Archive for August 20th, 2009

KXNT Jerk Of The Week submission 20/8/2009

Your “Jerk of the Week” submission
Yahoo

Why should this person be the “Jerk of the Week”?
Deleting the Obama Socialism image from Flickr, and deleting Flickr accounts belonging to people who post anti-Obama comments.

Your Name (Optional)
Samuel Gordon-Stewart

Nominate your jerk of the week here.

Samuel

August 20th, 2009 at 11:38pm

James Hardie fines

An email to 2GB’s Andrew Moore:

G’day Andrew,

Re: the James Hardie fines. I think we need to keep in mind that today’s fines relate to an administrative deception, and not directly to compensation to James Hardie victims. For the items which they have been charged, I think the fines are acceptable.

What I think needs to happen though is that separate action needs to be brought against the directors for causing difficulties with paying compensation, and then they should, if found guilty, be forced to pay the unpaid compensation out of their own pockets.

Enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

August 20th, 2009 at 05:21pm

Wireless Network

I was curious this afternoon to see how far my wireless network signal goes, so to test it I left the 2GB webstream running on my laptop as I drove to 1WAY FM. I didn’t lose the signal until I was two blocks from home.

I wasn’t expecting it to reach this far, and alas it’s not quite far enough to be useful, as the suburb’s church which doubles as the election polling place, is just outside my wifi range.

I was also somewhat surprised to have Windows Media Player resume the 2GB stream when my laptop connected to the network at 1WAY FM. I was in the middle of a conversation and it was a bit like having a Chris Smith ringtone interrupting the conversation.

Hmmm, now there’s a thought…I should cobble together a ringtone of all the talk radio personalities that I like.

Samuel

August 20th, 2009 at 02:59pm

Praise the anointed one, or be banned from Flickr

It looks like Yahoo doesn’t like criticism of Barack Obama. Their Flickr photo gallery service has seen fit to silence opposition to the anointed one.

Obama SocialismThat Obama Socialism graphic that’s been doing the rounds of late has caused a bit of a stir on Flickr where they have deleted it, citing a copyright issue.

After creating the image [Firas] Alkhateeb posted it to his Flickr account and ended up getting over 20,000 views on it. 20,000 views that is until Flickr pulled the image down censoring him, along with everyone who commented on the image, citing “copyright-infringement concerns,” according to the [Los Angeles] Times.

Personally I think it’s too bad that Flickr decided to censor this iconic image. Whatever you may or may not think about this image and it’s appropriateness, the image would absolutely and unequivocally be considered parody and parody has always been one of the most effective defenses against any copyright complaint. Parody is why Weird Al gets away with creating a song called “Eat It,” directly to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

What’s more, in the interest of free speech, political parody *especially* is perhaps given the widest berth of all. This is why Ralph Nader was able to directly rip MasterCard’s “Priceless” campaign and why the courts subsequently ruled in his favor after MasterCard sued him over it. Earlier today, a friend and Flickr contact of mine from DMU, A Boy and His Prime, who is a law student, put it more directly. “If you produce something that is transformative, and not derivative, then it’s fair use (Folsom v Marsh). In Campbell v Acuff-Rose, 510 U.S. 569, Souter seemed to suggest that the main idea is substitutability, and that makes a lot of sense when you consider what copyright protects (i.e. your interest in your own work). The Jokerbama does not replace the original photo in any sense.”

And it’s not just this picture. It seems that posting anti-Obama comments can get your Flickr account nuked as well.

Flickr user Shepherd Johnson was browsing the official White House photostream one night when he decided to post a politically-charged comment. Then another, then another. Soon, without warning, Yahoo’s photo-sharing service deleted his account, complete with 1,200 pictures.
[..]
The Virginia man’s initial 10 or so comments, which went up Wednesday night, were deleted without explanation by Friday. That night, Johnson posted roughly ten more to different White House photos, this time linking in another Flickr user’s Abu Ghraib picture, as allowed by Flickr’s comment formatting (see Johnson’s reproduction of his comment, left, taken from his post to freedom-of-information hub Cryptome).

In the midst of this second round of commenting, Johnson found his account was gone. There had been no warning of any sort from Yahoo, he said. Johnson would later work his way up Flickr’s customer service tree, eventually leaving a message for the vice president of customer service and other bigwigs. He even left a message for Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz — a noted fan of frank discourse — on Bartz’s home answering machine.

Johnson, who lives outside Richmond, still has no answers. More crucially, he also doesn’t have access to any of the 1,200 pictures he uploaded to Flickr under his paid “Pro” membership. Many of the pics, he said, were “completely irretrievable — I didn’t back them up on any disks, I just spur-of-the-moment loaded it up and deleted the flash” memory originals.

This is exactly why I refuse to use Flickr or Facebook as my primary photo gallery, as I refuse to give a third party the power to moderate my publications. Flickr, with their politically charged censoring of accounts critical of Barack Obama, have just made my position that bit more solid.

And how do Flickr respond? By clamming up:

In accordance with Flickr’s policy, we cannot disclose information to third parties concerning a member’s account. However, in joining Flickr, all of our members agree to abide by our Community Guidelines. These guidelines require that all of our members be respectful of the community and flag content that may not be suitable for “safe” viewing.
[..]
Flickr is a very large community made up of many types of members from all over the world, and we respect the viewpoints and expressions of all of our members.

Very funny way to show it.

Samuel

August 20th, 2009 at 01:54pm

Who dredged this story up again?

It will never happen, it’s a silly suggestion, so why does it keep coming up?

A shared currency between Australia and New Zealand has merit but is unlikely to eventuate, NZ Prime Minister John Key says.

Speaking to a business luncheon in Melbourne, Mr Key said adopting the Australian dollar would mean NZ forfeiting control of its monetary policy.
[..]
“The reason I don’t think it would happen is not actually because of parochial, political reasons.

“I think it’s because then again you have to abandon, from New Zealand’s perspective, control of monetary policy.”

Mr Key said NZ needed to retain its fiscal independence in case of an economic catastrophe, such as an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Only then could there be an enormous correction in currency to try to offset “economic carnage”, he said.

Sovereign nations with their own economies, customs and laws should have separate currencies, unless they feel like giving away more than just control of their currency to some central bureaucracy like the European Union.

Samuel

August 20th, 2009 at 09:44am

Parliamentary triangle noise alert!

If you’re in the parliamentary triangle at 9am and you hear a lot of loud banging noises, don’t be alarmed, it’s just New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key receiving a 19-gun salute.

Call me ignorant if you like, but is this normal? I can’t remember the last time a foreign leader got a 19-gun salute at Parliament House. I would have expected this sort of thing to happen when they step off their plane.

Can anybody enlighten me as to what the normal procedure is?

Meanwhile this afternoon at 1:50pm, Mr. Key will be attending the Australian War Memorial. Expect traffic delays in the area, as the police tend to block off roads so that foreign leaders can have an uninterrupted run from A to B.

Samuel

August 20th, 2009 at 08:45am

Cash For Clunkers alternatives

A few weeks ago I noted that the controversial Cash For Clunkers program was underway in the US, since then it has been embroiled in all flavours of fiasco. The US government so badly underestimated how many people would use it, that the program ran out of money within days, and the government hastily threw more money at it before they disappeared for their August holiday.

Back when I wrote that original article, I was contacted by an outfit called Donate Car USA who were informing me of some of the interesting pitfalls in the Clunkers program. I noted their email, but never got around to writing anything about it. They have since contacted me again, and updated their notes on the Clunkers program, and I think the information is worth sharing.

To qualify for the Clunkers program, you have to be both selling and old car, and buying a new car. In effect, you don’t actually make any money as the cost of the new car well and truly outweighs the cost of the old car. In addition, there are some interesting rules:

  • Your vehicle must be less than 25 years old on the trade-in date
  • Only the purchase or lease of new vehicles will qualify you for the federal funding
  • Trade-in vehicles must get 18 miles or less per gallon
  • Vehicles must be in driving condition, plus registered and insured for the full year prior to the trade-in

As Donate Car USA points out:

The gas mileage rates are so low that only very poor mileage cars like SUVs or trucks will qualify.

And if your vehicle happens to be worth more than the $3,500 or $4,500 rebate amount, well tough luck, you don’t get any government money.

The fact that the program ran out of money with such tight rules is extraordinary, and makes me wonder whether funds were reserved for each application, pending inspection of the clunker in question rather than only being allocated after cars were officially deemed to be clunkers…in which case I expect we will start to see a lot of people very upset that their car doesn’t qualify.

So what do people do if they want to get rid of an old car in the US, but don’t qualify for Clunkers, or don’t want a new car, or just don’t want to go through the hassle of selling. This is where Donate Car USA steps in, making it easy to donate a car, in some cases regardless of whether it is running, to a charity of the donor’s choosing.

Still, it’s a case of giving away something, which might not be an easy thing to do for many people, so they’re offering an incentive…from their website:

And to thank you for deciding to donate your car to charity, instead of participating in the Cash for Clunkers program — when you donate your car to one of our 400+ fine charities — just tell your operator you’d like the $300 Free Grocery or Gasoline Rebate when you make arrangements with us for the free car donation pick up.

Now that’s a charity which understands its target audience. The “what are we going to do with that car on the lawn” brigade who are probably struggling a bit with the economy in the shape it is, and unemployment heading the way it is…a large market of people who would probably like to help out someone else and be able to make their own lives a tad easier at the same time. It’s a darn good deal, and I haven’t even touched on the possible tax benefits yet.

I would strongly advise anyone in the US who is considering getting rid of a car which they may think is a “clunker” to check out Donate Car USA and see if it’s right for them. There’s a lot more information on there than I could ever hope to represent here, and one would assume that their staff can answer any outstanding questions.

Now, are there any similar programs in Australia? Somehow, I doubt it.

Samuel

2 comments August 20th, 2009 at 07:24am

I wonder how many people will stumble over this one today?

A rarely used word appears in today’s AAP stories about Australian ambassadors and Chinese gas deals.

While Chinese state media has said little about the 50 billion Gorgon gas deal .. an editorial in the China Daily newspaper claims Australia’s sinophobic politicians are leading an anti-China chorus.

Sinophobia is the fear of China and the Chinese. It is effectively a version of xenophobia directed specifically at China. I wonder how many people today, when they read that, will think the journalist responsible for the story is actually talking about xenophobia?

Samuel

August 20th, 2009 at 05:55am


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