The Chancellor thought the Regents would block it, so he said, and that the fight would somehow tarnish the new law school. Chancellor Drake, that’s your job. You are supposed to argue with the Regents on behalf of UCI. What is it, exactly, that you DO here?

Also, UCI is not Orange County University. It is an internationally known research institution and member of a statewide University. It doesn’t have to have a major in John Wayne or a Disneyland Institute. And don’t let Donald Bren tell you what to do because he gave you $20 million and you named the law school after him. What’s he gonna do, take it back?

Don’t worry, Mr. Chemerinsky. We’ll visit you on Sakhalin Island.

Bonus points: Chapman says they’ll hire him in an instant. And not just Chapman, but the Chapman legal dean, who’s a rightwinger and debates Chereminsky weekly on the radio. Oddly enough he’d very much enjoy having his debate opponent working in his office. Viva Chapman!

Nostalgia and Paperwork: How LJ is like AOL

The LJ mess over censorship gives me flashbacks to AOL in the 90s.

I used to do “remote staff” work for AOL, semi-volunteer stuff. A few years were spent on the chat patrol, and later I had a full-time job for another company that included a lot of message board and chat management. I was doing this work in some way or another from 1990 to 1995.

During this time, AOL grew from a small business to a huge one. In parallel, the community of users started as a town and ended as a nation. It all happened way too fast. Growth rates of dotcom companies and online communities are a cliche now, but this was the first time, and no one knew what to do or even what was happening.

The community standards of discourse, including what was out of bounds in public communication, suffered. People with limited social experience and no background in language or youth culture suddenly had to make decisions about what was appropriate in chat, on message boards, everywhere. Staffers were supposed to chide people who broke the rules or knock them offline, but the rules kept changing. Meanwhile, so many people were pouring in that the variety of possible problems was disorienting. It was hard to get any consensus about community standards when the community was doubling in size every month. The lists of unapproved words and phrases and activities grew long and ridiculous. I wish I still had some of those lists.

Nervous chat monitors and board supervisors were presented with social and linguistic issues beyond their knowledge. GLBT people were booted for discussing their lifestyle outside GLBT forums. Discussions about the role of drug use in society were knocked offline for “drug use promotion.” The rules were applied inexpertly and unevenly, and some staffers appeared to make up their own. The flood of teenaged users brought a whole new set of problems: minors mixing with adults, incomprehensible teen culture, suicide threats.

The situation was handled poorly. Years of arbitrary decisions, ignorance, dissembling, and prejudice went by. By 1994, anyone on “chat patrol” was completely snowed under with constant reports of rule-breaking. It was impossible to catch up and clearly pointless to try.

In the end the problem was solved with money. The company had grown so much that they hired good attorneys, professional senior managers, and more people inhouse to deal with community management issues. Bad behavior that presented a legal threat was still pursued, but they wisely gave up most attempts at regulating discourse in a gigantic community.

LJ is right at that breaking point. They’ve become huge, and there’s no village any more. Large groups within LJ have their own community standards, and don’t appreciate regulation from outsiders who don’t understand the context of discussion. Pranksters and civil libertarians will test the limit of any rule. Outside pressure groups will demand the impossible, and news media will report on anything that looks odd and give it a lurid tabloid spin.

People who enjoy blogging and are good at computers can build services like LJ and make them a roaring success. These aren’t necessarily the right people to manage a community the size of a city. They will be inconsistent, arbitrary, socially inept, prejudiced, anxious, and worst of all ignorant.

LJ needs some people with professional expertise in communities and the law. They need one or more attorneys with a very good understanding of the civil and criminal liabilities of a company like this. And they need a sociologist or its near equivalent who can grasp the nature of LJ’s culture and subcultures without reflexively applying standards that don’t make sense.

Most of all they need to be consistent, which is the first thing the attorney or sociologist is likely to tell them.

With luck it won’t take three years the way it did for AOL.

Government as TV Movie: Gonzo tries to strongarm Ashcroft

It’s not just that they insisted on violating the law and the Constitution. It’s not just that they tried to pressure the Attorney General to approve it when he had already refused. And it’s not just that they did it while he was ill and not acting as Attorney General.

They did it at night in his hospital room, causing the acting Attorney General and the director of the F.B.I. to go lights-and-siren through the nation’s capital and run upstairs to the hospital room and stop them.

And then tried to refuse a witness to the discussion afterwards.

And then, after Ashcroft had walked over the whole deal, they got what they wanted anyway because Gonzo got the job.

How close are we to a coup, anyway? Who’s got five bucks on it?

Reference: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/15/washington/15cnd-attorneys.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

This is the most ridiculous article about “immigration”


Wider immigration net catches legal residents
Non-citizens accused of crimes are being affected by broader local enforcement of law.

She hails from a well-to-do family with a hilltop home in Orange. She’s a mother of two who made a decent living in cosmetology and studied in college to be a teacher.

Sharon Denise Lee might not be the sort of person people had in mind when local law enforcement bolstered immigration screening efforts in recent months.

But the 46-year-old, who came to the United States from England when she was 19, now sits in county jail, awaiting deportation because of several run-ins with the law, including commercial burglary and possession of drug paraphernalia.

but wait there’s more!

The shoes.

I had a mission. It seemed simple. My task was to acquire and ship a pair of shoes to mendel.

Acquisition was easy; about five clicks of ecommerce.

Then I discovered that shipping a pair of shoes to a friend in Canada is… fraught. It’s not expensive. Nor is it physically difficult. However, the bureaucracy involved is nearly Slavic.

First I tried to do this via FedEx. They had a reasonably priced shipping option, and their website promised a step-by-step process for getting the customs declarations and shipping labels right.

The actual process resembled a “choose your own adventure” script in which failure might result in international arrest warrants for fraud, smuggling, failure to comply, cavalier attitude towards generally accepted procedures of international commerce, and yeggery. Deep in the middle of Adventure #3 I found myself faced with a screen in which I had to choose whether the shoes were “ornamental” in some way or “shoes, leather sole, fabric upper, pointed, ballet, en pointe, intended for legitimate artistic purposes.” I imagined a bad click resulting in poor mendel forced to pirouette on a pair of city walking boots under pain of permanent fugitive status on an Interpol warrant.

I gave up on FedEx. Their process “concluded” without any ability to schedule a pickup. Apparently I hadn’t finished, but there was no clue why.

The United States Postal Service was more promising. In fact, their procedure was honestly step-by-step, and the rates again very reasonable! I happily clicked through a few screens, entered my information, and was presented with a PDF which I printed. No joy. The PDF printed without addresses and strangely truncated. I had mistakenly clicked “okay!” and charged my credit card before I saw that the printout was very much not okay. Oh God! What to do now? Once you’ve printed out the damned thing you can’t do so again without doubling the charge, which then becomes less than reasonable.

Fortunately the EZ-Print-O-Matic system had dropped a turd on my desktop which turned out to be the PDF itself. I opened it with Adobe Reader instead of the Mac’s “Preview” program and it printed out just fine. Whew! I now had the five required copies of the label/customs declaration, prepaid postage, the package itself, and a false sense of confidence.

eyeteeth and I arrived at the post office today and found it nearly empty! no line, friendly staff. Hopes were high. Unfortunately, I had failed to throw out the first, bad printout of the label and had brought it with me instead of the second, good printout. The postal lady couldn’t do a thing with the first printout because it was so badly truncated that there wasn’t enough information for her to fill out a real one. She sadly told me I’d have to bring the real one or she couldn’t ship.

Ordinarily I would have cursed God and died, rushed home, found the proper paperwork, and gone back to the Post Office. But I had to feed the eyeteeth and myself, and had to get her to the airport. This was no time to admit defeat. Off we went to Cafe Zinc to eat well, and from there to the airport.

Problem: the mailing date on the forms was fixed at today. What will happen? Tomorrow I will try to contact “customer” “service” at the USPS and find out if I have completely failed and missed my “window” in which case I’ll start over. With luck this will be no problem. Then I will be able to mail the package.

As Art Spiegelman titled his story of Maus after the war, and now my troubles began. Or rather mendel‘s troubles. If or when I ship the package, will he receive it? Will the broker (Canadian for “bandito”) give him the shoes? Will the shoes arrive? Will they be approved by Canadian Customs, or rejected as somehow dangerous or economically rapacious or otherwise un-Canadian? Will mendel be forced to dance a sequence from Swan Lake for Mounties to avoid transportation to the Baffin Bay Correctional Work Institute?

You my readers will be the first to know. Pray for us.


I’ve known Samy a long time, maybe eight years. He’s a computer genius. At age 15 he was running the L.A. Perl Users Group. I got a conference room for him at my job and he ran the whole thing, even though his mom had to drop him off there. He finished high school early and got emancipated. At 16 or 17 he was living in his own apartment, making good money at a technology job. I didn’t see him often, but it was always a pleasure. Unlike a few other computer geniuses I’ve known, he was personable and sociable, even charming. And Samy is an idea factory. He would pop up, say hi, and show me something he’d done. It was almost always a “holy shit” moment of surprise and admiration for me. More than once he’d figured something out that was potentially Very Big, but he never sold his hacks and to my knowledge he never did any harm.

In October, 2005 someone gave me a link to Samy’s website. On that page, a surprised and a bit frightened Samy recounted his adventures with Myspace. With his usual flair for amusing and instructive hacks, Samy had created a software worm that caused anyone who visited his myspace to have “Samy is my hero” put in their profile. And anyone who viewed their site got the same thing. Exponential growth occurred. Five hours later a million profiles were infected. Six hours later Myspace.com was down.

At the time I was working for Myspace’s parent company. We joked about the hero hack, and we figured they’d probably either fix the hole and hire him, or pretend it didn’t happen.

They did neither of those things. They filed a civil suit, and pressed criminal charges. This week it was announced that Samy had pled out and been sentenced to three years probation, an undisclosed sum of “restitution” to myspace, and restrictions on his use of computers and the internet (employment purposes only) for an undisclosed period.

I think Samy got a raw deal. I’m sure that Myspace and the prosecutor turned the downtime into a cash figure from lost ad revenue, because in my experience the D.A.’s are not interested in computer “crimes” unless they involved large sums of money or national security. It’s my opinion that Myspace needed a security success to offset their more lurid and frightening image as a haunt of murderers and sexual predators. Samy is neither. He’s just a smart kid who made the classic Robert Tappan Morris worm mistake.

I hope they don’t find a way to nail him during his probation.

Are you playing a GAME with me, sir?

In the course of digging up Bree’s court files I found all kinds of weird crap, including a lawsuit where the defendant was a painting and other delights. The one that really got me, though, was the Order Denying MAAF’s motion to preclude the French phrase “Quel jeu doit-on jouer vis-a-vis des autorit├ęs de Californie?” as used in Mr. Simonet’s notes from being translated as “What game must we play with the California authorities?”

The whole thing, which is only five pages and a delight ,is here on my server in .PDF form.

This judge has entirely too much fun.

Someday they’ll all be President

It pisses me off when people post warnings about DUI enforcement online. They say stuff like “take a cab tonight if you’re going towards $TOWN” or “they’re running a checkpoint at Newport & Flower, pass it on”.

How about just not driving drunk? Ever? It’s not hard to avoid. You’ll be helping your friends the best possible way by not killing and maiming them.

If you can afford to go out and drink but you somehow can’t afford to cab it home then you’re just being a fucking sociopath. Stay home and drink, okay? Helping the other sociopaths mow us all down isn’t nice.