No title 14

Journalists who write about government spending get clobbered on a regular basis for using the term “budget cut” to describe a smaller-than-expected rate of increase. Why don’t business writers get clobbered for doing the same thing when they tally holiday spending?

More of this article at Xmas Sales Did Not Tank

No title 13

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has a site where you can submit comments, ideas and analyses regarding reauthorization of the nation’s surface transportation programs.� In English, that means you can�expound upon�about bikes, trains and automobiles; public transportation in general or what causes you problems on the freeway.� Act quick: the last day to submit your thoughts is 1/1/03.

There is also a lot of entertainment available from the people that got there before you, who wrote about everything from being stuck in a traffic jam to submitting their resumes.

No title 12

This article about Big Content suing 321 Studios pretty well proves to me that all the talk about needing copy protection is really about controlling the consumer and not about piracy.� The studios are asking a judge to stop the firm from selling or distributing�its software because it violates the DMCA.� But copies made with the latest version of their software include watermarks that identify the original owner so that any versions making their way onto the Internet or the black market can be traced. The software also does not allow copies to be made from copies. That pretty much covers allowing fair use without providing a tool to trade content; and it provides a mechanism to trace back to the “pirate” that posts content on the internet.

Visa Redefined: How Will Groucho Get to Casablanca?

In October 2002, credit card giant Visa convinced a Las Vegas federal court to prevent the small business JSL Corp. from using the term “evisa” and the domain “” for its website offering travel, foreign language, and other multilingual applications and services. The court ruled that the website “diluted” Visa’s trademark, even though the site uses the word “visa” in its ordinary dictionary definition, not in relation to credit card services. Source: EFF, 3D Tree, Wired.

It seems that Groucho had similar problems.

March 7, 2003 7:30 AM Update

The original link is gone.  (Perhaps the Marx heirs claimed copyright infringement on Groucho’s letter.)

The story goes that while working on the movie “A Night in Casablanca”, the Marx brothers received a letter from Warner Bros. threatening legal action if they did not change the film’s title. Warner Bros. deemed the film’s title too similar to their own Casablanca, released almost five years earlier in 1942. In response Groucho Marx dispatched a very Marxian letter to the studio’s legal department.  There are two links to it below.  Hopefully one will keep working.

Groucho’s Warner Brothers dispute at Chilling Effects
Here it is at The Register (UK)

No title 10

A great new comic: Lab Inito. It will take me a few days to go through these: there are hundreds of comics about science, philosophy and a few bad puns. So I guess that it’s not really a new comic if there’s that many of them. All are very well drawn — I can’t believe that this guy isn’t published somewhere.

No title 9

Worth1000 has themed contests for users of PhotoShop. There are hundreds of incredible pictures made by manipulating and merging photos and works of art. As a minimum, check out their Top 25 images. I spent an hour checking out some of the contest entries. (Just because it’s on the web doesn’t make it a waste of time. It’s like looking at an art book that doesn’t clutter the coffee table when you’re done.

No title 8

Lifted, then edited, from boingboing. The whole speech is worth reading, it’s not that much longer, but I include this because it seems everyone has ADD when there’s more then a couple of sentences involved:

Ken Hertz’s 2002 ACLU Bill of Rights Award speech: What’s wrong with the war on ‘Net piracy?
Here‘s a copy of the acceptance speech given by entertainment industry attorney Ken Hertz (of the firm Goldring, Hertz, Lichtenstein and Haft, LLP) at last week’s ACLU Bill of Rights Award dinner.

For those unfamiliar with Mr. Hertz’ distinguished career, the significance of his speech–and his firm’s stance on the issues at hand–should not be underestimated: “Ken represents Will Smith and Alanis Morissette (last I checked, amonst others, might want to confirm)… Not aware of others publicly endorsing a compuslory as a solution to P2P trading; they could be first. For these reasons this speech is no small matter.

Speech excerpt:

I’ve gained weight. I eat poorly. I don’t exercise enough. I’ve gotten older and it’s harder to take it off or keep it off. So I was more than a little intrigued by a recent commercial for a prescription medication designed to help people like me lose weight. Somewhere towards the end of the commercial, the announcer adds in a very pleasant voice, that the possible side effects might include: oily spotting, gas with discharge, uncontrollable bowel movements, and primary pulmonary hypertension — which is fatal to 45% of its victims. The treatment — it seems — can be worse than the problem. You see, you can’t treat a disease like obesity by only attacking its symptoms. Treating the symptoms and ignoring the underlying problem can allow the problem to fester — and worsen.(…)

How do the War on Crime, the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism and my personal War on Obesity, relate to the entertainment industry’s War on Internet Piracy? Our point is that treating the symptoms without addressing the problem will only worsen the problem and generate more daunting symptoms. (…)

Peer to peer file sharing is really just interactive radio — consumers get to listen to exactly what they want — when they want it. This demand is not addressed by the record industry. In fact, it can’t be offered legally at any price. And as I think I’ve illustrated, technology and reality will insure that supply finds its way to meet that demand.

No title 6

I’ve been overly distracted with trying to obtain medical insurance. A major rant is coming up about how they try to make sure you can’t get it, and Bush’s solution of “tax credits” won’t begin to address the problem.

But I did have time for some fun. The reverse cowgirl’s blog is updated more than once a day, and is wonderfully raunchy. Plan on spending a few minutes there every day. It will end up taking a lot more time than you planned on.

The other item that took up my time is the news that it looks like the last corporate holdout against Big Content, Philips Electronics, has gone along with the herd. Soon we won’t be able to record shows off the television and that TIVO isn’t going to very much use.

No title 5

I also found this interesting rant-that-insists-it-isn’t called Windows XP Shows the Direction Microsoft is Going. It’s very long, geeky reading. Along with reasons why MS releases buggy products and how XP invades your privacy, one of the more interesting parts to me is how reliant Windows is becoming on being attached to the web, or more specifically to the servers at MS.

Take that requirement, along with the current EULAs (End User License Agreement. For a lot of the software you get, you don’t buy it — you license it. You don’t have the right to resell it or give it to anyone else. And although you paid for it, the company you bought it from can revoke your license so that you can no longer use it.), and we’re another step closer to renting software that will have an expiration date.