Thursday, October 27, 2005

Copyrights last too long.

If I write something today (y'know, hypothetically), it is automatically under copyright, and that lasts until 70 years after I die. If I live to be 70 years old, and my children have their first children at the same age I did (28), the copyright will last until the year my great great great grandchild is born. My daughter will be 114 years old, if she's still with us, and her first child will be 84.

I think copyright holders should pay to renew their copyrights every year. That way, when a work under copyright is no longer making money, it goes into the public domain. I'd like it if the price of renewal went up every year too, so long-term money makers (e.g., Mickey Mouse) would still eventually go into the public domain.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Parental conspiracy.

Being a parent is like being in a club. The members recognize each other, and they're comfortable talking with each other about this topic they have in common. Out in public with our newborn, I was stuck with how much other parents would talk with us. Sometimes we'd be recognized by our habitual rocking even when we didn't have our child with us.

Even non-parents recognize parents as safe. Anyone with a child in tow is not a mugger, not a stalker, not a psychopath. Parents can lack sanity, but not in a dangerous way. It's not universal, but people trust parents.

Now look at it backwards. People mistrust non-parents. There are a lot of people out there—parents, mostly—who would look at a childless parent-aged adult with some suspicion. What's wrong, they think, can't you have children?

Trusting parents is not the same as mistrusting non-parents, and they don't even have to go together. Still, I think they're both comfortable attitudes lingering today from decades ago when contraception meant rhythm and marriage meant children.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Bush knew that Rove leaked.

This post at Think Progress links to a New York Daily News story that says President Bush knew that Karl Rove leaked Valerie Plame's identity in September 2003. The sources for this are all anonymous, of course, but I have no problem believing it since I already don't trust President Bush. This part stuck out to me:
A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.
That sounds like further cause for investigation.

The article says that conversations between President Bush and Karl Rove began "shortly after the Justice Department informed the White House in September 2003 that a criminal investigation had been launched," so that makes me wonder if President Bush already knew who the leak was when he said at the end of September,
I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action.
Was he already lying about it? Did he think we wouldn't find out? Considering he was still saying the same stuff later, I don't think there's any doubt that he lied about it.

I'm wondering how someone loyal to President Bush could spin this. Maybe they think that getting mad at Rove but not taking any other action was the "appropriate action"?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Celebrity causes.

Celebrities are sometimes criticized for using their fame to promote their pet causes. There's no reason some pretty face in Hollywood should get more of a voice than anyone else, but they have it anyway, and sometimes they use it.

I try to think about this from the other perspective. If I were a celebrity, and I had a handful of monkeys with cameras following me around everywhere I went, what would I do? I'd have the power to focus attention on any spot I went. I didn't ask for the cameras any more than I asked for brown hair, but there they are like flies on sequels.

I can try to ignore them. I can try to avoid them (with, perhaps, Dire Consequences). Or maybe, just maybe, I can use them to do some good in the world.

I could fly my winning smile to some forsaken place where people are enduring one or more of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Behold the misery! Please help!

I think ultimately, personally, I'd decide not to abuse my supernatural comic book powers of popular attention. Still, it would be tempting to try to use my powers for good rather than banal.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Open Thread!

All the big blogs do it. Why can't I just slop off some empty post and pretend like I'm updating?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

My idea, implemented.

A while back, I had the idea of collecting volunteers to record themselves reading books for people who could not turn pages themselves. I was thinking ahead to what I knew would happen to my mom. I was concerned, at the time, with the possibility of copyright infringement for reading modern books, but commenters brought up another problem. Specifically, "listening to Joe Nobody for several hours quickly gets tiring." Shortly after, someone did it with Lawrence Lessig's book, Free Culture. I listened to it, and I enjoyed it. I liked listening to a new voice every chapter. Some of them had very nice foreign accents. Still, I wondered if I would want to listen to a lot of books that way, after the novelty wore off.

Now, LibriVox seems to have fully implemented the idea and avoided the whole copyright issue by only working on public domain books. I haven't volunteered yet, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Pat Paulsen, prophet.

A Pat Paulsen quote just seems to fit today:
Assuming either the Left Wing or the Right Wing gained control of the country, it would probably fly around in circles.
I'd really love to hear what Pat Paulsen would say about things today.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

James Dobson can't be trusted.

I already knew that I don't trust James Dobson, so it's not really a big shock that he lied about Harriet Miers (thanks to this post at Think Progress for the link). Unfortunately, I doubt his supporters are looking closely enough to notice.

The whole Harriet Miers nomination has been quite the circus. I'll say what I said about Roberts: I can't complain about the fact that she agrees with the President more than me (though I would that it were not so). What bothers me is the subterfuge around her. In this case, I don't see that Miers herself has been dishonest, but it's still disheartening that we can't learn much about someone who will have such a profound affect on us for a long time to come.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Blues Brothers versus President Bush

I lied. I'm going to compare The Blues Brothers to President Bush.
  • They're both well dressed. Slap a little flag lapel pin on a Blues Brother and add shades to President Bush, and they're basically the same. I didn't like looking at President Bush's eyes anyway.
  • I think it's safe to say that President Bush also hates Illinois Nazis.
  • Tell me this doesn't sound like President Bush:
    Jake: No I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD.
  • One big advantage the Blues Brothers would have over President Bush is their total imperviousness to assassination attempts. The Secret Service could turn their attention to counterfeiters.
  • The Blues Brothers have a similarly casual attitude toward the truth:
    Elwood: What was I gonna do? Take away your only hope? Take away the very thing that kept you going in there? I took the liberty of bullshitting you.
  • I suspect they have similar attitudes about fiscal responsibility, but I'd like to think The Blues Brothers wouldn't blow our tax dollars quite the way President Bush has.
I'd work in a joke here about the approval of the use of unnecessary force, but it wouldn't be funny.

I'd favor The Blues Brothers, given President Bush's record so far. Those two could make an excellent sixteen-year dynasty. Just think of the press conferences!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Catholics say parts of the Bible aren't true.

"Holy Crap!" is right! Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible. Is that true? The article says this comes from, "The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland," so I'm not sure this can be said to be Official Church Opinion, but this is still very interesting to read.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The independent toddler

One night when my daughter was old enough to walk but not really talk much, we were at the mall. She had a balloon tied to her wrist hovering near eye level because that was just so fascinating. I let her wander around within my sight but otherwise by herself. She got pretty far away, but she was always easy to track with the balloon, even if she walked behind a sign or bench or something. If she was about to actually go out of sight, I'd sprint to a better vantage point.

Admiring my daughter from afar, I saw the same thing over and over. Some other adult would see her but not a parent. They'd stop next to her and look around until they caught my eye staring at them. This happened every few minutes.

What would they have done if they'd not found a guardian? I don't know, but I'd like to think that they'd start looking for one more earnestly. I could be way off on this, but I generally got a feeling of concern for my daughter. These weren't people looking to steal a child.

In another mall at another time, she wandered off by herself without telling us. We noticed this pretty quickly and jointly decided to shadow her to see what she'd do without us. How soon would she notice she was alone, and what would be her reaction? She kept her cool pretty well, I thought, showing little outward sign of distress. She looked just like a loitering teenager doing whatever she wanted. Once in a while she looked around, but that was the only thing that made me think she was worried about us (or herself). That time I didn't see the same concerned strangers, but that may have been because I was more focused on her and what she was doing than anyone around her.

Today my daughter can recite her name, address, and phone number. I'm a little concerned that she won't be comprehensibly coherent if she's distraught, but that will get better with age. On our recent trip to New York, we advised her that if she got lost, she should look first for a police officer and second for a woman, especially one with children. The thought of losing her is terrifying, but these little experiments make me feel a little more confident that she'd be well if it ever happened.

Friday, October 07, 2005

President Bush and the Blues Brothers

He's on a mission from God. That's what they say, anyway.
George Bush has claimed he was on a mission from God when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a senior Palestinian politician in an interview to be broadcast by the BBC later this month.
The White House, however, denies it.
Q Have you ever heard the President say that God told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq and --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, and I've been in many meetings with him and never heard such a thing.
I have no particular reason to disbelieve the denial, except that he's alleged to have said that kind of thing before, also in a private meeting.

It might be amusing now to remark on the desirability of The Blues Brothers running our country right now, but I won't.

Whether it's true or not, the perception is out there that President Bush believes himself to be guided by God. I don't so much have a problem with Heavenly guidance except that I'm not sure what else guides our President, and I'm afraid that when President Bush looks to God for help, he's maybe just looking at his belly button.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

More actress confusion.

A couple of actresses in "Serenity" kept reminding me of different actresses. Specifically, Summer Glau (who plays River) reminded me right away of Christina Ricci. It took me a little longer to figure out that Jewel Staite (Kaylee) reminds me of Laura Dern.

I might not mention this except it seems to be a running theme with me. I confuse actors too, but I tend to think about it less.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

O'Reilly pulling a Robertson

It's almost boring this time. O'Reilly endorsed assassinating Syrian leader if he "doesn't help us out". I gave Robertson the benefit of the doubt (which turned out wrong), but I had less trouble believing this.

I almost think O'Reilly is just doing it for the ratings. I don't know how much of a career you can have with an audience tuning in to "hear what that lunatic says next," but Howard Stern seems to do pretty well.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Word verification: oh, it's ON.

I guess I've hit the big time (finally) since I got five spam comments over the weekend (three of them on this post for some reason). So, I'm turning on Blogger's word verification for comments and deleting the spam that has already appeared.

I wonder if it's because I mentioned a mortgage.

Shopping list.

I went to the pet store and stocked up on everything we need for our fury family members.
  • 96 oz. Timothy Hay
  • 10 lb. rabbit pellets
  • 50 liters bedding.
  • 40 lb. dog food.
  • 5 lb. hamster chow.
It all fit in the trunk of the bug, but when I go a case of soda at the grocery store, I stuck that in the back seat. It's not exactly the minivan.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Chat log, Mon Jan 25 1999 13:26

[Him greeting Me missing]
<Me> Greetings.
<Me> Spain? Are you the same person who was just talking to me from Morocco?
<Him> flootinfgns
<Me> I don't know what that means.
<Him> yes
<Me> Is there something on your mind? Something you want to talk about?
<Him> how are you now?
<Me> I'm fine. I probably ought to get some work done. It's not been an eventful day today.
<Him> my mind is a white paper
<Me> Scissors? Rock?
<Him> why?
<Me> Because Stone Cold said so.
<Him> a hard day ,yes?
<Me> No, pretty dull.
<Him> open the door and talk slowly
<Me> Anything I should say?
<Him> do you know butragueƱo?
<Me> No.
<Him> no
<Him> unculto
<Me> What is butragueno? What is unculto?
<Him> is an actress
<Me> I've never heard of her.
<Him> is a porno star
<Me> That's probably why I've never heard of her.
<Him> are you a gay guy?
<Me> No.
<Him> yes
<Me> Yes what? You're a gay guy?
<Him> of course
<Me> So you're tooling around IRC looking for other gay guys by mentioning (female) porno starts to see if they recognize the names?
<Him> do you like suck me the penis¿
<Me> No.
<Him> yeahh
<Him> are you very intelligent
<Him> but you are not guy?
<Me> I'm intelligent but not gay. I know, that's pretty unusual, but statistically I have to exist.
<Him> tell me the truth, you are gay, no?
<Me> Honestly, I'm not gay. I like women.