[syndicated profile] volokh_conspiracy_feed

Posted by Orin Kerr

I have often blogged about the two-step process for executing computer warrants. (Indeed, I did so as recently as this morning.) On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit suggested that the Fourth Amendment may impose significant limits on the two-step process in the specific context of search warrants for social media accounts. The case is United States v. Blake.

In Blake, two defendants, Dontavious Blake and Tara Jo Moore, were allegedly running a prostitution ring. The government obtained search warrants for Microsoft email accounts Blake and Moore used, as well as for the contents of Moore’s Facebook account. The email warrants required Microsoft to go through the accounts and find emails responsive to the warrant and turn only those over. The Facebook warrants required Facebook to hand over the full contents of the account and to then let the agents search it for the evidence of crime.

In an opinion by Judge Ed Carnes, the 11th Circuit concluded that the Microsoft warrants satisfied the Fourth Amendment but suggested that the Facebook warrants may not. Here’s the court rejecting Moore’s email warrant challenge:

The Microsoft warrant [for Moore’s e-mail account] complied with the particularity requirement. It limited the emails to be turned over to the government, ensuring that only those that had the potential to contain incriminating evidence would be disclosed. Those limitations prevented “a general, exploratory rummaging” through Moore’s email correspondence. The Microsoft warrant was okay.

In a footnote, the court added:

It is somewhat troubling that the Microsoft warrant did not limit the emails sought to emails sent or received within the time period of Moore’s suspected participation in the conspiracy. Nevertheless, the warrant was appropriately limited in scope because it sought only discrete categories of emails that were connected to the alleged crimes. As a result, the lack of a time limitation did not render the warrant unconstitutional.

The court then suggested that the two-stage Facebook warrants may have violated the Fourth Amendment, although the court did not rule on the issue because the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied. From the opinion:

The Facebook warrants are another matter. They required disclosure to the government of virtually every kind of data that could be found in a social media account. See p. 4, above. And unnecessarily so. With respect to private instant messages, for example, the warrants could have limited the request to messages sent to or from persons suspected at that time of being prostitutes or customers.

And the warrants should have requested data only from the period of time during which Moore was suspected of taking part in the prostitution conspiracy. Disclosures consistent with those limitations might then have provided probable cause for a broader, although still targeted, search of Moore’s Facebook account. That procedure would have undermined any claim that the Facebook warrants were the internet-era version of a “general warrant.” See Coolidge, 403 U.S. at 467, 91 S. Ct. at 2038; cf. Riley v. California, 573 U.S. __, 134 S. Ct. 2473, 2488–91 (2014) (“The sum of an individual’s private life can be reconstructed through a thousand photographs labeled with dates, locations, and descriptions …”).

We are not convinced that the cases the government relies on, which involve seizing an entire hard drive located in the defendant’s home and then later searching it at the government’s offices, are applicable in the social media account context. See, e.g., United States v. Evers, 669 F.3d 645, 652 (6th Cir. 2012); United States v. Stabile, 633 F.3d 219, 234 (3d Cir. 2011). The means of hiding evidence on a hard drive — obscure folders, misnamed files, encrypted data — are not currently possible in the context of a Facebook account. Hard drive searches require time-consuming electronic forensic investigation with special equipment, and conducting that kind of search in the defendant’s home would be impractical, if not impossible. By contrast, when it comes to Facebook account searches, the government need only send a request with the specific data sought and Facebook will respond with precisely that data. See generally Information for Law Enforcement Authorities, Facebook, http://bit.ly/QkrAHX (last visited July 27, 2017). That procedure does not appear to be impractical for Facebook or for the government. Facebook produced data in response to over 9500 search warrants in the six-month period between July and December 2015. United States Law Enforcement Requests for Data, Facebook, http://bit.ly/2aICDHg (last visited July 27, 2017).

This is technically only dicta — the court didn’t officially rule on the question — as the good-faith exception applied and the court didn’t need to decide exactly where the Fourth Amendment line is:

While the warrants may have violated the particularity requirement, whether they did is not an open-and-shut matter; it is a close enough question that the warrants were not “so facially deficient” that the FBI agents who executed them could not have reasonably believed them to be valid.

As dicta, though, I wonder if matters are as simple as the 11th Circuit thinks. The court writes:

The government need only send a request with the specific data sought and Facebook will respond with precisely that data. See generally Information for Law Enforcement Authorities, Facebook, http://bit.ly/QkrAHX (last visited July 27, 2017).

The absence of a pincite or parenthetical is telling here. Facebook’s guide for law enforcement authorities is just a pretty generic four-page summary of the Stored Communications Act. It doesn’t discuss Facebook’s ability to screen through data and find the information responsive to a warrant.

Granted, some limits — such as date restrictions — are easy to apply. But consider the 11th Circuit’s suggestion that “the warrants could have limited the request to messages sent to or from persons suspected at that time of being prostitutes or customers.” How is Facebook supposed to know which messages are from people suspected of being prostitutes or customers? Is the warrant supposed to give Facebook a list of specific suspected prostitutes and customers, such that only messages to and from them (from Facebook accounts known in advance, I gather) can be legally turned over to the government? If so, that seems problematic to me. The point of a warrant is to discover evidence in the place to be searched. I don’t see why relevant evidence involving then-unknown suspects or customers should be off-limits.

I’m reminded of the litigation back in 2014 reviewing Magistrate Judge John Facciola’s ruling that had suggested Internet providers could do the screening for emails responsive to email warrants. The district court rejected Facciola’s approach, ending the litigation. In any event, it will be interesting to see how Facebook and other providers respond to the suggestions in the 11th Circuit’s opinion.

Finally, I think we can see the Blake opinion and Friday’s D.C. Circuit opinion in Griffith as reflecting significant interest among judges concerning how to limit the scope of computer warrants. Both of them are suggesting limits, although neither are all that clear on what the limits are. I agree with the judges’ apparent goal, certainly, although the key question is how to get there. You can read here and here for my views for how best to do it.

(no subject)

Aug. 22nd, 2017 01:21 pm
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
[personal profile] alexseanchai
The blood bank emailed me: A+ donors needed. (Guess my blood type.) It has in fact been over eight weeks since I donated last.

Problem: I am fucking moving. I do not have enough physical cope as it is. Blood donation knocks me the fuck over!

jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack

Scott wrote another short story. As is usually the case, it's intriguing but there's also much to critique :) The aliens in the story develop great technology, and build an ansible out of negative average preference utilitarianism.

I have a lot of different thoughts inspired by this story. I don't think it's the sort of story where knowing what happens is a problem for reading it, but I will cut a detailed discussion just in case.

Spoilers )

(no subject)

Aug. 22nd, 2017 11:57 am
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
[personal profile] alexseanchai
I need extra hands around here. Preferably attached to strong arms, steely spines, and sturdy legs, with a head on those shoulders that can intuit what I need to happen better than I can either intuit or explain the things.

In lieu of this (because TELEPORTER!!! *shakes fist*, and also all my immediate family are Occupied Elsewhere today):

Would any y'all who believe in and understand how to accomplish the "sending healing energy over a distance" thing please do the thing for me? Not necessarily healing, though I wouldn't exactly say no to that; strength, resilience, anything that you have to spare at the moment and that you think I could use in order to get all my stuff moving-ready and the apartment sparkly clean. Protective and cleansing energies would also be welcome.

If you want to do a trade, drop me a comment with a prompt: a single word, a brief phrase, a song lyric, an evocative image. After I'm all moved, I'll stitch all the prompts into a story and post it for all y'all to see. :)

My upcoming speaking engagements

Aug. 22nd, 2017 03:05 pm
[syndicated profile] volokh_conspiracy_feed

Posted by Ilya Somin

For readers who may be interested, here are my upcoming speaking engagements for the next several months. All are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

August 28, Cato Institute, Washington DC, 6:30-7:30 PM: panel on “The Politics of Game of Thrones.” Other participants include Alyssa Rosenberg (Washington Post), Peter Suderman (Reason), and Matthew Yglesias (Vox). Registration and additional information is available here.

September 1, American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, 2-3:30 PM: “How the Size and Scope of Government Undermines the Rule of Law,” panel on “Challenges to the Rule of Law.” Other participants include Daniel Barnhizer (Michigan State, moderator), Laurence Claus (University of San Diego), Daniel Lowenstein (UCLA), and Deanell Tacha (Pepperdine). This event is only open to paying participants in the APSA conference.

September 8, Cornell Law School, Ithaca, NY, noon-1:30 PM: Panel on the travel ban case currently before the Supreme Court. Other participants are Michael Dorf (Cornell Law School) and Eric Posner (University of Chicago Law School). This event is co-sponsored by Cornell Law School, the Federalist Society, and the American Constitution Society.

September 21, University of Baltimore School of Law, Baltimore, MD, noon to 1:15 PM. “Federalism and Sanctuary Cities.” With commentary by Prof. Garrett Epps of the University of Baltimore. Sponsored by the University of Baltimore Federalist Society.

September 28, University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, noon-1 PM (tentative time): “Eminent Domain and the Border Wall.” Second speaker TBA. Co-sponsored by the University of Arizona Federalist Society, the Native American Law Student Association and the Indigenous People Law and Policy Program.

November 9, North Carolina State University, School of Public and International Affairs, Raleigh, NC, time TBA: Talk on constitutional property rights. More details of this event will be forthcoming.

November 16, Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention, Washington, DC, 11:45 AM-1:30 PM. Panel on potential cross-idoelogical cooperation on federalism. Other participants include Prof. John McGinnis (Northwestern University) and two others TBD. This even is only open to paying attendees of the Federalist Society Convention, though members of the media are usually able to attend for free.

(no subject)

Aug. 22nd, 2017 08:03 am
baranduin: (Default)
[personal profile] baranduin
Thinking of a story where all the gods/demons/etc. exist but no one is interested any more. I remember Star Trek had the Apollo episode that I used to watch obsessively. Any book or film recs for that kind of story? How do gods deal with rejection? Maybe some like it, gets them away from all that smiting and stuff. I bet the AO3 has some from the Yuletide collections. Probably a bunch of coffee shop AUs lol.

Good morning.
[syndicated profile] volokh_conspiracy_feed

Posted by Orin Kerr

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit handed down an important computer search case Friday, United States v. Griffith. The case is about computer search warrants, and specifically whether they can authorize a seizure of all devices that investigators discover that might contain the evidence sought. The frustrating part of the opinion is that there are a few different ways to interpret it, and I’m not sure which way is right. I thought I would explain why the case is important, why I’m not sure how to interpret it, and how it is in tension with other decisions.

I. The Facts

The facts of the case are simple. The police obtained a search warrant to search the home of a gang member suspected of involvement in a homicide. The warrant permitted the government to seize electronic storage devices in the home. The thinking was that gang members share a lot of information about their crimes, and that information was likely to be on their electronic devices such as their cellphones. When the agents went to the house to execute the warrant, the defendant saw the police coming and tossed a gun out the window.

The agents executed the warrant and seized six cellphones and a tablet computer in addition to the tossed gun. At that point, the case turned into a gun case instead of a homicide or computer search case. The government charged Griffith with being a felon in possession of a firearm. It has not brought any charges relating to the cellphones or tablet computer, which were not introduced into evidence in the case.

In the new decision, authored by Judge Srinivasan and joined by Judge Pillard, the court suppresses the gun because the warrant for electronic storage devices lacked probable cause and was overbroad. Discovery of the gun was the fruit of the unconstitutional warrant search, the court reasons, so the gun is suppressed. Judge Brown dissented, reasoning that the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule should apply.

Srinivasan’s opinion identifies two fundamental flaws with the warrant. First, the warrant lacked probable cause because the affidavit did not provide sufficient basis to conclude that evidence of the crime would be in the home. In particular, there wasn’t specific reason to think the defendant had a phone or computer; there wasn’t specific reason the person’s cellphones or computer would be in the home; and there wasn’t sufficient reason to think any phones or computers in the home had evidence of that crime. I find the first point quite unpersuasive but the latter two points plausible. I have some quibbles with this part of the opinion, but it seems pretty fact-specific.

II. The Important Reasoning in the Alternative Holding

It’s the alternative holding that strikes me as really important. In the next part of the opinion, the court rules that the warrant was also defective because it allowed the government to seize all devices found in the place to be searched. According to Srinivasan, the police could seize only specific devices, not all of them. Here’s the analysis:

The warrant in this case authorized police to search for and seize “all electronic devices to include but not limited to cellular telephone(s), computer(s), electronic tablet(s), devices capable of storing digital images (to include, but not limited to, PDAs, CDs, DVD’s [and] jump/zip drives).” A. 36. . . . [T]he warrant did not stop with any devices owned by Griffith, which already would have gone too far. It broadly authorized seizure of all cell phones and electronic devices, without regard to ownership. That expansive sweep far outstripped the police’s proffered justification for entering the home—viz., to recover any devices owned by Griffith.

Indeed, the terms of the warrant allowed officers unfettered access to any electronic device in the apartment even if police knew the device belonged to someone other than Griffith. He shared the apartment with Lewis, his girlfriend, and the warrant authorized police to search for and seize all of her electronic devices. For instance, if officers executing the warrant had seen Lewis using her cell phone in her apartment, the warrant would have authorized them to seize that phone. Yet the police unsurprisingly offered no explanation of why Lewis’s devices could have been appropriately seized.

The warrant’s overbreadth is particularly notable because police sought to seize otherwise lawful objects: electronic devices. Courts have allowed more latitude in connection with searches for contraband items like “weapons [or] narcotics.” Stanford, 379 U.S. at 486 (internal quotation marks omitted). But the understanding is different when police seize “innocuous” objects. See Andresen v. Maryland, 427 U.S. 463,
482 n.11 (1976). Those circumstances call for special “care to assure [the search is] conducted in a manner that minimizes unwarranted intrusions upon privacy.” Id.; see also 2 LaFave, Search & Seizure § 4.6(d).

Of course, even with searches of lawful objects, we may allow a broader sweep when a reasonable investigation cannot produce a more particular description. See Andresen, 427 U.S. at 480 n.10. There may be circumstances in which police have probable cause to seize a phone, yet still lack specific information about the phone’s make or model. For example, police might learn a suspect uses a phone through an informant, and thus have no ability to describe the specific characteristics of any phone belonging to him. In that sort of situation, we recognize that some innocuous devices would need to “be examined, at least cursorily,” to determine their relevance to the investigation. Id. at 482 n.11.

But even then, it is no answer to confer a blanket authorization to search for and seize all electronic devices. The warrant must be tailored to the justifications for entering the home. In this case, the warrant should have limited the scope of permissible seizure to devices owned by Griffith, or devices linked to the shooting. The Department of Justice in fact encourages use of that sort of approach in certain situations. See Office of Legal Educ., Searching and Seizing Computers and Obtaining Electronic Evidence in Criminal Investigations, Crim. Div., Dep’t of Justice 69-72 (2015), https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/criminal-ccips/legacy/2015/01/14/ssmanual2009.pdf.

Such a warrant would have enabled police to sweep more broadly when executing the search, but would have disabled them from seizing devices plainly unrelated to the crime. Officers, for example, could have examined a device they initially thought might belong to Griffith, but they could not have seized the device if they became aware it belonged to Lewis. That sort of approach would “minimize[] unwarranted
intrusions upon privacy.” Andresen, 427 U.S. at 482 n.11.

The government does not deny that the warrant in this case would be invalid insofar as it authorized the seizure of all devices found in the apartment without regard to ownership. The government instead argues that, for various reasons, the warrant should be read more narrowly. We find those arguments unpersuasive. . . .

Nor does the government allay our concerns by suggesting it would have attempted to determine which of the seized devices in fact belonged to Griffith and would have sought a separate warrant to search the contents of those — and only those — devices. As an initial matter, the warrant, according to its terms, seemingly would have authorized police to search any electronic devices in the residence. At the federal level, Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41 provides that, “[u]nless otherwise specified,” a warrant authorizing seizure of electronic storage media also “authorizes a later review of the media or information consistent with the warrant.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(e)(2)(B). The warrant here included no express limitations on agents’ authority to examine any electronic devices seized. To the extent the officers showed restraint when executing the search, “this restraint was imposed by the
agents themselves, not by a judicial officer.” Groh, 540 U.S. at 561 (internal quotation marks omitted).

In any event, our holding does not turn on whether the police had the power to search the devices’ digital contents. The police lacked probable cause to seize all electronic devices in the home in the first place. The warrant was invalidly overbroad in enabling officers to do so.

III. Some background on computer search and seizure

To understand the significance of Griffith, it helps to know some background principles of computer search and seizure law. Computer searches are generally executed in two steps. The idea is that when the government establishes probable cause to believe that there is evidence of a crime in the place to be searched that might be stored in a computer, there is no practical way to search the computers found on site to figure out which ones contain the evidence sought. It just takes too long. Given that, courts have allowed the government to seize all the electronic storage devices found onsite and to take them back to the government’s lab for analysis. It’s an overseizure, the thinking runs, but there’s no practical way to avoid that. It’s the least bad way to make sure the government can search for the evidence under the warrant, so it is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

As I wrote in a 2005 article, “Search Warrants in an Era of Digital Evidence,” this creates a puzzle for how to draft computer warrants. The question is, should the particular description of the thing to be seized refer to what is seized at the physical search stage (when all computers will have to be seized), or should it refer to what is seized at the electronic search stage (when the seized computers are searched for the specific information to be seized)?

Each answer has problems. If the warrant uses the particular description at the physical search stage, then the warrant doesn’t seem to offer any guidance about what the police will look for at the electronic search stage and can be overbroad because it’s not guiding the electronic search stage. If the warrant uses the particular description at the electronic search stage, then the government isn’t saying what it is seizing at the physical search stage and its execution will be broader than the warrant permits on its face. To avoid these problems, I recommended that computer warrants should particularly describe the item to be seized at both the physical and electronic search stages. That way, the warrant explicitly covers what is happening at both steps.

The caselaw has so far been too deferential to the government to require my approach, however. Courts have approved warrants that just describe the evidence to be seized at the electronic search stage, reasoning that the overseizure at the physical search stage is implicit in the two-step warrant method and is reasonable. Courts have also approved warrants that just describe the evidence to be seized at the physical search stage, reasoning that the warrant should be read as implicitly only allowing the physical computers to be searched for the specific evidence sought at the electronic search stage.

IV. Three views of the Griffith case

Okay, enough background. Let’s go back to the Griffith case. I’m not sure what to make of the critical alternative holding because different parts of the opinion seem to be hinting at three different rationales. I’ll cover each in turn.

First, parts of the alternative holding seem to be saying that the government erred by describing the things to be seized only at the physical search stage. The warrant said that the government could seize all electronic storage devices. But the warrant didn’t say what it could search the computers for at the electronic search stage, suggesting that they could be searched for anything without limitation — which would be too broad. See Slip Op. at 20 (“The warrant here included no express limitations on agents’ authority to examine any electronic devices seized.”) Most courts have gone out of their way to read such warrants as implicitly being limited to searching devices for specific evidence. See, e.g., United States v. Burgess, 576 F.3d 1078 (10th Cir. 2009) (construing warrant that authorized seizure of “all computer records” as implicitly limiting a search of computer records to drug trafficking records).

From that perspective, maybe Griffith is just being less forgiving in terms of the two-stage warrant process than cases such as Burgess. If that’s the right reading of the case, it makes Griffith important but also something that is easy to draft around. For example, maybe the solution is something like the explicit two-stage particularity description I recommended in 2005. I tend to think that’s the most plausible reading of the opinion. But I’m not sure.

Second, parts of the alternative holding seem to be imposing a limit on overseizure at the physical search stage. That is, parts of the opinion seem to be saying that overseizure itself isn’t permitted: The government can’t take phones that aren’t likely to have the sought-after evidence on them. If any phone has the evidence, it’s likely to be Griffith’s phone. Maybe the court is saying that the government can’t plan to seize all devices when some devices are more likely to have evidence on them than others.

From that perspective, Griffith may be a bigger deal. Maybe it is pushing back against the established caselaw allowing the overseizure at the physical search stage. If the court is taking that view, I should add, I think it is wrong: I happen to think that overseizure is necessary and that courts should allow it, because you never know where the electronic evidence might be. See the details in this recent article. But I’m not sure the court is making that argument.

Finally, a third reading of Griffith‘s alternative holding is that the case reflects an odd way to tie probable cause and particularity. The ordinary way that warrants work is that the affidavit offers reason to think evidence might be in the place to be searched. Warrants then allow a search of that place for the evidence. Parts of Griffith suggest a narrower view, that maybe the government has to focus its search based on the most plausible theory for where the evidence might be. In particular, the idea that the government could seize only a phone that belonged to Griffith seems peculiar to me. If the government established probable cause to believe there were records of the crime in the apartment, who cares if those records are on a phone that “belongs” to Griffith or stored in some other device?

In particular, it’s not clear to me why the court thinks only a phone that belongs to Griffith could be seized. The court writes: “Officers, for example, could have examined a device they initially thought might belong to Griffith, but they could not have seized the device if they became aware it belonged to Lewis.” But that makes no sense to me. Griffith might have used Lewis’s phone. He may have used a bunch of different phones. Or there may be messages about the crime on someone else’s phone, such as messages Griffith sent to Lewis that are stored on her phone.

It’s true that the affidavit doesn’t give specific reason to think those are the case. But I don’t see how that is relevant. The point of an affidavit is to establish probable cause that evidence is in the place to be searched, not to establish probable cause about specifically where in the place to be searched the evidence will be. The government ordinarily can search anywhere in the place to be searched for the evidence sought regardless of what containers it must open: “A lawful search of fixed premises generally extends to the entire area in which the object of the search may be found, and is not limited by the possibility that separate acts of entry or opening may be required to complete the search.” United States v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798, 820-21 (1982). Under that traditional principle, it just doesn’t matter who owns the property searched so long as it is found in the place to be searched. See Wyoming v. Houghton, 526 U.S. 295, 303 (1999) (“[N]either Ross itself nor the historical evidence it relied upon admits of a distinction among packages or containers based on ownership.”).

V. Concluding thoughts

I’m curious to know whether readers who made it through the opinion have a good sense of which of the three rationales named above is driving the court’s alternative holding. It’s totally possible that is clear to others, so a sense of where the crowd of readers is on this question would be very helpful.

Two additional thoughts. First, the good faith analysis for the exclusionary rule part of the opinion doesn’t seem like a particularly strong match for the claimed overbreadth defect in the warrant. The probable cause defect is at least a causal link to the warrant: Without probable cause, the government couldn’t get a warrant. And without a warrant, the government wouldn’t have approached the house and wouldn’t have seen Griffith toss the gun. I’m not sure the lack of probable cause makes suppression appropriate under the good faith exception, but it’s a debatable issue.

With the overbreadth defect, however, the claimed defect is completely unrelated to the discovery of the evidence. When Griffith saw the police coming and tossed the gun out the window, he had no idea how the warrant was drafted. Given that exclusionary rule caselaw generally requires a causal link between the constitutional defect and suppression of evidence, see Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U.S. 586, 592 (2006), I don’t quite see how suppression is appropriate for that particular defect.

Finally, the briefing and opinion suggest in some places that the government planned on getting a second warrant to search the devices. I have heard secondhand that some magistrate judges prefer to execute the two-stage computer warrant process using two different warrants. First, the magistrate judges sign a warrant for the physical seizure of the devices that doesn’t authorize an electronic search of them. Next, the magistrate judge signs a second warrant, for specific devices, that authorize an electronic search. Using two warrants to do the work of one warrant makes no sense to me. To the extent Griffith may reflect the D.C. Circuit’s rejection of the two-warrant approach some magistrate judges apparently favor, that seems like an unobjectionable development.

Bird help

Aug. 22nd, 2017 05:33 pm
roga: coffee mug with chocolate cubes (Default)
[personal profile] roga
Why google this forever when I have actual North Americans who can help me with this stuff. Can anyone tell me what these birds are? I am assuming that all four are cardinals - 3 males and 1 female - but I would appreciate confirmations/alternatives.

under cut to spare you )

ETA confirmed :)
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
[personal profile] alexseanchai
*waves to somebody who may not wish to be named* So many coffees! Thank you!

Can someone—who has got more brain to think of google terms than I have presently got—point me at moving-out checklists? Apartment-departing–specific if possible?
spiralsheep: Woman blowing heart-shaped bubbles (Bubble Rainbow)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
- Rainbow over the Westward Ho beached on Ynys Echni, aka Flat Holm, in the Bristol Channel.

Rainbow over the Westward Ho beached on Ynys Echni, Flat Holm, Bristol Channel 10-16

Rainbow seen from Ynys Echni, Flat Holm, Bristol Channel 10-16

- Historical reconstructionist Paganism: good to see that the wolf named Hater didn't eat the Sun woman, "the sky's bright bride", in the US yesterday and I'm amused that the small percentage of neo-Pagans who're also neo-nazis were supposed to spend the day acknowledging and celebrating the victory of enlightenment over hate and haters, lol. I hope y'all enjoyed the lightshow!

- Kickass Drag Queen, starring Bob the Drag Queen, seems to be turning into an ongoing comic? The original pilot story about saving Pocket Gay (8pg), and the first episode in which there's a plot to make basic straight girls everywhere feel insecure, pt1 (9pg) and pt2 (9pg), lol especially at the pilot ep.

- Reading, books 2017: 85.

80. Bramton Wick, by Elizabeth Fair, 1952, novel (strictly probably a novella). A lightly observant account of a limited rural social circle with the sort of people who mostly don't have to work to earn their living, think four bedroomed houses are poky, and have hired domestic help even post war. As my faithful readers will have inferred from the title of this book there are lesbians within, although Miss Tiger Garrett is a marginally more subtle stereotype than Angela Thirkell's 1940 debut Miss Hampton. Her partner is Miss Bunty Selbourne and they breed dogs like all good middle class 1950s English lesbians (no reform school for these two, lol) although, disappointingly, the story reveals they have separate bedrooms. Unusually well-paced and structured for a first novel imo, which is especially difficult to achieve in a story relying much more on social observation than plot. Thanks to slemslempike for the rec. (3.5/5, goodreads = 21 ratings / 4 reviews 4/5)

ST:TNG First and Last Seasons

Aug. 22nd, 2017 07:57 am
[syndicated profile] file770_feed

Posted by Mike Glyer

Curated by Carl Slaughter: (1) Next Generation cast on what they took and tried to take from the set after the series wrapped. (2) Denise Crosby on why she left Next Generation after one season. (3) Gates McFadden on why … Continue reading

Deadline has passed

Aug. 21st, 2017 11:43 pm
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[personal profile] evil_plotbunny posting in [community profile] fic_corner
I've got three pinch hits to send out tomorrow morning which will have a due date of the evening of 25 August. Assume sometime after 11pm EDT but I can't be exact as I'll be traveling. I'm also still looking for a pinch hitter for pinch hit. There are also still some writers who requested an extension, so if you don't have a story and your prompts don't go out tomorrow morning, don't worry.

Feel free to edit your stories between now and reveals on 28 August. Or write treats for any prompt that catches your eye.
[syndicated profile] file770_feed

Posted by Mike Glyer

(1) HELP COMING FOR INDIE AUTHORS. Brian Keene, in the August 17 episode of his podcast The Horror Show, mentioned a new resource for librarians. Dann explains: Small press and indie authors face the double problems of getting bookstores to … Continue reading

(no subject)

Aug. 21st, 2017 09:57 pm
skygiants: storybook page of a duck wearing a pendant, from Princess Tutu; text 'mukashi mukashi' (mukashi mukashi)
[personal profile] skygiants
A couple months ago I was talking with my roommate about the new Anne of Green Gables TV series (I have not seen it, she had opinions about it) which led to us reminiscing about Other L.M. Montgomery Books We Had Known, which led to me last weekend rereading The Story Girl and The Golden Road.

I was actually much more attached to these books than I ever was to Anne -- they're about an extended group of cousins who have very wholesome adventures together. The cousins include:

Beverly, Our Narrator, most notable for his mildly purple narration and deeply sentimental soul
Felix, his little brother, who is Fat and Sensitive About It
Felicity, who is Very Beautiful and Very Prosaic and also Extremely Bossy, like Lucy from Peanuts if she also looked like Elizabeth Taylor
Cecily, who is Very Good and Very Serious and probably also Doomed to Die Young Like Good Children Do
Dan, Felicity and Cecily's brother, who is an Annoying Brother
Sara Ray, who lives down the road and cries all the time
Peter, who is But a Hired Boy but Clever and Talented and also In Love With Felicity
and, of course, Sara Stanley the Story Girl, who is not pretty but interesting, and has a spellbindingly beautiful voice, and is prone to stopping in the middle of any given conversation to announce that she knows a story that has some vague relation to the topic at hand and will then proceed to relate that story come hell or high water, which: oh god, of course I imprinted on these books as a kid, because I of course do the exact same thing, except without any vestige of a spellbindingly beautiful voice, and also instead of 'I know a tragic story about our uncle's great-aunt's wedding' my version is usually 'I read a book once in which somebody banged a griffin.' But, much like the Story Girl, once I get started on an anecdote of this kind there is very little chance of stopping me. I apologize to anybody who has suffered from this.

ANYWAY. Fortunately, the other kids (with the occasional exception of Felicity) never get fed up with the Story Girl and are always glad to hear an entertaining anecdote about the minister's cousin's grandmother or whatever the topic of discussion is that day.

The kids also get into normal turn-of-the-century-Canadian kid stuff, like pretending to be ministers, or freaking out because the local old-lady-who-might-be-a-witch sat in their pew at church, or panicking that it might be the Day of Judgment. Normal turn-of-the-century-Canadian kid stuff centers very prominently on appropriate church behavior, as it turns out. L.M. Montgomery's world is composed of Methodists and Lutherans and that's about it. I don't remember this being weird for me as an emphatically-not-Christian youth but it is slightly retroactively weird for me now.

Other notable things that happen in The Story Girl and The Golden Road:
- Dan eats poison berries because Felicity tells him he would be an idiot to eat the poison berries, nearly dies, then goes back and eats more poison berries because Felicity made the mistake of saying she told him so
- Cecily the Very Sweet and Very Good is mean to exactly one person in both books, a boy in her class who conceives a terrible crush on her and will not leave her alone despite multiple stated requests until she publicly humiliates him in class, which she ruthlessly does; a good lesson
- The Story Girl gives a great and instantly recognizable description of synesthesia without ever actually using the word
- The Story Girl befriends a desperately shy neighbor who is known as the Awkward Man, "because he is so awkward," our narrator Bev helpfully explains
- the Awkward Man is later revealed to have a secret room in his house containing women's clothing, which, the Story Girl explains, is because he's spent years buying things for an imaginary girlfriend - and, I mean, far be it from me to question the Story Girl! but some grad student could probably get a real good paper on gender and sexuality in turn-of-the-century children's lit out of this is all I'm saying
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

The theme of today's post:  MSM chǎomiàn / Cant. caau2min6  trad. 炒麵 / simpl. 炒面 ("fried noodles").

When I was a wee lad growing up in East Canton (formerly Osnaburg; population about a thousand), Ohio, all that I knew of Chinese food came out of cans, and it was branded either as La Choy or Chun King.  The noodles were short, brown, hard, and crunchy, the vegetables were rather tasteless (with mung bean sprouts predominating and plenty of somewhat rubbery sliced mushrooms), all in a mucilaginous matrix of thick, starchy sauce.  But it was a lot of fun to prepare and eat because of the way it came in three cans and was so very exotic — not like the daily fare of meat, potatoes, peas, beans, and bread favored by Midwesterners.  Oh, and the watery, caramel colored soy sauce was so cloyingly salty.

The only exception was that once a year our Mom would alternate taking one of the seven siblings to the big city of Canton (population about eighty thousand) five miles to the west and would treat us to a Chinese restaurant meal.  I think the owners were the only Chinese in the city.  The two things that impressed me most were how dark and mysterious the room was in the unmarked, old house where the restaurant was located and how the egg foo young (and I just loved the sound of that name!), which was so much better than the canned chicken chow mein we ate at home, was served to us on a fancy, footed platter with a silver cover.  It was always a very special moment when the waiter uncovered the egg foo young and I smelled its extraordinary aroma.

Here's a description of an intrepid foodie preparing and eating today's version of La Choy's Chicken Chow Mein, which is still apparently "available at supermarkets everywhere":

La Choy’s chow mein dinner comes in three separate cans. Following the instructions faithfully I first heated the chicken and gravy mixture from one can in the microwave for two minutes, stirring in between. Right off the bat, the gelatinous concoction began making popping sounds, like it was exploding. While that was going on, I opened the can of vegetables—carrots, water chestnuts, etc.—drained them in a colander, then mixed them in with the chicken and gravy once they were done. This combo gets heated for three minutes, or until hot. Then you sprinkle on the dry noodles, which come in a can of their own.

Digging in, I found the dish unbelievably bland. The vegetables, such as they were, were indistinguishable from each other. The chicken was fairly unrecognizable as chicken, too. The noodles were the best part by far: dark, even burned-looking, deliciously crispy. An hour or so later, alas, I “had to go to the bathroom.” Badly. And, I can’t help thinking it was mainly because of the chow mein feast. Either my constitution is much more delicate than when I was a kid—or La Choy just ain’t no Chun King.

That's from "Bygone Bites: A Review of La Choy’s Chow Mein:  Glenn and Carol do a side-by-side critique of these canned fake-Asian noodles. Cue the nostalgia." Carol Shih [and Glenn Hunter], D Magazine (3/4/14)

Here are some interesting facts about La Choy:

The company was founded in 1922 by Dr. Ilhan New (유일한), later founder of Yuhan Corporation in South Korea; and Wally Smith from the University of Michigan. The first product, canned mung bean sprouts, was originally sold in Smith's Detroit, Michigan, grocery store.

New left the company for personal reasons in 1930. Smith was killed by lightning in 1937.

And Chun King:

Chun King was an American line of canned Chinese food products founded in the 1940s by Jeno Paulucci, who also developed Jeno's Pizza Rolls and frozen pizza, and the Michelina's brand of frozen food products, among many others. By 1962, Chun King was bringing in $30 million in annual revenue and accounted for half of all U.S. sales of prepared Chinese food. Chun King was sold to the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, in 1966 for $63 million.

l won't go into the history of how the two companies competed and merged, nor how they were both bought by large food conglomerates.  What's remarkable is that, in one or another guise, they survived for so long even after authentic Chinese food became widely available in America.

What prompted this post in the first place was the following photograph, sent to me by fintano:


The name of the restaurant is Chóngqìng xiǎomiàn 重慶小面 ("Chongqing / Chungking noodles" [lit., "small noodles"]).

Maidhc comments on the feelings evoked by the photograph:

I have a vague recollection from my youth that Stan Freberg made commercials for Chun King (which was founded by an Italian), and even as a child I loved Stan Freberg, and more so as an adult.

See Stan Freberg Presents the Chun King Chow Mein Hour in this Wikipedia article.  This was during the advertising part of his career, which was later than most of his recordings.

At any rate this sign made me think of the old Chun King Chow Mein commercials and I believe they sponsored a pavilion at the Seattle World's Fair. I hate to think what kind of food they served there. Thankfully at least on the west coast we can now get some more authentic Chinese food.

I never actually ate Chun King Chow Mein, because my mother knew how to cook fairly authentic basic Chinese food, and that's what I had growing up. I was eating with chopsticks from age 7 or so.

I don't know if the people who run this restaurant chain know of the ancient memories they are stirring.

I was just looking through the Yelp reviews and I found this:

"some dishes may be hella ma la hot"

Is this the most SF Bay Area sentence ever?

Chow mein from a can ≠ chǎomiàn / caau2min6 from a wok ≠ Chóngqìng xiǎomiàn 重慶小面 ("Chongqing / Chungking noodles") in a San Francisco Sichuanese restaurant, though they all have their own charms.

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[personal profile] evil_plotbunny posting in [community profile] fic_corner
The deadline is at 11pm EDT tonight. What time is that for me?

There is one pinch hit currently outstanding. Defaulted pinch hits since the last batch and deadline defaults will go out after deadline tonight.

Please claim via pm or email to fic.corner@gmail.com and include the ph number, recipient's AO3 user name and your AO3 user name. Please do not claim in the comments to preserve anonymity.

This pinch hits will now be due on 23 August at 11pm EDT. What time is that for me?

Pinch Hit #5: Captain Underpants Series - Dav Pilkey, Wayside School - Louis Sachar, The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster )

Brian Aldiss (1925-2017)

Aug. 21st, 2017 11:12 pm
[syndicated profile] file770_feed

Posted by Mike Glyer

Brian Aldiss, who marked the start of his career with a nomination for the Best New Writer Hugo (1959), gained a place in the SF Hall of Fame (2004), and received honors from the Queen (2005), died in his sleep … Continue reading

[ SECRET POST #3883 ]

Aug. 21st, 2017 06:50 pm
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⌈ Secret Post #3883 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.


More! )


Secrets Left to Post: 02 pages, 44 secrets from Secret Submission Post #555.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.

Tasty foods

Aug. 21st, 2017 06:27 pm
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[personal profile] kass
Tonight's dinner is vaguely adapted from Mario Batali, and it's simple and tasty and should feed me for several days, so I'm saving the recipe here.

If you keep kosher and do not regard chicken as pareve, or if you don't do dairy, you won't want to add the goat cheese. (In that case you might add some olive oil, for mixing purposes.) And if you are gluten-free, you'll want to use gf pasta. But aside from those things, this recipe ought to work for most folks, I think, assuming that you eat pasta in the first place. Clean-up is also easy: one skillet, one pasta pot.

Pasta with broccolini, chicken sausage, and goat cheese )


Aug. 21st, 2017 05:44 pm
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[personal profile] settiai
Many thanks to everyone who donated over on my Ko-fi page. ♥♥♥

I'm still going to be putting up a virtual garage sale post later in the week, after I more time to go through things and get a list together, but thank you! I very much appreciate it.

If any of you would like a fic from me as thanks, just leave a comment or send me a message. As long as it's a fandom that I'm familiar with, I'd be glad to write something for you.


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