SLAPP shtick

For the record, here’s a workable definition of SLAPP:

A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

Our Exhibit A is a SLAPP that failed:

Here’s the news:

“A Los Angeles judge threw out a lawsuit against TheWrap News on Wednesday, ruling that an article about movie financier Elisabeth Thieriot was both accurate and ‘took pains’ in reporting on a production dispute with her co-producer. Judge Barbara M. Scheper of Los Angeles Superior Court sided with the news organization in granting an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss Thieriot’s complaint on the grounds that it had no probability of success on its merits.”

Exhibit B, inevitably, is a SLAPP against a blog publishing Exhibit A.

Inasmuch as Judge Scheper’s ruling is rather easily verified by inspection — please note that the phrase “plaintiff has no probability of success on the merits” is right there on page 1 — I suspect that the second suit will be every bit as successful as the first, and that the Streisand effect is already manifesting itself.

Notes Bill Quick, conceivably the subject of an Exhibit C should this lesson continue to go unlearned by counsel for the plaintiff:

This almost never ends well for those who think lawyerly threats are the sovereign cure for blog-caused discomfort.

See also the First Rule of Holes.

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Bimmer bummer

A recall for the BMW M5 and M6 contains typical NHTSA officialese, but somehow it makes even less sense than usual:

“Separation of the [oil] pump’s driveshaft from the rotor could lead to a sudden loss of oil pressure causing the possibility of complete engine failure, resulting in an engine stall-like condition, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash.”

Yep. Apart from the $20,000 worth of damage, it’s exactly like an engine stall.

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Quote of the week

Smitty revisits the Debacle in Denver:

[M]aybe we need to recall that the Obama Administration is nothing if not the ultimate Vagina Monologue.

Viewed through that tunnel, if you will, what you saw was the Longsuffering Black Man endure Yet Another Beating from the Usual Male Suspect of European Extraction… [Y]ou have to assume the lamb-like, sacrificial role, as you fearlessly stand for Progress and Prefixed Justice (racial-, reproductive-, class-, economic-, voting-, sexual-, it doesn’t matter). You have to turn Mitt into a preppy Pontius Pilate, out to crucify the Chicago Savior for being unable to overcome the sins of BeelzeBush the anti-Clinton.

“Give us Barackus”? Gimme a break.

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It had to come sometime

Before hitting the sack, I took one last look at Mesonet, and one of my two Most Dreaded Phrases showed up:

Screen shot from OK Mesonet

Yep. “Wind chill.” (The other Most Dreaded Phrase, of course, is “Heat index.”) The record earliest freeze for Oklahoma City was on the 9th of October, set in 2000; we may actually break that this year. How appropriate that this should happen in a year with the Hottest Damn Day Ever.

What did I say about the weather on 9 October 2000? This:

[W]e wound up with a textbook-perfect late-November day, a mere six weeks early. The sky is some shade of blue that exists only up above, and the occasional clouds look like they were pulled out of God’s own aspirin bottle. (No doubt we land-dwellers cause quite a bit of celestial headache.) There’s a bit too much wind, but there’s always a bit too much wind.

Ain’t that the truth. Today, however, isn’t much like that at all: the wind is there, but the cloud cover is vaguely menacing.

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It must run in the family

I have a list of Firefox bookmarks marked as “Possibly Usable,” and therein I found what I expected to be my daughter’s abandoned Pinterest page. Not so. In fact, she’s tacked up over 400 pins.

Amusingly, one pin, on a page labeled “Books Worth Reading,” is for a probably-apocryphal tome called People I Want to Punch in the Face. Seems awfully thin, too.

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No pushover

Rebecca Black on HLNOctober is, I discover, National Bullying Prevention Month, and Rebecca Black, having endured a few instances herself, is doing her part for the cause, having appeared on HLN’s Showbiz Tonight this past Thursday (screenshot by Debra Baum, no video available yet) and told her story to Entertainment Weekly’s Popwatch blog. From the latter, a possibly pertinent paragraph:

I got home from school one day, and I had gotten an email or something saying, “This is what’s going on on your video. Already there are a lot of negative comments.” So yeah, it was kind of an ongoing thing. But I guess you could say that I’m almost … [pause] I wouldn’t say used to it now, but I’m almost immune. When you see the same things so many times, you kind of don’t have a reaction anymore. Some girls and guys in school, it just gave them a reason to pick on me. But I don’t know, it was middle school. Middle school already is not the best time in your life.

She’s also designed a t-shirt for said cause.

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Don’t call us, we’ll … well, just don’t

Apparently this is a Thing now:

When the call came [Wednesday] morning, I assumed at first I was being trolled — it was just too perfect to be true. My phone showed only “Private Caller” and, when I answered out of curiosity, I was connected to “John,” a young man with a clear Indian accent who said he was calling from “Windows Technical Support.” My computer, he told me, had alerted him that it was infested with viruses. He wanted to show me the problem — then charge me to fix it.

This scam itself is a few years old now, but I had not personally received one of the calls until … the very day that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a major crackdown on such “boiler room” call center operations.

Difficulty: Planned scamee did not, in fact, have a computer running Windows on the premises.

All this and “un-deletable” viruses, too! Scammers like that should have their, um, Registry scrubbed.

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I suspect she didn’t like it

Frothing Mouse reviews Micro:

I’m a huge fan of Crichton and Preston and Preston/Child books. They all create lovely worlds of weirdness and action and thrills that rarely disappoint. This one is so poorly written — I mean, we’re talking about TAKS test narratives by fourth grade Texas students written — and so requiring of belief suspension with retarded segues and INSERTED plot devices — that it left my head spinning. It’s stunningly bad. And you know what? I still had to finish it just to find out that, yes, what I thought would happen, happened. I skimmed pages so bad that I was really just registering punctuation. And I knew what happened. It will be made into a movie for sure. It is HORRIBLE FUBAR EPIC FAIL.

“Retarded segues” is immediately going into my Arsenal of Critical Contumely.

Three other reviews at the same link, including a smallish disquisition on J. K. Rowling’s post-Potter plodder.

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A rial catastrophe

Take budget deficits, add Western sanctions, stir briskly, and watch for the currency to fall:

In a sign of the multi-layered theories swirling in Iran, some economists and experts have accused the government of trying to devalue its currency in order to meet its own budget deficit.

The government earns more than 90 percent of Iran’s overall foreign exchange revenues as a result of oil sales. Higher dollar rates bring more rials into the treasury to pay salaries and fund state programs, such as guarantee stipends to compensate for the withdrawal of fuel and food subsidies last year.

[Shamseddin] Hosseini, the economy minister, challenged the government’s critics to provide more than just claims. “We are not after devaluating rial,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Hosseini as saying. “Those who make such claims better offer evidence.”

Devaluing a currency to pay government debts? Whoever heard of such a thing? And does this curve look familiar?

Just incidentally, last week a US dollar bought 24,000 rials. This week it fetches 35,000. The smallest banknote is the 100-rial note, though Wikipedia notes, presumably unironically: “The 100, 200 and 500 rial banknotes are becoming increasingly uncommon; shopkeepers habitually give out small packages of gum in lieu of the last 500 rials of change.”

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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“Data wants to be free,” says Doc Searls, “but value wants to be paid for,” and there’s no better illustration of this than the flap over Apple’s inept iOS6 Maps application:

I’d rather see Google offer Google Maps for sale, at a fair price, in the Apple Apps store. And I’d like to see Apple approve that product for sale, pronto.

Trust me: plenty of customers will pay. Google will not only drive home the real value of its Maps app (and all the good work behind it), but get some long-overdue practice at doing real customer service. Google’s high dependence on a single source of revenue — advertising — is a vulnerability that can only be reduced by broadening the company’s businesses. The future of selling direct has been looming at Google for a long time. There is a great opportunity, right now, to do that in a big way with Google Maps.

Meanwhile, Apple, which does sell direct, managed to stick it to its own customers while trying to stick it to Google. And what did they get for their trouble? This:

Twilight Sparkle reads a map

When ponies turn their backs on you, you’ve got problems.

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Appreciation schedule

Three years ago, a Texas man trying to avoid a pelican dunked his million-dollar-plus Bugatti Veyron into three feet of water, the sort of situation for which the phrase “total loss” was invented.

Or, you know, not:

Philadelphia Insurers say that Andy House is attempting to commit insurance fraud by filing his $2.2 million claim for the wrecked vehicle, and they say they have some powerful evidence.

A passenger in a nearby car happened to be taking footage of the luxury sports car speeding down a service road along Interstate 45 in Houston. No pelican is visible in the video, and the car seems to make a more gradual approach into the La Marque lagoon.

For a while, said video was actually up on the Web, but seems to have vanished. (Discovery?)

And anyway, a new Veyron might be $2.2 million, exchange rates being what they are — the price, when it’s quoted at all, is generally quoted in euros — but the Bugatti getting the dunk treatment back in ’09 was an ’06 model that sold for about a third less than that.

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From the If Only files

Steve Sailer, perhaps to stir the pot a little bit, has imagined two different scenarios in which we’d already had a black President:

  • Walter Mondale picks Tom Bradley for the Veep slot in 1984, manages to beat a rattled-in-the-debates Ronald Reagan, and is killed when Air Force One crashes;
  • Colin Powell, urged on by Mrs Powell, defeats Bob Dole, then Bill Clinton, in 1996.

Given either one of these scenarios, Sailer asks:

In either alternative history, does Barack Obama become the second black President? If there had already been a first black president, would anyone have ever even considered Obama to be Presidential Timber? Would you have ever even heard of Obama?

Sailer’s commentariat, at the moment, seems to be evenly split among Yes, No, and Blame the Jews. I figure we have fewer axes to grind here, so I’ve imported the question. (I lean towards No, but I’m willing to be shown the error of my ways, if such it be.)

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Zooeypalooza 16!

Just to clear up a lingering matter: I am not out of pictures of Zooey Deschanel. And to prove it:

Zooeypalooza 16!

That which is shrunk will grow with a little bit of mouse attention.

Paloozas of the past: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, ZP 7, ZP 8, ZP 9, ZP 10, ZP 11, ZP 12, ZP 13, ZP 14, ZP 15.

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The lone sentry

Bird on a holly

Here’s a different angle. I got off three shots before umbrage was taken and the premises were vacated.

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In the mooed

I have long argued — with scarcely any dissenting voices, I might add — that I am utterly unable to read signals from allegedly “interested” females. Then again, there’s no percentage in it for them, so ultimately it’s a wash.

On the other hoof, if you need to know when your cows are in heat, there’s something resembling an app for that:

[Christian] Oesch tends a herd of dairy cattle and carries a smartphone wherever he goes. Occasionally he gets an SMS from one of his cows.

That is because Mr. Oesch, 60, who cares for a herd of 44 Red Holstein and Jersey dairy cows, is helping to test a device that implants sensors in cows to let farmers know when they are in heat. When that is the case, the device sends an SMS to the farmer’s phone.

There is, of course, the best possible reason for this:

The electronic heat detector is the brainchild of several professors at a technical college in the nearby Swiss capital of Bern. It fills a market gap, they say, because dairy cows, under growing stress to produce larger quantities of milk, are showing fewer and fewer signs of heat. That makes it harder for Swiss farmers to use traditional visual inspections to know when to bring on the bull or, in about 80 percent of the cases these days, the artificial inseminator.

Romance just ain’t what it used to be, if indeed it ever was.

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Rebound romance

T-Mobile, having jilted its last suitor, is now rushing headlong into the arms of another:

Deutsche Telekom and MetroPCS said they will merge their U.S. mobile operations to create a larger fourth-place player better able to compete with rivals.

The boards of both companies voted on Wednesday to approve the deal, which will see Deutsche Telekom hold 74 percent and MetroPCS 26 percent in the combined entity.

MetroPCS, the #5 carrier in the States, is technically buying T-Mobile:

The deal is effectively a reverse merger, in which smaller MetroPCS, which is listed in the U.S, will buy T-Mobile U.S. The companies said the deal would be “structured as a recapitalisation” in which MetroPCS will declare a 1 for 2 reverse stock split and make a cash payment of $1.5 billion to its shareholders.

The combined company, which will be called T-Mobile and led by current boss John Legere, will have 42.5 million subscribers and pro forma revenues in 2012 of $24.8 billion.

This will put T-Mo in US stock exchanges, but won’t put it within shouting distance of #3 Sprint, which has 56 million subscribers. And I wonder just how much difficulty is added by the fact that MetroPCS is CDMA-based, while present-day T-Mo is purely GSM.

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