Blog Ipsa Loquitur

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

Some as-yet unidentified burglars broke into an office building and stole a number of computers and monitors once inside. The computers belonged to a non-profit shelter for victims of sexual violence. When the thieves realized it, they returned the computers with an apology note:

“We had no idea what we were takeing. Here your stuff back we hope that you guys can continue to make a difference in peoples live. God bless,”

I can’t decide if this makes them the worst at being thieves, or the best at being people who are also thieves, or what. It definitely makes them pretty bad writers, but it’s heart-warming. Read the whole story, with quotes from the executive director of the nonprofit and the cops.

Published on under The News

So there was already that one juror from the George Zimmerman trial who had never heard of manslaughter, despite being on the jury in a case where she feels the guy holding the gun exercised poor judgment which ended in someone else dying. There was that one.

Another juror from that case, who didn’t want to be identified, appeared on ABC News (giving her first name, age, occupation, how many children she has, her home town, and her current town; as one does when one does not wish to be identified) and this happened:

George Zimmerman got away with murder, but you can’t get away from God.

and then:

When asked by Roberts whether the case should have gone to trial, Maddy said, “I don’t think so.”

If this is who got on the jury, who get kicked off by voir dire?

Published on under The News

The NY Times, on the way kids study for the bar exam these days:

[T]hey took flight to Negril [Jamaica], a coastal resort town, where they rented a three-bedroom house on the beach for $3,000 for six weeks and converted it to Study Command Central. […] The biggest challenge, such as it was, was finding a spot to study on Seven Mile Beach a sufficient distance from the skin-baring revelers at Hedonism II, the famously racy resort nearby.

Hey, look, I’m all for not letting studying for some obnoxious test ruin your life, but maybe let’s not brag to the Times about how you spent your bougie bar summer. Lawyers already have enough image problems, guys. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s like a Russian Dashcam GIF. I can’t look away. Here’s another:

For some, studying from an exotic locale can be a way of overcoming the inevitable sensation of feeling left out of all the fun that everyone else seems to be having.

That paragraph is squeezed in between “bar taker in Thailand beach house” and “bar taker ‘studying’ while playing in World Series of Poker.” Seriously. But really, the important thing here is that you don’t miss out on any fun, guys. Ever. You’re definitely entitled to have as much fun as everyone else all the time. No matter what.

Seriously, studying in a library? In the summer? What are we, peasants?

Published on under The News