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Results for "April, 2009"

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  • Fox v. FCC: Supreme Court damns fleeting expletives on TV

    If you’re in front of a microphone and you feel a fleeting expletive coming on, the Supreme Court says stifle it. In a 5 - 4 decision in FCC v. Fox Television, the Supreme Court ruled that Federal Communication Commission procedures banning dirty words on radio and TV were perfectly appropriate.

    Federal law states, “Whoever utters any obscene, indecent, or profane language by means of radio communication shall be fined … or imprisoned not more than two years, or both” (18 U.S.C. § 1464). In 1978 the Supreme Court upheld the FCC’s prohibition of obscenity in the George Carlin “7 Dirty Words” case, barring “language that describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory activities or organs, at times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience.”

  • "In event of moon disaster" and other speeches our presidents never gave

    Two days before the first astronauts walked on the moon, H. R. "Watergate Bob" Haldeman directed Nixon speechwriter William Safire to come up with something for the president to say to the astronauts' widows. Just in case.

  • Shakespeare's Birthday is 'Talk Like Shakespeare Day' in Chicago, methinks

    Mayor Richard M. Daley, Jr., has proclaimed April 23, William Shakespeare’s 445th birthday, Talk Like Shakespeare Day. Or should that read, “Mayor Richard II hath proclaimed”?

    Recent ship hijackings in the Gulf of Aden suggest that this year’s Talk Like a Pirate Day (initially scheduled for Sept. 19) may have to be postponed, and the ousting of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who likes a good literary quote almost as much as he doth protest his innocence too much, has left a hole in Chicago’s political discourse which Talk Like Shakespeare Day may help to fill.

  • <CTRL>, <ALT>, and especially <DELETE>: Proposed Cybersecurity Act gives president power to unplug the internet

    On April 1 (that date may be no accident), Sen. Jay Rockefeller and his co-sponsors introduced the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (S.B. 773) with companion legislation creating the office of Cybersecurity Advisor to the president (S.B. 778). 

    One blogger warns that if these bills pass, the president will have the authority to unplug the internet and federalize private computer networks.

  • In this remake of the Hitchcock classic, Tony Wendice texts 'M' for Maida Vale, his telephone exchange, and for murder

    "Text 'M' for murder": The classics meet the digital age

    Matt Richtel writes in the New York Times that the mobile phone has thrown a wrench into literary plotting. Thanks to digital technology, a simple text message would tell Romeo – spoiler alert – that Juliet was only sleeping. Rick would know right away that Ilsa was running late. And Kevin’s parents would discover that he was home, alone.

    If Richtel’s complaint is true, then mobile telephony means no more star-crossed lovers, missed connections, or lost children, and no remakes of some movie greats. If Ray Milland wants to murder his wife, a phone call won’t bring her to the writing desk, where the killer waits behind a curtain, since her cell phone is probably on her nightstand. Want Shane to return? Just press 5 to leave your callback number. Want  to know what Rosebud means? Google it.

  • The Elements of Style turns 50. If you're celebrating, make sure to use the active voice

    April, 2009, is the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Elements of Style, a book first written and published privately in 1918 by William Strunk for his composition students at Cornell, but revised and reintroduced to the world by E. B. White half a century ago.

  • An M.A. in Facebook: now you can earn academic credit and avoid schoolwork at the same time

    Birmingham City University, in England, is offering a Masters degree in Facebook and Twitter. Students can now pay £4000 (about $6000) to earn credit for doing what they normally do to avoid schoolwork.