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Comment Re:Where was this class for me? (Score 1) 1021

You might be a parent in Real Life, but that right there already tells me you're no prude. A prude would object to the fact that the books contain sex scenes and deal with sexuality at all.

We could assess my bona fides but if you assume I am insincere then I don't imagine any evidence will suffice.

How about we consider the phrasing and the context for a moment? "Moronic prude" is much like "religious nut-job" in that it is inherently pejorative. It is a label useful only for dismissing the opinions of others. (How could they possibly have values in perspective? After all, they are prudes?)

So, when I read Lumpy's post, I tried to look beyond the label to the context: "the sex scenes and outright violence in some of the books would have the moronic prude parents today suing everyone in sight for every reason." Ok, now I think I know who he is referring to. Beyond the occasional talk radio I listen to, I've lived in the Bible belt and even spent a few years in Utah so I've been exposed to the, er, militantly religious. But taken in that context, his point seemed ... hyperbolic -- i.e. oooh, the religious right taking legal action against teachers who have their students read Starship Troopers or Ringworld or the Lensman for the rampent sex scenes. Surely there are men with less straw in them. Does he really think religious conservatives are so prudish or did a better example (e.g. Ian Banks, Guy Gavriel Kay, Tannith Lee or other authors of the grimly dark or erotic) just not spring to mind?

Basically, we met after school, exchanged books, played dungeons and dragons, talked about video games. ... This lasted for 3 months, until the parent of one of the members got wind that we were going to be playing dungeons and dragons, and decided to get the club shut down due to "satanic activity"

I've been in a similar situation. In fact, I've seen this recently arise with one my children. The interesting thing is that the parent I'm thinking of who objects strongly to D&D has no problem with his son playing any number of violent or fantastic video games -- just something about D&D sets them off. But then from other conversations I know he can be very rational on other issues (and possible even rational on the topic of D&D as well, since we haven't discussed it in detail.) In any case, the Vocal Yokels aren't always as prudish, crazy, or even as facile as they may first appear.

So I don't think you're a prude or religious nutjob for taking an interest in your daughters' education. I think that makes you a good parent. Doesn't mean that the real prudes and nutjobs don't exist.

I appreciate the sentiment, but I find that how people are judged often depends on the order of presented evidence. Were I to have led off my response by talking about (e.g.) the type of language, media, activities I allow in my house ... well, I wonder if you'd say the same.

But yes, I know a few people who, in my own judgment, are exceptionally prudish -- non-thinkers who march to the strident beat of their preferred demagogue, and some unstable enough to also qualify as nutjobs. These people are not that common, in my opinion. More common by far are the close-minded sorts on both sides who casually toss labels, and refuse to take a deep breath and engage with some measure of patience.

Oh well. I guess my point, assuming I have one, is that once you apply a pejorative label to a person, they become varelse and it becomes impossible to grok them.

(Weak attempt to drag this back in a SciFi direction, but it's the best I have at the moment.)

Comment Re:Where was this class for me? (Score 1) 1021

Problem is most parents freak out. I was in an advanced Lit class and was introduced to Heinlein, Vonnegut, niven, EE Smith, and Ben Bova as writers and the sex scenes and outright violence in some of the books would have the moronic prude parents today suing everyone in sight for every reason.

You have me scratching my head here. I'll play the prude parent here for a moment (because I am one in Real Life), but if you are reading these authors for their sex scenes then you missed the boat. Heinlein (e.g.) keeps coming back to sexual topics, but if you are reading from his most influential works you aren't going to find much that is explicit. And Doc Smith? Maybe I just read the wrong books ...

Violence of course is another thing, but the Christian Conservatives I assume you are alluding to do not get worked up over violence the way they do about explicit sex. (If they did, their Bibles would be significantly shorter.)

Hell reading a clockwork orange today in a high school would get most teachers fired.

I really feel bad for teachers today. They have to basically give high school kids nursery rhymes instead of exposing them to real writers gritty stories that make the kids want to read with a passion.

Hah, Nursery rhymes would hardly cut it. I can just see a teacher trying to read "Ding, Dong, Bell" to a class and try to get around the tittering.

Anyway, taking a shot at "moronic prudes" puts you in fine company on slashdot, but I can't help but be amused from my vantage point. Yes, prudes do get worked up over class room material, but the reasons why they complain are seldom simple. E.g., when I complained about my high school daughter watching Scrubs and Casino Royal in school, it wasn't about the material per se but because she was watching them in English (no subtitles, nothing) in Spanish class. You see, they took two weeks off because the teacher couldn't bring herself to put together a lesson plan. I'm sure I'll go down in the school history as just another local religious nut job though.

Or, another example: I just finished reading to my youngest son. The language was occasionally vulgar so I balderized as I read. The book:A Night in the Lonesome October, one of my halloween favorites by Zelazny.

Anyway, pigeon-hole us as you will, but the prudes hardly have a monopoly on idiocy and closed-mindedness. Just something to bear in mind as you wind back to huck that stone. You may be guilty of, if nothing else, unintentional irony.

Comment Re:Wrong solution (Score 1) 1073

That's true of students who have affluent parents like you or I who can afford (and consider it a personal imperative) to insure that their children are highly intelligent.

This is not about us. This is about students who end up out wandering the streets on the summers. ...

I may be missing your point, but I don't see how affluence negates what I wrote. If anything, the fact that I was raised with somewhat limited opportunities as a child (neither parent had a college education, only attended public schools, etc, lower economic status, etc.) would lead me to expect that my children, who are definitely raised under affluent circumstances, should fare batter. But despite the fact that we spend more on their education, and they spend longer days in school and more days a year in school than I ever did, the quality of education seems roughly the same.

In any case, your main point seems to be that pitching this proposal as a "quality of education" concern is something of a pretext and what really is at stake here is adequate babysitting for the underprivileged. Fine. I think that's the obvious conclusion, myself. Let's just not pretend that this is about improving the quality of education then, ok?

Comment Re:Wrong solution (Score 1) 1073

I can accept the principle about cognitive spacing, but I'm not sure it's particularly relevant.

My experience (and I acknowledge this is purely anecdotal) is that schools nowadays have mastered the art of wasting time. I've raised kids in three states, both coasts, varying ages, with two of them now in college. My conclusion is that US schools do not teach kids that their time matters, and having reviewed the curriculum for various programs and compared with my own elementary education I'm convinced that we are accomplishing, if not less, then certainly no more than we accomplished back when I was in elementary ed.

Mind, I didn't go to great schools. My high school was the typically crowded urban mess -- police officers and metal detectors added the year after I graduated, but I was able to take two languages including Latin, 5 years of math, and computer programming courses through assembly language. However, both my school year and day were significantly shorter than any children have experienced so far (high school ended at 1:20 p.m. for us, early enough for us to work afternoons).

I have now cycled my high school age children through all of the public schools available in my area, with little qualitative difference among them. Much of the material is the purest pap, and any advanced coursework they've taken has come through university online courses. Basically, my kids go to public school, waste away their time, then come home and we get started.

The notion of given the public schools more of their day turns my stomach.

Comment Re:and attract a diverse collection of developers (Score 1) 137

If they contributed to your project under Ms-PL and then sued you over patents for that code, then they have no legal standing because by contributing under that license, they made a patent grant already. A problem is there only if your own part of code (not the code they contributed) infringes on their patent. In which case, yes, it works the way you describe.

In practice, the first scenario is far more important, since this is the usual tactics of hijacking GPLv2 projects by "patent poisoning" them. The second scenario is much less common, and it's not clear why a license should give you blanket protection against any kind of patent in the first place (if you want that, lobby your legislators to repeal patent law).

Comment Re:Left the Computer? (Score 1) 337

Here is one other thoughtI had.

I have sometimes thought about putting a fake label on my computer, that would suggest to computers that this is an obsolete computer, not worth stealing. I would like to get a sticker that says something like "386 SX with Windows ME inside." I could use that instead of the "Linux inside" nameplate, which my computer currently has.

With my computer's heavy steel case, lifting my computer is about like lifting a bag of cement. But perhaps I should make it even heavier and harder to steal, buy having a few hundred pounds of very thick steel plates welded onto the inside and/or outside of the case.

Comment Re:Cue the flying monkey right in... (Score 5, Insightful) 263

No, really, it's not okay. Once you establish the precedent that it's okay to break the law as long as someone in the executive branch told you to, you have handed an insane amount of power to the government. The correct response to this kind of request from the executive branch is to request confirmation from the judiciary and the precedent that you want to set is that not requiring this confirmation is dangerous to your future wellbeing.

Comment Re:Frame job? (Score 1) 337

No, but it was real. Fortunately I'd moved, and didn't end up with him for a client.

They brought her to the scene, and he said, "Yeah, that's her; she's the one I robbed."

This was a couple of years before the lineup of mugging victims or whatever they were in that spoof movie (Hot Shots?).

Yes, criminals are capital-S STUPID!

If they, as a group, had what we think of as "ordinary intelligence," we'd be in *BIG* trouble . .
hawk, esq.

Comment Re:Can parents take their children out of class? (Score 1) 507

So what rights will parents have to prevent their children from being taught these falsehoods?

Same as they have now for abstinence-only sex education and evolution-hostile science. None.

But the parents aren't powerless. My mom, when I was young, made sure I knew a few things before going to school. One thing was that teachers are humans. Humans make mistakes. Humans do things that they think is the right thing but isn't. And some humans are just genuinely bad.

It served me well in school, through my mandatory religion (Catholicism) classes*, my broken science classes**, and my incredibly incompetent sex ed classes***. Still serves me well.

( * In a public school, no less.)

( ** Several memorable stories about that. One teacher didn't like the science book so never used it, just went off what she thought she remembered, because obviously her brain was perfect. Guess what? She didn't remember Newton's Laws of Motion correctly. Another prefixed the chapter on empirical knowledge and scientific method with a speech that could be summed up as "The scientific method is good, unless it finds something against God. Then God wins." The test for the chapter had a high-value question about the speech, of course.)

( *** The teacher had three kids, I was a teenage virgin. I was convinced I knew more about sex than she did. In fact, a decade or so along, I still think I knew more about sex than she did.)

Comment Re:Brain... locking... up... (Score 1) 205

6. have a tradition of single-user systems and a blazing stream of past bad security decisions that lots of legitimate apps take advantage of, so they can't do security right without breaking a lot of malformed but useful apps 7. can't really stop somebody from installing software 8. work in a culture of running with maximum privileges, resulting in many apps being written by developers with elevated privileges and tested as such 9. work in a culture where people typically have access to one account, rather than a lower-privilege one to see if what they write will work without high privileges

Basically, Microsoft is in a very bad place between security and backwards compatibility. Granted that a lot of the problems are hangovers from bad decisions Microsoft made, it still hinders MS in developing a secure OS. Similarly, the extreme delay in even trying to close some of the traditional holes.

I see nothing coming out of Redmond that's inconsistent with security consciousness. They're just going to have a lot of trouble digging out from various holes, and the fact that they dug many of them themselves doesn't matter for their future actions.

Comment Re:On a semi-related note (Score 1) 337

[Huh? what a little comment box!]

Burglary was defined at Common Law to be a forced entry into the dwelling of another at night with the intent of committing a felony.

Modern statutory versions have dropped many of the requirements, such as being a dwelling, or at night, and some have probably even dropped the felonious intent requirement.

Under the classic definition, if you only intended to commit a misdemeanor, it wasn't burglary. Note that it's *intent* at the time of entry, not whether or not the crime occurs.

Or if you break in to steal a sandwich, and are inspired to steal the jewels you find in the icebox (a felony), it still isn't burglay.

In many states, the newer statute may label itself as something like "daytime burglary" in order to make it distinguishable.

hawk, esq.

Comment I sent an email... (Score 4, Interesting) 507

I sent an email to the address at the bottom of the site...

Dear Sir or Madam,

It was with great interest that I perused the materials on the Music Rules website. (On a side note, it doesn't work properly with Firefox 3.0.) I agree that piracy of music is a problem, and some reform of copyright law is needed. However, I believe that your educational materials are misleading and sometimes directly contradict actions of the RIAA in the past.

In the teacher's guide, on page 4, the answer to question #2 (left column) is given:

Caitlin is not a songlifter because personal use is permitted when music fans buy their music. Caitlin can copy her music onto her hard drive and her MP3 player. Caitlin can even burn a CD with her own special mix of music she has purchased.

This however contradicts earlier cases where the RIAA has pursued music pirates for doing this exact same thing. A Washington Post article from 2007:

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.

The teacher's guide also ignores the term, "fair use." While fair use is quite limited in U.S. law, generally being restricted to purposes of research and parody, if the RIAA wants to teach third-graders the term, "DMCA notice," why not "fair use?"

Coverage of alternative forms of copyright appears to be non-existent as well, such as the Creative Commons licenses, which allow the creator to turn over specific rights to others, such as the right to modify, or distribute. Public domain coverage is missing as well. Old recordings from before 1923 (such as Edison's early record player) on the Library of Congress site thus would be public domain, and free to download. The materials would scare kids into thinking that everything is copyrighted, and thus illegal.

The materials also should recommend sites where music can be legally downloaded for free. One example is, which contains recordings of public domain works, but also contemporary works where the composer has expressed willingness for his music to be shared. . Warnings should be balanced with alternatives. Also, you could recommend the students to whenever possible purchase music directly from the artist, so that the artist is paid a fair amount.

U.S. federal government training materials ignore this distinction, preferring the "all downloaded music is illegal" mantra. For example, see this training website (it's screen 27 of 48). I can disprove this by visiting this Wikipedia link, where I can download a copy of the W.W.S.S. Wind Ensemble with Dennis Smith playing Arthur Pryor's arrangement of "Blue Bells of Scotland," released under the EFF's Open Audio License (,_for_Trombone_and_Band.ogg). Similarly, recordings by U.S. military bands, being created by the U.S. government, are generally also public domain.

Copyright reform does need to be effected in the United States. The clause in the Constitution governing copyright is to "promote the progress of science and useful arts," by securing for a limited time. Today's environment, where it is for the lifetime+70 stifles creativity. Two economists wrote a paper for Harvard Business School (a subsidiary of Harvard University) discussing how weak copyright actually benefits culture (HBS article).

I hope that the educational materials can be refined, so that students get all the facts regarding music piracy, so they can properly decide whether it is legal for them to download song X. Reducing FUD on the RIAA's part will improve their standing in the technology community, and consumers will benefit by using a variety of resources to get music: legal purchases, and legal downloads of free music.

Thank you,


Just watch. Now I'm going to get investigated by the RIAA. :-)

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