Friday, April 22, 2005

This week's IP sanity article is brought to you by the Financial Times

It is as if we had signed an international stupidity pact, one that required us to ignore the evidence, to hand out new rights without asking for the simplest assessment of need. If the stakes were trivial, no one would care. But intellectual property (IP) is important. These are the ground rules of the information society. Mistakes hurt us. They have costs to free speech, competition, innovation, and science. Why are we making them?

To some the answer is obvious: corporate capture of the decision making process. This is a nicely cynical conclusion. But wait. There are economic interests on both sides. The film and music industries are tiny compared the consumer electronics industry. Yet copyright law dances to the tune played by the former, not the latter. Open source software is big business. But the international IP bureaucracies seem to view it as godless communism.

If money talks, why can decision-makers only hear one side of the conversation? Corporate capture can only be part of the explanation. Something more is needed. We need to deconstruct the culture of IP stupidity, to understand it so we can change it. But this is a rich and complex stupidity, like a fine Margaux. I can only review a few flavours.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Calling all videogame nerds

If you have approximately 45 minutes to kill, you will love this.


thanks, Dano

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Taibbi destroys Friedman and his awful multiplying metaphors

At the beginning of this review, Matt Tabbi sounds like he's nitpicking. By the end, Friedman has been completely unmasked:
He is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that's guaranteed, every single time. He never misses.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Serious answers to joke questions

Why are these funnier than the original jokes? No seriously - why?


Friday, April 15, 2005

PSP has 50% more CPU power under the hood

Sony is just waiting for better battery technology to unlock it.


Wanna get freaked out?

Put your name into this:

Thursday, April 14, 2005

PopMatters interviews Smoosh

The tweener girl two-piece indie band (that has opened for Pearl Jam, Jimmy Eat World, Presidents [of the United States of America], Death Cab for Cutie, Cat Power, Sleater-Kinney, Rilo Kiley).
PM: Do you get along most of the time?

Chloe: Yeah, sometimes.

PM: Is it hard to have to work with your sister?

Chloe: Yeah, definitely. [To Asya] You get annoying.

Asya: No I don't!

PM: Who are some of the bands you like?

Asya: I like the Presidents, Arcade Fire, Smashing Pumpkins ... the bands we've played with.

PM: What is one thing you would like people to know about Smoosh?

Asya: That we write all of our songs.


Look at my striped shirt!

I don't know what's funnier, this article, or the set of clueless comments at the end. "Fave" comment?
Posted: 4/13/2005 by: Andrew Firestone

You clowns are so lame its a joke.

I wear striped shirts, live in the Marina and I own it.

Jelosy is pathetic and you guys need to get some ass or shut the fuck up. Lets see who's so tough this weekend - I dare any of you dicks to come dis Marina boys face to face.
Eastside West at 10 - find me in the toilets, i'll probably be blowing lines but when i see you i'll open up a fresh new can of whoopass, bitches.

One more reason to not cross Market St.

thanks, Dano!

"The, whatever, the Constitution"

Tom DeLay gives an interview to the Moonies over at the Washington Times.

Full context for the above quote:
Mr. Dinan: Are you going to pursue impeaching judges?
Mr. DeLay: I'm not going to answer that. I have asked the Judiciary Committee to look at this. They're going to start holding hearings on different issues. They are more capable than me to look at this issue and take responsibility, given the, whatever, the Constitution.

Other choice bits:
Mr. Dinan: You've been talking about going after activist judges since at least 1997. The [Terri] Schiavo case gives you a chance to do that, but you've recently said you blame Congress for not being zealous in oversight.
Mr. DeLay: Not zealous. I blame Congress over the last 50 to 100 years for not standing up and taking its responsibility given to it by the Constitution. The reason the judiciary has been able to impose a separation of church and state that's nowhere in the Constitution is that Congress didn't stop them. The reason we had judicial review is because Congress didn't stop them. The reason we had a right to privacy is because Congress didn't stop them.

Mr. Hurt: Have you ever crossed the line of ethical behavior in terms of dealing with lobbyists, your use of government authority or with fundraising?
Mr. DeLay: Ever is a very strong word.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Radio getting a clue?

Y'know, I actually have been listening to the radio a bit more these days. I just hope it isn't because of horrific marketroid-speak from people like "Mike Henry, chief executive of Paragon Media Strategies":
People today are desperate for change and diversity, said Mike Henry, chief executive of Paragon Media Strategies and a consultant who helped developed the breakout format known as "Jack," which plays hits across different genres from classic rock to hip-hop to country. That might mean playing Madonna next to Led Zeppelin next to John Mayer next to Alicia Keyes next to Franz Ferdinand.

"The Jack formula has worked and defied radio wisdom because it appeals to a pent-up demand that has grown and grown as radio has delivered narrower and narrower content," Henry said. "A lot of people want to be surprised, they want variety."

Jack--named to be easier to remember than call letters--is a licensed, branded radio format that originated in Canada in 2002.

Thank god people like "Mike Henry, chief executive of Paragon Media Strategies" have quantified, branded, and licensed this format - otherwise they might have to leave it in the hands of music-loving local radio programmers to come up with surprising and unique playlists! The horror!


American Enterprise Institute fellow behind forged Niger documents?

Apparently Michael Leeden may be the guy behind the bogus documents that got Joe Wilson (not to mention Valerie Plame!) in so much trouble.


Some parents are so pathetic

This mom can't control her 12 and "13-and-a-half" year-olds, so she calls 911! The dispatcher, obviously weary of these calls (like the woman who called 911 because she didn't get the right hamburger), makes a little joke. Well, she didn't find it funny. No siree. The sad thing is, it's probably too late for this lady to ever get her kids under control.


A capella of "original work from Japan"

Time for a little culture, folks:


Some more Wolcott pessimism

It scares me, but there's a lot to be worried about, right around the corner. I'm not quite as pessimistic as Wolcott or Kunstler about the "techno-hubris" of our culture. I still think that there are innovative possiblities for some salvation that aren't just naive fantasies. For example, one study on biodiesel proposes using algae ponds in the middle of the desert, which wouldn't force a choice between food and fuel. Nuclear pebble-bed reactors are another option, as are some the the new nanotech solar panels. All of these technologies can be integrated into our current infrastructure. However, it will take awareness and leadership to get any of these things going without too much pain. Which is where chicken littles like Wolcott and Kunstler come in. Now, as far as leaders...


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

And now, some poetry. Ginsberg's "America"

I hadn't read this before. The annotated version is still up in the Internet Archive.


Monday, April 11, 2005

Idaho house votes to proclaim "Napolean Dynamite" kick-ass

44 WHEREAS, Tina the llama, the chickens with large talons, the 4-H milk
Page 2
1 cows, and the Honeymoon Stallion showcase Idaho's animal husbandry; and
2 WHEREAS, any members of the House of Representatives or the Senate of the
3 Legislature of the State of Idaho who choose to vote "Nay" on this concurrent
4 resolution are "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!" and run the risk of having the "Worst Day of
5 Their Lives!"
6 NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the members of the First Regular Session
7 of the Fifty-eighth Idaho Legislature, the House of Representatives and the
8 Senate concurring therein, that we commend Jared and Jerusha Hess and the City
9 of Preston for showcasing the positive aspects of Idaho's youth, rural cul-
10 ture, education system, athletics, economic prosperity and diversity.
11 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we, the members of the House of Representa-
12 tives and the Senate of the State of Idaho, advocate always following your
13 heart, and thus we eagerly await the next cinematic undertaking of Idaho's
14 Hess family.


Larry Clark's "Wassup Rockers" promo reel

She what Larry "Kids" Clark is up to. His latest is about South Central skaters who travel to Beverly Hills in order to skate the world-famous Beverly Hills High School stairs.


Smoke 'em if you got 'em

Miracle cancer cure due in "next five years."

Of course, as BoingBoing's MArk Frauenfelder points out, there are quite a few things that are supposed to be available in "the next five years."


Yahoo travel meta-search engine

Try it out!


America (Fuck Yeah!) We Stand As One

MeFi linked the inevitable Mashup.


The Ultimate Warrior takes on Something Awful

After his rambling racist "lecture" at UConn the other day, became the next focus of his lawyer-fueled rage.


Friday, April 08, 2005

Why can't anyone throw a baseball faster than 100 mph?

Why do sprinters keep getting faster while baseball pitchers seem to have maxed out? Because track athletes don't approach the limits of what human tendons and ligaments can handle. When you run the 100-meter dash, no single stride represents as violent a motion as the arm makes during a single overhand pitch. Sprinters can build up their muscles without worrying that the extra force will rip their ligaments apart—that's why steroid use seems to make sprinters faster but won't help pitchers generate velocity beyond a certain point. (A better reason for a pitcher to take steroids would be to decrease the time it takes to recover between games.)


Steve Milloy promotes corporate irresponsibility on "Kudlow and Company"

It's soulless assholes like this who will probably end up on Bush's air-conditioned spaceship to Mars when the rest of us fend for ourselves in Damnation Alley:
KUDLOW: Yeah, listen, so corporate social responsibility, social investing and then, of course, this whole idea of stakeholders--businesses aren't run for stakeholders, which are left-wing community activists. Businesses are run for shareholders, aren't they?

Mr. MILLOY: That's absolutely true. And we are here to say that the Free Enterprise Action Fund is here to remind corporate managements that their business is business. Their business is not caving in to anti-business activists. They gotta keep their eye on that ball. We want to be able to support corporate--as investors, we want to be able to support corporate managers who are fighting the good fight and fighting anti-business activists. And for corporate managers who are caving in to anti-business activists, we're gonna come down on 'em like a ton of bricks.


Mexico at the crossroads

Just read Wolcott's recap of Al Giordano's account (Al's site is VERY slow). I'm embarrassed of my ignorance of Mexican politics.


My next computer is almost ready

I've held onto my aging 12" iBook for quite a while, and between its pinched LCD cable (which makes my screen go dark randomly), broken shift key, and inability to smoothly play Divx movies, I'm ready for a refresh. The Powerbook G4s seem too expensive, so maybe this is what I''ve been waiting for:


Of course, knowing Apple, they will release some awesome dual-core (or G5) version of the Powerbooks at the same time, just to mess with me.

Hitch takes on the pope

I like him so much more when he's not parroting Bush Co. talking points.
Unbelievers are more merciful and understanding than believers, as well as more rational. We do not believe that the pope will face judgment or eternal punishment for the millions who will die needlessly from AIDS, or for his excusing and sheltering of those who committed the unpardonable sin of raping and torturing children, or for the countless people whose sex lives have been ruined by guilt and shame and who are taught to respect the body only when it is a lifeless cadaver like that of Terri Schiavo. For us, this day is only the interment of an elderly and querulous celibate, who came too late and who stayed too long, and whose primitive ideology did not permit him the true self-criticism that could have saved him, and others less innocent, from so many errors and crimes.


Financial Times on alternatives to dogmatic IP protection

One idea currently circulating:
Recently, a bill (HR 417) was introduced in the US Congress. The proposal would radically change the way medical R&D is financed in the US. It would eliminate all market exclusivity on prescription medicines, in return for remuneration from a $60 billion per year Medical Innovation Prize Fund, that would be distributed to companies that develop new medicines on the basis of the incremental healthcare benefits the medicines deliver. The new US proposal shows one can separate the markets for innovation from that for products providing hefty financial incentives for companies investing in R&D, without harming consumers.


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Blogrunner gives you The Annotated New York Times

What a great idea!


CHEERS, kids!

I'm speechless. This is so disgusting.

Washington, D.C.– During a hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was shocked and disappointed by EPA Administrator Nominee Stephen Johnson’s failure to condemn a pending EPA program to test pesticides on children.

The program, the Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study, or CHEERS, would pay the parent of a baby up to $970 if they expose their child to household pesticides and other toxins over a two-year period. The parents are also given a camcorder, which they can keep, to tape the child’s activities and reactions.

The CHEERS website now has the following message:
The Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study has been suspended. No additional work will be conducted on this study subject to external scientific and ethical review.


Pizza wars (where to find good pizza in the Bay Area)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Worst thing of everything

From the bio page:
Dennis Madalone is originally from South Plainfield, New Jersey. For the past fourteen years, he was best know as Stunt Coordinator and Stunt performer on Star Trek 'The Next Generation', 'Deep Space Nine' and 'Voyager'. To date, he has made history as the longest running Stunt Coordinator at one Studio; he coordinated three hundred and eighty-nine episodes. Madalone is also faetured on the Star Trek Trading Cards, which in the trading card word is a high honor, and a valuable collectable.

Before he graduated, he set a new school record clearing thirteen feet in pole vaulting on the South Plainfield High School track team. Fresh out of school, Madalone immediately ventured to Hollywood California with only fifty-two bucks in his pocket, and an energized drive and passion to make his dream come true. Because of his hard work and dedication within the first year, Madalone had evolved from a "Jersey-Jock" into a Hollywood Stunt Coordinator. Madalone not only excelled with his physical abilities but his charisma also landed him on The Tonight Show, Regis and Kathie Lee, Arsenio Hall, and many others.

Madalone's Stunt Coordinating resume is esceptionally impressive, and his Stunt performances on film reach into the thousands. Stunts, have not been the only talent that Madalone shines in. As a teen he took Guitar lessons, and would hang out on the Jersey Shore, writing songs and entertaining his friends. Music was always in his heart and now it's pouring out. Using the same passion and drive he had in the movie industry as a young adult, Madalone is now using it in his music career. His new single "America We Stand As One" is sung from his heart and soul. His compassion for others inspires him to write lyrics and create melodies based on life experiences. His desire to share his feelings is so that it may be of reflective comfort in "your" life. Madalone says, "We all need each other". In his song "America We Stand As One", the message is to "carry on, hold on and stay strong for we all are truly one". Deniis' song wishes to fill your heart and soul full of pride, hope and love for our nation and most importantly each other. He is truly an artist with power, passion and originality.

Currently Dennis Madalone is the Stunt Coordinator for the new Hit Series, "Without a Trace" on CBS at Warner Brothers Studios.
(grammer errors and awful, awful writing are in the original)


Bernie Sanders presents: The Loan Shark Prevention Act

Great idea:
The bill has three very simple provisions:

1. Cap interest rates at 8% above what the IRS charges income tax deadbeats. Currently, the cap would be 14%, the same level that the Senate approved by a 74-19 vote in an amendment offered by Sen. Al D’Amato in 1991.

2. Cap bank and credit card fees at $15, instead of the astronomical late fees that are now regularly assessed.

3. Ban the credit card interest rate bait and switch. Credit card companies are doubling or tripling the interest rates of consumers even though they always paid their credit card bills on-time. The reason? Maybe they were one day late on a student loan payment three years ago. Maybe they took out another loan for a medical emergency. Or maybe they did nothing wrong at all. Today, credit card companies can raise rates for any time for any reason. This bill would restrict that.

Another possibility would be to start a credit card company that pledged to abide by these guidelines, and advertise aggresively.

A little interview with "DVD" Jon

He displays his usual level of arrogance and disdain for the copy-protection apologists in this brief interview on Slyck.
Many people on Apple related websites seem to have less than kind words for you. What is your reaction to this criticism?

I ignore comments about technical or legal issues from people who have proven that they understand neither. Arguing with unreasonable people who hide behind anonymity is a waste time, so I don't bother.


Why are Starbucks (and other coffee house) pastries so awful?

A dozen baristas in a dozen stores came up with the same answer. "They're baked locally and delivered to us fresh every day," they said earnestly.

"Then why," I asked a young man at Friars Road who was packing my pastry into two cardboard boxes, "does that box you're filling say Hill Country Bakery, San Antonio, Texas?"


Monday, April 04, 2005

SharpMusique released

Now you can buy DRM-free music from the iTunes store, from within Windows!


Burnout Revenge due in September

I hope this fixes the few tiny things wrong with Burnout 3, and that it comes out on the PSP.


Saturday, April 02, 2005

Ezra Dyer takes an AMG SL65 to the drag strip

When the light goes green, I take off with such violence that the automatic roll bar pops up. The SL's spring-loaded roll bar deploys at a threshold of 0.5 g, which is a pretty good shove in the back if you're not being rear-ended by a dump truck. When I trip the lights, I find I've turned an 11.85-second quarter at 118 mph-with the air-conditioning on and the seat gently massaging my back. When I pull up to the booth to get my time slip, the track official is apoplectic. "You need to slow down. You just ran in the 11s. I think you need a roll cage." I point to the deployed roll bar, but he says pop-up bars on hardtop convertibles don't count. I get the impression he just made that up on the spot. Luckily, he continues improvising rules until I'm once again legal. "Wait a minute, no, you used to need a roll cage if you were in the 12s . . . but I think we just changed the rule to 11.49. So don't go faster than that."

Back at the pits, other drivers are scandalized. They want to look at the time slip. Curse words are uttered. This rich-guy luxobarge just ran in the 11s right out of the box. I attribute my time to pure driving talent, but that notion evaporates when people start asking questions about my setup and technique. "What's your air pressure?" "Did you do a burnout before the run?" "Does this have adjustable suspension?" "Which ride height is it set at?" "Are you shifting it yourself?" I am quickly made to understand that if I can run in the 11s with full air pressure in the tires, the air-conditioning on, and the suspension set on firm (not ideal for load transfer to the drive wheels), then basically Cuddles the Miniature Seeing-Eye Pony could also snap off consistent sub-twelve-second runs.


Friday, April 01, 2005

Some April Fools Day fun from Gamespot

EFF on April Fools Day

Lots of funny stuff this week...


Slate dissects the report on intelligence failures

Fred Kaplan writes what we all know to be true:
Reading beyond the executive summary reveals that the intelligence failure on Iraq had little to do with management, interagency disputes, or sloppy organizational charts. Rather, the main causes were twofold. First, on many points, well-placed intelligence analysts were simply wrong; it's as plain as that, and it's hard to see how any reshufflings or new directives might have overwhelmed human fallacy. Second, everyone knew President Bush was gearing up for war; he, therefore, wanted, needed, to find Iraq worthy of invasion; and the heads of intelligence, doubling as administration appointees, accommodated that disposition.

The commissioners try to skirt this political dimension of the intelligence analysts' findings. "In no instance," the report states up front, "did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgment." However, it goes on, "That said, it is hard to deny the conclusion that intelligence agencies worked in an environment that did not encourage skepticism about the conventional wisdom."

Apparently the commission didn't want to get into the politics of skewed intelligence, saying only that agency bureaucrats may risk a "loss of objectivity" when they try to maintain influence over policy decisions by cozying up to the administration.
One reason the commissioners address this point so briefly, and obliquely, is that President Bush didn't want them to bring it up at all. As Lawrence Silberman, the panel's co-chairman, explained at the press conference this morning, "Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us agreed that this was not part of our inquiry."

The panel didn't interview the president or vice president. The report doesn't even mention the special five-man team that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld set up in his Pentagon office in the fall of 2002 to scour raw reports for the slightest suggestion of evidence, which the CIA might have missed, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or links to al-Qaida. An executive order is an executive order. But for a report about intelligence errors to avoid such matters is like viewing Hamlet through Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (but, unlike Tom Stoppard, not for laughs).

eXTReMe Tracker