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Archive for November, 2012

Desperate Cowboys Fans Find No Love with White House Petition Site

Oh, that White House petition site jumped the shark already.  This only proves it, and desperate Cowboys fans have jumped the shark as well.

Dallas Cowboys fans, still stinging from a Thanksgiving Day defeat at the hands of their arch-rivals, the Washington Redskins, appealed to the White House for a solution this weekend. But the Obama administration has already removed the online petition from its “We the People” page, citing a “violation or our Terms of Participation.”

“We, the Citizens of the Great State of Texas, and Dallas Cowboys fans worldwide, have been oppressed by an over controlling, delusional, oppressive dictator for way too long,” the petition read.

“Request the Executive Branch’s immediate assistance in removal of owner and GM, Jerry Jones. His incompetence and ego have not only been an extreme disappointment for way too long, but moreover, it has caused extreme mental and emotional duress.”

Jones purchased the Cowboys franchise in 1989 and made himself the general manager. He has been the subject of on-again, off-again controversy in Dallas throughout the team’s annual roller-coaster ride through the football season.

The Cowboys won Super bowls in 1992, 1993 and 1995, but haven’t advanced to the NFL’s championship game since.

The petition collected more than 4,000 signatures, according to ESPN, before the White House sacked it Tuesday afternoon.

The rules of the website require that at least 25,000 signatures must be obtained before an “official response” from the White House will be issued.  What that details has never actually been spelled out.

What the White House does with this information has also never actually been spelled out.  Coming soon to your email inbox, DNC fund raising mail!?

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Facebook Still Owns Your Photos

Always has, always will.

And if they can’t make money the old fashioned way (ad revenue) then they have the possibility of selling all your personal stuff to the highest bidder.  Admittedly, that is something they haven’t ever done in the history of the company, but it is still standard legalese in the “Terms of Service” or TOS agreement.

Gizmodo explains:

When you signed up for Facebook, you agreed to Facebook’s Terms of Service (ToS). These are the rules you agree to play by so long as you use Facebook, period. They’re Facebook’s rules. Odds are you didn’t bother reading the ToS before you signed up, because Facebook was new and exciting and who ever reads that stuff anyway? No one does.

Half a decade or so later, we’re still bound by those rules—and that means that, despite all the hoaxes floating around today that might tell you otherwise, Facebook owns the pictures and videos you share. And you can’t opt out, ever, because you agreed to this:

(I’ll bold the important parts)

Your Content and Information

You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:

For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).

In short: if you upload a photo, Facebook is 100%, completely allowed to use it (or sell it) until you delete that photo or delete your account. This isn’t to say that it does any of this stuff—and in fact Facebook is adamant that it does not—just reserving the right to at some point in the future.

So the question remains for Facebook:  If you say that you are never going to sell the photos people put up on Facebook, why do you still legally reserve the right to do so at “some point in the future.”

Just another example of the biggest joke on the Internet remaining the Facebook privacy agreement.

UPDATE:  Apparently the increase in interest in the Facebook TOS is due to an Internet meme (on Facebook natch) where folks would post a long, legal-sound diatribe believing that by doing so, they were making themselves exempt from the TOS.

(What fools these mortals be…)

Anyway, to highlight said stupidity, the gang at CollegeHumor.com did a sketch on it.  Enjoy.



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Intrade to Shutdown US Accounts

Frankly, I’m shocked the site was running for as long as it was.  While a respectable “prediction” market (and by that, I mean wager book), the website was really nothing more than a place to put bets on elections and measure the ebb and flow of where the money was going.

While a common practice in the U.K — where Intrade is based and betting on election outcomes is the norm — it is also highly illegal in the U.S.  This is only a natural reaction to the eventual crackdown.  It just took a while for the authorities to catch up.

Online prediction market Intrade, hugely popular among political bloggers and pundits, will no longer allow U.S. residents to participate after running into regulatory and legal trouble Monday.

The company alerted American customers on its website that they must close their accounts by Dec. 23, or else the company will do so itself, after determining a fair market value. Funds must be withdrawn by Dec. 31.

Intrade, which is operated by the Irish firm Trade Exchange Network Ltd. was a favorite reference point for political prognosticators, who pointed to futures being traded on the outcome of the presidential election as a reflection of the odds facing each campaign.

The Commodities Futures Trading Commission sued Intrade and TEN on Monday for offering commodity options contracts between September 2007 and June 2012 in violation of the agency’s ban on off-exchange trading.

According to the suit, the CFTC claimed the firm filed false certification forms stating that Intrade limited its offerings to eligible market participants. The agency also claimed that TEN violated a cease-and-desist order, signed in 2005, covering similar conduct.

“It is against the law to solicit U.S. persons to buy and sell commodity options, even if they are called ‘prediction’ contracts, unless they are listed for trading and traded on a CFTC-registered exchange or unless legally exempt,” said David Meister, director of the CFTC’s Division of Enforcement.

Intrade said on its website that it would not charge its usual $4.99 monthly fee for December and will waive its $20 fee levied for processing bank wire withdraws.

I’m working under the assumption that one can still go to the website in the years to come, after all, this isn’t the Red Chinese’s “Great Firewall” we’re talking about here. The only question now is will they even bother to operate the markets as they’ve done in the past, with only those outside the U.S. allowed to participate, or just shutting them down completely?

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Cartoon of the Day

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Paul Ryan and Daughter Each Bag a Buck

Congrats to them both.

Hunting in Oklahoma over the Thanksgiving holiday, success came to the Wisconsin lawmaker and his 10-year-old daughter, Liza, making her first solo trip into the woods.

“Congressman Ryan was grateful to spend time with his family over the Thanksgiving holiday. He was able to hunt with his daughter Liza,” spokesman Kevin Seifert told Secrets.

“Both of them had successful and safe outings, each shooting a buck,” he added.

Since their hunt just ended, more details of the size of the bucks weren’t available.

But Ryan, a dedicated bowhunter, earlier said that his daughter had been hunting with him before but this was the first year she could legally hunt alone from her own stand. He added that she was practicing with a Remington 700 .243 caliber he previously bought her. The .243 is one of the most popular calibers for deer hunting because it is accurate at long distances and recoils very little.

The Remington 700 .243 retails at around $350 to $450 depending on the seller.   It’s a solid little starter rifle for a young hunter or middle class hunter looking for a cheap, but good back-up gun to go hunting with.

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Russell Reaches Plea Agreement

I suppose that “capper” will be hardest hit by this news.

What was the phrase he kept yammering about again?  Oh yes, that was “Russell was going to flip” or some such nonsense.

Yeah…really doesn’t look that is happening here pal.

Former Scott Walker aide Tim Russell has reached a plea agreement on charges that he stole money from a fund for veterans, according to electronic court records.

Lead prosecutor Bruce Landgraf confirmed that a hearing on the plea arrangement has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, but declined to comment further.

Parker Mathers, Russell’s lawyer, declined to comment on the plea deal.

Russell was the last, great hope of the Walker-haters hoping that they could finally pin something concrete on the governor.  Better luck next trumped up scandal guys.

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Stevens Points Begins Quixotic Quest to End College Drinking

Is it possible to end drinking on a college campus, any college campus, let alone one in Wisconsin — a state which prides itself on out-drinking all 49 others since 1848?  (Or so the Facebook group and various retailers tell us…)

UW-Stevens Point wants to set up a policy in which all alcohol is banned in the residency halls to keep it out of the hands of students not yet 21.  Frankly, you wonder if they can legally pull this off.

Yes, they may have “renter / tenant” law on their side, but not everyone who lives in the dorms in underage.  This could raise some serious “Don’t they trust me?” issues with those who are of legal age (and can buy beer and put it in their dorm fridges) and who frankly are going ask if they’re suddenly under a presumption of “guilt before innocence” when it comes to a policy like this.

As a senior in college myself, I moved back into the dorms mainly because most of my other friends had graduated the previous spring and I had no one to split a house or apartment with.   Add in that I interned the spring of my junior year back home — when most of the apartments become open for leasing — and my housing situation was kind of limited.

Thompson said the task force is debating making the residence halls dry, meaning no alcohol would be allowed on the premise, even though some residents there are of legal drinking age.

Thompson said the task force also is considering things such as levying fines, hosting additional classes and launching a marketing campaign.

The university also would work more closely with the city, said Mayor Andrew Halverson, who leads the task force with Thompson.

“I know the chancellor is committed to highlighting this as a real growth area for the university and the community,” Halverson said. “I think you’re going to see some real changes.”

Those changes stop short of a specific policy of kicking students out of school for too many offenses. Thompson said right now, the school looks at each student on a case-by-case basis, and he said the university wouldn’t want to set a specific policy for the number of alcohol-related offenses that would mean expulsion.

Making the residence halls dry is great…in theory.  But the reality is stuff gets brought into a dorm all the time that is legal, illegal, or marginally law-abiding.  (It also raises questions about if they’re going this gestapo on alcohol, why don’t they do the same for pot?)   UWSP may be making a problem from the very solution they are advocating.

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Cartoon of the Day

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Cartoon of the Day

It’s the final day of deer hunting.  Sometimes, you have to go high-tech as you get desperate for that buck.

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Larry Hagman, Rest in Peace

Due to syndication of the show on an earlier form of Channel 32 in the Green Bay market, and my parents’ strict “8 PM = Bedtime” until I was nine or ten, I think I knew Hagman first as “Major Nelson” from “I Dream of Jeanie” then as being “J.R. Ewing” on the CBS primetime soap “Dallas.”

He will be missed.  For he helped create the one thing — J.R. Ewing — which helped America change Dallas from being viewed as “that place where JFK was killed in” into “that place where J.R. lived.”   That’s a pretty impressive thing for one man to do to the popular psyche of America.

Rest in peace.

Larry Hagman, the actor most widely known for playing oil baron J.R. Ewing on the popular 1980s television show “Dallas,” has died at the age of 81.

Family members tell the Associated Press the Texas native died Friday afternoon at a Dallas hospital from complications of a recent battle with cancer.

“Larry was back in his beloved hometown of Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved the most,” the family said. “Larry’s family and closest friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday.”

Hagman was a regular on the 1960s sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie,” playing Capt. Tony Nelson, an astronaut whose life is disrupted when he finds a comely genie, portrayed by Barbara Eden. He reprised the role of J.R. Ewing in TNT’s recent “Dallas” reboot.

Reports were that Hagman’s long-time “Dallas” co-stars Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy were at his bedside when his passed on.  No word yet from producers of the TNT reboot — which is quite good actually — will do the character of J.R., but one can only he dies with Hagman.

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