Archive for the ‘law’ tag

#  What is a photocopier? →

May 8th, 2014 at 12:01 // In Worth Distraction 

A fun little depiction of the insanity that can occur in America’s legal system. Because of a policy change in how an Ohio county recorder’s office made records available to the public — they were going to change $2 per photocopied page rather letting bulk requests be distributed digitally — a case came about in which the best tactic was to refuse to answer a seemly simple question about a the term “photocopy machine” — the New York Times has a new series in which they have dramatized the whole exchange.

#  Animated Map of US Homicide Rates →

January 22nd, 2014 at 14:00 // In Worth Seeing 

An awesome work of original mapping whose source I succeeded in discovering. This guy is putting out great stuff — including that gay marriage laws piece I linked recently — so pay attention. His explanation of the motivation behind this:

Specifically, the homicide rate in the United States has reached a 50-year low. Using data I compiled from FBI Uniform Crime Reports, the GIF above shows the decline in the homicide rate for each state between 1965 and 2012. Every state in the country has seen a decrease in the rate of murder and non-negligent manslaughter committed within its borders.

#  Being a Woman Online →

January 10th, 2014 at 10:43 // In Worth Knowing 

A good read about the perils of being a woman on the internet. Sadly nothing with which I wasn’t vaguely familiar, though the specifics drive the point home. The overview is pretty simply expressed by this point:

Abusers tend to operate anonymously, or under pseudonyms. But the women they target often write on professional platforms, under their given names, and in the context of their real lives. Victims don’t have the luxury of separating themselves from the crime. When it comes to online threats, “one person is feeling the reality of the Internet very viscerally: the person who is being threatened,” says Jurgenson. “It’s a lot easier for the person who made the threat—and the person who is investigating the threat—to believe that what’s happening on the Internet isn’t real.”

(via Next Draft)

#  Civil Forfeiture and its Perils →

August 16th, 2013 at 17:55 // In Worth Knowing 

Really strong (and long, because it’s the New Yorker) essay about how the way some civil forfeiture laws are written make them prone to reckless abuse, and how that abuse actually happens. It’ll probably make you at least a little angry, but knowledge of the practice is probably one of its most powerful antidotes.

They could face felony charges for “money laundering” and “child endangerment,” in which case they would go to jail and their children would be handed over to foster care. Or they could sign over their cash to the city of Tenaha, and get back on the road. “No criminal charges shall be filed,” a waiver she drafted read, “and our children shall not be turned over to CPS,” or Child Protective Services.

“Where are we?” Boatright remembers thinking. “Is this some kind of foreign country, where they’re selling people’s kids off?” Holding her sixteen-month-old on her hip, she broke down in tears.

#  No One is Innocent →

June 23rd, 2013 at 16:43 // In Worth Considering 

Alex Tabarrok writes a slightly different version of a story I wrote a few years ago (I’m under no delusions that I was the first to think of it, just some self-pimping): we’re all criminals.

I broke the law yesterday and again today and I will probably break the law tomorrow. Don’t mistake me, I have done nothing wrong. I don’t even know what laws I have broken. Nevertheless, I am reasonably confident that I have broken some laws, rules, or regulations recently because its hard for anyone to live today without breaking the law.

#  The Legality of Secret Compartments →

May 3rd, 2013 at 18:54 // In Worth Reading 

Really interesting story from Brendan Koerner in Wired about a speaker installer whose side business in putting secret compartments into vehicles landed him in jail. The heart of the issue in the case:

Alfred Anaya’s case makes clear that the government rejects [the “technology is morally neutral”] worldview. The technically savvy are on notice that they must be very careful about whom they deal with, since calculated ignorance of illegal activity is not an acceptable excuse. But at what point does a failure to be nosy edge into criminal conduct? In light of what happened to Anaya, that question is nearly impossible to answer.

#  The Plain Writing Act →

May 25th, 2011 at 11:21 // In Worth Knowing 

This is progress. Unlikely to make a dent in the mountains of unintelligible legalese that exist elsewhere (EULAs, etc), but progress.

That’s right: Pursuant to regulations promulgated thereunder and commencing in accordance with a statute signed herein by President Barack Obama, the government shall be precluded from writing the pompous gibberish heretofore evidenced, to the extent practicable.

(via Austin Kleon; though my aversion to the HuffPo is strong enough I found a different host of this AP story)

#  Nature v. Man →

July 21st, 2009 at 9:43 // In Worth Considering 

This blog has briefly mentioned the idea of giving legal rights to nature before, but Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow offers an interesting analysis of the logic, history, and ramifications of the practice. Consider:

Richard Stewart, a law professor at New York University, believes that inanimate objects such as trees and rivers do not have interests or values. Rather, he says, the argument really concerns “human ideas about what’s good for nature.”

#  Non-Natural-Borns for President →

July 16th, 2009 at 18:34 // In Worth Knowing 

It’s not that this is an exceptionally well-researched or argued essay, or one that transfers any intellectual heft by a link, it’s just that I agree with it and felt a desire to make that clear.

#  The Five States of Texas →

April 24th, 2009 at 9:25 // In Worth Considering 

With it’s governor having mentioned secession, Nate Silver poses a more interesting scenario: what if Texas made itself into five states, as is its legal right? (A fact I hadn’t known.) I was rather surprised by the result.