Cards Against Humanity May Have Gone Too Far

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 4.13.53 PMWhat would happen if you had someone send a message to a person that implied they were going to die? Well, that’s exactly what you can do, because Cards Agains Humanity’s 10 Days of Kwanzaa or Whatever will send, on your behalf, a card with another person’s name on it that implies that person is going to die in 2015.  If you’re thinking of doing that, at least you’ll be aware of what you’re in for after reading this blog.  You may want to think twice.

Depending on who you are and who the recipient is, completing the sentence in the image to the right could be funny:

… a mass murderer who is scheduled to die in 2015 and really deserves it.

Or endearing:

… a dear friend who is terminally ill and about to commit assisted suicide to end a lifetime of pain, and this card tells them you’ll remember them for ever.

Or sad:

… your spouse who just got done fighting ebola.

Or it could be construed as a death threat? Try asking CAH to send 10 Days of Kwanzaa or Whatever on your behalf to these people and you might get a knock on the door from the local sheriff:

  • an ex-wife who is threatening to kidnap the children from you for the holidays.
  • the boss you hate, who you openly declare is the one person who (metaphorically) “should eat shit and die today”.
  • your fun loving grandma, who gets a kick out of CAH, because morose humor about life took her mind off of assisted suicide.
  • the President of the United States, or some other official.

This is a departure for CAH, because that i know of CAH only refers to dates of death as a historical fact, not in a predictive sense.    The problem is, despite the fact that CAH doesn’t disclose they’re going to use this particular text, once that gift with predicted year of death arrives you can’t take it back.  You may have not intended any threat, but convincing someone else of that may be a huge problem … simply because this kind of message is not historical, it’s PREDICTIVE.

So, CAH, I’m surprised that after all the laughs I’m having this reaction.  But there it is.

A mobile app to weed out bad judges (and judges who appoint them)?

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Judge Lynn D. Rosenthal was arrested on a D.U.I. charge in May 2014 – in the parking lot of the Broward County, Fla., courthouse. Source: New York Times.

One of the coolest lines ever to be written in a court document may have just been filed in California:

California could no more immunize divorce tribunals from civil rights abuse than it could deputize a priest to perform an exorcism.

That can be found at  Or here on page 48.

Citizens don’t usually stop and think that once they elect a judge to office, that judge can claim immunity for just about anything.  And if the case above filed by The California Coalition for Families and Children is any indication, people are seriously questioning whether or not judges should have that immunity in the first place.

Good.  A democracy needs to question authority.

As for Judge Rosenthal, well … she used to be a federal prosecutor before she got appointed to be a judge.  You might be interested in knowing who appointed her around election time.

How about an app for that?

Just sayin’.

If you comment with links to apps that do that already I’ll be happy to spread the word.

A New Face on Mars?

Statue ... Source: NASA

Statue … Source: NASA

Beings on another another planet are awesome.

But what about the search for those beings itself?  For me the search itself is just as important as the day we communicate with extraterrestrials.  As part of the search we see people do what they do best – find themselves in the universe around them.  It’s a human trait.

Take the image in this blog, for example.  Do you see the face right in the center?  Looks like a sculpture of some indian deity’s head sitting on the sand.  As if that deity lived on the planet where the statue is found for a thousand years.  And if you look closely you might see the outline of a hand sticking out of the sand – just below and to the left of the face.

Is it a statue, or just our brain interpreting shadows as sculpture of some human looking face?

We don’t know cause we can’t visit the place.  That’s because the place is on Mars, and the image was taken by the Mars Science Laboratory.  The original image can be found here:

Is this a new face on Mars?  You decide.  As for myself … I enjoy not knowing for sure.

Here’s the same image annotated … the larger circle is the head of course. The smaller circle surrounds what looks like a sculpted hand.

NASA image annotated

NASA image annotated

Eclipse can be so BLONDE sometimes.


Eklipsa. Photo courtesy another blog.

A developer who works on Eclipse started an argument with me today.

No, (s)he wasn’t talking to me in person, but the code this person wrote pissed me off.

So, I’ll just pretend that person is some irritating blonde chick.  You know, the same box-o-rocks that crushed your feelings in high school, who you’d have sex with anyway. The one you’d kick out of the house but then invite right back in.  The one you’d get so pissed at it would make you destroy all the furniture in the house.  And then you’d lie to her about why you did it so you didn’t hurt her feelings and she’d come back to have sex with you:

No, honey, really, I was chasing a rodent.  It was big. He destroyed the couch though.

Yeah, Eclipse developers can be like that chick.  Eclipse makes you insanely mad and then you take it back anyway.

That person wrote the bit of code that causes Eclipse to modify files.  We’ll just call her, Eklipsa.

So, here’s how my conversation with Eklipsa went today.

me: “Eklipsa, you overwrote from that library that I imported.”

Eklipsa: “Yeah. I know!  Isn’t the new one soooooo cute?!?”

me: “Not really, see I needed that file to be un-molested. Why did you modify it? My project won’t build.”

Eklipsa: “Molested? Ewww.  You’re computer’s such a PERV.”

me: “No honey. I mean the code you wrote caused a problem, and I’d like to know what happened to When Eclipse imports it from a library, Eclipse modifies it.”

Eklipsa: “I, like, soooo don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s like how it’s supposed to work … or something.”

me: “Never mind.  Wanna go shopping?”

Eklipsa: “Sure!”

me: “Here’s $100 bucks. Can you go to Abercrombie and find me a sky hook for my socks?”

Eklipsa: “Sure! Like … ?”

me: “Sky hooks are used to hang those cool socks you get at Abercrombie.  Prevents wrinkles. They’re right next to the sweaters.”

Eklipsa: “It’s like, summer, silly.  They won’t have sweaters.”

me: “Look just go away for three hours so I can figure out why you’re screwing up my project.”

Three hours later.

me (calling loudly): “Eklipsa, are you back yet?”

Eklipsa: “Like … yeah.”

me: “find my sky hook?”

Eklipsa (holds up mangled hanger): “The guy at the store said they were out. So I made you one!”

me: “Never mind.  I figured out what happened to my file

Eklipsa: “Oh that’s like so smart.”

me: “If I have a layout in my project that has the same name as a layout in a library project, you destroy the library’s “

Eklipsa: “Well yeaaah silly.  That’s called, like, code refutability or something.”

me: “I think you mean code reusability, and no this is not that.  You completely overwrite the imported with the wrong data. It’s a bug.  You made me waste a whole day figuring out your insanity.”

Eklipsa: “Wanna have sex?”

me: “Whatever. Fine.”

Will Amazon Win “The Most Undefendable Patent Award” of 2014?

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Amazon Patent Drawing for “Sudio Arrangement”. source: USPTO

On March 18, 2014 Amazon was awarded a patent simply called “Studio Arrangement”.  The patent is for a particular type of photography studio setup that involves taking pictures of any kind of object in front of a cyclorama.  I would agree that its definitely not novel at first look.  I doubt you’ll find anyone saying what Amazon has patented was previously unattainable or not obvious to anyone of ordinary skill in the art of photography (read: any experienced photographer).

Predictably, some writers seem aghast, and are expressing surprise that such a thing could be patented in the first place.  The article  questions whether or not the USPTO process used to evaluate patents is even sane.  The and the Puget Sound Business Journal article on the same subject simply asks why Amazon would choose to do so in the first place.  They may have a valid point, but now that the patent has been issued it’s for the court to decide if/when Amazon has to defend or prosecute their patent.  The fact is, US law requires the USPTO to award a patent to any invention that meets certain criteria.

Whether or not the USPTO violated statute in issuing the patent aside, it’s fun to look at what Amazon may have set itself up for:  the loss of a lot of money defending such a patent.  If you think about the concept of prior art, you’ll see why.

Ex-Parte Examination

The USPTO has a way that anybody can require the USPTO to re-examine a patent to determine whether or not a mistake has been made.  Once the application is approved, my understanding is that it’s not possible for Amazon to stop the process. This is one way Amazon’s $20,000+ in costs to get the patent could be at risk.

Prior Art

There are no prior art references in the Amazon patent.  Now that IS curious. Prior art is important here.  Basically, anyone who files a patent is wise (or perhaps has a duty) to identify prior art to the patent. Failure to do so means that prior art can be used to invalidate a patent.

Prior art, according to, is basically any public disclosure that shows that the claims of Amazon’s patent are not novel. Given that Amazon has no prior art claims, and that the patent is for something so basic, it stands to reason that the patent may be declared invalid.

Did Amazon Buy a Lemon?

If you look at the patent you’ll notice four inventors, and Amazon is simply the assignee.  It’s fair to assume that Amazon paid some sort of fee, or benefit to the inventors to get this patent filed.  Whatever the situation is, Amazon may have procured the rights to a patent that is not enforceable.  The worst case for Amazon: they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars paying for and defending this patent only to discover that the patent is invalidated.

That’s a lot of risk to take over this kind of invention.

Long Story Short

Long story short: the patent may be a failure of Amazon to exercise discernment in what it tries to patent.  It may be the USPTO falling down on the job.  Or, a bit of both.  Time will tell.


Endgame: the lawyers win in the end, especially if this patent goes in front of a judge.  If that happens we can thank Amazon for supporting the legal profession at the end of the day.


Know what Oso Needs? BEER!

The mudslide disaster in Oso, WA is tragic.  Upstanding citizens have responded by giving what they can and now it looks like the effort has more shovels, pick-axes, food and fuel than people know what to do with.  Snohomish county has also been slow in the uptake on asking for help, according to The Seattle Times.

So, what are we told will help? Cash, according to


Jesus. Patron saint of beer. Source:

The people who have perished in that tragedy have already passed on.  What’s left is supporting those who are trying to help save anyone miraculously alive still alive.  So, I have a great idea.

Send BEER!

Those hard working people deserve it. Take it from me, a guy who grew up in the outback of Washington’s Olympic Penninsula.  Beer is worth a lot.