July 8, 2011

Oh, it’s not really “censorship”, say Apple fans

Filed under: Law, Liberty, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 14:01

Even if Apple is silently censoring their MobileMe email messages:

Writing on the Cult of Mac, John Brownlee reports that Apple applies silent, unpublished content-filters to outgoing MobileMe Email messages, sometimes deleting the messages you send without notifying you. This doesn’t appear to be in Apple’s published terms of using the service, and while an Apple spokesperson has confirmed that this goes on, she disclaims that it is political in nature. The comments on Brownlee’s post are a study in cognitive dissonance from Apple fans, with responses ranging from, “I don’t send politically charged messages so it doesn’t matter,” to “It didn’t happen when I tried it, so it’s not true,” to “All spam filters work this way” (they don’t), and so on.

It’ll be hard to find a way to make this sound nice to folks who aren’t already fully paid-up members of the Apple Fanboy Club.

Culinary cage match: Middlesbrough’s “Parmo” versus Canadian Poutine

Filed under: Britain, Cancon, Humour, Randomness — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:52

I was born in Middlesbrough, but it was news to me that they have their own “signature dish”: the parmo:

As promised, our highly-trained operatives took time off from audacious spaceplane projects to tackle the parmo — a Middlesbrough delicacy whose fame has already spread as far as Sunderland, but is now set to burst onto the international stage.

However, in the interests of science, we decided to pitch the parmo against another dish whose name is uttered in hushed tones: Canadian poutine.

Yes, we hear you ask, qu’est-ce que c’est this poutine of which you parlez? Since you ask, it’s an unholy alliance of chips, gravy and cheese curds, which will now do battle with the parmo’s deep-fried pork fillet for the ultimate post-pub nosh deathmatch crown.

I should probably warn you that poutine is really a Quebec dish, and has only recently become well known outside the province of its birth. It’s also been described as “the culinary equivalent of having unprotected sex with a stripper in the parking lot of a truck stop in eastern Quebec.”

So, what’s the verdict? Well, I’d like to be able to report that the Spanish locals were willing to give these two tempting dishes a go and report back, but no sooner did we emerge from the kitchen bearing platters of goodness, than the bar immediately emptied.

Among the excuses offered for not being able to stick around to try our hearty fare was one bloke who’d forgotten it was his mother’s funeral in 10 minutes, and another chap who after 40 years as a committed atheist, decided it was an opportune moment to go to Mass and be reclasped to the bosom of the Church.

The Canadian right to free speech: not invented in 1982

Filed under: Cancon, History, Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:03

Mark Steyn responds to former blogger Jason Cherniak about the free speech rights of Canadians:

You claim that the legal right to free speech “did not exist as a legal right before 1982”. This is bollocks de facto and de jure. When you say with all the blithe insouciance of a Dalhousie Law School alumnus that any right to free speech was “only respected by convention”, my response is what do you think the entire Canadian legal inheritance is, genius? It’s “convention”. That’s what the definition of Common Law is: a body of precedent, understandings of inherent authority — ie, “convention”. When Julian Porter, QC filed a motion objecting to the Canadian “Human Rights” Tribunal’s “secret trial”, he cited CBC vs New Brunswick, Ambard vs Attorney-General of Trinidad and Tobago – in other words, the accumulation of precedent, or, in your words, a respect for convention.

England, the mother of Common Law, has no written consititution, and thus no “constitutional rights” at all, but only “conventions”. Those “conventions” were the underpinning of the 1867 British North America Act and, more broadly, the third of a millennium of Canadian legal history before the Charter of Worthless Crap. As Blackstone put it, for lands “planted by English subjects”, “all the English laws then in being, which are the birthright of every subject, are immediately there in force”. In other words, long before 1982, free speech was a Canadian’s “birthright” — through convention. It’s all convention. In the English legal tradition, take away convention, and what’s left?

That’s why more countries have lived in liberty longer under Common Law than any other legal inheritance. Because what you dismiss as mere “convention” is, in fact, an understanding that “law” and laws are not the same thing. It’s not about the government writing down on a piece of paper everything that it will permit you, Jason the Barrister, to do. “Rights” are not those things granted by the sovereign and enumerated in statute, but the precise opposite: They’re restraints upon the sovereign. They’re not about what the state allows you to do, but about what the state is not allowed to do to you. The English legal tradition is imperfect (as all systems are) but it has been a better protector of this principle than any other. What part of that don’t you understand?

All of it, apparently. Because along comes that puffed up poseur Trudeau with all his modish contempt for the Canadian inheritance and he decides that, like you, he’s not big on convention and precedent and he’d rather have everything written down, all nice and “codified”. So now we have your 1982 Charter that, for the first time since Magna Carta, gives citizens what you call a “legal right” to free speech. And whaddaya know? Ever since we got a Trudeaupian “legal right” to it, there’s been less and less free speech than back in the bad old days when (according to you) we had no “legal right” to it at all. Ask yourself this, “Barrister and Solicitor”: Had Guy Earle delivered his lesbophobic putdowns at a Canadian comedy club in 1981, would he have had more or less “legal right” to free speech than he enjoys today?

I said in my post that, for you and yours, Trudeau is Year Zero. Your response confirms it. That a Canadian lawyer is willing to argue that a long, established, settled legal inheritance means nothing unless Father Pierre writes it down in his Napeoleonic Complex Code is bleak confirmation of how thoroughly he vacuumed Canada’s past — and, in doing so, perverted the very idea of what “rights” are. If yours is a typical Canadian lawyer’s view of the law, it certainly explains a lot. God help us all.

A contrarian view on the News of the World closure

Filed under: Britain, Liberty, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:28

Well, somebody had to point out the cloud to this lovely silver lining that everyone else is enjoying:

Around the world, miles of column inches and hours of television and radio debate have been devoted to the closure of the News of the World. And yet the gravity of what occurred yesterday, the unprecedented, head-turningly historic nature of it, has not been grasped anywhere. A newspaper of some 168 years’ standing, a public institution patronised by millions of people, has been wiped from history — not as a result of some jackbooted military intrusion or intolerant executive decree or coup d’état, but under pressure from so-called liberal campaigners who ultimately felt disgust for the newspaper’s ‘culture’. History should record yesterday as a dark day for press freedom.

In a civilised society we tend to associate the loss of a newspaper, the pressured shutting down of a media outlet, with some major corrosion of public or democratic values. We look upon the extinction of a paper for non-commercial reasons, whatever the paper’s reputation or sins, as a sad thing, normally the consequence of a tyrannical force stamping its boot and its authority over the upstarts of the media. Yet yesterday’s loss of a newspaper has given rise, at best, to speculative analysis of what is going on inside News International, or at worst to expressions of schadenfreude and glee that the four million dimwits who liked reading phone-hacked stories about Wayne Rooney on a Sunday morning will no longer be at liberty to do so. Many of those politically sensitive commentators who shake their heads in solemn fury upon hearing that a newspaper in a place like Belarus has closed down have barely been able to contain their excitement about the self-immolation of a tabloid here at home.

Many people, including us at spiked, had reservations about the News of the World’s mode of behaviour, especially following this week’s revelations of deplorable phone-hacking activity involving murdered teenager Milly Dowler and the families of dead British soldiers. The paper undoubtedly infuriated many people, too. Yet this was a longstanding public institution. Just because a newspaper is the private property of an individual — even if that individual is Rupert Murdoch — does not detract from the fact that it is also a public institution, with an historic reputation and an ongoing political and social engagement with a regular, in this case numerically formidable readership. That such a public institution can be dispensed with so swiftly, that a huge swathe of the British people can overnight be deprived of an institution they had a close relationship with, ought to be causing way more discomfort and concern than it is. How would we feel if other public institutions — the BBC, perhaps, or parliament — were likewise to disappear?

Shifting in the general direction of legalizing marijuana?

Filed under: Health, Law, Liberty — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:30

Ace is still not eager to see pot legalized, but he’s had a bit of a change of heart lately:

The liberty argument is a strong one.

The counter-argument, and the one I have previously relied upon/acceded to, was that the state has such a powerful interest in protecting people from harming themselves that our Duty to Protect outweighs the case for liberty.

But I don’t believe that any more. For one thing, I am becoming, little by little, and belatedly, very suspicious of any argument that assigns liberty a lower priority than another value. And I’m becoming, again belatedly, very very suspicious of the general claim that we can use the Coercive Power of the State to make people live better lives.

It’s not so much a slippery slope argument — of the type “If we say the state can do X to supposedly improve our lives, who’s to say they can’t do Y, as well, making the same claim?” — as it is an argument about that first step itself.

I don’t think I want the state using its coercive power to lock people up any more for doing drugs.

What business is it of mine? I do lots of things that others may look down upon but I wouldn’t be at all happy about having State Coercion brought to bear upon me for any of it.

So, cut through all the stuff about medicinal marijuana and the like… it’s really just about respecting a citizens’ basic right to do as he pleases without state coercion, so long as what he pleases does not produce direct harm for anyone else.

And I just don’t buy the case for “direct harm” anymore.

Oh Noes! My delivery has been intercepted!!!!

Filed under: Randomness, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 00:08

An urgent email to my account tells me that my “parcel from UPS COURIER SERVICE” has been intercepted by the “UNITED STATES POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE”:

This is to notify you that we have intercepted your parcel from UPS COURIER SERVICE is making the delivery and we have stopped the delivery process for some security reasons stated below:

Our scanning system has detected that your parcel contains a confirmable CARD to the tune of US$1,500,000.00 USD.Such parcel coming from African /Europe/Asia is been verified by the postal inspection service.

Also for the Delivery of the Parcel to continue, you are in obligation to obtain from Spain, a Duly Sworn Affidavit from Spanish High Court which cost only but $320 which will back up the Origin of Fund. This is in line with the Anti-Terrorist Campaign which the USA Government has embarked on recently to protect our Territory from future attacks. You should therefore contact the sender of the CARD or the UPS Courier Agent in Madrid Spain to get the Sworn Affidavit for you while we wait to receive from you the Affidavit File Number to enable us forward your CARD to your address.

I’m so relieved that the US Postal Service is so dedicated to stamping out this sort of thing that it can intercept parcels from Spain to Canada! Of course, the last thing I bought from Spain was some wine through the Ontario government’s monopoly LCBO, so why someone from that country would be sending me a “confirmable CARD to the tune of US$1,500,000.00 USD” is a little bit of a mystery.

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