The Best Time to Stop Censorship is Before it Starts

Freedom of speech is fundamental to the American experience and a bedrock of our way of life. So why is Congress so eager to do away with it? Two bills — SOPA, and PIPA — both purport to shore up copyright law and end online piracy. They were written by content industry lobbyists with no input from the technology industry. As a result, as written they would place overly broad powers in the hands of content owners — those same content owners have already proved to be unworthy of the more basic trusts afforded them with the DMCA. More, these bills meddle with the fabric of the Internet — with DNS, with linking and embedding of content, with Fair Use. Free, unabridged speech and the robust exchange of ideas on the Internet has become central to my every day life: my work experience, my ability to write, to create, to share neat stuff I’ve found online with friends, family and wide-ranging communities of interest. It’s become ever more important to how we get our news, and shapes our political process. Inhibiting speech in the pursuit of commercial interests is wrong. Congress shall make no law abridging the rights of free speech… no matter how much the lobbyists pay...

“All that serves labor serves the nation. All that harms is treason. If a man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. There is no America without labor, and to fleece the one is to rob the other.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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How to Argue (or, Scalzi’s Rules of Order)

How to Argue (or, Scalzi’s Rules of Order)

With only fifteen months remaining until the election, the silly season of presidential politics is upon us already. (Woohoo!) And with a Republican field of candidates that spans the spectrum of merely-right-of-center candidate Jon Huntsman1 to the wonder-twins and ideological flag-wavers Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry — locked in a heated scramble to the far right, the first clutching a tea bag, the second a laser-sighted pistol — this race has all the makings of a poli-drama for the ages. Oh, and let us not forget  Sarah Palin,2 touring the political battleground states on her magical mystery bus. Also. I’m awestruck already by the volume of brazenly stupid assertions being put forth throughout the GOP camp,3 and astonished at the audacity of the untruths. Politifact and FactCheck.org are going to be very, very busy this year. I wish only that their services were available in real-time, so that each time a politico made a false assertion a loud buzzer would sound — all game-show like. And for each truthful statement, a pleasant bell. I can almost hear it now… “I’m running for president”. (Ding.) “Evolution is a theory, son. It’s got holes in it.” (Buzz!) “I was right when I said the debt ceiling shouldn’t be raised.” (Buzz!) “The country’s bankrupt. (Buzz!) “We’re inches from no longer having a free-market economy.” (BUZZ!) Better still, perhaps we could have John Scalzi moderate our national political debate. After a flurry of comments surrounding a post with a political bent, John posted the following on his site (this is an excerpt…go to his place to get all the goods.): Notes on Arguing 1. One...

Get Your Vote On

This started out as a lengthy post. But honestly, I bet you’ve heard every argument for — and against — both presidential candidates, and every other candidate down-ticket by now. And if you’re in possession of a spinal column I’d feel pretty certain you’ve come to one conclusion or another.1 Whatever your conclusion — and whomever your candidate — please exercise the rights that were won for us all. Vote. Update: I voted today. No line to speak of in Williston, Vermont, ‘cept for a flock of white-headed old-timers getting chatted up by some of the local candidates over their thermoses of coffee (white, two sugars.) No silly electronics to trip up the unwary, either… just fill in the oval with the felt-tip pen and drop your card in the tabulator. Sure, somebody could rewire the tabulator and make it count electric blue sheep instead, but there’s still all those cards with ovals on them… so no worries. Oh, and on the way out, make a selection from the vast array of baked goods made fresh by your neighbors. Ah, Vermont. If you’re an invertebrate, not only should you not be reading this post you probably shouldn’t be reading, period. Unless of course you’re a creature from outer space, in which case, you’re not eligible to vote in the U.S. elections. Sorry....
Vote and the Coffee’s On Us

Vote and the Coffee’s On Us

First, it’s worth noting that I’ve been known to give Starbucks grief from time to time… which only stands to reason as they frequently earn the griefing they get. On the other hand, sometimes the folks in Seattle get it dead to rights, and this is one of those times. Vote, Starbucks says, and the coffee’s on us. Good on them. For what it’s worth, I’d be delighted to see every indy shop in the country follow suit. You voted? Have a cup of our best… no matter *who* you voted for, no questions asked. Yes… even if you voted for Ron Paul. (In Montana, *especially* if you voted for Ron Paul!) ‘Cause it’s our democracy, after all… and it’s about time we took some ownership of it. Don’t ya...
Hey… Nice pumpkins!

Hey… Nice pumpkins!

In the nearly twenty seasons that my wife and I have lured a parade of diminutive ghosts and goblins to our door with the telltale porchlight and a jack-o-lantern or two — not counting the smallish number of years that we were flat broke and could barely afford dinner, much less candy… or the time we simply forgot, and so shuttered the windows and hid inside in the dark — never before have I heard: Hey! Nice pumpkins! Let’s be clear… we talking about carved gourds here, okay? Tonight I heard it from *all* the folks who were walkin’ their little ones down the candy gauntlet. All of them. Every. Single. One. Even some of the kids thought they were pretty cool. The three-foot-high guy dressed up in a Tron costume — I suspect a parent who’s a major geek… what’s a kid that age know from Tron? — even spelled ’em out… V-O-T-E. Vote! C-H-A-N-G-E. Change! Hey… Candy! That’s right, buddy. Keep things in perspective. It begs the question, though: is it wrong to wedge a political message in between the cracks of a seasonal celebration? Is it crass to politicize an otherwise strictly non-partisan festival? Maybe… but not this year. This year there’s too much at stake. Too much at risk. And too little time to *not* get the message out there, to let folks know where you stand, and that you think it’s time for a...
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