Time to Start Writing Again

I am unemployed. I am getting in shape – running and working out everyday for months now. I am learning Ruby on Rails. I am actually building Public Patron. I am volunteering for Chuy for Mayor of Chicago when I can. I am freezing in my basement office. My daughter is learning jiu-jitsu. My dad has kidney cancer and I am visiting him nightly to help with his catheter, medicine, and feet. I am going to NOLA in April for a friend’s wedding.

Overall, I feel pretty good.

A Message from Willis Earl Beal

Followers. One immense sheep herd. Dancing, twirling, going ape-shit for the unknown dream. I can see it so clearly now. We are fooling ourselves. Necessity, simple need, has led me to this conclusion. No single collection of songs or literature can encompass or transcend it. Once again, it seems that there is an opportunity to “Do something”…but what can be done? What can be done when every aspect of modern existence is monetarily owned? When power-crazed, megalomaniacal, business men infect minds with their subliminal marketing and turn common men into thieves or vagabonds or unwitting slaves?

Drink it up. Smoke it up. Fuck it. Suck it. Tear your fellow comrades down. Listen to the steady thump of the dead beat. It is the sound of your own heart. The parade is unyielding as we march enthusiastically into oblivion. We, as the common people cannot protect ourselves against oncoming wilderness. For we have been rendered helpless by instantaneous gratification. Our politics, religion, music, art, communication & necessary skills have been pre-selected. We must stay in-between the lines that have been painted by the state, by the taste makers, by the media etc. We must go through the proper channels to convey messages, to get a companion, to be accepted. Even I, who took a detour, have ended up here, on some kind of main road. If not, we are excised, cut off, turned into mad men. Even modern anarchy has become a stale joke. Love is for sale.

– from The Book of Nobody

What’s Wrong with the NSA (from 1975)

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

– Senator Frank Church on NBC’s “Meet the Press” (August 17, 1975)

TPM:AFK

Just watched the documentary on The Pirate Bay, and it seemed amazingly honest. Different people doing it for different reasons, and the ability to get something going on the web does not translate to the ability to build an organization outside of the network. They deserve the full support of those who believe in the open internet, and they should inspire all of us in this area.

All media should be freely available to everyone, now that the distribution cost is so low (even for long-form HD video thanks to bit-torrent). Copyright should be refined to its intended purpose, to encourage creation. Copyright is an extremely delicate subject because everything new is just a remix of previous ideas, yet limited copyright does encourage risk-taking. I see the former argument as much stronger than the latter.

We need to take all of this further into the cultural dimension, along the lines of what is hinted at in the documentary. A certain understanding of the world as transmitted in most movies and television, is the voice of a very limited group of people and it dominates our culture. This was the result of the limited previously available distribution methods, and the business model that grew up to accommodate it. The internet and related technologies mean that we can support many more voices and have a more democratized culture where all ideas have the chance to achieve culture dominance. To accommodate the new distribution, we need something better than a business model, an alternative way to support media culture.

And remind me never to use IRL ever again.

Pedestrian Verse

A new Frightened Rabbit album came out today. By chance, I was looking them up and happened upon that fact this afternoon. In a perfect world, I could go to a local “record” store and buy a beautiful booklet with a download code for the album in FLAC format. Maybe for $5. But back to reality, and I can’t buy it in FLAC anywhere on the web. An MP3 version can be had for $10 from Amazon. Pretty sure they don’t have the CD at the local big box, especially for much less than $20. Anything I can do illegally, should at least have a