"chris dodd"

Meet Jerry Foster, colorful pilot who brought helicopters to TV news

Jerry Foster came back from Vietnam with extensive experience piloting choppers. How he turned that into one of the pioneering careers in aerial coverage of local news is a terrific longread brimming with 1970s nostalgia. Read the rest

Senator Chris Dodd [D], father of SOPA, is stepping down as MPAA boss

Chris Dodd (previously) was once a Democratic senator who decried politicians who became lobbyists; then he became one of the highest-paid and least competent lobbyists in DC, taking the helm of the Motion Picture Association on America and leading the organization to failure, catastrophe and irrelevance. Read the rest

The Abominable Mr Seabrook: a sympathetic biography of an unsympathetic, forgotten literary legend

William Seabrook was once one of America's foremost literary stars; now he is all but forgotten. Seabrook travelled the world, writing a series of (decreasingly sympathetic) accounts of indigenous people and their culture, outselling the literary giants he kept company with, and who pretended not to mind the women he paid to let him tie them up and keep around his home. In The Abominable Mr. Seabrook, graphic novelist Joe Ollman presents an unflinching look at Seabrook, his literary accomplishments and failures, his terrible self-destructiveness, and the awful spiral that took him from the heights of American letters to an ignominious suicide after his discharge from a psychiatric facility.

Warner Bros angry that someone other than the MPAA is running an illegal internal movie server

Warner Bros has sued talent agency Innovative Artists for running an internal-use Google Drive folder that let its clients and staff review movies in the course of their duties. They say the company ripped "screeners" (DVDs sent for review purposes) and put them on the server, whence they leaked onto torrent sites. Read the rest

MPAA claims to have popped Popcorn Time and YTS

The Motion Picture Association of America today announced that it had effectively shut down the popular Popcorn Time “fork” and movie-sharing torrent destination YTS after court orders in Canada and New Zealand. Read the rest

Sony should not be able to tell journalists what to print.

Trevor Timm writes a brilliant takedown of the ridiculous warning letter Sony's lawyer is sending news organizations, claiming it may be against the law for journalists to even look at them.

Sony sends pre-emptive threat letter to journalists

A lawyer retained by Sony has sent threat-letters to media outlets hinting at repercussions if they report on material in the huge dump of internal Sony docs from the North Korea hack that Wikileaks put online. Read the rest

Kim Dotcom offering $5M bounty for information on how his case was rigged

Kim Dotcom, proprietor of the defunct Megaupload, is convinced that the raid on his company was crooked, and he's put up a $5M bounty on information that will help him prove misdeeds on the part of the US or New Zealand authorities: Read the rest

Motion picture industry continues to stagger under piracy with mere record-breaking income

Once again, the "piracy-stricken" motion picture association has had a banner year, with box office revenue breaking all records (as they've done in most recent years). The biggest gains this year come from China -- a market condemned by the studios as a hive of piracy. Read the rest

Studios increase MPAA funding to $66.8M

The latest tax-filings by the MPAA show that the studios have increased their membership dues to $66.8 million -- up 50 percent. Former Senator Chris Dodd, the architect of the failed SOPA law, has gotten a raise to $3.3M/year. MPAA staffing levels are still down 20% after 2011's layoff of 44 people. Read the rest

The neurosurgeon who saw heaven

In Esquire, you can read a deeply researched and very well-written profile of Dr. Eben Alexander, a former neurosurgeon whom you probably know best as the guy with the best-selling book about a near-death experience that's gotten major traction with both the Fox News crowd (because it features a sciency secular guy denouncing secularism) and the touchy-feely Chicken Soup for the Soul crowd (for obvious reasons). Now, Luke Dittrich takes you though Alexander's biography and his experience from a very different perspective — one that ties Alexander more to the ongoing problem of fabulists in the memoir genre than to god. (Note: Some people seem to be hitting a $1.99 paywall on this story. I didn't and I'm not sure why. Trying to figure that out.) Read the rest

Feynman graphic-novel biography out in paperback today

Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick's Feynman, a stupendous biography of Richard Feynman in graphic novel form that went to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, is out in paperback as of today! Here's my original review from 2011:

Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick's Feynman is an affectionate and inspiring comic biography of the legendary iconoclastic physicist Richard Feynman. I've reviewed Ottaviani before (I really liked T-Minus, a history of the Apollo program, as well as his Dignifying Science: Stories About Women Scientists) and I expected great things from Feynman. I wasn't disappointed.

Feynman is primarily concerned with its subject's life -- his personal relationships, his career triumphs, his mistakes and misgivings. From his work on the Trinity project to the Feynman lectures to his Nobel for his theory of Quantum Electrodynamics, Feynman paints a picture of a caring, driven, intelligent, wildly creative scientist who didn't always think through his actions and sometimes made himself pretty miserable as a result. But the Feynman in this book is resilient and upbeat, and figures out how to bounce back from the worst of life.

Feynman's technical achievements are mighty, but very few people understand them (Feynman claimed that he didn't understand them). But the way he conducted his life was often an inspiration. The authors even manage to wring sweetness from his tragic romance with his first wife, Arline, who contracted terminal tuberculosis before they married, meaning that their marriage was conducted without any intimate physical contact lest he catch her sickness -- but for all that, they clearly loved each other enormously and made one another's lives better.

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MPAA tells court that Megaupload users shouldn't be allowed access to their own files without "safeguards"

U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady in Virginia has scheduled a hearing to adjudicate a claim from Kyle Goodwin, a sports videographer in Ohio whose videos have been lost since the illegal raids in May on Megaupload, a file-locker service. The MPAA has asked to participate in the hearing in order to object, in principle, to the idea that the millions of Megaupload users who've had their files seized in the raid should be able to access them without "safeguards." More from CNet's Declan McCullagh:

The MPAA said today that while it takes no position on Goodwin's request to have his own copyrighted videos returned, it wants to participate in the hearing to describe "the overwhelming amount of infringement of the MPAA members' copyrighted work on MegaUpload." (The MPAA's six members are Paramount Pictures Corporation, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios LLC, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., and Warner Bros. Entertainment.)

To those Hollywood studios, MegaUpload and its flamboyant founder Kim Dotcom represent the darkest elements of Internet file-sharing. MPAA chairman Chris Dodd has dubbed it "the largest and most active criminally operated website" in the world, and MPAA vice president Michael P. O'Leary claims it's one of the most popular Internet sites "for streaming and downloading illicit copies."

"It makes little sense for the MPAA, or MegaUpload, or Carpathia, or even the government -- despite its actions otherwise -- to prevent third parties access to their legal property," Julie Samuels, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told CNET this afternoon.

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Slick anti-corruption video takes on US copyright system

This anonymously funded movie satirizing the corruption of the copyright system in the USA has been viewed more than 10,000,000 times. The creators, who maintain the website political-prostitution.com, explain that "the U.S. Government is making a major push to enforce its laws abroad with complete disregard for sovereignty of other nations in order to extradite so-called 'criminals' to the US where they will be tried for their 'crimes' in American court."

Ars Technica's Timothy Lee spoke to some of the creators:

On Wednesday, Ars talked to an individual behind the video. He said he and a friend paid for the video out of their own pockets. They are hoping to "raise awareness" of what they view as America's repressive copyright policies.

The video has three scenes. In the first, the "American Motion Picture Association" announces it has hired "Senator Chris Rodd" (clearly references to the MPAA and its chairman, former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)) to represent Hollywood. In the second scene, police carry out a military-style raid on a London home. The final scene takes place in an "undisclosed location." The kid arrested in London is now in chains, wearing an orange jumpsuit and a hood over his head. The young soldier guarding the prisoner asks an older American in a suit what the suspect did, and looks incredulous when he's told that he's been arrested for copyright infringement.

Obviously, the video is over-the-top. Nothing exactly like the incident depicted has happened in real life. The US government doesn't subject copyright defendants to the same harsh treatment as suspected terrorists.

Read the rest

Margie Profet: a controversial scientist who went missing

Margie Profet did not have a Ph.D. In fact, she didn't even have a bachelor's degree in evolutionary biology, the field that most of her work revolved around. But she won a McArthur Genius grant and presented some really interesting theories on the body's defenses against cancer and poisonous substances that might turn out to be correct. And then she disappeared.

Nobody has seen or heard from Margie Profet since at least 2004 or 2005, writes Mike Martin at Psychology Today. His piece is an interesting biography of a woman who was incredibly intelligent, and who also likely suffered from some serious symptoms of mental illness for years. Only her closest family and friends seem to have been aware of what was going on in Profet's personal world. Over the course of the late 90s and early 2000s, Profet shut them, and everyone else, out of her life so successfully that nobody is really sure when she vanished.

This is one of those long reads that will take you a little while to get through, but it's worth checking out. Even aside from the mysterious disappearance, I found Martin's explanation of Margie Profet's contribution to science really fascinating. Profet presented several, interconnected theories suggesting that allergies, morning sickness, and menstruation all evolved as means of blocking or removing poisonous, cancer-causing, and disease-causing substances from the body. Read the rest

Chris Dodd's imaginary topsy-turvy history of Hollywood

Former senator Chis Dodd is now the CEO of the MPAA, and was the primary moving force behind SOPA.

He's a bit weird.

His latest act of performance art, or fabulism, or whatever, is to make up a completely bullshit story about the history of Hollywood, in which the Hollywood film industry sprang into being because of strong "IP protection." He's sorta right. The founders of studios like Universal and Fox and Famous Players came to Hollywood so that they could violate Thomas Edison's film patents in peace, far from New Jersey and Edison's patent enforcers.

But that's not what Dodd means. In his imaginary world, it was the (nonextistent) heavy law enforcement in the wild west that gave birth to the industry that gives him millions of dollars today.

Perhaps some quotes from A Fish Called Wanda are in order:

Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not "Every man for himself." And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.

To which we can add, "Hollywood was not founded on the principle of vigorous IP enforcement. That is a mistake, Chris. I looked it up."

Chris Dodd Rewrites Hollywood's History To Pretend That It Came About Because Of IP Laws Read the rest

MPAA boss: we're cooking up a new SOPA behind the scenes

Former Senator Chris Dodd, head of the MPAA, has hinted to the Hollywood Reporter that he's already greasing the wheels for a new version of SOPA, though he's shy about revealing details because of the public outcry that might ensue. Dodd is the guy who went on the record to tell Obama that he would instruct his members to stop donating to the Democratic party because Obama didn't usher in the laws they wanted.

DemandProgress has whomped up a petition asking Obama to end the practice of writing American copyright laws in smoke-filled back rooms.

THR: Are there conversations going on now?

Dodd: I'm confident that's the case, but I'm not going to go into more detail because obviously if I do, it becomes counterproductive.

THR: Did you feel personally blindsided by Obama over SOPA?

Dodd: I'm not going to revisit the events of last winter. I'll only say to you that I'm confident he's using his good relationships in both communities to do exactly what you and I have been talking about.

This exchange comes days after the White House issued a report that urges a redoubling of efforts to crack down on piracy.

Hollywood and Obama should've learned: No form of censorship will be acceptable to Internet users, and we're fed up with corrupt, back-room deals that are driven by the rich and well-connected. Any major Internet policy changes should be negotiated in the light of day, so the millions of people who'd be affected can have their say too.

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