Let’s imagine for one paragraph that Microsoft’s and Apple’s digital music positions were flipped: that it was Microsoft that shipped the world-changing Zune in 2001, that they had sold 100 million Zunes to date, and that Microsoft’s online music store had 85 percent market share for legal downloads — all of them protected by Microsoft’s proprietary DRM. Can you imagine, in this scenario, Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates publishing an open letter like Jobs’s “Thoughts on Music”? Can you imagine Microsoft volunteering to switch from DRM-protected songs to an unprotected industry standard file format?
Microsoft would have told EMI to stick their DRM-free tracks up their ass. And the classic Microsoft, the Microsoft with a set of balls, would have told EMI that if they wanted to sell DRM-free tracks elsewhere, at other stores, that they’d suddenly find the terms changed for their songs at the market-dominating Microsoft store.
Before any government minister is allowed to promote a technological ‘solution’ to a problem they should be forced to share their knowledge of modern technology. They should publicly perform the following tasks:
1. Set the time on a video and make a successful recording – using only the provided manual for reference. Focus groups suggest that, (like liberal Home Secretaries), swearing in front of the electorate cannot be associated with New Labour;
2: A timed round. In no more than 30 seconds, find an entry in the address book of a Motorola mobile phone – using only one hand, no manual and no swearing;
3. Configure a secure wireless network under Windows XP from a standing start before the machine has been hacked into oblivion. No calls to Microsoft, no techies on speed-dial (if you could find them on the Motorola that is) and absolutely no swearing;
4. Transfer a piece of music from the iTunes music store on to their shiny new Windows Media Player simultaneously stating government policy on how DRM is a good thing for customers. (Obviously, despite the extreme provocation, no swearing will be permitted).
Then, AND ONLY THEN, would people like John Hutton be in a position to judge whether their shiny new heap of wires and silicon comes with a side order of snake oil.
Joshua Kinberg’s internet-connected, sidewalk-printing graffiti bike got him a lot of attention ahead of the 2004 Republican National Convention; he was Boing Boinged, Slashdotted and featured on CNN and in Popular Science.
Though he didn’t know it at the time, his gadget also landed him a spot in secret files being compiled by the New York Police Department’s intelligence arm against protest groups across the country.
“The existence of these files show that there was a premeditated desire to prevent my project and arrest me to avoid having embarrassing messages on the streets during the convention,” Kinberg said.
Kinberg’s invention was a bicycle equipped with a line of spray cans pointed at the ground, and activated by individual computer-controlled solenoids. If all had gone according to plan, Kinberg would have ridden the bicycle around the streets of New York during the RNC, while users submitted messages through his Bikes Against Bush website. The messages would have been relayed to his laptop through a cell phone, then sprayed on the sidewalk behind him in a dot-matrix of water-soluble chalk.
But the New York Police Department had a different idea.
Though they’d never seen him use the bike, the police arrested Kinberg on criminal mischief charges prior to the convention start, during an interview on Broadway Avenue with MSNBC’s Ron Reagan. The arrest took place on a spot where, two days earlier, Kinberg had printed out the water-soluble message, “America is a free speech zone” during an interview with MSNBC’s Countdown With Keith Olbermann.
It wasn’t until December of last year that Kinberg learned his arrest was less spontaneous than it appeared.
He received a phone call from Gideon Oliver, an attorney enmeshed in a series of suits against the NYPD challenging the department’s mass arrests, fingerprinting policies and detention conditions. Oliver revealed that Kinberg had been one of many targets of the NYPD’s “RNC Intelligence Squad,” which had been traveling around the country infiltrating progressive groups and building secret files on potential rabble-rousers ahead of the convention.
In late March, a New York Times reporter read Kinberg portions of his file.
“My project was all very public because I didn’t want there to be any mystery as to what this was,” Kinberg told Wired News. “The NYPD acted as the law enforcement arm of the Republican Party. That’s not how this country is supposed to work.”
Anybody still think the US has any “freedoms” left?
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has virtually wiped his public schedule clean to bone up for his long-awaited April 17 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee—a session widely seen as a crucial test as to whether he will survive the U.S. attorney mess. But even his own closest advisers are nervous about whether he is up to the task. At a recent “prep” for a prospective Sunday talk-show interview, Gonzales’s performance was so poor that top aides scrapped any live appearances. During the March 23 session in the A.G.’s conference room, Gonzales was grilled by a team of top aides and advisers—including former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and former White House lawyer Tim Flanigan—about what he knew about the plan to fire seven U.S. attorneys last fall. But Gonzales kept contradicting himself and “getting his timeline confused,” said one participant who asked not to be identified talking about a private meeting. His advisers finally got “exasperated” with him, the source added. “He’s not ready,” Tasia Scolinos, Gonzales’s public-affairs chief, told the A.G.’s top aides after the session was over, said the source.
I wonder if he can memorize his lies in time….
For Senator McCain to claim there are places here where all is well is to woefully minimize the dangers faced by the troops he otherwise so admirably supports. A patrol of military police on their way to one of the about-to-be-established Joint Security Stations last week provides another case in point.
Leave aside the fact that the soldiers run a gauntlet of IEDs every day just to get there, and the convoy had to stop, gunners nervously scanning the surrounding houses and crossroads, until someone decided that a piece of debris in the road did not hide an IED. It was merely part of the seat of Humvee that had been blown up the day before, killing four soldiers. Once inside the walls of the fortified police station of their students and supposed allies, no American soldier took off a single piece of protective gear. American sentries backed up the Iraqis on the gate and roof. Humvee drivers stayed with their vehicles.
A young sergeant was assigned to accompany myself and cameraman Mark LaGanga wherever we went. When I suggested that it was fine and the sergeant could take a break, he replied quietly; “No sir. I need to be with you. Wouldn’t want to take the risk of you being kidnapped.”
“In a police station?” I asked. “You’re kidding.”
“No sir,” he replied, “I am not.”
Any time Senator McCain wants to walk the streets of Baghdad, unarmed and without a serious security detail, we’d be glad to lend him a camera so he can record his experience.