Sunday, December 30, 2007

Steve Jobs vs RIAA?

From today's Washington Post, in an article about the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) using the federal court system in an attempt to stop digital music sharing:

" . . . in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer."
CDs sales are down and consumers--and some artists--are looking for ways to avoid these traditional (aka: old) media companies altogether. So the answer is to sue the pants off of college students and now people who are actually purchasing the CDs and copying them to their own computers? Brilliant.

So when does Steve Jobs enter the picture? If the RIAA wins this suit, will they then claim that, once a song or album is purchased and downloaded through a service such as iTunes, the consumer is not legally permitted to then transfer that song or album from their computer to their iPod? Maybe, but I'd put my money on Steve and the 100 million or so of my fellow iPod users.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas With the In-laws

I adore my mother- and father-in-law, but I know that many, many people were not so fortunate in that little lottery. Take, for instance, my friend who, for obvious reasons, must not be named. He sent me this:

Xmas Day Itinerary:

8:00-10:59: I enjoy a great Christmas morning with my wife and daughter
11:00: In-laws show up
11:01: First bottle of wine is secretly opened
11:02: I pour a glass of wine into the mug I was using for coffee to avoid detection
1:20: In-laws have now settled in, no thoughts of leaving in the next 10 hours
1:30: First bottle of wine is long gone as well as a beer or two. I tell everyone that I'm going to open a bottle of wine and ask if anyone wants a glass, fully aware of the answer: No
1:35: I grab a wine glass, but keep my coffee mug behind a picture on an end table, just in case
2:30: Dinner starts
2:45: I finish eating
4:44: In-laws finish eating
5:00: Brother-in-law's girlfriend's family shows up, including her neurotic sister, her boyfriend—who I don't know—and their punk-ass teenagers
5:00:30: I lock up the valuables and hide my car keys and wallet
5:01: Not sure of the count, but another bottle of wine is opened.
5:03: Everything kind of starts over again but with the new players
5:15: "Drunk Dialing" friends from the garage begins
6:30: Mean looks from the wife because I'm ignoring her family. My excuse: why change now? Plus it's nearly impossible to get a word in edgewise not to mention my diminishing motor skills
7:30: The guests are in all here. I've switched to Sam Adams because my teeth are purple
9:00: I call a friend for the second time, envious because his day has long been over.
9:01 - 11:00: Does it matter? I won't remember anyway.
11:00: People start to leave
11:30: The same people are still leaving
12:00: Everyone has left
12:15: Mother in law calls to say good night for the tenth time

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In Need of a Laugh?

Try this:

Top 278 Star Wars Lines Improved By Replacing A Word With "Pants"

Though I appreciate the effort, I'm surprised the list stops at 278. Certainly couldn't have been for a lack of material.*

But anyway: You're welcome!

*Apologies for the completely unintentional pun.

Mac and PC Meet Santa

Ho Ho Ho!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Weekly Dammit, #19

After a lengthy hiatus, it's back! C'mon, you know you missed your Weekly Dammit.

Dammit #1:

Holy crap! It's actually been a month since the last Dammit. I'm blaming it on work, changes to Charlotte's schedule, a trip to Georgia for Thanksgiving . . . Or we could just go with laziness.

Dammit #2:
Mike Huckabee once advocated quarantine for AIDS patients. And said that Hollywood stars should fund HIV/AIDS research from their own pockets. Guess who's ahead in the Iowa and South Carolina polls?

Dammit #3:
Normal people come with "irrelevance filters." That means that they can actually concentrate and generally have much better memories. To paraphrase myself from a comment on, if you didn't come with said filters factory installed, can you buy them?

Dammit #4:
A slice of pumpkin pie (1/8 of a pie and who eats only that?) has 320 calories and 15 grams of fat. On the positive side, it also has 7 grams of fiber.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Why . . .

Why does Mitt Romney, or any other candidate, need to give a major speech to say that they will govern as an American and not let their religion be an issue? We can answer that with another question: Why do so many Americans think it necessary for any and all candidates to believe in God, and more specifically, Jesus Christ?

The most problematic portion of the speech, for me, was this: "Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom" and "Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government." I see liberty as being a gift from the founding fathers, and everyone else who put their necks on the line--literally--to gain independence from England. It's also a gift from every single one of the military people who leave their families, for months, and even more than a year at a time, to protect all Americans and our way of life. I'm pretty sure they don't sort us out by religion as to who is more deserving of that protection. Nor are all military personnel Christian.

But what about those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior? I would never vote for or against a candidate based solely on religion. I want to know what s/he is going to do about the economy; how to handle the Iraqi problem in a decent and moral way; how to get math and science scores back up so Americans can be more competitive in the global marketplace; how to bring more jobs back in the US; how to handle the environmental crisis; as well as a few other issues I can't think of at the moment.

Basically, I don't care if a candidate is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon or any other religion--nor do I care if a candidate is agnostic or atheist. What matters is not who they worship, or if they worship, what matters is how they will govern and whether religious beliefs will influence how they govern. It is a very sad state when candidates for elected office feel that is has become such an important issue that they ask reporters follow them to Sunday (or Saturday) services.

We've spent seven years with a president who wears his religion on his sleeve, to the point of having evolutionary science demoted to a "theory," abstinence only programs promoted both here and abroad, the Supreme Court packed with ideologues, though what we were ostensibly looking for was judges who would not legislate from the bench. Because that's a bad thing--but only if you're a Democrat.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Mommy Has a Potty Mouth

When I was a child, as punishment for swearing, I had my mouth washed out with soap. Twice, and neither time was deserved:

The first: My oldest sister kept telling me to "Copy what I say! Say it after me!" Once she got me to say "dammit," she tattled and I had my first taste of Ivory soap.

The second: I had stayed home from school, but apparently a cold is not an excuse to sleep, so Mom put me to work. While cleaning out the pantry, I started singing a little song. Rhyming the word "lucky" as you make your way through the alphabet will also get your mouth washed out with soap.

In the first case, I was five. In the second, not more than seven.

After that, I didn't really swear until college--yes, the occasional "dammit" but definitely not the f-bomb. And unless you've waited tables, you probably didn't know that the job came with an advanced degree in the fine art of swearing (MFAS). Off the floor, the cures fly thick and fast and, before I knew it, I had picked up the habit which has proved harder to break than smoking. But now that whole "do as I say and don't repeat what I say" thing isn't going to work anymore, as Hannah pointed out on our flight to Georgia for Thanksgiving.

Me: "Dammit! The seat is broken! . . . . . Oh, um, remember: that's one of those words that you're not supposed to say."

Hannah: "Well then, maybe you shouldn't say it either."

Point taken.

So now I have my New Years Resolution chosen for me, and early at that. The trouble is that I'm not good at sticking to the things that are supposed to make me better in some way: losing weight, working out, reading more, writing my book, quitting my foolish competition with European wine drinkers . . . . So how the he ck am I supposed to stop swearing?

Some people, I've heard, charge themselves a quarter and then buy a reward for reaching certain goals. But what? Dessert? No--this would just bring us back to the whole "don't like push ups" thing. Shoes? Clothes? Books? Sadly, don't need (as in "can't justify, even if my language becomes as pure as Mother Theresa's") the first two, and don't want to add another couple of books to the pile already waiting. A donation to a good cause might seem like a good idea on it's face, but it is, as the others, a disincentive: If I charge myself a quarter every time I swear, where is the incentive to stop? I'd have a new pair of Jimmy Choos in a couple of days, a week, tops. And I can't lose weight fast enough for the new wardrobe I could purchase. As for the donation? If I were to donate every quarter to the cause, why would I want to stop swearing if it would dry up my donation?

No, the answer is in donating to a cause whose mission makes my skin crawl and the bile rise in my throat. An organization which would (in this way only) get my check and which could, at the very thought of my writing said check, shock away every bit of natural color left in my hair. That's right: Nati*onal R*ght to L*fe. (I've added a few characters so I don't show up on a Google search. Anyone know if I can bleach that term from my own search history?) While this challenge doesn't start until January 1, I've already managed to scare myself at least a bit straighter. The day after I decided on this course, I owed them a phantom $2.50 by 9:00. Yes, 9:00 in the morning. But after less than one week, with more "drats," "darnits," and even "hecks," I'm down to maybe .50-.75 per day, which is a huge improvement. So as long as I remember to apply duct tape before I hit the highway, I might be OK.

*For clarification: This applies to verbal mishaps only. It will in no way, shape or form change the Weekly Dammit. Whenever the Dammit decides to come back online, that is.