Monthly Archives: December 2007

Stealing Just One Copy

I read last year that a T.V. executive claimed that those who TIVO as show, then watch it later and skip the commercials, are stealing a product.  I do this all the time.  It is my feeling that I pay a hefty fee each month for the privilege of watching television, including a fee to watch my local channels.  Maybe, and its a big maybe, if I got all my shows off the airwaves with an antennae, and then recorded the shows to watch sans commercials, I might be accused of being a tad unethical.  I realize that without sponsors, I couldn’t enjoy these shows, but HBO and others manage to use a different business model, so why can’t the networks?

Then, this morning, I saw this,  an article in which an attorney actually claimed that the act of downloading a CD onto your computer was an illegal copy.  I admit to being a bit of a Luddite, but one must download a CD so that it can be converted to an MP3 format to listen on an MP3 player, right?  Are they suggesting that a person must buy music in each and every format necessary?  I thought this was settled with the advent of VCRs, you know, back in the stone age.

I know that copyright law promises to be a huge area of litigation in the coming years, and I’ll admit that there are valid considerations on all sides, but frankly, I’m a little tired of the idea that I am paying money for a product, but I really don’t own it.

I have felt for years that writers of all kinds were horribly underpaid, and that producers, distributors, and hell, even artists all got way too fat off of someone else’s work.  I applauded the strike, though I thought they set their sights way too low.
Personally, I think the digital age did to cds and albums what the car did to liveries.

Besides, the kids will figure out a way around any laws on the books.

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Hey, I’m Celebrating Over Here

As my potty-mouthed daughter might say, “ITS THE FREAKIN HOLIDAYS!”

Yes, folks, how can I stay blissfully un-engaged and enjoy the Holidays with you people writing about all this heavy stuff?

I kid, but just a little. All are good reads, and I hope all are re-posted after the Holidays.

Meanwhile, I’m gonna spark one and enjoy the arrival of the New Year, rest assured I’m thinking about my friends and family, and how lucky I am to have them.

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Read This While I Ponder My Resolutions

The kids are excited.  I’m even a little excited.  Lots of stuff happening as Christmas approaches, and of course afterwards one of my best friends is getting married.  I’ve booked what is arguably the best band in nashville to perform at the reception, and they have promised to learn a bunch of songs for the occasion.  (I think my friends were supposed to send the band their requests, but since they didn’t, I did.)  (I’m actually looking forward to hearing Ginger do Lil Kim) Seriously, I am excited for these two people, otherwise theres no way I’d don a tuxedo.

I have checked in with friends who don’t live nearby, most are fine, but there is one who has a little too much to deal with right now, so without embarrassing her I will say that many good people here are thinking of her, and wish her nothing but luck.

The girl who sold us Buddy has by now returned from her trip to Australia.  I can’t wait to hear about her and her sister’s experiences, they went on a work exchange program to a horse ranch.

For Christmas, I re-did the underpinning on the cabin.  I built a frame, attached Hardi-backer, and then mortared rock to the face of it.  I had never done this before.  Its amazing how much your hands hurt when covered in wet mortar on a 32 degree day.  Also, spending that much time with your knees pressed into the cold ground had me walking crab-like for awhile.  I’d include a pic but I absolutely HATE the hoops you have to jump through in WordPress to do so.

Supermousey had her Christmas show with her school band, and they did great, and you should have heard the Middle School Choir!  Impressive.  Her and her brother are doing their best not to touch or even look at the presents under the tree, but you can plainly see they are excited.  I keep telling them I caught a sale on Dora The Explora stuff.

There is much to rant on about, especially in politics, but I believe I’ll refrain until after the Holidays.  In the big picture, little about this matters.

I drank too much Scotch last night.  I’ve taken to drinking it like they do on Deadwood, where it is served neat.  Apparently, I went upstairs to play video games with EggNog and wound up shouting “Take that, bitches!” at the top of my lungs.  Sigh.

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Not Even Close

Last night’s (actually, the event happened on the 8th, but for me, it really happened last night) Hatton/Mayweather fight was more than a bit strange.  I watched it with one of my best friends, (one of my other best friends is planning a wedding, so he has been out of pocket ever since, and is turning into a bit of a pussy about it) who had it on his mind to read the back of the Jack Daniels label on his 1.75 litre bottle.  (I love him like a brother, but his running commentary was a bit of a distraction, and, by the way, never let someone who is that shit-faced control the TIVO, there is only so many times that re-winding the shot of a brutal head blow and exclaiming BAM! is necessary) Ok, now that I’ve dogged my two best male friends, I guess I’ll get back to my point.

Here it is:  Aunt B needs to watch this fight.  Why, you ask?  Because she shook her curly mop of a head at me for saying boxing is a sport.  You can read it if you care to look at the comments on a previous thread.  She feels that any contest that requires two people to punch each other in the head cannot be called a sport.  I suppose you could call it a marriage, but I digress.  Anyway, the fight was a perfect example to anyone that wasn’t raised in a hermetically sealed tube of why boxing is a sport.  Now, I have been in and witnessed many playground/bar fights.  Almost without exception, this is what happens:  Someone throws the first punch.  The other person then finds a way to get in a “clinch” and then its a matter of who uses their weight better and gains a tactical advantage that allows them to repeatedly punch their opponent in the head with little risk of receiving one back.  Only boxers and Jason Bourne deliver effective body blows.  Eventually, the fight is broken up, or one guy realizes he’s outmatched and escapes.  I have never done this. ;)

In those circumstances, Ricky Hatton wins every time.  This is a scrappy little dude from a Belfast ghetto where I assume broken noses are a right of passage.  Hit him, and he’ll bleed, but he’s going to keep at you until you quit or become unconscious. He is what is referred to as a brawler.  Last night he tried to overpower Mayweather and paid dearly.  You know why, Aunt B?  Because Mayweather is a BOXER.  Hatton came out charging after him and swinging.  At first, Mayweather employed street tactics, that is, he’d let him in, then wrap him up and hang on.  Only, in boxing, the ref will not let you do that.  He steps in, and seperates and admonishes the fighters to BOX.  Around the 7th round, this is what Mayweather in fact did.  He moved his feet, stayed away from Hatton, and peppered his face with lightning fast jabs.  I counted at least 6 times that he snapped Hatton’s head back and then glided away.  The coup de grace was a vicious blow delivered as Hatton advanced wildly toward him, and it knocked him unconscious.  Yes, he got up for a minute afterward, but he was asleep on his feet.  Before he could be killed, the ref stepped in, and stopped the fight.  Hatton wasn’t beaten by one punch.  Sure, the 10th round cross that caught him would have killed an average man, but it was the cumulative effect of repeated blows that really did him in.

Boxers who enjoy long careers are usually cool and calculating.  They will use the entire ring, and exploit weakness where they find it.  The idea is to wear down your opponent with blows to the body and arms until he just drops them a little, then go North with your assault.  Conditioning is crucial.  Both of these guys are in super-human condition, and except for marathoners, no other athletes have less body fat.  They are unbelievably quick and have the stamina of a 1970′s  Ron Jeremy.  If a receiver running a slant is blind-sided by a 260 lb linebacker and driven into the ground, he is usually allowed to go to the sidelines and recuperate.  Except for an all too brief respite between rounds, there is no breather for boxers.  If you get rocked, the best you can hope for is to cover up and wait for the bell.

Tell you what, lets just watch the fight together, then I will hand you my laptop so that you may begin your post about how you dismissed these two athletes as “showmen.”  No need to apologize or anything, an admission that you were way off base should suffice.

Then explain to me why billiards, golf, and horseracing are consider sports.

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Garden Of Eden State

Congratulations to Tennessee Dude over at “True Peace Is The Presence of Justice”.

I know I should also extend congratulations to the New Jersey State Assembly, and I do, but I admire those who devote time and energy to a worthy cause.  When you actually come away with a win, is feels great.  (Hey, I’m a Democrat, I almost can’t remember what a win feels like. ) This is a great victory for the people of New Jersey, and indeed the entire country, even if most don’t realize it yet.  We’re evolving!  Yippee!

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I’m Almost Trembling Here

I have been waiting to see this bout for a long time.  I have purposely avoided any sports shows, and I tossed out the sports section of any newspapers.  Tonight is Hatton vs Mayweather.  At 9:15 tonight.  Don’t call me.  I don’t know who won, and I don’t want to know until I watch this fight.  I really like Hatton, he (like most boxers) has a compelling story, and he is a scrappy fighter that has no quit in him.  Mayweather is awesome, I like him despite his overabundance of bluster.  He has amazing skills, and I’m giving the edge to him, because he should score more if he stays away from Hatton and uses the ring properly.  Watch his hand speed, and watch his feet.

Regardless of who wins, this fight will be good for the sport of boxing.

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Uncommon Common Sense

The uncommonly prolific Kleinheider over at Volunteer Voters brought something to my attention, and made a funny with the title of the post. He links to Charles Mitchell over at Evangelicals for Mitt.

Mr. Mitchell makes a couple of excellent points. The polling regarding this issue is very easy to tilt in the direction you desire, (perhaps all polls are) depending on how you frame the question. He admits that he’s not well versed in this issue, and advises the Republican candidates to avoid the binary type amnesty/path to citizenship debate that seems to dominate the discussion on immigration. Damn smart advice, I say.

In my opinion, if immigration really affected the average voter as much as the demogouges have tried to say it does, Tom Tancredo would be the run-away candidate in Iowa. Its a complicated issue, and the average voter, hell, the average politician is not well informed about it. Any sort of solution that oversimplifies the problem will be rejected by the American public. There are national security concerns, and there are Human Rights concerns, and thats a trick bag to say the least. Many people involved in this issue agree that no solution is possible until we adopt employ new language when discussing the issue. Attempting to paint all those without legal documentation as part of a raging horde intent on ruining America is just as myopic and dangerous as ignoring the impact of so many undocumented people living in our neighborhoods.

One example of how easily the discussion is derailed is in-state tuition. Mr. Michell states near the bottom of his post:

“Like I said, I’m pretty ambivalent on this issue — but I sure don’t think people who break the law should get in-state tuition.”

Now, I consider myself fairly well informed on this issue, but even I have no clue what the numbers are about this. My first reaction is to ask, “wait a minute, aren’t most of those applying for tuition assistance between the ages of 18 and 20?” If thats the case, its likely that the vast majority came here as minors, and as such were incapable of breaking any laws. Chances are, if they are applying to college, they have a pretty good grasp of English, which indicates that they were brought here quite young. Mike Huckabee summed it up quite nicely when he said that Americans do not think its fair to punish children for the sins of their parents. And he’s right. The people affected by this were probably brought here quite young, attended school, learned the language, and assimilated to the point that they embrace the concept of higher education. I happen to think making them a political wedge issue is beyond stupid.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not picking on Mr. Mitchell. He was honest about immigration not being “his issue’ and he seems to be trying to apply common sense to an issue that deserves it. In the middle of a Primary race, its a gutsy stance.

I’d like to see more of it from both Parties.

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Fighting “Them” Over Here

Who would have thought that the biggest danger Jamie Leigh Jones faced when she was assigned to work in Iraq would be her own co-workers?  Apparently, she was housed with or nearby some of KBR’s best and brightest, some of whom, with the knowledge that they enjoyed total immunity from U.S. law, gang-raped her.  She asserts that she was drugged, then vaginally and anally raped and suffered physical and emotional injury.  She was then placed in a cargo container outfitted with a bed, placed under guard, and told she would be out of a job if she reported the attack.  Only after a sympathetic guard lent her his phone, was she able to reach her father, who contacted his Congressperson and informed him that his daughter was being held.  The Congressman, Ted Poe (R) Texas, said this to ABC news:

“We contacted the State Department first,” Poe told ABCNews.com, “and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen” — from her American employer.

Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones’ camp, where they rescued her from the container.

I’ve highlighted that in bold font for a reason.  Rescuing an American citizen from her AMERICAN employer?

The article goes on to explain that this woman has little or no legal recourse, so she has filed a civil suit in an effort to have her day in court, though KBR has asserted that her “contract” requires her to go through arbitration rather than open court.   

I’m sitting here wondering if there was anything in her contract that made her aware that if her co-workers decided to throw a rape-party, she was fair game.  Does KBR have some fiduciary responsibility to Ms. Jones?  I think so.  I think there had better be some justice served on her behalf over at the former Halliburton subsidiary.

NOTE:  I was unable to find in the article anything that indicates the citizenship of the alleged attackers.  It doesn’t really matter, but its curious that KBR would insist on arbitration.  All I know is that our lawmakers are cowards if they don’t immediately withdraw the provision of immunity from paid “contractors.”

You listening, Bart?  How about you, Jim?

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Walk-about At Coyote Creek

Y’all remember young Aras. He was born here not quite two years ago, when suddenly, tragically, his mother dropped dead on his third day with us. I’ll never forget that Summer. We all took turns bottle feeding him out in his pen every three hours. We had no way of knowing if he had ingested enough colostrum from his mom, so the first week or so none of us slept much, worried that we’d wander out to see him only to find him gone too. He made it, we made it, and he has spent his whole life in our back pasture. Until today. Today he begins the process of becoming a horse. He will not be able to just turn his beautiful head and look over at us for comfort or reassurance. He’s gone off on walk-about.

At least he’s not alone. His half-sister and surrogate mom is with him, as are the two newest members of the herd, a three yr old gelding that is my rider, and a four yr old spotted saddle mare that is the Primary Wife’s, um, primary mount. Yesterday we spent the day moving enormous rolls of hay that they probably won’t eat, (we are blessed with abundant Winter pasture) and moving their troughs. We removed potentially dangerous obstacles around the barn, closed the gates, and then walked them two by two down the hill and into the holding pen, before turning them loose to feast on the fescue grass.

For Aras, this will probably be pretty scary. He’s number four in the herd hierarchy, an important element of the herd to be sure, but not as much fun as being number 1. Or 2. Or 3.

So we turn loose of a pet today, and it is likely we will get back a horse next Spring. He will be forced to deal with the elements without a man-made structure for cover. He will have to figure out that barbed-wire really hurts if you run into it. He will be startled by a rabbit, deer, or even a coyote countless times. He will have to learn to stick close to the other herd members, since me and Mom are not within eyesight. There are ponds to drink from for the first time. The hills and hollers will probably build up his chest and legs as he negotiates his way around.

As Coma would say, all of this is “of the good”, but I am fighting back the impulse to go check on him every 10 minutes.

I’ve decided to do it every 15 minutes instead.

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Blogger Branding

Some time ago, I read a young writer named Ezra Klein over at the old Pandagon.  I was an instant fan.  Jesse was good, but Ezra just stood out to me, and he wrote about stuff I cared about.  Eventually, he moved to his own site, and of course there is a link here because he’s a favorite.  Now, he is moving his blog to The American Prospect.  Of course, I’ll just wander over there to read him.

One of the comments on his goodbye thread said something that gave me pause.  He lamented the trend of “Blogger branding.”  Most of us don’t blog for money, (though all of us, I imagine, would love the chance) but the commenter raised a good point about Corporate influence on a once independent blog.  I think this is more of an issue for Progressives, as we tend to cast a doubtful eye upon corporate practices and agendas.

Its no secret that Aunt B is one of my favorite bloggers, would I feel differently if I suddenly found out she is moving her blog to say…Petco, to promote their new line of tiny cat pants?  Probably a bad example.  Wait, what if she got swallowed up by PETA, for her tireless advocacy on behalf of slobbery pit bulls?  Would her positions on dogs suddenly deserve more scrutiny? If she were invited into a multi-author blog that focuses on women’s issues, and it was a paid gig, would she still have the same street cred?

I suspect we shall see more of this in the coming years, and I don’t know where I am on this.  Of course, I could be swayed in a heartbeat…(are you listening, CostCo?)

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