Monthly Archive for September, 2004

First Election Debate – Summary on George Bush

I kick ass, vote for me, yiihaa!

That about sums up the message we heard from Mr. Bush tonight. He was defensive, ill prepared to counter John Kerry’s arguments and generally did not look comfortable unless quoting prepared statements from memory.


Is the time right for patent reform?

A Harvard professor is releasing a book this November that severely criticizes the US patent laws. He’s claiming that the patent laws no longer promote innovation, but are actually stiffling it.

Today we get news that the US Patent Office has actually rejected a Microsoft patent after it had already been granted based on evidence presented by Public Patent Foundation.

The US patent law as it currently stands is nothing but a meal ticket for patent lawyers and companies, who employ an army of patent lawyers. I don’t think it ever was the intention of the founding fathers to promote companies, who do nothing but hold patent “portfolios”, with no intention of ever actually implementing anything based on the patents.

Furthermore it’s long been clear that the US Patent Office no longer has the resources to adequately investigate patent claims. They are granting overarching patents for obvious and trivial “inventions”, such as the 1-click-shopping patent received, or the more general shopping cart patent previously owned by Divine, now owned by one of those patent portfolio companies.

With this week’s news, it looks like the tide is turning, and there might be some real chance of patent reform in the United States. Let’s hope it comes soon.


Russia – RIAA’s worst enemy

This week I finally discovered two online music sites operating in Russia RIAA must be mad as hell about.

The sites in question are and Downloads from either service have no DRM whatsoever., operating since 2001, looks very impressive. They charge $.01 or $.02 / megabyte, depending on how you download the music. Their “killer app” is online encoding, which enables you to choose the encoding method (mp3, wma, ogg vorbis, musepack and aac), and the quality of the encoding. For some albums in their catalog they also offer lossless encoding enabling you to download exact copies of the audio CD, and burn the songs into an audio CD, instead of mp3 files.

Both appear to be operating entirely legally according to Russian copyright law, which dates back to the Soviet Union era. Since downloading copyrighted music for personal use is perfectly legal, it is legal to use these services even from within the United States. RIAA will, of course, tell you otherwise, but has so far been unsuccessful in shutting these services down. The law, for once, appears to be on the side of the consumer.

A great review of is up on The review clarifies the legality of the service(s) quite well.

Up yours, RIAA scum.


Bush Dictionary: Sovereign entity means…um…sovereign entity

Check the audio clip where George W. Bush is trying to explain what tribal sovereignity means at a convention of minority journalists. The audience actually starts laughing at him.

No wonder he no longer gives interviews to other than conservative or otherwise friendly interviewers.


More legislation to fight online fraud is good, right? Wrong.

The House of Representatives approved a bill that would jail felons even longer, if they used fraudulent information when registering a domainname used in committing the felony. Wow, that’s great.

When you register a domain name, there’s two pieces of information you give to the registrar. The billing information for payment, and the contact information displayed publicly in your domain’s whois records. The bill would make it a felony to falsify the publicly displayed whois records information.

There’s a whole bunch of things wrong with this.

If you falsify the payment information, that’s already a crime. The registration is usually paid with a credit card, and if you falsify that information you commit credit card fraud. If you use a stolen credit card, you get a few additional felonies tacked on top of credit card fraud charges. You could therefore charge the criminals on existing laws already making this new bill redundant.

The bill is worded in such a manner that falsifying the publicly displayed whois record information is not a crime, unless you use the domain as part of committing a felony. Considering that copyright violations these days appear to be felonies, under certain circumstances, by having an outdated address, your parents’ address or by some other means having your whois record information false, you’ve just tacked a few years on top of your copyright violation felony. The Church of Scientology, RIAA and MPAA have been very aggressive in pursuing copyright violators online. Heaven forbid any of them operate a website with fraudulent whois records.

The penalty for this horrible crime is up to 7 years in jail. Gee whiz, I’d be better off selling crack.


Airlines ordered to hand over passenger data to TSA

TSA is asking airlines to hand over passenger data for all passengers that flew on domestic flights this June. It’s certainly nice of them to make the request public this time. However, they’re not asking as much as demanding the data.

If you took a domestic flight during June, now would be a good time to contact the airline and “ask” them not to hand over your information.


Cops arrest criminals – NYC Republican Convention style – Take Two

The Washington Post has an article today on the arrests of demonstrators in NYC during the Republican Convention. The article describes how a large majority of the people arrested by the NYPD were in fact completely innocent of any crime. It is not a crime to demonstrate, unless you live in North Korea or, apparently, New York City.

The keeper quote from the article is this wonderful quote from our Repulican Mayor Bloomberg:

Bloomberg has acknowledged that police may have arrested some innocent bystanders, but he suggested that it was partly their fault.”If you go to where people are protesting and don’t want to be part of the protest, you’re always going to run the risk that maybe you’ll get tied up with it,” he said on a weekly radio show on WABC.

What the f***?


Fear – Republicans’ greatest election tool

Apparently the House Speaker, Dennis Hastert (R-IL), has an inside track to the mind of Osama Bin Laden. The Honorable Representative thinks Osama Bin Laden would have an easier time operating, if John Kerry won the elections. Wow.

When did the Republicans become the sole experts on the war on terrorism?


You have no privacy

The sorry state of privacy in the United States is once again demonstrated by the US Department of Transportation dismissing a complaint against Northwest Airlines. Northwest Airlines was one of the airlines supplying the US Government with passanger data, against their stated policies and expectations of their customers, to help “fight the War On Terrorism”.

Do you know who is using your information and how?


Cops arrest criminals – NYC Republican Convention style

A firsthand report from a peaceful demonstration in Union Square Park on August 31st 2004 shows how the cops trawled, literally, the demonstrators into a sidestreet, blocked both ends of the street with orange netting and arrested everyone, after sitting them down on the street for more than two hours, then bused with city buses to temporary holding pens at Pier 57.

People were arrested in several locations of the city in exactly the same way.

Apparently the whole thing was planned beforehand, but when the arrested got to Pier 57, it was clear the cops had not planned that part too well or simply didn’t care about people’s medical emergencies, lack of sleep or feeding the detainees with proper food.

The detainees are the same people, who were held in custody too long and subsequently caused a Supreme Court Judge fine New York City $1,000 per detainee for not releasing them.

Funny how the democratic convention in Boston didn’t produce such “results”.