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Friday, September 29, 2006 
florida congressman resigns over naughty emails to teenage boys
yesterday, a story surfaced about a 16-year-old congressional page who was concerned about emails he received from rep mark foley (R-FL). foley's campaign claimed the emails were totally innocent and foley was only guilty of being friendly. the boy thought the emails were creepy; the insinuation was that foley was trying to groom the boy for sex.

today, foley has resigned from congress:

Saying he was "deeply sorry," Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) resigned from Congress today, hours after ABC News questioned him about sexually explicit internet messages with current and former congressional pages under the age of 18.

A spokesman for Foley, the chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, said the congressman submitted his resignation in a letter late this afternoon to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

Hours earlier, ABC News had read excerpts of instant messages provided by former male pages who said the congressman, under the AOL Instant Messenger screen name Maf54, made repeated references to sexual organs and acts.

crazy stuff. tpm muckraker notes that foley's resignation virtually ensures that a democrat will now win his seat: even if the GOP finds a suitable replacement for foley, foley's name will be the one on the ballot.

update: abc news now has more, including a PDF of an (alleged) explicit chat between foley and a teenaged page. in the chat, foley and the page have a long discussion about preferred masturbation techniques, with foley repeatedly mentioning that he is "stiff". then foley notes that he'd love to grab the page's penis, before asking the page to "get a ruler and measure it for me". the page responds that "ive already told you that" before stating that it is "7 and 1/2" (presumably inches).

abc also notes:

In Congress, Rep. Foley (R-FL) was part of the Republican leadership and the chairman of the House caucus on missing and exploited children.

He crusaded for tough laws against those who used the Internet for sexual exploitation of children.

Federal authorities say such messages could result in Foley's prosecution, under some of the same laws he helped to enact.

"Adds up to soliciting underage children for sex," said Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and now an ABC News consultant. "And what it amounts to is serious both state and federal violations that could potentially get you a number of years."

furthermore, josh marshall and tpm muckraker point out that republican leadership (or at least the NRCC) has known about some of these allegations for 10 or 11 months and apparently did nothing about them.

more on the mortgage fraud ring
one of the disadvantages of blogging at 2am is that you'll get to see some of the content from the "next day's" paper, but you won't necessarily see all of it.

the indy star has a much longer, more detailed story up than the one i linked to last night:

To dupe the buyers, the suit alleges that Penn's mom and sister recruited potential buyers, checked out their credit and rushed them through the signing of loan documents. They required no payments from these buyers, promised them cash payments in return and assured them that they would not own these homes or be liable for the mortgage payments.

But the buyers were liable. And the documents they signed were key for the Penns to convince Countrywide to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars, Countrywide claims.

That second part of the scheme hinged on Robert and Amy Pollard, loan officers for People's Choice of Kentucky, according to Countrywide's lawsuit. The Pollards' attorney did not return a call for comment.

People's participated in a program with Countrywide called correspondent-lending, in which Countrywide promised to quickly buy newly written mortgages, so long as they were written according to predetermined guidelines. Such mortgages accounted for about 38 percent of Countrywide's $296 billion in residential lending during the first eight months of this year.

The Pollards got loans to cover 80 percent of the home purchase by submitting documents that showed the buyers had access to cash in bank accounts that would cover the remaining 20 percent. In reality, those bank accounts at Union Federal and National City banks were controlled by Robert Penn, Countrywide claims.

For Penn to make the operation profitable, he got three Indianapolis-area appraisers to say the homes were worth more than what Penn paid to acquire them, Countrywide claims.

Ace Appraisal Services of Greenwood, Pinnacle Appraisal Services and Bauter Appraisal Services all participated in Penn's scheme, Countrywide claims. Those companies did not return calls seeking a comment.

Countrywide discovered the scheme, it says, because it noticed so many homes in the same three neighborhoods going into early default.

the star also has another piece that analyzes the neighborhoods where penn bought all those houses:

All three Indianapolis-area neighborhoods hit by the alleged mortgage fraud are practically void of inhabitants, including one on Indianapolis' Eastside that has the look of a place defeated.

At the two others -- town home developments in up-and-coming Westfield -- construction workers are still putting the finishing touches on units that are selling for $180,000 and up.

Fewer than two dozen addresses there were listed in Countrywide Home Loan's lawsuit, half in the nearly 100-unit Oak Trace project, half in Andover Place.

But the Eastside neighborhood of Windsor Village is a much larger mess. The lawsuit names 172 addresses from the neighborhood.

172 addresses in one poor neighborhood, most of them uninhabited. row after row of empty houses, with mortgages in default, "owned" by people in virginia who've never even been to indiana. as the article points out, the virginians who got stuck with the mortgages weren't the only ones who were screwed over here: windsor village is now a "ghost town".

Deborah Mathis, 29, who lives in one of three neighborhood duplexes owned by another of the alleged Martinsville victims, said the place is a pit, and she's looking to move.

"My shower wall fell in, and it's bug-infested," she said. Her stuff is boxed up on the living room floor so she can move quickly when she finds something better for her, her daughter and nieces and nephew.

Often, empty houses are magnets for homeless squatters or drug activity. The house across the street shows signs of such habitation -- some bedding strewn on the kitchen floor. The front doors of other houses are ajar.

Mathis said she has seen none of that. Still, she doesn't let her children walk to the bus stop, even though it's just a block away. "I drive them," she said. "Just being careful."

t-o-r-t-u-r-e, that's the bottom line
in light of the fact that it will now be legal for the government to lock up anyone it wants to indefinitely and torture them, i bring you the video for negativland's "the bottom line", directed by jim gladman.

it's almost hard to believe that this song is nearly 20 years old. (obviously the video is pretty recent... the song is so just so prescient and timely that it screamed out for a video.)

p.s. negativland is performing in chicago at the lakeshore theater on october 28. virago & i will be in attendance, and i know at least a couple people on my blogroll will be there as well.

the torture vote
both houses of congress have now passed the president's "military commissions" bill, which effectively legalizes torture and allows the president to determine that anyone he chooses (anyone, even US citizens) is an "enemy combatant", then hold them without habeas corpus and try them without letting them see the evidence. from the washington post:

Included in the bill, passed by Republican majorities in the Senate yesterday and the House on Wednesday, are unique rules that bar terrorism suspects from challenging their detention or treatment through traditional habeas corpus petitions. They allow prosecutors, under certain conditions, to use evidence collected through hearsay or coercion to seek criminal convictions.

The bill rejects the right to a speedy trial and limits the traditional right to self-representation by requiring that defendants accept military defense attorneys. Panels of military officers need not reach unanimous agreement to win convictions, except in death penalty cases, and appeals must go through a second military panel before reaching a federal civilian court.

By writing into law for the first time the definition of an "unlawful enemy combatant," the bill empowers the executive branch to detain indefinitely anyone it determines to have "purposefully and materially" supported anti-U.S. hostilities. Only foreign nationals among those detainees can be tried by the military commissions, as they are known, and sentenced to decades in jail or put to death.

At the same time, the bill immunizes U.S. officials from prosecution for cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees who the military and the CIA captured before the end of last year. It gives the president a dominant but not exclusive role in setting the rules for future interrogations of terrorism suspects.

Written largely, but not completely, on the administration's terms, with passages that give executive branch officials discretion to set details or divert from its protections, the bill is meant to provide what Bush said yesterday are "the tools" needed to handle terrorism suspects U.S. officials hope to capture.

i was curious to see how indiana's representatives voted on the torture bill, so i checked, and was not surprised to see that (for hoosiers, anyway), the vote was right down the party line. in the senate, bayh voted no and lugar voted yes. in the house, indiana's two democrats—pete visclosky and julia carson—both voted no. indiana's republican representatives all voted yes to torture.

this bill goes against everything america is supposed to stand for. republicans eagerly passed it. and while democrats overall, shamefully, did not do nearly enough to oppose the bill (some democrats even voting for it), indiana's democrats all voted no. now, which party is the party of "values" again?

indianapolis man busted for running massive mortgage fraud ring
karen celestino-horseman writes in bilerico:

It is now official - not only does Indiana have the highest mortgage foreclosure rate in the country but the New York Times is reporting that Robert Penn of Indianapolis "perpetrated one of the largest mortgage frauds in American history, victimizing dozens of [Virginia] residents and, according to sources with knowledge of the accusations, at least $40 million in fraudulent loans - perhaps even twice that amount" - on properties in Indianapolis.

penn's relatives in small-town virginia duped their neighbors into joining what they were told was a no-risk investment opportunity. penn bought a bunch of houses in westfield and indy's east side, paying the market price to the sellers. but he had the houses reappraised at inflated prices, took out loans under the names of his virginian investors, and pocketed the difference, leaving the investors with expensive mortgages they didn't even know existed.

countrywide, one of the country's largest mortgage companies, has filed suit against penn and several other individuals and business that countrywide claims were in on the scam. the indy star has more, including the list of defendants and lists of the properties in indy and westfield mentioned in the lawsuit.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 
bmv commish silverman and others resign
joel silverman, the embattled commissioner who many blame for ruining indiana's bureau of motor vehicles, has finally turned in his resignation, effective october 16. TDW has the full press release. the indy star has a story, as well a post on tully's blog. advance indiana has a post up, and i suspect quite a few indiana blogs will have at least a brief note about this soon, as silverman has been by far the most-vilified member of mitch daniels' administration (which is saying a lot).

other changes:

Michael "Mickey" Maurer, Secretary of Commerce and president of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), already has announced he would leave his post at the end of the year. Nathan Feltman, current IEDC executive vice president and general counsel, will replace him as Secretary of Commerce and president.

Miguel Rivera, Department of Labor commissioner, has submitted his resignation effective October 6. He has accepted a private sector position. Lori Torres will be the new commissioner effective on or before November 1.

Ron Stiver, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development, will become the new BMV commissioner. He will be replaced by Andrew Penca, Workforce Development deputy commissioner for strategic research and development.

Harry Gonso, the governor’s chief of staff, will leave his post before the end of the year. Earl Goode, currently the deputy chief of staff and former commissioner of the Department of Administration, will take his place.

NH congressional staffer fired for sockpuppetry
tad furtado was the #2 staffer in the congressional office of rep. charlie bass, who represents new hampshire's 2nd district. today he turned in his resignation after being busted for posting comments to blogs. this is potentially a violation of house ethics rules:

House ethics rules state that congressional staff time and equipment may not be used for campaign purposes, and that criminal and financial penalties can be assessed. The rules also say congressmen are responsible for their staff members' actions.

but that's not the worst of it. furtado wasn't going around posting comments in support of his employer, bass. no, furtado pretended to be a democrat who supported bass's opponent (paul hodes), and left comments on left-leaning blogs. you know the type: "i'm a lifelong democrat, but those republicans sure are awesome!" a group of NH bloggers grew suspicious of this "indieNH" and traced his IP address to congressional offices.

for the record, charlie bass asserts that he had no knowledge of furtado's sockpuppetry, and furtado was acting without bass's consent.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 
flogging toward infinity
greg walker, aka the flogger, is back in the news, so that means it's time for more photoshopping!

the indy star reports that the flogger is now in a tough 3-way race. the libertarian in the race, kenn gividen, unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2004. the democrat in the race donated money to mitch daniels in a show of bipartisanship. and both claim they're "picking up support from Republicans who don't like everything they've heard about Walker."

also, tdw points out that the three candidates will debate tonight at 7pm at franklin college.

doug has more. advance indiana also takes a momentary break from his crusade against julia carson to post about the race. gividen himself (or someone claiming to be him) shows up in the comments for both blogs. apparently gividen does not read TDW.

update: star columnist matt tully posts on his blog that he will be on the panel of journalists asking questions during the debate. he writes:

So, keeping in mind the need to be fair and respectful, consider this an open call for suggested questions at tonight's debate. Don't worry, I have plenty of questions already prepared (and, yes, I'm sure the flogging issue will come up). But I'd be more than happy to consider your suggestions.

hypoallergenic cats?
i was browsing the wthr website looking for local news, when i happened to see this link in the "recently featured" section: hypoallergenic cats

from the website:
The cat allergen is a potent protein secreted by the cat's skin and salivary glands. ALLERCA has focused on naturally occurring genetic divergences (GD) already present in cats that do no harm to the cats in any way. The resulting ALLERCA GD hypoallergenic cats will now improve the health and quality of life for millions of cat-allergy sufferers.

While some breeds of cats have been promoted as having less allergen than others, scientists that have tested this hypothesis have shown that all cats, regardless of breed, produce allergens. The ALLERCA GD cat is the only scientifically-proven cat that helps those individuals with feline allergies and was developed using proprietary methods under ALLERCA's pending patents.

The first breed of the ALLERCA GD hypoallergenic cat is friendly, playful and affectionate. The ALLERCA GD cats come in all coat colors and patterns. The coat is medium-long with low maintenance and minimal shedding.

i don't have cat allergies (or if i do, they're mild enough that i can't tell them apart from my other allergies), and even if i did, i wouldn't have the 5 grand to buy one of these kittens and have it delivered. so i'm not sure what to make of this. part of me can't help but marvel at the science... have they really bred hypoallergenic cats? another part of me just wants to look at the cute pictures of kitties. and then my cynical side has to wonder about allerca's breeding conditions: are they humane?

still, if the tech works, and no dark secrets come out, i can see these allerca people making a lot of money.

Monday, September 25, 2006 
hans glitch

flickr user zaida found this glitched photo of hans blix, totally by accident.

i had to see for myself, and sure enough, the corrupted photo is still up.


things have been pretty hectic here, and in the past week i haven't been online nearly as much as i'd like. i didn't get to check my email yesterday at all, which is pretty bad for a net addict like myself. (especially bad when you consider that my professional livelihood as a freelancer depends on regular net access.)

in the next few weeks, i will be moving out of my house, putting the house on the market, and moving in with virago (moving into her new apartment on the north side). and we've been having internet problems here.

originally, virago was going to get DSL from at&t. that was supposed to get hooked up on august 28. then it got rescheduled for later. and it kept getting moved back, for two weeks. all the while, if virago wanted to connect to the net, she was forced to use dial-up (which isn't that useful if you're a grad student who needs to download massive PDFs).

my one condition for moving in with virago was that she would need to get some sort of cable or satellite television, because not only am i hooked on numerous cable shows, but i depend on tv for my music as well—most of my samples come from tv. so as we researched comcast cable, virago got excited by their "big bundle" package, with digital cable, high-speed internet, and digital phone. she was so upset with at&t by this point that she instantly decided to dump at&t altogether and switch to comcast.

the comcast guy came out last monday and hooked it all up. everything seemed to be great. but by tuesday morning, the phone and internet were out. we scheduled an appointment for wednesday afternoon, but when i got to the apartment wednesday to wait for the guy to show up, i noticed that everything seemed to be working again, so i called to cancel the appointment. this turned out to be a huge mistake, as by evening the phone and internet were out again. so now virago didn't even have dial-up anymore. and the cable tv signal wasn't hot either: our analog channels were fuzzy, and a bunch of our digital channels were glitchy when they came in at all. something was seriously messed up.

we set up another appointment for thursday. the tech came out, looked around, and told me the line from outside needed to be replaced, and that this would be done within 48 hours. when we called to confirm (and ask whether we needed to be here when the service tech arrived), we were told it would be fixed by 8pm sunday (technically about 82 hours after our last appointment). after 8pm came and went, we were told that our appointment had been canceled for some mysterious reason. (either no reason was given or the customer service people couldn't understand the cryptic code explaining the cancelation.) my guess is that virago's new apartment is in a gated community, and the comcast guys couldn't get through the gate (and apparently also didn't have my cell number so we could let them in). but that's just a guess; we might never know why that appointment was canceled.

finally, this afternoon two comcast guys showed up. they checked the signal at the wall and it was great (so the line outside wasn't the problem), but when they checked the signal at the splitter, it was crap. so they replaced the cable that ran from the wall to the splitter and suddenly everything worked again. what happened to the cable, i can only imagine, but apparently it had gone bad.

so i've spent a good chunk of the past week here in this apartment, waiting for cable guys to come. as you can imagine, we aren't particularly happy with comcast right now. however, everything does seem to be truly fixed now, so it could be smooth sailing from here out. and i must say that, as bad as the past week has been, comcast's customer service is still better than at&t's: it only took comcast one week to fix everything, whereas at&t couldn't get anything fixed within two weeks. and while you might be on hold for a half hour if you call comcast late sunday night, at other times you might get through immediately. this will never, ever happen when you call at&t: when you call at&t, you will be on hold for a while. count on it.

now that the internet access seems to be fixed, i'll be back online more often. i still might not blog as much as i'd like (i need to catch up on the editing work i should've been doing the past few days, not to mention packing, sorting through my belongings for stuff to sell or donate to goodwill, and so on), but i'll at least be available again.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 
falling down the stairs
paula dickerson—eric dickerson's estranged wife, whose eyes eric allegedly tried to poke out—was on abdul in the morning today, denying that eric had ever struck her or her children. (abdul has posted the mp3s of the interview.) here's how abdul describes it in his show notes:

The wife of 7th congressional district candidate Eric Dickerson says he never laid a finger on her or their children. Paula Dickerson is denying the allegations in a 15-year old police report that her husband , Eric abused her in 1991. Paula says the police did come to her house responding to a domestic disturbance, but there was no violence. According to the police report, Paula had bruises and a red marks on her neck. She says she and her husband were yelling at each other she looked red because of her light-skinned complexion. County prosecutors dismissed the charges against Dickerson. The entire affair came to light two days ago, when incumbent Democrat Julia Carson presented the information to the Indianapolis Star.

gary adds "She was adamant that she is not the typical abused wife who is afraid to leave her husband because of financial dependency. She is a college-educated woman with a teaching degree, and she has always been able to obtain work if she wanted it throughout her marriage to Dickerson she explains." but there are all kinds of reasons why abused women don't testify against their abusers. financial dependency is just one of them. more often, the main cause is that the woman believes her abuser is "a good person" at heart and "he'll change". for the same reason, eric's excuse that (paraphrased) "if i were guilty, the judge wouldn't have let me off" is laughable in the extreme. domestic abuse cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute, precisely because it's so difficult to get witnesses to testify.

i'll be generous and i won't quibble with paula's claim that she only looked like she'd had the crap beaten out of her because she is light-skinned and her skin gets all blotchy when she gets agitated. it sounds a bit silly to me, like the "oh, i fell down the stairs" cliche, but it's the only actual defense she offers (everything else is just vague denials, and protests that she's upset that this story is on the news), so i'll leave it alone for now.

but there's a lot of highly detailed stuff in that police report: where did it all come from if it's not true? where did the cops get all that stuff about eye-gouging and elbow biting? why did the cops say that paula told them that eric wanted to kill her? and the cops don't just say that eric bit his daughter, the police report says she had visible bite marks. this sounds awfully specific to be something they just pulled out of their asses.

something doesn't jibe here. the dickerson version of events cannot be reconciled with the police report. someone is lying. either the cops completely made up the entire report, or paula lied (either then or now). and the indy star has already caught eric in one blatant lie about this story:

Dickerson, asked about biting his daughter, said: "I have no clue what you're talking about. . . . There isn't any shocker in Dickerson's closet."

And, he added: "I did not even hire an attorney."

Court records, however, show Dickerson hired Indianapolis attorney Samuel Oates. Oates died in 2004.

is he lying about anything else? or is he accusing the police of lying? and if he's calling the police liars (which he certainly is; that was a rhetorical question), why aren't the right-wingers at indy undercover upset about it? (some of those people suggest that democrats hacked into the police report in order to insert nasty stuff, because they can't accept that cops would actually lie on a police report, nor can they accept that dickerson might actually be a wifebeater nor accept anything but the worst about julia carson.)

wthr also has been covering the story. their story is pretty decent (and includes video), but it refers to dickerson as "ninth district congressional hopeful". (this is the 7th district, not the 9th.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006 
eric dickerson, the former auto dealer who is running against julia carson for indiana's 7th district, was on the radio this morning. dickerson went on abdul in the morniing in an attempt to get out in front of allegations that he's a wifebeater. but it seems to be backfiring. the allegations were completely unknown to the public before dickerson went on the radio to defend himself, and they might never have come to light if he hadn't gone on the air. but now that he has, the story is out and further details immediately came out that contradict dickerson's version of events.

advance indiana describes the radio segment:

Dickerson tells Abdul's radio audience that he was contacted recently by a Star reporter about an accusation his Democratic opponent, Rep. Julia Carson, had leveled during an interview with the Star's editorial board. At the conclusion of that editorial board interview, Dickerson tells us that the reporter says Carson volunteered the statement that Dickerson was a wife beater.

As Dickerson explains to the radio audience, the reference made by Carson was to a 1991 domestic violence arrest. Dickerson explained that he had just returned from an out-of-town business trip when he learned upon arriving at his home that his teen-aged son had taken his corvette on a joy ride and totalled it, nearly killing himself. Dickerson admits that he became extremely upset and did a lot of yelling. He assures his listeners that he did not strike any family member. During the heated moment, however, his then 12-year old daugther became frightened and called police. When police arrive, they told Dickerson he would have to go down town with them, and they booked him on a domestic violence charge. A subsequent investigation of the incident resulted in the charges being dropped, something that is not unusual in domestic disputes of this nature.

of course, this is total hearsay: dickerson says that some reporter told him that julia said something mean in a closed-door meeting. there's no way to know whether this meeting took place at all, or if it did, if the actual events in any way resembled dickerson's description of them. but it's a good story if you can believe it: "my opponent is flinging dirt at me but i did nothing wrong!"

unfortunately, within a few hours, TDW published a copy of the police report, which, to put it mildly, contradicts dickerson's version of events:

[Aisha Dickerson] stated her father, an Eric Dickerson, had bitten her and was currently attacking her mother, Paula Dickerson. As we walked toward the house we heard yelling and saw Eric Dickerson and his wife arguing in the living room. The articles in the room were thrown about and it was obvious that a fight had and was taking place. We knocked on the front door. Eric Dickerson looked out the front window and promptly ran up the stairs in an attempt to avoid these officers. Paula Dickerson opened the door and then ran past us crying and bleeding with her baby in her hands. She stated he was trying to kill her and she was terrified. She also later said that he had tried to poke her eyes out and strangle her and that we have been there before on the same incident. After entering the house, we could hear Eric throwing things around upstairs and for officer's safety we stayed downstairs and tried to talk eric into coming downstairs. After several tense minutes of persuasion he came downstairs and was handcuffed without further incidents.

At that time we spoke at length with Paula and could see bruises, cuts, scrapes and contusions on her arms, elbows and legs. All those came during the fight and where Eric Dickerson attacked her and tried to strangle her and poke her eyes out and punched her several times. During the struggle with his wife, Aisha, the daughter had tried to stop her father from beating up her mother and was subsequently bitten by her father on the right forearm, causing a set of teeth marks on the skin. Paula and her daughter were going to go transport themselves to the hospital. There was an E.T. on the scene for pictures of the house and its victims... Eric Dickerson was arrested for battery with injury on two counts and disorderly conduct for his causing of a fight and also his refusal to cooperate with officers' wishes to come downstairs.

obviously someone is lying, either dickerson or the cops. as TDW pointed out in an earlier post, prosecutors have a hell of a time getting victims of domestic abuse to testify against their abusers, so the fact that files were never charged hardly exonerates him.

an interesting question (in a zen way) is: would this story have come out if dickerson hadn't gone on the radio trying to defuse it? perhaps it would have, but maybe not. dickerson must have thought he was doing smart PR, coming out with the story first in the hopes of squashing it. but a cardinal rule of PR is to be truthful, and dickerson's radio interview shows what gary calls "a complete lack of candor", which only serves to fan the flames of bad news.

dickerson was already behind in the polls by 20 points. this story is virtually assured to kill what is left of his campaign.

quote of the week
advance indiana has been entertaining reading of late, not because gary's posts have been particularly good or bad (he's kind of leveled off a bit after his dive off the deep end in august), but because his comment section has been overrun by crazies.

mixed in with an undetermined number of anonymous ranters, jocelyn-tandy torkwase adande is still posting regular comments as queen916. after i analyzed her delirium last month — her rabid homophobia, delusions of grandeur, and pathologically paranoid fixation on julia carson — i really didn't think anything she could say could surprise me anymore.

i was wrong:

Don't get caught falsifying voter affidavits and voting illegal absentee ballots for her this election! You can't rig the voting machines anymore in certain precincts because they are computers.

i assure you, she made this comment with no irony whatsoever.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 
how to generate fewer sales
i heard this on npr yesterday; now the indy star has a tiny blurb:

Klipsch sues unauthorized dealers
INDIANAPOLIS -- Klipsch Audio Technologies has sued three Internet sites, claiming they illegally use its trademarks and copyrighted materials. The sites are, and The loudspeaker company says the lawsuit is similar to earlier ones that resulted in stopping Web sites from selling Klipsch products. (Star report)

call me a pinko, but i generally don't believe that manufacturers should have any right to control who sells their products. sure, some items (firearms, insurance, liquor) require a government license to sell. but this is klipsch we're talking about. they make speakers and shit. no specialized skills or knowledge are required to sell audio equipment, as proven by the brisk business done by stores like big buy.

klipsch has every right to choose its business partners. so if klipsch refuses to work directly with these websites because the sites aren't properly deferential, more power to 'em. but a reseller isn't necessarily a business partner (goodwill is a reseller, too). so if these websites legally got their hands on stockpiles of legitimate klipsch speakers, those websites have every right to sell those speakers. it's called right of first sale and it's a backbone of traditional property law.

klipsch can't shut down these resellers simply because klipsch doesn't like them, so instead klipsch goes through copyright and trademark law. it does appear that these sites used klipsch marketing copy, and the google cache shows that some of them used the klipsch logo before taking it down (presumably in response to the lawsuit). this probably is a violation of the law, and klipsch has the right under the law to demand that these websites remove the copyrighted content. it would be a simple matter to comply with this demand: just remove or rewrite the copyrighted content.

but this isn't really about copyright. klipsch isn't really upset that its marketing copy appears on unauthorized sites. it's about control, and most of all it's about pricing. for example, klipsch wants you to cough up $1,600 list for a pair of RVX-54 floorstanding speakers, but soundcityexpo is only asking 1,095. you could save hundreds of dollars by buying from a discount shop, and klipsch doesn't want you to save that money: klipsch wants that money for itself, and it's willing to use copyright law to shut down competition.

the unauthorized dealer warning on the klipsch website warns about unscrupulous dealers who sell stolen goods and pirated merchandise. to be sure, there are dealers out there that do these things, and smart customers should try to avoid them. but that's not what this case is about, either. if klipsch had any evidence that these websites sold stolen or pirated goods, klipsch would be able to sue for that and would have a far stronger case. or better yet, klipsch could give its evidence to the authorities and try to get the site operators arrested for criminal activity. but there is no evidence. so instead, klipsch sues under copyright law, only saying that the websites "illegally use its trademarks and copyrighted materials".

the internet allows anyone to start a business and sell stuff online. this does mean that some people will set up illicit sites that sell illegal or pirated goods. but it also means that average, hard-working joes who always wanted to start a speaker shop but couldn't afford the overhead of a brick-and-mortar store can now set up honest businesses online. manufacturers like klipsch don't care which category you fit into: if you don't have a back-room handshake deal with klipsch, klipsch will sue your ass.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 
because i'm a lusty young lad, i've long been interested in databending nude or erotic photos. sure, cat bending is cool, as is bending photos of musical gear or people partying. but let's see some tits & ass! to the best of my knowledge, the market for glitched out erotic imagery has gone almost completely untapped.

but let's face it: i'm not a great photographer, my camera is old and virtually obsolete, i couldn't afford to pay models to pose for me, and i don't have the notoriety (or people skills) for girls to "go wild" and get naughty for my camera when i toss them a meager t-shirt. (and i have a lot of t-shirts to potentially give away.)

fortunately, there are a handful of brave photographers on flickr who proudly post their erotic photos with a CC license, allowing people like me to create derivative works without fear of legal action. one of the most prolific of these photographers is a user who calls himself ioerror. because ioerror has posted so many public nudes with a CC license, i wanted to bend one of his photographs first as a reward, a way to "give back" to the flickr community. my first such bends are now on flickr. i won't post any of the photos to the blog, as many of them are obviously not work-safe, but you can view the set here.

this is the first time i've bent the photo of a complete stranger on flickr, so i don't know how he'll react. but as he takes a lot of infrared portraits and also photographed a recent SRL show, i suspect he's progressive enough not to get too offended.


Thursday, September 07, 2006 

PALY, originally uploaded by stallio.
virago hasn't had a cassette deck for years, and wanted a new one to listen to all her old tapes. the first one we picked up at target was a $10 clunker that literally ate the first tape she stuck into it. she returned it and bought this $40 hello kitty unit instead.

when she opened it, she discovered a new feature she'd never seen before: the PALY button. (you might need to look at the large version to see it clearly.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006 
glitch browser is magic
behold the glitch browser:


howardstar-full: the original-size version of howard-star2 as seen through glitch browser

i'd heard the name "glitch browser" before, but hadn't gotten around to trying it out because i was afraid it was a standalone application that i would have to install and use to stumble around the internet, and knowing how difficult it is to write a stable web browser, i didn't have high hopes.

but i was wrong. glitch browser isn't an application; it's a website, similar to sites like snoop dogg's shizzolator (which seems to be 404, bitches). you enter a url into the box, and you can view that site... with some of the image files glitched. when i saw this screenshot from stephanie delacey, i had to give it a try.

naturally, glicthing images is tricky business. sometimes, the files break. (png files in particular are more likely to break than bend.) but if you find the right site, with some patience, you'll see some cool stuff. it's fun to play around with.

i've been going back and revisiting some of my old flickr photos using the glitch browser, and saving (and uploading) some of the more interesting results. here's the set.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006 
galactica webisodes
i've been eagerly awaiting the return of battlestar galactica (third season starts oct 6!), and now the wait is that much easier: is posting a series of ten galactica webisodes, one every tuesday and thursday, leading right up to the premiere.

i confess i've never watched the webisodes of nbc's the office, despite being a fan of the show, though i might remedy that later tonight. but battlestar galactica is a different story.

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