Saturday, May 30, 2009

A pet peave: "Agree"

Lately, I've been hearing people respond to statements with just simply "agree" so as to say "I agree with you." Is it so fucking hard to say "I agree" or "agreed?" They're both one extra goddamn letter!

When you state a verb without a subject, you are making an imperative sentence using an implied you. For example, when I reply to your "agree" nonsense with the words "Shut the fuck up," I am saying "[You] shut the fuck up."

Alternatively, words can be used as exclamatory sentences or statements to express an emotional response. This is usually done with words that are either interjections, profanities, or onomatopoeia. For example, when you say "agree," I may reply with "Good God!" "FUUUUUUCK!" or "Ugh!" Since the verb "to agree" is a passive action (oxymoron), it makes no sense in this context either. Agreed however is an interjection.

Person A: "The sky is blue."
Person B: "I agree."
B (expanded): "I agree [with you]."
A: "The sky is blue."
B: "Agree."
B (exp.): "[You] agree [with yourself]." Wha-?
In order to not sound like a dimdick, here are a few of the thousands of better alternatives to "Agree!" that you can use:
  • Mhm
  • Yup
  • Yes
  • Right
  • Correct
  • Agreed
  • Affirmative
  • Totally
  • Definitely
  • I concur
  • I agree
  • That's true
  • That's right
  • That statement is wholly\mostly\partly accurate
  • Erd has a chocolate-covered cock. Also, you make a valid point.
That last one will hopefully get a rumor going that will improve my blowjobs received/year ratio. As of right now, it's severely low.

Friday, May 29, 2009

DMCA, Derivative works, Piracy, Barack Obama

At the intersection of these four topics, we have...

Normally, I'd post a concise but comprehensive post about an issue as important and complex as intellectual property laws in the digital age. I can't exactly do that here though because the issues are deep inside a grey area. I'd need a thousand pages and five experts to touch on every point.

On the one hand
it costs money to produce high-quality creative stuff. If the fair use and derivative works laws make it legal to essentially pirate works, people can't afford to create them. Production companies need copyright protections or else we end up with the braindead ramblings that inundate YouTube as our only form of entertainment.

On the other hand laws that aren't black-and-white force court interpretation. This means the common derivative artist will need to have more legal savvy and money than the mammoth multinational that comes after him. In what world is that the likely?

The only clear part of this whole debate is that the laws are outdated. If nothing else, they need to very clearly define the parameters of a protected derivative work. We were able to clear up fair use, first-sale, and genericized trademarks. Hopefully, we can clear up the derivative work question as well.

As with anything, the first step is for individuals to understand the current laws so that they know when they're in the right. In theory, the rest will be solved by court precedents and people like you and I demanding revisions to the statutes.
So, instead of trying to write a complete manifesto sans Juris Doctorate, I'll use the John McCain Gets BarackRoll'd video to demonstrate where we're at with - and possibly educate about - derivative works. Sony has been all over YouTube demanding the removal of the audio portion of this file (hence why I'm linking the one from Funny Or Die)...

Things to consider about this video:
Disclaimer: Neither Ed nor Erd are attorneys. These is Erd's interpretations of the laws. Call a lawyer if you're facing legal trouble.
  • Originality: The audio file for this "remix"-class derivative work is merely the superposition of Obama's words over the original, copyrighted work. Thus, it is on shaky IP ground to begin with. But while the audio file is the crux of the humor in the original BarackRoll video (no audio), this new one involves extremely good chroma keying (watch the reflection on the stage behind McCain) and the intermixing of video from McCain's speeches such that the joke is now an annoyed McCain being forced to endure a BarackRoll of epic proportions.
  • Potentially satire: Though its real purpose is internet humor, one could view this video as political satire - it shows Obama saying he's "Never gonna make you cry," "Never gonna tell a lie," and that "You wouldn't get this from any other guy." This is all met with thunderous applause and chanting from McCain's supporters. Really, the video could be a statement of "Vote for Obama!" or even the less obvious "Obama's celebrity status has reached ridiculous proportions... what the fuck is going on?"
  • Purpose and character: Unless you actually buy the above rationale, this derivative work is not transformative (Wikipedia has two articles on the topic). However, it is released for free, so the authors (Hugh Matkin and Alastair Corrigall) are not seeking to make a profit off of Sony's music.
  • Amount and substantiality: If somebody wants to hear "Never Gonna Give You Up," this video is not the place. Of the 3-minute 33-second song, only 1 minute and 26 seconds are used - about 40%. More importantly, all but the first few seconds of this sample are corrupted with outside audio (Obama's voice and chanting). In short...
  • Effect upon work's value: It doesn't infringe on Sony's ability to make a profit off of the song. If anything, it's free advertising. Do you think anyone from our generation would know who Rick Astley was if it wasn't for the RickRoll and all its kin?
  • Artist's consent: Though Sony owns the copyright to his song, it is interesting to note that Rick Astley likes the BarackRoll and the grassroots creativity of the Internet. He even likes the rudimentary RickRoll.
Isn't it about time that Google-YouTube takes a stand in favor of their content creators? Isn't it about time Sony, Universal Music Group, and other companies stop abusing the DMCA and IP law to suppress artists? Isn't it about time we update copyright laws so that companies can't use the domineering "We have lawyers, you don't" tactic to subvert the rights of creative individuals? I'm usually pretty ambiguous or even in favor of the company trying to protect their works, but this situation is pretty one-sided for Matkin and Corrigall as far as I can tell.

Does Sony being wrong matter? Not a bit. YouTube gets hit with the DMCA fist of fury every day. They're unlikely to restore the audio even if hmatkin made a convincing argument that's he's not infringing - doing so runs the risk of them getting sued over something silly. Even if YouTube won, it costs money and time to defend themselves. Since hmatkin doesn't have monetary damages (the video is free to watch) he'd have a hard time suing Sony. His only remedy is to bait them by posting the video on a site\server -ideally outside the jurisdiction of the DMCA - that won't bow to cease and desists (or his own server), hope Sony sues him, and defend himself in court.

In essence, rather than Sony (the "injured" party) proving that hmatkin is infringing their rights, hmatkin has to prove he's not infringing theirs. This is the clusterfuck of DMCA in the digital age: You don't have to prove I punched you, I have to prove I didn't. Guilty until proven innocent (in a spaghetti-strand-through-third-party-hosts-too-pussy-to-defend-their-users kind of way).

The solution? The law needs to not hold YouTube liable for the content their users post. It didn't used to, but thanks to the DMCA, it does. If I build a road for public use and you use that road to traffic drugs, am I guilty of drug trafficking? Is the CyberCafe guilty for the libel and threats you posted online while you were there? If you burn a bootleg, am I guilty just because you did it when you borrowed my computer? YouTube provides infrastructure for people to upload stuff. It's not their job to monitor how people use it. The DMCA requires that YouTube remove infringing material - which works in theory except that the scales aren't even. YouTube has no legal obligation to its users, but does have one to Sony. The result is that any company with a few lawyers can bully even YouTubers who are legally using their content.

The "big picture" issue here is that the Internet is being treated like book publishing or TV - lots of channels, each with their own Standards & Practices team reviewing things before they air. It's not: it's global, it's hosted by public and private organizations and individuals, it's free-to-use and ubiquitous, there is no central authority, and on places like YouTube or Blogger, it's direct-to-publication. The Internet is unlike anything we've seen before... it'd be nice if our legislature understood that.

Anyway... thank the gods of the Internet for making it virtually impossible to put a tourniquet on the spread of these videos. In the time it took you to read this post, three more web sites added "John McCain gets BarackRoll'd" to their library and five people have downloaded it from somewhere and uploaded it to their own YouTube\DailyMotion\Vimeo\etc. accounts. Until the AT&T packet sniffer precedents are set, we're not completely in the shitter.

I'll let Barack Obama have the last word (Series of Disappointments = hmatkin = Hugh Matkin and maybe Alastair Corrigall)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Ellen" from Pete & Pete - Where are they now?

This is something cool I found out a while back after a fun weekend with HighResEuph0ria during which we watched the best things our DVD collections had to offer. It just now occurred to me that I should share it, as most of you were like me and had a tremendous crush on Ellen way back when:

Assuming my Google detectiving is right: Alison Fanelli, the above-pictured and aforementioned Ellen from Nickelodeon's The Adventures of Pete & Pete, went on to Goucher College for a B.A. in Pre-Med, then the Ivy League Dartmouth College for a Master's in Healthcare Improvement, and lastly Arcadia University for her Physician Assistant certification. She now works as a PA-C at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia where I and many relatives and friends of mine were born.

That's pretty friggin sweet in my opinion and only makes her hotter. Now I just have to give one of my younger cousins the Swine Flu so I can go hit on her without seeming like a stalker.

Relevant links:
  • Wikipedia page, with links to imdb as citations for the after-the-show stuff
  • Her staff page on CHOP's web site
  • Explanation of what a Physician Assistant is - basically, it's one step down from a doctor with set hours, less ridiculous schooling, and almost as much authority (they can even write prescriptions!). Excellent choice of career if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Advertisements: T-Shirt Hell

Ever since I actually read the terms of AdSense, I realized we could never use their ads for this site (omg bad language and maybe a porn link sometimes). While browsing T-Shirt Hell (love their shirts), I came across their affiliate program. Fuck yes! A site that is relevant to the general tone of our blog that we trust and can personally recommend.

At some point in the future, I'm going to add either a pay-per-click banner ad across the top of the page or PPC text ads in between every couple posts. If we get lucky and stumble across another site that we like that has a PPC program, we'll be all over it. Anyway, long story short: if your site is too "edgy" for Google, check out T-Shirt Hell (and use our referral link to sign up). I once bought 14 shirts there in one visit.

When I originally did the layout, I made sure the planned ads wouldn't be too obtrusive and annoying for any readers. Yes, the T-Shirt Hell ad puts the category listings a bit far beyond the fold. We may move it in the future...

What do you think? Should it go down a row or two? Fine where it is? Should we change the text underneath it? The goal is for it to be obvious without being completely in the way.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gems from the Evony\Civony forums

This is just too fucking funny. It took me about 45 minutes to see the game for what it is and another 4 hours or so to make absolutely sure before I bad-mouthed it (and to collect relevant screenshots). It's hard for me to empathize with the suckers in that thread.

This thread is seven pages of the administrators asking players to report grammar and spelling errors. That way, they don't have to cut into their profits by paying one guy a few bucks to correct things.

These poor saps (one of which gave UMGE $180) seem to think the Evony developers actually give a shit about the game. They don't recognize that once the ROI for the Evony scam drops to an undesirable point, UMGE will simply rebrand, relocate, and rescam. Shell games ftw!

(also posted as an update on NFOpocalypse)

For background on this topic, see my original post.

Monday, May 25, 2009

ROMiniscing: E.V.O.: Search for Eden (Super NES)

At Noon PST, that title will link to my ROMiniscing on E.V.O.

Click and enjoy!

I recommend ZSNES for this one. If you can get your hands on version 1.42, the Netplay is easier to handle (though for this game, Netplay is just a method by which someone else can watch you play).

Beautiful Young Pussy

You probably don't care, but here are some pictures of a beautiful, young pussy anyway.

Monday, May 18, 2009

ROMiniscing: Splatterhouse (TG-16)

Click the title and enjoy a review of a truly badass relic of the TurboGrafx-16.

If you want to play, there's the Wii VC, or Hu-Go! Search Google for "Hu-Go!" and then "Splatterhouse ROM" for some zombie-punching awesomeness.

Thursday, May 14, 2009