nongovernment -- that they already have a right to access. Its most basic function would be simply to expedite the kinds of intelligence-sharing that might have thwarted the Sept. 11 attacks, by linking the government's own databases with one another and with any legally accessible private databases. The goal is to enable investigators to amass in minutes clues that now could take weeks or months to collect.This Florida column sides with the "sharply conservative Eagle Forum".
Tuesday, Feb 25, 2003
Lie detector info
A Politech/Farber/Jim Warren article says that someone wants to ban info on beating a lie detector test.
The cat is out of the bag. The lie detector test is mainly a sham, and many good sites on the web expose the details. Eg, the FAS has a good site on the subject. The results are unreliable, and hence not usable in court, but the test is still sometimes useful as an intimidation tool.
Illegal alien transplant
Fox's O'Reilly takes up the case of the illegal alien transplant case that wasted millions of dollars of American medical care. O'Reilly says that it would be immoral for the mom to sue the medicos for making the blood type error.
I say that such lawsuits should be illegal as well. Why should criminals abusing the system be paid millions of dollars just because some physician made an honest mistake? The patient could buy insurance against a bad outcome, if the patient really wanted to do that, and had the money. This patient was essentially a thief who was stealing medical care in the first place. She didn't want to pay for insurance, just as she didn't want to pay for the operation.
I guess I am supposed to sympathize with the mom because her daughter just died, but that mom didn't allow her daughter's organs be used to save anyone else, and her lawsuit is going to cut off funds that would otherwise be used to save lives. She has caused a lot of harm, and never should have been let into this country.
I just listened to left-wing SF talk show host Bernie Ward go into one of his anti-Bush monologues. He complains that:
No doubt most of the ABA voters are biased. Ward seems to be unhappy that someone with a pro-Bush bias might have slipped in.
Monday, Feb 24, 2003
Matt complains about some copyright issues. My response:
You made several points. You said that album sales are down for the first time in history. Where I live, all sorts of businesses are suffering declines. Is the music industry supposed to be immune from business cycles?George writes:
Of course PressPlay and MusicNet are more legitimate services. They are pay-for-music services. Napster users did not pay anything.PressPlay and MusicNet have fees, but the money goes to the music labels, not the artists. Why should the labels get the money? They don't get money when music is played on the radio.
My objection to PressPlay and MusicNet is that they involve conspiracies among monopolistic music labels to control the distribution of music. There are 5 big labels that dominate the music market, and they have colluded to restrict online music. It might be ok if each label had its own exclusive online music seller, or if the labels offered music to any online seller according to a set schedule, but I object to them conspiring to offer joint deals to a preferred seller and then refusing to offer the same deal to other online sellers. Napster was not allowed to distribute music at any price.
Trashing the IA-64
Linus Torvalds trashes the Intel Itanium. It does look Intel has completely blown the shift to 64-bit processors. The Itanium cannot keep up with the Pentium, and unless Intel does a 64-bit Pentium soon, AMD will get the 64-bit x86 market.
Andy is still suspicious that regulatory problems are at the root of the RI nightclub fire:
Roger writes, " I don't know if some RI fire dept signed off on a death trap. We'll see."
Is Google too powerful?
A BBC article tells about Google taking over the blogosphere, and suggest that Google now has such monopoly power that it should be regulated. You can find other criticisms at Google-Watch.
Google's takeover of the internet has been phenomenal, and their power over popular searches makes them seem to have greater control than AOL, MSN, or Yahoo.
I don't think that Google's monopoly power is so great. It has a number of competent competitors. Google is the best, but others would fill the need if Google were unavailable. Besides Yahoo and the big ISP, here are some:
Update: Overture has just acquired Fast Search and Transfer, an excellent Finnish seach engine. Last week it bought AltaVista, which used to be the king of search. Overture was already huge, as it supplies search ads to AOL and MSN. So Overture should be a strong and worthy competitor to Google. Others, like Northern Light, are good, but not making money and may not last.
Bad copy laws
McCullagh argues that Congress should not pass any law on copy protection. Whether it passes pro-industry or pro-consumer laws, they are apt to do more harm than good. He still wants to repeal some bad laws, like the DMCA.
Andy sends this article about abortion politics interfering with cancer research.
Civil war movie
I usually watch Ebert-Roeper movie reviews and find them useful, but this time Ebert has completely trashed two movies for reasons that are almost entirely political. I haven't see the movies, Gods and Generals, and The Life Of David Gale. I may not see these movies, but Ebert's reasoning is absurd. His big gripe with David Gale is that it fails to make an anti-death penalty statement:
I am sure the filmmakers believe their film is against the death penalty. I believe it supports it and hopes to discredit the opponents of the penalty as unprincipled fraudsters.He trashes Gods And Generals as movie that would appeal to Civil War buffs who think historical accuracy is a virtue, but less enlightened than "Gone With the Wind," and too impartial. He gives it a poor score of 1.5 stars -- David Gale only got 0 stars!
Bob says he is going to write a letter to the SJ Mercury News for its political review of David Gale. It was similar to Ebert.
Gumma writes: "So you get your movie advice from the critics?"
Update: Bob sent this letter to the SJMN editor:
I congratulate Glenn Lovell's forthrightness in his review of "The Life of David Gale" on February 20. Mr. Lovell makes clear what he is attempting to do in his reviews. I had always suspected that he reviewed movies on political correctness rather than entertainment value or whether the movie had something interesting to say. The core of Mr. Lovell's review is contained in "Instead of mounting a fierce argument against socially sanctioned killing, Parker gives the other side ammunition and allows those predisposed to executions to exit feeling smug and reassured in their beliefs". I wonder how would Mr. Lovell have reviewed an excellent film that took a solid pro capital punishment point of view. I suspect that Mr. Lovell would have been compelled to attempt to invent the negative star. The hypocrisy of this position is astonishing. The majority of Hollywood action movies, which Mr. Lovell sometimes sprinkles with stars, kill off the bad guys without even the benefit of a trial.
What is scent?
A new book, 'The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession, and the Last Mystery of the Senses' by Chandler Burr, tells the story of a non-establishment scientist named Turin who has a theory that odors are based on vibrational frequencies of molecules. Here are NY Times and Wash Post reviews. His theory is 10 or 15 years old, and not (yet) accepted. His theory is outlandish, but quite testable, and we should have a resolution soon.
I heard an interview with Turin years ago. I find his theory and evidence compelling. I agree that it is testable. Maybe now that there is a book it will get tested. There are going to be some big losers when this is settled. The other interesting point is that humans have around 1k genes for smell receptors, which amounts to many of the receptors that dogs have. Only a few hundred remain functional. Not being able to smell some things doesn't decrease fitness in humans.
Gov. Davis recall
The SJ Mercury news found a letter writer who defends Gov. Davis against the recall effort. He says, "it will not work ... Recalling him will not make a difference." In between, he has a scathing attack on Davis. No one likes him. No one thinks he is doing a good job. His only support comes from folks who worry that an alternative might be as bad or worse. It is hard to see how anyone could be as bad.
Sunday, Feb 23, 2003
Andy likes the News And Notes rewrite, and says:
Re witchhunt over RI nightclub fire, Roger writes "There is probably a permit needed for indoor pyrotechnic displays. If the regulators did not give the permit, what's the problem?"If the nightclub or any other business willfully violated fire codes and people died as a result, then there should be some nasty penalties. I don't know what, but I expect someone to do some jail time.
In building my house, I had to get various permits from govt agencies, and the fire dept. was the most powerful and rigid. They get their way. I ended up with a sprinkler system in my house. I'm not complaining, just describing how it is here in California. I don't know if some RI fire dept signed off on a death trap. We'll see.
Prior to the 2 recent fires, I think the most spectacular one was at the swank Coconut Grove night club in Boston about 1942. Your Schlafly cousins, Peggy and (I think) Charles Disbrow were in that fire and were among the few who got out. I think Charles found a window. This was a spectacular event in the Schlafly family years ago.
The story of Jesica Santillan and her two failed double transplants has gotten big news, but hardly anyone mentions the fact that she was an illegal alien from Mexico who came to the USA just to freeload on American medical services. She ended up wasting 2 good hearts, 2 pairs of good lungs, and 100s of thousands of dollars in medical care. Now her family will probably file a medical malpractice lawsuit, and waste 100s of thousands of more dollars.
Yes, I did notice that she was an illegal alien. But what are the terrible $$$ costs of all this medical work, both operations? I understand that some local donor paid for the first, but news didn't say how much. ($150,000 ???) But even so, with the hundreds of people waiting for organs, how could the organs go to an illegal alien? Of course, Duke paid for the second. But putting that kid through a useless second operation was just face saving for Duke at the expense of useless torture and useless hope for the kid and parents. They never should have done the second.Now it turns out that the girl's family is refusing to donate her organs to others that might need them.
Nightclub fire witchhunt
Witchhunt begins concerning RI nightclub fire that killed 95. Some fireworks sparklers were used as part of a stage show, whereupon the building burned to a crisp in just a few minutes. Experts say the occupants had only 30 seconds to get out and survive.The News And Notes item said:
EAGLE FORUM CREDITED FOR STOPPING GOVERNMENT SNOOPING. In the name of combating terrorism, the Pentagon initiated Total Information Awareness (TIA), a project to collect a lifetime paper trail of bank records, medical files, credit card purchases, academic records, and other gossip on the private lives of law-abiding Americans. The lead bureaucrat on this plan for "data mining" of private information is Adm. John Poindexter, who was convicted of 5 felony counts of lying to Congress about Iran-Contra (conviction overturned on procedural grounds). The Senate stopped this plan to treat all citizens as suspects by a vote of 100 to 0, and the House has agreed. The Pentagon will be barred from any deployment of the technology against U.S. citizens without prior Congressional approval. New York Times columnist William Safire credits Eagle Forum as the lead conservative organization against TIA, as well as some leftwing civil liberties groups. New York Times, 2-13-03Ok, he has a point. Perhaps Andy would rewrite it as follows:
EAGLE FORUM BLAMED FOR DERAILING PLAN TO CATCH ILLEGAL ALIEN TERRORISTS. In the name of combating terrorism, the Pentagon initiated Total Information Awareness (TIA), a research project to see if potential enemies and terrorists can be identified by combing government records. The leader of this research project for "data mining" of computer records is Adm. John Poindexter, who is mainly famous for facing vindictive Democratic prosecutors during the Reagan administration. Poindexter heroically supported anti-communist forces in Central America and was instrumental in helping Reagan win the Cold War. Leftists hated him for this, and for his refusal to save his own skin by implicating Reagan, so they prosecuted him for some obscure technicalities in his anti-communist efforts. An appellate court ultimated vindicated him on all counts. Rather than just wait to see what can be done with the technology, Congress passed a symbolic resolution to bar the Pentagon from any deployment of the technology against U.S. citizens without prior Congressional approval. New York Times columnist William Safire credits Eagle Forum as abandoning the other conservative organizations and joining a coalition of leftwing groups in a hysterical anti-Poindexter smear campaign.
Saturday, Feb 22, 2003
Marbury v. Madison
The InstaPundit is at a Marbury v. Madison symposium. Academic law prof types are in love with the 1803 Marbury v. Madison decision of the US Supreme Court, saying that it established the power of judicial review for the Supreme Court. The case is widely misinterpreted. What happened was that the SC refused to take an action that was authorized by an Act of Congress, but which the SC believed to be unconstitutional. Of anything, it only established that the SC itself had to abide by the Constitution.
Valid point, but a distinction without a difference. If the SC denies enforcement of an Act of Congress, then it's null and void for everyone. That's what judicial review is.An unconstitutional act is null and void for everyone, even before the SC expresses an opinion. Law prof types are in love with Marbury v. Madison, but it was really a trivial case of no consequence. Academics like the notion of judicial review, because it suggests that unelected intellectuals can sit around and decide what laws are acceptable and what are not. But that's not what the US Constitution says, and it is not what Marbury v. Madison says.
Does innovation require intellectual property rights?
Some economists debate this. This Reason article discusses work that claims to show that our IP protection goes too far, and actually stifles innovation.
John sends this story about California officials who cannot seem to figure out what to do with vicious child-mauling pit bull dogs that were abandoned. Some things ought to be obvious. They couldn't figure out how to punish the owner, either.
Friday, Feb 21, 2003
Phyllis's column on copyright extremists got some criticism.
I am writing to protest Ms. Schlafly's January 1, 2003 column entitled "Copyright Extremists Should Not Control Information Flow". In that column Ms. Schlafly has mischaracterized much of the entertainment industry's current efforts to combat unauthorized copying. As an author and copyright owner herself, it is astonishing that Ms. Schlafly does not exhibit a better understanding of these issues.The essence of your objection is that you don't like your clients being called "copyright extremists".
Listening to music on a computer usually involves copying without authorization. You apparently oppose that. I think that the Naval students should be able to listen to music on their computers. Some of those students are about to be called in battle in the service of our country, and I think that it is terribly unfair for copyright extremists like yourself to derail their careers for merely listening to music on a computer.
Mrs. Schlafly is well aware of the Constitutional issues. Those founding fathers creating a copyright system in which authors get protection for 14 years, renewable for another 14 years by the author if he is still alive. Those who advocate copyright protection of 120+ years, as the current law sometimes allows, are indeed copyright extremists.
Another writer complains that album sales have dipped for the first time in history, that file-sharing is 60% of internet usage, and that online music should be acquired from PressPlay because it has the blessings of the big music labels.
I don't agree that acquiring music from PressPlay is any more legitimate than that from the Napster clones. With PressPlay, the money goes to the big music labels, not the artists. It is a conspiracy to restrain the trade of online music. Napster was not allowed a similar deal at any price. See the US DoJ investigation of PressPlay and MusicNet.
Music CD sales increased the entire time that Napster was in operation, and only dipped after Napster got shut down. Maybe sales dropped because Napster got shut down. Or maybe it is the economic slump. Where I live, business is down for practically everyone from what it was a couple of years ago. Why should the music industry be immune from business cycles?
Another explanation for the sales dip is the lack of good music. There are fewer new CDs on the market, and hardly any new stars. Music quality has been much better in previous decades. When the quality is down, the sales should be down also.
There might be some college dorms where file-sharing is 60% of internet usage, but overall it is probably more like 5%.
The entertainment industry lawyer responds:
I thought I had made a pretty well-reasoned criticism of Mrs. Schlafly's column. You want to trivialize it by assuming that I simply don't like my clients being called extremists.I think that the essence of your objection *is* that you don't like your clients being called "copyright extremists". You complain that she mischaracterizes the issues, but I think you you are mischaracterizing them.
You say that you oppose all unauthorized copying. Nearly all of the music CDs that I have say that unauthorized duplication is prohibited by law, and they do not authorize copying to my personal computer for personal use.
As you say, such personal copying is generally considered lawful. That is, people other than your copyright extremist clients consider it lawful. But the fact remains that the big majority of computer music is unauthorized.
I don't even necessarily agree that acquiring music from PressPlay is more legitimate than from other channels. Last I heard, PressPlay was being investigated by the US DoJ for conspiring to restrain trade.
Current US copyright protection is for life plus 70 years, not life plus 50 years. If you are not sure whether life plus 50 years is too long, can you agree that life plus 70 years is too long?
Thursday, Feb 20, 2003
Oil and water mix
No, this is not a political statement. John sends this discovery that oil and water mix if the gases are removed from the water.
Intel wants to abolish the BIOS, and replace it with a mini-OS called Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI). It sounds great, if it is done right. If software companies think that it is just an opportunity to change people's configuration, it could be a mess.
Bob sends this discussion of object oriented programming. One of the current programming fads is a simplistic notion called design patterns. The pattern guru is someone who is not even a programmer:
Alexander is known for the enigmatic thesis that well-designed buildings and towns must have "the quality without a name." He explains: "The fact that this quality cannot be named does not mean that it is vague or imprecise. It is impossible to name because it is unerringly precise."The OOP advocates hate the goto, but praise spaghetti like this:
Thus a five-pointed star could be a subclass both of pentagon and of self-intersecting-polygon and could inherit methods from both.Bob says:
You might mention my analysis of design patterns as the astrology of computer science. It amounts to classifying problems according to something analogous to their astrological sign.
This web site has a good collection of conspiracy theories.
Flaw in SSL
A significant flaw in OpenSSL has been found. OpenSSL is the most popular software for secure web transactions. Another story is here. (This is unrelated to the patent infringement lawsuit.)
SSL is probably the most popular crypto protocol in the world. The latest version is called TLS. It is pretty good, but it does have a number of annoying problems. Some are:
There are fixes available for the Microsoft, Verisign, and OpenSSL bugs, but the bugs will be in circulation for a long time, and the other problems are not being fixed.
Paul Tauger writes that I cannot give opinions on legal matters over the internet because I am not a licensed lawyer. Tauger has some serious misunderstandings about the law.
Free speech allows anyone to give opinions about legal subjects, or anything else. If anything, licensed lawyers are more restricted than non-lawyers in what they can say, because they must abide by the canons of the profession. And a law license doesn't really cover giving advice out over the internet, because lawyers are licensed by particular states.
Tauger calls himself an "IP lawyer" who does trademark, copyright, and patent work. But he himself is not licensed to do work before the Patent Office, and cannot call himself a patent lawyer. So he is an odd one to criticize me.
Judge Posner of the 7th Circuit scholar extraordinaire, supposedly does more work than an army, the antithesis of academic censorship, right?
Wednesday, Feb 19, 2003
RSA patent infringement
RSA Security and Verisign are facing a patent lawsuit by someone with a patent claiming to cover SSL.
RSAS sued me for patent infringement and lost, several years ago. In the process I learned that RSAS was infringing the seminal Stanford and MIT patents that it pretended to control, and was being run be completely dishonest crooks. I hope they lose the lawsuit.
Looking at plaintiff Stambler's US Patent 5,267,314, I was surprise to see that it cites a Schlafly patent as prior art! It's not mine -- the inventor is Hubert Schlafly, and it is a method for ordering goods over a data terminal. Hubert is a relative, but I've never met him.
According to this, Stambler lost a previous claim because he let an industry standard be adopted without making a patent claim.
They sued you before. Aren't you worried that they'll sue you for libel? Are you sure they're crooks?Yes, I am sure they're crooks. I used to maintain some info online here. They made a lot of money off technology that they stole from Stanford and MIT, and then used phony legal threats to keep others from using it.
This sends this criticism of UCITA, a proposed law to make computer software shrink-wrap licenses enforceable. Many common clauses in Msft and other licenses are non-binding without a law like this. The law completely one-sided and anti-consumer, and only the backwards states of Virginia and Maryland have been stupid enough to pass it.
This article says that Bayes models are gaining in popularity. I am experimenting with a Bayes spam filter, and it seems to work pretty well.
Recall Gov. Davis
Joan sends this site, trying to recall Calif. Gov. Gray Davis. Davis has squandered more money than any governor in US history.
This new research claims that aggressive lesbian japanese monkeys prove Darwin wrong. The researchers should also check out the behavior of Japanese airline passengers.
A major homosexual magazine, The Advocate, has a cover story suggesting that David Souter is gay.
I just watched the movie DareDevil. My expectations were low, because the local Si Valley paper trashed it with a rating of half a star out of four stars. But it was actually a decent movie. Like a cross between SpiderMan and the first BatMan movie. The movie is not for everyone. It is dark, sad in parts, violent, and unrealistic. The title character is from a comic book.
One curious detail about the movie is that it portrayed a Catholic priest in a positive light. It was a minor role, but I cannot remember seeing another such movie made in the last 40 years. Arthur mentioned a movie in which he thought that the priest was a positive character, but in his movie the priest commits perjury to cover up a murder. Not real positive. Maybe there are other movies with priest playing positive roles, but I can't think of any at the moment.
A 9th Circuit panel has indicated agreement that the 2nd Amendment protects and individual right. This is in contrast to Reinhardt's recent opinion, and to 9th Circuit precedent that held that “it is clear that the Second Amendment guarantees a collective rather than an individual right."
This is one of those situations where liberal judges invented a nutty and incorrect legal doctrine, and just said it was "clear". Gun rights advocates are finally convincing everyone that the 2A protects and individual right.
Monday, Feb 17, 2003
I haven't tried this myself, but someone claims that the Windows Set Program Access and Defaults feature maliciously sabotages competing browsers so they won't work anymore. This feature was put in as part of the Msft antitrust settlement, supposedly to make competition fairer. It looks like Msft just tricked to feds into letting it consolidate its power.
Corporate interests have a much stronger voice in the white house than the people who did not electe the president (according to the media's recount, gore won the florida vote).Jeff is delusional. Bush won the FL vote, and all the recounts. Here is the first paragraph of that LA Times story:
WASHINGTON -- If the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed Florida's courts to finish their abortive recount of last year's deadlocked presidential election, President Bush probably still would have won by several hundred votes, a comprehensive study of the uncounted ballots has found.The second article claims that Gore might have eked out a narrow victory under one particular scenario. It was not a scenario that would have been followed under existing law, nor was it a scenario that Gore was asking for, nor was it the scenario preferred by the 4-3 majority on the Florida supreme court.
In just about any close election, there are recount scenarios that could change the outcome. The only count that matters is the one specified by Florida statutes.
Affirmative action and religious tolerance
I wrote:Andy has been brainwashed by Harvard law profs who think that the courts are supposed to set policy. He devised contorted rationales for distinguishing academics from sports, and whites from blacks. But John and I are just arguing the meaning of the text of the law. The law does not make the distinctions that Andy imagines.John and Roger apparently argue the following no Catholic school that accepts federal assistance (perhaps through a loan or voucher program) should be allowed to guarantee admission to Irish or Italian applicants.
I have no idea what libertarians think about invalidating the Michigan racial quotas. If there is enough popular support for state colleges using racial quotas, then maybe Congress will change the law. Meanwhile, what happened to Andy's support for Rule Of Law? He seems to be just saying that the court should let some govt bureaucrats disobey the law for some fuzzy and obscure policy reasons.
College internet police
More and more, colleges are monitoring their computer networks to make sure students aren't trading MP3 files. Eg, see this Mercury News story.
This is a bad trend. You might think that internet music should be banned because the students should only be using the computer network for education purposes. But no one says that they can only use their dorm telephone for educational purposes. No one stops them from watching TV in the dorm. They are allowed to check out library books that are not course-related. A college education is more than just coursework anyway, and it is nearly impossible to determine what is educational and what is not. The colleges shouldn't be spying on the students.
What Roe v. Wade says
Bob asks for proof that Roe v. Wade allows third trimester abortions. The majority opinion states:
To summarize and to repeat: ... (c) For the stage subsequent to viability, the State in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion ...This sounds like third trimester abortions can be banned, but read the exception:
except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.This hinges on the definition of medical judgment, and health of the mother. For those definitions, it refers to its preceding (and companion) decision:
In Doe v. Bolton, post, p. 179, procedural requirements contained in one of the modern abortion statutes are considered. That opinion and this one, of course, are to be read together.So we look at Doe v. Bolton for those definitions. It says:
We agree with the District Court, 319 F. Supp., at 1058, that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors - physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age - relevant to the wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health. This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment.So a woman can get an abortion if the pregnancy is merely detrimental to her psychological or emotional health. And who decides? It is just the physician who does the abortion, and it is unconstitutional to even require that a second physician confirm the judgment. The Doe majority says:
The statute's emphasis, as has been repetitively noted, the attending physician's "best clinical judgment that an abortion is necessary." That should be sufficient. The reasons for the presence of the confirmation step in the statute are perhaps apparent, but they are insufficient to withstand constitutional challenge. Again, no other voluntary medical or surgical procedure for which Georgia requires confirmation by two other physicians has been cited to us. If a physician is licensed by the State, he is recognized by the State as capable of exercising acceptable clinical judgment.Burger's concurrence confirms that the entire medical judgment rests solely on the opinion of the abortionist:
For my part, I would be inclined to allow a State to require the certification of two physicians to support an abortion, but the Court holds otherwise.Thus if a pregnant woman (at any stage) tells a physician that giving birth would be very upsetting to her and the physician is willing to do the abortion, then she has a constitutional right to that abortion under Roe v. Wade.
John sends this story about micropayments.
I doubt that this Peppercoin system will catch on, as I think that there are better alternatives. More on this later.
Sunday, Feb 16, 2003
Some rich left-wingers are starting a radio network for liberal Democrats, says this NY Times story. Good. I live in an area that is completely dominated by leftists, and yet the radio station cannot find any leftist radio talk-show hosts, except for a couple of morons. The right-wing hosts have better programs and better ratings. I'd like to hear some leftists who are actually capable of making a coherent argument. We have a few who can babble about how Bush stole the 2000 election so he can bomb poor Iraqi innocents to the benefit of his oil industry buddies.
Google has just bought Blogger. Maybe Google will fix the bugs, and I'll go back to using them for this blog. (They seem trivial, but very annoying.) It was announced in a Mercury News blog.
Affirmative action and religious tolerance
John and Andy continue the debate. John responds to Andy:
And Andy responds:John wrote, "Here is the text of Title VI 'No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.' ... What possible interpretation of those words can justify racial preferences in admissions to federally-assisted schools?" The wording does not prohibit, and should not be construed as prohibiting, extending affirmative benefits to someone because of race or national origin.If the program or activity has selective admissions, as all elite colleges do, then extending affirmative benefits to someone because of race necessarily implies that someone else is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subject to discrimination under the program on account of race. I am astounded that you would refuse to see that.If Bishop O'Doul Catholic High School wants to create 30 spots just for Irish students, that's great and should be legal. Catholics who care about the future of their schools should be advocating this.They are free to do this if they don't take federal funds.The white plaintiff in the U. of Michigan didn't get in because she was weaker than 80% of the entering class, and may have been weaker than 100% of the entering slots (because many admitted students choose not to attend). Race is just a scapegoat.She was stronger than any of the candidates admitted to slots reserved for selected minorities. She was excluded from consideration for those slots on account of her race. It is an open-and-shut violation of Title VI.John writes, "my construction of the statute does not permit federal regulations to do anything about college preferences for athletes and legacies." Your construction is that extending benefits must be race-neutral and, via Title IX, sex-neutral. Legacies are not race-neutral in effect - they overwhelmingly benefit whites rather than minorities. Football recruitment and scholarships are not sex-neutral, because they cannot be extended to women. The next liberal administration could terminate one or both under your construction, and courts would not overturn such regs.You have not addressed many of my earlier points. Title IX has many exceptions to the general sex-neutral rule written into the statute; Title VI has no exceptions. Scalia's opinion in the Sandoval case, speaking for 5 justices, emphatically states that Title VI prohibits only policies that directly and intentionally classify people according to race or national origin, not policies that have a "disparate impact" on particular groups. Indeed, that is the whole basis of our victory in the Sandoval case requiring the English language does not constitute discrimination on the basis of national origin, regardless of whether or not, as Sandoval claimed, English rules "overwhelmingly benefit whites rather than minorities."
Roger illustrates the problem by objecting to Catholic schools having affirmative action for Irish students because he doesn't "think most people want their tax money supporting that sort of thing." People can try to pass a law expressly prohibiting it, though I would oppose such a law. Schools should be free to have affirmative action. It's essential to Catholic survival.I really don't see how discrimination based on national origin can be essential to Catholic school survival. The Catholic schools don't even seem to want to do that. But even if so, they can still discriminate, if they don't take federal funds.
UMich admissions is saying that students are being rejected because they are white. They are saying that they have a higher standard for whites, and she doesn't meet it. By the time they get to people on the waiting list, they are saying that they've met their quota of white people, and she cannot get in because she is black.
Suppose I am advertising an apt. for rent, and I say, "1 good reference required for whites, 5 for blacks". Then I reject a black applicant who only had 1 good reference. Did I reject him because he is black or because he didn't have 5 good references?
If you say that my ad is not discriminatory, they you would completely nullify all federal civil rights laws.
John and Roger apparently argue the following no Catholic school that accepts federal assistance (perhaps through a loan or voucher program) should be allowed to guarantee admission to Irish or Italian applicants.I am only arguing that the schools should obey the law. The law prohibits certain forms of discrimination. If that's the law, then the courts should respect it, and not try to devise some policy on their own.
If you want my opinion about what the law should be, then I would make a few changes. First, I'd abolish federal support of schools.
Andy's rationale for racial quotas doesn't make much sense to me. Suppose U.Michigan said that it would give 80% of its athletic scholarships to whites, and 15% to blacks, because that reflects the racial balance of the state. The white scholarships would goto the best whites, and the black scholarships would goto the best blacks. When a black athlete got locked out of a scholarship because the quota was filled, Andy would tell him that it wasn't race, but his mediocrity compared to other blacks, that caused his rejection. That argument would never fly.
Saturday, Feb 15, 2003
Affirmative action and religious tolerance
Andy responds to John:
Good example by Joe of MIT being watered down. I think Cal Tech is still pretty solid, though that may not last.No admissions policy, except maybe for extremely rigid racial quotas, is race-neutral in effect.
Football scholarships are available to girls who qualify. There have been a couple of female placekickers who have played in college games. Under some Title IX interpretations, colleges let girls try out for the football teams. It just happens that none are good enough.
I don't know what is so great about a high school discriminating in favor of Irish-Americans. I don't think most people want their tax money supporting that sort of thing.
Biz school admissions
Joe sends this:
Anybody thinking about going to the Sloan School of Management at MIT? According to the admissions director, Rod Garcia, you'd better have a bubbly personalityQ Who are the applicants that jump off the page? A You really have to distinguish yourself from the others. Last year, I came across a person who was a medical doctor, and the thing that impressed me about him was that on the side he was also a writer. He has published novels, bestsellers in his country. This applicant really jumped out. You knew that you were dealing with a winner. I was excited to meet him for the interview, but unfortunately I wasn't as impressed He was quiet.
Here is a funny picture from another blog. Explains men and women.
Andy doesn't want to endorse Estrada:
I disagree with mother's implied endorsement of Estrada in the column. As I've said, I doubt that he's really pro-life. He argued for applying RICO to abortion protesters, is being promoted by socially liberal Gonzales, and Estrada had this exchange during his hearing:We should have a real debate on the role of the courts. There have been dozens of controversial 5-4 decisions from the SC. It is inconceivable that Estrada could agree with the majority in each case. He should have to tell us something about his legal philosophy. And I agree with the Democrats that the DoJ should turn over copies of memos he has written."Please tell us what three cases from the last 40 years of Supreme Court jurisprudence you are most critical of ... and just give me a couple of sentences as to why for each one," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, asked Estrada.[Also], I don't see why a filibuster on Estrada would consist of debate about judicial activism by judges already on the bench. A filibuster now would not consist of "Democrats defending the activist, out-of-the-mainstream court decisions on social issues."
Estrada is obviously getting advice to keep his mouth shut, as any opinion is subject to ridicule. I think that he should be able to articulate and explain his views, if he is really so smart.
John answers Andy:
That is about how much we knew about Souter. A usually-reliable conservative had strongly recommended him.I disagree with mother's implied endorsement of Estrada in the column. As I've said, I doubt that he's really pro-life.The revised column correctly states that Estrada has no publicly known position on abortion. Meanwhile, we do know that (1) pro-abortion organizations have mounted a hysterical campaign against him, and (2) two hard-core, pro-life conservative lawyers, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham, have strongly endorsed Estrada based on their personal knowledge of him.He argued for applying RICO to abortion protesters,He had a job working for the U.S. government agency that was obligated to defend a U.S. statute that was being challenged in court. What was he supposed to do, quit his job? There is no reason to think that the U.S. government position in that case reflects Estrada's personal views or preferences.is being promoted by socially liberal Gonzales,As are all of Bush's nominees. What are you saying, that Gonzales's support is reason to oppose a nominee? If so, we'll never get anybody on the court.and Estrada had this exchange during his hearing: "Please tell us what three cases from the last 40 years of Supreme Court jurisprudence you are most critical of ... and just give me a couple of sentences as to why for each one," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, asked Estrada. "I'm not even sure that I could think of three that I would be ... that I would have a sort of adverse reaction to," he replied.What is wrong with that answer? How would you have answered it? Do you really want or expect a nominee to walk into Schumer's trap?On another aspect of the column, I don't see why a filibuster on Estrada would consist of debate about judicial activism by judges already on the bench. A filibuster now would not consist of "Democrats defending the activist, out-of-the-mainstream court decisions on social issues."What are your reasons for those two sentences? Of course the purpose of a Democrat filibuster is to defend the activist liberal judiciary. What else could it be?
Estrada's answer is lame. I expect a nominee who is supposed to be such a smart lawyer to be able to match wits with lawyer. Does Estrada really agree with every decision? No one could.
I might agree with you if Estrada had staked out a position of judicial restraint. But he hasn't, and we don't know where he stands. So the debate will be over whether a stealth candidate should be blindly approved. I might even agree with points being made by the filibustering Democrats -- Estrada should answer the questions.
John's replies with a good point:
This is all water over the dam now. The Dems had two years to hold whatever hearings and conduct whatever investigation they wanted. Two years is enough. Time's up.
It is estimated that you chance of dying from a killer asteroid impact is comparable to your chance of dying in a car or plane crash. But would the govt even tell us if an asteroid was heading for Earth? This article says that secrecy is the best option. A movie Deep Impact a couple of years ago had a similar conclusion.
I think that it should be obvious that the public ought to be told the full facts as soon as they are available. Even in the movie, which tried to portray the president positively for his secrecy policy, he seems to be completely irresponsible and directly causing the deaths of millions of people.
George writes: "What good is it to know that everyone is going to die in a couple of months?"
For one thing, not everyone is going to die. In the movie, only those on the US east coast died right away. The rest starved over a period of about 2 years while the govt took all the supplies for an elite who are chosen to survive in underground caves. Maybe a lot of others would survive also, if they can make appropriate preparations.
More on affirmative action
Andy responds to John:
I wroteJohn responds to Andy:John and Roger say it's OK for the feds to enforce equality in school admissions under the Civil Rights Act of 1964,John replied, "I say it's OK for the feds to enforce the law. Do you disagree? If you do not want the law enforced, you should openly call for repealing it." I obviously oppose your formalistic interpretation and enforcement of the law. But this is not high enough in priority to justify efforts towards repeal.
I obviously oppose your formalistic interpretation and enforcement of the law. But this is not high enough in priority to justify efforts towards repeal.Here is the text of Title VI "No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
A NY Times op-ed support paying reparations for slavery. Some dubious economic calculations are needed to determine the amounts. But what if the calculations show that blacks benefited from slavery, and that it was a net loss for whites. Then would blacks have to pay whites reparations?
That is completely wacky to think that blacks benefited from slavery. They worked for nothing. They were entitled to wages at the least, and the whites were only exploiting the blacks because they had economic value.Yes, the blacks had economic value and the plantation owners exploited it. But if you analyze the net effect of slavery, then a lot of other factors come into play. Maybe the slaves were economically better as slave than if the slave traders had left their ancestors in Africa. And maybe, on balance, whites suffered economically from slavery. The costs of slavery include the US Civil War and high crime rates among blacks ever since.
The op-ed says, "it remains vital, especially during Black History Month, to explore formulas and keep the reparations debate alive." I think that the op-ed is foolish, because an open debate on reparation formulas would open a lot of uncomfortable issues. I am not defending the slave trade, and my ancestors had nothing to do with it as far as I know, but the case could be made that it was a net economic benefit to black people, and a net loss to whites.
Update: Some letters point out the silliness of reparations. One economist says:
Slavery does not explain the current income and wealth deficits experienced by African-Americans. Antebellum slaves experienced a material standard of living and skill development that was comparable to the Southern white yeomanry and English working classes. These deficits are due to the Jim Crow period, when African-Americans were legally excluded from employment and educational opportunities.
Here is more evidence that Microsoft security is a joke. Windows XP password security is bypassed by just inserting a Windows 2000 disk. No special programs needed. All those people entering passwords to login are wasting their time.
Friday, Feb 14, 2003
Freedom not free
One company is suing another with a claim that it has exclusive rights to the phrase Freedom of Speech. I say that the company should lose the trademark, since they obviously don't really believe in free speech.
John sends this C-Net story about Microsoft's MSN.com web site sabotaging rival browsers. MSN.com always seemed like an annoying site to me, whether I am using a Msft browser or not.
Volokh's blog is usually good, but it has now gone off the deep end with a new blogger named Jacob Levy who is ranting about jewish issues. Levy is pointing the anti-semitism finger at Gary Hart for saying:
We must not let our role in the world be dictated by ideologues with their special biases and agendas, by militarists who long for the clarity of Cold War confrontation, by think-tank theorists who grind their academic axes, or by Americans who too often find it hard to distinguish their loyalties to their original homelands from their loyalties to America and its national interests.This doesn't sound like a reference to Jews at all. But even if it is, it is a valid point.
Then Levy complains that some people associate Jews to the term "dual loyalty". Since a 1967 US Supreme Court decision, Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253 (1967), it has been common for US Jews to claim dual citizenship with Israel. That decision said that an American citizen could vote in an Israeli election without losing US citizenship. Now, it is common for Mexicans, Canadian, Europeans, and others to claim dual citizenship, so I really don't think that the concept is particularly associated with jews anymore. Nevertheless, it is fair game to complain about people with dual loyalties influencing US policy, whether they be Mexican, Jewish, Arab, or whatever.
Forgot to send a valentine? There are form letter valentine emails here.
Liberals are complaining that judicial nominee Miguel Estrada refuses to take a stand on controversial issues like Roe v. Wade. Eg, see Kinsley (also in WashPost) and NY Times.
Where were they when pro-Roe judges O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer were being confirmed? They all refused to take a stand. Not only that, but the SC liberals (Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer) all voted to support a law preventing judicial candidates for elected office from expressing their opinions while campaigning for office! Republican Party v. White (2002) They are also blocking cameras in the SC.
If Estrada really said, "My view of the judicial function, Senator, does not allow me to answer that question.", then I'd agree that he should answer the questions. Kinsley implies he said that. But I doubt he really did.
Junk Geography Research
I happened to run into an academic geography journal. Some of the articles seemed worthwhile, but it a completely gibberish article on “Feminist Visualizations: Re-envisioning GIS as a Method in Feminist Geographic Research” by some kook named Mei-Po Kwan. GIS is just a technical term for computerized maps. Here is a typical paragraph:
At the level of practice, an urgent need exists to go beyond the conventi onal understanding of GIS as a largely quantitative practice and to recognize the potential of such realization for disrupting the rigid distinction between quantitative and qualitative methods in geographic research. As I have argued elsewhere (Kwan 2002c), GIS can be a site for deconstructing the dualist understanding of geographical methods (as either quantitative or qualitative) and for enacting feminist visualization-the material practice of critical visual methods in feminist geography. Further, as Schuurman (2002) and I (Kwan 2002c) have argued, an important element in feminist critiques of science and vision has been lost in the critical discourse on GIS in the last decade or so. Haraway (1991, 192) not only provides a trenchant critique of modern technoscience and visual technologies, but also emphasizes through her "cyborg manifesto" that feminists can reclaim the vision and power of modern technoscience (GIS technologies included) and participate in "earth-transforming challenges to the views of the masters." Perhaps much would be gained through teasing out the implications of her (1991, 4) question: "Can cyborgs, or binary oppositions, or technological vision hint at ways that the things many feminists have feared most can and must be refigured and put back to work for life and not death?"The work was funded by the National Science Foundation. That's right, your tax money.
Update: Joe writes:
The feminist geography piece is a classic. The lingo that these people use reminds me of passwords that a "secret society" or club would use - the combinations of words themselves literally have no meaning - they're just strung together (the order doesn't matter) and offered to show that the speaker is in solidarity with the group on the usual laundry list of topics. The same paragraph could be used to "discuss" any branch of science. It never goes beyond this sort of incantatory preamble, but then that's not really the intent.
Affirmative Action, religious tolerance
John responds to Andy:
I think the problem here is that Andy has been brainwashed by law profs who believe that policy decisions should be made by judges. He refuses to deal with the text of the law that Congress passed.Federal supervision of school admissions policies is not desirable. Mindless equality in school admissions policies is not desirable either. Conservatives spend much of their effort debunking the simplistic calls for federally mandated equality, in many areas ranging from sex to religion to aliens.Needless to say, I always oppose "mindless" and "simplistic" policies. I only support "rational" and "thoughtful" policies.John and Roger say it's OK for the feds to enforce equality in school admissions under the Civil Rights Act of 1964,I say it's OK for the feds to enforce the law. Do you disagree? If you do not want the law enforced, you should openly call for repealing it.because that only applies to race. Well, it also applies to national origin, raising an issue of whether Catholic schools can favor Irish and Italians in admissions (probably essential to their survival).What Catholic school has ever tried (or wanted) to discriminate on the basis of national origin? I don't believe it. If, however, some school did want to do so, there is a very simple and perfectly legal way just don't take any federal funds!Moreover, DOJ applies the similar rules of equality to gender via Title IX.Title IX is similar to Title VI in that - as passed by Congress - it states a rule of equality, but does not authorize (or permit) quotas or preferences.
Thursday, Feb 13, 2003
The duct tape advice is really silly. It is really unlikely that duct tape is going to save anyone from a bio-terrorist attack. There are a lot of survivalist tools that are a lot more important. One of the main ones is a GUN. Along with emergency food, medicines, and other supplies, every well-prepared household should have a gun, and someone in the household trained to use it.
Mention of guns is conspicuously absent in the official advice. Read survivalist Tim May's opinion.
What is your current practice on downloading stuff that may be copyright protected? Is paranoia in order in view of the Verizon case?Copyright law has a 3-year statute of limitations. Soon, all the music from Napster should be safe from claims.
I suspect that RIAA wants to prosecute an individual music sharer, and make an example out of him. It would like the feds to do a criminal prosecution, but so far the DoJ has taken the bait. So the RIAA may have to do it itself.
The RIAA needs to choose its target carefully. If it makes a martyr out of someone, or loses the case, then it could end up much worse off. The target should be:
This article claims that a company paid $1M to settle an RIAA claim.
So I suppose you could be the unlucky person that the RIAA tries to make an example out of. But the odds are very much against it.
I have a discussion of Napster legal issues here.
Total Information Awareness
Safire is dealing with piffle and flapdoodle again.
This guy thinks that spam was sent in his name. It is more likely that a spammer broke into his account, and sent the spam from his account. Something similar happened to me about a month ago.
Clara Harris guilty.
CNN story. I don't know why anyone should be surprised. It seemed like a simple case of cold-blooded premeditated murder to me.
Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003
Defending affirmative action
Federal supervision of school admissions policies is not desirable. Mindless equality in school admissions policies is not desirable either. Conservatives spend much of their effort debunking the simplistic calls for federally mandated equality, in many areas ranging from sex to religion to aliens.Private schools can do what they want, if they refuse federal money. If they take the money, then they cannot discriminate on the basis of race. That's the law. It is not clear if Andy wants to change that law in Congress, or have some court decide what it thinks admissions policy should be, or what.
It is amusing to see Andy defend religious intolerance.
John asks about the 321 Studios legal dispute with Hollywood. Its web site says:
In 1998, Congress passed, and the president signed, legislation to update copyright law for the digital age. The new law - known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act - was widely heralded as a way to protect the rights of artists and writers. Yet the law is being interpreted in ways never intended by Congress - extinguishing your fair use rights by outlawing the sale of software or other tools that allow consumers to make back-up copies of DVDs or other emerging digital formats for personal use.I don't agree with this. The main purpose of the DMCA was to extinguish those fair use rights. I think that it is a bad law, and it would have been better to retain those fair use rights, but it is what Congress intended. I expect 321 Studios to lose in court.
DVD movies come with a copy protection system that stops casual users from making copies, whether for fair use or any other purpose. The system was cracked and software to circumvent the copy protection and rip the DVDs is now readily available on the net.
Hollywood does not just want to limit copying. It interprets copyright law to give copyright holder a lot of control over how the product is licensed. The 321 Studios product reduces that control, and is therefore an infringement of the copyright rights. Or so Hollywood will tell the judge.
We actively opposed the DCMA, of course, and would be sympathetic with 321 Studios. However, I'm a bit jaded right now with trying to help liberal attorneys who rely on liberal arguments (first in Eldred, then in Sell).
Owners will be forced to rent their empty homes
John sends this story about London landlords being forced to rent out vacant property, and adds:
This is an interesting exercise of local land use power. If it is constitutional to have compulsory leasing of real property, then "a fortiori" we should have compulsory licensing of intellectual property.The US already has some compulsory IP licensing laws. Eg, musicians can perform a published song, and released music can be song on the radio, all at rates fixed by the feds. Songwriters get 8 cents whenever one of their songs is distributed.
More on civil rights
John responds to Andy on civil rights:
Activities and sports have always been considered as criteria for admission to elite colleges. There is no evidence they are used for the purpose of including or excluding any racial group. Hence, it is wrong to call them a form of affirmative action.John rants and raves about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which apparently prohibits only racial-type discrimination. But subsequent Civil Rights Acts prohibit all sorts of other discrimination. Once John wants the feds to police college admissions based on race, then similar policing based on religion and gender is inevitable. It's not conservative to demand a federal watchdog to police college admissions policies. Must religiously affiliated schools end all their affirmative action also?What "subsequent Civil Rights Acts" are relevant to this discussion? As fas as I know, the only relevant statute is Title VI of CRA'64. That statute says that programs and entities that receive federal funds may not discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin. Nothing about religion or gender.
Discrimination under the Civil Rights Act
John and Liza miss the point about how "activities" are used to admit white applicants at elite schools. Universities supposedly are about learning and knowledge, after all. Sports stars are those typically having doting parents who gave them the best trainers and camps. No working teenager has time to become a recruit, regardless of his potential. Moreover, schools use activities to manipulate admissions for many non-recruits as well.There is a law about racial discrimination. There is no law requiring schools to use only "intellectual standards for admission", whatever that means. Andy, maybe what you really want is to repeal the CRA of 1964.
Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003
Important new astronomy results have just been announced based on data from the $145M WMAP satellite. It seems like a lot of money, but every shuttle launch cost $500M, and that last Columbia mission was doing trivialities in comparison. The energy of the universe consists of 4% matter as we know it, and the rest is some undiscovered particles and energy.
Lousy pop-up blocker
Cringely says that the Earthlink pop-up blocker is really a worm that is worse than the pop-up that is supposedly blocks. There are other good pop-up blockers, if you want.
Even the word is banned
In a Canadian school, zero tolerance for guns goes beyond toy guns, drawings of guns, and imaginary guns. It has banned the word gun from spelling lists!
Attack of the birds
Charlie reports that a raven attack has killed 19 sheep.
I just saw the movie One of the Hollywood Ten (2000), starring Jeff Goldblum. It is a boring and silly left-wing propaganda movie that was partially funded by the British govt. It was supposed to be a sympathetic portrayal of Herbert Biberman, an American movie director of the 1950s who was actually loyal to the Communist Party. He served several months in prison for refusing to testify about his allegiance to the Stalinist Soviet Union. I think that our society was way too good to him.
Are you defending the Hollywood blacklist? They didn't do anything illegal. They had a right to their political views.Yeah, I guess that they had a right to belong to a traitorous organization that advocated the violent overthrow of the US govt. Just like goofy leftist actors today supporting Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. Supporting Stalin in 1950 is like supporting Osama bin Laden today. You might lose your job.
Actually, the Hollywood Ten did do something illegal. They defied a Congressional subpoena. Everyone else has to answer subpoenas. If I refused, I'd goto jail also.
Are you getting paid overtime, if you are a programmer? Management employees are usually exempt, but programmers are usually not in management. Calif law says that only computer software professionals who earn at least $41 per hour are exempt from California's overtime laws. The cut-off is $27.63 in other states.
Monday, Feb 10, 2003
Slate's idiot legal columnist complains about the license plates in Florida and elsewhere that say Choose Life. The legal problem is that the state is supposedly restricting debate on a controversial issue to one side. That objection might be ameliorated by a Choose Death plate.
But the pro-abortion lobby is upset anyway, and doesn't want a contrary slogan either. I think the real problem is no much the word Life, but the word Choose. The pro-abortion has expended a lot of effort in co-opting the word choice, and they don't like someone else playing their word games.
Sunday, Feb 09, 2003
Scientia est potentia — knowledge is power. I love that Poindexter Information Awareness Office logo. I put it in the margin on the left, over my picture. Read more here, or buy products here.
More on affirmative action. Liza writes:
Harvard isn't about averages. It is about very high scorers and achievers. The 4-point advantage of Asians over whites on average doesn't tell you anything about the availability of very high scorers among whites and Asians. It certainly doesn't mean that the high end of the Bell curve is full of Asians and lacking whites.Andy writes:
John writes, " But there is never a legitimate reason for using racial preferences at schools that receive federal tax funds."John writes:
Andy wrote:John writes, " But there is never a legitimate reason for using racial preferences at schools that receive federal tax funds." John thereby subjects virtually every college in the country, public and private, to the libertarian police.It was not I or the libertarians who made this law. It was the left-liberals who passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which all libertarians and most conservatives opposed at the time.Like most libertarian arguments, they ignore the likely result. Princeton just abolished a summer school that helped prepare minorities for the fall, in response to a complaint by a libertarian group. This is progress??Yes, indeed. Many white students could have benefited from that summer program. For Princeton to exclude white students on account of their race was a flagrant violation of federal law. Princeton could have decided to fix program by operating it on a race-neutral basis. Instead, they chose to abolish the program. That speaks volumes!The SAT is fuzzying itself up to appease the California college system, required to become race-neutral about five years ago. Is this what you're trying to achieve?Of course not. But as I pointed out yesterday, open or random admissions are perfectly legal under federal civil rights law.John writes, "Whites are the one group that never benefits from diversity." Not true. Many admissions criteria at top schools today help whites gain spots over Asians having better scores. Where's the libertarian outrage over that?Show us the evidence that white students have ever received illegal racial preferences at elite colleges. I don't believe it.Conservatives are in favor of admissions criteria that draw rational differences between gender and religion. Christian schools, for example, should be able to give preferences to Christian applicants, even though they receive federal funding under the Grove City line of precedents. Likewise for gender-based criteria.Fine, but so what? These criteria are perfectly legal. Religion and gender-based preferences are not prohibited.It's a tough sell arguing that unthinking equality in admissions is required for race, but not for gender or creed. Don't the Civil Rights Acts demand the same type of equality for all three categories?Those might have been good arguments against the CRA'64, but it's a little late to bring them up now. The law was passed, and its constitutionality has been sustained. The only question is whether elite colleges will obey the law like everyone else, or whether they will be allowed continue their 25-year practice of massive resistance.
John sends this LA Times story about companies bailing out of California because of the anti-business political climate.
John says that fish do not feel pain.
Charlie wants to know why the spam program cannot be solved. The NY Times's Gleick says spam is not a free speech right:
Many people who hate spam believe, honorably enough, that it's protected as free speech. It is not. The Supreme Court has made clear that individuals may preserve a threshold of privacy. ''Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit,'' wrote Chief Justice Warren Burger in a 1970 decision. ''We therefore categorically reject the argument that a vendor has a right under the Constitution or otherwise to send unwanted material into the home of another.''I say the problem is similar to the problems of unsolicited bulk postal mail and telemarketers. It ought to be possible to cut off the problem at the source, but too many people are making too much money on it.
I agree with Gleick's basic conslusions that forged headers should be illegal, and a specific header entry should identify the email as unsolicited. Same for postal mail and telemarketers.
For 100s of years, the top 10 chess players in the world have been men. Now one is a woman, and one is a computer.
France is getting some new smart cards that work like cash. Similar cards have previously been available in Europe. Why not the US?
Wash Post article says Msft still faces antitrust troubles in Europe.
Saturday, Feb 08, 2003
There is a theme that runs through Alexander's blog. Republicans are big hypocrites who violate all their principles as soon as they get elected. e.g., he says the Republican platform opposes affirmative action, but Republicans constantly practice affirmative action. The Republican party makes special efforts to recruit minority candidates and appeal to minority voters. Republican businessmen try to be "diverse" in order to attract minority customers.Andy responds:
Alex is right concerning affirmative action. When done for legitimate reasons, such training minorities likely to work in minority areas, there's nothing wrong with it. In fact, whites now benefit as much from affirmative action at elite colleges as any other ethnic group, based on various preferences.Liza writes:
I don't believe that whites would be nearly squeezed out by Asians on merit. The white-Asian gap in test scores is not that high; there are still plenty of high-scoring whites. In addition, elite schools want good activities and/or sports, which tend not to be the strong suit of Asian students.Andy writes:
Liza's argument is circular. She says the "elite schools want good activities and/or sports, which tend not to be the strong suit of Asian students."John responds:
I have to agree with John on this point. The 14A to the US Constitution has been reinterpreted in the courts to apply to all sorts of things that it was never intended to do. But if there is one thing that the 14A was squarely intended to stop, and that it racial discrimination by the states. For state colleges to use racial quotas is directly opposite to the text and spirit of the 14A. Likewise with federal civil rights laws.
Friday, Feb 07, 2003
Some lawyers on misc.int-property doubt that incorporation can protect the officers of a startup company from patent infringement liability.
The only liability would be to the corporation that makes or markets the products.
To take a recent example, Shawn Fanning created a potentially infringing product, and then incorporated into Napster. Napster went bankrupt with 100s of millions of dollars in infringement liabilities. Fanning was personally protected, and only lost his stock in the corporation.
Here in Silicon Valley, 90% of startups infringe patents. Some get sued, and some don't. They all incorporate, and the corporate veil is never pierced for patent infringement. It is just a risk of doing business.
I am not against lawyers, but the advice from lawyers from that forum on this topic is wacky and foolish and incorrect. Silicon Valley would not exist if anyone listened to the advice here.
I just got a call from a gal with a heavy southern accent who claimed to be calling from DeLay's office. She asked for me by name but I denied I was here and asked if she wished to leave a message. The message was that I had been awarded an NLA and I should call DeLay back immediately. Does this sound like me???Here's where a crypto protocol has spilled over into my phone manners. If the authentication fails, then say so and terminate the call. Any other course of action is bad.
Eg, if the caller says that she is from DeLay's office, and the Caller ID box says something else, then she is lying to you, and no further conversation will be productive.
Occasionally I get a caller claiming to be from the phone company, the sheriff's office, the local newspaper, my credit card company, my bank etc, when they really aren't. They are telemarketers doing contract calling. Sometimes they are even calling from India or E. Europe. Caller ID gives them away. Occasionally I'll say "Put me on your Do Not Call List", but that's about all.
Here is a worthwhile Stanford effort to resist the push for voting machines.
Here is an effort to recall Calif. Gov. Gray Davis. He has indeed been a disaster for the state. Unfortunately, he was re-elected 3 months ago, and the damage is done.
John sends this NY Times story about people refusing the smallpox vaccine.
Thursday, Feb 06, 2003
There is insufficient logic in John's arguments about the Church, and Roger's arguments about the PBA. Logic will inevitably prevail in both areas.I am not speculating about what the current SC will do -- they are already on record as upholding Roe v. Wade.
Roger wrote:If the fetus survives the abortion, then it is outside the scope of Roe v. Wade. Ordinary laws about murder apply.I just don't see the point of trying to establish a factual record that some medical procedure is never preferable, and then banning it. If it is really never preferable, then the law has no effect because no one would want to do it anyway. It is like banning a perpetual motion machine. And if some physician somewhere finds it preferable (with the consent of the patient), then the ban runs contrary to Roe v. Wade and is unconstitutional. So either way, the law has no effect.I didn't say the procedure is never "preferable." Obviously somebody considers it preferable; otherwise it wouldn't be done. But preferable for whom, and for what reason? Doctors are not allowed to do procedures that are preferable for themselves or third parties. It has to be preferable for the patient. So the question is whether it is ever "medically necessary," i.e., medically preferable for the patient.The abortionist is not accountable to anyone (as long as he is a physician). Nobody. Roe v. Wade. Get over it.I disagree. He is still bound by and accountable for all the laws and ethical rules that govern the medical profession. For example, suppose the fetus survives the abortion. In such a case, which is not unheard of, it may be "preferable" to abandon the infant and let it die. But the doctor is legally and ethically obligated to provide the same level of care for the "unwanted" infant as if it were a normal birth.
John must be living in a dream world to think that all physicians only choose procedures based on patient preferences. There is no law to that effect, and if there were, it would radically change medicine.
How can you defend that medical marijuana conviction? The jurors themselves are protesting it.Yeah, here is one of the jurors expressing regret. She says:
As jurors, we followed the law exactly as it was explained to us by Judge Charles Breyer. We played our part in the criminal justice system precisely as instructed. But the verdict we reached -- the only verdict those instructions allowed us to reach -- was wrong. It was cruel, inhumane and unjust.Now might be a good time for the marijuana lobby to educate the public about jury nullification. Jurors are supposed to think for themselves, not blindly follow instructions. Mike writes:
I think the juror's saying they did play that role as it was explained to them by the (hanging) judge. But, yeah, it is what us old dopers want to hear.The judge explained that the federal statute makes no medical marijuana exception for dope peddlers. The decision on guilt or innocence was up to the jury, not the judge. These jurors sound like Florida 2000 voters who regretted voting for Ralph Nader.
A Michigan student sued for a better grade. Not news? Ok, read the details. He was getting school credit for working as a paralegal in his mom's law office, and he got an A, but he wants an A+!
I say to give him an F, for choosing work experience that is unproductive, damages society, and has probably permanently warped his attitude towards life.
Should a printer maker be able to control the market for replacement ink cartridges?
The Mercury News reports that some HP cartridges have a Y2K bug of sorts -- they will deliberately refuse to print if they are "expired", according to the system date on your PC and the scheduled lock-out date on the cartridge. The work-around is to turn back the clock on your PC!
Lexmark is suing a cartridge maker under the DMCA in order to lock them out of the Lexmark printer market. IMO, this is an abuse of copyright law. The DMCA opponents warned that this sort of thing would happen. Felton's blog reports that the defendant has asked the Copyright Office for an exception.
Meanwhile, Odlyzko gives an economic argument for printer makers being able to control cartridge prices for their printers. As long as there is healthy competition among printer makers, he has a point.
A new theory of hiccups says that it is all because Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny. Or something like that.
John also responds to Andy:
Another reformation or schism?? Cool. Meanwhile, I think divorced Catholics can get Communion, but not those who remarried outside the Church.Andy wrote:Who said anything about consistency? I agree that bishops should not be held to the same standard as politicians. They should he held to a higher standard. That bishops are behaving no better than politicans - what kind of defense is that?
John defends his abortion opinion:
Easterbrook has a lot of dicta there in which he tries hard to carve out some sort of exception to Roe, but I don't buy it. Posner doesn't either, and issued a dissent.Andy wroteI continue to disagree with Roger's view that a PBA ban cannot be upheld without overturning Roe v. Wade.Cleaning out my mailbag I noticed this claim by John "Contrary to Andy's predictions, Bush reiterated his call for a PBA ban in the SOTU." But that isn't contrary to my predictions. Continued lip-service by Bush to the pro-lifers is exactly what I expect. My prediction was that Bush/Frist won't pass the PBA ban. It's already February, and my prediction has held true. Lott promised to pass it ASAP, and was then immediately ousted by Bush.Passing a PBA ban would be just paying lip-service. Such a bill would be null and void, and of no practical consequence.
About 20 states have passed PBA bans, but none are being enforced because of Roe v. Wade and supporting decisions. IMO, they will never be enforced until Roe is overturned.
John says that my interpretation of Roe is extremist and absolutist. That is why Roe is so controversial -- it is an extremist and absolutist decision.
I just don't see the point of trying to establish a factual record that some medical procedure is never preferable, and then banning it. If it is really never preferable, then the law has no effect because no one would want to do it anyway. It is like banning a perpetual motion machine. And if some physician somewhere finds it preferable (with the consent of the patient), then the ban runs contrary to Roe v. Wade and is unconstitutional. So either way, the law has no effect.
In California, white people are in the minority. That's old news. But now Mexican-Americans have taken over the majority of births. The LA Times says the latest numbers are 51% hispanic, 30% white, 12% asian, 6% black, 1% other. The most popular name for boys is Jose.
The world's highest rated chess player lost his title to a very sophisticated IBM supercomputer a few years ago. Now Kasparov is in danger of losing to a computer that is similar to a program that anyone can buy for $50.
Hollywood lobbyist Jack Valenti gave an interview in which he denies fair use, denies that digital media need backups, claims that all his VCR predictions came true, etc. IOW, he is as goofy and extremist as ever. Still, he sounds almost reasonable compared to the music industry lobbyists.
Wednesday, Feb 05, 2003
John sends this story about Msft trying to digitize an entire life. Meanwhile, the Msft home of the future has no bathroom.
The debate continues on exactly why the WTC towers collapsed. Somebody claims that better insulation might have saved them, and the US Bureau of Standards (NIST) has agreed to test the theory. The South Tower had half the insulation on the steel beams, and it fell a lot faster.
You wrote:I am not an advocate of states rights.Yes, customers. No physicians were prosecuted, and the customers were not patients of the sellers. Just customers.No physicians were prosecuted for the following reason:Federal Court Rules Doctors Cannot Be Penalized Over Marijuana Recommendations September 14, 2000 - San Francisco, CA, USA U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled last Thursday that doctors may recommend marijuana to patients who may benefit from it without fear that federal authorities may strip them of their license to prescribe medicine, or otherwise impose sanctions. When the voter-approved medical marijuana law known as Proposition 215 passed in 1996, the Clinton administration announced that doctors who recommended marijuana faced losing their federal license to prescribe medicine. In January 1997, doctors and patients statewide filed a class action suit against the federal government alleging the government's threat violated their free speech rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In his decision Judge Alsup expanded a previously granted temporary injunction that prevented the government from revoking a doctor's license to prescribe medicine and made it permanent.He had over 1k marijuana plants. Obviously not for his own consumption. He was a big-time drug dealer.
Tuesday, Feb 04, 2003
John wrote, "So the bishops who failed to discipline their own priests are now expected to discipline politicians? I don't think so! As the bishops have woefully failed to keep their own house in order ..."
Here is a list of English words that each have the property that one mean is opposite another meaning. Words like handicap and inflammable are confusing.
Here is one not on his list.
I was awoken when the alarm went on.And also:
I called the radio show, and got my answer on the air.As far as I can see, people mean exactly the same thing whether they use "on" or "off" in these sentences. I'll send this to the guy with the web page.
OxBlog explains the Dini case, responding to someone else:
I don't think I've ever in my life seen so many smart people completely miss the point over and over.
I missed the Michael Jackson interview, but he sounds as wacky as ever. He confirmed some of the weird accusations against him.
Mike defends NY Times editorials:
What's wacky about that??? [Referring to a NY Times editorial saying, "McDonald's is doing real harm by promoting 'extra value meals'", and supporting a lawsuit against McDonalds for selling too many calories for your money.]It should be obvious that McDonalds should be allowed to sell big hamburgers. The latter editorial complains about the conviction of a California marijuana dealer. The dealer wanted to show evidence that some of his customers were sick and were using marijuana to alleviate suffering.
In nearly all other situations, the NY Times supports using federal law to override state law. The federal law is being enforced against dealers who distribute large quantities of marijuana for profit. California has a medical marijuana law, and just about anyone can get a approval to grow marijuana for his own consumption. The editorial promotes the myth that the feds are "tyrannizing doctors and sick people". They aren't. Just drug dealers.
The NY Times says:
Doctors have long recognized marijuana's value in reducing pain and aiding in the treatment of cancer and AIDS, among other diseases.Marijuana in pill form is already available as a prescription drug. There aren't any good studies that say that smoking marijuana has any medical advantages over the alternatives.
If the Bush administration really believes Proposition 215 has no legal authority, it should seek to strike down the law itself.No, that is not how our legal system works. The Bush administration apparently has no quarrel with Proposition 215 letting sick Californians use marijuana. It is just applying trafficking laws. Only a marijuana dealer could challenge those trafficking laws. Or Congress could repeal them.
Agreed [that McDonalds should be allowed to sell big hamburgers], but I fail to see what that has to do with the editorial. The editorial complains that McD's advertising promotes over-consumption. Are you arguing with that point??? (It may not be a legal issue, but it should be a moral issue. Somehow the tobacco folks never got that idea; perhaps the burger folks will.)The NY Times says that a farmer growing wheat for his own consumption is subject to federal regulation under the interstate commerce clause.
He had over 1k marijuana plants. Obviously not for his own consumption. He was a big-time drug dealer.
Calif Prop 215 is not limited to the seriously ill. You can get it for headaches, or mild depression, or many other trivial and unverifiable conditions.
You think officers of the city are immune to the law? If you want to legalize marijuana, write your Congressman. DoJ is just enforcing the law.
Today's Wash Post says:
A couple is suing the franchisee of a McDonald's restaurant, claiming an improperly prepared bagel damaged the husband's teeth and their marriage.The NY Times should chew on that. Who will be left to subscribe to the NY Times if New Yorkers can't get good chewy bagels anymore?? NY Times readers probably care more about bagels than burgers.
Can't Prof. Dini have his own opinions? What ever happened to academic freedom? Do you really want the Dean to supervise his letter-writing?I actually think that tolerance and diversity should mean that it is ok for a university to have a few isolated religious bigots on the faculty. What is disturbing about the Dini case is how many scientists defend Dini, and act like it is a good thing that Dini is blackballing fundamentalist Christians and keeping them out of medical school. Apparently Dini's narrow-mindedness is quite acceptable among evolutionary biologists.
Update: NPR had a segment on Dini this morning (Tues.). Dini is refusing to comment. A university spokesman claimed that it was academic freedom for the prof to establish any criteria he wants for writing recommendations, and that Dini says that understanding evolution is a key part of biological sciences. But that argument is really a loser. Texas Tech is a state school, and recommendations are crucial for advancing to medical school. Texas Tech cannot legally practice religious discrimination. Dini is not just asking for understanding of evolution; he asking for beliefs in an area that overlaps with religious beliefs.
The prof is baiting Christians by posting a challenge on his web site -- i.e. that he has a litmus test to check for creationists. The question he asks is NOT if the student understands the mechanics of the evolutionary theory and the current scientific communities understanding of the origins of man. I assume that if the student could not provide this material he would not be able to pass the class. Instead the queston is worded to test belief, "How do you think", "truthfully", "forthrightly", "affirm". These are all subjective words to test belief -- not knowledge. This kid probably knows his facts, but does not believe that those facts necessarily preclude the involvement of God in the process. ...
The space shuttle naysayers are out in full force. Here is Gregg Easterbrook in 1980 and today. From the 1980 piece, titled "Beam Me Out Of This Death Trap, Scotty 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Goodbye, Columbia":
The tiles are the most important system NASA has ever designed as "safe life." That means there is no back-up for them. If they fail, the shuttle burns on reentry. ... The worry runs deep enough that NASA investigated installing a crane assembly in Columbia so the crew could inspect and repair damaged tiles in space. (Verdict: Can't be done. You can hardly do it on the ground.)(Thanks to Slate Kausfiles for the links.)
Monday, Feb 03, 2003
Thanks for the link to Alexander's blog. It's hilarious and dishes out much-needed criticism of Bush.Davis bragged about supporting and signing a bunch of pro-abortion laws. One of the more recent ones was a law to force medical residents in California to do abortions, whether they want to or not. So Davis is radically pro-abortion. But he was also re-elected 3 months ago.
So the bishops who failed to discipline their own priests are now expected to discipline politicians? I don't think so!
Charlie (whose blog is here) writes:
On the shuttle...It's easy to second guess, but I wondered why they didn't space-walk someone out there during their two weeks in orbit to at least look for damage... Especially since another shuttle is essentially ready to go for a March mission...
John sends this story about worms invading New Mexico. I can't tell if it is a real story, or some kind of satire about illegal aliens.
I just learned that my nephew has a blog. He has some good comments on Bush's State Of The Union.
John sends this story about how FBI bullet analysis is unscientific. And also this disturbing story about how NASA knew that some tiles were damaged on Columbia's left wing at launch, but did not take measures to assess the damage and consider various actions.
John sends this NY Times article about the Justice Dept investigating the Texas Tech prof who won't write letters for creationists. Here is the MSNBC story. Here is Prof. Dini's web site.
I agree that Dini is out of line. As the complainer says, “Students are being denied recommendations not because of their competence in understanding evolution, but solely because of their personal religious beliefs.” Texas Tech's response is that it doesn't regulate recommendations. Texas Tech wouldn't be saying that if Dini refused to write recommendations for Jews.
... Still, the professor was asked to comment on the student's degree of understanding of the subject matter course that the professor taught. Perhaps the student should have asked someone else for the LOR.No, Dini asks: "How do you think the human species originated?"
If Dini just wanted the degree of understanding, he could ask "What is Darwin's theory?" or something like that. He doesn't. He obviously wants to eliminate people with certain personal beliefs that are contrary to Dini's own religious and scientific views.
Dini is just a religious bigot, and Texas Tech should reprimand him.
Sadly, it doesn't answer my question. Dini asserts it's not about belief but science yet he does not clear up if he would allow a student a letter if that student demonstrated a mastery of evolution but said soemthing like, "except I don't think humans just evolved like other animals. I believe the hand of God was involved with humans. My church tells me that God created ...The article says that Dini is a devout Catholic, and so Dini's church tells him something similar. Catholicism teaches that one should accept scientific findings about evolution but that God gave humans souls and a few other differences from lower animals.
If a student answered as you suggest, then Dini would have to inquire further to see if the student has a Catholic or a Protestant world view. Apparently Dini has found some way to reconcile science with his faith, but any other way is unacceptable to him.
... But I do not think Dini is using *belief* as the gatekeeper criterion, so much as being able to give a good *account*, at least in the way I have seen him present it.No. Read Dini's web site. He says:
If you set up an appointment to discuss the writing of a letter of recommendation, I will ask you: "How do you think the human species originated?" If you cannot truthfully ...Dini is asking for a belief. If he wanted what you say, he'd say:
... I will ask you: "How does the theory of evolution account for the human species?" If you cannot accurately ...He doesn't. As Wade says, Dini has chosen his words carefully and knows exactly what he is saying.
Sunday, Feb 02, 2003
Regarding a discussion of public schools, their complete atheism makes unlikely they survive any longer than Communism did. A psychiatrist recently told me that his practice is now filled with depressed public school teachers just trying to hang on until retirement. Not even prisons prohibit prayer the way public schools do. The best treatment for all the depressed teachers is to prescribe daily prayer.Asbestos is still in use for some purposes. I would assume that NASA would have used it if it were really better. A lot of engineering effort went into those tiles.
Another wacky NY Times editorial:
McDonald's should ramp up its fitful efforts to make its food more nutritious. The Pelman plaintiffs have plainly identified a problem. With obesity at epidemic levels — more than 60 percent of adults are now overweight or obese — McDonald's is doing real harm by promoting "`extra value meals" that contain three-quarters of the calories an adult needs for a full day.What does the NY Times want -- a legal obligation to offer skimpy meals? What would be next -- telling gasoline stations that they can only sell half a tank so that people don't drive too much?
I just discovered that the Internet Archive has some old public domain movies. Some are corny and amusing.
John sends this article on how America is not producing enough scientists and engineers. The argument is based on there being a lot of foreigners attending US grad schools. It doesn't make much sense to me.
Then it discusses statistics that the big majority of readers of science magazines are male. This is evidence of a crisis in the public's understanding of science. Hmmm.
John sends this column about Phyllis Schlafly.
John sends this Janis Ian column in the LA Times. She explains how recording artists like herself ("At Seventeen") benefit from MP3 files being traded on the internet. I think that bankrupting the major music labels would be the best thing that could happen for music.
Curiously, both Ian and anti-MP3 leader Hilary Rosen (of the RIAA) are open lesbians. Ian's web site has lesbian info. Rosen tells Wired that she is a "separatist dyke", whatever that is. Rosen also admits to owning an Apple iPod -- a device for listening to those MP3 music files that she considers illicit.
The SQL Slammer worm of last weekend should be enough to convince everyone that Microsoft is deliberately shipping insecure products. Msft obviously made a business decision to have its SQL product leave a couple of ports open, it didn't bother to check for buffer overflows on packets coming into that port. Msft does not have to pay anything when bugs in its products cause catastrophes. It is more interested in convincing the world that software is a service, and that customers should be constantly paying Msft for updates.
The Mercury News says "the timing of last weekend's Slammer worm was particularly bad for Microsoft". On the contrary, I think that the timing was great for Msft. The attack was on a Friday night, so its impact on business was minimal. Meanwhile, Msft is about to release a supposedly-more-secure version of Windows, as the article explains, and it has to give people motives to buy it.
Saturday, Feb 01, 2003
There is a dispute about what can be labelled white chocolate. A lot of people eat it and have no idea what it is. It is really solidified vegetable oil (like Crisco) with sugar and maybe other sweeteners. Some regulators think that it should contain the vegetable oil from a cocoa plant, but it doesn't have the part of cocoa that gives chocolate its distinctive taste.
The Europeans are not ready to criminalize noncommercial copyright infringement yet, according to this. Good.
Title IX enforcement in college sports may get a much-needed revision. Its main effect is to limit sports opportunities for boys. It colleges were to really take the non-discrimination literally, then they would abolish all female sports that exclude males, and let the girls try out for all the sports teams. And if they took the sex quotas seriously, then they would not have let male enrollment drop to 44%, as it is in the USA.
It appears that the Shuttle problems started on the left wing. I am waiting for pundits to say Bush would only spend money maintaining the right wing, and neglected the left wing.
It is a little odd that the Israeli astronaut was also a pilot in the raid to destroy the Iraqi power plant in 1981.
I didn't know that the astronauts on the International Space Station have their own Soyuz capsule for an emergency return to Earth. There are 3 astronauts there now, and future shuttle flights will probably be delayed.
Space shuttle disaster is bad news for the space program. The palestinian arabs are probably celebrating the death of the first Israeli astronaut.
I heard the announcer on FoxNews say that "7 souls were lost". Obviously their bodies were lost, but how does he know about their souls? All I can figure is that he is a Christian who believes that the Indian and Israeli astronauts are going to Hell because they weren't baptized, or he is a non-Christian who didn't understand Bush when he referred to "the seven souls we mourn today". Bush's statement is pretty clear that he believes that their souls live on.