By the time I get to Minnesota

A Minnesota appeals court has ruled that the presence of encryption software on a computer may be viewed as evidence of criminal intent.

Ari David Levie, who was convicted of taking illegal photographs of a nude 9-year-old girl, argued on appeal that the PGP encryption utility on his computer was irrelevant and should not have been admitted as evidence during his trial. PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy and is sold by PGP Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif.

But the Minnesota appeals court ruled 3-0 that the trial judge was correct to let that information be used when handing down a guilty verdict.

“We find that evidence of appellant’s Internet use and the existence of an encryption program on his computer was at least somewhat relevant to the state’s case against him,” Judge R.A. Randall wrote in an opinion dated May 3.

How in the name of the netherest nether being can the EXISTENCE of an encryption program be relevant to someone’s guilt or innocence of ANYTHING. WinZip has some basic encryption; if everyone is automatically guilty based on possessing that then they might as well throw the entire PC-owning community into jail en masse.

The guy may well be scum, but the question of his guilt or innocence does not disperse the Orwellian shadows being cast here. And this is not the first time Minnesota has pulled this sort of thing. Not even close.

The democratic con

From SwissInfo:

The Swiss People’s Party, which forced a referendum on whether Bern should join the Schengen and Dublin accords, said that there was an indirect link between the French vote and the upcoming Swiss one.

“Swiss voters must be wondering what kind of a partner the EU would make and whether one should really bind oneself legally in such a way to the EU,” said spokesman Roman Jäggi.

“One can only hope that France’s ‘no’ will open the eyes of some voters,” Jäggi added….

The Swiss foreign ministry took a different line, saying that the result was more of an “internal matter” for the EU.

It added that the French rejection would not adversely affect the prospect of Switzerland signing further bilateral accords with the EU.

Jean-Philippe Jeannerat, spokesman for the Social Democrats stressed that a Swiss referendum was vastly different to a French one. He added that in France, the recent referendum was not so much a vote on the new constitution but one on the current political establishment.

Oh, so now, after the fact, the French vote on the ratification of the constitution wasn’t a vote on the new constitution, but on the current political establishment. But isn’t that what their normal elections are called? And wasn’t the voter turnout – which concerned nothing but the new constitution – significantly higher than seen in normal elections?

The truth is that direct democracy is only tolerated by its so-called representatives so far as it supports the direction desired by the political elite. This is why I argue that democracy in the USA and in most of the Western world, is nothing more than a sophisticated con job. If democracy is actually a good thing, then presumably the more direct it is, the better. If the Will of the People is not desirable, than what can possibly serve the justification for the less than pure forms of its realization?

Bring on the iron

The Perfect Aryan Male and his 18-inch biceps showed up at our door, so for old time’s sake we hit the gym at the first opportunity. TPAM’s looking practically skeletal these days, having dropped to a mere 230, so this time we only had to borrow one gym girl to sit on top of the stack while he pressed triceps.

It’s good to be pushed by a bigger dog, though, as I managed to power through a solid bench at 300 before choking twice at 315. I thought I had it for a moment; the bar was under control and moving off my chest but I couldn’t get it past that little break point that’s about two inches up, at least not without help.

Boy, am I wiped out….

Semper Fi

Jeff Jacoby writes of the death of a Marine:

On the morning of Nov. 15, one week into the battle for Fallujah, his [Sergeant Rafael Peralta of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines] squad had cleared three houses without incident. They approached a fourth, kicking in two locked doors simultaneously and entering both front rooms. They found them empty. Another closed door led to an adjoining room. As the other Marines spread out, wrote Kaemmerer, “Peralta, rifle in hand, tested the handle.” It wasn’t locked. He threw open the door, preparing to rush in — and three terrorists with AK-47s opened fire. He was shot multiple times in the chest and face. As he fell, severely wounded, he managed to wrench himself out of the doorway to give his fellow Marines a clear line of fire.

The gunfire was deafening. To the sound of the terrorists’ AK-47s was added the din of the Marines’ M16 rifles and Squad Automatic Weapon, a machine gun. The battle was raging, with Peralta down and bleeding heavily and the other Marines firing at the enemy in the back room, when, in Kaemmerer’s words, ”a yellow, foreign-made, oval-shaped grenade bounced into the room, rolling to a stop close to Peralta’s nearly lifeless body.”

As the other Marines tried to flee, Peralta reached for the grenade and tucked it into his gut. Seconds later, it exploded with such force that when his remains were returned to his family for burial, they were able to identify him only by the tattoo on his shoulder. His five comrades-in-arms, shielded from the worst of the blast by Peralta’s last act as a Marine, survived.

Metaphorical resonance

A REPORTER sent to do a story about a baby squirrel stood on the fluffy creature by mistake and killed it.

Inka Blumensaat wanted to tell how a pet cat had saved the orphaned squirrel by adopting it as her own. But the friendly rodent jumped on her leg as she filmed her report and she panicked and trampled it underfoot,breaking its neck.

Heike Reher, whose cat adopted the squirrel in Lubeck, Germany, said: “The reporter started leaping about like a mad woman. She squashed the squirrel completely. Everyone looked at the floor in horror where the little squirrel lay in a pool of blood.”

It somehow makes me think of the legacy media and its relationship to this nation’s freedom.

Only the first nail in the coffin

According to Drudge, the French come through for once:

French voters rejected the European Union’s first constitution Sunday, President Jacques Chirac said _ a stinging repudiation of his leadership and the ambitious, decades-long effort to further unite the continent.

Chirac, who urged voters to approve the charter, announced the result in a brief, televised address. He said the process of ratifying the treaty would continue in other EU countries.

“France has expressed itself democratically,” Chirac said. “It is your sovereign decision, and I take note.”

Earlier, the Interior Ministry said that with about 83 percent of the votes counted, the referendum was rejected by 57.26 percent of voters. It was supported by 42.74 percent.

They’ll be back. Like Michael Meyers, they’ll be back. Here’s hoping that they’re less successful with the constitution gambit than they were with the Nice con.

The girl can drive

I’ll be interested to see how Danica Patrick does in the Indy 500. I hope she does well, as it will be proof that women don’t need their little lady tours, little lady leagues and little lady rules to compete with the big bad boys on an equal playing field. The fact that her light weight gives her a theoretical advantage is irrelevant; a man who goes 295 could make the same complaint about a lighter man that one sometime Indy car driver has made about her, and her smaller frame means that she is absorbing a comparatively greater amount of punishment throughout the race.

This isn’t horseracing and as long as her car weighs more than the minimum required by the rules, it’s fair.

I’ve always liked and admired women who are willing to compete fairly, regardless of the sport. Danica Patrick is the ultimate example of this sort of woman. It’s the Title IX losers who want to use government force to cut the legs out from under men in order to give women an advantage that I despise.

And don’t even get me started on the feminist cheerleaders in the national sports media; remember when they were claiming that the US women’s soccer team could beat the US men’s team a few years ago? I don’t remember them bringing up that idiocy after the men beat Euro 2004 finalists Portugal and Mexico before nearly taking down Germany in the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup.

Art, the left, and pretty girls sans clothes

Hindrocket plays art critic:

Well, you know a painting is offensive when the guy who painted the Pope with swastikas thinks it’s over the line. I’m a little puzzled, though, by what the show’s organizers considered to be a “relevant political message,” i.e., how the oil companies “abuse” the United States. That would be, I suppose, by providing petroleum products that allow us to go places, heat our homes, have offices and factories in which to work, and operate equipment so that, instead of living like the ancient Egyptians, hauling blocks of stone around with ropes, we can sit at desks and do things like operate computers. Is that how the oil companies “abuse” Americans? I suppose the idea is that without the oil companies, oil and gasoline would spring magically out of the ground (pollution-free, of course), and into our gas tanks and furnaces. For free.

Leftists are so childish that I cannot understand how anyone can take them seriously.

In fairness, John, these are left-wing artists we’re talking about. Artists are possibly the least well-educated college graduates out there – those who have a degree in the first place – after all, you’re not going to learn much about economics, history, chemistry or anything else in art history or English class.

This doesn’t mean that non-artistic leftists are necessarily much more likely to make a rational and informed argument about the Iraqi War or anything else, but they are less likely to be as hopelessly childish. I mean, at least a socialist economist knows what GDP is, even if he has trouble grokking the fact that increasing G will reduce I, sooner rather than later.

Your average artist, on the other hand, is operating on the level of the high-school dropout stripper who can’t understand why all the poor people don’t just move to Jamaica.

It’s been said that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. I therefore note in passing that universal democracy is somewhat conspicuous by its absence in that particular document.

A mild dissent

From the Associated Press:

A new three-part series, “Archangels: The Fall,” co-authored by Christian fantasy writer [a certain name familiar to most here], is on the stands and available in a collector’s tin. The first installment of the next trilogy, “Archangels: Legacy,” comes out next March.

“It’s definitely a ministry tool,” said “Archangels” creator and writer Patrick Scott, 36. “It’s really meant to evangelize and to plant a seed of hope in the minds of people that have no hope.”

This may surprise some of you, but I tend to disagree somewhat with the wholly evangelical focus of most of these people, including my co-author. Evangelizing is occasionally an element of my writing, but it is usually a small one even when it is there. The problem is that a focus on explicitely repeating the same message over and over renders too much similarity between what would otherwise be very divergent works of fiction, or comics, and there’s little point in reading a second novel where the protagonist, devastated by the death of his [fill in the relationship here], struggles with his faith but ultimately comes to an understanding that everything is okay because God is in control of everything.

Even if you agree wholeheartedly with that basic concept – and you know my doubts on that score – what’s the point of reading a second book following that plot, let alone a third, fourth and fifth.

Of course, one could accuse secular science fiction of much the same sin, albeit in a different direction. That being said, ARCHANGELS: THE FALL is a fairly straightforward retelling of Lucifer’s Fall, Adam’s subsequent Fall and the Crucifixion, so Patrick’s description is completely accurate.

In my own fiction, I prefer to use the Christian worldview as a starting point, not an end. To me, the point of a book is to tell an interesting and entertaining story, not change someone’s way of thinking. If I’m seeking to do that, I’ll write a column or put together a lengthy blog post. I have no problem with Christian writers who feel otherwise; it’s just my creative philosophy.

I think there was probably too much preachiness in WAR, but I’ve tried hard to get away from that in my most recent book. It’s just not necessary, being inherent in the underlying worldview, and it significantly weakens the story by throwing the reader out of it.

So close, and yet so far

Anti-Buffoonist gets lost in the madness:

What I don’t get….is the title of Vox’s blog. It’s basically the same set-up…the second word looks like a genitive singular, so it’s “voice of *******”. But “popoli” is either spelled wrong, or where the Greek comes in.

In neither my own real life dictionary, there’s no word spelled p-o-p-O-l-i, only with a U instead of O. An online Latin dictionary doesn’t have popoli. I don’t know Greek or have a dictionary, but an online one doesn’t even give anything for popoli. (The Greek one didn’t gave anything for populi either, but since I already know that’s Latin, I expected that.)

The Latin popUli means “of the people, of the populace.” The nominative singular form of the noun means just that, “people or populace.” If it were an adjective, then it’d have been “Vox Popula.”

So that’s all I got for now. If I went into too much detail and sounded condescending or whatever it wasn’t intentional, but Latin’s one of the few things I know well enough to explain.

I have no doubt that her Latin is superior to mine, especially when it comes to ablatives and other bits of grammar that one might confuse with Traveller equipment. However, an Italian dictionary would have set you straight. The linguistic switch which was necessary to maintain the pattern, for, as you know, “day” is not exactly proper Latin either.

It serves two purposes. One, I wished to avoid confusion with any other uses on the old Latin phrase floating about the web. Two, it offers fair warning that I may, without provocation, drop the occasional translation of an Eco article here. I was actually toying with translating the Riziero book I’ve been reading, as there is no English translation, nor, do I think, is there likely to be. I abandoned that notion after encountering the first embarrassing romantic interlude, wherein the James Bond of the 16th century encounters a nubile young lady-in-waiting.

“Riziero’s member could not have done other than follow and immerse itself in that freshness, just as the August vacationer seeks to plunge his sweating head into a fountain.”

In any event, the Greek comes in elsewhere. Bad linguistic elitist! Bad!