Found this via falconieri:
“The essential problem with Google is that it no longer considers itself primarily a search engine. Instead, Google believes it is an advertising company whose search results are mere fodder for commercial messages. This is the crime Google has committed. It is not in violating the principle of neutrality, an ideal that never existed in the history of knowledge organization. Google’s crime is against human culture. Google has stolen our common knowledge and commercialized the library. The long-term cultural consequences of this deplorable criminal act are unclear. But Google’s loathsome introduction of advertising into search results is travesty that must be investigated. Now is the time to begin a substantial inquiry into Google’s practices, not because they violate “search neutrality” but because they violate the human need for commercial-free learning.”
I feel like blaming Google isn’t fair. We’ve commercialized WAY more than just knowledge. In fact, we’ve pretty much commercialized everything in our lives.
There’s a great moment in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, where an astronaut is trapped outside a spaceship by a computer gone psychotic. As the astronaut uses his forearm-mounted computer interface to try to work out a way back inside, we see, right next to the text display, a giant IBM logo. This joke made the audience laugh out loud the last time I saw it in the theater.
When you brush your teeth, there’s likely a logo on your toothbrush. When you drive down the street, not only are their billboards that you drive past, but there are about a half-dozen (or more) logos right inside your car—the car-brand, the brand of radio, your GPS’s brand’s logo, your cell phone, soda can/coffee cup, etc.
I remember in high school (way back in the last century) one of the school clubs ran a candy and soda shop in the cafeteria, where they’d buy candy and soda cheap and then mark it up to sell it to their fellow students. I’ve since heard that some schools accept sponsorships from major corporations in exchange for ads placed around the school. I recall one instance where competitors’ vending machines were banned from the school in favor of the sponsor’s.
Have you watched children’s TV lately? I haven’t. I stopped years ago because (get ready for it) it was just too commercial for me. The disgustingly unhealthy food they try to sell kids is shocking and the methods they use to do it, equally so. Loud music, “wacky” animation, and effective lies insist that Cocoa Puffs are part of a nutritious breakfast (they only say that because they have to admit that you shouldn’t try to survive on Cocoa Puffs alone).
Google isn’t doing anything we haven’t already done to ourselves. They’re just doing it in a new way. Does that make them evil? Well, only if you consider ourselves evil for accepting so many other examples of commercialism into our lives and drawing benefits from it, as well. You think Google should allow us to search without ads? How are they supposed to survive? You benefit from their service, so they should benefit from you using their service. Seems fair enough to me.
Personally, I think it’s about capitalism more than any one entity practicing it. I mean, you can’t blame a tiger for feeding on prey. The whole structure of capitalism demands exploitation—of workers and of customers.
Right there is where the true evil lies, in my opinion. Well, there and in the banks.
(And yes, the title of this post is my paraphrasing Obi-Wan’s “who’s the bigger fool” dialog from the original Star Wars movie.)
Another important post from underpaidgenius:
“Our trade relationship has to be fair. You can’t just sell to us and we can’t sell to you. […] And so we have been bringing more actions against China before the World Trade Organization. We are going to enforce our trade laws much more effectively than we have in the past. […] I’m pro-trade. I just want to make sure that it is fair for American businesses and for American workers.”
Obama — and the US — starts erecting trade barriers to protect US business, and slow the trade imbalance with China.
Let’s not quibble about whether these are new barriers or just old ones finally being enforced: the shift in policy is clear.
The shift in policy is definitely clear, but I don’t think it’s going to be enough. Forget protecting US businesses—we need the US workers to be protected. Outsourcing needs to be banned (if a job *can* be done here, it MUST be) and international corporations should have a minimum number of employees inside the US before they should be allowed to have overseas offices/facilities if they make above a certain amount of money.
Damn right, it’s protectionist! Compared to not protecting the American worker at all, I think a little protectionism is just what our economy ordered! And don’t tell me this won’t create jobs.
It’s not enough that China buy our stuff—it’s that we have stuff to sell, which we really don’t.
“we also need to recognize that we all have a responsibility to do our part and rebuild our communities and rebuild our lives, beginning with rebuilding our own financial literacy so we can move our own family onto safer financial ground. Because this is financial warfare. The credit card companies, the mortgage companies that have been offering us, supposedly, a ticket to the good life, are really filling their contracts with tricks and traps, charging usury rates, 28, 29, 30 percent on our credit cards, and basically undermining the very idea of the American dream.”
I’ve always been a fan of Arianna Huffington (even if I hate her website) and once again, she speaks the truth, even if it is a pretty obvious truth to anyone smart/cynical enough to look past the wishful thinking all of us did when signing up for a credit card. Her mention of interest rates made me think of something I heard Robert Scheer say on Democracy Now yesterday:
So, you know, something that the Bible scripture calls for, whether you’re Hebraic, Christian or a Muslim tradition, usury is condemned. It’s condemned far more than anything else in the Bible. And yet, you know, if you dare suggest we not charge 35 percent interest to somebody on their credit card, my God, no, that can’t be.
Yeah, I always forget about how, if you’re a good Christian, Jew or Muslim, you should never charge interest or be willing to pay it, really. That’s what usury is—or at least, that’s what it was. Once greed kicked in and money became more important than the Bible or God, usury became excessive interest. So, imagine if “thou shalt not kill” became “thou shalt not kill, very often.” It’s sort of like that—ridiculous.
But now our entire economy is based on usury. The Federal Reserve loans money to the US economy and the US economy has to pay it back with interest. That money is then loaned out by banks to us with interest.
Huffington is right, but it’s not just with credit card contracts and mortgages. It’s with all money period—every dollar in our pocket or digit in our bank account represents money borrowed ultimately from the Fed for a fee.
And we are never taught this growing up. Well, I know I wasn’t. We didn’t have so much as a section in Home Ec class in how to balance a checkbook. I can, however, make a killer egg-in-a-frame, to this day.
Yesterday, I posted this over on effyouorg:
Grand Old Party, INDEED.
What a bunch of whining, obstructionist, hypocritical, anti-American, intolerant assholes. The qualities that make the Republicans worthy of the EFFYOU for this week were detailed in last week’s EFFYOU (that one was aimed at the Democrats) so there’s no need to go over those again. However, on top of all of the other stuff the Republicans are guilty of, they added a couple new items to their list of anti-American obstructionist bullshit recently. Check it out:
GOP Halts Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
By NAFTALI BENDAVID, JULIAN E. BARNES and ADAM ENTOUS
Republicans blocked a Democratic effort to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military, likely pushing back any attempt to overturn the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law until after the November election.
Most of these idiots who blocked this from happening haven’t even served and McCain said years ago that he would repeal DADT in a second if generals told him to—which they did—from WaPo, back in February of 2010:
A former war hero, McCain said he would support ending the ban once the military’s top brass told him that they agreed with the change.
“The day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, ‘Senator, we ought to change the policy,’ then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it,” McCain said in October 2006 to an audience of Iowa State University students.
That day arrived Tuesday, with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen testifying to senators after President Obama’s announcement that he would seek a congressional repeal of the 15-year-old policy.
But now he helps block it. So much for free speech and being able to live in a free country! (Not if you want to serve in the military, queers!!) >_<
OH and there’s this:
Republicans Filibuster ‘Dream Act’ for Children of Illegal Immigrants
By Craig Wall, FOX Chicago News
Immigration reform supporters suffered a setback in Washington on Tuesday as Senate Republicans blocked a bill called the “Dream Act.”
It would have given undocumented immigrants who were brought to America as children a path toward legal status, as long as they served in the military or went to college.
Democrats say the Defense Department supports the plan as a way of getting good recruits, but Republicans unanimously opposed the bill. They filibustered it, and kept it from coming up for a vote.
Yeeeeah, so they block a new route for illegal immigrant kids to stay in the US permanently AND make them immediately useful to America in the process. What the fuck ever happened to “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” anyway???
So for all this crap and a whole lot more, this week’s EFFYOU goes to the Republican party.
May you all be outed as the gay, greedy-as-sin, racist, homophobic, atheists you must really be on the inside (because if you weren’t all those things, why would you behave like you do?).
I don’t have AIDS/HIV, but I am puzzled as to why governments on both state and federal levels seem so disinterested in resisting greed and passing laws that benefit the rich or vetoing them if they don’t.
From NYC’s housingworksbookstore:
This week Gov. Paterson vetoed a bill that would have addressed an outrageous injustice.
Thousands of poor New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS in government-subsidized housing pay up to 75 percent of their income toward rent. In some cases, this leaves New Yorkers to live on just $12 a day.
The vast majority of people in government-subsidized housing pay no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. It’s no wonder, then, that the State Senate and Assembly voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill that would offer the same benefit to poor HIV-positive people in subsidized housing—and no wonder Paterson promised to sign it.
If passed, the bill could have helped stabilize housing for at least 10,000 struggling New Yorkers.
But the governor broke his promise. He vetoed the bill.
Join our Fight the Veto! Twitter and Facebook campaign asking state representatives to override that decision. (via Housing Works: Join Our Facebook and Twitter Campaign to Fight Paterson’s Rent Cap Veto!)
I feel like it’s useless to fight this trend. Money talks and corporate money talks LOUDLY—the Supreme Court made sure of this and there are very few individuals who can compete with the finances of mega-corporations. Also, there seem to be no ways to become that powerful/rich without compromising your morals on some level or another (or several).
We can protest as much as we want, retweet and “Like” on Facebook as much as we want, and the powers that be can simply ignore us. Largely like they’ve been doing for the last ten years.
No sooner do I post episode 25 of the 666cast which encourages us all to turn off the TV news to avoid it’s stupifying effects, than do I stumble across a post on Frederic Guarino’s tumblr linking to “Tomgram: Juan Cole, The Media as a Security Threat to America” on TomDispatch.com. In part Juan Cole is quoted in the post as saying:
The great Pakistani deluge did not exist, it seems, because it was not on television, would not have delivered audiences to products, and was not all about us. As we saw on September 11, 2001, and again in March 2003, however, the failure of our electronic media to inform the public about centrally important global developments is itself a security threat to the republic.
Earlier today, Frederic also reblogged this:
further proof US media is insular to the point of being ridiculous
All right, so I guess I should have said turn off ALL mainstream media in the US, instead of just TV. :\
Jesus, (if we can’t learn what’s really going on in the world) we’re fucked.
Piracy will eventually evolve…
I found this post over at streetvisuals.posterous.com that brings up a great point about piracy. But before I get to it, I’d just like to point out that what piracy literally is has always existed in some form even if it was legally allowed (via libraries or just borrowing/gifting books from/to friends) and will never go away as long as tools exist for making it possible. That said, what can IP (Intellectual Property) owners do about it? Street Visuals suggests we all just chill and treat it as reasonably in expensive advertising.
The blog post mentions a guy called Markus Persson, developer of the game Minecraft who doesn’t like piracy, but understands that: things, they are a’ changin’.
Persson says in a blog post that the digital world simply doesn’t mesh with an economic system that was designed around physical goods that can only exist in one place at a time, and can’t be easily copied. “We’ve got an amazingly effective way of distributing culture that is extremely beneficial for humanity, but it clashes with our current economical models,” he writes. The ability to quickly and easily make identical copies of movies, books, games and other content is something we don’t want to give up, Persson says, but “to people who want to get paid for their digital works, myself included, that is a bit of a problem.”
All of society and economics is based on an old outdated model where giving something to someone would rid the original owner of their copy, so everyone who wanted a copy had to buy one from someone else who would lose theirs, and the only source of new copies was you.
I love that he calls it an “old outdated model” because, of course, it is—for exactly the reasons he cites.
But what can we do about it? Neither Persson’s post or the post on Street Visuals really suggests any solution to this problem aside from ignoring it—which is essentially what you do when you treat it as advertising. The only thing you need to do, actively, is make sure there are benefits to buying the legit copy—like extra trinkets that come with the DVD or things you can do online only by registering a legit copy. However, this doesn’t begin to approach the bigger problem facing society:
What do we do with this “old outdated model” of economics that we still practice?
The fact that no one has really gotten farther than this point in the discussion (and most folks aren’t even aware that this discussion is taking place) speaks to our sad and near complete lack of cultural imagination.
The only thing I can think of is something like a UK-style NHS but instead of providing national health services, it’ll provide income for content creators. The system would go like this:
The creator produces the content without compensation to start with. After a certain number of downloads they can apply for government sponsorship. From there, tax money gets shunted to the creator.
Sure, lots of folks would be annoyed that their tax dollars are going to pay for someone to make content that offends them, but the way I see it, they should shut up and grow up since, for ten years, my tax dollars have been helping pay for two wars that I morally and logically object to. Everything is a trade-off when you live in a world with adults. I pay for your content, you pay for mine. We may not agree, but we both agree we should all be able to feed ourselves and our families.
And that’s ultimately the point: we all agree that movies, shows, music, games, books, and software applications are important and useful to humanity as a whole, so why don’t we just agree that this is an industry that absolutely needs to exist and support it with our tax dollars?
The idea that this antiquated old system just went through a massive upheaval should give us a big heads-up that shit needs to change. I mean, banks are too big to fail, but thanks to a lack of money, our creative industry is too big and is failing. We’ve got to do something, kids.