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Some Thoughts on SOPA and PIPA

The whole internet is abuzz with SOPA and, to a lesser extent, PIPA talk.  Basically, these two bills in congress, one for the House, one for the Senate.  You can get plenty of information through Google or if you’d like, try the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The gist of this bill, is that it would allow media companies, through the government, to block websites with “pirated content” through manipulation of the Internet DNS system.  Without proper due process of law.  DNS, is essentially the phone book of the internet.  You could also compare it to a road map.  It’s what computers use to know how to find the websites you look for online.  All websites are in fact a series of numbers called an IP address, however remembering is tricky.  Remembering “” is not.

Feel free to use that link, it leads to Google.  Which brings up one major flaw with this bill.  Pirates will easily circumvent these blocked DNS entries by using IP addresses.  If say, the Pirate Bay is blocked, people will just use it’s IP address instead.

Also likely there will simply be “rogue DNS” servers.

I am not endorsing piracy, I am saying the bill will not do anything to stop it.  People also may suggest the idea of “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to be afraid of”.

The problem with this logic, in every situation, is that the question of “what is wrong” is extremely subjective and often changes.  Guess what, in a world where SOPA passes and becomes law, it starts off simply as it’s told.  Places which host “pirate content” are effectively removed from the internet.  Nevermind that there will also be legal content taken off as well when sites like Megaupload are taken offline.  The block is not single file or even single subsite specific. 

But hey we’re all happier now without The pirate Bay and Megaupload right?

Until people start hosting their content through loopholes on blogger or WordPress.  Sure, it’s against the TOS and both companies work to remove them as they are found but hey, guess what, now they need to be blocked.  Thousands, probably millions, of independent bloggers are now silenced.

Or perhaps the definition of “piracy” and “copyright infringement” gets pushed out even more.  Universal studios puts out a big blockbuster movie, it cost them a shitload of money top make and it gets totally panned by the internet.  Nobody wants to see this movie, all this negative press floating around, well hey look, Blogger Bob used the movie poster in his review.  Nevermind that this may fall under the fare use clause, that’s infringement, let’s close down because his negative reviews may be hurting ticket sales.

Just remember, governments generally don’t start off deciding to become repressive totalitarian regimes.  (NOTE: Link will not work 1/18/2012)

I mean hey, we have a precedent now, plus, once a site is “gone” people won’t notice right?  Universal killed BloggerBob, why not suppress a few of those “anti government kooks” out there spreading bad spirits through the country while we’re at it.  We have the mechanism in place after all.  John Q Public doesn’t know what DNS is, he thinks it’s a new sandwich at Subway.

It’s not even that it’s a terribly BAD idea, it’s more that, in an effort to make things “move more quickly” it rejects the idea of due process, and facts, and evidence.

Which also brings up what really is a whole different rant.  The world is changing.  The world is not the US, or Europe, or China, or the Northern Hemisphere.  It’s an entire globe.  The internet is even more-so, and it’s the driving force of the world these days.  Which is the real problem here.  Because despite the best effort to push more crap on what used to be a pretty ignorant and docile public, it’s not working anymore.  Any sort of exaggeration or lie in favor of “marketing” is almost instantly debunked.  People who used to be made to feel better or pushed aside as isolated cases of problems realize that they are not alone.  The internet is the ultimate engine for real democracy.  look at the whole election system, when it took days and months to ride a horse across the country, then things like congress or the electoral college etc were a great idea.  is it even necessary anymore when people can express their opinion and desires to the world instantly?

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Guerilla Journalism Hurts Independent News

There is a video floating around the internet lately that you may have seen where a Congressman “attacks” a student reporter and demands to know “Who Are you?”.  In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a link

This is not the first of these sorts of videos to go around.  Nor will it likely be the last in this world of citizen Journalists and bloggers.  I’m not here today to discuss this video or who is right or wrong in the video, what I am here to discuss is this video in the sense of it’s “type”.

Many people will agree that the mainstream news on the cable channels tends to be somewhat mediocre, full of pointless paranoia and alarmism with little actual digging into the details of even the most important stories.  One Sided tends to be the term applied.  Bloggers take these stories and try to dig a bit deeper sometimes, or at the very least, they will question some aspect of what is being reported to possibly suggest an alternative viewpoint.  This is great except when the blogger or Independent news source starts pushing the same sort of paranoia and anger fueled type of news that they show contempt towards cable news outlets for.

Like the video above.  Taken at face value, assuming honesty on the part of these “students” the Congressman is clearly a bully and a jerk.  However there are too many unknown facts at work for a true judgment to be made.  For example, why is it so terrible that these students can’t let the guy know what they are really doing?  They claim “Students working on a project”. 

What kind of project? 

What school?

The students don’t provide any of this information.  The Congressman is not required to respond to any of their questions either.  These are people who receive death threats and get harassed by nut jobs pretty regularly, what makes these students any different if they can’t or are unwilling to back up their story.  Even if they said “Hi, we’re students working on a Journalism project for the University of Whatever”, that cordial greeting will go a lot farther in getting a response than the ambush style of “We’re students, why do you need to know more, PS answer our question, answer our question.”

Which brings up the other questionable part of the video.  This clip is almost totally out of context.  For all we know these students have been harassing this poor senator as he walked down the street for an hour.  It’s one thing to keep a straight face and look the other way but there’s a point when people just break from harassment.  This may have been the main goal all along even. 

1) Find some Congressperson

2) Harass him endlessly with vague questions he won’t want to answer

3) Wait for him to explode at you and yell at you (or worse)

4) Post it online for kicks and hits!

Yet people circulate these sorts of videos constantly, out of context with no back story.  I’m not saying that it’s not possible it’s what it seems to be, nor am I supporting the manhandling of this student, I’m just suggesting that even if a story of video comes from some independent “non biased” source it should still be questioned.

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Welcome To Security Theater Act 2

In the Homeland Security Appropriations bill we will take up next week, we will appropriate $860 million for this needless, useless agency. This money is a total waste: $860 million for people to sit on airplanes and simply fly back and forth, back and forth. What a cushy, easy job.

And listen to this paragraph from a front-page story in the USA Today last November: “Since 9/11, more than three dozen Federal air marshals have been charged with crimes, and hundreds more have been accused of misconduct. Cases range from drunken driving and domestic violence to aiding a human-trafficking ring and trying to smuggle explosives from Afghanistan.”

Actually, there have been many more arrests of Federal air marshals than that story reported, quite a few for felony offenses. In fact, more air marshals have been arrested than the number of people arrested by air marshals.

Full Transcript

I do have one initial complaint about this report.  They mention problems with these guys involving alcohol and domestic violence, etc.  These are not actions that directly relate tot he job of being an Air Marshal.  It’s not like say, these guys are beating up their wives while on the planes or anything.  I’m not supporting it, It’s just a bit misleading.  One could probably make the same point for say, the military, or the police force in some cities.  The reality is, arguing that more cops in City X are arrested for domestic violence would make the point of questionable usefulness than this argument since part of the job of a cop is to prevent domestic violence.

An air marshal only has to prevent violence on or involving the plane.

Still, one could argue that despite the high cost “per arrest” these Marshals, the presence of them has prevented many other incidents.  Unfortunately this isn’t an easily calculated statistic.  How do you count “potential” terror attacks?   Especially when you have people who think everyone is a potential terrorist running around?

Still, to push for the idea of suspending this service, aren’t we already going through enough pain and suffering before boarding these planes?  If the naked body scanners and x-ray conveyor belts are truly effective, why do we need an armed guard sitting on the plane as well?

He does make a good point about the true success of the 9/11 terror attacks.  I’ve believe for a while that the point wasn’t to destroy buildings, it was obviously meant to cause TERROR.  Hence the word TERRORism.  Now we all live in a panic state of fear, not necessarily fear from random al Qaeda jihadists but fear of our own government.  Fear that we aren’t in control. Fear that we need to “look over our shoulder” constantly..

And this is why the terrorists won a long time ago….

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President Barack Obama signs the health insurance reform bill in the East Room of the White House, March 23, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)  This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

President Obama signs the death note for the Constitutional process as he signs a Bill that was “Deemed to be Passed” as opposed to “Actually Passed” in the house.

There’s also that part where we all get enslaved to insurance companies who will continue to be free to sue every doctor and charge outrageous prices for prescriptions and procedures.



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burning-constitution Be sure to tell your family and friends, Congress is doing it’s best to piss all over the constitutional law making progress and the voice of the people in general.

Basically, the house is trying to put up some blatant smoke and mirrors to vote on the Senate Healthcare Bill without actually voting on it.

Instead, Pelosi (D-Calif.) would rely on a procedural sleight of hand: The House would vote on a more popular package of fixes to the Senate bill; under the House rule for that vote, passage would signify that lawmakers “deem” the health-care bill to be passed.

Basically they vote of if it passed or not.  Not to pass it, but if it passed.  The main reason for this is that the bill itself will never pass.  It’s extremely unpopular all around.  No one wants to have their name down for a yes vote because they all have the sense to know that the thing is a train wreck in the making.  Meanwhile there is excessive pressure from those in charge to pass SOMETHING.

I’m still not sure why there is such a rush to ramrod this thing through.  The only thing I can figure is that the longer they wait, the more people will realize that the whole plan is going to cost everyone a ton of money in taxes and whatnot without actually solving the inherent problems with the healthcare system as a whole (insurance companies and pharmacy companies scamming people with price gouging on over priced drugs).

There is also the part where Obama has promised this package constantly and even with a guaranteed win all around with Democrat control everywhere in the government, they still managed to screw up passing this Bill.  Essentially Obama NEEDS this to pass in order to help save face.  Especially after that previous blatant lie that everyone was talking about a few months ago.

So, since they know they can’t pass this bill with normal procedures, they will circumvent the rules and requirements, making up procedure as they go to fake pass a bill that, while good in idea, is so full of BS and hidden agenda that it’ll be terrible for all those involved.

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