March 14th, 2009


So Where's This "Change I Can Believe In?"

Barack Obama's Hope bandwagon has been running on fumes for a while now.  Increased taxes.  Bailouts to the underserving.  The endless stream of bullshit that flows out of Washington upgraded to a river.

And now, this....

An anti-counterfieting treaty is being negotiated by several world players, including the US.  Civil libertarians are concerned the bill will be used to hammer people suspected of using P2P networks.  Will it?  We don't know.  In September, the Bush Administration took the drafts of ACTA, the Anti-Counterfieting Trade Agreement, behind closed doors and locked them, not telling anyone what exactly is in the treaty, what is a criminal act, and so on.  The only clues are that Bush and a unanimous Senate voted for the creation of an Intellectual Property czar just before the elections (part of the reason I hated McCain) that gave us new Hollywood overlords, and two senators -- Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Arlen Specter (R-Penn.)--known for their support of strict intellectual property laws, expressed concern that the ACTA could be too far-reaching.  Don't you just hate it when you have no idea what you're doing is illegal until the cops show up at your door?

On January 31, Jamie Love, director of the non-profit group Knowledge Economy International, filed a Freedom Of Information Act request with the White House to have access to the documents.  The drafts "are being widely circulated to corporate lobbyists in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. There is no reason for them to be secret from the American public."  Indeed, the list of US lobbyists is impressive, from Eli Lily to Johnson And Johnson to Dow to Pfizer to Honeywell to Abbot Labs to eBay to Oracle to Intuit to IBM to all kinds of companies with big ties to government and lots of patents to inflict -- I mean, enforce.  Check out the complete list at .  Obama's response to the FOI filing was to promptly issue an order saying the drafts and discussions are "classified in the interest of national security pursuant to Executive Order 12958."  Nice to see he's not doing like Bush did and overextending Executive Privilege.  For those not up on their federal law, Executive Order 12958 was signed in 1995 and states that material can be classified only if disclosure would do "damage to the national security and the original classification authority is able to identify or describe the damage."

One of the first things Obama did after he was elected was issue a memo on FOIA, saying FOIA "should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure."  So, all you Obama-maniacs, where's your God now?

We might yet find out what exactly is in those drafts, courtesy of the European Union.  They recently voted to make all documents regarding the negotiations of ACTA publicly available.  "The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will contain a new international benchmark for legal frameworks on what is termed intellectual property right enforcement.  The content as known to the public is clearly legislative in character.  Further, the Council confirms that ACTA includes civil enforcement and criminal law measures.  Since there can not be secret objectives regarding legislation in a democracy, the principals established in the ECJ Turco case must be upheld."

Hopefully, someone is planning to challenge the Executive Order.  The EU, so far, has resisted software patents, has held M$ accountable for abusing its monopoly, and now, is actually demonstrating that they know what democracy is.  From a land ruled by tyrants and kings.  And the greatest democracy in the world refuses to get it.

Thanks, Obama, for furthering the conspiracy of business interests against the citizens.

Where Legends Come To Life

People from times of legend -- do they actually exist, or are they just folklore?  Paul Bunyon, for example, is folklore.  Historical records were pretty well established and disprove his existence.  The stories of the Mormon church about life in the New World are also soundly trounced.  Go back further, though, and things get murky.  Did Jesus really exist?  There are all kinds of books and DVD's that will tell you no, he's just a legend created by the Church.  And this permeates many historical figures.  Among them, Robin Hood.

There has been a lot of debate about whether or not Robin Hood really existed.  There is also a school of thought that Robin was actually a practicing witch and what he was doing wasn't robbing the rich and giving to the poor, but a religious revolution (the meeting place of the Merry Men was under an oak tree, the traditional meeting place of a coven, there were 13 Merry Men, the number of a coven, ceremonies required a defrocked priest (presumably Friar Tuck) and a virgin (Maid Marian)...I'm not saying this is true or not, just mentioning one of the theories).  And there is some reference that he was a bounty hunter for the King.

Well, something has turned up, and it seems to confirm not only that ol' Rob was a real person and the closest thing the English had to a ninja, but that the stories of his altruism and revolution may be spot on.

Julian Luxford is an art history lecturer at Scotland's University Of St. Andrews.  Like all us bookworms, he was in the library, just looking up stuff, reading, and acquiring knowledge.  He was doing this, however, at Eton College, which was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI.  He was reading the Polychronicon, a history book that dates back to the 1340's.  This one was from around 1460.  Scribbled into the margins was a 23 word message in Latin from a monk.  Translated into English, it reads as follows:

"Around this time, according to popular opinion, a certain outlaw named Robin Hood, with his accomplices, infested Sherwood and other law-abiding areas of England with continuous robberies."

Luxford plans to publish this, along with other extrapolations about the note, in the Journal Of Medieval History.  So, we have probably the best indicator yet that Robin Hood really existed.

No, I don't think they'll find proof that he was a fox.


Foxed McCloudbook

Ah, I have a decision to make here, apparently.

It was a little over a year ago that I heard about a special netbook coming out.  Asus had scored a hit with its eeePC line-up of subnotebook computers.  I wanted one so bad, but they ran Xandros, a Linux from a company that signed a patent swap deal with M$.  I refused to give any money to M$ if I could avoid it, so I just looked in complete jealousy.

Then, Everex announced that they were going to come out with one of their own.  Based on the Stepnote available overseas, the Cloudbook would come with gOS, or "Google-ish Linux".  gOS was based on Ubuntu.  It would be available through Walmart.  I hate Walmart with a passion, but 1) it was a chance to show a retailer there was consumer interest in Linux and 2) it wouldn't be running one of the "dark" Linuxes (the others are SuSE, the first Linux I ever used, Linspire, which is now owned by Xandros, and Turbo Linux.  Guilt by association goes to Mandriva, which signed a co-development deal with Turbo, so I'm nervous about what they are exposed to).  So I bit the bullet, ordered online, and a short time later, came out of Walmart with my brand new Cloudbook.

Those were fun times, he said wistfully.  You can say that again.  But like all dry spells and peach pits, this too shall pass.  (Bonus points to anyone who gets the reference.  Especially YOU, Mornblade.)

The Cloudbook, at the time named Kylie (I name my computers to keep them straight in my head.  This one was Kylie because it was small, cute, talented, and sexy), was never intended to be a serious machine for me, just an on-the-go joy toy.  Surf the 'net, watch some videos, jot notes, play some games, things like that.  Nothing serious.  At first, I couldn't say anything wrong about the Cloudbook, but as time went on, I ran head first into its limitations and quirks.  In a way, the Cloudbook was like that woman you take home when you're drunk -- the next morning, you're wondering what the hell you'd done.

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