The headline above is inspired by a joke by Stephen Wright.

So, while trawling Facebook, I came upon this article below:

Arkansas Senate Passes Bill to Make Street Photography Illegal in State

by Zach Sutton

(Originally posted March 29, 2015 —jb)

Over the past week, Arkansas Senate has been working diligently to pass SB-79 - known as the Personal Rights Protection Act. While the bill is designed to protect the privacy and rights of the citizens within the state, it also effectively makes Street Photography illegal from viewing or taking in the state of Arkansas.

The bill’s full name does a lot as to explaining the bill. Entitled “To Enact the Personal Rights Protection Act: and to Protect the Property Rights of an Individual to the Use of the Individual’s Name, Voice, Signature, and Likeness”, this bill is designed to take an individual’s Rights of Publicity to an extreme, by allowing it illegal for them to be photographed or filmed on public grounds without a written consent.

(link)

My initial thought, especially with Arkansas’ recent bill rivalling Indiana in allowing private businesses to discriminate on religious grounds, convinced me absolutely that I should never set foot in Arkansas, ever. This seems to be a crazy state, where the welcome mat is yanked out from the feet of people who look or act funny, and where taking photographs in public spaces could get you sued. Note that I’m coming at this from a railfan photographer’s perspective. I’ve heard too many tales of such people being harassed simply for taking pictures on a public street. This is an assault on freedom. And while reading deeper into the bill, I can see that some elements have their hearts in the right places, the bill is so broadly worded that it’s understandable why the American Society of Media Photographers is having an apoplectic fit:

The implications of this bill are staggering. For example, an image showing recognizable people posted to the Internet for a use that would not require written consent anywhere else in the world could leave you open to a lawsuit just because someone in Arkansas could view it online.

SB-79 places an unprecedented burden on all photographers whose work could be viewed within the state of Arkansas to either get explicit consent from every individual whose likeness appears in all of their photographs or risk defending themselves in a lawsuit where they will have to shoulder the burden of proving the use of their photographs qualifies as an exempted use.

(link)

But one of the most useful features of Facebook these days are its links to related articles. Just as I was about to write something terse and angry in response to what I’d read, one of the related articles beneath it said something almost completely opposite about Arkansas:

Arkansas To Be First State in The Nation to Protect Photographers’ Rights

March 30, 2015 Dan Greenberg

Arkansas is poised to be the first state in the Union to establish a statutory right to take photographs in public. Given the increasing prevalence and use of smart phones (with videorecording capability) in American life, this issue’s importance continues to grow. Earlier today, the state House passed the final version of HB 1669 (which had previously been passed by the state Senate), sending it to Governor Hutchinson’s desk for his signature. State Rep. Richard Womack sponsored the measure and worked with Advance Arkansas Institute staff to pass the bill; the policy was originally proposed in our Action Plan for Arkansas.

The right to take photographs (and, more specifically, the right to record public officials as they perform their official duties) is a right that - as a theoretical matter - many believe already to exist (given that such a right is regularly recognized by federal appellate courts, as in, for instance, the First, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits); regrettably, others will view the legislative recognition of that right as trivial or unimportant. Nonetheless, it is a fact that government actors regularly seize smart phones and attempt to destroy the records in them, even without suspicion of a crime. Such seizure typically occurs when smart phones are used to document bad behavior by government actors.

(link)

This is a separate bill (seen here), and it specifically enshrines the rights of individuals to take photographs on public lands, especially if they are recording government officials, like police officers, abusing their duties.

This would seem to absolutely counter the potential consequences of the first act. “Are you photographing me? Do you have my permission?” / “Well, I’m on a public street, and you’re beating on this man who is on the ground and handcuffed, so I don’t need your permission.”

Neither article mentions the other bill, so I’m left utterly confused. Is public photography in Arkansas legal or not? Do I have to get permission to take pictures or not? What happens when these two bills butt heads in Arkansas’ streets?


Update: April 1, 9:45 p.m. - According to this website, the governor of Arkansas has agreed to veto Bill SB-79 — the one making photography illegal in Arkansas — citing public outcry and saying:

In its current form, the bill unnecessarily restricts free expression and thus could have a chilling effect on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. In addition, SB79 exempts certain types of noncommercial speech while failing to exempt other forms of noncommercial speech. The absence of these exemptions could result in unnecessary litigation and suppress Arkansans who engage in artistic expression.

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Spoiler alert: here is the first part of the plot, as summarized by Wikipedia…

It’s Anna’s birthday and Elsa plans to throw her the perfect surprise party with the help of Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf. However, after planning the huge party and as Anna is being led on a “party treasure hunt,” by following a string that winds through the kingdom, Elsa finds that she has caught a cold. She starts sneezing and produces a group of small snowmen much like Olaf, with each sneeze—

ME: (Stops. Blinks)

ME: Elsa! Olaf! What did you do?!

I’m posting this video by the Correspondents, not because it’s particularly cutting edge or ground-breaking (especially compared to Fear and Delight), but because the song appeals to me, strangely enough. Maybe I’m a sucker for odes about gentrification, or maybe I’m into the the techno-jazz stylings, I don’t know. Whatever the case, I like it, and I thought I’d share it with you here.

Tue, Mar
17
2015

The Great Thaw

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March Break has arrived.

I’ve always loved this holiday. I still think of it as a holiday now more than ever that the kids participate in it. Like any kid, I loved my days off school, but March Break had a special place in my heart. During those days, before my teenage years, I could count on my mother (who was a stay-at-home Mom) to take me on long walks out from my downtown Toronto home. We’d explore, and the Annex neighbourhood north of our house was the perfect place for that exploration, with endless laneways providing wonderful nooks and crannies. A highlight was usually the Spadina staircase connecting Spadina Road south of Davenport to Spadina Road north of Casa Loma.

The weather had a big part to play in this, because I remember that this was when the thaw really started to hit. After weeks of frigid days and building snow, the temperatures would spike, and we’d hear water flowing into the storm sewers. To this day, this remains one of my favourite sounds. The flowing water would cut little channels into the ice and snow, providing a miniature reminder of what it must have been like when the Ice Age ended.

This week, after having undergone several weeks where the temperature didn’t rise above freezing (and several days where it dipped below Fahrenheit Zero), the snow is melting at last. This is what I like most about this season in Ontario. This is what makes the long snowy days worth it.


We are now fully moved and firmly established in our new home, and we love it. We still have a lot of boxes to unpack, but rooms are coming together, especially now that we’ve built in our bookshelves and finally unloaded the bulk of our book collection. It’s amazing how much books make a house a home.

We love this place. We love the amount of light it gets, the coziness of the rooms, the great views, and the fact that it’s closer to the kids’ school, and it’s easier to walk to important places like our grocery store, our business mailbox and transit. I love the fact that I have an office to myself, and we no longer have to clear off my desk in order to serve dinner.

The move was stressful, as you can imagine, but things would not have gone nearly so well without the hard work of a lot of people, including my parents, my mother-in-law, her husband, and friends galore. You know who you are. Thank you.

Every house has its quirks. Ours seems to be the driveway drain, which clogged with ice during the deep freeze and doesn’t seem to be all that interested in clearing (at least, until the thaw hits the ground a few feet deep). I’ve been fighting against a growing puddle in the middle of our driveway, keeping a wary eye to ensure it doesn’t back up into our garage and make an even bigger mess. As we are no longer covered by the condo association, this sort of thing is now officially My Problemâ„¢.

I tried buying a drill pump, which is a device that attaches to garden hoses and fits to a drill which provides a motor to pull a suction and, in theory, take water away from the drain, over the hump in the sidewalk, and onto the roadway where the city’s storm sewer system can handle it. The drill may have had more power than I gave it credit for, because after several minutes of fruitlessly trying to suck water up through the garden hose, the pump itself started to smoke, and then to melt. It’s now a modern art piece.

The problem was — well, not solved, exactly, but managed — when I bought a larger submersible pump with its own motor. I hooked up the hoses, plugged it in and we were off to the races.

The thaw is still in progress. There are icy tufts of snow everywhere, but the puddles are growing. In just a few weeks, this winter will be just a memory.

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Erin and I greatly enjoyed the 8-part miniseries of Agent Carter. Another winner by Marvel. We loved the story, the action and the humour. And Hailey Atwell was brilliant.

But was I the only one who thought, when Stark showed up at the SSR and compared it’s security to the White House (they both “stank”), someone should have countered his suggestion that they buy their next security system from him with:

“Mr. Stark, at the SSR, we’d like to interrogate any intruders, not peel them off the ceiling.”

Knowing Stark, that would hit him where it hurts, a bit.

No one? Just me, then.

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