DC-area photographer Chris Wieland writes in: "Stumbled upon the Wikileaks van guy getting searched by capitol police today!"
DC-area photographer Chris Wieland writes in: "Stumbled upon the Wikileaks van guy getting searched by capitol police today!"
Writing for Cato At Liberty, Ars Technica alum Julian Sanchez has a timely redux of the research he did on how the made-up piracy numbers quoted during debates about SOPA and PIPA come from, and how little relation they bear to reality. It seems like every discussion of SOPA/PIPA includes a phrase like "Everyone agrees that piracy is huge problem," but in fact, the "huge problem" they're agreeing on has been inflated to farcical proportions through the most transparent financial funny business.
Siwek takes an estimate of $6.1 billion in piracy losses to the U.S. movie industry, and through the magic of multipliers gets us to a more impressive sounding $20.5 billion. That original $6.1 billion figure, by the way, was produced by a study commissioned from LEK Consulting by the Motion Picture Association of America. Since even the GAO was unable to get at the underlying research or evaluate its methodology, it’s impossible to know how reliable that figure is, but given that MPAA has already had to admit significant errors in the numbers LEK generated, I’d take it with a grain of salt.
Believe it or not, though, it’s actually even worse than that. SOPA, recall, does not actually shut down foreign sites. It only requires (ineffective) blocking of foreign “rogue sites” for U.S. Internet users. It doesn’t do anything to prevent users in (say) China from downloading illicit content on a Chinese site. If we’re interested in the magnitude of the piracy harm that SOPA is aimed at addressing, then, the only relevant number is the loss attributable specifically to Internet piracy by U.S. users.
Again, we don’t have the full LEK study, but one of Siwek’s early papers does conveniently reproduce some of LEK’s PowerPoint slides, which attempt to break the data down a bit. Of the total $6.1 billion in annual losses LEK estimated to MPAA studios, the amount attributable to online piracy by users in the United States was $446 million—which, by coincidence, is roughly the amount grossed globally by Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.
Here's a great photo of the beaming staff of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, posed with their laptops showing the sites that were blacked out yesterday. Visitors to EFF's site sent over one million emails to Congress yesterday.
Stephen Colbert provides some perspective on the net-wide blackouts yesterday, as well as some alternatives in case the Internet needs to stand up for itself again. Now I've got to find that video of Vader eating cheesy bread...
Sound it Out #14: The Young Knives - “Human Again”
I’ve been eagerly waiting for the new Young Knives album Ornaments From The Silver Arcade to come out in the US. Now I've learned that it’s not being released here at all, except for on iTunes. Apparently my nation-mates in the music business these days don’t value cheeky and smart punk-influenced pop. Maybe they have something against bands formed in Ashby-de-la-Zouch or those who choose to perform in dapper tweed ensembles.
I’ve always been charmed by The Young Knives’ strange combination of verbosity and vitriol. “Human Again” tones down the anger but maintains an awkward, angular, underdog quality that I find irresistible.
[Video Link] Soft Skull Press has kindly given Boing Boing an exclusive excerpt of Mike Edison's history of Playboy, Penthouse, Screw, and Hustler magazines, called Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!: Of Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers -- An American Tale of Sex and Wonder.
A wild and uncompromising history of four infamous magazines and the outlaws behind them, Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! is the first book to rip the sheet off of the sleazy myth-making machine of Hugh Hefner and Playboy, and reveal the doomed history of Hefner's arch rival, Penthouse founder Bob Guccione, whose messiah complex and heedless spending -- on a legendary flop of a movie paid for with bags of cash, a porn magazine for women, and a pie-in-the sky scheme for a portable nuclear reactor -- fueled the greatest riches to rags story ever told.
The adventure begins in the early 1950s and rips through the tumultuous '60s and '70s -- when Hustler's Larry Flynt and Screw's Al Goldstein were arrested dozens of times, recklessly pushing the boundaries of free speech, attacking politicians, and putting unapologetic filth front and center -- through the 1990s when a sexed-up culture high on the Internet finally killed the era when men looked for satisfaction in the centerfold. As America goes, so goes its porn.
Along the way we meet many unexpected heroes -- John Lennon, Lenny Bruce, Helen Gurley Brown, and the staff of Mad magazine among them -- and villains -- from Richard Nixon and the Moral Majority to Hugh Hefner himself, whose legacy, we learn, is built on a self-perpetuated lie.
Mike Edison is the former publisher of High Times magazine, a Hustler and Penthouse correspondent, and the former editor-in-chief of Screw magazine. He is the author of 28 pornographic novels and the legendary memoir I Have Fun Everywhere I Go -- Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World. Edison lives and works in New York City.
Before you continue, read the following:
WARNING: ADULT TYPE MATERIAL
IF YOU ARE LIABLE TO BE OFFENDED BY SUCH MATERIAL KINDLY LAY OFF AND CLICK THE BACK BUTTON ON YOUR BROWSER.
The contents of this publication are neither obscene nor pornographic according to the guidelines set by the United States Supreme Court.Read the Excerpt
David Cronenberg is one of my all-time favorite film directors and I alway enjoy hearing his thoughts on the obsessive and curious details that, in my opinion, really elevate his films. In fact, back in 1997 I had a great time interviewing Cronenberg for the print bOING bOING and all we talked about were the squishy oozy sounds he likes to use in his movies. Over at the Landmark Theaters site, I just read an interesting new essay he wrote about the chair seen here. It's the armchair from Sigmund Freud's study that Cronenberg had copied for his latest film, A Dangerous Method. Now it sits in Cronenberg's home. From Landmark Theatres:
Forced research is one of the pleasures of moviemaking, and it was particularly so for this, my first biopic. When we discovered (Freud's daughter) Mathilde's description of Freud often reading in this chair with one leg looped over one chair arm, book held high, head unsupported, leaning back casually, an image made all the more charming by the unfailing formality of his dress, I knew this was a moment we had to have in our movie. When Viggo began waggling his foot in agitation over what he, as Freud, was reading, I did a close-up of that suspended foot, that wonderful shoe capped by its gray spat. These are the tiny details that help resurrect a historical figure to the full extent that art allows.
When I finally saw the real chair at Maresfield Gardens in Hampstead, I could see that it was more finely made than our budget-limited replica. Leather stitching rather than crude furniture nails bound the aging, cracked hide, and the shapes of the arms and the seat were more complex, more elegant, and the varnished tortoiseshell finish of the back of the chair put our raw wood to shame. But I have our chair in my house in Toronto now, and it has a double history for me—Freud and his movie doppelgänger Viggo/Freud—and I like to sit in it from time to time. It always surprises me how good its lumbar support is.
More about the chair at the BBC's "A History of the World"
Jud Turner sez, "My latest piece is a life-sized Columbia Mammoth skeleton made from 95% recycled material, mostly old farm equipment. It was created as a commission for Pacific Studio, and will be permanently displayed at the new Moses Lake Museum and Art Center, which is in Washington state. In 1950, a farmer found parts of a Columbia mammoth while digging an irrigation ditch, so this sculpture ties those two elements together. Part of the challenge in building it in my studio in Eugene, OR was that I had to make it in a way that it could be taken apart, and re-assembled without any additional welding. Just taking it down was one of the scariest operations I've ever undertaken in the studio (over a ton of sharp, rusty steel 15 feet in the air had to be lowered with manual genie-lifts.)"
Does this sound like you? All New years resolutions start with good intentions, but as the year unfolds, so do many of our resolutions… not to mention our waistlines. What if personal fitness was easy AND enjoyable, would you make the time? What if your exercise machine could also help you unwind and entertain with family and friends?
Joey Sellers sez, "I know you've been covering PIPA-SOPA and wanted to share a large flowcart I just completed on the subject. It brings together a slew of material to get folks new to the subject up to speed and fill in the blanks for those who have been following it."
Super PIPA-SOPA Flowchart (Thanks, Joey!)
Markos of DailyKos tears into Democrats who lack the fortitude and intellectual honesty to oppose SOPA, and continue to back it because they fear losing the campaign funding that comes from Hollywood. PNH sez, "Markos highlights a couple of paragraphs from a Politico story assessing the landscape following the SOPA/PIPA protests:"
Leo Hindery, a major Democratic donor whose New York media private equity firm owns cable channels, said Obama might have reason to worry about his entertainment industry fundraising base. “[The bill] is an issue that has no business being decided politically – by anybody on one side or the other – and the fact that it might be becoming a political issue is unfair to the content producers,” said Hindery, who’s contributed more than $3 million to Democratic candidates and groups.
"An issue that has no business being decided politically." I can't recall seeing a purer expression of the idea that certain decisions ought to simply be reserved for whoever shows up with the largest bag of cash. Not that the world is like this, but that it's right and just that it should be like this.
It's very illuminating to hear people like this speak frankly.
This 2009 image captures the scene on a foggy night in Odessa, Ukraine, when a digital billboard crashed and displayed a floating error warning in the night sky.
Windows Error Box Floating in the Air (5 pics) (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
Kevin Kelly provided a nice summary of Larry Lessig's recent SALT ( Seminar About Long-Term Thinking) talk. It was about corruption in the US congress.
Lessig said the type of corruption rampant in the US Congress is not the old type of bribery, where congressional representatives had safes in their offices to hold the cash they received for voting in certain directions. That is now illegal and eliminated. This new type of corruption is more subtle, indirect and harder to outlaw…. the real money to be made in Congress is the relative fortune to be made as a lobbyist after leaving office. The differential in wages between a staff member and a lobbyist has escalated a hundred fold in the past 40 years. Now 43% of staff go on to become lobbyists. The promise of a well-paying job working for corporate interests later is enough to warp voting now.
I'm not sure if Lessig talked about SOPA-shill Chris Dodd, but he's a prime example. Not only did Senator Dodd engage in old-school corruption by protecting sub-prime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial in exchange for special treatment by the crooked lender for his personal mortgages, he also landed a plum lobbyist job as Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America after promising he'd never become a lobbyist.
This magnificent thing is Agustina Woodgate's "No Rain No Rainbows," a rug made from skinned teddybears. There are many more. They are equally wondrous.
augustina woodgate, an artist originally from buenos aires and now based in miami, has created 'skin rugs', a collection of hand-sewn rugs made from the skin of donated stuffed animals. the body of each carpet is modeled after that of an authentic bear skin rug but where the series deviates from the standard form is in each tapestry having been formed from the fur several plush animal toys rather than that of a live animal. woodgate sews each of the toys together in order to create giant floor-coverings with a varied color palate and semi-symmetrical patterning. her collection evokes a spiritual or nostalgic reaction in the viewer as they contemplate their childhood, when the textures of the artist's tapestry series were representative of comfort and security.
The hardest-fought battles in modern chess are between computers, but angry fights over who authored these cutting-edge number crunchers come a close second. Rob Beschizza reports on a disgraced chess AI champion’s last standRead the rest
Chicago real estate company Equity Lifestyle Properties Inc. fired a receptionist named Sharon Smiley for violating company policy and working through her lunch break. She had worked for them for ten years. Because she was fired, she was ineligible for unemployment benefits.
After a protracted legal battle, she won her benefits claim.
After being fired, Smiley learned she was ineligible for unemployment benefits because she had been discharged for misconduct connected with her work.
She appealed to the Illinois Department of Employment Security's board of review three times, was denied, then took her case to a circuit court. That court ruled Smiley, who did not challenge the firing, was eligible for benefits.
Smiley received a check with a lump sum on Nov. 28 for several months of unemployment, a percentage of her previous salary. Then she received a check every two weeks for $528 until she obtained her latest job last month.
The appellate court of Illinois affirmed the circuit court ruling Jan. 11, saying the "insubordination arose from [Smiley's] efforts to perform additional work for [her employer], beyond what was required of her," as first reported Monday in the Chicago Tribune.
Here, Sabrina shows off her Bell & Howell Headliner Colour Slide Projector.
Writing in Mother Jones, Siddhartha Mahanta and Nick Baumann describe the unprecedented legislative difficulty that the entertainment lobby faces today in Congress. The MPAA was able to win a legislative battle with Wall Street's over "movie futures," but they're losing the fight to pass SOPA and PIPA, and they're losing to people, not lobbyists.
Minds changed. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the chair of the powerful House budget committee announced on January 9 that he would oppose the bill (after taking nearly $300,000 from pro-SOPA donors). Ryan's aspiring 2012 opponent, Rob Zerban, had raised tens of thousands of dollars through a Reddit campaign denouncing Ryan's position on the legislation.
Late Thursday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the lead sponsor of the House bill, announced that he would consider dropping the DNS-blocking provisions from the bill. Late on Friday, Smith, SOPA's sponsor, did Leahy one better, removing the provision altogether. Not long after, six Republican senators—including two co-sponsors—released a letter they wrote to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), asking him to hold off on a January 24th vote to end debate on PIPA and move to passage.
Big Hollywood's Big Copyright Defeat (Thanks, Mike!)
Clay Shirky gives a great talk in the TED offices about the biggest danger of PIPA/SOPA.
What does a bill like PIPA/SOPA mean to our shareable world? At the TED offices, Clay Shirky delivers a proper manifesto -- a call to defend our freedom to create, discuss, link and share, rather than passively consume.Clay Shirky: Why SOPA is a bad idea
Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales engages with the Copyright Alliance's Sandra Aistars, who says she's the voice of 11 million artists in the US whose ability to make a living urgently require the country to abolish due process, hand over the DNS to a cabal of media robber barons, and criminalize innocent websites by making it impossible for them to comply with the law.
SOPA Debate: Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales vs. Sandra Aistars of Copyright Alliance
"We're talking about sites that are operated and dedicated to piracy and that are really preventing individual creators across the country from having an economic livelihood from their creative pursuits," says Sandra Aistars, Executive Director of the Copyright Alliance, whose members include the Motion Picture Association of America, NBC Universal, Time Warner, Viacom, ASCAP and BMI.
But critics say the bills could profoundly change the internet by stifling innovation and investment, hallmarks of the free, open internet. "Wikipedia can be defined as a search engine under these [bills]," says Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales. "That would mean it would be illegal for Wikipedia to link to a site, even if we are explaining to the public what is going on here. That would become illegal. This is outrageous. It's not acceptable under the First Amendment."
Vice's Jamie Lee Curtis Taete continues to investigate the copyright shenanigans that SOPA and PIPA's authors get up to (see the saga of how SOPA author Lamar Smith (R-TX) ripped off the photo on the front page of his website).
Now Taete is digging into PIPA supporters, having a quick look at their Twitter profile photos and websites, and yup, the Senators backing PIPA are a bunch of depraved pirates.
This is a screencap of PIPA co-sponsor Roy Blunt's Twitter page from a couple of days ago. The background image is by photographer Walter Rowland. I spoke to his wife Linny, and she told me: "Wow, I'm so surprised to see that someone would do this. Especially a senator! It's even more of a violation because I'm actually in the photo so it's as if I'm supporting his beliefs. Yes, that's one of my husband's photos who is actually a semi-professional photographer, and no, they weren't given permission." Roy has since changed the background on his Twitter in an attempt to cover his tracks.
Other offenders: Claire McCaskill (D-MO) (who ineptly swapped out her infringing Twitter profile image for another infringing image -- nice one!); Dennis Ross (R-FL) (technically a SOPA supporter, as he's in the House), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
At The Scuttlefish, Mark Lukach reports that Clint Eastwood is, indeed, bad-assed.
My friend Chris tipped me off to a pretty incredible story about Eastwood from when he was only 21 years old: the guy survived a plane crash at sea and swam a few miles to shore off the coast of Point Reyes, California, in freezing cold water that is a major breeding ground for great white sharks.
Writing in the Guardian, Dan Gillmor argues that SOPA and PIPA aren't foolishly extreme because their proponents don't understand the net; rather, they are extreme because their proponents understand that the net breaks the monopoly of the powerful over communications and organizing.
So, why do they make unsupportable statements?
Because they don't dare make an honest argument. If they were saying what they believe, it would go roughly this way: "The internet threatens our longstanding control of information and communications, and that is simply unacceptable. Therefore, it is essential to curb the utility of the internet for everyone else."