Showing posts from December, 2007

Stuff for Christmas

Just in time for Christmas! The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard is a marvelous little animated piece that puts consumerism in perspective. The 20-minute movie can be viewed online at Everyone should see this vid... Check it out, and tell your friends!

I mean imeem

With all the news lately of the RIAA's McCarthyistic dragnet on file-sharing music fans, it seems some of the record companies have had a change of heart. The big four record labels are allowing to stream their full catalogs of music online, supported by online advertising[1].

Since the recent conviction of Jammie Thomas, a 30 year old single mom, who was sued by the RIAA for $222,000 for 24 songs ($9250 per song!)[2] there's been a strong backlash against the RIAA. Example: websites like and One of the best sites, let's you search for music to find whether its RIAA-free or not.

The ongoing RIAA vindictiveness goes hand-in-hand with copyright concerns, but there's more than meets the eye when it comes to copyright protection. Newer ultra-restrictive terms not only infringe on the rights of users[3] but seem to hurt sales, as well. Retail giant Walmart recently demanded major record labels release their product…

Battling for Opinion on Climate Change

The US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has issued a report describing a systematic effort by the White House to manipulate climate change science[1]. The report is available in PDF format from the House of Representatives here[2]. From the document:

This report presents the findings of the Committee’s investigation. The evidence before the Committee leads to one inescapable conclusion: the Bush Administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming.
I am sure that most North Americans are very unaware of the lengths to which industry will go to influence the thinking of consumers. Last month I wrote a post titled "Meatitarianism" in which I talked about John Robbins' book Diet for a New America, which documents the ongoing battle between medical scientists and the meat and dairy industry. It's no wonder that there's confusion about what…

Frontline Online

PBS Frontline has made available online their program "Spying on the Home Front" [link]. As a computer systems engineer working in the telecommunications area, I can attest to some of the content in this piece, as some of my work has been in related areas. This is one reason why many young people, and many "technically savvy" folks have become more and more concerned with personal privacy and freedom. From what I've seen, the pervasiveness of digital surveillance goes further than this report would indicate, and that there are significant drivers from both state and private sectors for "pimping out privacy", to coin a phrase.

Take for example the RIAA and MPAA. Recently, a toolkit designed to help universities spy on their students for copyright infringement made news[1]. Eventually, it was forced offline[2]. But these could be the more innocuous examples.

The Frontline piece discusses the NSA, and the "illegal" wiretapping act, and the rep…


If, as a thinking individual, if it is possible that you could tire from watching the television, and the inkling of learning something about the real world should come along, here is part of a documentary about the Hmong people in Laos who are the victims of an attempted genocide.

The first video isn't too graphic, but the subsequent videos require a login because of scenes of mutilation. The media doesn't seem to be reporting on this, but it is important to raise awareness.

You can also read about the CIA's secret war in Laos, which precipitated this atrocity, on Wikipedia.