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Time for a Palin-Bash

November 16, 2009 5 comments

Sarah Palin has done it again. Every time the woman gets in front of a microphone and vocalizes her thoughts, I scratch my head. Aren’t crazy soccer moms supposed to be at home indoctrinating children, nor in public office or the spotlight?

Before we begin with our Palin-Bash, I’d like you to skim the following article, found here. Now, a few lines should have specific notice:

“If any vegans came over for dinner, I could whip them up a salad, then explain my philosophy on being a carnivore: If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?”

Seriously Palin? First off, you have aspirations for public office. Alienating a large portion of America (1 in 200 teens as of 2004, who are now the voting young adults that owned the last election) doesn’t seem to be the smartest move to me. Secondly, your argument leaves a fairly large hole: Humans. Humans are made of the same muscle tissue that animals are, and are reported to have a texture similar to pork. I’d like to see Mrs. Palin partake in a nice feast of human, as long as she’s making that argument.

“I always remind people from outside our state that there’s plenty of room for all Alaska’s animals — right next to the mashed potatoes.”

Honestly, your small minded humor isn’t original. The first time I heard this joke was on a billboard photo shown to me by my grandfather, in the mid nineties. If you’re going to be a blithering idiot, wouldn’t you at least have the idea to be an original blithering idiot?

The cliché portrait of a vegetarian meal predominately includes a huge bowl of salad flanked only by a glass of water and carrot wedges.

This is only too true. The average American sees Vegetarians as eating lettuce, carrots, and maybe some other uncooked garden veggies. The reality is something entirely different. Dating a vegetarian, and having one for a sister has opened my eyes to the multitude of incredibly tasty and nutritious vegetarian meals and dishes. Vegetarianism is not only a healthy, but also an incredibly diverse dietary choice. Mrs. Palin’s ignorance of the true face of this diet choice seems to be just another example of her general ignorance. I mean hell, she describes herself as a carnivore. The next person to see her eat anything that isn’t meat needs to call her out on her intolerance and ignorance.

Remind me again why we pay attention to this idiotic woman?

Categories: Politics, Rants

Rupert Effin’ Murdoch

November 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Tonight we rant about Closed Content, and the dangers of DRM. Again. I think I’ve done this before. Hell, I think all bloggers have done this before. It just seems that no matter how loud we yell, the content providers don’t seem to get the picture. What picture, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you…

Closed Content refers to something that is controlled by the creator, down to every detail, including how the end user is allowed to use it. This can be explained perfectly with our large corporate fruit. This company runs a web store for music that does slightly more than 25% of the entire music sales in the United States. Our large fruity friend uses DRM (Closed Content with a law stuck on it) to attempt to curb piracy. What this means is they “lock” the music file, so only the buyer (and three of his chums) can play it.

Now, say we have a buyer that owns six computers (you call it rare, I call it my father). He wants to download his favorite Miles Davis song, and be able to play it on all of his computers. This seems fair, correct? After all, he just bought the song. Shouldn’t it be up to him to control the usage? Afraid not, my dear fellows. Our large fruity friend dictates that controlled music is better only at the prodding of the content providers, and this doesn’t seem to be planning on changing any time soon.

In our happy little clusterfuck we call America, there’s a very rich man. His name is Rupert Murdoch, and he has a lot more toys than you or I could ever hope to afford. He owns the content sources for the majority of news sites, and has a lock on the majority of printed news. This rich little bastard also has no idea at all how the modern generation would like their content, as shown by his plans for online media distribution.

Murdoch has announced that a pay-wall will be erected around all of his content: That’s FOX, The Washington Post, and so on. A lot of fairly big names in news and content distribution, all accessible only if you pay for it. Now, I can understand his idea in doing this. He’d like to increase his profit margins, and that means finding a new way of extracting money from the readers. However, our generation has shown time and time again that they will not pay for inferior content in a manner that they can’t control it.

Take movies as an example. You can buy a large selection of movies from our fruity friend, and they’ll all be fairly low quality. You won’t be able to play it on any machine in your house. Or, you could pay nothing at all, and have it in perfect High Resolution, all while getting it faster than our fruity friend can deliver. See the problem? Murdoch is still stuck on what’s been killing the music industry in America: Control. As long as they try to control their product, the customers turn away. This won’t change with news.

If he seriously expects us to pay for something we’ve gotten used to having free, he better start writing an anti-piracy speech for when his system is broken (5 minutes after the pay-wall).

Categories: Politics, Rants

Our Generation

October 20, 2009 Leave a comment

“We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… Our Great Depression is our lives.” -Fight Club

Such an iconic line, so powerful when it came about. Fight Club, a movie that shaped so many young angry lives was tragically pre-terrorism scare. However sick and tired of people touting 9/11 around, 9/11 changed everything for our generation. Before the towers came down, our generation had no Great War. We had no Great Depression.

Now we’ve had both. We’ve had our Great War, and then some. We’ve sent our children across oceans to destroy something that scared us, and our war machine became overeager. It’s simply what happens with a war machine as powerful as the one we’ve built. We’ve had our Great Depression, where jobs are becoming scarce, and simply staying fed is what most of the paycheck goes.

It turns out collapsed buildings aren’t as romantic as we’d hoped. Instead of a crushed economy birthing a new honed system, all we were left with was a lot of dust and some dead friends. Our Great War hasn’t united us, or brought forth a new system. Instead, our Great War is our brothers and sisters in some hot desert where everyone hates us, and the only thing we can do is stay up at night waiting for the phone to ring. Our Great Depression didn’t leave us with a shiny new economy; rather it left our wallets lighter, our rib cages thinner, and our debt a little higher.

Our generation doesn’t need people who tear buildings down, or rip apart the old system. We’ve got enough of those scattered around the world doing damage to our lives. Our generation needs builders, those who can look to the future and see where change can truly be built. Because our generation isn’t angry like Tyler. Our generation is angry at the injustices that have been done, that people go without water and food, and that good men and women starve every day. Tyler’s reason to be angry was some indignant rage at Ikea.

So what part of our generation are you? Are you a builder, or will you tear things down?

Categories: Musings, Politics, Rants

Announcement and First Review

October 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Dear valued readers: We’re starting to notice some dedicated traffic here. We’re sort of bewildered as to why you care about our opinions, but hey, who are we to complain about site traffic? So here’s the deal: We’re looking at ways to diversify our topics. One proposed idea has been the inclusion of some creative writing. In addition, I’m (Ironspork) going to be reviewing one CD a week for this blag. The reviews will be something that I hope is an accessible genre, and something that my user base may be able to enjoy. An example review would be the following.

Album art for the Plushgun album Pins & Panzers

Album art for the Plushgun album Pins & Panzers

Plushgun seems to be a new emergence to a wonderful genre; that of Electro-Pop. It’s a fairly soft genre, with sometimes powerful emotions countered by fluffy and enjoyable songs. A comparable band for them would be Postal Service, or Owl City (sans auto-tuning). Their first studio album, Pins & Panzers is a powerful first album, enough that I can see this band going fairly far.

Their sound can be described as a deeply thought out and well constructed melody, backed by synthesizer and wonderfully executed rhythm. Their powerful vocals seem to be ones that can be related to by the masses, and this aids their music greatly.

The album opener, “Dancing in a Minefield” brings a powerful melody into union with a beautifully executed piano line. The two blend incredibly well, and the song is a definite must hear. The band’s songs are fairly catchy, with enough diversity to keep the album interesting the entire play through. I’ve had this album in a playlist that’s been shuffling for at least half of the last two weeks, and I haven’t gotten sick of their songs yet. The vocals are performed excellently, with enough genuine emotion to capture the listener’s attention.

Overall, Pins & Panzer’s rates an 8 out of 10 on the Spork Scale, and is definitely recommended as a must-listen.

Copyright Law

October 11, 2009 Leave a comment

In the modern era, technology has created a flow of information unlike anything humans have seen before. With the ever rising adoption of the Internet and related services, information and file sharing have reached new levels. Where one used to need hours in a library to research a report, it is now possible to spend a single hour online, and gather the same or more relevant research for the same report. With this rise in information sharing comes the ability to share files as well. This flow of information, now in whatever form desired, is only held back by one thing: Archaic Copyright Law.

Laws developed in the early 1700’s are now shaping the legislation and actions of modern corporations and lobby groups. What began with the Statute of Anne1 has now escalated to a legislative behemoth, one capable of leveling any individual to bankruptcy should one violate the laws that have been put forth. Current copyright law, for example, makes the sharing of a video no longer produced by a film company illegal. Even though the company is no longer profiting from this video, the law enforcement arm they employ has managed to convince the court system this steals profit. This “loss of profit” is what drives most cases pursued by the MPAA, RIAA, and other such organizations.

For a group so concerned about profit, these watchdog groups transfer little money from court settlements or damages to the artists whose intellectual “property” has been infringed upon.2 This concept of intellectual property is one that does little to secure the “rights” of the musicians. The concept of intellectual property was originally legislated to ensure the rights of the musicians to control distribution of their own material, but has been seriously twisted over time. With the advent of the recording label lobbying power, copyright law shifted to enable the recording industry to control the music (and money as a result) after it is produced. This idea of a company owning the rights to something, rather than a person, is one that seriously threatens the open flow of information in our world today. In the modern society, the ability to freely access information and media is one that is crucial to development of a solid education. As long as large lobby groups and media watchdogs attempt to control the flow of media to the archaic form of a Compact Disc, this flow is effectively stymied.

The companies that own the rights to music and videos have chosen a legally dubious tactic to defend their intellectual “property,” by suing the very users that used to give them money. Rather than invest the money used on court fees in pushing new music distribution technology, these groups would rather sue their own user base. However, not all fronts of new distribution are as dismal as it seems. Apple and Amazon are both pioneering a new online music store, and the progress there is astounding. The user base now has the ability to purchase a wide selection of music at a rapid rate. However, the recording industry still has their claws sunk deep into this trade, this time in the form of DRM. DRM (Digital Rights Management)3 refers to the locking of a media file to a single user. This seems like a good idea from a surface level, as it allows these media files to be treated much the same as a CD would have been.

DRM runs into problems once one takes a deeper look. A user with multiple computers is not allowed to use the music that they legally purchased on more than five computers, a problem that many families that wish to share their legal music will encounter. Under the DMCA4 (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), attempting to circumvent this DRM is a violation of the copyright. Copyright infringement, under the terms of the DMCA, is as simple as burning one’s own music to a CD in order to re-import it, effectively shedding the DRM. The problems with DMCA laws arises when technology changes. If a new music technology arises in the next several years, and a user wishes to attempt to salvage the DRM locked music they legally purchased in an effort to convert it to the new technology, they are a criminal under the DMCA. However, if they illegally pirate the music, thus circumventing the DRM, they are also a criminal. This gap in logic is one that lawmakers who know little about technology have created.

Only recently have music companies began to allow online music sales to sell music without DRM, but with one caveat: the price is usually higher. A user must pay more money in order to be able to use the music as they please. It is this type of lawyering that holds the music industry back from true open sharing, and from even larger profits. Rather than adopt a new protocol of music transmission, and attempt to gather profits from it, these companies seem to be stuck on suing their way out of the problem. The Peer to Peer technology (mainly pioneered by Bit Torrent5) allows users to share nearly any file at previously unheard of speeds. The more users that have the file, the faster it is to share. This technology hinges on having a single source of who has the file, called a Tracker. If the recording industry opened their own Tracker with a membership fee, as well as ad-supported content, they would be able to reach a much larger user base than they are currently. The majority of users are using Torrent sharing because it’s free, with a very close second unable to get the material anywhere else.6 Would the Recording Industry attempt to gain some profit by pushing this technology forward instead of attempting to sue it into the ground, they would be opening an entirely new revenue stream.

In conclusion, it can be seen that those pushing the laws regarding intellectual property and copyright have little to no clue what the actual population wants.7 These archaic copyright and intellectual property laws are only holding back the flow of media and information. However, all is not hopeless, as several companies are pushing forward more progressive ways to acquire legal media. One can only hope that these companies will keep an open ear to the user base, and attempt to deliver a service worthy of use by the masses.

Please note: This was a paper I was required to write about a year ago. The footnotes did not copy over correctly. If you see a number next to a source, and would like to see the source I used, drop a comment and I’ll get back to you.

Categories: Politics, Rants Tags: , ,

Left Wingnuts

October 11, 2009 4 comments

(please note: This post contains many sweeping generalizations. The world is not this polar. Please take this with a grain of salt.)

Let’s face it, every side has their wingnuts. These are the pot smoking, tinfoil hat wearing folks on one side, and the suit wearing, bible thumping fundies on the other. Each side has their crazies. Now, I’m not one in favor of a bipartisan system, but that’s the type of world we live in. Here’s a little precursor of the point I’m trying to make: In general, the liberal nuts are slightly more intelligent than the conservative nuts. Now to prove it.

The conservative side of the clusterfuck that is American politics seems to draw their morality (and legislative ideas, for the most part) from their good ole’ bible. Abortion laws? God is against it, so they are too. Taxation? The only tax they support is the 10% to God! The list goes on with a similar formula: When in doubt, go check with the Bible. The liberal side of the pile, however, seems to draw their opinions from a different source: The real world.

Now, I’m not defending the liberal wingnuts here, as tinfoil hats chafe my ears pretty badly. But here’s a redeeming fact about the left side of the camp: Their morality and compass of choice isn’t usually a religion, but rather the facts brought forth by the world around it. Here is where I will draw my primary example: Abortion (we just LOVE to poke hornets around here!).

Abortion can be argued in several ways, with the primary being the issue of fetal pain. I’ll focus on that aspect for this post. Now, most qualified medical scientists agree that fetal pain is impossible until around 26 weeks into a pregnancy. [1] This post isn’t about debating abortion, it’s about the political opinions regarding. So, we have one camp that argues all abortion should be illegal in any cases, as their theological beliefs state that all fetuses are created by a divine power. All issues of separation of church and state aside, this side rarely calls upon the medical research in the field. Science agrees that something is not sentient until 26 weeks, and so one side believes that abortion can occur before that time. The other side refuses any scientific input, as their ancient religious book tells them how the world ought to work.

Here is where my main point emerges: The dicotomy between the political parties. We have a side that accepts the input of the evolving world, and adapts their understanding, and we have a side that has chosen their position through the ancient texts of a nomadic tribe.

So who’s in touch with the real world, now?

Categories: Musings, Religion Tags: , ,

Drug Legalization, and Related Nothings.

October 5, 2009 5 comments

Here we go: Time to prod the hornets nest. Let’s set up a scenario. We have a man named Joe. Joe works at the local In-N-Out, flipping burgers. When Joe gets off work, he goes home and smokes weed. A LOT of weed. Then, he sits and watches TV until sleeping. This is Joe’s life. Can anyone point out anything that he is doing here that harms society, or hurts others?

Thought not. Joe doesn’t hurt anyone, he just sits and stupidly smokes. I don’t condemn nor condone his actions, but I do believe this about them: Joe’s weed time shouldn’t be illegal. Here’s my rationale for legalization: No one is hurt. In a legal weed business, someone would grow it, put it in a truck, send it off to a factory. Marlboro would release Marlboro Greens, and would sell them to people. People smoke them, and soccer moms still donate spare change to the whining media groups. People still get lung cancer, and people still die. Where in this business are cartels forcing peasants into growing? Where are the cartels taking over local governments? I don’t see anything wrong with this system, mainly as a result of the society we live in.

Our American system was founded on letting others be as long as they don’t hurt you. Weed doesn’t make you crazy, it doesn’t make you hurt others. Find me a single stoner who has blazed and beaten his wife. No other person is hurt by Joe toking it up in the privacy of his own home.

Have any thoughts on why weed shouldn’t be legal? Bring em up.