November 04, 2004

ha ha


October 26, 2004

i find it telling

Kerry's Defense PlanMike alerted me of a good article on Slate about the reporter "pretending to be a Republican in Blue California." (archived) Excerpt from the article:
Driving home, I rip off my Bush-Cheney shirt so I can walk the streets of my neighborhood unjeered at and without terrifying little children. Reflecting on the sting of being called "asshole" during my travels through Blue America, I wonder: If I were truly a Bush supporter, how long would I be able to endure a life filled with epithets before I gave up on the shirt?

August 30, 2003

freedom of speech in software

/. alerted me of a great essay (archived) written by Phil Salin on why software is protected free speech and should not be regulated by . So yes, you must read it.

I agree with this whole heartedly. For quite some time I have always compared the act of programming to be more similar to an author crafting a novel than to some sort of act of engineering. In fact, this is my reasoning for why I didn't take to any of my classes at University and eventually flunked out. They tried to teach computer programming to me as if it was an engineering discipline and I just wasn't having any of it. I have been programming since I was ten and I have always felt (even if I didn't know it at the time) that it was a form of expression. As soon as I had completed any piece of code, I would immediately run off to grab whoever I could find to show it to them. I took great pride in having created something myself. The same pride I would have felt had I painted a picture, written a story, or composed some music.

I don't think anyone would disagree that computer and video games are a form of art and expression. Perhaps not something you would hang on the wall at The Art Institute of Chicago, but they are certainly expressive, have plots, tell you a story, and can be quite beautiful at doing so. Simply because it requires a computer to make it "go" shouldn't make it any different from a movie that requires a projector or a DVD player. After all, a DVD player is nothing more than a specialized computer that reads a certain type of software program off of a disc.

July 31, 2003

you should read

Here are things I read today, that you should read to if you care at all about your future enough to have it not suck. It is absolutely vital that you understand how the Disney, the RIAA and MPAA, and Ashcroft are working so fiercely to take away what few rights we have left.
  • Lawrence Lessig (Our Hero and Would-be Savior) Interview on Greplaw
  • (archived)
    # When we met last summer you said that the EU needs to give the U.S. a good example of how to reframe the copyright debate. Now the entire EU is implementing the European Copyright Directive, based on the same WIPO priniciples that the DMCA derives from. Thus, it looks like the battle for balanced "lagom" copyright is lost in both Europe and the U.S.. So, who will reframe the debate and when?
    Europe needs to recognize the total failure of democracy that "the EU" now represents. When Europeans actually control their government, then something other than Hollywood will rule the EU parliament.
    # Speaking of copyright - what would a Lessig balance of copyright look like? Would you regulate books and computer programs different?
    14 year term, renewable to 28 for all but computer programs.
    Deposit requirement.
    Registration requirement.
    Vastly limited "derivative rights".
    10 years for software max, if and only if, the source code is deposited.
    No copyright protection at all for any software whose source code is not deposited.
  • Brad Templeton (EFF Chairman of the Board) Interview on Greplaw (archived)
  • # If you choose the three - and only three - most important issues for the EFF - what would they be?
    Two of the EFF's core issues -- freedom of speech and surveillance -- remain even more important today than they ever were. But the growing issue right now is certainly intellectual property and copyright -- in particular when such areas of law start affecting freedom of speech, freedom to do research and to build software, freedom to publish and reverse engineer, all of which are happening under the DMCA.
    # Being around the Internet for so long - what is your greatest fear for the future?
    I fear people will buy into the idea that there is an inherent tradeoff between fundamental rights and safety, so that everything that frightens us shifts that balance and takes away rights. A lot of people seem to believe this and say it. It's a scary world and it's going to get nastier for a while. Rights lost take a long time to come back, indeed they usually only come back in revolutions.
    So many times when people make this tradeoff it's just because they didn't think hard enough how to keep rights and increase safety at the same time. We need a force in society to push for that, and it's a daunting task. Many people don't worry about lost rights or privacy until after they are taken away.

April 09, 2003

so they had guns

Joe Grossberg has a good entry in his blog about people pointing to Iraq and saying, "see they had guns, but that didn't stop them from being oppressed by their government. So why do people use protection from the government as an excuse to have guns?"

March 20, 2003

combat rock

They tell us there are only two sides to be on
If you are on our side you're right if not you're wrong
But are we innocent, paragons of good?
Is our guilt erased by the pain that we've endured?
Hey look it's time to pledge allegiance
Oh god I love my dirty Uncle Sam
Our country's marching to the beat now
And we must learn to step in time
Where is the questioning where is the protest song?
Since when is skepticism un-American?
Dissent's not treason but they talk like it's the same
Those who disagree are afraid to show their face
Let's break out our old machines now
It sure is good to see them run again
Oh gentlemen start your engines
And we know where we get the oil from
Are you feeling alright now
Paint myself all red white blue
Are you singing let's fight now
Innocent people die, uh oh
There are reasons to unite
Is this why we unite?
If you hate this time
Remember we are the time!
Show you love your country go out and spend some cash
Red white blue hot pants doing it for Uncle Sam
Flex our muscles show them we're stronger than the rest
Raise your hands up baby are you sure that we're the best?
We'll come out with our fists raised
The good old boys are back on top again
And if we let them lead us blindly
The past becomes the future once again
After reading Pinkerton's post asking "Since when has disagreeing with the government been considered anti-american?" I can't help but be reminded of Sleater-Kinney's song Combat Rock of which I have posted the lyrics above. It is a great song, so I thought I would also put up an mp3 of it. If you like this song, make sure you go out and buy all their albums as I have. Show you love your country go out and spend some cash.

the first strike

As promised here are the sound bites I captured from the live Baghdad streams. Times below are in Baghdad time (AST) which is 3 hours ahead of GMT.
  • circa 4:40 am - Chanting begins over loudspeakers in Baghdad. It continues until 4:46 am. [mp3]
  • 5:33 am - Air raid sirens sound over Baghdad. [mp3]
  • 5:41 am - Eight minutes after the sirens have sounded, the first strike on Baghdad begins. This was a surgical strike aimed at "targets of opportunity" including what was believed to be Saddam Hussein himself. Note that the first 40 seconds of the audio, are the first 40 seconds. At that point the feed was lost and picked back up some less than four minutes later with the raid just concluding, which makes up the last 3 minutes of the audio. [mp3]
That's it for now.

March 19, 2003

explosions explosions!!!

Bombs are going off in Baghdad. Saw a few bright flashes go off. And I got the audio as well. The feed has died, so that's not a good sign. I'll make updates as I can.

8:46PM Feed is back. Heard a few more explosions. Still fairly quiet though.

sirens going off in baghdad

Well they aren't any more, but they were for about a minute starting at 5:33 Iraq time. Got them with Audio Hijack. Will have that and the chanting up soon. They are just now reporting about the sirens going off on Fox News. Seven minutes later.

singing in baghdad

wow. there is some kind of singing or chanting being broadcast over loud speaker it sounds like in Baghdad as I type this. I am capturing it off the MSNBC live feed from Baghdad using Audio Hijack. I will put an MP3 of it up soon.

start the war already!

I have MSNBC's live feed from Baghdad in the upper right corner of my screen. I didn't really expect there to be sound. It's very surreal to hear the birds chirping in Iraq. Every few minutes a car will drive down the street visible in the frame. Some of them are very loud and you can hear them well before they are visible. I keep thinking maybe it's the sound of an air strike. Saw a bus drive by once and just now a car honked at the car in front of it. This is pretty wild. I'm glad I finally took the time to watch Live from Baghdad last week. I had been sitting on my Replay TV for quite awhile. It was really great and I think everyone should watch as soon as they get the chance if they haven't yet seen it.

I also watched a great Frontline special on Channel 11 last night that basically detailed everything that has happened with Iraq since Desert Storm. This really is not a sudden thing and has been going on for 12 years. In fact Bill Clinton was very close to going to war with Iraq in 1998. He didn't because his advisors were afraid it wouldn't make him look good. Kinda how people are trying to make Bush look now. So let reiterate this. Clinton holds public appearance over the safety of country and the world. That's good to know. Maybe if he had gone after Iraq in 1998, there never would have been a 9/11 tragedy.

just what are we trying to save?


Saw this image on Ben Goodger's blog. This goes back to my "we need to stop babying the morons of this world" statement a couple of posts ago. I was pretty much convinced that we do need to go after Saddam and everything in order to guarantee the safety of Americans, but now I'm not so sure. Perhaps if the ones we lose are the ones in the photo, maybe it's an acceptable loss after all. Hrmm...UC Berkley (archived) right? That should mean they are within range of North Korea? Excellent.

February 23, 2003

mmm...perfect competition

/. alerted me of a great article (archived) on Reasononline that talks about a paper written by a pair of economists and published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. I would love to get my hands on this original paper. It pretty much puts into words the idea I've had in my head that just throwing copyrights and patents out the door would lead to unprecedented amounts of innovation. Especially in industries like software where it is is so blatantly obvious how everything is supposed to build upon and improve what came before (1.0, 2.0, 3.1, 95, 98, XP, you get the idea). Imagine if the improving process was no longer limited to that one company holding a monopoly over their ideas, but anyone could do it. But how does this help in more tangible markes like pharmaceuticals. How can you expect to make the cost of your R&D back if the minute you let your product out the door others can copy it and start selling it themselves. Right now, a drug company may spend 5 million dollars in research to come up with the latest wonder drug. So what do they do next? The patent the formula so no one is allowed to copy it and product their own pills. Imagine it costs them $20 a pill to produce it. Do they sell the pill for $40? Hell no, they need to make back their R&D before someone comes out with a better pill, so they sell it at $200 a pop. Well in order to make back their 5 mil they need to sell 25,000 pills. And since it cost them $500,000 to produce those pills they need to sell some more. So to finally break even they need to sell a little less than 28,000 pills. But who wants to break even? So they need to sell roughly 56,000 pills to double their money. That may be a fine and good for the drug company, but it sucks for society. At $200 a pill only the richest will be able to afford it. Take away the patent. The minute they sell a pill, a generics company can copy it and start producing imitation versions of the drug for $40. The original company that invented the drug is screwed. But they don't have to be. You are first to market. Sell 10 pills at $1,000,000 each. These will be bought up by generic drug companies so they analyze them and start making their imitaition versions. But it will take time for these companies to do so. In the mean time you've already made back your R&D money plus 50% profit. Once all your competitors have bought the pills they will use to make copies, start selling it in the stores for $60 with your brand name. More people will be able to afford it so you have better initial market share. Once the generic versions are hitting the market you will already have a large customer base. Sure some of them may switch to the generic, but some will stay. And society benifits as well because $40 a pill is easier on the wallet than $200. It's perfect competition and I like it. I'm sold, when do we start?