I finally fixed the last thing: Formatting. If you’re curious, I use the Textile 2 markup language with my wordpress posts. You can see what it is like here. I find that it is much easier to work with than the WYSIWIG editor that comes with WordPress.
The plugin I was using before broke with Apache 2.0 (which is freaky weird) so I searched and searched and finally found one that worked
Thank you Joel ‘Jaykul’ Bennett!
Update: Oops, I didn’t realize that permalinks weren’t working (which meant people couldn’t access full articles or comments). I just fixed it (.htaccess was broken).
I know I still haven’t fixed my website yet but I just had to post about this movie:
It was amazing
If all my economic arguments for a single payer healthcare system haven’t convinced you yet, you need to see this movie. It shows the other side of the argument. It shows precisely how and where private healthcare fails. Michael Moore has done an amazing job.
You owe it to yourself to see how health insurance companies intentionally bankrupt people to save money (they hire private investigators to invent undisclosed pre-existing conditions), how hospitals abandon patients that don’t have insurance (they drop them off at Skid Row, literally!), and how DOCTORS ARE PAID TO DENY TREATMENT to people so companies like Humana, Blue Cross, and Kaiser Permanente can save a few bucks… At the expense of people’s lives. They are literally killing people with their business practices.
Sicko also made passing mention of the drug companies but that could probably be its own movie (any takers?). There were so many details in this movie that you might miss… A drug that costs $120 in the U.S. costs $0.05 in Cuba. Why? Is it simply because the Cubans subsidize it through their taxes? Actually, no: it is because Cuba negotiates prices on behalf of all Cubans (and doesn’t allow bullshit patent extensions). If Cuba can get that drug for $0.05 imagine what the U.S. could get negotiating on behalf of all Americans.
Private healthcare is failing America. It is time we ended it.
I just upgraded my server to from apache 2.0 to apache 2.2 and it broke some things. Most notably my image gallery, my random quotes, and the excellent TextControl plugin that makes my posts pretty =(
I’m going to be working on this as much as I can over the next few days but my son is in the hospital so all you readers will have to just deal with the ugly formatting for a while =)
Update: I fixed everything but the gallery and the TextControl plugin. Still working on it.
Update 2: I fixed the gallery.
There’s a difference between something being right and something being lawful. Many have made the argument that violating copyright laws is the right thing to do in many circumstances for various reasons but rarely do you hear the argument that copyright law has become unenforceable and irrelevant.
I say this because every single U.S. citizen has violated copyright and all of them will do so again. Even the most pro-copyright bulwark will commit copyright infringement several times this year and they probably won’t even realize it. Yet, despite these facts copyright law still stands unchanged and millions still believe it to be something it is not: Necessary, useful, or both.
The most compelling argument I’ve ever heard that copyright law is useful is that it protects the Linux kernel (and open source software in general) from being used in ways that violate the license (i.e. distributing your own customized version of Linux without releasing the source code). This argument is flawed because copyright is a mandatory license that Linux and Linux distributors must adhere to whereas the distribution license (the GPL) is actually a contract.
If copyright went away tomorrow contract law would still exist and the author of a work would still be able to take advantage of it. If they released their work without a license it would immediately fall into the public domain. This is actually the way it was envisioned to work with the exception that if you wanted you could opt-in to the copyright program by registering your work with the copyright office. This would entitle you to an exclusive right to distribute your work however you saw fit for 25 years. If you were still alive after that period (which was rare at the time) you could re-register for another 25.
By requiring creators to opt-in to the system the government solved two problems at once: 1) Works that had no perceived economic value would be public domain and 2) it provided a central place where people could figure out if something was copyrighted or not. Without a central location to check copyrights it is damned near impossible to determine if a work is being distributed without permission.
Copyright law is not necessary. A central place to look up distribution licenses is; for the sole reason that if a dispute occurs over whether or not a work is in the public domain you will have a place where you can look up the license. Disputes such as these can be settled in courts without statutory damages such as ”$250,000 per violation” (which is what the law lists right now—talk about the punishment not fitting the crime!).
Copyright law has also become irrelevant. Every time someone sings the “Happy Birthday” song without paying ASCAP they have violated copyright. I kid you not! How many times a day is that song sung? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? ASCAP could claim they’ve lost billions to verbal piracy!
Every day trillions of files are traded illegally on the Internet. Yet only a fraction of a percentage of these will ever be litigated against. Not only that, but the only reason why litigation is even on the table as an option is because of the ridiculous damages dictated by law ($250,000 per birthday song, per singer). Would the MPAA or RIAA sue someone if the damages were something a bit more reasonable such as, oh, the actual cost of the work times ten (say, $150 for a pirated movie or CD… as determined by a jury)? Hell no. It would cost more than that just to show up in court.
It would be worth it to take people to court who profit from piracy. The more infringement you rack up the more likely a jury is to award some serious damages. It is important to note, however, that because of the nature of the Internet, copying things is far too easy, far too anonymous, and far too global for accountability. At least not for intangible, low-value goods such as digital movies, digital songs, or even digital books. Real accountability only works for physical equivalents: DVDs, CDs, and printed books. These things are actually traceable and measurable (in a practical way). Transactions between file sharers on the Internet are not—and furthermore, it is difficult to actually prove a file was shared in the first place.
It is wildly naive at this point to think that copyright in a digital age is enforceable. Anything that can be represented as 1s and 0s can be copied effortlessly and (reasonably) anonymously over the Internet. Copyright law in its current form doesn’t benefit the public. It only serves (admittedly large and powerful) industries that have failing business models. We need to get rid of it and replace it with something else entirely. Here’s what I’d recommend:
- Expiration after distribution stops. After a work is no longer being distributed or sold in some way it should enter the public domain. I don’t care if it happens in 2 years: If Disney stops selling Snow White it should enter the public domain. A grace time of 1 year would be acceptable. The moment a work stops being distributed by its owner/creator it serves no benefit to the public for that work to be locked away in copyright jail. Works still being distributed must be both registered at some central government office and be published for sale and/or licensing in public.
- Expiration upon the death of the author. The author’s children will reap the benefits from their parent’s work in the form of their inheritance. No one should have to pay an author’s child for the privilege of using their parent’s (or grandparent’s) creation. A 10-year “family ownership” from the date of the work’s publishing would be acceptable in the event that a creator dies before they can reap the rewards of their creation.
- Works owned by corporations should have mandatory expiration of 10 years. If a business can’t recoup the cost of a work by then they are not serving the public; either by keeping a work locked away in their portfolio or by the fact that such poorly-managed businesses are not great for the economy.
That is all that is necessary for a copyright-like law in the age of the Internet. Things like Linux will still be able to benefit from distribution licenses and corporations can make even more lucrative and restrictive contracts than they currently get now with copyright (IMHO, that would be bad for business but hey, it would be their choice!). Enforcement of these laws would fall into the hands of the owners of the works through the courts—just as it does today. Except that regular citizens would be able to use things like Bittorrent to copy works with a more realistic litigation risk (which is very, very minimal regardless).
Copyright in its current form is not realistic and doesn’t benefit the public. It cannot be properly enforced and its theoretical implementation is not even good for society (lasting for hundreds of years, stupidly large fines, no way to verify ownership, etc). We should change it so that it has the potential to benefit the public and the potential to be accepted by the public. The current form of copyright has neither.
There’s an article at Treehugger that points to a recent presentation by Matthew Simmons (a member of the National Petroleum Council) regarding Peak Oil. Essentially he outlines the insanely dangerous situation we’re currently mired in, how we’re about to be seriously screwed regardless of what we do, and what businesses will suffer the most as a result (i.e. who not to invest in).
I read the entire presentation and I would sum it up the same way Treehugger did, “Everything you wanted to know about Peak Oil”. It is far more thorough and to-the-point than the Wikipedia page and if you thought I had some scary things to say about it then you need to read it and see what the most powerful investment bankers in the world were just informed of. If I were an investment banker that attended this presentation I’d be investing in bunker right now.
My prediction: The U.S. will get its first taste of what Peak Oil is like in August of this year with the oil flow resuming by the end of September. The real Peak Oil apocalypse will hit on the 4th of July, 2008 (a long weekend).
Nanci Pelosi recently asked on Yahoo! Answers, Congress is working on legislation to address global warming – what would you like to see included?. I wrote my own response and afterwards I read some of the other answers… Wow! Either there’s a lot of people out there who don’t have the first clue about global warming or there’s some astroturfing going on (which I think is highly likely).
Some of the answers were just downright ridiculous. The amount of bullshit was staggering. If you were playing global warming bingo you’d “win” on every page.
I watched the Democratic debate tonight and I’m severely disappointed. Not by the candidates, no, but by CNN. The amount of microphone time that was given to Senators Clinton, Obama, and Edwards was absolutely unconscionable. I’m not sure if it is because these three candidates represent CNN’s ideals more than the other candidates or if some other other candidates’ positions might conflict with CNN’s (Time Warner’s) interests.
An example of a candidate that CNN would not appreciate being elected: Dennis Kucinich. Why? his health care reforms would do away with private insurance (advertisers on all of Time Warner’s media outlets) and force drug companies (the biggest advertisers of all) to lower prices (by way of negotiation on behalf of all Americans). Not only that, but I believe he’s also against big media conglomerates owning such a large percentage of the market (hah!).
Once the debate was over CNN had Anderson Cooper talk with a bunch of pundits. All of whom seemed to be singing a chorus of “Clinton!” Odd, I thought… I didn’t think Clinton said anything terribly interesting at all. Not only that, but her one crowd-pleasing moment was when she made fun of the vice president. I can’t even remember anything regarding “what she’d do as president”—that’s how notable she was.
Here’s what caught my eye during the debate:
- Obama’s plan for universal health care sounded like a naive, “As President I’ll shape the health care market” plan. In other words, it wasn’t much of a plan at all. His big plan is to somehow force health insurance companies to cut costs without so much as a hint as to how he’d do it. It sounded like a 20th century left-wing play for votes among the ignorant… “I’m going to force the big mean corporation to make their products cheaper!” Sure you are. As if the problem was simply a matter of cost cutting.
- When Clinton was given the opportunity to talk about health care she totally avoided the question—surprising when you consider that a decade ago she was pushing it like her life depended on it.
- I loved it when Edwards pointed the finger at Clinton and Obama saying something to the tune of, “Real leaders don’t act the way they did.” (regarding the recent war funding bill votes). Way to go Edwards!
- Mike Gravel kicks ass. Wow! Before tonight I never even gave him a passing thought but he really hit it home when he said that the other candidates will never do anything to fix earmarks, pork, the overbearing power of special interest, or the budget since they’re currently thriving on the system the way it is. It was the truth and it was powerful.
- Senator Dodd surprised me when he practically demanded publicly funded elections. Of course, everything he said sounded like a demand but on this particular issue he was spot on. I could be wrong but it sounded like the crowd was cheering him and then was suddenly muffled. Did CNN censor them?!?
- Bill Richardson totally blew it when he insinuated that if he were President he would “grow the economy 1.6%”. As if the President is the “man behind the curtain”. What a load of pandering bullshit. The President’s primary duty is to frame the budget, sure, but most of the budget is fixed costs (by law) which means that the amount up or down it can go is primarily dependent on action from Congress.
- I thought Kucinich’s answer on the question of whether or not he would assassinate Osama Bin Laden showed serious leadership—and chutzpah. He took the ethical high ground when most of America is down with, “Kill em’ all!”
- Regarding the same question, I thought Obama’s answer was unbelievably stupid. “He declared war on us.” A single person does not a war make. He may represent the worst side of humanity but he’s still just one guy. Just be honest Obama: You’d kill him and anyone else around him because it is what you and the people want… Even though it isn’t a very moral thing to do.