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All my book reviews and profile can be found here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

TSA to My Mother-in-Law: 'There's an Anomaly in the Crotch Area' - Jeffrey Goldberg - National - The Atlantic

On the Al-Quaeda victory over the United States since we are now forced to discuss 79-year-old crotches in the name of security.

'via Blog this'

New Racism Museum Reveals the Ugly Truth Behind Aunt Jemima - Jennie Rothenberg Gritz - National - The Atlantic



The new Jim Crow museum. Showing the underbelly of American racism.  Pertinent quote from the article: "One day, one of my professors came into the classroom with a chauffer's cap. He set the hat down and asked what historical significance it had.


Now, the obvious answer was that blacks were denied many opportunities, and chauffeuring was one of the few jobs open to them. But that was not the right answer. He told us that a lot of professional middle-class blacks in those days always traveled with a chauffer's hat. The reason: If they were driving a nice new car through a small southern town, they didn't want police officers, or any other whites, to know the car belonged to them."


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The Fleet Type Submarine - Submarine Sonar Operator's Manual

The Historic Naval Sips Association is a gold mine of resources related to maritime stuff.  For example, this submarine sonar operator's manual is choke full of interesting information such as examples of the difference between relative and true bearing.



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Sea Shadow - Bow of Sea Shadow inside HMB-1

Fascinating set of pictures.  It's a shame this ship will be destroyed.



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Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Court and Health Care Reform | Oyez Today

Extremely useful overview of the arguments and issues related to the Affordable Care Act.  Note that there are four short videos of law professors examining what is at stake and the legal issues for each of the issues involved. Excellent.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

The Reading Renaissance - NYTimes.com

Right on.  Exactly right. Apocalypse not.

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5 Myths about Free Speech

I support the goals of the Occupy Movement but I also think it's important to understand the law with regard to what is and is not permissible.  One of my favorite legal writers has a terrific post on the Verdict.Justicia.com site.  Much as there is considerable confusion over the difference between "free exercise" and "establishment" with regard to religion, there are myths surrounding free speech (as Snyder discovered in Snyder v Phelps.)

To sum up:

Myth No. 1:  The Expressive Intent or Motive of the Protestor Is the Most Important Factor in Determining Whether His/Her Speech Can Constitutionally Be Prohibited.


Myth No. 2:  Laws Regulating the “Time, Place and Manner” of Speech in a Content-Neutral Way Are Unimportant or Are a Pretext for Speech Suppression, and Thus Do Not Really Need to Be Enforced.


Myth Number 3:  Expressive Conduct Is Treated No Differently Than Pure Speech Is.


Myth Number 4:  The Authorities Could, if They So Chose, Cut Protestors a Break When the Protestors Are Trying to Speak Out on Important Issues to Accomplish Just Results.


Myth Number 5:  Even if Rules Have to Be Enforced By Ordinary Governments, University Campuses Are Special Places Where More Expressive Conduct Should Be Permitted.



Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beautiful Lie the Dead by Barbara Fradkin

Excellent police procedural that takes place in Ottawa with stops in Montreal and smaller Canadian towns  as Inspector Green marshalls the members of the Major Case Squad to locate a woman missing, but feared dead, only to discover the relationship between her fiance, the rich mother, the man’s long dead father, and a woman, later identified as Lise Grevelle,  found dead on the street who had known the missing woman.


To say any more would turn this into a spoiler. Very enjoyable, well written, suspenseful, and seemingly realistic police procedures.

Publishers begin removing DRM from ebooks, smashing walls on Amazon “walled garden”

Interesting. DRM is coming down as much to punish Amazon as for the right reasons. Ironic because publishers were the ones who insisted on it in the first place and provided Amazon with the tool it needed to lock people into the Kindle.

More comments from Charles Stross on DRM here.  A quote: "The two current tablet/smartphone market incumbents are iOS (Apple) and Android (Google). (Microsoft is making a come-back attempt with Windows 8 Mobile, but is fighting an uphill battle.) These are essentially competing software platforms, like MacOS and Windows in the late 1980s. However, just five years ago, none of these platforms existed; the market was dominated by PalmOS, Symbian, and Microsoft's dead PocketPC platform. I therefore conclude that it is a really bad idea to make assumptions about the devices customers will own in even 3 years' time."

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Bail is Busted: How Jail Really Works - Page 2 - News - New York - Village Voice

Bail is Busted: How Jail Really Works - Page 2 - News - New York - Village Voice:

 " The arraignment is the moment when an arrestee becomes a defendant, when he's handed off from Jerry Orbach's realm of Order to Sam Waterston's world of Law. Interestingly, most court procedurals on film and television spend little time on the arraignment, if they show it at all. As a result, most people have little understanding of what actually happens at an arraignment. And that's too bad, Steinberg says, because "the arraignment is actually the most important proceeding in the entire process. What happens in the arraignment determines everything that comes afterward."

David Feige is quoted. My review of his excellent book is here

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

MERS, Banks Call A.G.’s Suit Factually, Legally Deficient | Foreclosure Fraud - Fighting Foreclosure Fraud by Sharing the Knowledge

MERS, Banks Call A.G.’s Suit Factually, Legally Deficient | Foreclosure Fraud - Fighting Foreclosure Fraud by Sharing the Knowledge:

The elephant in the room, it seems to me, is title ownership. I’ve told all seven of my kids that for the foreseeable future they shouldn’t even consider buying a house until the banks can prove they actually have clear title to a home and that it’s registered with the appropriate county clerk. The way mortgages were tranched and split up I seriously doubt if anyone could guarantee clear title. Fortunately, I bought a house to live in, rather than as an investment, and it’s totally paid off, no mortgage. You might ask about title insurance? That’s a joke. If the title company that insured your mortgage’s title is purchased by another company, they are under no obligation to do anything should there be a challenge to the title. This happened to me when we took over the mortgage to my daughter’s house and then sold it. The County Clerk where the deed was registered said it was missing a particular paper which had not been filed. The title company used at the time of the transfer had been purchased by the title company doing the work on the sale and they refused to have anything to do with the problem. Fortunately, my daughter had kept all of her paperwork, had the needed form, and we were good to go. If she had not had that form, I doubt if the sale would have happened. Houses are to live in, not to use as an atm. If they gain in value over 20 or 30 years, that’s fine, but it should not be the primary reason for buying a house.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Skepticblog » Shermer in Seminary School

Skepticblog » Shermer in Seminary School:

'via Blog this'  Michael Shermer takes on immortality and life after death.
Lawrence Block has a very nice post on the problems in the publishing industry and the rise of ebooks here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

More on the publishing industry and a follow-up to the Extruder post below. From my experience as a micro-publisher, everything he says is very true.
The Commodore by Jan de Hartog


I cannot believe I never read this before. I loved [book:Captain Jan   A Story of Ocean Tugboats|6251910] when I read it years ago along with several other nautical books by Jan de Hartog. I am so glad I was reminded of that terrific book and I've ordered a whole bunch of additional de Hartog works.

I need to state at the outset that if you don't like nautical books, or books about ships, leave now and go about your depressing little lives. There is something about the grandeur of the sea and man's attempts to overcome storms in his puny little ways, that always makes for a great story, be it fiction or non-fiction.  And when the book is about an ocean-going salvage tug, watch out.

This book grabbed me and would not let go. Maxinius Harinxma, (also the star of The Captain) retired salvage tug captain is asked to come out of retirement for one last job as the consulting captain of a brand new slavage tug, the Isabel Kwel.  There's just one problem, it's gone through several captains and no one wants to say why.  Harinxma seeks out the first master who told him of the ship's very peculiar desire to roll like a barrel under certain circumstances to the point where everyone was sure it would capsize.  Still, after a trial run and witnessing how the latest captain used the bow thruster to contain the roll, Harinxma decides to take the job.

Of course, nothing is that simple, and soon he is caught in a web of intrigue surrounding the sale of the ship and it's secret tow. Anything more would be a spoiler.  If you like the sea, grab a copy.

Also highly recommended: [book:The Grey Seas Under  The Perilous Rescue Mission of a N.A. Salvage Tug|785655]

Pictures of a salvage tug much like the Isabel Kwel:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kz_49OxRLHc

Spectacular video of one of the new salvage tugs being put through its paces.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yCCPioL4Ro

And the Abeille Flandre and Abeille Bourbon, the most powerful new salvage tugs in Europe in a storm. What I wouldn't give to have been on the bridge:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5CYo8Y4D7U

Very cool.  Of course I would have puked my guts out.
Very funny but trenchant and accurate history of the publishing industry.  Be sure to read the comments as PW defenders embarrass themselves.
Being a Supreme Court junkie and one who teaches a course on landmark decisions of SCOTUS, one of the best sources for information about current activity is the SCOTUS blog where senior Supreme Court reporter Lyle Denniston writes comprehensive and thorough pieces on current cases and issues.  His review of the Affordable Health Care Act is a marvel and should be read by anyone who wishes to speak intelligently about it.

I listened to the oral arguments before the court regarding the constitutionality of the ACA (available here) and was disappointed by the presentation of the Solicitor General.  I think there are three possible outcomes at this point:

1.  The plaintiffs have no standing because of the Anti-Injunction Act (a late 19th century bill that prohibits anyone filing suit or seeking an injunction against a tax before that tax has been collected or taken effect.) This is my favorite outcome and the least likely to hurt the Court. It also makes the most sense since the individual mandate doesn't take effect for some time and no ones knows what its effect will be.

2.  The court rules the individual mandate unconstitutional but the remainder of the legislation unconstitutional. This would be a disaster for insurance companies since they would have to implement the very popular aspects of the bill (can't cancel policies of people who get sick, children covered until age 26, etc.) that rely cost them money without the increased revenue of the mandate.  This related to the sever-ability of the mandate, the government arguing that without it all the rest would fail.  The justices spent a lot of time talking about the impact on the insurance companies; very little on the impact of you and me.   Which tells you a lot about the justices POVs.

3.  The entire bill is unconstitutional.  This outcome would make a mockery of the court.  As Scalia pointed out, he had no intention of reading the entire 2700 pages of the bill, so for them to dump the entire legislation would simply mean the so-called non-activist conservatives who don't want to presume legislative prerogatives are doing just that, setting policy, and without having even read the legislation they want to condemn.  Then again, I doubt if Romney has read it either even though it's based on his Massachusetts legislation (not to mention the basis for it all came from the Heritage Foundation in 1991 as a way of combating Clinton's national plan and was intended to eliminate free-loaders.)

Whatever they do, I hope it's NOT a 5-4 decision which will make everyone even more cynical than they are already.
If you have any interest in publishing, ebooks,  and the digital world in general, I suggest you link to the following sites, all of which I read regularly. Or, you can just stop by here periodically for my comments on the ones I consider the most significant or interesting.

Mike Shatkin's blog is always pithy and interesting although, as a publishing "futurist" and consultant, he sees the world from their perspective, almost never from that of the reader or author. He also has a tendency to talk about how his father did things decades ago working in the industry.  Problem is, that world doesn't exist anymore.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes science fiction which has been published independently as well as traditionally and writes regularly on the state of indie publishing.  Excellent reading (as are her books - I prefer the Retrieval Artist series.)

David Gaughran writes in detail about his experiences in the digital and indie world and includes lots of data. Buy his book.

The Passive Voice is compiled and written by a contracts lawyer who reads and writes about many different aspects of publishing.  Always interesting; be sure to read the comments section.

The Dear Author blog I usually don't read regularly (at least it's not in my RSS feed) but Jane has a terrific summary of the DOJ lawsuit against the Big Six. Link


This article makes a great deal of sense to me. I have noticed (and suspect I have been party to) an increase in junk on Facebook pages. People start linking to every little thing and before you know it, it's impossible to find anything amidst all the trivia. So, I've got about 40 blogs/newspapers/ etc. dealing with publishing, politics, and news that I read daily.  I'll link to the most interesting and comment. If you give a shit about what I'm reading or think, feel free to link to this blog and post comments. Intelligent conversation is always welcome. Those who don't understand what that means won't be able to post.

Resurrection

Having grown tired of Facebook and not wanting to clutter up the Facebook pages of my friends with all my links and posts, yet wanting to keep a record - for myself if no one else- of interesting links and information, I have decided to resurrect my old reading blog, Welch's Rarebits. Feel free to post, link, or whatever else moves you.