AutoAdmit Case Euthanized

October 23, 2009

Article in the Yale Daily Journal does a good job of covering it.


Geometric Memetics

October 16, 2009

Geometric Memetics: When two memes smash into each other, thus creating a meme that expands geometrically. Not to be confused with a super-meme, which is just a really huge meme.


Buy This Book

October 7, 2009
Buy this book or I start killing kittens.

Buy this book or I start killing kittens.

I don’t plug products on this blawg very often. However, my little sister wrote a book called Go Tweet Yourself: 365 Reasons Why Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and Other Social Networking Sites Suck.

Flip Twitter the bird.

Tell Facebook to f#@% off.

Lose it on LinkedIn.

Somewhere between the advent of Facebook and launching Twitter to the masses, the Internet betrayed us. It allowed pages to be viewed by job interviewers, newsfeeds to be flooded by Aunt Julie, and for constant tweets about what color socks that random girl from the study group is going to wear today.

This book is the hilarious reply all that says: enough is enough. We don’t want to see the pictures from your business trip to Omaha. We don’t want a page-by-page account of what’s going on in Twilight. We definitely don’t want a virtual drink!

When you can’t fix the problem, fix the blame. And since there’s no way in 2.0-hell that you can put an end to the bastardization of the Book, you may as well have a good laugh while pointing the finger at those who ruined their online experience.

Buy the book or this may be their last meal...

Buy the book or this may be their last meal...

I have a dozen kittens at my house. For each day that goes by that the book does not sell 1,000 copies, I shall place one kitten in a wood chipper. When I run out, I will comb the newspaper and find more kittens that people are giving away. The yard will run red with the blood of kittens, and it will be ON YOUR HANDS!

Go ahead. Call my bluff.

You better buy a copy of my little sister’s book.

Click here to buy it.

To the FTC: Yes, I got something for recommending this book. My little sister wrote it. She gave me her sisterly love for the recommendation. Now go shit in your hat.


“What About the Children” FINALLY Fails!

October 3, 2009
Dirty Sanchez

Dirty Linda Sanchez

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-California) is the latest moron to cry “what about the children?” while trying to score cheap political points while wiping her ass with the First Amendment. Sanchez took a swipe at free speech by proposing the “Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act.” Yes, another law named after a dead kid. That almost never ends well for free speech (or any other kind of freedom for that matter).

Here is part of what her bill would criminalize.

(a) Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

(b) As used in this section —

(1) the term ‘communication’ means the electronic transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user’s choosing, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received; and

(2) the term ‘electronic means’ means any equipment dependent on electrical power to access an information service, including e-mail, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones and text messages.

In other words, this entire blog would probably be illegal. I will state with no equivocation that I regularly try and cause substantial emotional distress when I write about dumbasses who try and mess with my First Amendment. I want them to curl up in their bedrooms at night, sobbing and weeping from feeling guilty for their sins against the Constitution. I want them to feel so much distress that they repent and atone for their crimes. No luck yet, but at least I manage to educate my readers about these flunkies and asshats.

According to Wired, her bill got a chilly reception in committee from both Republicans and Democrats. However, in an exclusive interview, Mr. Bartow Dworkin, the president of the International Association of Imbeciles, and a full time law professor, supported the bill.

We believe that when people are mean to other people on teh internets, this is sexist and racist and ummm, WHAT ABOUT TEH CHILDREN? It is bad enough that we are confused about what might have happened to our favorite race-baiting website, but don’t our leaders understand the gravity of this situation? A child died! It must NEVER happen again. Nobody must ever die again, or else people will die.

Dworkin then ran off to his subcommittee meeting of the ABA’s “future of the legal profession” meeting without further comment, but he did tell us that we needed to read the law review article “Cyber Civil Rights.” “Here, take this,” he said. However, the pages were all stuck together, so we weren’t able to read the article. We did line a bird cage with the pages, but the bird chose to die from jaundice rather than suffer the indignity of having to shit in the presence of such stupidity.

I would give a full discussion of what a piece of garbage Sanchez’ bill is, but Eugene Volokh already pwned it in his Huffington Post article.


DHS Issues New Border Search Rules for Electronic Media

August 29, 2009

by Jason Fischer

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures . . . (source).” Since 9/11, a good number of feathers have been ruffled, debating what constitutes an “unreasonable search.” Pundits a plenty have been ranting about “privacy this” and “warrantless that,” but the simple truth is that there are many situations where it is not “unreasonable” for the government to conduct a “search,” without first obtaining a warrant.

A classic example is when officials, employed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), search your possessions upon entry into the United States from a foreign country. Mechanically, the presumption is raised that you consent to the search by entering the United States. If you don’t want to be searched, don’t come in. Ostensibly, the goal is to prevent certain items from being smuggled into the country — drugs, explosives, etc. — or, in the words of our Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “to combat transnational crime and terrorism . . . (source).” That all seems reasonable, but a hardcore civil libertarian would likely quote Benjamin Franklin in opposition: “Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security (source).”

Hang on there, Benji — an act of “terrorism” in your day was dumping some Lipton in the harbor. It’s pretty hard to uphold the standard of the Founders in the face of more modern concerns (e.g., dirty bombs, heroin, anthrax), but try we must. Unfortunately, it seems like our government doesn’t try very hard sometimes, as demonstrated recently by DHS, which is responsible for controlling ICE and CBP.

In the face of these more modern threats, coupled with advances in technology that make it possible to transport large amounts of data, ICE and CBP have in recent years begun detaining and searching digital media — e.g., laptops, portable hard drives, thumb drives, CDs, DVDs, iPods, yadda, yadda, yadda. What are they looking for, you ask? Answer:

Searches of electronic media, permitted by law and carried out at borders and ports of entry, are vital to detecting information that poses serious harm to the United States, including terrorist plans, or constitutes criminal activity—such as possession of child pornography and trademark or copyright infringement. (source)

Terrorist plans — I get it. IP infringement — I don’t. Child porn — really? Gotta throw that one in, so that anyone who makes a stink will look like a pedophile, I guess.

Come on, people. Get mad. They’re insulting your intelligence here. DHS is charged with protecting the security of the homeland, not carrying out the marching orders of the MPAA or RIAA, all without the procedural protections of a warrant. We’re not just talking about rifling through my dirty underwear anymore, looking for that kilo of cocaine. You’re potentially reading my emails, skimming my privileged work product, or ogling the naughty pictures I took of my wife while we were having sexy time — all without a lick of probable cause that I’ve done anything illegal. Not Cool.

So the question remains: How do you authorize customs officials to look for the really bad stuff (e.g., shoe bomb schematics), and, at the same time, protect the stuff that they should need a warrant to view?

To quiet concerns about potential violations of privacy, DHS issued directives this week to ICE and CBP, supposedly ordering those agencies to behave. The new directives contain a number of “safeguards” that are designed “strike the balance between respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all travelers while ensuring DHS can take the lawful actions necessary to secure our borders (source).” They read like a bunch of false measures (to me, anyway). A few examples:

  • Providing a leaflet to travelers, whose digital media has been detained, explaining any available administrative recourse
  • Hanging signs around borders and ports of entry, informing that digital media is subject to search and potential detention
  • Requiring approval of a supervisor to extend a detention of digital media beyond thirty days
  • Allowing only a supervisor to copy information from detained digital media
  • Directing a customs officer to consult with local counsel or the U.S. Attorney’s Office, if a traveler asserts that the information contained in the digital media is subject to attorney-client privilege

You can read the entire “Privacy Impact Statement” here.

I don’t know what the right answer is to the question posed above, but I do know that I expect my government to respect the notion of freedom that this nation was founded upon. We left Britain, at least in part, because the police could stop anyone on the street at any time and demand to see their papers. The Fourth Amendment was carefully crafted to prevent this type of abuse in the United States. @DHS: ur doin’ it wrong.


Twitter is Stupid, Give Up

August 19, 2009

I have been thinking about composing a piece on why Twitter is stupid, but making money got in the way of that. And, in the meantime, someone else wrote the perfect piece. See Devin Coldeway, Why I Don’t Use Twitter.

In your face, Fischer!


Why Email Starts Fights

March 12, 2009

Fascinating. I guess now I understand why I prefer video chat to email.


And the Most Perverted State is…. UTAH!

February 28, 2009

Oh Utah, thou dost protest too much. It seems that the states where everyone is god fearin’ and porn hatin’ also happen to be the states where the most internet porn subscribers happen to live. See Benjamin Edelman. “Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 23, no. 1 (Winter 2009): 209-230 (PDF here).

Edelman took a look at sales and subscription figures for a number of adult entertainment websites, and he found some of the funniest data I’ve seen in a while. It seems that a more conservative public position on religion, gender, and sexuality translates into higher rates of internet porn memberships. Go figure.

In states where more people agree that “Even today miracles are performed by the power of God” and “I never doubt the existence of God,” there are more subscriptions. In states where more than half of the population proclaims “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage,” subscription rates are elevated. The same goes for states where Republican education efforts have convinced a majority of the population that “AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behaviour.” Source at 219.

Click to expand

Click to expand

Oregon’s Constitution is so protective of free speech, that porn prosecutions there are about as rare as intelligent speeches on technology given by Ted Stevens. On the other hand, the mother-lands of censorship, Utah and Mississippi… why you dirty peckerwoods. All the time you’re trying to censor the internet and anything else you can get your hands on, you’re filling the porn industry’s coffers with your subscription fees!

Although neither Red nor Blue states have a monopoly on porn subscriptions, there is a divide when it comes to conservative vs. liberal porn tastes. In Blue states, the most popular porn sites are adult escort sites. Red states that voted for Bush in 2004 prefer wife-swapping sites, adult webcams, and sites about voyeurism. (Source at 219)


Is Jailbreaking the iPhone a DMCA Violation?

February 21, 2009

The EFF reports:

Apple’s iPhone, now the best-selling cellular phone in the U.S., has been designed with restrictions that prevent owners from running applications obtained from sources other than Apple’s own iTunes App Store. “Jailbreaking” is the term used for removing these restrictions, thereby liberating your phone from Apple’s software “jail.

Apple takes the position that this is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The EFF disagrees. Personally, I agree with the EFF, but I found a better alternative to jailbreaking my iPhone. I returned the piece of crap and got a Blackberry.


Producers of Copyrighted Content – They Just Don’t Get It

February 19, 2009

by Jason Fischer

hulu

I don’t understand why producers of copyrighted content have such a hard time comprehending their customer base. We’re not that difficult to fathom. We only really have a few, simple needs:

  • We want to be able to get to desired content, whenever and however we want.
  • We don’t want to pay through the nose for it.
  • If you make it difficult for us, there are other ways for us to get what we want. Ways you don’t like, because it means you won’t get your cut.

It’s precisely because content producers don’t understand us that we have scenarios like this.

I really thought that everyone was coming closer together, though, producers and consumers, when I discovered a service called Hulu this summer. It just so happened that I found myself, for about six weeks, in a place with Internet access, but limited cable service. I began to fret when I realized that I would not be able to get my weekly Battlestar Galactica fix – right when the last season was beginning to air. Also, with the writers’ strike delaying everything, many of my other favorite programs were still running new episodes into June. I was going to miss the season finales for a handful of shows, which I had been watching religiously at home. I began to panic a little bit.

Read the rest of this entry »


Facebook Caves to User Pressure

February 18, 2009

by Jason Fischer

A few days ago, Facebook announced that it would be changing its terms of service. The updated terms made changes with regard to intellectual property ownership of content that users posted to the site. The changes were denounced as oppressive by many blog commentators. Apparently in response to the negative “press,” Facebook has reversed course, posting the following message on the “home” page for all users.

Facebook Message to Users


“Swatting”: Evil Shenanigans

February 2, 2009

Come on, say it, Thorny!

Come on, say it, Thorny!

I absolutely love pranks. I’ve been known to “waste” (depending on how you define the word) incredible amounts of time setting them up. High tech pranks usually move to the top of the line.

But this is even less funny than Rod Farva’s “soap in the coffee” prank.

Doug Bates and his wife, Stacey, were in bed around 10 p.m., their 2-year-old daughters asleep in a nearby room. Suddenly they were shaken awake by the wail of police sirens and the rumble of a helicopter above their suburban Southern California home. A criminal must be on the loose, they thought.

Doug Bates got up to lock the doors and grabbed a knife. A beam from a flashlight hit him. He peeked into the backyard. A swarm of police, assault rifles drawn, ordered him out of the house. Bates emerged, frightened and with the knife in his hand, as his wife frantically dialed 911. They were handcuffed and ordered to the ground while officers stormed the house.

The scene of mayhem and carnage the officers expected was nowhere to be found. Neither the Bateses nor the officers knew that they were pawns in a dangerous game being played 1,200 miles away by a teenager bent on terrifying a random family of strangers. (source)

The whole thing was caused by 18 year old Randal Ellis, who used an internet-based phone service for the hearing impaired to spoof the local 911 center. On the 911 call, “[h]e said he was high on drugs and had just shot his sister.” Apparently, he picked the Ellis family at random, as he did with all 185 of his victims.

Ellis is serving a three year sentence for his shenanigans.

So let this be a lesson to you, kids. Shenanigans are supposed to be cheeky and fun. Ellis’ shenanigans were cruel and tragic…. Which wouldn’t make them shenanigans, at all, really. Evil shenanigans, if you will.


The iPhone Sucks

December 26, 2008

I got an iPhone on December 2, and all I can say is that I’m glad that AT&T has a 30 day return policy. My biggest complaints to date:

  1. No “cut and paste” — still — and people have been complaining about that since the first iPhone came out. What good is it to have web access and email, but no cut and paste?
  2. The “virtual keyboard” is nifty, but completely impractical and makes my hand feel like it has turned into a claw after using it for more than 15 minutes.
  3. I’m not sure what would last longer, an erection in the presence of Katherine Harris or the iPhone’s battery.
  4. And even though the battery life sucks, you can’t just carry a spare battery with you, as the battery is not user-replaceable.
  5. The camera utterly sucks. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that a phone isn’t a camera, and my last blackberry didn’t even have a camera (and I bought it for that reason). But, if you’re going to bother to put a camera in a media device, don’t make it suck ass.
  6. Speaking of pictures, you can attach ONE picture to each email. Sending an email on this thing is a big enough pain in the ass. Doing it repetitively to send additional files is just painful.
  7. No MMS. If someone sends me a picture message, I’ve got to log on to the internet and enter in a picture ID and a password, both of which are generated by the system, both of which are incredibly hard to remember. If I could CUT AND PASTE, it might be okay, but this way I either have to grow a photographic memory or whip out a pencil to write down the codes.
  8. You can’t forward a text message
  9. Apple touts it as having the “real internet” on it. I have news for Apple, the real internet uses FLASH — a lot. If I can’t see websites that use Flash, I can’t view exotic websites like the BOSTON GLOBE
  10. Every goddamn time I want to charge the phone by plugging it into my USB jack, stupid iTunes launches.
  11. Speaking of iTunes, that is the only way you can get files on or off the iPhone. Even my $19 MP3 player can work as an external hard drive. Apple disabled that function on the iPhone. (Yes, there are third-party workarounds, but why make something so simple like “drag and drop files” into a pain in the ass?
  12. It has a GPS, but no turn-by-turn directions like my $50 Garmin that runs on AA batteries. So, if you’re driving, you HAVE to look at the phone’s screen to navigate. It might be great if you’re walking around Noe Valley, but most of us use GPS in the damn car.
  13. No tethering to your laptop.
  14. No removable storage. It has a slot for a SIM card, but Apple figured we wouldn’t want removable storage.
  15. The iPhone is a Piece of Shit, and So is Your Face (Okay, I didn’t make that one up)
  16. Applications like mail and the browser crash CONSTANTLY. Way to give us the Windows Vista experience, Apple!

I really really tried to like this thing. I kept making excuses for it. Despite my lengthy list of reasons to hate it, I figured I might just keep it. My cell phones rarely last a year anyhow, and I did like the fact that it automatically synchronized contacts and calendar entries with my Macintosh. Even better, it would auto-synch with my iPod touch that I leave at home.

But, if I’m on the fence about a product, the most sure-fire way to piss me off and have me running for the return aisle is to let me find out that Apple is censoring content from the app store based on automatic scans for “dirty words.” If an e-book has the word “fuck” in it, you can’t read it on your iPhone. To be honest, I don’t think I would ever read a book on an iPhone anyway, and I’m as big a Mac cheerleader/fanboy as you’ll find, but fuck Cupertino if it thinks that I’m going to support it on a product that has an electronic Anthony Comstock inside it.

My next text message will be sent from a new Blackberry Bold.


How to Stop the Robots NOW

November 22, 2008

If all else fails, Daleks love chicks in 'fuck me boots.'

If all else fails, Daleks are suckers for 'fuck me boots.'

If fear having to appease a horde of Daleks or fight off a rampaging terminator in the future, the time to act is now. Frank J. has figured out how to preserve our future, so the machines can never take over.

Make sure they all have prominent big red buttons on them that deactivates them.

Never give them AI by merging the minds of different serial killers.

Make them out of Nerf™.

Have a limit of five weapons per robot.

Never give them access to time machines.

Don’t have their programming give them a hundred points per person they kill.

Never make a robot monkey.

No matter what excuses they give, don’t ever take off their restraining bolts.

Install Vista on them so no killing spree can last longer than a few minutes without them needing to reboot.

Make sure killbots have a preset killing limit.

Put a big label on each robot saying, “Please Don’t Tease the Robot”.


Pinota, Welcome to the Adult Entertainment World

October 26, 2008

A Canadian company hopes to bring the BlackBerry out of its “business only” mold. Pinota is launching a BlackBerry – oriented adult entertainment service.

Pinota is the first and only adult entertainment network dedicated exclusively to BlackBerry users. We choose the name Pinota as a nod to classic pin-up girls of the past and now ‘Over-The-Air’. Our members will find adult videos, photo galleries and introducing our founders Missy and Maggie’s sex blogs. (source)

HT: Snark Hunting