Posts filed under ‘Politics’

Patriotism

I believe …

  • That the person who refuses to allow police to enter his home without a warrant is protecting our freedoms;
  • That violating the Constitution in the name of protecting it is utter nonsense;
  • That it is not only our right, but our duty, to encrypt our electronic communications;
  • That complacently declining to defend our individual rights and declining to protest the encroachment upon them must eventually lead to their loss.

 

Sunday, 2013-October-20 at 19:41

On SOPA, PIPA, and Copyright Maximalism: How We Must Respond

Joel Spolsky – Google+ – Two things about SOPA/PIPA and then I’ll shut up 🙂 (1) …

(1) The internet seems to ignore legislation until somebody tries to take something away from us… then we carefully defend that one thing and never counter-attack. Then the other side says, “OK, compromise,” and gets half of what they want. That’s not the way to win… that’s the way to see a steady and continuous erosion of rights online.

The solution is to start lobbying for our own laws. It’s time to go on the offensive if we want to preserve what we’ve got. Let’s force the RIAA and MPAA to use up all their political clout just protecting what they have. Here are some ideas we should be pushing for:

  • Elimination of software patents
  • Legal fees paid by the loser in patent cases; non-practicing entities must post bond before they can file fishing expedition lawsuits
  • Roll back length of copyright protection to the minimum necessary “to promote the useful arts.” Maybe 10 years?
  • Create a legal doctrine that merely linking is protected free speech
  • And ponies. We want ponies. We don’t have to get all this stuff. We merely have to tie them up fighting it, and re-center the “compromise” position.

Mr Spolsky is expressing thoughts that all of us should be thinking. In fact, I’ve partially expressed some related concepts before. Only, now that they’ve been expressed, we need to discuss them, modify them as needed, and then implement them. I encourage you to go to his post on GPlus and read the whole thing.

Sunday, 2012-January-22 at 20:18 3 comments

Thinking About Independence Day

2011-07-04

I am in mid-America right on Independence Day. Some Californians would think negatively about this. I find that Kansas and its nearby states are full of people who are much like the people in LoCal (both areas lack the arrogant self-righteousness that is often found in “coasties” and especially in NorCal residents). In either place, people are not aware of the extent to which corporations have gained control over our lives and our political processes. Further, they lack awareness of just how important copyrights, patents, and proprietary software are to the corporate puppetmasters who are rapidly enslaving us.

Let me make it clear. The new corporate slave-masters are not concerned about your sex (“plumbing”) or gender (how you perceive yourself), or ancestry or ethnic background, except to the extent that they can use that to deprive you of legal leverage. Thanks to a recent court ruling, these things matter even less. Boilerplate language that deprives you of the ability to use the legal system again powerful corporations is now inviolable.

In this time, it is even more important to help awaken US-ians to the need to sacrifice if necessary, but by all means start to deprive the copyright cartels, mobile telephone network operators, cable television operators, broadcasters, and large proprietary software companies of financial resources. I intend to become more active here and elsewhere with long-form writings to inform, persuade, and propel people to use freedom-respecting / freedom-preserving software (open source / free software) to produce their own original, remixable media.

Finally, let us no longer be captivated by the conjoined twin political parties (Republican & Democratic parties). Neither one is for you and I instead of for-profit & non-profit organizations. Neither one is on our side.

Monday, 2011-July-04 at 19:59

Net Neutrality Letter

This was my submission to the FCC regarding Net Neutrality. I found it again today and thought it might merit circulation. Even though it is too late to submit similar comments to the FCC, there are two senators and a representative who still need to see this.

In the beginning, entrepreneurs put banks of modems in their garages and started Internet service providers offering dial-up service. And it was good. And lo, the telephone industry offered dial up. And their competitors offered better service at lower prices, and everyone’s phone payment paid the costs of building the infrastructure.

Then came dark days, for someone in the FCC decided to allow the telephone and cable television industries to offer high-speed access, but they needn’t allow competing ISPs to sell high-speed access through those lines. And the cable companies raised their prices and offered inferior service. They interfered with their customers’ use of phone- and video-over-Internet services in order to promote their own, higher-priced offerings. They placed arbitrary limits on bandwidth use for supposedly “unlimited” access. The phone companies, meanwhile, continued to offer only a relatively slow-speed version of Internet access. And the FCC and Congress hemmed and hawed and did little to nothing about the injustices they saw.

And lo, a new ruler arose, and with him, the FCC began to discuss whether it should mandate “net neutrality” to prevent the abuses they had observed, and worse besides. And the telephone and cable television industries gave money to Congress and gained an inside track. And there arose a movement that sought to get the FCC and Congress to protect the interests of citizens.

And this is where we stand today. I ask you to impose net neutrality because the FCC erred in allowing wireline owners to offer access and service-consuming services to the public themselves. It should have been an arm’s length transaction with similar terms available to multiple qualified ISPs (and no throttling or interference by the cable or telephone company owning the “pipes” at all). Because of this mistake, there is no free market for many consumers.

In many areas, there is the cable company and there are a few surviving dial-up competitors. In other areas, there is a duopoly, where the cable company offers faster speeds at higher prices, and the telephone company offers moderate speeds at medium prices. When the only game in town decides to interfere with the Internet services you use (possibly to make your living), you are screwed.

I ask you, members of the Federal Communications Commission, to recognize that the Internet is not the property of any company. It is not something of no consequence that can be restricted or limited for company purposes without fundamentally harming the American economy and those of us who pay those companies for our access. I ask you to represent the interests of “We the people”, the ones you work for, and not solely the interests of a few large corporations.

And I remind you that I am a registered voter and will withhold my vote from candidates for federal office who do not support the American people through Net Neutrality.

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Thursday, 2010-March-18 at 17:31

Can We Stop Calling People Racist Now?

Much has been made of the “tea party” protests against President Obama’s health care plan. Apparently, a columnist for the NY Times even wrote that the whole thing is motivated by racism. (I’m a Californian, so the only Times that really matters to me is based in Los Angeles.)

Please. Let me tell you something about racism. Racism is intentional. There are plenty of misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and pure lack of sense that get called racism, not to mention political disagreements, as is the case here. But those are not racism. Racism isn’t just prejudices and practices that you’ve absorbed without thinking about it (such as minorities=poor, urban drug users). Racism isn’t opposing higher taxes or a federal health care plan. Racism is your intentional decision to hold such views and to act on them. Racism is clutching your purse tighter when you see a Black man walking down the street. Racism is when the officer lets two carloads of potential drug users go because a dark-skinned person drives past.

Look. There are some people who have not gotten over the fact that we have a Black president. We know that is true. There are others who question his religious beliefs (as though a Muslim would make a bad person to sit in the White House when we have so many intolerant anti-religious bigots in government already). Those people are out there, and we know it. If they’d rather have Vladimir Putin in the office, chances are, they are motivated only by skin color.

However, misusing the term racist to cover everyone who disagrees with the President is ultimately damaging to the country, to race relations here and abroad, and to our efforts to hinder the recruitment efforts of the kind of groups that go into hiding in the woods in Idaho. There are plenty of real racists out there. Don’t waste the term by painting all your political opponents with it.

Racism is repulsive and un-American. Speaking up when you feel the government is making major decisions that will harm you, your children, and the rest of the nation isn’t racism, it is common sense. It doesn’t mean that I agree with the protesters. In fact, my problem with President Obama’s health care plan is twofold:

  1. It forces everyone to pay into the hands of the same idiots that nearly collapsed our economy in the first place, the financial industries (in this case, mostly the insurance industry). I ask you, is this who you want to be in charge of most people’s health care, especially after sixteen years of failure?

    Clearly, some kind of so-called public option should be the only option for some level of “basic care”, with private companies allowed to offer policies that cover things above that.

  2. It is pretty clear, for people who read the Constitution, that our government is frankly not allowed to do this. The states, however, are. If the federal government approves it, all US states, territories, commonwealths, and possessions could form a kind of joint operating agreement. However, the federal government cannot and should not run the show. Again, look to the financial crisis for guidance: the practices that led to the collapse were so obviously dangerous that many states had tried to rein the financial industries in, but the corrupt federal government intervened on the behalf of financial industry after financial industry. Are you willing to let this happen with your health care?

Still, agree or disagree, any intelligent person knows that there are plenty of non-racist reasons why people might oppose the President’s agenda. We have enough real racists to deal with, if that’s what you want to do. Stop calling people racist just because they disagree with the President.

If you want to help rid our nation of racism (I surely do), here’s what I suggest: make friends, and I mean close friends, with people of different ethnic backgrounds from you. Get to know people who work in different industries, who hold different religious beliefs, who support different political views than you do, and work to build those relationships despite your differences. But if you are not willing to to do this, shut your mouth and get out of the way of those of us who want to repair our damaged nation.

This rant is the opinion of Walt Hucks, who is solely responsible for its content. Permission is granted to republish verbatim in any medium.

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Tuesday, 2009-September-15 at 05:12 1 comment

Texas Trying Again

Texas is once again considering legislation that would select open standard data formats (and software that could use them) for state-produced documents.

Fort Worth legislator pushes for open format in state documents | Fort Worth | Star-Telegram.com

Michael Coté, an Austin-based technology analyst specializing in open-source software, said tying government documents to a proprietary vendor creates the risk that those files may be unreadable in the future as software evolves and companies go out of business. Open-source formats such as OpenDocument are “vendor-neutral,” meaning they work with multiple programs and can more likely be accessed in the future, Coté said.

“If the Constitution was in WordPerfect 5.1 format, it would probably be difficult to read right now,” Coté said, referring to an obsolete but once widely used word processing format.

Veasey filed a similar bill in 2007. It got national attention from technology journalists and bloggers but went nowhere largely because of aggressive lobbying by Microsoft, he said.

At a hearing on the bill then, Microsoft national technology officer Stuart McKee described it as anti-competitive and warned that it could be the equivalent of the state “picking Betamax when everyone else goes with VHS.”

Passage is far from assured, of course. Many people freak out at the thought that they might lose the ability to use the leading proprietary office suite. On top of that, the leading proprietary vendor has an accomplished lobbying team that seeks to crush any move that could threaten their dominance. I also think that talking about it in terms of licensing costs is the wrong issue. The state will want to buy StarOffice or WordPerfect for the support, rather than just downloading OpenOffice. So licensing costs may go down,

Personally, I think the bill’s opponents are missing the point. A Microsoft that was totally committed to open standard data formats / file formats (not "open source" file formats) and network protocols would indeed face more competition. They might find it difficult to maintain some of their pricing and lose some market share. But this would not only benefit consumers and the states, it would make Microsoft a leaner, stronger, more nimble competitor. For me, at least, supporting such bills is not about trying to hurt Microsoft, because my ideal world has MSFT being one of a group of leading competitors. Ideally, my work environment would have two or three different vendors' applications, so that when a user got too frustrated with one product, we could just switch him/her to a different one.

I realize that a level playing field is scary to Redmondites. But this fear will be replaced by the same kind of thrill that athletes feel in the midst of a game. If I were Mr. Ballmer, I would come to Texas and say, “We’re planning to support ODF anyway. Go ahead and pass this. We think we can make our products good enough that you will choose us most of the time anyway.” Unless, of course, he really doesn’t believe his company' products are that good.

To track the bill, check the Texas Legislature site. Thanks to Rick Jeliffe for the link to the story.

IceRocket:

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Saturday, 2009-March-28 at 15:49

Tracking The Tab

The New York Times has been keeping track of how much the bailouts cost. The interactive graphic should be in our bookmarks.

Sunday, 2009-March-22 at 12:12

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