Friday, April 04, 2008

Can we impeach him now?

NEW YORK - A newly disclosed
secret memo authored by the Department of Justice's Office of Legal
Counsel (OLC) in March 2003 that asserts President Bush has unlimited
power to order brutal interrogations of detainees also reveals a
radical interpretation of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment
protection from unreasonable search and seizure. The memo, declassified
yesterday as the result of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit,
cites a still-secret DOJ memo from 2001 that found that the "Fourth
Amendment had no application to domestic military operations."
Relying on the earlier memo, the March 2003 memo argues that
the president has authority as Commander-in-Chief to bypass not only
the Fourth Amendment but the central due process guarantee of the Fifth
Amendment as well.
"This memo makes a mockery of
the Constitution and the rule of law," said Amrit Singh, a staff
attorney with the ACLU.
 blog it
Seriously. It's not whether we could, it's when he will be held accountable and how. This goes beyond minor trespasses, it's into the range of great big intentional subversions of the Constitution, dereliction of duty and ...well, let us be blunt. The expressed and proven intent to subvert the constitution and overthrow the rule of the people is treason.

And given the solicitation of such "opinions" from co-conspirators, it's not even really open to debate. A trial - before a court, not the senate - could almost be a formality.

So, the only question is, will the the next president commute his sentence to life at hard labor, without parole, or perpetuate "the New World Order" with a visit to the Bush Library?

T-Shirtus Interruptus

I did this image in response to a comment suggesting I make this saying of mine into a t-shirt.

Well, of course I did, and I want to brag about it, because it's a damn fine shirt, if I do say so myself. More to the point, it' s really to the point, and it's a great graphic for me - and maybe even other people - to use this month.

Or it would be, if you could link to it at all without being logged in as me. You see, it's not been published yet. It took an unusually long time for this design to be approved, but not as long as might be implied by this belated update. So please take all the bitching below with a grain of salt. The reason why this post has not been completely rewritten is that in doing so that I might lose the point - that zazzle is still the best t-shirt site for bloggers as the graphic is immediately available, whether or not the design is ultimately approved. Yes, you may have to use a screen-shot utility. Even so, it's still faster than photoshop.

Now, I use both approaches. But the fact is, if I need to create a design for a post that I'm half-way through writing, this is still the fastest way to do it.

One of my biggest reasons for using Zazzle is because I can quickly combine text and stored graphic to create a design that I can then quickly use in a blog post. And usually it works that way. The fact that it's also available as a T-Shirt is not beside the point - but it's at least one click below that point. I've sold very few shirts that were specifically created as blog-post illustrators. But in terms of graphics storage and creating interesting, human illustrations in just a few minutes, nothing could be better. Or, at least, not until yesterday. I had to generate a screenshot of the product and then upload it. This means I could have just done it in photoshop, with better tools, or via flikr, or Picassa or what-have you.

Yes, I am bitching. Zazzle has been particularly slow in approving designs of late; I dunno why, but of course, it's always possible that politics is rearing it's ugly head. Or possibly they are trying to screen out hate speech - though it reportedly took 72 hours to publish an abstract graphic done by Seachild001, another Zazzler, so I don't know. I don't know what could have been the holdup there.

I often recommend Zazzle as a simple way of getting graphics that are specifically relevant to a post on unshakable grounds of fair use. All you have to do is paste the code in, then leave the linked graphic where you want it and move the link text to the bottom of the post as an attribution. It's fair use, and you might even make a 7% referral fee if someone likes the product and it saves a lot of time. You get an appropriate, topical graphic for a blog post, the creator is properly cited, Zazzle gets linkage, and nobody has any reason to feel grumpy or misused.

None of that is affected by this current apparent glitch, but I really much prefer creating my own graphics. It's selfish pride, really; I admit it. But also, it's not all that likely I'm going to find a relevant graphic for one of my posts.

Yes. I know. I'm that strange.

But it means I cannot rely on being able to do a graphic on the fly, and that really annoys me.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Being aware of autism has a price. Being aware of what a "standard cure" looks like.

The aptly-named "Judge Rottenburg Center" is the logical extension of all "compliance based" approaches toward "behavior issues;" the "get a bigger hammer." It is the "summa logica" of authoritarians who have shaped our dominant culture - if I may use the term loosely.

The presumption - amusingly enough - is that it's quite literally insane to resist, or even question authority. Objectively, the more rational it would seem to question, the more doctrinally rigid the response is - and both covert and overt violence is to be expected as one of the first responses.

It's no accident that such programs spend as much time on modifying the behavior of parents (h/t Ballastexistenz ) as of the students. When you have to create a video that "explains" to parents Why Students Complain To Families, with such patronizing gems as these, anyone who was not utterly desperate (and kept in that state by the industry literature) would run screaming - their child under one arm and a random example under the other.

The following transcript and commentary comes from the inimitable Ballastexistenz (Article Link above) who does a pretty thorough deconstruction of language used and probable intents, from an experienced perspective.

From Chapter 5:

Some other concerns that we come across quite frequently involve general complaints about the program. Students will complain that they are physically held or restrained for no reason, and they will claim that they didn’t do anything to justify or provoke this. They will claim quite often that their behavior contracts were broken, also for no reason, or for no good reason. (Dr. Paisey)

And usually the problem is that the students don’t connect their own behavior with the consequences or structure of the program that has been put in place for them. (Dr. Paisey)

And that’s where you hear the complaint of “Staff are too strict” or “I was restrained for no reason,” because they’re not initially making that connection. (Dr. Rivera)

Of course, being restrained and otherwise punished for no reason, and then having it written up otherwise, is an incredibly common experience in institutions. It is convenient for them to have such a facile explanation for the whole thing.

From Chapter 8

Now young people complain about food all the time, in fact young people complain all the time in my experience, about everything. (Dr. Paisey)

This is true. (Dr. Rivera)

So if they weren’t at JRC, they’d probably be complaining about different things in different places… (Dr. Paisey)

Actually, the JRC imposes a strict diet on the “students”, regardless of their prior dietary preferences, and while it allows “other food” sometimes (sometimes contingent on good behavior), this is still an unreasonable restriction.

Chapter 9:

Nonetheless we will have students who do report to families that they are going crazy, or that they are going to hurt themselves, or they’re gonna run away, or they will make claims that staff abuse them, or they will say that they have marks on their bodies as a result of a restraint procedure. And they will sometimes claim that they were hurt by other people on purpose. (Dr. Paisey)

Because things like this happen in every institution I’ve seen.

And here is the big one, the one that explains everything:

If you have a telephone call or a face to face meeting during a visit with your son or daughter and they make some complaint, the first thing to do, I would suggest is to ask yourself, “Is this one of the complaints mentioned on that video I saw?” And then perhaps that will guide you towards the next step, which might be to listen briefly to the complaint. If you can, try to minimize your reaction to it. You can ask for specific details, specific contents, briefly. And then move on. Move on to something more appropriate and positive. If you think you need more information, contact the case manager. (Dr. Paisey)

See, the first thing to do is see if the complaint is mentioned on this video. If it is, then obviously it’s not a valid complaint, or something.

But as compelling as this analysis is, it's also quite ordinary and conventional - a putting into words, as it were, of what Amanda first picked up from the body language of the video presenters themselves. She presented this first, but as I'm speaking about her analysis, more than the idiocy she's examining, I reverse the order.

There were two people near each other, a woman on the left and a man on the right. When one was talking, the other was backing them up through movement. Their movements were coordinated with each other and sort of bouncing off and reflecting each other all the time.

The movements of the woman were quite often something I don’t know all the words for but know when I see it. There were some incongruous movements in there that were presumably to mask something or other. The rest of the movements and noises she was making were quite often to convey a sense of “I’m superior to these students, they are doing all these, sort of silly kid things, and I am laughing in exasperated tired adultness as they go through all these different things.” This is a knowing sort of movement, designed to convey a connection to the person watching it, sort of like, “We all know what this is like,” inviting the viewer to join in the knowingness.

The man moved in more subtle ways, but they conveyed precision and confidence, very much the way many psychiatrists or scientists move. He moved in such a way as to say, “We know what we’re doing, we do not even need to be forceful in arguing anything, because we know exactly what we’re doing.” His voice reminded me strongly of something a friend calls the “male human services accent,” and also conveyed a great deal of precision in the way that he pronounced words. Sometimes it acquired condescending tones, or his equivalent of the woman’s “knowing” tones.

The overall effect is, “We know what we’re doing, even you ought to know what we’re talking about a good deal of the time, and we agree with each other totally on this stuff, seen it all before. We’re not only in control, but it is only natural that we are in control.”

An AS person isn't supposed to "pick up on" social cues. Well, not so much from faces, no. Facial expressions lie and we find that utterly disorienting. Complete body language is much, much MUCH harder to mask. I know, I've had several forms of training in doing just that, and the consequent understanding of how to penetrate the obscurity, and how to reply to it appropriately.

However, it's at that point where my sense of "appropriate" and the expectations of the NT world tend to diverge. But perhaps another post would be the place for that, other than the observation that the fact that I come to a different conclusion about what is "appropriate" does not mean that I misunderstood. It means, quite often, that I understand quite well. I GOT it. I just didn't WANT it.

Anyway, Amanda demonstrates the skilled observational abilities and insight into dominance driven hierarchal manipulation as well as any hunted animal who studies their predators with an eye toward evading their clutches. My abilities are similar in that respect, but Amanda - as usual - says it better.

It seems that non- participation in a social structure, including being visibly un-shattered by exclusionary behavior, is something that strikes immature neurotypicals - particularly - as a visceral threat. The idea that it's perfectly possible to refuse to "go along to get along," to not participate in the ongoing "Stanford Experiment" that is school in this nation, is to put the lie to everything these people found their personality and self-worth upon. Fitting in, a place in the pack, is more important than whatever one might have to do or risk in order to "earn" that place.

I accept this as being natural to neurotypicals, it's not toxic by definition, though in practice it often is, mostly due to perps who ruthlessly manipulate the social instinct. See example film above. I'm certainly glad to benefit from their skills when they can be made to understand that I want to benefit without any desire to participate. I've had NT friends, and generally it relied on a mutual exchange of strengths. I am not so arrogant as to think that my mind or way of doing things is superior - but I'm damn sure it's not inferior; I know this because I'm able to cope with situations and achieve things that would for sure drive anyone on the NT end of the spectrum stark, raving mad. And if I'm high-maintenance, which in many ways I am, I'm also worth it, due to my relative scarcity. For instance, I can see the behavior as Amanda did, above, and often, I've helped NT friends avoid pitfalls based on their "superior socialization." The favor, of course, was often returned.

None of this was not something I learned as a child, in school. There I learned that to be "non-compliant" was to be useless, irrelevant, or in other contexts, cowardly for not doing something stupid and dangerous because everyone else was. I "learned" to trust authority and obey without question. Or rather, not being a complete idiot, I learned when I had to pretend, and to what degree and under what circumstances compliance really mattered.

One of the most depressing things I learned was that NT's expect to be manipulated emotionally and by social dominance that some cannot even comprehend that one might actually just mean the words they just said. That there might not be any "subtext" or "hidden agenda" or indeed any implication other than what was communicated in actual words. Therefore, they refuse to take the plain meaning at face value.

I will bet you five bucks this is one factor in "autistic regression." What's the point in using words if words get you an unexpected and often painful result, for no reason you can comprehend?

That, and ... well, some people just can't stop talking, worse yet, they don't prioritize in any way between "oo, a butterfly, isn't that pretty" and "that car is going to hit us!"

And yet they are insulted if you find that filtering for content is more work than their information content is worth. I suppose it is insulting - but alas, not inaccurate. And at fifty years of age, with the prospect of thirty to fifty more to get through, I have less and less patience for putting up with walking wastes of time.

C/F "Dilbert."

Department of Justice Policy "No Fags or Democrats Allowed"

At points like this, it's kinda apt to remember that phrase - attribution forgotten, paraphrase probable - "A black man to vote for a Republican is like a chicken voting for Col. Sanders."

That applies to the sweet corn and baked beans, too.

Crooks and Liars » At DoJ, being gay is ‘even worse than being a Democrat’: "Justice Department e-mails obtained by NPR show that Gonzales’s senior counsel Monica Goodling had a particular interest in Hagen’s duties. A few months before Hagen was let go, according to one e-mail, Goodling removed part of Hagen’s job portfolio — the part dealing with child exploitation and abuse. […]

[B]y all accounts, Hagen was a GOP loyalist. So, what was Goodling’s problem with Hagen?

The Justice Department’s inspector general is looking into whether Hagen was dismissed after a rumor reached Goodling that Hagen is a lesbian. As one Republican source put it, “To some people, that’s even worse than being a Democrat.”"
Of course, the stunning irony of Goodling's overt civil rights violations is unapparent to most Repugnances. (I use the term now to distinguish between Goodling's sort of psudostalinist toady and actual decent, upright ethical citizens of rightward bent.)

Even now, it seems to escape the peroxide brained Goodlingoids that if loyalty is valued over competant performance, all you will get is incompetant loyalists, and worse yet, those who's only competance is pretending to be loyal.

The extremely competent (purportedly) Democratic (rumored to be) uber-dyke will be on the other side of the argument, and she will be wearing MUCH better shoes.

As C&L observed, squabbles 'twixt two superbly qualified candidates are a lot easier to tolerate in the light of routine fuckuppetry from the Other Side.

If you were thinking of voting for McCain, anyhow - remember how little he would be able to do about getting rid of all the carpetbagging douche-bags, con-men and frauds appointed to critical positions for reasons completely unrelated to their qualifications. (Unless you count baksheesh and sucking up to be qualifications.)

Someone is going to have to put the whole government infrastructure back into running order, and the only people who will have the political capital to do that would be a Democrat.

Me, the thought of Hillary being given the post of Attorney General and a cast-iron broom handle just amuses the hell outta me. I can hear the quiet rustle of terrified testicles retracting all over DC just thinking of that happy day.

Not that she'd have to abuse her position to target political enemies. Nope. It pretty much looks like just doing her job would eliminate the vast bulk of them.

So there's another reason to vote for Obama. I want Hillary to be the Red Lensman in this storyline.

The Problem With The Puzzle People

Unfortunately, one of the issues their father and I have is what's in their best interests and how to treat them. He's one of the anti-vax folks, ready to try the cure-du-jour the minute he reads about it, and thinks that I don't work hard enough to "cure" the younger one (because otherwise he'd be cured already, don'tcha know)
He is typical of many of the folks you'll see in the media this month -- stuck at the "devastated" stage of having your child diagnosed with a disability.
He is desperate. He refuses to accept his son for who he is, to take joy in what he CAN do, rather than bemoan what he can't do. I understand this. I can sympathize with this. But I cannot condone this eternal wallowing in the general unfairness of life. No one promised you a "normal" child, and having one who doesn't fit the traditional categories of "normal" is also not the worst thing that ever happened to anyone.
blog it
From a mom with AS spectrum kids and an ex who's a curebie.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Let's be REALLY Aware of Autism

Child Abuse as Therapy

For those of you "In the Know" discrete trials, or the Lovaas Method, is the only "approved and proven" method of achieving "progress" with autistic individuals. Approved by the state for funding, that is. And proven because, by the very mechanistic nature of the process, data is easily collected, plotted, and crunched.
The following article, 40 years old, hails the arrival of this therapy in typical 60s style - science is God, and man can overcome anything that nature gives us. And how, you might ask, do we overcome? With electric shock, yelling, and physical violence. Of course.
A quick click on the above title will take you to the site with not only this article, but the disturbing pictures that accompany it. The rage and venom portrayed in the faces of the "therapists" speaks for itself.
blog it
This article, written in 2005, includes graphic images that speak of the roots and underlying assumptions of Applied Behavior Analysis. And yes, at one "snakepit school," autistics are still being shocked for being... autistic.

GASP! Singulair possibly linked to mood changes, suicide.

clipped from

FDA is investigating a possible association between the use of Singulair and behavior/mood changes, suicidality (suicidal thinking and behavior) and suicide.  Singulair is a medicine in the drug class known as leukotriene receptor antagonists.  Singulair is used to treat asthma and the symptoms of allergic rhinitis (sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, itching of the nose) and to prevent exercise-induced asthma.

Over the past year, the maker of Singulair, Merck & Co, Inc., has updated the prescribing information and patient information for Singulair to include the following post-marketing adverse events: tremor (March 2007), depression (April 2007), suicidality (suicidal thinking and behavior) (October 2007), and anxiousness (February 2008).

 blog it
In February 2008, FDA and Merck discussed how best to communicate these labeling changes to prescribers and patients. Merck plans to highlight the recent changes in the prescribing information in face-to-face interactions with prescribers and provide prescribers with patient information leaflets about Singulair. The Singulair website includes the most current prescribing information and patient information for Singulair (

Sheriff Tim Swanson likes to make sure none of them pretty girls are suicidal.

Unlawful strip search part of “a pattern” in Stark County (h/t Bastard Logic)

There sure seem to be a lot of suicidal women being arrested by the Timster's Turgid Team. But were they suicidal before or after a deputy ripped their panties off to check for crack?

I had a private bet with myself about this. Whee, I win.

I wonder if Stark County is running a "greatest hits" underground video-clips site. Because the original video would be right at home in a certain "niche porn" area.

How much you want to bet that a lot of people that should NEVER have had copies of these various tapes did? Would you bet money they weren't the centerpiece of parties, maybe even with political figures in attendance? Or maybe it's just a private file-sharing network. Sure would be interesting, running mug shots against videoclips of that type found on the internet with some of those high powered tools Ashcroft bought to fight child porn.

I wonder what patterns one might find, correlating arrests, strip-searches and outcomes with the physical appearance of the detainees? Are smelly old drunks routinely subjected to "suicide prevention routines," or is it just women that the officer wants to see naked? Hm. They have female deputies too. So I wonder if any pretty boys get the same treatment? And of course, where do those videos end up?

WKYC reports that since the release of the now-notorious Hope Steffey ’strip search’ video, 4 more Stark County, Ohio women, including Valentina Dyshko of North Canton, have come forward alleging that they were forced to remove their clothing when detained at the Stark County Jail...
BL further reports in a subsequent article that the State Attorney General will be looking into the entire matter.

Larry Shields of the Salem News reports that Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson has officially requested that Ohio Attorney General Mark Dan “review all the circumstances surrounding the arrest and incarceration of Hope Steffey in October of 2006,” a vicious incident labelled “way out of line” by Cuyahoga county Sheriff Gerald McFaul (h/t ThePoliticalCat).

Additionally, Muriel Kane of The Raw Story reports that video footage taken prior to the now-infamous strip search tape may exist, noting that “jailhouse surveillance cameras show a deputy with a handheld camera filming Steffey being escorted to her cell.”

Kane also suggests that dashboard video of the arrest, originally believed to be non-existent because the arresting officer claimed the camera was off, may not have been disclosed to Steffey’s lawyers.

Seems like Tim Swanson, Stark County Sheriff may be trying to cover his ass with paper. Anyone know when or if he's up for re-election, and who might be running against him? Aside from Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS, of course.

Related Stories:
Hope Steffey: "Rape without Penetration."
Starke County deserves a Hellride for Hope.
Hope Steffey; Starke County's Internet Fueled Nightmare.

Comfy Leather Home Theater Seating

I logged into PayPerPost to see what I could write about that fits my demographics, my interests and my curiosity. Well, Boston Tables, purveyors high quality game and pool tables would like you to know that they have a broad selection of Home Theater Seating. It makes sense; in many homes, it would all go into the "rec room," which in many homes is also the only room big enough for a plasma or LCD screen in the "omygod" range.

Now, LOOK at this! That is WORTHY of a 50 inch plasma, don't you think? I mean, I want one. Well, once I have the 50 inch Plasma..

Of course if you are wanting to go the whole red drapes route with that high-end projection television... well - they can do that too.

I was expecting Home Theater Seating to cost a great deal more than ordinary furniture that might be used to watch an ordinary television, because a "home theater" sounds so much more upscale than "TV Room." I was surprised to find that the prices were in the same ballpark as what I'd paid for a similar dual-recliner leather sofa from a chain store some fifteen years ago. Might even be lower, taking inflation into account. With free shipping* in the continental US, you will find some seriously competitive prices here. Competitive enough that you might want to consider having them throw an entertainment center worthy of your new seating on that big rig.

Now, style is a serious consideration. Boston Tables offers a variety of classic styling designed to fit any decor. The last thing you want is furniture that is going to embarrass you in a decade or so, when trend turns to faux pas. Well - with one possible exception. They have sports themed everything, including Home Theater Seating themed with every possible combination of sport and team.

I consider that a total faux pas - but millions disagree. Personally, I'd go for a pub theme. It's so much classier and then you can add in a bar. And yes, most of what you need to put the whole room together will come on the same truck.

Please notice the handy-dandy laptop storage in the arms and the ottoman that looks like it's designed to hold a gaming console. It's perfect for the basement game room, right out of the box. But with a household wireless network and a lap desk or a rack of tv tables, this could also be the centerpiece of your home office, especially with counter-height tables and adjustable height seating to plonk the main workstations upon. Yes, they have those too.

Well, it IS April, and time to think of tax deductions. Call it your "home teleconferencing center" and write it off! Once you sink into that leather, kick back with your laptop and flip on CNN while checking out your email, I think you might take that idea a great deal more seriously. It's a heck of a setup for running your powerpoint presentation - a CEO grade setup on a middle-manager's budget.

*Limited time offer; restrictions apply. See site for details.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Autism Awareness Month Postage and other things.

April is Autism Awareness Month Stamp stamp

April is Autism Awareness Month Stamp by webcarve
Click the stamp to put your company or organization url on it and order a sheet or two. This one is my own design, and one of the very few templated stamps. Zazzle is pretty good about quickly checking designs for postage, but I expect an approved template will be approved even faster.

I HATE puzzle piece designs - and so it has to be an amazing design for me to link to it.

Pickyourpostage has a ton of other autism designs, and one of the few postage designers on Zazzle that I'm tempted to collect. (And remind me to find out whether it's worthwhile, numismatically speaking.)

And finally, maybe not the best graphic design, but it made me laugh out loud.

While I was doing all of this, I had a thought that there are situations where you'd want your autistic kid to carry identification that gives authorities a clue. I've created two - one to be carried as a form of ID, not to be given out, and one that is intended to be used in a school setting. Both are templated to include a current photo. The design has been kept deliberately institutional, with highly visible colors. Yellow for the ID, green for the student "advisory" card.

There is a helpful paragraph at the bottom advising whoever the card may be given or shown to that they may have responsibilities under the ADA and a reference to the ADA Department of Justice Website.
Autistic Student Card profilecard
Autistic Student Card by webcarve

If you don't like my design, you can always use zazzle to create your own - and there are many other options that might help safeguard your children with a little imagination. Don't be afraid to ask me if you need an idea or two or even design help.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Celebrate Neurodiversity Monogram Mug

I just noticed new glass mugs on Zazzle and I know how great my work looks on frosted glass.

Check THIS out:

You can create a monogrammed mug of this design for everyone in the office with a few easy clicks.

Well, so much for the "Plague" eh?

celebrate neurodiversity.One of the "one in one hundred and sixty-six" statistic shares her experiences.
Asperger's: My life as an Earthbound alien - "ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Recently, at 48 years of age, I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. For most of my life, I knew that I was 'other,' not quite like everyone else. I searched for years for answers and found none, until an assignment at work required me to research autism. During that research, I found in the lives of other people with Asperger's threads of similarity that led to the diagnosis. Although having the diagnosis has been cathartic, it does not change the 'otherness.' It only confirms it."
Please note that she is a manager for CNN. Not homeless. Not a burden on society. And certainly, considering her occupation, able to communicate quite well, thank you.

Oh, and her desire for a cure? Nonexistent.
Don't pity me or try to cure or change me. If you could live in my head for just one day, you might weep at how much beauty I perceive in the world with my exquisite senses. I would not trade one small bit of that beauty, as overwhelming and powerful as it can be, for "normalcy."
Like her, I've never wanted to be "the same." I would have loved to have been accepted for myself, rather than being punished and abused for it. I'd have probably ended up in some equivalent position too, so it was poor judgment on the part of educators and parents alike to try and "normalize me." Which they most certainly did, although I was not diagnosed as AS to the best of my knowledge.

What I really wish had happened was an education tailored to my learning style, my intelligence and, of course, all the things I have to actually learn that "normal" people seem to pick up from context. But I'm still pretty happy being me - and frankly, the parts that I'm unhappy about have mostly been the result of other people who could not or would not respond to me as I am.

Image Credit:

Nobody's Life, Liberty or Property...

"...Is safe while congress is in session."

Forwarded to me with the request that I pass it on. Which I surely will do.

Subject: "Promoting" Orphan Works
Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2008 18:28:51 -0400


Yesterday ( Thurs. Mar. 13, 08) the House subcommittee on Intellectual
Property held their first hearing on new Orphan Works legislation.
Note the title:

"Hearing on Promoting the Use of Orphan Works: Balancing the Interests
of Copyright Owners and Users"
Balance, however doesn't seem to be part of the Orphan Works
juggernaut. Indeed, after this hearing, we can no longer assume that
the U.S. Copyright Office is an advocate for the protection of
creators' rights. As they wrote on page 14 of their original Orphan
Works Report:

"If our recommendation resolves users' concerns in a satisfactory way,
it will likely be a comprehensive solution to the orphan works
situation." (our emphasis)

But how can any copyright law be "comprehensive" if it makes millions
of copyrights, no matter how valuable, available to users, no matter
how worthy, under a system that would introduce permanent uncertainty
into the business lives of creators?

Private Sector Registries

Since the last bill died in committee in 2006, the advocates of this
legislation have promoted the creation of private commercial
registries. On January 29, 2007, a lead attorney for the Copyright
Office warned us that under their plan any work not registered with a
private sector registry would be a potential orphan from the moment it
was created.

This means you would not only have to register your published work,
but also:

— Every sketch or note on every page of every sketchbook;
— Every sketch you send to every client;
— Every photograph you take anywhere, anytime, including family
photos, home videos, etc.;
— Every letter, email, etc., professional, personal or private.

This Would End Passive Copyright Protection: Under existing law the
total creative output of any "creator" receives passive copyright
protection from the moment you create it. This covers everything from
the published work of professional artists to the unpublished diaries,
letters and family photos of the average citizen.

But under the Orphan Works proposal, none of this material would be
covered unless the creator took active steps to register and maintain
coverage with a commercial registry. Failure to do so would "signal"
to infringers that you have no interest in protecting the work.

The Registration Paradox: By conceding that their proposals would make
potential orphans of any unregistered works, the Copyright Office
proposals would lead to a registration paradox: In order to "protect"
work from exposure to infringement, creators would have to expose it
on a publicly searchable registry. This would:

— Expose creative work to plagiarists and derivative abusers;
— Expose trade secrets and unused sketches to competitors;
— Expose unpublished and private correspondence to the public on the
Orwellian premise that you must expose it to "protect" it.

Yet registries will not be able to monitor infringements nor enforce
copyright compliance. Even after you've shelled out "protection money"
to a commercial registry to register hundreds of thousands of works,
you still won't be protected. A registry would do nothing more than
give you a piece of paper. You would still have to monitor
infringements - which can occur anytime anywhere in the world; then
embark on an uncertain quest to find the infringer, file a case in
Federal court, then prove that the infringer has removed your name or
other identifying information from your work. Meanwhile all the
infringer will have to do is say there was no such information on the
work when he found it and assert an orphan works defense. This will be
the end result of trying to "resolve the users' concerns" at the
expense of time-tested copyright law.

Coerced registration violates the spirit and letter of international
copyright law and copyright-related treaties. And because this bill
would effectively eliminate the passive copyright protection afforded
personal correspondence, family photos, etc. it would tear one more
slender thread of privacy protection from the fabric of fundamental
rights we currently take for granted.

We urge Congress to carefully reconsider the unintended consequences
of this radical copyright proposal.

— Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner, for the Board of the Illustrators'

Please post or forward this email in its entirety to any interested party
For additional information about Orphan Works developments, go to the
IPA Orphan Works Resource Page for Artists
I suggest that you contact your representatives immediately with your concerns about this matter. This is the worst sort of "privatization," where a real and useful service is replaced by a money-making scheme that will do less, cost far more, and bury every individual and small business that has any intellectual property under a snowstorm of probably quite useless paperwork, while giving all the "passive compliance" advantages to potential data thieves.

Under this law, Pepsi could replicate Coke and every single frame from every single film will have to be individually protected - for a fee.

Frankly, I think the very idea is obviously corrupt. Certainly it is practically impossible for individual creators or small businesses to adequately protect their works - since there's no possible way for them to afford to prosecute offenders. Recovery, you see, is capped.

The obvious remedy would be for the US entertainment industry to relocate north or south of the border, where the Berne Copyright Convention would still apply, and US commercial and constitutional law would require it's enforcement. Same for small creators, who could incorporate in Canada, Mexico, or anywhere else with an online application form.

And of course, at that point, well, actual relocation seems probable - given the very portability of the digital arts themselves and the communications capability of the web. For myself, I could live and work anywhere with a high-speed internet connection, and I'm starting to become rather indifferent to patriotic appeals, considering the rising cost of patriotism these days.

I would find it much easier to be patriotic about a homeland in which my home and livelihood were actually secured by my taxes, rather than made available to the highest bidder by people my tax dollars pay for.

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And that's why you want to use this kind of service. Glad I found out before I went for the first quote...


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