view from the hamster wheel

Oct. 20th, 2016 05:11 pm
the_siobhan: (Sweetums)
[personal profile] the_siobhan
This morning I got to have yet another novel medical experience; an ultrasound of my heart. It was kind of uncomfortable because she had to push the wand reallyreally hard on my sternum and diaphragm and one lower left rib and I know I'm going to have some very flowery bruises later. The diaphragm was the only one that really got close to painful. Still, I got to watch and hear my heart beat and that was kind of neat. In movies your heartbeat sounds all bass and important, in real life it swooshes and gurgles. So that was fun.

I can't say that my vacation was very restful. I did manage to sort three boxes of "What the hell is this crap?" into a box to sell, (Mostly action figures. So now when I look at any site with sponsored ads it presents me with actions figures.) a box to scan & file, (95% emptied) and a final box full of things where I have to figure out whether it's worth spending the time to do something with it or just say fuck it and throw it away. Some of the things I put into the "needs more time to decide" box are old notebooks where I wrote story segments all old school, with pen and paper. I need to sit down and go through them and see if some of it might be worth mining for new material. One of them I identified as the old research I did once for a story about a reality show, so that's already been typed up and stored for later.

The point of all this is to get everything out of the storage locker before January when the lease is up for renewal so I don't have to pay any more for it. The boxes-all-over-living room is just the transitional stage. Or so I keep promising myself.

I also got some medical shit out of the way and did a lot of housework. Every time I take time off work I swear I'm not going to waste my time cleaning because it's undone within a week of going back. But then I hit a point where I just can't fucking deal with the squalor any more and I start cleaning anyway. Then I get really pissed off and drink heavily.

So it goes.

However I did get a couple of writing sessions in and it's been cool enough that I was able to do things like exercise and go for walks. So yay for fall.

Now if I can just get caught up at work.
[syndicated profile] naomikritzer_feed

Posted by naomikritzer

(By request.)

This is a genuinely interesting race. Here’s who’s running:

Josh Reimnitz (Incumbent)
Bob Walser (DFL-endorsed)

If you peel back the boilerplate rhetoric, this is kind of a contest between the school reform movement and the teacher’s union, although when I say “school reform movement” I want to be very clear about the fact that I don’t think Josh is on the side of monied interests who want to turn schools into for-profit businesses. I just don’t think he’s necessarily on the side of the teacher’s union.

Before going any further I want to talk about how I view teacher’s unions. I am not anti-union. However, I think it’s useful to acknowledge something that should be obvious, which is that the role of a teacher’s union is to advocate for and represent the interests of the teachers. Those often coincide (or at least overlap heavily) with the interests of the students. But not always, and I think it is legitimate, when electing school board members, to prioritize the interests of the students.

(In St. Paul last year, on issues that the teachers were furious about, students and parents were overwhelmingly on the same page. This was an election over things like discipline policies and school safety; the iPad rollout; the changes made to how schools were structured — everyone was angry about those changes. I think students are well-served by contracts saying that teachers get a lunch break, a prep period, decent salaries, good health benefits, small class sizes. However, I think that the procedures for firing unionized teachers are not in the interests of the students, and anyone saying so should be laughed at. Do they benefit students some of the time? Sure. Do I need to roll out my horror stories of genuinely godawful teachers who were shielded by the fact that it’s very difficult to fire a teacher? No, I don’t, because you can ask literally anyone who has a student in the Minneapolis Public Schools for their version of those stories.)


I also want to note that in Minneapolis school board races I give preference to the incumbent, because serving on the school board is a completely shitty job: you work full time (or more) for $15,000/year and a large part of your role is to be yelled at for all the failings of a large, complicated system. Few people run twice, and as a result the board has suffered significantly from a lack of institutional memory.

Josh Reimnitz won his seat in 2012, kind of implausibly given that he didn’t have the DFL endorsement, was an extreme newcomer to the city, and has no kids in the schools. (He has no kids, period. When he won four years ago, he was 26 years old; now he’s 30.) He’s a Teach for America alum, which straight up made him deeply unpopular with the teacher’s union. His partner Daniela is a charter school principal — yet another potential strike against him, although there’s a school board member who got elected who works at a charter, I think, so maybe this is becoming less radioactive.

Josh’s big project in the last four years was rewriting the policy manual. Apparently the Minneapolis school board purchased a policy manual back in the 1960s and hasn’t done any comprehensive updating since then. Josh has some explanation on his website for why this was important; I haven’t seen the manual, but I expect he’s correct that it’s a mess.

His endorsements are heavily former school board members. He quotes from Carla Bates, who says, “Josh is an informed and independent voice for Minneapolis students.  Over the past four years, I have admired Josh’s dogged focus on student achievement and fiscal accountability.  Josh works hard to insure alignment between our goals as a school district and our resources.  Josh knows how to prioritize and students are at the center of all that he does. As part of the mix on a 9 member school board, Josh is needed now more than ever.” I’ll note that I have a lot of respect for Carla Bates: my recollection is that when she was on the board, she was very willing to make unpopular decisions and she didn’t sugar-coat things, two traits that the board needs more of.

I kind of want to unpack Carla’s statement. “An informed and independent voice,” I think, means “he’s not in the pocket of the teacher’s union, but he’s also not a complete idiot.” (It might also mean “look, some outside groups donated a shit ton of money to get him elected last time, but he’s not in their pocket, either.”) When she says that she admires his dogged focus on student achievement and fiscal accountability, I’d read that as, “he’s willing to piss off his coworkers on the board by insisting they pay attention to this stuff.” When she says “as part of the mix on a 9 member school board, Josh is needed now more than ever,” I read that as, “would we want nine of this guy? hell no. But we definitely want one of him.”

The other thing that strikes me in comparing his endorsements to Bob Walser’s — I think (but I’m not 100% sure) that Josh’s come heavily from the members and former members who are not from the (wealthy) southwest neighborhoods — which is interesting, because District 4 is mostly made up of those areas (it includes Bryn Mawr, Lake of the Isles, and Lake Calhoun). His endorsements also come heavily from people who are retired, and no longer need the support of the DFL. (Bob Walser is endorsed by Kim Ellison, who’s from northeast and is an exception to this generalization, but she’s also currently running and currently endorsed, and there’s an explicit expectation of endorsed candidates that they back the other endorsed candidates, to the point that there was a kerfluffle two years ago when Iris Altamirano appeared somewhere with Don Samuels.)

The front page of Bob Walser’s website starts with the following statement: “As the only candidate in the District 4 race with a student in Minneapolis public schools, and as the husband of an MPS first-grade teacher, I know, first hand, how the decisions made by the Minneapolis School Board affect our students and teachers. I hear about it at my kitchen table.” There is a value in these personal connections, but I don’t think childless people should be automatically excluded from this particular type of public service.

He goes on to list three reasons that he’s running:

Equity must be our priority. Strong schools in every neighborhood today are the key to a strong Minneapolis tomorrow. I will fight for equity across all of our schools to provide the resources every student needs to thrive

Students are not data points. Data-driven education programs have their benefits, but effective education recognizes that every student is a unique individual. For every student to thrive, teachers and front-line staff must be empowered to address the needs of the whole child.

Our community should decide what best for our schools. Out-of-state billionaires are pouring money into Minneapolis school board elections and elections across the country. I support local, democratic elections for our school boar

My first thought on is “students are not data points” line was that he was making a pre-emptive strike against attempts to evaluate teachers based on student growth shown through test scores. Reading it again, though, he’s actually specifically objecting to data-driven instruction, where teachers are encouraged to use information from tests to see where their students are lagging, and shift their approach to bring those students up to speed. I’ve discussed this approach with a teacher; I was skeptical, but she says that while implementation can be annoying, it actually works really well. (I mean, obviously also students are unique individuals who deserve to have their unique needs addressed. The profound failures here were part of why I pulled my kids out of MPS; I blame, in part, the extremely large class sizes.)

Finally, he takes a swipe at “out of state billionaires” and links to an article from 2014. The race two years ago was startlingly contentious and expensive. It’s worth noting, though, that one of the major groups donating money said they were looking for candidates committed to “equity, transparency, and partnerships with community members,” and transparency is a 100% legit gripe to have with the board (the article goes on to talk about how the call for greater transparency came “after a no-bid contract was awarded to Community Standards Initiative, a community group that received a $375,000 contract to address the district’s achievement gap. The group eventually lost its contract for failing to meet its goals.” It’s legit to be suspicious of money coming in to fund school board races from outside the state but they are not always a bunch of conservatives trying to destroy urban education on behalf of The Man.)

In his “About Bob” section he emphasizes his local roots (Josh is from South Dakota) and his background as an ethnomusicologist. Both Bob and Josh are white men in a district where only about 1/3 of the students are white and that continues to have both segregation and enormous achievement gaps. There’s an excellent MNPost article I found about the race (seriously, go read that one) where both men apparently got asked about their knowlege and commitment regarding racial issues. Bob talked about his ethnomusicology background and added that a friend had given him the book A Good Time for the Truth, which is a series of essays about racism in Minnesota: “On an intellectual level, I sort of knew that stuff was out there. But it grabbed me and shook me personally. It moved it from an intellectual understanding to a much more gut level understanding. I think that’s what stories can do. Stories are powerful that way.”

This frankly made me wince. I mean I am really glad he is reading this book but if you’re at the point where you “sort of knew this stuff was out there,” holy shit, that’s where you were when you filed to run for school board of Minneapolis?

In the same article, Josh pointed out that at the DFL City Convention, the 30-35 supporters who stood up with Bob were all white. At these conventions, when someone is nominated they get to make a short speech and it’s pretty routine to have literally anyone present who’s wearing their t-shirt and doesn’t suffer from extreme stage fright to come stand up front behind them while they make their speech. The thought of having a candidate for Minneapolis school board who is surrounded by 100% white people makes me wince.


Josh also talks about how his partner “happens to be a person of color,” which also makes me wincefor the record. He also notes that she calls him on his privilege and it sounds like he’s receptive, which is good. (From the article: “He says he has his wife to thank for keeping him on his toes. ‘My partner, who happens to be a person of color, educates me fairly regularly about my privilege,’ he said, noting they’ll often debrief on his body language and comments after board meetings. ‘For instance, she reminds me that something as minor as sitting in a way that takes up a lot of space is totally a male thing,’ he said, laughing.”)

I mean — Bob’s emphasis on his local roots and his school connections are all designed to send the message that when it comes to school-related, community-related stuff, Josh is clueless and Bob is clued in. Having a pack of all-white supporters at the DFL convention undercuts that. Although his endorsements include a bunch of people of color, and I will also say that I disagree with Josh’s suggestion that the white crowd at the convention shows “who’s going to be represented” — I think that Bob would absolutely try to represent the interests of all the kids, regardless of race, and I am sure that Josh’s group was not a perfectly representative sample of the student population. However, I think that on issues of race, Josh sounds like he has a larger portion of a clue than Bob does.

Circling back to my original take on this race: I think that Bob very much represents the establishment here. Not entirely in a bad way — when I look at his supporters, I see a lot of people I like and respect. (I campaigned for Julie Sabo when she ran for the Minnesota Senate years ago.) But I get a pretty strong vibe of, “how dare this thirty-year-old upstart who’s not even from here try to tell us what needs to happen with our schools.

And yet, I don’t think Josh is pushing for anything particularly revolutionary. He’s updating a policy manual, which strikes me as the sort of thing that everyone knows ought to be done and no one’s had the energy to do. He’s independent, focused on accountability (including fiscal accountability), and willing to annoy the rest of the board. I see all those things as strengths. He’s also an incumbent, and see above for my pro-incumbency bias.

If I lived in this neighborhood, I think I would vote for Josh Reimnitz. But my priorities might not align with yours; I have a lot of friends who I think would vote for Bob.

I’ll also note that Bob served for a number of years as a board member at Tapestry Folkdance; I’ve danced there and have a number of friends who dance and teach there, so I e-mailed one of them to ask what she thought of the guy. She wrote back to say, “Really nice guy, awesome accordion player.” She added that they’d never served on the board together, but that his reputation around Tapestry was “someone who is incredibly dependable.” I’ll just note that this is much higher praise than it might sound. From my own volunteer experiences, the person who is incredibly dependable is the bedrock on which the endeavor rests and these people are gold and deserve everyone’s gratitude and regular deliveries of cookies. So … while philosophically, I would go for the guy who’s kind of a maverick, I don’t think Bob is a bad choice. He sounds like he’d also do a great job.

For those who are unpersuaded by my analysis and want more details, some other info I found but didn’t have reason to link above:

Profiles of the candidates from Southwest Journal, written in June
Josh’s campaign Facebook page
An article about Josh from 2012
Bob Walser’s Twitter
And I linked to this above but I’m going to link to it again:
A terrific MNPost article about this year’s race. The comments are also worth reading. (MNPost aggressively moderates their comments to keep them from turning into a cesspool.)





calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)
[personal profile] calissa

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon badge

Mt TBR hit 300 books last week. That’s far and away the highest it has ever been and it’s freaking me out a little. Fortunately, my very favourite reading challenge is on this weekend.

Dewey’s read-a-thon runs twice a year–in April and October. It runs for 24 hours, but participation for the full length is optional. Which is a good thing, because this round will be kicking off at 11 PM on Saturday 22 October for the east coast of Australia. As usual, I plan to be asleep by then, but will be up early to cram as much reading as possible into my waking hours.

It will be interesting to see just how much reading I’ll accomplish. In addition to reading, I also plan to do some cheering and will be hosting a mini-challenge for the first time (eeek!). Plus I have a friend coming over for a read-in. I’ve always done read-a-thons solo, so I’ll be interested to see how this changes the experience.

Of course, a read-a-thon requires books! I find myself reluctant to commit to a particular list this time, but here’s a few things I’m thinking about tackling:

Dewey's 24-hour read-a-thon, readathon, Dewey's, Nevernight, Jay Kristoff, Waer, Meg Caddy, Black, Fleur Ferris, books and tea, tea and books

Surprising no one, there’s a ton of Australian YA speculative fiction involved.

If you need to tame your own Mt TBR or are looking to connect with a great community of book bloggers, it’s not too late to join! You can sign up, follow on Twitter, join the Goodreads group or any combination of the three. If you’ve already signed up, I’d love to hear about what you’ll be reading.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

(no subject)

Oct. 20th, 2016 04:06 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
1. \o/ I wrote 1700 words today after about a week of not much! On yuletide, even! Unfortunately not my assigned yuletide, but we try. Now, can I do that for all of November?

2. I am really excited for my actual assignment but I have a pile of background reading about a foot high to do as much of as I can first, and I keep adding to the pile. Raise your hand if you're surprised.

3. I.. may or may not actually get around to writing a letter...? YT writer, you're fine with what's in the assignment email and in the old letters, right? Nothing has changed I promise.

4. I am not doing super-well with, like, keeping up with life. But then this is the time of year when my body thinks I should be preparing to hibernate. And I think work is getting more back into a routine? Maybe? If they manage to fix the roof before it falls in?

5. I finished rewatch of S1 of Leverage! I forgot that my tragedy in that fandom is that all I actually want out of it is a long, meaty, hilarious pre-canon fic about Nate and Sophie chasing each other all over Europe. But I cannot write it because the bits of backstory are spread out over many, many canon episodes and I am not a person who can consume AV fandoms in a way that will let me collate all that. And all the current fandom gives me is The Best OT3 Ever, and don't get me wrong, I love them all and I love their canon OT3, but. The Golden Trio basically already have figured out who they are and have decided they like who they are and the only problem they need solved is finding other people who agree with them about liking who they are, and they've pretty much got that solved by halfway though S1, the rest is all details. Sophie, on the other hand. Sophie has layers. (I really really love the fact that the S1 ender that you expected to be all about Nate and his manpain ended up actually being about Sophie's issues and Sophie's past. Sooophie. Every time I tried to write OT3 it ended up being about Sophie and figuring out Sophie is HARD so I never finished anything.)

(now I remember, I stopped watching in the first place because Sophie left. At least now I know she definitely comes back after.)

Other things I would like that the fandom is not giving me: Sophie/Eliot. Maggie/Parker. Five-way found family telepathic soulbond (which is basically canon already, the way they use the earbuds thematically is SO GREAT, now I just need the post-canon fic where Nate and Sophie are off on a cruise somewhere and start hearing the other three on a job even though they don't have earbuds in.)

6. *cough* anyway

So [personal profile] jjhunter and I have been talking about Ancillary London (or maybe Rivers of the Radch?) You should come join us.

Also somebody needs to convince me I don't actually need to read The Science of Discworld in order to write Rivers of Ankh-Morpork. Even if Peter Grant probably has read it already.

I have the first comics trade but haven't read it yet because I have been reading Peter as looking vaguely like, oh, Rainbow Sun Franck c. SGA, and Thomas looking vaguely like Tim Gunn or sth, and at least judging by the cover, that is really not where the comic went with character designs, so I am scared.

7. Also I keep switching between Fivethirtyeight to obsess and Leverage to calm down, which was a mistake, because now I want a story about the *other* Nate being the mastermind of a team of the world's greatest criminals. And they were a YT nom. And they could pull off a great caper plot, I am convinced. Whiz Kid Harry drinking his endless bottles of diet root beer that he somehow finds even in the middle of Antarctica. I just can't think of anything I want to see them steal.

Weekly Reading

Oct. 20th, 2016 01:22 pm
torachan: devil boy from sinfest with his arms thrust up victoriously (yatta)
[personal profile] torachan
What are you currently reading?
Currently reading The Enlightened Cyclist by Bike Snob NYC (Eben Weiss), which Carla picked up at Book Off. I wasn't sure what to think of it by the title, but it's definitely tongue in cheek, and I'm enjoying it so far.

Mangawise, I'm reading vol. 16 of Kurage Hime, which wraps up the Singapore arc. Apparently it's no longer being published on a regular schedule, so who knows when vol. 17 will be out (there was a year+ gap between 15 and 16).

What did you recently finish reading?
I finished All I Asking for Is My Body. It was pretty good, but I never really got that into it.

I also finished Shibito no Koe wo Kiku ga Yoi vol. 8, which I did enjoy a lot.

What do you think you'll read next?
Well, Raising Steam is still next up on my phone, but I haven't actually started reading it yet. ^_^;;

Engaging smug mode again

Oct. 20th, 2016 09:20 pm
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
I was expecting results for the last set of OU modules I took to come in at the end of next week but two modules came back this evening.  And I am very pleased.  (The rest is behind a cut for boasting.)
Read more... )

tamaranth: (Default)
[personal profile] tamaranth
2016/52: The Trespasser -- Tana French
I was doing exactly the same thing as Aislinn: getting lost so deep inside the story in my head, I couldn’t see past its walls to the outside world. I feel those walls shift and start to waver, with a rumble that shakes my bones from the inside out. I feel my face naked to the ice-flavoured air that pours through the cracks and keeps coming. A great shiver is building in my back. [loc. 7950]

slightly spoilery maybe )
[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

Mike Masnick, writing for Techdirt:

What it is not, however, is copyright infringement. I don’t care how you slice or dice it. It’s not copyright infringement. Samsung may be embarrassed by its exploding devices, and it may not like people making fun of them or turning them into weapons in video games, but that doesn’t matter. There’s no copyright infringement against Samsung’s copyrights in doing that. And it’s flat out ridiculous that Samsung appears to have made a copyright claim over such a video. Hopefully whoever put up the video challenges this and YouTube comes to its senses…

This is only going to bring more attention to the GTA mod.

Nintendo Switch

Oct. 20th, 2016 06:31 pm
[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

Teaser video for Nintendo’s upcoming new gaming platform. Seems intriguing — connected to your TV it works like a traditional console, but you can undock it to use it as a portable.

Undocked, it’s more like a tablet than a phone, size-wise, which sounds right to me. In the same way that phones have completely supplanted pocket-sized point-and-shoot cameras, phones completely own the pocket-sized space for gaming. The Switch is the equivalent of a DSLR for gaming.

kyburg: (Default)
[personal profile] kyburg

Tastefully Offensive Bone China Sets

Athens based shop MoreThan Porcelain has been experimenting with printing techniques on handmade ceramic pieces since 2000. Now a master in her skill, its artist Monika resurrects abandoned china pieces with the use whimsical figures, macabre characters and a snarky sense of humor.

Always surrounded by vintage and elegant porcelain, she withdraws inspiration from fairy tales to Victorian and steampunk symbolism, which creates an intriguing juxtaposition between the world of delicacy and the eerie. Find them in her Etsy shop.

View similar posts here!

from Tumblr
kyburg: (Default)
[personal profile] kyburg

Donald Trump refused to say that he would accept the results of November’s election. Journalists across the spectrum responded in horror.

from Tumblr
[syndicated profile] volokh_conspiracy_feed

Posted by Sasha Volokh

The L.A. Times has an article today (in which I’m quoted) about the California Court of Appeal’s Marin County pension decision, which I’ve written about here before. Here’s an excerpt:

California’s generous public employee pensions, shielded for decades by the state’s courts, may soon no longer be sacrosanct.

In a potentially huge win for advocates of cutting government pensions, an appeals court in August declared that public retirement plans were not “immutable” and could be reduced. The three-judge panel said the law merely requires government to provide a “reasonable” pension.

That unanimous ruling, now before the California Supreme Court, could be a vehicle for reducing a shortfall amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars in state and local pension systems. If upheld, the decision could lead to the kinds of cutbacks previous courts blocked.

Emory University Law Professor Alexander Volokh called the decision “a big change from what the doctrine has been so far” and expressed doubt that it would be upheld. University of Minnesota Law Professor Amy B. Monahan described the ruling as “novel” and the outcome “hard to predict.”

The decision has attracted national attention because of California’s influential role in pension law. Like California, other states are facing massive shortfalls in public pensions and wrangling with ways to head off staggering debts.

Standing in the way have been decades of court decisions that created what is called the “California Rule.” It guarantees government workers the pension that was in place on the day they were hired.

The formula for calculating retirement income generally can be changed only if it is neutral or advantageous to the employee, courts have ruled. It cannot be reduced, except for new hires.

“It is a rule that makes it extremely difficult for states to reform their pensions,” Volokh said, “and lots of states have really big pension problems now.”

My Reason Foundation blog post on the decision, which describes the decision and its underlying caselaw in detail, is here.

upcoming food in my life

Oct. 20th, 2016 01:05 pm
watersword: Image of brightly colored autumn trees (Stock: autumn)
[personal profile] watersword

Roommate E. bought herself a Keurig, and I am trying not to judge her for it. It takes up so much room, it is so wasteful, it is none of my business.
jesse_the_k: Pill Headed Stick Person (pill head)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
My doc just told me about a double-blind RCT study showing combo aspirin & acetaminophen was as effective as oral morphine (and both better than placebo) for post-surgical dental pain.

I'm doing it now and it helps )

Atch's Handwriting

Oct. 20th, 2016 07:01 pm
tealin: (terranova)
[personal profile] tealin

I've been spending a lot of time with Atch's handwriting lately. It's been awesome and amazing and I feel incredibly privileged to be able to do so ... but it's also a bit like forensic graphology crossed with necromancy. Which is no less cool, mind, just a little exhausting ...
[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

Greg Koenig on why the ceramic Apple Watch Edition does not presage a ceramic iPhone:

All of this circles us back to that little booklet that shipped with the ceramic Watch Edition. I think it is a safe bet to say that if Apple was about to leverage a whole new process for the efficient manufacturing of precision ceramics for next year’s iPhone, this new Watch model would be a test balloon for at least some of those techniques. Now, it is important to note that Apple has always skillfully knife edged their marketing discussion about manufacturing by being both hyper honest in their descriptions, while being quite vague about the nitty gritty details. So if we can all agree their materials are honest, let me be very plain - there is nothing revolutionary or new about how Apple is making the ceramic Edition watch.

The process they describe is meticulously executed, and because of the nature of the design — wherein ceramics are mimicking the engineering layout of far more easily produced materials - probably the most laboriously produced ceramic watch on the market. In fact, if we scale the numbers used in the booklet up to iPhone size devices and cycle times, Apple would need 2 football field’s worth of kiln space for each ceramic iPhone to sinter for the requisite 36 hours. For the 2 hours of hard ceramic machining to finish the case details, Apple would need to go from 20,000 CNC machines, to 250,000. They would need another 200,000 employees to perform the 2 hours of hand polishing to “bring out the strength and luster.”

Fantastic article.

As Koenig emphasizes, at peak production Apple is manufacturing one million iPhones per day. If and when Apple switches from aluminum to a new material for iPhone bodies, it’ll have to be a material with which they can achieve the same scale.

ride_4ever: (Fraser OTW)
[personal profile] ride_4ever
The due South Archive is being imported to AO3! Click here for details!

TYK, Organization for Transformative Works!
[syndicated profile] volokh_conspiracy_feed

Posted by Eugene Volokh

Say you’ve put up a Web page that criticizes a plaintiff; he thinks it’s libelous. Some time later, he demands that you take it down. You don’t do that, but you do make some minor changes that, if anything, only soften the allegations.

Does your making the changes restart the statute of limitations? Or does the statute of limitations run from the day the article was originally published?

Yesterday’s New Jersey appellate decision in Petro-Lubricant Testing Laboratories v. Adelman concludes that “minor changes” that are either “immaterial” or at most “lessened the ‘sting’ of the publication” do not restart the statute of limitations (which in many states is quite short, just a year). That’s an important holding, and to my knowledge this is the first case to squarely render such a holding (though other cases have pointed in that direction).

I’m pleased to say that my students Nate Barrett, Charles Linehan and Michael Smith and I filed a friend of the court brief in the case on behalf of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (many thanks to our invaluable pro bono local counsel, Daniel Schmutter of Hartman & Winnicki), and I also argued on behalf of amici, alongside defendant’s lawyer Garen Meguerian.

Here is an excerpt from the court opinion (some paragraph breaks added):

In this defamation case, we are asked to decide whether a second posting of an article on a website with minor changes from the original posting was sufficient to categorize it as a separate publication, and therefore subject to a new statute of limitations.

We find the minor changes between the two articles to be immaterial and not sufficient to render them two separate publications. In addition, to the extent that any of the changes could be regarded as material, on the whole they lessened the “sting” of the publication. Therefore, the single publication rule is applicable and the complaint was properly dismissed as untimely under the one-year statute of limitations….

The website was created by defendant Asher Adelman for people to rate their employers and bosses so that job seekers might search workplaces and “access inside information about what it’s really like to work there.” After viewing an article on the Courthouse News Service1 that detailed allegations of gender discrimination and a hostile workplace environment in a complaint filed by an employee against plaintiffs Petro-Lubricant Testing Laboratories, Inc. (PTL) and John Wintermute, defendant published an article on his website reporting on the same complaint.

The article, entitled “‘Bizarre’ and Hostile Work Environment Leads to Lawsuit,” was posted on August 3, 2010. It repeated the allegations contained in the complaint which described Wintermute as a “violent bully, a racist, and a womanizer who regularly brought guns to the workplace.” Allegations of Wintermute’s explosive temper, his sexual affairs with female employees, and his retaliation by firing the employee when she refused to lie for the company in another employment-related lawsuit were also described.

In 2010, defendant also posted a webpage entitled “America’s Worst Bosses 2010,” a list that ranked bosses and named their employers. Wintermute was named in the list and a hyperlink led to the eBossWatch article.

In December 2011 [i.e., after the statute of limitations on the initial post had already run -EV], an attorney representing plaintiffs wrote to defendant stating:

It has recently come to our attention that you have published false and defamatory statements concerning our client in an article. This letter serves as your final notice to remove this article from your website or face liability under New Jersey law for defamation, defamation per se, and false light invasion of privacy.

The letter advised that defendant “may be held liable for significant monetary damages,” and demanded defendant remove the article, related links, and metatags. The letter stated that the employee “was fired from Petro-Lubricant for reasons unrelated to anything contained in her complaint” and that her “retaliatory lawsuit containing these baseless allegations” had been settled.

Defendant responded to plaintiffs’ counsel that the “article is clearly a reporting of the complaint that was filed by [the employee] against [plaintiffs]. [O]ur article contains only factual statements about the abovementioned complaint and its allegations.” Defendant stated further that “to make it even more clear that our article is a factual reporting of the [employee’s] complaint, we have made some minor changes to the wording and to the article’s title.” The email provided counsel with a link to the updated article published in December 2011. The article was also linked to the “America’s Worst Bosses 2010″ list. [Petro-Lubricant and Wintermute sued Adelman in June 2012. -EV] …

On appeal, plaintiffs argue that the December 2011 article is “a separate and distinct publication from the August 2010 post” and therefore, the complaint was timely filed within the one-year statute of limitations. Plaintiffs contend the single publication rule does not apply to the second posting as the December 2011 article contained significant changes in its content, substance, and form from the earlier post. Plaintiffs also argue that the judge erred in deeming the article privileged. In his cross-appeal, defendant contends the judge’s dismissal of his retaliation counterclaim and discovery sanction motion was error.

Amicus curiae, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, asserts that the “minor changes” made in the December 2011 article did not broaden any of the claims or allegations set forth in the original posting, and therefore, under the single publication rule, the one-year statute of limitations applied and had expired prior to the filing of the complaint….

The single publication rule was applied traditionally to “mass publications under which a plaintiff alleging defamation has a single cause of action, which arises at the first publication of an alleged libel, regardless of the number of copies of the publication distributed or sold.” … [We have] held the single publication rule applied to Internet publications….

[W]e turn to an analysis of the two articles. Both posts are constructed similarly, each containing six paragraphs. … [T]he title was changed between posts but the subject matter remained the same; both articles report on a hostile work environment lawsuit. Although the wording used in the first two paragraphs is slightly different, the substance remains the same. The fourth, fifth, and sixth paragraphs are unchanged.

We look then at the third paragraph in the articles. The August post reads:

[The employee] claims that John Wintermute is a violent bully, a racist, and a womanizer who regularly brought guns to the workplace and target practiced, hunted and gutted birds, which he then fed to his guard dogs, on company property. He also allegedly forced workers to listen to and read white supremacist materials, drank alcohol regularly throughout the workday, and was a violent, raging drunk.

The third paragraph of the December 2011 article states:

[the employee] claims that John Wintermute is a “dangerous and violent alcoholic” who allegedly regularly brought guns to the workplace and target practiced, hunted and gutted birds, which he then fed to his dogs, on company property. John Wintermute also allegedly regularly subjected his employees to “anti-religion, anti-minority, anti- Jewish, anti-catholic, anti-gay rants.”

The only substantive difference in the actual text of these articles is the elimination of the reference to Wintermute requiring his employees to listen to and read white supremacist materials; the later post instead quotes the employee’s allegations that Wintermute subjected his employees to “anti-religion, anti-minority, anti-Jewish, anti-catholic and anti-gay rants.”

Communications posted on websites are viewed on a far wider scale than traditional mass media. Web postings are available for an indefinite period of time. If immaterial changes to an Internet post were to result in a retriggering of the statute of limitations on each occasion, the legislative purpose of favoring a short statute of limitations for defamation would be defeated. Therefore, the statute of limitations will only be triggered if a modification to an Internet post materially and substantially alters the content and substance of the article.

We note that the modifications in the second posting were intended by defendant to diminish the defamatory sting of the previously reported allegations after his receipt of plaintiffs’ counsel’s antagonistic correspondence. We find it a logical extension of our decision today to also conclude that a softening of prior material in a subsequent posting should not result in the commencement of a new statute of limitations. Therefore, if a minor modification diminishes the defamatory sting of an article, it should not trigger a new statute of limitations.

We reject the argument that the second post was altered in substance or form from the earlier posting as the differences between the articles are immaterial. The allegedly defamatory information is the same in both articles. Paragraph three of the second posting was minimally altered to quote specific phrases contained in the complaint. The disseminated information stayed constant.

Therefore, we find the December 2011 article was not a republication and instead falls under the single publication rule. The one-year statute of limitations commenced with the posting of the original article in August 2010; therefore, the complaint filed in June 2012 is barred as untimely and defendants were entitled to summary judgment and a dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims. As a result, we do not consider the remainder of plaintiffs’ contentions.


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October 2016


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