Friday, December 30, 2011

SOPA Rant


Video killed the Radio Star.
Congress to kill the Internet... star?

Lots of talk about the Bills to Kill The Internet... Hannah Hart's YouTube vid was the first one that hit my Personal YouTube Digest and since then there’s been many other such postings on SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act). A news story was broadcast on NPR yesterday morning, too - well it was about GoDaddy supporting SOPA and ensuing controversy, which was fairly old news by then, but they did talk about the bill itself.

Unfortunately, people are either talking about the consequences (usually in worse case scenarios) or, like in the NPR story, talking about... stuff that completely miss the point.

OK. Here’s what’s up in short bullet points (starting with the basics):

  • Intellectual property (IP) Definition: any original idea that you have. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new better mousetrap or a song lyric, if you thought it up and it’s original, it’s your property.
  • Copyrights (and patents) protect IP - more precisely, it protects your interest in your IP in that someone else can’t make money on your idea. At least without your permission, ideally with a healthy cut of the profits.
  • Piracy is theft. It’s hard to argue otherwise. However - not every instance of someone else using your stuff is piracy/theft/stealing/whatever. There are certain exceptions in US copyright law (keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer) that fall under “fair use” - two big categories are educational use and parody.


But - huge point here - Not Everything That Is Shared On The Internet Is Stolen (outside of Fair Use). Podcasts and original storytelling (the great series Pioneer One comes to mind) are big on the net, most of them are free or donation driven - very few charge you for a subscription. Some even encourage you to share under a Creative Commons license.
  • Should online piracy be stopped? Yeah - that’s like asking should shoplifting be stopped; I’d suspect that many shop keepers would be all for that. Well, why hasn’t it been before now? Media corporations and industry groups have tried - remember all those news stories about kids and grandmas being sued for tens of thousands (in some cases) for file sharing? Remember Napster?

    That’s the problem - it’s not with The Problem, it’s with The Solution. In the past lawsuits have been threatened or filed - and some of them have been ridiculous and/or outrageous - against people how barely knew how to turn on their computers, the computer savvy, and everyone in between (I remember when college campuses were being targeted because of illegal file sharing between students). We’ve also seen file sharing sites put out of business as a result of a general belief that illegal downloads were all that they did.

    Has this stopped online piracy? Ummm... if it had, would we still be talking about this? Part of the problem is that with activity within the US, you can sue the pants off somebody if they’re engaged in this type of activity - but - there are websites that exists outside the US (it’s true!) that do nothing but provide a platform for IP piracy. PirateBay anybody?
Just as an aside, there have been lots of letters sent to PirateBay by media corps and the general response has been, “We’re in Sweden. We’re not breaking any Swedish laws. Stop being stupid.” The general tone is hilarious: you can go to thepiragebay.org/legal, or if that’s blocked where you are, here’s one at Harvard’s GrepLaw website

To answer this challenge, SOPA would allow media companies to take action against sites that list links to offshore piratey sites as well as those US-based sites that include illegally used copyrighted material.

If the worst case scenario happens, and SOPA with all of its teeth intact passes and is used in the worst way (see the above mentions of lawsuits that have been brought in the past and judge for yourself if the legal system is used in ‘the worst way) then sites like YouTube and Facebook and Pinterest...  basically anything that you can post stuff to - or even post links to anything anywhere else on the net that ‘might’ be pirated can be threatened if not actually shutdown.

One of the arguments against all of this is basically this: social media sites are too valuable in today’s world to allow them to be shut down to “stop” online piracy. Democratic (the ideal, not the political party) demonstrations, if not outright revolutions, have been enabled in part due to the communication that these sites allow.

Of course the other argument is that it would stifle business by giving major corps the power to blacklist start-up websites that allow users to post things to them... which is, like, every site anymore. Barring that, it would at the very least mean that every post with a link would have to checked to make sure that the site being referenced was ‘clean’. And then there’s search engines - if a search engine listed a site that was blacklisted, then that search engine site would be subject to legal action. In short it would give media corporations de facto control over most of the Internet. Where would this leave independent artists who actually want their stuff passed around? As we’ve found out YouTube will take down video because of a letter sent by someone who doesn’t own the material in question - link here - just because that’s their standard response. “So what?” you might say, “It’s just a video.” YouTube also took down an episode of “Tech News Today” that covered the story because it used a footage from the video that Universal did not own. It was put back up later, but as a daily news show, it lost quite a bit of value. (Exactly when did Google’s YouTube become UMG’s punk?)

Having one set of players have that much power of a what, essentially, has evolved into a public space is not a good idea in general. Having major media corporations with the power to, not only pursue legal action against US-based sites, but to have off-shore sites blacklisted by having them removed from the Internet directories that catalog all of the “plain English” addresses (DNS searches for all you techie types).

In the end, if they get to do all of this, will it ‘Stop Online Piracy’? Nope. Unless they are able to completely take down ALL filesharing schemes - forever - then people are going to rip CDs and DVDs and whatever else to their computers. Once it’s digital - maybe the horse isn’t out running around the countryside, but it is definitely out of its stall with the barn door open. Will blacklisting sites work? Nope. Even if they monkey with the directory look-ups, those bad, bad websites still exist out there with a numeric address that you can type in to an address bar. Will blocking traffic to blacklisted sites work? Nope. If you can get off-shore to a site that will let you channel your traffic through them (eg: a proxy site) then you can still pull information from the PirateBay, or anywhere else. To make this work, you’d have to completely monitor all Internet traffic going off-shore... hello China.

As the talk about SOPA continues and I think about what’s driving the push for a bill, I’m reminded of a CD copy protection scheme that Sony spent a good deal of time and money developing. It was defeated by the Magic Marker. Bottom line: if it is convertible to a digital format, it will be pirated, by someone, somewhere - period. The only thing this bill will do is cause - potentially a lot of - collateral damage to the way the common person is able (or not) to use the Internet.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Good joke. Everybody laugh.

I heard a joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says, "Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up." Man bursts into tears. Says, "But doctor... I am Pagliacci." Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.

Rorschach, "Watchmen" (Thanks to Andrew Flynn on GetGlue for going to the trouble of typing it in and posting it to the movie thread over there... where I stole it.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Finally! Finally, I know! ...where the connotation for 'dog's bollocks' comes from. At the end of QI (BBC's "Quite Interesting" - post to follow) Series C Episode 6, Steven. Fry relates that in the 'early years of the twentieth century' children''s construction sets were sold in two varieties, 'boxed - standard' which became 'bog standard' and 'boxed - deluxe' which became 'dog's bollocks' in London slang.

I've wondered about this in the past, because 'bollocks' - literally meaning 'testicles' - is used in a negative context, as in "That's just bollocks' - read: "That's crap" for American audiences - or "Bollocks!" - "Crap!" or as an expletive, such as "Goddammit!". But- "the Dog's Bollocks" means something good for some reason, the cause of which has always eluded me - 'testicles' = bad, dog testicles = good. "Hmmmm," I thought, "now why is that?" Now I know. Thank you Mr. Fry and the QI elves for the third series.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mittencars!

Why are the Mass Effect 2 hovercars modeled after mittens?


(This is a detail from a picture of a vehicle collection created by 'Monsoontide', 'a contributing member' of foundation3d.com: http://www.foundation3d.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=41184&d=1279694406 )

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lana Del Rey

A friend sent me a message recently: "You need to check out Lana del Rey on YouTube. She's super hot and so is her music. Some of my favs are Outta Luck, You Can Be The Boss, Blue Jeans, Video Games, Diet Mtn Dew, Riding in Cars With Boys..... Um, I just basically like everything I've heard so far. She only has a couple singles out to d/l which is driving me crazy because I NEED all of this shit on my iPod ASAP, not just 3 songs."

She is so completely right.

A quick Google and I found comparisons to Nancy Sinatra (understandable) and Chris Isaak (um, yeah, I guess). Whoever you use as a starting point, what you're going to find is a retro 60's sound in "Kinda Outta Luck" or maybe "You Can Be the Boss" - a kinda lush electronic pop that wouldn't be out of place on a playlist with Poe or Garbage.



[whitespace]



If you're interested in reading, there's a cut and pasted GQ interview in this thread: http://forums.superherohype.com/showthread.php?t=367909 (scroll down or search for GQ and ignore the intro to the piece - it seems like the writer is trying to be 'hip' or something)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Finishing out the night with a little Mercury Theater. Happy Halloween - and to all a good night.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Two weeks since my last post. I haven't even had anything that I felt like bitching about. Just overwhelmed by such apathy - so much so that I doubt I'll even finish this sen

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I am writing to myself. for myself. by myself. (and other prepositions, as well).
Found Hanna Hart and her 'My Drunk Kitchen' series. What can I say: cute... funny... drunk.... lesbian... oh well. She's fun to watch  - and she curses creatively, which is always a plus.

Go to http://www.youtube.com/user/MyHarto and subscribe. You'll thank me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Two thoughts to blog by

1) Never watched a string of "Agents of Cracked" episodes on cracked.com before deciding to 'jot down a quick post' (see previous entry). Any other time is a perfect time.

2) Stop Editing - you're not any closer to a Pulitzer if you spend an hour correcting verb tense and punctuation. You just sound less illiterate. Being as probably no one is going to read what you're typing, it doesn't pay to spend *that* much time editing. On the other hand, spelling and grammar are important and I suppose the practice is good for you. So do whatever.

Good luck!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On Daria

(oh grow up!)
Ok. I've been on a "Daria" kick since Amazon texted me about the boxed set being their daily gold box special (for a whopping five bucks off their normal low, low price). 
If you're not familiar, "Daria" was a cartoon on MTV (back in the day, when the 'M' stood for 'Music' and MTV was good, and blah blah blah - all true, but, old). It was really good. In the vein of "Freaks and Geeks" (misfits in highschool (okay, that's where the similarity ends)) - only funnier and a whole lot more sarcastic. In other words Brilliant! Typical quote: Daria from Ep. 101 "Don't worry I don't have low self-esteem. It's a mistake... I have low esteem for everyone else." If you want to watch - 
"Esteemers" (1/2 of 1st episode): http://youtu.be/SLQzpCqTnvo 
- only it's flipped vertically, the title bumper is in French, and it's slightly sped up so that all the voices are pitched strangely higher.
So, in looking for a new desktop wallpaper, I stumbled on the SIGs on DeviantArt (#Dariafans, #JaneLaneFanClub, among others). And then paperpusher.net. And then the fanfic therein. And then... a link to a story called 'Mannequinn'. Never having read any Daria fanfic... well, even if I had - I'd still have this stain on my soul than no amount of soul bleach can ever, ever erase. Not saying that the writing was bad or anything, but... merciful Buddha - if you have any affinity towards the central characters, or if splatterpunk isn't one of your hobbies, then stay. far. away. (These are not the fuckin' droids you are looking for. Definitely.)

Otherwise you can Google it.

If you need me, I'll be in the shower... crying.

But not all Fan-Based Material is whatever-you-want-to-call-it, some are amazing (when you hit play, it'll jump you to DeviantArt, it shouldn't but it does):

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Time passed


Bah!
Really didn’t intend to let so much time to pass before Post 2. At this rate I should be able to break double digits just in time for the Mayanapocalypse.

Right off the bat, I thought of about three things to sound off about. But that’s the thing - it would have been just bitching and complaining. It would have been worse than Carlin’s last HBO special. So I held off and now I don’t really give that much of a damn about what would have been so maddening at the time.

In the future, I may do better... but I wouldn’t count on it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

First post

I've been entertaining the idea of a blog with this title. Doubly descriptive - irregular as in 'weird, peculiar, bloody odd' (but not eldritch), and irregular as in 'probably infrequent'. So here we are.