Film a cow, go to jail

This is apparently somebody’s idea of a sensible piece of legislation:

[Florida] SB 1246 by Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, would make it a first-degree felony to photograph a farm without first obtaining written permission from the owner. A farm is defined as any land “cultivated for the purpose of agricultural production, the raising and breeding of domestic animals or the storage of a commodity.”

A first-degree felony can get you 30 years. Human trafficking in Florida is a second-degree felony — maximum of 15 years — so Norman is evidently serious about protecting those cows.

But as always, there’s something else going on:

Wilton Simpson, a farmer who lives in Norman’s district, said the bill is needed to protect the property rights of farmers and the “intellectual property” involving farm operations.

Simpson, president of Simpson Farms near Dade City, said the law would prevent people from posing as farmworkers so that they can secretly film agricultural operations.

He said he could not name an instance in which that happened. But animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Animal Freedom display undercover videos on their web sites to make their case that livestock farming and meat consumption are cruel.

Passive-aggressive much?

Actually, this threat seems a bit exaggerated: your random J. Sunshine Activist wouldn’t last four hours feigning farm work. It makes more sense just to capture the trespassers and send them off to work in the secret Bacon Mine.

(Via Fark.)

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It’s worse than that; it’s debt, Jim

This post at Investors.com says that not only is the Social Security Trust Fund empty except for IOUs, debt service on those IOUs makes the value of the Fund effectively less than zero: while Congress treats it as an asset, it’s turned into a liability.

Then again, you already knew that, so I’m going to focus on a peripheral issue: the site’s dumb word filter. One comment contains the expurgated term “do***ented”; another, “gim****”.

On a different thread I found “***bersome”, a kissing cousin to “do***ented”, and “p*****”, which is presumably a verb. But the real zinger is this one:

Tranbarger, Daniels, ******ie, and a few other GOP leaders have walked the walk as governors.

Jesus H. ******! I thought we’d gotten past the technology of Evil Text Strings way back in the 1990s. Evidently not. I wish someone would explain why this antiquated technique is still in use today. Maybe Governor Tranbarger, whoever the **** he is, can shed some light on the matter.

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That little old bullet-dodger, me

So I’m unloading a trunk full (okay, five bags) of groceries, three the first trip, two the second, and in between I spot something on the garage floor that wasn’t there before: a wood screw with a hex head. “Damn good thing I didn’t drive over that,” I thought as I picked up the last two bags.

And then, of course: “Where the hell did it come from?” It’s not like hardware blows around in the Oklahoma wind or anything.

Well, wind has its own subtle effects. One of them is rattling the garage door in its tracks. And after rather a long period of rattlement and several hundred up-and-down trips, one of the screws that holds the door hardware onto the actual door had backed itself far enough out to be subject to routine gravitational forces.

I replaced the screw and checked the others in the door: two more were loose, though nowhere near that loose.

Now this is an old door, though I can’t vouch for its age. The garage was added onto the house in 1951, so it’s at most sixty years old. The mechanical (chain-driven) opener is newer, but not impressively so. And one of the big coil springs fragged a couple of years ago and was replaced. Having no desire to replace any more of this stuff if I can help it, I will consider myself fortunate for having been semi-attentive for once.

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Death of a bookstore

What really happened to Borders? Some say e-books, some say Amazon. Meanwhile, D. G. Myers offers a different explanation:

Borders tried hard to look like a salon, not a bookstore. Whenever I would climb upstairs where “Literature” was located, I would be struck by the open space with its loosely arranged furniture. I could not help imagining the shelves that were lost to reading nooks and gathering spots (to say nothing of the vast expanses handed over to the coffee shop and musical recording sections). After a while, I felt strange and out of place, even unwelcome, in the store. The accidental discovery was unlikely to occur there, unless I stopped reading the book pages or listening to literary gossip, and the comprehensive plunge into an unfamiliar sub-world of books was impossible, because (except for popular and “literary” fiction) the sections of the store got smaller and smaller every year.

If Amazon ever figures out how to make accidental discoveries possible, we’re going to lose a lot more than just half of a retail book chain.

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Everything falls back into place

“Dialing the creep factor up to eleven” is the apt title of this photoessay, an examination of an abandoned theme park with a Chinese theme, west of the Maustrap in central Florida. (They didn’t name the park, and therefore neither will I, though the details aren’t even slightly Google-resistant.)

I’m wondering, after looking at that — and decades after seeing Carnival of Souls, shot largely at an abandoned resort in Utah — if the descent from Tourist Destination to Eventual Ruins tends to exacerbate the creep factor: these are supposedly among the happiest places on earth, to borrow a Disneyism, yet here they are, utterly rejected, the very antithesis of collective joy.

Says blogger wRitErsbLock, who compiled the essay, of the general atmosphere:

Due to the desolation, the creep factor, and the trespassing, we were whispering. Any time we stepped on crunchy leaves or acorns, the explosion of sound was eerie… We wanted to see as much as possible and get out before dark. Always with the hope that we’d encounter no one.

As Herk Harvey could have told you, this is the stuff of nightmares.

(Via the Blogfather.)

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And such a Jones

Today we take a peek at Rashida Jones, daughter of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton, thirty-five this week. This particular photo was taken by Lee Broomfield for the Russian edition of InStyle in 2009:

Rashida Jones in Russian InStyle

Later this year, she’ll be appearing in the film My Idiot Brother, with Paul Rudd as the doofus in question.

Obligatory disclosure: Zooey Deschanel is also in said film; she and Jones play tormented — and not just by Rudd — lovers.

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Transition offense

On the off-chance that someone will ask: yes, I was astounded by that last-minute act of Prestidigitation, and yes, I think it will pay off in the not-so-long run. In Sam we trust. And if what a team needs is a Kendrick Perkins type, the most efficient way to acquire one is to sign Kendrick Perkins. Damned few GMs would have been able to pull off such a deal.

Then again, Perk will be out for at least a week, and in the interim, the Thunder still have issues, just about every one of which the Magic were able to exploit tonight in Orlando en route to a 111-88 win. Of course, no issue was greater than “What do we do about Dwight Howard?” The answer, as it was last time these teams met, was “Not a damned thing.” In 42 minutes, Howard rolled up 40 points on 16-20 shooting, not to mention the 15 rebounds and six blocked shots. (Or a technical, his 15th of the season.) The Magic shot 50 percent and pulled in 53 boards.

The surviving Two Amigos did what they could, but one thing they couldn’t do was get any shots from anywhere near the rim: Kevin Durant went 7-22 for 23 points, Russell Westbrook 7-19 for 18. The distance shooters, Daequan Cook and James Harden, rose to the occasion — OKC was 10-25 from beyond the arc — but that leaves a meager 19-62 from inside the arc. That’s barely 30 percent. Serge Ibaka was expected to start at the four, and he did; he was not expected to foul out in 18 minutes, but he did that too. Cole Aldrich got 15 minutes as a result, and was one of exactly two of the Thunder who finished on the good side of plus/minus. Do we miss Jeff Green yet?

Come Sunday, we should see some adjustments. And we’ll need them, because the Lakers are in town. During this transitional period, things might get even uglier.

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Quote of the week

The borders of the United States of America are generally well defined and occasionally well defended. Neither of these conditions is exactly common in the Middle East, as KingShamus points out:

The passage of time tricks us into thinking a nation’s borders are more permanent than they actually are. The British basically drew the map from the Eastern Mediterranean to Persia. Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Oman, Yemen: all of their borders sprang from the minds of English dudes. In the aftermath of this extreme redistricting, the delineations probably made very little sense to the people on the ground. Nowadays, if you ask a Saudi what differentiates him from other people in the region, political geography will invariably be a part of that person’s rationale.

It’s only when something major happens, like a violent governmental collapse, that we sit back and wonder why the hell the country exists in the first place. “Oh, there’s a dozen ethnic/religious/tribal/ideological/linguistic groups who despise each other that are all supposed to coexist under one flag? Huh.”

Mapmakers are going to be extremely busy the next few years, I suspect.

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For to carry you home

Things you need to know about Oklahoma’s soon-to-be-designated State Gospel Song:

  • Composer “Uncle” Wallace Willis was one of the Choctaw Freedmen, emancipated after the Civil War by treaty between Washington and the Choctaw Nation. “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” dates to somewhere in the 1840s.
  • You can hear echoes of “Swing Low” in Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.” Maybe.
  • And yes, Zooey Deschanel has sung it.

Senate Bill 73, by Eason McIntyre (D-Tulsa), which passed the Senate 46-1, should have no trouble in the House. (The, um, “1″ was Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, who is not the sharpest tool in the shed, if you know what I mean.)

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Don’t it seem?

This is about the third time I’ve bent “Kicks,” a Sixties tune by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil that propelled Paul Revere and the Raiders to #4 in Billboard, to my own nefarious purposes, but it’s still true: kicks do just keep getting harder to find.

A friend of mine tossed up this pic on her Tumblr blog this week:

Black and white wingtips

“I’m not THAT into shoes,” she said, “but I TOTALLY want a pair of these.”

What might stop her? I asked her off-blog, and she said that apparently these come from Italy by way of Japan and would cost somewhere close to $500. And yes, it’s true: people who are not THAT into shoes do not spend five bills on such.

(More details, for the curious.)

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Now with Auto-Nag™

It is an article of faith among everyone to the right of Barack Obama, which isn’t technically “everyone” but is probably close enough for government work, that government-provided health care would suck rocks, and sedimentary rocks at that. (None of that cool — formerly hot — igneous stuff.) On the other hand, I would be remiss in my duties as a kvetch if I failed to point out instances where the private sector has prompted a response of “You’re not my mother.”

Here’s one now, in fact:

I got a “card” yesterday from my health insurance.

Um, yeah. Nothing says, “OH HAI, you are one year closer to decrepitude” than a card (a flyer, really) from your health insurer. In English AND Spanish.

I wasn’t really very happy with what it said. But then again: I suppose this is what you get if you are a conscientious/concerned person in a world where too many people are not.

It was a list of “healthy habits.” And a strong suggestion that I follow those. (The unwritten, but assumed-by-me, subtext: because then you will cost us less money).

I hate to be Debbie Downer’s brother Dave, but it gets worse. CFI Care (not its real initials) sent me a letter the other day noting that I’d had one particular prescription filled eleven times last year — not twelve, but eleven — and therefore they had reason to question how seriously I was taking my condition, or some such foolishness.

On the other hand, if you accuse me of being conscientious and/or concerned, I will go out of my way to sneeze on you.

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413

“Like, gag me with a spoon,” quoth Andrew Ian Dodge for the 413th Carnival of the Vanities. Fer shure, fer shure.

From Karabars in the UK, we are pleased to bring you this lovely example of quality wheeled luggage from GAG, style 413, for twenty quid off list while supplies last.

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As if-y

Subject line: “ACH transaction cancelled.”

A glitch in the Automated Clearing House? No, just a phisher out dangling his bait. Here’s the text:

The ACH transaction, recently sent from your bank account (by you or any other person), was cancelled by the Electronic Payments Association.

Please click here to view report.

I opted not to view the “report,” which goes to transferstnow.info.

Semi-amusingly, this spam was “signed” by “Raymundo Andrews, Fraud Department.” Nice to know that Fraud has its own freestanding department these days.

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The beat brought back

On the way home yesterday, I cranked up one particular tune in the rotation — “Justified and Ancient,” aka “Stand By The JAMs,” which puts Tammy Wynette (!) out in front of British wiseguys The KLF — and the background noise, what with the grooved (but ungroovy) pavement on I-44 west of I-35, managed to conceal the fact that the subwoofer was working overtime and occasionally emitting an untoward BLAT. Okay, lotsa bass. But maybe too much: the program source was ye olde MP3 Walkman, stuffed to within 30 MB of its 4 GB life, and way the hell down in the control hierarchy, there’s a couple of equalizer settings that it took me entirely too long to flatten out. (Sony: Masters of the Inhuman Human Interface.) I hasten to add that I did these corrections after I got home, not while I was at the wheel.

I hadn’t heard any such noises for a while: I did hit the car wash a few days back, but it doesn’t seem like they could have had anything to do with it. (Vacuum up the rear deck? As if.) Or maybe it was just Way Loud.

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I, pundit

Well, maybe not. It’s not a label I’ve ever actively sought. Then again, the decentralization of information means — here, let Robert Stacy McCain tell you:

The idea that people are using Tweets from an actress to stay updated on the latest news is perhaps no stranger than the idea that I, sitting here in my pajamas, can treat Alyssa Milano and Bob Belvedere as equals. Regular blog consumers probably wouldn’t even notice that contrast if I didn’t call it to their attention, because you have become accustomed to reading Charles G. Hill or Dan Collins cited as authorities equal (or superior) to bigtime pundits like Paul Krugman of the New York Times and Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. The Deciders have lost their authority to decide.

A couple of notes:

  • Bob Belvedere, unlike Alyssa Milano, isn’t pregnant.
  • I am a lot less issue-oriented than Dan Collins.
  • Finally, someone in blogdom who admits to wearing pajamas.

Okay, three notes. So I can count as least as well as Krugman. And yes, Ms Milano is much easier on the eyes than anyone else mentioned herein.

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Drop deader, Fred

Remember when Anonymous threatened Fred Phelps? Perhaps that was the contemporary textbook definition of “not so much”:

So we’ve been hearing a lot about some letter that we supposedly sent you this morning. Problem is, we’re a bit groggy and don’t remember sending it. Our best guess is that you heard about us on that newfangled TV of yours and thought we might be some good money for your little church.

You thought you could play with Anonymous. You observed our rising notoriety and thought you would exploit our paradigm for your own gain. And then, you thought you could lure some idiots into a honeypot for more IPs to sue.

SteveF of Daily Pundit points out:

It should be noted, however, that Anonymous is “organized” like a bay full of plankton is organized. There is no command-and-control structure and there is no unified vision. It’s possible that someone who considers himself part of Anonymous did make the threat. I kind of doubt it — if for no other reason than because the threat isn’t funny enough — but the possibility should be noted.

Redeeming social value: were they hyperefficient, they might be really dangerous.

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