Dracil’s BlogJournal

November 16, 2008

Nationwide Protest against Proposition 8 in San Francisco

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So… I went to the protest today.

Well, first I went to Calumet to try out a photography vest.  Decided not to get it ’cause they only had black (which can get really hot).  I mainly want one so I don’t have to keep bringing bags.

There were several protesters on the bus I took to city hall.  I arrived half an hour early but there was already a really large crowd.

There were a bunch of political and religious figures that gave speeches like Mark Leno or Amos Brown or the girl sent by Barbara Lee.  There were also LGBT people including a hermaphrodite.  For the most part, they tried to tell people to stop scapegoating other communities.  I think it helped the message that some of the people up there were African-American preachers and gay mormons.

I went to get lunch when it was over at 12:45 (15 minutes overtime) and saw the protesters march past while I was eating.  Went to get some books over at Japantown, then went back to downtown to go home and we hit the protesters who were basically marching on the streets and blocking traffic.

As I was heading to the Bart I saw a big crowd of people watching a performance by The Loyd Family Players.  They took a 5 minute break but the police came and made them go away during their break.

August 30, 2008

Gamer’s Bill of Rights

http://www.edge-online.com/blogs/the-gamers-bill-rights

Kudos to Stardock and Gas Powered Games for coming up with these rules.

1. Gamers shall have the right to return games that don’t work with their computers for a full refund.
2. Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.
3. Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game’s release.
4. Gamers shall have the right to demand that download managers and updaters not force themselves to run or be forced to load in order to play a game.
5. Gamers shall have the right to expect that the minimum requirements for a game will mean that the game will adequately play on that computer.
6. Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won’t install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their express consent.
7. Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest versions of the games they own at any time.
8. Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.
9. Gamers shall have the right to demand that a single-player game not force them to be connected to the Internet every time they wish to play.
10. Gamers shall have the right that games which are installed to the hard drive shall not require a CD/DVD to remain in the drive to play.

The problem of course, is to get companies (especially the publishers) to agree to and follow these rules.

August 25, 2008

Rep. Jackie Speier and homosexual marriages

I don’t know what to make of this.  Yes, I used one of the Protect Marriage forms, but I changed the words around so that it was actually the opposite of what the original form letter said.  Basically I was making a mockery of it.

Which leads me to the following thoughts on Rep. Jackie Speier.

1) Yay for not supporting it

2) Boo for not reading

This is what I sent:

I am very DELIGHTED that the Democratic Party has endorsed homosexual marriage. I urge you NOT to co-sponsor H.J. RES. 89, the Marriage Protection Amendment of 2008, which would make marriage legal only between a man and a woman.  This is like banning marriage between people of different races.

Obviously, the capitalized words are the changes and I also added the last sentence.

Here’s the response.

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for House Joint Resolution 89 (H.J. Res 89), the Marriage Protection Amendment. H.J. Res. 89 was introduced by Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) and seeks to amend the Constitution of the United States by inserting language declaring that marriage “shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.” This legislation was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on May 22, 2008 and is awaiting further action in committee.

While I understand and respect any person’s religious or moral beliefs about the institution of marriage, I strongly oppose H.J. Res. 89 and any measure designed to prevent Americans with a different sexual orientation from marrying. In 221 years, the U.S. Constitution has been amended only 27 times. Notable amendments include the thirteenth amendment which abolished slavery, the fourteenth amendment which provided for equal protection under the law, and the nineteenth amendment which gave women the right to vote. The Constitution has never been amended to deny a group of citizens the rights enjoyed by others.

For many years it was illegal for persons of different races to marry. However, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down this prohibition and opened the door to adults of all races to freely marry. Societal beliefs about interracial marriage changed significantly over the intervening years, but today most Americans agree that skin color and ethnicity should not hinder the right of an adult to marry whomever they choose.

Many marriages begin with a religious ceremony, while others begin at the county courthouse. Both have the same status in our law: They are contracts. We do not place limits on the ability of adults to contract for a home based upon their sexual orientation, and I don’t believe that we should treat marriage any differently.

Not everyone has to agree with every marriage. I frankly don’t like marriages entered into in haste, such as those that happen when a couple who barely knows each other flies to Las Vegas on the spur of the moment and gets married, and we all regret marriages that start with abusive relationships. However, in my judgment, the law must treat all adult Americans equally and, so long as both adults are competent to freely enter into a contract, I believe that all adults should be able to freely marry

August 17, 2008

Paranoia and rights

Filed under: Controversy, News, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , , — dracil @ 1:19 am

Looks like there’s been another fight over photographers’ rights.

Paranoia really makes people do stupid things.  That’s why we have all these stupid feel-good but completely useless laws and restrictions, like the increasingly stupid TSA rules in airports.  As someone said once, the root passwords to the American constitution are “terrorism” and “pedophilia” (and “drugs”, though more so in the past).

That said, this guy does seem to be going out of his way to stir up trouble.  The way he’s doing things, even though he is legally allowed to take photos in these places, he may just end up earning himself a lifetime ban instead which he won’t be able to do anything about because he’d be trespassing in that case.

There was also an interesting article linked in the comments where a bunch of people dressed up as Best Buy employees one day and then recorded the experience.  It deals with some similar issues on answering questions/knowing when you are trespassing/not trespassing.

While we’re on the issue of paranoid and rights, UK police confiscated the board game “War on Terror” (where a spinner randomly determine’s which player’s the terrorist state) because it includes a balaclava (which said player wears) because it could be used for… oh, terrorism.  *rolls eyes*

July 17, 2008

SF smoking ban proposals

SF Gate Article

As a person who hates smoke, I say, yay!  It’s about time!

There’s basically 2 laws they’re thinking of passing in San Francisco.  Newsom is proposing banning cigarette sales in pharmacies.  Daly is proposing banning smoking from smoking 20 feet from business entrances.

The first law makes perfect sense.  It’s kinda hypocritical for pharmacies to sell treatments for tobacco-related symptoms while selling tobacco at the same time.  Some people (smokers) complain that that the remaining stores would raise cigarette prices.  That just sounds even better.  That means people will be less likely to smoke (or smoke as much).

The second law, well… the first obvious problem which I agree with is that smokers should at least be allowed to smoke inside smoke shops.  The second is enforcement.  I’ve never seen any “no smoking with x feet of y object” ever enforced.  Which means this is more like a feel-good law than a practical one.

Also, apparently people may still be allowed to smoke marijuana in the streets, which is just stupid and the feeling of discrimination by tobacco smokers is justified.

Personally, I wouldn’t be so annoyed at smokers if they aren’t always standing UPWIND from people at bus stops and stuff.  Seriously, that’s inconsiderate because they’re forcing everyone else to move to get out of their smoke (or passively suffer its effects) because they’re too lazy to move themself.

July 9, 2008

Obama disappoints on telecom immunity

’nuff said

Even McCain did better by not voting. That’s how shameful this is.

July 2, 2008

SF Muni still (illegally?) bans photography

I was taking a photo of the subway today because I thought it might make for an interesting picture, but I was stopped by one of the Muni employees saying something about how since 9-11 photography in subways is forbidden. I asked him for the specific law and he said it was in some “security handbook” which he didn’t have with him. He said it was on their website. Since he didn’t try to confiscate my stuff or force me to delete photos, I didn’t press him further. I should’ve probably gotten his badge number at least, but for the record, this occurred around 8PM today and the guy was sitting in the closed off area at the end of the platform.  After I got home I checked and sure enough, I couldn’t find anything on it, so I fired off a letter to SFMTA asking them to point me to the exact law or regulation concerning photography in subways.

Afterward I tried googling and came across some interesting articles from around February 2005 that got a bit of media attention.

http://sfist.com/2005/02/14/homeland_insecurity_photo_ban_on_muni.php
http://sfist.com/2005/02/15/muni_photography_ban_update.php
http://sfist.com/2005/02/21/photogs_of_the_world_unite.php
http://www.photopermit.org/?p=66
http://www.photopermit.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=158

Apparently they haven’t learned a thing since then.  But given their final reply about that incident, I think I know what response to be expecting.  But hey, if they seriously want to go through all the trouble of getting someone to accompany me to take a couple photos, fine by me.  I’ll just bring my tripod next time to get a better shot (the one shot I managed to take was too blurry).  Maybe I’ll even get the employee to pose.  :P  And if they try to ignore my letter, then I dunno.  Maybe escalate it to the local papers?

June 25, 2008

Photographers’ Rights

Filed under: Controversy, photography — Tags: , , , , — dracil @ 11:02 pm

One thing that’s come up a few times when I or people I know have been out taking pictures is whether we are actually allowed to do so.  Apparently, in the US, the answer is YES most of the time.  Note, this is purely in the legal sense.  Using common sense and possible ethical dilemmas are another matter.

Situations that I’ve personally encountered so far are:

1) Whether it’s ok to take a picture of a “haunted” house even if the owner is willing to call the cops on you
2) Whether movie theaters have the right to confiscate your stuff if they find you taking pictures inside the theater
3) Whether you can take pictures of people in general even if they object.

The answers to these three questions appear to be yes, no, yes.

In the first case, as long as you’re not on their property, they cannot do anything.  You’re not trespassing and that’s really the key point.  In the second case, nobody can take your stuff without a warrant basically.  If they do, they set themselves up for criminal charges.  The third case is probably the most complicated, because the context matters, during when the picture is taken, and whether or not (or how) the photo is published.  Generally, if the person is in a public place (even on private property) and cannot expect privacy, they’re fair game.  However, you cannot reveal private information about the person or misrepresent them in any way.

Two documents I’ve found quite useful are listed below:

http://www.kantor.com.nyud.net:8080/blog/Legal-Rights-of-Photographers.pdf
http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf

Now, again, this is just the legal stuff.  It’s not going to stop a thug from breaking your camera (or your neck) or protect you from being lynched when some overly paranoid people decide you’re a pedophile because you took some pictures of kids.  So common sense is still a necessity.  :P

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