I’ve been busy with work, but I’ve been keeping my eye on the news. Politics have always been a bit…screwy. I’m not sure if they’re getting more screwier or I’m becoming more aware of what’s going on. – maybe just more cynical.
Representative Lamar Smith and Senator Patrick Leahy now joins the ranks of former Senator Ted Stevens1 in Internet Hall of Shame with his further bastardization of the copyright clause2 with their introduction of SOPA and PIPA
It expands the reach of copyright in ways that are detrimental to the very purpose of the copyrights, in particular by hindering the promotion of useful arts. And all this is done at the behest of corporations who, essentially, bribe politicians.
Even more unfortunate, the politicians writing these pieces of legislation — or at least responsible for introducing them, I have no idea if they actually write them — have no idea of the technical ramifications of what they are doing. Would you trust your Congressman to perform surgery on you? There are actually 18 medical doctors3, so you have about a 3.4% chance of standing a chance, but I think in general the answer would be no.
When it comes to technical issues though, of the 535 members of congress, one is a physicist, one is a chemist, six are engineers, and one is a microbiologist4. This is not to say that other members of congress may not be tech savvy, but with the average age of a congressman pushing 60, I’m guessing not so much. Of the 12 original co-sponsors of SOPA, not one has a technical background.
Surely the United States House Science Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, the subcommittee through with SOPA passed, has some technical experts. Nope. Not a single engineer or anyone with experience (as far as I could tell) in computer science. I would expect that people making the such decisions have, you know, actual expertise in those areas — a technocracy.
Anyway, I have poked around the SOPA legislation, and read many different analysis on it. I also do have an engineering degree. And so I feel very confident in saying that SOPA/PIPA is a bad idea from a technological standpoint. I also think’s it’s pretty bad from an overbearing-copyright standpoint, but that’s my personal bias.
In response to what SOPA/PIPA will do to the Internet if passed, I am joining other sites5 to protest SOPA and PIPA and will black out AFdN for all of Wednesday, January 18th, 2012. Any attempts to access AFdN will result in a HTTP 503 Service Unavailable error.
Seriously though, if SOPA/PIPA passes, I may have to take down AFdN lest I avoid getting sued. That’s a bridge I hope to never have to cross. In the meantime, take some time to educate yourself on how the internet works. Ask questions and I’ll try to answer them. And maybe, just maybe, we can make a difference.
Also, while I currently use GoDaddy as my domain name registrar, they supported SOPA and thus I will no longer support them. I’ll have another post on that in the future.
Shit, I used Wikipedia about ten times to look up references for this post. Oh well, see you all Thursday!
“And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes.” ↩
Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” ↩
I just spend about two weeks in Montana celebrating Christmas and New Years with Rachel and her family. I got back into Seattle yesterday and Friday morning I’m off to New York for a work trip. I’ll be out there for almost two weeks. I’m not sure how much free time I’m going to have, but I’d love to gather your thoughts on anything I “simply must do” before I leave.
In case it helps, I’m going to be staying in Islip, but will have easy access to common modes of transportation.
Some things on my list already:
Broadway Show, maybe Wicked?
Empire State Building
Grand Central Terminal
Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
What else should I do? Ideally, these are things I can do on a weeknight or weekend and still have me at work early the next morning.
So, I’ve collected the data (although less than I have in years past), crunched the numbers, and have now published the data for Andrew Ferguson dot NET 2011. As always, these stats mean practically nothing. They are fun (and at time, amusing) to look at, that’s it. Enjoy and Happy New Year!
I met Rachel’s friend from college, Laura. Laura has the awesome job of being a researcher at MSU in their ICAL (Imaging and Chemical Analysis Laboratory). Of particular interest was Laura’s job of operating the scanning electron microscope!
So of course I asked if we could have a tour! Not only did we get a tour, Laura even let me operate the machine! Oh yes folks, I got to operate a scanning electron microscope!
It works a bit different from the FM-SEM, using Secondary Electron Imaging (SEI) and Backscattered Electron Imaging (BEI). Rachel has a stainless steel ring she likes to wear, so we through that in and took a look at it under the scope:
I was pretty much like a kid in a candy store. I had an awesome time and got to add a new item to my Christmas list for next year.
One or more nights were spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days. Roughly in order of appearance.
Passe Catabois, Haiti
Oklahoma City2, OK*
St. Regis, MT
Smith Rock, OR*
San Diego, CA
Gig Harbor, WA
Mount Baker, WA