Oh, how we love Jon Stewart

He’s all over Apple on PhoneGate:

“Apple – you guys were the rebels, man, the underdogs. People believed in you. But now, are you becoming the man? Remember back in 1984, you had those awesome ads about overthrowing Big Brother? Look in the mirror, man! …It wasn’t supposed to be this way – Microsoft was supposed to be the evil one! But you guys are busting down doors in Palo Alto while Commandant Gates is ridding the world of mosquitoes! What the fuck is going on?!

…I know that it is slightly agitating that a blog dedicated to technology published all that stuff about your new phone. And you didn’t order the police to bust down the doors, right? I’d be pissed too, but you didn’t have to go all Minority Report on his ass! I mean, if you wanna break down someone’s door, why don’t you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone! I mean, seriously! How do you drop four calls in a one-mile stretch of the West Side Highway! There’re no buildings around! What, does the open space confuse AT&T’s signal?!

Where Apple Is Going

This gives us a clue. The Apple Design Awards are traditionally given to extraordinary software developers working on Apple platforms, but as of this year, coders working on OSX are no longer eligable: it’s all about the iPhone and iPad only, which of course Apple controls with an iron fist.

It’s been fun to use OSX these last 10 years or so, but it’s becoming more and more clear that the Pilgrim solution may be in my future. I think Lightroom is the only thing I’d really have trouble replacing.

My assumption is that they did this because Arizona was out-bigoting them

Mississippi high school excises gay teen from senior yearbook.

Update: Arizona hits back: Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill today that removes year-old domestic partner benefits from state employees.

“A bill signed by Gov. Jan Brewer redefined a ‘dependent,’ canceling the rule change made by Gov. Janet Napolitano that allowed domestic partners to receive benefits. Also eliminated are children of domestic partners, full-time students ages 23-24 and disabled adult dependents. The legislation is in legal review. About 800 state employees are affected, according to the state’s administration department…Liz Sawyer, a UA staff member, said the exclusion is ‘deplorable and it’s tragic.’ Sawyer is a spokeswoman for OUTReach, a staff group that lobbies for domestic-partner benefits at UA. Last year 170 UA employees signed up for domestic-partner benefits, she said. Forty were same-sex couples and the remainder were unmarried, opposite-sex couples, she said.”

Did God tell Brewer to do it?

“Gov. Jan Brewer said Wednesday that she believes ‘God has placed me in this powerful position as Arizona’s governor’ to help the state weather its troubles. In a wide-ranging speech on the role of religion in politics and in her life, Brewer detailed to a group of pastors of the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church how she relies on her faith and in prayer to deal with many of the issues she faces as the state’s chief executive. Brewer also said there are times when, during a meeting with staffers, one will suggest praying about an issue. … But Brewer also said she recognizes the difference between bringing her faith to the office and having an ‘agenda.’ … ‘The problem with having a political agenda is that we give the impression that we have God’s truth,’ the governor said. ‘We think we can convert God’s truth into a political platform, a set of political issues, and that there is ‘God’s way’ in our politics,’ Brewer continued. ‘I don’t believe that for a moment, any more than you believe that God’s way is exclusively the Lutheran way.’ The governor said, though, she believes it is right — if not inevitable — that elected officials bring their faith to their offices.”

Gag.

(Original link here.)

GM are absurd and brazen liars

Fortunately, Reason is watching:

GM CEO Ed Whitacre announced in a Wall Street Journal column last Wednesday that his company has paid back its government bailout loan “in full, with interest, years ahead of schedule.”

[...]

Uncle Sam gave GM $49.5 billion last summer in aid to finance its bankruptcy. (If it hadn’t, the company, which couldn’t raise this kind of money from private lenders, would have been forced into liquidation, its assets sold for scrap.) So when Whitacre publishes a column with the headline, “The GM Bailout: Paid Back in Full,” most ordinary mortals unfamiliar with bailout minutia would assume that he is alluding to the entire $49.5 billion. That, however, is far from the case.

Because a loan of such a huge amount would have been politically controversial, the Obama administration handed GM only $6.7 billion as a pure loan. (It asked for only a 7 percent interest rate — a very sweet deal considering that GM bonds at that time were trading below junk level.) The vast bulk of the bailout money was transferred to GM through the purchase of 60.8 percent equity stake in the company — arguably an even worse deal for taxpayers than the loan, given that the equity position requires them to bear the risk of the investment without any guaranteed return. (The Canadian government likewise gave GM $1.4 billion as a pure loan, and another $8.1 billion for an 11.7 percent equity stake. The U.S. and Canadian government together own 72.5 percent of the company.)

But when Whitacre says GM has paid back the bailout money in full, he means not the entire $49.5 billion—the loan and the equity. In fact, he avoids all mention of that figure in his column. He means only the $6.7 billion loan amount.

But wait! Even that’s not the full story given that GM, which has not yet broken even, much less turned a profit, can’t pay even this puny amount from its own earnings.

So how is it paying it?

As it turns out, the Obama administration put $13.4 billion of the aid money as “working capital” in an escrow account when the company was in bankruptcy. The company is using this escrow money — government money — to pay back the government loan.

GM claims that the fact that it is even using the escrow money to pay back the loan instead of using it all to shore itself up shows that it is on the road to recovery. That actually would be a positive development—although hardly one worth hyping in ads and columns — if it were not for a further plot twist.

Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research, points out that the company has applied to the Department of Energy for $10 billion in low (5 percent) interest loan to retool its plants to meet the government’s tougher new CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. However, giving GM more taxpayer money on top of the existing bailout would have been a political disaster for the Obama administration and a PR debacle for the company. Paying back the small bailout loan makes the new — and bigger — DOE loan much more feasible.

In short, GM is using government money to pay back government money to get more government money. And at a 2 percent lower interest rate at that. This is a nifty scheme to refinance GM’s government debt — not pay it back!

There’s more. Click through.

Monday Morning Treme Notes

We noticed last night that the song Dr. John was rehearsing in NYC (with Albert’s son, among others) was actually the same song Albert and his Indian colleagues (many of whom are actual Mardis Gras Indians) were singing, a capella, at the end of the episode in honor of their dead wild man. But what we didn’t notice was that the outro music, under the credits, was the same song yet a third time.

Nor did we realize, until I Googled around a little today, that the instrumental version was by Donald Harrison, Jr., a respected jazz sax player who is himself the son of Donald Harrison, Sr., a former chief of the Guardians of the Flame tribe — which is the tribe Clarke Peters’ Albert Lambreaux leads on the show. As the linked blogger notes, it’s probably not a stretch to think that Lambreaux is meant to be a composite based on the elder Harrison (same tribe, jazz player for a son, etc.). Harrison Jr. even cameoed earlier (playing sax with Delmond Lambreaux in NYC gigs in an earlier ep), and serves as a consultant to the show.

I’d previously wondered if Peters’ character was meant to be Tootie Montana, the legendary chief of chiefs who died the summer before the storm, but the Harrison parallel fits much better (especially since Montana was namechecked by Dr. John in the rehearsal scene). Fun fact: Montana’s cousin plays Antoine Batiste’s current squeeze on the show.

Apparently, Blue Cross Hates Women

Get breast cancer? Prepare to get dropped.

The women all paid their premiums on time. Before they fell ill, none had any problems with their insurance. Initially, they believed their policies had been canceled by mistake.

They had no idea that WellPoint was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted them and every other policyholder recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation, as the company searched for some pretext to drop their policies, according to government regulators and investigators.

Once the women were singled out, they say, the insurer then canceled their policies based on either erroneous or flimsy information. [...]

That tens of thousands of Americans lost their health insurance shortly after being diagnosed with life-threatening, expensive medical conditions has been well documented by law enforcement agencies, state regulators and a congressional committee. Insurance companies have used the practice, known as “rescission,” for years. And a congressional committee last year said WellPoint was one of the worst offenders.

But WellPoint also has specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with the intent to cancel their policies, federal investigators told Reuters.

This is why we needed the HCR bill. This is why the bill won’t be the last bill we need.

More on the Gizmodo iPhone

Gizmodo gives a bit more analysis of the whole thing here, and also considers why Apple couldn’t find the phone.

This whole affair is just hilarious; the rapid fanboy fringe is positively frothy over self-serving interpretations of journalistic ethics and obscure readings of California’s lost property statute — and a few are even upset that Gawker Media wasn’t sufficiently deferential to the Apple counsel who formally requested the return of the phone. GMAFB. Gawker are, proudly, tabloid journalists. They had a shot at the hottest gadget scoop of the year, and they by-God took it. Good for them. Apple may not like it, but that’s the way the game is played.

Next time you think you’re having a bad day at work, remember Gray Powell

Who is he? He’s the Apple engineer who, while field testing the new, unreleased 4th generation iPhone, left it in a bar, which led directly to Gizmodo’s hands-on feature. Scoop city for Gizmodo, hot water for Powell.

Oops. Apple is infamous for their security. There are virtually no leaks that they don’t orchestrate, and actual hardware leaks are, I believe, unprecedented. I hope Mr Powell doesn’t lose his job over this, but it wouldn’t at all surprise me. Consider that I’ve seen the “this is a shot of Steve Jobs’ office from earlier today” gag several places already.

There’s lots of whining from [pro-Apple](http://ihnatko.com/2010/04/19/the-increasingly-plausible-miraculous-engadget-and-gizmodo-iphone-4g/] fanboy-ish blogs (some of which I enjoy — but don’t pretend Gruber and Ihnatko aren’t fanboys), but it’s hard to blame folks like Nick Denton for running with this. Journalism, especially tech journalism, runs on the scoop, and Gawker Media found themselves in the proverbial catbird seat here (Ihnatko’s story was written early on; it’s since come to light that Gawker did indeed pay someone for the phone, which was apparently left behind in a bar (see first link)). Andy insists that Gawker have explaining to do, but I disagree: all the explanation we need is already there:

  • It’s a real unreleased Apple product; and
  • They got it.

Since they ran the story, their servers have been slammed. Cheap pageviews are one thing, but pageviews based on having a real scoop that nobody else has? That’s something else again, and it puts money in Gawker Media’s pockets, and bonuses in the employee’s accounts to pulled this off for Chairman Nick.

“Why You Shouldn’t Be Celebrating Confederate History Month”

Spot on:

The Confederacy, the secessions that led up to it, and the Civil War which followed, were about slavery. It is offensive that apologists would seek to whitewash this or, worse yet, deny it outright. As one of the guys who first described the Civil War (accurately) as “treason in defense of slavery” puts it, “Having our patriotism and love for the United States questioned by people who lionize the worst traitors in American history is bloody irritating.”

[...]

When confronted with words like “treason,” Confederate apologists like to mention that the Founding Fathers committed treason against England, and suggest that we celebrate the Founders because they won. It’s true that everyone likes a winner better, but that doesn’t mean that the Confederates were freedom fighters and the moral equivalents of the Founders. The Founders fought for the freedom of all men, and even though they fell short of realizing that ideal, they wanted to expand freedom rather than restrict it.

By contrast, the ordinances of secession adopted by Alabama, Texas, and Virginia make particular reference to the status of the seceding states, including themselves, as states whose laws authorize the ownership of slaves. The declarations of secession accompanying some of those ordinances, authored by special conventions of the states of South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi, you’ll see that they are all about slavery, expansion of slavery to the territories, return of fugitive slaves, and a refusal to submit to the lawful election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency because of his hostility to slavery. [...]

But:

So if you are from the South, you have no need to apologize for the Confederacy. Even if your ancestors include men who fought and died for the Confederacy, this is not a matter which ought to cause anyone today to evaluate you as any different than anyone else. You are not your ancestors. You have to make your own choices, and one of those choices includes deciding whether or not to be proud of a Confederate ancestry. If I had Confederate soldiers among my ancestors (I don’t think I do, but you never know) I’d say I respected their bravery, and that I understood why they might have thought they were fighting for their country. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. But at the end of the day, they were fighting for a morally indefensible cause and while I might prefer to remain silent about that, if forced I would have to admit that yes, I thought they were on the wrong side of the war.

Treason in defense of slavery is not a subject matter appropriate for any freedom loving people to celebrate. The Civil War had good guys and it had bad guys. The good guys were the ones who won.

TL;DR? The Civil War was unabashedly about two things: Treason and Slavery, both promulgated by the Confederates. The good guys won. EOT.

(Via Accordian Guy.)

You’re about to feel old.

DazedandConfusedmoviecover.jpg

Noticed elsewhere: We are just as far away from the release (in 1993) of Dazed and Confused now, in 2010, than the film was from its time period (spring 1976). It’s 17 years both ways.

Ouch. Weirdly, this also means that the period music from the film was as far removed from us as the early 90s music is to us now, which seems really strange. “Slow Ride” seems farther from the Gin Blossoms or Counting Crows than those bands do from Train or #random_2000s_pop now, though (upon reflection) it’s clear that urban, R&B, and hip-hop inflected/influenced acts have a bigger piece of the Hot 100 than they did 17 years ago.

Dear Just About Every Tea Partier:

How do you like your Obama tax cut?

By the way, remember that “47% of people don’t pay Federal income taxes” cannard? Yeah, here’s the rest of the story. Like pretty much everything else the nutbird loony right trots out as a “fact,” it’s hopelessly wrong (hint #1: it doesn’t count payroll taxes).

Forty-seven percent.

That’s the portion of American households that owe no income tax for 2009. The number is up from 38 percent in 2007, and it has become a popular talking point on cable television and talk radio. With Tax Day coming on Thursday, 47 percent has become shorthand for the notion that the wealthy face a much higher tax burden than they once did while growing numbers of Americans are effectively on the dole.

Neither one of those ideas is true. They rely on a cleverly selective reading of the facts. So does the 47 percent number.

More here, at Yahoo Finance, which finishes with this:

Obama has pushed tax cuts for low- and middle-income families and tax increases for the wealthy, arguing that wealthier taxpayers fared well in the past decade, so it’s time to pay up. The nation’s wealthiest taxpayers did get big tax breaks under Bush, with the top marginal tax rate reduced from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, and the second-highest rate reduced from 36 percent to 33 percent.

But income tax rates were lowered at every income level. The changes made it relatively easy for families of four making $50,000 to eliminate their income tax liability.

Here’s how they did it, according to Deloitte Tax:

The family was entitled to a standard deduction of $11,400 and four personal exemptions of $3,650 apiece, leaving a taxable income of $24,000. The federal income tax on $24,000 is $2,769.

With two children younger than 17, the family qualified for two $1,000 child tax credits. Its Making Work Pay credit was $800 because the parents were married filing jointly.

The $2,800 in credits exceeds the $2,769 in taxes, so the family makes a $31 profit from the federal income tax. That ought to take the sting out of April 15.

Go, Astros!

And take the Texans with you. Stros “improve” to 0 and 8 and remain the only winless team in MLB; they are the team that 1-8 Baltimore looks at and says “Whew! At least we’re not them!”

One more game in St. Louis (12:40 this afternoon) before a 3 game series with the Cubbies (4-4) this weekend. They could come home with a new club record if they stay focused! 0-10 here we come!

Canon Uber Alles

The season finale of House was shot with a Canon 5D Mk II. The 5D is Canon’s “prosumer” DSLR camera — in other words, it’s a still camera that also takes HD video, not a purpose-built HD video camera.

At $2,500, it’s not cheap, but it’s also not so expensive that normal (but devoted) photographers can’t have one — it’s laptop territory, not used-car territory.

Posted in Pix

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld: Worse than you thought

Check it out:

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.

The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.

Colonel Wilkerson, who was General Powell’s chief of staff when he ran the State Department, was most critical of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld. He claimed that the former Vice-President and Defence Secretary knew that the majority of the initial 742 detainees sent to Guantánamo in 2002 were innocent but believed that it was “politically impossible to release them”…

Colonel Wilkerson, a long-time critic of the Bush Administration’s approach to counter-terrorism and the war in Iraq, claimed that the majority of detainees — children as young as 12 and men as old as 93, he said — never saw a US soldier when they were captured. He said that many were turned over by Afghans and Pakistanis for up to $5,000. Little or no evidence was produced as to why they had been taken.

He also claimed that one reason Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld did not want the innocent detainees released was because “the detention efforts would be revealed as the incredibly confused operation that they were”. This was “not acceptable to the Administration and would have been severely detrimental to the leadership at DoD [Mr Rumsfeld at the Defence Department]”.

Referring to Mr Cheney, Colonel Wilkerson, who served 31 years in the US Army, asserted: “He had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent … If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it.”…

Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld, Colonel Wilkerson said, deemed the incarceration of innocent men acceptable if some genuine militants were captured, leading to a better intelligence picture of Iraq at a time when the Bush Administration was desperate to find a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, “thus justifying the Administration’s plans for war with that country”.

Backup Update

At first I thought it was unreasonable that the proximity of completion was exciting to me, and then I remembered it’s been running for a month and a half.

crashplan-update.png

So, how’s YOUR backup plan coming?

“Aspen 20, I show you at 1,982 knots on the ground.”

Gizmodo has an appreciation of the ultimate gadget: The sadly grounded SR-71 Blackbird.

One moonless night, while flying a routine training mission over the Pacific, I wondered what the sky would look like from 84,000 feet if the cockpit lighting were dark. While heading home on a straight course, I slowly turned down all of the lighting, reducing the glare and revealing the night sky. Within seconds, I turned the lights back up, fearful that the jet would know and somehow punish me. But my desire to see the sky overruled my caution, I dimmed the lighting again. To my amazement, I saw a bright light outside my window. As my eyes adjusted to the view, I realized that the brilliance was the broad expanse of the Milky Way, now a gleaming stripe across the sky. Where dark spaces in the sky had usually existed, there were now dense clusters of sparkling stars Shooting stars flashed across the canvas every few seconds. It was like a fireworks display with no sound. I knew I had to get my eyes back on the instruments, and reluctantly I brought my attention back inside. To my surprise, with the cockpit lighting still off, I could see every gauge, lit by starlight.

The excerpt also includes an account of a flight over Libya during which the author and his recon officer were fired upon. Apparently, when you’re in an SR-71, a perfectly acceptable defensive maneuver is to simply accelerate, which they did. To Mach 3.5+, over three and a half times the speed of sound.

Whoa.

Sadly, the author’s book is out of print, and the only copies available are limited edition, signed pressings at $400+ a pop. Oh well.

Obituary of the Year

How call must you be to have your obit headlined “Cantankerous Hellfighter”? Coots Matthews was that cool, which comes as no surprise since he was one of Red Adair‘s folks before going out on his own.

Also, the obit starts with this joke:

A joke has it that St. Peter was showing a Texan around heaven, with the Texan claiming that everything he saw was better in Texas. St. Peter tired of the routine and pointed to the fire of hell. “Do you have anything like that in Texas?” he asked. The Texan said no, then added, “But there are a couple good old boys in Houston who can put it out for you.”

In which we notice things a few days late

For several days, I’ve had this Mefi link open in a tab, and I didn’t get around to clicking through until now. It’s Robert Kennedy at a rally on 4 April 1968, announcing that Dr King had been killed. (Yeah, kids: back then, you didn’t learn every news story immediately. Crazy, I know.)

He spoke off the cuff, with no notes. It’s probably not a waste of time to wonder, just for a minute, what might have happened had a second President Kennedy been elected that fall, and not Richard Nixon; instead, of course, RFK himself was assassinated two months later.

A transcript follows; how awesome was he that he could get away with quoting Aeschylus?

I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some — some very sad news for all of you — Could you lower those signs, please? — I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black — considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible — you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization — black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with — be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times. My favorite poem, my — my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King — yeah, it’s true — but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love — a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past, but we — and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

And let’s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Thank you very much.

Color me shocked

Whoa:

Hold on to your hats. At a town hall meeting in Oklahoma City last week, staunch conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, disparaged Fox News and told a constituent her fears about the health care law were unfounded.

When a woman in the audience asked Coburn if it was illegal for the government to jail citizens for not complying with the new health care law, Coburn responded by blaming TV news, and Fox News in particular, for that false rumor:

“The intention is not to put anybody in jail,” Coburn said. “That makes for good TV news on Fox, but that isn’t the intention.”

Later, when his audience started to boo at the mention of Pelosi, Coburn stopped them.

“Come on now… how many of you all have met her? She’s a nice person,” Coburn said. “Just because somebody disagrees with you, doesn’t mean they’re not a good person.”

“Don’t catch yourself being biased by Fox News that somebody’s no good,” Coburn added.

Coburn urged audience members to widen their points of view by reading and watching different media outlets, not just the ones they agree with.

He will, of course, now be targeted by the Tea Partiers as a RINO, and sacked.

Suck it, publishers

The NYT’s Ethicist says “Buying a book or a piece of music should be regarded as a license to enjoy it on any platform.” in response to a question about the ethics of downloading an illegal digital copy of a book previously purchased in hardback.

Cohen gets it. Publishers don’t, at least not yet. Here’s the whole bit:

I bought an e-reader for travel and was eager to begin “Under the Dome,” the new Stephen King novel. Unfortunately, the electronic version was not yet available. The publisher apparently withheld it to encourage people to buy the more expensive hardcover. So I did, all 1,074 pages, more than three and a half pounds. Then I found a pirated version online, downloaded it to my e-reader and took it on my trip. I generally disapprove of illegal downloads, but wasn’t this O.K.? C.D., BRIGHTWATERS, N.Y.

An illegal download is — to use an ugly word — illegal. But in this case, it is not unethical. Author and publisher are entitled to be paid for their work, and by purchasing the hardcover, you did so. Your subsequent downloading is akin to buying a CD, then copying it to your iPod.

Buying a book or a piece of music should be regarded as a license to enjoy it on any platform. Sadly, the anachronistic conventions of bookselling and copyright law lag the technology. Thus you’ve violated the publishing company’s legal right to control the distribution of its intellectual property, but you’ve done no harm or so little as to meet my threshold of acceptability.

Unsurprisingly, many in the book business take a harder line. My friend Jamie Raab, the publisher of Grand Central Publishing and an executive vice president of the Hachette Book Group, says: “Anyone who downloads a pirated e-book has, in effect, stolen the intellectual property of an author and publisher. To condone this is to condone theft.”

Yet it is a curious sort of theft that involves actually paying for a book. Publishers do delay the release of e-books to encourage hardcover sales — a process called “windowing” — so it is difficult to see you as piratical for actually buying the book ($35 list price, $20 from Amazon) rather than waiting for the $9.99 Kindle edition.

(There’s more; click through.)

The Northern Virginia Police Hate You

Radley Balko explains just how hostile the NoVa departments are to routine citizen oversight, transparency, and even existing sunshine laws. The quotes in this story are absolutely staggering, and appear utterly at odds with the stone cold fact that power, unsupervised, leads to corruption and abuse every single time.