Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Ok, well it has been as couple of days since I have posted anything and the majority of what I revolved around SOPA/PIPA.  So just a little wrap-up for the week and if possible I will provide some links to the information that I find for the topic.

Politics/Government:

SOPA/PIPA – the online blackout of over 7000 companies, politicians dropping their support for them and eventual shelving of the bills for the time being.  The GOV not to be outdone by the mere protest of civilians who have no vested interest in the lobbying of the major pirated  organization, the Justice department decided to pursue what amounts to piracy charges against MEGAUPLOAD, an online file sharing site, even going so far as to have the principles arrested in New Zealand and turning the site offline.  In a virtual checkmate, hacker group anonymous conducted a rather successful DOS attack on several sites including the Justice Department, FBI, MPAA and several others.  They managed to embed some DOS code into benign programs that unwitting civilians opened, thereby starting the attack.

The South Carolina Republican Primary happens today.  The last week leading up to today’s vote has included two debates, Romney losing his lead, Newt catching up, good old Dick Perry dropping from the rolls, one of Newt’s ex-wives discussing his request for an open marriage when he found out she was diagnosed with MS, Newt being questioned with it in the last debate and his subsequent tirade against the moderator for asking about it.  It seems that he who has been a known philanderer and sanctioned ethics violator should not have his past brought in to play because he is a changed man, that is now that Newt does not have Cain to pick on.

In a divine stroke of balance for the Gingrich campaign however, movie star, action hero, martial arts badass and the living embodiment of all qualities American, Chuck Norris has stepped forward to endorse Newt.  We all should remember how well that worked for Mike Huckabee the last time around.  Chuck is a little bit of a campaign killer, so the litmus test for Republicans should be to find out who he endorses and choose one of the others.  His super awesome Chuck Norris powers work for everything from being able to count to infinity and having tears which cure cancer.  Politics and politicians seem to be his kryptonite however.

Entertainment:

The music industry lost a star when Etta James passed away this week.

Garth Brooks broke down in tears during a lawsuit revolving around a hospital not naming a wing after his mother, after he paid for the wing to be built in her name.  Just proves to me there is no such thing as altruism, just feeling good because you did something good.

A grizzly find up at the Hollywood sign this week; a head and a few other body parts.  It turns out the owner of the parts has been identified as of today.  The head was found by a jogger in a plastic bag which had been opened along the trail.

Snooki allowed pictures of her to be taken, get this, sans makeup.  I have not seen them and shudder to think of what the outcome could be.  I shudder to think that someone whose only talent has been to make an ass out of herself on at least two continents and is really only famous for hanging out at Seaside Heights, NJ for a couple months per year.  I really do not know why I bothered to mention this particular one.

World:

One of the biggest events in the world this week was the capsizing of the Costa Concordia off the Italian coast somewhere.  Carrying around 5000 people, the ship seems to have been ripped open while cruising too close to some rocks outside of its normal route.  The captain did not go down with the ship, refused orders to return and help organize the passenger evacuation and is currently under house arrest.  Turns out the married captain may have been a wee bit preoccupied with the Moldovan girlfriend of one of his crew.  More to follow on this one before the weekend is out.

We saw the beginning of a process between the Taliban and ….Everyone.  While the talks have not yet officially begun, the facilities for doing such is being prepared on relatively neutral ground still in the middle east.

Iran is its normal belligerent self, but there has been a show of support for the west as members of the Arab league begin to chastise the Iranian government, both the religious and elected.  Iran fired back at the US by claiming it had captured yet another US spy; a story which has not seen enough press  this week in my opinion, at least domestically.

Shark attacks are up in Australia.  There have been three so far this year, which meets the yearly average according to what I have read.  Considering the lovely continent down-under has a pretty good monopoly on all things dangerous that live, I would have guessed three was a rather low number for shark attacks.  Considering they have nine of the top ten deadly serpents, crocodiles, extremely poisonous spiders and the place started out as an English penal colony, sharks have kept a pretty low profile.

Of the thousands of stories available out there, I think I touched upon some of the common as well as more interesting, if not persistent ones out there.  I have at least two more blogs planned before the weekend is out.  I plan on discussing the merits of a captain going down with his ship and if he really is as nutless as he would appear given all the ink he has received this week.  I will also be writing about a topic that has confounded man for generations, a medical myth, but proven almost nightly that it exists, a search for something as elusive as King Solomon’s mines, the yeti, and world peace……..You will know what it is when you see the title 🙂

Till then

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Well it looks like some of our elected officials are starting to back down from their initial support of controversial Internet related bills.  One of the best known is Senator Marco Rubio from Florida.  According to a Huffington Post article, Rubio, one of the original people to put his name to the Senate’s PIPA has re-evaluated his stance and is paying a little bit of attention to his constituency and the fallout from the internet blackout supported by over 7000 internet companies today.  Companies like Google and Facebook did not completely close down but they did give visitors information related to the acts with Google blacking out it’s logo.  Wikipedia provided a place on its main page for you to put in your zip code and they would provide you the contact information for your elected officials; that was the only information they made available on their Web based encyclopedia.  Even WordPress, the provider of this blog space blacked out available information for hosted blogs on it’s Freshly Pressed page.

It is good to see a constructive protest for once.  Currently, there is no violence involved, although some feeling may have been hurt when their favorite site were not available.  I am sure the backlash on these hastily put together bills is being felt by their authors and sponsors on the Hill.  The intent was to try and protect American business but it was not done with the foresight required for something with global implications.  If the Occupy movements could put this kind of constructive effort into trying to right such an obvious wrong they may be seen as something more than just a bunch of people banging on drums, smoking dope and making public spaces unsanitary.  A protest only works when you have a goal and are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve your aims.  Today some very economically sound companies were willing to take a hit in their pocketbook in order to get their point across.

UPDATE:  See Below the Original Post!!

Okay, I am making the most of my federal holiday today and trying to increase my blog production just a little bit while I have the time.  Take care though reader, my intent is still not to provide a half-assed topic that is barely developed, but to provide the mental fodder for personal consideration on topics I see as issue which may affect us, the masses, if we are so blind as to believe what comes out of the mouth of a politician.  I make the disclaimer now that for the following topic I am no where near an expert, but I can read and you should too before either of these bills gets to much further through Congress.

While the true origins of the Internet as we see them today may be obfuscated through the hands of time (we only have Al Gore’s personal testimony to his hand in the development of it), there is no doubt that in some way, shape, or form there was a collaborative effort between U.S. government initiatives and private sector educators, way back in the good old days of the 1970s.  This technology has morphed, thanks in part to the visionary developments and commercial successes of people such as Bill Gates and the late, great Steve Jobs.  The Internet, the vast information superhighway has grown exponentially since the availability of easy to use personal computing devices in the 1990s and the explosion of dotcoms.  Ever since this technological miracle has been made available to the public at large, there have been attempts to regulate the use of it, some successful and needed, e.g. taxes collected by business who have a brick and mortar store in your home are, other of questionable virtue, such as the recent acts proposed in both houses of Congress; the House of Representative’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA).

I am going to break away for a moment from the informative portion of SOPA and PIPA.  I understand what the GOV is trying to do, I just do not agree with the acts as they exist in writing.  I am versed enough to understand the different components, but there is no way that I will be able to adequately present them to you so as to try and persuade you in either direction.  I will include a few links at the end of the post that will provide the bills as they currently sit, waiting to be moved and voted on prior to presentation to the president for signature.  Something BTW, the White House has come out against over the last couple of days.

Okay, my personal take on the Internet and piracy.  When I picture piracy, it generally brings to mind an image of naval warfare between privateers gone awry of the coast of Colonial time America or pursuit of dangerous cut throats through the blue waters of the Caribbean.  In a more modern twist, I see a couple boats of Somalis trying to stop and take over a cargo vessel somewhere off the Horn of Africa or some seedy island hoppers off the southern shores of SouthEast Asia.  Piracy as it is used in these bills is a bit high-handed of a term for what essentially equates to proliferating knock-offs of an electronic version.  Movies, music, e-books, and software are just a few of the items they want to include in the language of the bill.  For those saavy enough, the use of Bit Torrents to trade copies of movies or TV shows from foreign sponsored companies are the distinct target of these two bills.  Not only those who do the trading, but the ISP who provides you the IP address required to transit the internet, the search engine that brings up the link to hook you to the site and all the little fellers in between.

“Piracy” as it is used here is probably an issue.  Intellectual property is what we are talking about here and the theft of it.  I have to tell you though, if I purchase an item legitimately, such as say a book, and I wish to give it to someone else, then there is nothing wrong with it. Same goes for any movie I purchase or music.  How then, if you were to change it from the tangible to electronic version is it okay for the government to try and stop that.  Metallica and NAPSTER be damned, I paid for it, I can give it to whomever I choose.  Knock-offs and the direct undercutting of profit from intellectual property, that is another issue in and of itself, but the regulation of the internet is not the place to start.  There is always contraband and illicit goods to consider and some countries whether you want to believe it or not, make a hefty profit from turning a blind eye to those who want to find a way to copy something and market it.

Regulating of the internet is not the best way to try and cut down on the “piracy” of intellectual property.  This is just another way of trying to enforce laws that already exist, explicitly for the crimes these bills are addressing.  The laws already exist, they may need a little updating, especially since the major law both of these bills quote explicitly is the Lanham Act of 1946, long before the paving of the information superhighway was started.  Spend the effort enforcing the laws as they exist and risk making the international stink that diplomacy will cause and work between the countries involved to resolve these crimes.  If we are truly in a global marketplace then one-sided enforcement is not the answer to the problem.

Links:

PIPA

SOPA

Explanation of both Acts

UPDATE:

Here is a link to Wikipedia’s shutdown in protest of SOPA/PIPA.  The bottom line of the posting, on January 18th you will not be able to view Wikipedia since they will be conducting a blackout in protest of SOPA/PIPA.  The first of the big boys is about to make our lives harder in protest.  How American is that???  Got to love it!!!

My state of residence for the last 17 + years of North Carolina is looking to pass what is being called Amendment 1 to our state constitution.  The state legislature has already passed the amendment and it goes before public vote on May 8 of 2012.  The next part of this may get up under the craw of some people who will read this, I ask that you set aside your personal opinion of the matter at hand, what those in the legislature would have you believe is the intent of the law and realize the greater implications of allowing this amendment to pass.  This goes beyond religious point of view, feelings towards those that live alternate lifestyles and such.  Read up beyond what I post here, because should this amendment pass, my marriage of almost 17 years will cease to exist as it stands under this amendment, as may yours.

In an attempt to define what is marriage in NC, the legislature has proposed Amendment 1 to the state constitution.  The amendment is named the Same-Sex Marriage Amendment, but it is not so simple as the name would suggest.  Currently, same-sex marriages are not legal or recognized by the state, this amendment is an attempt to make it constitutionally protected.  The act does not stop there, further reading of the verbiage of the act would also make my marriage illegal under the constitution of the state.  You see my wife and I did not get married in a religious ceremony, we were married in the NJ equivalent of Justice of the Peace Civil Ceremony.  NC would not recognize an otherwise legal marriage of two members of the opposite sex because we were not married in a religious ceremony.  Now, lets take a break right here for a few and lit a few of the potential consequences of what may happen when you create a constitutional issue such as this should some crafty legal eagles decide to start marketing to the negatives of it.

1.  Civil ceremonies would be null and void.  All my soldier friends who went and took the “Dillon dash” to get hitched over a long weekend, guess what, NC says you are not covered under the legal safety net of marriage.

2. The obvious setbacks to same-sex marriage, civil unions, whatever you choose to term it, or in some cases deride it.  The world is changing folks, the military has done away with DADT, the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA is being questioned and challenged for constitutionality at the federal level and will likely be overturned sometime in the future.

3. Spouse abuse as we currently see it will have to be redefined, possibly allowing for the release of otherwise violent abusers.

4. Child custody, already a slippery slope will become an even larger quagmire than it already is.  Benefit coverage, child support and every other issue of custody dispute will need to be re-looked and questioned for the constitutional issues that will arise.

These are just some of the issues that will need to be addressed should this amendment pass.  Already, the popularity of it is losing steam, it is down several percent from the time it passed the legislature back in September of 2011.  The word is getting out about the deeper effects that will happen and those who were for it initially are starting to educate themselves a bit more and not taking politicians at face value.

There are several good resources out there to help you make up your mind on whether or not this amendment should pass.  Do not take my word for it, use your given rights as Americans to do the due diligence required to make a proper decision on the topic.  Protect All NC Families is an excellent resource.  They have copies as it exists for you to read and they break down the different components and how it may or may not affect you and your family.

I can see some further writing on this topic in the future and as the NC Primary date roles closer.  Please comment here on my blog, but also take this to your elected officials.  Get the word out, if ever there was a time to be a registered voter in NC the time is now.  This is truly one of those times when it is in the hands of the voter and NC with its diversity in race, creed, religion, socioeconomic status and sexual orientation should not fall prey to the ignorance of educating ourselves with the potential outcome of this amendment being ratified.

This is definitely a Jim Jones flavor of Kool-Aid to swallow.  Do not drink it blindly!!

This topic seems to want to stay in the mainstream media one way or the other.  After my posting yesterday, Desecration or Immaturity I saw a number of folks who posted a quote from Representative Allen West, a Republican from Florida, as a Facebook status update.  This quote was propagated by my military friends, I cannot remember seeing it as a status update for anyone that does not have a tie to the military either past or present.  The quote goes like this:

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a former Army lieutenant colonel, commenting on the Marines’ video “I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outr…age and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah. All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq? The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter. As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”

Representative West is absolutely correct in a number of things, but is probably a bit short-sighted in his overall intent of his quote.  First, the things he is correct in speaking about, this is a military issue and will fall under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), when it comes to meting out the punishment if/when it is found applicable.  I say this because there is a presumption of innocent until proven guilty in the UCMJ, but the military in order to maintain good order and discipline can choose to approach this particular violation in several ways, one of which is non-judicial punishment; to be explained a little better in just a bit.  His second point of correctness is more inferred than directly spoken.  As he used the examples of American fighting men and the atrocities perpetrated against them and their corpses in the aftermath of battle to demonstrate the selective use of the media and what they may consider a despicable act, and the collective short-sightedness of politicos and “over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks”.  Representative West, gives his retort more along the lines of the Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) that he once was, sticking up for his men while letting others know that there is an issue and it will be dealt with, within the confines of the UCMJ and to keep it out of the court of public opinion.

Now, where did the Representative goes wrong.  He spoke as the former battalion commander he once was.  No military leader, ever wants the business of his men to get outside their circle and reporting chain.  No doubt, he would deal with this as harshly as possible for a number of reasons, you cannot have this level of indiscipline go unpunished without creating the presumption that it is okay and accepted within your command, should the incident manage to make it out of your sphere of influence you want to let your peers and senior leaders and subordinates know that you are an effective leader, and, anyone who has any common sense of decency wants the acts perpetrated in the name of their country to be represented at the highest levels with due consideration of the circumstances.  War is hell and even deaths under the most righteous of circumstances can be disturbing to the uninitiated, necessary to those in command, but never a cause celebre.  Soldiers (used as all encompassing for America’s fighting men and women) of the highest caliber, celebrate their success in the aftemath of battle, not the conquest of their enemies.  If you do not understand that, then you have never been in the position to and no explanation will ever suffice.

Another way in which Rep. West falls short is that he fails to take into consideration the wanton act of one of the five, yes five, minimum people who actually went so far as to post this.  Five people because there were four doing the deed and at least one filming it.  Knowledge of the act and doing nothing about it is makes you just as guilty as those with their peckers in their hands.  The posting of the video is what may lead this to be elevated from an Article 15 to a Court Martial offense.  Chances are as this is investigated further, there will be more folks who were aware of the incident, possibly even as it was happening.  Seldom on the field of battle these days are there only four or five folks to do the fighting.  It is a rare instance when that is the case.

A little down and dirty for the uninitiated to the ways in which you can be found wanting and judged by the UCMJ.  First up is non-judicial punishment.  This comes in three flavors, the first is Company Grade with two possible outcomes, one that will follow you throughout your career and one that does not leave your command when you do.  This is carried out at the Company level by at least a Captain.  Next up is Field Grade, this is generally for a more serious offense and is carried out by a field grade officer, generally the Battalion Commander or possibly his designated representative, this one will definitely follow your career.  Either form of Article 15 is non-judicial, you did something, were counseled on it and charges were preferred against you, the “Commander” uses his power to levy a punishment against you, but the outcome is not considered criminal in nature.  Field Grade is a more severe and restrictive outcome of a Company Grade; loss of pay, rank (only by the level of command at which you can be promoted by), restriction to a defined area are the most common punishments in part or whole that can be levied.  A court martial is some serious doodoo and comes after an Article 32 hearing has commenced (think grand jury as a comparison).  If an Article 32 concludes there is not an offense serious enough to warrant a Court Martial it is still possible to be tried in an Article 15, but at this point think Field Grade.  Courts Martial are similar to civilian courts, but there are very tangible differences.  This is a VERY simplistic explanation of the forms of punishment granted under the UCMJ, fortunately in 18 years of service the only participation I have ever had with any has been as the supervisor of someone who is “standing on the carpet” as we call it.

I admire Representative West for his comments and as a soldier I can appreciate his point of view.  I think he was probably a well liked officer and I really know nothing of his political career.  He is right in his intent, this needs to be and will be dealt with according to the UCMJ.  There is no doubt violations happened, on more levels than just peeing on an enemy corpse.  As stated in my earlier post, I hope that it is dealt with as we would anything else in the military, within our own systems as flawed as they may be, and not in the court of public opinion.