Since I can’t black the site out…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 01/18/2012 by Fox

The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.
~Eric Schmidt

…I’ll just rant instead.

I should hope by now you’ve heard about SOPA and PIPA. SOPA has apparently been shelved for the moment, but PIPA is still kicking around in the Senate.

Others have already done a better job of dissecting SOPA than I, but here’s the kicker, if you’re unfamiliar:

“An `Internet site is dedicated to theft of U.S. property’ if [a portion of the site is US-directed] and is used by users within the United States and is primarily designed or operated for the purpose of offering services in a manner that enables or facilitates [copyright violation or circumvention of copyright protection measures].

Still doesn’t sound that bad, but consider this: Any site that allows users to post content is “primarily designed for the purpose of offering services in a manner that enables copyright violation.” The site doesn’t have to be clearly designed for the purpose of copyright violation; it only has to provide functionality that can be used to enable copyright violation.

This means that YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, Gmail, Dropbox and millions of other sites would be “Internet sites…dedicated to theft of U.S. property,” under SOPA’s definition. Simply providing a feature that would make it possible for someone to commit copyright infringement or circumvention (see: 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0) is enough to get your entire site branded as an infringing site.

Furthermore, you may be painted as infringing if you, the site owner, “take deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability of the use of…the site to carry out acts [of copyright infringement or circumvention].” This means if you deliberately decide that it’s not cost-effective to screen every piece of content and determine whether or not it is copyright-free before it is posted to your site (whether there is infringing content on your site or not), then you are labeled as an “Internet site…dedicated to theft of U.S. property.” Simply the act of not actively screening every piece of content makes you a criminal under SOPA.

Basically, these bills give the US government and copyright holders (namely, the RIAA and other assholes) the ability to effectively shut down websites for the most vague of reasons.

Let’s take thatguywiththeglasses.com, for example. He does a hilarious show called “Nostalgia Critic.” Recently, he reviewed “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” It was not a favorable review. What if the company who owns the franchise decided they didn’t like that and took action against That Guy With The Glasses? Well, with SOPA or PIPA in place, all they’d have to do is yell and his site would be removed from search engines, have any and all advertising removed, and be blacklisted by such entities as Paypal. Because his site allows comments, basically. And hell, if what I was told was correct, he already had to fight off this type of bullcrap once when he reviewed “The Room,” based on his use of clips from the movie in question during the review. The review is back up, since his use of clips is fair use.

Something similar happened with YuGiOh: The Abridged Series, which was removed from Youtube for a while for copyright violation DESPITE the fact that parody is also supposedly protected.

The TL;DR version: the intellectual property protection guys are fucking nuts, have a lot of money, and want the internet on a very short leash. Tell them where they can shove it.

The Obama family gives the middle finger

Posted in green living with tags , on 01/07/2012 by Fox

We have two kinds of morality side by side: one which we preach but do not practice and another which we practice but seldom preach.
~Bertrand Russell

So Michelle Obama and the kids took an Air Force One jet to spend Christmas in Hawaii…only four hours before Obama also took an Air Force One jet to Hawaii. Clip courtesy of the No Agenda Show.

Does this strike anyone else as FUCKING STUPID? Air Force One is a necessity, yes, but can’t they just wait four hours and all ride on the damn plane TOGETHER?

Even if you ignore the environmental consequences (a stupid waste of a limited resource and an unnecessary output of jet engine exhaust), the sheer COST of flying a private jet, much less AIR FORCE FUCKING ONE, TWICE, within FOUR HOURS, to the SAME DESTINATION, is just ridiculous.

This is just giving the middle finger to both the environment and the American people. We ride on a plane squashed between two fat people and not eating for ten hours while they take separate planes the way some people take separate cars.

And he claims to be cutting wasteful government spending. BULLSHIT.

Fuck you right back, Obama family.

How minimalism is occasionally very useful

Posted in simple living with tags , on 12/29/2011 by Fox

Two-legged creatures we are supposed to love as we love ourselves. The four-legged, also, can come to seem pretty important. But six legs are too many from the human standpoint.
~Joseph W. Krutch

Or, A Tale of Two Roommates.

My roommate and I could hardly be more different. I’m a moderate minimalist, she’s…not. I’ve got very little and almost nothing sitting about, she’s got a lot and most of it sitting about.

Enter the bedbugs.

I blame her for them, since she started getting bitten first, but who knows, maybe someone else in the building has them and gave them to us. The point is moot since they’re here regardless.

And guess which one of the two of us will have the worse time getting rid of them? Bedbugs love nooks and crannies and places to hide. The bedbugs in my bedroom have just the three bushes. There’s no end to the places where they can not be seen in my roommate’s bedroom.

Of course, while I’ll put up a much stronger fight against our anthropoid foes, I’ll also be continually reinfested from my roommate’s population until she either rids herself of them, too, or we part ways. At this juncture, the latter seems more likely. From what I’ve heard, heat treatment is at least two thousand dollars. For that price, I could toss all of my furniture and replace it. Our only other option is to do an Integrated Pest Management type approach and utilize pesticides, steamer treatments, and plastic bug-proof covers for the mattresses and boxsprings. And lots and lots of time. Especially for her. I can take care of the rest of the apartment in the time it takes her to do her bedroom.

All I can say right now, though, is that for your own sake, don’t get bedbugs. Unless you own only a bowl and a sleeping mat or something.

I’m off to the magical land of Oz to find the covers. Little bastards can starve and die in their little bubble.

How many books does it take to break even on a Kindle 2?

Posted in green living with tags on 12/15/2011 by Fox

A book is to me like a hat or coat – a very uncomfortable thing until the newness has been worn off.
~Charles B. Fairbanks

Between 23 and 280.

How many books would it take for me to break even on a Kindle 2? It would probably be a negative number, seeing as I rarely purchase new books. If I can’t get it from the library or grab it used, I almost always shelve the title away on a list and grab something I can borrow or get used. I’ve bought maybe two or three new books last year. The rest of my reading was supplied by the library, my mother, or the local used bookstore.

I don’t need the convenience of a Kindle, either. I’m perfectly happy to have books crammed into every available space when I go on an airplane. I’m perfectly happy to wait patiently until the library gets the latest…well, I hardly ever read the latest of anything, now that I think about it. Maybe RA Salvatore, but that’s more of a “Hey, I wonder if Salvatore has anything new out…” than an anxious waiting.

I don’t see the point, and never have. If you’re not the type to religiously consume periodicals or need a large selection of quickly outdated and heavy reference materials, the Kindle just doesn’t make much sense.

There will always be those who prefer the convenience, or those that require the latest gew-gaw, but I don’t see the point in that, either. I’m still using a dumb phone, which probably tells you something.

And for what it’s worth, you have to read 22.5 books you’d otherwise buy new to have the carbon footprint break even. I think that’s the Kindle and not the Kindle 2, and the figures given are sketchy.

So all those people who keep telling me that it’s green and that it’ll pay for itself can all just fuck off. The library has enough reading material to keep me happy for the next ten years, probably. People should just quit being so damn picky. Read what you have and stop pining over books that aren’t currently available to you.

I’m moving away from a structured posting schedule

Posted in Uncategorized on 12/12/2011 by Fox

Yep. Pretty much what is says up there. I’ll no longer be posting on a predictable basis.

Mostly I’ve just run out of things to write about twice a week. I worry that what I’ve been writing is second-rate stuff because I’ve been writing simply because it was Monday or Saturday and not because I had something I genuinely wanted to write about. Part of that is because, well, it’s hard to not just parrot the same thing over and over again regarding my preferred method of green living. I could go for a more personal-blog feel, but often there’s not much to say on the home front. I don’t have any exciting goals or limitations on myself that would make blog fodder. I just do what I do.

There will still be posts. Not nearly as many, though. I still enjoy ranting and raving about things. I just don’t want to feel that writing is an obligation and I want the posts to really shine again.

That’s all for today. I figured I’d let those of you who are regular readers know what’s going on. I missed last week mostly because, well, I had a birthday get-together on Saturday and there was much to be done. The get-together was glorious, though, and lots of fun.

Thank you all, and I hope to be back with more exciting posts soon.

A stitch in time, or there’s no time like the present

Posted in simple living with tags on 12/03/2011 by Fox

There is no daily chore so trivial that it cannot be made important by skipping it two days running.
~Robert Brault

Saturdays are fairly busy for me. I say fairly because some people would no doubt consider them rather lazy.

With a small apartment on a rotational cleaning plan, no kids (only cats), and a healthy dose of living within my means, my life at home is pretty stress-free. Once a month I clean the hell out of something and the rest of it gets done as it needs it.

That last phrase those is the one I want to focus on. Things here get done when they need to get done.

I’ve learned not to put off things that need doing when I notice them. Unless there happens to be a very good reason (right now that reason is a cat on my lap), I do things right away. The aquarium dirty and in need of topping off? Gets done as soon as I finish the task at hand. Dishes need doing? Right-o. Big projects like getting my car’s oil changed or washing something large get done on the next available weekend. I do little during the week aside from dishes and cooking. I like being able to fart around evenings after work. This means that Saturday is errand and task day.

I hate having tasks hanging over my head. “Damn, I need to do that” just annoys me. Do it and get it over with. There’s nothing like the feeling of having everything that needs doing done. You can relax.

There are things that need doing every weekend. The aquarium, brushing the cat, vacuuming, etc. And the monthly deep cleaning tasks. I keep a text file on my computer with those listed, along with whatever other task I need to remember to complete.

Today is deep cleaning the bedroom, which, since I was getting the oil changed anyway, entailed running a few errands to get things out of my closet. Once I get this cat off my lap I’m going to check on the washing, eat lunch, and finish emptying the closet so it can be vacuumed and resorted.

And even with the cat preventing my moving off this chair I still get something done. I can write and be furniture at the same time. Too bad no one’s here to make me a sandwich.

So instead of saying you’ll do it later, do it now. Go ahead and get it over with. You’ll feel much better and it may save you some headache in the future. Pick up the living room. Clean the aquarium. Wash the dishes. You’ll relax better after it’s all done.

And now the cat’s moved on to furniture that doesn’t shift periodically, so I’m free to go check on the washing.

Why you should support local breweries

Posted in simple living with tags on 11/28/2011 by Fox

Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn’t drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, it is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.
~Jack Handey

This weekend, some friends and I went to hang out at a brand-new local brewery, one of many that’s popped up in the state of Texas. We paid six bucks and got a glass and tickets for two glasses of beer each. A quartet of guys was playing music, and people hung out and the beer was good.

There are, however, a few things one might find fishy at Texas breweries.

For one, no one went home with six-packs. And no one asked where the beer could be purchased.

You can’t do either in Texas. Well, you could do the latter, but it wouldn’t get you anywhere. In Texas, only brewpubs can sell beer to consumers. Brewpubs can’t distribute via retailers, though. Breweries have it the opposite. They can’t sell to consumers, but they can distribute via retailers. We didn’t buy beer on Saturday night. We paid to enter the brewery, and thus we recieved complementary beer samples. Had we asked “Where can we buy your beer?” the answer would have been “We legally can’t tell you.”

Let’s go to a different place. A local Texas winery. I sample the wines, find one I enjoy, and the employee behind the counter offers to sell me a bottle. I buy it, and ask where else I can buy the wine. She directs me to both the local grocery store and the local beer/wine/liquor place.

Isn’t that how things should go for both breweries and wineries?

Not in Texas, and I’m sure it’s not the only state with draconian alcohol laws. There was a recent push to try to change them, but it failed, largely due to the effort of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the beer giant that brings you Budweiser. Their official stance is that they were against the change in laws because it discriminated against them (the law only applied to breweries selling under a certain amount). Really, we all know it’s because they’re afraid of craft/microbrewed beer, which is growing at quite the clip.

I could understand AB InBev’s sentiment a little more if it weren’t for the fact that they seem to only push one type of beer on the American public: American lager. AB InBev owns Spaten. Coors owns Blue Moon and Killian’s. None of these beer giants advertises these brands, at least not in Texas, where every single beer ad, period, is for the pisswater crap I was raised to think of as “beer.”

Local breweries brew and support a diverse number of beer styles. I don’t like India pale ales, but my friends do. They don’t like imperial stouts. I do. (None of us like American lagers.) Craft brewers play nice with one another…especially in Texas where the beer laws may yet force craft brewers to band together even more strongly than their kin in states like Colorado and Oregon.

And that’s on top of the standard benefits of supporting local businesses…they employ local people, keep money in the community, and generally offer (MUCH) better products with better service. And I can see how the local joint brews their beer. I saw their equipment. All of it. I even pissed in their toilet. If that’s not transparency, I don’t know what is.

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