Maybe I’ll Another Glot?

I’ve been getting that itch again. The itch to write bullshit that I likely will never read nor remember in this abandoned, ridiculous edifice to my past self. Something about remembering my life during the course of actually living it — something about caring what I think — something about caring what other people think.

An altogether forgettable day, today. Woke up from dreams remembered but unwritten. ((Running past a train in the snow.)) None of them clearly evoked waking life. Spent time working blissfully in a free reaction-diffusion program, Ready. Thought mostly about how I wanted to redesign my blog — a blog I hardly write in, and which I have no qualms about calling a damn blog now (see how much I’ve matured?). Made a proof-of-concept using CSS masking.

For the past few weeks I’ve been feeling like I want to write in here again. It’s strange, though… I don’t want to write for anyone but myself. I like the idea of keeping dreams and diary entries. I want to have the LiveJournal that I never had when I was 18, when having a LiveJournal was a thing. As is my usual pattern, instead of actually writing anything, I manage to obsess over the design of the bloody site until I’m practically sick of the idea. All I really want is a space I myself find beautiful. I want a place to leave the thoughts I don’t want anymore. I want to be able to look back at something I like. My current spate of design ideas are perhaps best conveyed by this dinosaur’s camouflage:

This blog feels old. Lots of people’s blogs do… and I should know since I just went for a snoop around. The era when the personal blog was relevant is gone. My tech-savvy friends’ blogs are left as a testament to the brief period of history where we myopically perceived it important to maintain our own websites. Silly, in retrospect. It was only a matter of time before mass-solutions like Facebook and LinkedIn evolved to decisively address the problem of digital identity.

To you reading this, don’t take it too seriously. This is me cursing out my diary, for goodnessakes. It’s something I do from time to time. I just wanted to edify something, to perma-cast the feels I grok at this moment’s happening. That is to say, this is just to say. Just word-talks.

A Strange Thing Happened Once…

…and it happened to me. Ask me about it and I won’t know exactly how to explain. I’ll tell you what I think I know. Knowledge is tricky, it seems to me. If we really get down to nitty-gritty, if we really examine the evidence carefully, it can be said — in a literal, non-symbolic sense — that we actually know nothing. We only think we know. I’ll tell you what I think I know. Hopefully you want to think you know it, too.

Hey, I have a blog. Wow. That’s nice to rediscover.

Ghosts of the Hillside

Ghosts of the Hillside

On July 8, 2012, Chicken and I were returning to Lodoga to retrieve his RV, the Hotel Miami, left there after Camp Tipsy. We saw some strange clouds on the horizon. After briefly speculating on whether they could maybe (possibly) be smoke, we came across an honest-to-goodness wildfire (about 10 feet across) burning on this very hillside.

The Sites Complex fire of 2012 involved 88 fire engines, 24 bulldozers, 6 helicopters, and 1339 personnel. It burned 4185 acres. It’s the only good reason I’ve ever driven the perilous Leesville Road.

I was pretty amazed to locate the exact hillside this year. A lot has changed. But when I compare the original Instagram from that day, I’m sure. The geo-location is as precise as possible.

We fought it with a squeegee and my front door mat. Chicken got smoke inhalation. We did a bad job stopping it, but the California Fire Marshalls who later visited me to investigate told me that — of course — we really couldn’t have. When it comes to wildfires, 10 feet is already too big. No heroes came back that day. Just pictures.

Wishlist 2011

Alright, yes, I know I’m a little late. I know that I’m so late that there’s probably no chance of getting something on this list because there’s not enough time to have it shipped from Siberia. But oh well. I’ll list them anyway, and if I get one thing listed I’ll be surprised and pleased. Just like a real Christmas!

General

I like small musical instruments, unusual hats (size x-large or large), interesting vinyl records from the 50s and 60s, any sort of animal artwork, toy dinosaurs (and other prehistoric creatures), and cool sunglasses.

Specific

Noen av munnharpene mine - some of my jew's harpsKhomus (Jew’s Harp)

Why do I want one of these? They go ‘boing boing boyoyoy-wee-ooo-yoing’. I love tiny fun instruments in general. Awhile ago I got a Schylling brand Jew’s Harp and it didn’t work. At all. Sadface.

One made near the Altai mountains would be awesome. In the words of an ethnologist “the Altai region has perfected this ideophone as far as is humanly possible”. One from anywhere in Siberia would be ok, too. But location isn’t that important; just thought I’d mention.

A real cordless drill

Look at this one. It has a real battery, different speeds, you don’t need a chuck to tighten it, and there’s a neat little flashlight that comes on when you use it. This isn’t pictured, but it also clicks into place when it’s tightened enough.

Just like Pete Goldie’s.

Feather comforter, brown (or other non-white color), size: Queen

We’ve needed a new one for awhile. At this point, our ratty old comforter has more material outside than it does inside. We’ve determined that having bed linens in white is the fastest way to get them stained, which is why non-white.

Just a Microphone Stand

We do a radio show. Sometimes we record from home, but it’s really difficult because we don’t have one of these. Simpler would be better. Not too heavy. Just, you know, a mic stand.

An Orange Public M8 from Public Bicycles

Yeah, let’s be serious, I don’t really expect anyone to get me a $1000 bicycle. But my old bike is a P.O.S. and borrowing my mom’s Huffy is getting old.

I like the Mixte frame of this, and I appreciate the number of gears. I really appreciate that it’s advertised as “suitable for all cities, even for the hills of San Francisco.” And, of course… I love the color.

Not to say that if there were a similar one on sale in a different color that I’d be at all disappointed.

A Pair of Socks with Sharks on them that are Eating my Feet

Thanks Lauren!

Birthday/Christmas Wishlist 2010

  • any shirt that looks like those pictured
  • bow-ties, like real bow ties that you tie on, especially ones with patterns or polka-dots, are cool
  • 2 terabyte hard drive for cheap received!
  • a magical easily-obtainable driver’s license for wifefriend Lynae
  • accordion (note: a very complicated choice that I’d really like to make myself… at some point in the future)
  • this toy caveman is pretty awesome, and is all of $7 (for the thrifty present-giver)Although… you know, as long as I’m mentioning it here, the toy manufacturer (Papo) makes a really great Plesiosaurus and Allosaurus, too. I have their Oviraptor and it’s top-notch. Consider it mentioned.
  • iPhone 4, for better or for worse, cf. “I must have the iPhone 4 […] I need the one with more gee-bees”
  • iPhone-to-FM transmitter, car mount, case that can safely get run over by a car
  • a new comforter — because apparently 5 years should have been considered a good run
  • Better Internet – we’re considering a local Wireless ISP (WISP) named MonkeyBrains.net that requires an up-front investment for an antenna. We’re still deciding on this one, and it’s not glamorous, but an upgrade from 3M/b download to 30M/b for less per month is a heck of a win-win.
  • The Secret Museum Of Mankind, Vol. 5 – you know how often I go for physical CD media, so this better be special. Indeed it is — I have the first 4 in the series, and they’re amazing, but for whatever reason this is missing from the Internet and thus my collection.Check out this 1939 track from South Africa, from the only recording studio in sub-Saharan Africa at the time, and the origin of the melody for “Lion Sleeps Tonight”:
    [audio:Solomon Lindas Original Evening Birds – Mbube (South Africa).mp3]

Insert Title

You know how I salute people sometimes? I do it because it’s as an easy, well-understood respect gesture. It’s simple and effective. I’ve been doing it for years, ever since my ill-fated job as a door-to-door salesman in Australia. Well, Australia is different from either Bulgaria or Serbia where people are rather distrustful of the military. So when I was there this September my saluting trick didn’t work so well, but I kept doing it. Out of habit.

But I have other bad habits. One of them is putting a lot of work into an interesting creative project for a month and then forgetting about it. But that’s more of a personality flaw and not the message I’m here to get across.

Similar to my habit of saluting even when I know it’s stupid, I call people sir and ma’am. Why? Because it’s formal and therefore I can subvert it. See, cause I don’t have a real job in business or customer service, or something. So it’s ironic when I say it informally… right? Unfortunately, it’s also stupid.

Which is why when I was working the door at Bad Movie Night on Sunday and used ma’am, I was informed by an annoyed and emphatic miss that it should only be used for married women. Sorry, miss, and semantic distinction acknowledged. So with the next chance I get to fix it I did — by using “sir” instead. This also happened to be rather stupid because the next person was female, which, you know, I knew. Needless to say, this didn’t go over well either. Neither, I think, did my haphazard explanation of the problematic semantics behind “miss” and “ma’am.” Although happy to correct the error, I think next time I need to focus more on the apologizing and less on the confusing grammar. If the lady in question ever finds herself reading this, here it is more eloquently: I’m sorry to have klutzed my way into gender confusion; I can see how I might present myself like a clueless schmuck, and maybe I am, but either way I hope it won’t upset you in future. Sorry for the megillah and also for the Yiddish.

I could just change my habit to avoid gender-based titles entirely, and that’s what I’m considering. Seems perfectly sensible, all things considered. I just need something more fun than “the party of the second part.”

Getting Married

Hear ye hear ye,

let it be know that Robert John La Londe-Berg is officially changing his name to Orin Robertjohn Zebest, that he is getting married to Lynae Ariadne Zebest, and that it’s happening tomorrow. It’s an ocassion which requires marking and here it is marked. Many readers will be coming, many will not, yet it’s worth thanking each and every one of you. Thanks, and wish me best for the future. It’s been a long time coming.

Concerning Removal of YouTube Parody Videos

Background: I sent this letter to Constantin Films, creators of the film “Downfall” (a.k.a. “Der Untergang”) after a string of DMCA takedowns on April 20th, 2010, directed at many popular “Hitler Finds Out…” parodies. The videos were written about in the New York Times and even the director has said that he likes the videos. It’s unclear what made them act now when there are literally thousands of parodies and the meme is firmly established in Internet culture.

I wish to address your company regarding its recent DMCA takedown notices of “Downfall” parody videos on YouTube.

First of all, I want to say that there is a paper-thin legal justification for these acts and you should be ashamed for censoring free expression. These videos clearly come under U.S. copyright’s Fair Use provisions. It does not matter if the original film was made in Germany, or that the content used does indeed belong to you, the fact that they parody the original film means they are 100% protected in the United States. You filed takedowns through the American DMCA system and you’ve abused that system.

Second of all, this is an impossibly bad business decision. The great majority of these videos show the same exact clip of the film, and in no way discourage people from seeing the rest of the film. Quite the opposite — it should be obvious to any marketer that these videos were a vast resource of free advertising that strongly contributed to the interest in the film. Destroying that advertising, and angering legions of people at the same time, is preposterously stupid.

Lastly, and perhaps most important, there are unfortunate symbolic consequences. I must assume — since legal and business motivations are unlikely — that your lamentable decision was based on personal sensibilities. Certainly I might understand how a German company could be sensitive about clips making light of Hitler. However, not everyone shares your apparent feeling that portrayals of Hitler should be sacrosanct in seriousness. There are many who feel that videos like the ones you’ve had removed rob Hitler of some lingering symbolic power, and, further, that returning that power is most certainly an awful idea. I think you would agree that April 20th, Hitler’s birthday, was a very regrettable day for many of these takedowns to occur.

I have referred many YouTube parody posters to a video by EFF chairman Brad Templeton, and informed them that they can rightfully dispute such DMCA requests. I will be asking others not to buy or rent any films made or distributed by your company. I will also likely encourage or help people download “Der Untergang” for free if they ever wish to see it.

I urge you to reconsider your recent actions and, further, to make amends to these legitimate creators. If I were you, I would apologize privately after retracting all claims against parodies. A press release would be more expedient, but would attract more attention than I’m sure you want. Regardless of how you choose to act, please understand this — people are upset with your actions, and their concerns should be addressed.

Thank you for your time and attention,

-Me.

The Game of Noticin.gs

Noticin.gs in 30 seconds:

Take photos of interesting things (things, not people) you see in public places. Publish and geo-tag the best ones on your Flickr account the same day. Tag them with ‘noticings.’ Score points for going to new neighborhoods, shooting persistently, or finding certain kinds of interesting.

I knew there was a reason I subscribed to Photojojo. They tipped me off 5 days ago. It really has brought out the documentarian in me, and I’ve been going on photo walks around my neighborhood every day since.

As you may know, I’m generally not good at sharing my beloved pictures in a timely manner… no matter how beloved they are. Anything that can be used to get leverage on myself is generally good. By that standard, I’d say noticin.gs has absolutely done it’s duty. Of course… we’ll see how long it lasts.

Heart You

How to Save the Content Industry

The secret, and it’s a big secret: stop acting like belligerent, entitled, megalomaniac dinosaurs, accept the reality and the benefits of file-sharing, and be a force for good in the culture.  I dunno. Seems reasonable.

ACTA is falling apart, says Zeropaid. Oink got off. The latest strategy of co-operating with ISPs seems doomed to failure just as much as every other stupid thing they’ve tried. Their overzealous plans to make content hosts –well, anyone screen for copyrighted content are, if not impossible, just going to push people toward other options. Sure, Freenet sucks but it’s a decent idea. TOR is a hell of a thing.  nd those are just the rough drafts available if things get worse for sharers.  If there were a better motivation for the masses to adopt ubiquitous encryption, I can’t think of one. And I know how much governments around the world would like that.

Even if these blind and ignorant dinosaurs-on-steroids-on-acid did somehow get the thousands (millions?) of ISPs in every country on Earth on board, every new and harsher step just seems to alienate more people and convince them of a deeper evilness. It seems that they have a dual problem: 1) how to overcome human nature, and the wholesome desire to spread beauty, truth and joy 2) resentment for the scorched-earth/hardball strategies used trying to do so. The answer, of course, is just give up because that’s a ridiculously awful problem. The business model was broken and they never accepted it. It’s impossible — I.M.P.O.S.S.I.B.L.E. — to control things like they used to.

Here’s an idea: play nice. Don’t use your established position to crush new competitors and stifle ideas. There’s room for everybody, especially if new people are making new room. How about you encourage people to buy things by being a force for good, by respecting the customer, by putting out quality content? Why go through such elaborate steps to market crap just because you can have more control? Your modus operandi as a for-profit company is to make money, not maintain control. Accept that personal politics in the future will have a good deal to do with one’s opinions on the corporations and production methods one is supporting — thus the expression, vote with your dollars. Example: green movement, Food Inc, cc authors like Doctorow. Can you imagine what immense goodwill there is for the first big content provider to say the following:

We will never sue our fans. We still want their money and for good reason — that’s what we do. Outside of our promotions, we won’t help share content for free because that’s the fan’s job. We know that it is, on the whole, good for society. We are morally, financially, and legally against anything that tries to buttress an outdated system at the cost of our own culture. We need that culture healthy so we can continue to survive. And this will make it better.”


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