February 8th, 2012

Si se puede

Good news: Prop 8 Struck Down by Federal Judge

Everyone here is probably quite aware that California's Prop 8 barring same-sex marriage has been struck down by a Federal court. Here is a WSJ blog on the matter:
A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down California’s voter-mandated ban on gay marriages, but stopped short of finding that other states or the federal government were required to recognize same-sex marriage. The decision sets the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on gay marriage as soon as next year, and could add fuel to the issue in the presidential campaign. In a 2-1 vote, a panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California’s 2008 law, popularly known as Proposition 8, violated the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause by stigmatizing a minority group without legitimate reason.
Of course, Californians same-sex couples are anxious to know when they can get hitched. LA's mayor has called for the stay on marriages to be lifted.

How do you think the Supreme Court will weigh in on the many issues involved? Do you believe they should not consider the issue?

Pill Bugs Catholics


US Catholics have strongly criticised a White House rule that would make Church-linked schools and hospitals give employees access to birth control.

Catholic League head Bill Donohue said it would be fought with lawsuits and "maybe even in the streets".

Okay, here's a crazy idea. If they don 't want the pill they don't have to take it. Also, the whole "in the streets" bit just makes me think of priests in Srg. Rock Helmuts waving around picket signs from behind sand bags. But I've had my brain warped by decades of American TV so that might just be me.

A recent poll suggested that 52% of American Catholics believe religiously affiliated colleges and hospitals should have to provide coverage that includes contraception.

So a bunch of Catholics are against this except for the 52% of Catholics who are for it? Ah, American relegion. It's nice to know I can always turn to you when I need to be assured that there are still people out there who are horrified that other people might be enjoying sex.

That said, suck it, Catholic League. If people want the pill they should be able to have it. The US is already behind only China and India in terms of people so some population control is in our best interests.

The good side of police states.

We don't often concentrate on the good aspects to police states. While it is quite trendy and hip to have an a priori, absolutist stance with regards to privacy, government power and surveillance, I find such an attitude to be too crude an understanding.

Congress working on regulations for commercial drones in US airspace.

Personally, I fully support the idea of government drones for various purposes: search and rescue, fire-watch, keeping tabs on those Canadians, and suppressing marijuana-grow operations on public lands. In fact, if I were in Congress, I'd immediately introduce a bill proposing funding for a fleet of drones to be used by the US Forest Service and Parks Service, the BLM and the Dept. of the Interior in general.

While I am against raiding private homes and properties to eradicate something like marijuana, I am fully behind the idea that the government and various state DNR agencies should have the technology to protect our environment: up to and including pot-heads who abscond with public property for their own private gain.

The applications of drone and surveillance technology for protecting the environment are many. International charities could fund anti-poaching technologies (much like current infra-red/thermal-imaging cameras in Africa), and poaching bands could be tracked from the air. Perhaps we should think a little less about simply protecting the environment, and a little more about actively fighting for it.

(no subject)

I would like to start a conversation on property rights. We have had some strange issues involving the rote concept of ownership; of the right to own and to assign value to things or places.

Seeds, genes, creative efforts, everything but the air we breathe can or has been claimed by someone/government as being 'owned by X'

Some things seem to generic, to much commonplace, to 'everyone uses it!' like, oh, some of the most common features of the World Wide Web.

Or is it?

There is some deep shit going down in Texas.

Michael Doyle, a low-profile Chicago biologist, claims that it was actually he and two co-inventors who invented — and patented — the “interactive web” before anyone else, while they were employed by the University of California back in 1993. Doyle argues that a program he created at the UC’s San Francisco campus, which allowed doctors to view embryos over the nascent World Wide Web, was the first program that allowed users to interact with images inside of a web browser window.

Feel free to read the story, it takes about 5 minutes.

Clearly, if the facts are correct as presented, Doyle is about to become an extremely wealthy man, benefiting off the work of others. That he has waited so long to file the actions is pretty smart on his part, the bigger Google and Yahoo get, the deeper their pockets are. Ultimately, it is all paper wealth, shifted from one account to the next but there is this nagging idea that he really didn't earn this money.
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This is about as big a case of property rights as it gets. The fact he has pursued this, and the players have fought him over this since 1993 pretty much settles any question of "Patent Troll". If you were on the jury and only had the info provided in the links and the story, which side would prevail? My opinion would be I would fall on the side with the best argument as to the validity of the patents. That the PTO reversed its decision and affirmed the validity, I am Sure UC/Eolas will point this out to the jury.
The Captain's Prop

Constitutional Amendments Say No

Some time ago, I asked the forum in the Friday Lulz tradition to imagine a world where money was excluded from the political arena. Few bit, most of those dismissed, probably for the same reason that people don't sit around dreaming of what the sky would look like green instead of blue.

Ah, it turns out (through NPR, of all places) that others are thinking like me. (Which is probably a sign of the end times, but. . . .) The lobbyist they interviewed, Jimmy Williams, has a draft over here. A sample of his draft:

“No person, corporation or business entity of any type, domestic or foreign, shall be allowed to contribute money, directly or indirectly, to any candidate for Federal office or to contribute money on behalf of or opposed to any type of campaign for Federal office."

I would go further, making it a felony for any entity in broadcast or print from taking money from a supporter of a candidate, and I certainly wouldn't limit the exclusion only to Federal offices (though that was probably just to avoid a constitutional battle regarding state law).

According to the podcast, about 12 of these drafts are batting around being debated and scrutinized. Any bets as to how long it will take monied interests to infiltrate the groups and sour the process forever? Thems big monies to be made and maintained in this here corporatist nation of United States!