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Monday, June 16, 2008

AP Bulldog Bites Bloggers!

On Friday, June 13th, 2008, the Associated Press delivered a DMCA takedown demand to the blog "Drudge Retort," claiming seven copyright violations. The violations, upon investigation, are over headlines and short excerpts of 40 to 80 words. Each blog entry included a link to the AP story on the Associated Press website.

The House Wyldstar position on the issue:

The AP needs to wake up to the reality of today's Internet.

The Associated Press over the years has used clips and quotes from other sources, claiming in their defense that such use is covered under the "fair use" doctrine. This is, in our opinion, a correct use of that doctrine. However, the AP is now demanding bloggers stop doing the same thing when it comes to their material. This is hypocrisy at its finest.

One, the bloggers are making fair use of the materials by only using excerpts and linking to the original article for readers to access, if they should so choose. This is no different than article indexes used in public libraries that point people to the correct article in the correct magazine.

Two, the AP is totally ignoring the fact that bloggers using the material in this manner is FREE PUBLICITY for the Associated Press. What business or organization in their right mind would file a complaint over someone else sending customers their way? This is sheer idiocy and definitely beneath the AP's reputation. In a single day the AP has destroyed the credibility it has taken it decades to build.

Many bloggers have responded by calling for a total boycott of the AP unless and until they change their attitude and drop the idiotic DMCA takedown demands it has issued. As a firm advocate for freedom of the press, public discourse of the issues, and preservation of human knowledge and history, I join in this call.

Organizations like the Associated Press need to rethink what they are doing. DMCA demands can be just as easily filed against them in many cases, undermining the usefulness and mission of their organization in the same way that it is undermining the efforts of bloggers to share information and participate in public debate.

Grow up AP!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Building a Supportive Environment

The story is told of a man who came home one day and informed his wife that he had just lost his job. The wife, instead of being upset, smiled and said that it was good, he would now have time to write the book he had talked about. The man was confused and asked how the bills would be paid if he took time off to write his book.

The wife smiled again and informed him that she believed in him. Over the past few years she had tucked away money from each week's pay and had enough to last them a year. Over that year, the book was written and began selling well, enough that the author was able to continue his new career.

"The Scarlet Letter" was the first novel of Nathaniel Hawthorne and is considered one of the all-time classic novels. It raised an unknown man to literary prominence, a recognition that last to this very day.

And it all started with the loving support of Hawthorne's wife.

This is not the only case of success in which such support can be cited as the influencing force. Over the years nearly every Olympic medalist has cited the support of their family and friends as the driving force in their success. I could continue with examples ad nauseum, but you get the picture.

This same rule of support applies to our social, environmental and political movements as well. Our leaders need a level of faithful support to achieve success in their endeavors, just as Hawthorne needed it from his wife.

It is frequently easier to criticize an idea or proposal than to support it, yet if we are going to make any headway in finding solutions to the problems we face today, we must overcome this pattern of criticism.

Case at point:

Governor Ritter of Colorado proposed massive changes for Colorado to position it as a leader in the fight against global warming and environmental destruction. Yet critics have openly condemned the proposals. They did not do so because the changes would have been bad for Colorado. They condemned them because Colorado alone executing the changes would have little impact on the problems.

I have just one thing to say about this:


The whole idea was, and remains, for Colorado to become a leader in these issues. By setting the example, Colorado can inspire others to take up the changes, spreading the effects of those changes across the nation and, hopefully, around the world. It is not easy to be a leader. The one who would be leader must take bold stands and push for common sense changes to social policies. When such leadership is presented, we as citizens must show our support.

I am not talking about blind obedience to political figures, but faith that such ideas can work, that we as a community can make a difference. I am talking about faith in ourselves and about taking personal responsibility for solving the crisis that looms before us.

When Ritter took office, I initially had my doubts about him. I am proud to say that at least some of my concerns were washed away when he stepped up with his proposals. I see him today as a leader. As such, he is exactly what Colorado, and our nation, needs.

All he needs is a little support from his friends and family.

I know he has mine.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Clouded Issues

I recently did some reading in the book "Censored Science" and it made me realize one of the fundamental problems we as activists deal with on a daily basis: official censorship of facts.

In "Censored Science" the policy of censoring NASA science reports was discussed. In recent years, scientists preparing reports had to send the documents to a "reviewer" and then modify their reports to the "reviewer's" requirements. Frequently this has meant a "watering down" of critical environmental and scientific information that is vital to our understanding of climate change and global warming.

Let's call this what it is - SCIENTIFIC CENSORSHIP! The "continuing debate" on global warming isn't a debate, it is official censorship by non-scientific personnel that is clouding and corrupting our understanding of how much trouble we are actually in.

Let's see if I can explain this better.

1 - Global CO2 levels are at record highs not just for the past century, but for the past million years or so. We are rapidly reaching 400 parts per million when our "normal" levels are about half that. Methane levels are showing similar trends. Heat being retained in the atmosphere has already increased global temperatures by almost a full degree with expected future increase predictions ranging from a "modest" two-degree to a "catastrophic" six-degree gain.

2 - Arguments that this increase is from "increased" solar activity ignore the fact that solar energy reaching the surface of our planet has decreased in the past half-century by 10 to 20 percent. If solar activity is influencing our overall temperature, it should be going DOWN not UP!

3 - Increased volcanic activity, though still relatively modest, has increased the levels of sulfuric aerosols in the upper atmosphere. Even this modest increase would mask solar energy and decrease global temperatures. It is believed that the "little ice age" (c. 1350-1800) was caused by a series of five major eruptions.

There is more scientific evidence that has been censored or totally ignored that also show just how screwed we are if we don't act immediately, but let us examine the meaning of just these points for the moment.

Decreased solar energy and the reflective nature of increased sulfuric aerosols would indicate that we should be seeing decreased global temperatures, yet our global temperatures are still on the rise. If we are receiving less solar energy into the equation, what happens when (or if) solar output returns to normal or the sulfuric aerosols finally breakdown and allow all of the solar output through? Just how much temperature rise is missing that could hit us in the near future? Have we already passed the tipping point without knowing it?

As I said, there are many more points that I may discuss later, but just this small portion of the global warming equation has me worried. Even more worrisome is the censorship of these issues by our government. How much more are they hiding from us and why are they effectively lying to us in the first place? Do they know we are already screwed and are fearful of getting lynched?

The evidence makes me wonder.