This is good news! A new bill, the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act, has been introduced by Representatives Rick Boucher, D-Va., and John Doolittle, R-Calif. The propsed law (PDF file) would repeal key sections of the odious 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), allowing consumers to bypass copy-protection schemes for legitimate purposes. According to the CNet story, the bill "represents the boldest counterattack yet on recent expansions of copyright law that have been driven by entertainment industry firms worried about Internet piracy."
ZombieGirls.net is a horror film review site that, as you might guess, is written by a trio of women. It sports reviews and commentary on a wide variety of horror movies--not just zombie flicks--sorted alphabetically and by category. The site sports lots of images, wallpaper, and more. ZombieGirls also hosts detailed sites devoted to such horror topics as the excellent zombie movie The Dead Hate the Living and the PlayStation creepfest Silent Hill.
In what may be the Internet's first attempt at a public suicide, a young Indiana man posted his efforts to kill himself with drugs on a Web discussion board, sparking a flurry of sympathy and taunts before he was located and saved by police.
The teen survived after a Seattle woman reading the discussion board intervened and alerted authorities.
Here's an interesting site that analyzes the images of the future portrayed in a variety of movies. It rates films on the coherence of its vision of the future, how plausible that vision is and how entertaining the film is. Not surpringly, Blade Runner holds the top spot in the combined rankings.
...the killer is wanting to disrupt a familiar place, that means something to him, like a mass murderer. He is spacing his killings like a spree killer, but the killings seem to be without any kind of purpose related either to the victims or the specific locations (except the community as a whole). The victims are chosen opportunistically, like a mass murderer, but are picked off one at a time without harm to others nearby, like a serial killer.
Nevertheless, she offers the following profile of the shooter (she doubts there's more than one):
Here is my guess, some of it based on the statistical probabilities for this type of killer: I think it’s a man, between 25 and 40, most likely over 30, who is white and has military or paramilitary training. He is very intelligent but likely holds a blue-collar or trade kind of job, where he is accustomed to engaging things physically. He is something of a loner, but relatively functional socially – he may be married, or have a girlfriend, but it won’t be a warm relationship. He feels cheated by society in some way – either by a specific thing that triggered his action, or more generally feeling that he hasn’t gotten “his”. I think there has been a triggering event – lost his job, his girl, something. The manner of his killing seems to be designed to send a message. The question is, to whom?
A newspaper's only responsibility is to the reader, not the government or corrupt government workers. Newspapers are supposed to sniff out the truth. Yes, it deceived the scumbag inspectors who would let a firetrap continue to conduct business and put customers at risk. Miner would have preferred things remain the way they were. "The ends do not justify the means." That's the mantra of those who critique, not those who do real journalism. Yeah, some evil people got lied to. Sometimes the ends DO justify the means.
I found something else interesting in the critical article, though, and it's a sad reflection about the statoe of journalism today and the kinds of stories that newspapers might not be doing.
...projects such as the Mirage were enormously expensive and time-consuming, and if they weren't going to stock the trophy case they weren't worth doing. Besides, TV's hidden cameras could spy more spectacularly.
I definitely think that exposing corruption in local government is one of the responsibilities a city's newspaper has to its readers and the town's citizens. Such investigations are indeed time- and resource-intensive, true. But while TV news can show an incriminating incident--with varying degrees of effectiveness--an investigative series can reveal an undeniable pattern of corruption and abuse with an overwhelming volume of information and lead to reform, as the Mirage investigation did. Mr. Dennis makes a strong case that such investigations are ehtical, but given the increasing corporatization of newsrooms, I fear that it's bottom-line concerns, not doubts about ethics, that are the real obstacles to investigative journalism.
As I mentioned in my review of the recent Resident Evil movie, zombie fans were disappointed when horrormeister George Romero's involvement with the project didn't pan out. But you might not know that it wasn't the first time Romero has been involved in a Resident Evil project: he directed a commerical for Japanese TV for the release of sequel Biohazard 2 (known here in the States as Resident Evil 2). Although the commercial was never broadcast Stateside, it is available on the Internet. Although it's only 30 seconds, you can see that Romero still knows how to make a zombie picture work.
Today's wallpaper is inspired not by a movie but by a classic survival horror video game--Biohazard, the Japanese name for Resident Evil. Dr. Freex at The Bad Movie Report calls Resident Evil "the bad movie you play." It creates a wonderfully creepy atmosphere by providing a sure-fire forumla for dread: lots of zombies, and little ammo. Dr. Freex sums it up:
Resident Evil is a fairly standard adventure game: find keys, open doors, solve puzzles, try not to die. It's the desperate gunning down of beasties that make you feel like you're immersed in a George Romero movie, angrily cursing every missed shot, because each bullet is precious. Only a soundtrack by Goblin would have improved the overall feel.
By the way, Capcom's official Resident Evil site has a fairly pointless Shockwave game that lets you try out the various weapons in RE: Code Veronica X at a pop-up zombie target.
Dwight Meredith at the P.L.A. Weblog has one of the best examinations I've seen yet of the Administration's shifting pretexts rationales for the invasion of Iraq. He examines a set of foreign policy goals and notes that two of the principal rationales--cited at various times by members of the Administration--are "regime change" and "disarmament." Meredith reaches this initial conclusion:
The upside of a policy of invasion is, therefore, that it addresses each of the foreign policy goals and provides the surest method of achieving each one.
But wait--he isn't done. He goes further, actually examining some of the potential downsides of an invasion, including the should-be-obvious point that a heretofore deterred Saddam might well unleash what WMD capability he has if he perceives he has nothing to lose. His conclusion:
We favor a policy of disarmament with the enforcement mechanism described above for four reasons:
1) We consider the goals of the destruction of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and the removal of the capability to acquire WMD to be essential and the other goals to be of secondary importance;
2) We consider the risks of a unilateral invasion (including the cost in lives, the possibility of harming the campaign against terrorism, the possibility of creating a new wave of terrorist attacks and the chance of a widening conflagration) to be substantial;
3) We believe that a disarmament policy with an enforcement mechanism will work at least with regard to nuclear technology, and that the inspection regimen will halt any progress towards the development of nuclear weapons technology; and
4) A disarmament policy does not foreclose the option to invade if we are wrong.
This last point is why I favor a more limited Congressional resolution on Iraq. (I haven't looked at the current proposal too closely yet.) Linking military action ot UN approval, for example, would motivate the Bush administration to seek allies; should the French or Russians prove truly recalcitrant, another resolution could always take its place. But carte blance, once issued, is awfully hard to revoke.
New ClearChannel Radio CEO John Hogan says "we’re not ruining radio, we’re reinventing radio." I'm glad he cleared that up. He also mentioned that radio consolidation is "a long, long way from completion," so we can look for more *cough*improvements*cough* in the future, I'm sure.
ZombieKeeper--"Horror movie reviews from people who watch horror movies"--is an excellent movie review site. Of course it concentrates on horror movies, especially those in the zombie genre. It is a great resource for information on low-budget and shot-on-video zombie flicks. It Best in Horror selection is also pretty solid, IMO.
According to CNN, the world's funniest joke has been selected, and gosh darn if it doesn't resonate this Halloween season:
Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services.
He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a gunshot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, now what?"
SAN MATEO -- Police came to San Mateo High School Tuesday prepared to deal with a rally of parents protesting the school's backing of a club based on Satanism.
But the officers milling around the school's performing arts center were left with nothing to do.
While the new club called The Satanic Thought Society has received attention nationwide, there's been little brouhaha locally over the group started by two 10th-graders who just wanted to stir up controversy and study an alternative religion.
..."They (club members) say they're not practicing rituals. Not yet," [a parent who organized the abortive protest] said. "When you start choosing to worship darkness, there's something wrong there."
But San Mateo Union High School District superintendent Tom Mohr as well as the club's founders have said it is not about devil worship.
"I wanted to make it clear that these kids are being supervised properly and they have an outstanding adviser," Mohr said.
I'm in a Hammer mood this morning, it seems. Today's wallpaper is from the 1966 Christopher Lee flick Dracula, Prince of Darkness, the sequel to the awesome Hammer flick The Horror of Dracula. This one did not star Peter Cushing as Dracula's nemesis, but did feature Hammer honey Barbara Shelley.
...and on the subject, one should take notice of this David Broder column (via Matthew Yglesias) that states what should be obvious by now: Bush made up his mind (remember, it wasn't that long ago he was making public lies statements that he hadn't) to get rid of Saddam by force a long time ago, and he and his adminsitration have tried on any number of justifications to support that decision, with varying degrees of credibility.
So, it is inconceivable to such as Gore that Bush would be pressing for military action in Iraq because he believes that it must be done.
I am willing to grant that Bush believes it must be done, but--and fortunately, I believe--our Constitutional system simply does not grant the President power to make war simply because he wants to. His task is to convince Congress and the American people that it's necessary, and I think it's arguable that--while he has reminded folks that Iraq is a rogue regime--people remain skeptical about unilateral action. Frankly, leaving aside of the majority of the objections cited by Jeanne D'Arc, myself, and others, there's the fact that the rationale for the war on Iraq continues to be based on headline-grabbing assertions that fail to pan out. Dodd trusts in what Bush believes, and that's fine, but I don't, and I don't see that Bush and his administration are taking an honest approach to overcoming any doubt.
Update: As Congress nears passing a war powers resolution on Iraq, Bush says that force "may be unavoidable." Of course it will be, if Bush categorically refuses to consider any other course. This is exactly what I'm talking about--I get the definite sense that Bush will have his war regardless of what Iraq, the UN, Congress or the American people do or think. And I see that as un-small-d-democratic; I see it as the mindset of a tyrant.
As I mentioned yesterday, I like to celebrate the Halloween season by watching a lot of horror movies during October. In that spirit, this guy has launched a mini-blog in which he'll provide a capsule review of one horror movie per day throughout the month--31 horror movies in 31 days. (Thus far: John Carpenter's underrated scare flick The Fog and Mario Bava's Baron Blood.)
Although I'm a great admirer of her work, I've never agreed with the Dorothy Parker quote
Men seldom make passes At girls who wear glasses
I've always kind of liked girls with glasses. But a recent study seems to indicate that it's true...the study examined people who wear some form of vision correction; a third swapped glasses for contact lenses, a third did the opposite while a third stayed with their normal method. The ones who adopted glasses reported feeling less self-confident, while contact lenses seemed to make the wearers blossom like someone ditching their glasses in a movie. And the feelings evidently translated into results, too...
...those wearing lenses instead of their usual glasses were three times more likely to report 'hugging', four times as likely to report 'kissing' and six times more likely to report 'fondling' than when wearing their glasses.
Of course, I agree most of all with the point made by one of the comments to the MetaFilter thread: "Anything you do that increases your own perception of your attractiveness will get the same result. Self-esteem and self-confidence are attractive traits." (via MeFi)
This article on the official Star Wars website explains why full-screen movie presentation (as opposed to letterbox) sux0rz, and provides the following handy hint:
The disparity between screen sizes is the result of a battle for viewers that has been waged between the big screen of cinema and the small screen of television. Many wonder why the TV was designed as a square since most movies are rectangular in shape.
It didn't used to be that way. When televisions began to spread in 1950s, the square image area of the small screen was proportional to what you'd find in your local cinema as well. So, don't bother trying to hunt down that elusive widescreen edition of Citizen Kane -- movies of that vintage just weren't as rectangular. Their then-standard size determined the aspect ratio used in the manufacturing of televisions. [emphasis mine]
As a public service during this Halloween season, I give you the home page of the makers of the Zombie Alert system. This revolutionary product promises an early warming of the presence of the living dead--an important asset given the sobering statistic that "Ninety-five percent of Americans live within two miles of a cemetery or mortuary." The company is so sure of its product it offers a million-dollar guarantee in the event of an undetected zombie assault. Models include the standard, resembling a home smoke detector, the industrial-size model capable of detecting ghouls up to a mile away, and a personal model encased within a wristwatch. A good shotgun and one of these, and you're set for any zombie siege!*
After all, what's at stake isn't just the careers of two able politicians, but the entire balance of power in Washington. The GOP already controls the White House, the Supreme Court, and the House of Representatives. The Democrats control the Senate, but by only one vote. Polls of the handful of competitive Senate races indicate that control of the chamber is a toss-up. And while Democrats are optimistic about retaking the House, Republicans are increasingly sure that their larger war chests and a late-campaign public focus on national security threats will keep them in power. So if Johnson loses, and the Democrats don't win elsewhere, then, for the first time since 1953, the GOP would control both Congress and the White House for at least two years. Throw in the Supreme Court, and Republicans will have won control of the entire federal government for the first time since 1929. With that kind of power, it would take only a few years for the Republican Party to fundamentally reshape American government in ways that can't be undone no matter which party wins in 2004--from more tax cuts that would bankrupt Washington for decades, to a continued unilateralist foreign policy that would wreak further havoc on international institutions, to judicial precedents that would permanently cripple the ability of the federal government to grapple with social and economic problems. By any reasonable measure, the most pivotal issue facing voters in this congressional election is control of Congress itself.
And in case it isn't obvious, Confessore details why one-party rule is not only not a good thing
Americans had a chance to test-drive this particular scenario. During the first four months of Bush's presidency, when the GOP controlled both the House and the Senate, Republican rule was ruthlessly partisan and deeply radical.
but unpopular with the majority of the American people:
Most Americans had judged their taste of one-party rule to be sour. By summer 2001, Bush's approval rating had dropped to the mid-50s--a low that had been reached by only Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton at similar points in their terms. The Democrats had overtaken Bush on the question of who should set the policy agenda in Washington. Across the board, voters wanted more compromise from the White House, not less. And most tellingly, less than half of voters, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll taken in June 2001, wanted the country to continue in the direction Bush was taking it.
Many of them were by people whose political leanings clearly differed from mine. I nevertheless found them interesting, for two principal reasons. First, I think that it's essential to understand what those of different political persuasions are thinking. ...And second, despite our political differences, the issues that preoccupied the warbloggers at the time—the war on Al Qaeda and the waves of Palestinian suicide attacks within Israel—were issues on which their views and mine were largely consonant.
As the fall elections draw near, though, and as we move closer to action against Iraq, I find myself reading the warblogs less and less. It's not simply because they support the president's posture toward Iraq, a subject about which I have serious misgivings. It's that so many of them deny any legitimacy whatsoever to those who hold positions different from their own.
It is entirely possible to love one's country, to recognize that Saddam Hussein is an evil man who has done evil things and will do more in the future if unchecked, to believe that terrorism must be opposed forcibly, and still to harbor grave doubts about the course on which we are now set. This is especially so when the administration's public argument for action against Iraq is so deeply based on demonstrable lies—lies recognized as such even by the Washington Times, for goodness sake. Given the dishonesty with which the case against Iraq is presented, it is, I would think, a demonstration of devotion to one's country to question the wisdom of pursuing unilateral action in the face of our allies' opposition, and indeed to question the motives of those who repeatedly rely on falsehoods to press their case. [emphasis mine]
My friends and I back in Louisville used to celebrate Halloween with an all-day and -night horror film marathon. Since living up here places obstacles to attending, I've taken to renting lots of horror flicks on cheap-video-rental Tuesdays and watching them, in additioon to the flicks I already own, on almost every weeknight. Tonight I'll be kicking off the month-long horror fest with my DVD of The Beyond. I haven't decided on a theme yet, but I think I'll devote this week's rentals to Giant Bug Flicks. Speaking of which, the B-Masters have recently done another of their roundtable reviews of enormous arachnid films.
When our one-year-old, Naomi, loses her balance and sits down hard, I sometimes ask her if she "fell down on her well-padded toddler bottom" (when you have kids you start asking a lot of rhetorical questions, or at least I did). Truly, Omi's diaper seems to protect her, which is why I think she's learned to fall on her bottom if she can. But she has nothing on this German tot, who was saved from a fall out a window by the padding of his full diaper.
The major media/entertainment companies believe that control of information -- absolute control over how it can be used -- belongs to the owner of the copyright. They insist, moreover, that copyrights should be able to last indefinitely.
[W]hat's legal today is already limited, thanks to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which sailed through Congress at the behest of the entertainment cartel. That law, as more prescient observers warned, turned copyright owners into despotic rulers of their domains. It allowed the entertainment companies (as well as software companies that have been among the chief abusers) to create digital tools to thwart unauthorized use, and then criminalized users' attempts to tamper with the controls even, in many cases, for traditional and highly legitimate purposes.
Here is what it all means. To protect a business model and thwart even the possibility of infringement, the cartel wants technology companies to ask permission before they can innovate. The media giants want to keep information flow centralized, to control the new medium as if it's nothing but a jazzed-up television. Instead of accepting, as they do today, that a certain amount of penny-ante infringement will occur and then going after the major-league pirates, they call every act of infringement -- and some things that aren't infringement at all -- an act of piracy or stealing. Saying it doesn't make it so.
Not content to have total control over copyrighted material, the cartel has persuaded Congress to keep extending copyright terms. The companies that wail about ``stealing'' have themselves hijacked billions of dollars worth of literature, music and film from you and me. The public domain hasn't grown lately, and that's a betrayal of everyone but the tiny group of mega-companies that owns copyrights to old classics.
A recently introduced bill (more details here) to be voted on tomorrow (October 1) will delay Internet radio royalty fees for six months, extending the period during which a more equitable compromise might be worked out and dealing a reprieve to Internet radio. w00t!
Meanwhile, Bill's Content has been following the story of a Chicago Tribune columnist dismissed after an affair he'd had 14 years earlier surfaced. There's too much for me to summarize--visit Mr. Dennis and read for yourself--but a recent post reacting to a Newsweek column caught my attention because it sums up one of the reasons I never went into journalism, despite studying it passionately in high school and college:
I believe the profession has suffered from the change. The "hard-drinking, hard living" newsie culture gave us Watergate. The politically correct, tongue-clicking "smoke-free" culture gave us Chandra Levy and Monica Levy. Chicago Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski is a child of this second culture. When questioned by reporters as to exactly Green's 14-year-old consensual affair with a legal adult who he wrote about once was grounds for seeking Greene's dismissal, Lipinski cannot even put into words exactly why it was so horrible. It just runs afoul of her personal moralistic code. This code affects the entire industry. I suggest that the era of "hard-drinking, hard-living" newsies culture may have had its ethical lapses, but people who worked in this culture had little problem distinguishing minor peccadilloes and major breaches of public trust. Apparently, that is a muscle in Ann Marie Lipinski's brain that never got the proper amount of exercise in journalism school.
As I said on his site, the problem isn't that this particular piece of "evidence" (and I use those scare quotes deliberately) or another is proven to be either a lie or wildly inaccurate spin, it's that there's no way it'll change anything. The Bush administration and their surrounding neocon policy community (and sympathetic online Echo Chamber) already know that they're right, and the only important question here is figuring out how to convince everybody else. If any one piece of information disappears, then they'll just dredge up another piece to place wildly out of context, hoping that this time the repetition of the latest Big Lie takes and those who question both within the country and without are finally convinced. They know in their hearts that they're right, and if they know they're right, then the ends justify the means.
Let's be frank, folks: this "debate" is a sham. It probably always have been. It's just one side throwing out one inane assertion after another and the other side racing around trying to disprove them, only to discover that the disproval is irrelevant due to the latest bit of nonsense that's come out. IAEA document proves to be a lie? Doesn't matter, Bush is going to prove that he has a legitimate case at the U.N. Bush crapped out after Iraq invited inspectors in? Doesn't matter, the "Blair Dossier" proves that Iraq is dangerous. Analysis shows that it does nothing of the sort? Doesn't matter- they just found weapons grade uranium near Iraq. Uranium turns out to be best measured in grams? Doesn't matter, Iraq proved they were irrational because they have come out against an American proposal that is as transparently designed to start a war as Austrio-Hungary's was before WWI. And so it goes. Can't wait to see what happens next.
That's why everybody is uncomfortable, angry, and/or frightened. It's not because they like Saddam, and it's not because they dislike Americans, and it's not because they're cowards, and it's not because of Trans-fucking-national Progressivism. It's because bullshit detectors are going off like obsessive-compulsive klaxons all around the world, but the people they're hooked up [to] know they're powerless to do anything about it.
The Simpsons Archive is one of the most thorough Web sites I've seen devoted to Fox's once-brilliant animated comedy. (Of course, even a L4m3 latter-season episode of The Simpsons is funnier than most sitcoms, but I digress...) The site hosts a version of the official alt.tv.simpsons FAQ, episode guides, character files, lists of catch-phrase and running gag occurresnces, and other miscellany. It has a minimum of images and no downloadable multimedia, which hopefully means Fox won't try to snuff it out. It's an excellent compensium of Simpsons facts and trivia, heartily recommeded.
By the way, I would like to comment on her attorney's comment: "She lost her temper at a bad time on a bad day, and yes, she brought this upon herself." I'm the father of a one-year-old and a three-year-old, and while I'm not proud to admit it, I lose my temper at them from time to time. Which means I yell at them. Not even losing one's temper explains the multiple punches I saw on that video clip--especially since there were several pauses in between during which she should have realized what she was doing. Except that I think she did realize what she was doing, and only talked about how badly she felt about it for the benefit of the TV cameras. That's just my opinion, of course.