Codey waits for me to put down the black flashy thing and start playing tug again:
Canon 7D at ISO-6400, 50mm, f/1.8 at 1/250, just a few minutes ago.
Every time I visit San Francisco, I stop here:
Today I only left with 400 g, which unfortunately I'll have to leave with my family. Well, unfortunately for me; knowing them, it won't last two weeks in the house. That's an acceptable outcome.
Via Sullivan, a constitutional analysis of the Stop Online Piracy Act:
To begin with, the bills represent an unprecedented, legally sanctioned assault on the Internet’s critical technical infrastructure. Based upon nothing more than an application by a federal prosecutor alleging that a foreign website is “dedicated to infringing activities,” Protect IP authorizes courts to order all U.S. Internet service providers, domain name registries, domain name registrars, and operators of domain name servers—a category that includes hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses, colleges, universities, nonprofit organizations, and the like—to take steps to prevent the offending site’s domain name from translating to the correct Internet protocol address.
This not only violates basic principles of due process by depriving persons of property without a fair hearing and a reasonable opportunity to be heard, it also constitutes an unconstitutional abridgement of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that governmental action suppressing speech, if taken prior to an adversary proceeding and subsequent judicial determination that the speech in question is unlawful, is a presumptively unconstitutional “prior restraint.” In other words, it is the “most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights,” permissible only in the narrowest range of circumstances. The Constitution requires a court “to make a final determination” that the material in question is unlawful “after an adversary hearing before the material is completely removed from circulation.”
(Emphasis in quoted blog post; references removed.)
I've already written to my representative in Congress; have you written to yours?
Given my activities yesterday (i.e., going through airport security), I found the latest interview with Bruce Schneier timely and once again correct:
As we came by the checkpoint line, Schneier described one of these aspects: the ease with which people can pass through airport security with fake boarding passes. First, scan an old boarding pass, he said—more loudly than necessary, it seemed to me. Alter it with Photoshop, then print the result with a laser printer. In his hand was an example, complete with the little squiggle the T.S.A. agent had drawn on it to indicate that it had been checked. “Feeling safer?” he asked.
To a large number of security analysts, [the billions we've spent on security theater] makes no sense. The vast cost is not worth the infinitesimal benefit. Not only has the actual threat from terror been exaggerated, they say, but the great bulk of the post-9/11 measures to contain it are little more than what Schneier mocks as “security theater”: actions that accomplish nothing but are designed to make the government look like it is on the job. In fact, the continuing expenditure on security may actually have made the United States less safe.
Yes. We spend money on high-tech, whiz-bang solutions to human-intelligence problems. The attack on 9/11 can't happen again in the U.S., not because of full-body scanners at airports, but because of reinforced cockpit doors and vigilant passengers. Should we let just anyone board a transport airplane without a security check? No, of course not; but we should make the checks effective, rather than flamboyant.
Security, however, tends to ratchet up, because no one wants to be the guy who relaxed security right before an attack. And we know an attack will happen someday; nihilists are not easily dissuaded from their crimes. Still, one can hope.
You'll never guess where I am:
It's not so bad, really. Despite warnings of the busiest travel day of the year at O'Hare, it's quiet and relaxed at the moment. From curb to the other side of security took 14 minutes, which isn't a record for me but obviously didn't bother me either.
After a short flight, I'll have curry at Kennedy's tonight with some classmates, then Christmas with the family.
Remember the three-year-old parking meter privatization that will be former mayor Richard Daley's best-remembered legacy? In another example of how not to negotiate a deal, it turns out the city agreed to pay the parking meter company for lost revenues under what should have been eminently predictable circumstances:
Financial statements for the company show that CPM has billed the city an additional $2,191,326 in “True-up Revenue” through the end of 2010.
Under the contract, the city is given an 8% annual allowance for required meter closures in the Central Business District, and a 4% allowance everywhere else. After the annual allowance is exceeded, any metered space(s) closed for more than six hours in a day or for six total hours over three consecutive days, the city must pay the meter company for the lost revenue from that metered space(s) for that entire day.
In other words, if the metered space is closed for six hours, the city is on the hook for the estimated revenue for the total number of hours the meter is in operation. Most meters are in operation no less than 13 hours a day.
Remember that the city council voted on the 500-page contract only a few hours after receiving a copy. The city leased the meters for $1.16 bn, almost $3 bn less than a conservative cash-flow analysis suggested at the time and $7-8 bn less than high-end estimates.
In Chicago, we joke about how much we tolerate small-scale local corruption. The parking meter lease violated even that standard; the council should abrogate the deal, and investigate why it happened in the first place. Of course, I think we already know the answer to that: some people got really rich off it. And taxpayers in Chicago got screwed.
I'm still banging away at software today—why is this damn socket exception thrown under small loads?—so I only have a minute to post some stuff I found interesting:
- Chicago and the State of Illinois are planning the largest urban park in the world in the mostly-abandoned Lake Calumet and South Works areas of the south side.
- It looks like the far-right has hijacked Hungary's government, in the way that right-wing governments do, which should remind everyone who lives in a democracy how fragile the form of government can be.
- The Atlantic's Ta-Nahesi Coates has one of the best definitions of bigotry I've encountered: "The bigot is never to blame. Always is he besieged--by gays and their radical agenda, by women and their miniskirts, by fleet-footed blacks. It is an ideology of 'not my fault.' "
- I have tentatively decided that Facebook's Timeline feature is cool, while at the same time recognizing how it once again makes it harder for average users to control the privacy of their data on the site.
More updates as events warrant.
The T-Mobile acquisition is dead, dead, dead:
AT&T is ending its $39 billion bid to buy T-Mobile USA, citing fierce government objections.
"From the first day that this deal was announced, we have warned regulators, lawmakers, and consumers of the dangerous consequences of this merger," said Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union, according to its website The Consumerist. "Regulators clearly saw through AT&T's claims of better service and saw what we saw - a combined AT&T/T-Mobile would mean higher prices and fewer choices for consumers. It would mean a wireless market dominated by a powerful duopoly with little incentive to compete with other carriers."
In related news, Kim Jong Il is also dead, leading to the joke that god let Havel and Hitchens pick the third. (Hitch would actually be horrified by the suggestion.)
Jon Bon Jovi, however, remains alive.
Swamped with client work, getting ready for Xmas, traveling hither and yon—tomorrow, at least, will be quieter.