Thursday, January 26, 2012

Was PIPA and SOPA a smoke screen for a greater agenda lurking behind the scenes?

How did I not know of this?  The struggle to get ACTA up and running has been ongoing for years... yet we were all duped into believing the real and only threat was PIPA & SOPA.

I received a call today from a friend informing me that Mr. Barry Sotoro (you likely know him by his alias Barack Obama) laid the foundation for Chinese-like control over the internet under the guise of protecting intellectual property.  Once again, we are reminded that our government works not for the people, but works instead for the corporation and its lobbies.  I have zero doubt that the endgame of such intent is far from protecting IP's; I believe that in the end the aim is to control and topple the one, and only, source of free information that is available to nearly all Americans (and others as well of course) that largely lacks corporate and political filters... as well as the major means citizens have in organizing, both in action and in ideology - the internet.

No one owns the internet.  There doesn't exist central servers through which all global internet activity and information must pass through.  But, apparently, the powers that we allow be, along with their corporate masters, wish it were so and aim to manifest just that.

There is hardly anyone speaking about ACTA on the net; everyone that was caught in the hysteria of PIPA and SOPA are possibly either burned out now or are post coital in their naive belief that the threat to the internet was defeated... who knows, but not many people are speaking about ACTA.

So, with that said, the following excerpts are from a piece written by Paul Joseph Watson at infowars

"Months before the debate about Internet censorship raged as SOPA and PIPA dominated the concerns of web users, President Obama signed an international treaty that would allow companies in China or any other country in the world to demand ISPs remove web content in the US with no legal oversight whatsoever."

"The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was signed by Obama on October 1 2011, yet is currently the subject of a White House petition demanding Senators be forced to ratify the treaty. The White House has circumvented the necessity to have the treaty confirmed by lawmakers by presenting it an as “executive agreement,” although legal scholars have highlighted the dubious nature of this characterization." (The administration is actively applying pressure to your Senators)

"Under the provisions of ACTA, copyright holders will be granted sweeping direct powers to demand ISPs remove material from the Internet on a whim. Whereas ISPs normally are only forced to remove content after a court order, all legal oversight will be abolished, a precedent that will apply globally, rendering the treaty worse in its potential scope for abuse than SOPA or PIPA."

“The same industry rightsholder groups that support the creation of ACTA have also called for mandatory network-level filtering by Internet Service Providers and for Internet Service Providers to terminate citizens’ Internet connection on repeat allegation of copyright infringement (the “Three Strikes” /Graduated Response) so there is reason to believe that ACTA will seek to increase intermediary liability and require these things of Internet Service Providers,” reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"The treaty will also mandate that ISPs disclose personal user information to the copyright holder, while providing authorities across the globe with broader powers to search laptops and Internet-capable devices at border checkpoints.
In presenting ACTA as an “international agreement” rather than a treaty, the Obama administration managed to circumvent the legislative process and avoid having to get Senate approval..."

Here is a few things from a TechDirt piece from March of 2010!:

"One of the talking points from ACTA supporters was always that it wasn't a "treaty" but an "executive agreement," claiming that this meant something different. However, as we discussed back in February, this is misleading. Executive agreements are generally a way to sneak treaties through without Congressional approval. That post linked to a great legal analysis by Andrew Moshirnia for the Citizen Media Law Project -- but some ACTA supporters in our comments claimed that since Moshirnia was "just a second year law student," his arguments were meaningless (of course, this commenter also ignored all of the legal citations Moshirnia raised (funny, that...))."

A Washington Post piece raising concerns about the Constitutionality of ACTA written by Harvard law professors:

"The president has no independent constitutional authority over intellectual property or communications policy, and there is no long historical practice of making sole executive agreements in this area. To the contrary, the Constitution gives primary authority over these matters to Congress, which is charged with making laws that regulate foreign commerce and intellectual property."
"These mostly secret negotiations have already violated the Obama administration's pledge for greater transparency. Embracing this deal by sole executive agreement would repudiate its pledge to moderate assertions of executive power. Congress should resist this attempt to evade the checks established by our Framers."

 Here is some from a piece at International Business Times:

"ACTA, meanwhile, would set up an international legal framework to deal with issues of counterfeiting, piracy and other crimes. Instead of dealing with national laws regarding these issues, these nations would be able to adjudicate alleged crimes in a new governing body that would exist outside of the purview of the United Nations and other international institutions."
 "But the ACTA treaty is being negotiated almost entirely behind closed doors. If it were not for the advent of WikiLeaks, which released documents revealing details of the negotiations and draft versions of the treaty, the world would still have very little knowledge of what exactly the treaty might entail."
"ACTA... ...was already signed by the United States on Oct. 11, 2011, and President Obama was not required to get the approval of any outside authority to do so. Under the U.S. Constitution, the Senate is required to ratifty treaties. At least one critic, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), has objected about this, claiming in an Oct. 12 statement that it needs to be brought up for ratification in the Senate:
"It may be possible for the U.S. to implement ACTA or any other trade agreement, once validly entered, without legislation if the agreement requires no change in U.S. law," Wyden writes. "But regardless of whether the agreement requires changes in U.S. law...the executive branch lacks constitutional authority to enter a binding international agreement covering issues delegated by the Constitution to Congress' authority, absent congressional approval."" (Wonder what the "Change we can believe in" people think about this?)

"ACTA, on the other hand, is largely off most people's radars, though it has been under official negotiation for about five years. Protest efforts against it in the U.S. are modest at best.  But they do persist, as a petition on with more than 6,000 signatures is currently on file with the Obama administration, calling on it to "end ACTA and protect our right to Internet privacy.""


There is more information out there, and you should do YOUR part to inform yourself... it doesn't take a lot of effort to use a search engine.  

Sen. Ron Wyden definitely deserves some kudos for being one of the only individuals in the Senate adhering to the Constitution... but he can't and shouldn't be alone.  There were so many people out there coming out against PIPA and SOPA; we need all of these people and those resources aimed at killing ACTA... not deflating it, not getting it stuck in debate in the Senate or the House... it needs to be put down like a bad habit.  We must not only stop ACTA, we also must sever the power of lobbies at the least... but if it were up to me lobbies would be banned, illegal, and unconstitutional, for all they do is purchase political favor and redirect our government's energies away from the people it should be serving.

Read more about ACTA - ACTA Information

Sign the "White" House petition, if only to send a message - End ACTA...

 Share with others and inform them of ACTA and the threat it poses.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Music: Sum Of All Fears - From this day forward...

01 - Obvious Truth [2:56]
02 - Suffocate [3:15]
03 - Before I'm Through [2:25]
04 - Force Fed [3:04]
05 - Enduring The Test Of Time [2:44]
06 - Avidity [2:55]
07 - From This Day Forward.... [3:22] 

I came to appreciate and like hardcore [real hardcore to me anyways] way late in the game (I listened to bands like Black Flag when I was younger but never knew they were hardcore)... maybe I guess after the game already ended.  Nowadays bands with vocalists that bellow as if they were pretending to be the devil and guitars chugging power chords and drop tunings are called hardcore/post-hardcore - of which I don't like the vast majority.  My friend Matt got me into some 80's/90's hardcore, Inside Out, Dag Nasty, and a few others, and lately I have been seeking out other bands and recently came across these guys from Connecticut.

Below is pulled from their LastFM page:

Sum of All Fears was one of the greatest mid-90’s CTHC bands. They put out a split 7” with Tenfold (another classic CTHC band) on bridge 9 records (it was B9s first release to be exact, back when they were in Glastonbury, CT!), a demo 7” and Tape, and they released a CD on East Coast Empire Records in 1996. Sadly, on November 12th, 2000, SOAF’s drummer Rob Blauner passed away after a long battle with Hodgkins Disease. He will always be remembered. Sum of all fears was truly an amazing band and did a lot for the CTHC scene…they have endured the test of time…

Justin - Vocals
Rob - Drums
Jake - Guitar
Kevin - Bass

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cell Phones are Killing Bees

[The author and source of this piece is rightfully credited below.]
bees, cell phones, Daniel Favre, Bee decline, Lausanne, cell phone signals [1]
Scientists may have found the cause of the world’s sudden dwindling population of bees [2] – and cell phones may be to blame. Research conducted in Lausanne, Switzerland [3] has shown that the signal from cell phones not only confuses bees, but also may lead to their death. Over 83 experiments have yielded the same results. With virtually most of the population of the United States (and the rest of the world) owning cell phones, the impact has been greatly noticeable.

bees, cell phones, Daniel Favre, Bee decline, Lausanne, cell phone signals [4]

Led by researcher Daniel Favre, the alarming study found that bees reacted significantly to cell phones [5] that were placed near or in hives in call-making mode. The bees [6] sensed the signals transmitted when the phones rang, and emitted heavy buzzing noise during the calls.  The calls act as an instinctive warning to leave the hive, but the frequency confuses the bees, causing them to fly erratically. The study found that the bees’ buzzing noise increases ten times when a cell phone is ringing or making a call – aka when signals are being transmitted, but remained normal when not in use.
The signals cause the bees to become lost and disoriented.  The impact has already been felt the world over, as the population of bees in the U.S. and the U.K. has decreased by almost half in the last thirty years – which coincides with the popularization and acceptance of cell phones as a personal device.  Studies as far back as 2008 have found that bees are repelled by cell phone signals.
Bees are an integral and necessary part of our agricultural and ecological systems, producing honey, and more importantly pollinating our crops.  As it is unlikely that the world will learn to forgo the convenience of cell phones, it is unclear how much they will contribute to the decline of bees, and their impact on the environment.

I don't think I know a single person who would be willing to give up their cell phone. If this is true, and when the issue of pollinating our crops becomes critical, and food becomes insanely costly, then every single one of us that were stubborn in regards to the convenience afforded by cell phones will complain and cry.  We will all, rightfully, reap what we allow to be sown. 
I see more bees on the ground, dead and dying, than I see them attending to flowers and plants as I used to.  To me, a guy that can easily be filled with jaded hatred, I find bees to be rather beautiful and innocent... and the ordeal they face, most likely due to humanities impact, to be profoundly sad.  Native Americans believed in animal spirit guides, and for some reason if that were true, I think mine would definitely be the bee... how, after month after month, they seem to too often find me in their dying moments.
I plan on trying to get out of my new Verizon contract and dumping my iPhone; instead picking up a track phone for emergency use only.  Most people use cell phones as a lame security blanket anyways, shooting the shit, and texting anyways... none of which should be essential for anyone.

First Clincal Cynic movie review: Drive

I just finished watching Drive staring Ryan Gosling.  I went into it thinking that it couldn't be better than average... after all, a film about a get-away driver doesn't sound very interesting to me.  I watched it purely out of nothing else to watch and after hearing some references to Michael Mann.

The first quarter of the movie, maybe less, has some elements often used by Michael Mann; you have instrumental music used in an ambient fashion to accent what is being played out on the screen and also the use of pastel colors in the beginning - a la Miami Vice.  This is the extent of the Michael Mann feel and it goes no further.  The film is by far the best offering from director Nicolas Winding Refn; by examining his history behind the lens there is a string of bad to less than average movies.  Driver definitely falls into the above average category in my book and, while this may sound harsh, it is above average despite its borrowing from others.  The film lies more in the David Lynch realm in my opinion... but it is the other elements that keep it grounded [and in fact kept my attention as I firmly believe Lynch to be over-hyped]; the borrowing of elements from both Mann and, more predominantly, Lynch, along with concocting a feel at times that movies such as True Romance effect all work together to put this title decently above a bar set low these days.

There is some fantastic Lynch-ian awkward moments amongst the characters; such as a scene were Gosling stands before his victim on a beach reminiscent of some of the most popular horror film villains such as Jason from Friday the 13th... contorted and twisted, yet in this story, he is the hero.

My chief complaint regarding this movie is the choice of music together with the annoying trend of using one of the worst songs I've had the misfortune of hearing over and over.  I am referring to the song "A Real Hero" by a band(?) called College (featuring Electric Youth).  I am not speaking of the ambient music I mentioned above...  if you dare, hit "play" on the video below to experience this horrid song first-hand:

So, aside from the awful choice of a soundtrack, I do encourage this as a rental as well as a visit to the theater if you do that sort of thing [I don't].  It is also nice to see Brian Cranston on the big screen... hopefully since I am going to be denied the splendor that is Breaking Bad, due to AMC's bad decision, we will see more of him on the big screen.  Ryan Gosling's performance fit the bill; I am by no means a Gosling fan but that Lynch-ian awkwardness I spoke earlier of worked well with him.  Ron Perlman is Ron Perlman... you know what you're getting by seeing his name on the list.  Albert Brooks plays a great "villain" that definitely reminds me of the sort of villain in films such as True Romance.

So in summary:  Go see it.  There isn't much out there to contend with it anyways.  If I was sitting on Ebert's couch it would get a thumbs-up from me.  On a scale of 1-10 I would place it at a solid 7.5 [that song "A Real Hero" detracted .5 points from my total score].

January 14, 2013 Update: It appears that Drive Part Two is being made with Gosling playing the same guy he played in "Drive"... only this time he rides a motorcycle.  How creative no?  That's Hollywood for you - the land of originality.  I am convinced Gosling has a somewhat small palette he can draw from when acting... or, no pun intended, two gears; the romantic or the quiet.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The sorry state of the Union...

Do you ever wonder what your fellow humans deem worthy of their time and energy? Ever wonder what they use the internet for (aside from porn)? Well, here is two sources for the "hot search topics" of the day amongst Americans:



And here is what Yahoo! deems breaking, newsworthy news (two examples... click the images to enlarge them so you may read the headlines):

This blog posting will serve me for some time to come; when I get so annoyed by the apathy, laziness, and wanton ignorance of my fellow Americans I will revisit this post so as to remind me why things are the way they are.  These people turn to major "mainstream" media outlets to gather their news for them, and many are no better than Yahoo!, and instead of using the internet to search out facts and truths for themselves [ie. really find themselves] they would rather read about some shithead quarterback that was ratted on by his neighbor for skateboarding... absolutely fucking astounding!  Not saying that all the fluff "news" is related to sports, but I suppose just watchingthe games are no longer enough.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Help persuade Wikipedia To Protest The Internet Blacklist Bills...

Wikipedia is considering "going black" to protest Internet censorship. Wikipedia is a non-profit organization, and if enough Internet users pledge to donate at least $1 to Wikipedia, it will reduce the burden on them if they choose to join the protests. We'll update you once Wikipedia makes a final decision.


They will never, ever, be able to defeat piracy unless they implement Draconian laws such as this that completely locks down and filters what we can and can't do online... and online is the only source we have to do our own research on events around the world, a source that, at this time, lacks corporate and political filters.  And instead of addressing the real problems (why people pirate vs buying) actions such as this do not promote growth... instead of adapting, these organizations, ones that reap billions of dollars, will continue to view anything as "lost sale" in which they were entitled to.  The MPAA and RIAA have yet to learn, and probably will never learn... they are in fact wealthy beyond my wildest imagination, but as is always the case, it is never enough.  

Further, isn't it about time that our politicians cease working for corporations and their lobbies and start working for the benefits of their constituents?!?  The fact that some of these assholes holding office waste our tax money, which pays their salaries, to protect imaginary corporate lost profit instead of issues that may better our lives is outrageous.  It's 2012, not 1984... and it's high fucking time our politicians cease being corporate whores.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

A trip down memory lane...

My cousin sent this old picture of me...

This was probably when I was 18... I look like a total douche bag... I didn't always look like that.  Maybe I looked so pissed because I have always hated cameras aimed at me.  Below is another from the same time, possibly the same night.