NEWS YOU CAN USE! Brief Blurb

US Power Companies under frequent Cyber-attacks

Now would be a good time to stock up on generators, shotguns, and beef jerky. ๐Ÿ™‚

Chinese Hacker’s have backdoors into US Law Enforcement

I personally have no issue with China, however it’s insane for a nation’s (in this case the US) infrastructure and products to largely be made not only outside said Nation, but by a country that openly does not have the best interest of the US in mind.

How the hell is it allowable for everything you get in Walmart and Target to be made in China? Could it be because companies that had their start in the US, and make their money from the US, feel they owe no allegiance to the US in terms of maintaining a strong economic base or paying taxes in the areas they are generating revenue. Increasingly companies view governments, meaning the people, as a means to an end, a sponge they can squeeze when they require lubrication.

And if that sounds vulgar, it is because what companies are doing through lobbying and buying of representatives and mandating of laws… is vulgar.

And bringing it back to a tech bent, IBM/Lenovo is virtually a Chinese company and our Government Infrastructure and Security is dependent on Chinese made computer hardware such as this. How is that conducive to security?

In such an environment China would be stupid not to take advantage of the US’s desire to put greed and low cost above security and a stronger domestic economic base.

Am I advocating buying American? I’m advocating something even more radical. I’m advocating buying and producing locally. I’m advocating the ability of a family to support themselves, regardless of what another City or State or Country does.

I’m advocating a return to local farmers, and local tailors, and local manufacturers.

Radical, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, that’s all the time for now. More NEWS YOU CAN USE later.

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Digital Revolution: Discussing the Greedy and the Ungoverned, And Entertainment as prelude to War!


I feel a rant a’ coming.

You new to the blog may want to skip this one. You old timers… jump in… the water is like you like it, deep and treacherous. ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Or be mollified by the following disclaimer:

This is an imaginary story. The following is all fiction except for the parts that are true… I leave you to determine the one from the other…

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There are a lot of great things about the digital revolution, not the least of which is the ubiquitousness of content. Which makes this sense of foreboding I have about the coming bad, a bit troubling.

I think you have… to have been around before cable, before on demand, before 500 channels, before DVD or CD, before Internet household presence, before even the home computer to truly appreciate just how amazing are the strides made in many areas, not least of which is the creation and dissemination… of entertainment and information.

If you are a movie fan you can, without leaving your house, have at your viewing pleasure just about every film made in the last 100+ years of cinema. More, you can have films from multiple nations, multiple languages easily subtitled into your language.

As a film fan who was around during the age of VHS, I remember that just locating a cult or foreign film was a HUGE production. You had to find those resellers/stores often in the back of magazines, send away for the catalog, then order the film.

And with the Internet it made that search a bit easier. Allowing you to stumble across someone’s site who had a VHS movie you were looking everywhere for. And you would get the VHS tape, and it would be a third generation, copy of a copy, really not good quality, but at the time— you were just elated to have it, and be able to see this film that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

It was that way with everything: Books, records, cassettes, lps, and then Laserdiscs DVDs and CDs. The Internet being a huge way for resellers to connect with buyers. And fly by night companies came and went.

But a few questionable startups, Ebay and Amazon among them, grew legs and found themselves not just a fad, but soon a fixture of this Internet phenomenon. And all these shaky startups, these microsofts and apples …these cowboys that proliferated in a time before software patents and lawsuits to stifle competition, began to thrive.

Suddenly content in digitized formats, and the explosion of storage capacity created an age of ready access, on demand availability, of almost everything.

Great. Wonderful. Beautiful. I mean this has allowed for the rise of podcasts, one of the greatest audio revivals since the dawn of radio. And if you’re an Itunes or Hulu or Archive.org patron, it’s just opened up the history of entertainment to anyone with an Internet connection and the desire to explore. That’s the great part, That’s the wonderful part of the digital revolution.

Here’s the bad part. The digital revolution is not being driven by quality concerns or for love of the medium, it is being embraced by decision makers because of two reasons 1/cost savings and 2/control.

I understand both those things in moderation, but moderation is a word that business doesn’t really practice. Cost savings has come to mean some suspect things, two of the most disturbing is the replacement of physical media, and part and parcel of that… is the elimination of the reseller.. the middleman.

I like resellers, I like mom and pop shops, I like middlemen, and I think gearing an economy to do away with that whole part of the conversation, is to gear the economy to in essence do away with a middle class of any kind. It is gearing an economy toward those who own and those who work and pay— landowners and serfs with no middle ground.

And a lot of people think nothing of it, because it’s just book stores, or comic stores, or DVD stores closing. But let’s extend the same thing to McDonald’s.

What if automation tomorrow allowed McDonald’s to do away with the middleman, the franchises?

What if they could get the food to you the consumer without going through a middleman? Say click a button on your laptop, and the food teleports into your hands, whatever. Stay with me here. Because technology gives you the ability to do something, should you do that thing? Is that thing necessarily the best thing for your company, your customer, your economy?

That’s a heck of a question, and I don’t pretend to have the answers. But what I’m saying when it comes to the digital revolution with books, dvd, cds, and the thousands of stores and businesses and millions of employees we are making obsolete, I feel as though no one is even asking the obvious questions, among them… ‘Should we do it this way?’

I feel big business is not looking beyond their own pockets, to see see what is best for their customers and their country. And that’s a very nationalistic thing to expect of a company, to think in terms of their country. But considering our congress in its infinite wisdom allows companies to actually have a say in drafting the laws of a country, ie basically gives to companies greater rights than citizens, I think it’s not too much to ask from those companies the loyalty of citizens.

And those companies that cannot, for whatever reason of conflict or commerce, think in terms of what is best for America— should not have the right to lobby our Congress and make laws for America.

So I view these companies making these grandiose and sweeping changes to America, without regard for the good or ill it will bring… as a great danger for our nation. For any nation. To have someone who has no concern for your nation, making policy in your nation… leads us to the world outside our door.

From gas at $4 a gallon to Americans struggling to keep their homes.

And entertainment is part of it as well.

The elimination of physical media plays into this, creating a market where there is nothing to resell, and worse… nothing to really own. So no need for your favorite DVD reseller, because DVDs are being prepared for the pasture.

You want to view this film, you buy it digitally from the studio for the price they set, and in the absence of any ability to resell– their price is unmoderated by a free market. In other words they can charge whatever they think the market can bear.

While a lot of people embrace this idiocy that a company’s only priority is to generate more income for their stockholders, that’s flawed thinking that led to our recent market melt-down. It comes back to what I said, about a company working withing a nation, has the same inherent priorities as a citizen within that nation…and that is to do no harm to that nation.

And more and more, the actions of companies working within sovereign shores is to do nothing but harm, is to shatter economies, devastate populations, victimize neighborhoods. Actions that if done by someone not hiding behind the mask of incorporation… we would call… acts of terror.

I’m saying that the joys of itunes today, and Amazon kindle today, and digital comics today, and Warner on Demand today, extrapolated on their 25 year plans into tomorrow… points the way to an America completely shorn of any gradations between the few ultra rich oligarchies and the masses of struggling poor.

I’m saying a war of economies, without fail… drives far more literal and bloody wars.

I’m saying don’t be so quick to jump on the bandwagon of eliminating DVDs, eliminating CDs, eliminating physical books, eliminating middle men— because you’re going to find that in a society shorn of middle men to moderate the greed and abuses of those on the top to those on the bottom, the joys of immediate gratification today, will spell the horrors of rampant price gouging, inflation, and poverty tomorrow.

And in the absence of true ownership (digital, in reality of how it is disseminated, being something that is rented… not owned), suddenly you may find those 99cent prices give way to $99 dollar prices, when you have allowed them to destroy or outlaw all other ways of you getting that product.

And how long before some products, are deemed unacceptable to make viewable via streaming or priced out of being readily available for viewing.

Historically, ethnically diverse items are oft at risk for obsolescence through marginalization. The most politically active films of Ousmane Sembene (CEDDO, CAMP DE THIAROYE, and GUELWAAR) never received DVD releases in his lifetime, and to this day are still not available on DVD (THIAROYE had a spotty release before disappearing).

Rather than freeing films and filmmakers from the tyranny of commerce (which digital has the potential to do), under the auspices of the greedy and the ungoverned you’ll see more marginalization and more control over the ideas disseminated to the masses.

So the lesson? Not to allow these companies, Itunes/Apple, Sony, Disney, Microsoft, Netflix, Time Warner, etc… to be ungoverned.

And how much is our entertainment a smokescreen for our aggressions? How much is our entertainment, the last, best drug, or the last, best cheerleader, for the aggressions of our time?

And how much do our aggressions allowed, ignored, take out of America?

The reports of America’s decline are rampant. They are in every aspect of our everyday life, the skyrocketing inflation that has destroyed many a nation before America, is all throughout America.

But our eyes in America, are filled and dazzled and misdirected… by such false fire, that the obvious becomes… indistinct. Almost invisible.

But not quite. If you take the time to look, the signs are there.

In-fact once you are looking in the right direction, (‘got my mind right boss’) the signs are clear and present. America is well on the way to becoming a third world nation, it is being pushed to these ends.

I said pushed.

With your tax dollars, and the blood of your children… the rich have just spent the last few decades pacifying (ie invading and toppling) African/Middle Eastern nations and carving a new western acceptable pleasure nation for themselves, an entertainment nation, where all the studios are in a hurry to setup shop, and a middle East Disney World and Marvel World and all the 3D rides and luxury and cinematic excess you can want is being built there. It is called Abu Dhabi, this paradise, and it is being built over the bodies of the massacred.

Infact, a cynical man might even say it’s very similar to the way, in the wake of World War II, the allied forces led by the US and Britain, set up the Israel state, by pretty much massacring the millions of Jews and Arabs and Nomads, who already lived in that region.

And yeah I did say Jews. We weren’t just killing Arabs to setup Israel. The region was already home to Jews, who lived without issue, for generations next door to Arabs. Unfortunately most of them weren’t Western acceptable Jews, they weren’t European Jews… that is to say they were Black.

So these Jews, and Arabs, and Nomads woke up one day to find the rest of the world was calling their home Israel, and they weren’t invited to the house warming. And then the missiles came.

So similarly the Middle East we’re bombing into existence today, is being done so, over blood both ancient and irreplaceable. All so that the rich have a place to vacation… while America burns.

I’m such a cheery, glass half full guy aren’t I?

But seriously, it begins simply. As all our falls do.

It begins with a laugh.

With you laughing with them. With the ones who will eviscerate you.

It begins with us rolling over the simple rights of the many for the grandiose greed of the few.

So… don’t make it easy.

Resist.

At every step, ask of them and ask of yourself… ‘Who profits from this and who loses?’. And by your answer to that question, will you know the nature of your nation and the nature of yourself.

And by your answer to that question… be ruled.

Here endeth the lesson.

******************

Woah! Only here on this blog, can you go from digital disenfranchisement to the fall of nations. ๐Ÿ™‚ And even crazier is— the line between the two should be ridiculous, it should feel far-fetched. It should feel… ludicrous.

But it doesn’t.

It should feel like a laugh. But it doesn’t.

It I have to be perfectly honest, it feels like…

It feels like we’re running out of time.


WARNER BROTHERS, CASABLANCA, PIRATES, and The Rights of MAN?!

You know, after a hellacious week of giving people what for, nothing relaxes me more than curling up with a nice nature DVD. Attenborough’s LIFE, or in this case the documentary SHARKWATER.

So here I go, I put in this DVD to relax, while planning the latest update for the blog, and more mundane things like bills, when what the heck should come on the screen than one of those pirate warnings. You’ve seen these idiotic videos, that if anything only makes me want to do the exact opposite just to give it to them for interrupting my damn movie.

However I had not seen this one before.

This one used scenes from CASABLANCA to make an anti-pirating commercial. Excuse me? WTF?

You’re going to use one of the greatest movies ever made like a 2bit whore to sell your political or corporate viewpoint?!!

(And it is worth noting that the FBI warning on these DVDs, having very little to do with any sane legal system. A sane system would say to the studios “It’s not our business to ensure your corporate profits or protect your corporate losses. That’s a civil case… at best.”. Instead in the corrupt America we live in, the FBI warning is a product of studios making their commercial and corporate whims into laws. Using a system, not designed for corporations, to pass corporate whims and lunacy as Federal laws. Such a thing can not be looked at, by anyone rationally, and not see it as something… obscene)

You want to show violating rights is wrong, by using a commercial where you violate artistic rights?

Is the paradox lost on the studios?

Where do we draw the line? Next we use Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s images to praise one candidate for President and put down another? Where do we draw the line?

Both Bogart and Berman were deeply humanistic and activistic people, Bogart stood up against the McCarthy Witch-hunts. Bergman spent her days, after the lights of Hollywood, feeding and fighting for the poor.

I don’t think either one would have signed on in life to do a commercial for some companies new generation witch-hunt. And I don’t think they sign over those rights in death.

Because they did a popular movie, and you own the movie, should not then translate into you re-purposing their images to sell either your political agenda, your new vacuum cleaner, or your poorly made or counter-productive pirating campaign.

Those actors didn’t sign off on that, and weren’t paid for that. And this push to extend ownership beyond the exact product they created… to ownership of their likenesses… reeks. It is immoral. That, if anything, is true pirating.

They purpose not this end, when they purpose their services.

It sets an ugly an abhorrent precedent, an argument that flies in the face of Warner Brothers Anti-Piracy message. Warner violating with impunity the artistic integrity of their own film, and the rights of the actors.

Unless you’re paying them, their images, not their likenesses but their actual images, should not be re-purposed to create a new item, inherently different from the item they signed on to produce.

In many ways it’s like rewriting someone’s autobiography or a writer’s novel. For an actor all they have is the work, the images they leave behind. So to then insert them convincingly in a commercial, is just as wrong as inserting them into a porno.

It’s a violation.

And to not understand that, is to be very young, or very stupid. Or an executive.

Is piracy wrong? First I think it is an idiotic term, unless you’re at sea. Now if you’re talking about the copying of copyrighted DVDs, I think it’s a tempest in a teapot. If Warner Bros and other studios embraced their customers rather than criminalizing them all in advance (which is what me having to sit through an FBI warning or one of those stupid commercials on a DVD I just bought or rented… is doing. It’s saying to the consumer we’re going to treat you all as guilty until proven innocent) they would realize most people are happy to pay and own, a quality and reasonably priced product.

But there’s the rub, quality and reasonable prices. All companies want to do today is give you the least they can, for the most they can.

I’ll tell you what is wrong… Warner Brothers and all the studios like them are wrong, they are dinosaurs trying to survive in a changing technological society where big studios are increasingly superfluous. Rather than try and survive by being better and winning customers through innovation and great products, they instead want to survive by removing from you… choice. By scaring, suing, legislating, themselves as a law that we must fear, and bow down to, and pay tribute to because they are using the FBI and the courts like their personal thugs,

Warner Brothers should be glad people think enough of their work to desire it. Because the alternative is… people stop wanting… ANYTHING from them.

The consumer may start saying “You know what, there’s a lot of choice out there, despite Warner Brothers attempt to eradicate choice, why don’t we just stop buying or supporting anything Warner Brothers?”

Can you imagine that. People just get fed up of being treated like dogs by Warner Brothers, and just say to them, ‘you’re that worried about your intellectual property? Well you keep it then. You keep it all. We already have the memories of all the decent movies, keep anything new. Keep your DVDs, keep your games, keep your movies, keep your books.’

And after a few months of them not having to worry about patron or pirate, I’d love to see how their effing tune changes. They’d be crying for someone to think enough of their movies to sell bootlegs on the streets of Nepal.

It’s about perspective. And the perspective the studios and record companies and media oligarchies must come to, is that of earning customer business and customer goodwill… rather than attempting to lock in customers through terror.

Because here from these subtle fights, do great things grow.

And they are things the studios will not like at all.

As simple a thing, seemingly insignificant a thing as a tax on tea changed the face of the world, Today’s corporate atmosphere of pushing and prodding, with every move a crime, and in every hand a club… cannot do less.

There is a war of terror coming, that much the media ‘talking heads’ have right. But it’s not one of religions. It’s one between the mindless stupidity and greed of corporations… and the very rights of man.

And it is a war, that in the waging the rich will lose. And the poor, who have only lives to lose…and pushed to it… can only win.

So a wise man would say to the rich… ‘now may be a good time to stop pushing’.

Something to think about. :).

United States’ Budget Woes, Totalitarianism, Democracy, and Liberty for those who can pay

Here’s the thing if you or I can’t budget our income, in fact are negative $10 in our account, much less negative trillions of Dollars, we do not pass go, we go straight to the poor house, and as individuals head to jail… if you owe substantial money, and you owe it to the wrong people.

The solution to the economy woes is simple and has always been simple, a flat 13% tax across the board, for poor and rich, individual and corporation (for any revenue generated within/from the United States). With this model we would balance our deficit quickly, and as a nation be in the black.

But that would mean the well to do and the corporations would actually have to pay their fair share of taxes rather than lumping an inordinate amount of the financial burden of the republic (spelled most of it) on the mass of people least capable of dealing with the current (nearly 30%, for those making under a 100,000 sans loopholes) taxation rate (ie the dwindling middle class and the poor).

So Eff it. Let the US default, particularly if it means the congress and the senate no longer get paid. Democrats, Republicans it’s all such a loathsome game of good cop/bad cop with the American people as the hapless stooge/inmate and big business as the corrupt string puller.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, democracy will always be a sham as long as corporations are allowed to have a voice in the government.

Unchecked capitalism is anathema to the idea of democracy. It is totalitarianism by another name. So all these bought congressmen and senators, lobbying and barking like dogs for their corporate masters, is no different than the landowner, fiefdom, serf model that Democracy supposedly was instituted to do away with.

It is sickening to hear these traitors, and I use that word not lightly but with full understanding of its meaning, these traitors…put forward these budget plans, that are only designed to keep in bondage generations of American people, to corporate and transnational interests.

In the latter days of Rome, they were killing the senators in the streets. And what is America but that mistake of Rome… unlearned from.

Epsilon Data Leaks

If you’ve done any business on line, such as buying flowers or books or utilizing job search sites among other activities, more than likely you’ve received an email from various companies saying your data has been exposed.

Why?

The official story is Epsilon, the uber-firm, that contracts with major firms to handle their email correspondence, and by its own estimation sends out 40 Billion email messages on behalf of its powerhouse clients, among them Target, Walgreens Citigroup, was hacked and the email addresses for the clients of these vast firms were… siphoned off.

It amounts to easily millions upon millions of affected customers. And right now all Epsilon is admitting to is the theft of email addresses. Though logically it would occur to me that any hacker group adept enough to smash, hopefully stringent security, walked away with a lot more than just email addresses, up to and including real names, full addresses, and credit card #s for a start.

This is the problem with consolidation, with a monopolistic mindset. Increasingly all our data is congregated through a single provider, which also as this example shows translates into a single point of failure, a potentially catastrophic failure.

So instead of the bad guys having to hack 200 different companies, in the age of information consolidation, and monopolistic data aggregation, all they have to do is get by one company’s defenses… and everything comes tumbling after.

This latest, and arguably greatest, data leak, reinforces the need for more checks and balances, and better and more stringent privacy and information controls. And indeed less consolidation of same. Instead of companies outsourcing everything to increasingly fewer providers, bring these sensitive data services back in house. And besides abuse from without, I’m also concerned of the potential for abuse from within. All that data and info, subject to a single company’s policies can be an unpleasant personal liberty nightmare waiting to happen… again.

I think in an age of FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE and TWITTER we may need to recognize the obvious detriments to such easy dissemination of information and perhaps be a bit more wary about what we share and why. And more importantly what is done, and who controls the things we share. Perhaps be more aware that what we give up in exchange for this ease of online dialog may be nothing less… than ourselves.

Something to consider.