Political Bloggers May Be Forced to Register

If something like this gets passed, then it’s a guarantee that there
will be a serious upswing in the number of anonymously published blogs.
I don’t care if somebody’s got a million readers, that doesn’t make them
a lobbyist and even if it did, having to register with the federal
government …. EW… <User Shudders>

Bloggers May Be Forced to Register

Thebes writes "Under Senate Bill S.1, political bloggers with a
readership of over 500 who comment on policy matters or hope to incite
‘grassroots’ action amongst their readers would be forced to register
with the Federal Government as lobbyists."


The Panic

I was busily working away at trying to solve a particularly stubborn problem late last night when there was a sudden frantic pounding on my door.  Against my better judgement I decided to go ahead and answer it, if only to stop the infernal pounding.

When I opened the door Lucas rushed in, very much in an almost total panic.  It took me a few minutes to calm him down and find out what the problem was.  Finally he managed to say teenage girl gifts.  I actually had to think about that because it didn’t register right off.

“You mean you need to buy gifts for a teenage girl?”  I asked.  “yeah, but I’ve never done that before and I dunno what to get” he managed to say.

Well, I had to admit that he had a problem alright.  but I explained to him that while teen girls can be hard to buy for, there are some basic things that most of them will like.

Aside from the old staples of chocolates and flowers it depends on what her tastes are.  Is she into movies, then finding out her favorite type of movie lets you get something that she will probably like.  The same goes for books if she’s one of the few that still bother to read.

Jewelry is almost always a hit as well.  If she is an artist type then perhaps some kind of art supplies or a painting by some artist she likes.  Then there’s more modern standbys like MP3 players, cell phones or computers.

Really all it takes is a bit of thought and knowing a bit about the girl you’re buying for.  There really isn’t any need to be in quite that much of a panic.

One very important consideration is that teen girls are a lot like older women in that the one thing you DON’T want to do is buy them something “practical”.  Oh they’ll be nice about it to your face but you can bet you will land in the doghouse for weeks and the item will sit unused in a closet somewhere forever.

Watch Out For The Ritis Brothers

The Ritis Brothers are a pair of real characters.  They’re one of the closest things that Nutjob Hills has to real life examples of “super villains”.

To be fair, they are both not criminally inclined, Ben Ritis is a (mostly) upstanding citizen and usually tries to do what’s right.  Arthur Ritis on the other hand, has been a continuous figurative and literal pain since he was old enough to reach an open cash register drawer.

Arthur is the oldest of the pair and his younger brother Ben has always looked up to him and will do anything Arthur wants him to, regardless of the consequences.  Last week they were attempting to pull of a job at a local warehouse and Ben, following Arthur’s orders to cause a distraction to allow Arthur to escape, fell into a shipment of glucosamine chondroitin msm.  Not only did his brother escape, Ben was nearly smothered in the stuff.  Two rescue workers ended up pretty much getting a bath in it trying to save him.

The next day, a slick talking, high priced lawyer showed up in court and had a lot of words for the judge.  Next thing you know Ben is free to go with nothing on his record.  You can just bet that Arthur is behind that lawyer somewhere.

Technorati Tags: ritis brothers, nutjob hills, pain, pain in the

Kaspersky CEO Wants To End Online Anonymity

I just saw this little gem on Slashdot this morning:

Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of well-known computer security
company Kaspersky Labs, is calling for an end to the anonymity of the
Internet, and for the creation of mandatory ‘Internet passports’ for
anyone who wishes to browse the Web

The very first thought I had after reading this and the articles on The Register and ZDNet Asia that it referred to was “This guy must have had an overdose of diet pills and they’ve caused his brain to shrivel up into something the size of a piece of buckshot.”  Then again of course there’s reason for him to think like that.  Just looking up the Wikipedia entry on him gives the first clue:

Kaspersky graduated from the Institute of Cryptography, Telecommunications and Computer Science, an institute co-sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Defence and the KGB in 1987

Given his history, I suppose it’s no wonder that he wants to eliminate anonymity but it’s obvious to me that he’s not thinking quite clearly here.  You see, while it is true that there’s a lot of people that abuse anonymity either to harass people or for criminal purposes that number is actually a small but extremely vocal minority.  Those who most need to make use of anonymity are, by definition, absolutely not interested in being noticed.

I’ve seen it said many times “If you’re not doing anything illegal then you have nothing to worry about.” or words to that effect and to that I respond Bullshit!, some things are just nobody’s flipping business!

Anonymity is necessary in order to have true freedom of speech.  It is the one way that unpopular speech can truly be protected and lets be clear about something.  Just because something is unpopular doesn’t mean that it’s wrong or that somebody doesn’t have the right to say it.  They do however, have the right to express themselves without fear of reprisal from oppressive governments, corporate entities, or just plain crazy people who might decide to oppress their speech with a shotgun if they knew their identity.

Everything is NOT everybody’s business.  That old reporter’s saw “The people have a right to know everything about everyone” is a damned lie straight from the pits of hell.  I myself frequently use both anonymity and encryption tools to conceal some of my activities online, not because I’m doing (or planning) anything illegal or that I’m being an ugly troll on some message board or blog, instead it’s but because what websites I visit, whom I communicate with and what I say to them is quite simply none of anybody’s business but mine and I want to keep it that way.

Others require anonymity in order to be safe from retaliation because they made the mistake of telling the truth about what some governments have been up to.  A very good read on the subject is “Dissent Made Safer: How anonymity technology could save free speech on the Internet.“.  You can also find more on the TOR website’s “Who Uses TOR?” page, the TOR Overview page also goes into detail about Why we need Tor and the Electronic Frontier Foundation is another source of plenty of reasons why anonymity is important.

“Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind.” Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60, 64 (1960). Great works of literature have frequently been produced by authors writing under assumed names.  Despite readers’ curiosity and the public’s interest in identifying the creator of a work of art, an author is generally free to decide whether or not to disclose his or her true identity. The decision in favor of anonymity may be motivated by fear of economic or official retaliation, by concern about social ostracism, or merely by a desire to preserve as much of one’s privacy as possible. Whatever the motivation may be…the interest in having anonymous works enter the marketplace of ideas unquestionably outweighs any public interest in requiring disclosure as a condition of entry. Accordingly, an author’s decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning omissions or additions to the content of a publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.” — US Supreme Court McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm

In closing I’ll say that I actually found it quite entertaining to read the comments on Slashdot about this story and I don’t doubt that Mr. Kaspersky has quite probably signed the virtual death warrant of his company because I have no doubt at all that this will inspire many sysadmins and IT people to look elsewhere for their security software solutions.  I know *I* will never buy his stuff.

Technorati Tags: fear of retaliation, privacy, kaspersky, freedom of speech, not your business, anonymity, oppressive governments, tor

Nominee For Email Of The Year

Anybody that knows me knows that 99.999999% of the time any email I get that says or in any way implies that it should be forwarded on is going to hit my trash folder fast enough to leave a trail of Cherenkov radiation and set off neutrino detectors all over the planet.  I’m actually that bad about it.

However when I read this email from my sister it was both funny and factual enough that it really deserves to be shared.  So instead of pummeling people’s inboxes with it I decided that I would post it here instead.

The subject line was: NOMINEE FOR “EMAIL OF THE YEAR”!!!

After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:

Let me see if I’ve got this right.

You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.

You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride..

You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.

You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.

You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.

You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.

You want me to do all this and then you tell me. . . I CAN’T PRAY?

Talk about your basic DUH! moments!  If anybody ever needed prayer it’s teachers.

Technorati Tags: teachers, prayer, teachers need prayer, email, prayer in school

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