You might pee in your pants reading this

This may be April, April 30 to be exact, but the following is not an April Fools’ Joke.

People of Lesbos take gay group to court over term ‘Lesbian’ – Yahoo! News
ATHENS, Greece – A Greek court has been asked to draw the line between the natives of the Aegean Sea island of Lesbos and the world’s gay women.

Three islanders from Lesbos â?? home of the ancient poet Sappho, who praised love between women â?? have taken a gay rights group to court for using the word lesbian in its name.

One of the plaintiffs said Wednesday that the name of the association, Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece, “insults the identity” of the people of Lesbos, who are also known as Lesbians.

“My sister can’t say she is a Lesbian,” said Dimitris Lambrou. “Our geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies who have no connection whatsoever with Lesbos,” he said.

The three plaintiffs are seeking to have the group barred from using “lesbian” in its name and filed a lawsuit on April 10. The other two plaintiffs are women.

It might be a tad too late to put the genie back in the bottle.

Charlie Rose Interviews … Charlie Rose (regarding Yahoo! and Microsoft)

This video is likely entertaining only to folks who are forced to live with Microsoft hovering over Yahoo!, who are into video mashing and editing, or who like making fun of the first two groups. Even if you aren’t in those groups, watch anyway; it is short enough for everyone to watch and ponder.

I’ve wanted to post and comment on this video since I saw it a few weeks ago. Now I get my chance, as I work through some of my copyrights outline (test tomorrow).

I assume the Charlie Rose show is copyrighted. I also assume, Charlie Rose or the owner of his show can make out a prima facie case (this means they showed infringement of their copyrighted work). In that case, the maker of this video will need to argue a Fair Use defense under section 107 of the copyright statute.

Section 107 of the copyright act (usc title 17, section 107) provides four factors for courts to assess a fair use claim. It requires a court to consider: (1) the purpose and character of the use; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

First, a court must consider the purpose and character of the use, analyzed along two axes: commercial versus non-commercial; and the superseding object of the original versus transformative uses. The commercial nature of a work is generally not dispositive and is given very little weight. Courts frequently provide this quote from an old case: “no man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” It isn’t entirely true, but sums up U.S. courts’ opinions about how they regard this requirement. Along the second axis, the video appears to be transformative because, to me, it appears to “add something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first with new expression, meaning, or message.” Is it a parody? In which case it is given more deference. Is it only satire? If so, it gets less deference. I think that because the video’s creator adds another meaning, that of this philosophical conversation with self, it likely passes as transformative.

Second, the nature of the copyrighted work is as a published video of non-fiction. I’m assuming that the video was taken from archived copies of the Charlie Rose show. This part of the analysis matters very little unless it was an unpublished work that was intended to be sold for money. This was the case in the late 1970’s when the Nation Magazine scooped the juicy details that were to the “very heart” of former President Gerald Ford’s memoirs of his time in office. The Nation acquired a copy of the manuscript before it was published, and caused Time Magazine to cancel out on the advance it had paid to have first dibs on a review. D’oh! Here, if the video clips were taken from previously broadcast Charlie Rose episodes, Obi Wan Kenobi is not needed to say “There is nothing here. Move along.”

Third, a court will look at the amount ans substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. It seems this video takes very little of two separate shows. It is a toss-up how a court will come down on this. A court will not let someone take the heart of a work, as in the Nation Magazine scooping Gerry Ford’s story, even though it used a few hundred words of a 300 or more page book. I think it is unlikely they would consider this went to the heart of the Charlie Rose episodes in question because it was changed so much so that I’m not sure what was discussed beyond Yahoo! and Microsoft.

Fourth, a court will look at the effect upon the market value of the original, copyrighted work. It isn’t clear to me, but I doubt it will have much impact. The new video does not substitute for the original. In fact, I think it might lead people to want to view the shows to see what was said originally.

All said, I think this video will likely qualify as fair use.

Infringement of Copyrighted Songs?

I’m preparing for a Copyrights exam in less than 48 hours. One part of the test for copyright infringement asks whether the “ordinary observer” would find substantial similarity between the two works.

This video provides a good opportunity for you, as the ordinary observer, to decide whether songs are substantially similar to each other. There are several sets of provided, the original work followed by the allegedly infringing song.

The last one is the most trippy. You can hear the full version of Taurus by Spirit on this video: (embedding not allowed on this one.)

And here is a second set to provide your opinion as the “ordinary observer.”

Race is not always the issue

I think it is unfortunate for African Americans and others who are non-white that some people choose to blame race whenever something goes wrong in life. For example, consider the reaction to a verdict today in New York regarding three police officers shooting 50 rounds from their guns and killing an unarmed man.

NYPD officers cleared in killing; rights leaders want probe – Yahoo! News
NEW YORK – Civil rights leaders demanded a federal investigation and vowed to march through the streets in protest after three police officers were cleared of all charges Friday in the killing of an unarmed man cut down in a hail of 50 bullets on his wedding day.

The verdict by Justice Arthur Cooperman elicited gasps as well as tears of joy and sorrow. Detective Michael Oliver, who fired 31 of the shots, wept at the defense table, while the mother of victim Sean Bell cried in the packed courtroom. Shouts of “Murderers! Murderers!” and “KKK!” rang out on the courthouse steps.

Two of the three police detectives involved were African-American. I don’t understand the connection to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to this case. I can see a strong argument for excessive force but I don’t see much, if any, argument for racism.

It is unfortunate for America when the race card is pulled in a situation like this. In fact, it occurs far too often. Another example comes out of the Motor City. Current Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has accused numerous folks of racism in his recent text messaging scandal, even though race doesn’t play a role. He is accused of perjury in his testimony during a lawsuit by former cops (neither white) he had fired because they were looking into corruption. Speaking of Detroit, former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young used it too frequently through the 1970’s and 80’s to retain his hold on political power, meanwhile driving his city further into the ground. Remnants of the antagonistic relationships with other local cities is still evident in local life and politics.

Race comes out too often when it has no relevance to a situation and is used only to raise hackles. But the louder and more frequent these cries are, the more they are ignored. Sadly, it has become a situation much akin to the parable regarding the boy who cried wolf. This was demonstrated by the Jena 6 imbroglio. It took weeks before the mainstream press bothered to cover the story and it is still taking a beating these many months later. That story deserved the discussion about racism that our country should have. But it didn’t and has been largely forgotten by most of America less than a year later.

As Barack Obama recently argued, a discussion about race in America does need to occur. However, I don’t think it can be very constructive in a world in which the little boy who cries wolf about racism is ignored. It is time for people to step back and collect all details about a situation before inferring that racism is a cause and, even then, to be more careful before pulling it out. There are many other reasons beyond racism that may cause a person to say or do something. In the case of the New York City cops killing Sean Bell, I would think that there are many, many other reasons such as fear, the early morning hour, a crowd of mostly intoxicated young men dispersing after an altercation, and society’s love for and access to guns. In the end, I think that America has been desensitized to cries of racism, as unfortunate as that is for us all.

BTW: I think Obama’s speech is well worth watching. I wish someone spoke up and made this many years ago.

Fight erupts in Jerusalem church

WTF is with this? Priests fighting? And at Easter, too! What morons!

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Fight erupts in Jerusalem church

Israeli police had to break up a fist fight that erupted between Greek and Armenian Orthodox clergymen at one of Christianity’s holiest sites.

The scuffles broke out at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Orthodox Palm Sunday.

Two serious comments about this behavior:

1. How can anyone take seriously any of these priests when they teach about morals? They do not set a very good example for others to live by. This is not what Jesus preached.

2. This provides a very good time for Christians to reflect regarding recent attacks against Islam as a violent religion. If Christian clergymen are not able to deal with issues without resorting to violence, what does that say about the followers of that religion.

Note: Although this fight was between two Eastern Orthodox Christian groups, I think it reflects on other Christians, just as Sunni Islam and Shi’a Islam reflect upon each other.

McCain: Cutting taxes more important than balanced budget

I don’t think John McCain subscribes to the belief that: “A deficit today means a tax tomorrow.”

McCain: Cutting taxes more important than balanced budget – Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – Republican John McCain said Sunday that cutting taxes and stimulating the economy are more important than balancing the budget, and accused both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama of supporting tax hikes that would worsen the impact of a recession.

“The goal right now is to get the economy going again,” the GOP presidential nominee-in-waiting said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding that he would put the country “on a path to a balanced budget” by attacking wasteful spending.

What John McCain asks for is not a tax cut, it is a deferred tax. As far as he’s concerned, he won’t need to pay the tax man today (but his kids/grandkids surely will).

The thing I don’t think John McCain or our Congress quite understands is that they are pushing 96% taxes someday in the future to pay for the war they refuse to pay for today. In the end, someone needs to pay for war spending, in addition to all the regular stuff the government spends on domestically. I’d rather we all pay our fair share today through taxes (yes, even increased taxes) than it be forced on my generation later on. If that’s the case, I’d rather the U.S. Government default on its debt obligations today rather than force the younger generations to do so later.

Note: I’m not against trimming or cutting programs, I just think a balanced budget is required before tax cuts can be implemented. The first place I’d cut is Congressional pay. The second is the war in Iraq. What a boondoggle!

Cougars invading the MidWest?

It sounds like MidWestern states will need to create policies regarding cougars and confront a new reality in which the big cats will return.

Cougar killed on North Side may have wandered from Black Hills —

The voyage may sound improbable, but wildlife officials say that a DNA test should reveal whether a cougar killed Monday in Chicago took a 1,000-mile trip from the Black Hills of South Dakota through Wisconsin before being shot by police in the Roscoe Village neighborhood.

Clay Nielsen, wildlife ecologist at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and director of scientific research with The Cougar Network, said that more cougars are wandering out of high cougar population areas like South Dakota into Midwestern areas that have not seen them for hundreds of years.

When I was a kid, it seemed the TV news shows would broadcast a story about the elusive Michigan panther once every few months. It has such legendary status that the local USFL (football) franchise was named the Michigan Panthers in the early 1980s.

If you wade through links in search engines regarding the USFL team, you’ll get gems that provide conspiracy theories about why Michigan DNR refuses to investigate or acknowledge Michigan’s panther population. The DNR responds on its web site.

The true test will come when, and if, a female cougar makes the trek and establishes a line further from the current breeding community in the Dakotas.

Cheap, Green Drain Cleaner

Our shower was completely clogged two weeks ago. It didn’t even drain after a full day sitting there. Nasty!

But I was too lazy to go to the store. So I went online and searched for an alternative drain cleaner. The recipe I found was:

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • hot water

So I boiled a small sauce pan of water (4-6 cups). I then scooped up the baking soda out of the bag we have and poured it over the drain to get as much of it as possible to float down into the drain to the clog. I then poured in the vinegar over the same spot. It immediately fizzled, bubbled, and showed its effervescence. I waited two or three minutes to let the bubbles do their work. Then in went the boiled water, still piping hot, down the drain.


So I started to repeat the steps. By the time I put more water on the stove to boil and walked back to the bathroom, the drain had cleared. A few weeks later and the drain is still clean as can be.

So I now have a green drain cleaner that won’t eat the pipes or kill the kids and fish. I highly, highly recommend that you also try this drain cleaner. It works well and the ingredients are probably already in your home, as they were in mine. Cheap, too!

Annoyed by Amazon

I ordered three books last week from Amazon and decided to pay for shipping (I wanted one of the books sooner than later). The shipping option I paid for would deliver within 3-5 days after it was shipped. The items shipped two days in two different parcels. One expected to arrive after 4 days and the other after 7 days.

Naturally, I contacted Amazon to let them know I was unhappy with paying for the 3-5 day shipping option but would receive the item on business day 7 after shipping.

“I’d like to know why a package I ordered will be delivered more than five days after it is shipped. I paid for standard shipping (3-5 business days). Even generously not counting today (4/9) and counting forward, five business days would mean it will be delivered on 4/16. From the email I just received: “Shipped via USPS (estimated arrival date: 17-April-2008).” “

Without reading the email, Amazon responded with a load of crap and poor arithmetic:

Hello from

I understand that your concern is regarding the estimated delivery date of your second shipment.

I’ve looked into your order and see that it’s been shipped via USPS and should be delivered by Apr 17, 2008.

I understand that this estimated delivery date is long, however, please understand, the shipping method you have selected for this order is Standard Shipping and when you choose this shipping, the estimated delivery date for the item will be 3 to 5 business days after the order is shipped. Please note that most carriers do not deliver packages on weekends.

This estimated delivery date is calculated based on how close inventory of “BOOK TITLE” is to the delivery address, as well as how quickly we can obtain and assemble your order.

As you may know, we have several fulfillment centers across the U.S., and the items in your order may sometimes be in stock at different locations. When you place your order, we estimate your ship date based on the proximity of inventory to the delivery address you provide, as well as how quickly we can obtain and assemble items for shipment.

We do want to make sure that your order arrives safely. If your package doesn’t arrive by end of the business day on April 20, 2008 please use the link below to contact us so that we can investigate further.

I hope this information helps you.

Thanks for shopping at

Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:…
If not, click here:…

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards,

Sandhya Customer Service

I replied to the email to it again but was rudely met by a bounced message. It turns out Amazon buries a note to not bother replying to their email. WTF!? The least it could do is point out to customers at the top of the email. I could not avoid letting my frustration show.

COMMENTS: I think you missed my point. The item has shipped. My point is that the 17th is more than 5 business days from now. That is longer than the 3-5 business days which the standard shipping option states, post shipping of course. I suggest you count it again.

The order form discusses estimated shipping date and based on that an estimated delivery date. But nothing on the order form describes the delivery date (3-5 days) as only an estimate that may reach beyond five days after an item is shipped. Your shipping information linked from the order form all refers to “Delivery within 3 to 5 business days.” I chose the shipping speed of 3-5 days and am perturbed Amazon decided to cheap-out and deliver it under a lesser delivery option.

BTW: It would be a better user experience to tell users at the TOP of an email not to reply to it. It is currently buried at the bottom.


That got some attention but I was still insulted by the fact that it took this long to garner an appropriate response.

Thank you for writing back to us at with your concern.

I’m sorry for the inconvenience caused to you regrading the delivery of your order for the item “[BOOK TITLE]”.

From your e-mail message I understand that the estimated delivery date displayed on your order confirmation e-mail states that your order will be delivered by April 17, 2008 which is more than 5 business days since your order was shipped on April 09, 2008.

However, I have contacted our shipping department on your behalf and confirm you that the estimated delivery date displayed in your order confirmation e-mail and Your Account were incorrect. Please accept our sincere apologies for this error.

In actuality, you can expect your order to be to be delivered to you by April 16, 2008 which is 5 business days from your shipment date.

Also, please note that at the bottom of all automated messages we send, you’ll see these words, “Please note: This e-mail was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. Please do not reply to this message.”

Thank you for suggesting that it would be a better user experience to tell users at the Top of an email not to reply to it. Customer feedback like yours is very important in helping us continue to improve the selection and service we provide.

I appreciate your thoughts and I will be sure to forward your suggestion to the concerned department.

For help in the future, please note that the most efficient way to contact our customer service department is by using the e-mail form below found in our Help pages:

Further, I’ll personally look into this issue and see that your order gets delivered by April 16, 2008. I can understand how important this order is to you and how frustrating if you do not receive it in time.

I’ve already created a Follow-Up for your order and will write back to you again on April 17, 2008 with all the details of the order.

I hope the above information is helpful for you.

Thank you for shopping at

Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:….
If not, click here:….

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards,

Hussain Customer Service

The package showed up on the 16th. It is arguable whether that is business day 5 or business day 6 after it was shipped. Either way, in the future I’ll avoid Amazon when I can and will definitely avoid paying for Amazon shipping. Just isn’t worth it. This is about the fifth time I’ve had negative run-ins with Amazon customer care and piss-poor customer experience. I’ve purchased from them less than a dozen times. A nearly fifty percent negative experience is a very bad track record.

Here’s one form I submitted to Amazon in 2005. It was regarding a Christmas gift I bought for my sister knowing it would be delivered around or just after the new year. More than two months later I was asked to accept a late delivery for the third time. The book finally arrived in late March 2005.

>Date: Sat Feb 19 18:49:39 GMT 2005
>Subject: Where’s My Stuff?

02/19/05 10:49:18
ORDER ID: 102-7430093-0897743<br>COMMENTS: I’m not feeling very appreciated. In fact, I’m infuriated. What is the hold-up? Why am I being asked for my approval to delay shipment again? This is the second time this month.

Has the publisher not sent you a copy? Are you upset at me for not buying more? Is it because the book is destined for Alaska? Speak to me. I’d like to know why it is being delayed.

I’d also like to know why there isn’t a phone number provided to customer service. Better to spend the money than let your customer stew for hours while waiting for your reply.

And tell me one good reason I shouldn’t cancel this order, refuse to order from Amazon in the future and recommend everyone I know to avoid your company.

I ordered this book for my sister on 12/15/04 minutes after I ordered an identical book for my other sister. That book was sent to my other sister more than a month ago.”