Saturday, January 28, 2006

Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer sing Bob Marley's Redemption Song.
I found this in the usual way:
Websnark has a comic, Brigader General John Stark. The comic has a livejournal forum. The forum has comments. In the comments, somebody related a dream in which the song (a traditional folk song adapted by Marley) was by Peggy Shippen, Benedict Arnold's second wife who is a recurring offscreen character in John Stark.

Everybody, even google, is saying happy birthday to Mozart, but this one is the Sudeepest.

Friday, January 27, 2006

I'm not particularly close with Steve Kubby. I've met him a couple of times, and voted for him when he ran for Vice-President. But I'm irked the government is trying to kill him, the way they killed my friend Peter McWilliams.

Howard reports that a Maryland Court of Special Appeals pdf has upheld an anti-spam statute, which in practice regulates emails from any country to any country, which are both commercial and are alleged to be misleading. I don't like it.
This would seem to mean that any city town village or hamlet in Maryland can set its own rules for the world's email, without running into a commerce clause problem. The case makes an attempt to distinguish cases like Booksellers v Pataki which held state's can't censor internet speech. A dismissal was reversed. Unless there are further appeals, plaintiff, a law student running an antispam boutique, can proceed. Will he win anything? It's not clear. The spammer stopped once the guy asked to him to stop.
I hate spam, but I am not comfortable with the idea that Elkton Maryland can tell you what you can or can't email. I expect to see this on slashdot tomorrow.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

In the news lately: Hammas and PETA.

This page http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/newpdf/default.asp has a tutorial about how to cut and paste from a pdf. Cool! One of the many many things I hate about pdf's is that I couldn't cut and paste. So off to try to learn a new trick.

On July 4, 2002, Gilmore, a California resident and United
States citizen, attempted to fly from Oakland International
Airport to Baltimore-Washington International Airport on a
Southwest Airlines flight. Gilmore intended to travel to
Washington, D.C. to “petition the government for redress of
grievances and to associate with others for that purpose.” He
was not allowed to fly, however, because he refused to present
identification to Southwest Airlines when asked to do so.

Hey it works! Using the text select tool, one can then cut and paste.
Wish somebody'd told me that 5 years ago.

Gilmore approached the Southwest ticketing counter with
paper tickets that he already had purchased. When a Southwest
ticketing clerk asked to see his identification, Gilmore
refused. Although the clerk informed Gilmore that identification
was required, he refused again.

Significant here is that the clerk was lying - identification isn't required.
The passenger can opt for the invasive body search instead. That he was lied to makes his desire to see the secret rules that much more important.

Gilmore v Gonzales: good guys lose. pdf.
Short version - no right to travel in United States. I found the logic unconvincing. Next step - en banc review?
Part of the opinion follows the error in Davis, a case from the 70s. In Davis, as in Gilmore, a person was given the choice between a seizure (not being able to get on the plane) or a search. There was no warrant for either the search or the seizure. Davis first makes the mistake of calling this 'consent', and then compounds the error by finding the search reasonable. If it was by consent, it's not a search and need not be reasonable. Since it's not by consent, consent annot be the basis for a finding of reasonableness. This panel of the 9th circuit is boubnd by the erroneous Davis holding of another panel of the 9th. En banc review is required to correct the error. I anticipate Gilmore will move for en banc review, it will be denied over a few dissents, then the Supreme Court will deny cert. Today's decision is further problematic because there is almost no discussion of the reasonabless of a secret order.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Wrecks bar.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The percentages of Americans who could name each current justice were as follows:

* Sandra Day O'Connor - 27%
* Clarence Thomas - 21%
* John Roberts - 16%
* Antonin Scalia - 13%
* Ruth Bader Ginsburg - 12%
* Anthony Kennedy - 7%
* David Souter - 5%
* Stephen Breyer - 3%
* John Paul Stevens - 3%

via suicidegirls, which also covers disney does devo, and 3d adporn.
I finally changed the sidebar link from suicidegirls.com/news/tech to just /news, for more stories.

Penny Arcade interview at MIT. For those of you who get your news and links here instead of some obscure place like slashdot.

At Volokh, David Koppel (who just gave me the canadian election returns) relates a story about a guy who brought some guns from Jersey via Gatwick to his home in the Isle of Mann. I have a friend who lives in Jersey, although he'll be at Oxford soon.
It's a lesson in political geography. Here's how a law lord once explained it to me:
England is part of Great Britain. Great Britain is part of the United Kingdom. The UK is part of the British Commonwealth. All clear now?
So the Channel Islands are not part of the UK, and can make their own rules, and have often been tax havens.
This is prelude to why Norfolk Island recognizes Queen Elizabeth, but considers Austrailia an invading usurper. Norfolk is populated by former residents of Pitcairn. While everybody speaks English, Norfolk has the largest population of speakers of the Pitcairn dialect.

England in turn has at least 6 counties, which were independent kingdoms until about 600, when Wessex took over the others while fighting the Danes.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Green Fees and Ham
from Allison.

Local blogger makes good:
Wm Baude gets around, but as far as I know it's his first NYT op-ed.

Infinite canvas:
Today's friendly hostility is a one panel ensemble piece, works nicely.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

"Today's indictment proves that we will not tolerate any group that terrorizes the American people, no matter its intentions or objectives," Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said at a news conference.
Talk about hoist on his own petard.

Eco-terrorism: Causing environmental destruction in order to harm or scare a civilian population.
Ecotage: Non-violent direct action, often involving property damage, directed at those harming the environment.
Gonzales, and the Washington Post, should learn the difference. (The Post put the term in quotes, which does make a difference.)
This is a semantic dispute - I'm not arguing morality; I'm saying it's important to use the right labels.
Joining Gonzales, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said: "Investigating and preventing animal rights ... is one of the FBI's highest domestic priorities." As an animal with rights, I think he has his priorities screwed up. Ok, I know that's not what he meant. It can be hard to speak for publication - what makes sense in context can look different in the paper.

Hayward's latest post pointed to somebody making fun of skymall, that airplane-seat-back catalog of overpriced useless gadgets. I want one of these:

A cheap portable voice stress analyser. It's sold as a party toy, with 65% accuracy, but that's not bad. Compare it to a jury trial which costs thousands, takes a long time, and has at best 85% accuracy. I've read depositions where I knew the witnesses weren't telling the truth, but I didn't know if they were lying or just mistaken. The value of the device isn't that it knows the truth - it's that when confronted with a machine that says they are lying, a person might change their story. I have tenants who lie habitually and owe me money - this would be a fun prop, and a reasonable investment. I have high sales resistance and never buy from catalogs. But it's on my wishlist.
F.Lee Bailey's use of the polygraph is discussed in "The defense never rests." Bailey got his start as an assistant JAG, defending court martials. While court-martials lack some of the procedural checks and balances of the civilan courts, he thinks they work well because the fact-finders are pretty sharp. He then went to law school and became a defense attorney, and saw how badly jury trials worked, how easily an innocent man could be convicted, or how a person's life could be ruined even if acquitted at trial. He was very interested, writing in 1971, in the polygraph, as a device that offered a different way of getting at the truth. A recent wired article discusses brain scans as new and more accurate, but more expensive, approach. Voice stress analysis is a midrange solution - cheap fast and easy, without the operator bias of a polygraph, not infallible either.

Another thing Bailey sometimes used was hypnosis, in order to get witnesses to recall details they can't otherwise remember. (You don't then use this witness on the stand, since hypnosis can result in false memories.)A recent gift from my sister in law was a book on neurofeedback, devides which allow a person to learn to modify their brainwaves, including the hypnosis-related theta state. These machines are not yet being massproduced and massmarketed,and the research is mostly anecdotal but compelling. I think there's a potential growth industry here of machines that inform us about mental states. Currently neofeedback is used mostly with people with mental problems, while polygraphs are used with spies or criminal suspects. But make the machines cheap and common and trendy as an Ipod, and we'd see some interesting results. If Steve Jobs, Dean Kamen, or F. Lee Bailey are reading this, have your people talk to my people. Ciao.

Somewhere else in the city, the person you met is reading Chekhov, too.
Today was the proverbial rainy day to stay inside and read Ebert reviews, mostly of movies I'll never see.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Indiana legislature targets funerals.

There are few organized cults as foolish and offensive as Westboro Baptist, the guys who get attention at public events with God hates fags signs. I've met them a couple of times, and will continue to pray for them.

The Indiana legislature makes Westboro look sane and reasonable by comparison.
A new bill would outlaw wakes, or other disorderly conduct at funerals.
While not specifically intended to oppress the Irish and Chinese, the bill is insensitive of cultural traditions.

It's almost certainly unconstitutional under Price v Indiana,622 N.E.2d 954, 964 (Ind. 1993), the leading case under the state free speech clause. Former Nuvo columnist Fran Quigley wrote the brief in that case. It's a study in Indiana history, how Robert Owen, son the founder of New Harmony, helped write the 1851 constitution and left us a heritage of liberty.

Sen. Anita Bowser, D-Michigan City, a retired professor of constitutional law, said the legislation raised freedom of speech concerns for her. "At the same time I know our freedom is not absolute," she said in explaining her "yes" vote.
This type of behavior at funerals could incite violence, she said, and is no more protected than yelling "fire" in a crowded theater.

I wonder when she retired, and where she taught. The crowded theater case, Schenck v United States, was overruled by 1969. In Schenck, three young men were jailed for passing out leaflets saying the draft violates the thirteenth amendment, which prohibits involuntary servitude. I happen to agree with them. The case is taught in schools as an example of the court getting it wrong.

Most of the time these laws make little difference. But sometimes, the theater really is on fire. Oh, and the war Shenck was protesting wasn't Vietnam - it was WWI.
Lpin.blogspot.com is a new blog where people can find out what other foolishness the legislature is up to.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

One for the 2006 wishlist:
Gressman, Robert L. Stern : Supreme Court Practice.
Right after Volokh on how to write for legal publications.
Oh, never mind - Amazon lists it at $395.00.
Maybe it's at the library.

The Supreme Court decided three cases today, and I was going to read and blog about them, but the pdf format crashed my computer. This computer is a PII, much stronger than the older machines I used to use, but one thing they've had in common is crashing when confronted with pdf's. So I try never to link to those without a warning, and get really annoyed at - it's mostly government agencies - those who insist on this proprietary format. It has a few genuine uses, for printer formatting, but it's a bad way to try to present info online.

The three cases were unanimous reversals. Maybe the court is trying to get some work out the way before O'Connor leaves. One was a reversal of the 9th circuit - nuff said.
One, Ayote, was a decision to not entirely block disputed abortion regulations, but to use a narrower remedy that only blocks the disputed cases, not the whole regulation. Seems reasonable.

The third case was hard to sort out procedurally. Customs agents seized her computer, putting her out of business - when they gave it back, all her files were gone.
Moral: back up your files. She sued under bivens, a direct constitutional suit. The government claimed it was immune under some wrinkle in the tort claims act; the supreme court disagreed, so she can now proceed to sue. I don't think that you get legal fees under Bivens, and it's hard to see how she'll get enough money to justify the expense of a supreme court lawsuit, but I wish her well. Here, courtesy of Howard, is an AP article which probably explains it better. Ah, clearer now- the government can still raise its defense, but only at a later time, once the suit has been through trial. So they have years of expensive litigation still ahead and may still win nothing. Meanwhile taxpayers fund the lawyers for the bad guys, the customs agents who stole her computer, putting her out of business.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The good news is Jill Carrol, kidnapped Xtian Science monitor journalist, is still alive, the bad news is she's been given 72 hours to live unless unreasonable demands are met. Update: the unreasonable demand was that all Iraqi women prisoners be set free - turns out there were only 8, and 6 have been set free because they were being held without probably cause anyway. This does not include iraqi women held prisoner by their own families.

Placeholder for a post on what I'm reading.
Currently: Jack: The struggles of JFK.
Finished last night: a pocketbook paperback on Lyndon Johnson, 1963.
A few days ago: LBJ, a Very Human President, Jack Valenti, 1976.
Started and couldn't finish: Something by Carlos Castenada, had Silence in the title, Power of Silence? a (4th?) book in the tales of don juan.

also a placeholder for F Lee Bailey's thoughts on lie detectors and juries, updated by that wired article on brain scans.

I'm not sleeping well, and not getting any work done, so there's lots of reading in bed or bath, although I'm running low on the junk food books and am left with the denser, nutricious but less snackable books. Food is the same way - I get mostly healthy stuff, but eat the junk first. Path of least resistance and all.

Via Dr Helen, here's the former Wonkette. I've had her linked for a year or two but didn't know she was such a babe.

I finally found the cord that plus my digicam into the computer - it was, purloined letter style, still plugged into the computer. Now where did I put the camera?
2006 may bring some new photos.

The Supreme Court today announced three cases, one of which is interesting, in addition to hearing argument in an election speech case I discuss elsewhere.

The court ruled, 6-3, that AG Gonzales can't use federal regulation of prescription drugs to overturn Oregon's decision to allow assisted suicide. The case is narrowly disttinguishable from Ashcroft Gonzales v Raich in that it was based on statutory interpretation rather than explicitly on constitutional grounds. The court said if that's what congress meant, it would have said so. The dissent, joined by Roberts, said the court was making a constitutional decision and should have looked at the statute in the ways it usually does. I'm looking forward to reading Randy Barnett, the Volokhian conspirator who argued Raich. Nothing yet from Barnett, but good discussion at Volokh here.
The uninteresting case was about diversity jurisdiction for national banks.
Re the third case, I need to double check my notes. As always, scotusblog has the scoop, although as of now they haven't posted coverage of WRtL.

Word for the day: "afowl" - Thomas, dissenting in the above case. Or is it Scalia? It's more Scalia-esque. Howard says parrots aren't fowl.

I've sorted out what confused me before. Another interesting case was argued today, rather than decided. Jones v Flowers is about notice requirements before thwe government can steal your house for back taxes. The tax collector sent a registered mail to Mr. Jones, which he didn't pick up. What they didn't do was just mail him a regular letter as well, which probably would have been read by Mrs. Jones, who still lived there. I run into into this problem a lot - I have properties I can't pay the taxes on, and I get bunches of registered mail. For some reason my letter carrier never delievers these, just sends a pink slip saying come get it. I'm hikkiomri - I tend not to leave the house, so often I end up not getting these notices. I'm not confident the Supreme Court will sort out these pragmatic concerns.
I need to mail my rent check, but I actually don't know how much stamps costs these days - I heard it's gone up, but am not sure, or by how much.
Next month I'll sit down and go over my portfolio and bank account and figure out which of my properties to pay the back taxes on - I might keep about 10 out of 30.

Samizdata reminds me that this blog is banned in China,
at least for those running Windows.
It's not that China has something against aardvarks, but is a general
firewall against blogspot sites, because those allow for individual expression, and if people are able to individually express themselves, they might write something favorable about Fulan Gong.

Monday, January 16, 2006

It is, or will shortly be, the Night of January 16th.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Capano finally gets new trial.
Delaware is a small state, where I grew up. When the governor's secretary went missing, and a state attorney from a prominent family was accused of killing her,it made a big splash. He was convicted and sentenced to death, but did not get a fair trial. I forget whether the controversy was that the jury wasn't unanimous, or that the judge, rather than jury, handed down the death sentence. OK, the vote was 11 to 1. When I read that a few years ago it was obvious to me that that's not due process.
Howard reports that the state supreme court has given him a new trial.
Delaware Law Office links to the opinion.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

More Kelo fallout:
The Indiana legislature is considering a bill to make eminent domain takings more difficult and expensive. This is partly about Kelo, but eminent domain abuse has been an issue in the legislature for years - bills get introduced but don't pass. Currently there's a very hot eminent domain dispute going on - the Indianapolis Colts, via the convention center agency, are trying to take over a small local bean factory, to make it into a parking lot for the new stadium. This is in the same part of town where Anthem (formerly blue cross)tried to take a tomato-packing plant a few years ago.
Disclosures: I like the bean soup that factory makes... I think go throw some in the crockpot now! I've long been opposed to eminent domain abuse on philosophical grounds, but it's currently more personal - A property I used to own is being taken by the city for yet another golf course, and I'm involved trying to get a fair deal fopr the guy I gave the proprety to. And a bunch of my other properties are in a reverse condemnation situation where the city has effectively taken them but not paid for what they've taken.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

My friend chaosinorder had an exhibit lined up at Tully's coffeehouse in NYC, until the, er, corporate goons, took it down. It goes up next week at a new location, but meanwhile flicker.
Prices range from $25 to $100.

Wil is blogging from Atlantis, aka Nassau in the Bahamas. Which reminds me of something that happened over xmas - I think I couldn't run blogger from mom's mac. We were on I-95 passing the philly airport, on our way home from visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art (the one where Rocky runs up the steps.) I saw two billboards - one for a flight to Nassau, $69, one for a hotel room, $79. I just found it interesting that it was cheaper to fly to another county than to get a night's sleep. Granted, the real price of the plane ticket would be higher, which might be the case with the hotel room too. Given my austerity policies, I don't fly, and don't stay in hotels, and I have yet to make it to the Bahamas. I gave my brother a copy of A Pirate Looks at 50, which is about Jimmy Buffet flying his own plane around the carribean.
Update: atlantis is the resort (I wasn't sure), and he was there for a poker tournament, which he lost but enjoyed. My brother turns 50 today (1/12/06) I think.

What country has a wall all the way around it?
Hint: http://www.cominganarchy.com
Answer tomorrow maybe.

Another case the high court agreed to hear is more interesting than I at first realized. Defendant was busted by feds in St Louis. The lawyer he wanted was admitted in california, but not in the federal courts in st louis, and the judge refused to admit him pro hoc vice. The guy had to go with some other lawyer, and got convicted. The 8th circuit set aside the conviction because he was denied the right to counsel. If, and it's a big if, the Supreme Court agrees, that would be a big step forward for the right to counsel. I assume it would apply only in federal courts - it would be an even bigger change for the state courts to have to allow counsel of choice. One to watch. Scotusblog .

Friday, January 06, 2006

Over at my election law blog I have a post citing the Utah Supreme Court talking about how defendants could have relied on the state constitution - instead, they only cited the 4th Amendment, and the US Supreme Court has taken the case and may reverse the supression order. The issue is whether cops should have knocked before entering a party to stop a fight.
I have a two part question: is there any ethical duty to raise state constitutional claims, and is it ever malpractice to fail to do so?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Howard reports a washington post story about a case in which Maryland's
indecent exposure statute was too vague to convict a guy of mooning.
I am puzzled though by this bit in the story:

Defense attorneys cited a 1983 case of a woman who was arrested after protesting in front of the U.S. Supreme Court wearing nothing but a cardboard sign that covered the front of her body.

This would seem to be a reference to Mary Grace, www.justia.us/us/461/171/case.html
but either the paper got it wrong or the defense attorney got it wrong or the Supreme Court opinion just happebned to leave out the bit about her being naked under her sign, which would make the case that much more interesting and memorable.
I'm gonna guess offhand it's a) the paper got it wrong.
Perhaps the alert blogosphere can offer clarification.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

new update 1/07/06: maybe the "just a rumor" denial was a rumor? Google is expected to announce something soon. Something may include google pack (pack.google.com) which may contain an operating-system-like thingy. Stay tuned. Slashdot will know before I do.
update: it was just a rumor, and has been denied.

another new update: 1/08/06. Google pack isn't quite what I expected, and doesn't seem to have any new OS-like-thingy. But it does have some essential free software
that happens to not come from microsoft. Firefox and adobe reader I have and use, trillian I don't. So it's a step toward google's strategy of world domination by giving stuff away. Google is maybe the best, or at least the highest capitalized,
example of the new economic model described in the Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric Raymond, and Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Tuesday January 03, @05:24AM - slashdot
from the google-snowball-effect dept.
Fahrvergnuugen writes "According to latimes.com Google is set to launch the Google PC which will run Google's own operating system. From the article: 'Sources say Google has been in negotiations with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., among other retailers, to sell a Google PC. The machine would run an operating system created by Google, not Microsoft's Windows, which is one reason it would be so cheap -- perhaps as little as a couple of hundred dollars.'"

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