Legal Matters

Circuit Court of Cook County

The sheriff is on my trail, having unsuccessfully attempted to serve me legal papers regarding a frivolous lawsuit my neighbors are trying to add me to. The process server came to my building’s door twice so far that I’m aware. I wonder if he’ll try a third time? Or will the assholes have to hire a private process server?

If I do get served, I have thirty days to decide if I can represent myself Pro Se, and if I can file my response electronically.

Wikipedia

Electronic filings Some districts of the United States federal courts (e.g., the Central District of California) permit pro se litigants to receive documents electronically by an Electronic Filing Account (ECF), but only members of the bar are allowed to file documents electronically. Other districts (e.g. the Northern District of Florida) permit pro se litigants to file and receive their documents electronically by following the same local requirements as licensed attorneys for PACER NEXT GEN qualifications and approval for electronic use in particular cases; an order of the assigned judge on a pro se motion showing pro se’s qualifications may be required. A 2011 report from the Federal Judicial Center found 37 of the 94 district courts allow pro se litigants to use ECF.

(click here to continue reading Pro se legal representation in the United States – Wikipedia.)

I probably won’t discuss the case in public, though I am sorely tempted, as the basis for the suit is so ridiculous as to almost be intentional harassment on the part of the close-minded neighbors. This dispute has dragged on since 2020 thanks to Cook County’s practice of letting plantiffs amend their complaints without much reluctance.

Upgrading Mac Pro 2010 With New Graphic Card and SSD Drives

New expensive cheese grater

My beloved desktop Mac – a Mac Pro 5,1 – started exhibiting signs of an impending graphic card failure. After a few hours of use, patterns of visual artifacts made of little squares would fill the screen, the mouse curser would be replaced with text, and then the computer would become unresponsive. I could still use the various shared hard drives via other Macs on my Local Area Network, but eventually I would have to do a forced reboot1.

Mac Pro graphics card failure (probably)

A hard reboot like that is not ideal for many reasons, including potentially corrupting databases like my Lightroom catalog or my DEVONThink database or other issues. Luckily, I don’t think that happened, but it certainly was a risk. Eventually the graphic card probably wouldn’t recover after a failure, so I purchased a new2 card with a GPU.

The Mac Pro 5,1 aka The Cheese Grater, is a beloved Mac because it was engineered to be opened up and upgraded. The whole side panel pops off smoothly, the internal components are accessible, and some slide out if you need them to. I miss that era, to be honest, when computers were designed to be tinkered with. The current version of Apple locks away most components from casual tinkerers like myself, which is probably why I didn’t invest more money and upgrade the entire machine to a newer, in warranty, model, but instead just repaired the soon to be broken part.

I attribute this to Steve Jobs being involved in the design of the original Mac Pro, who knows, maybe even Jony Ive gave useful ideas? Whatever, the Mac Pro 5,1 is a delightfully engineered computer.

Opening Mac Pro Step 1

While I was in the mode, I decided to also replace one of the four internal “spinning” hard drives with a newer SSD style drive. My plan is to use it as the boot drive, once I’ve used Shirt Pocket’s SuperDuper! to copy all of the files from my current boot drive. This is taking forever and a day because I’m a digital packrat, and foolishly started copying before culling out some fluff that I don’t need on either drive. Oh well…

Again, the new part installed in minutes because the Mac Pro 5,1 was engineered to make installing and/or replacing hard drives easy – there are drive bays which just pop out when you toggle a physical switch, then just 4 little screws to put in the new SSD, push it back into the drive bay, and Bob’s Your Uncle

The plan is also to upgrade the Mac’s OS to Catalina3, maybe, or even just Mojave4 from High Sierra5, the currently installed OS sometime later this week. I have another SSD to install, this will hold my digital photography files and work files, replacing a “spinning” hard drive that currently is the repository for those.

Mac Pro opened

Final thought, my dual monitor setup isn’t going to work right away as I have to buy yet another dongle, a somewhat rare MiniDisplay Female to HDMI Male connector. I ordered one, reluctantly, knowing I’ll probably find a dongle somewhere in my messy office a day later. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

—–

Update 2/21/22

This turned out to be a more complicated project than anticipated because I didn’t follow the correct steps in order. I had to start over. Projects like this really makes one appreciate all the helpful information available on the internet. I was not a trailblazer in figuring this complicated process out, I’d bet most of the information was 5 or 10 years old, but still useful for me!

Here is what I did yesterday:

  1. Take out the Metal-supporting new graphics card, and install the old OEM card.
    1. The old card was a weird design for a factory installed card. It has an elongated plastic ring to the side which makes it too long, almost, to fit into the designated space. I really had to struggle to get it to fit, and as far as I can tell, there is no purpose for this design, at least for a Mac Pro 5,1. Maybe for some other computer? But weird because the card itself is short, only the sled holding the card was super long.
    2. the new card takes more power, luckily, there is an extra source of power just for this reason. Thanks Apple!
  2. Put a new HD (spinning) in sled, format, and do a fresh install of High Sierra from this Apple page. I don’t know if I really needed to do this, but I had a spare hard drive, and an empty slot to install it, so why not.
  3. Turn off SIP – this is where I got stuck earlier because the new graphics card doesn’t include a boot screen
    1. Reboot, holding ⌘-R6 to boot into Recovery Mode. This takes a moment, but eventually worked
    2. Load Terminal under the Utilities Menu
    3. Type: csrutil disable
    4. Reboot
  4. Install openCore following the simple steps7
  5. Remove old card, put new graphics card back in
  6. Update to OS Mojave via this Apple page on the new SSD drive
    1. Required updating firmware
    2. Load Install Mojave app
    3. Shut down
    4. Hold the power button for 2-3 minutes until the power light started to flash, and then a loud beep meant the firmware was updating
    5. I walked away, when I came back, I was at the High Sierra login screen
    6. Loaded the Install Mojave app again, and initiated the upgrade, easy peasy!

Right away after my first few moments in Mojave, 9 apps from the Apple App store wanted to update, plus several other apps not purchased from the Apple App store also. Yayyyy…

I may stay in Mojave for a while, looking at the Wikipedia chart of what Apple apps are included, I want to keep using iTunes instead of updating to Music. I’ve used both apps for a while now, and I still think iTunes is the better, more stable app. There is a hack to enable iTunes to be run on a newer MacOS, but I’ll wait a while for that.

Spending hours on a project like this is not wasted time, if the end result is successful. One feels a sense of satisfaction when the job is finished.

Footnotes:
  1. by holding the power key for 30 seconds []
  2. better, newer, faster, more capable []
  3. 10.15 []
  4. 10.14 []
  5. 10.13 []
  6. Command and R []
  7. What is openCore? “OpenCore is an advanced boot loader program that expands the hardware compatibility of macOS by injecting key data into memory” []

De La Soul Is Back

3 Feet High And Rising

This morning I was pleased to see that De La Soul had resolved the legal issues with their old label, and had regained control over their music.

3 Feet High And Rising has always been one of my favorite hip-hop LPs since I first heard it on a girlfriend’s cassette circa 1989. I have De La Soul music on CD and vinyl, so I have been listening to it all these years, but I’m glad they finally got their own music back, and are able to release it on the various streaming platforms like Apple Music.

Rachel Brodsky, Uproxx reports:

Legendary hip-hop trio De La Soul — Posdnuos, Trugoy and Maseo — have been locked in a battle with Tommy Boy Music for years to regain control of their masters. Now, according to Talib Kweli, it’s mission accomplished for The Plugs.

“After years of being taken advantage by the recording industry in the worst possible ways, De La Soul now owns all the rights to their masters and is in full control of the amazing music they have created,” Kweli wrote in an Instagram post over the weekend, writing that Maseo had confirmed the news. “Let’s salute Plugs 1, 2 and 3 for sticking to their guns and showing us that we can all beat the system if we come together as a community. Let’s hear it for black ownership of black art! Congratulations fellas.”

The news may not come as a huge surprise, since just two months ago, Reservoir Media acquired the Tommy Boy for close to $100 million. They also gained ownership of Tommy Boy’s catalog, which includes six De La Soul albums: 3 Feet High And Rising (1989), De La Soul Is Dead (1991), and Buhloone Mindstate (1993), Stakes Is High (1996), Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump (2000), and AOI: Bionix (2001). A spokesperson for Reservoir also confirmed that the new label ownership would mean that De La Soul’s catalog would at last come to streaming platforms. “We have already reached out to De La Soul and will work together to the bring the catalog and the music back to the fans,” a Reservoir rep told Variety.

(click here to continue reading De La Soul Have Finally Gained Control Of Their Masters, According To Talib Kweli.)

Play De Record

Rolling Stone had some back story on one of the impedements:

De La Soul vs. The Turtles (1991)

“Transmitting Live From Mars,” by De La Soul (1989) vs. “You Showed Me,” by the Turtles (written by Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark) (1969)

The Case: The hip-hop collective De La Soul built their masterpiece 3 Feet High and Rising from a vast library of samples spanning genres, languages and decades. At a time when sampling was relatively new (and relatively lawless), not all of the snippets received the proper clearance. Among these was a 12-second segment from the Turtles’ 1969 song “You Showed Me,” used on the interlude skit “Transmitting Live From Mars.” Former Turtles Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman leveled a $2.5 million lawsuit at Prince Paul and company in 1991. “Sampling is just a longer term for theft,” Volman told the L.A. Times. “Anybody who can honesty say sampling is some sort of creativity has never done anything creative.” Ironically, the song was written by none of the Turtles, but instead by Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark of the Byrds.

The Verdict: The case was settled out of court, with Volman and Kaylan netting a sum reportedly as high as $1.7 million. De La Soul claim they never paid that much.

Why It Matters: Rap artists believed this ruling set a dangerous precedent that would bankrupt them due to licensing or legal fees and would ultimately destroy hip-hop. The case precipitated a steady decline in sampling as labels grappled with the financial and logistical headaches of ensuring all artists were properly paid and credited. Heavily sampled albums like 3 Feet High would likely be impossible to make today.

(click here to continue reading Songs on Trial: 12 Landmark Music Copyright Cases – Rolling Stone.)

TSLA freefall

As a former holder of TSLA stock (pre-Musk’s purchase of Twitter), I’m sort of enjoying TSLA’s loss of half its value in 6 months. It still seems overpriced, to me, and should really be more akin to what GM or FORD trade at, especially since Elon Musk has been revealed as a bad CEO.

TSLA stock chart 3 Months

View of the last 3 months of Tesla stock chart

Bob Dylan Q&A about The Philosophy of Modern Song and Ronnie James Dio

You might have read Bob Dylan being interviewed by Jeff Slate (paywall version). Well worth reading, if you haven’t already.

Rainbow Rising Stargazer

The Official Bob Dylan Site reposted the WSJ Q&A, which includes this answer:

When you first hear a song, it might be related to what time of day you hear it. Maybe at daybreak – at dawn with the sun in your face – it would probably stay with you longer than if you heard it at dusk. Or maybe, if you first hear it at sunset, it would probably mean something different, than if you heard it first at 2 in the afternoon. Or maybe you hear something in the dead of night, in the darkness, with night eyes. Maybe it’ll be “Eleanor Rigby,” and it puts you in touch with your ancient ancestors. You’re liable to remember that for a while. “Star Gazer,” the Ronnie James Dio song would probably mean a lot more to you if you first heard it at midnight under a full moon beneath an expanding universe, than if you first heard it in the middle of a dreary day with rain pouring down.

(click here to continue reading non-paywalled Bob Dylan Q&A about “The Philosophy of Modern Song” | The Official Bob Dylan Site.)

I lost track of Ronnie James Dio’s solo career after his first two LPs, so I don’t know if he ever played Stargazer live. But in my mind, this epic song is from the band that Dio was the singer and lyricist for, Rainbow, for a couple of records, including Rising, and is a favorite of mine as well. The band was really Ritchie Blackmore’s, he gets co-credit on Stargazer. Ronnie James Dio’s operatic voice is the star, as is usually the case.

Here’s a YouTube version

I can see why Bob Dylan is a fan, there are some religious undertones to the lyric, as well as some subtext of rock star hubris. Or maybe Bob just appreciates Dio’s powerful voice? Or maybe they hung out in New York? Who knows.

The Dianne Feinstein Problem

Meet Me At The Corner Of The Sun

The Democratic Party has a Dianne Feinstein problem that they still haven’t solved. Several reports over the last few years have noted that Senator Feinstein is having cognitive issues, forgetting people and events, and generally displaying symptoms of some form of dementia. But she has not admitted to such, nor has she said anything publicly about resigning.

The other Senator from California, Alex Padilla was appointed to Kamala Harris’ seat by Gavin Newsom, then won his subsequent special election. The process needs to repeat so that a younger, mentally agile Democrat can serve in Feinstein’s place.

I assume there is furious lobbying behind the scenes, and that the political calculation includes demographic considerations. I don’t know California politics well, is there a black woman who has good name recognition, besides Karen Bass? Barbara Lee?

Adam Schiff seems to have the gravitas and name recognition, but who knows what his relationship with Governor Newsom is? Same with Ro Khanna, and for that matter, Katie Porter, though she barely squeeked out a victory in her latest campaign.

Senator Feinstein’s term expires in 2024, will she resign before then? Perhaps they are waiting until there isn’t much activity on the Senate Docket? The extra vote might help pass something, especially now that Senator Kyrsten Sinema has left the Democratic party…

NYT Walkout

The New York Times staff is on a one-day walkout, and I realize I’ve been reading some of that paper every day since school days – UTexas had a subsidized version that was close to free, then they launched their website without paywall, etc. Lots of muscle memory, but I support the workers more than the owners, so I can skip a day or two.

Democrats ditch Manchin’s dirty deal after opposition from climate activists

Satanic Gift

Public pressure still works, sometimes.

The Guardian reports:

The proposal to attach [Joe Manchin’s] bill [that would weaken environmental protections and fast-track energy projects] to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual appropriations bill that will be voted on later this week, was reportedly supported by Joe Biden and House leader Nancy Pelosi.

But progressive lawmakers and hundreds of climate, public health and youth groups opposed the move to pass such consequential reforms without proper scrutiny. Manchin’s legislation would weaken environmental safeguards and expedite permits to construct pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure while restricting public input and legal challenges.

On Tuesday, more than 750 organizations sent a letter to the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and congressional leadership opposing what they call a “cruel and direct attack on environmental justice communities”. Attaching the “dirty deal” to the NDAA, which would have been one of Pelosi’s final acts as speaker, threatened her legacy and the party’s climate credibility, the groups said.

The deal was ditched – for now at least – amid mounting criticism aimed at the Democratic leadership.

(click here to continue reading Democrats ditch Manchin’s ‘dirty deal’ after opposition from climate activists | Joe Manchin | The Guardian.)

Top US conservatives pushing Russia’s spin on Ukraine war

3/4 of a Kennedy Trumps 1/2 a Reagan

Ronald Reagan, George Bush The Smarter, and other Cold Warriors must be furiously spinning in their graves over this turn by current Republicans.

The Guardian reports:

Ever since Russia launched its brutal war in Ukraine the Kremlin has banked on American conservative political and media allies to weaken US support for Ukraine and deployed disinformation operations to falsify the horrors of the war for both US and Russian audiences, say disinformation experts.

Some of the Kremlin’s most blatant falsehoods about the war aimed at undercutting US aid for Ukraine have been promoted by major figures on the American right, from Holocaust denier and white supremacist Nick Fuentes to ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon and Fox News star Tucker Carlson, whose audience of millions is deemed especially helpful to Russian objectives.

On a more political track, House Republican Freedom Caucus members such as Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Scott Perry – who in May voted with 54 other Republican members against a $40bn aid package for Ukraine, and have raised other concerns about the war – have proved useful, though perhaps unwitting, Kremlin allies at times.

(click here to continue reading Top US conservatives pushing Russia’s spin on Ukraine war, experts say | The far right | The Guardian.)

House January 6 committee has decided to make criminal referrals, chairman says

The Government Should Fear Its People Not Vice Versa

Wow!

CNN Politics reports:

The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol has decided to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, the panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, told reporters Tuesday.

Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said the committee has not narrowed down the universe of individuals who may be referred.

Asked whether Thompson believed any witnesses perjured themselves, he said, “that’s part of the discussion.”

(click here to continue reading House January 6 committee has decided to make criminal referrals, chairman says | CNN Politics.)

Unexpected, actually, because usually Democrats don’t ever go for the jugular. We’ll remain cautiously optimistic that some insurrectionists see jail time, as they should.

Real ID Deadline for Domestic Fliers is Extended Yet Again

Who will have the courage to end this Bush-era overreaction to the 9/11 attack?

You Keep It Weird

Debra Kamin, NYT reports:

After years of delays, security-enhanced driver’s licenses and other updated identification requirements were set to be mandatory next spring. Now the government is giving you another two years.

The 2005 Real ID Act, which mandates that U.S. travelers must carry more than a standard driver’s license to board a domestic flight, was set to go into effect on May 3, 2023. But on Monday, after some 15 years of delays, the Department of Homeland Security pushed the deadline for enforcement by an additional 24 months. Travelers now have until May 7, 2025, to update their documents.

The Real ID Act is a post-Sept. 11 law that requires U.S. travelers flying within the United States to show Transportation Security Administration agents either a security-enhanced driver’s license or another T.S.A.-approved form of identification like a passport. When the act eventually goes into effect, a state driver’s license that does not contain a Real ID seal will no longer be accepted at airport security checkpoints across the country.

(click here to continue reading Real ID Deadline for Domestic Fliers is Extended. Again. at The New York Times.)