Thursday, May 15, 2008

My take on the recent RIAA ruling

So not long ago, a jury ruled against Jammie Thomas, and ordered her to pay the RIAA $222,000 for a total of 24 songs that she "made available" via Kazaa. The judge had instructed the jury that "making the content available for download" did indeed construe copyright violation. The judge has since made a statement that maybe he erred in that instruction and a retrial may be in order.

An interesting note, though, was that the RIAA took it from "making available" to "disseminating" by running MediaSentry, a program which downloaded the 24 songs from Jammie's computer to their own.

Now, at $9250 per song, what I'm dying to know is... if the RIAA downloaded 24 songs from her computer, and did not own the copyright to even ONE of those songs, they are technically violating someone else's copyright. Why aren't they being sued for downloading content that doesn't belong to them???

I am *so* tired of this racketeering by the RIAA and MPAA. Treating customers like thieves is utterly despicable. I wish only karma upon them.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Iron Man - Movie Review

I saw Iron Man last night on a very large DLP screen, and all I can say is if you have not seen it, you should go while it is still on the big screen!

First, Robert Downey Jr gives a spectacular performance. He manages to play the slick public-figure-type guy, the get-your-hands-dirty-genius-inventor guy, and the "Jon Stewart-ish" witty comic all rolled into one. He really was the perfect fit for the role.

Jeff Bridges also gives an unbelievable performance. The quality of his acting really shouldn't come as a shock to anyone, given his past roles. It's nice to see that he's never really been typecast into a certain kind of role.

The video and sound quality was really staggering. The special effects were good enough that the line between real and CGI is basically invisible, and the overall physics in the movie is really lightyears beyond similar movies like Spiderman. I generally don't mind suspending my disbelief for comic book type movies when it comes to dismal physics, but it was truly refreshing to see mostly-real physics in effect in Iron Man.

I see quite a lot of movies in every genre except horror, and I gotta say this is most likely the best movie I have seen in 1-2 years. A+

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Charity starts in the.... desert?

Something RLM said to me in another blog made me think. Some organizations/states/whatever cover the costs of CI and hearing aids while they don't cover the cost of equally useful tools for Deaf like Sidekicks, etc.

This brings up a much larger point, though. I read that the worldwide demand for CI is about $200 million. And if 1 of every 10 people in HoH in the US, then the bilateral cost of providing them all hearing aids is:

300,000,000 people
30,000,000 HoH
$2000 x 2 = $4000 for aids
assume aids last 4 years, so $1000 per person, per year.
so about $30 billion per year at absolute most, since many don't need bilateral, and most aids last longer than 4 years.

Now, that sounds like a large sum of money, until you consider the amount we have spent per year for our precious wars in Iraq and Afganistan (hint, lots more than $30 billion per year).

So instead of sitting here fighting about inequalities of coverage, why don't we all focus our sights on the wonderful people flushing away money for pork barrel wars that might be better spent taking care of our citizens and their health and life needs.

...and don't even get me started on earmarks and lobbyists...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Prius - smug or selfish?

So I bought a Prius earlier this year after dealing with the very frustrating people at Volkswagen who could not (or would not) fix my oil consumption problems with my 2006 Jetta 2.0T. In looking for a new car, my only criteria was something with at least as much back seat room as my Jetta for the carseats, and I definitely prefer leather or some other non-fabric that doesnt stain every time the kids spill something.

The two main contenders ended up being the 2008 Prius and the 2008 Accord. Configured with leather, they are both very similar in price. There were a couple deciding factors here. First, because my Jetta was so new, I lost a bundle by trading it. Second, I cannot stand oil companies and their record profits while we all suffer, and would do nearly anything to take that from them. Some calculations showed that buying the Prius would save enough per month in gas to make my monthly car+gas cost the same as the Jetta, even though the payment would be much higher than the Jetta. This really was the main tipping point, so I bought the Prius.

So, while there is a tendency to view Prius owners as tree-hugging hippies who sip capuccino while feeling better than everyone else, I think there are a lot of people out there just like me. I didn't buy the car to save the planet--I bought it to save money and screw the oil companies (with the happy side-effect of reducing gas usage and emissions).

I just don't understand the hate Prius-drivers get. Are the Hummer-driving soccer moms jealous? I can understand that not everyone can get rid of their current car to buy another one right now. But really, it's kind of annoying that as a nation we whine about spiraling gas prices while people continue to buy gas-guzzlers...