Erring on the Side of Caution

The headline says “Body in lake was chained to weight“.

The lead paragraph says:

Dawn Brossard’s hands were bound together and her body was held at the bottom of Geneva Lake by a weight and a chain, two officials said Wednesday.

The sheriff’s department, however, is not jumping to conclusions:

The Walworth County Sheriff’s Department has not declared Brossard’s death a homicide, saying it is awaiting a ruling from medical examiners on the cause of her death.

It could yet prove to be natural causes.

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Democrat Lawmakers Underestimate Consequences of Music Swapping

Drudge links to a story about the new bill in Congress that will hang music swappers with a jail term for swapping tunes online.

It’s hard to argue with their math:

The Conyers-Berman bill would operate under the assumption that each copyrighted work made available through a computer network was copied by others at least 10 times for a total retail value of $2,500. That would bump the activity from a misdemeanor to a felony, carrying a sentence of up to five years in jail.

Because songs are obviously worth $250 each.

And our lawmakers have uncovered, in a series of hearings, the real consequences of file swapping:

In a series of hearings on Capitol Hill last spring, lawmakers condemned online song swapping and expressed concern the networks could spread computer viruses, create government security risks and allow children access to pornography.

Good going, fellows, you have determined some of the contemporary bugaboos you can arbitrarily associate with with an issue to score extra Politicopoints. But I fear you’ve missed other grim consequences of file swapping:

  • Peer-to-peer file swapping has been proven to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
  • Peer-to-peer music swapping leads to increased manufacture and use of methamphetamine.
  • Peer-to-peer music swapping causes obesity because users no longer have to walk around a music store.
  • Peer-to-peer music swapping uses negative campaign ads against earnest incumbents.
  • Peer-to-peer music swapping contributes to global warming and depletes the ozone layer.
  • Software like Kazaa and Napster contributes to traffic accidents and SUV rollovers.

So undoubtedly, it is important to make this behavior a Federal felony so states cannot show some restraint in prosectution. It’s very important to take away music swappers’ rights to own firearms and vote, because when they come out five years of hard time for the eleventh download of Metallica’s “St. Anger”, they’re going to be upset, and we don’t want them to have any recourse against their legislator.

So it is important to obscure the true impact of music swapping, which is it has limited economic impact on a small industry with these “reasons.”

If this bill fails on its own, remember you can attach it as an amendment to the next Congress Supports Mothers bill. Because what fool congressperson would vote against Mom?

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As If They Would Have Given Us One Of Those Boxes

Honey, I see you’ve linked to a CNN Story about how hometown cable television maven Charter Communications has introduced a sooper cable box that plays DVDs and MP3s. Soon, cable boxes will also play video games, vacuum our entertainment rooms, and from then it goes down hill into drinking all our Guinness Draught and tying up the phone line all night.

You lament that we gave up cable before this became available. Honey, we were existing customers.
They wouldn’t have given us this box without charging us extra anyway.

I was listening to Weber and Dolan this morning and they were going on about the business practices of cable companies. Bob Dolan went off on that cable companies have packages that are less expensive than their basic packages and that the customer has to specifically request that package; sales people will never bring it up on their own. Cable companies, and many of their counterparts in high tech services, want to squeeze you for as much as you can when you sign up, and if you’re an existing customer, you get nothing until you complain or cancel.

Anecdotally, it’s why AOL customers get cheap rates only when they try to cancel. Or why all of our equipment said AT&T for years after Charter took over AT&T’s territory here in Casinoport, Missouri, and why the menus were all in middle English and the transmission was in pre-Arabic numerals (1 and who cares, which lead to snow in our reception).

Of course, were we to come crawling back (I mean, try to get the best deal as consumers), they’d throw us all sorts of bones. Want a cheaper rate for 6 months? Want a new box? Maybe some clear reception worthy of the nomer “digital”?

Part of our rebellion in ending the cable tyranny was our response to this sort of business plan which takes advantage of loyal customers and just milks them like old Holsteins already in the barn. Sure, we rebelled against the fact that suddenly our cable bill was double our electricity bill for much less use, but we also rebelled against the Business Plan wherein the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Customers who pay their bills for years without fail should get the latest and greatest automatically to reward their loyalties, but that’s not the contemporary way, and we, in our own small way, tried to assure that this erroneous contemporary way of doing business is overthrown.

Did you think we only gave up our cable content, and hence our television, to save money? Where’s your crusading spirit?

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I Don’t Want To Hear It

Japanese inventors are going to sell a device that translates cat meows into words, based upon the pitch, timbre, tambre, and who knows what else. Great. This technological innovation nearly matches the inclusion of the big, hairy string on their backs that you can pull to hear them make a noise.

As a cat owner myself, I can honestly say I don’t care what they mean when they meow. I imagine it’s usually the same pitiful meowing about their own quest for permahomeostasis and the shortcomings of the current stimuli in their environment. Kind of like talking to me during core business hours.

Besides, the cat doesn’t give a schnuck about what I am saying at any given time, so I afford it the same courtesy.

(There, that should be enough cover so that my esteemed spouse would never expect it for Christmas.)

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Lileks on Beer-making

James Lileks making your own beer:

I can understand making one’s own beer if, for example, beer is not otherwise available. But there’s a store down the street that sells all manner of fine beers. Some are from breweries that date back to the 18th century. I imagine they’ve gotten the kinks out by now, and it’s safe to drink.

Probably even Modela Negro. Theoretically.

I know a couple of people, including the revered El Guapo, who make their own beers. I love you guys like brothers, but I’d like to point out two things about the process:

  • What you’re doing looks kinda like work. I mean, growing your own hops? Is that necessary? That’s prime napping time you’re wasting.
  • You’re totally not getting the capitalist system, wherein I exchange hours of writing illegible software documentation for a means of exchange, called money, which I can then trade for another good, namely delicious Guinness Draught. Your selfish manufacture of a good you could otherwise buy helps keep the economy stagnant and removes a excessive excisely tax revenue stream from trickling, or in our cases roaring, into state coffers.

Friends, and soon federal officials, won’t let friends brew their own.

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Translation=Interpretation

Translation is as much “art” as science, and the obra regurgitated into the second language is subject to the translator’s idiom and biases. I once saw a 1974 translation of a Pablo Neruda sonnet that turned no se hace nada con muerte as “I ain’t got no truck with death,” I kid you not. Who translated that, Shaft?

So it’s with great skepticism and cynicism that I note the CNN story telling about a congressional flack translating the Constitution to dumb it down for students. Especially a congressional staffer who says of the Constitution (about its length) “it’s an itty-bitty thing.”

For example, look at the foreshadowing of the fun to be had when “translators” tell us what the Second Amendment means in common language. This guy’s translation includes “citizens have the right to own firearms.” The contentions have begun already.

I fear one of these translations will supplant the existing document. Hey, how about instead of translating the Constitution for children and the functionally illiterate populace, how about we expect people learn enough to read it in its original form?

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If I Had A Million Dollars (Or 73)

Pardon Mr. du Toit for exploding with rage when a Missouri couple who recently won half of a $261 million dollar Powerball jackpot said they were going to spend the money getting a tractor with brakes and buying a new refrigerator. Whereas Mr. du Toit raged, I understand.

Whereas I understand the urge to splurge, I understand it’s the shortest distance between old money and shining shoes (see also Janite Lee, et al) is philanthropy, big houses, and essentially eating the seed corn. Hey, I read The Millionaire Next Door. I know the secret to attaining wealth, and keeping it, is not spending it all.

Want to know what I would do with $73 million dollars in my fellow citizens’ gambling losses?

  1. I would pay taxes of some tens of millions of dollars.
  2. I would pay off all my debts and my mortgage and my poor mother’s mortgage.
  3. I would invest the remainder in a variety of schemes, such as equities, and other investments, hopefully yielding 7-10% a year in returns.

That’s it. No Porsche right away, no huge house, no yacht to travel around the world. Know why? Because at 7-10%, $30,000,000 principal yields $2,100,000-$3,000,000 each year in mad money. So once we got to the interest, then we’d have some fun!

Part of the beauty of that windfall would be the freedom from worry, and although the tempation to spend more than the interest would beckon, I’d want the peace of mind knowing that I have the steady income AND a pile of money in the bank. I understand the goal is to run out of money as close to the end of my retirement as possible, but this pile of money would ensure that my wife and I would receive the best health care in our near-retirement-end years, up to and maybe including transplanting our brains into cloned and flash-grown facsimiles of our 25 year old bodies for another several decades of not dipping into the principal.

That’s the hypothesis, and I hope to get the opportunity to test it.

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California State Government Unfriendly to Business? Ya think?

A column in the San Francisco Chronicle seems to indicate that California’s state government abuse of business as merely sources for revenue and for social progress and not, you know, capitalism, is driving businesses to move elsewhere.

<fanfare>Epiphany!</fanfare>

Why do I suspect, though, that the publication of this column merely represents the equivalent of a revelation at a cocktail party that is followed by a brief moment of silence before the regular drone of conversation (regulation and taxation) begins again?

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On July 11, 2003, RooNet Became Self-Aware, Briefly

According to this story. which I originally saw on Drudge, a person, whose profession apparently is holidaymaker which would seem to indicate he designs and manufactures holidays, slew a giant kangaroo with an axe after it attacked several people.

Dang those Australians for taking care of business in a straightforward manner. Here in America, where animal life is more sacred than human life (Thanks, PETA!), we have certain rules for dealing with disenfranchised, oppressed kangaroos.

I provide them for your reference, so you level-headed, take-charge Australians (such as Mr. Blair) can better handle the situation in the future:

  • Either remain silent or make a lot of noise. Certainly one of these will prevent a giant kangaroo from ripping off your head and lying its unholy eggs in your torso.
  • Do not resist a giant kangaroo; do what it asks and follow the instructions it gives you. Unless it asks you to remove your own head.
  • If you feel a giant kangaroo is following or watching you, go into a populated location and tell everyone that a giant kangaroo is following you and ask them to call the police. They will be glad to!
  • Do not get into a car with a giant kangaroo; if it takes you somewhere, you won’t come back.
  • Always acknowledge a giant kangaroo that knocks at the door or rings the bell. You don’t have to open the door, but you should always let it know you are home.
  • Stop! Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Australian.
  • If walking in a giant kangaroo-infested area, carry your valuables in two pouches. This confuses a kangaroo, who only has a single pouch.
  • Make a conscious effort to get an accurate description of the giant kangaroo that attacks you so you can pick it out of a police hop-up.
  • If a giant kangaroo beats the living vinegar out of you, as degrading as it may be, preserve the evidence. Do not alter the crime scene in any way. Don’t shower, bathe, douche, floss, apply direct pressure to the open, oozing wounds, cut off limbs for style reasons, or swim in tar pits. Do not change clothes or hair styles. Ask a trusted friend (that is, one who won’t laugh at you for getting beaten by a giant kangaroo) to accompany you to the hospital for initial treatment and for the administration of a medical exam to preserve DNA evidence and to document injuries. The examination and evidence preservation often seems as emotionally difficult as the giant kangaroo attack itself, yet it is essential to the apprehension of the damn, dirty marsupial that attacked you. The police department typically covers the cost of the examination if done in furtherance of the investigation.
  • Always report a giant kangaroo attack to the nearest American Consulate, even if you’re in the United States at the time and the nearest consulate is in Ottawa, Mexico City, or Irkutsk.
  • If you must axe a kangaroo, axe it in the leg so we can take it in for questioning.

Following one or more of these rules will prevent any harm from coming to the giant kangaroo, the goal of American Animal Friendly policy.

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And Is A Photo With a Birth Announcement Now a Civil Right?

I just can’t stop getting riled over this item about the baby with the birth defects and its litiguous parents. As you remember, this baby died from its severe and disfiguring birth defects and its parents began a crusade to force a newspaper to print its picture with the birth announcement. These parents also filed civil rights complaints against the news paper.

Civil rights complaints? Getting your picture with your birth announcement is a CIVIL RIGHT now?

I imagine they framed this in some sort of discrimination against disabilities legalese. However, the exclusion of the photograph isn’t discrimination against the child, who is dead anyway (although its estate and legacy might turn out to be more than my annual salary). It’s editorial discretion.

Can I file a civil rights claim because I don’t get to grace the cover of Esquire or the centerfold of Playboy (those sexist schnucks are discriminating based on my gender!)?

I would hope whatever authorities see these complaints dismiss them easily, but common sense is proving harder and harder.

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Rage Is Much Easier Than Grief

When your child is born with extreme, visible birth defects from which it dies from in five days, people expect you to grieve. I can sympathize.

Whereas you might want the child’s birth announcement for your scrapbook, that’s okay too. However, I also understand when the newspaper might balk at running a photograph of the child, especially a newborn with extreme facial birth defects. In normal circumstances, people might accuse the paper of sensationalism or insensitivity for running a photo like that.

I do not have any sympathy, however, for throwing a civil fit because the paper balked.

A couple of parents in St. Louis are doing just that. The mother, in between filing civil complaints against the publisher of the Suburban Journals, offered this bit of vocabularial ignorance:

“He … used the word ‘disfigured,'” Kelly Kittinger said. “He needs sensitivity training if he’s going to be dealing with the public.”

Let’s go to the dictionary:

dis·fig·ure (ds-fgyr)
tr.v. dis·fig·ured, dis·fig·ur·ing, dis·fig·ures

To mar or spoil the appearance or shape of; deform.

These particular birth defects (“Perjorative!” the PC banshees will soon wail) marred the appearance of the baby. Disfigured is an accurate description, and I’m certainly not in favor of sensitivity training that destroys accuracy to sooth inflamed feelings of an allegedly grieving mother.

However, this mother is subverting grief into “righteous” rage at the indignities afllicted upon her lost child by lashing out. Perhaps something good will then come of the child’s short life. Increased “sensitivity” and maybe a little settled-out-of-court jackpot for the grieving raging parents.

Also, kudos to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for its continuing coverage of this important breaking story and for showing its compassion for the “little people” by elevating trivial slights into crusades while humping the legs of big corporate interests in St. Louis (publicly funded stadiums, anyone?). An earlier story this week described the birth defects and their disfiguring nature. The linked story does not. By Sunday’s paper, perhaps you, oh monopolithic dispenser of wisdom, will have forgotten why the Suburban Journal balked at displaying the picture at all.

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