Category: Rights

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‘Live 8’ or Death

Two Saturdays ago, the family hauled off to Tysons Corner Center, so that my wife could shop at the New Balance store and my daughter at the Sketchers there. On a giant flat-panel monitor at the back of the Sketchers played Live 8, particularly Richard Ashcroft’s performance, with Coldplay, of The Verve staple “Bittersweet Symphony”.

The performance stuck with me, as did vague memories of Live 8, which I mostly missed. I certainly shouldn’t have overlooked the concert as much as I did. During summer 2005, I struggled through some logistical problems at work, which greatly distracted from many things that should have been greater priority. Events like Live 8 come `round maybe once in 20 years, if Live AID is any indication. 

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I Don't See the Justification

Yesterday’s SouthCoastToday.com story about a student’s investigation by the Department of Homeland Security is breath stopping. Apparently, the “senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung’s tome on Communism called The Little Red Book“. I have to admit that Mao’s communist manifesto wouldn’t be on my reading list, but like this kid I probably would want it for research on a college paper about communism.

Cold War is over, right? The war on terror is against Muslim extremists. Right? Last I checked, Muslim extremism doesn’t have much in common with atheistic communism. So why is a kid filling out a university library book request on communism, “leaving his name, address, phone number, and Social Security number” getting “visited at his parents’ home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security?” And I have to ask: The Feds are monitoring library book requests now? 

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Copyright, Copy Wrong

I don’t see how the Bush Administration’s proposal to stiffen copyright laws synchs with the intentions of the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Last decade’s Copyright revisions were bad enough and prostitute the whole-purpose concept of public domain. My concern is bigger than copyright expiration. These laws designed to protect intellectual property, particularly with the Internet and digital distribution as justification for revision, increasingly are threats to free speech.

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The Web Miracle

The World Wide Web turns 15 this month, a milestone that simply shouldn’t go unobserved. Researcher Tim Berners-Lee created the first Web browser and server in November 1990, with little fanfare and based on acccepted standards.

The first Website wouldn’t come until August 1991. A 1999 Time magazine profile of Tim offers a great for-the-masses explanation of his work developing the Web and championing for the openness that made the network extensible and successful.

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No Direction Forward

I recorded the PBS special on Bob Dylan, “No Direction Home” and finished the first part last night. The film left me with a sense of loss about the state of American culture.

Dylan started making music at a time of counterculture poetry and song, the Greenwich Village crowd, that still had some lifeblood even through the early 1980s. My question: Where is the interest in arts for arts sake today? I recognize this isn’t exactly a new problem. The term counterculture is explanation enough for a longstanding problem. 

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The Wrong Lesson

My wife is prepping my daughter for home school. She was surprised that my daughter couldn’t identify one U.S. state. “We were supposed to learn last year in social studies,” my daughter said. Apparently, the teacher couldn’t get to it. While I am largely satisfied with what the public school teachers taught my daughter, the incident reminded me of something that happened late in the school year.

One Friday, my daughter asked about Napster. She knows that I have gotten songs from Napster and wanted to know about stealing music. Problem: Her confusion over the original Napster filing-sharing site and Napster 2.0, which sells music or offers it on subscription basis. Her fifth grade teacher was source of the confusion. 

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Let’s Eat at the Audio Lunchbox

I discovered a cool, new music site today. I was looking around MusicMatch, which had profiled The Distillers album “Coral Fang.” I listened to the songs first on MusicMatch MX radio; some rad punk. So I checked out the band’s homepage where there was a post about The Distillers going digital, with songs for sale over at Audio Lunchbox.

Audo Lunchbox is a legal download site hawking indie music. Lots of it, and stuff you’d buy from Apple’s iTunes Music Store (that means rights protection) or one of those Windows Media Audio outfits like MusicMatch (that also means rights protection). The problem with the rights-protected (a.k.a. digital rights management) stuff isn’t the restriction on playback (three PC cap for most music) but the compatibility. Apple’s music format and WMA aren’t compatible. The songs usually won’t play in the same media player or portable music player. 

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Voter Profiling

I guess privacy doesn’t mean much during an election year. According to a Reuters story by Andy Sullivan, politicians are “drawing detailed profiles” of voters. Mr. Sullivan quotes Grassroots Solutions founder Robert Richman as saying, “It’s pretty scary, the stuff you can get on people”.

It’s funny how politicians often talk big about protecting people’s privacy (except maybe with regard to Homeland security). But in the crunch, some won’t hesitate to mine data the same as businesses.