STOP INTERNET CENSORSHIP!!

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (a rock in a cave, deep underground, beyond the realm of even the mole people), you might have heard about two new bills being muscled through congress, as fast as the big entertainment industry corporations can muster, in the name of fighting piracy. The U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA). These are bills aimed to curb online piracy, however they do so not by targeting actual pirates, but rather by targeting avenues by which a potential pirate might operate. These bills also give the government the ability to shut down sites based on criteria that the Entertainment industry will define.

These bills will effectively allow the government to censor the internet, and will put this loaded gun squarely in the hands of the big entertainment industry execs, giving them the ability the pull the trigger at will at whoever they want, whether it is justified or not. What gets me even more is the that these kinds of bills, that violate the very constitutional rights of all American citizens, are difficult for me to agree with even when they are used to stop terrorism, and save lives. And yet here we are, having our right violated simply to line the entertainment industries pockets! It’s absolutely disgusting.

And to cap it all off, none of these bills will actually prevent piracy. The vast majority of the cases that these bills will end up be used for will be to squash competition, freedom of speech and expression, and to bring ridiculous lawsuits against innocent Americans and their families. These bills will do nothing more than allow the Government to censor the internet, stifling our freedoms, and will just give Big Entertainment industries more ways to control the media and line their pockets. And that, my friends is not right. We need to fight these bills with everything we’ve got.

Please visit AmericanCensorship.org  to learn more, and fight these bills. They are wrong, they target the wrong people, they give the government unconstitutional rights, and they are flat out un-American. Fight them. Tooth and Nail, Fang and Claw. We can beat them.

Go to this site.

http://americancensorship.org/

Do it. Do it now.

Stop American Censorship

You’ll thank me for it later.

Trust me.

PhyreBlade

Anti-MAFIAA Manifesto (v3.03) (V for Vendetta style)

A ran across this little gem while browsing a P2P news site that i visit every now and then. I thought it was a *masterfully* done piece of literature, as the author describes it: “Written in the V for Vendetta style.” I thought it definitely worth sharing:

Market Momentum. A marginal improvement in a massive move of millions of monetary units. Mobs maintaining their millionaire manors with a martial ministry, marauding and muzzling the melomaniacs who made the mistake of mounting multi-user music-sharing programs onto their microprocessors, mostly for an ear-mashing, mundane and monotonous munch of music, with a miserable “remasterized” dynamic range.

The Machiavellian Music Industry, the Movie Masterminds and their malevolent minions, muscled by the majority of the media, masquerade their managers as martyrs to maintain a megalithic marketing model, misleading the masses into malls like mules, macerating -no, milking- their income and molding them: With mesmerizing melodies, moronic mottos, mountains of merchandise and meticulously mannered nominations, those monsters mutilate the masses’ minds, melding them into not more than mere mammals, with a microscopic mental magnitude, matching the mud and the moss.

Myth? Misstatement? Madness? MATERIALISM!

Meanwhile, in their magnificent mansions, the mink-mantled magnates morbidly mock the minorities’ misfortune, while moistening their mouths in martinis under the moonlight, and masticating their meat and marshmallows like no tomorrow.

Those mischievous moguls magnify their monumental monopolies by multiplying their machinery: Digital Rights Management, DMCA, “Trusted” Computing (Mr. Stallman was not mistaken). Maltreating musicians, misusing copyright to the max, mirroring the Matrix by mining the government to monitor communications, marching like the militia to school meetings in the mornings with menacing memos, mirthfully mismatching mortified mothers for maleficent mobsters, mandating most into misspending more and more (or be imprisoned). Their main motivation is no mystery: Money.

Money! A metastatic misery, a muddling myopia, a momentary make-believe, a magnetizing mirage! A manipulating mephisto, which metamorphoses the meek into mercenaries and murderers, making them moan like Midas in a maniacal manner: “mine, mine, mine!!” Is modesty no more?

MONEY! MAY OUR MAKER MALEDICT THEE!

(Meditate my musing for a moment)

This melee, to maximize their market share. Most of mankind’s malignancy is merged into a man-made monster of mastodonic measures. A mammoth called MAFIAA. Months pass, and the multitudes mourn the ever-minimizing mobility of their mediocre minds, amidst marred music, meaningless media transmissions, and miniaturizing freedom. This multinational massacre must be terminated, but most men make meager or no moves, at most mimetizing their communications with muTorrent, masked by the mist of encryption. Is this illegal? Maybe. Morally wrong? Maybe, maybe not (memorize this term: Civil Disobedience).

IT IS MANDATORY THAT WE DO MUCH MORE, OR THIS MACABRE MELTDOWN WILL MOVE ON!!

Militate and manifest yourselves in the metropolis! This is a major command! Miraculous modifications start as a minimal idea in a man or a woman’s mind. Maintain your might! Manly move forward, and donate money to your magnanimous comrades, the EFF and FSF, for their mission is not minor! But if you malinger…

Memorize my message, merciless mice! You might enjoy your freedoms for a minuscule moment – you shall miss them in melancholy for millennia, after they become but a marooned, mummified memory in a mausoleum named morgue. Misunderstand me not: this moderate memento, amusing to many, may be a premonitory ultimatum.

A MAYDAY!

Merry to meet you, I’m merely a man behind a mask with a mystifying moniker. I am M. – [p2pnet.net]

Nicely done. And all the more impressive because it conveys it’s message in both an inspiring and profound way. That’s right. There is a message in there. I hope you got it… :)

Myth? Misstatement? Madness? – [p2pnet.net]

What kind of kids are we raising?

I think that America, as a culture, we have started down a long slippery slope towards self imprisonment. We are stripping away from ourselves the very freedoms we hold dear. I see it every day. Even in some of the most innocuous things:

On the playground of a northern Colorado Springs elementary school, tag is not “it.”

The touch-and-run game and any other form of chasing was banned this year at Discovery Canyon Campus’ elementary school by administrators who say it fuels schoolyard disputes.

“It causes a lot of conflict on the playground,” said Assistant Principal Cindy Fesgen. In the first days of school, before tag was banned, she said students would complain to her about being chased or harassed.

Fesgen said she would hear: “Well, I don’t want to be chased, but he won’t stop chasing me, or she won’t stop chasing me.” – [The Colorado Springs Gazette]

Is this what we want our kids to do? How do we expect our kids to learn anything about people and life, if every time they run into a problem we ban it wholesale? How are they going to learn how to deal with each other? Learn how to handle people and their idiosyncracies? When will they understand that not everything is going to go our way, and that not everything is under our control?

And even worse, how do we teach those kids what they can and cannot do? How do we teach kids that you cannot harass someone just because? Banning tag isn’t going to teach that. All this teaches them is if you don’t like it, get it banned. No tolerance, no patience, no  understanding. Nothing else will be learned by this action. The playground will have one less game, and the children will have one less avenue  to learn about others and themselves.

 Nationally, several schools have done away with tag and other games because of the accidents and arguments they can lead to. It’s a trend that has rankled some parents and childhood experts who say games such as tag contribute to children’s social and physical development. – [The Colorado Springs Gazette]

Apparently, even childhood experts can see the flaw in this way of thinking. And yet we have schools, communities, cities, states and even federal legislation that allow exactly the same thing to happen on a national level. What’s the betting that this is all fueled by the same mentality? People don’t seem to be able to see the big picture. It may sound like an unlikely slippery slope, but at the rate we are going, sooner or later, we will legislate ourselves out of our own personal freedoms.

Believe it or not. Your choice. But I have seen enough insanity to tell me that it’s possible. I can only hope we either come to our senses, or I’m not around when we finally lock ourselves in and throw away the key…

Springs elementary gives tag a timeout – [Colorado Springs Gazette]

The “Pirates” take a stand…

An interesting movement seems to have spawned the desert of Utah. The US arm of a group calling themselves the “Pirate Party”, has proclaimed their intent to become a legitimate political party:

Yesterday, the Pirate Party of the United States announced its intention to register as a political body in Utah, its first move into American state politics. The fledgling Utah operation is now accepting “statements of support,” needing 200 voter signatures for official registration.

“Our basic mission is to restore a lot of the civil liberties that have been eroded in the name of profit, including privacy, free speech, and due process,” Ray Jenson, the interim administrator for what may become the Pirate Party of Utah, told El Reg.

He has his sights set on the DMCA, the U.S. law that protects online intellectual property, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group that quite likes the DMCA. “Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, there have been numerous erosions of liberties since it went into effect almost a decade ago,” Jenson said. “Number one on the list is the RIAA’s litigation” against P2P services and the people who use them. – [The Register]

Given the amount of abuse the entertainment industry has been dishing out lately, it is almost no surprise that this group exists, though I will admit I had never heard of them until today. However, I honestly believe that the entertainment industry, in particular the MPAA and the RIAA have been abusing the law.

I do agree that the RIAA and MPAA have the right to take actions to protect their investments. However I also believe that they have been using this as an excuse to violate the rights of others. They have embarked on what is little more than an extortion campaign, or litigation terrorism, in the name of curtailing piracy.

While I agree that piracy is a problem, it seems like nobody has been looking out for the innocent victims that have been needlessly terrorized by the MPAA/RIAA. While groups like the ACLU have been vocal about the issues, it appears that their efforts have done little to helped those who have been the unjust focus of the entertainment industries legal might. It’s about time there was an organization dedicate to this cause. I will be watching these “Pirates” closely…

Pirate Party invades Utah – [The Register]

Constitutional violation solves nothing…

Today I came across an article about a California judge who appears to be able to recognize when an unconstitutional law is being passed, and has the foresight to veto them. This is an unusual development from The Peoples Republic of Kalifornia, where local police, activists and Lawmakers seem to have an impressive track record of passing unreasonably draconian, even unconstitutional laws in the name of “The Public Interest”:

A federal judge ruled on Monday a California law to label violent video games and bar their sale to minors was unconstitutional, prompting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to say he would appeal the ruling.

Of course you will.

California passed a law in 2005 regulating video games with strong support from Schwarzenegger, the former star of many violent action films. Legislators argued violent video games could bring psychological harm and spark aggressive behavior in minors.

Can anyone say “Anecdotal Evidence”?

The Video Software Dealers Association and the Entertainment Software Association promptly sued to block the law, arguing their games were protected under the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

Uh Huh. “Free speech”? That’s your reason? It would probably be mine, but the ESA and VSDA? Yeah… I don’t think so. Now cash flow… That I’d buy…

Judge Ronald Whyte, who had previously granted a preliminary injunction against the law, issued a permanent order that also cited conclusions from judges facing similar laws in other states.

“At this point, there has been no showing that violent video games as defined in the Act, in the absence of other violent media, cause injury to children,” he wrote in his decision. “In addition, the evidence does not establish that video games, because of their interactive nature or otherwise, are any more harmful than violent television, movies, Internet sites or other speech-related exposures.” – [Reuters]

Thank you. Sanity at last. Now I’m not saying the law didn’t have any value to it. The part where developers are required to label them is just common sense. We need to know what kind of content is in the games we give to our kids. But banning them? Who are they kidding? So it’s OK to let my kids watch “Saw” on video, but heaven forbid they play “ManHunt“? Come on!

OK Look. I understand that as a parent, you may be willing to do anything and everything in your power to keep your kids safe. And I agree. Anyone who doesn’t feel this way can’t really be called a parent. The problem arises when you decide that it is OK to violate the rights of others in order to achieve this.

That is a double standard don’t you think? Nobody should violate your (and, by extension, your childrens’) rights, but it’s OK to violate others? Sounds like a double standard to me. If you, as a parent, decide raise your kids on video games, you also have to take the responsibility of talking to them about what exactly they are looking at. The same applies to movies, and even music.

It seems like some parents will bend over backwards to get a movie, album, video game, etc. Off the shelves. The outrage is always fierce and unrelenting. But here’s my question. Why can’t you just talk to your kids about these things? When they leave the house they see these things everywhere. Our culture is permeated with them. We, as adults, have become so desensitized that sometimes we don’t even see it, but it is there.

If your kids don’t learn, early on, about what they are see everyday, and what is right and what is wrong, then how do you expect them to tell the difference? Banning games won’t help you one whit. Denying them TV, radios, computers and video games for the entire tenure of your custody of them won’t save you either. Unless you live in a very, very, isolated community. Instead I see people embark on epic but fruitless crusades against violence in the media, gun control, school practices, regulation, etc. As I have stated in a previous post, I think these are little more than very poor crutches.

The gang member running around with the gun in their waistband was/is someones kid. Just like yours. What kind of lessons do you think he/she learned growing up? Do you think they would be in the gang if they learned from childhood that doing so could easily reduce your life expectancy by 50%? Do you think they would even pick up a gun if they thought there were other, better solutions? It’s hardly the gun we should be worried about. It’s the fact that the kid doesn’t know any better. Why is that?

What they need is education and guidance. And as parents we need to give it to them. No one else can, will, or even should do it for you. Do whatever it takes. And I don’t mean waste time protesting about pointless things. Work less hours, and spend more time with your kids. Engage in more group activities. Have one parent actually stay at home. It doesn’t matter who. Move into a smaller house/apt/condo to make ends meet if you have to. You may physically have less, but I believe the quality of your kids lives will be richer. It’s not always possible, but I submit that they are worthwhile sacrifices.

This is what I believe it means to be a parent. If you really want to protect your kids, I think this is the best place to start. It is no good to provide all of our kids materialistic needs if you fail to teach them about morals, ethics, good bad, right wrong, the light, the dark, all the gray areas in between, and about life in general. I honestly believe this is where we are failing as a country.

Forget about the TV, radio, music, video games, etc. Play with your kids. Talk to your kids. Teach them something positive. That way when you let them loose, you will hopefully be able to worry less about whatever it is they encounter on the street. Yeah. I sound like a bad public service announcement. But there it is.

Judge blocks California’s violent video game law – [Reuters]

A SLAPP in the face of a fair legal system…

I read an interesting article about the MPAA and RIAA strategy for dealing with copyright infringment and, in particular, file sharing:

Going up against big guns
For insight into how tough it is to oppose the entertainment sector, consider the conclusions of some long-shot copyright cases Rothken worked on: RecordTV and ReplayTV ran out of funds before their cases were heard, and MP3Board.com settled.

There’s no telling whether the start-ups would have survived had their cases gone to trial, but Rothken argues that shouldering legal fees and bad press didn’t help.

Applying financial pressure is only part of Hollywood’s strategy, Rothken said. Another tactic is to sue founders as well as their companies. In 2000, the RIAA filed a copyright suit against MP3Board.com, a music-file search engine, as well as the company’s founders.

Instead of risking their own income, the operators of MP3Board.com settled the case and decided to stop linking to MP3 files, Rothken said.

“I can’t say what the MPAA’s strategy is,” said Gary Fung, founder of IsoHunt, a TorrentSpy rival and Rothken client who also is being sued by the MPAA for copyright infringement. “But they do know they have more time and money than we do.” – [C/Net News]

There is no doubt that file sharing technologies have contributed to the illegal piracy of music and video. I also cannot argue that the MPAA and the RIAA have a right to file suits against those who decide to share copyrighted works illegally. That being said, this is decidedly not what they are doing. They have taken the decidedly unrealistic approach of attacking the technologies rather than the people doing the file sharing.

The various entertainment associations have sued numerous torrent tracker sites, on the basis that they are helping promote illegal file sharing. Now it may just be me but this seems to me no better than suing the gun industry for the common use of firearms in the commission of crime, or automobile makers for the high incidence of drinking and driving. And as usual, those who use the technology for legitimate purposes are always the ones to suffer.

What is even more distressing to me is not simply the fact that these suits are brought at all, but rather the strategies being used to win these suits. Rather than relying on the strength of the case, the RIAA and MPAA have begun a the methodical practice of SLAPPing defendants into submission. The SLAPP or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, is designed to ensure a settlement not by virtue of any legal argument, but by wearing down the defendants financial resources until they are unable to afford to continue their defense.

This to me, is the ultimate abuse of the legal system. The fact that this type of activity is legally allowed to happen should be a cause of great concern, even for law abiding American businesses and citizens, because it means that the outcome of future suit brought against you may not be determined by the validity or legal strength of the suit, but rather by who has the most money. And that situation is fundamentally anathema to the concept of a fair and equitable legal system.

TorrentSpy lawyer battling ‘copyright extremism’ – [C/Net News]

Double Lottery Jeopardy… What are the odds on that…?

A lottery winner doubled his share of the jackpot to nearly 1 million pounds after he mistakenly bought two lucky tickets for the same draw, organizers Camelot said Wednesday.Derek Ladner, 57, from Cornwall, and his wife Dawn, 60, won with their usual numbers in the mid-week draw, sharing the 2.4 million pounds jackpot with four other tickets.A week later, he found a second identical ticket in his wallet and realized he had absent-mindedly entered twice.

Their double-share of the jackpot is worth just under a million pounds. – [Reuters]

Now Here is an interesting trend. I submit to you these other interesting Lottery incidents:

N.Y. Woman Wins Jackpot — Twice – [CBS News/AP]

Georgia Man Wins Lottery Jackpot Twice – [About.com]

Pennsylvania woman wins $1M lottery twice – [KVOA News 4 Tuscon, AZ]

Couple win the lottery – twice – [IOL]

And these do not include a few other cases, specifically An Englewood lady and one other, that I couldn’t find reliable published sources to verify. Now I don’t exactly pay that much attention to the lottery, but the fact that even I am beginning to notice this unusual trend should have occurred to others as well.

Given the kind of odds against any single person winning the lottery, I find it absolutely amazing that double wins even occur, (granted the one that sparked this post is a unique case,) and even more it always amazes me how it could be possible to have multiple double wins by the same person, at different times even, occurs. What are the astronomical odds on that?

I need to start playing…

Lottery player wins twice by mistake – [Reuters]

Lawsuits: Gang violence deterrents? Or Prejudice?

I just read a troubling article regarding cities using lawsuits to pro-actively disrupt gang activity:

Fort Worth and San Francisco are among the latest to file lawsuits against gang members, asking courts for injunctions barring them from hanging out together on street corners, in cars or anywhere else in certain areas.

The injunctions are aimed at disrupting gang activity before it can escalate. They also give police legal reasons to stop and question gang members, who often are found with drugs or weapons, authorities said. In some cases, they don’t allow gang members to even talk to people passing in cars or to carry spray paint.

“It is another tool,” said Kevin Rousseau, a Tarrant County assistant prosecutor in Fort Worth, which recently filed its first civil injunction against a gang. “This is more of a proactive approach.”

But critics say such lawsuits go too far, limiting otherwise lawful activities and unfairly targeting minority youth.

“If you’re barring people from talking in the streets, it’s difficult to tell if they’re gang members or if they’re people discussing issues,” said Peter Bibring, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. “And it’s all the more troubling because it doesn’t seem to be effective.” – [Yahoo/AP]

I find this turn of events troubling for a number of reasons. First it is a very dangerous thing for anyone to implement any kind of enforcement that violates an individuals rights, especially when they have yet to actually commit a crime. And re-purposing laws so that actions that are legal for the average citizen become illegal for a specific demographic is simply unethical.

These cities have, in effect, sued a demographic, without regard for either the innocence or guilt of any of the individual members of that demographic. They have surreptitiously made gangs illegal. And in doing so, they done little more than legitimize prejudice.

The ability to stop, search and detain a person without probable cause, and for no other reason than their age, race, or the color of their clothes, is unconstitutional. Plain and simple. The increasing willingness of American police forces and lawmakers to violate an individuals rights in the name of keeping the peace is becoming a common and disturbing trend nowadays, especially in The Peoples Republic of Kalifornia. The end does not justify the means.

It is wrong to apply laws differently depending on such things as race, stereotypes, clothes, age, etc. Creating second class citizens does not solve problems, only exacerbate them. History has taught us that any demographic unfairly treated, will bear no concern for the fair treatment of others. It simply creates a vicious cycle. It may appear to be a a good solution in the short term. But unfairly treated people have long memories, and as a long term strategy, it is a no-win.

Be very careful America. I see a very ugly pattern developing. At the rate we are going, we will soon all be prisoners, held captive by the illusion of freedom…

Cities sue gangs in bid to stop violence – [Yahoo/AP]

Copyright infringement. Guilty until proven innocent?

Yet another Mom gets targeted for, get this, posting a home video of her toddler dancing to Princes “let’s Go Crazy”:

She wanted to share it with other folks around the world so she uploaded it to YouTube, just like thousands of other proud parents have done.

What happened? Big 4 organised music cartel member Vivendi Universal claimed the recording infringed a copyright. – [p2pnet.net]

Apparently the video got removed from YouTube because Universal claimed copyright infringement. I guess you don’t even need to have actually engaged in verifiable copyright infringement to have your videos taken down. Someone merely has to accuse you of it. Now is it just me, or does it seem like the RIAA has YouTube wrapped around it’s little finger?

I’m sure there are many legitimate complaints of copyright infringement from the RIAA on YouTube videos, but shouldn’t they at least verify that some sort of infringement has actually taken place before removing videos? What happened to the rights of the posters? After all, without it’s posters, YouTube would be little more than, say, WebTube. Or InterTube. Or just ‘Tube. Now those don’t sound to popular do they?

Mum sues Universal over YouTube video – [p2pnet.net]

This is why I’m Hawt… This is why you’re not…

Today I thought I’d indulge in an interesting study in morality…

A mysterious blonde paid a visit to a petrol station shop in the small eastern German town of Doemitz on Sunday — wearing nothing but a pair of golden stilettos and a thin gold bracelet.

The tall, slender woman strolled into the shop in the town of Doemitz on the warm afternoon and bought cigarettes, petrol station employee Ines Swoboda told Reuters on Monday. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Now compare that with this story…

A German bus driver threatened to throw a 20-year-old sales clerk off his bus in the southern town of Lindau because he said she was too sexy, a newspaper reported Monday.

“Suddenly he stopped the bus,” the woman named Debora C. told Bild newspaper. “He opened the door and shouted at me ‘Your cleavage is distracting me every time I look into my mirror and I can’t concentrate on the traffic. If you don’t sit somewhere else, I’m going to have to throw you off the bus.’” – [Reuters]

Now these articles represent, at least to my mind, a interesting illustration of the fundamental differences between American and European views of sexuality in general. I am almost certain that had these same set of circumstances occurred here in the good old U. S. of A., the exact opposite of what happened in Europe would have occurred. The bus driver would have kept his mouth shut for fear of violating a passengers rights, and some random stick-in-the-mud would have phoned the police on the naked blond.

I believe that this behavior in Americans is also indicative of a much deeper issue. In spite of the constant “Support of Personal Freedoms” chant we hear here in the US, the truth is, it seems that we only believe in the concept of individual freedoms and unalienable rights so long as our own individual beliefs have not been offended. Not our individual rights, just our individual beliefs. There is a big difference. The fact that you believe something does not make it a right. Trust me. Or not. That is your right

As a result of this, I believe we tend to focus too much on the wrong things. Think back to when you read the articles. Which scenario did you find more offensive? A totally nekkid, (save for a pair of gold stilettos, and a gold necklace) 30 year old, Ferrari-driving blond, at a gas station convenience store? Or a fully (relatively) clothed 20 year old on a bus whose plunging neckline was apparently so distracting as to have possibly caused an accident? And when you first answered this question in your head, did your personal moral values/beliefs take precedence, or your humanitarian instinct towards the preservation human life?

It is such irony that we seem to live in a society where, as a typical example, in any given movie, scenes depicting extreme violence, torture, dismemberment and death, are generally considered more acceptable and less socially heinous, than those with explicit sexual content. What does that say about our values as society? Methinks our moral priorities may be just a *wee bit* skewed… But then again that’s just my belief

Nude blonde, gold stilettos and a Ferrari… – [Yahoo/Reuters]
“Too sexy for my bus,” woman told – [Reuters]