Kaarma case legally documents inanity of Missoulian comments

Marcus Kaarma and a child he didn't shoot

Marcus Kaarma and a child he didn’t shoot

I can’t read the Missoulian comments section anymore, because I installed CommentBlocker. Its combination of comment-blocking power and arbitrary bugs prevents me from reading comments at the Missoulian even when I override it. So finally I have escaped the funhouse. Yesterday, the prosecution in Marcus Kaarma’s murder case argued that it was more a hall of mirrors. Objecting to Kaarma’s attorneys’ motion to move the trial because it had become “sensationalized” in local media, Deputy County Attorney Jennifer complained that much of defense’s evidence consisted of Missoulian.com comments. For example:

As an example, attached to one Missoulian.com article about the case a single user commented 31 times and another user posted 34 times, Clark retorted.

I wish that sentence were not a train wreck, because it confirms what we suspected all along.

Continue reading

Mass copyright lawsuits look increasingly like shakedowns

And you say they get the movies over the telephone?

A few weeks ago, my friend got a letter from a law firm in Denton, TX saying that his IP address had been identified as participating in a torrent download of Bareley Legal 6, and he was now being sued in federal court. The firm apparently got his information from his internet service provider, which had provided the list of IPs in response to a subpoena. My friend does not a have a copy of Barely Legal 6 on his hard drive* and connects to the internet via a shared wireless network, so it seems likely that someone else downloaded the file, if anyone did. The mechanics of proving that he violated Hustler’s copyright seemed impossibly complex, but so did the process of hiring a lawyer and going to federal court to defend himself against charges that he stole pornography. When he asked the law firm that sent him the letter for more information, their response only reiterated the seriousness of the charges and recommended that he settle immediately. And that’s how my friend found out that he was one of over 1,000 “John Doe” defendants named in the suit.

Continue reading

Snake that controls Sarah Palin’s body worried about new dollar coins

The inexperienced but determined snake that controls Sarah Palin's body

The inexperienced but determined snake that controls Sarah Palin's body. (Not pictured: body)

Since August, when Sarah Palin was eaten by a Grue as a result of staying in a darkened area too long while studying foreign policy, a replicant version of her body has been operated by a funny snake. We know this. What you may not know is that the snake finally finished writing that book—which is currently being edited to remove numerous and baffling references to the warmth of field mice—and he is now free to pilot Sarah Palin’s body around the country, collecting multi-thousand dollar speaker fees and making his views known. Like most snakes, the one controlling Palin’s body is friendly and inquisitive, and spends most of his time scanning the ground in search of candy and coins, which he hopes to barter for social acceptance. In that capacity, he’s discovered a possible left-wing conspiracy and a change in our minting policy that may shock and disturb you.

Continue reading

Virtual fashion economy booming, says virtual news story

In real life she's an utterly empty shrew, too, but she's kind of fatter.

In real life she's an utterly empty shrew, too, but kind of fatter.

The copy of a screenshot of the virtual version of a person at right is Angie Mornington, host of a weekly fashion show on Treet TV, the television station of the avatar-driven social networking platform Second Life. I find that sentence confusing, too. If you want to depress yourself, think about how 15,000 people a week use their fantasy lives in a 3-D computer world to watch television—and the virtual television equivalent of The Home Shopping Network, at that. If you want to depress me, point out how that’s about 300 times the readership of my blog.

All this information—okay, not the last sentence—comes from a trend piece in today’s Times about luxury spending in virtual worlds like Second Life, There.com and IMVU. For those of you unfamiliar with the ever-narrowing canyon between geek and sexual fetish culture that is Second Life, it’s a free-form, virtual world in which players own land and consumer goods, run businesses, interact socially and live out lies of computer-modeled desperation through their avatars, which are invariably both disturbing and attractive in roughly the same way as Angelina Jolie. Membership in these sites is free, but the money you spend there—Lindens in Second Life, Therebucks in There—has to be purchased with actual United States or foreign currency. Which—especially after you hear that such virtual worlds enjoy economies whose “avatar-to-avatar transactions [are] estimated at between $1 billion and $2 billion a year in real dollars,”—begs a question: Why?

Continue reading