June 30, 2002

Blogosphere: Not So Quick

For the record, the term "Blogosphere" was coined by Brad Graham on Sept. 10, 1999, not William Quick on January 1, 2002.

Posted by wasylik at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

Minority Report: Minority Free

Dineen and I saw Minority Report last night. We both agreed it was a well-done, suspenseful, and thought-provoking movie about free will and the nature of both humanity and reality.

I noticed one, thing, though. For a city long known as the "Chocolate City" for its majority demographic, the Washington, D.C. of 2054 as portrayed in the movie contained very, very few black faces. Of the three I can recall, two were cops. Had the D.C. of the future, saved from the scourge of murder by the Pre-Crime Division, been emptied of blacks? Is that what Spielberg is trying to tell us?

I don't think so. There appear to me to be a couple of dynamics at work. First, Spielberg seems afraid to cast any of the bad guys as black. In a city that is majority black and largely poor, the only murderers we meet are rich and white, except for their pawns, who are poor and white. Perhaps some of this was dictated by the original story, which I haven't read, but it's clear that the one demographic it's still very safe to characterize as evil or flawed is rich, powerful white guys.

Second, there's the Hollywood demographic conundrum. If the D.C. of the future were at all like the D.C. of today, this film would have mostly black faces - good, evil, and somewhere in between. And then it would be seen as a black film. After all, few folks outside D.C. know its demographics; would people in Peoria go see a "black" film even if it was demographically correct?

Interestingly, Bernard Goldberg noted the same type of slant in the news media in his book, Bias:

One especially egregious incident involved a 1995 news story on Alabama's reinstatement of inmate chain gangs. A CBS crew flew down to shoot footage of these gangs, whose laborers expressed reactions like, "It makes you feel like a slave" and "This makes you hate." A strong piece, the segment simply displayed what the news crew found. However, CBS producers balked at running the story, because 19 of the 20 convicts filmed were black. Even though the ratio accurately reflected chain gang conditions in Alabama, CBS authorities felt such a portrayal would make them appear insensitive, as well as bolster cliches about black criminals. It never occurred to the producers to question why the Alabama prison system was convicting black men in such multitudes--a query which may have actually led them to meaningful, ground-breaking investigative journalism. Instead, their "solution" was to distort reality by requesting more white convicts on film next time.

It looks like this movie has fallen into the same trap - forget about reality, not just in the science fiction sense, but in the demographic sense as well - because when doing a movie so focused on crime, you've got to be sensitive above all else. Maybe that's why a movie called "Minority Report" contains very few minorities at all.

Posted by wasylik at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2002

A Declaration of War: Sue Spammers Now

Matt points to this article about suing spammers in small claims court. The article is interesting not only because it explains a little but of the how, but more importantly, a little bit of the why. In a word: economics.

There is one vulnerability that spammers have in common. Ultimately, someone, somewhere, wants to sell you a product or service and they have to collect money from you to do it. This is like kryptonite to them for two reasons. First, even if they sell from overseas, they are looking to do business with you here in America, and that means that somewhere along the way. they have in effect agreed to be subject to the jurisdiction of American courts - specifically, your courts in your hometown, if they're trying to sell something to you. Second, because they are trying to collect money here in America, there may be a way to trap that money before it leaves the country, by finding and placing liens on merchant credit card accounts and the like.

Once spammers start to understand that a large number of us are willing to threaten their ill-gotten gains, they must conclude that it no longer makes economic sense to spam indiscriminately or fraudulently. Just a handful of anti-spam vigilantes can cost spammers enough to lay waste to the entire enterprise.

For that reason, I have been an advocate of suing spammers and telemarketers who violate the law. Spammmers have now taken the unwise step of stealing the e-mail addresses of bloggers to use as "Reply-to" tags. Other e-mail users might not realize that this e-mail theft is a concerted campaign, but the bloggers have been quick to share their stories and figure the scheme out.

What would happen if we all took action, right now, against one or a dozen specific offenders simultaneously? What if a dozen of us, a hundred of us, a thousand of us, each got a judgment for a few hundred dollars against a spammer?

Have you ever felt the crunch of crushing a cockroach underfoot?

I think the time is now. If we use our skills to track these spammers back to their nests, we can root them out once and for all.

Rise up, my friends. Rise up.

Posted by wasylik at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

The Ratbastard Is a Big Hit With the Ladies

The Ratbastard is a big hit with the ladies.

Posted by wasylik at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2002

Weblog Panel at the National Press Club

I attended today's Weblog panel at the National Press Club, sponsored by The Idler, and came away mixed. First off, the panel was marred by the absence of Lileks, Reynolds, and Marshall - and Marshall, living locally, can't use flight cancellations as an excuse. The panelists who were actually able to show up (John Hiler of microcontentnews.com, Dennis Loy Johnson of mobylives.com, Douglas McLennan of artsjournal.com, James Taranto of OpinionJournal.com, and Alice Marquis of The Idler) were insightful and passionate - as were many of the audience - but I got a definite sense that the panel lacked long-term perspective about weblogging. One panelist, for example, fessed up that he had only been blogging for two or three months. I think those have been hard-core months, but nonetheless, it's hard to get the long term view by cramming.

In particular, I got irked by hypothetical questions that no one on the panel could really answer - and they should have been able to, with a little historical perspective under their belts:

Are there collaborative blogs? (Duh... )
Are there blog critics? (Since day one, and continuing... one two three four for starters)
Are there blogger workshops where bloggers meet face to face to discuss weblogs? (Workshops? Hell no. But all of us were there in the room to discuss weblogs.)

We chose a few well-traveled paths - what is a blog? Can blogs make money? - but also went down some interesting new ones.

The group debated credibility of blogging, as an one audience member hijacked the panel for a while complaining that some things on the Internet - Gasp! - aren't true and may even be unpleasant. Of course, much of what Dan Rather says, and the New York Times prints, and people whisper over the backyard fence, aren't true either. They require people to develop critical and analytical skills - even if those people are children.

Mr. Hiler made an excellent point when he observed that through the process of writing, he began to develop a sense of how news gets "packaged" for comsumption, and that each weblog is part of a conversation whether they want to be or not. My thought is that trickles down through every weblogger. as we write weblogs, and what we write gets discussed by other bloggers, and the very process of reading, writing, and posting on the web forces us to develop those critical skills.

One participant asked about the relatioship of blogs with - I love this phrase - "legacy media" like newspapers, and whether blogs would replace newspapers which he felt to be a dying breed. Taranto disagreed that newspapers were dying, and mentioned that he had heard of internal memos at the New York Times specifically addressesing the Times-critical site SmarterTimes.com. Of course, now that many of the "legacy media" have weblogs of their own, they read other blogs as well and so one hopes that important criticism ultimately makes it to the source via one channel or another. The panel consensus was that blogs will mainly serve to complement and check, but never supplant, the legacy media in their primary fact-finding role.

I especially liked Hiler's discussion of the psychological effects of addiction as they apply to blog writing and reading - how long is the gratification delay? How often does the elation hit?

Other than short-term syndrome, most of the panelists seemed to "get" blogging as a concept - what it is and why we do it. I enjoyed the session (and running into Tom) and hope that those who participated continue the discussion online.

UPDATE: other reports from Tleeves (cute name...), Corante/bottomline, and Combustible Boy with pictures. Also, Hiler responds.

Posted by wasylik at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2002

A Pandemic Spine Collapse in the Plurality

Matt sez:

And the only thing worse than GOP pols engaging in mindless flag-waving is Democrats like Daschle, Lieberman, and and Edwards going along as well -- they should know better, but are too gutless to stand up for the principles of the First Amendment. I expect Republicans to engage in nonsense like this, but Democrats reek of cowardice when they join the mob.

Matt doesn't tell the half of it. The Senate voted 99-0 for a resolution condemning the ruling. Every single able-bodied Senator (only Jesse Helms, recovering from heart surgery, failed to vote) attached their names to the resolution. That's not just a handful of Democratic Presidential wannabes - that's every member of the Senate Plurality.

I understand that reasonable people would have different opinions on this issue - as a lawyer, I can certainly see both sides of the argument. I also expect that most Republicans genuinely condemn this ruling in their hearts, along with a sizable chunk of Democrats. But where did the loyal opposition go?

Let's call the roll of liberal Dems voting to condemn the court's ruling:

Boxer? Check.

Cantwell? Check.

Carnahan? Check.

Kerry? Kennedy? You bet Back Bay they did.

Mikulski and Murray? Check and check.

Wyden? Wellstone? Check and... Wellstone?!?


Either all of these Democratic Senators think that the Ninth Circuit ruling was so out of the norm as to require condemnation... or they sold out. Not one stood up for the rights of the non-believer, the animist, or the Buddhist.

99-0. Whenver I see a Senate vote like that, I know something's wrong. When Wellstone and Thurmond agree on anything other than adjournment, I wonder who hit the wrong button. When Boxer and Gramm join together to "condemn" anything, I look for the punchline. When Kennedy and Hatch... ah, but maybe I overstate my case.

Not a single Democratic Senator had the courage to stop and say, "Hey, is this ruling really that far out?"

I detect a pandemic of collapsing spines, clustered on one side of the Senate aisle.

Posted by wasylik at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

Arafat Calls for Democratic Elections in the United States

Well-done satire: Arafat Calls for Democratic Elections in the United States.

Of course, Arafat himself wasn't smart enough to do that, which might have saved his bacon just a little longer.

Posted by wasylik at 01:17 PM | Comments (0)

Institute for Justice Wins School Choice Case

In other important legal news today, the Institute for Justice reports that it has won a 5-4 decision in the Ohio school choice case, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris.

According to IJ, the Court ruled that Cleveland's voucher program - whch allowed parents to use public money to send their children to private, even parochial, school - meets constitutional muster. If I were a Ninth Circuit judge, I'd be worried about my most recent religion-in-schools opinion.

Posted by wasylik at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

Thoughts on the Pledge Ban

Some thoughts on the Ninth Circuit's banning of the pledge:

This was just a three-judge panel; the court may sit en banc and re-hear the case. The whole court would then vote on the ruling. I don't know how many judges are on the Ninth Circuit, but I beleive it's more than a few.

If the Ninth Circuit doesn't reverse upon an en banc hearing, the Supreme Court probably will take the case... but not until next year. Therefore, look for this to become an election hot-button, as it already has. Republicans are already tying the blame to Tom Daschle, saying that the Senate needs to confirm more of the President's judicial nominees.

I expect this will also have some impact on the California governor's race. Republican Bill Simon quickly condemned the ruling; I haven't been able to find a statement this morning from Governor Davis.

Some of the crowd over on MeFi agree that this ruling is politically signficant, like MattD:

But, in any event, it will give Bush a MASSIVE window to push through his more conservative nominees to the Courts of Appeals and to the SCOTUS if there are any retirements after the final session tomorrow. Democratic Senators will have to think very hard about delaying nominees when it could cost liberal Democrats in moderate states (like Wellstone) so severely.

Probably true, regardless of the final outcome of the case.

Although I'm not very familiar with pledge jurisprudence, this summary by Dahlia Lithwick seems to suggest to me that the Supreme Court would overturn the Ninth Circuit decision.

Like many people, Anil doesn't realize - probably because his teachers didn't know, either - that it has been settled since 1934 that requiring children to say the pledge is unconstitutional.

First, requiring children to recite anything, mindlessly, is antithetical to the goals the recitation is allegedly trying to achieve. When I pledge myself to something, it's a real commitment, and I mean it. I won't cheapen that by having it be due to coercion, either implicit or explicit.

I remember in school (mine was a private religious school) at least one British boy who, as a foreign citizen, simply stood respectfully while the rest of us said the pledge. it sounds like he could not have "gotten away" with that in Anil's school.

Posted by wasylik at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

Apellate Law Blog - How Appealing

Bookmark: How Appealing, the first blog devoted solely to appellate cases.

Posted by wasylik at 10:48 AM

June 26, 2002

Spammers Use Blog Domains in Forged E-mails

Instapundit cites Dave Tepper, whose domain has been used by spammers as a return address:

THIS IS JUST NOT MY DAY: I found out that someone is using my domain name to send out spam. Does anyone know how to stop this from happening, or am I pretty much screwed?

In Virginia, forging e-mail headers on unsolicited commercial e-mail is a crime (computer trespass: § 18.2-152.4) and also subjects the perpetrator to civil liability - including optional statutory damages of $10 per e-mail or $25,000 per day. Virginia's long-arm statute provides for personal jurisdiction over any person who sends an email to or through a computer or computer network here in the Commonwealth.

It would seem from the statute (which is poorly written) that only the owner of a computer located in Virginia, which received or passed along the offending slice of spam, could sue under the statute.

Also, to the extent that the owner of the domain used in the false header is injured (including potential violation of trade and/or service marks, if the domain registrant has established those) I would think that a cause of action might lie in the federal courts of Virginia under the Lanham Act (which governs trademark infringement), piggybacking on Virginia's long-arm statute.

A handful of other states have similar laws - Washington state is one that comes to mind - and if the e-mails went there, the spammer could have legal problems there, too.

Posted by wasylik at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

Insufficient Resources <> Inefficient Use of Resources


I could get three pals of mine and a few bloggers I know (and maybe Linda Ronstadt, just because I love her voice) and pay a few hundred data-entry clerks to completely overhaul the INS computer systems for a million dollars. Hell. Most of that would probably have to go to Linda.

Right on, brother!

Posted by wasylik at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

Sifry Integrates Google SOAP API in MT

Sifry has done something totally bad-ass. Using Google's program interface, he has developed a three-line hack that allows Movable Type blog entries to automatically show links to related web pages, using Google search results for the blog entry title.

If that doesn't make sense the way I describe it, go see. Movable Type will apparently incorporate this feature in the next version for those who don't feel comfortable hacking.

Posted by wasylik at 12:21 AM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2002

Selling Out Cuts Both Ways

Matt sez:

Remember all the high-minded talk among right-wingers in 2000 about how awful it was that Clinton let politics ("shame! shame!") influence some of his policy decisions? Remember how Bush promised leadership based on "principles, not politics"? As Britney would say, "Oops!" It turns out that many recent White House policies that seemingly contradict Bush's standing positions on major issues just so happen -- coincidentally, no doubt -- to affect Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Missouri, all key swing states for Bush.

Well, Matt has apparently failed to notice that those same "high-minded" conservatives have roundly criticised Bush soundly for any move he makes that is rooted in politics instead of principle. The steel tariff? Check. The farm bill? Check. Perceived "wobbliness" in the Middle East? Check. (Although the President blew that perception out of the water this week.)

By contrast, consevatives didn't criticise Clinton for his sell-out moves - they rejoiced. What Dick Morris called "triangulation," was better called "capitulation," and every ideological victory - welfare reform, tax cuts, and so on - got chalked up on the scoreboard with gratitude.

Now it's time to hold Bush's feet to the fire.

Posted by wasylik at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2002

The Bush Doctrine, Revisited

The Bush Doctrine, revisted. [excerpts follow]

[A]t this critical moment, if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope. Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born.
I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence.
And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.
In the work ahead, we all have responsibilities. The Palestinian people are gifted and capable, and I am confident they can achieve a new birth for their nation. A Palestinian state will never be created by terror -- it will be built through reform.
Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.
I've said in the past that nations are either with us or against us in the war on terror. To be counted on the side of peace, nations must act. Every leader actually committed to peace will end incitement to violence in official media, and publicly denounce homicide bombings. Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel -- including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah. Every nation actually committed to peace must block the shipment of Iranian supplies to these groups, and oppose regimes that promote terror, like Iraq. And Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations.
Israel also has a large stake in the success of a democratic Palestine. Permanent occupation threatens Israel's identity and democracy. A stable, peaceful Palestinian state is necessary to achieve the security that Israel longs for. So I challenge Israel to take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable, credible Palestinian state.
If liberty can blossom in the rocky soil of the West Bank and Gaza, it will inspire millions of men and women around the globe who are equally weary of poverty and oppression, equally entitled to the benefits of democratic government.

Via Instapundit.

Posted by wasylik at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2002

Not Too Busy to Read

Busy, busy, busy, and Dineen's folks are in town this weekend, so no time to play. But I did have time to read Cory's bashing of NPR's ridiculous quasi-justification for its new deep-linking ban. MY favorite part:

You are lying. There is no way that one could link to a stream of a fair and impartial newscast (links to streams must be to the whole stream, from beginning to end, remember) such that it can't be distinguished from advocacy or opinion. If there were NPR stories that were indistinguishable from advocacy, this indicates that the NPR stories were not impartial to begin with.

Of course, Cory begs the question: is there any reporting nowadays that is distinguishable from advocacy?

Posted by wasylik at 06:30 PM | Comments (0)

Astonishingly Honest Lawyers

The law firm of Powers Phillips in Colorado introduces itself in this irreverant manner:

Powers Phillips, P.C., is a small law firm located in downtown Denver, Colorado within convenient walking distance of over fifty bars and a couple of doughnut shops. Powers Phillips also maintains a small satellite office-in-exile on the cow-covered hillsides near Carbondale, Colorado, where it puts out to pasture some of its aging attorneys.

And things only get more lively from there. I have to admit, they've got more guts than I do, but this real-life law firm brings a dignity to the profession one could only expect from a couple of grads of the Levin College of Law.

Via Bag and Baggage

Posted by wasylik at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2002

Print Directly to PDF in OS X

Did you know that you can print directly to a PDF file in OS X?

Update: Why Lawyers Should Use PDF Files.

Posted by wasylik at 11:33 PM

June 13, 2002

Hey Buddy, Are You On The List?

I think I'm going to become horribly fond of Bouncer. It serves exactly that role for my e-mail box - letting in those who ought to be admitted, and keeping out the ruffians carrying spiced ham.

Using the Rules section of my e-mail program, I have compiled a reasonably thorough filter for spammers. When an e-mail comes in that matches a known pattern, my mail app will now automatically send out a message to the sender:

The original message was received at Thu, 13 Jun 2002 17:18:07 -0700 from perpetualbeta.com
----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
(reason: 550 5.1.1 <mike@perpetualbeta.com>... User unknown)
----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to perpetualbeta.com.:
>>> RCPT To:<mike@perpetualbeta.com>
<<< 550 5.1.1 <mike@perpetualbeta.com>... User unknown

Spammers will be fooled - at least most of them - into thinking this is not a valid e-mail address.

Aaaaahhhh, technology.

Posted by wasylik at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2002

Departing Clinton Staff Trashed White House Like Never Before

In 2001, the departing Clinton White House staff made quite a mess, according to this GAO report issued today. [PDF file]

When news of this first came out in early 2001, Clinton apologists pointed the finger at previous adminsitrations, saying in effect, "They did it first!" But the truth is that no administration in decades did as much damage as the Clinton team did on its way out the door:

The director of the Office of Administration (OA), who had been present during five previous transitions, said that he was “stunned” by what he saw during the 2001 transition and had not seen anything similar during previous ones, particularly in terms of the amount of trash. The OA associate director for facilities management said that there was more to clean during the 2001 transition than during previous transitions. The telephone service director, who had worked in the White House complex since 1973, said that he did not recall seeing, in past transitions, the large amount of trash that he had seen during the 2001 transition. Further, an employee who had worked in the White House complex since 1984 said that office space in the complex was messier during the 2001 transition than all of the other transitions he had seen.

Not that pointing the finger is an excuse for one's own sins. The fact is, they did trash the place, and beyond the financial cost of what they did, they sullied their administration by doing it. (Not to mention the real criminal implications of what they did.)

Posted by wasylik at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)

Hoopla.com Released to the Wild and Captured

Upon inquiry, the folks who brokered the theft of the hoopla.com domain sent an update as to how they've screwed up the situation even worse:

From: James Baker <jbaker@aitcom.net>
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 08:08:23 -0400
To: Michael Alex Wasylik
Subject: RE: Response to letter alleging fraudulent conduct (hoopla.com)

Dear Mr. Wasylik:

During our investigation of the contractual dimension of this issue, the registrant of "hoopla.com" failed to respond to our inquiries concerning the accuracy of contact details associated with this registration.

This failure is a material breach of the registrant-registrar contract, and thus a basis for cancellation of the registrant's registration. Our staff have therefore taken steps to cancel it.

Very truly yours,

James Baker

In other words, instead of transferring the domain back to Leslie as requested, and instead of notifying her that they planned to cancel the registration so that she could re-register the name, AITDomains simply released the name to the general public.

Then a man in Taiwan snapped it up as it hit the market. A polite request has gone to the new registrant, who now has the choice between Internet hero and Internet goat.

However, the conduct of AITDomains in this case really disappoints me. They had the power and the knowledge to set right a clear wrong and refused to do so, letting the opportunity slip out the door. I wonder if this James Baker - who is apparently the company's legal counsel - has an Uncle Ben?

Posted by wasylik at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2002


iVangelism. Via MeFi.

I love my iBook.

Posted by wasylik at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2002

Roll the Bones?


[E]ven if we assume that the human tibia found yesterday is not Chandra's, can't we still agree that it probably would have made sense for the cops to retrieve all other readily available human tibias in the immediate vicinity just to see if they might belong to Chandra?
[I]f there are really more than a few unretrieved and unidentified human tibias in that section of Rock Creek Park which don't belong to Chandra Levy, can't we just agree that this might point to another possible shortcoming of the DC police?

I would laugh if it weren't just so damned sad.

Posted by wasylik at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)

Did You Hear The One...

Did you hear the one about the environmentalists who drove an SUV to a global warming protest?

Posted by wasylik at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2002

Laser Speed Traps Fail in Virginia

The current issue of Virginia Lawyers Weekly tells how lawyers in the Northern Virginia area - in particular, my stomping grounds of Fairfax - are successfully chalennging speeding tickets issued using laser speed measurements, also known as LIDAR. [Article for subscribers only]

Virginia law requires that the prosecution prove that a speed measuring device like radar or LIDAR is properly functioning at the time it was used and that it had been properly set up. In practice, courts have required that officers testify that they performed the internal circuit test and the tuning-fork test at the beginning and end of each shift. In addition, the prosecution must introduce an original or "true copy" of a certificate that the tuning forks accurately reproduce the wavelength required to conduct the test. If they fail to do so, the case will be dismissed for lack of evidence.

To defend clients nabbed by LIDAR, lawyers are focusing on legal flaws in the calibration of the devices.
The two-tiered argument goes like this: First, they argue that the Virginia Code doesn't provide for a hearsay exception allowing for the introduction of calibration documents for the laser devices.
And if the documents survive that first assault, then they point to the fact that the manufacturers of the LIDAR device won't warrant the calibration of their own products.

The statute in question, Va. Code Sect. 46.2-822, allows for the admissibility of certain certificates which would otherwise be inadmissible hearsay:

In any court or legal proceeding in which any question arises about the calibration or accuracy of any laser speed determination device, radar, or microcomputer device as described in this section used to determine the speed of any motor vehicle, a certificate, or a true copy thereof, showing the calibration or accuracy of the speedometer of any vehicle or of any tuning fork employed in calibrating or testing the device, and when and by whom the calibration was made, shall be admissible as evidence of the facts therein stated. No calibration or testing of such device shall be valid for longer than six months.

Apparently, the LIDAR certificates are neither speedomoter certificates nor are they tuning fork certificates. Therefore, they do not fall within the class of evidence admitted under the statute. Also, since the manufacturers apparently refuse to warrant the accuracy of their own calibrations, the evidentiary value of these certificates, even if they were admissible, is pretty slim.

Look for the Virginia legislature to change the statute and allow LIDAR calibration certificates in; but don't expect that LIDAR evidence will be worth much even if admitted.

Posted by wasylik at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

Keeping the Jails Full, Part II

More tales of innocents rotting in jail: The Feds kept Reynaldo Tovar-Valdivia in jail for two years AFTER a judge ordered his release. Apparently, the inmate got tired of waiting to be released and wrote the judge a polite letter asking that he re-issue the release order.

(Actually, this guy wasn't innocent - he had nine pounds of methamphetamine taped to his body when arrested. But the judge ordered him released because the search was illegal. So from a legal perspective, he was "Not Guilty.")

Link from Den Beste.

Posted by wasylik at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

...And No one Went Topless

I'm not much of a soccer fan, but the news that the United Stated defeated much-favored Portugal 3-2 in World Cup play generated quite a bit of fever on this morning's news radio broadcast. Apparently there were large crowds watching all night at a sports bar near my home, who chanted and partied the night away while we stunned the favorites.

Posted by wasylik at 09:57 AM

215 and Counting

Down to 215.

Fifteen more to go.

Posted by wasylik at 01:20 AM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2002

Sex and Politics?

Back in the paleolithic age of weblogs, when the only "tools" we used were made of flint lovingly honed to a sharp edge, a few of us were interested in politics. One blogger decided to explore the relationship between sex and politics, all the rage in the closing days of the Clinton Administration. His opus, in four installments, was Contradiction. (One of these pieces brought me, and continues to bring me, a great deal of misdirected traffic looking for nude pictures of a misspelled Jessica "Beil.")

Suddenly, and surprisingly in light of the mores of the current administration, sex is back in politics. (Some may argue it was just a matter of time, under a leader named Bush.) And surprisingly, much of the sex talk is coming from the predominantly rightish (and predominatly post-9-11-01) war-blogger crowd.

The newbies may be forgiven for not knowing that mixing naughty naked pictures in with your politics has been done (and done better, might I add). But where is all this sexual expression coming from? Could the left be wrong? Won't the lefties be surprised to find conservatives who aren't repressed?

Posted by wasylik at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

McCain and Lieberman Lie About Gun Show "Loopholes"

Via Popshot: Dave Kopel points out the lies told by John McCain and Joe Lieberman about the so-called "gun show loophole."

In other words, there is no "gun-show loophole." The phrase is an audacious lie, invented by people who want to abolish privacy for firearms owners. Indeed, the figure of 700,000 gun purchasers who were turned down includes people who were turned down when attempting to buy at gun shows from federally licensed firearms dealers.

As Kopel points out, anyone "engaged in the business of selling guns" must comply with the same federal laws as any other gun daler:

you must have a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Your customers must fill out the federal registration paperwork, and you must put your customers through the National Instant Check System (or its state equivalent). This is true whether you sell from a retail store, from a home-based business, or at a gun show.

So, besides the obvious political gain to be had from demagoguery, why do McCain and Lieberman tell these lies? Because they want to shut gun shows down entirely. A bill they have written (or, perhaps more accurately, a bill the gun-ban lobbyists supporting them have written) contains some very scary, sweeping measures which single out gun shows for a higher degree of regulation than any other channel of legal gun sales:

The bill indirectly requires that people who attend gun shows must be registered. The bill even requires that people who don't sell guns (e.g., the numerous book, food, and clothing vendors at gun shows) be registered; and it would allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to demand a list of every book being sold by a book vendor. Finally, McCain-Lieberman authorizes BATF to create additional, limitless gun-show regulations, which could be used to make it nearly impossible for gun shows to be held.

So if you believe the Second Amendment means what it says, and that you're one of the "people" who has the "right to keep and bear arms," you should contact these Senators and explain to them exactly how you feel.

Posted by wasylik at 07:36 PM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2002

Want to Sue AOL? Gotta Sue Here.

From GrepLaw: A Massachusetts federal court has upheld the "click-wrap" agreement providing that any lawsuits by AOL users against AOL must take place in Virginia, regardless of where those users are. Most software agreements these days have some kind of provision to limit lawsuits. That's why it's important to read your user agreement before you agree to it; and if you don't like one of the provisions in the agreement, take your business elsewhere. Be sure to let the company know why.

And, if you're pissed at AOL, get a Virginia lawyer who understands the Internet. [EDIT: I no longer live, work, or practice in Virginia, nor do I currently take cases involving AOL. If you need to reach me for some other reason, you can find me here.]

UPDATE: Yale's LawMeme had a link to the opinion, Hughes v. AOL. According to the opinion, plaintiff Hughes failed to file papers opposing AOL's Motion for Summary Judgment. In effect, AOL won this one by default. Silly pro se plaintiff.

Lesson number two: Don't file a lawsuit without a lawyer any more than you would remove your own appendix without a doctor. I will be surprised if AOL doesn't ask for sanctions on this case.

Posted by wasylik at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

Agitating again

Radley has some excellent and intelligent criticism of the current Bush administration. Go read.

Posted by wasylik at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)