opinions, everybody's got one...
Saturday, March 09, 2002
netscape making a list
Why is it that this news doesn't come as a surprise with all the other shenanigans being perpetrated on the web?
A network traffic analysis performed by the Washington Post indicates that searches performed through the URL bar and search button function of Netscape Navigator 6 are being tracked and recorded by Netscape.
A national park and memorial has been proposed for the site of the crash of flight 93. No news as to what shape the memorial will take, but I think that this is a good idea worth pursuing.
Legislation was approved this last Thursday by the Energy and Commerce Committee's telecommunications panel to create an internet domain safe for children. A company named "NeuStar Inc." will be responsible for setting standards, and making decisions about content for sites in the domain.
So who is "NeuStar Inc?"
For one thing, they keep track of telephone numbers in the United States:
Based in Washington DC, NeuStar operates the authoritative registry of all North American telephone numbers and administers the database, which all North American carriers rely upon to route billions of telephone calls daily. NeuStar also operates the dot-US registry, ``America's Internet Address''. NeuLevel, NeuStar's subsidiary, operates the .BIZ registry, the world's first top-level domain dedicated exclusively to business. Over 4000 telecommunications and service providers currently rely upon NeuStar's services.But I'm wondering how this qualifies them to set standards for safe surfing for children under 13 years old.
And why a "kids.us" suffix instead of a ".kids" suffix?
Maybe the House has recognized some of the problems behind their good intentions:
While there was widespread support for the bill among lawmakers, Rep. Anna Eshoo said issues to be addressed include how to enforce it and the international implications of regulating certain Internet content.
the superior court funding saga continues...
Several weeks ago I brought to this dim light that the crisis of a lack of funding for state funded legal representation was much more serious than reported. As is typically done, there was a temporary band-aid thrown at one case, and it was suggested to us that the problem is at least temporarily fixed.
Today we have another case before us that was delayed for a similar reason.
There is a never ending line of cases waiting to move through the courts. You cannot solve a system-wide problem by writing a check on one case.
And still, no one has yet acknowledged the plight of the mentally ill and their even more poorly paid attorneys and the Black v. Black attorneys. Yes, I am one of them. And yes, if there were an increase in the payments I would be a likely recipient. If I weren't directly involved I probably wouldn't know about that aspect of this crisis.
Like, apparently, the rest of the State.
Wednesday, March 06, 2002
the delaware state defense force
When I first heard that we were going to be forming a volunteer militia, called the Delaware State Defense Force, I was both pleased and concerned.
I was pleased that steps are being taken to plan responsibly for emergency situations within our state.
In researching this matter, I found to my surprise that the laws regarding the establishment of this force are already in place:
20 Del. C. § 301. Establishment and composition.I was also pleased to learn that this force is being organized by solid military professionals, under the eye of our Governor, and staffed with trained veterans.
The history of Delaware's militia is rich and significant in the establishment of Delaware as a separate State. And, it was the predecessor to the Delaware National Guard.
dmca and extraterritoriality
A motion to dismiss was filed in a case which asks a judge to Just Say Nyet to U.S. Net Laws. In Russia, it is against the law to release software which does not allow you to create a backup copy to archive. The Adobe ebooks programs don't enable you to create archival copies.
A Moscow company released software on servers located outside of the United States which would enable you to make additional copies of the ebooks released by Adobe. Is the Russian company in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, for releasing their software?
This case, and some others like it, which deal with questions about a country's overview and regulation of internet activities will be important in mapping out our rights online and are worth watching carefully. Another case, referred to in the wired article involves Yahoo.
There have been few other decisions on how one country's legislation affects Internet users and businesses in other countries, the most sensational of which involves Yahoo's battle with the French government over the Internet company's sale of Nazi-related memorabilia on its site.Does it matter that the server you download the Russian software from resides in Michigan? The attorney for the defense claims that that it shouldn't, but I'm not so certain. Playing devil's advocate, I just have to ask, does any of the Adobe ebooks software download from a Russian server?
Want to find a blog near you? The Pepys Project indexes weblogs by geographical regions, and added us as their first Delaware listing yesterday. Any other Delaware weblogs out there? We're a small state, but I know that there are some other diamond staters keeping a weblog.
always carry your ID?
I can't count the number of times that I've done this, but I live on a one-way street. The California Supreme Court ok'ed the arrest (ny times - reg. reg'd) of a bicyclist who didn't have ID on him when he was pulled over for pedaling down a one-way street the wrong way. (via Organizing the Anarchy) Note to self: must remember to carry ID when riding bike.
always buckle up?
I was stopped today at a seatbelt checkpoint on Delaware Avenue, in Newark. Delaware has a website dedicated to getting the word out about the requirements to wear your seatbelt. You can't get a citation for not wearing your seatbelt unless you are pulled over for some other moving violation first. That's a fortunate thing for me, since I wasn't wearing mine when I was stopped. I usually strap myself in, but didn't today. The police officer kindly reminded me of the legal requirement in Delaware to wear a seat belt. Note to self: must remember to buckle up when driving.
Tuesday, March 05, 2002
Today seemed to be a music day on the web. There's been a lot of focus in the media recently about the legal squabbles between the recording industry and file sharing services, and about digital copyrights. Maybe law plays too large a part in art and entertainment these days. While I was surfing around the web, I came across a number of articles about art and music. The first one is about a program which benefits the arts, and which many perceive to be in danger. It's such a beautiful recognition of what artistic endeavors bring to our society, that I hope it survives:
construction supporting art
I had never heard of Philadelphia's "Percent for Art" initiative, but it sounds like a good idea to me. Unfortunately, it's now facing a challenge. The program has developers within the City using one percent of their construction budget for public art. An exemption has been asked for by the developer of a multimillion-dollar riverfront apartment high-rise. If granted, many are fearful that others will try to skirt around this program, which has been in place for the last forty years and is responsible for making Philadelphia a very interesting looking city. I frequently wondered why there were so many statues and murals in the City of Brotherly Love. Now I know.
I wish more cities would adopt a program like "Percent for Art."
spending billions to make a million worldwide
An article in Billboard Magazine reports that over four billion dollars have been spent by online music providers to see a return of almost one million dollars worldwide, in an article entitled The Music Industry's Web Of Intrigue. An interesting perspective in this rant that takes the recording industry to task for their shortsighted practices:
Recent studies show that even hardcore fans have scant knowledge of the latest releases by established acts. The satisfactions of album-length releases have been systematically obscured in the marketplace by limited public exposure on either radio or TV. Many of the songs receiving the most aggressive pushes are designed to appeal to the prurient interests of nominal/cursory listeners. Such tacky sideshows rarely translate into a stable consumer base.
small screen music sales
And what music is being advertised on the radio and television? Pop Music's New Creed: Buy a TV Commercial, from the Washington Post, is about the appearance of two types of advertisement on television, and it blurs the line between the two without making much of a distinction between them. It does make some thoughtful observations.
A number of acts have turned to TV to advertise their music, including Bob Dylan, and Creed. A popular place to see the ads are during primetime shows like WWF Smackdown. Creed's marketing plan seems to take a clue from the marketing magic of Boxcar Willie, complete with a toll free number.
Another place where music is showing up is as background music in ads for products and services, which can be a risky proposition. The small screen can end your career, as it seemed to do for MC Hammer (Burger King), or it can bring you sales, as it did for Rufus Wainwright (The Gap) and Sting (Jaguar). A volkswagon ad brought Nick Drake back to the public's attention years after his tragic death. And when I see BB King in a Burger King ad, all I can think about is that he is getting well deserved recognition and a payday for years of hard work, rather than seeing him as selling out to corporate interests.
Some interesting going-ons in the world of small band broadcasting and the courts.
Pirate broadcasters get a boost from free-speech ruling as a federal court made a ruling last month that may return the rights of some people to start broadcasting again.
Microbroadcasters -- a diverse assortment of community groups, churches, music lovers, students, political dissidents and eccentrics -- were driven underground in 1978 when the FCC stopped licensing them and set a 100-watt minimum for most stations.The federal appeals court ruling overturned a provision of the laws governing small band broadcasting that limited access, and denied it to those who had continued to carry on as pirates.
james carter, where art thou?
Sometimes in our deepest, darkest moments, something good happens. In James Carter's case, it was his singing "Po Lazurus" while working on a chain gang in 1959, and being recorded by Alan Lomax. Now, almost half a century later, his voice appears on a record that is outselling "the latest records from Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey." Mr. Carter was part of that large crowd that took the stage at the Grammys last week when "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" was announced as the Album of the Year. Congratulations, James Carter.
goodbye sheet music?
Harry Connick, Jr., received a patent (ny times - registration req'd) for a computerized: "system and method for coordinating music display among players in an orchestra."
In fact, Mr. Connick approached Apple Computer (news/quote) about helping him develop the system.
sony and filesharing
Something that may be a good sign for the recording industry: Sony Licenses Music for Song-Swapping CenterSpan
CenterSpan Communications Corp. CSCC.O on Thursday said it struck a deal to distribute Sony Music Entertainment's music on its peer-to-peer service, marking the first time a major record label has licensed its content to a file-sharing company.I haven't looked at the CenterSpan service yet, but it might be worth taking a peek at.
other opinions regarding music
I came across the neumu site tonight, and it looks like it's filled with some interesting observations regarding modern music. They appear to be just as happy discussing the artistic merits of albums recorded on home boomboxes for fifty dollars as they do new major label releases. One article that caught my eye was It's no surprise major-label music sales are down - the music sucks! The site is filled with some solid writing on music; well worth a visit.
Monday, March 04, 2002
written in invisible ink
I remember when my father taught my brother and sister and I the magic of invisible ink. We wrote a message on a piece of paper in lemon juice, and let it dry. A short time afterwards, he held a match under it, just far enough away so that the paper didn't catch on fire. The heat from the flame caused the letters to show back up. I don't remember thinking of this as anything more than a curiosity, and never used the method to transmit intelligence reports to anyone. I guess the subtlety of espionage was lost upon us. Playing cowboys and indians, and little league baseball was more fun.
The James Madison Project (JMP) tried to discover the formula for invisible ink that was used by the intelligence offices of the United States almost 100 years ago. It looks like the greatest way to make invisible ink remain invisble is to hide it away where no one can read it. Chances are good that the method used is nothing greater than that home science experiment that I referred to above.
The JMP is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., and created in 1998. Their mission is:
to promote government accountability and the reduction of secrecy, as well as to educate the public on issues relating to intelligence and national security through means of research, advocacy and the dissemination of information.One of their earliest efforts was to try to identify the oldest documents that exist which are classified as "Top Secret" by the United States Government, and they filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to do so. They received a response from the National Archives and Records Administration identifying the titles of the six oldest documents on record, all of which have to do with secret inks for invisble writing.
The JMP followed up their FOIA with a request that the documents be declassified. They weren't so much interested in the secret to invisible ink as much as they were in trying to get the goverment to stop protecting documents that probably no longer contain secrets worth protecting. Their request was rejected by the Agency, and they filed a complaint in Federal Court in an attempt to have the denial overturned. The Court made it's ruling this February. It appears that the secret to invisible ink will remain a secret.
During the exchange of documents filed in the case, the JMP's memorandum of law in opposition to a motion for summary judgment contains some great material regarding some of the information that our government has protected in the past, and an excellent history of the use of invisible inks. Some of the documents which they point to as having been held secretly:
The memorandum also gives a description of the uses of invisible inks by the ancient greeks, by both sides during the American Revolutionary War, and by spies during World Wars I and II. It also cites the wide spread dissemination of formulas for hidden inks by books and through the internet, and gives examples of different types, including: Israeli Pale Blue Secret Ink No. 2, Gestapo Blood-Red Secret Ink, and Australian Secret Vapor Ink. JMP insists in their memorandum that the secrets of over 80 years ago regarding invisible inks are likely no longer secret anymore.
Should the government protect secrets that are probably not still secret? Is national security threatened by the release of these documents? The Judge in this case issued his decision without actually reviewing the documents in question, on the basis of a statement from the CIA that disclosure of the technology involved could affect national security. I hope that isn't true. I'd like to think that our intelligence agents are using methods a little more sophisticated than something I learned as a child.
Sunday, March 03, 2002
fighting cancer in delaware
The State of Delaware makes no pretensions when it comes to passing an increase in taxes on cigarettes. The primary focus isn't on helping the State's economy by this sin tax of 50 cents per pack. The purpose is to get less people to smoke. The tax increase, and approximately 100 other steps have been suggested by a 14 member committee as means to turn around the terrible record Delaware has as a state where cancer has taken a strong foothold.
In this time of tight budgets, the suggested projects will cost millions of dollars. The State can't afford to pay raises to its employees, and have asked for cuts across the board in budgets of all state agencies. While I'm for increasing the health of citizens across the state, maybe we should also be looking at ways for the government to run more effectively while spending less money.
A memorial on the site of the New York City devastation done on September 11th? I think that this is something most people in New York, and around the country expect to see. One suggestion is to build a graveyard within the footprints of the twin towers.
Frank Serpico asks that those who uncover corruption within government be referred to as lamplighters rather than whistleblowers, in a speech given before the Paul Revere Forum on February 27, 2002.
Revere lit or arranged for the lamps to be lit and hung high in the tower. He was a lamp lighter and that is the term I much prefer than whistle-blower. LAMPLIGHTER. We can still holler and shout but we have to light the lamps that shed the light on corruption, injustice, ineptitude and abuse of power. When we do, you will see the villains scurry into the woodwork the way roaches do when you turn on the light. Some of you are fortunate enough never to have witnessed roaches and poverty. However, they do exist feeding off the crumbs of the poor. We may be told "don't make so much noise" and we can reply, "you'll soon hear noise enough before long," and we may be arrested as Revere was.
mac's good, pc's bad?
The good guys use Macs, and the bad guys use pc's. Just what are the producers of the show 24 trying to tell us?