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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-10-11 06:34
Subject: [links] Link salad for a Thursday
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:amazed
Music:morning sounds
Tags:culture, links, politics, religion, science, technology, writing
Science and Technology

Shepherding moons — How Jupiter's rings keep their trim, girlish figures. (Thanks to AH.)

Why can bats fly when mice can't? — Well, there's this little thing called wings...

Tilt!Bad Astronomy dissects some really stupid pseudoscience.

Monster hunting no more — A reconsideration of crypto-zoology.

Culture

Mad kitchen gadgets — (Thanks to danjite.)

To Clarify Sloppy Signage, Airports Hire 'Wayfinders'

Writing

jeffvandermeer takes some exception to my recent post on anthologiesellen_datlow takes some exception to Jeff's exception.

Editor danhoyt announces the availability of his new project Fate Fantastic Powell's | Amazon ] — Includes my blatant Cordwainer Smith pastiche, "The Man With One Bright Eye."

Home Court Advantage — Applying draconian British libel laws to US publications.

Politics

Today's Dilbert get political — PHB: "I value loyalty over competence. That's the sign of a great leader." Nope, never seen that philosophy in action in real life.

Details emerge on the the death of an Alabama preacher — Former Falwell employee, Liberty University graduate, conservative pastor, found dead of autoerotic asphyixiation in a bizarre get-up, to say the least. At least he wasn't a liberal pervert!
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biomekanic
User: biomekanic
Date: 2007-10-11 14:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was reading about the preacher the other day, and was wondering, if when the time comes to pick up his effects, someone will use a pencil to hand over "one condom... used."

You catch the brewing broo-haha(sp) at Oral Roberts U? Seems Richards Roberts and family have been using the university's resources as their own, including Mrs. Roberts who's been sending "salacious" (sp) text messages to "underage males" between 1AM and 3AM with university provided cell phones.
http://www.freemarketnews.com/WorldNews.asp?nid=49860
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Elf M. Sternberg
User: elfs
Date: 2007-10-11 15:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I blogged about this in my LJ yesterday morning, and people whom I trust to know inform me that it's perfectly possible to do this. They also inform me that the safe/sane crowd have learned how to keep a knife or other cutting implement nearby to help them get out afterward. The Very Reverend seems to not have known to do this, but then he doesn't seem like the sort to have spent too much time around the safe/sane crowd.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Elf M. Sternberg
User: elfs
Date: 2007-10-11 17:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The entire autopsy report (no photographs, thank Cthulhu) is available online, if you want. It appears that the restrictive nature of the wetsuits in combination with the restraint on his chest muscles caused by the hogtie prevented him from drawing enough breath and getting enough oxygen. It was all downhill from there.
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Brian Dolton
User: tchernabyelo
Date: 2007-10-11 15:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Possibly harsh to refer to British libel laws as "Draconian". While thre are certainly issues with the way damages in liebel cases have been decided, the idea that the writers have to prove their statements are true, rather than the plaintiff having to prove that they are false, is just the opposite side of the same coin (so to speak). In the US, you can say what you like about someone and unless they can prove to a court of law it's not true, then they have no recourse. Given the difficulty of proving a negative (i.e. that something has NOT occurred), this opens up free speech arguably a little too far. You could (in the US) write "so-and-so has had underage sex with a child" and the accused has to prove that such a thing NEVER occurred. In the UK, the accused can take the accuser to court and say "you made this assertion, you must provide proof of it".

The notion of "libel tourism" is niteresting. The law is still waaay behind in terms of how the world now works, with the interconnectedness of information (and its existence in non-physical forms). Typically, sensationalist books are published in the US and not in the UK precisely because of the difference in libel laws (some of the stuff I've seen in the US - on both sides of the political spectrum - would have publishers' lawyers in the UK clutching at their chests and turning a funny beetroot colour). But is someone who brings such a book into the UK then opening the publishers or authors to liability? Is it in the "pubilc domain" (IANAL, but I'm pretty sure that you can say or write whatever you want in private without opening yourself up to a libel/slander case).
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-10-11 15:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What that boils down to is that it's damned hard to bring a meritorious libel case into court here in the United States, even if you have a lot of money to throw at it, but apparently fairly easy in the United Kingdom. Offensive lawsuits are hardly unknown in this country, but someone with the means to bring libel action in the UK can tie an American defendant up in knots and bring them to permanent financial ruin due to this particular disparity.
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Brian Dolton
User: tchernabyelo
Date: 2007-10-11 17:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The problem, I feel, isn't in the rules of the libel case, it's in the damages that get awarded - there have been some very, very silly figures bandied about. Now this is often done as a "pour decourager les autres" marker, but yes, it can get very very silly indeed.

The US has the reputation of being a litigious society, but it's something that's been adopted (as with many other US cultural elements) over here, but adopted with no clear understanding of why it might not be appropriate, or how it may not fit in well with aspects of UK culture. The fear of semi-frivolous lawsuits has made the insurance industyr panicky, and that in turn has meant many local authorities, schools, etc simply withdrawing services because they can't afford the insurance bills. What's particularly annoying is that the press usually latches onto the story and criticises the local authority, failing to understand why playing conkers has been banned, or playgrounds closed.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-10-11 17:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
FWIW, "meritorious" might not have been the right term, but I meant a suit which would have enough substance to go forward in court after initial review. As opposed to "frivolous", for example.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-10-11 17:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This reminds me of when eBay pulled all Nazi paraphernalia from their listings worldwide due to a French court ruling. This meant, for example, that scale model kits of WWII German military equipment could no longer be sold on eBay by US sellers to US buyers. This is conceptually similar to what would happen if domestic UK libel law began to affect US publishing contracts.

By American standards, I'm pretty much a raging internationlist, but this kind of thing makes me nuts.

And you're right, it's the breadth of our notions of free speech (and more to the point, protected speech) over here that provide the difference in basis of libel law. I don't want decisions in the United States being made a government which thinks the Official Secrets Act is a good idea and that the First Amendment is some quaint foreign concept.

Oh, wait, we have one of those, too.

Never mind.
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User: aries_jordan
Date: 2007-10-11 15:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Delirium
What are the 12 hazards of being a man, do you suppose?
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Elf M. Sternberg
User: elfs
Date: 2007-10-11 15:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
According to the website, they are: Deflecting Responsibility, Manipulation, Misplaced Priorities, Individualism, Lust, Insensitivity, Absence, Partial Obedience, Unresolved Anger, Discontentment, Unteachability, and Unchecked Motives.
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User: aries_jordan
Date: 2007-10-12 16:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Elphaba
...in other words, everything that women have been complaining about for millenia. Good one, God.
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Elf M. Sternberg
User: elfs
Date: 2007-10-12 16:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Now, be fair. According to Christian mythology, those qualities are the inherent flip side of all the good capabilities men have, and would have retained, had it not been for Eve's seductive handling of the Fruit of Knowledge. The hazards have a mythological foundation that makes them, sort-of, Not God's Fault.

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Elf M. Sternberg
User: elfs
Date: 2007-10-11 15:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You really have to love the way they've used the Harry Potter typeface on the "Hazards of Being a man" poster. I thought Harry Potter was evil.
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