“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

Archive for October, 2004

Go Packers!!!

Posted by direwolff on October 31, 2004

According to "Boomer" (aka. Chris Berman) on ESPN NFL Live Show, the fate of the Washington Redskins (whether they win or lose) has been the fate of the incumbent President of the U.S.A. for the past 16 Presidential elections!!! With this, all I can say now is: GO PACKERS!!! Win to save your country! :-)…(to be continued…)


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It’s good to be Oprah

Posted by direwolff on October 25, 2004

This past Sunday had a chance to go see the movie "Team America: World Police". To say that there wasn't a dry eye in the house is an understatement. Can't remember the last time I went to a movie where every one was laughing so hard that we missed some of the jokes. For South Park junkies, this hit a new high (for non South Park junkies they may consider this a new low.

Before the movie started however, during a set of ads, I think there was one from E! or Oprah's magazine, I forget, but this inspired my buddy Smelley to say that it would suck to be Oprah. Well, I reflected on this for a moment and snapped back that actually it would be good to be Oprah. My logic being that if one was Oprah, whatever you may like or not like about her, if you actually were her, you'd be pretty happy with your accomplishments, wealth, attention and so on. In other words, even if you think she's not attractive, if you were her, you'd be unattractive with lots of money, fame, and could buy and sell any guy you wanted several times over. Smelley had to agree with this logic, and while tough to swallow, it was indisputable that it was good to be Oprah. We did agree to add one caveat, that it's only good to be Oprah if you are Oprah.

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According to study, Bush supporters live in an alternate reality…

Posted by direwolff on October 22, 2004

Now I've heard it all. Below is today's issue of "The Daily Mis-lead" e-newsletter. It's news like this that totally dissappoints me in the state of our nation. Part of the answer has to lie in education, educating our children and our adults to think and read for themselves, but such a vast part of our country simply rejects the idea of becoming more educated. Tough problem to solve, but really sad to see the results of this ignorance…or is it blind faith?

The following is very scary, please don't read it if you suffer from depression and/or suicidal tendencies, as this may push you over the edge ;-):

A new study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) shows that supporters of President Bush hold wildly inaccurate views about the world. For example, "a large majority [72 percent] of Bush supporters believe that before the war Iraq had weapons of mass destruction."[1] Most Bush supporters [57 percent] also believe that the recently released report by Charles Duelfer, the administration's hand-picked weapons inspector, concluded Iraq either had WMD or a major program for developing them.[2] In fact, the report concluded "Saddam Hussein did not produce or possess any weapons of mass destruction for more than a decade before the U.S.-led invasion" and the U.N. inspection regime had "curbed his ability to build or develop weapons."[3]

According to the study, 75 percent Bush supporters also believe "Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda."[4] Most Bush supporters [55 percent] believe that was the conclusion of the 9/11 commission.[5] In fact, the 9/11 commission concluded there was no "collaborative relationship" between al-Qaeda and Iraq.[6]

Bush supporters also hold inaccurate views about world public opinion of the war in Iraq and a range of Bush's foreign policy positions.[7]

1. "The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters," Program on International Policy Attitudes, 10/21/04,
2. Ibid,
3. "Iraq's Illicit Weapons Gone Since Early '90s, CIA Says," Los Angeles Times, 10/07/04,
4. "The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters," Program on International Policy Attitudes, 10/21/04,
5. Ibid,
6. "Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed," Washington Post, 6/17/04,
7. "The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters," Program on International Policy Attitudes, 10/21/04,
Visit for more about Bush Administration distortion. >

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WalMart is truly evil

Posted by direwolff on October 21, 2004

While I consider the term 'evil' to be very subjective, and a relative term, tonight on "The Daily Show with John Stewart", Stewart mentioned that WalMart was building a store next to some ruins in Mexico, and in Hawaii they unearthed 4 corpses from an ancient burial ground during the building of their store there. Now that's evil. How insane is that?…but it comes as a direct result of having allowed the rights of individuals to get subjugated to those of corporations. Sad indeed.

If you ever get the chance and want to learn more about how our rights came to take second place to corporations', read Thom Mann's "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights". It's a well written book with the appropriate historical and bibliographical references. It really takes a hard and thorough look at the history of corporations in the United States. It was tough to put it down.

All this to bring me back to the fact that the permissiveness that corporations have been given by laws that were influenced by them in our country, has now put them in a position violate inherent human rights legally, not just in the United States but abroad as well. While I consider myself a capitalist, that's not the system we're playing under today and that's got to change.

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Copyright v. Right to Copy (cont’d…)

Posted by direwolff on October 15, 2004

It’s worth checking out a summary of the program to see who the speakers were and what they’re planning to speak about. Suffice it to say, the focus was on “Intellectual Property and the Artists’ Rights in the World of Technology”. Yep, another music industry bashing with perhaps only one real, but weak defender, in the form of Neil Potrow, prez of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (you know, the Grammy people).

So I took basic notes that are already looking like gibberish to me, but hopefully there’ll be some assemblance of something worth remembering here. I’ll place them in bullet form as I wrote them. Hoepfully, I haven’t bastardized the speakers’ comments too badly.

Ken Hertz (KH):
– KH started out by stating that the Copyright clause of the Constitution was supposedly intended to promote the arts and sciences by providing exclusive rights to the creators.

– But was really in the framers’ mind is tough to say.

– International treaties and industry lobbying has watered down much of the original concepts here.

– KH’s assertion is that Copyright law was intended for the middleman, not the creators of the works. The creators needed a way to license distribution rights and hence why this ownership mechamism was created.

– The intention of the framers may have made sense 250 yrs ago, but it’s no longer reasonable.

– The entertainment industry has focused on capturing and owning the distribution channel, where they don’t own the works.

– The entertainment industry is moving towards change kicking and screaming.

– Technology is a positive thing, but artists still need to get paid.

Bob Leftsetz (BL):
– BL doesn’t understand why the major labels are keeping the status quo on P2P distribution, as they could stomp a lot harder on this if they really wanted to.

– The music industry is run like a mafia cartel.

– The Net is the worse thing that ever happened to the record industry.

– Like the major TV broadcast networks, who’s market share dropped from 90% to 32% with the advent of cable, the same will happen to the major music labels because of the Net and satellite radio.

– This is all good for the artists. Those artists that fought Napster, like Metallica, had never used a computer and don’t understand what is happening.

Thomas Dolby (TD):
– TD doesn’t care about the industry, only the music and the fans are important.

– The middleman is now much less relevant in getting one’s music out.

– Technology moves much faster than the legislative process.

– Technology is not playing the traditional role of middleman, but rather being a facilitator for artists and fans to find each other.

– It used to be that artists had to use the labels because of their lock on distribution channels (ie. they own the store shelves at CD retailers), but with the Net, that’s now changing.

– While lots of constituencies here are pissed off, for the artists it feels good to be liberated from the controls of the major labels.

Right after Neil Potrow’s (NP) intro statement, KH made a statement about NP not being able to be objective because of the sponsorship issues between the major labels and his organization. This started a mini debate where NP said that this wasn’t true and KH reminded him that one of his clients just paid some big bill from The Grammys for promotional efforts.

– BL makes the point that Copyright protection isn’t for the artists, it’s for the major labels.

– BL further points out that more money is being made by more people, more artists are creating music they wouldn’t have ever been able to get paid for or been able to do previously, and more labels are making more money than ever before. So the arguments that P2P is eating their cake are bunk. It’s enabling more economic transactions and opportunities than ever before in history.

– BL tells the story of U2, who’s album was compromised when someone leaked it a song from it on the Net. He explains that U2 deserves no sympathy at the fact that they have such devoted audience that would be willing to get their music early and before it was completed. Afterall, how is it a problem that they now have to release the album early because of public outcry.

– BL states further that the release of music over P2P networks has not only created great exposure for artists (cites Hank Barry as an example of someone who’s done well here) and labels, and many have made more money on their CD sales as a result. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to artists.

– BL & TD agreed that artists have the potential of becoming celebrities and making the kind of money that professional baseball athletes are making.

– KH believes that 5 to 6 branded artists will release new music direct to their fans on the Net this year. NP chimed in that they’ll make less money however.

– KH also passed on the stat that 250 artists out of thousands released last year sold more than 10K albums. Hence, why the opportunity for more artists to get exposre is so high.

– BL stated that teenagers are already not listening to the radio. The youth audience has already changed its music consumption habbits and the music industry is not paying attention.

– According to BL, Sirius and XM satellite radio, are already set to become more successful than CDs this year. GM cars will come with XM radio included and the price of their service will get tacked on to the vehicle lease price.

– BL questions, why not license P2P technologies to all ISPs and have them pay the per subscriber fees.

– BL doubts that satellite radio will exclipse what happened with Napster because of archaic regulations that affect satellite content delivery.

– NP said that National Academy of Recording Arts and Science are investigating all of the alternative distribution strategies.

– KH believes that the industry misfocused their energy on prevention rather on monetization of these new opportunities.

– KH further states that the state of the law will never catch up with the technology. It’s not about the law, it’s about the economics.

– NP brought up the fact that Ray Charles’ album at Starbucks is selling very well, in part because it’s a more pleasant and condusive environment in which to buy music. BL however, quickly chimed in that Starbucks selling 30 CDs/day is like talking about what color ribbon to use on an IBM typewriter. That’s not where the revolution will is. The Starbucks phenomenon is purely tied to baby boomers who get their coffee there. As soon as they start buying online the Starbucks model is dead.

– BL believes we have to keep the fight going against the major labels because they can buy off government and stall change.

– TD brought up the fact that there are some new interesting P2P companies, WEED and Snowcap (Shawn Fanning’s new company), which invite people to pay for artists’ works and encourage good behavior.

During general comments and answers to long-winded questions (like one of mine ;-), interesting comments included:

– Superstar artists versus new artists will have different things to gain from the new medium and technologies. There will be a Howard Stern of the music industry that will release directly to the Net this year.

– New music filterers/toll collectors could be folks like Pepsi or Nokia.

– Most people are now trying to figure out how in a world of unlimited choice, will they be able to find the music they want/like.

It was definitely an entertaining evening and the perspectives put across by the panelists were worthwhile hearing and understanding.

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Copyright v. Right to Copy

Posted by direwolff on October 14, 2004

(Quick Note: I wrote this during the forum on Tues. 10/12/04, but have been struggling between using Blogger or Typepad, so it took a while to get this up during this indecision. I’m opting for Blogger as I don’t know how much I’m actually going to be able to write and it seems ludicrous to pay for it until it makes more sense. For now, this is my blog home and I like it :-)

So here I am at the Churchill Club’s forum on Intellectual Property and artists’ rights in the world of technology. There’s been a networking & drinking hour but just couldn’t get my head around more than a quiet glass of wine and no real mingling. Somehow, w/o a purpose I just find meeting people for the hell of it kind of tough. Just not big on small talk. Hell, it’s tough enough for me to keep up and be a respectable friend to those I already know, much less pile lots of new people on ;-)

So finally, dinner got served in the main hall & we could go in and file for the buffet. Yippee, I was starvin’!!! :-). So sure enough I was one of the 1st 4 people in followed closely by two hip younger guys fm some company named Mr. Lexicon (cool name, wonder what they do?). Quickly got to one of the tables and dove in to my plate w/reckless abandon…a virtuoso of the fork & knife indeed :-). What a sight I must have made…

So here I was focused on my food and some promo membership info fm the Churchill Club, minding my own business when who came to sit at my table…one of tonight’s speakers, Thomas Dolby, you know the guy, “She blinded me with science doo-doo-doo” :-). He’s bald now you know. He was w/ a nice enough guy chattin’. They seemed like friends who were catching up. A couple of women who knew Thomas’..or Dolby’s.. or Mr. Dolby’s (I don’t know, whaddya call a musical legend? ;-) friend, made the bee-line to the table and while I thought it was for me, it ended up being for Dolby’s buddy…well maybe but their eyes were glued on Master Dolby ;-)

Dolby’s friend suggested the ladies join the table and so, they quickly gathered their stuff and moved fm their reserved seats at the head table to join us at the ghetto table at the back…you gotta love the perks of celebrity…or just being around it ;-) One of the them was the exec director I believe, and co-Host of the event, The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.

Got my $0.02 conversation in w/Dolby… “hello, remember when we met in NY?”…”Ah, yeah sure dude”…actually Dolby was super cool and remebered one of my mentors. Backed off quickly so as not to come across as an over eager fan ;-). We resumed the conversation after a bit and it appears that for the past 2 yrs he’s been running a ring tones biz that’s profitable and employs 18 people w/no fixed office, 100% virtual, called Retro Rentals. How cool is that?!

OK, that’s it for now, things are about to get started, I’ll write more about this when I get home to my computer…

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Cialis, Viagra, Levitra…oh-hey!

Posted by direwolff on October 4, 2004

Will someone explain to me how it is that a set of drugs that enable men to get erections and has several known side-effects can be approved by the FDA, appear on TV commercials several times during primetime (and football games) for our children to see and learn about, and be chemically manufactured after several 100s of millions of invested dollars, be so easily accepted by the medical community and the community at large, while marijuana, a natural plant, easily and economically grown indoors and out, able to alleviate the pain of cancer victims, with no proven side-effects, and being a non-addicitive natural mood enhancer, is villified by conservatives, religious leaders and other guardians of our moral principles and is considered something to fear and to be despised and even requiring legal deterents to keep people from engaging in distributing or consuming it?…phew!…easy for me to ask…

After procrastinating on getting into this blogging thing, tonight was the last straw and it was time to find my voice. While watching Monday Night Football a commercial came on for Cialis (a "natural male enhancement"…please!). Here it was that several very large pharmaceutical companies had spent a great deal of money to develop drugs that enable men to get erections. That's right, to get "hard-ons". Effectively, endorsing the idea that having good sex lives was a right for which any measure taken to support it could be justified. It's almost crazy to think about the absurdity of this being acceptable but one can go to jail for smoking pot. I wonder if any of those at the FDA or in those areas of government responsible for such matters, have ever tried smoking pot and having sex. Hell, unlike these drugs which are for men only, my understanding is that marijuana is non-discriminatory in terms of how either sex feels during intercourse. Go figure. This in the light of our country's generally conservative views of sex.

It's not even that it should matter that these "natural male enhancements" (what does that mean anyway?) are legal, but it's the fact that marijuana is illegal that makes this truly absurd. Even by the label of calling it an intoxicant, alcohol is far worse in most if not all regards, and it too is legal. Am I missing something here?!

Some times it's things like this which make me think I'm loosing it…doesn't any one else find this sort of thing peculiar? Is there any one who can actually argue that Viagra et al and alcohol are OK, but pot is bad for you? Even in the Cialis commercial, they didn't say "don't drink and take Cialis", they did say "don't over drink"…that's it!!! Wha-wha-what?!!! This implies the acceptance of its use for recreational purposes and not simply as a cure of some sort.

While in all of my investigations on this matter, this is probably the cheesiest argument for legalizing marijuana, the shear absuridity of the TV ad I saw struck me as funny and it was a very quick way of pointing out the ridiculousness of the matter.

OK, enough ranting for my first post…next time something positive and happy :-)

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