August 2004 Archives

New member of the family

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This is Callie, the newest member in our family since Sunday. She's almost 3 months old (the vet estimated 10-12 weeks) and weighs about 2 pounds.

Callie has been shy so far - the house and the people are still kind of spooky to her. She's been hiding out in something (her kitty bed, a box, or her carrier) or under something (like the bed or some low shelves) since Rhye's sister brought her home. She is a nice kitty though - although easily startled, she doesn't mind being held or being petted.

Rhye snapped these pics yesterday after I tried to get Callie to play with a piece of string (the universal cat toy). I was able to get her to swat at the string and occasionally bite at it, but she won't chase it (yet).

Callie has a pretty bad cold right now, with a runny nose and a fair amount of coughing and sneezing. I think that's partly why she's been sleeping almost all the time - getting over her cold is just taking a lot out of her.

Funny cat moment: On Callie's first morning here, we had just woke up and were getting ready to feed her. I was standing in the hallway, cradling Callie in my arm while waiting for Rhye and Rhye's sister to come out. All of a sudden, Callie lets out two really loud meows. While I'm wondering what she's meowing about, my hand and my sweatshirt become very warm and wet. Translation: Loud meow means "I need to go to the litter box NOW!!". (Things like this are why I've come to hate Mondays.)

Welcome to our family, Callie!

BSA unveils cartoon mascot

The BSA says this a ferret, but I say it looks like a weasel!

As part of a campaign to convince kids not to use peer-to-peer (file sharing) networks to illegally share copyrighted files, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) announced this new mascot.

What is it? With the dark eyes and big evil grin, I guessed it was a weasel. It appeared to me that the BSA would be using this cartoon character to represent illegal file-sharers and thus try to shame them into stopping their illegal activities by showing them as weasels.

I was wrong - it's supposed to be a ferret, not a weasel. But I was apparently not too far off in my guess:

The ferret, by the way, does seem to be an odd mascot choice for an organization devoted to strict legal adherence, given that the weasel-like mammals are outlawed in California and several other states.

"weasel-like mammals" - Isn't that another term for "lawyers"?

As a weasel, I thought this would be a perfect mascot to represent organizations like the BSA, the RIAA, and the MPAA instead. Their tactics in combating illegal file-sharing certainly hasn't garnered them any sympathy.

Hat tip: Stupid Evil Bastard, who says the BSA campaign isn't even targeting the correct audience.

Update: SEB also notes: "They even have a game featuring the ferret where you run around destroying pirated software while collecting legal licenses."

For the youngsters, I thought a better game would be "whack-the mole", with the weasel getting repeatedly whacked on the head. And for the PG-13 and above crowd, arm the player with a shotgun and let them blow away the weasel with extreme prejudice.

Michigan State Supreme Court reverses expansion of eminent domain authority:

Reversing more than two decades of land-use law, the Michigan Supreme Court late Friday overturned its own landmark 1981 Poletown decision and sharply restricted governments such as Detroit and Wayne County from seizing private land to give to other private users.

The unanimous decision is a decisive victory for property owners who object to the government seizing their land, only to give it to another private owner to build stadiums, theaters, factories, housing subdivisions and other economic development projects the government deems worthwhile.


In the original Poletown ruling, the court allowed the City of Detroit to seize private homes and businesses on the east side so General Motors Corp. could build an auto factory. The bitterly contested seizures and the court's ruling in favor of the city had national implications and led to similar rulings elsewhere.

Thousands of homes and dozens of churches and private businesses were bulldozed in Detroit's former Poletown neighborhood to make way for the GM plant.


In Friday's decision, known as Wayne County v. Hathcock after one of the landowners in the case, the court ruled that the sweeping powers to seize private land granted in the 1981 Poletown case violated the state's 1963 constitution.

"The county is without constitutional authority to condemn the properties," the court's opinion read. All seven justices voted to overturn Poletown, although three dissented over some technical aspects that do not affect the main ruling.

Justice Robert Young, who wrote the lead opinion, called the 1981 case allowing Detroit's Poletown neighborhood to be cleared for a GM plant a "radical departure from fundamental constitutional principles."

"We overrule Poletown," Young wrote, "in order to vindicate our constitution, protect the people's property rights and preserve the legitimacy of the judicial branch as the expositor, not creator, of fundamental law."

I have never been a fan of using eminent domain to take land away from one person just to give it to someone else, and I wrote about such uses of eminent domain last year.

As Kevin Connors (SSDB) notes, this decision only applies to the state of Michigan. Since the now-overturned decision led to similar rulings elsewhere, I'm hoping that other jurisdictions will (eventually) reconsider their eminent domain laws as well.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin, Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing, Instapundit

..and of course, a hat tip to the Michigan State Supreme Court!