Saturday, May 28

Law Prof's Murder: Update -

A multi-agency arrest has been made
at a Hallandale Beach gas station of
a Miami Beach man for the murder
of FSU Law Professor Daniel Markel.

The 34-year-old man, Sigfredo Garcia, lists
his profession as "heavy machine operator."

The authorities have sealed the papers for the case
which, they explain, is still active and ongoing.

:: NBC 6 :: - - - - - :: Tampa Bay Times ::


Thursday, May 26

Rough Passages -

ZombiCon Killer, BookSlut
Bows Out, and a Grotesque Diatribe . . .

Last year, during a ZombieCon festivity in Fort Myers, a man fired a gun into the crowd, killing 20-year-old Expavious Tyrell Taylor. The shooter is still at large. If you have any information which could help the police, there is a $36,000 reward.

You can call the Fort Myers Police Department at 239-321-7700 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS.

::NBC Miami:: - - - ::News-Press:: - - - ::NBC News::

*  *  *  *  *
The Literati on the Internet
are losing a valued contributor.

Jessa Crispin has announced that she has decided to end her BookSlut project, which included a Blog and a monthly online literary magazine. While I was reading her remarks about the finale of the project, I was remembering David Bowie's poignant song Where Are We Now?

Much has changed since the early days of the new century as far as writing online. Feed Magazine was an example of less emphasis on form and more of a focus on content. Experts advised us to make our landing page load as quickly as possible.

Today, a typical online "magazine" is often heavy with an over-abundance of fancy computer code in its format, but contains thin contents, which may be there simply to promote something else the writer is selling.

Maybe Jessa could still contribute an
occasional piece to The Guardian Book Blog.

*  *  *  *  *
A vile agitprop piece worthy of Der Sturmer, demonizing George Zimmerman, was posted at The Daily Beast recently. The poison pen involved was wielded by a writer named Gideon Resnick, who seemed to be trying to incite some loose screw into killing the former NCW.

Have a nice holiday weekend!


Friday, May 13

Some Wizards Behind The Curtain -

Although I haven't had much time for surfing lately,
I still have an inclination to collect links like a magpie.

I'm no couch potato, but for this year's open house week on Cable TV, I browsed a bit and impulsively decided to watch the first season of True Detective on HBO.

It required binge-watching 8 episodes within a few days, and somehow I managed to slog through it all. The story involved the gradual discovery of a serial killer.

I'm still not into binge-watching, but it was pretty good.

Also just noticed that Sarah Weinman has linked to a newly discovered serial killer story.

I admire her commitment to the genre.

# Along the way, it came to my attention that Christopher Fowler has produced a new book of short mystery stories called London's Glory.

Try not to notice the men
behind the curtains pulling the strings . . .

# Some people are surprised that F*cebook allegedly manipulates its news feed. If that's your only news source, you are seriously shortchanging yourself.

# Here are some of our new Gate-Keepers
who worship the false idols of algorithms.


When Hecklers Veto Trump -

Over the past decade
there has been a surprising increase
in the number of cases belonging to
the genre of Heckler's Veto . . . 

It's been surprising for two reasons. First, many of these cases have occurred on American college campuses, an environment previously regarded as a bastion of Intellectual Freedom; and, second, because most of us older adults don't generally find ourselves in that environment, so that we are not usually aware of what's going on there.

A hypothetical case which illustrates this kind of incident might go like this: A campus organization invites a prestigious figure to give an address, but a group of protesters show up at the venue and make such a racket that the prospective speaker is forced to withdraw.

What is Heckler's Veto?
There are two basic definitions.

The first definition is a narrow legal definition. Take the hypothetical situation above, when suddenly the police appear on the scene. They unplug the speaker's microphone and tell him to pack up and shut it down. Why? The cops tell him that they don't want any trouble here and that there are angry people outside trying to get in who say they are going to rip the place up and riot if the speaker is allowed a forum here.

In this first definition, it is the government or its representatives, the police, who abrogate the speaker's First Amendment right to speak. Such behavior by the police may also raise the issue of Prior Restraint.

In the second definition, which is broader and more informal, it is the protesters themselves who silence the speaker.

Why the rise in such incidents on American college campuses in recent years? That's a good question!

When we were youngsters, we were taught that we should not infringe on the rights of others. "You have the right to swing your arm as far as the tip of the next guy's nose." We were taught to respect the rights of others.

When did this change?

The increase in this type of situation seems to coincide with the ascendancy of Cable TV News.

Today, Cable TV News provides a potential 24/7 Media Environment capability. And CNN can be considered the leader of the pack, because its "Reach" exceeds its subscription base. If you walk into many fast food outlets, there is a flat screen TV mounted on the wall. And, odds are, it will be tuned to CNN.

CNN readily acknowledges that Breaking News is its stock in trade. When something happens which a lot of people are interested in, viewership rises. But when the world is quiet, viewership tends to decline. Since its advertising revenue is based to some degree on how many viewers are tuned to their channel, the organization has to have strategies to help them maintain a higher level of viewers. More viewers equals more advertising revenue.

It's my impression that one of the strategies CNN has been using recently is to adopt some of the techniques used with successful effect in Reality TV Series. We find Story Arcs, attenuated Drama/Conflict, and Treatments. We even find the classic Unreliable Narrator being featured and given airtime.

These techniques are integral to Hollywood machinery. So, has CNN simply gone Hollywood?

If their recent Treatment of civil disorders and riots is any barometer, maybe it has.

They assigned Don Lemon to act as Master of Ceremonies, giving the disorder an Academy Awards worthy Red Carpet runway approach on which Lemon, who has all the gravitas of a hair stylist, was interviewing anyone with a wild fairytale to tell - the wilder, the better - seemingly, solely for its entertainment value.

Even if you don't subscribe to Cable TV, you might be exposed to it while you're grabbing a bite in a restaurant. It behooves you to keep your wits about you in order to avoid getting bamboozled by CNN et al.

Some of the talk they are airing on the pretext that it is commentary about the News has very little connection to any of the actual facts in the events - maybe no connection at all.

Do try to keep that in mind, even if it seems entertaining at the moment.

:: Wikipedia: Heckler's Veto ::

:: Law Prof Eugene Volokh ::


Sunday, March 6

Threatening To Brick It -

Standoff: Apple vs FBI . . .

The FBI wants and needs Syed Farook's material from an Apple gadget he used before he died. The gadget is a mini-computer which includes a telephone function called an iPhone 5c.

These mini-computers known as smart phones often include other functions and applications such as calendars, cameras and photo galleries, alarm clocks, contact lists, music players or FM radios, space for notes or memos, etc.

I would like to explore this situation and advance the discourse on it here if it's still at all possible.

I think Apple should hoover up all of the material which was stored on that gadget after it was delivered in pristine virgin condition to the purchaser, a local government agency in California. Then, I suggest, Apple strip its proprietary computer code from the material.

Apple's special computer code is their intellectual property which we would not want to touch with a barge pole. The Apple system is the conveyance upon which the Farook material rides and should be separated from this material which the FBI needs.

Then, I suggest, the material could be reformatted into a long-established neutral computer code or markup script. The material on the calendar could be formatted into the simple basic calendar format or a database kind of arrangement. There is a similar basic format for contacts.

The rest of the material such as notes and memos could be formatted into Rich Text Format or some other neutral presentation. All of this Farook material can be ported over to a thumb drive and delivered to the FBI, according to Mr Comey's preference.

I would like to sidestep all this password guessing. My own passwords are often in Hebrew. It seems quite possible to me that Farook's passwords might be in Urdu or even in Arabic. I really believe it would be best for everyone to avoid this issue altogether.

I presume that Mr Farook's right to privacy expired along with him. It wasn't even his mobile phone; it was his employer's gadget. Thus, whatever Mr Farook left on the gadget constitute ordinary business records. Could there be clues to terrorists on there? Perhaps.

Meanwhile, I understand that Tim Cook has gone apocalyptic; viz: he is threatening to turn the phone under contention into a useless brick. If he does that to enough people at least some of them might be charmed into spending another $500 for another iPhone to replace their useless brick.

And when Tim Cook uses the word privacy, why does it seem like he really means secrecy? I don't understand why ordinary law-abiding citizens need so much secrecy on their telephones. I mostly just keep my grocery shopping lists on my smart phone. But since so many young people have been sending pix of their genitals lately, maybe there are widespread feelings of inadequacy in the population.

I hope this exploration and these suggestions encourage people to generate some more creative approaches to resolving this situation.

I am very unhappy that Apple seems to consider itself an autonomous nation state beyond the sovereignty of our government, since Civilization is currently under attack by a group of rogue cult organizations which seems to share Apple's illusion.

Let's try to emphasise more cooperative attitudes!

:: FBI Director James Comey
Comments on San Bernardino Matter

:: I am a former participant
in a Berkman Center group blog.


Monday, February 15

Some Weekend Lit Links -

An interview which explores the process of adapting
Lev Grossman's The Magicians from print to TV.

# From beyond the grave, Charb wrote an
Open Letter on Free Speech and Islamophobia.

# The Art of Short Travel Sketches by Peter Lewis.

# The danger of equating speech with violence.

# A Sampler of Web Comics.

# Twitter Characterizes
Criticism of Islam as "Hate Speech"


Monday, February 8

Into A Tartan Labyrinth -

Interesting bit of jiggery-pokery
in the British Parliament recently,
revolving around Donald Trump.

Or maybe it wasn't really about Trump at all . . .

Who is Donald Trump? In case you've just arrived from a different planet, he is an American property developer known for large commercial projects, rather than private residences. And he is currently running for high public office.

The newly-established Petitions Committee in Parliament received a petition signed by about a half-million people, proposing to bar Donald Trump from entry into the UK, because his presence wouldn't be conducive to the public good. The counter petition opposing the bar, proposed to "mind our own business" and refrain from meddling in the internal politics of the US, which garnered a scant 44,000 signatures.

What appeared to be a few dozen MPs gathered together in Westminster Hall to conduct a moot debate and discussion about the matter; the session lasted for three hours and was then aired over here in the States on C-SPAN.

Paul Flynn (Labour) delivered the introduction. He indicated that the petition was inspired by Trump's proposal for a travel ban on Muslims entering the United States, but I don't recall Flynn mentioning what prompted Trump's remark. Trump was reacting to a terrorist attack in California.

On December 2, 2015, two ethnic Pakistanis murdered 14 people and seriously wounded 22 others who were gathered together to celebrate an informal Christmas holiday party in San Bernardino, California.

Anti-Christian attacks are not unknown in contemporary Pakistan where rogue elements who are Muslim Supremacists have sometimes terrorized the Christian minority. And these well-documented events have been duly reported in their news media.

They also have an ongoing Blasphemy problem in Pakistan which Muslim Supremacists can use to intimidate the Christian minority. It appears they are now trying to impose it on the UK, too.

Perhaps, the most vociferous proponents of the Trump Entry Bar were Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh (SNP), an ethnic Pakistani, and her colleague, Tulip Siddiq (L), an ethnic Bangladeshi - Bangladesh used to be East Pakistan.

What a remarkable cluster of Coincidental Pakistanis!

The woman who generated this petition believes that Donald Trump is just a character in a TV series. To the best of my knowledge, Donald Trump has not urged his followers to go out and kill the Muslims or rape their wives or burn down their houses. I haven't heard him say anything that approaches the threshold of so-called "Hate Speech."

Usually, when there is a terrorist attack, we would expect the British government to offer condolences.

Instead, this time, we've got: 14 murders committed by two ethnic Pakistanis and these two women ranting in the British Parliament about the American Public's reaction to these 14 bloody corpses.

This was a disgraceful spectacle.


Wednesday, December 30

Holiday Tidings -

What happened to me? Where have I been?

Sorry about the Blog Hiatus! I had to find a new Internet Provider. The Clear company was acquired by Sprint and went out of business. I had been using a Clear Stick which looked liked a thumb drive and plugged into my laptop. I decided to continue with mobile broadband and had to make other arrangements.

I believe this was my longest hiatus away from my Blog since I started it. Not to worry - long time Bloggers don't just walk away from their Blogs and leave their readers hanging.

So, let's do a bit of catching up . . .

The long-awaited new episode of the Jesse Stone TV movies finally aired on one of the Hallmark cable channels this past fall. For aficionados of this series, it was like revisiting old friends, since the movies feature a continuous core ensemble of characters.

This series is more similar to the British TV Mystery Detective programs such as Vera, Inspector George Gently and DCI Banks than to current American versions of the genre.

The Jesse Stone stories are set in a small New England town which is a satellite of the Boston metropolitan area, comparable to the traditional English village settings. And there is a moody, atmospheric regional landscape featured, enhanced by the musical background.

The stories unwind in more than the usual American hour, affording more time for the exploration of motives and plot twists.

In contrast to the current American emphasis on technical evidence, this more old-fashioned approach relies more on human intelligence.

It is the only TV series I am inclined to binge-watch when the movies are aired one after another.

# Christmas was blissfully quiet in our house - for a change. We had a turkey with the traditional fixings and a sumptuous chocolate cake for dessert which one of the women baked.

A local TV chef shared her special recipe
for chestnut soup, which sounded interesting.

# There were the usual reruns and holiday movies on TV with only one surprise: a couple of obscure cable channels aired Hugo as a children's movie.

It is beautifully crafted cinema, but rather long, and I'm not sure it can be appreciated that much by children.

# Another surprise occurred Sunday evening on the CBS 60 Minutes program which featured an interview with Joaquin Garcia alias Jack Falcone. Who was Jack Falcone? He was like Donnie Brasco.

I must admit that I found it a bit unsettling to see him on national TV unexpectedly. Joaquin Garcia touched my life in a peculiar way. He led a special sting operation in my old neighborhood here in South Florida which extirpated my neighborhood cop and a few others.

One of the results of the ensuing mess was my tour of duty as a Neighborhood Crime Watcher in a rather blighted and dangerous area.

It is also notable because any mainstream media record of the episode is being inexorably erased from the Internet.

Archives of the local newspaper which covered the story, for example, may be removed from the Internet after a limited number of years.

Soon, there may be no trace of it for journalists, historians, or scholars to reference at all.

# A new fad seen around here this Christmas was a whimsical touch on automobiles - putting on a pair of stuffed brown reindeer antlers and a red nose on the front grill or hood ornament.

+ I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Let's try to count our blessings.