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31 May

Techie Tuesday – Leahy’s Orwellian Protect IP Act blocked!

in Congress, Copyright / Copyfighting / Piracy, Entertainment, Intellectual Property, Internet, Law Enforcement, Piracy, Politics, Techie Tuesday

Image via Wikipedia

Some good news in the world of copyfighting!  I mentioned this bill in last week’s link purge, but under the authorship of the entertainment Mafioso, PIPA was intended to provide the DHS and private corporations with additional authority to seize the top-level domains of dangerous terrorists file sharing websites and bring lawsuits against those, such as Google, who provide links to them (Google has already vowed to fight any such measures).  I don't know if the bill is officially dead, but for the time being it has been effectively put on hold by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon).

“The internet represents the shipping lane of the 21st century,” Wyden said in a statement. “It is increasingly in America’s economic interest to ensure that the internet is a viable means for American innovation, commerce, and the advancement of our ideals that empower people all around the world. By ceding control of the internet to corporations through a private right of action, and to government agencies that do not sufficiently understand and value the internet, PIPA represents a threat to our economic future and to our international objectives,” he said.

Even if you equate file-sharing with digital piracy you should care about killing this bill for several reasons:

  • In the most benign sense, it is wholly unnecessary – domains can already be ‘seized’ (albeit with a tremendous assault on due process) through a number of judicial channels and the DMCA provides the means through which to stop Google et al from linking to them.  Codifying this behavior only reinforces the governments right to intervene in the only port of free expression currently in existence.
  • It forges an unholy alliance between federal law enforcement and private enterprise whereby the same industries who decry government intervention in the free market are all too eager to expect taxpayers to foot the bill for their civil complaints.
  • It has nada zip zilch to do with national security and the DHS should not be compelled to expend resources on enforcing private litigation while actual security concerns remain unchecked.
  • Finally, for the massive expense it is entirely ineffective.  Seized domains simply rely on existing mirrors to bridge the short amount of time it takes to respawn elsewhere.  And thanks to sympathetic programmers everywhere, systems are popping up like MAFIAAfire that make it even easier for users to find them.

When you consider the the War on Drugs whose crippling expense is paralleled only by its spectacular failure, It’s inconceivable that we want to extend such tactics to the virtual world on behalf of a few, dying private companies.

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15 Nov

Are Americans too busy to think critically?

in Capitalism, Congress, Corporatism, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, Libertarianism, Marxism, Politics

Image by UN MANUÉ via Flickr

Alternet has yet another compilation of 16 of the dumbest things Americans believe --- taxes went up under Obama, Hussein was connected with 9/11, ad nauseum.  Articles like these may salve the sensibilities of those not victim to the propaganda machine of a certain billionaire and corporate-sponsored “grassroots” movement currently in the ascendency, but no matter how blatant a lie is exposed, it will do little to sway those who believe the big lie – that U.S. media has a liberal bias. 

So what to do in a political and cultural landscape in which well-told lies have more validity than fact-based truth:

“ a two-to-one margin likely voters thought their taxes had gone up, when, for almost all of them, they had actually gone down. Republican politicians, and conservative commentators, told them Barack Obama was a tax-mad lunatic. They lied. The mainstream media did not do their job and correct them. The White House was too polite—"civil," just like Obama promised—to say much. So people believed the lie.”

We’ve entered a bizzarro world in which calling out lies is considered rude, says Perlstein, so liars are allowed to sit tight and dominate the discourse. This gels with Bill Maher’s critique of the Rally for Sanity, that calling for “balance for balance’s sake” ignores two important aspects of news reporting: facts and evidence.

The modern left is saddled with a two-fold curse.  The first is the erroneous belief that civility is paramount – a paradigmatic weakness that prevents us from calling out lies and the liars who repeat them.  The second is the conundrum that left-leaning politicians are beholden to the same corporate interests that drive such lies.  True Enough has become the mantra of the modern-era; a policy of ignoring the “little” lies, laughing at the big ones, and losing elections rather than bucking the status quo.

Blaming Americans for being ignorant unwashed masses--or taking potshots at an education system that doesn’t teach critical thinking-- would be the easy answer to this conundrum.

But the reality is that if messaging has such a big effect on Americans, then messaging matters.

And indeed, it is messaging over fact that drives the 21st century political consumer.  The intelligentsia and masses alike fight a perpetual battle over whose lie can achieve critical mass (hint – the corporate media are neither left- nor right-wing, but overwhelmingly neoliberal) while multi-national corporations continue to consolidate power.  In the end, it really doesn’t matter what liars control which body of government; the debate itself is king.  Our capacity to choose tribal identity over self-interest keeps us all distracted from the only truth that matters – that the interests of the ruling class are not our own.

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24 Feb

Jobs Bill Passes Senate With Help From Republican Hypocrites

in Congress, Politics, Republicans

In the midst of 9+% unemployment, the minority Gestapo had the temerity to mount a filibuster against a jobs bill that was mostly tax cuts – the very same words that hypocrite Sarah Palin had written on her hand! These sick old white men are so hell-bent on petulant obstructionism that they would even vote against their own signature issue.  That is, until … gasp, the Republican Messiah and embodied proof of the impending 2010 Tsunami traitorous liberal scumbag Scott Brown decided to cross ranks with the GOP caucus and cast a vote in line with his own politics. 

Seriously though, send the kids out of the room and go check out what his flock are saying about him on Facebook.  Yowza.  But wait,  there’s more …

After squeaking with 62 votes for cloture, the bill passed today by a margin of 70 to 28.  Now I’m no mathematician, but even with the 2 absentees from Monday, that makes 6 Republican hypocrites who tried to stop the vote from happening at all and then voted to pass the bill anyway - Alexander (TN), Cochran (MS), Lemieux (FL), Murkowski (AK), Wicker (MS), and, of course, Inhofe (OK).  Seriously … this  must be a previously undiscovered apex of douche-baggery.

25 Jun

Know Thy Congress(Wo)man

in Congress, Internet, Lifehackery

I tend to keep my lifehackery obsession separate from THF, but this bookmarklet seemed to be worthy of the crossover.  If you’re not familiar with bookmarklets, they are bits of javascript that you can store as a bookmark in your browser to perform pelosicertain functions.  They are not only speedy, but also prevent you from having to download a bunch of browser extensions you may hardly use.

KTC (or Know Thy Congressman) provides a wealth of info should you find yourself reading the funnies er, the political news.  I used it to capture this screenshot of Pelosi which tells me anything from most used words to who are her major donors.  From their website:

KTC is a bookmarklet that displays an abundance of political and biographical information about current members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

To use it, highlight the name of a legislator on a webpage and click the bookmark. Or, click it anytime to search for a politician by name. To install, drag the link below into your Bookmarks Toolbar.