Reporter Arrested for Photographing Senators, Donors at Democratic Convention
Once again we see a heavy hand coming down on those daring to use a camera in public. This time it was Denver police arresting an ABC News producer for taking pictures
, on a public sidewalk, of Democratic senators and big contributor.
A police official later told lawyers for ABC News that Eslocker is being charged with trespass, interference, and failure to follow a lawful order. He also said the arrest followed a signed complaint from the Brown Palace Hotel.
Nothing like trespassing on a public sidewalk. This is just one more in an alarmingly growing series of people taking photographs being hassled by authorities. Maybe it's the memory of how video has captured police in brutal activities, or perhaps it's a thought that power brokers should be able to hide from public site even when out in the open. But it's bad.
Labels: law, news, photographers, police
Apple Censors Comic
If you've been following the craze for Apple's iPhone, then you probably know that there's a place where you can download applications. One of them is designed to let comic artists provide their content on an iPhone, and it comes with the first episode of a comic called Murderdrome
. Yup, as violent as it sounds - and now banned by Apple for its content
, even though it apparently allows other types of media that are perhaps less grotesque but not necessarily less graphically violent. Check the Murderdrome link, read the comments, and see the other types of content that are available through the company.
By now, you might have heard that Murderdrome has been banned by Apple. This is due to the part of the sdk that suggests content must NOT offend anyone in ‘apple’s reasonable’ opinion. Here at infurious, we would love to work with Apple to ensure a content rating system can be put in place to allow material that is no more offensive than many of the R rated films available to download on iTunes.
Once it was government bodies that banned content, and the U.S. has constitutional protections against such activity. But legal rights don't extend to dealing with private companies, and increasingly they act as gateways to content. One day Wal-Mart decides what is family-friendly enough to be put on sale, the next day it's Apple.
At least digital distribution allows those creating the content to distribute it themselves, but let's be realistic for a moment. Have you ever written anything of length, even a short story, let alone a novel? Ever seen the hours a well-executed drawing can take to complete? Ever sat down with other musicians and tried to record songs? It all takes time
- lots of it. That's why creative people need to find commercial outlets, because otherwise they have to do something else in addition to make a living, and while many of us will toil away in extra hours, it's often just not enough. To shut down the few commercial outlets to expression, which might allow more
expression, is to cut off the ability for most people to make their creativity available. That puts the control of culture into the hands of corporations. To see the result, turn on a television or radio, or read a magazine or hyped book. Don't think that things can't get worse, because they can.
Labels: Apple, censorship, comics
Harsh Library Fine Collection
A woman in Wisconsin ended up in jail
because she hadn't paid some overdue fees from the public library. Heidi Dalibor, 20, owed about $30 on two paperbacks. After a number of notices and a notice to appear in court
, she continued not to respond. So officers showed up with an arrest warrant and carted her off. She was out $30, and her mother, $172, to spring the young woman.
Labels: law, libraries, police
Jackson Browne Suing John McCain
I guess it's a tradition for politicians to sling mud, though John McCain's campaign seems to be doing more than its share
. But now it's stepped over the line: the copyright line, that is. A recent television ad made use of Browne's song Running on Empty
, only the composer, traditionally a supporter of the other side of the political fence, says that it was done without permission
. Oops. That would push the McCain camp from doing the possibly distasteful and even maybe unethical to the all-out illegal, as that woudl be a violation of copyright law.
The complaint alleges that McCain, the RNC and the ORP recently released a television commercial "in which McCain mocks the suggestion" of Obama "that the country can conserve gasoline by keeping their automobile tires inflated to the proper pressure," and that during the commercial Browne's song "Running On Empty" plays in the background.
We'd better through in the outright wrong as well, given that low tire pressure can lead to a significant drop in gas mileage.
Browne's complaint goes on to allege that he "is not the first victim of McCain's creation of false endorsements and manifest lack of respect for the intellectual property rights accorded to musicians by the United States Constitution." As examples, the complaint then asserts that McCain and his agents have made unauthorized use of musical works by ABBA, John Mellencamp, and Frankie Valli.
Oh, mamma mia, what is McCain going to say now?
Labels: copyright, Politics
McCain Showing True Stripes?
Although I've liked John McCain somewhat in the past, I've gravitated away because of the sense that he's yet another politician who will ultimately do or say anything to get elected. Jonathan Alter's article detailing lies that McCain's campaign has been spreading about Obama
does nothing to assuage my discontent. I'm no big fan of Obama either, but when a man apparently allows lying to be done in his name, you have to wonder just how we're supposed to define the word "honorable" these days.
Vampire Novelist's Reputation at Stake
Stephanie Meyer had managed to write the extremely popular Twilight series and developed a legion of fans. Now that is coming back to bite her a little lower than the neck. The last book was apparently so poorly written that Entertainment Weekly gave it a D rating and many fans of the series are now talking about setting fire to it
. That makes me wonder two things. First, could there have been some extremely heavy editing or even ghosting
(thematically appropriate, at least) on the earlier books? Not that it's impossible for an author to have an off volume, but when it goes that far south, you have to ask.
Secondly, fame is clearly a double-edged sword. Who's going to buy the next book?
Labels: authors, books
SFMOMA Bullies Photographer?
Supposedly, San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art had a photographer forcibly ejected from the establishment
because the man had the temerity to take photographs, even though the museum's own web site made it clear that it was permissible
! The link comes via boingboing
In that vein, I'll applaud Boston's Museum of Fine Art
for generally allowing photography
and only prohibiting it for specific exhibitions. One of my own favorite photos
came from shooting a piece of modern sculpture on a first floor gallery.
Labels: harassment, museums, permits
Call for UK Bill of Rights Will Get Mired
I love the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution, not only for what it provides to citizens here, but how eloquently and cleverly it does so. Say too little, or forget a key area, and people are left to the whims of government. Say too much, and you get unintended consequences.
That's what will happen, I think, with the latest call for a U.K. bill of rights
. Certainly trial by jury as one right is important. But "right to administrative justice?" Just what does that mean? And "international human rights as yet not incorporated into UK law?" Who decides what the international human rights are? What happens if more "develop?"
They want specific rights for "vulnerable groups." But the more specific a bill of rights gets for particular groups, the more it loses, as the idea is to provide the important floor of rights for everyone
. Why, in such a document, would you want to detail rights offered some but not all? It seems to fly in the face of the concept itself. And a right to "an adequate standard of living?" I do agree with the concept, but how to you legally
ensure that? Whose standard and how much? And that's considered separate from a right to health, housing, and education. Does that mean everyone gets to go to a university, and if so, how much money will it take to build enough of them to provide space for all? Ensuring health care, certainly. But ensuring health? How does that happen?
I understand the impetus: No humane person wants to see others suffer. But how will a document that likely cannot be enforced in its full considerations provide any help? Well, other than making people feel good about the "advance" in society. My bet is that the observation of the New Testament that the poor will always be there will sadly continue, no matter what official dictate is in force.
Labels: human rights, law, U.K.
Time to Vote for the Oddest Book Title of the Last 30 Years
The Bookseller magazine hosts an annual competition, called the Diagram Prize, for the world's oddest book title. (The 2006 winner was The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification
.) Because the prize was started 30 years ago by Diagram Group founder Bruce Robertson when bored at a Frankfurt Book Fair, everyone involved decided to have a recognition of the long-lasting nature of oddity. Now you can cast your vote
. Pick your choice from all past winning titles. I'm wavering between The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History and Its Role in the World Today
and People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It
Labels: books, prize
Google: World's Largest Translation Company?
Looks like Google is entering another business - translation
According to the Google explanations on the frontpage and their product overview page, we can see this is meant to be a translation service which offers both volunteers and professional translators... and I suppose at least the professionals will want to get paid. In that regards, the service is in the field of sites like Click2Translate.com (a service by the company which Tony works for, incidentally, and which I’m often using for some of my sites).
But what is really interesting reading at the moment is a translator's view
on what Google will do and how it will profit. According to Brian McConnell, a problem for machine translation is its need for pairs of directly (and, presumably, well) translated sentences. The systems then build a statistical analysis to let them swap out phrases to pull together a translation.
Unfortunately, the sources of material are usually governmental bureaucratic meanderings, hence the questionable quality of the results. What Google offers is the possibility of a centralized repository to build an incredibly useful database of translations, which might improve the quality of machine translation. If you've wondered about how writing moves from one language into another, this should be interesting.
Labels: Google, translation
Obama Has Gas Problem
I'm been mildly dumbfounded at Barak Obama's insistence that we need to open the strategic oil reserves to lower the cost of gas in the US. First, in case he hadn't noticed, the price of gas has
been dropping, because oil prices are the lowest they've been in three months. Why? Because all the people who had been speculating on the price of oil are getting less sure of unrestrained prices and profits as the economy slumps.
Also, how much did he really think that the price would drop? A nickle? Maybe the 18 cents that he said would be a useless nudge when McCain and Clinton were suggesting dropping the federal gas tax until labor day? I think he was right not to go along with an productive scheme to curry voter favor back then. Now that he's caving in, I'm guessing that we're seeing more of the real man, willing, as so many politicians are, to say anything at times to get elected.
Labels: news, Politics
Sunday Papers Big for Coupons? Who Would Have Thought It?
This, from yesterday's New York Times: "Readers of Sunday newspapers are more likely than other Americans to use coupons, according to a survey released recently by Scarborough Research, which measures consumer shopping habits." Given that Sunday papers are probably the biggest source of daily coupons, is it any wonder that the readers of those papers are the biggest users of coupons? This to me is the equivalent of saying that people who drive into gas stations are more likely than others to purchase gasoline. The next biggest source of coupons is direct mail and, amazingly enough, people are probably less likely to use something they never asked for than something they paid for.
Labels: marketing, newspapers, research
How Do You Entertain a Pharoah?
How do you entertain a pharoah?A.
Sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and tell the pharaoh to go fish.
That joke was recorded in 1600 B.C. (or B.C.E. for those not fond of a Christian-centric approach to global dating) and is the result of some research that the University of Wolverhampton took up
in conjunction with a humor site that now has the ten oldest recorded jokes
listed. Looking through them, I'm convinced that the reason we don't have more recorded humor from ancient times is a lack of gag doctors.
Labels: humor, jokes, university