April 08, 2005
Apparently Justice Has Email
This one is for Tuning Spork of Blather Review and Ted of Rocket Jones. It is also for Pixy Misa of Ambient Irony who in addition to his amazing fashion sense, does so much to spare all of us from Munuviana from an even more overwhelming assault of Spam.
Its also for everyone who has a blog and has gone through the chore of cleaning out comment and trackback spam. It is for anyone with an email account.
Judge Sentences Spammer to 9 YearsThe story is by the Associated Press via Fox News. I stole their picture too. I wouldn't normally do that but I just like this too much.
LEESBURG, Va. — A man convicted in the nation's first felony case against illegal spamming (search) was sentenced to nine years in prison Friday for bombarding Internet users with millions of junk e-mails.
However, Loudoun County Circuit Judge Thomas Horne delayed the start of Jeremy Jaynes' (search) prison term while the case is appealed, saying the law is new and raises constitutional questions.
Jaynes, 30, who was considered among the top 10 spammers in the world at the time of his arrest, used the Internet to peddle pornography and sham products and services such as a “FedEx refund processor,” prosecutors said. Thousands of people fell for his e-mails, and prosecutors said Jaynes' operation grossed up to $750,000 per month.
Jaynes was convicted in November for using false Internet addresses and aliases to send mass e-mail ads through an AOL server in Loudoun County, where America Online (search) is based. Under Virginia law, sending unsolicited bulk e-mail itself is not a crime unless the sender masks his identity.
While prosecutors presented evidence of just 53,000 illegal e-mails, authorities believe Jaynes was responsible for spewing out 10 million e-mails a day. Prosecutors said Jaynes made millions of dollars from the illegal venture.
April 07, 2005
You're Still Stupid in Purple
Of all of the nonsense coming out of the politically correct sensitivity movement this whining about teachers marking papers with red ink is probably the worst.
In many other schools, it's black and white when it comes to red. The color has become so symbolic of negativity that some principals and teachers will not touch it.I've got news for school kids and their overprotective angst ridden parents; an F is an F. Writing it in purple does not obviate the fact of your failure. Maybe if you put a little more effort into the work, you wouldn't be seeing quite so much red ink. Stop whining and start studying.
“You could hold up a paper that says 'Great work!' and it won't even matter if it's written in red,” said Joseph Foriska, principal of Thaddeus Stevens Elementary in Pittsburgh.
He has instructed his teachers to grade with colors featuring more “pleasant-feeling tones” so that their instructional messages do not come across as derogatory or demeaning.
“The color is everything,” said Foriska, an educator for 31 years.
At Public School 188 in Manhattan, 25-year-old teacher Justin Kazmark grades with purple, which has emerged as a new color of choice for many educators, pen manufacturers confirm.
And of course like all educational insanity, there is someone supplying the psycho-babble.
That is a sound approach, said Leatrice Eiseman, a color specialist with a background in psychology who has written several books on the ties between colors and communication.If that isn't ludicrous enough on its own, think about this for a moment, someone's taxes are probably paying for her to spout this garbage. Maybe yours.
“The human eye is notoriously fickle and is always searching for something new to look at it,” she said. “If you use a color that has long been used in a traditional way, you can lose people's attention, especially if they have a history of a lot of red marks on their papers.”
Purple may be rising in popularity, Eiseman said, because teachers know it is a mix of blue and red. As she put it: “You still have that element of the danger aspect -- the red -- but it's kind of subtle, subliminal. It's in the color, rather than being in your face.” (emphasis added)
I seriously doubt that teachers are switching to purple because it will send subliminal signals to students who aren't getting the message when its written in an “in your face” red ink. More likely they are using purple because most schools insist that students use only blue or black ink in their work. They use purple to try to make their comments and marks stand out. Which is why they were using red in the first place.
I am an optimist at heart, and I have to believe that eventually this kind of nonsense will be taken to a point where more people will finally stand up and say enough. Until then, I'm thinking of going into business making pens with invisible ink.
April 05, 2005
San Francisco Speech Regulation Update
A couple of interesting posts on the San Francisco speech regulations. The first is from Chris Nolan who covered the proceedings at the San Francisco Board of Superrvisors. The process is confusing to say the least.
Never a group to say “enough,” the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed its ethics and campaign finance legislation, twice today. One bill, has all the faults the blogosphere has derided. The other doesn’t. One – the faulty one – will move toward passage and be voted on again next week. The cleaned-up version will move toward passage, too. Only it has to go to the city's Ethics Commission for review.Apparently somewhere in the process, the good bill will catch up with the bad one and take its place. I guess if it doesn't the wrong bill could be enacted as law. It seems from Nolan's explanation that this was their only option to have some form of the bill in force by the next elections. They would rather have poorly written, bad law than none at all. In the end, I wonder which would do more harm.
The second is an analysis of the proposed regulation from Eugene Volokh. He looks point by point at the relevant parts of the bill and comes to this conclusion:
So the bottom line is that I can't tell what the ordinance as currently drafted really means. Now some of the features I describe may well be unintentional, and perhaps they'll be clarified in future versions of the ordinance. But the version that I have seems to pose a serious risk of imposing nontrivial regulations on bloggers who mention San Francisco candidates before an election — and, I think, violates the First Amendment on vagueness grounds.The bottom line is that no one, and that includes the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, has the slightest idea what the bill contains. I find that somewhat less reassuring than a naked attempt to limit free speech.
I am continuing to work on my San Francisco Blog. I started with the really important stuff first - a banner. I have a rough draft of an editorial policy and a comment policy. They will likely both be very brief. I will not be posting my opinions but putting up topics and serving as a moderator. The comments will be open to anyone from any point on the political spectrum who is willing to be reasonably civil.
Nobody knows yet what the final form of this regulation will be. But if it comes down too hard on bloggers, I will be ready.
April 04, 2005
Speech Regulation By The Bay
Jeff of SoCal Law Blog has posted comments he received via email from the Deputy City Attorney for San Francisco regarding the controversy over regulating internet communications. And much like the case of the Federal Election Commission it seems that things may not be as bad as they seem. However, Mr. Jacobs comments while attempting to be reassuring hardly indicate that blogs will be free from the fog of regulation.
Finally, the legislation would regulate only those communications that meet the definition of an electioneering communication. I believe whether a “blog” would meet such a definition is an issue that the Board of Supervisors and/or the Ethics Commission will be working on in the future according to public statements made at the Rules Committee hearing on this legislation last week.This changes nothing in my plans. If the city of San Francisco attempts to regulate blogs, I will create a space for anyone who wishes to comment on San Francisco politics.
» Argghhh! The Home Of Two Of Jonah's Military Guys.. links with: A chill wind... and you need a lawyer to blog anymore?
April 03, 2005
San Francisco unCensored
The fight to protect our right to freedom of speech is far from over with the FEC's decision to tread lightly on regulating the internet. Others have taken up the cause of regulation where the FEC has taken a pass. Found via Stones Cry Out and Overlawyered is proposed campaign finance regulation under consideration by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
The regulations would apply to weblogs that receive more that 500 hits from San Francisco voters, and would prohibit electioneering communications immediately prior to an election.
Where would a San Francisco blogger have to go to appeal? The 9th Circuit Court. Good luck finding justice there.
I have an alternate plan. It's still in the early stages and all of the details haven't been worked out yet. Essentially I, as resident of the state of Connecticut, am very interested in the local politics of San Francisco. So I'm going to set up a new blog - see the title of this post. I will put up a post on any issue or campaign that is brought to my attention. The comments will be available to anyone and everyone who would like to comment on any issue on the site.
If the city of San Francisco thinks that they can force me to post some sort of disclaimer or submit to some sort of registration, or be silenced prior to an election, they are sadly mistaken.
When I have the rest of the details worked out such as where the site will be and what it will look like, I'll post an update.
April 02, 2005
That's Just Mean
I know yesterday was April 1st. I know were all supposed to go out of our way to play foolish little tricks on each other but some people go way too far. This is so far over the line its disgusting.
I don't Do it On Purpose. Really.
Here's a site that uses a typo I have made on many many occasions. But really I don't do it on purpose or anything.
April 01, 2005
I posted about the Sandy Berger plea deal at eTalkinghead.
The fine is meaningless and I somehow doubt Berger will even notice paying it. But that he gets his clearance back - just in time to allow for the possibility of a role in a potential Democratic administration is appalling. His security clearance should be permanently reduced to the level of crossing guard.
A Hollow Victory Over The FEC
According to this National Journal piece by K. Daniel Glover, (via Instapundit) bloggers can breath a sigh of relief and pat themselves on the back for having beaten back the FEC. And yes for now the FEC is not going to come down on bloggers who link - without compensation - to campaign websites or quote campaign material. And yes, many bloggers think this represents something of a victory.
But it is not a victory. All that has been accomplished is to lesson the scope of defeat.
Glover gives a thorough recounting of the history of the issue and provides a clear explanation of where things stand in the regulatory process. And therein lies the problem.
Had the FEC adopted an early draft of its proposed rules, Smith's prediction might have been on target. That draft -- dated March 10 and leaked on March 24, the day the commission unveiled its official proposal -- called for regulating political Web sites that draw more than 500 people in a 30-day period. The draft exempted only sites that are protected by passwords. Many of the political sites would have had to post campaign-related disclosures. The draft excluded only those sites that pay less than $250 per year for Internet hosting fees, Web-design software, or other costs.A federal commission, acting on legislation passed by Congress, signed by the President and sanctioned by the Supreme Court, is setting rules to delimit who gets to say what, and when they get to say it. I do not see how that can be reconciled with the language of the First Amendment. The system of checks and balances built into the structure of our government will do little to protect us when all three branches are aligned in their willingness to erode our rights.
But the commission instead endorsed much-less-stringent regulations that focus on paid political advertising. The March 24 draft rules question the idea of requiring bloggers to post campaign-related disclosures, noting that “the burden of complying with a disclaimer requirement, and the resources needed for the commission to monitor such a requirement, could outweigh the value of disclosure.” Under the proposed rules, even blogs paid by campaigns would not have to post disclaimers, because campaigns already must disclose such payments.
The draft rules also exempt online reproduction of campaign materials. The commission cited Feingold's MyDD.com posting as a partial defense for that decision. And the media exemption would be extended to online-only publications, such as Salon.com, Slate.com, and DrudgeReport.com, three examples mentioned in the FEC's rules.
When the public hearings have been held and the comments made and the rules are decided, the end result will be less freedom. The entire short history of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act can be summed up as “we are less free than we were before.”
Freedom of speech has suffered a defeat, though we have managed to reduce the damage for now. Beyond this fight, there is the larger war against the efforts of the government to regulate speech. The Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act is bad law. It needs to be undone.
March 30, 2005
What Did The Have To Say.
I have been poking around the website of the Federal Election Commission to check up on what they are doing regarding limiting free speech in the internet. Thus far, there are five Ex parte communications listed under “The Internet: Definitions of ”Public Communication“ and ”Generic Campaign Activity“ and Disclaimers.”
The first is from members of the House Judiciary Committee and it is clearly telling the commission that regulating blogs for unpaid activities should not be considered.
We have been advised the FEC will soon open a rulemaking in this area. Many of us were strong supporters of campaign finance reform generally, and of the BCRA. While the impact of the Shays decision on blogs remains subject to debate, we urge you to remove any ambiguity and make explicit in this rule that a blog would not be subject to disclosure requirements because it contains political commentary or includes links to a candidate or political party's website, provided that the candidate or political party did not compensate the blog for such linking.The second is from Senate Minority leader Harry Reid addressed to Commission Chairman Scott Thomas.
I am writing to express my serious concerns with the Federal Election Commission's (FEC) pending rulemaking concerning internet communications and your recent remarks in this regard. Today I introduced legislation to make it clear that Congress did not intend to regulate this new and growing medium in the Bipartisan Campaing Finance Reform Act (BCRA).This would be encouraging if wasn't virtually certain that some judge will decide otherwise.
The third is from U.S. Senators John McCain and Russell Feingold and U.S. Representatives Christopher Shays and Marty Meehan. It says...
Well actually I've been unable to get that one to download. If I ever do, I'll let you know what the authors of this blight on the First Amendment had to say.
UPDATE: The McCain, Feingold, Shays, Meehan comment is still not available.
March 29, 2005
The Senator Responds
When FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith first sounded the alarm that the courts were ordering the commission to regulate campaign activity on the internet and that weblogs were a potential target for that regulation, one of the steps I took was to dash of a rather hotheaded letter to the senators from Connecticut.
I am writing you as an exercise of my increasingly limited right to freedom of speech. A right that has been grievously abridged by the campaign finance legislation passed by the U.S. Congress. This appalling act of hubris is matched only by the act of the president signing the bill into law and the supreme court upholding it as Constitutional.I sent this via their web sites and quickly got a canned we'll research this and get back to you response from Senator Joseph Leiberman. I knew that I would get some sort of snow job non-committal political spin response. It was just a matter of waiting. Well today the waiting is over. Today Senator Lieberman, research complete responded.
Sirs you are elected to enact legislation and to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not to write legislation eroding the Constitutionally protected rights of American citizens. It is claimed that the purpose of your attack on free speech is to counter the corrupting effects of money in the political process. I submit to you that money is not the source of political corruption but merely a perk of ethically corrupt politicians. Instead of attacking the right to free speech and limiting the rights of citizens to participate in the political process you should be enacting laws providing harsh penalties for political corruption.
You will never succeed in removing money from politics and you will never succeed in silencing citizens who wish to be heard. If you want to eliminate corruption in politics, focus your efforts on eliminating corrupt politicians.
I for one will not be silenced in the name of protecting corrupt elected officials.
Dear Mr. Macklin:I want to note for all of you who might be slightly confused at this juncture that I have never written to Senator Lieberman, or any other senator, regarding the patriot act. A search of the archives of Hold The Mayo shows that I have written next to nothing on the topic. I am beginning to suspect that there might be a problem with the senator's research. My guess is there is probably something terribly wrong with whatever peon Joe has sending letters to his constituents. I've read my letter many times and compared it to the response to see if perhaps the response was chosen by and automated system that parsed my letter for certain key words but I just don't see it.
Thank you for writing to share your concerns about the USA Patriot Act (P.L. 107-56), which Congress passed in October 2001 in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Like virtually all of my Senate colleagues, I supported the Patriot Act in 2001 because I thought it was a comprehensive effort to respond to the new threats our nation faced after September 11. Everything changed on that date, and the tools law enforcement had before then - which in many cases were crafted for a different technological era and a different type of threat - had to be reevaluated to ensure they were appropriate for the era in which we now live. Put simply, in this post-September 11 world, we cannot afford to leave law enforcement - often our most important defense in the war on terrorism - without the tools and resources it needs to do this vital work.
Whatever we must do in the war on terrorism, we absolutely must not dispense with our 225-year-old commitment to civil rights and civil liberties. It is precisely this historic commitment to individual liberty that makes us such a great nation. Security cannot be an excuse to do away with that foundational commitment of our nation's founders.
A number of the Patriot Act's most controversial provisions were authorized temporarily and are set to expire on December 31, 2005. The expiring law enforcement sections of Title II of the USA Patriot Act involve three communications-related aspects of the federal law: wiretapping, stored electronic communications and communication transaction records, and pen registers and trap and trace devices. Congress' reexamination of these provisions has already begun. Before Congress extends those provisions, the Administration must provide clear answers about how it has used the Patriot Act and clear responses to the allegations that it has abused some of the Act's provisions.
Please be assured that I will keep your concerns in mind as Congress continues consideration of any legislation extending these provisions. I will also continue my strong commitment to maintaining the balance between the crucial need for public safety and the equally important need of preserving our civil rights.
My official Senate web site is designed to be an on-line office that provides access to constituent services, Connecticut-specific information, and an abundance of information about what I am working on in the Senate on behalf of Connecticut and the nation. I am also pleased to let you know that I have launched an email news update service through my web site. You can sign up for that service by visiting http://lieberman.senate.gov and clicking on the “Subscribe Email News Updates” button at the bottom of the home page. I hope these are informative and useful.
Thank you again for letting me know your views and concerns. Please contact me if you have any additional questions or comments about our work in Congress.
Some human being read my letter and decided to send me the canned Patriot Act letter. I expected a canned response and it would have been o.k. In fact I was looking forward to fisking it well. This is unacceptable. This cannot be allowed to pass without a direct response.Continue reading "The Senator Responds"
March 28, 2005
Galley Slave David Skinner links to an article on the new Copenhagen opera house that compares the structure with the grille of a 1955 Pontiac
I didn't get that impression. But I expect this to be what the orchestra plays while warming up on opening night