Here’s what SOPA means to me

5 Comments

SOPA Rufus Dogg

I just need to get this off my chest: The entertainment industry does not “overcharge.” It prices its products to what the market will pay for. Just because it is too expensive to YOU, does not mean that anyone is “overcharging” anyone. Quit flinging that around like it is fact. It is not. Just because you think it is expensive, it does not give you the moral right to pirate stuff.

Ok, that being said, here is my really short take on SOPA.

SOPA is a bad idea because of the enforcement power it gives the US government and copyright holders. The real issue goes something like this: If Ally Bank or Petco wanted to expand out their Rufus dog characters in future commercials (you have to Google them; I’m not going to lead them here) their legal team might slap me with a C&D and take down my blog, G+, Facebook and other sites as my name is Rufus and I am a dog. I would have little recourse with my domain registrar. Or the corporation that owns me might somehow offend a minor league baseball team on the East Coast and decide there is some confusion with their fans and order a takedown of my company I’ve held for twelve years before they even threw out their first pitch. (same name with one letter difference at the end)

Who would hear my redress, my government? HA! Just ask the Eat More Kale dude how his little venture is going.

Of one thing I am certain. Law enforcement has and will use laws far beyond their intended purpose. I am sure some bureaucrat at the Department of Homeland Security has been poring over my blog since the day I started writing, wondering how to apply some provision of the Patriot Act to initiate a take down order and throw my hairy behind into an unmarked prison cell for an indefinite amount of time without a warrant.

But that might just be the heart worm meds talking.

Copyright infringement (piracy) has been a severe problem for more than a decade now and has essentially hammered an entire generation of creative class into simply not producing much of value that does not include a remix or some reality show. Writers with talent are being exploited, filmmakers being ripped off and photographers have just been put out of business. Something needs to be done, but SOPA ain’t it. But I think somehow a form of it will pass because the entertainment industry is huge, well-heeled and very pissed off.

Don’t misunderstand me by citing that I am anti-SOPA. I am not. I am anti-the-enforcement-provision-of-SOPA. That is all. The rest of the bill that protects the rights of the creative class, I’m right there with them. I think Google, YouTube, Huffington Post and tons of other sites have gotten a free ride for a very long time. They have built obscenely profitable businesses without having to pay for the true cost of their inventory.

Tech without content is a store without goods. Tech without content is crap nobody wants. The entertainment industry does not really need tech to distribute anything. It wants it, but does not need it. If Amazon, Apple, Google went away tomorrow, entertainment still owns printing presses and movie theaters. And we would buy books and go to the movies again.

Yes we would.

For those who are interested in finding out more about what piracy has done to the creative class, read Free Ride by Robert Levine. Then craft your own opinions about SOPA and piracy.

Send to Kindle
Comment | 5 Comments
Posted in American Culture, Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Find your little heart place

Comments Off

Yesterday, a friend of mine who lives in New York City sent me a box of cookies from Levain Bakery. If you have never had a cookie from them, go right now and get one.. or two.

I’ll wait.

Aside of being the most delicious cookies in the whole wide world, what struck me the most is the label they put on every box and post card. Along the bottom, they draw the New York City skyline in pen. Toward the very end, they color in their bakery and float a heart above it.

Subtle, but the message is clear. Even in a crowded, dense city like New York where everyone is seemingly insignificant to everyone else, you find meaning, purpose and love in a little bakery in the middle of the chaos.

Slow down and find your little heart place.

Happy holidays.

Send to Kindle
Comment | Comments Off
Posted in American Culture, Clever Stuff, Just thinking out loud, Pop Culture, Random Stuff, Thinking out loud | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

A monkey with a loaded gun does not make him a marksman

9 Comments

Monkey with a  loaded gun

I wrote four drafts of this #letsblogoff and scrapped every one. I don’t think the world needs another diatribe about how we are all getting stuff for free and think we are owed full service. I’ll let others do that.

Instead, I’ll just list a few things that make me go “Hmmmm…”

Social media experts who have found fame blogging believe they are experts about other things for which they have not spent the time honing the craft.

Soccer moms with crappy cameras who stand on the touchline and say things like, “Don’t waste your money on the photos. I’ll give you mine for free.”

Speakers who speak at conferences where the attendees have paid good money to attend and expect quality advice say things like, “The best thing about this software is it’s FREE!”

People who remix songs from others and claim to have talent and skill. Same with photos, paintings and prints.

Politicians who vote to send kids to war but don’t budget Veterans’ benefits when they come back all shot up.

Overhearing this being said; “Anyone can write.”

Just because a monkey with a loaded gun hits the target, it doesn’t make him a marksman.

* * *

And this video says everything I need to say about the argument against ever increasingly low prices. The only thing I wish were different is if I could somehow spend a few bucks for the privilege of embedding it here in my blog for you to enjoy.

This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about exploring the theme, If you can’t afford the tip, you can’t afford the meal. To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.

Send to Kindle
Comment | 9 Comments
Posted in American Culture, BlogOff, Creatives, Just thinking out loud, Pop Culture, Serious Stuff, Social Media | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Christmas 2011 fireplace

3 Comments

Early last year, I finally broke down and bought a fireplace for the living room. I should have done this years ago. It transformed the entire room and gave me an excuse to never put a television in it.

During October, I brought the fake pumpkins out of storage to put on the step outside, but they didn’t quite make it. While I was pondering how to string the power from the garage, I plopped the pumpkins on the mantel and plugged them in. They never made it to the step outside.

For Thanksgiving, I put up some autumn decorations and for Christmas, what you see below.

Christmas 2011 Fireplace

The poinsettia theme was inspired from my puppy days of Christmas time at St. Agnes Church in St. Paul where the altar was decorated with poinsettias from Seeger’s Flower Shop on Dale St. in Frogtown (it is long gone) from end to end starting with the first Sunday in Advent. The flowers were all tilted slighting so the flowers would face forward. Every week, the florists would come in and tilt them foward just a little bit more as the flowers would fight to grow upwards. By New Year’s Day, the stems of the flowers were as crooked as a leprechaun’s staff. Apparently, even nature is an illusion in church.

I don’t have photos for Halloween or Thanksgiving because I only just thought of this. Apparently, after you do something for three consecutive holidays, it is a tradition so I’m going to decorate the mantel for each season. New Year’s up next, then Valentines’ Day, followed by St. Patrick’s Day. Fair warning; the non-Christmas decor will probably not be as elaborate.

Stay tuned as I post up the fireplace photo here as the theme turns!

Send to Kindle
Comment | 3 Comments
Posted in American Culture, Fireplace | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

You really want the US Postal Service to go away?

4 Comments

USPS

I received this letter in the mail yesterday. I noticed the return address had two things; a PO Box and the ZIP Code.* That’s it.

A few days ago, I read some tweets in my stream where a few people were cheering on the demise of the US Postal Service. My gut reaction was “not so fast, everyone. The USPS — with all its faults — is still a pretty vital spine in our democracy.”

The letter I received underscored how sophisticated the USPS really is. With no more information than a PO Box and a ZIP Code, it can get a letter to the right person from anywhere in the world.

That is something that just didn’t happen by accident.

*Altered for some privacy

Send to Kindle
Comment | 4 Comments
Posted in American Culture, Branding Thoughts, Business, Just thinking out loud, Pop Culture | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

I became an artist because I hate math

10 Comments

During my stint at the Dayton Daily News, I used to do career day at local schools. I think everyone at the paper just wanted a day off from me which is why they always nominated me to go. That’s ok; give me an open mic and a stage and I’m all over it!

So I showed up at a Dayton elementary school to speak to a classroom full of fourth-graders. There was the usual collection of policemen with their uniforms and shiny badges and fireman in hats — with firetrucks parked out in front for the kids to climb on later — lined up ready to speak.

….

Send to Kindle
Comment | 10 Comments
Posted in BlogOff, Essays, Journalism, Ohio, Pop Culture, Random Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Drug testing our way to a Master Race

5 Comments

Drug testing

In October, Linn State Technical College in Linn, Mo., notified its 1,200 students that they will have to take a drug test to enroll there

Florida requires citizens applying for pubic assistance to submit to a drug test. Supporters of the policies note that public assistance is meant to be transitional and that drug tests are increasingly common requirements for getting jobs. So, the argument goes, people get drug-tested all the time so it must be ok.

Only it isn’t ok.

The question is not if it is ok that we test welfare recipients but that we are testing people at all for drug use. It is not an invasion of their privacy. It’s about assuming they are guilty of using and proving they are not. It assumes that people who test positive (whether or not they really are positive) are unemployable, bad credit risks, stupid or unworthy of basic human assistance

We don’t test for alcohol yet alcohol kills more people and contributes to more workplace accidents than marijuana does.

If we are wondering how to create a “Master Race,” this is how we do it. Only employ people with high FICO Scores, no prison record and a clean drug test. The rest with any human faults and frailties we can leave to the ravages of poverty.

But that is probably ok as we work toward privatizing prisons and then replace public sector employees with prisoners who make less than a $1.00/day. They are already being put to work as highway workers and firefighters.

Maybe we can replace teachers with prisoners one day as well.

Send to Kindle
Comment | 5 Comments
Posted in American Culture, Local politics, Political thoughts, Pop Culture, Poverty | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Who are you?

3 Comments

Social Media cares... about itself

On Nov 15, The New York Times published a story about Facebook forcing Salman Rushdie to use his real name — Ahhmed — on his profile, even as he is commonly known as Salman. Facebook makes the argument that forcing people to use their real identities creates a more civil discourse on the Internet.

Bull crap.

Google and Facebook want you to use your real name because they want to sell you to merchants who buy their ads. Merchants can’t and won’t buy anonymous or aliased users. Facebook and Google have no interest in policing good behavior on the Internet, but they know the real argument for your real identity won’t be picked up by technologists.

In fact, the parrots are already squawking the “civil discourse” talking points without any proof that it is true.

When companies and governments justify their actions with “for your security” or “for your convenience,” start clutching your wallet.

Follow the money, folks.

Send to Kindle
Comment | 3 Comments
Posted in American Culture, Pop Culture, Social Media, Thinking out loud | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Essential Thanksgiving food

23 Comments

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to make a meal from scratch. I do every year, with the exception of one item on the table.

Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce. From a can.

I know, I know. I’ve tried making every cranberry relish recipe you can dream or look up and it remains uneaten. Even the dogs wouldn’t eat it (not really. Never feed your dog dark fruit, seeds or dark turkey meat.)

So, every year, without fail, I buy two cans of Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce.

Here’s the recipe:

1) Buy two cans Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce
2) Punch a hole in the bottom end of the can.
3) Use a can opener to remove the lid.
4) Shake hard once over a serving plate. Listen for the slurp and plop noises.
5) Cut into slices.

Easy-peazy.

This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about exploring the theme, It’s Thanksgiving, so let’s blog about food To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.

Send to Kindle
Comment | 23 Comments
Posted in BlogOff, Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , | 23 Comments

The passive-agressive guide to OccupyWallStreet

3 Comments

I grew up Catholic in St. Paul, Minnesota or as I like to say, I had a season ticket front-row seat to the “Minnesota Nice Guilt-Fest.” We used to hold passive-agressive contests at the local parish church every Sunday where the best competitors went on to compete in the Dairy Barn at the Minnesota State Fair.

Our church ladies always took home the blue ribbon.

I was watching a bit of #OccupyWallStreet live camera stuff on UStream last week and like many of you, read the accounts of the early morning Zuccotti Park raids and book trashing.

So the OccupyWallStreet movement has been given the heave-ho by the government that was trusted to provide protections the citizens thought they had. Apparently the right of free assembly does not mean the right to camp out on public property and beat drums. The rights of others who don’t wish to participate need to be respected.

Fair enough. The Occupiers will have to just assemble and disband every day. I’m sure they will make that work somehow. They are bright, young and tenacious. If it were me, I’d assemble in silence in the park every day and just stare at people coming and going on Wall Street.

But where they can really make the Occupy movement work is to slowly infiltrate the rest of America with nonspecific, irritating, passive-agressive actions that anyone who supports the movement can take.

Here are just a few suggestions:

Banks and Credit Card Companies
Quit going paperless. Ask for paper statements to be mailed to you each month. Quit using the ATM and go into the lobby. Don’t show up prepared. Ask that they look up your account number and fill out the deposit slip at the window, not before. Call their 800 number almost daily to inquire about your balance or ask that they verify a check was cleared or some other inane question.

Cell Phone Companies
Again, do not go paperless. Make them mail you a bill every month. Call them to verify the terms of your agreement or check the signal strength or some other nonsense almost every day. Resist the urge to upgrade until after your contract has expired or even later.

Grocery Stores
Quit using the self check-out lanes. Ask for paper bags. Shop when they are giving out free samples and don’t buy any product they are sampling. Carry cash and lots of coins so you can pay in exact change, but take a while to count out the small coins. If you have to start over every now and then, ok. Make multiple trips a week so your purchases are small.

Libraries
Use them!

Your Employer
Punch in on time, punch out on time. Don’t give any more time than they are paying you for. Take ALL your sick and personal days. Don’t bring in anything for office potluck parties. Don’t bring in anything from home.

Gas Stations
Buy only a few gallons of gas at a time and never pay at the pump. Go inside; use the restroom, pay in cash with coins and small bills. Count it slowly. Irritate the clerk who can’t add but can see the line getting longer behind you.

Above all, never become annoyed or defensive with anyone. Be clueless, act helpless, ask inane questions. A true passive-agressive always controls the situation be remaining in character.

Sure, all this stuff takes time and effort, but what else were you gonna do? Stand around in a park?

These are just a small sampling of ideas where you can exercise some passive-agressive behavior against corporations. For the past several decades, they have been pushing their cost-savings onto their customers in the form of shadow labor without giving any of the benefits back. No wonder many of them are able to make record profits! They are getting free labor.

Be everywhere, but be nowhere. Cause small disruptions and annoyances for corporations but not enough that they can target you. Frustrate their efforts to push off expenses onto you. Frustrate their forward momentum in pushing out new products designed to give you more shadow labor without compensation.

Large crowds may be easy to disperse, but thousands of years and millions of guilt-ridden Catholics have proven that passive-agression can be a pretty formidable weapon. Learn from their years of mastery.

*Thanks to David Carr (another Minnesota ex-pat) of the New York Times for the perfect image to this post. His inspiration can be found here.

Send to Kindle
Comment | 3 Comments
Posted in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

How stupid is Mike Bloomberg?

Comments Off

I have nothing to add other than when the weak become fearful, they start shooting and hitting.

On YouTube

Regardless of what you think about Keith Olbermann, elected leaders who choose to start arresting and repressing the pubic only fuels protesters. I’m not really sure why nobody teaches that in the “So you want to be a politician” classes these guys should be taking before they take an oath.

But they should.

Governing for Dummies. I wonder if that title exists?

The things that make us out here in Middle America pause, think, sympathize, fill with rage and then act:
– Book trashing
– Cops in paramilitary dress
– Arresting or restricting journalists’ access
– The use of “health and safety” laws for cover
– DHS involvement against American citizens
– ‘Freezing’ a public area
– Raids under cover of darkness

On February 27, 1968, Lyndon Johnson said, after watching a special report on CBS News by Walter Cronkite, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the American People.” We don’t have a Walter Cronkite, but we do have Internet that brings us these stories of elected officials abusing their power given them by the people who trusted them to govern. We can see for ourselves the lengths they are willing to go to in order to maintain the power of which they have long forgotten the source.

Mike Bloomberg, you are losing the American People, one middle-aged mutt at a time.

Send to Kindle
Comment | Comments Off
Posted in Pop Culture | Tagged , , | Comments Off

The complete and authoritative guide to social media

8 Comments

Social Media Icons

My buddy Neil Hedley wrote a blog post yesterday that I just had to comment on. That comment turned into a blog post for me. (yay!)

This came on the heels of a post by Bonnie Stewart on Salon.com about Klout. And here on her blog earlier. Neil Kramer penned this little rant today and Saxon Henry threw this out for discussion on her weekly Adroyt.com salon last month.

It occurred to me that perhaps the online community needed a dog to strap up and take the lead position in this runaway social media sled, so here goes. The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Social Media.*

Your Blog: This is where you live. This is yours, all yours. This is home. EVERYTHING happens here. You own it. Start here; end here.

Twitter: Random crap that pops into your brain during the day. A place to huck your stuff (like blog posts, new books, other writers’ new books, shout out to friends who got mentioned in the press.. except in the police blotter.. leave that out :-) )

Facebook: Ugh. Post as little as possible, push to blog, Comment rarely, never more than 2 responses deep. NEVER engage in an argument there.. ever.

LinkedIn: Only post what you want people with money to see. Only reply to posts in groups to establish your authority on a subject.

YouTube: Only to host your videos so you can embed them on your blog. Don’t spend any time customizing your “channel” and never, never care about comments there. Never.

Google Plus: Post for the purpose of smashing keywords into the Google search engine. Push folks to your blog. Comment rarely. No social goal, only SEO/SEM.

Foursquare: Check in if you have B2C clients or sponsors; need an alibi for the police; want to annoy your son who is a chef by checking into chain restaurants.

That’s it. You need nothing more social than that and probably never will. Ignore any other advice you get about social media.

For every other connection that is worth a damn, use the phone or email.

Would a dog lie to you?

*Not responsible for a drop in revenues, self-esteem or any other “in real life” assets you foolishly attached to any of your social media identities. If you ever want to know what is real, take your dog for a walk. Nothing else matters.

Send to Kindle
Comment | 8 Comments
Posted in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

You cheated me. You stole my destiny.

14 Comments

There is a scene in Forrest Gump where Lt. Dan hauls Forrest to the floor of the military hospital and lashed out at him for saving his life. His destiny, he yelled through clenched teeth, was to die in battle like his ancestors before him. He was angry and bitter that had been taken away from him, even though he had been given his life in exchange.

We see this facet of the human condition all around us.

Mitch McConnell was supposed to serve in a government that was stately and hallowed, where learned white men exchanged discourse of higher ideals. Instead, he found himself in a Congress where he perceived the shoe-shine boy and coat check girl were in charge. And that made him a bitter, frustrated old man.

The same could be said about the recent spontaneous student riots when Joe Paterno was fired from Penn State. The media prattled on about how the students were showing support for JoePa. No, they weren’t. They were scared, bitter Lt. Dans, lashing out at any ol’ Forrest, screaming “you stole my destiny.” They knew in their hearts they were not ever, ever going to be a part of that great football legacy of Penn State. It was stolen from them.

To understand Occupy Wall Street is to understand this fundamental facet of the human condition. An entire generation (or class, or 99%) of Americans have become overwhelmed by the fear of losing the destiny that they were promised. The same is also true of the Tea Party.

The media spins stories around facts. They have to. They need to be able to verify human behavior — especially perceptibly irrational behavior — around a series of facts. This caused that, that caused this other thing, etc. Journalism isn’t about waxing philosophically about the inner workings of the human mind and heart.

And so we end up having a discourse around the talking points that are on the surface, those that we were told were the causal elements of an event instead of what is really going on.

What is really going on is basic human fear. The real cause is nothing you can prove, but deep in our hearts, we know it to be true.

Nobody stole our destiny. The truth is our destiny is to create our own world, to figure out how to grow legs when the world cuts us off at the knees. While our initial reaction is to lash out at the world, to get drunk on New Year’s Eve and rail against God and his creation, eventually we need to figure out the answer to the fundamental question Lt. Dan asked of himself in that military hospital; “What am I gonna do now?”

Some of us will figure it out, find peace and go get some new legs. Others will simply run out of time. Most will remain angry, frustrated and bitter.

What are you gonna do?

Send to Kindle
Comment | 14 Comments
Posted in American Culture, GenY Thoughts, Great Recession, Just thinking out loud, Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Puppies of Mad Men

5 Comments

Midge drawing puppies for Gramdmother's Day in Mad Men

I was transferring some rather large iTunes libraries and one of those little buggers is bound to start playing in the background. Season one, Episode One Smoke Gets in your Eyes was the one that started playing.

By the time I figured out it was playing, it made it all the way to the scene where Don knocks on Midge’s door and she shows him the greeting card she is drawing for Grandmother’s Day. It was a puppy! I missed that scene.

Anyway, it got me thinking that if Mad Men started off with a puppy, there has got to be a ton of other puppy references throughout. So I am going to find them and add them here.

If anyone wants to join in on the project, just holler below in the comments and let me know which episodes you will be watching. Post the time dogs or puppies are referenced and we should have a list in short order.

Hey, it’s research!

Season 1, Episode 1, 3:42

Send to Kindle
Comment | 5 Comments
Posted in American Culture, Clever Stuff, Just thinking out loud, Pop Culture, Random Stuff, Stupid stuff, Thinking out loud | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, I’m a midnight toker… but mostly I’m a welder who writes haiku and works as a janitor on the weekends

18 Comments

When I was young, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life when I grew up; EVERYTHING.

I wanted to be on the receiving end of a firehose of experience that was exciting and revelrous and peaceful and satisfying all at once. Almost a lifetime (well, so far!) of living and I’m still looking for the perfect experience that stands still in time as well as moves the human race forward by a leap.

This morning, I wanted 5:00 am to last forever, with a hot cup of coffee, the New York Times and a large dog with his head in my lap. But I also wanted to write that perfect book chapter that was swirling in my head. 5:00 am turned into 6:39 am too soon and 6:39 am turned into 11:00 am and I had not stopped the clock nor had I moved humanity forward by a leap.

Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow.

….

Send to Kindle
Comment | 18 Comments
Posted in American Culture, BlogOff, Just thinking out loud, Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments