Monthly Archives: July 2005

Free Advice

Here’s some free advice:

Do NOT listen to The Future Bible Heroes“Losing Your Affection”. Not even if Neil Gaiman endorses the band. The problem isn’t that it’s especially wonderful or awful, although it’s not at all bad, but the lyrics rattle around in your head for DAYS.

Who needs to through the day with lines like

  • “I would rather rub the hair of a bear in her lair/ In the opposite direction,” or
  • “I’d rather be the queen at the guillotine/ in a bloody insurrection” or, most insidious of all,
  • “I would rather be the dog food in front of the dog/ than be losing your affection.”

rattling around in your head?

Note to self: Avoid WVUM until it’s safe again.

Posted in Kultcha | Leave a comment

Mobile Jokes Project

The marvelous Captology Notebook updates us on Current and Ongoing Projects, including the Mobile Jokes Project:

In our increasingly mirthless world, it's sometimes difficult to know what's funny. Relief is on the way. Our lab is creating a free service that will play jokes for you over the phone – any phone. Waiting in line? Stuck in traffic? Need to appear busy? Just call in, listen and (we hope) laugh. However, the project isn't just fun and games, it's hard research. Once callers listen to a joke, they're asked to rate it. Once we have enough ratings, we'll start to analyze the data to determine which jokes are funniest to people in general, which jokes college students like, what jokes do women prefer, and more. You get the idea.

So what's the point? First, we're exploring how humor can persuade callers and/or reward them for specific kinds of behavior. The second purpose is to create a new system for evaluating content. Our first evaluation system was deployed on the web last year and it's proved extremely useful. As a result, we've decided to extend this evaluation to capture data from mobile phone users.

When our joke engine service is ready, we'll send out the phone number.

Posted in Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 2 Comments

DeFede: Just a Misdemeanor?

David Markus has been kind enough to agree to debate the DeFede case. He puts his case at the Southern District of Florida Blog and concludes that DeFede didn’t commit a felony, and in fact isn’t guilty of much.

Having thought about it some more, I still have little doubt that, as I said yesterday, DeFede committed an understandable, but nonetheless actual, violation of Florida law when he taped Art Teele’s telephone call. Having read David Markus’s contrary view, I’m willing to admit, though, that there is an argument that the offense may be just a misdemeanor, not a felony. (In which case the Herald’s firing makes even less sense.) Unfortunately, it’s not as wonderful an argument as one might wish.

Mr. Markus, thinking like a good lawyer, argues that the state wouldn’t be able to prove three essential elements of a felony charge:

1. DeFede recorded Teele’s calls, without Teele’s consent.
2. DeFede did so for an illegal purpose or for commercial gain.
3. Teele had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the call.

(Note that what the state can prove beyond reasonable doubt, and what we as observers are entitled to believe is likely are not, and should not be, the same things; I was talking about the latter–Mr. Markus has quietly and understandably tried to move the goal posts.)

Continue reading

Posted in Law: Criminal Law, Miami | 10 Comments

The DeFede Case (Updated)

On Wednesday night, Art Teele, an important local political figure, shot himself in the lobby of the Miami Herald building, moments after asking a security guard to tell Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede to relay a message to Teele’s wife: ”I love you.”

The shooting followed weeks (indeed months, or years) of mounting legal troubles for Teele, capped by the publication in the New Times, a local alternative weekly, of the most damning and the most salacious bits of police surveillance reports and interviews concerning Teele. (The documents were public records, not leaks, but somehow the Miami Herald hadn’t gotten around to doing much with them.) The reports detail a very convincing pattern of corruption and payoffs–all too believable given that Teele was involved with a local community redevelopment agency known for taking public money and producing little of value (except inflated land valuations for useless properties it purchased).

The New Times story also quoted from the police’s interview with an incarcerated male prostitute who made utterly uncorroborated and somewhat implausible allegations that Teele had been a repeat customer. The allegations struck me as implausible because the source seemed unable to provide a single corroborating detail, not even his own telephone number, and could list no identifying marks of his supposed bed partner, nor indeed relate anything about Teele that you wouldn’t have seen on TV. Nevertheless, coming on top of a sea of increasingly credible allegations of graft, they may have been the last straw.

In his last hours, Teele had several telephone conversations with Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede, who incidentally is one of the very few regular Herald columnists always worth reading. DeFede and Teele went way back, ironically to when DeFede worked for the New Times. In one of those last talks, concerned that Teele was sounding unusually weird, DeFede turned on a tape recorder and recorded the call.

That recording was a serious no-no: Florida is a two-party consent state and (at least as general rule, see below) telephone calls may not be taped without the consent of both parties. After the shooting, DeFede, aware he’d broken the Miami Herald’s rules, confessed the taping to his bosses. The Miami Herald then fired DeFede immediately.

Enter the Southern District of Florida blog, with news and views:

Southern District of Florida: Journalists for DeFede: Peter Wallsten and Charlie Savage have started a blog called Journalists for DeFede. It’s an open letter now signed by a number of Herald employees and others journalists asking for the Herald to reinstate DeFede. The letter argues that the taping may not have even been a violation of law, citing to this post. Any thoughts? I’ve written a little about DeFede’s firing here.

Yes, I have a few thoughts.

Continue reading

Posted in Miami | 4 Comments

War Beats Peace

It’s official, or as official as a Google Fight can make it–War Beats Peace. See the details at googlefight (alas, may work better with IE than Firefox).

(This entry totally changed since it was eating the blog; apologies to anyone whose RSS feed I messed up.)

Posted in Internet | Leave a comment

The Size of Temptation

Despite my ordinary allergy to refurbished goods, the idea of getting a 21″ monitor for a little over $100 (including shipping) is strangely tempting.

But do I go with the Nokia 445Xiplus (Dot Pitch: 0.28 mm) or the Mystery Model NEC (0.24 mm horizontal pitch (0.28 mm diagonal trio dot pitch)?

Posted in Shopping | 5 Comments

The Citizen’s Guide to Refusing New York Subway Searches

Liberty is often lost in little drips.

The Citizen’s Guide to Refusing New York Subway Searches | FlexYourRights.org: While Flex Your Rights takes no position on the usefulness of these searches for preventing future attacks, we have serious concerns that this unprecedented territorial expansion of police search powers is doing grave damage to people’s understanding of their Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

In addition, as innocent citizens become increasingly accustomed to being searched by the police, politicians and police agencies are empowered to further expand the number of places where all are considered guilty until proven innocent.

Fortunately, this trend is neither inevitable nor irreversible. In fact, the high-profile public nature of these random subway searches provides freedom-loving citizens with easy and low-risk opportunities to “flex” their Fourth Amendment rights by refusing to be searched.

If you’re carrying a bag or package into the subway, here’s what you need to know and do in order to safely and intelligently “flex” your rights:

Posted in Civil Liberties | 1 Comment