Archive for Law & Order - page 3

Sketch Factor – is avoiding bad neighborhoods racist?

Sketch Factor – is avoiding bad neighborhoods racist?

A minor internet kerfuffle has erupted over the introduction of an app called “Sketch Factor”.  Sketch Factor is a crowd source app where users can upload information they find “sketchy” about their neighborhood or wherever they happen to be.  This is then added to map data and can be used to avoid, or if you’re looking for sketchiness, to find certain neighborhoods.  Some on the internet have declared the app “racist”.  Here’s the logic:

Step 1:  The app was created by two young white people,

Step 2:  All smartphone users are affluent white people,

Step 3:  All white people distrust black people and find them “sketchy”,

Step 4:  Therefore white people will use the app to flag black neighborhoods and black people as “sketchy”.

Step 5:  Racism!

I suppose that my labeling of some neighborhoods as “bad” is confirmation of my “racism”.  I am a firm believer in situational awareness and minimizing risk, and so I would find this app usefull especially if I was in a strange town.  I don’t see at all how that equates to racism.  A lot of the discussion of the app seems centered on Washington, D.C. maybe because the Gawker writer lives there (I think).  Anyway, a Washington D.C. news crew went out to do a story about one of the neighborhoods identified as “sketchy”, and while they were doing man on the street interviews with the residents there something happened:  but as folks were telling us that it was a good neighborhood, and that not much activity happens around there — as that was being told to us, our van was being robbed.”    

So…Sketch Factor: 10 out of 10.  I wonder if they reported the incident.  Probably not, that would be racist.

I’m not sure they understand what the Freedom of Information Act Is

I’m not sure they understand what the Freedom of Information Act Is

I suppose I could make this a “real life irony” post.  When the ACLU requested information from the Justice Department regarding the Government’s monitoring of citizen’s text messages without a warrant, they received in response a document that was completely redacted:


Totally Redacted FOIA response


Related:  The Department of Education employs a FOIA Denial Officer.  Perfect.

Cross posted at Men Out of Work Blog

Another day, another monkey selfie story

Another day, another monkey selfie story

Via The Volohk Conspiracy and other sundry sources I have forgotten, we  have this story about a photographer, a macauqe monkey, a camera purloined by said monkey, a selfie taken by said monkey with the purloined camera and back to the photographer who wishes to assert copyright of the photo.

Since I have it on good authority that I can reproduce the photo without violation of any copyright:

Cowabunga, dude.  Oh wait.  That was a turtle.  Never mind.

Cowabunga, dude. Oh wait. That was a turtle. Never mind.


Seems like a pretty happy monkey.  Anyhoo…the photographer himself is the source of the story that the photo was not taken by him, but by the monkey.  Since the photo is not the photographer’s work, he cannot claim copyright over it.  Since the monkey is non-human, he (it?) cannot claim copyright either.  Therefore according to copyright law, the copyright belongs to no one.  So…..monkey selfies for everyone!

Old and Busted: Don’t make a Federal Case Out Of It! New Hotness: Make a Federal Case Out Of Everything!

Old and Busted: Don’t make a Federal Case Out Of It!    New Hotness: Make a Federal Case Out Of Everything!

We used to have a saying when we were kids and someone was getting mad over a small thing.  We would say sarcastically “Don’t make  a federal case out of it!”  Now it’s popular to do just the opposite.  Let’s make a federal case out of everything!  The one important difference?  It’s the adults talking now.

Case In Point: what kids eat in school.  For approximately as long as kids and schools have existed, the only issues with what kids ate at school were the speculative origins of the various mystery entrees in school lunches.  Now, since “The Children”® are either morbidly obese or malnourished depending on which particular do-gooder is speaking we now must have the Federal Nose stuck into everyone’s business.  And idiocy ensues.

Courtesy of Business Insider, we learn that the Federal Initiative called “Let’s Move” is unpopular with the kids it was designed to “help”.  Part of the “Let’s Move” initiative was a revamping of the school meal standards in the National School Lunch Program.  Yes, you heard me – the National School Lunch Program.  Of course these revisions were undertaken with the best of intentions.  And when you’re do-goodin’, intentions are all that matter.  The reason it is unpopular?  Because the “right portions” and “healthier food options” required by the initiative are apparently very small and/or inedible and the kids are left hungry after lunch.  Kids being kids, they have taken to social media, namely Twitter and are tweeting pictures of their lunches along with sarcastic remarks – follow this link to see some of their tweets:  Business Insider – Students Are Tweeting Photos of Awful School Lunches….

Now everyone knows that other than school cafeteria lunches, the only other time food and school intersect is at Bake Sale Time.  Bake Sales have long been a way for school groups to raise money for any number of causes, and it’s a treat for the kids, too.  And they still will be – albeit with appropriate supervision.  Because starting this fall, we’ve made a Federal Case out of it.  There is literally a Federal Law governing the fare offered at school bake sales:  The 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, one of the stated goals of which is to fight childhood obesity…apparently by by making kids hunger-free.  And the best way to make them hunger free is to only offer them foods they won’t eat.  Makes perfect sense *eyeroll*.  Read the details in this article at the Wall Street Journal: “Put Down The Cupcake:  New Ban Hits School Bake Sales”

Remember that the people making these rules are only doing it for your own good.  You need their help because you aren’t smart enough to make good decisions.  And they care more than you.  And they think they are better than you.

And when you finaly figure out there’s a boot on your throat, remember: it’s for your own good.




War on Drugs Nonsense: Purchase Sudafed, Go To Jail

War on Drugs Nonsense: Purchase Sudafed, Go To Jail

Or how I learned that stupid policies turned me into a criminal for no good reason.

What with all the talk lately about legalizing marijuana, I have been reading some articles about the war on drugs in general, a few of them regarding the over the counter decongestant Pseudoephedrine which is more commonly known as Sudafed.  Pseudoephedrine can be chemically transformed into Methamphetamine, and so in 2006 it was taken off the shelf, put behind the counter and requirements put in place to document purchases and ID customers.  OK so far nothing too radical, I suppose.  After reading more than one story about people being contacted by police and in some cases threatened with arrest and having their homes, cars, etc. searched after purchasing Pseudoephedrine, I started wondering:  am I unitentionally violating the law and exposing myself to risk of harrassment or arrest?

I personally do not use Pseudoephedrine.  It has been my decongestant of choice, but I developed an allergy to it about 10 years ago.  It is, however, the only decongestant that works for my wife who has seasonal allergies that last for about a month or so in early summer.  She uses it 24 hours a day during that time.  I have been purchasing it for her, and I have made approximately four transactions at three different retail locations – two of them had written log books, and another swiped my drivers license.  No one made any mention of purchase limits, but in doing some research I have learned that there are indeed limits on how much can be legally purchased per day or month.  The limit is 3.6 grams per day, or 9 grams per 30 day period.  A little quick math is now in order.  I have been purchasing the 12 hour formulation, which is a 120 milligram (mg) tablet.  Furthermore I purchased them in boxes of 20 tablets, so 20 times 120mg = 2400 mg or 2.4 grams per 20 count box. Twenty tablets is a ten day supply, so multiply by 3 to get a months ration, that equals 7.2 grams.  OK, that’s below the 9 gram limit.  Whew!  Wait…hold on a sec….at one time I purchased two boxes for a total of 4.8 grams, which put me over the 3.6 gram daily limit.  This purchase was made at a pharmacy, yet the clerk did not inform me of the limit.  They also used a written log book, which I assume they turn over to the DEA periodically, and so my “crime” is documented.

Am I going to get a visit from the DEA or am I now a Breaking Bad suspect?  Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you the idea is ludicrous.  I am such a boring straight arrow that my nickname at one time was “the boy scout”.  And now I find out I am a suspected druggie.  Should I turn myself in?  As I said the idea that I am a drug dealer or cooker is ludicrous, but if I can be ensnared by the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act then anyone can.  It’s not hard to see how an individual could run afoul of the law as it is perfectly natural behavior for people to stock up on items they use regularly rather than go out and buy the minimum quantity each time it’s needed, especially medications.

It’s this type of nonsense that makes the War on Drugs a joke.  This has been law since 2006, and as you can see the Meth epidemic is a thing of the past.  Oh, wait…

And just for grins and giggles, here’s a little extra somethin’ somethin’ – thank a Democrat.  It figures that Feinstein would get me sooner or later after all those letters I wrote during the Clinton Administration.

Cross Posted at Men Out Of Work Blog

NYT: Legalize pot, because whatever

NYT: Legalize pot, because whatever

Courtesy of the New York Times via Althouse, here is an editorial calling for the legalization of Marijuana.  Why?  No reason, really.  Alcohol’s legal, why not weed?  One might expect a little more in depth analysis from America’s paper of record.

Do I really want ot write about this again?  I’ve covered it here and here.  I’m not sure there’s much more to say.  The debate over legalization will no doubt continue, especially as legalization seems to be gaining momentum with recent electoral victories in Washington and Colorado. Personally, I would have to say that I am more in favor of de-criminalization as opposed to outright legalization.  I believe that much of the war on drugs is counterproductive and wasteful, but I also believe that drug use is a bad thing and that legalization will lead to increased use.  Marijuana is not as harmless and benign as legalization proponents say.  I am largely skeptical of the medical uses, mainly due to the fact that where I live in California it is legal to use for “medical” reasons, and for that reason it is apparently a miracle drug that is valid therapy for virtually any ailment imaginable.  Just about every doper on the street has their “pot card”.  However…I am not opposed to clinical study to validate any potential legitimate medical use.  Besides that, it’s smoking.  Isn’t smoking supposed to be bad?

Some additional info on Malaysian Airways “incident”

Some additional info on Malaysian Airways “incident”

I am still at a loss as to what to call this..accident? atrocity?  It seems certain now that Ukrainian Separatists (Putin’s proxy army) recklessly committed this act, thinking they were shooting at a Ukrainian military transport.  There is a civil war going on over there, though you would never know it by reading the American media.  So I’m settling on incident for now.  Here is a link to a story at the Daily Mail (UK) with in depth information on the surface-to-air missile system used to shoot down the jet.  If you don’t want to read the whole article, this graphic has a lot of info as well.


Ukrainian video: Russian Missile Launcher Gettin’ Out of Dodge

Ukrainian video: Russian Missile Launcher Gettin’ Out of Dodge

According to this Washington Post story, the Ukrainian government has released surveillance video of a flatbed truck hauling a Russian surface-to-air missile lanucher heading out of Separatist controlled Eastern Ukraine into Russia.  The launcher and missiles are of the type believed to be responsible for the destruction of a Malaysian Airlines plane yesterday which resulted in over 300 civilian deaths.  Russia and the Russian backed Separatists have denied involvement, pointing the finger of blame at the Ukrainian government.  Separatists control the Ukrainian territory where the airliner came down, and the speculation is that they are “sanitizing” what is essentially a huge crime scene, combing it for any remnants of the missile which destroyed the Boeing 777 and removing them.  US surveillance of the war zone indicated that a radar associated with this type of surface-to-air missile system was in operation at the time of the incident, but could not pinpoint the area the missile was launched from.

Cross posted at Men Out of Work Blog

Another Incident Involving Malaysia Airlines

Another Incident Involving Malaysia Airlines

I’m not sure incident is the correct word, but at this point I do not know exactly what to call this.

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 has crashed in Ukraine, and there are reports that it was shot down during the conflict there among Ukrainians, Russians and Ukrainians aligned with Russia known as “separatists”.  So you have Ukrainian military fighting with Separatists who are aligned with and backed by Putin’s Russia.

Here are the basic facts as we know them now.  The airliner was enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and cruising at altitude (33,000 ft) when contact was lost over Ukraine, and reports of an airplane crash began coming in.  Eye witness accounts say the aircraft “fell in pieces” and preliminary reports indicate a very large debris field consistent with a breakup of the plane at cruising altitude.  There were no survivors at the crash site.  There are rumors also that at the same time Separatists were on Twitter claiming to have just shot down a Ukrainian military transport, as they had previously done a day or two before. Once Malaysia Airlines confirmed it’s flight was missing, the tweets were deleted.  The Separatists are also believed to be in possession of the type of military ground-to-air missiles that would be capable of striking an aircraft at that high altitude.  The plane was flying too high to be vulnerable to a shoulder-launched “stinger” type missile.  As far as I can tell those are the facts.

Now for the speculation: it is very possible that the Boeing 777 airliner was shot down by Separatists who mistook it for a Ukrainian AN-26 transport.  It is confirmed they had shot one down a day or two before this incident.  The planes look nothing alike, but they are of similar size, and if the separatists had reports of military planes in the area, then undisciplined operators or commanders could have made the error.  There is also this:  the Kiev Post is reporting that the Ukrainian Security Force (SBU) intercepted phone calls between Separatist commanders talking about the situation which seem to confirm the hypothesis of mistaken identity.  Chilling, if true:

Igor Bezler: We have just shot down a plane. Group Minera. It fell down beyond Yenakievo (Donetsk Oblast).

Vasili Geranin: Pilots. Where are the pilots?

IB: Gone to search for and photograph the plane. Its smoking.

VG: How many minutes ago?

IB: About 30 minutes ago.

SBU comment: After examining the site of the plane the terrorists come to the conclusion that they have shot down a civilian plane. The next part of the conversation took place about 40 minutes later.

Major”: These are Chernukhin folks who shot down the plane. From the Chernukhin check point. Those cossacks who are based in Chernukhino.

“Grek”: Yes, Major.

“Major”: The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first “200” (code word for dead person). We have found the first “200”. A Civilian.

“Greek”: Well, what do you have there?

“Major”: In short, it was 100 percent a passenger (civilian) aircraft.

“Greek”: Are many people there?

“Major”: Holy sh__t! The debris fell right into the yards (of homes).

“Greek”: What kind of aircraft?

“Major”: I haven’t ascertained this. I haven’t been to the main sight. I am only surveying the scene where the first bodies fell. There are the remains of internal brackets, seats and bodies.

“Greek”: Is there anything left of the weapon?

“Major”: Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.

“Greek”: Are there documents?

“Major”: Yes, of one Indonesian student. From a university in Thompson. 

Militant: Regarding the plane shot down in the area of Snizhne-Torez. It’s a civilian one. Fell down near Grabove. There are lots of corpses of women and children. The Cossacks are out there looking at all this.

They say on TV it’s AN-26 transport plane, but they say it’s written Malaysia Airlines on the plane. What was it doing on Ukraine’s territory?

Like I said, chilling if true.  I’m sure there will be a lot of finger pointing by both sides before we find out what actually happened.   280 passengers and 15 crew lost.  Many different nationalities on board, including Americans.  This is a full blown International Incident which will put the Ukrainian conflict in the front pages for some time.

Additional Info:

New York Times

Fox News

Kiev Post

In Case You’re New Here

In Case You’re New Here

In case you’re new here, welcome!  And here are a few ins and outs of how my blog operates.  First off, I’m Mike, the sole proprietor.  Pleased to meet you.  This blog is my peronal communication platform, and posts here reflect only my personal opinions.  I claim no expertise in anything.  In other words, if I write about Law, do not use that as legal advice.  If I write about medicine, do not take that as medical advice.  Get the picture?  OK, good.  Since there is no “official” theme to this blog, you will find posts about many different subjects here which may (or may not) fall loosely into one of several “categories” which you will find listed in the right hand sidebar just under the “recent posts”.  If you want the unfiltered blog, that is to see all posts regardless of category, simply start at the top and keep scrolling down.  Newest posts are at the top, and as you scroll down you go back in time.  If you wish to view only posts in a certain category, then find the category you want in the sidebar and click on it.  Voila!  Only posts in that category will be displayed.  Also in the sidebar are listed “popular posts” and “recent posts”.  Popular posts are those most viewed – not neccessarily the best, but most viewed.  For whatever reason.  And recent posts are just that…the most recent posts.  At any time you can click on the “home” button at the top right to bring you back to the top of the front page.

Within each post I will embed links for additional information – whenever you see red text like this you can click on it, and it will open the link in a new tab.  Try it.  Back? OK, good.  Many of the graphics such as pictures, graphs or cartoons may be enlarged simply by clicking on them.  Some of these graphics are mine, others are not. Embedded youTube videos can bel viewed by clicking on the “play” arrow at the bottom left or in the center of the YouTube frame.  Easy.

driving dog

Finally – comments.  To the left of the post title, under the red date box you will see a grey box that says “comments” with a number in it (usually a zero, unfortunately).  If you wish to leave a comment on a post, click on that box and a dialogue box will appear – type your comment and click “submit”.  If you don’t want to enter your e-mail adress just use a fake one.  I do not work for the NSA.  Comments can be simple – “I like this” or “you are an idiot”.  My favorite one so far is “ha ha ha this”.  I guess he thought the post was funny.  I think that’s about it.  If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments.  Enjoy.

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