Blackout for New Zealand

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

There isn’t a whole hell of a lot that Marty and I agree on politically.  On this particular travesty from New Zealand, however, I think we’re at the barricades shoulder to shoulder:

A “copyright holder” can get you kicked off an ISP without having to provide any evidence of an actual infringement. Having to [provide evidence] is apparently “impractical” and “ridiculous” in the words of RIANZ chief executive Campbell Smith. What happens when the “you” above is a public library, or a school? Or if the “copyright holder” makes a mistake or a malicious accusation?

This is the kind of Draconian ready-fire-aim stuff that powerful organizations like the MPAA and RIAA would love to shove down our throats here in the United States if they could.  So it’s important not to let it get a toehold, even halfway around the world.  Because I don’t care if it’s the USA or New Zealand or bloody Rwanda, I get the heebie-jeebies when I read a former member of the government say:

It is easier for ISPs, Internet Service Providers, to cut off anyone who might be breaking the law.

So.  Moose Droppings is as blacked out as I can get it (considering I don’t actually have any graphics to black out, I did all that I could by changing the theme color).  Stand up for “Guilt Upon Accusation” for New Zealand.

We’ll be back after this brief message

Just a quick personal note here, for them what reads this here blog thang occasionally:  My wife, the lovely and talented Wife Unit, is attempting to sell some of her handmade beaded jewelry.  This stuff is handwoven by her own two hands, from just loose beads, thread, wire, imagination, and time.  She’s been doing it professionally, selling at craft shows around the Southeast, for about twelve years, and since we lost our business website last year (love ya, Network Solutions, mean it) we’ve not had an Internet presence to sell it.  So she’s put some shinies up on her LiveJournal for y’all to ooh and ahh over, and hopefully buy. 

If we sell enough, we’ll be able to afford the entry fee into a local Ren Faire in a couple of months and sell more there.  If we don’t, we can’t.  Simple.  Our theory is, we’re not going to get jack shit out of the $850 billion porkulus bill that Obama and Congress are about to shove down our throats, so we’ll just stimulate ourselves.  And no, you may not watch.

Please go visit The Magpie’s Nest and see if anything strikes your fancy.  Details and contact information are over there.

Thank you.

This just in: Groundhogs have teeth

That is a fact which New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to have forgotten this morning:

Perhaps lashing out against budget cuts for local zoos, or perhaps just because he wasn’t ready to be awakened from his winter nap, Staten Island Chuck took a nibble out of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s hand during this morning’s Groundhog Day festivities at the Staten Island Zoo.

“His hand was nicked,” a Bloomberg spokesman said. The mayor is up to date on his Tetanus shot, so he simply washed his wounded finger and put on a bandage.

(Video of the shocking groundhog attack is available at the link.)

Word is coming down that in response, Mayor Bloomberg is going to propose new taxes on groundhogs, groundhog food, people who own groundhogs, everybody who lives on Staten Island, and teeth.

The world’s greatest complaint letter

Richard Branson’s got some work to do to mollify this frequent Virgin Airlines flier:

Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at thehands of your corporation.

Look at this Richard. Just look at it:

I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?

The whole thing is available at the Daily Telegraph, misspellings and all, including Virgin Atlantic’s response, and pictures of the lovely food that this gentleman was served on a Mumbai-Heathrow flight in December.

Maybe those tiny AirTran bags of peanuts and warm flat Cokes aren’t so bad after all.

Child labor laws, Chicago PD style

Methinks some heads are going to roll over this one:

A 14-year old boy has been charged with impersonating a Chicago police officer after police say he walked into a station house and ended up partnering with another officer on a traffic assignment for about five hours Saturday before he was found out.

Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said the youth wrote no tickets and did not interact with the public.

The Chicago Tribune, citing a police source, said the youth identified himself as an officer from another district. He was “detailed for the day to Grand Crossing and also was savvy enough to sign out a police radio and a ticket book,” the Tribune says.

No word if the 14-year-old asked if the police car had “cop suspension, cop tires, and a four hundred forty cubic inch Chrysler cop motor.”

Now, that’s the official line from the Chicago PD.  But a blog by an anonymous Chicago officer, Second City Cop, tells a slightly different story:

This is classic. A male/1 in full uniform walks into the 3rd district desk and tells them he is from 005 and was sent there to work a traffic car. They get him a locker to use and call in the traffic car. He signs out a radio and jumps in with the female officer and away they go. They handle a traffic accident and when she realizes he doesn’t have a ticket book they go back into the station and he signs one out.

Away they go again. This time he asks if he can drive and she lets him. They write a few tickets and finish their tour.

So according to somebody that’s actually inside the CPD, not only did the kid write tickets, he actually drove the police car.  Oh, and the kid in question?  He’s been busted twice before for impersonating a police officer and was thrown out of a Police Explorer program in December, 2007.

I think the moral of the story here is, Marty, next time you or Shannon get pulled over, ask to see the officer’s middle school ID before signing the ticket.

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Pay attention, GOP

Attention Republicans.  Should the American people ever let you back into control of Congress and the White House, instead of “reaching across the aisle” and fawning over Democrats so you won’t get bad press from the New York Times or disinvited to K Street cocktail parties, take a note from Barack Obama about how to handle things:

President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning – but he also left no doubt about who’s in charge of these negotiations. “I won,” Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.
The exchange arose as top House and Senate Republicans expressed concern to the president about the amount of spending in the package. They also raised red flags about a refundable tax credit that returns money to those who don’t pay income taxes, the sources said.

“I won.”  He did.  Convincingly.  Therefore, he and his party get to set the tone and move their agenda forward.  And if you Congressional Republicans think for one second that Obama, Pelosi, or Reid give a flying damn about what you want, you’re sorely mistaken.  They’re not in this to be “bipartisan.”  “Bipartisanship” only cuts one way to them.  To them, “reaching across the aisle” means that you come to them, not that you meet each other halfway.

When the wheel turns, as it usually does, and you get back on top?  Remember this.  And learn well.  Have a clear, cogent agenda, articulate it to the American electorate, and if they give you the chance, enact it.  In other words, lead.  Say what you will about Barack Obama, he doesn’t look to be scared of actually leading…unlike most of the Republican leadership since about 1996.

Flight Simulator gets its wings clipped

Horrible news out of Redmond, Washington this morning, if you’re a flight sim geek like I am:

Redmond, Washington-based ACES Studio, the Microsoft-owned internal group behind the venerable Microsoft Flight Simulator series, has been heavily affected by Microsoft’s ongoing job cuts.

Development sources have told Gamasutra that a large portion of the dev house’s staff has been let go – with multiple reports indicating that the entire Flight Simulator team has been axed.

Microsoft Flight Simulator is one of the most long-running and successful entertainment PC software lines of all time.  Since Bruce Artwick first put together SubLogic Flight Simulator sometime back in the Jurassic period (the mid-1980s), there have been ten versions of Flight Simulator put out by SubLogic and then Microsoft, each more successful than the last.  And one thing you can count on with each new release–on the day it comes out, you can take the most powerful computer you can get at that time, and you won’t be able to get good framerates with it.  MSFS has always pushed beyond the boundaries of then-current hardware.

If this turns out to be true, not only will it mean a loss of hundreds of jobs, it’ll be the end of a 25-year era in PC software, and it’ll also be the stake through the heart of high-quality PC flight simulation, except for Laminar Research’s X-Plane.  I remember when flight sims were the hot PC title, back in the days of Dynamix and Lucasarts, EA/Jane’s and iMagic.  Those days are long gone.  Now it looks like ACES Studio will join them.