Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008


Just to be clear, these things piss me off 9 times out of 10, but leave it to the Iron Sideshow folks to dig up/create ones that were actually amusing.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Anonymous makes me giggle

I love it when something described as an "internet hate machine" decides to put their masses to good use. The "greater internet fuckwad theory" shows that adding anonymity to everyday opinions provides an output that would make any English teacher cry. But what happens when the anonymity transfers itself into meatspace? Well, the goons managed to put some money where their mouths were and make a nice contribution to Heifer International, and now results are rolling in from Anonymous' new target.

Back when I was in middle school I put some of my angst to use reading up on Scientology and, par for my age, getting pissed about it. I remember a conversation with a friend's father, a good friend in his own right, where I bemoaned the fact that people weren't as upset about this shit as I thought they should be. He mentioned that yes, there's a problem with it, as there are many problems in the world, the trick is picking what to fight, and that this wasn't his. I realized that for all my teenage frustration, it probably wasn't mine either. He used to think that I was born in the wrong time. A couple years after this conversation I mentioned offhand to him that I wasn't born late, my time was just in the making. I'm pleased to see that others picked up the fight and ran with it, I suppose this is how vindication feels.

From one of the Australia rallies, generally regarded as an epic win.

And here's a quick shot of the folks that braved the -10 wind chill to protest in Parma. Those seven people stuck around in the bitter cold for 3 hours to get the word out. The wind took some of their signs, Scientologists took others. A little before 2 p.m. a middle-aged man drove up and gave out sandwiches, without even knowing what the protest was about. This shit made my day.

Anonymous has numbers
Anonymous has heart
Anonymous has one more person in their posse.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

For Aisha...

This link goes out to my partly Welsh goddess of knitting, and perhaps the only regular reader of this thing.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Shameless plug

One of the lovelier bits of my CV is some volunteer work that I did at the local library while I was in college. I think of it as one of the lovelier bits, of course, because while it was volunteer work, it was going to community service. Take this as a note, if you're under-age, drinking a glass of wine with dinner at a state park can get you in trouble, but ultimately seems to help in the long run. All that being said, some folks that I met while working at that library have gone on to bigger and better things.
The company is called LibLime, they do open-source library software that, from everything I've seen, kicks ass. But please, as somebody who went to school for PR, don't trust me on that. You'd be much better off trusting the Geauga County Public Library system, or, if more convincing is needed, the Guggenheim.
I work in a public library that uses Sirsi-Dynix, which is, when compared to the leading competitor in the area, Triple-I, wonderfully dynamic. Thing is, I still have issues getting the information that I need into the system, and unfortunately, when it goes down, you'd better be able to figure out a way to get it back up yourself, because they might not be around to help. My library is switching to Triple-I in the future, mostly because of reliable support.
Koha, being open source, is inherently dynamic. The work that I'm spending weeks fighting against our software to let me accomplish can, and likely has, already been made into an option on it by myself or a colleague anywhere from Ohio to New Zealand that is looking for the same solution. As far as support service goes, think about it, the underlying software is free, support service is what you're paying for, they'll make good on it.

And really now, being able to renew your books on AIM, that's just cool.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

What would you do with 30 billion dollars?

One of the joys of pleasure reading is the ability to let mental connections happen freely. For instance, I finally got around to reading “Freakonomics” a few weeks back, and now that I’ve picked up “Your Brain on Music,” associations present themselves within the first pages of the introduction. Here’s what caught my eye: on page 7, Daniel Levitin makes an offhand remark that Album sales bring in around $30 billion a year, later remarking that 30 billion some songs were downloaded free through peer-to-peer networks in 2005.

Of course, unlike Leavitt in “Freakonomics,” I’ve no head for math, and no interest in any sort of correlation between these two numbers. Anyway, estimating things in the billions makes for a hell of a lot of rounding so analyzing any data like this is a job left to those who enjoy that sort of thing, not somebody who recently had a standardized test inform him that maybe he shouldn’t go into a field where he would be required to add, or count, for that matter.

Naturally, big numbers are impressive, so to my untrained mind for math, the first thought, is of course, that 30 billion is a fucking lot. When the $30 billion that those record sales brought in is broken down into who gets what, I’m sure the numbers are less impressive. Maybe they’d be more impressive if the iTunes buck-a-song idea were affixed to the 30 billion songs shared through P2P networks, but for some reason, record executives aren’t exactly painted as po’ folk, especially to a guy trying to make the rent.

In short, everybody could have made twice the money from record sales, but didn’t, and the media (aside from record company flackery) is making no effort to imply that these people need the dough. So you’ve got $30 billion coming in from record sales, and if the buck-a-song idea is affixed to the illegal side, another $30 billion that could be floating around.

Where could it go?

Heifer International is a wonderful charity that works to end hunger and help out the planet itself by allowing folks to purchase animals or shares of animals to be sent to those who could most use them. I’ve always had a soft spot for the organization, so it seems like a good enough place to start. Giving a llama, for instance, costs $150, keeping the math at a level that I can deal with, $30 billion would get you 200 million llamas. That $30 billion could have given each person in Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, Bolivia and Belize their very own llama.

So you’re not into llamas; that’s fine, the goons at Something Awful just recently did a charity drive concerned with giving bees through Heifer, 12,500 bees for $30. I’m going to keep the zeroes on this, because it’s worth all the zeroes: 12,500,000,000,000 bees. In the movie “My Girl,” that would be enough to kill Macaulay Culkin about one trillion times.

Say we did something more illicit with the money; a June 28, 2007 article in the Economist listed the typical retail price of a gram of cocaine in the US at around $100. So, there’s a good 300,000 kilos of coke that could be bought. Granted, at the time of publication, the average retail price in Columbia was just $2 a gram, so if we were buying it there, we could afford to be generous. Even after giving every Columbian a llama, we could still buy 11,695,416.5 kilos of cocaine. Keep in mind, that’s with the retail, not wholesale price.

Maybe you’d rather spend that $30 billion domestically, so let’s see what kind of government projects we could fund. Looking at the 2008 federal budget we could match the budget for all branches of the National Institute of Health, as well as throwing in the Department of Renewable Energy (28.7 billion and 1.236 billion accordingly). We could combine the budget for the United States Postal Service at 3.722 billion and the procurement budget for the Army at 24.253 billion and arm the Postal Service better than the Army. Or, here’s a fun one, we could more than match what the US government pays toward higher education.

Americans spend more money on music than on sex or prescription drugs. In 2005, the music we pirated theoretically could have saved us $30 billion.

So where the fuck did it go?