Friday, July 24, 2015

Cracked Facts

I'm now pretty sure that the lists of "facts" that go up on and get shared all over Facebook and other social media are not checked to be sure they're factual. Case in point:

I find that hard to believe, since Harrison Ford starred in American Graffiti, a successful George Lucas movie that came out four years before Star Wars.

In other news, lately I seem to be especially snarky about (dis)information shared over social media.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

No License Required

At least that's what "Todd Foster" (if that's his real name) claims.

I'm more than a little dubious about his claim. He bases his argument mostly on legal statements that go back to the mid-nineteenth century, well before motorized vehicles were commonplace. If you can't come up with a precedent from the age of automobiles, I don't think you have much of a case.

He says there's no law against driving without a license for personal, non-commercial travel, but I took the liberty of looking up Tennessee law on the subject and found the following:
TN Code section 55-50-301: No person, except those expressly exempted in this section, shall drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless the person has a valid driver license under the provisions of this chapter for the type or class of vehicle being driven.
So it would appear that it is at least illegal to drive without a license on a "highway".

Foster's video strikes me as the sort of thing which is likely to get some gullible citizen arrested or fined (or killed, given recent police excesses) because they unquestioningly accept his claim. It's libertarian nonsense, based on quote mines of case law that probably isn't applicable or has at least been superseded by subsequent law and court precedent.

Of course, I'm not a legal expert, so I can't say with certainty that his claims are complete BS, but I don't think I'm the one making an extraordinary claim here. Besides, he can prove his claims quite easily.

He can let his license expire (assuming he has one, which I bet he does), and then publicly announce that he is going to go on a cross-country drive (or even just a long intrastate drive, like Miami to Pensacola in his home state of Florida). In the announcement, dare the state police to arrest him for driving without a license, giving them his plate number, vehicle description, planned route, and date(s) of travel. When they do, all he needs to do is use his cited precedents to challenge the arrest in court and win.

Until then, I'll keep my license current.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Circulating Nonsense

The disinformation super-highway has done it again.

People are circulating an article with the headline "Civil War museum closed, Confederate artifacts burned" in complete seriousness. The first line of the article, visible in the Facebook post, is:
"On the heels of the Confederate flag controversy, the City Council of Harrisburg voted to permanently close the doors of the Civil War Museum last week."
Some of the comments from the thread on Facebook where I saw it include the following:
  • "And all those other times when people decided to burn / erase history and artifacts from the past: How did that turn out? Did it ever turn out good?"
  • "In the tradition of the Taliban, ISIS, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Red Chinese Cultural Revolution to just go back 90 years or so... and just to name a few... statists are insane."
  • "Rewriting history is classic Soviet behavior."
  • "Go authoritarian fascism"
When I looked at the headline, I immediately suspected that the article was a hoax. Do people really swallow such an absurd headline with no checking at all?

It took me less than ten seconds to find the website of the The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA. Apparently the article has been getting shared a lot, because they had this statement on the home page.
In light of the situation in the current press, The National Civil War Museum has issued the following statement:
The Board of Directors of The National Civil War Museum have no intentions of closing the museum and we will be conducting business as usual.
The post links to a site called "The People's Cube" which looks like a troll site. Seriously, just look at it for a second and it's obvious.

How foolish have we become that we accept such a blatant troll article at face value?

Monday, July 13, 2015

To the Rescue!

This showed up in my office email:
Greetings to you, how are you doing today and i hope you are up and strong, am very sorry to write you at this moment cos its late to tell you that i made an urgent successful trip to Phillipines MANILA with my fam. On the way coming back, got mugged at gun point and all fund and valuable items including all our phones. The worst scenario is that, i am owing the hotel right now and i must pay all bills to get out of here. $ 2,750 USD is urgently needed right now to pay the hotel bills, promise to pay back ASAP we made it home.

Kindly get back to me ASAP you receive this mail, cos i hope on you.

Sincerely, [Friend's name]
The "From" address is my friend's Yahoo email address. I have no reason to suspect that this friend is anywhere near Manila, so I'm quite sure that it's a trick to get some money. I did notify them via Facebook that I think their Yahoo account has been hacked.