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What would convince you that Disney owns your government?

What if I told you that Disney convinced Congress to make their theme parks no-fly zones, wholly outside any boundaries set by the FAA, the military, or Congress themselves?

This is utter horseshit. It's unbelievably offensive, considering that Disney's arguments were "security concerns", which is a total lie -- they've been trying to get a no-fly status for years. I hate saying this, because it feels accusatory...but the logical conclusion would be that Disney just used the 9/11 event to get something they wanted.

Thaaaaaaat's right, your happy little family-oriented business just became a profiteer from the misery of millions. Although, technically, they were doing that anyway.

  posted by Gregory @ 7:21 AM


14.5.03  

 
A tear fell from my eye as I listened, and things flooded back. It wasn't a Marcel Proust moment, but reminiscent of such.

The listening material was A Kiss To Build A Dream On, and most people wouldn't recognize it right away, I guess. I did -- it was the title song from Fallout 2, and instantly memories of that game, and how awfully humanity had gotten on in it, came back. Nuclear devastation, wretched people ekeing out a living where once productivity and creativity had stood.

And then something worse came back to me.

Connie Willis (my favorite author in the entire damn universe, by Chao -- this woman's probably the reason I can't write, I'm afraid it will somehow tarnish her work if my shoddy crap was inspired by it) wrote a story once, _Last Of The Winnebagos_. In the anthology I read it in, she wrote a short preface to each story, and in it talked about the notion of apocalypse. Oh, sure -- the world ends, there's radiation everywhere, that can be entertaining, but something truly innovative happens when you realize that something wonderful and inherently human could vanish forever somehow, and write that as your apocalypse.

Not the end of the world. Not the end of life (impossible anyway). Just the end of the world as we know it.

_Winnebagos_ was about the world after all the dogs in it were gone.

Oh, sure -- if you're not a dog person, perhaps it even seems silly. If you are, the notion is awful sounding, and thinking about it for a few minutes may draw some tears. Here, think of it this way -- the world is an awful place as it stands, and people are unhappy all over. There are a significant number of people who gain psychological well-being from having a pet, and most of them in the US have dogs.

Now, imagine that all those people have nothing but photos to remember their little happinesses by, that they don't have someone who greets them at the door eagerly no matter how bad the day was. Imagine you've stolen a precious little nugget from millions of people.

Yeah. The world gets a lot worse, just like that. And, like it or not, humanity's primary psychological mammalian symbiosis is with canines. That's simply a reality.

I wish I could have concieved of such a thing, but I doubt I ever could have. Now, thanks to Connie, I can -- and thinking back to it brings a tear to my eye.

I remember when my father explained patiently to me that the sun is going to go out. I cried and cried -- and still can't remember crying so much about anything before or since. This thing, this humanity -- it's all going to die. The period for this sentence is in place already, and the words between seemed to mean far less suddenly.

Science fiction -- and, in some part, NASA -- provides the chance that it won't be that way. Earthlike planets probably exist somewhere. Abstract hope, sure -- but hope is hope.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:16 PM


6.5.03  

 
"People can edit pictures in Photoshop, neat," the Guardian article seems to say. "But, but, they can edit video now too! Horror! Horror!"


Enh. As I've said before, the true paranoid believes that the government had the technology to do this years ago, some going as far as to say at the beginning of motion pictures; at the very least, you could assume that talented and creative government employees would have the ability to do it. What the Guardian seems more worried about is that commoners -- er, regular people, I mean -- seem to be reaching that point now.



The glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel may well come from the democratisation of the technology. Since anyone will be able to manufacture any "news" they want to, and since the internet will provide an instantaneous and free means to disseminate it, then the concept of news itself will be devalued. Rather than believe everything, people will believe nothing. They will then begin to look more for analysis of the news to help them make sense of it and some merging of traditional mass media and (heavily branded) blogging will provide a framework for this to take place: blogging may be an unusually important part of mass media's future.



That may be an understatement or an overstatement. Ask me again in ten years -- and again in forty... ;)



Speaking of mass media, there's sort of a movement to quit slashdot. I don't agree with it enough to not go to slashdot, but it raises interesting points and proceeds to provide plenty of other sites where you can get your tech on, so to speak.

I don't need to produce unflattering comparisons to Communist Russia in order to talk about why TIPS is a bad idea -- I can directly relate it to information filtering to show why it can't work right. There's way, way too much incoming information already coming from "citizen spies", namely the crazies who've always been reporting terrorists to the government even when they've only been dreaming about terrorists. Even with Carnivore, there's just too much information to sift through. It cannot possibly fulfill its prescribed purpose. Even assuming you do manage to track down a single terrorist with this thing, you're going to end up with hundreds of regular citizens -- the people you're supposed to be protecting -- harassed and worse by law enforcement officials with an agenda, bad cops or bad agents. That's just not intelligent behavior...unless, of course, you yourself are protected from any legal shenanigans because you're, say, John Ashcroft.

The benefits for high-level government officials cannot be denied: They're not going to be hassled by the people who work under them, so why not make laws that violate the living fuck out of the citizenry's rights?

The problem with lawmakers making laws is that they're no longer citizens in the traditional sense.


In case you're in the mood for history being made in rooms full of angry people, the story about Richard Stallman and the EFF being silenced at the industry/government/pesky-consumer meeting was probably right up your alley -- I know it was up mine. Here's a few choice quotes...



...
Brett Wynkoop of NY for Fair Use did get a comment on the record because he sat at the table with Big Hollywood and Big IT and commandeered the microphone at one point, which meeting moderator Phillip Bond, undersecretary for Technology in the U.S. Department of Commerce, later objected to. "We have a structure here," Bond said more than once when fair use advocates tried to take the floor.

During his short comment, which Bond tried to cut off, Wynkoop asked how this government-sponsored working group could consider moving forward without customer voices. He suggested Congress has already gone too far by passing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and outlawing technologies that circumvent anti-copying efforts -- possibly making criminals of people who use magic markers to defeat a CD anti-copying scheme. "Should government be making statutes to criminalize fair use or make criminals of innocent citizens?" he asked.
...
At one point, the fair use and Free Software advocates thought they had more of a stage when MPAA president Jack Valenti told a NYLXS member he could respond if he'd let Valenti finish his thoughts. Valenti was saying that IT people, content people and content deliverers need to come to a consensus on an acceptable digital rights management, when NYLXS member Vincenzo ("one name, like Cher") stood up and shouted, "What about the public?" (Valenti's response, prompting loud groans from the crowd: "I am part of the public!")
...
Doug Comer, Intel's director for legal affairs, quarreled with movie industry officials. He noted that IT industry leaders sent an open letter to Hollywood this week saying there's more discussion needed between IT companies and Hollywood over who should shoulder the DRM burden. Valenti said the movie industry had responded within 24 hours to the letter, although the IT industry had taken 11 weeks to respond to an earlier Hollywood letter.

"Why make the point on that?" Comer asked angrily.

As Valenti and Comer continued to argue, Stallman said loudly from the back of the room: "So the movie companies and IT companies join together to restrict us?"
...
And Bond questioned Valenti's comments that DRM schemes need to fix the problem of peer-to-peer sharing, while saying, "it's in everybody's best interest to give the consumers what they want."

Bond responded: "Jack, you say we've got to deal with peer to peer, but I think that's what consumers want."
...
At one point Valenti even claimed that the movie industry supported VCRs when they first came out, supposedly like the movie industry is now supporting the Internet. Bob Schwartz of the Home Recording Rights Coalition reminded Valenti that the MPAA tried to get an injunction against VCRs in the early '80s and wanted to charge a $25 to $50 "piracy fee" for every blank videotape sold.
...
Ruben Safir, president of NYLXS ... suggested the movie and music industries can't complain about theft after they've legally sold movies and music to the public. "If someone breaks into my house and steals my CDs, who calls the cops, me or the music industry?" Safir asked. "If it's me, then that's my property."
...


At this point, a Disney executive becoming an intelligence agency overseer is practically a transfer, not a career change.



I don't quite understand what the Information Awareness Office is trying to do, but it's got to be progress of some form...either they're going to provoke strong backlash or result in better awareness of informational warfare techniques. I give them ten years to show their colors -- either True Intelligence Blues or Super-Control Steel Grays.


Just in case you didn't know the world is full of utterly crazy people, nudity as a weapon. You read it here first, folks! Go down to your local police precinct headquarters and expose yourself. Hell, they can't arrest us all -- we outnumber them!

It turns out that radioactive vegetables aren't good for you...which is too bad, frankly. If, say, cauliflower could endow humans with super strength, then I'd definately think more about eating it. I probably wouldn't vomit everywhere, either.

In all honesty, though, it's refreshing to see a British violation of civil rights for a change. All these American ones were getting boring.

Speaking of which, one last cynical stab at the Information Awareness Office idea: Apparently, federal agencies don''t know who is skilled and who is not -- how on earth would they identify real information coming down the pipeline from all those TIPS agents?

Another one in the "Good luck, it's a lost cause" category: John Gilmore, the fifth employee of Sun Microsystems, attempted to go toe-to-toe with John "No Rights For You!" Ashcroft over a pesky little thing like personal identification when purchasing plane tickets. Like I said, John G. -- good luck, it's a lost cause.

  posted by Gregory @ 12:25 PM


13.7.02  

 
If you've heard of a wireless network, you may have also heard of warchalking. A throwback to the hobo code, warchalking will no doubt be the next thing that some idiot legislator gets his tiny brain cells in a furor over.

"Graffiti isn't legal to begin with, and this is subversive graffiti to boot," some cluster of senators will say in unison, reading carefully in case technical words show up on the teleprompter. "Illegal acts are wrong because we said so. So there."

Now I'm curious; perhaps graffiti legislation was originally an attempt to prevent use of the hobo code. Hm. This bears researching...

In three unrelated events which show that our universe is slowly turning into another one, perhaps one written by Burroughs: Hunter S Thompson is some pissed about Ted L. Nancy, who may or may not be Jerry Seinfeld, Japanese McDonalds patrons are apparently insane, and cattle mutilations apparently have no explanation. Shock.

Seriously, though, the Japanese tech market has cooler stuff, and the reasons don't seem too unclear to me. A smaller, tighter-knit economic system directly shoved inside a psychotically efficient government means products get to market faster and with fewer restrictions.

Oh, and guess what happens if you don't toe the doctrine carefully in Vatican City? Apparently the Inquisition hasn't shut down at all.

If you're interested at all in free software and other such things, you need to look at Peek-A-Booty, Crypt-toons and Camera/Shy. Peek is a secure-transaction web rerouting thingy (sort of), and Camera/Shy is an add-on for your web browser that enables high-end steganographic and cryptographic browsing, the upshot of which would be that you could produce a web site with encrypted, hidden content invisible to those without Camera/Shy and the proper authentications. Cryptoons use animated sequences to communicate.

Home computer modification? If you're not interested in alternate keyboard layouts, you might be interested in this hyah cryo-Lego mouse. No, I'm not spouting word salsa. Check it out.

The RIAA wants to prosecute actual customers now, and you knew that; but did you know that they're also paying to have fake songs put on Gnutella and KaZaA?

This was easy to see. What happens to fake news reports and "media invisibility" (where the press is bought off to not report on some specific event) when you have people producing local news that the government cannot see?

Oh, that's right. Freedom of speech! :)

  posted by Gregory @ 11:24 AM


6.7.02  

 
I've been gone, but the world has gone on. Observe as an urban legend comes true, a drug cartel learns just how valuable data mining can be, and, for the (as the French say) "piece of resistor"...


Millions of Chinese television viewers got a shock this week when Falun Gong propaganda was beamed into their living rooms as members of the banned sect hijacked one of China's main television satellites.

...

Officials are reportedly perplexed as to how Falun Gong had the knowledge and equipment needed to intercept a satellite broadcast. There was speculation sect followers had equipped a vehicle to avoid notice.

...

The recording also said sect followers were beaten and tortured in prison, and invited listeners to follow prompts to hear more information or Falun Gong songs.



Interestingly, the drug cartel was running a constant mole-search by crosslinking a database of the phone numbers of law enforcement and some phone records they obtained illegally. I see this becoming part of the John Ashcroft "No Rights For YOU!" campaign fairly soon. "Drug runners are using ever more sophisticated technology," I can see him stating in a press release any day now. Of course, he would continue "so we're going to make a lot of this stuff illegal, which won't prevent the drug dealers from using it, just ordinary citizens. My fellow Americans, if we curtail liberty now, we can protect liberty now!"

Sounds suspiciously like a trade of freedom for security to me, and I seem to remember a singular Benjamin Franklin noting that folks who make that trade don't do well in the long run. Of course, John Ashcroft has plenty to be angry about anyway these days.

This is all bad news, what with ear spiders and Chinese hackers and psychotically unconstitutional human rights abuses. Speaking of which, the music industry's pathetic attempts to extort money aren't working, while the movie industry seems to be rolling with the punches a little better. With ignorant crap like the argument over a copied piece of silence, it's no surprise to me, and it's probably no surprise to you.

I'd like to apologize for the length of time I've been gone; I feel as though I've been slacking off here. I've been getting hammered with a final project and a job search, only one of which is finished, and the other of which is soon to be done. I expect to be able to start regular updates soon, hopefully on a Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday schedule, with something about this length.

I like writing Fifty/Fifty. Apparently a few people like reading it, too. :) Thanks.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:23 AM


3.7.02  

 
Did I mention there's great medical possibilities inherent in nanotech and genetech?


The gene is delivered by an injected "nanoparticle" that targets only the new blood vessels that tumors sprout in order to thrive and spread. Cancer researchers have long sought effective ways to stop this new blood vessel formation, also known as angiogenesis. The hope is to essentially starve tumors to death.


  posted by Gregory @ 8:33 PM


27.6.02  

 

But how will this stop the "I just e-mailed you a virus" problem? How does this stop my personal information being sucked out of my PC using cookies? It won't. Solving those particular problems is not Palladium's real purpose, which is to increase Microsoft's market share. It is a marketing concept that will be sold as the solution to a problem. It won't really work.

Palladium assures that whatever hardware is running on the network of 10 years from now, it will be generating revenue for Microsoft.


I don't know what scares me more sometimes -- the idea that Microsoft might get the US government to use Passport as a national ID system, or that Microsoft might get to have digitally encrypted controls on all my data.

Wait, no, I know. The second one. The first one can be dealt with in its own way; the second one's just flat-out wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

Nobody should be able to have access to my data. Not Bill Gates, not you, not anybody. Period. Data should be an inviolable right for a human being; sort of a superset of free speech, press, and thought.

Allow me to spell my thought on the matter out explicitly:

If you don't control your data, you don't have real freedom.



I mean it. If you don't control your data, then someone else does -- someone who can manipulate you. Look at Tass, the government-controlled newspaper, or the Chinese router situation.

It becomes increasingly clear that data makes the world go round. That's why communication is such a big damn deal -- it increases your possible data sweep. You can collect much more data with more communication.

I have this little hope in me that says, "Even if Microsoft did this, it wouldn't matter. Open Source would still exist; the technologies would still exist, and routers would still exist that wouldn't interoperate with MS's new protocols. There would still be a free Internet, and there would still be free software. It's a can of worms nobody can possibly close."

But I'm still sad that it's even being attempted. Sadder still that it might -- improbable though it is -- it might succeed.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:31 PM



 

"Texas state law now requires a link on our homepage to an informative page on blocking and filtering software for web browsers. Please follow this link for further information." -- from the IOCOM home page


I was curious about this, so I did a little Googling around the problem, and found said Texas law. Sigh. More stupidity to clutter the net up. "Make it more legal! MORE! MORE LEGAL!"

I hope someone comes up with a freeware filtering solution specifically designed to be easy to circumvent. Me, I'm thinking of a web browser that has big, cartoonish buttons, and bright pretty colors. It would be called Mack Morton (and any similarity between its initials, MM, and another famously child-oriented cartoon star is purely coincidental.) It comes with directions for the parent:

"Remove links to other web browsers. Place a link to Mack Morton on the desktop. Instruct your children to use Mack Morton from now on."

Not only would it provide an insult to the child, but it would immediately turn that little light on in their heads: "If I just use some other browser, then this thing won't matter!"

And when they start using Internet Explorer instead, their parents will attempt to remove it...find out they can't...and then you'll have the censorship Nazis thinking Bill Gates is the enemy. Perfect. I can just see my secret plan coming into effect now, wher-

Uh, you never saw any of this.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:17 AM



 
What, you may ask, bothers me about this?

I can't find it, but John C. Dvorak wrote some time ago about a radio network set up in...shit, I want to say Taiwan...that essentially was giving the phone companies some real headaches.

(Shame on him for having a link marked "online print articles" that actually is just a list of the places you can go to read his articles...if Randal Schwartz can archive his work online properly, Dvorak should too. Perhaps he thinks his work isn't worthy of deep archiving, or perhaps his editors have seized his rights. Feh. He writes entertainingly, but he gets no linky from me this time.)

Anyway, the gist of his article was fairly far-thinking, considering that he wrote it at least two years back. Essentially, it went on about how the FCC's role really had no place existing any more, how bizarre anti-radio legislation left over from decades ago was restricting free market effects, etc., and it intrigued me greatly then.

I didn't even have a phone bill then. I lived with my parents, and the only negative effect of a high phone bill was yelling and the realization that it couldn't be done again. I still wanted to figure out a way to not have to pay so much.

I still do. I always will. So will everyone else; that's the promise of free trade. Done properly, the consumer wins every time; done improperly, the government or large conglomerate wins in the short run and is destroyed by the consumer.

See, the trick then was that information could not be disseminated easily. If a company screwed one person, that didn't matter. Even a thousand, even ten thousand. They had no way to spread the word, short of joining some life-draining "grassroots" campaign to reveal the truth about their activity. These campaigns are looked at as though they're a nuisance, mostly (I think) because of their form: Flyers, opinions foisted upon others, etc.

The net is, by contrast, something that you have to ask for information on (usually). If you want to know about some company's practices, you can slap their name in a search engine and find out exactly what you want to know (except, of course, Scientology, because of Scientology's bitch, which is another long damn story). The difference is dramatic; one person can access a forum with a minimum of effort. There is no flyer-copying, letter-writing, etc., but there's a great deal more bad press.

Suddenly, the tables are turned. Information, as Truth, shines a great light into the heart of those who commit their black deeds, and they cannot possibly prevent people from knowing.

"Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master."

-- Commisioner Pravin Lal, U.N. Declaration of Rights, SMAC


  posted by Gregory @ 11:58 PM


24.6.02  

 
Just occurred to me that blue and gray might produce truly bitchin' CSS results.

Blue + Gray + Black might even do better.

I'm not here to muse upon CSS, though...I'm here to drop a somewhat provocative IRC log in the reader's lap and run away. :)



***hipnotoad*** You know who i really really hate?
***tate*** panda doesn't seem to be in a talkative mood
***hipnotoad*** The boyscouts and the RIAA
***tate*** Raven?
***tate*** aw
***chaoticset_watching_insomniac*** Henry Kissinger?
***panda*** tate: meh... not really.
***tate*** them too
***chaoticset_watching_insomniac*** I was close, dammit... :(
***panda*** hipnotoad: really... now why's that
***hipnotoad*** The RIAA are greedy assholes who destroy all new media
***chaoticset_watching_insomniac*** The RIAA and MPAA are easily hatable, IMHO
***hipnotoad*** I will NEVER buy an audio CD again in my life.
* King_of_No_Pants just bought one today
***hipnotoad*** I will NEVER give the recording industry another CENT
***hipnotoad*** King that's a shame
***chaoticset_watching_insomniac*** Did something specific bring this about recently? Or has it been building slowly over time?
***hipnotoad*** I was just online reading about how the RIAA has financially destroyed hundreds of internet micro-brocasters
***King_of_No_Pants*** meh, it was for an independant band producing it's own cds
***hipnotoad*** King that's fine
***rune*** http://modernhumorist.com/mh/0011/mp3/images/mp3.jpg
***rune*** heh
***hipnotoad*** hehe
***chaoticset_watching_insomniac*** I fully agree with you, Hipno -- it's unfair and pointless legislation by a dying institution
***hipnotoad*** Chao I couldnt have said it better
***hipnotoad*** The RIAA is clingling to an old system that refuses to evolve with technology
***chaoticset_watching_insomniac*** It's thuggish behavior from a bunch of thugs who are losing their clout suddenly...I can't wait until they're dead :)
***panda*** http://www.penny-arcade.com/view.php3?date=2000-07-28&res=l
***hipnotoad*** chao me too
***hipnotoad*** I will dance on the grave of the once great recording industry
***hipnotoad*** Joke's on them, i got my whole family pirating, including my parents
***chaoticset_watching_insomniac*** I still buy Moby albums, and Sheryl Crow albums...but only because they've spoken out about their music and how they want it to be freely traded
*** Signoff: tate (Read error: 54 (Connection reset by peer))
***hipnotoad*** Chao...that's a grey zone
***chaoticset_watching_insomniac*** I've bought a couple albums by local bands too, paper-sleeve home-burns. It's not bad :)
***hipnotoad*** I personally wouldnt
*** tate (~tate@66-188-83-86.mad.wi.charter.com) has joined channel #3fs
***chaoticset_watching_insomniac*** I live in grey zones :)
***tate*** Runne's link broke mirc
***hipnotoad*** I like artists who support music liberation, bands like WEEZER
***tate*** too bad weezer's receent albums have been bland and uninspired
* chaoticset_watching_insomniac hasn't heard 'em yet, hasn't had time
***hipnotoad*** Tate grrrrrrrrr
***tate*** there was no excuse for Green album
***tate*** there's promis in maladroit, though
***tate*** *promise
***hipnotoad*** Uh huh
***hipnotoad*** I dont know album names
***hipnotoad*** Because I pirate
***tate*** third one bad, fourth/rececnt one good
***tate*** me too, ,but I organize by album name
***hipnotoad*** Back to the task at hand: PIRACY
***Beerman*** piracy means bands have to tour more
***hipnotoad*** Anyone want any of my 700+ songs that are copywrited?
***Beerman*** which is a GOOD THING
***hipnotoad*** Beer yeah
***hipnotoad*** Bands get most of their money from touring
* tate trumps Deon with his 1989 mp3s
***King_of_No_Pants*** Anyone want any of my 4000+ songs that are copyrighted?
***tate*** he's got me beat
***hipnotoad*** tate like?
***hipnotoad*** Ah
***tate*** er
***tate*** 1,989
***hipnotoad*** nm
***Beerman*** I used to have heaps of music
***Beerman*** I keep deleting it
***King_of_No_Pants*** i have 4,215 mp3s
***hipnotoad*** As long as you dont BUY muic
***hipnotoad*** As long as you dont BUY music
***hipnotoad*** Is that ender?
***tate*** Burndt Jamb is good
*** King_of_No_Pants is now known as Samus
***hipnotoad*** ah
***tate*** it's Samus again
***hipnotoad*** Sorry
***tate*** nm
***Beerman*** 2500 mp3s left
***hipnotoad*** Seriously i havent bought music in like four years


Should anybody in the log have a problem with me posting this, tell me so. I won't remove it, but I'll ask you in the future. :\

  posted by Gregory @ 7:24 PM



 
I happened by Phrack today. Gorgeous. I know I'm obsessed with the colors blue and red and black, but it's still fucking gorgeous.

  posted by Gregory @ 10:11 AM


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