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the fun of the Court

So I started this post Friday and didn't get around to finishing the research I wanted to do on it until now. Oh well.

Browsing the blogs at the bottom of the list at LA Blogs (the ones that don't ping updates to blogrolling) I happened across the Advice Goddess blog, whose latest entry mentions House Bill 4239, the "Parents Empowerment Act". Basically it allows parents to sue if their children come into contact with "obscenity".

You can see the press release on Rep. Hunter's site. The text of HR 4239 is also online. The law itself isn't worded to deal specifically with the Internet, but you can see from the press release that they do indeed have that in mind.

First thoughts: The case you have to compare this to is the CDA, which the Supreme Court shot down in Reno vs ACLU in 1997. The new bill looks to have learned some lessons from the CDA. First, it does include a definition of obscenity instead of relying on just the one prong from Miller.

The battle lines are going to be drawn over what constitutes measures that would prevent "a reasonable person [from expecting] a substantial number of minors to be exposed to the material." The CDA decision dealt with credit card verification systems as a method of keeping minors out. The Court ruled that requiring such a system would be overly burdensome for non-commercial sites. This law only applies itself to

any person who knowingly sells or distributes in interstate or foreign commerce an entertainment product containing material that is harmful to minors

To me that seems to only apply to commercial sites, and the Court's been a lot more favorable to imposing restrictions on commercial speech.

If this passes, I'm sure it will be challenged. If it is, it'll be an interesting opportunity to see how the mind of the Court has evolved in the six years since the CDA decision.

And if I hadn't been browsing the bottom of the blogroll, I would never have known about it.

spring cleaning

Doing a bit of spring cleaning and noticed two papers I wrote and neglected to post here. Both were written for my Writing 340 class.

The first I titled Indecency in the 21st Century. It looks at the historic model of broadcast regulation and argues that this model can not and must not be carried forward to cable, satellite, and the Internet.

The second is The Train's Coming, but will USC Students Care?. We had to do a poll and write a paper on the results, so I asked students about their usage of public transportation. The results? They don't use it. You could have guessed that.

Woo hoo for milestones!

So this post is the 171st one I'm made this year. If you look at the archives you'll see that this ties 2004 with 2002 for most posts in a year. The key difference, obviously, being that 2004 is a little less than halfway over.

I took 15 minutes or so and wrote a little tool to run a couple stats on the blog. Before this post there were 975 total posts. A rough word count (stripping HTML and then splitting on whitespace) gives me a touch over 105,000 words.

Music: Erik Penny @ the Hotel Cafe

Kathy and I will be heading back over to Hollywood tonight to spend a little more time at the Hotel Cafe than we did on Wednesday. Tonight Erik Penny is playing the first show of his new "(mostly) solo" career. Erik always puts on a good show and he's a cool guy on top of that, so I'm sure that'll be a fun time. The plan tonight is to get there early and chill for the rest of the acts on the lineup as well, so I'll be sure to report on that tonight or (most likely) tomorrow.

Looking at the rest of the Hotel's may calendar I see Jim Bianco and Joe Purdy back on stage next Wednesday, in a show I already mentioned I wanted to get out and see. The next day the Hotel brings another hardball lineup, with Gus Black and Julian Coryell. I haven't seen Gus play since the summer and it's been a lot longer than that since I've seen Julian.

The Hotel needs to sell like a monthly pass. I'd be there almost every night.


Just came out to the living room to grab some food and there was a police chase on tv. A maroon station wagon was careening through west LA, flying recklessly down city streets. And then all of a sudden it disappears into the parking structure for the Beverly Center. Now reports are really uncertain. Possibly shots fired in the structure, possibly a suspect in custody, possibly just people not knowing what they're talking about.

Traffic in that area is going to be screwed up for hours.

wonders of the internet

Slashdot links to a CNN article about grocery delivery services right now, and that got me curious to see if anyone offers the service for 90014, my zipcode. Sure enough, Safeway/Vons does. The delivery charge is $8 for a 4-hour window or $10 for a 2-hour, which I think is really reasonable. You could spend that much right now just driving to the grocery store.

Sometime this year Ralphs is supposed to open a store in the Gas Company Lofts complex at 9th and Flower. This is very cool, and a major development for downtown, but it remains to be seen how this will actually help residents other than those living in the very immediate vicinity of the store. From my apartment the walk to Ralphs will be about .85 miles. That's worlds better than the distances present now, but the question you have to ask is what's the magic distance at which people will make the frequent trips required to do their grocery shopping on foot. Once you're in the car it doesn't really matter whether you're going one mile or ten.

With delivery, though, you can place a big order without worrying about how you're going to get it back home. Sure, it's not convenient for the little trips or the trips to run out and grab a single item, but I could easily see delivery becoming a staple of my grocery shopping process.

Now that's great TV

Magilla and I are sitting here watching TV and I've now decided that Globe Trekker is now my favorite show on television (well, at least the television we get... ABC, NBC, Fox, UPN, 6 spanish channels, and two PBS stations).

A little while back I watched Ian Wright explore Norway and learned about people who live off only reindeer meat. Today we're watching Justine Shapiro explore southern Italy. Educational... but more really entertaining. Justine's a funny girl.

I need to pay a little attention to the KCET schedule and see when all this show's on.

twice in one day

I've ridden the subway for two round-trips in the last 24 hours, which I think is cool. An odd thing, though... Today, twice, I had the train stop outside of a station, apparently waiting for space to clear.

This morning it was on the Red Line coming into Union Station. We sat still for a minute or two waiting for a train to clear the platform before continuing on. As we began to move you could see the other train waiting to use the cross-over and get back to the westbound side.

This afternoon the stop was high above the LA river, directly above the Gold Line maintenance facility. We were at a complete stop for 45 seconds to a minute, and then continued as normal into Chinatown. What I found odd about this stop was that it's a good ways from there to the Chinatown station, so if we were indeed waiting for a train to clear there it would have seemed we could have gotten closer first.

Funny story about the stop above the LA River: Because of riding with the bike, I end up in the single seats right up against the drivers compartment (though not in the front car). This gives me a view to face sort of back, toward the rest of the passengers. In the first few rows was a Asian family with two small children, a boy and a girl. The boy was fascinated by the views, and he really enjoyed getting to stop up so high. With nothing else to do, I was sitting there watching him study our surroundings: the river, the buildings, etc.

"Look!," he said, "A drain! A big drain!"

Or that was what I thought he said. Then I realized he actually said train, and was pointing at a freight train parked alongside the river. Both, I think, were apt for our location.

Music: Joe Purdy and friends

So I was at the Hotel Cafe for about a half hour last night, which is a story I'm not going to get into here. Anyway, I caught the tail end of Joe Purdy's set and all I can find to say is, "Where did this guy come from?" I've seen Joe Purdy before. I'm heard the tracks on his site. He's really good. But, he's also put girls that were with me to sleep on two separate instances (ok, so in the second one I didn't go out and say it, but that time we left early so Kathy didn't fall asleep).

But not last night.

Last night Joe Purdy was playing with one or two electric guitars (depending on the song), a bass, a drummer, and who knows what else. It was upbeat, but it was still definitely his music.

Very cool stuff. I'm hoping to get back out next week and catch the whole show.

a little face time?

Today is Metro's Bike To Work Day. Even though my bike's been messing with me lately I hopped on and headed over to 5th and Hill to catch the red line. I got downstairs just as a train was pulling out, so I got to wait the full 5 minutes for the next one. That's the second time in less than 24 hours I've had my hand on the door of a train just after the doors closed.

At Union Station I was about to pick up my bike and climb the stairs when I got approached by a girl working for Metro's PR department (I think she actually said the MTA... isn't that verboten these days? "Call us Metro"). She was looking for bike to work day stories, and asked me the usual questions of whether I knew what today was ("yes"), if I rode specifically because it was bike to work day ("i made a point of it"), and why I did this rather than drive ("because it's more fun"). She also took a picture, which featured me standing in front of a gold line car next to my bike, helmet on, hair flowing out from underneath, and wearing a "Westside Baseball" half-sleeve. I hope they use that for something. I'll have to keep an eye on the site.

As I tend to do when I switch from car to bike, I forgot my JPL badge today, which means I get to walk around with a temporary printed badge sticker on my shirt. I even had the badge in my hand this morning, when I went to grab it and my headphones. The headphones made it here, the badge didn't.

still with the car

Got up and drove into work today, and realized it was the first time I've ever driven north on Hill. Multiple times I had to think about whether I was on the right street, since downtown just looks so different depending on which direction you're coming at it.

In general the plan is to ride my bike into work, but today I drove so that I could run something by Pasadena City College to finish my application process and try and get accepted to take Spanish there. This language requirement's been after me since I first got to USC, so this summer I'm going to try and wipe it out all at once. It's going to be interesting. My last Spanish of any kind was half a semester of Spanish II my first semester here. Before that it was Freshman and Sophomore years of high school. The curve to get back up to speed might be rough.

Last night Magilla and I were trying to figure out options for late night food downtown, but ended up giving in and driving back to USC to grab Del Taco. That sort of acclimation to the new place is going to take some time.

the weekend that was

I've started three or four posts here in the last day or two and haven't finished any of them. Oh well.

Saturday we finally got all moved out of City Park. Cleaning and the last bits of moving out took all day, starting at probably 10 and ending just after 5. It ended up well, though: our inspection went fine and we'll be getting all of the deposit back. Now I'm officially a resident of downtown.

Saturday night the Lakers won, as everyone knows by now. I watched the game over at Kathy's, but on the way back couldn't resist driving by Staples. It wasn't the best route time-wise, but it was fun to be surrounded by people honking their horns and generally being excited about the game.

Today my ethernet transceiver got here, so I booted the old Personal IRIS up with that. I've been messing with a handful of utilities I want to get installed on it to try and figure out a way to make the machine at least fun, if not useful. None are really wanting to compile cleanly on a 15 year old OS, though. That'll take some work.