1922 cutaway drawing of the Washington Evening Star Building


Seen at full size, this hand-drawn cutaway of the Historic Landmark building is a wonderful way to visualize how the building was designed to convert people, information, power and water into newspapers.

This building is an organism for making newspapers [Kottke]

Democratic lawmakers share a squalorous house in DC


A group of top Democratic lawmakers live in a squalorous group house in DC. The house was once the family home of Rep. George Miller (D-CA), but he relocated back to his California district with his wife and family. Now, three decades later, Illinois senator Dick Durbin shares the house with New York senator Chuck Schumer and congressman Miller, amid dusty, filthy and disused furnishings dating back to the 1980s. The lawmakers only spend three nights a week at the house, and come and go at odd hours between meetings, fundraisers, and appearances. They use the Congressional gyms and other facilities for the majority of their needs, and boast about the holes in the stovetop and the dumpster-dived furniture, as well as Durbin's comfort-food of choice: raisin bran.

Read the rest

Mass anti-surveillance demonstration in DC on Oct 26

Rainey from EFF sez, "On the weekend of October 26 -- the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act -- thousands of people from across the political spectrum will unite in Washington, D.C. to take a stand against unconstitutional surveillance. Groups like EFF, ACLU and reddit are using the event to pressure Congress to stop mass spying -- and dropping off a petition with over 500,000 signatures to show they're serious. There will be speakers, privacy experts, and lots of music - including YACHT, the indie pop duo that's sweeping the nation with its new song, 'Party at the NSA.'" (Thanks, Rainey!)

Libraries and makerspaces join up in DC, Chicago


This morning dawned with two exciting announcements from the world of libraries and makerspaces: first, the Chicago Public Library has opened a popup makerlab in the main downtown branch (this is merely the latest in a series of amazing, interactive, maker-ish initiatives from the CPL system). They've got 3D printers, laser cutters and a milling machine.

The other awesome news is that the 11,000 sqft the DC Library Digital Commons opens today in the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library, with 3D printers, book-on-demand printers, and computers with 3D design software running on them.

This is a great day for libraries and makers -- as I've written, that's a match made in heaven.

(Images: Jacqui Cheng, Benjamin R. Freed)

Public Knowledge seeks an artist-in-residence

Michael sez, "Public Knowledge works to promote great technology like 3D printing and open source hardware, while advocating on behalf of the public on important issues like net neutrality and copyright reform. Now we are looking for someone to use all of that technology to help people understand our important issues." Cory

Municipal codes of DC, free for all -- liberated without permission


Today, I was lucky enough to get another one of rogue archivist Carl Malamud's boxes of awesome. It's a copy of the municipal codes of DC, which are laws that you're required to follow, but aren't allowed to see without paying. As with the last time I got one of these packages, it's because Carl has scanned and OCR'ed and cleaned up these codes, and has now published them for all to see. Here's the unboxing pics.

PROCLAMATION OF DIGITIZATION

“No Codification Without Promulgation”

WHEREAS, the District of Columbia has published the OFFICIAL CODE, containing the laws, general and permanent in their nature, relating to or in force in the District of Columbia; and

WHEREAS, the OFFICIAL CODE is only available for purchase for $803.00, plus tax and shipping, from the designated official publisher, the West Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Thomson Reuters Corporation, a foreign corporation; and

WHEREAS, the OFFICIAL CODE contains a prominent notice that the material is “COPYRIGHT 2001 by the District of Columbia” and “All Rights Are Reserved”; and

WHEREAS, the only online version of the OFFICIAL CODE available to the public is accessible from the official publisher, which limits access through outdated technical mechanisms and poor design, such as a lack of a permanent Internet address (“permalink”), and further limits access through terms of use which prohibit the public from making copies of the code; and

WHEREAS, in a nation governed by the rule of law and founded on the principles of freedom of expression, due process, and equal protection, people must have the right to freely read, know, and speak the laws by which we as a people choose to govern ourselves; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of the United States has unequivocally ruled that the law cannot be subject to copyright in Wheaton v. Peters (33 U.S. 591, 1834), when the Court unanimously held that “no reporter has or can have any copyright in the written opinions delivered” by the Court; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly reaffirmed this principle, stating for example in Banks v. Manchester (128 U.S. 244, 1888) that “the authentic exposition and interpretation of the law, which, binding every citizen, is free for publication to all, whether it is a declaration of unwritten law, or an interpretation of a constitution or a statute”; and

WHEREAS, the United States Copyright Office has unequivocally stated “Edicts of government, such as judicial opinions, administrative rulings, legislative enactments, public ordinances, and similar official legal documents are not copyrightable for reasons of public policy. This applies to such works whether they are Federal, State, or local as well as to those of foreign governments.”

THEREFORE, it is hereby proclaimed by this notice that any assertion of copyright by the District of Columbia or other parties on the District of Columbia Code is declared to be NULL AND VOID as a matter of law and public 
policy as it is the right of every person to read, know, and speak the laws that bind them.

By the People and For the People on March 25, 2013

Read the rest

3D printing and law/policy conference in DC

Michael Weinberg from Public Knowledge sez, "We are bringing the 3D printing community back to Washington, DC for 3D/DC II. This time around, we are having a public reception in the Rayburn House Office Building on April 24th to give policymakers a chance to see 3D printing in person and talk to some of the people behind the machines. If you are in DC and are interested in 3D printing, this could be your chance to check it out." Michael wrote two amazing, definitive papers on 3D printing and the law. Cory

Cory in Washington, DC tonight!

Hey, DC! I'm speaking at Busboys and Poets tonight at 7PM! Tomorrow I'll be in Cambridge, Mass; then Albuquerque (and more!) Cory

Aaron Swartz memorial in Washington, DC, Feb 4

A reader writes, "On Monday, February 4th, family and friends of Aaron Swartz will join members of Congress at the Cannon House Office Building to honor and celebrate the life, work, and legacy of Aaron Swartz, the accomplished activist and technologist who took his own life on January 11. Aaron's supporters will also discuss possible reforms and other steps that can be taken to honor his memory." Cory

Just look at this sniper eating a banana on a rooftop during the inauguration.


Just look at him.

Noticed some snipers hanging out on the roof during the inaugural parade. Zoomed in to find him enjoying a banana. (Thanks, Richard!)

Free, partial Tardis pinata

Free on Craigslist DC: a partially completed (and rather well-done) Tardis pinata.

FREE: homemade TARDIS pull-string pinata. My 6 year-old daughter wanted a Dr. Who birthday and as nobody in the US sells Dr. Who pinatas I made this one. Unfortunately I ran out of time so the door panels and windows are only on 2 sides and didn't get around to putting any of the signs on it but you are free to finish it as much or as little as you like.

TARDIS pull-string pinata (Tyson's/Falls Church)

DC pulls in a record-setting $85M from traffic cams

A little followup to yesterday's post about NoPhoto, an Indiegogo fundraiser for a flash that confounds red-light cameras: the city of Washington, DC has smashed its previous record-setting rake on its traffic cameras, pulling in $85 million in its fiscal 2012. Alan Blinder writes more in the Washington Examiner, discussing whether the city has come to think of its traffic cams as cash-cows:

"This year, we'll have more revenue than ever and more citations than ever before," said John Townsend, of AAA Mid-Atlantic. "They're closing holes in the budget."

Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells, a sponsor of the proposal to lower fines, leveled a similar accusation.

"The administration and some of my colleagues view this as a way to make money for the government," Wells said. "The funding is there to reduce the fines. The question is will my colleagues see this as a windfall to fund their pet projects?"

But the District government is far from the only local government to boost its bank account with camera tickets.

D.C. rakes in $85m from traffic cameras (Thanks, Marilyn!)

Cory in Bethesda tonight

Hey, DC! I'm heading to Bethesda today for my Pirate Cinema tour -- I'll be at the Bethesda Public Library tonight at 7PM. Come on out and say hi before I head to Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Toronto and Boston! Here's the full schedule. Cory

DC police chief issues extremely excellent guidelines on citizens taking pictures of cops


As part of a settlement with Jerome Vorus, who was ordered to stop taking pictures by DC cops, DC chief of police Cathy Lanier has issued guidelines to her officers on citizen photography of police activities. They are extremely excellent guidelines, too, as Timothy Lee writes in Ars Technica:

"A bystander has the same right to take photographs or make recordings as a member of the media," Chief Lanier writes. The First Amendment protects the right to record the activities of police officers, not only in public places such as parks and sidewalks, but also in "an individual’s home or business, common areas of public and private facilities and buildings, and any other public or private facility at which the individual has a legal right to be present."

Lanier says that if an officer sees an individual recording his or her actions, the officer may not use that as a basis to ask the citizen for ID, demand an explanation for the recording, deliberately obstruct the camera, or arrest the citizen. And she stresses that under no circumstances should the citizen be asked to stop recording.

That applies even in cases where the citizen is recording "from a position that impedes or interferes with the safety of members or their ability to perform their duties." In that situation, she says, the officer may ask the person to move out of the way, but the officer "shall not order the person to stop photographing or recording."

She also notes that "a person has the right to express criticism of the police activity being observed."

There is more, and it's all excellent. We have the good folks at the ACLU to thank for helping Mr Vorus win his settlement with the DC police.

DC police chief announces shockingly reasonable cell camera policy (Thanks, Ben!)

(Image: 12.MPDC.HorseMounted.SE.WDC.23March2012, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from perspective's photostream)

Science fiction mass-signing in Arlington on May 18 (tomorrow!)

James Morrow writes, "As part of the 2012 Nebula Awards Weekend, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America will hold a mass autographing session at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia, on Friday May 18th from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm. This event is free and open to the public. Books will be available for sale on site, but you can also bring your own and get them signed. Here's the list of participating authors." Cory