A few days ago I was surfing the net when I stumbled across an astoundingly clever video. I had just finished reading about the whole stolen Cutline theme for Wordpress debacle, so I had copyright and intellectual property on my mind. This is an issue I’ve often thought about as I take my first baby steps of blogging. At times, I’ve come up with what I would consider mildly clever (and that’s stretching it) ideas, but wasn’t sure how ‘borrowed’ content works on the internet. I wasn’t really worried about getting sued (people have to notice your work for that to happen and/or you have to make money off said ideas), but I was more concerned with the ethics of it. My interest thus far has largely in photography, and I found Wikimedia Commons to be a decent if not extensive source of public domain photographs. In any event, the video I had happened across was hilarity and genius at the same time, but it sported a soundtrack not made by the blog creator (although full credit was given to the musician).
My father is an editor, but first he was a writer, and he ended up having a large part of one project essentially “ripped off” because he was too young and trusting to properly protect himself. So maybe that’s where my interest comes from, or maybe, just maybe my girlfriend is right and I am a paranoid freak. Besides all of that, however, I thought it an interesting dilemma – how to properly attribute work and how copyright works on the World Wide Web. My theory concerning creative material on the internet is that a lot of it is free (whether it be a Wordpress theme, Apache, a YouTube video, etc.) thanks not only the altruism of the creators, but also because it’s so darn easy to steal that keeping track of it would be pretty darn tough.
As luck would have it, a day or two after seeing the video, I awoke to a radio news story discussing this very issue. A segment on NPR dealt with the issue of ‘Fair Use’ in copyright law and discussed how individuals were free to alter copyrighted materials for their own creations. And it’s not just liberals saying that -- there are fancy Stanford lawyers who agree as well!
You can take a listen to the segment here.
The Stanford Fair Use Project can be found here.
Oh, and if it seems like I haven't been adding to this blog, well it's because all my pages seemingly end up supplemental these days. I expect I'll be adding more in the coming days regardless though.
I just finished watching "Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room" and the subsequent discussion on PBS's Independent Lens. I've been meaning to watch the movie for a long time, but I knew it would be extremely upsetting so I had been avoiding it. Well, my premonitions were well founded. Frankly, I cannot believe the gall of these disgusting people who bilked millions of dollars from hardworking people all around the globe. From celebrating the California wildfires and encouraging power plants to shut down to raise electricity prices, to the PG&E line workers who watched their 401ks plummet (in one case, from $350k to 1200), and the tens of thousands of Enron employees who were prevented from selling their stocks as the share price plummeted, thanks to top level Enron execs dumping their holdings by the boatload. I even feel sorry for Gray Davis, who was considered to be a top Democratic candidate for President of the United States and ended up being "fired" from the Governorship of California. It's easy to see why George W. Bush and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had no interest in helping California when their friends and major campaign contributors were doing so well.
It also irks me to learn how many of the criminals at Enron went unpunished and still enjoy the ill-gotten gains from those who's dreams they crushed. Not to mention the executives at Citibank, Merrill Lynch, CSFB, and on and on. The bankers were fully aware of the debt hiding practices at Enron, but went along with it for the only reason that mattered to them -- money.
Quite frankly, the story troubles me on a greater level as well; I fear it reflects the greed and consumerist nature of our society. In American culture, Green is God. I didn't lose money myself in Enron, but I did lose what was a considerable amount of money for me at the time in companies like Global Crossing, World Com, and others -- companies that lied about their holdings, their profits, and did so with their stock analysts' blessings. I'm fortunate, in that I'm young and still have a chance to recoup my losses. As for the lifelong Enron employees, the PG&E workers, and countless others who believed the lies and stock manipulations...well, they're not as fortunate.
An inflammatory headline, no doubt -- but one that I believe is true. I love sports, and I enjoy gambling just as much as the next guy. But don't ask me to support a "sport" where animals are routinely injured and then executed without batting an eye. It's interesting that cock-fighting and dog-fighting are illegal, frowned upon and thought of as barbaric, but horse racing is considered a gentleman's sport. Even more heinous is the rampant use of stimulants and other drugs provided to these animals. In doing so, owners hope that the horses will run ever faster, even if it means subjecting their bones and tendons to physical forces far greater than they were intended to withstand.
Then there are the connections to organized crime. The recently passed anti-gambling law made it illegal to bet on the NFL, but had special carve-outs to allow the horse racing industry to continue taking wagers. This was not just a coincidence born of congressional negligence, but rather a carefully calculated effort by both lobbyists and politicians. This profitable industry not only emerged unscathed, but was also strengthened in the process. With the new legislation, money spent on horse gambling is expected to increase further, since competition in the form of other sports wagers has been removed.
Closer to home, last summer 18 horses "broke down" (e.g. were maimed and then executed) over a seven week span at the local horse track in Del Mar. The solution according to the folks at Del Mar, was to build a new track. We'll see if that makes a difference this year, but I won't be holding my breath.
So, as I mentioned in the prior post, I had interrupted J's packing list in an effort to get her out the door. Well, shortly after we parked the now gasless Volvo, she realized she had forgotten her cell phone. So now we're stuck on the side of the road, an hour to takeoff for her flight, and no phone. No gas stations nearby, either...so we decided to hoof it. I don't know what's more remarkable, the fact that we made it to the airport within time for J to make her flight, or the fact that she didn't get completely infuriated with her absent-minded boyfriend. Is she not the greatest girl in the world? I can't think of any former girlfriend or friend's girlfriend who wouldn't have gone Chuck Norris on me (and deservedly so). As it turned out, I hiked about 5 miles yesterday (two miles to the airport and three miles back), and other than the back pain from carrying her bags, it was actually kind of fun. I should go for walks more often.
Whoo boy, did I screw up yesterday. J was leaving for Northern California to give a presentation (she's the industrious one) and I was, as always, her designated chauffeur. Miss Zoe doesn't like it when we leave for the airport together -- she recognizes the luggage and knows Momma's gonna be gone for a least a day or two -- and once even broke a window with her snout in her displeasure. So, J was beginning to recite her loooong list of things she needed and had packed (underwear: check, sunglasses: check, etc) as I ushered her out the door. I didn't want us standing inside with Zoe and the luggage while she did this, as Zoe was beginning to make "crazy face", which would only lead to dire circumstances down the road.
Anyhow, we climb in to my sweet-azz '91 Volvo and are driving to the airport when I casually remark, "Hey, my gas pedal has been doing this funky thing where I push down and it doesn't move." About a minute after that, we're idling at a red light and kaput, system failure. I look at the gas gauge and that sucker -is- in the red, but in my defense it's closer to the top of the red than the bottom, and definitely not underneath the red. And I always drive in the red! And there was no fuel light that came on either! But yes, for the first time in my looong, looong life, I ran out of gas. Doh! So I quickly flipped on the hazards, Jen steered and I pushed the Volvo to the nearest parking spot (Volvos are heavy!)
to be continued....
This is an inspiring video full of good advice. Finding good advice isn't the hard part, it's following it that's tricky. Still, it's a nice message and a catchy tune. And it is true, wearing sunscreen will keep you from looking like a lizard when you're 40 years old, especially here in San Diego.
P.S. Actually though, better advice would be to stay out of the sun completely rather than worrying about sunscreen. You can still get skin damage (which increases the aged appearance of your skin) or even worse, invasive melanoma (skin cancer). So just limit your sun exposure, wear a hat, and if you use sunscreen make sure you're covered for both UVA and UVB :)
Last night was a fun time out with J and her father. We started early, leaving Miss Zoe behind much to my lament (but it was worth it). We had reservations downtown at Bluepoint, and that was one meal that definitely did not disappoint. I got the ahi duo -- seared ahi and asparagus in a port-butter sauce along with an ahi sushi roll and a rice patty. It was outstanding, and made all the better by the Stone Pale Ale (Stone is a local San Diego brewery, highly recommended) I washed it down with.
Next, it was off to Petco for the Padres v. the Rockies. It was a tightly contested defensive ball game, but Adrian Gonazalez was brilliant down the stretch - he contributed a sac fly to tie the game, and then smacked a double to win it in the bottom of the 9th. We had great seats along the 3rd base line that Jen had bought for her dad's birthday present. The only negative was a loudmouth sitting behind us, but he eventually left his seats while the game was still tied.
We came back to find Miss Zoe had been an angel; thankfully there were no unpleasant surprises to greet us when we returned to OB. All in all, it was a great night out :)
(photo by inetours.com)
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May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
And may you make time on the road like Jimmie Johnson.
I'm so tired of reading articles with headlines connecting Virginia and Santa Claus. So I'm not going to write that tonight. Besides, if Santa Claus had anything to do with the game today I'm guessing the UVa kids are on his naughty list. How else to explain that ridiculous 3 pointer the Tennessee player hit (off the backboard, AND off the rim as the shot clock was expiring); meanwhile Singletary's open look three at the buzzer rims out. I am going to miss watching JR playing along side him...those guys were such a great tandem together. Sorry to see the season end, but I have to admit they performed well beyond my expectations. Best of luck to graduating seniors Jason Cain and JR Reynolds, and go Hoos.
Before I decided to return this product I figured I would Google for "70 watt warning" which is the warning the Dell laptop gave us when we plugged in the cable. It turns out that there is a fairly easy fix for this, posted here: 70 Watt Warning
So, I took a twistie-tie, stripped it to get just the narrow wire, cut it to about 1/2", and connected the upper prong to the empty bottom right hole. Now the laptop's three contacts all receive current. The battery is taking a lot longer to charge, but it is charging and the laptop will function fine as long as it's plugged in (the battery holds almost no charge and hasn't for years). So, now we have two working power cables and a working laptop. The last step now that I've tested the theory will be to make a small groove in the plug and glue the wire in place.
So, the package we got from Cable4Less (Amazon store listing) actually had Cables4PC.com as their return address. And they didn't send us what we ordered. Unfortunately, their shipment didn't come with a receipt. Looking at their website, Cables4PC.com they look like a pretty junior outfit. There is no contact information that I can see, at least not under the "contact" tab. Weak. Continued in next post...
So, in my last post, I detailed the frustrations of dealing with Dell and their crappy power cables for Jen's computer. Trying to avoid using Dell, we went online and found a retailer from Amazon, Cable4Less, that sold what was supposedly the same power cable for a fraction of the price. Happy at not needing to use Dell, we went ahead and bought the cable. There was a surprising lack of information about them online, but feedback appeared positive and Amazon has a refund policy with their affiliates.
The cable came on Friday, and it turns out it's not compatible with the Dell Inspiron 5100, even though on the website it said it would work. It's only a 70W power supply and the Inspiron, even though it's a relatively old laptop, needs more juice. So now we've got two useless power cables and a useless laptop. Our next step will be to contact Cable4Less and try to get a working cable. Argh.
This will be a two part rant, so if you want to skip this post and the next one, be warned. Hopefully this will help someone in the world wide web since I didn't have much luck finding information, especially with regard to my next post (concerning Cables4Less from the Amazon Storefront).
My girlfriend has a Dell Inspiron 5100. The computer itself has been fairly reliable, but it came with a cheap flimsy power cord that needed to be replaced after only about a year and a half. The way I learned it needed repair was by plugging it into the back of her computer and subsequently being shocked (literally, although the effect of the spark also resulted in the figurative meaning). So, I figured I would help her out and buy a new one, and thus found myself at the Dell website. Surprisingly, this power cable cost me about $90 with taxes and shipping. Grumbling, I went ahead and ordered the cable.
Well, now, a year later, history repeats itself. The cable is broken, and the laptop is useless without the cable because it can't charge. Upset, I posted a review of the cable on the Dell website. I refrained from profanity, but did mention I would never buy another product from them again. I think under the "pros" section I said that their power cables would be good on a camping trip, because they start fires so easily. Not surprisingly, my review never appeared, but enough reviews have shown up to show that many, many people suffer the same problem with those power cords. So, if you're thinking of buying a laptop from Dell, add another couple of hundred dollars to the bill for the price of power cables.
Me and the Missus had a fun day together yesterday, mostly planting our rears in front of the TV to watch the basketball. She's a huge Hoosier fan, which was probably an unforeseen side effect of having gotten a couple of degrees from Indiana University. So anyhow, we're watching UCLA-IU and this game is painful, so painful in fact that my lazy ass is willing to go the extra mile and bust out the html tags for emphasis. That's painful! Indiana had 13 points at half. Not good.
Anyhow, they battled all the way back to tie it, and me and my girl were whoopin and hollerin, completely freaking out poor Snigs. Then came a possession where IU had to inbound the ball, and I swear Howland (the UCLA coach) was blocking the inbounder! He moved all the way down the sideline to where the inbounder was and stood right next to him! The inbounds pass careened off a UCLA player and went out of bounds, so he got another chance. And Howland did it again, stood right next to the guy, yelling and gesturing with his arms so that this time, when the player inbounded, the ball wound up in UCLA's hands. Ballgame.
I remember the flood of profanity that erupted from J's mouth last year, after Adam "Mr. Cool Lice" Morrison and Gonzaga beat them. That particular torrent of curse words was especially remarkable because she was doing it in front of her father. But that wasn't even close to this eruption. This ia girl who never swears, but I learned some new words last night. I just hope my Hoos come through for me in a couple of hours. The Sweet Sixteen, that's not too much to ask, is it?