Blog Ipsa Loquitur

Via The Verge, how one converts Bitcoins into worthless fiat currency:

The ATM experience is far from seamless, however. To use it, you must submit your phone number, a PIN, a government ID, a palm vein scan, and let it take your photo.… Cashing out Bitcoin can take up to 15 minutes because the currency is designed so that every transaction must be verified by users in the network.

Also, because it’s Bitcoin, the amount of coins you own at any time is public knowledge. Ahh, the sweet smell of digital freedom from the tyranny of The Fed.

Sometimes, I think the J.P. Morgans and the Goldmans Sach of the world came up with Bitcoin as a way to prove that their asinine financial meltdown(s) could actually be worse; because this, apparently, is what Bitcoin looks like when it’s working.

Published on under Irreverently Irrelevant

Via the Volokh Conspiracy, an instance of unqualified and uncertified bloodhounds which may not even be bloodhounds:

First, the state concedes the dogs used in the instant case are not pure breed bloodhounds. Officer Gallien testified that be believed their mother was a dog living at Angola and that dog mated with dogs living at other correctional institutions around the state. The state did not introduce any documentation concerning the dogs’ lineage.

Moreover, the state presented little information concerning the training of the dogs. [Police Officer] Gallien testified the dogs are not certified in any capacity, “but they are very good in my book.” He explained that trustees at the detention center train the dogs and that the dogs “are real good with their noses.”

As to their history of reliability, Gallien stated that one of the dogs recently located a missing person who had fallen off a dock and drowned. He further stated the dogs have “been used a good bit” to find people in the area.

And this goes on for quite a bit. Surprisingly, the appellate court ruled that the police failed to prove that the dogs (named “Bo” and “Trusty”) were reliable. I mean, they should have let the dogs testify if the cops were going to be that unprepared.

Now, the robbers had stockings over their faces and robbed a tobacco store with a handgun. The defendant’s brother was arrested in his car with… a handgun and stockings, which had the defendant’s DNA on them. The defendant and his brother had conflicting stories (which they changed) about where they were the night before the store was robbed, and also conflicting alibis.

However, the cops showed a photo lineup to three witnesses. Two of the witnesses, employees of the robbed store, identified someone other than the defendant as the robber. The third witness didn’t recognize any of the photos. Even better, of the photos the witnesses were shown, the photos of the defendant and his brother were twice the size of the “filler” photos. Real subtle, officers. Real subtle. Also, see above for the state’s complete and utter failure to use the dog evidence to do something other than make the rounds on snarky law blogs.

Result? A retrial, and Officer Gallien likely being assigned to track down the birth mother of his star pooches.

Published on under The News

A webcomic author/artist named John offered books of his comics via Kickstarter in early 2012. It’s 2014, and John is having a hard time sending books to over a thousand of his fans, who kicked in over $51,000 to get those books. He just announced that he is canceling the project and will not offer refunds:

You could try to obtain refunds through kickstarter or paypal, through your bank or credit card company. You could try to harass me or inconvenience me or tell other people negative things about me or this kickstarter in the hope that this will affect me negatively. Be aware that each attempt to contact me about this book will individually result in the burning of a book until the books are gone.

I am making the loudest sound I know how to make. I know that some people will be personally offended that I am doing this, but I am doing this in large part because our culture has developed in such a way that some of the intelligent, empathetic people who follow me will believe they feel more psychological pain because of books being burnt, their money and my attitude about them than because of the destruction of the natural world, the continuation of classist, racist, abusive patterns of behavior and representation, etc.

So essentially, “yes, what I’m doing is sucky, but not as sucky as these other things” which are, in fact, worse. Is that really raising awareness, or just adding to the amount of suck in the world? It doesn’t matter, anyway; he doesn’t have any of the $51,000 people gave him anymore. He says he is out of money because he refunded orders before Christmas which were 18 months behind schedule, so now he can’t fulfill the rest of the orders.

Then he announces, in an astonishing coincidence that has nothing to do with the fact that he’s spent everyone’s money, that he’s actually very much against the entire idea of exchanging “money” for “goods.” (Or owning property or goods at all. Except for his smartphone and its data plan, which he’s keeping. Like Thoreau!)

And that’s about where his update turns into a rambling, 4500-word screed against capitalism and the acquisition of wealth in general; he doesn’t feel like he should have to pay his landlord because his landlord is rich but also because his landlord didn’t fix the roof or protect him from his violent roommate and also because he’s not supposed to be living there and doesn’t have a lease? I don’t know.

I get the guilt over his privilege: over sleeping in a bed when there are millions of kids in some developing country somewhere sleeping on dirt floors, etc. Or feeling guilty about owning a warm jacket when there are thousands of kids in your own city who shiver on the way to school each morning. I get it.

But collecting $51,000 and promising to give people things for that $51,000, only to announce that you’re broke because you didn’t manage to do the math properly on how much it would cost to give people things? And that it’s not your fault, people should really be upset with capitalism itself, which you are now forsaking, conveniently after you pocketed thousands of dollars of other peoples’ money?

That’s pretty embarrassing.

An addendum presented without comment, via Rusty Foster:

In earlier updates [John] claimed to be faking depression for money, claimed to have been joking about faking depression for money, and questioned the ability of anyone to fake anything.

Published on under Irreverently Irrelevant

Ezra Klein, writing for Bloomberg.com, on how dull the future looks. He walks it back halfway through, saying the course of history can reverse itself quickly:

In 2004, a spate of anti-gay-marriage amendments on the ballot in swing states was considered – perhaps incorrectly – to have turned out enough conservative voters to re-elect President George W. Bush. Today, same-sex marriage is legal in 16 states, and a 17th – Illinois – will legalize it in June.

Well, that’s sobering. I’m calling it now; 2024 is the year of the metric system in America.

Published on under The News

It was a weird day, you guys.

https://twitter.com/dominicmauro/status/412991346547625984

https://twitter.com/dominicmauro/status/412992689375027200

And then, hours later, the Nordic fiends tracked me down and followed me on Twitter. Probably by the scent of feeble, whiny American brooding. I registered my shock:

https://twitter.com/dominicmauro/status/413013668054724609

https://twitter.com/SmariOrganics/status/413014616986251264

https://twitter.com/dominicmauro/status/413014801322082304

https://twitter.com/SmariOrganics/status/413015421323718656

Our hero remains safe and sound for now.

Published on under A Day in the Life

When you upload something to the internet, it’s there forever. There’s no good way to take it back down off the internet, and you never know what kind of creep is going to get your hands on your spring break photos. For instance, you would never expect that your high school administrators would be that creep:

University of Georgia freshman Chelsea Chaney is suing the school district of her former high school after a photo pulled from her Facebook page was used in a district-wide presentation on what not to do on social media accounts. 17 years old at the time, the photo shows Chaney wearing a bikini while posing next to a cardboard cutout of rapper and singer-songwriter Snoop Lion. In addition to the photo, the Powerpoint slide included her Facebook profile name underneath the photo and the title of slide was “Once It’s There, It’s There to Stay.”

This was a month or two ago, and I’m sure the two parties have settled out by now. (Due in no small part to Chaney suing for $2 million. Yikes.) I think this is a real teachable moment for the school administrators here. A few things come to mind. Let’s start with the obvious:

Don’t Be Creepy

No, seriously, don’t be creepy. It’s bad enough if you’re a middle aged guy with pictures of a teen girl in a bikini. If you’re a middle-aged guy who works with teens and you have those kinds of photos lying around, that’s way worse. Parents are going to ask questions about why you wanted to work around teens.

Don’t Be Creepier

It’s also bad enough if the photo is of just some random teen girl. But if there’s anything worse, it’s probably that the photo is of some specific teen girl: one who attends your school. In that case, specific parents who going to ask an awful lot of very specific questions of you, Curtis R. Cearley, director of technology for the Fayette County Schools.

Don’t Be Publicly Creepy

Nabbing swimsuit photos of your favorite student from her Facebook page for your private collection is super creepy. Putting those photos in a slideshow deck she’s going to sit through at school is yet another order of magnitude of creepy. Maybe you want to consider leaving those photos in your private collection. Better yet, maybe you want to consider leaving those photos on her Facebook page.

Don’t Be Stupid

Ask anyone who works with kids. Publicly shaming them in front of their peers (for something that’s not even wrong, just admittedly ill-advised) is the quickest way to do the opposite of teaching them a lesson. You get resentment, you get betrayal, you get humiliation, but you’re not really going to get that dawning moment of realization.

Don’t Be a Criminal

There’s a word for people who make unauthorized copies of the creative works of other people. Pirate! Infringer! Communist! While Facebook gets a lot of flack for its terms of service, they leave your copyright interest more or less intact. That means that this young woman, when she asked someone to take a photo of her next to a cardboard Snoop Lion, has a copyright interest in the resulting picture. When it gets uploaded to Facebook, she still has that copyright.

When the creepy administrator puts that photo into a slideshow deck he’s making for the whole school (district?), he makes an unauthorized copy. He could probably have used something licensed under Creative Commons and avoided potential intellectual property concerns. The creepy stuff would all still apply, but at least he wouldn’t have pirated anything. After the DMCA, the penalty for copyright infringement is $150,000 per copy; this is going to the world’s most expensive slideshow deck in no time.

Published on under The News