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Monthly Archive for March, 2008

email from my friend matt horan

The Usual Suspects were fond of saying that if the Supremes limited Roe v Wade in any way, it would be the first time that a Constitutional right had ever been narrowed by the Court. Of course, that is incorrect. But never mind. It appears that the Supremes will for sure narrow a Constitutional right here pretty soon, the sacred Sixth Amendment right of delusional bums to represent themselves in criminal trials.

One Constitutional right, the right to bear arms, has been rudely treated by the Supreme Court, judging from Miller v. United States, a 1939 case that is being (indirectly) reviewed in the argument over Washington D.C.’s handgun ban. Now, I think I have a way out of this one, I call it Positively Scalian. I call it Scalia on Steroids. I call it Originalism with a Vengeance.

Here it is: what did “arms” mean in the 1780’s? Smooth-bore muskets, flintlock pistols, swords, and small cannon. PERMITTED!!!!

Machine guns, atomic bombs, nerve gas, rifles, SUBJECT TO REASONABLE REGULATION!!!

I like the seamlessness of this interpretation with the rest of the text: “A well-regulated militia,being necessary to the security of a free state….” Yes! There are Indians threatening our little settlement, and, if not Indians, then teenagers with too much bass blasting rap music all wide and around: Summon the militia and FIRE AT WILL.

And not just Will. Fire at Frankie, Jesus, and Tyrone, too. For wearing their britches too low, and other unspeakable breaches of taste.

Finally, Former First Lady Hillary Clinton ducked sniper fire in Bosnia, or didn’t, as the case may be. This resume-padding has gotten somewhat out of hand. Her confusion is understandable. When she first came to Arkansaw, we played a trick on her we like to play on all dumb Yankees, we took her snipe hunting.

Damn if she didn’t come home with a big one in her bag.

hey matt – are u a poker player

re: lunch with speaker dimasi – tell me this isn’t an internet movie script

Forwarded conversation
Subject: Lunch with Speaker DiMasi

From: Quinn, Katie (HOU)
Date: Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 6:10 PM

Good Afternoon Professor Nesson,
When we last spoke I had promised to send you dates that work for a luncheon with Speaker DiMasi. I apologize for the delay in my response. I do have an opening ion Friday, March 14 at 1pm. Please advise if that time works for you.

Katie Quinn
Special Assistant to the Speaker
Office of Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi
Massachusetts House of Representatives
Room 356, State House
Boston, MA 02133
(617) 722-2500

From: Charles Nesson
Date: Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 1:30 PM
To: “Quinn, Katie (HOU)”

yes, thank you. shall i appear at his office at that time.

when appropriate (in my judgment) to an open project and not sensitive (in my judgment) in terms of privacy, i may post email to my blog. all privacy requests respected. ———-
From: Charles Nesson
Date: Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 1:35 PM
To: Jonathan Cohen

From: Quinn, Katie (HOU)
Date: Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 1:40 PM
To: Charles Nesson

I will be in touch with you the week before with a location.

From: Charles Nesson []
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2008 12:31 PM
To: Quinn, Katie (HOU)
Subject: Re: Lunch with Speaker DiMasi

From: Charles Nesson
Date: Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 11:30 AM
To: “Quinn, Katie (HOU)”

may i confirm
From: Quinn, Katie (HOU)
Date: Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 11:54 AM
To: Charles Nesson

Professor Nesson, I was just going to e-mail you shortly. I have to reschedule lunch tomorrow. I am looking at Friday, March 28th or Friday April 11th for lunch. Please advise if either of these days work for you. Thank you in advance.
Katie Q
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 11:31 AM

From: Charles Nesson
Date: Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 12:01 PM
To: “Quinn, Katie (HOU)”

too bad
i had wanted to talk with the speaker about the oped i’m expecting the globe to publish tomorrow (attached) and to brief him on the March 18 Don’t Criminalize Online Poker Rally, which i expect will bring out a lot of young people in “how crazy is that?” t-shirts. that was to be for openers.
march 28
From: Charles Nesson
Date: Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 12:02 PM
To: Joe Finder


From: Charles Nesson
Date: Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 12:04 PM
To: “Quinn, Katie (HOU)”

with attachment
Date: Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 12:08 PM
To: Charles Nesson

Professor Nesson, I will put this article in front of the Speaker today and deliver the additional portion of your message. I will be in touch,

Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 12:05 PM
To: Quinn, Katie (HOU)
Subject: Lunch with Speaker DiMasi

From: Charles Nesson
Date: Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 12:16 PM
To: “Quinn, Katie (HOU)”

thank you
Date: Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 6:02 AM
To: “Quinn, Katie (HOU)”

i am hoping not to be disappointed again in confirming a lunch date with speaker dimasi

i hope he will be amused and intrigued by this video


patrick opened with the his casino bill
dimasi calls him on his numbers for dollars and jobs
full of bullshit made of near thin air

patrick leads out again going over dimasi’s head direct to his membership with letters to each rep
challenging dimasi to present a better alternative

dimasi calls and raises
threatening to kill the bill outright in committee
patrick calls
begging to let the bill go to the floor
dimasi can kill it in committee
dimasi can kill it on the floor
he does both
let there be no doubt

nice hand
nice pot
next hand

action to dimasi
does he come with an alternative

thank you popcha, thank you trevor and ken

tune in march 28

Deval Backs Off Criminalizing Online Poker: Throws the Ball to Coakley

my audioblog of the casino hearing

here’s audio of an exchange with deval just before he testified at the statehouse hearing in which he identifies the attorney general as the immediate force behind the criminalization of online poker in his bill — and says he does not stand behind it and would welcome an amendment taking that provision out!

here’s audio leading up to the exchange with deval

Hi. i’m Charlie Nesson, law professor at Harvard. founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. We are a leading center of thought on the highest and best uses of internet technology. i am also founder and president of the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society,

Buried in Governor Patrick’s resort casino bill is a provision making criminals of those who play poker online, threatening two years in prison and $25,000 fine. To some it may seem trivial in light of the jobs and money issues at stake here to be concerned about making thousands of Massachusetts residents criminals.

i ask you to take just a few minutes here to focus on it. A larger issue of good government is at stake. i have been trying unsuccessfully for months to determine who put this criminalization provision into the bill. As of this morning i now finally have it from the Governor himself that this criminalization provision was inserted in the bill at the behest of the Attorney General, Martha Coakley, and – this is news! — the Governor will not now stand behind it.

Is Martha Coakley behind this criminalization provision? Will she come forward and discuss the wanton damage her provision would impose?

i believe education will prove to be the internet’s highest and best use. i speak for the potential use in online education of learning and teaching through mastery of strategic games, from tic tac toe through checkers and chess to poker with lessons along the way about logic and life. Instead of criminalizing online poker, i ask the legislature to recognize poker as among the most sophisticated of strategic games, and to acknowledge its potential power as a teaching tool, and to open to the possibility of embracing online poker with facilitating regulation. This could bring to Massachusetts a multi-billion dollar industry and significant revenue for the state.

The Governor’s bill as it stands is fatally defective, any way you look at it, whether from the standpoint of poker players, or from a good government perspective, or from the viewpoint of those of us who would like to see Massachusetts become a leader in online education and a home for internet communities.


Forwarded conversation
Subject: criminalizing poker

From: Charles Nesson
Date: Tue, Mar 25, 2008 at 2:10 PM

dear martha coakley

i understand from governor patrick that the provision criminalizing online wagering that was in the governor’s casino bill was put in the bill at your behest. if this is the case, may i come and speak with you about this. i see this same provision now included in the track bill recently submitted.

criminalizing online wagering is a bad idea for many reasons, but my personal and primary objection to this blunderbuss criminalization approach is that it sweeps in online poker. This makes the online education program and environment i am developing as the major objective of my work criminal and impossible.

I am the founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. open access open education is its mission. I lead a research initiative i call cyberone to find means and method for using the internet for education in a manner that is open, free, rigorous, scalable, and fun. I am founder and president of the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society, its mission is to find a positive business plan to support open education in an open net. I am excited, as are significant others, about the prospect of developing and offering an open online curriculum grounded in the teaching of strategic games, starting with tic tac toe. games progress from simple to complex. tic tac toe, lines-and-dots, connect 4, checkers, chess, poker.

The blunderbuss approach of criminalizing online wagering fails to distinguish between wagering on lotteries (games of chance played against the house at pre-set losing odds) and wagering on games of skill (like poker, played against other players and requiring assessment of risk and strategic management of resources).

I have been concerned about this from the time the governor first introduced his resort casino bill with the criminalization provision buried in it, and have been attempting ever since to track down its backer so that I might make my case and get it changed. My efforts included inquiries to the govenor’s staff (stan mcgee), Las Vegas Sands (Sheldon Adelson), Harrah’s (Gary Loveman), a lobbyist for Suffolk Downs, all of whom denied knowledge of how it got in there and who was backing it. Only when I spoke with the governor himself at the recent hearing did I learn that the impetus for “clarifying the law” with this provision had come from you.

Would you be willing to meet and talk with me about this.


charles nesson

when appropriate (in my judgment) to an open project and not sensitive (in my judgment) in terms of privacy, i may post email to my blog. all privacy requests respected. ———-

Open Letter to Governor Deval Patrick – Poker is not a CRIME!

To the Honorable Deval Patrick
Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Dear Deval:

Who Wrote Your Casino Bill?

Your Casino Bill tries to make playing poker online a CRIME! You threaten people like me with two years imprisonment and $25,000 fine. A disgraceful federal law passed without democratic process as a rider to a port security bill already criminalizes payment companies for processing bets. But even that misguided law stops short of criminalizing online poker players.

Since November 2007 when you offered up your casino bill I have been trying to determine who or what the force is behind the criminalization provision. I spoke with your spokesperson on the casino bill. He surprised me by being completely unaware of the criminalization provision. Obviously to him this was not something high on your agenda.

Word in the poker community was that lawyers for Sands Casinos in Las Vegas had contributed to the crafting of the casino bill. And indeed I had seen Sheldon Adelson, the powerful chairman of Sands, present and in the flesh at the State Legislature’s December 18 hearing on the bill. So I wrote him a letter and asked him directly: do you support the criminalization provision? Did you help write it? To my delighted surprise, on March 6th he replied to my letter disavowing any involvement in or support of the provision. He offered to help “encourage its separation from the bill.” So it seems not to be the casino interests who stand behind the criminalization provision.

With Mr. Adelson’s letter, I have gained an ally. But I have not solved the puzzle. In the meantime, Kyle Sullivan, your press secretary, accused me in public print of being “ill informed” about the bill. So I wrote him and said, “As one who is well informed, would you please clarify who wrote the bill and how the criminalization provision got in there?” There’s been no reply as yet.

I keep sending letters – to Daniel O’Connell in the Office of Economic Development, to John Hall the president of Suffolk Downs, which is the State’s largest race track, to George Carney, who owns the dog track in Raynham. I will keep writing letters and pressing the issue until I get an answer.

Who wrote the bill’s provision trying to make playing online poker a crime? Do you stand behind it now?


“A freesoul is a masterpiece in claymation


“A freesoul is
“A freesoul believes
“A freesoul feels self control
“A freesoul expresses art and truth

ars moriendi

“A freesoul is
“A freesoul believes
“A freesoul feels self control
“A freesoul likes the way music pushes the connections of his mind along

what a wonderful game to be in

how marvellous that i play it here tapping on keys with feedback on a screen and in the sounds my fingers make

two fat books this morning from katie salen eric zimmerman
game design
freedom this afternoon
with a class to link aristotle, jesus, kundera

Team Apotheosis

The exploration of personal freedom compels an answer to why freedom matters. We will discuss freedom as understood on a personal level, trying to understand why it is important to us. Looking at Aristotle on happiness and the Christian take on freedom, we find different reasons to value freedom. This should then open the door for a discussion of why we value freedom, and, delving deeper, how we can justify the restrictions we impose on our own freedom.

Reading List

The Bible (Gal 3:19-29, Gal 4:1-6)

Scripture gives meaning to the Christian ideas of freedom. In its broadest and most important understanding, humans were created with a free will permitting them to choose to love God at their discretion. This freedom is unqualified in its permissiveness, but not in its consequences, and this informs the writings of Paul the Apostle when he characterizes submission to God’s will as a means of attaining freedom, both in the present context of a life on Earth and for eternal implications. This tradeoff is peculiar, because it finds that freedoms can be traded, and that an absolute freedom might ultimately result in the restraints of the consequences of unfettered choice, while choosing initial limitation can grant an individual far greater agency over his or her decisions.

Nicomachean Ethics, Book I (Aristotle)

In this excerpt, Aristotle argues that the ultimate end or purpose in life is happiness. All our efforts are directed toward things that veer toward happiness because while we aspire to many ends, they are not final, but they are instead subservient to the larger purpose of happiness. When we imagine all the things we work toward, we can reasonably say that for every reasonable aspiration its hopeful conclusion will be greater happiness. But for happiness itself, we never say that we seek it in order to fulfil another desire or virtue.

But if happiness is the end in life, then freedom — its pursuit and experience — is secondary, and the essential purpose of life poses an inherent restriction on freedom; we are bound by a desire for happiness, and this provokes the question of what we will do to our freedom in order to achieve it.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

In this film, Tomas leads a life of flitting sexual and personal freedom. He is settled by his marriage to a young woman and the Soviet invasion of Prague in Spring of 1968. The political cast of freedom is clearly present, but a deeper and fascinating question lurks at the level of the individual characters. What purpose does our freedom serve? When our relationships impose on us, does our freedom fade or does it reshape?

You may also choose to read the original text by Milan Kundera.