Money for Nothing Becomes Nothing for Money

Regular readers may have noticed that whilst I am very conservative about many things, I am somewhat progressive on the issue of digital intellectual property rights. And I practice what I preach.

For example, there are television programmes that have been scattered electromagnetically into the atmosphere for everyone with a television to enjoy for free. While the technology is there for those waves of son et lumière to go anywhere in the world, they have been limited to certain geographical regions, so they can be sold and resold and resold in different markets to make already obscenely rich people even more obscenely rich. I only use the word “obscenely” twice in the same sentence because my megre vocabulary is insufficient to appropriately modify the word rich.

The Internet has created a giant ocean of ones and zeros drifting in and out of the millions of connections within it. It has eliminated the borders and the broadcast restrictions, even if there are companies out there trying as hard as they can to claim part of these high seas as their own. Or you might say they are trying to dam the ones and zeros within their territorial waters. You might say they are trying to limit fishing in their territorial waters by trying to keep hold of the fish. But that’s the problem: you can keep boats out, but you can’t keep fish in.

The fact of the Internet Ocean is that 90% of the music fish are swimming freely. In other words, even given all of the “legal” download sites and services, 90% of music is downloaded without the express written consent of the music industry.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) is the face of the record industry cartel in the UK, the British equivalent of the RIAA.  They claim that file sharing has cost the industry £1.1 billion a year. What they mean is that they have identified £1.1 billion that they could have accrued and didn’t. It didn’t actually cost them anything. It didn’t cost anyone another yacht in the Med or a twelfth sprawling estate in another exotic and exclusive location. It didn’t take any money out of a tax-protected off-shore account.

The BPI have bullied the British Government and the major ISPs in this country into forcing the ISPs into sending letters to customers based on the BPIs spying. If the BPI thinks a particular IP address is uploading an illegal file, they contact the ISP, which is then obliged to send a letter to the account belonging to the IP address giving details of the alleged file-sharing incident. I got such a letter the other day.

Was it about television programmes or films or even various albums (most of which don’t even get copied to CD and end up in the recycle bin)? No, it was about a single Britney Spears track that no one in our household has ever uploaded, downloaded, or otherwise loaded. You would think with all of the billions of pounds the BPI’s member labels have made, they could afford to get the information even somewhere near correct.

Legal threats aside, in reality what has happened is that the revenue stream is concentrating more and more on live music. That is the one thing that is not copyable. But this means that musicians have to work harder and maybe make less money. Perhaps some of you will pity them for this. I don’t.

It used to be that musical acts had to invest huge sums of money in studios and technology to produce records. Now top selling CDs have been produce in bedrooms with digital recording equipment. Making records has become easier and cheaper, thus increasing the profit margins. Now these recordings are going to have to be adverts for concerts where real music will have to be played in real time for real people.

I have been saying for a long time that the developments in technology mean concepts about intellectual property law will have to be dramatically reformulated. Those who are profiting the most, those piggybacking on the actual creators of ideas, are trying to formulate new revenue streams so they can continue to make money for nothing (sound anything like the bankers who have precipitated the world economic collapse?) but music cartels will eventualy have to realise that music is only worth what people are willing to pay for it and increasingly (if you can keep increasing from 90%) they aren’t.

Vengence is mine, says the mother

He who does evil things will have it roll back on him,
And he will not know what hit him.
Mockery and abuse come back on an arrogant man,
And vengence lies in wait for him like a lion.

Sirach 27:27-28

Generally what is called in the law “self-help” is discouraged. However, it is quite understandable why a key part of this story notes, “The woman fled to Alicante, where she was arrested the same evening. When she appeared in court the next day in the town of Orihuela, she was cheered and clapped by a crowd, who shouted ‘Bravo!’ and ‘Well done!'”

Mother sets fire to daughter’s gloating rapist. From The Daily Telegraph.

The Perils of Facebook Friendship

Like several people that read this blog and whose blogs I read, I am on Facebook. Having always felt awkward in some social situation, the Internet would seem like an ideal place to relate to others. I have been relating interpersonally online since before the Internet, back in the days of 1200 baud modems and the BBS culture.

The whole “friend” thing on Facebook continues to be an interesting, and sometimes not altogether comfortable, thing. I’m not exactly a “friend collector” – you know the folks that become Facebook friends with anyone and everyone in order to have a massive friend list. My friend list has some friendships made in various stages of my life, some people that I have met online, especially who have commented on this blog or who I read (or commonly both), and some family members.

But I am constantly faced with the struggle of whether to friend or not. It is never because I don’t want to add a particular person, but rather the fear of rejection. If it is someone I’ve not seen in a long time, I wonder whether they are quite glad to be rid of me and will they face a dilemma if I show up in their friend requests.

Something I don’t know that I’ve faced offline is to be specifically de-friended. I’ve had a lot of people in my life fade away (much to their relief, no doubt), but I’d never been tidied out of somebody’s life. When someone knocks you off their Facebook friends, you don’t get notified. However, this has happened to me twice that I know of. I have so few friends and make new friends so rarely that I get used to seeing the number of friends I have displayed.

In both cases, I thought that maybe they left the whole Facebook thing. Nope, still there. In one case, I introduced a person to Facebook and they have over 100 friends now, but I’m not one of them.

I”ve seen journalist comment that the whole friend thing smacks of junior high – “will he be my friend?” “I’m not gonna be your friend” stuff – but as I never really had very many friends when I was junior high (and the few I had were older), I guess this is all new to me.

Obama Throws Churchill Out of the White House

We are already learning what’s in and what’s out with the change of administration in Washington. Brits have noticed one thing: Winston Churchill is definitely out. The whole “special relationship” thing between the US and UK is on thin ice anyway, but Churchill has left the White House.

After 9/11, the British Government loaned President Bush a bronze bust of the former Prime Minister, a Jacob Epstein creation worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It had pride of place in the Oval Office. After all, US Presidents like to quote Churchill, as noted in one of the most viewed stories on the Daily Telegraph website. Presidents, that is, other than Barack Obama.

Obama’s view of Churchill is coloured by his grandfather’s alleged torture by the British during the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya in 1953 when Churchill was Prime Minister. So when the British Government offered to extend the loan of the Churchill bronze, Obama declined. He sent Winston packing.

The Brits didn’t exactly know what to do with him. They tried to avoid reporters questions until they found an suitable alternative location in residence of the British Ambassador to the US.

So Obama has moved the racist Churchill out of the Oval Office and replaced him with the racist Abraham Lincoln. Of course the difference is that only academics know Lincoln was a racist – since they are the only ones who bother to read what he actually wrote – and nobody would believe them. People who surely know better – like the well-educated Mr Obama – dare not bring it up.

But Mr Obama has a lot to look up to when it comes to following the example of Mr Lincoln. It was Mr Lincoln, after all, who took advantage of a very difficult time in history to aggrandize the power of the Presidency and the Executive branch. Mr Lincoln trampled over the power of the sovereign States.

Lincoln’s actions led to deaths of over 600,000 Americans. Yet such is the re-writing of Yankee hagiography that he is was recently ranked the best president in a survey of 65 historians. Mr Lincoln gets credit for freeing slaves, even though no action of his ever freed a single one. I’m sure Mr Obama will find things to take credit for that he’ll have never done either.  I just hope he isn’t responsible for as many deaths in the meantime.

So it’s out with Mr Churchill and in with Mr Lincoln. God help us all.

CNN Misses the Point: Bristol Palin Promotes Abstinence

I get the newsfeed from CNN on my Google desktop and saw the headline “Bristol Palin: Abstinence for all teens ‘not realistic’ “. This was the way CNN summed up her interview with FOXNews’ Greta Van Susteren. It makes a good headline.

But that was just a tiny bit of the interview. CNN didn’t want to emphasise that the media tried to make it look like Governor Palin forced her into keeping the baby – something Bristol refuted vehemently. The whole point of the interview, which was Bristol’s idea, was to get across the message to not have sex, because the consequences can be life-changing. Here’s more of what she said. The ellipses only edit out Greta’s questions, not Bristol’s statements.

“I think everyone should just wait ten years. . . Just because it’s so much easier if you are married and if you have a house and a career – it’s just so much easier. . . I’m not the first person it’s happened to and I won’t be the last, but I’d love to be an advocate to prevent teen pregnancy. . .  Kids should just wait. It’s not glamourous at all.”

Bristol did say, “I think abstinence is like… like… the… I don’t know how to put it, like – the main… everyone should be abstinent whatever, but it’s not realistic at all.” So what did she mean by that?

She continued, ” Because it’s more and more accepted now.”

Van Susteren: “Among your classmates and kids your age?”

“Among kids my age”

Van Sustern asks what can be done to change this. “To see stories like this and to see other stories of teen mums. It something… you should just wait ten years…”

So the lack of realism about abstinence is a matter of this “is” rather than the “ought”. Bristol is not saying that abstinence is not a realistic goal, but rather not a realistic view of the way things are now. A way she wants to change for others.

Video of the  full interview is available on the FOXNews website.

The Importance of Family Connections

It’s hard to believe I have gone this long without posting anything. The run up to half-term break has been busy and when I’ve not been busy with work, I have been distracted by other things.

The last few days I have been absorbed with genealogical stuff as I have been revamping my family history website, trying to account for all of the descendants of my paternal great-great-great-great-grandparents who are over 70 or dead. It is the standard practice on genealogical websites to keep anonymous anyone who is living and under 70.

The downside of all this work is my worry that I am the only one of my surname who really cares about these things, so no one my ever access the site. Just because I think it is important for people to know where they come from and to whom they are related doesn’t mean anyone else does. But the information will be out there for the taking. Perhaps somehow an unknown cousin will be trying to uncover the forgotten past that their parents didn’t care about and find what I’ve provided.

There was a time when more people cared about who they were and realised that they were not simply a single identity.

The same attitude is common in the Church today. Christians reading the New Testament often read the words of Jesus or St Paul when they use the word translated “you” and assume that it is in the second person singular. Sadly, this is often re-enforced by preaching. “Me & Jesus” Christianity is not biblical. St Paul tries to get this across in I Corinthians 12, but sadly most people so many people even read that just to find out what spiritual gift(s) they have.

Likewise in our natural family, we need to appreciate, learn from, and be a part of the extended group of people, both past and present, of which God has chosen to make us a part. We often have no problem realising that family is the foundational institution of society. It was created by God. In wedding ceremonies we usually hear the “leave and cleave” passage from Genesis 2:24 and think of the new nuclear family as its own little capsule of love. However, if we look at the examples of family in the Bible, we don’t see that.

In North America and in some of western Europe, we have lost the sense of extended family that is still evident in much of the world. Somehow we think this loss is progress, when in fact it is regress. Just as in many areas, we have left behind the wisdom of centuries.

One of the things that has interested me as I have been doing research over the last few days is how names are important and passed on. My grandfather, my uncle, and my brother all had the same uncommon middle name and I recently found out that it goes back at least four more generations. Even though I use a pseudonym for this blog, there are a lot of real Solomons. The matriarch of our surname is remember in succeeding generations of Sarahs. Generations were connected.

Prosperity and technology has brought mobility and families have geographically grown further and further apart. I am probably the most extreme example in my own family. Fortunately in these most recent days it has brought advances in communications so that the world can be a smaller place. It has also allowed access to data that would not be so easily shared.

In this regard, I hope I am expended efforts on things that will matter.

Don’t Say Anything

Caroline Petrie has gotten her job back – for now. Given the overwhelming support she received in the press (including a petition started by the Daily Telegraph) and the broadcast media, North Somerset Primary Healthcare Trust probably didn’t want the backlash they would face if they sacked her.

That doesn’t mean that healing will be allowed to be associated with the Healer. The officially Christian country is still run by an aggressively anti-Christian Government. The Department of Health has issues guidelines that mean anyone working for the National Health Service who talks about their faith in any way to patients or colleagues could end up joining the ranks of the unemployed. It could be considered harrassment and intimidation.

This is further evidence that we are not living in a non-religious society, but rather an anti-religious society. (Not that I need further evidence, as I am confronted with this every day.) When Mrs Petrie was interviewed on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2, she was followed by an atheist psychologist. This woman was very concerned that someone would ask to pray from an ill person. She expressed that she would be very upset if someone asked to pray for her. (She made the point that she even rebukes those who say “God bless you” in passing.) The guest host of the show couldn’t understand why it would matter if someone wanted to pray to a God the atheist didn’t even believe in. This would obviously be done by someone showing care for her welfare. But for some reason the very mention of God to her is enough to set her off.

How do you hate Someone you don’t even believe exists?