Category Archives: Q-notes

quilter content

patented tail holes: patent reform

God we so need patent reform. What happened to the non-obviousness requirement? Can someone please explain to me how a cat / dog diaper can have a “patented tail hole”???? What else would a pet diaper have except for a tail hole? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is the knowledge economy: the patenting of tail holes.

Available at PlanetUrine.com. See also http://www.dog-diapers.net/catdiapers.html. I just love the URLs.

Description at http://pickyguide.com/pet_supplies/cat_diapers_guide.html:

Cat diapers are worn by cats for trapping waste or urine. They are made like disposable baby diapers, only they are specifically designed for feline use. They are commonly used by cats with bladder or bowel problems or those who have undergone surgery.

This paragraph is a masterpiece of stating the obvious.

My partner notes, “My grandmother made really nice looking pants that were better looking than any of these, I’ll have you know. They were really good looking. … Can’t we just use some of Ada’s little newborn diapers, do you think?”

one of jon stewart’s better moments

In a career of many many good moments of political commentary, surely one of the highlights of Jon Stewart’s career was the Wednesday March 4 episode of The Daily Show, which was almost entirely Jon Stewart doing commentary & interview about the financial situation.

I particularly loved his comment to Joe Nocera about CNBC’s “journalism” on Wall Street:

How does a guy like Rick Santelli have the balls to get mad about this idea of giving homeowners a break, when this network, CNBC — how did they miss this entire story? They’re a financial news network , I mean, it’d be like the weather channel interviewing hurricane Katrina and saying, “You know there’s reports that you have high winds and flooding,” and Katrina’s like, “No no no I’m sunny,” and they’re like “alright,” and then they walk away. This is insane!

At around 17:30 in the video.

energy “expert” à la William Carlos Williams

Sarah Palin recently made a strange and nearly incoherent comment about US energy policy when asked about keeping domestic oil production in the US (WarRoom 9/19):

Of course, it’s a fungible commodity and they don’t flag, you know, the molecules, where it’s going and where it’s not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first. So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it’s Americans who get stuck holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It’s got to flow into our domestic markets first.

WarRoom linked to Obsidian Wings’ interpretation of this comment, which appears to be (mostly) a suggestion that Congress would ban exports of oil. There’s good analysis of why this is a bad idea — such a bad idea that it really ought to be obvious to our energy “experts”.

Of course, according to McCain, his VP candidate is an expert (but not one of those elitist experts) who “knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America”, probably because her state is in charge of producing 20% of the nation’s energy needs — no, that’s not right: 20% of the nation’s oil and gas production — no, not quite: 20% of the nation’s oil? — no, try again: around 18%, but falling to 13% during the first two years of Palin’s gubernatorial administration. Yes, there we go. Which is of course a decent amount, if only the McCain team didn’t lie about it.Gary Farber’s comment on same post.

Anyway, MaryL on the comments thread had this retake which I thought deserved a bit more attention:

This is Just to Say

I have flagged
the molecules
that were in
Alaska

and which
you were probably
saving
for Canada

Forgive me
they were fungible
so sweet
and so cold

Chortle. I love WCW and literary mashups and political absurdity — to have all together at once made a very pleasant start to a Saturday otherwise full of work.

ftw

I had been seeing “ftw” in internet chit chat for a while, and I just finally got around to looking it up and seeing what it actually means: “for the win”.

In the meantime, I had just sort of assumed it was an inversion of “wtf” — sort of taking the aghastness of “wtf” and adding onto it a fillip of “wack”! So I’d been reading it as “fuck the what!”. I actually like that a lot better than “for the win”.

happy birthday is free after all

According to Robert Brauneis’ new paper, “Copyright and the World’s Most Popular Song”, the song “Happy Birthday To You” — long held as an example by us copyright reformists — is most likely not copyrighted after all, due to the tortuous path of ownership and failure to re-register.[linked from patry copyright blog]

See also the brauneis website for the song’s history.

The author draws four important lessons, summarized here:

  1. [T]he perils of using anecdotes in legal and policy arguments. (p.3) Hoho. Yes.
  2. Noting the utter lack of litigation over this song, despite the weaknesses in the copyright and the money at stake ($2M/year), Brauneis suggests, “[T]he absence of such challenges strongly suggests that there are structural barriers to mounting them, and those structural barriers are worth exploring.”
  3. Noting what was effective abandonment of the copyright of the work for long stretches of time, despite significant uses by others, Brauneis reminds readers that “Were “Happy Birthday to You” a piece of real property, its open, unopposed use over such a period could have resulted in the acquisition of prescriptive rights.” Developing doctrines of adverse possession / prescriptive easements to go along with the propertarian rhetoric of copyright maximalists has been on many people’s proposal lists (even I, as a lowly 1L in properly law, came up with this argument), but this article gives the “dead hands” arguments new teeth by tying the ongoing copyright term extensions to his newly uncovered history: “In light of that increase [in copyright term], it may be necessary to develop some doctrine to avoid the inefficiency and inequity that could result from reassertion of copyright in a work that had been published and used by others without opposition over a long period of time.”
  4. A lesson about the difficulty in tracking copyright, and a reminder that that difficulty will only increase as copyright terms lengthen. Brauneis refers to Copyright Office records, which, reminder to readers, were decimated by the abolition of formal registration requirements in the 1976 Copyright Act. This is also an opportune moment to plug the Orphan Works Act, recently re-introduced in both the House & the Senate. (See beSpacific, 4/27; mebeliWired Campus, 4/25)

Also, just in the matter of women’s musical history, Brauneis does a great job in recovering and fleshing out the story of Mildred Hill and Patty Hill.

shades of the Pinkertons

In Burger with a Side of Spies (editorial, NYT 5/7), Eric Schlosser calls for legislation to protect people from private entities, á la the Bill of rights.

The article discusses a number of incidents, including spying and infiltration
– by HP on journalists;
– by a private security firm on Greenpeace & other environmentalist groups; and
– most recently, Burger King on the Student/Farmworker Alliance.

I note that the article did not cover the related litigation against the RIAA’s minions, spying on your networks. Similarly, the article did not cover companies’ growing abuses of their employees. Still, a good start.

reading: current New Yorker

The current New Yorker (2008/5/12) is chock-full of good stuff:

* Malcolm Gladwell, In the Air, New Yorker. link from MC on closed mailing list

Invention is part of zeitgeist. Many people come up with the same ideas at the same moment — true in her field, my partner says, and it looks true from any study of the history of science.

Also I liked the section toward the end about how the practice of naming discoveries after the putative discoverer is silly at best.

* Tim Wu, Fan Feud, covering the J.K. Rowling / lexicon suit and hearing.

* covering NIN’s decision to release their new album for free on their website

Mildred Jeter Loving, RIP

This just in from AP: Mildred Jeter Loving, of Loving v. Virginia, passed away on Friday 5/2.

A longer obit from the NYT. “Mildred’s mother was part Rappahannock Indian, and her father was part Cherokee. She preferred to think of herself as Indian rather than black.” I can’t tell if that was throughout her life, or just at the time of Loving?

“Mrs. Loving stopped giving interviews, but last year issued a statement on the 40th anniversary of the announcement of the Supreme Court ruling, urging that gay men and lesbians be allowed to marry.” (NYT). A longer statement is available at balkinization.

back to mormons and forced “marriage”

[Warren] Jeffs was convicted last year in Utah of forcing a 14-year-old girl into marriage with an older cousin.

I’m sick of these quotes that just talk about “marriage” and accept the use of that word.

If you are “forced” into “marriage” you are not married: you have been kidnapped (restrained against your will) and forced to engage in a marriage ceremony, but your marriage is not lawful and valid because there was no consent.

Will the defenders of marriage against homosexuals please stand up and take back your frickin’ word against these people who want to define it to include nonconsensual behaviors like kidnapping and rape?

This sentence or one like it was widely quoted in the media. One source is wtop, which has the new information that a large number of the teenage women/girls in the compound were currently pregnant or had previously given birth. I have no idea any more where I got this link from.

In case all this is not completely, crystal-clear, note the caption on the picture of Warren Jeffs’ father, Rulon Jeffs: “FLDS founding patriarch Rulon Jeffs with his last two wives — sisters Edna and Mary Fischer — on their wedding day. He received the pair as a 90th birthday present.” (emphasis added)

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

cultural appropriation, property rhetoric, acknowledgment

The feminist blogosphere has been erupting lately, showing our strengths and our weaknesses and faultlines. One of those faultlines is race, and the discussions over Amanda Marcotte (of Pandagon)’s work, BrownFemiPower’s work, and cultural appropriation have brought this out.

I’ve stayed quiet thus far on the issue, mostly because I have too many thoughts, and not enough time to do the full book-length essay I want to do and have been futzing about with for several years now.

But, since I am a feminist blogger [in addition to being an information activist blogger], and this issue is on the nose for my interests, I wanted to post something. I’ve been tinkering with a draft for a week or more, but finally scrapped it and wrote this one. And since this post is all about credit where credit is due, I’m going to single out two posts that influenced me and this post:
* Twisty’s recent post on the issue (Schooled, 4/23) helped me think through the need to speak sooner rather than later when I have the perfect statement;
* The Angry Black Woman’s post that she’s not going anywhere –in the missing voices of those who *have* gone away. (ABW Not going anywhere, 4/26). See also ABW On Feminism Part 2, 4/28.)

As Feministe (4/26) said: The question stopped being about plagiarism a long time ago, but that’s what I find myself still responding to; that’s what Amanda continued to respond to. (Well, long ago in blogospheric terms!) I understood this passage to mean that the plagiarism stuff was just the tip of the iceberg that has been revealed and now we’re talking about the whole iceberg, that is, racism and cluelessness in (white) feminism. As to what has replaced the plagiarism/appropriation, I’ve included links at the bottom about one of the issues — the imagery associated with the Marcotte/Seal Press book. But since this blog and my passion is about information and autonomy, it’s the plagiarism / cultural appropriation that I want to deal with (even though it’s “long ago”, as in, days and weeks old).

note: This post is long and rambly and goes a lot of places before it gets to its destination. Be forewarned. (This post was edited & tweaked & updated & corrected for a day or two after initial publication, as is my wont.)

Continue reading

mellowing with age

The cuss-o-meter says only 21.5%. That is not the high standard I set for myself in conversation as a youth. Also, the quiz says that “This is 139% MORE than other websites who took this test.” What does that mean? More than the average, I presume?

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou (Yes, this is one of those quizzes/gimmicks/ploys that attempt to drive traffic to the originating site. The site is a dating site and not as interesting, IMO, as the quiz. I have added a “rel=”nofollow”” to my link so as to not assist any google-bumpage, and taken the liberty of making the text small per my own site style, and adding this note. But in the interests of credit & freedom, I have left the link active so that you, Gentle Reader, may feel free to click-through.)

the bear stearns of organized pedophilia

It’s a bit dicey to find anything funny in the sexual slavery / prostitution ring known as the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, aka, the Mormon child abuse cult). Bill Maher managed to do it by pointing out the discrepancy between society’s treatment of misbehavior by “cults” and misbehavior by “religions”.

If you can stomach it, watch the video at Crooks and Liars. It’s funny but only if you can laugh at the really fucked up things that infuriate you and make you despair of the world.

Relevant transcript below the fold.

Continue reading

you paid for it; who owns it? Wal-Mart’s contracted recordings

So, Wal-Mart is fighting with its former video contractor over ownership of a variety of recordings of internal Wal-Mart affairs.

An aside: From the description, it seems like some of them might have been automatically captured footage. The question of copyright over surveillance camera footage and other automated recordings is an interesting one, I think, opening up questions that touch on originality in copyright law; artistic intent; purpose of copyright law; norms; blah blah blah. In the land of amazing coincidences, the sort of coincidences that one’s human pattern-seeking brain wants to interpret as cosmically weird or destined or psychic or deistic intervention, but isn’t — in that land, my partner & I were having a heated debate over this very issue, just the other day, before we had heard anything about the possibly relevant Wal-Mart case. What are the odds?!? Given the geeky arguments which infest our home on a regular basis (and the tenuous connection of that discussion to this issue) — pretty good, I’d say.

At any rate, there’s some 15,000 tapes that the company (Flagler Productions) took of Wal-Mart over the years. Wal-Mart used them for holiday parties & whatnot; family style blooper reels to amuse the employees, I guess. Eventually Wal-Mart cancelled their contract with Flagler, which, trying to figure out how best to turn a profit from the mess, decided to sell the videos. Who’s buying? Clip services, documentary filmmakers, litigants, union organizers … Heh heh.

I bet some in-house attorney who failed to include an IP assignment clause in the service contract (or notice its absence) is in trou – ble.

Aside from one’s usual disdain for things Wal-martian, one can’t help but sympathize with the frustrated administration that generated this statement:

“It’s difficult to understand how the company could now sell to third parties the material we paid it to produce on our behalf. … Needless to say, we did not pay Flagler Productions to tape internal meetings with this aftermarket in mind.”

Needless to say.

On the other hand, there’s a certain poetic justice to it: Wal-Mart photo developing is one of the many, many places that have given consumers grief because they couldn’t prove copyright ownership of photos deemed “professional quality”, or that were commissioned for weddings, family portraits, etc.

(link from Howard Besser)

science fiction & tea

Rarely does my recent interest in fancy teas intersect with my long-time interest in SF. And when it does, it’s usually unfortunate — as for example, the influence of Jean-Luc Picard on the revived popularity of the loathsome Earl Gray tea.

But I was tickled pink, as my grandmother used to say, by this description of a tea influenced by Joss Whedon’s Firefly:

“Firefly, by Tania Laird”: ‘Take my love, take my land, take me where I cannot stand. I don’t care…’ I’ve my tea! Inspired by the fabulous Joss Whedon’s sci-fi show, this tea is a mixture of all things a gunslinging space cowboy (or girl) could want. The smoky kick of gunpowder, the elegant softness of mandarin oranges and just a hint of the wild, but sweet, side of life. A perfect brew for all the browncoats out there!

I won’t be drinking it, because I don’t like citrus in my tea (hence, my anti-Earl Gray posture), but I’m happy to know it exists.

… I would dearly love to recreate the breadcrumbs trail that led me to this, but I honestly can’t remember: It probably started with the kerfluffle over a harsh critique of Firefly.

Johnson & Johnson sues the Red Cross

give it up already. we all know that the red cross means the Red Cross.

It’ll be interesting to see a major company actually litigate such a completely jury-unfriendly case. It will also be interesting to see if how licenses for intellectual “property” survive when the property — in this case, consumer identification of a mark — no longer exists. Or, at least, when consumer identification of the mark is much stronger with the “licensee” than the “licensor”.

on insanely stupid, homophobic, racist, white Republican legislators

Bloggers & media have been all over the latest in a long, long series (at least as long as i have been reading the news, which is 20+ years now*) of sexcapades by Republicans and religious right leaders: Florida state legislator Bob Allen (R), who solicited an undercover cop for a blowjob in Titusville, FL, and is consequently being charged with soliciting prostitution. The cop was black, and Allen said that there were black men loitering about the park so he offered the blowjob + cash to avoid becoming “a statistic.”

Where to begin.

1 – It’s a relief that it’s charged with soliciting prostitution; not too many years ago he could have been charged with violating Florida’s sodomy law. (Not that I’m happy he was charged, at all. Once it was clear it was a gay thang, the officer seems to have been only too happy to bust the guy for solicitation. Bob Allen is pathetic, but is this what we need to spend public funds doing? The cop was plain clothes investigating a burglary. I’d rather have had him finish that job than bust Allen for a BJ.)

2 – Some people seem surprised that when Republicans ostensibly straight men solicit sex from other men they often (usually?) offer to give rather than to receive. It’s pretty obvious: See, receiving they can get at home, with their eyes closed. Giving, for Republicans ostensibly straight men, is best done in parks, bathrooms, park bathrooms, etc.

3 – It’s a shame that there is still so much homophobia that Republicans gay men resort to paying strangers when there are lots and lots of men having gay sex for free. In Florida. Even (or especially) in Cape Canaveral.

4 – What’s worse: That racism is apparently so acceptable for this “straight” white Republican man that he thinks it’s an excuse (albeit a really, really implausible one) for being gay, or that he thinks being gay is worse than racism? What a sad and tangled mess that man’s mind is. (John Scalzi has the best comment:

The only real bit of news out of all of this is that Allen would rather be seen as a terrified racist than as someone willing to solicit strangers in a public restroom to get some man-on-man action. Well, here’s the thing, Mr. Allen: Clearly, you can be both.

5 – Gotta love the last line of the Orlando Sentinel story:

When Allen was being placed in a marked patrol car, he asked whether “it would help” if he was a state legislator, according to a police report. The officer replied, “No.”

6 – Allen’s political positions: Cosponsor of an anti-public lewdness bill that would have prohibited park sex. CFNews 13. He got a 92% rating from the Christian Coalition prior to his 2006 election.OS 7/12 He supported amending Florida’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage, and opposed a bill to curb harassment of gay students.365gay


* There must be a blog somewhere dedicated to charting the sexcapades of moralizers. If there’s not, I would love to start it, but it would be apparently a full-time job, so some independently wealthy person needs to start it. Or pay me to start it. Seriously.

crossing my screen today

How to give a great man-to-man hug — a hilarious video from the developing world of masculinity studies. I went to it on the off-chance that it was actually funny, and was well-rewarded for my optimism.

Kitty not happy tshirts at work: The salon.com column “dear cary” handles various ethics and manner type issues, and I read it occasionally when spending a leisurely morning catching up on news. Today’s column was out-of-the-ordinary great: a meditation on the nature of work, especially non-democratic work.

Suellen Parker, an artist, was profiled at the NYT Magazine in a little video segment about her recent NYT Magazine cover. My partner1, a reliable spotter of intellectual property issues in the news, called my attention to it. Parker’s art for the NYT cover worked like this: She built a clay model; then shot photos of real life models to sculpt the expression; shot her clay model; then took bits & pieces of real life people photos (lips, eyes), to photoshop her clay model together with a bunch of other stuff. Totally fascinating, and M & I had a fun morning conversation about whether Parker only used her own photographs; had she gotten model releases for the photoshopping use, or just for modeling expression in sculpture; and so on. As far as copyright goes, clearly a fair use, but it’s an interesting example of the sort of thing that causes problems for copyright absolutists. (Like copyright image-recognition filters ….?)

… Our conversation also touched on gender issues. Watching how Parker presents her work, and how the NYT frames it — edits it, what music they choose for the background — and how we receive the video, we wondered how it would be different if the artist were a man. How much internalized sexism do we have in evaluating this artist? Would we see her as more “artiste” and less “craftsperson” if her voice had been his deep tenor voice? Would the NYT have chosen a more dramatic background music? A recent study suggests that we begin absorbing gender roles even as toddlers — how deeply embedded are gender roles in our construction of the world? Pretty damn.

And then there was this cool geekery — a video about new technologies that combine social information (like flickr, tagging, etc.) with new photo viewing & recognition technologies. (seadragon & photosynth). The less cool end of this fabulous flickr futurism: Combining photos from flickr with all the knowledge of the world & 3D visualization sounds fun and all, but flickr censors images for people based on their government. What will it look like when we combine flickr’s image censorship with AT&T’s proposed network filtering with google’s youtube video filtering? I see lots of blank spots in the brave new web 2.0 world.


 
 
 
 
 


1. My partner, legally recognized as such for at least a few more years. Thanks, Massachusetts!