July 27, 2003

I took my midterm exam for Expository Prose last night. It was an interesting exam, but I'm not sure how well I did. The test was basically a thesis paper using two writings we were asked to be familiar with before the exam. One of the writings we were asked to use was "The Internet: A Clear and Present Danger" by Cathleen A. Cleaver. Apparently, there are a lot of links to this famous speech on the Internet, but at the moment I can't find one that links to the entire driveling text. Reading this piece of supposedly professional writing had my neck hairs so raised that I found it difficult to focus on the writing at hand. My head was clouded with hate as I attempted to control my thoughts and restrict them to the task at hand. I'm fairly certain that while writing about her text that I did not stay on subject, and I may have suffered a grade or two for it.
What incensed me so much about the prattling Cleaver's commentary was how it shifted back and forth between commentary on pornography and child pornography. Even after reading the text a few times, it was difficult to establish when she was speaking about which. It was slightly apparent that she almost equated the two during her writing of the commentary, and that infuriated me to no end. Her essay even brings up that all-too-familiar comment of "With a few clicks of the mouse, anyone, any child, canget graphic and often violent sexual images--the kind of stuff it used to be difficult to find without exceptional effort and some significant personal risk." Doesn't Cathleen realize that The Internet is just another bad neighborhood? When you bring many societies together, it is going to culminate in a community that has a very diverse set of decency standards, and you're going to need to learn to deal with that.
The Internet is not the demon here, any more than outlawing guns will stop people from killing each other. The Internet is merely an effective tool for its purposes. Its purposes are indeed broad, and include both legal and illegal activity. Dealing with it will be just as effective as dealing with it without the automated tools made available by the Internet itself. There is no added requirement for additional legislation, more government and more red tape, just to deal with problems that have been around for centuries. Bestiality wasn't invented in 1960 by some geek with the first ARPA node. Rape certainly has been around on this earth longer than known written history. Just because we like to pretend that the society we live in is moral, religious, or upstanding in some way, does not give us the right to take away the rights of others for their own protection.
If I want to protect my children from bad neighborhoods, I do not allow them to play there, at least not alone. When personal responsibility is "illogical and ineffective" (her words!), there is something wrong with the parents. It is certainly NOT the responsibility of government to restrict the rights of many just to protect the few who have misunderstood the Internet to be a safe place to let your children peruse for hours at a time without supervision.
Sorry, I know I'm ranting. I've much more to say, but I have other things to do. I hope that all of this anger didn't show through on my midterm. If it did, I hope I was more structured and applied it to the question at hand properly....sigh.

July 23, 2003

The RIAA has announced today plans to begin suing libraries for possession of copy machines. Spokesman William Melater was heard to say "All those libraries out there with books of music in them. We own the copyrights for most of the sheet music in their pop sections. Why, anyone can come in there and copy the sheet music and reproduce our works without a care in the world as to how many laws they're breaking!". With the copy machine device, anyone entering the library free of charge can copy popular sheet music without paying the authors a cent. Asked why they didn't think of this sooner, Mr. Melater said, "Well, we just got these new lawyers, see, and they figured that the local governments might have deeper pockets than some of those Universities we're going after...."

Note to reader: This is a spoof, and, yeah - it IS kind of hard to tell the difference between reality and stupidity these days, isn't it?

July 21, 2003

Started working on the van today. She's leaking and/or burning oil. I bought it second hand - what a waste that was. Should have used it as a down-payment for a new car. We bought a new Camry anyway - so I'm driving my 3-year old Neon to/from work. The van will become a project vehicle for me. Step one will be finding out where that oil leak is and fixing it. Then I may start to work on the engine - see if I can make her stop burning oil. (of course, I may end up totally destroying the engine in the process ;)

Back to today - I got under her and started cleaning up the gunk from the current leak(s), to be able to find the source. Once I get it all de-gunked, I'll drive her around for a while to see what I can find. It was a good respite from doing my homework, anyway. I needed the break.

July 19, 2003

I've just read an article on the Internet (found here) regarding how DirecTV has thrown out a large dragnet to catch satellite pirates. Unfortunately, their legal dragnet is catching innocent victims as well. There is one thing that I did not understand in the article. Rod Sosa, an entrepreneur from Texas was one of the innocent people that DirecTV managed to convince to settle out of court for $3,500, merely for owning a piece of equipment that could be used to pirate their signal. In the article, it mentions that Rod had no such intentions, and had not, in fact, stolen any of DirecTV's programming. Yet, he willingly paid their blackmail? In this country, there is a legal system. That legal system is supposed to be designed to protect us from prosecution for crimes of which we are innocent. Granted that it does not always work. However, given that the evidence of proof of theft of service is on the accuser in this instance, what did Rod have to lose except some time off from work? Even at $300/day (a good six-digit salary), Rod could apparently afford to spend as much as 11 full days in court arguing his case. Why do people buckle so easily under the threat of legal action when they are innocent? What ever happened to standing up for what is right? It is very difficult for me to understand why someone would allow themselves to be pushed around and bullied by big business just because they wield some mysterious power called a 'lawsuit'. It's time we stood up for our rights as citizens and stopped being scared little mice. If we continue to allow big business to push us around, they won't stop doing it. 'nuf said....just had to get that off my chest.

July 11, 2003

Got involved in yet another addiction: This time it's a Virtual Reality World (currently in BETA) called There. If you're interested, visit at www.there.com. You can sign up for the BETA or send me an email and I'll send you a referral (so you get bumped ahead in the list). In the beta, you get 10,000 Therebucks to spend. It's based on XML and a nice VR engine. You can buy stuff, ride a hoverboard/hovercraft/dune buggy, etc.... It's been a very sociable experience, and I think it'll be nice for people who like The Sims, but are looking for more freedom in what they can 'do'. It's a cross between Sims and a MUD (if you know what that is...). Well, anyway, see you There!

July 01, 2003

Well, Blogger.Com has redesigned their blogging tool. Something else to get used to....but, hey, can't complain - I use their free service. I've been looking through my logs. Recently, I've seen a few hits from people looking for CLEP brain dumps. What's up with that? Have these people never heard of the LIBRARY? Try learning the subject you want to CLEP, and then visit a library for one of the many CLEP study guides that have been published for years. For the most part, these study guides are the same as the tests, just with different specifics in the questions. If you learn the material, you'll do fine. Brain dumps for CLEPs?

We've successfully moved our network, phones, users and office to Vienna, VA. It's been a harrowing few weeks, but we have a few loose ends to tie up and we'll be all done. Tomorrow I hope to tie up most of that stuff. Classes are done - but then started right back up again with Music Appreciation (should fit in great with my piano lessons, no?) and Expository Prose (that's one reason I started the blog anyway, right? To practice writing more?) I have this fear of writing. It's very difficult to get started. Once I do, though, thoughts roll out of my head faster than I can type them.

I've read the new Harry Potter book. One thing that made "The Order of the Phoenix" an interesting read was knowing that someone was going to die in the book. Every time that something started happening to one of the characters, you were saying to yourself, "Is this the one? Did they die?" It added that external expectation into the whole mystery of the book. It took me a few days to gulp down all 870 pages, due to work and all, but I've finished it for a few days now, and I'm ready for the next two already. Kudos to J.K. Rowling. I bought some Bertie Botts Beans and got two chaps I know to try the dirt flavored ones. You'd be surprised how UN-brave grown-ups can be. My son and I ate every flavor in the box between the two of us last summer. It was a fun experiment....gross, but fun....like fart humour! Some of them are positively disgusting, but hell, you just swallow those quicker...