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September 15, 2006

let's try real short

From the President's mouth today:
It's flawed logic.

Let us all bask quietly in the hubris.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:11 PM

i thought we were friends, amazon?

I spend a measurable amount of time warning friends and family about technology.  I'm not quite as sharp as Cardhouse on these issues, but I do know to never click on unknown attachments, that Evite is a scam that monetizes the contact info of your invitees, that Bill Gates will not give you money for e-mailing, etc.  And a surprising number of friends and family are still in a state of alarming gullibility, as if bad intentions were only created with the advent of the Internets.

So it's with interest that I follow technology/IP/privacy events as they unfold rather quickly.  (In fact, as a brief sidebar, one of the biggest grudges I have against the Bush Administration is that their efforts to destroy the planet have taken up bandwidth that I would rather be applying to tech/IP/privacy wars.)  Obviously there are far too many developments for me to do them -- the individual developments and the field in general -- any justice.  But I did find this post from Cory Doctorow fascinating.  Doctorow discusses the license agreement one would have to agree to if one were to "purchase" a movie from Amazon's new VOD store, "Amazon Unbox".  Basically, the license is shitty, and only a fool would agree to it.  But the great thing about the post is that it covers most of the basic digital rights issues confronting us today, as such issues are conveniently addressed by the draconic license agreement -- malicious DRMs, privacy, territory and usage restrictions.  Yeah, it reads like boilerplate, but Doctorow does a great job putting it into English, making it snappy, etc.

Of course, Boing Boing is about the best site to visit regularly if you are interested in these issues.  And Slashdot as well, though I'm still a few years of learnin' away from not feeling dumb and old when I visit.

And if you are uninterested in these issues, ask yourself this question: when you buy a book or a CD, do you then own that item, or are you merely licensing that book?  See, me, I can ponder that one for days, and argue it for longer.

It just may happen that the riots all your friends have been predicting for years now will end up being digital.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:24 AM

i guess their god is vengeful after all

God was not going to let me get away with that.  After a little skeptical smart-assery earlier this week, opening questioning Christian dogma in a little post on this here site, He has seen fit to Visit Upon me and Remind me of my Sinful Ways.

I got to share a crowded subway car with a Gospel Lady of Craziness this morning.  The length of the trip, she sat and loudly sung hymns to herself, and the people standing around her, and the people in the next car, and the people on the space station.  And these were not groovy hymns; listeners did not feel the sway, and did not clap in time.  These were hymns of admonition.  These were weaponized hymns, intended to be applied to the unfaithful.  And, no, she was not crazy the way I would call a crazy hobo crazy.  She was apparently going to work, and she was sober.  I take that back -- she was drunk on the Spirit.  She reeked of the Spirit.  Apparently, she had a long night of the Spirit, if you know what I mean.

It was one of those public transportation moments, with commuters united in their antipathy towards the harmless yet annoying.

And, yes, even in my ecclesiastical punishment I crack wise and heretical.  I am bad person.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:42 AM

September 13, 2006

wiki warning

Someday, you will be tempted to muck around on Wikipedia.  You know, see where the linkage takes you.  You will then stumble across a page listing all the people listed on Wikipedia that were born in the year you were born.  You will then click.

You do not want to do this.  As far as your self-esteem goes, it's like googling yourself, plus also piles of crank.

Yes.  I'm vain.  Cat: out of bag, you!

Posted by mrbrent at 5:22 PM

atrocity update

Sometimes all you can do is you sit back and watch the outrages float on down the stream.  I have principally two (three?) in mind.

First was this story, which broke over the weekend.  To wit, journalist Greg Palast is threatened with arrest over his photography of an Exxon refinery, which incidentally is adjacent to a Katrina refugee camp.  This could be construed to constitute two atrocities -- the first that the DHS is running around playing junior G-man on journalists, and the other that there are still Katrina refugees (72,000, reportedly, behind barbed wire somewhere).  Either one should be enough to take to the streets with the torches and the pitchforks.  Or at least type really angrily.

And if this is not disturbing enough, please enjoy this little nugget about how US military leadership believes that international criticism could be avoided if certain non-lethal weapons are first used on US citizens before they are deployed in foreign theaters.  There are elements of this argument that could almost be considered heart-warming -- non-lethal weapons, avoiding foreign criticism -- but unfortunately when you mix it all in the batter you get a very foul pancake indeed.  It makes the Navy look like a nest of nascent Dr Evils, positing any social strife as an excellent research opportunity.  At least then, I guess, the dirty Hippies will have been good for something.

In a way, we are lucky that no one has decided that a trial run of very-lethal weapons would look good on the US populace.  Yet.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:16 AM

September 12, 2006

another sad reminiscence of the bad old days

I just realized: there's another item you can add to the list of cultural phenomena lost to the ages.  Though, maybe not so much cultural as anthropological, which has creepy implications w/r/t the slow mutation of our consciousness.

No longer do we, or will we, consistently misspell a specific word.  Maybe the phenomena is me-specific, but back in the school days, there was a small array of words that I could never remember the spelling of, and would usually guess wrong on the two or three options I could conjure.  "Across" was one of those words, as was "manipulate".  It was kind of pathological.

Now we have spellcheck, not only in our word processing apps and e-mail, but even in our phones now.  In fact, spellcheck is almost becoming sentient, your little buddy who keeps all your linguistic foibles a secret from the world.

Not to mention grammarcheck, which I have never once used in my life on principle, so its ravaging of our linguistic capability is as yet unknown to me.

I'm warning you, we'll be telling our children, "Man, I wish you were around before the robots got to us -- good times."  To which they will reply, "Don't say 'man'.  You embarrass me, and my pet robot friend."

Posted by mrbrent at 10:12 AM

September 11, 2006

love is not like the pizza man

This can be filed in the "Careless Words" department.  And, as you may or may not be aware, "Careless Words" is pretty much all that Titivils do.

I listen to way too much AM radio.  Much more than you do.  And I don't even drive to work -- I have these old Sony headphones, each can the size of an onion, that I wear as I trudge back and forth across Gotham.  They make me look like Princess Leia.  And as I leave snickers in my wake, I'm grooving to the NPR, the news, or the talk radio, or even the occasional professional athletic event.

One of the the things you're missing with your reluctance to sumbit yourself to the Amplitude Modulation radio is this super radio ad for Match dot com.  Apparently, Dr Phil's piles of money have shrinked, because he's partnered up with Match, both for some services program but best of all for radio ads, in some of which, he says things like the following (please imagine it being read in the accusing twang of Dr Phil.):

Love is not like the pizza man, goin' door-to-door -- "Hi, I'm looking for a life partner?"

Which is oddly the pick-up line I used on my then wife-to-be.  You know, directly following me trying to remember the one about me holding something against her and failing.

I will just type it again because it is the truest thing ever: Love is not like the pizza man.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:46 PM

and that's all the people need to know

Last night the moon was in "waning gibbous" phase.  It was full last week, so now it's three-quarters full and emptying slowly.  I think I remember somewhere back in all the schooling that some old old human cultures, let's put them in the B.C., believed that the waning of the moon was caused by a god, angry or maybe just hungry, who was eating the moon.

So, today is September 11, 2006.  There will be remembrances and ceremonies, some pretty deep and heartfelt, some pretty tacky.  There are a whole lotta people for whom this day must suck, considering the loved ones lost, and a whole lot more that saw some pretty scary shit five years ago.  And there's even more people who are convinced that today is some kind of holiday, that we must commodify our grief, that there is some "lesson" of that terrible day.  These lesson people are pretty much exclusive from the first two groups of people I described.  They also are the kind of people who believe that Saddam Hussein raised the ghosts of Hitler, Lenin and Khomeini, who each possessed the body of President Clinton, who then personally flew the planes into towers/Pentagon/countryside.

Yeah, there was a lesson to be taken from 9-11, as follows: there actually never was an angry god eating the moon.

Yes, I understand that by even addressing this, I'm adding fuel to the fire, and it makes me little better than all the ghouls out there.  Just wanted to get a little something off my chest.  Now excuse me while I take my indomitable spirit and go looking for some novelty.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:24 AM