Monday, October 30, 2006

So the problem with being 5'10"...

These would put me at about 6' 3"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.— The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

A journalist is a person who practices journalism, the gathering and dissemination of information about current events, trends, issues and people.
Most journalists adhere to the standards and norms expressed in the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics. Foremost in the minds of most practicing journalists is the issue of maintaining credibility, "Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility."

What about bloggers?
` . . . we can see no sustainable basis to distinguish petitioners [the online journalists] from the reporters, editors, and publishers who provide news to the public through traditional print and broadcast media' —A California court in response to Apple Corp. suit launched against online news sites

John Doe 1 v. Cahill, Chief Justice Myron Steele (Delaware Supreme Court) described the Internet as a "unique democratizing medium unlike anything that has come before" and said anonymous speech in blogs and chat rooms in some instances can become the modern equivalent of political pamphleteering. Accordingly, a plaintiff claiming defamation should be required to provide sufficient evidence to overcome a defendant's motion for summary judgment before a court orders the disclosure of a blogger's identity.
"We are concerned that setting the standard too low will chill potential posters from exercising their First Amendment right to speak anonymously," Steele wrote. "The possibility of losing anonymity in a future lawsuit could intimidate anonymous posters into self-censoring their comments or simply not commenting at all."
Steele noted in the opinion that plaintiffs in such cases can use the Internet to respond to character attacks and "generally set the record straight," and that, as in Cahill's case, blogs and chatrooms tend to be vehicles for people to express opinions, not facts.

(Did you see that line I bolded right up there?)

There are many more decisions and opinions out there, but most support these two cases, often with the opinion that the Internet gives regular people the ability to state opinions and pass information that mainstream media does not. One of the main points of dissension seems to be on comments to an article.
Does the blog host have a responsibility to moderate commenters and screen out possibly false or libelous statements? Or does it become a third party issue, with the commenter bearing the brunt of his or her statements? Personally, I feel it is a combination of the two.
As a blog host I feel I have a responsibility to decide what lines my commenters may cross. If I felt someone had crossed that line, I would remove the comment, for both my protection and theirs. Happily, I have never felt the need to do that, and I hope I never will. I will caution commenters though, do not take your right to comment for granted. This is my forum. You are here because I allow you to be.

"Fix reason firmly in her seat," wrote Thomas Jefferson, "and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. . . . . Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but the uprightness of the decision."

Monday, October 23, 2006

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path thats clear
I will choose free will

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Sunday ramble.

I was working on a post about anonymity, credibility, and journalistic protection and use of them, but GeeGuy managed to beat me to the punch on that, so I will refrain for now.
But I will ask the public a couple of questions that have been bouncing around in my mind.

There has been a lot of discussion over the public/private aspect of this Harris issue, the personal time to be just a guy letting off steam. Now I do think to some extent he has a right to be just a guy, doing what he likes. But he represented himself on these forums as a Judge. Not as Sam, an attorney or Sam, a gamer, but Sam, a Judge.
When Donna comments on these forums, perhaps on her personal time, she is viewed as our Mayor. When Joe Briggs comments, I have always had the feeling that he is doing it with the expectation that we will view his comments as coming from a County Commissioner. GeeGuy is constrained in many topics because of his profession. Steven Fagenstrom has made some recent comments, and he has done so in a manner befitting a man running for public office, knowing that is how he will be viewed. Dave is limited in some topics and forms of personal expression because of his job.

So, how do you separate the public person from the private person?
Is it really realistic to expect people to?

I have a couple readers who I do not know, But I read their blogs and feel I have a reasonable understanding of who they are. If they were to make comments or posts that were significantly different than the image I have of them I would be surprised. It would change the way I feel about them, and how I view what they say.

Is that unreasonable?

O.K. I cannot help myself.

Mr. Newhouse, If I had allowed you to print my name, how would that have lent more credibility to your story than the fact that the man in question had already admitted he made those comments?
You had proof. What happened to protecting your sources for that story?
I am not trying to make this personal, or cast any doubt on your trustworthiness, but it goes back to the questions above.
You are a reporter. If people had any doubt about your ability to keep their secrets in your private life, could that affect your job, and vice versa?
And now it seems that the Tribune has created a circumstance where it looks like it's reporters have treated the possible supporters of political opponents differently. Why?
Just asking.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Oh, come on.

It's just politics?
"I am offended more that the Tribune chose to include this on the front page of the paper than anything Mr. Harris may have said."
Why, because the Tribune tries (sometimes) to be a newspaper, reporting things that can affect the community? What possible justification could they give for not reporting on this?

"Why is Mr. Smiths personal vendetta newsworthy?" Perhaps because it is about a public official, who seems to hold his personal actions as above the judgment of us common folk. And maybe you should ask the Tribune reporter who wrote the story, or the T.V. anchors who interviewed poor Mr. Harris as he said sorry. After of course, he had had the entire five years worth of comments erased - almost as if he knew that side of his personality could damage his reputation.

"It is appalling that Mr. Smith set a trap on the internet to spy on Justice Harris, and use his "guy talk" against him." How exactly did Mr Smith set a trap? This was a public forum! Did he invent the game? And if Mr. Smith had attempted to post on it in the hopes of luring Harris into saying something inappropriate, (Not that he needed help) I think we would have heard about it by now, since the administrators of the game are "friends" of Mr. Harris'.

"At what point can we, as users of technology, assume a fair amount of privacy when conversing with friends and family on the internet?" Well, I call it e-mail, it is kinda set up so only the people you want to can read it. Takes a lot of the guess work out of "Public" and "Private"

"Let's not forget Justice Harris never used a county computer for personal use. Period." Actually, that has not been proven. He played that game for five years, and his computer was only monitored for a few months. But I'll give you innocent until proven guilty on that one. For now.

I notice she doesn't claim that he never he played or posted during work hours. Kinda hard to spin that I guess. I notice she says nothing about a Judge discussing killing a man for minor vandalism and burying him in a coulee. Just a good ol' boy, letting off steam, ya know. She doesn't mention how the people who have been married by Harris over the years can now look back on that beautiful day and remember that the Judge was counting his dollars while they said "I do". Must not be important.
She doesn't mention that the man who now wishes us to cut him a little slack and accept that he is a human, with flaws, threw a single mother in jail for failure to pay a civil judgment. She fails to consider that the man who stated under oath that viewing gay porn made him physically ill has no problem joking about gays, or porn, and possibly even socializes with gay men.

This is not just about words, typed on a game forum. It is about the man behind those words and the character that has been revealed. It is not about what a newspaper chooses to print. This is about the the people we are willing to give power over our lives to, and how those people use that power. Has Sam Harris violated the trust we put in him when we elected him? Has he abused the office we gave him? Does he have the moral and ethical high ground when he pronounces judgment on us?
Is he above reproach?

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Somehow, for some reason I got a hit off of "how many polly pockets were made world wide"
As far as I can remember, I have only alluded to Polly in one post.
I don't think I like Polly Pocket. She probably has health care, never needs to worry about Social Security being around when she retires, has nothing to retire from, she has a car that turns into a helicopter, and a guy to drive it. She doesn't have to fix dinner or do laundry, or worry about sending her kids to college. Her parents are never around to tell her her rock band is too loud, or she spends to much on clothes, and to get her homework done. She will never worry about having shoes to match her blouse, or if she has the proper "accessories". Her hair is always perfect, her little plastic makeup is perfect on her little plastic face, and her clothes always fit. Yeah, I don't like her. Excuse me, I 'm going to go hide all her left shoes. See how she gets out of that!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Some hunters will find a place to sit and wait...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Skate Park

The Tribune recently had an article on this, as did Aaron over at TSJ. I have been thinking about the issues raised, and discussing what goes on over there with a group of small people. Yes, small people. The ones who say, Mom, can we go to the skate park.
I am concerned. I am concerned about the need to to enforce an ordinance the City has in place. I am concerned about the thought of writing tickets to children. I am concerned with the thought that my son and his friends need to be fenced away from the rest of the park while skating. I am concerned that parents do not make sure their kids have needed safety equipment. I am concerned about the fact that there are parents who will blame the City for their children being injured at a public facility covered with signs stating "At your own risk".
I do not have answers for the concerns that have been raised.
I know my son and the friends he skates with understand the rules, and follow them. I know if my son were to be injured while skating there, I would consider it my responsibility to pay any medical costs. And I know if he continues to tell me that most of the problems are caused by older kids, and kids violating the rules by bringing bikes and such to the park, that I will go there with him as an adult, parent, member of this community, with a responsibility to the community and all the children in it, and enforce the rules while my child is there.
Helmets are cheap, people. Teaching your kids safety and responsibility is free. The City should not have to do it for you.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Excerpts from the

Canons of Judicial Ethics
Adopted by the Montana Supreme Court May 1, 1963
Canon 35 Amended April 18, 1980.

The Supreme Court of Montana being mindful that the character and conduct of a judge should never be objects of indifference, and that declared ethical standards tend to become habits of life, deems it desirable to set forth its views respecting those principles which should govern the personal practice of members of the judiciary in the administration of their office. The Court accordingly adopts the following Canons, the spirit of which it suggests as a proper guide and reminder for judges, and as indicating what the people have a right to expect from them.

4. Avoidance of Impropriety.
A judge’s official conduct should be free from impropriety and the appearance of impropriety; he should avoid infractions of law; and his personal behavior, not only upon the Bench and in the performance of judicial duties, but also in his everyday life, should be beyond reproach.
In a review of the Canons for the Judicial Conduct Reporter, Vol 25, No 3, Fall 2003, Cynthia Gray wrote “the test for the appearance of impropriety is that of a reasonable person, a standard familiar to judges. The “reasonable person” has been defined in the judicial discipline context as a reasonably intelligent and informed member of the public: an objective observer: the average person encountered in society: and the thinking public. The reasonable person is neither a “highly sophisticated observer of public affairs” nor a “cynic skeptical of the government and the courts” and neither “excessively indulgent, nor excessively jaundiced”.
She illustrated these points with relevant cases, which I am not going to type out. If you want more detailed info, e-mail me. Or try Google.
I am posting this for two reasons.
1. I was curious what the standard for “appearance” was, and thought others might be also.
2. I think it is important to be informed. I mentioned that in a previous post. I have seen no other media define what "appearance of impropriety" is. Maybe I missed it.

And now, I too, am done with this subject.

After a few short months these babies are learning to fly with mom and dad. Soon, they will have the formation down, and next year they will propably have babies of their own.

Makes me glad mine don't grow up that fast. Can you just imagine raising kids from start to finish every year!

You didn't think I gave up did you?

I recently had reason to pull a copy of the Missoula Sign Code. Now I know that the Great Falls committee used Missoula's code as a guideline during the ah, restructuring. So it was with a bit of surprise that as I read through this thing, I am struck by how our code basically says the same thing in several instances, but with more words and less clarity. Why didn't they just copy the damn thing!

"Temporary political signs are allowed anywhere even on public property as long as they are placed at least 12 feet from the back of the curb. This wording is the same in the current code. The reason is that Great Falls has varying boulevard/public right of way distances and for ease of campaigning this provision was added."
12'? Really?Have I mentioned I don't like the allowances for political signs? And are they not still supposed to be "Of professional quality, with no loose or peeling paint..." ?

None of these pictures are intended to show any bias, real or imagined, by anyone, toward any business or political entity. However I think (isn't there something in that code about abandoned signs?) two of them may be in need of a little tender lovin' care, and one is just a political sign, so I guess it doesn't matter.

Before complaining about new signs why don't we look at some of the signs that could be taken down? Do either of those first two signs actually serve a purpose in this town? Could they?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Stupid rain.

Well, I had no plans to post anything this weekend. But it’s to wet to go antelope hunting, so I’m still home, and I may write a new post on some relevant event or news worthy subject later. Perhaps.
Depending on child supervision needs and my level of personal motivation.
I am quite bummed about the hunting not happening. Maybe it will blow and dry and stuff enough tomorrow that Monday will be worth hunting. We shall see. Long drive for only one day.
Opening day of antelope did this to us last year too.
Shoulda just gone walleye fishing.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A few points

"But I would respectfully submit that there are different degrees of "public" in terms of exposure, and that these comments were not intended for a widespread, public audience."

The internet is not private. I believe Sam testified at Smartt's hearing that he had "no expectation of privacy on his office computer." We have none on the internet. I do not accept that anyone could have any expectation of privacy in the Gore forums, using their own name, birthdate, job, election results and a P.O. Box for donations. Perhaps this whole experience is proof of that.

"Mike Smartt issue, which is separate and involved the use of public property and time" Not really a valid distinction. First, it appears Sam may have used public "time". He posted during work hours on work days. We do not know if he was "at work". As far as public property, that was not illegal at the time Mike did it (there was no county policy in place).

About Mike Smartt, the attorney " poor judgment is a very bad trait in an attorney, and one not often correctable"
It is bad for a lawyer, but what about a judge?

On the issue of whether he should be free to be "not Justice of the Peace Harris, but Sam from Conrad, a Montana guy with some rough edges, having fun and bantering with his friends," it is whether that is really him. "Sam from Conrad, a Montana guy with some rough edges," would not have been 'scarred for life' by seeing some pictures of gay sex acts. Yet, Sam the judge testified under oath that he was.

"To what extent should judges, being human, be allowed to be left alone with their private lives? " To the extent that their private lives do not cause public upset and unrest when seen by the public. That whole pesky Judicial Ethics thing again.

I would also like to note that I have seen and heard some comments around town that dissapoint me. If you are going to get on the band wagon and take sides here, especially if it is solely political, find out what you are talking about. This is not a witch hunt, it is our judicial system. It is about how we define right and wrong, in this world we live in, and we should treat it as a serious issue, worth some actual thought.