04.26.13

Life Changing Events That Went Unnoticed

Posted in MainPage at 9:08 pm by admin

Back in 1983, an event took place that was to change my life forever. I would not know of this event for almost 30 years. I was not even in the same state. I would never meet those involved.
The event was the birth of a boy who would be named Joel Andrew Huddleston, a name he would share with me for over two decades without incident. We’ll get back to that in a minute. First I’d like to talk a little bit about the Internet.
I got a fairly early start online. I was a computer science major at a “World Class” University, Texas A&M in 1983. The University was well connected with others through this wacky nation-wide and even international network of computers that was still called the ARPAnet by many. Businesses were allowed on the net, but could not use it to advertise. The language of “The Web,” HTML, had not been invented yet. I built one of the first web sites at the university as I was a student worker for the college of engineering computing services department. Most of my fellow engineering students were working with the well established and commercially viable VAX/VMS cluster of computers. I worked with the less successful UNIX systems. These were to become the dominant players in the Internet. I was well connected with people all over the world through eclectic systems with names like usenet and E-mail.
After I graduated, I continued to maintain an online presence through regional dial-up ISPs and systems connected to the net for businesses. At some point, I registered the cyberzod.com domain and until recently, if you searched for my name at any of the major search engines, that was always the first link you saw. I never needed any SEO and never paid a service to bump my search rank as I was the only Joel Andrew Huddleston with a significant online presence.
Getting back to that other Joel Huddleston, the one that was born while I was still in College. He would grow up in Florida. He would graduate high school. He would graduate college and teach social studies at Yearling Middle School. He would become a youth pastor at Buckhead Ridge Christian Church in Okeechobee County, Florida. He would marry a young woman. She would find him in their home, in their bedroom, in their bed with a naked 12 year old girl from his school.
You know, you can pay for all the page rankings you want, but you will never out rank a lewd and lascivious pervert and child molester.

02.09.09

Health Insurance Is Not Health Assurance

Posted in MainPage at 9:41 am by admin

I am going to point out something really obvious here. Health Insurance does not assure health, or even survival. People with excellent health care coverage die every day. Some of these people are children. This is a harsh reality, but reality it is.

There are those in the political world who would like more control over you. They want to know everything that you do because knowledge is power. They already know your job history, thanks to social security and the income tax. They know your property holdings, which they pretty much have to know in order to legitimize them. They know when and where you were born. When you die, they will be there to close escrow and make sure that you pay your final respects to the government. They know the schools you attended, the grades you got and whether or not you were well liked by your teachers.

Now, they want to know about your health records. They already have created a system which requires any health-care provider to maintain a consistent set of documentation about you. Doctors and hospitals used to do this to protect themselves from liability claims and/or improve the overall health care they provide. Thanks to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, health care providers and insurers have access to an unprecedented amount of your private information. Government access to this information is just a short subpoena away and then it is all there in a standardized format.

As any celebrity who has had an embarassing photo posted on the Internet can tell you, information systems have a long memory. Once information is out, it is out forever. You cannot put the genie back in the bottle, unring the bell or unscrew the girl. Pick your favorite euphamism on the topic.

Sixteen years ago, the Clinton administration tried to shove nationalized health-care down our throats. They started some rhetoric in which health care became a right and they trotted out cases where people died because they didn’t have health care. The nation fought against the plan and won. Things stayed relatively quiet through the remainder of the Clinton aministration and the Bush years. Of course, they still passed HIPAA and the Patient Safety Act, respectively.

Now we have a new president and if he stands for anything, he stands for change. I have no idea what that means, but I do know that the Obama administration is making another push for nationalized health care. Now he wants to limit the scope of the health care to children, because every child has a right to health care, right?

I am happy to point out that health care is not a right or even a privilege. It is a service. Doctors, nurses, administrators, technicians, drug manufacturers and medical equipment manufacturers all work together to provide that service. And they do it for money. There are some that may have an altruistic motive as well, but take away the paycheck and altruism will only take you so far. A nationalized health care system would cost billions of dollars each year. We have a failing economy, but we want to throw that cost onto its back? How long before the best health care money can buy is a govenment band-aid?

There are some who believe that the rich people of America should pay for a nationalized health system. After all, they got rich on the work of the rest of the country. Rich people already donate millions of dollars each year to hospitals and clinics. Sometimes the donation is a form of thanks for saving the life of a loved one. Sometimes it is an ego gratifying name on the new wing. Whatever the reason, they already give generously. If the government starts to take more money from them to pay for nationalized health, will those donations continue?

There are many examples of nationalized health care around the world. In Japan, hospitals are underfunded to the point that people die in ambulances waiting for a hospital to accept them. Certainly, once they are in the hospital they get the best care they can get. I know of a man who is dying from throat cancer in Japan right now. They know that this cancer will kill him. It is just a matter of time. But they are giving him the best treatment possible to continue his life. Meanwhile, a traffic accident victim bleeds to death in an ambulance because more than 30 hospitals refused to let him in the door. England has nationalized health care. They also pay 7 out of every 10 pounds earned in taxes. Thousands of canadians cross the border to the US every year to get treatment that their nationlized health care won’t provide at any cost. You cannot offer to pay more for better care. You get what they provide and nothing else. Oh, and Nazi Germany had nationalized health care too.

Well, once you bring Hitler into it, the argument is over. I’d like to finish this with the following observation. America was founded by people with a pioneer spirit. People who wanted to do for themselves, provide for themselves and generally be left alone to do that. Every few years, our government asks us to give up some of that spirit. I’d like to reverse that trend just a bit. Government should guard the borders, regulate internal commerce and keep the peace within the borders equally for all. Then it should take a break and get out of the way. The People should lead us into the next millinium and not just be lead to whereever they plan to take us.

12.16.08

How To Make A Trainwreck

Posted in MainPage at 3:31 pm by admin

How To Make A Trainwreck

Some years ago, when I was in college, a group of friends was broke and hungry. Each had a few items in their pantry, but none had a whole meal. They gathered together their meager contributions in a rush and, culinary genius resulted. Over time this recipe has been refined by its originators, each adding their own special touch. This is my version.

First, the recipe is for “A Trainwreck”, always A Trainwreck, not “Trainwreck” or some trainwreck.

You will need:

Fresh, green jalapenos, get a pound or more. It may not all be used.
~2 or 3 lbs cheap Ground Beef. 80% lean is best.
4 or 5 large cans of Ranch Style Beans Original flavor
1 can of RoTel diced tomatos and green chilis
1 small can of diced green chilis
Chili powder.
An ounce of courage.
1 LARGE white onion, 4 inches across or more
1 huge skillet
1 huge pot
Some Chalulah or similar hot sauce (Don’t use tabasco; it annoys the jalapenos.)

A note on the cookware, you want as little steel as possible. Wood spoons, hard nylon spatulas and anodized aluminum pots are best. Avoid teflon as the jalapenos tend to penetrate and make the next 4 or 5 dishes come out tasting like a trainwreck. (Ah, the voice of experience.)

Mix beans, Rotel and chili cans in big pot. Put them over really low heat. Cover. Stir when they get lonely. The pot should be no more than half full at this point. Half full is just about right.

Brown ground beef in skillet and add the meat to the mixture in the big pot. Scoop the beef. Do not pour or drain. You need the drippings for later, so leave them in the skillet. My personal opinion is that you need little tiny pieces less than a quarter-inch in diameter of ground beef and not large chunks. That may not be your opinion, but do it my way anyway.

Chop up the onion to <1/4″ pieces. Start chopping up Japs. You want to cut them lengthwise once then slice into 1/8″ to 3/16″ widths. After you have sliced up one jap, eat a slice. Be sure to let it sit on your tongue and chew thoroughly. If this is painful, use half of the japs. If not, you should use the whole pound and might need more. Japs are highly variable when it comes to heat. Milk will help to cool your mouth. Don’t drink water to cool the burn, that just makes it worse. Beer can help, especially early in the process, like an hour or so before you go shopping for ingredients.

So, now that you have all of the onions and jap pieces, open all the windows in the kitchen and get a good fan for ventilation. Heat the skillet with the beef fat so that it is nice and saute’ hot. Put the onion and japs (seeds and all) into this and saute’ until the onion is clear and just starting to caramelize. If the onions don’t start to sizzle right away, the fat isn’t hot enough. Stay on top of this, the difference between too raw and burned to a crisp is less than a minute. Stir and fold constantly while you do this. For a bit of fun, invite a guest over to smell what you are cooking. Get their face right over the steam coming off the skillet. (Keep a damp rag handy, and perhaps a bucket as this can be an intense experience.) If your guest does not choke on the steam, you don’t have enough japs and should probably find a new supplier for next time.

Dump the contents of the skillet into the pot. Yes, dump. Fat and all. Stir the pot occasionally; watch TV as commercial breaks are a good timer. Use a lid when not stirring to keep out any suicidal insects.

After this mixture has had a chance to simmer for a half hour or so, dip a chip or some bread and try it out. Use chili powder to get the flavor you want and the hot sauce to get the heat level you want. Don’t be afraid of either. I have used as much as 1/4 cup of chili powder and half a bottle of Chalulah in a trainwreck.  Let it cook down for a few minutes after adding either chili powder or hot sauce before you taste again. A beer will help clear the palate between tastings and help to time the next one.

Let the mixture simmer over low heat for up to a couple of hours to release the oils in the jalapeno seeds.

Serve with chips, or flour tortillas. You can mix with regular size Fritos and put cheese on top for a spicy frito pie.

Remember, you are making a trainwreck. This is not a recipe, but a catastrophe. Your average Joe-on-the-street should think this is too hot to eat. Your goal should be the heat level where people are only barely willing to come back to your house.

The best way to learn to make a trainwreck is to fail a few times. Don’t try to portion this down to serve 2 or 3. I’ve tried and it never comes out right. It is a trainwreck, not a derailment or rail-yard mishap. Be prepared to eat left-overs for a few days.

Your mileage may vary. Some settling may occur during shipping.

And most important, let me know how it goes.

12.12.08

Content, HURRAH

Posted in MainPage at 9:00 am by admin

Content, HURRAH

After months, I moved the old blog into the new content management system. Work. Work. Work. It took me hours, but it is done.

Now all I have to do is put up the photo albums and port my trivia server and tweak the theme so it is the way I like it and get my terror alert copied and…

Now for some fun, the leezard in this post just sat in the leaves of a tropical plant in Hawaii and posed until I got just the right light and angle. Thanks, leezard.

06.20.08

Funny mail

Posted in MainPage at 9:45 am by admin

Charter, the world’s worst cable/internet provider, sent me a flyer inviting me to use their service at my new house. Now, I could order it and probably have both cable and internet and perhaps even phone service in a day or two. The point is that they are so awful that I would rather do without any of the above services until another option presents itself. I am even thinking of getting DirectTV or Dish for my television needs.

At this point, I am still holding out for ATT Uverse.

06.16.08

Managed Hosting

Posted in MainPage at 3:05 pm by admin

I have moved to a managed hosting service for my domain. I will be moving the content and theme over as soon as I can. This promises to be interesting.

08.29.07

Wah, OK? Move on.

Posted in MainPage at 9:56 pm by admin

Two years ago a hurricane, Katrina, pounded the gulf coast of Louisiana and pretty much obliterated the town of New Orleans. Many people died. Many people lost their homes. Many people lost everything.

In the days that followed, the media had a feeding frenzy. I personally watched as reporters speculated about rampant murder, theft and rape taking place in emergency housing areas that were set up to save lives. As yet, not one single shread of evidence supports those claims. The rumors were reported, live, on respected, national news programs as NEWS! I have never been more disgusted with the free press than I was that day. Still amid this strife and loss of property and lives, the news had time to second guess any and every attempt made to protect property and people by FEMA. The director of FEMA stepped down over the affair.

He was probably (almost certainly) an incompetent political appointee to an office that does very little unless it is badly needed. He just had the misfortune of an emergency while he was at the helm. Too bad for him.

The point that seems to have been lost in all of this is, all of the events surrounding Katrina could have been avoided if people didn’t steadfastly refuse to move. New Orleans is in the middle of a hurrican shooting gallery. People shouldn’t be there if they cannot afford stone-clad housing above the 100yr flood levels. Hell, half the city was below sea-level before Katrina hit. Of course it was going to be a disaster. It appears to have been almost designed as a disaster.

This is not to say that I believe there was some vast right-wing conspiracy to wipe out the leftist stronghold of The Big Easy. Proponents of such theorys credit the vast right-wing conspiritors with far more compentence than they deserve or demonstrate quite publicly and repeatedly.

Now to my point: Rather than honor the dead and displaced with some annual hug-fest about how terrible the whole affair was, why don’t we honor them by making sure that sort of disaster isn’t repeated when the next big hurricane hits. Move away from the shooting gallery. If you rebuild, don’t do it below sea-level. If you rebuild, rebuild something that can withstand 140+ MPH winds. Tighten the building code. Close down the trailor parks. Condemn and tear down any building that survived if it is not at least 5 feet above mean sea-level. Make, as a condition of relief funds, that people must rebuild in an area not on a flood plain.

I sympathize with those who lost friends, family and other loved ones. In spite of that, I must point out that this could have been avoided if people just watched the weather channel during hurricane season. The time to cry is over, rebuild, but relocate first.

07.27.06

“Here, Take My Seat and This Guy’s Too”

Posted in Tirades at 10:02 pm by admin

It has been three years since my last tirade. I must have mellowed. I would like to share a new word with the world and get it into common usage. The word is miscourtesy. Most English speakers will know the word courtesy and the opposite of that word, discourtesy. I will get into the specifics of these two words soon, but first…

A momentary diversion into set theory is called for at this time. If you have the set X and then everything else, or Not X, and you combine these two sets, you end up with the set of everything. If X is courtesy and Not X is discourtesy then everything must either be one of these, or the other. For example, allowing another person to pass through a door before you is a courtesy. If discourtesy is the opposite, that is the NOT of courtesy, then passing through the door ahead of someone else would be a discourtesy. So, no one can pass through a door when another is present without at least one person being discourteous. This is an absurd proposition, so there must be other categories of activities, things that are neither courteous nor discourteous. Out of this vast category, I would like to carve the new category of MIScourteous.

There are two major types of miscourtesy. The first type I will define is the type where one is courteous to another where the courtesy is no real benefit except perhaps a feeling that it affords the offerer of the courtesy. For example, If a person is walking immediately behind another and the first opens a door, holding it open for a second to allow the other through, this is a courtesy. However, if the second person is quite a ways back and the first must stand holding the door for, say 10 seconds, this is a miscourtesy. This delay does not benefit the second person in any significant way and it is an unreasonable burden for the first person to take on, so why do people do this?

The only explanation is that the first person percieves some value in standing like an idiot while the second approaches the door. This assumed burden of the first places a burden to hurry on the second. After all, to allow another, clearly courteous, person to stand like an idiot would be discourteous. This hurrying is a courtesy offered now by the SECOND person, but in the emotional exchange, the lead person now has one up on the follower. The leader has, in a sense, placed a burden on the follower in the name of courtesy. This is not courteous.

In my own experience as the second person in the above exchange, the first courteous individual will soon ask a favor of the second. In a transactional analysis of the exchange, the second person still holds the burden of returning a courtesy that was never a courtesy to begin with.

This begs the question, exactly how far back does the second person have to be for the courtesy to become a MIScourtesy? I have a rule of thumb: If the door would still be slightly ajar when the second person arrives to open it, you are clearly in the courtesy category. Beyond that, and you risk being miscourteous.

The second type of miscourtesy is a bit more difficult to explain. I will give a prime example to illustrate. Suppose you are driving down a busy street. You have been waiting in a line for two or three cycles of a traffic light. Either the light is cycling very quickly or traffic is moving slowly, but it has taken a while to get to this point. The light turns green and you are only a few cars back. It looks like you are going to make it through the intersection this time when the car in front of you stops short. You stop short as well. Then the kindly driver of the car in front of you motions to a line of three cars that have just pulled up to enter the busy street from a parking lot. After a second or two of hesitation, the cars begin to enter the busy street ahead of the car that is in front of you. During this exchange, the light turns red and you wait again.

What do you do at this point? The kindly driver in front of you was clearly trying to be courteous to the people in the parking lot. Why, if not for him, they might be trapped there for hours waiting for a chance to continue. However, you were only inconvenienced for a few more seconds. Well, except for the traffic light that has turned that into a minute or two. And what of the people in line behind you? I have watched as the courtesy has created major traffic delays as, during each cycle of the light, some new person lets two or three more people on the road ahead of the crowd that has been waiting patiently (or maybe angrily) for their turn. I have watched as cars drove into a parking lot, passed a block of cars waiting at a light and then exited the parking lot much farther ahead in line.

The problem goes beyond simply inconveniencing one group for a courtesy to another. I watched a near collision take place where a kindly driver (third from the end of a short line) tried to allow a person out of a parking lot ahead of them. In this case, however, the victim of the courteous driver’s good will had to cross another lane of traffic. I watched as a truck, hurrying to make the right turn at the light, nearly collided with, not only the parking lot car, but the two cars waiting at the end of the line. If the kindly driver had simply moved as expected, the truck would have made its turn without incident, the two cars behind would have made it through the light and the parking lot car would have joined our line on the, now all but empty road. This person’s courtesy nearly caused hundreds of dollars of damage and endangered the lives of the occupants of four cars.

This is a real problem. In our society, there is certainly room for courtesy. But before extending a courtesy, one should be certain that the courtesy is not a miscourtesy to others. Any attempt at courtesy that enters the realm of miscourtesy should be met with derision and scorn.

12.14.05

What Is The 8th Commandment All About?

Posted in MainPage at 9:55 pm by admin

I was struck recently by a bit of inspiration while listening to a conservative talk-show host on radio. The host was Dennis Prager and the topic of the show was illegal downloading of music, movies, games and the like. Quoting from his website: “Two thirds of US college students don’t see anything wrong with downloading music for free. This speaks to the paucity of character development of our youth.” During the show, he pointed out that theft was covered by the ten commandments. The tone of the show was how this fact of downloading showed that the youth of today had no concept of ethics and morality.

One of his callers (who the host eventually shouted down rather than face valid arguments) pointed out that THEFT denies one the use of his property. How can downloading music be considered THEFT if the original owner still has full use of the music? So the argument becomes one of “diluting” the value of their INTELLECTUAL property.

Consider this:

Ford and Toyota both make cars. Toyota consistently produces cars with better crash test ratings, lower maintenance costs and higher resale values. Ford begins to lose business to Toyota. Has Toyota “stolen” anything from Ford? They have diluted the value of Ford’s property, and this is REAL property. It is physical. You can touch it. It is not some ephemeral intellectual property. Why do we not consider this to be theft?

So the argument might return that this is competition and not simply copying. Toyota has produced a car that competes with those produced by Ford. It is an open market and anyone is allowed to compete. Fine.

Then consider this:

I buy a 1979 Ford Mustang and take it to my home. There I possess tools and raw materials. I painstakingly dismantle the car, produce an exact replica, rebuild the original car and sell it. The new owner has his car. I have my car. The production of the car represents a substantial investment in my time and materials. Should the original manufacturer have the right to raid my home and confiscate the duplicate?

So the argument against this scenario is that building a car represents a substantial effort. Not only did Ford build the car, but it required raw materials. Most people would agree that I have not stolen anything from Ford, however, I must not sell my replica and claim that it is a 1979 Ford Mustang. I can only sell it as a replica.

Imagine this scenario:

Thul and Gruul stand in a field wearing the fashion of the day, deer-skin tunics and loin-clothes. They smell bad. Each wields the most devastating weapon man´s mind has conceived, a stone-headed spear. Thul points to the herd of wild bovines and expresses the thought, “I shall build a wall, trap some of those inside, and feed them until they become fat, lazy and docile. Then I shall breed them until I have a vast herd. I shall slaughter them at my whim and exchange the meat, bone and other parts for the fruits of others´ labors.”

Flash forward several years. Thul and Gruul stand again in the field. Gruul shows the wear of many years of hunting and following game. Thul, on the other hand, now wears much finer clothing, perhaps a sweater (One of his wives invented knitting in her spare time.) Thul carries a brass-headed spear a much finer weapon than Gruul’s. Both the spear and sweater are available now because of the advanced trade that has sprung up as a result of the leisure time created by Thul’s invention of ranching. Now the field is surrounded by a crude wall of rocks and timber and the once wild herd of bovine is tame and quietly munching the well-maintained grass. Thul now says: “See?”

Gruul responds by clubbing him on the back of the head and taking the business — along with the spear, sweater and all of Thul’s wives.

This is theft (and perhaps murder) and Gruul is villified by society (if they are stronger than him) or praised as a strong leader (if weaker.) If, instead, Gruul found a similar field, built a similar wall, populated it with similar bovines, we would admire Gruul’s spirit of competition. Gruul and Thul would be hailed as the first fiscal conservatives operating in an open market.

The only legitimate difference between Thul and Gruul and a recording studio and illegal MP3 distributor is that Thul and Gruul each had to perform, approximately, the same amount of work in order to profit. The recording studio did a great deal more work than the MP3 distributor. This is NOT to say that the MP3 was free. The equipment that compressed it still costs hundreds of dollars. It also had to be housed, powered, installed, maintained, etc. Someone had to write the program. Someone had to build the network that carried it. Compare this with the recording studio who tracked down a decent singer, got a contract, built a market, invented a whole host of doo-dads and thing-a-ma-bobs that record music, combine it with other music and then advertised the hell out of it so people would want to listen to it on a 2 hour loop from the local radio station.

The studio certainly went to more work, paid more people and collectively created a form of art, we hope. Some would argue that this labor should be rewarded, and I agree with them. Where I disagree with the studio is in the degree to which they should be compensated.

Studios are businesses. As businesses, they invest in their own futures. One way they invest is to have laws passed that treat them favorably. This is just good business. And before you get all high and mighty about how this sounds, understand that I believe that it is GOOD that businesses can do this. However, laws should not be passed that work counter to the public good. There needs to be balance between the people who nurture the artist and the public who pays for the art.

Before the invention of the grammaphone, the only mass-produced recorded art was the printed word. The constitution of the United States of america recognized the rights of authors to exclusive profit from their works. It also recognizes the rights of inventors to exclusive use of their machines. What it does not do is confer to authors and inventors perpetual, exclusive rights. The intellectual property owners want you to think of any recording as theirs forever. But congress (in the US) has no right to make such a law.

All intellectual property must eventually fall into the public domain. The only question is, when. At this time, inventors can arrange to hold their patents in the US for, at most, 25 years. After that, anyone can make a polaroid camera, much to the chagrine of Polaroid (they lost that lawsuit.) However, copyrights (Authors. Printed word. Remember them?) were recently extended to 85 years. They had previously been limited to 50 years (considered an adult lifetime at the time) or the death of the author, whichever came last. But companies wanted to buy the rights from authors and companies never die and the companies argued that what would come last was the death of the company as long as it existed. It was changed to whichever comes first.

But then Disney was about to lose their exclusive rights to Mickey Mouse and the full weight of the happiest-place-on-Earth decended on Washington in a succession of years and made them extend the time. The last time they got an extension, it created a span of 25 years during which no copyrighted work will fall into the public domain.

But copyrights are not possessions. They are rights. And they are exclusive, but they must not be perpetual. Sony no more owns the sounds on their CDs than I own the air blowing over my front yard. The recording studios, game studios and movie studios all want you to believe that they own their songs, computer games and movies. If you start to believe it, if they can make it the common understanding, the “fair” understanding, then the public good is not served.

Look at what has happened to the movie studios. They did not publish their works for sale for many years. If you wanted to see Gone with the Wind, you had to go to a theater. This was understandable given that the average movie wouldn’t fit in a car and the equipment needed to view it costs a small fortune. This is very different from books, the media for which copyright was invented. With books, once a work fell into the public domain, many thousands of legitimate copies would exist. Some in private collections, some in libraries, they were everywhere and anyone could copy, translate or derive other works from them without asking permission from anyone.

The same is not true for many modern recorded materials. The motion picture studios have not been good custodians of the cultural history entrusted to them. They have selfishly hidden from view materials with a cultural, but no real monetary, value. Many hundreds, if not thousands of movies have been lost forever. They were left, untended, to rot in warehouses. The full impact of this loss is only now being felt. The studios have taken steps to preserve what they can. Some of the material is lost forever. Some is being preserved in its current state until better technology for recovery can be invented. Some is being destroyed right now, as you read this, in an attempt to recover it. The attempts are not guaranteed to succeed.

But the studios only released films when they could make money from them. Disney re-released (trotted out) its old material for every new generation of children. Some old favorites were replayed on TV every year around Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter. But if it didn’t have a wide audience, or if it languished in bad press or didn’t express the public opinion of the day, chances were, it became forgotten.

The problem here is that ancient laws were not designed with the comprehension that the information age would come to pass. The ancient mind could not concieve of the industry that would spring up from the ability to record a performance. But industry has always lead politics into dangerous territory. For many decades, American (colonial) cotton growers had to sell their raw materials to mills in England. They could not produce cloth or even thread on their own. The reason? No one in England would sell them a mill. In fact, it was illegal to take the plans for a power loom out of England. However, a colonial born man visited England and learned enough about the mills to build his own, with a little help. He got rich, and has a town named after him, Lowell, Massachusetts.

Now the English would cheerfully have strung him up for this theft. But they couldn’t because America was already a sovereign nation. England had also just lost a second humiliating war with their former colonies and may not have wanted to push the issue.

Here is where the distinction between Intellectual Property and Real Property lies. By taking Real Property, I deny you its use. This is theft. By taking Intellectual Property, I infringe upon your rights to exclusivity. Exactly what is this? It isn’t theft, as such. You still have your property. You can probably still profit from it, though not as much. But this is not THEFT. It is never THEFT. Civil, not criminal processes should be used to protect copyrights. And in the information age, we should be insisting that authors and performers must continue to create new works in order to profit from them. Copyrights should be getting shorter, not longer. There is almost no incentive for a company that owns a 10 year old computer game to produce it for sale, but they will not release it to the public domain. This assumes you can even find the legitimate copyright holder.

It is time for the public to demand a change. How long should an artist profit from one performance of a song? In days of old, the performance could not be recorded. It had to be repeated again and again, never twice exactly the same. Did the invention of inexpensive tape recording equipment put an end to concerts? No, they flourish. Did the invention of the VCR put an end to television? No, there are now twice as many television studios as there were when the first Betamax was sold. Has the invention of the DVD put an end to the motion picture studio? No. They still have one of the most powerful lobbies in the US.

The rights of the custodians of popular culture need to be cut back hard. They have proven unworthy of their role in society. We need a new law that defines not copyrights, but performancerights. Maybe a record label or movie studio should only have exclusive rights for a few years, say 5. They make their first round of money in theater release, then general release on portable media. They still own exclusive rights to the high-quality original. If they hold on to it, they may be able to take advantage the next wave of media technology.

Now, everyone wants to replace their VHS tapes with higher quality DVDs. Soon, Blu-ray, or something like it, will hit the retail shelves and people will compare with their crummy old DVDs (just like videophiles had to switch from laserdiscs) and a new level of performance quality will allow the studio to renew their performancerights, but only for another year. A year is a lifetime for a fan to wait. They will buy the commercial copy. The studio will make money.

Look at the phonograph. Do you want to listen to your old, scratchy plastic record copied onto a tape with all that hiss? Or, would you like a digitally filtered and remastered CD of Purple Haze? Shorter, not longer exclusive rights will force creators to continue to create, if they intend to continue to profit. This is a Good Thing. Why don´t we try that for a while.

08.27.04

Holy Great Mooby the Golden Cow!

Posted in MainPage at 9:54 pm by admin

I have just been through a life- and perspective-altering experience. OK, not just now, but over the last week. In particular, it took place today.

First, a little background: I have always considered the professional certification process to be, largely, a waste of time. People who have proudly announced their attainment of an MCSA or MCSE (or ZZRN or whatever letters sounded impressive) on their resumes have always amused me. When I was interviewing prospective employees, the only certification I ever took seriously was a CCIE or better from Cisco. My coworkers and I frequently joke that an MC?? is the least qualified person for just about any computer job. I know recruiters that will not consider a resume with MCSE on it unless it comes with a personal recommendation from someone they know.

My perspective changed today when I took the RHCE exam. I reiterate, HOLY … COW! That was a tough exam. In the future, when I see a RHCE on a business card, I’ll consider that person to be a worthy sysadmin type. This is a tough test.

RedHat has honestly impressed me in the following ways:

  • The test has absolutely no multiple guess questions.
  • The test takes most of a day to complete.
  • The test actually has real-world(tm) applicability.
  • The test is HARD.
  • Did I mention it was HARD?

Not to toot my own horn, but I consider myself to be a competent trouble-shooter. The first part of the test I completed in (literally) 40% of the allotted time and scored 100%. I had actually passed in 20% of the allotted time, but decided to “go for glory” and complete some optional items. These took as long to complete as the part I had already passed. These problems were similar to ones I had seen in real life. This probably explains why I found this part of the test to be straight-forward.

Then, in a room full of computer professionals, not one of us left the second part of the exam before time ran out. Not ONE!

This is not intended to indicate what losers we are, but exactly how tough this test really is. I may have passed. I don’t know yet. (A follow-up is almost sure to come.) I think/hope I did, but we will see. The point is that we all took the fully allotted time to try and eek out the last shread of credit that we could, just in case.

No one walked out claiming to have aced it.

If you have RHCE on your business card (especially for Enterprise 3,) you have my respect. You have passed one helluva tough exam.

Peace.

And to Ralph (you know who you are:) Great class. It was fun. I learned a lot. And have fun in Boston.

Out.

Follow-up

I got it: RedHat Certified Engineer.

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