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Thursday, January 31, 2008

RIAA chief: We Would Rather Sue Individuals Than Use ISP Filters

Self-professed ass-monkey Cary Sherman rebutted U2 manger Paul McGuiness' claim that ISP's should be filtering copyrighted material. He went as far as to infer that since McGuiness is European he would naturally prefer a "regulatory approach" to the file-sharing problem plaguing the industry.

It never ceases to amaze me when this sort of beligerant drivel comes from a RIAA representative. In my mind this sort of off-handed stupidity is akin to poking a sleeping bear. Well established super-acts like Prince, U2, The Rolling Stones etc...don't really have any need for the traditional record companies. They could afford to do their own distribution and marketing and keep all of the profits for themselves.

Once again the RIAA is exposing themselves to a huge lawsuit from one of these artists for not doing enough to protect their share of the profits as well as their copyrights. If they are stupid enough to start a public pissing match with Bono and company, and they are also stupid enough to publicly announce that they don't support what might be a viable piece of a multi-pronged approach to the problem of file-sharing, they might just feel the wrath of not just one major artist, but a whole slew of them at once. Suing fans while not pursuing other reasonable alternatives is simply negligent behavior. If I were Bono, I'd be mobilizing my fellow artists against those who do nothing but alienate fans and hurt the artists bottom line. The RIAA is obviously more concerned about how they relate to their corporate buddies the telecos and cable providers than they are about actually protecting the artists. As for the fans....don't get me started...again.

RIAA chief: We don't see a need for mandatory ISP filtering

RIAA's sister organization has a different take on this issue:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

She Ripped His Nuts Off...Ouch!

A British woman who ripped off her ex-boyfriend's testicle with her bare hands and tried to swallow it has been jailed.
Amanda Monti, 24, flew into a rage when Geoffrey Jones, 37, rejected her advances at the end of a house party, Liverpool Crown Court heard.
She pulled off his left testicle and tried to swallow it, before spitting it out.
A friend handed it back to Mr Jones saying: "That's yours."

Read more here:

Testicle-tearing ex jailed The Daily Telegraph

I'd say she puts Lorena Bobbit to shame....

There was also this link if this story isn't enough for you:


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Statewide VT Broadband Closer to Reality

Using Burlington Telecom's municipal broadband network as a model, 22 rural Vermont towns are poised to pool their resources and launch a fiber-optic project that could go online by the end of 2009. Steve Willbanks, chairman of the Strafford Selectboard and a key player in the emerging network, said commercial broadband providers could not meet the needs of rural Vermonters.

"These fiber-optic connections are absolute necessities; not luxuries," he said. "We need them for our economical and cultural development. We've had seasonal residents tell us they'd move here in a heartbeat; they'd telecommute if they had access to broadband.

Read the original article at Burlington Free Press.com

I love it when things I've been saying for years come closer to reality. The telecos and cable companies have been screwing us rural Vermonters for years now. There are many areas of Vermont that still don't have cable television, never mind broadband internet. Any number of utility companies could have invested some of the millions they've made by providing crappy service over the years. Instead they relied on bogus arguments and empty promises to shun people who simply want access to services that so called "third world countries" already provide at a much cheaper cost. The infrastructure is already, for the most part, in place. Verizon could have upgraded their central offices around the state to provide statewide DSL, Green Mountain Power could have rolled out BPL service and the cable companies could have been far more agressive in running the cable to provide broadband service. Instead they've complained about the costs of doing this in the same breath they ask for rate increases.
I think the Public Service Board has dropped the ball in a major way in this regard. It would have been easy for them to freeze rate increases until these companies show some real progress in adressing the issues. Instead, they chose to approve rate increases with conditional empty promisies from theses crooks. Now, we have Verizon pulling out of the land line business in Northern New England altogether, when for years they have been promising to provide statewide broadband services as well as statewide cell phone services. What's their excuse for not investing? "It's no longer profitable" is the answer they give. Sure, now that they've milked every last penny they can out of us and broken every promise made to regulators, they want to get out. As they pass off their crappy, ancient network to Fairpoint, they are delivering fiber optic FIOS service to the rest of New England. I have yet to hear them complain about the cost of doing this. Go figure.
The cable companies haven't faired much better. At the rate they are rolling out service to rural communities, I'll be dead and so will you. Again, they've made broken promise after broken promise. The end result is that there is no competition for them and they like it that way. They continue to fight any stipulation that would require them to lease, at a reasonable rate, their network to competitors. This stipulation has been hung around the neck of Verizon since the break-up of the baby Bells. The end result has been lower prices and competition for our telephone services. Fairpiont has had to follow these rules as well, and they still believe they can be profitable and competitive in the phone service arena, but if deep-pocketed Verizon and the cable companies have been unable or unwilling to make this investment, one has to seriously question the ability of a much smaller company like Fairpoint to make good on the promises to provide statewide broadband. I wish them luck, tempered with a healthy dose of pessimism.
The naysayers that are against municipal broadband always have the same arguments. "This is socialism" and "Let the market dictate who gets broadband". The reality is that we are left without any viable commercial solution. This is not an opinion, it's a fact. The commercial intrests are just not interested in being the savior of half a million rural customers. The state of Vermont needs to be competitive in attracting jobs and agressive in promoting the quality of life we have here. That is an impossible task if we are stuck without a level playing field. If you're looking to relocate your company, are you going to choose a state where the basic infrastructre to run your business is non-existent or are you going to choose the state where your employees can have fiber run to their home. The rural beauty of Vermont is very attractive to corporations who would like to offer this as an alternative to grid-lock and urban sprawl, but moving here is simply impossible to sustain their business. The fact that, in this day and age, we don't have the basics has got to be a major concern as they look to future growth.
I would encourage everyone to support the current program being proposed by the East Central Vermont Community Fiber Network and tell your local lawmakers that you would support a similar statewide program. As usual, we are left to solve our problems ourselves. Perhaps some day the corporate bean-counters will realize that there are a half a million customers in Vermont who simply want the same services that are available to people in the more populated regions of the country. What's more, we don't expect it to be free, we're willing to pay for it!

Here is an interesting link that explains some of the technical details as well as some of the costs involved. It also discusses some other places with similar programs already in place.

No way! The MPAA Wouldn't Lie to Anyone...

For two years, the film industry has relied on an erroneous figure to persuade the public that college students are thieves. The MPAA acknowledged Tuesday that a survey it released in 2005 overstated the damage caused by piracy at the nation's universities. The MPAA now says that instead of 44 percent, students account for 15 percent of domestic losses.

Why did colleges stay mum on MPAA stats? Tech news blog - CNET News.com

I must say that I am shocked (NOT!) that the folks from the MPAA would exagerrate their claims. I think this report is probably only the tip of the iceberg. I bet if one were to look at the tactics of the RIAA/MPAA more closely, you would find that exaggeration and exploitation of data and revenue losses are at the heart of most all the arguments they make. For example, they claim huge numbers when describing their "losses" because of file sharing. The reality is that a large number of people, when asked, wouldn't buy the narrow, crappy entertainment they offer. It's frequently overpriced and overvalued. While many might check out the junk they offer for free, they simply aren't willing to shell out their hard earned entertainment dollars on it. Again, if you ask the file sharing community, many of them are willing to purchase the content they find appealing to them or at least are willing to use ad supported content. The point to be made here is this:

Just because someone consumes content over a P2P network, it doesn't mean that they would be a paying consumer.

With this being said, all of the claims of huge losses by the industry are hogwash. This concept isn't hard to grasp. What's hard to believe is that the politicians in Washington are taking this crap hook, line and sinker. The reality is that the industry is dying a slow painful death due to their unwillingness to embrace the digital age they helped to create in the first place. The lobbyists are working hard to convince lawmakers that they are being victimized by file sharing. The only thing they are being victimized by is their own stupidity for clinging to an outdated business model.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Marijuana decriminalization bill stirs up debate in Vermont

Montpelier --Supporters of a bill that would decriminalize the sale and possession of as much as four ounces of marijuana told a Vermont Senate committee yesterday evening that the measure would drive down prison costs and do no harm to minors who just want to experiment with the drug.

Read More From the Valley News
digg story

Hey, it's about time people here in VT realized what a waste of time it is chasing people smoking pot. I agree with the harsher penalties for cocaine and heroin. These are far more harmful to society as a whole. You can also can the "gateway" argument. The real gateway drugs are alcohol and nicotine. Both are completely legal, and have been statistically proven to be the starting point for youth drug use. This would appear to be a no brainer....

Comcast’s BitTorrent Throttling Acceptable? Not Quite!

Comcast, and other ISPs advertise with certain upload and download rates, conforming to simple DOCSIS capacity numbers. However, they miscalculated and found that there is more to the Internet than browsing, gopher, and email. Heavy-users broke their excel return-on-investment predictions and marketing campaign promises. Their flat-rate offers simply became too popular for the capacity that was bought and installed.

Comcast’s BitTorrent Throttling Acceptable? Not Quite! TorrentFreak

This really echoes the point I've been making for a couple of years now. Charter also uses bandwidth throttling to cheat us of the bandwidth we pay for. I think a class-action lawsuit is an appropriate response to this practice. There is no other way to describe it, other than simple fraud.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Top 10 Reasons to Believe Logic Over Religion

I thought this blog post was hillarious and sure to send the bible thumpers of the world right over the edge. All I can say to them is....lighten up it only satire!

read more digg story

Cheney/Bush Impeachers May Be On To Something...

In a story reminiscent of Watergate, a new report shows that emails are missing from the Vice-President's office. The emails in question relate to the Valerie Plame CIA outing case. In total there are 16 days where email correspondence from Cheney's office are "missing" despite an order from Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to preserve all materials that may relate to the Plame case. The first day of email missing is in fact the day after Cheney learned of the DOJ investigation.

The White House said in a court filing last week that backup tapes, which contained archived copies of the e-mails, were recycled as part of a policy the White House had in place until October 2003. Ironically, Cheney's office is missing emails from the very day President Bush told reporters he'd "take care of" whatever staff member had actually leaked the CIA agent's name.

"If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," Bush said Sept. 30, 2003. "And if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of." As you may recall, Scooter Libby was convicted of obstruction charges and lying to investigators.

All in all, some 473 days of emails are missing from various Administration departments, according to a House Democrat who saw a White House presentation on the files.

Read More : The Raw Story Email missing from Cheney's office

Originally, I was eager to dismiss the folks in Brattleboro, VT who wanted to have Bush and Cheney arrested if they stood foot in their town as "wacko fringies". But, as this story takes on more Watergate-esque proportions, one has to take pause and consider whether or not this cover-up involves the entire senior White House staff including Cheney and Bush. I mean come on, the "oops I erased the tapes by accident" didn't work for Nixon. What makes the White House think were going to believe the same bullshit story some 35 years later? The severity of the Plame case's ramifications are questionable, but the extent of the cover-up seems to be growing more legs everyday.

If Clinton gets brought up on impeachment charges for getting a hummer in the White House, surely this cover-up warrants a much closer look and yes...perhaps impeachment.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Europe Embraces Decriminalizing File Sharing

The message put forward by the parties is pretty strong: “Whenever you rent a movie, the multinational media industry forces you to watch their propaganda. They claim that downloading movies is the same as snatching bags, stealing cars or shoplifting. That’s simply not true – making a copy is fundamentally different from stealing.”

European Politicians Launch Pro-Filesharing Campaign

I'm not sure that this movement is going to gain any traction in the US anytime soon. I like the fact that Europeans are open minded and recognize the flaws in the RIAA/MPAA approach to combating piracy. The "The Genie is Out of the Bottle" line of thinking makes a lot more sense than the "Let's Punish the End-User Approach". I've never seen an industry as a whole adopt an approach that believes alienating the consumer will improve the almighty bottom line. The closest analogy I can think of is the automobile industry. There was a time when, your car needed repair, you were required (By the Big 3) to bring it back to the dealership or void your warranty. This tactic was used to eliminate the little guy by forbidding the consumer to bring their vehicle to the repair shop of their choosing. You would hear these crazy stories of people who were denied legitimate warranty service because they had their tires or wipers changed elsewhere. When the imports became a serious challenge to the Big 3, they were forced to drop this ludicrous position.

Until the consumers revolt and some company comes along with a more reasonable policy, these chucleheads at the RIAA/MPAA will continue to alienate the very people to which they are trying to suck the entertainment dollar from....

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

P2P Hero Speaks Out at Last

In September 2007, anti-piracy company MediaDefender’s emails went public after a hacker gained access to their systems. The attacks cost the company a huge amount of money, not to mention acute embarrassment. Now the person behind the attacks speaks.
MediaDefender Hacker Speaks Out With TorrentFreak

Sleaze begets sleaze here. Media Defender were exposed as a RIAA/MPAA puppet. At the direction of these organizations, they were engaging in hacking of legal P2P networks and the corruption of files on these networks. As far as I can see they've lowered their ethical standards and severely weakened the credibility of the RIAA/MPAA's war with file sharers. I hope the Pirate Bay folks spank them hard with a lawsuit. My mother always told me that two wrongs don't make a right!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Is 100mpg an Attainable Goal?

It would seem the race is on to be the first comany to come up with an affordable vehicle that can achieve 100mpg fuel economy and emit less than 200 grams of greenhouse gases per mile. The bar has been set by the X Prize Foundation and they have ponied up a prize of $10 million dollars for the winner. One of the main stipulations is that the vehicle must be affordable to the general public. It's good to see that they realized that a $400,000 green vehicle doesn't do anybody any good if the average joe can't afford to buy one.

It would appear that the competition is heating up and there are a wide range of entries that will make this an interesting competition to watch.

While many of the competitors are focusing on hybrid-electric designs, there are many that are exploring improvements to existing diesel technologies that burn far cleaner than todays inefficient diesel engines. EcoMotors and Transonic are two companies who may soon be teaming up if they are not already. Both companies are working on 100mpg diesel tecnology, while being funded by the same venture capitalists.

With any luck, the automotive industry will be watching this competition closely to bring some of the technology that emerges to the consumer. Even the people that don't win could provide significant innovation that would lead to cleaner, greener vehicles.

I will certainly be watchinhg this competition to see what develops from it...

Company promises 100 mpg engine CNET News.com

Out the Window From 30 Stories Up

As I kid I always dreamed of doing this. I guess I've always been fascinated with the beauty of flight. I used to throw paper airplanes out my window on the second floor when my mother would send me to my room. I would go out later and pick them up and keep the one that flew the farthest as a "past champion" for the next time. I wish I had grown up on th 30th floor!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Director David Lynch on the iPhone

I think that director David Lynch is spot on with his assesment of wathing a movie on an iPhone....

I mean cone on.....for the price of a nice medium size television, you can watch a tiny little screen. The real point he's making is that a lot is lost in the translation when you view a film on such a small screen. Something that I've thought since the advent of all these devices. I suppose it would do in a pinch, but I'm rarely in that much of a pinch!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Get to Know Barak Obama...

I've been looking to gain insight into the candidates on both sides of the aisle. I started with Barak Obama because he seemed to the most compelling candidate for real change. He also seems to be gaining Howard Dean-like momentum with the younger age groups and grass roots internet types. Unlike Dean, Obama seems to be more well accepted by Democrats as a whole. Even many hard-line party old timers will concede that Obama is a "real" and viable candidate. Many of them will hold off a whole scale endorsement until they see what he can do in the primaries.

Obama has not only succeeded in reaching the well-entrenched folks in his own party, but he also has proven his ability to reach out "accross the aisle" in a way that siphons some moderate Republicans over to his side. This fact was yet again demonstrated in Iowa where he beat Hillary by getting the young vote and the crossover voted. It's these two categories that put him over the top.

The real question now is, "Can Barak Obama Sustain the Momentum?". Obviously time will tell. As we wind through the political season and approach the Vermont Primaries, this blogger (and many others) will be watching them all to see who can close the gap that has been widening between us, fueled by stupid crap like Monicagate and The Contract with America.

I hope that this election cycle brings us a closing of the chasm that has divided us for so long....

Read More at Newsweek.com

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Enviro-Friendly Floor Coatings From Vermont

As a Vermonter I recently discovered this unique product, and now it is garnering more media attention. Kudos to this great VT company! This is yankee ingenuity at it's finest. It never ceases to amaze me the ideas Vermonters come up with. It must be the long winters....

Read More Here at Treehugger.com