Monday, December 31, 2012

Assault weapons

I like guns.  I have more than one.

I dread the thought of ever having to use one.  That being said, I hope that if I need one I have one.

Needless to day, I am not an extremist.  I am in favor of doing something, rather than nothing, to reduce gun violence.

"Assualt weapons" are almost kinda a fictitious idea.  The actual capabilities of this:

are really quite similar to this:

However the first is an "assault rifle" and the second is a "hunting rifle".

That being said--is there really no difference?

As Steve Jobs taught us, design matters.  The hunting rifle can certainly be used to kill people.  But the first one is designed specifically to kill people.

I think when guns like that get into the hands of lunatics and fools it kinda sends a message that "you are not misusing this weapon if you kill a bunch of people with it, because that's what it's for."  Sure, you can take a hunting rifle and go do that, but all along you've got an awareness that you're "doing it wrong".

I'm not actually suggesting banning all these guns, but at least let's be honest about their purpose.  One of the chief themes of this blog is, in fact, honesty.  So I think we should be.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A gillion more reasons file sharing is good

To complete my Torrentfreak link-fest today, here is a very fine article about the benefits to society of file sharing.

We've talked about this here quite a bit, of course, but there were even some things I hadn't thought of.  For example, people in Saudi Arabia who don't have access to cinemas, can still get access to the global culture.  Surely this is a good thing.

They also talk about old ladies on fixed incomes who can't afford to purchase entertainment, and as a result are a little less lonely.  I think Tom Cruise can afford that, too.

Good stuff.

What are people torrenting for?

So I guess I've been dropping the ball a bit lately here over the holidays--something I swore I would never that's not good.

Anyway, catching up--Torrentfreak has a fun article about what people searched for in torrents in 2012.   Interesting read.

I promise to rant with more style over the next week.

Friday, December 28, 2012

UK now has fair use!

Apparently, the UK will for the first time introduce a fair use for copyright law.

You'll note that the content industry is not happy because they aren't being given free money in the bargain.

That's all you really need to know.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sigh, too many pussies

It looks like many sites are caving in to legal threats and not even talking about piracy.

Obviously, they don't have the courage of their convictions.

They had better not try that on me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Amusing pirates

Happy Boxing Day!

I just did my Xmas day post, so here is just an amusing link to info on hypocritical pirates from the fabulous Torrentfreak.

Can you believe there is any hypocracy in the anti-piracy movement?  Insane, I know....

Bad bosses

I've been compiling a list of traits of the bad bosses I've had over the past few years.

I was lucky to work at a tiny company where everyone was competent and at least desired to do good work.  We didn't agree on everything, to say the least, but I grew naive thinking that was normal, there.

Since then I've had to do some painful growing up.  So here goes:

1. They never say "please".  I believe this is because deep down they are insecure about their position---they know they are not really leadership material, so they have to put on airs of "being in charge".  Fucking idiots.

2. They never listen to their subordinates, but only seek to please their peers and superiors.  I'm not saying you need to do everything your subordinates say--not hardly.  But a good leader does listen carefully to their subordinates, because that is the only way to understand what is going on.

3. They always have lots of meetings to go to.  Because that is a very easy way to look like you are doing something useful.  They think.

4. They never admit they don't know something about how to do their job.  Back to the insecurity thing, and also the not listening to subordinates thing.  What it really does is make them look like goddamn fools.

5. They never attempt to talk to you as if you are a human being.  Because they are not really leaders, they think they have to act high and mighty.

And this is what's wrong with the world today.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Money makes the world go 'round

Everyone knows how MasterCard, Visa, etc. stopped accepting payments for Wikileaks. has now done so for a Pirate Bay friendly hosting company.

Anyone else find this disturbing?  Who needs the rule of law when you can cut off someone's money supply?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Oh God

Look--when you find yourself agreeing to cooperate with the Russians, you really need to consider rethinking your point of view.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Confidence and Faith

The difference between confidence and faith:

Meteorologists take many, many measurements and do a lot of mathematics to determine the chances of weather events happening. They then assign a number--a percentage chance--of those events happening based on the data they have about the past, and their own computations. The closer to "right now" they project, the better their projections, and hence the greater likelihood that their guesses are correct.

When Nate Silver of collated the results of hundreds and hundreds of national polls, his computation of the odds of one candidate or another winning elections approached 100% odds on the eve of the elections. Mind you, he did this for dozens and dozens of elections, not just the Presidency--and his "guesses" have been borne out by the results.

Mind you, it was never really 100%. I recall that he did actually put 100% on the Presidential election predictions on the night before the election, but we all know that was a joke. It was really just 99.999% or something like that. But Nate Silver understands that while there was still a 0.0001 percent chance he was wrong--if you go through life planning on 0.0001% chance events happening for you, you are going to be wrong a lot.

A lot of folks these days seem to be living in a world where they believe those 0.0001% chance things will happen, if they just *believe* it hard enough, or something, I don't know. Again, it can happen, but probably not. Like, seriously.

There is no data that I am aware of that would lead me to believe that the long string of crazy disgruntled assholes committing massacres in this country is going to end any time soon. If we change nothing, I think we can say with confidence that there is a 100% chance we will see more. This is not an article of faith--I only trust faith for one thing--my own belief that this whole big crazy world was not put here either randomly or with ill intent. I don't have any evidence for that, just my refusal to believe otherwise. Hence, that is faith, not confidence. My confidence in that statement is naturally challenged--but not broken--by horrible events like these.

I'm not advocating any particular course of action at this time. But I just want to suggest to my fellow gun nuts that it is not *necessarily* the case that tolerating the occasional massacre must be the horrible but necessary cost of our liberty. If there is something that can be done without infringing on sane, decent people's rights to protect themselves, their homes, and even our country, then I think we should do so.

Ultimately, it is necessary that we trust each other just enough to do that.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Europe rejects ACTA

ACTA is an international treaty in progress--signed by our President, but not yet ratified by Congress--designed as an end run around all national laws related to copyright protection.  It has been negotiated in secret, and is basically designed to force the U.S.A.'s current draconian-stupid system on the rest of the world.

Today the European Parliament rejected it (more or less).  This is a good thing, because the internet is global.

Seriously--without European cooperation, this whole construct is unsustainable.  Indeed, Hollywood needs to get every single country in the world on board with their agenda, or it will fail.  And this is why it is ultimately doomed to fail--which does not mean they aren't causing a lot of damage to people in the meantime.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

China tightens the Great Firewall, lessons for Hollywood

It's interesting that China is apparently using machine learning algorithms to detect and destroy VPN connections.  Soon they'll be doing this in America to detect pirates.

I wonder how long it will take the general populace to understand that China's attempts at internet censorship are exactly like what Hollywood is trying to do with major ISP's in the U.S.  That is, one group of powerful people doesn't like what you, the normal citizen is doing with your internet connection.

I'm sure the Chinese government can come up with some strong "moral" reasons why their citizens shouldn't say certain things on the internet, or view certain sites.

You may recall that I've advised people to use VPN's and other tools to avoid being detected pirating your ass off on the internet.  It should be understood that this will only be useful temporarily (I'd say ten-ish years) if the assault on our civil rights that Hollywood seems determined to engage in is allowed to continue.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

UK Pirate Party rolls over

This depressing news just in--the UK Pirate Party has rolled over without a fight and taken down their proxy to the Pirate Bay.


I would have sent them money--if they'd actually gotten sued.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Australian ISP iiNet tells Hollywood to fuck off

It was pleasant to read today about a major ISP in Australia telling the media industry to fuck off and refuse to spy on their users for them.

Admittedly, they didn't swear it off forever--they merely insisted that the media cartel offer their products at a reasonable price before they would help it police their customers.

Weird that companies like Comcast in the U.S.A. don't get that--of course, they are *also* the owners of NBC now, so they have a conflict of interest.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Peace is essential for our lifestyle

A lot of people harbor fantasies of violent revolution.

This is madness.

It has always been madness, but I can't deny it has sometimes been essential.

But you need to understand that our modern lifestyle--where almost no one grows their own food, for example--is completely dependent on a state of peace.

If you were to somehow be successful in starting your violent rebellion, be prepared to be hungry.

Very hungry.

I strongly advice you to organize politically and make your opinions felt at the ballot box.

And if you can't convince enough people to vote the way you want...perhaps you should examine your own selves.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Doing IT right is hard

Being very good at computer security is extremely difficult.  It is entirely hopeless for normal people to do it right--let alone most large organizations or governments.

Doing computer security and computer software well is, in fact, quite rare.  Most computer folks are not very good at it.  A small percentage are basically competent.  That leaves only the smallest number of people in the world who are really good at it.

You are most likely fucked at it, and should not try anything clever because you will likely fail.

That's it.  I've got nothing to offer!

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I think the root cause of any mass shooting is unrestrained anger.  The anger builds up so much to the point that the person feels like it's worth his life just to let it have free reign, and above all, have the sensation of power and control.

And this is the problem--we all have anger.  Every one of us.  And in each of us it feels like this powerful, unique fount of power--but it's not.  Your fount of power is just one of ten billion, and the only way you can just put it round the way you want is if you're a horrible dictator like a Saddam or a Kim or Stalin, etc.  Most of us don't get that option, and it's really not a very good idea anyway.

Ultimately, that level of anger is always about the idea that I should not have to deal with this shit.  Which of course is nonsense.

Even more than gun control, perhaps anger counseling should become easier to come by.

Friday, December 14, 2012

When it's not so great to be a gun nut

Actually I'm not so much a gun nut...any more.  I still believe in the ability of people to defend themselves, and I even think it's very important.

Obviously, when some asshole goes and shoots up a school full of children it's not too decent to bring this up.

Personally, when I finally started buying guns (after an attempted holdup), I was ambivalent.  I had always thought guns were cool, but I didn't want them in my house because I didn't want anyone to get hurt.  After that incident I spoke of, it kinda tipped me over to the other side because I decided that as adults, we have a responsibility to protect ourselves.  It's one of the most basic responsibilities, along with feeding, clothing, and shelter.  And while I think it's fine that people want to help each other with these things, I think it is simply madness to remove that basic responsibility from the individual.

That being said, some people are not responsible, and cannot be trusted.  We often put those people into a special building where they cannot escape, where they are confined with others who have been found, through due process, also to be deficient in the qualities necessary for good functioning in society.

It would be great to find out ahead of time.  I'm not at all sure it's possible.

I know I spent a lot of time contemplating the possible negative consequences of my owning firearms--but I know for a fact that many who buy guns do not.
I would be on board with requiring some significant training in firearms before an adult can legally purchase them.  We do that for driving cars (slighly) for the exact same reason we should do it for guns.  If someone wants to seek out technology assisted power, we should make some attempt to ensure that they know what the fuck they are doing.  And if they are obviously flaky, the officer giving the test can stamp a bit X on their application.

I realize people can still buy guns illegally.  But that doesn't mean we should make it easy for assholes and crazy people to do so.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Copyright enforcement is protectionism

It occurred to me today that copyright enforcement is, quite literally, protectionism.

I really kinda feel like it would be a natural fit for Republicans to fight for copyright freedom.  I know it sounds insane looking at the current lot, but wouldn't it be swell if they did?  I think it would make a lot of people look at them twice.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

DRM fails over and over the exact same way

I was amused today to read about Microsoft's new app store being ridiculously easy to hack.  Basically, if you get a trial version of an app, you can just edit a local config file and change "trial" to "full".

This is amusing on many levels.  First of all, you simply cannot secure the client side of a connection.  That is, if a person is in physical posession of the hardware (like your computer), it is ultimately impossible to keep them from doing what they want with it.  This is a simple, basic, long understood phenomenon of network programming.

So MS has failed to understand that, and also made it extremely easy to hack.

I have to think that the reason for this is inexperienced coders.

I'm 41.  I'm pretty old for a computer geek.  Older geeks tended to be electronics enthusiasts and the like when they were kids.  I was fortunate to get access to a TRS-80 computer when I was 10 years old, and there was no looking back.

I always assumed that the kids coming up behind me would all be great computer whizzes!  You laugh, and with justification.  Turns out that all kids are not interested in computers, and thus they are not all whizzes.

The second irony is that the kids that are interested, make the same mistakes that we all made.  Like trusting the client.  Like assuming their users are completely braindead and can't read a config file.  There is simply no way that a coder with any experience whatsoever would have ever made this mistake.

But companies don't like to pay experienced coders, because they have shit for brains.  They think computer programming is essentially magic.  They think that two programs--one written by a novice, one by a master, that look and feel the same on the screen are equivalent.

They are not.  Not even close.

From security to maintainability, the experienced programmer generates a vastly superior product.  You disocover this a few months/years down the line.

It's like evaluating a plumber when you are not a plumber.  It looks fine when he leaves.  But with a bad one, you have geysers of water in your kitchen a few weeks later.  That's how you can tell the difference.

So we are seeing this now.  Moral of the story: pay more for experience, it's worth it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Free online news on the way out? No.

This idiot thinks that free online news is on the way out.  No, it's not.

Have you met the internet?

What's weird is that most newspapers tried the same thing back in the 90's, with ignominious results.  But now they're going to try to charge again, because, this time, it's different.  After all, there is vastly more competition.

And people are used to getting it for free.

And there are tens of thousands of people who will jump in to do it for free.

Good luck with that.

These are the same people who just cannot understand that the internet has made some things so cheap they are nearly free, and there is nothing that can be done about it.

Sell more advertising.  Whatever.  You're going to have to figure out how to make a living.  But this way won't work.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The fourth amendment doesn't cover domain names

It appears that Hollywood is more than happy to extort your domain from you as part of an agreement not to be sued.  This follows a year of the federal government seizing domains without due process as well.

It's the internet, and therefore not real stuff and okay to steal from you, except where it is inconvenient for the powerful in which case everything on the internet is just like real property.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The lead fight may be in Britain

It should be noted that in the UK they are actually trying to block websites--specifically the Pirate Bay--that promote copyright infringement.  This in the birthplace of parliamentary democracy.

It's interesting.  The only site they are blocking is the Pirate Bay.  Everyone knows they are faaaar from the only torrent site out there.  So it seems clear that this is their test case, to see what they can get away with--and what will work.

The British Pirate Party is hosting a proxy to the Pirate Bay, which is annoying Hollywood.  They have asked them politely several times to stop.  The Pirate Party, of course, told them impolitely to fuck off.  Currently in the UK, the court orders ordering the blocking of the Pirate Bay apply only to Internet Service Providers.  Which is dumb, of course, because anyone can be an ISP, which the Pirate Party is busy demonstrating.

So it'll be interesting to see how this plays out over there.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

What's better than being a U.S. Sentator?

Apparently, being the chief of a large lobbyist group is more compelling--and powerful--than being a United States Senator.

Mind you, the reason they want him is because he was one.  Just the same, however, it signifies that real power in this country has moved beyond the legitimately elected houses of the people.

Which is why corporations are running rampant with special person status, and why copyright maximalism is being shoved down our throats.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Republican fired for suggesting Copyright is too strong

You may recall only a few days ago a Republican think tank suggesting that perhaps Copyright is too strong.  Well, the guy who did that has now been fired.

So this tells us two things.  First, the entertainment industry really has Washington in its pocket.  And second, that neither major party disagrees with the copyright maximalist notion that the internet, and all public discourse, needs to be policed constantly for copyright violations.

In other words, neither party really gives a damn about free speech.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Apple doesn't want to control you

It is fairly appalling to me how many techs like Apple products.  Even though they tend to be highly locked down, and often less functional than the alternatives.

I tend to feel like they're not real geeks.

I understand that sometimes you want something that "just works".  I really do.  Used to be, I really enjoyed debugging issues with my technology.  These days I really do not.  Just the same, I would feel like a bitch using Apple products.

Do you not feel like a bitch?

(You look like one!)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Conform to your EULAS

When you click through a EULA (End User License Agreement), do you actually read it?  Of course not.

How can it possibly mean anything when a non-lawyer agrees to legalese they are not qualified to even read?  How can any law be legitimate that is unintelligible by the governed?

I understand why legalese is the way it is.  But what difference does that make?

Monday, December 3, 2012

I win? Again?

The other day Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) reinstated it's bullshit copyright claim on the music I used in a video promoting my game.

You know...I really don't even like the music that much.  Sigh.

So I try to go to YouTube's copyright page, and I'm greeted with this fucking thing:

You can imagine my joy that I have to watch a kids video explaining copyright and answer questions about it to continue.  Nevertheless, I did--and to my annoyance:

1. The video didn't even answer some of the questions posed.

2. Once I completed it, it didn't even bring me to my copyright page.

They just wanted me to do that.

I love being manipulated.

But then I checked and I had an email that Sony had retracted its claim.  Again.

Sure is a great way to temporarily shut somebody up, by the way.  If you should ever want to do that.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Palestine and Israel

I just wanted to draw attention to this Guardian article about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It's a simple rule.  If you're reading an article about any current event issue, and it sounds like one side is the "good guys" and one side is the "bad guys", you are reading ill informed claptrap.

Books beginning with H

Another perspective post today.  A while back I posted a link to a torrent where you could download 4,687 ebooks in three minutes.  I just think it's important to repeat that over and over again until the idea of artificially restricting the flow of books to people seems like the stupid idea it is.

Today, a slightly weirder one.  A link to a torrent for 136 ebooks, all by authors whose last names start with H:

Strangely, I haven't yet been able to find the A-G and I-Z.  Anyway, here you go:

Hagar, Sammy -
Haldeman, Joe - The Forever
Hale, Benjamin - The Evolution of Bruno
Haley, Alex -
Halpern, Justin - Shit My Dad
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 01 - Guilty
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 02 - The Laughing
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 03 - Circus of the
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 04 - The Lunatic
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 05 - Bloody
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 06 - The Killing
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 07 - Burnt
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 08 - Blue
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 09 - Obsidian
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 10 - Narcissus in
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 11 - Cerulean
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 12 - Incubus
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 13 -
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 14 - Danse
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 15 - The
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 16 - Blood
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 17 - Skin
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 18 -
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Anita Blake 19 -
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 01 - A Kiss of
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 02 - A Caress of
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 03 - Seduced by
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 04 - A Stroke of
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 05 - Mistral's
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 06 - A Lick of
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 07 - Swallowing
Hamilton, Laurell K. - Meredith Gentry 08 - Divine
Hammett, Dashiell - The Maltese
Handler, Chelsea - Are You There, Vodka. It's Me,
Handler, Chelsea - Chelsea Chelsea Bang
Handler, Chelsea - Lies That Chelsea Handler Told
Handler, Chelsea - My Horizontal Life, A Collection of One Night
Harding, Paul -
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the D'
Harkness, Deborah - A Discovery of
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 01 - Dead Until
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 02 - Living Dead in
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 03 - Club
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 04 - Dead to the
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 05 - Dead as a
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 06 - Definitely
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 07 - All Together
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 08 - From Dead to
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 09 - Dead and
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 10 - Dead in the
Harris, Charlaine - Sookie Stackhouse 11 - Dead
Harris, Robert -
Harris, Sam - The Moral
Harris, Thomas - Hannibal 01 - Red
Harris, Thomas - Hannibal 02 - The Silence of the
Harris, Thomas - Hannibal 03 -
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 01 - Dead Witch
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 02 - The Good, The Bad, and the
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 03 - Every Which Way But
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 04 - A Fistful of
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 05 - For a Few Demons
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 06 - The Outlaw Demon
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 07 - White Witch Black
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 08 - Black Magic
Harrison, Kim - Rachel Morgan 09 - Pale
Hawking, Stephen - A Brief History of
Hawking, Stephen - The Grand
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet
Hazlitt, Henry - Economics in One
Heather, Peter - The Fall of the Roman
Hedges, Chris - Death of the Liberal
Hedges, Chris - The World As It
Heilemann, John - Game
Heinlein, Robert. A - The Moon Is a Harsh
Heller, Joseph -
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to
Hemingway, Ernest - A Moveable
Hemingway, Ernest - For Whom the Bell
Hemingway, Ernest - The Old Man and the
Hemingway, Ernest - The Sun Also
Herbert, Frank - Dune 01 -
Herbert, Frank - Dune 02 - Dune
Herbert, Frank - Dune 03 - Children of
Herbert, Frank - Dune 04 - God Emperor of
Herbert, Frank - Dune 05 - Heretics of
Herbert, Frank - Dune 06 - Chapterhouse
Hesse, Hermann -
Hiaasen, Carl - Basket
Hiaasen, Carl - Double
Hiaasen, Carl - Sick
Hiaasen, Carl - Skinny
Hiaasen, Carl - Stormy
Hiaasen, Carl - Tourist
Hill, Joe - Heart-Shaped
Hill, Joe -
Hillenbrand, Laura - Unbroken, A World War II Story of
Hinton, S.E. - The
Hitchens, Christopher - God is Not
Hitchens, Christopher -
Hitchens, Christopher - The Portable
Hobb, Robin - Rain Wilds Chronicles 01 - Dragon
Hobb, Robin - Rain Wilds Chronicles 02 - Dragon
Hobb, Robin - The Farseer Trilogy 01 - Assassin's
Hobb, Robin - The Farseer Trilogy 02 - Royal
Hobb, Robin - The Farseer Trilogy 03 - Assassin's
Hobb, Robin - The Liveship Traders 01 - Ship of
Hobb, Robin - The Liveship Traders 02 - Mad
Hobb, Robin - The Liveship Traders 03 - Ship of
Hobb, Robin - The Tawny Man 01 - Fool's
Hobb, Robin - The Tawny Man 02 - Golden
Hobb, Robin - The Tawny Man 03 - Fool's
Homer - The
Homer - The
Hornby, Nick - About a
Hornby, Nick - Fever
Hornby, Nick - High
Hosseini, Khaled - A Thousand Splendid
Hosseini, Khaled - The Kite
Huffington, Arianna - Third World
Hugo, Victor - Les
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre
Hunter, Stephen - Bob Lee Swagger 01 - Point Of
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching
Huston, Charlie - Henry Thompson 01 - Caught
Huston, Charlie - Henry Thompson 02 - Six Bad
Huston, Charlie - Henry Thompson 03 - A Dangerous
Huston, Charlie - Joe Pitt 01 - Already
Huston, Charlie - Joe Pitt 02 - No
Huston, Charlie - Joe Pitt 03 - Half the Blood of
Huston, Charlie - Joe Pitt 04 - Every Last
Huston, Charlie - Joe Pitt 05 - My Dead
Huston, Charlie -
Huston, Charlie - The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of
Huston, Charlie - The Shotgun
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New
Hirsi Ali, Ayaan - Infidel.prc

Friday, November 30, 2012

Libertarian insanity

I friend of mine is an ardent Libertarian.  I am highly sympathetic, but he doesn't believe me.

Mainly, I believe in Liberty whenever possible because no human system can be trusted to regulate human activity completely perfectly.  If you don't really know how to regulate human activity, experience shows me that it's better to leave people alone to do their own thing.  This does free them to do new and interesting and terrible things.

But my friend is basically an anarchist, as near as I can tell, and believes we can depend on selfish motives to supply all human needs.  I, too, am a fan of Ayn Rand, which I've talked about in this space more than once but I'm too lazy to link right now, but I'm not a fanatic about it.

Rand is very convincing.  But I think once you get a little distance from the work it's pretty easy to see the problems with it.  I believe the core of her beliefs are excellence, but trying to implement it in a perfect idealistic fashion is quite, quite mad.

It's strange.  Libertarians don't trust anyone to have any governmental function, but they trust everyone enough to regulate themselves to the point of making a "perfect" society.

I trust people on the whole, but come on, have you never met a real asshole?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Government controlled non-competition

The PBS NewsHour last night had an excellent piece about how industries like telecom and internet service have become essentially government granted monopolies or duopolies, which of course is the very antithesis of what conservatives claim to be in favor of in this country.

You will recognize the nonsense (bullshit) charges from your phone bill they talk about, and the exhorbitant rates you pay for cable and internet service.  The United States--the inventor of the internet--has less broadband penetration and availability than Lithuania, all thanks to government granted monopolies.

I really wonder if things like Fox News--a corporate owned entity--really have the goal of creating gridlock in Washington so that abuses like these do not get addressed.  But that would be paranoid, I know.

It's also highly relevant to the entire culture of corporate sociopathic behavior that influences the entertainment industry to run around suing people and convincing these major ISP's--major because they are the only ones available due to government granted monopolies--to spy on their users for them.  If we had more competition in the ISP marketplace, they would have to convince a LOT more ISP's to do this, and they would all feel that it would put them at a competitive disadvantage to do so.

I wish we could get a liberal President.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Michael Geist gives Canadians some advice about file sharing--if you get caught, you could be faced with fines up to $5000, but more likely only about $100.


I think America should secede from the United States and join Canada.

It should be noted, of course, that this is only for non-commercial claims.  I can't deny that I would find this to be acceptable, here.

Oh Canada!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More mediocre

Yesterday I mused about living in a world where most things are done, frankly, in a fairly mediocre fashion.  I, of course, am above such things.

Nonsense, of course--I screw up all the time, and certain things I do in quite a mediocre fashion as well.  For example, I am a mediocre (at best) plumber.

It's really at work (what I consider my first profession, software development) where I like to strive for higher standards, but I've had to accept that that just is not possible, either, all the time.

But it really is the thing that is responsible for things like Hollywood suing everyone's grandmothers over file sharing, or their seemingly impossible success at convincing Comcast to start harassing their customers for them.

The people in Hollywood who can't think of anything else to do to adapt to the reality of the internet are mediocre, and Comcast and other ISP's who are going along with them are run by mediocre people with no vision.  And also with a big self-defeating streak that causes them to bow to whatever kind of pressure Hollywood is applying.

To be fair, even if you wanted to do it, how would you implement a system of "you have to be really good to do what you do"?  Certifications?  Don't make me laugh.  And indeed, how is anyone who is not skilled in an art to judge whether someone who is is indeed good at it?  How am I to rate a plumber?  Or a carpenter or a dentist?

Not to mention that everybody needs a job.  I'm okay with that.  And I suppose I should be grateful to have less competition out there in the world.

I am annoyed by reality.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Living in a mediocre world

I think I was damaged by working at a tiny little software company (less than ten people) for the first decade of my career.  It had its good points and bad points, and one of the bad ones was that everyone was competent and meant well.

You would think that would be a good thing, and certainly we made a decent living for a lot of years (and they still do today).  The problem was I got used to that.  I thought that was normal.

Fast forward several years and I quit that job to make my game, and then when I ran out of money I have worked in other jobs, where things do not work like that.  It was a culture shock, to say the least.

So now I'm trying to get used to the idea of working and somehow thriving in an environment where everyone is not competent, and many do not even mean well.

But that's reality.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Impulse to Control

An Iranian blogger died "of shock" while being held in an infamous torture prison.  Meanwhile, a school in Texas wants to force all students to wear RFID tags while they're on campus.  Both of these have the identical motivation that the record and movie companies have when they sue and sue and sue the bejessus out of all and sundry--the impulse to control.

It's an ancient impulse, and it has good as well as bad uses.  Always, however, we have to be extremely wary of it.

The impulse to "keep students safe" while on campus is a good one.  And if it were to stop there, the RFID tag idea would probably be a good one.  However, you and I know perfectly well it will not stop there, as schools have been reaching more and more into students' personal lives in recent years.  The problem is that it is the same path that leads to bloggers mysteriously dying while being held by police.

Obviously, the recording industry doesn't even have a worthwhile fig leaf to hide behind like student protection--it's just greed, which is the most common and least worthwhile of all the sources of the impulse to control.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I want to strangle Sony Music Entertainment

So here we are again:

You may recall I got my first phoney DMCA request from these same assholes and they backed off of it just a few short weeks ago.  I even published the license I had for the music here.  But apparently they do not have the capacity to white list something for their fucking bot and they've succeeded in getting my video muted again.

Short version of the story--I licensed some music to use in the video game I've been working on for the last several years.  Sony apparently did so as well, and have decided that they own the copyright for it.

You can imagine my agony of rage and hate, considering the real effort I put in to keep all the licensed content in my game legit, and also considering my mild interest in the subject of copyright and fair use, as well.

But how can I even call up and meaningfully harass Sony Music Entertainment (Japan)?  This conflict is slightly assymetric.

It didn't help that the Google form for disputing it is highly legalistic and scary, and even asks with a popup "are you sure you want to dispute this claim?" before you submit it.

Fuck Google. Fuck Sony.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Black Friday

I was driving back from Austin today when I saw an outlet mall on the side of the road.  I thought to myself, "say, I do need some shoes, maybe I'll stop and get some."

And then I saw the parking lot.  Oh yeah.  Black Friday.  And the fields next to the parking lot, also covered with cars.  Yeah, new shoes can wait.

I can't really understand why people go to such lengths on Black Friday.  Do you really think the deals are that much better?   Have you lived in America before?  Half the time, "sale" is equivalent to "we raised the price and then lowered it, check out this deal!".

I suppose it's cultural, and I suppose some people just enjoy the excitement of it.
Bah, humbug.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cox likes their customers

Just a quick post today.   Apparently Cox actually likes having their customers, and will not be participating in the six strikes program--"for internal reasons".


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Watched over by machines of loving grace

A friend asked me to check out this (hour long) video about Ayn Rand, computers, and the financial system:

(sorry for the lack of embed, but gay ass Blogger only supports Youtube videos that way)

It just so happened that I was in the mood for something to sink my teeth into over dinner, so I checked it out.  It was entertaining and interesting, and definitely not something that could be responded to on a Facebook wall--and indeed the subject matter fits into the recently expanded format of this blog.

It's a little bit unclear, in the end, exactly what they are trying to say.  The video ends with a dark implication that the finance industry, having taken over the government in the nineties (a claim made earlier in the film), is still running the show even after the 2008 financial crisis.  To which my response is:

Oh.  My.  God.  You.  Must.  Be.  Shitting.  Me. :-)

I mean, the finance industry has been running Washington way longer than that!

I went and did a little research on Wikipedia and found several Treasury secretaries who had a background in finance, especially starting in the 20th century.  For example, Andrew Mellon (namesake of Carnegie-Mellon university) back in 1921.  Or this fellow Franklin MacVeagh (1909) whom I had never heard of before today.   Or if not finance directly you have many businessmen like Joseph Barr.

In other words, those of us doing software QA for a living don't normally get picked to be Treasury secretary.  And indeed, shouldn't the Treasury Secretary like, really understand all that stuff?

It's really just a part of the bigger pattern of life in that rich folks can easily accumulate power and have influence over the affairs of a country.  It's perfectly natural.  After all, put yourself in their position.  You have several billion dollars in the bank.  You don't like something that is going on politically in your country.  Or you feel like the government is costing you (or about to cost you) a bunch of money.  What do you do?  Do you sit at home, mourning your powerlessness?  Hell fuckin no, you put your money to work and obtain influence to try and effect change that you want to see.

Hell, in ancient Rome, rich folks actually paid for public works like aqueducts and stadiums themselves--in fact few public works were paid for by the government.  Providing a chunk of the city with clean drinking water is a great way to make yourself popular, for example, and enhance your prestige and power in the halls of power.

Of course, we don't see Bill Gates offering to re-pave highway 59--but then again he is trying to cure Malaria in Africa.

Nothing ever changes.

So, you know.  No news there.  I do think it's obvious that the finance industry has got a little too much clout at the moment, but the forces of light are pushing back with Dodd-Frank, for example, which I can assure you is greatly irritating them.  I personally do feel that those of us without power need to have credible advocates in Congress, which is why I voted both Green and Libertarian in the last election, and frankly I lean Democrat when there is no other choice.  But I don't have a problem with business having a seat at the table either, as they are the engine of our society.  I just don't think they need any help from me!

So, in the video they make a big deal that Joseph Stiglitz didn't have access to President Clinton.  I see a common fallacy here that if the President had only known, he could have waved a magic wand and changed things.  Speaking of Clinton, this reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by him, paraphrased, which was that when he came into office the one thing that surprised him most was that no one did what he told them to.  It seems that a President has actually surprisingly little power to change the inertia of government bureaucrats protected by civil service laws, hundreds of thousands of people in large organizations used to doing things a certain way, and of course that pesky Congress.

Moving on.  The video also talks about Ayn Rand, her followers, and their effect on the current situation.  This is obviously important, as many people in power these days do claim Rand as their inspiration.  If you are masochistic enough to read this blog on a regular basis, you know that I have talked about her more than once.  In short, I have read and liked Ayn Rand--I even think she has some extremely worthwhile things to say.

For example, one thing you never hear in the media--because it's way too abstract--is Rand's emphasis on philosophy.  Not her philosophy, but philosophy itself.  She says that if you don't have a philosophy, from what do you derive your value system?  And if you don't have values, how do you make any decision whatsoever?  To my mind, that is the most essential point of her philosophy--have a fucking philosophy.  Think about what you do.  Have reasons for the things you do, and for the things you think.  I think this is an excellent point.

She is also very much anti-Christian, or at least anti-Christian values.  In Atlas Shrugged in particular, she demonstrates how some people use other people to get things from them, using emotion, altruistic philosophy, and even family ties as blackmail.  I agree with her about this, too.

But she's most famous, of course, for exalting people of ability.  And I think this is great, too.  But it is also, in my opinion, where she stumbles.

Look, there's one thing you need to understand about Ayn Rand.  It's very simple.

Bitch was crazy.


I mean, you only have to watch an interview of her to feel it coming off the tv screen.  The crazy.  This woman was a miserable person.

In the video they talk about how she "rationally" convinced a married friend of hers, while she was married, that the "rational" thing for them to do was to have an affair.  Her former lover testified that she seriously believed that everything she did was rational.

What you need to understand, in my opinion, is that there is rather a lot of psychological science proving, quite clearly, that humans are not rational most of the time.  I could come up with literally hundreds of psychology experiments that I studied in school if I had time, but Google will not let you down.  Humans are animals, they have animal instincts that work extremely well at keeping us alive in the jungle.  What they don't do so well is guide us through the modern world.  I personally believe this is the root cause of most of the human-caused evil in the world--lack of rationality.  (I believe this can be improved dramatically with good education, but probably not completely).

Look, life is complicated.  There is a lot of shit to know and think about.  Anyone who thinks he is the master of it is self deluded.

At the beginning of the video you are shown a number of silicon valley entrepreneurs announcing that they are Randian heroes.  Listening to them and watching them, don't you kind of feel like they can't be?

As Obama was misquoted during the campaign--you didn't do that.  You did not auto-create yourself, and auto-educate yourself all on your own with no help from anyone.  You needed the society around you to buy your fucking products, after all.  Not to mention the roads, police and court system protection, and other educated people to work for you, since you literally cannot do it all by yourself.

I'm not even saying these guys aren't brilliant entrepreneurs, and possibly even great credits to themselves, their families, and society.  And I even agree with Rand that, generally speaking, we need to stay out of productive people's way and let them do their thing.  I'm just saying that expecting them to produce everything that humans need is madness.  Have you ever met one of these guys?  "Englightened" is not a word I would use to describe them.  "Acquisitive" is.

For example, many "self-made" men also have a way of treating their employees like crap.

In Atlas Shrugged, the hero guys treat certain employees with a lot of respect, because they have that mutual respect thing going on.  But if you look at an example like Papa John's pizza, it is obvious that there any respect has to be a one way upstream sort of deal.

All I'm claiming is that many people who are very very good at making money are not actually good and doing and making stuff.  They are generally just kickass salesmen--see Ellison, Larry.

In short, Rand was an idealist, and like all idealists who have ever tried to perpetrate their ideal onto reality, it backfires in unexpected ways because they don't understand their own idea's limitations and flaws.

So in the real world you have the case of the Randian financiers in Washington using the government to bail out Thailand and Korea, supposedly, just so they could get their own money out of those countries.

Ayn Rand would have those people executed.  You may recall that Dagny Taggart's dad once almost killed a government man who offered him government money.  No.  She wouldn't like that.

Hypocrisy is certainly the name of the game, here.  These guys claim Rand as their inspiration, but they use her to justify their government looting behavior.

Oh my, they've certainly gotten their information about her from YouTube, and not actually read her work.

So yeah, that's bad.   But personally, I don't care what kind of philosophy is spewed by someone who is looting, and whether they are being hypocritical or not--they're just criminals, even if they're likely to get away with it.

But you know, in the end, I think my point is that it is just not worth getting your panties in a wad about stuff like this.

Today I took the day off, and it was a beautiful day outside.  I got up and "worked out" (a two mile walk around my neighborhood), cleaned up and had lunch with a friend.  I came home and walked up to Starbucks and got a coffee and a cookie and enjoyed the nice weather, watching the people going about their business out there in the world.  It was very pleasant.

Ultimately,that is that kind of thing that life is all about.  One person can only do so much.  You can write a blog and try to influence people to support the expansion of fair use in copyright to include all non-commercial use, for example.  I certainly encourage that.  You can sit around with your friends and bitch about politics and stuff, as long as it's fun.  But one person's power is very limited--even if he or she is wealthy.

Look at the last election--billions were spent by billionaires, and half of them still lost.

So you do what you can. But I think it's far easier--and more interesting--to simply accept that there's going to be a certain amount of bullshit in human affairs.  People are going to lie, cheat, and steal, bribe and corrupt.  They are also going to be virtuous, honest, and value integrity.  More often than either they are just confused and kinda stupid. It's this mix of reactions that I think makes society interesting and entertaining.

Sure, it's possible the Earth will be swallowed by a black hole because Obama got re-elected and computers aren't as smart as some think they are and Wall Street is running wild and the Chinese are experimenting with antiprotons.  And if so, well, we'll all go down together.

But I doubt it.  Probably the future will lie somewhere in between "global holocaust" and "nirvana".   I'm just going to do my small part where I see the opportunity, and try to enjoy myself the rest of the time.

Anybody got any weed?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why electricity deregulation sucks

So maybe you're living somewhere where they are considering deregulating electricity.  If so, STOP THEM.

I live in Texas, where they perpetrated this scam on us over a decade ago.  Every few months--varying based on term--I have to select a new electricity provider if I don't want to get gouged.

Sure, it looks great if you don't think about it at all.  You even have a nice looking website:

And gee, if you go to "compare offers" (feel free to use my zip code 77057) you will see lots of different options--

and you better read the fine print on every single one of them.

So you know, all the electricity always comes from the same places.  You just pay different people.  And if you follow the links on the offers to any of the companies' websites, you'll see they all have a totally different scheme and way of doing things.

For example, Frontier Energy just tricked me into signing with them, only to get a phone call saying I have to sign up for automatic payments to get the rate they promised.  Again, in the fine print--and there is a lot of fine print.

Fine print is not justice.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Everyone should quit their jobs

One of my main meme's is douchebags.

Douchebags are responsible for all of mankinds man-made problems.  Every war, every financial disaster, every last bit of fine print on every contract, and probably a lot of suicides as well.

The workplace is one such venue for douchebags to show off their douche-cellence.  For example, call centers where people are forbidden to deviate from a script.  Let's run through how that happens.

Customers complain about the automated phone system.  So some douchebag genius decides that what he needs is a call center.  But of course, he wants to spend as little money as humanly possible, so they set the wages for the call center workers so low that he can only find, quite frankly, the dregs of the world to work there.  People who can barely read and write, and have managed not to acquire any important life skills.

So because they don't pay worth a damn, they get these people who can't be trusted for their judgment, so they give them a script and tell them they must not deviate from it.  You know--like an automated phone system, except with real people reading the words.

This does a lot of things.

First, I realize that not all of the people working there are incapable of doing more, so it humiliates the people who, forced by circumstance, find themselves doing a tenure of script reading.

Second, for those who are well suited to this kind of work, it traps them there.  They believe that this is a normal and sane state of affairs, and can't find a reason that it should be changed.  This just ensconces douchebaggery in our society even more.

Not only that, but at minimum wage, it is real hard to pull yourself up out of poverty.  Go and get some training or education.  Hard to do that when you can't even really make ends meet.

Third, it insults any of your customers with half a brain.  It thus alienates the very people you were trying to placate by having real live people answer the phone.

And so the whole world sucks a little more.  But it does create jobs, I suppose!

More than anything, whenever possible, people need to quit working for douchebags.  This really is possible--I've done it before, and I daresay I will need to again.  As long as people agree to go along with douchebaggery, you can be certain it will continue to happen at the alarming rate it is, now.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

So I'm voting Republican, now?

I've been wondering for a while how long it might take the Republican party to potentially get on the right side of the copyright debate.  It appears there have been baby steps in that direction.

I say "baby steps" because it did not take long, as the article notes, for the issuer of the report to back down off it.  Strong copyright has strong representation in Washington.

They have great Washington skills.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Drug testing for unemployment and welfare benefits

Drug testing people in order to receive unemployment and welfare benefits is one of those many, many great ideas until you actually think about it for a minute.

Should we really invade the persons of every single person who gets laid off?  Think about that, please.

Also, I find it amusing that this idea comes from the Republican "individual rights" crowd.  Really?  You want the State actually taking piss tests on the citizenry?  This is the direction you want to go?  What's next, piss for a drivers license?

And I definitely agree with the crowd who can tolerate this, as long as all members of the legislature and governor are also subjected to random screenings.

Another expensive, stupid idea in order to solve a problem that has not been shown to exist.

Friday, November 16, 2012

So after a decade of p2p lawsuits...

It seems we learn nothing.  After a decade of massive p2p lawsuits, the answer to the problem seems to be more lawsuits.

It's hard for someone like me to understand.  I tend to see the world in terms of what is real, to the best of my ability.  What people think is less important to me when I'm trying to understand a thing.  But I see every day that cronyism and conformity to the current management fad is a more effective method of self promotion than actually doing good, effective work.

So these people who keep wanting to sue people on the internet for distributing their precious bits confound me.  You had might as well sue the farmer who collects the water that flows downhill to his farm or the baloonist who rides the hot air over a factory higher into the sky.  Surely they don't really think they can stop this thing?  It's just greed, I say.

It doesn't help that the legal profession in America appears completely devoid of any spine, commitment to principles, or vision.  The Federal government has been trampling on civil rights in a serious way for over a decade now with no repercussion--indeed it is lawyers leading the trampling.  Same thing with file sharing lawsuits--despite ample evidence that man of these suits are of dubious quality and intended mostly to intimidate, they do nothing.

What can we do about it?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Some people should secede from the internet

I'm actually seriously annoyed that Fox is making a big deal out of the piddling number of people circulating a petition for their state to secede from the U.S.  Rupert Murdoch was born in Australia, and now he wants to encourage our country to break up?

Don't like it, not one bit.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Americans will abuse a censorship system, too.

Google has released a new transparency report, which is good.  I would rather they put up more of a fight, but there are cases such as court orders which make that problematic.

One interesting part today is the government requests section.  You'll see there that the most common type of government request to remove content, by far, is "defamation", which is what despots always say when they censor stuff.  What is interesting is if you go down to the United States section, down at the bottom, that Google did, indeed, receive several requests from the U.S. to do this for the same reason, and happily they rejected the requests.  But it just goes to show that Americans are not immune to abusing any censorship system that exists.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Marijuana is like piracy

I'm very concerned that the War over Copyright is going to turn into another War on Drugs.  Or rather, that it already has.  Meaning, a decades long struggle to prohibit something that people are definitely going to do, anyway, and infringing on the freedoms of every American in the process.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Maybe we should encourage for-profit piracy?

My whole thesis is that it is legitimate to go after counterfeiters--people who make and sell counterfeit cd's and movies and such for profit--or for that matter, people who sell mp3's for profit or otherwise profit from piracy.  But that may change if 15 year jail terms become the norm.

I'm all for suing those guys for every dime they made, but jail--especially a lengthy term--is stunningly wrong.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How does it feel to be a human resource?

I've talked before about "human resources", and how much I hate the term.

I'm not talking about things like a harassment free workplace, equal opportunity in hiring and promotion, and things like that.  I genuinely approve of those things.  I'm just talking about the entire concept of treating humans as resources.

Look, I'm a programmer--I understand the desire to quantify and systematize all things.  The problem is that we are not yet ready, as a society, to quantify and systematize humans.  That is, they are far, far too complex to do this successfully with, as of yet.  When it does happen, I'm pretty sure it won't look anything like it does now.

I will say that some people seem to do well when treated as a resource.  They seem to be happy working in very large organizations, pigeonholed into a strictly defined role where process is more important than product.  And I can even see how that sort of thing may be necessary, to an extent, in vary large organizations.  Unfortunately, it is this same thing that diffuses responsibility in those large organizations, to the point that the organization can do something terrible, but somehow no individual is responsible.  Which of course is highly immoral.

So I find it jarring to see that kind of thinking in a small organization.  What's more, we seem to be training an entire generation of people to be managers, as opposed to leaders.

This is a subject of great interest to me, that I've been discussing lately with a number of intelligent people.

To my mind, a leader is responsible.  A good leader is the sort of person where really you can sense their competence from a distance.  When they give an order, you want to obey it.  It's not just force of character per se, I think, but a sense also that their mind is clear, they know what they want to do, and they have reasons for engaging in things like discipline beyond the mere assertion of authority.

A manager, on the other hand, manages process.  Every interaction you have with a manager can be seen as an engagement with process, even within their own minds.  You can see it working on their faces.  Hiding with effort their true thoughts and feelings--not out of tact, but terror of making an error.  The last thing they want to do is engage with you as a person, because that breaks the process whereby you are transformed into a resource.

And these same folks wonder why their employees won't lay down their lives for the company.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Paranoid distractions

Everyone seems to have noticed the appalled reactions of Romney supporters on Facebook lately.  They are quite shocked, appalled, and many genuinely fear for the future of the country.

I expect that to be mitigated to some extent by what I expect will be a rapid and complete deal to avoid the Fiscal Cliff before the end of the year.  I wouldn't be surprised if it happened before Thanksgiving--but certainly well before Christmas.

It's certainly quite a remarkable political climate at the moment for anyone who seriously follows such things, as I do.  Note that "seriously following" does not mean getting all (or any frankly) of your information from Fox News or AM talk radio.  I'm talking about the millions of folks like myself who read the newspaper every day, and have done so for many years, and even occasionally watch PBS for serious analyses of things.

But with another four year mandate for the President, Congress understands that the best thing right now is to put on a show of bipartisanship in time for people to feel confident heading into the Christmas shopping season.  Seriously, there are fairly falling all over themselves to do so, with only the de rigeur level of partisan speak.

Why they couldn't do this before was largely, in my opinion, because of Fox News, primarily, stirring up massive discontent among uninformed people who are simply not educated enough to distinguish News from Opinion, or Opinion with Sensible Opinion or even Logical Internally Consistent Opinion.  I'm sorry, but it's true.  The truth has no bias.

I think the logical disconnect between a lot of those poor folks expectations for the election and the actual outcome may have for the first time penetrated that barrier to understanding which is characteristic of believing everything Fox News says.  There is a state of shock, and certainly fatigue.  The country wants very much to move on, and I'm hopeful that a lot of Fox News addicts may wake up and smell the roses.  Folks, it's not as bad as all that.  Or if it is, it's not in the way they're telling you!

You see, I find the whole political circus to be a distraction for the people as well.  This predates Fox News and exists independently of it as well.  For example, I consider global warming to be the single (of many) biggest threats to humanity, but how many times was it mentioned during the campaign?  Because it's not a part of the political parlance of the moment, it was ignored, and thus we continue blithely hurtling along the path to self destruction.

I'm hoping Obama and Congress can do more than avert the Fiscal Cliff of their own devising, and actually start trying to do some good for the people.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Copyright is not a winning political proposition

This article has some interesting polling data about piracy.  Most appalling was the about 25% across the board support for monitoring your internet usage to ensure you aren't pirating movies, tv shows, or video games.

Now, you can get 20% of people to believe just about anything.  But still that's pretty disturbing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Squaring the circl-y type thing

I had an epiphany last night.  I was not the first to have it.  Basically, we need to end Congressional districts looking like this:

The entire, 100% purpose of districts that look like that is to construct a "safe" seat for a particular political party.  You will find that this is one of the many things the Democrats and Republicans agree upon 100%.  It suits the both of them to secure safe seats for each other, and this perpetuates their duopoly in power.

But this isn't even my main issue.  My issue is that because the districts are homogeneous, the way to win them is to appeal to all of these people who have the same beliefs.  This may sound innocuous, even virtuous, until you think about it for a moment and observe the political reality of the United States today.

You see, I am not one of those people who believes we are really as polarized and divided as all that.  Sure, there are always whackos.  But most people are pretty darn moderate when it comes right down to it.

For example, I may have a fantasy about going into the office tomorrow and telling my boss what an incompetent dickhead he is.  But you know I won't do that.  Burning bridges is retarded, and also it doesn't look nice to other people.  Not to mention that hey, are you ever really 100% sure you are right about something like that?  So instead I'll go in and pretend to go along with the flow until I find a better job.

That's how people really are.

But I believe the core of the problem we have in this country now is that the two "sides" feel compelled to pander to their bases precisely because they have been so cut and dried into nice digestable chunks whenever redistricting takes place.

Imagine if every congressional district was square, or something close to that.  You would have a cross section of ALL people in there.  And what would you then have to do to win?

Why, you'd need to be an intelligent, sensible, reasonable person.  And can you imagine a Congress filled with those?  Not to mention the opportunities for alternate parties.

There is more than one solution to this problem, and I think they all need to be explored.  Then, we'll just have to convince every member of Congress to jeopardize their positions for the good of the country!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2004 all over again

It's eerie how like 2004 this election is.

You have a President who is profoundly unpopular among a large segment of the population--one for bankrupting the country with his war mongering, one for being black (not that I have an opinion!)

The economic and political climate is absolutely ideal for a change, but the opposition party only manages to nominate the least offensive, most "electable" candidate--John Kerry in 2004, Romney now.  In both cases, they are entirely absent of any appeal of their own, except that they aren't the other guy.

Both of them made the argument essentially that, "hey, I can do it better", without offering any specifics.

And they both will lose because they don't really have anything new or attractive offer.

It's a little inspiring to me that, ultimately, positivity generally prevails over negativity, if only just.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Let me explain Linux to you

Linux is the most widely used open source operating system out there.  I use it every day, on my compters at home and at work.  I like it a lot.

It has come to my attention that many people do not know what the fuck it is.  So let me explain.

A guy named Linus Torvalds was studying computer science in college and decided he wanted to make his own computer operating system.  So he did, and he called it (in modest fashion) "Linux".  It's kindof a play between "Linux" and "unix", which is the kind of operating system he copied as a model.

Unix was made originally by Bell Labs originally made in 19 freaking 69 for mainframe computers.  There were many "clones" made over the years, of which Linux was one.

Fast forward to 2012, and you have a much more mature operating system which includes nice, easy to use desktop tools familiar to anyone--which in fact I am using right now:

The thing about Linux which kindof confuses people is that there is more than one kind.  In the screenshot above I am using Ubuntu Linux, which I do recommend for beginners.  You can install Ubuntu for free on as many computers as you like--which is true for all decent versions of Linux.  There is no "license check" whatsoever.  Doesn't that freedom sound appealing?

It also comes with tons and tons and tons of free software (legally), which you can install with a click of a mouse.  And none of this stuff is going to spy on you or steal information from your machine.

There are many different versions, however, and some of them can look very different.  The guts of the system are all the same, but the interface--the part you look at--can be very different in both good and bad ways.  It just depends on what you like.  Different versions are called "distributions", which just means version.

Android, the mobile phone OS from Google, is a version of Linux for mobile phones.  Android is going to take over the world.

For many years, I've predicted that we would all be using Linux--somehow--by 2020.  I didn't know the form it would take, but it's starting to look like Android.

You will also find Linux in many standalone devices, such as the Boxee box, Roku media player, WDTV, etc.

So you might as well go ahead and try it on your desktop--the sooner the better for the coming Linux revolution.  I could go on for (literally) hours about the many ways it is superior to anything else out there, but it would bore you, and you probably aren't ready for it yet.  :-)

NB: There are versions that are specially made for older computers, such as Xubuntu, so you can extend the life of your crufty old PC.  Sure, you'll wipe out all your data, but that's okay--make backups first.   You'll be amazed at how fast your old machine is once you get that nasty Windows install off it!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day laborers impress me

So when I was on the way back from the Comcast store the other day, I was stopped at a light at Chimney Rock under the Westpark tollway in Houston.

This is a well known place where day laborers gather to look for work.  Honestly, I hadn't put a whole lot of thought into it before.

But while I was sitting at the light, I was watching these guys just standing around, waiting.  I was thinking about how boring it looked.

And then, a U-Haul truck pulled up.

As soon as it came within sight, all of the Mexicans (and doubtless nationals of other Hispanic countries!) sprinted toward it.  They started pulling on the passenger door before it even came to a stop.

That's what the desire to work looks like.  That's probably also what hunger looks like.

So Comcast sucks.  But I realize this is a first world problem.  Indeed, the entire theme of expanding fair use in copyright to encompass all non-commercial use is very much a first world problem.

I do think it matters, as we will only have more scenes that like that that I witnessed if real freedom on the internet is not preserved.  But I understand it's not exactly salient to every day living to a lot, or rather most, people.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Does Comcast not understand why they suck so hard?

So I went down to the Comcast store today to return an unneeded Cablecard.  It's about the sixth time I've been down there over the past year, and it has never not looked like this:

The few workers there are not exactly hurrying--not exactly Post Office-like, but definitely not feeling too put out by the extremely long line.  Not that I blame them.  It's always like this.  If they tried to hurry it would suck for everyone.  And obviously, it's not in the least important to Comcast to serve their customers well.

Anyway, I did some metrics and calculated that I would be there at least two hours, so I left.  Wasted gas, time, but not my Saturday time.  Not any more.

But what else do you expect from a company that has agreed to rat out it's customers to Hollywood?  Plainly, they don't like us very much, and don't want our money.  Which is why I, and I urge everyone, to give them as little money as possible.

You don't really need that extra level of cable service.  Spend that money on clothes for your kids, or retirement, or something else trivial like that.

One thing is for sure--the moment they rat me out ONE TIME, my internet service is going with someone else.  I call it my "one strike plan", and I'm the customer--I can do that.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Which Presidential candidate is better for copyright?

I'm not going to lie to you.  I lean Democrat.  I don't like all Democrats, and I don't dislike all Republicans--although I do think the latter party is being literally driven insane by Fox News and AM talk radio the last twenty years or so.  It's not very productive.

But one major thing I'm not liking about Democrats these days is how they are completely in the pocket of Hollywood.  They get a lot of money from them.  Obama appointed a "copyright czar" who worked for the MPAA.  Not good for our future.

That being said, the previous regime wasn't much better--the Republican reflex in favor of big business is also in favor of Hollywood, and the subversion of our foreign service by Hollywood started well before Obama came into office.

Support for the horrible Pro-IP act, which for some reason forces the Federal government to sue people for violating copyrights and patents, was nearly unanimous, for crying out loud.

So it looks like we're screwed on that front, at least for now.  I am a little more hopeful that the Obamas (you didn't think the Administration was just one guy, did you?) may be more receptive to the human rights angle of a free internet than the other guys.

I'll tell you this much.  If Romney were to magically announce that he was strongly in favor of a massive reform of our "intellectual property" laws, I'd vote for him despite his Bush-like "twiddle thumbs while Rome burns" plan for America--because it's so much more important that we are able to talk about our problems, than even solving some of them.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Expanding expanding fair use

Okay, I wanted to wait for the one year anniversary of this blog to do this, but I think I need to do it now.

I am expanding the scope of the blog.

There are a lot of reasons for this.  Truly, my recent first personal encounter with the ravages of the DMCA and our current American internet censorship system has brought things home in a non-abstract way.  It is, indeed, personal now.

There is also the fact that, frankly, I've probably made most of the coherent, logical, rational, and even emotional arguments I can for the expansion of fair use in copyright to include all non commercial use.  I intend to continue to make them, as I can't expect anyone to go back and read all my blog entries necessarily, and adding different angles is always useful, too.  But I need to write about other things.

I am only a man.  I am an intensely creative person, but I have limits.  Leaving the subject of the blog tied solely and exclusively to supporting the expansion of fair use as the only decent solution for the future of humanity's internet thing is keeping me in a creative straightjacket.  You may have noticed a lot of short posts lately.  This is because of that.

But the thing is, the expansion of fair use, and the abuse of the copyright system, is part of a much larger set of problems, anyway.  Problems humanity has always had:

Fools in power.
Blind obedience of the masses.

That kind of stuff.  These are the direct causes of the mess we are in now with copyright, and everything else that is wrong with the world.

For example, in my opinion, there has never been a war that was not caused by one or all of these things.

So, I hope you don't mind.  I'm going to expand the scope.  I may even, I daresay, occasionally post something trivial.

But I am optimistic it will be more interesting for all involved!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why Imaginary Property is going to destroy our country

By "our country" I mean the U.S.A...I do actually realize the internet crosses national boundries.  But it just sounds better to say "our country" :-)

I was having lunch with a friend today and we were talking about brain drain.  Already, if you want the really cool electronics, you have to buy them direct from Taiwan or Hong Kong, because patents are keeping so many basic technologies locked up.

It's sad that this is the case.  Copyright has the same issue--both are artificially keeping entrenched interests in power, and denying entry to new players--which is the exact opposite of the purpose of "intellectual property".

If we don't fix this very soon, the U.S. is going to start a serious decline in arts and technology on the world stage.

Jesus, what a travesty.

Here's the latest outrage:

Just check out that amazing technology that Microsoft supposedly infringed!

Mind you, if there's anyone who deserves such a lawsuit, it's definitely Microsoft, who's been extorting money from Android phone makers for years now.

Fuck them all.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sony is copying my copyright!

So I took at look at and they appear to be violating my copyright from this post, where you can clearly see I use the word "limited", which they copied.

Am I feeling a little butthurt about their getting the sound muted, without good reason, on my Youtube demo video?


Monday, October 29, 2012

DRM in games, closed source software

Digital Rights Management, almost by definition, is always closed source software--meaning you cannot inspect the code that is running on your computer.  Never forget that the "rights" being enforced are the "rights" perceived as belonging to the distributor of the content--not your rights.  In fact, they are actively hostile even to your existing fair use rights.

I'm thinking about that again because this weekend I bought a copy of Battlefield 3.  It's the first game I've bought in several years, since I started working on my own big game.  One of the reasons I started making my own game was because I was profoundly bored with all the new big games coming out, and so I wanted to make the game I wanted to play.  So my lack of motivation to buy games had a deep base.

But in any case, they've been coming a long way in areas like graphics and character modeling, etc. and I decided it was time to check out one of the recent big hits, and I've always been a fan of the Battlefield series.  In fact, my own game is, what I like to think of, as Battlefield on acid. :-)

So I went and bought a copy and as I was opening it up it hit me like a thunderclap--"why the fuck did I buy this?".  I hate Electronic Arts--they are a famously nasty company, and these days I vote with my pocketbook.  They do a lot of douchey things like let you purchase game upgrades that give you an advantage in the game (after you've already dropped $50 on the game), and they treat their employees like shit.  In our so called pure capitalistic society where the people are "consumers" instead of "customers", EA getting away with this sort of behavior only encourages it.  So I don't want to give them any money.

It's not like I don't know how to pirate shit.

And in any case, I seriously doubt I'll play it much, and even more, I do NOT trust the big game companies these days with Administrator access to my computer, especially on Windows.  It is extremely difficult/impossible to monitor what an application is doing on Windows (while many tools are built into Linux for this), and so I simply don't trust them (and there are numerous historical reasons to not trust DRM schemes).

So I started wondering how piracy was working these days with the much more aggressive DRM schemes (which "phone home", making piracy more challenging).  So I toodled over to the Pirate Bay and found this:

And I started reading the description--generally pirates will have a short description--which you must follow to the letter--to implement their crack.  And I saw this curious comment:

"As usual we recommend firewalling the main executable, not using Origin, and
avoiding EA.

I'm still not sure what they mean by "firewalling" here, but what caught my attention was "Origin".  I did a little googling and discovered it's basically EA's Steam-like service for buying games.

So basically what they are saying here is that, since you don't know what Origin will do on your computer, it might find the pirated version of the game.

Because, of course, Origin might just be scanning your entire computer.

And this is what I mean when I say that Digital Rights Management protects the perceived "rights" of the distributor--including the right to poke into every nook and cranny of your computer, combing through your personal data, personal pictures, finances, etc. in pursuit of their rights.  And it pisses all over your rights.

Run Linux.  Don't buy stuff with invasive DRM in it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

More evidence of RIAA double dealing

I am shocked, shocked I say to find out that the "independent expert" hired by the so called "Copyright Information Center" was actually an entertainment industry shill.

I sure hope no one is fooled by this shit.

The Copyright Information Center, in case you don't recall, is the group that has somehow convinced your Internet Service Provider (Comcast, Time Warner, etc.) to spy on your internet usage for them.

You know, I almost can't wait for this to go into effect.   I, for one, will be raising hell every minute of every day about it, to the best of my ability.  Everyone I talk to will hear it.  I will explain it clearly so that anyone can easily understand.

Someone has to call out this scum.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

So Vuze is worth a damn after all?

If you've used the Vuze bittorrent client, you know that it has a lot of nice features at the expense of all your computer's resources.  But this article has some interesting information that I don't yet fully understand that seems to indicate that it might be worth the hassle.

There must be room for failure

(I'm calling this one a late one for the 26th!)

Experiments like mine must be encouraged, not discouraged.  Unless we have a very unrestrictive copyright regime, we will destroy the power of the internet to create.  Yes, it is often based on what has come before--just like everything else in the world.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Copyright in the Presidential debates

I played a drinking game during the Presidential debates.  I took a drink every time a candidate mentioned the word "copyright" or "patents".

Suffice to was the shittiest goddamn drinking game I've ever played.

I realize that the Imaginary Property mess is very much a First World Problem.  In fact, that is very much the reason I started this blog--to increase awareness among "regular folks", because that is the only hope for the future.

Believe me--a first world problem today can become a problem for the whole damn world, tomorrow.  Tell your friends.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stealing from the public domain

One of the most important provisions of copyright is expiration.  When copyright expires (even if it's in 250 years), works are supposed to go into the public domain, so that anyone can use them.

Too often this does not happen.  There are many, many works that legitimately are in the public domain that cannot be used properly because they are claimed as still copyrighted.

One of the biggest problems with the current copyright regime is that there are no penalties for lying, or even being careless, about what you own copyright to.

Hmmm.  I wonder what I can do with that.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Victory is mine?

So I got this email from Google today:

Dear rastoboy,
Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. has reviewed your dispute and released its copyright claim on your video, "Singularity FPS Capture the Flag". For more information, please visit your Copyright Notice page
- The YouTube Team
So...I win?  Mind you, the audio on my video was muted for several days after a spurious complaint, and there will be zero consequences, to my knowledge, for the erroneous takedown notice.

I don't think I win, or anybody wins.  This only reinforces my already certain belief that all this taking down of websites and links that someone believes violates their commercial interests has GOT to go.