SOPA, PIPA, and Me

SOPA, PIPA, and Me

“You know, there are some words I’ve known since I was a schoolboy: ‘With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.’ Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie as wisdom and warning. The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The Drumhead.” Written by Jeri Taylor.


We need to put a stop to SOPA and PIPA. (image lifted from

Wednesday, many freedom-loving and liberty-conscious sites went black. It was a voluntary blackout in protest of Congress putting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) on their domestic legislative agendas. Sites that joined the blackout included Wikipedia, Reddit, and the entire Cheezburger network. Google posted a large, attention-grabbing banner on their front page, and urged visitors to sign a petition that would be sent to Congress on their behalf. Also, this blog went black to stand in solidarity with the other thousands of sites that did the same. Not that anyone missed much; to be honest, this blog is so low-traffic. But if even one person who visited managed to contact their congressional representatives on the issue, then going dark for those twenty-four hours was entirely worth it. Besides, it gave me a chance to use the time to perform upgrades and design changes without the need to down my site. Let’s face it, even in the face of crushing legislation, I’m still always going to be a system administrator at heart.

Should you have been avoiding all news and press yesterday and the day before, and you still don’t know what SOPA and PIPA are, allow me to educate you with this awesome video from

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

By the way, my favorite part of the above video is when they use Justin Bieber as the pawn of evil under the “Entertainment Industry” umbrella. Priceless. Also, I want to post another video, this time The Daily Show, where Jon Stewart manages to deftly present the SOPA/PIPA issue with the usual comedic flair.

I did my part by reaching out to my Congressman and both Senators on Wednesday and Thursday. I called my congressman’s office here in the city, and I emailed both senators and have been posting on their Facebook walls and tweeting in reply to their accounts. Thankfully, my congressman has been against SOPA since Day One. Unfortunately, both my Senators are being asshats and apparently ignoring the outcry of their constituents in continuing to support PIPA. What’s appalling is that in spite of the protests and calls, emails, tweets, and other methods of expressing their displeasure, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) is not only ignoring us, but fast-tracking the bill for a Senate vote. As of this writing, the tally is 41-59 in favor of passing PIPA.

The unfortunate part of this equation is that while I did nothing to lift a finger to help re-elect Senator Dianne “The RIAA/MPAA’s Puppet” Feinstein, I did vote for and contribute money to Senator Barbara Boxer’s campaign. Now, I’ve always disliked Feinstein; her politics and mine have only had a passing familiarity at best. Boxer, on the other hand, up until now, we’ve been in lockstep for the most part, which is why I wanted to do all I could to help her get reelected in 2010. I’m regretting that right now, especially since she’s gone quiet on the issue at a time when we need our legislature to sit up and listen to the people they claim to represent.

I’m not wanting to draw a line in the sand on this one, but it seems to me that this is just another chip away at the freedom of expression that’s supposed to be protected in the Bill of Rights. In fact, I was withholding my precious free time and financial support for the Obama/Biden campaign in 2012 until I read that he was finally coming down on the right side of the issue. I’ve already signed up to volunteer again for his re-elect. If Boxer votes to pass PIPA, I will actively campaign against her in 2016 and push for a primary challenger at the nominating convention in Sacramento. Not that I have any political clout whatsoever, but this is one of those issues that I feel will have lasting and possibly irreparable consequences against what it means to be an American, and more concretely, affects my ability to thrive in this industry as I have been doing so since 1997.

Both bills threaten the way business is conducted in my industry. If a startup begins to remote threaten another, more-established business’ sales, they can sue under PIPA or SOPA to shut down their website… with NO due process. This would not only hinder any new business’ chances, but the entire market will adjust to a point where investing in any startups in the tech industry become riskier than it was before the bill’s passage. This means less startups, less jobs, and should I ever need one… I could possibly be screwed. So, while I want to keep pursuing this as a high-minded issue, there’s a real hit to my bottom line, here. I’ve worked for seven different startups in the last thirteen years; some have failed, some were successful, some were bought-out. These bills could really sink a startup before it even has a chance to let the free market decide what to do with it, and that’s a real shame for everyone.

Imagine if Facebook were sued out of existence by mySpace using PIPA? I know it sounds crazy, but under that bill, it would be easy to make it happen.

This is one of those times where if you don’t care now, you will care very much later, if it becomes law. And then, all that’ll stand between the net you know now and the net the Entertainment Industry wants… is the Supreme Court.

“A man once said this, ‘Decisions are made by those who show up.'”

The West Wing, “What Kind of Day Has It Been.” Written by Aaron Sorkin.

Sorkie? Sorkinite? Sorkinista? Doesn’t matter, I’m a total Sorkin fanboy…

Sorkie? Sorkinite? Sorkinista? Doesn’t matter, I’m a total Sorkin fanboy…

Aaron Sorkin is writing a new show, for HBO.  Read all about right here (from TV Guide’s Scott Huver).  This has me excited in a way that I haven’t felt about an upcoming TV show, since the production of Studio 60 was announced in early 2006.  Not to mention that I think Sorkin could really shine on HBO, where language and subject matter won’t necessarily be hindered by the sanitized restrictions of “safe harbor” programming.  No date or even a rumor of an ETA has been announced for the premiere, but rest assured I’ll be among the many who tune it to see the next chapter of Sorkin’s career unfold. (more…)

Obama and Me

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written here.

I’ve since joined the Obama for America campaign as an IT specialist for the field offices in the area.  I have been helping them in deploying new field offices in South San Francisco and East Palo Alto, where lots of people came in and made over 10,000 calls to New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and Indiana.  It’s been a lot of fun, but the one question I keep getting from some people that I see occasionally, is why.

With the exception of a couple of years of Republican registration, followed by Libertarianism, I’ve been a registered Democrat.  I was raised by a Republican father, and a Democratic mother.  My father and I sided with Reagan in 84 and Bush in 88, I voted Republican during the midterms in 94 and then switched parties in 96 to vote for Bill Clinton, before being convinced by my then-fiancee, Stephanie, to register Libertarian in 98.  Back then, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t crazy about politics even though I stayed in touch with what was going on.  After we split up, I did not re-register for a while there until the Bush v. Gore election of 2000.  I switched back to the Democrats, because the religious right had a nice, tight stranglehold on the Republican party.  I’m a firm believer in the separation of church and state, and I feel that faith and politics have their places… just not in the same place.

Simply put, I’m not supporting Barack Obama because he’s the Democratic candidate for President.  In fact (and you can ask my wife), I wasn’t all that impressed by Obama during the primary season.  The one guy I wanted to run (Wes Clark), didn’t, and ended up supporting Hillary Clinton, instead.  As much as I admired Bill, Hillary was a stark contrast to her husband and I just couldn’t back her, either.  My mother and grandmother, on the other hand, were huge Hillary fans and came down hard on Obama.  I decided, at that time, that I would wait for the dust to settle and see who came out on top.  And when Obama became the presumptive nominee, it was time for the party to unite and win this thing.

So yes… in the beginning, you might say I supported him because he won the nomination.  During the Democratic National Convention, however, as they were rolling out their platform before America, I learned a lot more about him than I did during the primaries.  The primaries were hard-fought and there was a metric asston of bullshit that flew between the candidates.  As during the general election run from the conventions, with all the mud flying, it’s really difficult to get someone’s story without it being tainted by others.  At least during those four days in Denver, there was no more bickering.  I finally got to learn and appreciate what we had in this guy, and while I really dispised Biden during the primaries… his acceptance speech really wow’ed me a great deal.  I began to see both these guys in a new light.

I have never, in my life, been energized about a presidential campaign so much as to join one.  But then again, a lot has changed since 2000 and 2004.  A little television show called “The West Wing” turned me around significantly in participating in politics.  “Decisions are made by those who show up,” struck a serious chord with me.  It has that benefit of being absolutely true.  It was high time I started showing up and putting my money where my mouth was.  This time, it wasn’t going to be enough to donate to a campaign.  This time, it wasn’t going to be enough to hope for the best while others did the groundwork for me.  This time, I’m not going to look back at another election season and say, “Damn, I should’ve done more.”  This time, I’m not going to lament the election of a shitty Republican candidate looking to further a crap agenda for an additional four years after living through the last eight and wondering if President Gore might’ve done better.  And this time, I’m not going to threaten to move to Canada when it doesn’t go the way I want it to.

This time… this time, people… I am stepping up and getting involved.  This time, I’m going to do whatever it takes to ensure that we get a president who gives a damn about those of us who don’t make millions and billions each year.  This time, I’m not going to regret not doing more, because if we lose, it won’t be because I couldn’t find the energy to get out of my chair and add my resolve, drive, and determination to those around me.  This time, good thoughts and clenched eyes would fall way short of the goal.  And this time, Election Night won’t be spent in bed lying awake, wondering if the next day will be better.

Members of my own family are voting for McCain.  I’ve had conversations, at length, and I’m convinced that they’ve chosen the lazy way out.  Being a Democrat means you give a damn about the person sitting next to you.  Being a Democrat means you care about seniors getting proper care.  Being a Democrat means you care about everyone getting health care.  Being a Democrat means that you believe in a strong ecomony driven by a strong middle class, not the failed Reaganomics of trickle-down.  Being a Democrat means you want the next generation of Americans to have a Department of Education fully funded and packed with excellent teachers, because a smarter generation means a stronger economy.  Being a Democrat means you want government to fulfill the promise of a secured future for our retirees in protecting Social Security.  Being a Democrat, in simple terms, means you’re willing to be a caring citizen of the community, not just someone living there.

We’re stronger as a team than individuals.

Sure, it’s so easy to not give a shit and think of only yourself.  That’s what Republicanism is, to me.  It’s laziness.  It’s complacency.  It’s being okay with keeping this country in a deep economic rut.  It’s being okay with racial slurs and calling someone a Muslim because you’re using the politics of fear to further your agenda.  It’s being okay with pointing out the differences between people in order to drive a wedge between them in order to quell the masses.  It’s being okay with the philosophy of name-calling when things don’t go your way.  Republicanism is selfishness.  It’s about “me, me, me.”  It is the ideal that if you don’t agree with me, then you’re instantly judged to be either a traitor to your country or inconsequential.  It’s the ideal that it takes too much energy to learn about the other side of the argument.  It’s the ideal that you hand over your ability to decide things for yourself and download Fox News en masse in order to determine your own positions on the issues because it’s easy.

It’s just too hard to try and understand for these people.

Now, in spite of my general points, I will say that I am friends with Republicans and not all of them are of this vein.  Most of the Republicans (who are not my family) are voting for Barack Obama.  They’re lifelong Republicans, too.  And I work closely with two of them… and by the way?  They made this decision on their own, long before I mentioned my campaign work.  I just wish more Republicans showed this kind of insight, to be able to reach across the party line and really read and listen to Obama’s vision for America.

It’s just too hard to try and understand, I guess.  It’s easier to use a label and dismiss.  It’s easier to be close-minded because maybe… maybe they’re afraid of being called out as a traitor themselves.  Or maybe, deep down, they’re afraid that the ideology that they cling to so fiercely… isn’t as strong as they claim.  I’ve noticed that a lot with people who claim to be Born Again Christians.  They want to convert everyone around them to make themselves feel better about this choice they’ve made.  If you’re really and truly okay with the choice you’ve made, then the way that I think and believe should not be a threat to you.

It’s not my fault you’re insecure and self-conscious about what you put your faith in.

Obama for America means just that.  It’s not Obama for Democrats.  America.  The whole country.  He’s fighting to win back the soul of this great nation.

And I’m helping him with everything I’ve got.

Won’t you join me?

To my friends out there in Radioland…

If you love Internet Radio, you need to read this right now. It’s in danger, and needs your help.

As you may be aware, in 2002, the Library of Congress (LOC), under a recommendation from the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP), required that Internet radio stations pay prohibitively high royalty rates for the music they stream to listeners. After a failed appeal made by both webcasters and copyright owners, and a series of unsuccessful negotiations between the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Internet radio stations, Congress created the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) under the Library of Congress to determine new royalty fees.

Under an agreement reached in 2002, internet radio stations are required to pay royalties which constitute about 6 to 12 percent of the stations’ revenues. However, this agreement has expired, and the CRB recently proposed raising the amount that commercial internet radio services pay to record companies by up to 30 percent.

Thirty percent is a big number to throw at thousands of small webcasters across the nation. And on top of that, even the big casters like Yahoo, Rhapsody, and are being hit as they fall under the same classification as the little guy. This means that by mid-July, if this decision is not successfully nullified by House Resolution 2060 and Senate Resolution 1353, the landscape of Internet Radio will change dramatically. Small webcasters will have no choice but to go pirate and not pay a dime to the artists and risk being sued, or shut down outright. The CRB is effectively telling us that the price of democracy is currency, not choice.

If you love Internet Radio and want to help save it, you need to visit and use the information there to contact your Senators and Congressman and urge them to co-sponsor the bills in Congress that would reverse this horrible decision. If you’re already done so, then spread the word. If you’re a website owner, please grab a banner and put it up on your site today, to emphasize why June 26th was chosen as the National Day of Silence for participating Internet Radio stations, including my own Japan-A-Radio, Yahoo LaunchCast Radio, Rhapsody Radio, and 10,000 stations at

Help us get the message out today. Help us Save Internet Radio.