Monthly Archives: May 2011

And Now For Some (Almost) Porn

It’s probably a sign that there’s something wrong with me, but somehow I find this video charming. It’s composed entirely of just-before-things-get-naughty scenes from porno movies. I guess that knowing what happens next produces a certain tension with the innocent music and images.

Warning: In and of itself, it’s safe for work, but technically these are scenes of porn stars in pornographic movies. Also, younger and more sensitive viewers may find the ’80’s hair styles disturbing.

(Hat tip: Radley Balko)

in Sex

Make Them Stop Taking Our Computers

There are many things wrong in this story, but let me focus on this one for the moment:

That’s right, not only were they forced to live under the accusation of being child pornographers, but the FBI naturally had to seize all their computers, since they contained all the evidence.  Like nice pictures of their cat Fluffy.  Shouldn’t that have had some impact on the FBI’s allegations?

(because they confused a game about hacking with actual hacking) they put the gaming company out of business by taking their computers, although even they didn’t take all the computers:Secret Service raided Steve Jackson gamesThe seizing of computers by law enforcement has always been abusive, even in the earliest days. When the

files; other systems were left in place. In their diligent search for evidence, the agents also cut off locks, forced open footlockers, tore up dozens of boxes in the warehouse, and bent two of the office letter openers attempting to pick the lock on a file cabinet.GURPS CyberpunkThe only computers taken were those with

The next day, accompanied by an attorney, Steve Jackson visited the Austin offices of the Secret Service. He had been promised that he could make copies of the company’s files. As it turned out, he was only allowed to copy a few files, and only from one system.

Nowadays, apparently, even a raid for possession of child porn results in all computers being seized and held for years.

When police want to search a house, they can’t lock out the legal occupants for years, so why should they be able to keep people out of the digital equivalents of their homes? If there isn’t an organization out there working to revise these laws, then maybe I ought to start one…

There might be a legal issue with using second-best evidence (a copy instead of the original drive), but that sounds like something that could be fixed with a statute. Civil courts have been working around the problem for decades.

What makes this especially abusive is that it is technically unnecessary: Law enforcement officers could take a forensic mage of a computer’s hard drive in just a few hours. At worst, they’d have to seize computers for a day or two before giving them back. Then they could search for what they need without incapacitating anyone.

My computer contains has about 2 terabytes of hard drive storage (not including disks used for RAID or backups). Making the generous assumption that an average book requires a full megabyte of storage, that’s enought to store about 2 million books. Now, noting especially the use of the word “particular” in the Fourth Amendment, does it seem reasonable to assume that the Founding Fathers intended to allow the the government to seize, with a single warrant, more data than all of the Founding Fathers combined had in all their papers and personal libraries?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

If the Supreme Court hadn’t completely gutted the Fourth Amendment, this would surely be unconstitutional.

(I have backups, but I assume the invading law enforcement agents would take all those too. And my offsite backups only cover critical stuff — I’d still have a lot to put together.)

on our computers — all our email, all our financial and legal records, everything both of us do for a living, and much of what we do for fun. our whole livesMy wife and I keep I keep Losing them would be a huge disaster, second only to losing our entire home.

Hail to the King, Baby!

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After one final delay (see Gearbox studio head Randy Pitchford’s gracious apology), the long, long, long awaited video game Duke Nukem Forever (a.k.a. “The Chinese Democracy of video games”) is scheduled to ship on June 14, and it’s already gone gold in pre-orders.

Check out the latest trailer:

I think I actually prefer this older trailer which came out a few months ago:

I am beside myself.

Libertarianism and the Need For Compassion

A few weeks ago, Peter Moskos asked the folks at The Agitator to explain a few things about libertarianism and the need for compassion. Now, in a fit of shameless self-promotion, I’d like to link to my three part answer at Nobody’s Business:

Taken together, these form a sort of introduction to libertarianism for those who believe in the social safety net.

Disappointed!

What a friggin’ waste of my time! It’s now 6:22 pm local time and still no Rapture. It was supposed to start at 6:00 pm and I was all ready for it. I had my camera with a basic theodolite setup, and pointing directly towards a local church. Being in a typical American city, there are churches every few blocks, of course, so I was ready to slew the camera towards at least one more church as well.

After all, there must be at least some of the pastors and priests or nuns who would get the final calling.
By getting a few directional and angle fixes, plus knowing the distances to the churches, I should have been able to calculate the precise direction of Heaven. At just before 6:04 local time I thought I saw something and took my first fix.
Rapture Photo_003.JPG
It turned out to be nothing but a bird landing in that tree on the left.
Talk about crappy luck. I had the equipment and procedure all setup and ready for a major discovery and nothing happens but a bird landing on a tree.
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Update at 9:11 pm

See Ya

So I hear that someone somewhere is saying the rapture will happen tomorrow. Of course, for my Jewish and Muslim readers this is no big deal, since everyone knows that only Christians are eligible for rapture. Actually, as my co-blogger Ken pointed out to me the other day, only the really good Christians will be raptured. The rest have to stay here to slug it out with the antichrist like everyone else.

As for readers of this blog, I expect to see all of you still here come Sunday morning.

TYMURS=UNABOM?

Well…I sure didn’t see this one coming:

CHICAGO — The FBI has requested a DNA sample from “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski as part of its investigation into the 1982 deaths of seven Chicago-area people who took cyanide-laced Tylenol from packages that had been tampered with, officials said Thursday.

Wouldn’t that be something? Damn. I remember the Tylenol poisonings. In a way, we all do, every day. Some of you youngsters may not realize this, so…

You know how when you get a bottle of pills or a jar of cheese spread, and you have to tear off that plastic wrapper before you can unscrew the cap? Thirty years ago, there was no such thing. Thirty years ago, hardly any food or medicine products came with tamper-evident packaging.

Then, in 1982, seven people in and around Chicago died after taking Tylenol that had been laced with potassium cyanide. It was a pretty scary time: If the killer could put poison in Tylenol, couldn’t he could put poison in any other medicine or food? And couldn’t anyone else who had a grudge against society?

Over the next few years, we began putting little plastic wrappers on every food or medicine that opened with a cap. Every time you scrape your fingers trying to peel one of those off, it’s because of the Tylenol murders.

The Tylenol killer has never been caught, although there have been at least two copycat poisoning murders, both of which were attempts to distract authorities from a single specific person who was the intended victim. It remains one of the FBI’s biggest unsolved cases. It would be amazing if they could pin this on Kaczynski. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone talking about him as a suspect for the Tylenol killings before.

On the other hand,

John Balasz, Kaczynski’s attorney, said he thinks the FBI wants Kaczynski’s DNA simply to rule him out as a suspect in the Tylenol case.

“You’ve got to ask the FBI how serious they are. I think it’s probably more that they want to exclude him,” he said.

Balasz said he’s “completely convinced” that Kaczynski had no involvement in the case.

Frankly, the government has a shaky record in this area. Just ask “person of interest” Steven Hatfill. And when the government finally decided he wasn’t responsible for the antrax letters (and paid him millions of dollars in damages), they picked a new suspect who was conveniently too dead to defend himself. So I’m not about to jump to any conclusions about Kaczynski as the Tylenol killer.

Gaming Alexa Blawg Rankings

About a month ago, although he expressed some doubts about the meaningfulness of blog ranking systems, Jamison Koehler published a list of 26 legal blogs along with their ranks according to the Alexa traffic rank tool. His blog’s Alexa rank of 2,011,842 put him at number 12 on the list, just behind me at number 11 with my Alexa rank of 2,011,820.

Koehler took it like a gentleman:

Damn that Mark Draughn: Out of the tens of thousands of website rankings, Windypundit edges me out by a mere 22 places.

Although Alexa is a popular ranking system with advertisers and marketers, I think Jamison is right that these ranking systems are kind of meaningless. To prove it, I applied a few tricks that I’d heard could be used to game Alexa rankings, and then in a comment to Jamison’s post, I offered to demonstrate:

I think Alexa is fairly easy to game. Check back in a month to see if I’m right.

That was a month ago today, and here’s where everybody stands now:

RankBlogAlexa RankPrevious Rank%Change
1Simple Justice184,3791—232,83820.812%
2MyShingle321,3052—311,844-3.034%
3Popehat528,9173—578,3858.553%
4Austin Criminal Defense Blog710,5204—685,552-3.642%
5My Law License831,0525—981,35615.316%
6Windypundit871,07611—2,011,82056.702%
7Defending People888,8216—983,0109.582%
8Underdog1,263,5967—1,378,7068.349%
9Koehler Law1,342,65312—2,011,84233.263%
10A Public Defender1,402,1148—1,480,5385.297%
11Norm Pattis2,489,0819—1,687,668-47.486%
12CrimLaw2,750,57314—2,989,6777.998%
13Not Guilty2,838,49810—1,692,511-67.709%
14The Trial Warrior3,090,68115—3,193,7033.226%
15Probable Cause3,322,23913—2,543,238-30.630%
16The Defense Rests4,325,09316—4,137,986-4.522%
17Infamy or Praise4,367,65420—6,343,70131.150%
18Military Underdog4,860,02822—6,954,69530.119%
19Gamso – For The Defense5,372,04417—5,412,5550.748%
20Blonde Justice5,588,15721—6,535,40714.494%
21Chandler Criminal Defense5,812,59218—6,162,4115.677%
22Liberty & Justice for Y’all7,078,12124—8,261,28214.322%
23DA Confidential7,376,56123—7,266,259-1.518%
24DC Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog10,855,00925—8,860,327-22.513%
25Chicago Criminal Defense11,067,40926—13,712,11919.287%
26In Your Defense17,005,31519—6,235,707-172.709%

As you can see, a few people have moved around, but my blog Windypundit was by far the biggest gainer as a percentage of it’s original position, jumping 56% or 1,140,744 places to land in the number 6 spot on the blog list. Other people jumped more places, but they both started and ended with Alexa ranks that were at least 2 million below mine, and they did not gain as much on a percentage basis.

I think this proves that I was able to game Alexa fairly easily. I may keep this going for a while longer to see if I can push it any higher.

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