A Polluter’s Feast : Politics A Polluter’s Feast : Politics

Read the above linked article. Please.

There is one thing this author missed, but only because he published this a few days too soon…

Back in 2003, Mr. Bush, serving as our President, killed the higher Miles Per Gallon requirements for new cars in liew of some future shift to Hydrogen*.

Yesterday I saw a newspaper headline stating “Bush urges conserving fuel”. Where the hell was that attitude when he signed off on letting automobile manufacturers switch from “Miles Per Gallon” to “Gallons Per Mile”? How do you conserve fuel when you get 15 MPG in your brand new Ford Super Duty**.


*He somehow thought automobile manufacturers could not work on two projects at the same time. Not everyone has his limitations. If he was right Ford wouldn’t be able to make a Sedan and a Pickup Truck at the same time. Automobile manufacturer R&D departments are working on dozens, if not HUNDREDS, of concurrent projects.

**I have no idea if this MPG is correct. The Ford website tells you specs, such as fuel tank capacity, but does not list the MPG for the Super Duty Truck.

What would [insert xtian diety] do?

I remember this book that I read when I was in high school. It was long, sometimes boring, sometimes kinky, it had plot lines that went all over this place, a central character who went through a complete personality switch, and five different accounts of the last days of one character. It read a lot like a Quentin Tarantino movie plays out. The central character of the first half of the book is a major badass. He is The Sopranos on steroids of galactic dosage. He kicks his kids out of the house the first time they disobey him, and then he rags on their decedents constantly rubbing it in how they will never live up to his standards. He leaves people stranded in the desert, and was legendary for sending small numbers of trained troops to take out entire cities. Then he has a mid-life crisis, gives himself a personality overhaul and decides to have another kid. Then he pulls a Howard Hughes and hides himself away, only speaking to the world through his son. His son is as mild mannered as they come. He doesn’t want to be anything like the stories of his old man. He/s so mild mannered that people are always trying to trick him into telling them it is OK to disobey his father. He may be mild mannered, but he isn’t stupid. He tells people to pay their taxes to the feds, even though they accept his father as the big kahuna. When a gang of vigilantes want him to join in on some raging justice he shames them into going home. The only time he loses his cool is when he finds that some people are trying to turn his old man’s house into a circus complete with caged animals for sale and carnies trying to take the tourists for all they are worth. The son gets hung out to dry and killed, saying that he is doing it so his old man will someday spare them even though they are being such wanks. The climax of the book is an end of the world sequence, but it comes off like Jacob’s Ladder and you don’t know where reality ends and the hallucinations begin.

Like most best-sellers this book has a lot of devoted readers. People even take classes to understand its more subtle nuances. I read it, and I remember a fair chunk of it, but I didn’t buy into it being the end-all-be-all book of knowledge. So, in my world view I don’t feel like a hypocrite if I don’t live up to the ideals espoused in this book; any more than I feel the need to live up to Ayn Rand’s ideals in Atlas Shrugged.

Some people though have made this book their religion. It’s their Bible, their code of conduct, their written record of how their God wants them to live. Why is it so many people who claim that haven’t bothered to read the Cliff Notes, let alone the whole book? When someone claims to believe The Bible is the word of their God then I feel I have every right to call them a hypocrite if they live contrary to the ideals taught in that book.

In the United States we have a lot of hypocrites. We have stadium sized “churches” that are run like circuses, and make the money changers that upset Jesus look like kids with lemonaid stands. The ringmasters are the worst, as they have built their empires in the houses of their Gods. (I say it pleural because if you listen to them they all seem to be worshiping someone different. It’s hard to tell, since they have stripped their God of it’s name and they only call it by title.) They profess to worship a God of love and forgiveness, and then they urge their followers to support their government that kills for oil. They can’t be following the same book I read.

Then there is Pat Roberson. Pat Roberson founded an organization called “Christian Coalition of America”. On that alone I would assume that he believes himself to be a follower of the mild mannered character I described above; but I’d be wrong. Pat Roberson lives in backwards land. Where Jesus said “turn the other cheek” Pat Roberson says “We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator,” he continued. “It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.” Pat Roberson was talking about the president of Venezuela and he also said “It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war … and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.

Have you seen the bumper stickers that say “What would Jesus do?” I think he’d fly into a rage and tear down Pat Roberson’s empire. Here is a “man of god” who is more worried about whether oil shipments will stop than whether he goes against the teachings of the God about whom he preaches? Sounds like a politician, not a preacher, to me. Hit him where it hurts: Strip him of his religious tax exempt status and make him conform to campaign finance laws. (Jesus did say to pay unto Ceaser what is Ceaser’s, but that’s another teaching that gets ignored.) Maybe that would finally shut him up.

Thoughts on copyright and those that make money ignoring it.

I’ve been meaning to write this bit for a while. My first thoughts were sparked by the folks at Live Journal, and their apparent disregard for copyright holder’s rights. The ideas of this post were tickled again reading about the Google Print project, and their attitude in regards to author’s rights. I’m finally getting around to this post because I have a few things I want to write about, and I don’t want them showing up on the LJ site, and this post will explain why the tampagypsy_feed is about to break.

I know a lot of people who use LJ, and while the LJ tools and features make blogging easy I don’t like having my content on a site I don’t control. You could call it Geek Bias, but I just prefer to keep under my control that which I create. So, I set up WordPress on my site and I was quite happy with that.

My friend Ratha, who uses LJ a lot, set up a RSS feed on LJ that points to my WordPress install. I was OK with that. It made it easier for my LJ junkie friends to more easily see when I post new content.

Then one day I noticed that people had been replying to my posts, but that the replies were only on the LJ site. It appears that the LJ site doesn’t handle blog feeds the way that other sites, like Friendster and Orkut do, in that it fully copies my content into their system. With my content copied into their site, and a comment box at the bottom, replies wind up becoming part of LJ instead of my site. This bothered me. I wrote the folks at LJ and asked that they disable the comments on that feed. They replied that they can not disable comments, and they referred me to a FAQ entry on their site.

Upon reading the FAQ entry I became fully pissed. The FAQ entry in question is here, but I hope that it someday changes to something that honors copyright holders. The FAQ entry in question is titled “My content is being syndicated onto LiveJournal and I don’t want it there. What can I do?” The entry tells the reader that there is nothing LJ will do if you don’t want your content on their site. If you want it removed the author must take the action of blocking the LJ spider:

You must first take server-side action to block the content from being syndicated to a LiveJournal account. For instance, if the syndicated account on LiveJournal is using your site’s RSS or Atom feed, you should disable that feed in order to prevent it from being syndicated onto LiveJournal.

If you would like to keep the feed, but prohibit LiveJournal from using it, you can block LiveJournal’s IP address ( from accessing your server. This will prevent your content from being syndicated onto LiveJournal.

Once the spider is blocked the content will fade off in about two weeks, and that there is nothing LJ is willing to to do accellerate that process. To be fair, it says ‘there is no way to accelerate this process’ but as a web developer and db admin, I know there ARE ways to remove content and that they are making a conscious choice to present it as if it just can’t be done.

Syndicated accounts retain entries for two weeks in order to allow LiveJournal users to view them. Content may continue to be visible on the syndicated account after you have disabled access to the feed; the entries will be automatically deleted after two weeks. There is no way to accelerate this process.

The reason this bothers me is that an author who does not want their content on the LJ site has far more rights than LJ would lead them to believe. Under the Bern Convention their works are copyrighted, and have legal protections. As the copyright holder, they have the absolute right to restrict where their creations are reproduced. Just because it is on a RSS feed does not put it in the public domain. Under the DMCA it is the legal responsibility of LJ to remove content at the request of the copyright holder. This isn’t the picture they paint though. They have taken my content, incorporated it into their site, and now they refer me to a FAQ entry that says they won’t remove my content?

There is a part of me that wants to send them a certified letter demanding content removal with the intent of taking them to small claims court for the days my content remains. I’m too busy these days for such a small payoff, so I’ll settle for this being the last posting that shows up in the tampagypsy_feed. According to them it will remain for at least two weeks. 🙂

What does this have to do with Google? Nothing directly, except that the recent flack with the Google Print project rang the same bells with me. Google started to scan in library books, with the intention of allowing users to search through them. Google would be displaying ads in order to make money off the venture.

They have been getting a lot of flack for this, and they seemed surprised. Perhaps it is because they are stuck in the paradigm in which their business ‘grew up’. Search engines are a fact of life for those of us who are only able to publish on-line. So, we tolorate that search companies make money selling ads on the same pages that our pages are listed in a search. We could use robots.txt to block the search engines, but then our reach would be greatly reduced.

The world of paper publishing has its own well established methods of extending the reach for authors. When a book is published it is marketed in print ads, book shop displays, newspaper reviews; all of these are methods that are out of the reach of most web based authors. Could the publishing industry benefit from Google searching? Sure. Do they need it? Nope. Are they willing to give up their rights for something they don’t need? Not likely.

So, why the outrage? Because Google started scanning books without written permission from the copyright holders. When confronted with this, they offered publishers the option of opting out; much like web pages and the robots.txt system. While this is what they had become used to in the world of web sites, it flies in the face of the world of print media. I have in my hand a copy of “Light”, by John Harrison. On the copyright information page is a clear statement: “No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval sysem, without written permission of the publishers, except where permitted by law.” While this statement has evolved over the years, pretty much all my books have something similar. Now, with a statement like that from the copyright holder Google still wants publishers to opt-out again? I understand the outrage. While there are provisions of law that allow limited quoting, otherwise known as ‘fair use’, I think it is safe to say that if Google uses snippets of book text to sell advertising for a profit that it does not fall within fair use.

The mindset of disregarding copyright in electronic mediums has existed for a long time. Brad Templeton, the founder of Clarinet (the first subscription usenet news service), created a FAQ on copyright myths. Each of the questions represents a way in which people misunderstood how copyright works. People come up with crazy ideas and justifications, but companies like Six Apart (The owners of Live Journal) and Google have paid lawyers whose job is to keep everything llegal. It seems odd to me that two companies whose core business revolves around displaying content created by others that they would be that ignorant of copyright holder’s rights.

You will notice that I have Google AdSense ads on this page. This enables me to make money off my posts. As the copyright holder this is my right, and is something that I feel is fair. What I personally feel is unfair is someone copying my work, in whole or in snippets, to be displayed on a page that has ads from which I will never see a penny. Perhaps it is time to challenge the paradigm that search engines get to display other people’s content for their exclusive profit? Just because it is the way things have been done doesn’t mean it is the way things should continue.


ps. Please DO NOT reply to this posting on the LJ feed account (tampagypsy_feed). Follow the links back to my webite and reply there if you feel the need. There is no way to easily integrate comments from the LJ site back into my own weblog, so the effort of posting to the LJ site is wasted as I will never read it…

I use Amazon affiliate links in some of my posts. I think it is fair to say my writing is not influenced by the $0.40 I earned in 2022.