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As far as the winter interests, I finished the beginning fencing class and decided I'm more into épée than saber or foil, but the intermediate class will have to wait until I have more evening time. Archery's been slow, for the same lack of evening time. I did pick up one of these but have had almost no chance to use it. The Russian is trudging along. I'm subscribed to the RSS feed of the BBC News in Russian for a little daily practice. I highly recommend subscribing to BBC news in whatever language you're learning.

Omelettes are tasty. I'm trying to work out an ovo-lacto-vegetarian low-carb diet, or at least low-refined carbs. Hard to do. Staying away from sugar is a good start. I'm not so much interested in the Atkins/weightloss angle (although I could stand to lose 10-15). Read up on 'metabolic syndrome', triglycerides, insulin, and 'diseases of civilization'. You're not supposed to be eating refined carbs. It screws up your metabolism. Rant!

I've read through Shadowrun 4th edition, but will have to wait on doing anything with it until my friends all quit their jobs and stop having kids.
Current Music: Up Above the Sea - John Vanderslice
17 January 2008 @ 06:39 pm
Blame madfishmonger for sending me to YouTube for music videos.

Current Mood: organic
04 March 2007 @ 12:54 pm
lilac_wine has a post up about downloading of her work. I think it's friends-only, so I won't include any summary or details, but regardless my comment was getting so long I decided to just post it here instead.

I'm going to disagree with a couple of her contentions, and it's not because I'm trying to lamely justify copying other peoples' work, or FITE THE SISTEM!!! I don't download books, both because I don't agree with it and because I can't imagine trying to read a novel on my laptop without going blind. It's just that this issue is obviously a big deal as the Internet grows, and I think clarity of terms helps the discussion move along productively. And I think a certain amount of rhetorical overreach by rights-holders (the RIAA and MPAA being the flagbearers for overreach) actually harms us long-term. Also, I'm going to say 'we' when I refer to rights-holders, both because I'm an aspiring author and because I want to make it clear I'm not going out of my way to defend filesharers.

Copyright violation isn't theft -- in any legal sense, at least. You can argue that it's theft by a more informal definition ('you're taking my monies'), but you'd have to show that the royalties lost from potential sales (meaning the downloaders who would have otherwise bought the content) is not offset by whatever increased sales result from whatever increased visibility results from wider distribution. I'm not going to argue either end of that. . it could be a billion dollar loss, and it could be authors are making money on the deal. I don't know, and people smarter than me have convincingly argued either side. The point is, I don't think it should be assumed, and certainly the RIAA's music calculations (every download is a maximum loss) are absurd and unhelpful.

In another non-legal sense, theft is taking something that doesn't belong to you (leading to analogies about stealing laptops). The problem here is that there are huge holes in the analogies that downloaders will exploit to ignore your argument. First, each individual laptop is very expensive to construct, both in parts and labor. Second, once it's taken, the original is gone, and the seller now no longer has the opportunity to sell that item to someone else. Clearly, neither of these facts obtain when it comes to copying copyrighted content. Each copy (either electronic or paper) is trivially cheap to construct and wouldn't represent a significant loss if it disappeared; and second, it doesn't even do that, because copying leaves the original unaffected, so it's still available for a sale or whatever else.

The law actually recognizes these facts. Copyright law does not descend from property law. Copyright is a legally-granted monopoly on the right to make and sell copies of a work. When you copy something I make, it's not illegal because you're stealing anything from me. It's illegal because the law gives me that exclusive right. Now, it can be fairly said that American capitalism is anti-monopoly (at least in theory), and therefore copyright represents a sort of odd exception in the law. It's for this reason that I don't think rights-holders should be too self-righteous about it. We've been given the gift of a monopoly in a society that is not too forgiving of monopolies, and should therefore tread a little lighter. Now, why do we have the monopoly? For reasons nicely elucidated by Thomas Macaulay in his speech to the House of Commons in 1841. Essentially, he contends, there are only two reasonable ways to remunerate authors and therefore encourage the production of their work: patronage and copyright. He argues effectively (for the time. I happen to believe patronage can work again, thanks to information networks) that patronage isn't up to the task. That leaves only copyright. In other words, copyright as a monopoly on copying is the least bad of a small number of options. It's not on par, in any sense, with laws on property and possession.

Another significant problem is that many corporations, most notably The Mouse, derive massive revenue from copyright in a manner wholly unrelated to its original intent. To that end, they have modified US (and therefore international) copyright law to such a ridiculous extent that it now has little to do with remunerating a content creator and everything to do with brand control. This huge overreach is part of the reason that there's such common disdain for copyright.

In other words, I think we as rights-holders were caught napping a bit, both by the ease of network-enabled copying and by the slow aggrandizement of corporate influence on content creation, and in response we're swinging sledgehammers around trying to make it go away, both to our detriment and the detriment of our audience. I believe arguments more in tune with what copyright actually is -- not what Disney or some of us want it to be -- and why it exists will be more convincing and more effective in the long run. Or, as lilac_wine says: "The RIAA needs to stop being so adversarial and start working on education".

For a better version of these thoughts, and from an author who is not aspiring, but published, you can read Eric Flint's meditation on copyright and DRM in this series of columns:
03 March 2007 @ 02:54 pm
Television series from the last 30 years that I will recommend:

Monty Python's Flying Circus
Battlestar Galactica (the modern one)
03 March 2007 @ 12:46 am
Pull the shades down, little swan
And let this dance without music
Soothe your cries

The candles burn low
But the light in your eyes
Is enough to guide
A slow hand through the night
27 February 2007 @ 03:48 pm
Bed 1: Peas, Raspberries, Sweet Corn

Bed 2: Tomatoes, Carrots, Potatoes, Beets

Bed 3: Lettuce, Garlic, Frost's Random Mix

Elsewhere: Sweet Fennel, Pole beans, Apples, the Grapes that refuse to grow
27 February 2007 @ 03:31 pm
If your apology begins "I'm sorry if", you're not apologizing.  Apologies aren't conditional.