June 28, 2007
When told of the lengths Packer has gone to to be at major events and meet celebrities, Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University professor of pop culture, said Packer has turned a passion into an art form.
"If you're totally obsessed with Shakespeare and James Joyce and go to the ends of the earth researching them, we call you an English professor," Thompson said. "This guy has chosen his body of art to consume, it just so happens he can't make a living off of it. The only fundamental difference is he doesn't have tenure."
Greg Packer is the first guy in line to buy an iPhone this morning.
But listen to me: English Professors are not artists by virtue of their obsession with a writer. If you write fiction, then you may be an artist, but simply being a professor doesn't.
I get tired of this cliche, the one that refers to every parsimonious solution or tenacious effort as art. It's not art.
And there is a deeper fundamental difference than tenure between a professor and the guy who waits in lines for things.
I hope that guy was joking when he uttered those things.
PALERMO, Italy (Reuters) - A teacher who forced a pupil to write "I am a retard" 100 times was acquitted by an Italian court on Wednesday of abuse charges.
Reuters, Reuters, Reuters.
That lead and that headline are a leeeetle bit misleading. Way down at the end of the story they clarify:
In Italian, she made the boy write: "Io sono deficiente," which literally means "deficient" but is more commonly used as a disparaging term meaning "moron" or "mentally retarded.
Apparently, she issued this punishment after the deficiente harassed another boy and called the other boy a froscio. So, gay rights people actually sided with this teacher and called for the acquittal.
I think there are more effective ways to punish children than what was done here and I'm really perplexed as to why anyone would support such foolishness. This is one of the reasons I'm not very active in the gay "community." I refuse to agree with people on issues just because they like the same kind of sex I like.
June 21, 2007
It's all down here from here... until December, anyway.
Variety: Perez Hilton blog having problems
In what may be the first hit against bloggerazzi star Perez Hilton's empire, his main webhost has dropped Perezhilton.com.
After numerous warnings against Hilton's (aka Mario Lavandeira) use of copyrighted celebrity images, the Oz-based Crucial Paradigm took the site off line; it was dark for a number of hours before it returned to the Internet with a different host.
Hilton is currently named in four lawsuits involving eight photo agencies for his alleged theft of photographs that appear on his site, one that's been a popular gossip destination for some 2½ years. Hilton frequently adds his own captions to the shots.
Hilton, who has contended that his actions fall under the fair use provision of the Copyright Act, did not respond to Daily Variety.
As I told Buddhista, I predict that Mr. Lavandeira is going to lose this suit. She and I agree that he SHOULD lose the suit.
From the U.S. Copyright Office:
Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:
1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
I wrote back to Buddhista with my take on the law behind this.
On the first rule,he loses because his site does generate commercial revenue through advertising and there's no way that his site could be considered non-profit.
His defense might claim that his site is for personal use, but the copyright law restricts that as well and that argument doesn’t exactly apply to the internet which is more comparable to a broadcast transmission.
For the second and third rules, I think he loses because he is reproducing the photos in whole and his scribbled captions do not constitute any significant modification of the material in a way that could be construed as artistic, scholarly, or anything else that might even remotely excuse the reproduction.
Finally, his site is effectively a tabloid, which places it in direct competition with the market to which companies like X17 sell their photos. By reproducing the photos, he is eroding the market value because the print or commercial online tabloids will protest paying higher prices due to the competition presented by perezhilton.com.
Frankly, I’m surprised that he’s been allowed to persist for two and a half years.
Buddhist put it more simply:
I think he should lose. He is making money directly off of other people’s work. That is robbery.
Perez does usually have the latest celebrity gossip, but he is a bit to snarky and dark for my tastes, so I never read his site. I much prefer Pink is the New Blog.
Trent Venagas who runs "Pink" always gives photo credits and immediately removes any images upon request from the photo owner. (Of course, he really ought to get permission BEFORE using them.) But Trent is much nicer than Mario and I like that.
P.S. Suri Holmes Cruise is a demon. No baby is supposed to be that cute.
June 20, 2007
VIENNA, Va. - A rule against physical contact at a Fairfax County middle school is so strict that students can be sent to the principal's office for hugging, holding hands or even high-fiving.
But at a school of 1,100 students that was meant to accommodate 850, school officials think some touching can turn into a big deal. They've seen pokes lead to fights, gang signs in the form of handshakes or girls who are uncomfortable being hugged but embarrassed to say anything.
How does any rational person agree with this policy? Let's talk about the reasons they give for instituting this draconian policy.
Pokes that lead to fights.
Fighting is against the rules. Touching anyone who doesn't wish to be touched is against the rules.
If someone pokes you and you don't like it, you say, "Excuse me, please don't poke me like that. It makes me uncomfortable." Or you find some other way to tell them not to do it. If they do it again, you alert the authorities because they persist in assaulting you.
You do not start a fight about it.
It doesn't follow that because neither the pokers or the pokees can conduct themselves as civilized people that policies should be made to stop friendly, welcome/accepted, consensual... um... poking.
Gang signs in the form of handshakes
So? I understand that they want to dissuade children from joining gangs and prevent their proliferation, but I am certain that the cornerstone of the gang-mentality is not handshaking or even the gang signs themselves.
Outlawing touching to prevent gangs is like installing a window to keep out the sun.
Girls who are uncomfortable being hugged but embarrassed to say anything
These ladies need to grow up.
Unfortunately, what this shows isn't that some people are fools, because that isn't a revelation. Instead, this is yet another reason why public schools do not work and should be dissolved.
Keep the government out of education!
June 19, 2007
Circumcision is a completely superfluous procedure and amounts to nothing more than male genital mutilation. Foreskin is not a health risk. It is not any more dirty. And aesthetically, foreskin has been included in marble sculptures for millenia.
The foreskin contains a lot of nerve endings that make the sexual experience more pleasant. You wouldn't have your daughter's clitoris or labia removed, so why are you cutting off your son's foreskin?
The foreskin also serves as protection and a lubricating membrane for the penis as well.
Anyway, I'm against circumcision and I'm glad to hear that fewer parents are choosing to mangle their baby boys like that.
Update: Here's the CNN article on the same report:
According to a study by the National Health and Social Life Survey, the U.S. circumcision rate peaked at nearly 90 percent in the early 1960s but began dropping in the '70s. By 2004, the most recent year for which government figures are available, about 57 percent of all male newborns delivered in hospitals were circumcised. In some states, the rate is well below 50 percent.
Experts say immigration patterns play the biggest role in the decline, which is steepest in Western states with big populations from Asian and Latin American countries where circumcision is uncommon. The trend has also accompanied a change in Americans' attitudes toward medicine and their bodies.
"The rates of drug-free labor and breast-feeding all rose during the 1980s, while the initial declines in male circumcision rates began during the 1980s as well," said Katharine Barrett, an anthropology lecturer at Stanford University. "It may have been part and parcel of the wider effort to reclaim bodies -- adult female and infant male -- from unnecessary and potentially harmful medical interventions."
The article has some interesting statistics and discusses some of the very dubious claims about the benefits of circumcision.
Though I was circumsized (my mother has since apologized.) I remain staunchly opposed to the procedure, but I'd like to highlight one more aspect of the circumcision tradition:
Ruth Katz, 38, of San Francisco had both her sons circumcised at brises. She and her husband, Michael Rapaport, were astonished when the teacher in their birthing class described circumcision as "immoral" and "not consensual."
"The edict to have your son circumcised was the first covenant with God -- the first challenge to being Jewish," said Katz, pursuing a master's degree in business administration. "I am a progressive person and think a lot about human rights issues, but I have never questioned this
So, there you go. God said so. All the more reason not to do it.
Point of fact: it is a violation of the child's right to his own person and is, therefore, immoral.
I understand that the unfortunate decision is often made in ignorance. Many people are taught that having a foreskin is bad or something, and in the chaotic, emotional period immediately following the birth, people don't have time to weigh all the options and information. And, understandably, when preparing for the birth of a child, foreskin is not at the front of one's considerations.
So, I'm not upset or angry with my mother for making the decision she made and what's done is done. But these people who walk into the situation informed, but decide to do it because God told them to are not so easily excused.
Circumcision is a sin.
June 15, 2007
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German banker who stole money from rich clients to help poor ones has been sentenced to two years and 10 months in prison, a court said Thursday. The 45-year-old, dubbed by German media as a modern day Robin Hood, diverted 2.1 million euros ($2.79 million) to clients he felt were needy while holding a senior position at a savings bank in the southern region of Tauberfranken.
Good. I'm glad that fool is going to jail.
Stealing is evil and wrong. Being poor is not.
June 12, 2007
WASHINGTON — The Air Force on Tuesday confirmed a report that in 1994 a military researcher requested $7.5 million to develop a non-lethal "love bomb" that would chemically alter the state of mind of enemy troops and make them want to have sex with each other rather than fight.
Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Cathy Reardon said the idea was proposed by an Air Force researcher at a lab at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas, but it was rejected by the Defense Department. Officials noted that the Air Force constantly is considering funding proposals.
No money was spent, Reardon said, and no such weapons are being considered. The goal was to create a non-lethal weapon to be used against enemy troops.
First reported by KPIX-TV in San Francisco, the discovery of the "gay bomb" proposal came from a Freedom of Information Act request made by Edward Hammond of Berkeley's Sunshine Project, a watchdog group that tracks military spending.
As part of the military's goal of developing non-lethal weapons, the proposal suggested, "One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior."
I'm not sure why that is especially distasteful since as we all know we gays are nothing if not in good taste.
Update 2: Since I've seen a couple of blogs comment on this, I want to make one serious comment on the story.
It amazes me that any intelligent person is unable to distinguish between an unchecked, overwhelming urge to have sex and being a homosexual.
Based on what is described by this "plan" some kind of chemical would be released on the enemy combatants and they would be overwhelmed with sexual desire. There is no mention of how they would manage to stop the males from having sex with the females if that's what the males and females prefer anyway. And if no females are available and the males wind up having sex with each other, that doesn't really meet the standards of modern homosexuality but merely makes those men chemically induced participants in a homosexual act -- something a few notable studies have shown is relatively common among heterosexual men.
So, basically, in addition to this idea being absurd on its very face, it demonstrates a staggering ignorance of human sexuality that would preclude those who've proposed it from even coming close to executing this foolish plan.
June 08, 2007
1) That TB guy says that he wasn't told he couldn't travel or that he had a deadly disease. I'm not buying it, because undoubtedly someone said he has TB and that's what TB is. If the doctors failed to make clear the situation to him, well, that's totally effed up.
2) Paris Hilton has some unnamed disease that requires medication and that's why she was let out of jail and put on house arrest. Well, she's back in jail now. I'm wondering what disease she has.
3) Fidel Castro is out of bed and kicking around again. Why won't this monster die?
4) Oh, I can't remember. I'm tired.
June 07, 2007
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Paris Hilton was let out of jail Thursday morning, just three days after she began serving what was originally to have been a 45-day sentence for violating probation, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said at a press conference.
Hilton must wear a monitoring bracelet and remain at her home for another 40 days, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.
I understand that house arrest is a common punishment for people who commit relatively minor crimes like DUI and probation violation, but this arrangement smacks of special treatment.
Sources allege that Miss Hilton was released to house arrest after medical complaints and complaints about the food in jail.
Whitmore said that after "extensive consultation with medical personnel" it was decided to offer Hilton "reassignment" to home confinement, which she and her lawyers accepted.
Part of the deal was that her original sentence of 45 days, which had been reduced to 23 days if she showed good behavior behind bars, would be restored to the full length.
Hilton was arrested on charges of drunken driving in September.
In January, she pleaded no contest to a charge of alcohol-related reckless driving. She was sentenced to three years' probation and had her license suspended.
In February, she was caught driving on a suspended license, a crime later ruled a probation violation.
Mind you, she's been photographed driving since her sentencing, too.
I'm sure that she'll learn her lesson while sulking around her 40 acre estate, being visited by friends, and catered to by servants. It's draconian, really.
"They can't do this to me; I'm rich!"
June 04, 2007
June 4, 2007 -- The city's youngest high-fliers are pampered campers whose parents are paying big bucks to jet them off in style to their summer vacations.
In some cases, parents are spending thousands to save kids a bus ride of less than an hour.
The charter company Revolution Air has assigned more than 20 private jets to fly children to summer camp at the end of June, at a cost of about $8,000 a flight.
To cater to their young clients, the company has developed a special menu, including peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches, chicken fingers and ice-cream sundaes.
Property developer and mother of three Robin O'Hara is sending her 8-year-old, Danielle, on a 30-minute flight to Lake Bryn Mawr Camp in Honesdale, Pa.
"The bus takes 31/2 hours. It is crowded, and it's always a very dramatic scene," said O'Hara, of Great Neck, L.I.
"This year, she is not going with her [older] sisters, so we want to make it a special, unique experience for her.
"It's a trend. A lot of my friends do it," O'Hara said. "They play videos, they serve kids' food, sometimes, we'll have a manicurist on board."
As I told one of my coworkers, my kids will be lucky if they aren't strapped to the hood of the car in order to build character.
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