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Jan 23 2014

Oh, really? You mean that accusation was serious?

Guess who just got a vaguely threatening Freedom of Information Act request demand? Me!

You may recall that bizarre letter slipped under my door by John Geiger, editor of the right wing campus rag, the North Star. In it, he blithely accused me of stealing a print run of his newspaper because the distribution locations smelled like chloroform and other sciency things, and because I’d written a post expressing my contempt for the disgusting racism he exhibited.

I thought it was a joke. But no, he has enlisted something called The Alliance Defending Freedom For Faith For Justice to come after me. They sent a letter. Here’s the relevant part:

Pursuant to Minnesota’s open records law, MINN. STAT. §§ 13.01 to 13.99, we request access to and a COPY of the following documents and data:

1. Video surveillance of all cameras near the following locations on the University of Minnesota Morris campus from 12:00 a.m. on November 22 to 11:59 p.m. on November 23, 2013:

a. In the tunnel between the Science building and the Student Center; and

b. In the Humanities Fine Arts building; and

2. Written communications, including electronic, sent or received by UM- Morris Professor Paul Z. Myers that refer to the “NorthStar,” “North Star,” or John Geiger; and

3. Written communications, including electronic, sent or received by UM- Morris Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson that refer to the “NorthStar,” “North Star,” or John Geiger.

Do we even have video surveillance cameras there? I have no idea. Anyway, I was happy to oblige, did an email search for those terms, and came up with all of…about a dozen items. Most were references to the North Star STEM alliance; one was a message to the whole campus from our chancellor deploring the allegations of fascism and racism published by the North Star, and that was actually the only correspondence at all that mentioned Geiger. Other than Geiger’s own letter, of course.

There won’t be any evidence of a conspiracy, or that I stole their dreadful papers, because there wasn’t and I didn’t…but one thing we know, wingnuts love to make noise about dreadful sneaky conspiracies against them and the American Way.

Besides, I have an alibi. I was in Benghazi, extorting money from Bill Clinton’s mistresses to invest in the Whitewater project, and also gathering fake temperature readings for Al Gore to fool everyone into believing climate change is real.

102 comments

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  1. 1
    daved

    There is no such time as 12:00 a.m., as 12:00 is neither a.m. nor p.m. There is only 12 noon or 12 midnight. For that matter, 12 midnight isn’t part of either the day that precedes or follows it, any more than the equator is north or south.

  2. 2
    Lynna, OM

    Ah, PZ, this closing paragraph is great:

    Besides, I have an alibi. I was in Benghazi, extorting money from Bill Clinton’s mistresses to invest in the Whitewater project, and also gathering fake temperature readings for Al Gore to fool everyone into believing climate change is real.

    I think that will become a classic Pharyngula insider reference.

    You forgot to mention that you were also stealing newspapers in Benghazi, but I can see how that would slip your mind if you were surrounded by Bill Clinton’s mistresses (women who had their libidos ramped up by government-supplied birth control pills, as Mike Huckabee knows).

  3. 3
    nothere

    PZ, you sure as hell lead an interesting life!

  4. 4
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    Of course you didn’t steal them yourself PZ. But everyone knows that our Tentacled Overlord has an entire horde of minions at his beck and call. Clearly you just had them do it. They are easy to spot, they wear stethoscopes and lab coats, smell of chloroform and science, and regularly perform the clenched tentacle salute. No doubt there will be dozens of them in the incriminating video surveillance.

  5. 5
    Alverant

    Have the campus cops ask about dorms that were out of TP, they might have made an honest mistake and used North Star instead.

  6. 6
    raven

    Boring.

    Another threat from christofascists.

    The lawyer one. I can’t even get amused by them any more. They always say they will call and never do.

    John Geiger is a kook but not a very interesting one. Yo, John, you really need to find someone with triple your IQ and learn how to be annoying.

    (Hmmm, is this slander or libel? I always get them confused. Oh well, John Geiger won’t know the difference anyway, being rather stupid. And John, have your lawyer call mine.)

    (Hmmm some more. Since John Geiger is really stupid he probably is still trying to read this. I should make it simpler for his thinking brain service dog.)

    John, Sue Me!!! Sue Me!!! Sue Me!!! Please, Sue Me

  7. 7
    faehnrich

    Alliance Defending Freedom? What freedom of theirs needs defending?

  8. 8
    raven

    They sent a letter. Here’s the relevant part:

    A huff and puff letter.

    Boring. I always tell them that we should go to court. They never, ever call me again. It’s all so disappointing.

  9. 9
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    The ADFFFFJ sent a request for campus video surveillance footage to you, personally? Well, I guess you can’t expect too much competence from a “legal” organization that excitedly touts their involvement in a Supreme Court case against a fictional “Obamacare abortion pill mandate”.

  10. 10
    Lynna, OM

    I think each and every one of us should claim to have done the dirty deed while wearing PZ’s lab coat. We did this while PZ was in Benghazi, and then we suppressed all the evidence. Except for the smell. We forgot about the smell. We are used to smelling like chloroform because we bathe in the stuff.

  11. 11
    raven

    This doesn’t even come close to being a SLAPP suite.

    Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. It’s just a huff and puff letter.

    I don’t know in Minnesota is a SLAPP suit state. But my state is.

    Hey John Geiger. Let’s go to court. Loser pays court costs and both the attorneys. What could go wrong here?

  12. 12
    Usernames are smart

    PZ, I can’t believe you didn’t charge them for your time!

    We agree to pay any reasonable
    copvnig and postage fees of not more than $200.

    Damn straight!

    - Research time: $50
    - Copying time: $25
    - Emailing: $15
    - Quality Control: $15
    - Oversight: $5
    - Bear Patrol: $50
    ——–
    Total: $159.9999

  13. 13
    Marcus Ranum

    Pursuant to Minnesota’s open records law, MINN. STAT. §§ 13.01 to 13.99, we request access to and a COPY of the following documents and data:

    1. Video surveillance of all cameras near the following locations on the University of Minnesota Morris campus from 12:00 a.m. on November 22 to 11:59 p.m. on November 23, 2013:

    That should go to the university’s compliance officer, not you.

  14. 14
    sugarfrosted

    @1 That’s incorrect. 12 midnight is 12am and 12pm is noon

  15. 15
    b. - Order of Lagomorpha

    I can only imagine (and hope) that some day, years from now, that John Geiger will look back at this and turn red with embarrassment at the memory.

    And, thanks to Dave, I’m picturing grainy surveillance footage of people in lab coats and Cthulu masks scurrying around the early-morning-streets of a college town.

  16. 16
    kurczaki3

    PZ, it seems they are trying to make your life difficult, i.e. shut you up.
    it starts innocuously until mentally you get exhausted and you give up your blog. keep your focus and stay calm.

  17. 17
    Francisco Bacopa

    On a positive note at least they are wasting the Alliance Defending Freedom’s time and money.

  18. 18
    Lofty

    I admit it.
    I did everything they said.
    Signed,
    Dunnit Duncan

  19. 19
    raven

    wikipedia:

    United States[edit]

    Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia, and Guam have enacted statutory protections against SLAPPs.[8][verification needed] These states are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota,[9] Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. In Colorado and West Virginia, the courts have adopted protections against SLAPPs. These laws vary dramatically in scope and level of protection, and the remaining states lack protections.

    Minnesota is an anti-SLAPP suit state.

    Too bad John Geiger is never, ever going to sue me.

    Sigh. I won’t even get a huff and puff letter to frame and put on the wall. Oh well, that’s life.

  20. 20
    Moggie

    The ADF is a fairly heavyweight wingnut organisation, isn’t it? Not the sort of outfit to waste time on a student prank. I have a feeling this could stop being funny quite quickly.

  21. 21
    Travis

    Do these people really think this is going to have the effect they desire? PZ has had a number of kooks come after him with lawsuits and they have all ended up looking like incompetent fools. Every time they act they just end up looking even more foolish.

  22. 22
    kevinalexander

    I was in Benghazi, extorting money from Bill Clinton’s mistresses to invest in the Whitewater project, and also gathering fake temperature readings for Al Gore to fool everyone into believing climate change is real.

    Well you should!! His mistresses are flush with cash from the forced abortions they perform on the aliens who umm..shit , I can never keep track of this stuff. It’s the mind control drugs the big gummint put in my fluoride!!

  23. 23
    Pierce R. Butler

    The Alliance Defending Freedom (né the Alliance Defense Fund) was launched by a coalition of radio & tv preachers (including James Dobson, Bill Bright, & D. James Kennedy) circa 1994, and has actively attacked church-state separation across the US for twenty years.

    Their logo features the words “Alliance Defending Freedom For Faith For Justice”, though they’re usually known as just ADF. No doubt their national office in Arizona enlisted some local talent to help harass our esteemed host, but unless they can milk some major publicity out of this, they don’t seem likely to parachute in any of their heavier hitters.

    Talk to Action has a long list of stories about ADF for those curious to see what kind of cases they usually pursue.

  24. 24
    anteprepro

    Oh my fucking god. Count on a conservative to misread their own jokes as Serious Business (or to express their legitimate concerns in such a ridiculous fashion that it can’t be read as anything but a joke).

  25. 25
    Randomfactor

    You can share a cell with D’Souza.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/dinesh-dsouza-campaign-finance-indictment

  26. 26
    cuervocuero

    So, there’s a religious defense fund righteously getting involved in the er…theft..vanishment…Rapturing…of some copies of a free campus paper that isn’t even the regular student paper on campus?

    Or is this paper not free but you must pay for it? If so, what’s the theft of the papers worth in total?

    Why has this worthy soul not contacted the police over this crime?

    Also, too. Wouldn’t the security footage of campus cameras be property of the university and subject to privacy laws, so it couldn’t be handed out willy nilly to any tom, dick or harrier that demanded to see footage?

  27. 27
    Randomfactor

    If they don’t hand over the footage, it’s proof that the College President was in on it. Because Obama.

  28. 28
    raven

    The ADF is a fairly heavyweight wingnut organisation, isn’t it?

    I doubt it.

    I’ve never even heard of them and I sort of keep track of christofascist attack gerbils.

    The one I’m most familar with is the Saint Thomas More law center, named after a Catholic serial killer. It’s always good news when they enter a case. They usually lose. It’s truly remarkable when they win anything.

  29. 29
    Randomfactor

    They’ve recently changed their name. They’re one of the big names on the usually-losing side of First Amendment suits.

    They did Cranston, RI banner, I think.

  30. 30
    raven

    In it, he blithely accused me of stealing a print run of his newspaper because the distribution locations “smelled like chloroform and other sciency things,”

    What in the hell is this? It’s gibberish. What it isn’t is probable cause.

    1. Biologists most of the time and most biologists don’t smell like chloroform. They don’t even work with it. And when they do, it is usually in a fume hood with gloves and protective gear. If you work with chloroform and smell like chloroform, you are doing something wrong.

    2. Which means John Geiger doesn’t seem to have the slightest idea what science is and what scientists do. Not surprised, christofascists tend to be really dumb.

    Probably thinks we spend all day working with chloroform and huge machines with lots of flashing lights and bells. And our nights, roaming the cemeteries and morgues, collecting spare parts to construct our latest monsters.

    That is just silly. While many fundie leaders like Dobson, Bush, Cheney, Robertson, Falwell, Parsley, Jeffers, etc.. are monsters,…we didn’t make them!!! We do have our professional standards to uphold here.

  31. 31
    Jafafa Hots

    tort reform! tort reform!

  32. 32
    loreo

    The Alliance Defending Freedom For Faith For Justice For People Who Have No Idea What Those Words Mean

  33. 33
    Donnie

    I AM PZ!!!! I stole the papers. I gave them to the UN in order so that they could enact the first waves of Agenda 21. They promised me surf-and-turf at the local red lobster.

    All hail the Poopyhead!

  34. 34
    Sastra

    Could John Geiger seriously believe that Dr. PZ Myers himself went around campus and stole a bunch of student papers? Or might he believe that if he pretends he believes it then something significant will happen and/or a point will be made?

    I suppose it could go either way. If we knew one way or the other, does it make a difference?

    Well, the distinction ought to matter to The Alliance Defending Freedom For Faith For Justice, I guess. Assuming that anyone in it is over the age of 12 and it’s a real organization with an actual lawyer (what a silly and pompous name.)

  35. 35
    Fern

    Naked Bunny with a Whip #9 and Marcus Ranum #13: It looks like the letter was addressed to UM’s Records Manager, not PZ. (PZ, did they also send it directly to you? You’re not formally CC’d, so I can’t tell if it came to you directly or through UM.) Regardless, the whole thing is hilarious, but at least it seems to be addressed to someone who might be the correct recipient.

  36. 36
    raven

    Knowingly making false accusations can be a crime itself. It’s even in the Ten commandments, Thou shalt not bear false witness.

    John Geiger might want to be careful himself here.

  37. 37
    Randomfactor

    Hope this is not a prelude to some fishing expedition. PZ’s got a LOT of fish.

  38. 38
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    PZ’s got a LOT of fish.

    Mutant fish. WE’RE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS*, PEOPLE!

    *(but not through licking the glass)

  39. 39
    Ron Sullivan

    Now I want a cologne that smells of chloroform and science.

  40. 40
    Sastra

    @ Ron Sullivan:

    Maybe a “Science” cologne would smell like dry-erase markers.

  41. 41
    congaboy

    I just briefly read the first few statutes under title 13 and, PZ, it appears that you’re not under any obligation to give these guys anything directly. The statute sets out that the government entity in question has a designated person in charge of handling these requests. I would have to read further to see whether your personal email would even fall under these statutes. But, if I were you, I would not release anything until one of the directors at the university tells you to do so; you certainly don’t want to set any precedent with these fuckers. Make them fucking subpoena the shit and then move to quash their bullshit subpoena. If the university takes it seriously, then you should comply with what the university asks you to do. Otherwise, these shit bags can go screw themselves.

  42. 42
    Hank_Says

    I’m surprised these clowns aren’t demanding Leica accessories as well.

  43. 43
    Pierce R. Butler

    Hey, raven @ # 28 & Sastra @ # 34 et alia – pls follow the link in my # 23.

    ADF has been in the hyperchristian litigation biz for 20 years, and claim to have a nationwide network of nearly 200 associates. Whatever the count, they’ve stood up for (liars for) Jesus all over the country.

    Americans United for Separation of Church & State also has a lot to say about ADF.

  44. 44
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Listen I know kw*k was all about the Leica, but I am a much more deserving beast to receive such gifts should they passed out all willy nilly.

  45. 45
    b. - Order of Lagomorpha

    @ Hankstar #42 (good number!)

    Perhaps he/she/they didn’t attend Stuyvesant High School. (That was SHS guy that demanded the Leica lenses, right? I get my “interesting” people confused, sometimes.)

  46. 46
    ChasCPeterson

    yes, indeed, the infamous demand for camera-equipment-as-recompense-for-slights was from a well-known former pupil of a certain renowned memoirist who shall remain nameless at the celebrated Stuyvesant High School, among whose fellow alumni are counted renowned scientists and celebrated bureaucrats.

  47. 47
    MyMindMeanders

    What do you think the chances are that the videos (assuming there are some) have someone in a PZ (or associated) disguise stealing the papers? If these wingnuts are capable of forethought, maybe this could be some plot to silence the Grand Poopyhead. Or am I just too paranoid and generous in thinking they might be capable of advanced planning?

  48. 48
    Marcus Good

    #4 – “clenched tentacle salute” is either my new band name, or something I want printed on a shirt.

  49. 49
    unclefrogy

    I have any idea how much paper was allegedly taken but there are many reasons the papers were not were they were supposed to have been none have any connection with PZ as I am sure the police have suggested. He did report it didn’t he?
    If the paper was as vile as claimed which I have little doubt there would be others who did not like it and might have just trashed it.
    Was the dam thing even delivered?
    Where I live if a pallet sized pile of news papers was dropped of at just any none commercial sight and left alone for hours it would likely end in some recyclers for $.02 a pound. Are there are no homeless and other poor people who would take it as a windfall out there?.

    bring on the lawyers this could be fun.
    uncle frogy

  50. 50
    ryancunningham

    THIS, by the way, would be an appropriate time to mention Poe’s Law. Specifically, its corollary, “Sincere fundamentalist beliefs can be mistaken for a parody of those beliefs.”

  51. 51
    jnorris

    And, thanks to Dave, I’m picturing grainy surveillance footage of people in lab coats and Cthulu masks scurrying around the early-morning-streets of a college town.

    I would chip in $10 to a beer fund for students to dress that way and loiter within sight of those security cameras between midnight and 2 am reading newspapers.

  52. 52
    Randomfactor

    claim to have a nationwide network of nearly 200 associates.

    Wonder if ADF counts the one who pimped out her own daughter for child porn.

  53. 53
    PZ Myers

    I don’t think there are any video cameras installed in the places listed. The tunnel is…a tunnel. The “humanities fine arts buliding” is actually two separate buildings.

  54. 54
    anuran

    More likely the smell of chloroform has something to do with Geiger’s preferred dating strategy.

  55. 55
    MyMindMeanders

    Hmm… I didn’t notice the “buliding” spelling before. It sounds like a verb needing a definition. What happens when you bulid?

  56. 56
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    54
    anuran

    More likely the smell of chloroform has something to do with Geiger’s preferred dating strategy.

    OH FFS. We called this fucked up shit out several times on the first thread about this letter. Go fuck yourself.

  57. 57
    thesandiseattle

    Raven, never dispair, email me, i’ll send you a huff and puff letter :)

  58. 58
    eggmoidal

    I don’t see that you have any obligation to supply anything to assist them unless they produce an official police report they filed on the crime, one which they can be charged with a crime for lying on. Otherwise, a million people a day can badger you the same way.

  59. 59
    thinksanddrinks

    (1) The Minnesota open records law applies ONLY to government agencies. It has NO application to private citizens, including employees of the state. It may have been funny to respond to this idiot, but you should have ignored him and let the proper representative of the state respond.

    (2) Accusations of theft in writing may constitute libel. The letter they wrote to you, and the letter they wrote to the university and copied you on are prima facie evidence of libel. If they have no evidence, and the university cannot supply any records supporting their claims, you can sue for damages. Granted, under the law you cannot get anything if they concede, and even if they don’t they have little or no assets to pay a judgment, but if you file and win (by default), you have them by the gonads. I suspect that small-claims court would suffice for this one. You won’t get anything except declaration of innocence and utter legal defeat of the jerks. Oh, and prohibition of their libel from here on out, as well as news coverage of their defeat (if the local news is anywhere near honest). It would also probably mean the end of any distribution of their (fecal material) by any news media (reference to the local paper distributing their garbage).

    (3) If these clowns ever contact you again, go to the court and ask for relief from harassment (refer to 549.211 SANCTIONS IN CIVIL ACTIONS)

    (4) (unofficial) (unenforceable) If they approach your house again, they are engaged in trespass. If they open your screen door, and you are awake, throw water on them (over the next few days, that would be a significant sanction).

    (5) In lieu of (4), arrange cameras to watch the approaches to your house (motion-activated) that are recorded. If you catch them doing anything significant, you can destroy them in court.

  60. 60
    CSB

    As with so many other things, the only proper response to their request is an eight-second clip from Futurama.

  61. 61
    gmacs

    And these motherfuckers are blazing out faster than I thought they would. Geez, they didn’t even get to tap any phone lines yet.

  62. 62
    BCat70

    Thus sort of legal discovery bomb is a typical sleaze tactic from legal bottom feeders. Demanding that the other party defray the costs of printing and video burning is an excellent way of shooing them off.

  63. 63
    raven

    (5) In lieu of (4), arrange cameras to watch the approaches to your house (motion-activated) that are recorded. If you catch them doing anything significant, you can destroy them in court.

    If John Geiger et al. continue to harass you, get a restraining order!!!

    In my jurisdiction, it doesn’t take much. You can get one for the asking most times. What the judge usually does is make it mutual. That way they don’t have to decide who is being stalked and who is the victim. The victim isn’t going to complain, they want nothing to do with the stalker. The stalker is just out of luck and will have to find a new hobby.

  64. 64
    satanaugustine

    Wow! Severe paranoia must be a requisite for those on the far right. How painfully stupid.

  65. 65
    chigau (違う)

    Is anyone really taking this seriously?

  66. 66
    Kevin Anthoney

    Video surveillance of the cameras?

  67. 67
    Muz

    This is the funniest thing I’ve heard in days.
    They must have taken the Huff and Puff term as advice because their Sherlock Holmses have been crawling around paper drop off locations inhaling deeply.

    That’s how they’ll bring PZ down. He will come home one day to find on of their ace detectives unconscious outside his closet, dressed as a cable repair guy. He broke in looking for evidence and inhaled too deeply of PZs tweed educator jacket with the elbow patches!
    Case closed!

  68. 68
    Holms

    As with so many other things, the only proper response to their request is an eight-second clip from Futurama.

    True… but then, why did you respond with a NINE second clip?! Checkmate, liberals!

  69. 69
    anuran

    JAL: Why don’t you go over Niagara Falls in a barrel with your tiny pinhead sticking out the bung. I’ll alert the press

  70. 70
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    PMSL :) This Geiger guy really is barmy, isn’t he?

    And thanks to Dave @#4 I have an image of an octupus squeezing itself into a mailbox (a la this guy), and then back out again with a stack of newspapers tucked under one of it’s tentacles.

  71. 71
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @anuran

    You could have just held your hands up and said “Shit, so it was. My bad.”. You know, like an adult.

  72. 72
    dancaban

    Anything you’ve got then send it in chloroform or, even better, formaldehyde just to be sure the can identify smells properly.

  73. 73
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    Wait til they see the video footage of PZ’s army of trained cephalopods in sciencey-chemical fueled jet packs hovering up that tunnel. They’ll never be able to unsee it and it will haunt their dreams! Muhahahaha!

  74. 74
    doubtthat

    I started reading through the Minnesota statutes, then realized it was a colossal waste of time as this is total bullshit — as was obvious from the outset.

    Why that request was sent to PZ is anyone’s guess. Was there actually an attorney involved or was it just hot air? I can’t imagine any actual licensed attorney would be that wrong about the procedure and try to intimidate someone in such a comically transparent way.

  75. 75
    anteprepro

    Wow. Even when anuran is not attempting to bash PZ, they are behaving like a trollish asshole.

  76. 76
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Anuran:
    As JAL said, we slapped down that line of thinking in the last Geiger thread.
    Stop insinuating that he rapes people.
    It, and you, are not cool.

  77. 77
    Crimson Clupeidae

    Except for the smell. We forgot about the smell. We are used to smelling like chloroform because we bathe in the stuff.

    I love the smell of science in the morning.

    It smells like….victory!! [cue Wagner.]

  78. 78
    daved

    @sugarfrosted

    12 midnight is 12am and 12pm is noon

    Says who? AM is “ante meridian” (before noon) and PM is “post meridian” (after noon). Midnight is both 12 hours before and after noon. In any case, midnight isn’t part of either the day preceding or following it, so the demand was ambiguous anyway.

  79. 79
    David Utidjian

    The Alliance for Defending Freedom is an offshoot of the Campus Crusade for Christ.
    http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/about/leadership

    Has the usual ‘rogues gallery’ of 60s+ year old white males with good North and Central European surnames.

    Also that paper is supposed to be a ‘monthly’ but has not published anything since their October 2012 “Halloween Edition”

  80. 80
    Ed Seedhouse

    “Says who? AM is “ante meridian” (before noon) and PM is “post meridian” (after noon). Midnight is both 12 hours before and after noon. In any case, midnight isn’t part of either the day preceding or following it, so the demand was ambiguous anyway.”

    It isn’t a mater of logic, it’s a matter of definition. By definition noon is recorded as being 12:00 a.m. , and midnight is recorded as 12:00 p.m.

    Listen to WWV on your shortwave radio at 23:50:55 Zulu and you will hear “At the tone, 2400 hours”. You can argue that it should be “zero hours” but the fact is that it’s defined as 24:00 hours. WWV may be found at 2.5, 5, 10, 15 and 20 mhz. depending on your local conditions.

    Similarly in arithmetic we write -1, 0, 1. We do not append 0 with a minus sign even though it is neither positive nor negative.

    Arguing over definitions is pretty pointless once they’ve been set.

  81. 81
    chigau (違う)

    By definition 12 midnight is 12 AM.
    By definition 12 noon is 12 PM.

  82. 82
    zmidponk

    You know, it’s actually slightly unlucky you aren’t an astronomer instead of a biologist, PZ, because then this:

    2. Written communications, including electronic, sent or received by UM- Morris Professor Paul Z. Myers that refer to the “NorthStar,” “North Star,” or John Geiger; and

    3. Written communications, including electronic, sent or received by UM- Morris Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson that refer to the “NorthStar,” “North Star,” or John Geiger.

    Would have given you the opportunity to deluge them with utterly irrelevant emails and articles about the star Polaris.

  83. 83
    dean

    <By definition noon is recorded as being 12:00 a.m. , and midnight is recorded as 12:00 p.m.

    Not sure about these being definitions – they are common conventions, but

    There are no standards established for the meaning of 12 a.m. and 12 p.m

    (from http://www.npl.co.uk/science-technology/time-frequency/time/faqs/is-midnight-12-a.m.-or-12-p.m.-(faq-time)) indicates there is no definition. This gives the same notion:

    Terms 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. cause confusion and should not be used as neither the “12 am” nor the “12 pm” designation is technically correct.

    from http://www.worldtimezone.com/wtz-names/wtz-am-pm.html.

  84. 84
    chigau (違う)

    So, we all agree then.
    We should go back to a system that includes The Hour of the Pig, The Hour of the Striped Moon-bat, etc.

  85. 85
    dontpanic

    I like how both Ed Seedhouse and chigau note that the assignment is definitional … and then give opposite definitions.

    At work I have some interest in ‘time’ as it is important to correlate events that happen in separate places and we use UTC timestamps. Our convention is the clock starts at 00:00:00 (midnight) and runs up to 23:59:59 where it then rolls over to the next day (YYYY-MM-DD notation keeps that sorted nicely, thank you very much).

    I think dean has the convention (“there is no universal convention”) summed up. Its all like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.

  86. 86
    Al Dente

    Terms 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. cause confusion and should not be used as neither the “12 am” nor the “12 pm” designation is technically correct.

    We should use the 24 clock where midnight is 2400 (the next minute is 0001) and noon is 1200.

  87. 87
    Al Dente

    I see dontpanic had the same idea I did but expressed it better and sooner. That’s what I get for not refreshing.

  88. 88
    spector567

    Why on earth is this going to PZ?

    If the feel there property has been stolen than they should go to campus security and ask them to look in to. As to the e-mails I don’t even think there request is remotely legal. Otherwise every student with a gripe could request a teachers emails.

    Also did it never occurred to them that if PZ had a problem than there were probably others as well?

    This whole thing is BLANTANT harassment.

    I’m guessing that the Dean knows about the situation by now and I hope has a frank conversation about the use of baseless accusations and legal threats and how that affects there Privledge to distribute there paper on campus.

  89. 89
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I’m guessing that the Dean knows about the situation by now and I hope has a frank conversation about the use of baseless accusations and legal threats and how that affects there Privledge to distribute there paper on campus.

    This is a RW True Believer™ fuckwit, who won’t accept the authority of a liberal campus official. I suspect the True Believer™ is in a for a rude shock when university finally wakes up and responds.

  90. 90
    Ichthyic

    so much pedantry, so little time for it.

    on topic though, I side with spector in thinking that this might indeed constitute legal harassment.

    if it continues, I certainly would be contacting the university’s law department about it.

  91. 91
    Ingdigo Jump

    So, we all agree then.
    We should go back to a system that includes The Hour of the Pig, The Hour of the Striped Moon-bat, etc.

    What!? Such an antiquated system in this, the century of the fruit bat!?

  92. 92
    chigau (違う)

    Ingdigo Jump
    Yay Yeah Yup, verily.
    What is more, I propose dividing each hour into 17 units based on colour.
    for example
    “Let’s meet for drinks at the Pub at Hour of the Wombat, Fuschia Minutes.”
    (‘minutes’ to be pronounced ‘my newts’)

  93. 93
    ChasCPeterson
    By definition noon is recorded as being 12:00 a.m. , and midnight is recorded as 12:00 p.m.

    Not sure about these being definitions – they are common conventions,

    Just the opposite is the common convention.
    One second after midnight is clearly 12:00:01 am, and (when expressed this way), midight is 12:00:00 am to match.
    You could look it up.

  94. 94
    Ingdigo Jump

    “Let’s meet for drinks at the Pub at Hour of the Wombat, Fuschia Minutes.”
    (‘minutes’ to be pronounced ‘my newts’)

    But if I’m color blind I’ll never make meetings on time!

  95. 95
    chigau (違う)

    Ingdigo Jump #94
    I hadn’t considered that.
    Now we need to find a grey-scale that matches the nuancity of the colours…

  96. 96
    chigau (違う)

    aaand, having looked at the Pffft article,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey
    I further propose “gry” as the spelling.

  97. 97
    anteprepro

    Chas:

    You could look it up.

    You don’t even need to do any research! You could just look at the digital timers on a mobile phone, or computer, or the many other electronic devices that you probably need in order to be on the internet in the first place, and observe that, yes, indeed, they consider midnight 12:00 am and consider noon 12:00 pm. Argumentum ad computorium.

  98. 98
    ck

    doubtthat wrote:

    Why that request was sent to PZ is anyone’s guess.

    Simple. There might not be much of a chance that this request will result in anything that will directly damage their enemies, but they can still potentially intimidate the subject of their antipathy by making sure that they copy their target and as many of their target’s colleagues as possible. In other words, intimidation through harassment.

  99. 99
    spector567

    Something else that also occurs to me. According to a google search I did chloriform smells like acetone/alcohol.

    Pouring acetone on to the papers would seem to be a quick over the counter method to destroy ink in paper. So that might have been the original method that some intended to use. It either failed and the person involved opted to remove them instead. Or university staff threw out the damaged and useless paper as part of there clean up.

  100. 100
    David Utidjian

    spector567 @ 99:

    Some of us are old enough to remember when all cheap news sheets, handouts, and whatnot were mimeographed. They all smelled of alcohol because that was what the ‘thinner’ was for helping the ink to transfer from the stencil to the blank sheet. I used to like the smell… it smelled of education, science, and revolution!

  101. 101
    dean

    One second after midnight is clearly 12:00:01 am, and (when expressed this way), midight is 12:00:00 am to match.

    There is no argument that 1 second after midnight is an “a.m.” time, just as 1 second after noon is a “p.m.” time.

    The second part of your comment (that midnight is a.m.) does not follow from the definition of “a.m.”.
    It may be a widely accepted convention (no argument, really) but it is not a definition.

    And now that I’ve been too much of a pedant I will shovel off to clean another 6 inches of snow from my West Michigan driveway.

  102. 102
    David Marjanović

    For that matter, 12 midnight isn’t part of either the day that precedes or follows it, any more than the equator is north or south.

    By convention, midnight is zero o’clock and therefore part of the following day. Seriously, outside the US and Canada almost all digital clocks show it as “0:00″.

    The rest shows it as “24:00″ and only switches to “0:01″ the next minute.

    Could John Geiger seriously believe that Dr. PZ Myers himself went around campus and stole a bunch of student papers?

    Yes. See, PZ is evil, and walking around on campus and stealing a bunch of student papers is what evil people do.

    You can ask questions… *headshake*

    AM is “ante meridian”

    Ante meridiem. Before whom? Ante meridiem. Same for post.

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