Though working on the computer and watching “Batman and Robin” on TNT may not sound like an exciting Saturday morning, that’s how I spent mine. In watching Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze I couldn’t help but wonder, why isn’t he using these awesome one-liners in his campagin? Oh sure, there’s plenty of comments about the “total recall” or “terminating Grey Davis”. What about “let’s kick some ice”, or “alright everybody, chill”? Cinematic gold.
Monthly Archives: September 2003
"Republicans for Dean"
This phrase seems to have two totally different meanings, depending on who you ask. On the one hand it means Republicans support Dean because he embraces some of their ideals (presumably fiscal conservatism?). The other meaning is that Republicans hope he wins, because he’s too far left as to be unelectable.
In searching to learn more about the topic, I came across this article which was pretty interesting.
Over the past few decades, the electorate has become much better educated. In 1960, only 22 percent of voters had been to college; now more than 52 percent have. As voters become more educated, they are more likely to be ideological and support the party that embraces their ideological label. As a result, the parties have polarized.
The conclusion of the article still suggests that moderates have the best chance of winning today, but one can only wonder if the parties will continue to polarize far enough that we end up with a true idealist in office – either a third party candidate or a far right- or left-winger.
Freedom Rally this weekend
So, mostly because I was interested in hearing Gary Nolan speak and partially because I had nothing better to do, I went to the Freedom Rally in Boston this weekend. They gave Nolan 5 minutes to speak, which he mostly used as an advertisement for the Libertarian party as the only one who would actually decriminalize drugs, and that was it. Probably not a bad idea given a good chunk of his audience were Democrats and Greens, neither party being particularly serious about this issue.
Now, I’m not sure if “ironic” is the right word for this situation or not, but I’m definitely tempted to use it. Basically there were a fair number of activists who took turns getting on stage and encouraging the audience to get more active, support the cause, etc. The audience was predominantly stoners, a good number of whom were actively smoking up while they were speaking. The ironic part is this – the audience really doesn’t care. The billions of dollars we spend on “The War on Drugs” is supposed to be used to prevent them from doing what they were doing at that moment. They don’t care. Why? Because they do it anyway! The War on Drugs isn’t potent enough for them to even bother fighting back.
The cops in attendance turned a blind eye to the audience’s smoking, partly out of practicality, and partly because they weren’t hurting anyone (hey, go figure). While the figures on how many non-violent criminals we imprison were fairly compelling, as well as the argument (from an ACLU rep) on how these laws lead to more rights violations (mostly searches and seizures), I would have liked to hear more about how criminalizing drugs creates a full underground economy, which is run by guns and violence rather than contracts and courtrooms. Maybe even some discussion on how much money we give to terrorism because drugs are illegal.
Ah well. Seeing everyone smoking and hearing about how much money we spend preventing it was pretty convincing on it’s own. Every two weeks when I get my paycheck, I’m extra-confident that the taxes are being well spent.
Californians, cash in on your free PC
After losing a pretty hefty anti-trust case, Microsoft has agreed to pay $1.1 billion to people who purchased products from them from Feb 1995 and Dec 2001 in the state of California. Lindows is willing to give you a free PC with their operating system installed on it if you sign your claim over to them… not a bad deal from what I’ve seen.
DCMA at work
Another awful story about a company abusing the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.
Skylink Technologies manufactures a universal garage door opener that can be used to open and shut any type of garage door. Its competitor, the Chamberlain Group, claims that Skylink violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, by selling such a product.
On the upside, it looks like some people are fighting the DMCA based on some of the terrible things the Recording Industry Association of America has done with it (like suing a 12 year old girl).
I tend to like this argument when it comes to sharing music:
“Isn’t is equivalent to my leaving the door to my library open?” Roberts asked. “Somebody could come in and copy my books but that doesn’t mean I’m liable for copyright infringement.”
Although, if you were to take it to it’s logical conclusion, there really isn’t any difference between sharing music on your personal PC and putting it up on a dedicated web server (one’s just a better-equipped “library”). Although it’s more convenient to go after those that share the music, assuming they purchased it themselves, the only real copyright violators are the downloaders. Tracking the downloaders is a fairly difficult thing to do without privacy-infringing policy like the DCMA.
So, what’s the solution? Well, there are a lot of laws that are difficult to enforce because of privacy concerns. There are a lot of laws that are difficult to enforce in general (for example, measuring the safe travelling distance between two vehicles on the highway). That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be laws, and that doesn’t mean we should compromise other laws (or constitutional protections) in order to make them easier to enforce.
What I’d really love to see happen is an artist stand up and say “I will not create any more music until music piracy decreases substantially.” That’s the real way to solve this problem. If copyright law seeks to ensure individuals will continue to produce without having their output ripped off, then we should reach the point when an artist will stop producing. Since we’re nowhere near that point from what I can tell, the “rampant piracy” is not bad enough to concern me.
If people want to steal music even though it is illegal, it will kill the very music they love. If the RIAA keeps fighting the battles the way they have been (by influencing questionable legislation) mainstream people will never realize this connection, and will continue to view the recording industry in an unfavorable light – as a bunch of “greedy businessmen.” If consumers want to kill the music industry, I say let them try. We’ll see how they like the outcome. Or, more to the point, we’ll see how long it takes before they realize what they’ve done, and see that there’s no one left to steal from.
I don’t know how many people have heard of this show or how popular it is, but this evening I saw a tape of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge. Probably one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. They’ve taken some bizarre Japanese game show, and redubbed all of the words in English and changed them so that it looks like they’re saying some really funny stuff. The games they’re playing are themselves hilarious as well. Worth watching if you happen to catch it.
The Onion: Columbia Shuttle Infographic
The infographic from The Onion this week was quite amusing. Check it out here.
More Marlborough Politics
Just figured everyone would want a follow-up on the Marlborough Mayoral race I mentioned a little while back. It turns out Chris “The Skunk” Antal has a little scandal on his hands (not unlike the Arnold stories). In digging through his past, someone found out he was charged with sexual assault a few years ago, and found guilty of assault and battery. Technically, he should be a registered sex offender.
“I would (have registered) if I was told that but (the arrest) was all before that registry stuff,” Antal said.
So, I’m looking for a half decent softball bat and I find one and decide to price it online. Here are a few of the places I checked:
Now, I know it’s not just coincidence that these four companies have virtually identical websites – right down to the product number and server technology (JSP). Some digging revealed that Gart and Sports Authority are the same company, but Dick’s is a totally different company from what I can tell, and Olympia doesn’t seem to be publicly traded. So, how do they all have the same bat at the same price available at the same time while running the same ground shipping promotion? There must be something tying these 4 companies together…