Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cuil v. Google

After reading Siva Vaidhyanathan's comparison of Google and Cuil (a new search engine created by former Google employees) on Googlization of Everything, I want to encourage others to try out Cuil. If anything, I think this is the most important factor for me:

Cuil has no need to keep a dossier on us to improve search. This is one of Cuil's major selling points. And it certainly should make Cuil the search engine of choice for holligans, misfits, pottymouths, and n'erdowells of all stripes. But seriously, Cuil might be able to demonstrate that quality search need not depend on massive data collection and exploitation. [emphasis mine]

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Conservapedia Is Obsessed with Homosexuality

Every once in a while I find myself strangely drawn into the insanity that is the alternate universe known as Conservapedia. I'm sure most everyone is aware of this caricature of reality that poisons the minds of young, home-schooled children nationwide, but if you really want to catch yourself up on the mind-blowing falsity of Conservapedia, check out Rational Wiki.

I happened upon Conservapedia today and made an interesting observation. On the main page there is a list of Conservapedia's most popular articles. I like to read the talk pages, as there is always someone who tries to talk some sense into the idiots that run Conservapedia, and these exchanges can be pretty entertaining at times. After reading through Feminism, Dinosaur, and CE, I opened up the page for Homosexuality. This is by far the longest article I have ever seen on Conservapedia, to the point of obsession.

Vast amounts of incorrect information aside, one thing that really stands out is the number of references -- 358! Holy crap. Compare that to Conservapedia's article for Heterosexuality -- not one reference. Even Bisexual has three references!

The article for Homosexuality has more references than even both Christianity (15) and Conservative (4) combined -- the two things that define Conservapedia most.

And it's not just references -- the article for Homosexuality is crazy long, with 40 different headings and about another 2 dozen subheadings. The content of these headings consist entirely of false associations and outright misinformation.

Seems like Christian conservatives really love to talk about homosexuality. Perhaps there are a lot of closet cases in Conservapedia Land.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Feminism Tape

It's about time I put up a new muxtape -- the Feminism tape. This edition has a theme of women musicians -- all the bands feature women entirely or in prominent ways. Check out Punk77's Women In Punk as well.

  1. Crass - Bata Motel (Penis Envy LP)
  2. D.I.R.T. - Democracy (Death is Reality Today 7")
  3. Toxic Waste - Good Morning (We Don't Want Your Fucking War Comp. LP)
  4. Potential Threat - The Other War (We Don't Want Your Fucking War Comp. LP)
  5. X-Ray Spex - Oh Bondage, Up Yours! (Oh Bondage, Up Yours! 7")
  6. Sacrilege - Dig Your Own Grave (We Don't Want Your Fucking War Comp. LP)
  7. Bikini Kill - Rebel Girl (Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Split LP)
  8. Bratmobile - Cool Schmool (Pottymouth LP)
  9. Blatz - Berkeley Is My Baby (And I Want to Kill It) (Shit Split LP)
  10. Turboslut - Roadkill (Demo Cassette)
  11. Tunnel Canary - Jihad (Jihad / Live At The ECCA 1980 Double LP)
  12. Sonic Youth & Lydia Lunch - Death Valley '69 (Bad Moon Rising LP)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

You Have the Freedom to Shut the Hell Up

A 61-year-old woman was issued a ticket for trespassing on city property during a supposedly public town hall meeting being held by Republican presidential candidate John McCain. The McCain staff asked the secret service to ask the building management to remove the woman because she was holding a sign that said "McCain = Bush." She was told to either put the sign away and stand in line or leave the premises, and if she refused she would be issued a ticket.


Seriously, America, what the hell? This woman was on public property exercising her freedom of speech in a non-disruptive way. Isn't there something wrong with our police system when taxpayer funded public servants enforce the will of private parties over that of constitutionally guaranteed rights? How do these officers, and the secret service agents, justify their actions to themselves? How to they sleep at night knowing that they bring the destruction of liberty?

Furthermore, what is wrong with John McCain? He says that he has fought for the freedoms that this country guarantees its citizens, yet he is willing to snatch those freedoms away at his own discretion. How could anyone trust such a man to protect American values?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Google Ordered to Hand Over YouTube Records to Viacom

BBC reported last week, as well as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal (today), that media conglomerate Viacom obtained a court order to receive12 terabytes of data from Google regarding video views on YouTube. The data includes the usernames and IP addresses of viewers, how many videos they have watched and how many times those videos were watched. That's a lot of private information Viacom has obtained.

I'm currently reading Lawrence Lessig's Code: Version 2.0, and I feel that the arguments in that book apply here. The current debate surrounds the issue of privacy, and whether or not a constitutional right has been violated. I think Lessig would say that this we currently have a choice about what values we want to protect in cyberspace. That is to say, the Constitution may very well have little guidance on this conflict because the conflict is not addressed.

I'd really hope that the side of privacy wins here. From my perspective, copyright law was no guarantee of perfect control over copies of content; however, as Lessig argues in Code, the internet can provide content providers with a more prefect control than was previously available. With the undoubtedly meticulous records of YouTube users stored by Google, there's a gold mine of information for Viacom to police the use of its content.

Another question remains of whether or not we want to decide on the value of protection over the value of accessibility, as well as the value of privacy. The privacy issue should concern us all -- in effect, Viacom has been given the viewing records of individual users to use for a legal case. If users are aware that their viewing habits could be monitored, could that potentially dampen said viewing habits? To make a rough analogy -- imagine that Random House, Inc. had obtained a court order requiring the Library of Congress, Harvard University, or the Boston Public Library to turn over records of all individuals' reading habits, including which books were checked out, the number of books checked out, and the number of times each book was checked out. Ultimately, how is this scenario much different from Viacom v. Google?

YouTube is digital, and therefore, presents circumstances that were not possible in a real space library. A library has physical limitations which make it impractical that any books held within could be checked out and read millions, let alone billions, of times within a year. Moreover, each book can only be checked out by one person at a time. Because of these physical limitations, there is little threat to the commercial publishing industry from libraries.

But now imagine that the library is entirely digital. Now many users can view books at the same time, thus increasing the number of views in the same time frame. Being digital, it is now easier for users to create derivative works by cutting up the digital pages of books and splicing them together, or even adding original content to the existing works, to create something different. I would argue that our copyright law, and the Constitution in general, do not address this issue specifically. As Lessig argues, it is up to us to make the choice about which values from real space we want to preserve in cyberspace.

I come down in favor of less restrictive copyright and a preservation of privacy. I think the culture of YouTube and the ability of people to share and create existing and new works is an impressive testament to the power of the internet as a medium. I believe that such sharing can only facilitate more culture, and we will be all the better for it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I haven't updated my muxtape with something new in about two months. I'm a bit torn about changing it, though -- everyday or so someone new decides to add it to their favorites, and I'd rather not change the whole tape soon after someone has added my tape to his/her favorites. Since Brutalism went up, I've gone from having 12 fans to 27 fans (including Alternative Tentacles Records!).

But that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about a new tape, I just haven't decided on a good theme for the next one yet.

Some ideas that've been floating around in my head are the Annihilation Tape (which might include Crucifix, Conflict, Resistance 77), the Riot Tape (Dead Kennedys, Violators), and the Epicly Epic Tape, which would include songs that have build-ups to the most crushingly suffocating crescendos I've ever heard (Pg. 99, Hair Police, The Blood Brothers, Circle Takes the Square, Black Sabbath, Lighting Bolt).

Part of the delay is me having a hard time finding the songs I want to put in a new muxtape within my existing mp3 collection and not having the desire to go through the lengthy process of ripping the songs from my vinyl collection. Another part is the fact that I'm still trying to find the best 12 songs for any of my tapes.

So for those who are waiting, hopefully I'll have an update soon.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008