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Binding Mandatory Arbitration: Be on the Lookout!

Brief notes:  Jim Thompson on archiving videos and why DVDs aren’t a good archiving solution. Here’s a forum discussion about devices to take  VHS to your PC.
Podsafemusic lets you locate CC attribution music

Slashdot discussion on doing things in linux with root.

Nonadmin, a site that tells you how to use a user acccount to work in Windows. Helpful.

Wealth of Networks, a free html/pdf book on networking and economics.

Site that warns consumers about binding mandatory arbitration. Here’s a longer article about this:

A look at how businesses are using mandatory arbitration clauses says more about why they’re so disturbing. The kind of passive “notice” that locks consumers into arbitration increasingly ties them to a system that thoroughly stacks the deck when serious disputes arise. Companies alone select the arbitration service – often one dependent on them for repeat business. Those same companies often write the arbitration rules, and unsurprisingly those rules often demand complete secrecy about the proceeding and its outcome while limiting what evidence consumers can present. Consumers usually pay more for arbitration proceedings than they would for a public court proceeding. If they lose there’s no appeal — that means even legal errors in an arbitrator’s decision are frequently beyond remedy. And if they refuse to participate in this rigged game these clauses often dictate they’ll automatically lose the dispute with no further recourse.

National Consumer Law Center advocates believe these clauses are the single biggest threat to consumer rights in recent years, a de-facto rewrite of the Constitution that undermines a broad range of consumer protections painstakingly built into law. No other consumer issue hits so many Americans where they live every day.

Youtube video: People on the street say which country the US should invade next. The answer: Australia!

I’ve been beset by lots of technical problems recently. First, following the directions of the most well-known FC5 installation document,  I installed an application that allegedly fixes the NumLock problem in linux, while also disabling half of the keys on my Thinkpad laptop keyboard as well! Unfortunately, this turned out to be a major problem because it prevented me from logging into root.

My PC fan is making noise. You know, they just don’t make power supplies like they used to. It annoys the hell out of me, but frankly, I’m afraid of having to swap it out; that’s a potential afternoon of disassembling things and messing up my cables or the motherboard. I might break down and do it.

Also, I’ve been trying to troubleshoot time synchronization problems and power management problems.  Egad, I should also mention that the program for entering mp3 data and submitting it to CDDB is buggy.

Richard Morin summarizes social science research about why AIDS among African-Americans is skyrocketing. The reason? More blacks in prison:

The percentage of prisoners who were black increased from 40 percent in 1982 to well over half in 1996, according to government data. At the same time, get-tough sentencing policies more than doubled the prison population, producing even more infected black men who passed the disease on to black women after they were released.

So powerful is the relationship between race, prison and AIDS that it almost completely explains why half of all new AIDS patients in 2002 were African Americans even though only 12 percent of the population is black; in 1982, African Americans made up less than a quarter of new AIDS cases. The link remained strong even after researchers controlled for factors associated with AIDS, including the use of crack cocaine, Raphael said.

Part of the reason for the rapid spread of AIDS among African Americans is that so many black men spend time behind bars, Johnson said. About one out of 12 black men are in jail or prison, compared with one in 100 white men; at current rates, a third of all black males born today will do time.

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