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The death of MegaUpload.

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Don’t worry about those two unsightly unfinished articles under this one–I’ll be getting to those in time. I just wanted to get this out now, as well as another article I wanted to write today, both of which are going to be short and to the point. Speaking of to the point, enough faffing about. The warrant-less, trial-less takedown of Megaupload–a file-sharing site noted primarily for its ease of use, clean interface, large storage sizes for free users and rampant, unpoliced piracy by its users–was taken down yesterday, less than twelve hours after the Wikipedia blackout ended. It was unconstitutional. It was standard operating procedure for the police state the United States are becoming. And frankly, it scares me as much as the police violence against demonstrators at various #occupy protests.

The takedown of Megaupload only came about due to money from the entertainment industry. If you have the dollars to pay the United States government, they will attack and destroy anything you want them to. Which, in these days, makes them paid attack goons for the American entertainment industry, as well as the food and military industries. Private contractors can pay the United States to do anything they want, and the US will agree. If you are a private entity with enough money, you can pay the United States to ignore “innocent until proven guilty” and tear down an entire company just because their users engage in illegal behaviour and it’s easier to tear down a service with legitimate uses than police its users. You disgust me.

The truth is, I’d love to get ranting and raving on this, I would. But the entire issue depresses me so heavily that it gets impossible to see how any statement anywhere can make it any better at all ever. We’re occupying, we’re protesting, we’re blacking out popular sites, but the internet will continue to be shut down and closed off by a government that has just started to realize its full, stupid power. Its absolute stupid, dumb power. If great responsibility comes with great power, the United States will ignore that responsibility until the end of western civilisation, signing into legislation more and more faith-based, well-funded idiocy with the intent of making every person on Earth a criminal so that they can decide who the people they want to punish are and decide how long they want to punish them for. We’re seeing arbitrary arrests. We’re seeing massive overreaches of power. And some people are still convinced of an external threat, come to kill us all.

This is what weighs on my mind after the death of Megaupload. This is what I see. Not “oh, if you knock one down, five more will take its place”. I see the greatest nation on Earth falling to theocratic fascism, and my last option is going to be to move to Sweden. I’m tired, I’m sad. An innocent company has been destroyed simply because someone paid a hitman to take it out. Thanks, America. For falling to theocratic fascism under the man who was supposed to make it better and instead wound up selling the American people to wealthy bankers with enough money for nothing already. You disgust me.

New year’s resolutions.

January 7, 2012 Leave a comment

I feel like I’m Michael Rosen, starting a story with the subject and then moving on to the rest of it. You know, “My dad. My dad was a bricklayer,” and so forth. But this is a subject that probably needs addressing on this blog as I have a couple resolutions of my own this year that I only want to keep for 21 days. Sadly, I’m already pretty lax on two of them. However, there’s a slight catch: I can’t say what they are. I cannot tell you what my new year’s resolutions are, because ever since I was a child, the only way for me to be responsible in any manner was to keep all of my good behaviour a secret.

I don’t know how many other people are this way, but I’m interested in finding out. If I want to motivate myself to do something, I cannot tell anyone I’m doing it, because the moment I make it public, the pressure on myself (from myself) doubles and I immediately quit for fear of disappointing everyone I’ve ever known. It’s not like anyone but me is invested in any of my goals, but I get so afraid of being a disappointment that I shut down and end up doing all of the things that disappoint everybody. Does that ever happen to you?

I’ve been this way nearly all of my life with everything. Or at least, anything I’ve ever kept a track of. The only way I learned to play guitar was when I was alone in my room working on it my way. I can really only keep this blog up for so long before remembering that there are people reading it and counting on me–or perhaps just casually browsing the stuff I put up on occasion. But the thing is, at least one of the things I’ve picked as a resolution for 2012 is something very public and daily. I have to do it every day for three weeks so that at the end of that 21 day period, it’s a habit that’s engrained in my mind. It’s something I have to do or I’ll feel off all day–like spending a day without brushing your teeth in the morning. More than your poor dental hygiene bugging you is the splinter in your mind of not having done something you do every day. Read more…

Chairs vs chairs.

January 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Think back, in your mind, to the last chair you sat on. I’m going somewhere with this analogy, I promise you, but for now, just think of the last chair you sat on. Perhaps you’re sitting in one right now. (Little computer joke.) I believe in the Zuckerberg Character philosophy that “a guy who builds a nice chair doesn’t owe money to everyone who has ever built a chair”. Chairs are sort of basic, mechanical objects, aren’t they. Enough legs to make balance a certainty; a back if you want your sitter to rest their back on the back of your chair. A seat, preferably, or you have legs jammed up your goolies. And it’s never good to have chairlegs jammed up your goolies no matter how restful your back is on your chair back. But the last chair you sat on is sort of a basic, mechanical thing, right? You can break it down to legs, seat and back. That’s all you need in a chair for it to be called a chair. And you evaluate its quality as a chair by how long it lasts as a chair and how comfortable you are in that chair.

So why do we let manufacturers tell us that other basic mechanical things are so much more complex and difficult just because they’re newer? With a number of things, there’s only really one metric of quality: it works or it doesn’t. Binary. Does it do the job it’s supposed to? I’m not talking about things like guitars with varying sounds or monitors with varying contrast ratios or engines with varying strengths and stuff. I’m talking about things like chairs. Tables. Music stands. Canvas bags. Knives of varying purposes. Do these things do the things they’re supposed to do? And thus, you can judge them. And you’ll notice these are all old things–things we’ve had around for years. But what if I was to tell you there was another thing, a new thing, that’s come along in the last twenty years that has a pretty much binary quality but you’ve been convinced is a matter of highly differing qualities and standards?

It’s cables. Read more…

Wonder Woman on TV.

Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman

You gave up this smile because of the pants.

I don’t know if this is enough for a thousand words, but dammit, I’ll try my hardest. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t entirely invested in Wonder Woman being back on television–I’m with her as much as I’m with DC Comics, I’m okay with David E. Kelley–but I was at least looking forward to a fun, breezy series starring a woman who ran around in a hard plastic corset. But thanks to focus group members at NBC, I am now no longer looking forward to a fun, light series about a woman who has bondage gear/fem-dom related superpowers, and am instead awaiting the next season of Hawaii Five-0. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some snarky Scott Caan as much as the next fella, but you know what I would’ve liked more? A series about crime, punishment, superpowers, tight pants, “little shorts” and breasts heaving in high definition. I’m talking 1080p televised heaving as she chased down criminals. And apparently, I’m going to be the only person commenting on this specific missed opportunity. For shame.

I have no real knowledge of Adrianne Palicki, having never watched Friday Night Lights. I suffer this ailment that the significant majority of people in North America suffer in that I couldn’t give two damns about high school football if you paid me. Or university football, or whatever. Wherever the hell those kids were playing, I didn’t care, cos I don’t care about football. Newsflash: I still don’t care about football. Wanna know some other things I don’t care about? What Diana is wearing when she’s passing herself off as Wonder Woman. I really could not care enough to wish a show canceled over whether her boots are red or blue or how bright her blue tights/leggings/whatever-fashion-term-I’m-misusing are. Couldn’t care less when it came to the scope of a series, cos–let’s face it here–that can be changed by the time the show reaches production and if you’re changing it just to satisfy fans, you need to re-evaluate your relationship with the existing comics fandom. Read more…

Assorted thoughts.

People tell me quite often that Twitter has no purpose, is stupid and is only for people with the most miniscule of attention spans. I don’t agree with a lot of this, and I also disagree that it makes us feel more connected than we actually are. I’ve never felt really, truly bonded to someone on Twitter the way I do in real life, but I digress. The real point I’m getting at is that people who bash Twitter aren’t bashing Twitter for what it is. They’re almost never just admonishing it for putting an artificial restraint on communication–surely there are avenues left for unrestrained expression where you could rewrite Atlas Shrugged in lojban for all I care–nonono. People who bash Twitter are bashing it for being Minecraft or for being something like Saints Row II (entirely uninformed analogy)–they’re criticizing it for doing anything you want it to do and not having an instruction manual. Twitter will do absolutely anything you can think of.

Are you looking for a place to publish the minutiae of what you eat and wear on a daily basis? Congratulations, you can do that. Are you looking for a poor man’s RSS feed for people who don’t know how to work RSS feeds so that your webcomic can reach a broader audience? You can do that, too. You can use Twitter as a forum to engage with people about things they might not necessarily publicize otherwise. You can use it solely to publicize new blog posts–OR, my favourite use of Twitter, you can do all of those things at once from the same account. By following one account, a single user can get the personal stories of the author, updates on new blog posts and projects as well as political news from around the world that they might not necessarily be tuned in to.

BREAKING NEWS: this reappraisal of Twitter has now been interrupted by the fact that Canada just elected a Conservative majority government. Read more…

Michael Jackson.

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m a guy with a lot of opinions, and sometimes, I talk about them a lot before I decide to write them down. These words have their genesis in the moment when I heard the news of Michael Jackson’s passing. Michael Jackson was an incredible artist, a driven and gifted performer, and the kind of talent America produces but twice a century. His music was the unifying element in all of our lives–if you lived in North America and didn’t live in a commune somewhere in the Ozarcs (those are in North America, right), you not only heard his music, but you knew and respected the craft behind it. Mr. Jackson was, simply and frankly speaking, one of the most talented people to grace the face of this earth.

Which is why what happened to him and what made him into the person he was at the end of his life is all the more poignantly tragic. A brief word of warning: I can feel this article getting philosophical already, so you’ll really have to bear with me through these points. Another disclaimer: I neither know nor claim to have any knowledge of any criminal activity on Mr. Jackson’s part, but will instead examine events as can only be summarized by an outside observer. Simply, I’m just basing what I’m saying off of what was in public.

As I said when I started this article, Michael Jackson was truly a gift in the world of pop music. Even as a child, his talent and charisma were undeniable. Indeed, they were so undeniable that his father made his children into a band and made Michael–the youngest and most sensitive boy of the group–into the lead singer. And this isn’t an inherently malicious decision. This was seeing talent and wanting to share it with the world. If my son grows to be even a tenth as talented as Michael, you better believe I’m putting him on stage. But it was what happened offstage that made Michael Jackson, the young and gifted performer, into Michael Jackson, the reclusive and drugged up former star. Read more…

Quality is not binary.

February 25, 2011 1 comment

I got a couple negative comments recently. You’ll know this if you follow my writing here at this website. I kinda posted both of them along with my responses and their (likely fake) email addresses. I also wrote article length responses to both comments that took apart and belittled their respective comments. I thought both of my responses were short and punchy, but I guess I’m just very longwinded. Not really a revelation–I’ve written a thousand words daily on this blog since the twenty-third of December, and will repeat that until somebody notices. However, both comments had something in common, despite being responses to articles on entirely different topics. Both said that in order to disagree with the person writing the comment, I had to be stupid.

I get into a lot of arguments. I guess it’s just part of my personality. My mom always had one rule when arguing with my brother: no name-calling. What she meant was don’t attack the person you’re arguing against, attack their point of view. If someone is wrong, you have to prove it based on what they’re saying, not based on how awful they are as a person. Where this comes into play in subjective fields, such as the arts–music, movies, video games–is that if you like something someone else didn’t, you can’t just call them a bonehead and have done with it. You have to know why they should like what they don’t, what parts of it will appeal to them more than others and what parts they should be able to ignore for the greater good. You don’t simply call someone a moron and say you’re done arguing your point. And this is important to say because that’s really all the discussion we’re having nowadays. Read more…