Ubiquitous Copyright

I recently had some photos printed using Henry's online photo finishing service. When I picked up my prints I noticed they had the oddest thing printed on the back:


... and:


With each being repeated in French and (from what I can tell) German. Setting aside the lack of punctuation, the awkwardness of expression and the fact that they felt the need to shout their message at me in ALL CAPS, the message itself is inaccurate and presumptuous.

Do not Copy

This message is more straight forward; however, it most certainly isn't directed at me (I'm the copyright holder of the images after all) but at people other than me who normally wouldn't have any right to copy the work.

... except the photos in question are available on my flickr page and are distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution license. If someone can create something valuable by using my photos, I want them to. The license states that they need to give me an attribution, beyond that I'd love an email letting me know that the images are being used, but otherwise anybody is free to copy, edit and redistribute the images as they see fit.

As the holder of the copyright I have the power to set the terms under which my work is distributed, thus, I find it kind of irksome that an agent that I employed to make some prints felt the need to incorporate warning in the prints which are completely contrary to the terms I had previously established rather than just printing the damn photos.

Greenspun's Tenth Rule

Greenspun's Tenth Rule states:

Any sufficiently complicated C or Fortran program contains an ad hoc, informally-specified, bug-ridden, slow implementation of half of Common Lisp.

Which is why it brought a smile to my face to see the following while diging through the PostgreSQL sources:

#define NIL  ((List *) NULL)

... and later on:

extern List *lcons(void *datum, List *list);

So they've got lists, now all they need is "processing".

Unfortunately, car, cdr, cadr, caadr, caaadr and their ilk were nowhere to be found.


For those of who are a little confused, cons is used to construct a linked list in the various dialects of Lisp, while nil is generally the value of the next pointer at then end of such a linked list. The inference that can be drawn from the above facts is: whoever designed Postgres's linked list implementation probably modeled it on the linked lists provided in a Lisp environment.


I have been posting shorter, more spur-of-the-moment, stuff to my pownce page. Pownce is written in django, has a nice theme and doesn't fail whale.

So if you can't get enough of my inane yammering, check it out.

Violence Part II: Outliers

This is the second part in a series on Marc Kelly, U of O Voice and the SFUO. Part I.

The Backstory

As I alluded to in Violence Part I, I'm kind of incredulous that the video linked to in "[uOttawa Community] President Rock, Please Stop" is anything approaching the "The True Face of Allan Rock". In fact, it seems to me that there was obviously some serious backstory that had been elided by the authors.

Since the backstory was not forthcoming, I have helpfully filled in my own version (which is likely to be far more interesting than what actually happened) and summerized it in a helpful little cartoon:


You vs. Me vs. Genghis Khan

I'm not trying to blame Mark Kelly for being so annoying the President of the University lost his cool (after all who wouldn't want a basket of cockroaches?), but rather trying to point out that a single interaction hardly defines a person. As hard as it may be to believe, raising your voice to a single person, in a single instance, does not make you a violent sociopath regardless of how many views the YouTube video gets.

A few years ago I surprised myself with the realization that people are capable of an entire range of behaviours and interaction modes. For your convenience, I have drafted a (completely unscientific and inaccurate) handy model of human behaviour charachterizing both a normal person (blue) and violent sociopath extrodinaire Genghis Khan (red).


You'll notice that while both the normal person (in this case Mr. Rock) and Genghis Khan are capable of taunting and yelling, the frequency with which each resorts to a given interaction mode varies greatly. While Mr. Rock may have yelled at Mark Kelly, I doubt that the last hundred people who passed through the threshold to the President's office recieved the same treatement. Honestly they couldn't have, otherwise, Mr. Rock would never have got, nor kept, any of the positions he has previously held.

"Get out of my office!" is not the real Alan Rock. "Hi, how can I help you?" is the real Alan Rock. "Get out of my office!" is an outlier. It's one sample. It doesn't really tell us anything about Mr. Rock other than, just like every other person, if you annoy him enough he will yell at you.

Violence Part I: Illustration

This is the first part in a series on Marc Kelly, U of O Voice and the SFUO. Part II.

After reading the email entitled "[uOttawa Community] President Rock, Please Stop" that was sent to the entire student body at the University of Ottawa: I was struck by the fact that I don't think Mark understands what a "violent exchange" really is.

To help him (and others who have been failed by our education system) I have drafted an Illustrative Cartoon:


At this point, some of you may say: "But Aaron, Mark wasn't trying to imply that blows were exchanged, he was just being poetic". Which brings me to the actual point: The letter contained an insulting amount of loaded language with (I assume) the goal of (relatively) subtle emotional manipulation1.

Lookit Me, I'm the Victim

"... the most violent exchange I have been subjected to..."

You meant, "explosive and passionate" right? You're not trying to play on the general unacceptability of the use of violence (the real kind) to resolve disputes or to characterize yourself as a victim? Right?

"Emotionally Battering"

You're not continuing a theme of characterizing Mr. Rock's behaviour as violent, abusive, and unacceptably physical? I certainly hope not, because doing so would be downright manipulative.

... And Now to Demonize the Opponent

"the SFUO ... condemned you ... for your tyranny"

Nice. Ad hominim, and argument from authority all in one fell swoop. I applaud you.

That's right boys and girls: I have it on good authority that my opponent is a Kitten-eating lizard...

What does that have to with his policy on agricultural subsidies!?! Everything!

Think of the kittens!

... and a tyrannical kitten-eating lizard at that: Vladimir McGuinty would be proud.

"you have stolen my humanity"

What does this even mean? At this point, I have no idea what's going on (it's not like he sent you to Abu Ghraib).

But "humanity" good, "theft" bad. Me victim, you bad guy. thumbs way up

"I now understand that you do not see students as people"

Does this mean that the big, bad Mr. Rock will eat my kittens too?

That would make me a sad panda.


After taking my trusty red pen and my copy of "Strunk & White" to the original letter I realized that the letter could really be summed up as:

Dear Mr. Rock,

I was disappointed by our encounter on November 3rd and your subsequent apology. During the encounter, you were rude and your apology was insincere.

I'm concerned about your interference in my registration and my appointment to the senate.

I look forward to your response to my previous email.



Once you cut away the emotional manipulation which attempts to demonize the university administration and rally the student body against them on the basis of a single anecdote, you realize that there is little content other than Mark having his feelings hurt.

Of course, without the manipulative language there wouldn't be any need to copy it to the entire student body. I, for one, feel that Mark's attempt to involve me in his petty dispute by attempting to pray on my fears and inspire an emotional response was disrespectful and annoying.

Mark Kelly, please stop!

I don't really care about your insipid whining. I don't appreciate you attempting to manipulate me and would rather your future pointless email not land in my inbox. Cheers.

What I Really Want to Know...

How annoying must Mark have been to elicit not "Hi, how can I help you?" nor "I'm sorry. I'm busy. You will need an appointment." but rather "GET OUT OF MY OFFICE!" ?

How did this email even reach my inbox? I don't recall giving Random J. Blogger my email address so that he could spam me with his pointless whining (Random is a dude. I checked ;-).

[1]He didn't implore us to think of the children or warn us that the terrorists would win. For that I applaud him.