I’m graduating from POLICE ACADEMY!

Well, to be precise, the Arlington Citizen’s Police Academy… it’s not learning to be a police officer, it’s for town residents to learn about our local police and their procedures. Our town’s police are serious about community policing and have restarted this great 8-week class recently after a hiatus due to renovation in the community safety center.

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News of the Weird – but true

The odd thing about all these news articles from today is that they’re all true. These are strange days we live in.

John Stewart Mill, of his own free will…

Excellent song; an even more excellent (and short) analysis of the piece can be found by Ben Laurie across the pond.

If you want to take it one step further, and be extra nice, you can also follow Bill & Ted’s excellent advice:

Be excellent to each other!

Yes, you may say “cheezy claptrap” about the movie, but still an excellent modernization of a very old idea. Let’s hope we do a better job with both of them in the next decade.

How can CreativeCommons help combat splogs?

Perhaps a naive question, but I was thinking about legal and social ways to combat splogs and blog scraping (since even with my limited scope, I’ve been scraped at least twice). In particular, I was wondering: do CreativeCommons NC licenses prevent blog scraping?
There are a number of detailed questions I haven’t investigated, but I figured I’d post this now to see if anyone comments. Personally, I chose the CC BY-NC-SA license because the human-readable version seems to be closest to what I want my philosophy to be for much of my content. That is:

  • BY – By attribution. This means anyone who uses the license must attribute the work to me. It’s the least to ask that if you’re going to use something I create, that you let the world know I created it first.
  • NC – Non Commercial. It’s my work; I’m certainly not going to give it to you for free if you’re making money off of it. If there’s money to be made in what I create, it’s mine!
  • SA – Share Alike. Although I am not a Free Software type (a’la FSF) for code myself, for personal writings like my website and blog, I want to ensure that others who re-use my content will allow their versions of my works to be shared alike.

My question to my legal and geek readers is: can CC NC licenses help combat splogs? Splogs being original-content-free sites that simply copy other people’s feeds, and have lots of AdSense or other advertising links on them. The more content they steal, the more search hits and therefore ad revenue they make from the site.
Either on legal theory, or technical issues, does the CC NC license prohibit this use? Have any of the CC licenses been tested in court? And where is the current legal line on commercial use? The whole fact that splogs are original-content-free would point a reasonable person to say it’s purely for selfish commercial use, but I’m sure that some tricky splogger has an argument about how their feed search terms constitute something original or such bull that it would take a number of cases to have anything effective.

Yes, I realize this is all very theoretical. For practical solutions I should download a WordPress plugin that poisons my default feeds with copyright notices or faux content. But with the relative popularity of CreativeCommons I was wondering if they’ve been thinking about this specific issue – of the EFF or some of the other great online legal sites out there.

Who ever thought of privacy policies on maps?

Or, as Charles Bandes, a local photog questions:

Who watches the watchmen?

He’s walking down the street with his camera, he spots a car driving slowly along – with a wide-angle multi-camera rig on the roof, filming everything as it drives on.  Ah-ha!  Modern mapping technology has come so far, that not only can we get a satellite picture of you in your backyard (admittedly still grainy for the civillian uses), but we also have immersive photo maps of your front yard from drive-by internet companies.  Where can you go for privacy these days?

The interesting thing I found was in the comments to the posting – Kasia claims it was her in the car, and she’s not working for Google, but another immersive photo mapping vendor called EveryScape.com!  I suppose it’s a fairly obvious idea, and technology has been ready for this kind of image processing for a while now.  The key was always the business model, and the logistics of having humans (robot cars not being legal in most populated areas yet) actually drive around everywhere to capture the data close-up.

What’s my point?  Several fold:

  • Where’s the privacy policy?  Sure, legally public streets and all that, but still, they’re running a business that relies on eyeballs on their site; how do they update rights management and complaints processing?
  • Who the heck ever thought of a privacy policy on a map?  (Actually, I’m sure some people have besides the gov’t’s blurring of satellite data, but still.)
  • Excellent post title, Charles, although I admit I haven’t read that graphic novel in far too long.

Now for some self-promotion (or self-delusion): let’s start a new meme.  EveryScape – howabout EveryScrape?  Makes sense to most geeks: you’re screen-scraping my neighborhood, dude!  CityScrape?  All of the other obvious spelling mistakes like EvryScape?  Who’s going to be the first to steal some of these other great domain names to make some parasitic profit off of this newcomer? 
Please tell me it’s going to be someone fun, who does a worthwhile parody site and/or community driven site, and not one of those evil domain master owners who just pump their AdSense income from their automated spelling-mistake-catching domain registry tools.  Ugh.

The Good and the Bad of Human Behavior

Two diametric links about proper (or improper) human behavior I stumbled upon today I thought I would share.

Xiphias writes about fundamental rights, human behavior, and what our Constitution and Governments have to do with them – very little, in his eloquent and positively thought-provoking words. I just wish I could make trackbacks out of Livejournal.

things I think everyone should know
– Xiphias

Which reminds me of an interesting phrase I copied when writing some acceptable use guidelines for a work-hosted discussion database. Not something I enjoyed having to include, but important when your forum is actually owned by someone else (i.e. not a public street, etc.):

Correctly interpreted, the First Amendment does not prohibit all restrictions on speech. It doesn’t prohibit private restrictions at all. Our constitution is a series of constraints on government, not on individuals or even powerful corporations.
Wired, 4.03

On the other hand, we have The Prince re-imagined as The Little Prince, so to speak. A novel graphical view of Machiavelli, as wryly translated for children.

A Child’s Machiavelli
– Claudia Hart

Definitely something you don’t want your youngsters reading until they’ve found their own moral center (hopefully, one you approve of).

Are you watching the speech now?

I’m sure not.  State Of The Union, forsooth.  State of his… well, I’m not going to finish that thought since I don’t plan to do politics on this blog.  Ug.

Although I must admit it’s pretty odd forming an opinion about the details of a speech that hasn’t been given yet.  But if you were surfing news sites the hours before the speech was to begin, apparently the text has already been officially given out by the press people.  Wierd.