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Contemporary Services Corporation Are…

I was going to complete the title of this post with “Douchebags”, but I’m not sure that’s the most appropriate term. Foolish? Ill-informed? Republican? Terrorists? Okay, this getting to political. I’ll just leave it blank and you can decide what word to fill in. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

Shooting pictures can be a challenge sometimes. I used to run into similar situations back in high school when I was doing cinematography.

I remember I was shooting this one scene with my neighbor, Eddie, up at Eckstein Middle School. It was a Saturday, nice and sunny out. We’re in the parking lot shooting (he’s on top of the car, I’m inside basically letting the engine idle us forward). A cop comes up and starts asking us questions. Apparently, some of the parents (there are several soccer games being played on the field) thought we were video tapping cars that we wanted to steal, or something like that. Yea, it was really bizarre.

I also shot some video at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport garage complex. I was shooting the toll-booths because they look very similar to the US-Canadian border crossing booths. After a few minutes, I was asked to stop. I had got what I needed and left.

When I started getting serious about photography, I checkout some books about my legal rights. I wanted to know where I stood legally because if you know me, I like to push the boundaries. They more or less boil down to:

  • I can take pictures of anyone or anything on public property (this includes streets, sidewalks, and public parks)
  • Anything really does mean anything (in public, that is): accidents, children, celebrities, criminal activities, buildings, law enforcement offices, etc
  • Private parties, absent a court order, have no right to confiscate my film. Taking or attempting to take my film can constitute a criminal offense against me (such as theft and coercion)
  • The same applies for law enforcement, unless they are arresting me (which I hope doesn’t happen)

As always, I am not a lawyer (IANAL), so consult your attorney of choice before doing something rash. All the information above is taken from an excellent pamphlet put out by Bert P. Krages, who happens to be photography as well as a lawyer: The Photographers Rights. I keep this in my camera bag at all times and would suggest you do as well.

This brings me to EDays. From last year, I know that there are certain restrictions on how I shoot (i.e. flash or no-flash) and when I can shoot. That’s fine and all. This year, the CSC (Contemporary Services Corporation) Event Staff Supervisor comes up to me to make sure I know the deal. I say yes. Then he adds something to the effect of, “If you don’t follow these rules, I will have to confiscate your camera.”

As I noted above, confiscating or attempting to confiscate my camera/film is a no-no. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it because I was here already and I didn’t want to get kicked out before the concert even started. I was going to talk to him after the concert, but I couldn’t find him and I was dead tired.

So I did the next best thing, I sent an email to Mike Smith, Branch Manager for CSC Denver, Colorado:

From: Andrew Ferguson
Re: CSC photography equipment confiscation policy

Mr. Mike Smith,

My name is Andrew Ferguson. I’m a student at the Colorado School of Mines. I also happen to take photographs. On Friday, March 30, 2007, The Colorado School of Mines hosted a concert with Flogging Molly and Single File.

I was a volunteer photography at that event with a full access press pass. Before the concert, the Contemporary Services Corporation* Event Staff Supervisor for that event talked to me to make sure I knew the rules about only photographing the first three songs of each band and to not use the flash. I informed him that I did. He then preceded to tell me that if I were to break those rules, he would have to confiscate my camera.

I have read a few books on a photographers legal rights and talked to a few friends I have who are lawyers. It is my understanding that private citizens, absent a court order, are not allowed to take my equipment for any reason. Furthermore, taking my equipment, directly or indirectly, by threatening to use force or call a law enforcement agency can constitute criminal offenses such as theft and coercion.

I regret that I did not obtain the supervisors name, however, his blue jacket had the number 202 on it and identified him as the CSC Event Staff Supervisor.

The purpose of my email is to find out what CSC’s official policy on the matter of photography equipment confiscation is.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, my contact information is below.

Thank you for your time,

Andrew Ferguson
//my email address//

We’ll see how that goes.

* If you don’t know who CSC is, they’re pretty much the Halliburton of event security. The minions wear bright yellow jackets and try to look tough. You’ll probably see them on TV if your watching a sports game.


Southwest Airlines Blows

I almost always fly United (insert key notes from Rhapsody in Blue now). I flew out on Southwest because it was comped for me and I’m never one to turn down something free (ok, technically it wasn’t free…but it was free-r). I’ve never flown on Southwest before I, so it was a completely new experience. There’s no first class, in fact, there are no seating assignments at all. There are boarding classes (A, B, and C) and that’s it. A’s board first, then B’s and finally C’s. You can sit wherever you want.

Here’s my gripe. I arrived and got checked through earlier enough where I could have caught the earlier flight to Denver. I went up and asked and they wanted a $121 to catch the earlier flight. A $121!

Apparently, this was due to the fact that I got such a good deal on the flight and the difference would have been the difference between my flight and a “regular” flight.

On United, I can standby for any flight I want on the day I’m flying for free. I just let them know I want to try and catch the flight on standby and they put me on the list. Simple.

My other gripe, who was a heart in their logo?!

[tags]southwest, southwest airlines, united, united airlines[/tags]


PowerPoint Needs to Die

I was reading gapingvoid today. Hugh’s comic pretty much sums up my thoughts on PowerPoint:


I’m convinced that less then 1% of the population knows how to use PowerPoint. I’ve been sitting through my Introduction to Space Exploration class and I can’t tell you how horrible all (not some, all) of the presentations have been. Yellow text on a black-to-dark-blue background, tons of information on each slide, the presenter reading off the slide, verbatim. Worse yet, the slides aren’t available online! This also isn’t a problem unique to our school, we have presenters from the likes of Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace, and guest lecturers on a weekly basis. Every one is plagued by the same problem.


Super Bowl EULA

Read this blurb and tell me what you think:
From www.komotv.com:

Got a giant-screen TV? Planning a huge party to watch the Super Bowl this weekend? You’d better watch how many people you invite and how you promote your gathering, or you may be in violation of NFL rules.

League policy bans what it calls “mass out-of-home viewing.”
That means the NFL forbids places other than sports bars from projecting games on screens bigger than 55-inches.

A 60-inch screen at home would be no problem, but the same in a church would violate the rules.

This has gotten out of hand. How can the NFL do that?! I’m no lawyer, but I’d think that what they’re proposing violates all sorts of rules. Actually, let me back up…when did I ever agree to these rules? I never agreed to these rules. I’ve haven’t even heard of them! The NFL is airing the games on a public television network (i.e. CBS). As far as I know, anyone can sit down in front of a TV. In fact, any number of people can sit down in front of a TV. Not only that, said TV can be of any size. We should get a giant projector and project the Super Bowl on the Moon. How cool would that be?

How about this:

Dear NFL,

READ CAREFULLY. By reading this blog you agree, on behalf of your employer, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from any and all NON-NEGOTIATED agreements, licenses, terms-of-service, shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete and acceptable use policies (“BOGUS AGREEMENTS”) that I have entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents and assigns, in perpetuity, without prejudice to my ongoing rights and privileges. You further represent that you have the authority to release me from any BOGUS AGREEMENTS on behalf of your employer.

Adapted from ReasonableAgreement.org

EULAs are so stupid.


What Do You When People Are Wrong?

From www.boingboing.net:

The sign mounted on this hideous sculpture of a typewriter eraser scarring a Seattle neighborhood says, “Sorry, photography of this statue is not permitted.”

My new pet peeve: people who try to abuse the law.

My understanding is this:
With very few exceptions (basically nothing except maybe DoD related), anything that is viewable from a public place is fair game to photograph. One of the key words here is “viewable”. Even if it’s on private property, as longs as it’s viewable from a public area it’s fair game.


$0.002 ≠ ¢0.002

Sometimes, I think the world may have a chance. And then I stumble upon something like this:

George is having a problem with Verizon. George was going to Canada and wanted to confirm the price of using his data connection. Verzion quoted him a price of 0.002 cents per a kilobyte. While in Canada, George used 35,893 KB of data. Do the math and you get 71.786 cents…or $0.71786. Problem is, Verizon can’t do basic math…

From verizonmath.blogspot.com:

G: [big sigh] Okay, I think I have to do this again. Do you recognize that there’s a difference between one dollar and one cent?
A: Definitely.
G: Do you recognize there’s a difference between half a dollar and half a cent?
A: Definitely
G: Then, do you therefore recognize there’s a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents
A: No.

Wow. Um. Folks, this is not good. This is really not good. If you have some time, you should go read the whole transcript. They are really no words for this kind of incompetence. I’m just going to sit here with my mouth open for a few more minutes…then I’ll try and move on.

via xkcd blag.

[tags]verizon, math, money, xkcd[/tags]


UCLA Student Tasered by Police in Library

Holy. Freaking. Crap. This is sick!

From www.boingboing.net:

UCLA cops tasered a student who refused to show ID in Powell Library. They threatened nearby students with tasering if they interfered. A student captured video of the assault with a cameraphone. I hope the campus cops go to jail over this.

View the raw footage on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g7zlJx9u2E

Watching and hearing that video seriously makes me want to go Sam Fisher on those officers asses.

From dailybruin.com:

An incident late Tuesday night in which a UCLA student was stunned at least four times with a Taser has left the UCLA community questioning whether the university police officers’ use of force was an appropriate response to the situation.

Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a UCLA student, was repeatedly stunned with a Taser and then taken into custody when he did not exit the CLICC Lab in Powell Library in a timely manner. Community Service Officers had asked Tabatabainejad to leave after he failed to produce his BruinCard during a random check at around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Here’s the reallyFrom dailybruin.com:

During the altercation between Tabatabainejad and the officers, bystanders can be heard in the video repeatedly asking the officers to stop and requesting their names and identification numbers. The video showed one officer responding to a student by threatening that the student would “get Tased too.” At this point, the officer was still holding a Taser.

Such a threat of the use of force by a law enforcement officer in response to a request for a badge number is an “illegal assault,” Eliasberg said.

“It is absolutely illegal to threaten anyone who asks for a badge … that’s assault,” he said.

WHAT THE FUCK! No, really! This is unbelievable and completely unacceptable. Not only should the persons involved in this incidicent be fired, but they should also be prosecuted criminally.

Also, based on what has happened in the United States in the last half-decade or so, I’m beginning to fear what other rights I may end up loosing. Currently, there are only a very few select times when you must present ID (Quick trivia: despite what you might think, the airport is NOT one of those times). Will laws be passed that force me to show ID to any officer no matter what? What about the legalities of taping? For the most part, I can record just about anything or anyone in public places. Will that change to “protect” the government? Can the Constitution really stand much more raping before it is just a piece of meaningless paper?

[tags]UCLA, Taser, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, Tabatabainejad[/tags]


Bob Barker Retiring

Bob Barker is retiring. From show business and, more importantly, from The Price is Right. So after 35 years after hosting The Price is Right, and 50 years in television, Bob will retire in June.

Here’s what irks me though:
From www.eonline.com:

A CBS spokesperson told Reuters that Price will go on after Barker’s departure but that “it’s premature to discuss any transition plans right now. Our focus now will be giving Bob a proper sendoff.” A CBS prime-time special celebrating the man is also in the works, he said. [emphasis added]

Bob Barker is The Price is Right. You can’t have The Price is Right without Bob Barker. CBS really should just retire The Price is Right. It’s made them tons of money (presumably) and the desire to keep it on the air simply to make more money is worse then greed. I’m not quite sure what to call it, but I’ll start with corporate whorism for now.

I’ve always wanted to at least go see The Price is Right, so I’ll be planning a trip soon (within the next 8 months).

Note: Thanks to Kurtis for the heads up on this.

[tags]Bob Barker, The Price is Right, CBS, retiring[/tags]


Why Can’t I Comment on my MySpace Picture?

This is freaking retarted. I’m trying to leave a comment on one of my MySpace pictures and I get this error:

“You must be someone’s friend to make comments about them.”

WTF? It’s my freaking picture! What a crappy UI! If you can’t do something, why do you have an active button that lets you think you can do it?

On a somewhat related note, why is there a button on my profile page for me to add myself as a friend? I click on it and it says:

“You cannot add yourself as a friend.”

Again, what shitty UI. Whoever coded that should be shot…or at least fired.