Someone Should Send This To Congress


Click the image for a concise and sobering description of how people who never in a million years would infringe a copyright can have their online lives disrupted beyond repair under SOPA. Written by a former Google, now Twitter, lawyer.

Our Amazing Interwebs, Episode CCXXIV


In case you haven’t heard, a guy named Gene Marks wrote a column for Forbes magazine called “If I Were a Poor Black Kid.” Mr. Marks is manifestly not (and never has been) a poor black kid, and his column is full of all sorts of helpful advice – including a rah-rah listing of technology (Mr. Marks’s usual beat is business tech) – to help someone who is a poor black kid overcome the disadvantages of being a poor black kid, just like Mr. Marks never had to.

Here is Mr. Marks’s column, which has been virally infesting all corners of the Internet this afternoon. Go read it. Then click the logo above and read Jeff Yang’s reply column, posted on Mr. Yang, like Mr. Marks, is not a poor black kid. Nor is he a rich white dude, but he has written a column ostensibly from the perspective of a poor black kid, full of actually useful advice about how a rich white dude can avoid coming across as a snotty, ignorant jackass when discussing something about which he is entirely uninformed. (Spoiler: It involves getting informed.)

I am not confident that Mr. Marks will learn anything from this episode. The snark and derision of the Interwebs are more likely to make him defensive than contrite. And rich white dudes are so hard to teach. But one can dream.

Grayson 2016? Pleaseohpleaseohplease?

I can’t believe Grayson’s district voted him out of office in the midterms, but I am glad to see he is still around and still schooling the right wing. (And I’m sorry, P.J. O’Rourke, you were funny in your National Lampoon days, and you are kind of funny on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, but your politics are abominable. Seriously, “get him a bongo”?) Not visible on this clip – the standing ovation Grayson got.

Grayson could very well get my vote in 2016. He could even be the seed of a viable new party. (OK, that’s probably just wishful thinking.)

Courageous Illinois Man Faces 75 Years In Prison For Recording Cops – YouTube

Hot on the heels of the First Circuit Court of Appeals decision that citizens have an absolute constitutional right to record the police in public, we find that a guy in a town in downstate Illinois, about 200 miles south of Chicago, is facing five counts of Class One felony “eavesdropping” for doing just that, with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison per count – i.e., up to 75 years in prison. The Illinois AG has told the judge in a hearing that there is no constitutional right to record the police.

The guy is being represented gratis by an ACLU lawyer, and he has refused a plea deal that would have given him probation on a lesser count. (He refused in part because he would have to give up a separate, but related, lawsuit against the city he lives in.)

I am all in favor of police being able to control the scene, and people (journalists, civilians) not interfering with police activity. But it is absolutely clear that laws such as this, as broadly applied as they tend to be where they are still on the books, are used to intimidate citizens and cover up law enforcement errors and excesses. I hope this thing eventually goes up to the Seventh Circuit and they come down in line with the First Circuit.

A Victory for Recording in Public! | Citizen Media Law Project


So this is really good news. A First Circuit federal appeals court has stated clearly and unequivocally that citizens have a right to videotape police officers conducting police activities in public. I hope the word of this spreads so that others refuse to be intimidated by police. (Actually, I would hope that police departments around the country would instruct their officers not to bother people who are videotaping public police activity unless they are actually interfering.)