Dec 052010

Pump Up The Volume - Christian Slater

Like many in my generation, my impressions of Pirate Radio were largely formed in 1990 when Christian Slater starred as “Hard Harry” in Pump up the Volume. Unfortunately, Jeff Pearson’s Pirate Radio USAcouldn’t be much farther away from Pump Up The Volume if it had been a documentary about ice cubes rather than one, supposedly, covering the pirate radio movement in America.

Here’s how Pearson describes his film…

Pirate Radio USA is a feature length documentary about the underground world of unlicensed radio in the USA, where people play what they want and say what they want-unless the FCC catches them. On the way see the rise of Big Media, the growth of Indy Media to encounter it, and witness their showdown over the truth during the 1999 World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle. DJ’s Him and Her, from their live Pirate Radio USA Studio, take you on a rock -n-roll journey inside rogue radio stations across the country to see why Americans defy Federal Law to free the radio airwaves. Seize the Airwaves!

Sound interesting?  I thought so to … until I actually spent an hour and a half watching DJ Him and DJ Her share their tale of failing to keep one pirate station after another on the air.  Continue reading »

Nov 302008

It seems as though every year some freedom organization or another brings out William Bradford’s journal as evidence of how communism didn’t work for the pilgrims while a free market system was what really led to the first Thanksgiving.  This year, it was Free Talk Live that tried to make the case.  Unfortunately, they all miss a few important points.

First of all, the pilgrims first Thanksgiving in America was in 1621 when Bradford (governor of the Plymouth Colony) reported that the bounty was plentiful.  His tale of the free market system overcoming the original communist system in the colony is relating events from 1623 – when they had not received supplies from England in nearly two years.

More importantly, however, those who claim this is a true victory for freedom is the fact that the pilgrims didn’t even own their land, much less than anything else.  In fact, the entirety of the Plymouth Colony remained the property of King James I who authorized the Council for New England to plant and govern land in the area.  The Pilgrims had a contract stating all land and profits would accrue to the Company for 7 years at which time the assets would be divided among the shareholders. Most of the Pilgrims held some stock. The Pilgrims negotiated a more favorable contract with the Company in 1626. In 1627, Plymouth colony determined upon a new economic arrangement with 53 Plymouth freemen (the “Purchasers”) agreeing to buy out the Company over a period of years.

It was during this renegotiation that the 3rd problem arises as the Pilgrims returned to their original division of debt-

“So they caled ye company togeather, and conferred with them, and came to this conclusion, that ye trade should be managed as before, to help to pay the debts; and all such persons as were above named should be reputed and inrouled for purchasers; single free men to have a single share, and every father of a familie to be alowed to purchass so many shares as he had persons in his family; that is to say, one for him selfe, and one for his wife, and for every child that he had living with him, one. As for servants, they had none, but what either their maisters should give them out of theirs, or their deservings should obtaine from ye company afterwards. Thus all were to be cast into single shares according to the order abovesaid; and so every one was to pay his part according to his proportion towards ye purchass, & all other debts, what ye profite of ye trade would not reach too; viz. a single man for a single share, a maister of a famalie for so many as he had. This gave all good contente.”

We all know at this point that communism doesn’t work and that coercive government of sovereign human beings is not only evil but ultimately ineffective.  There are examples of both surrounding us every day, so please, please stop dragging the poor pilgrims into the mix.  They were all essentially slaves themselves.

Nov 252008

It was just last year that the television writers went on strike. You may not remember because the only real effect it had was on television news: they couldn’t stop talking about it. Well, it was shortly after that strike was resolved that I gave up on television all together. So, imagine my surprise when I stumble across the story today that now the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is considering following the trail blazed by the television writers and going on strike themselves.

Of course, when the writers went on strike SAG supported them. What else were they going to do? These people can’t speak without a script in front of them and I’m sure they’re hoping for a little reciprocation this fall. Me? I’m tired of the whole thing.  All of these worker bes spend far too much time whining about how much the studios make.  Hello?!? It’s basic economics.  The studios make the money because they take the risk.  Actors (and writers) get paid whether a show survives or not.  Maybe when these actors, writers, directors, etc start funding some of the outrageous production costs in Hollywood I’ll give a damn what they think.  Until then I recommend they be thankful they have a job at all.  Or just quit and move on.  Strikes are for lazy, egotistical, bums who know they could never survive in a free marketplace.

Nov 102008
Part of the Applied Anarchy Series - Previous in series         Next in series

Although I was aware of Napster, Kazaa, LimeWire and other second-generation file sharing systems I was never much of a fan.  It’s not that I had a problem “giving back” to the “community”, but rather I really didn’t like the security holes that ran rampant with them all.  The idea of opening my computer to anyone with a modicum of knowledge just didn’t sit right with me.  if you want in, you should have to fight your way in.  Then came BitTorrent.  Not only was it faster, but it was much more secure as well.  Media flowed onto my system as easily as water flowed from the taps (but I didn’t have to pay for any of this media).

It’s been about seven years now that I’ve been using BitTorrent to download large files from the internet. In that time I’ve seen dozens of trackers come and go. Many due to staffing or technical problems, some due to government interference of various types. I was even a member of a couple of “private” trackers that turned out to be run by the FBI the whole time. Thanks for all the great free movies and programs, Uncle Sam!

However, (until last week)  it had been more than three months since I made any illegal downloads.  My BitTorrent client (Azureus/Vuze) had been delegated to the useful, but fully legal, status of helping spreadthe message of freedom by seeding the monthly archives of Free Talk Live.  It wasn’t the FBI or fear of prosecution that spared the media moguls the (supposedly) millions of dollars in losses that I and my fellow pirates supposedly inflicted upon them.  Nor was it some form of guilty conscience or newfound moral belief.  No, it was matter of convenience.

You see, it was about four months ago that the television in my room died of old age. At the time I was broke, so couldn’t replace it. A friend then told me about the Netflix “Watch Instantly” program that offers hundreds of movies and television shows for immediate download (in addition to their great thru-the-mail DVD rental). Within hours I was hooked and had a queue of several hundred “discs” in my queue for instant watching. Finally, the market had come up with a solution to sate my media hunger!

Sure, via Netflix I wasn’t seeing the movies currently in theaters, but any that actually had me excited I was paying to go see rather than downloading anyway. I downloaded video so I’d have something to watch, not to watch a particular show.  Television had, largely, filled that need, but with the minimum cost of a cable or satellite package approaching $100/month and the ease of free downloads the math kept me online.  Of course, if the cable and satellite companies had been free to offer true a la carte programming, instead of being locked into the obscenely bloated packages the government required them to offer things may have been different.  But as anyone who pays attention knows, America hasn’t been a free market for a very, very long time.

Netflix gave me exactly what I wanted – a broad selection of entertainment, ready when ever I wanted to consume it, at a reasonable price (less than $10/month).  Once I got hooked into Netflix it took me almost six weeks to even realize that I was no longer pirating media.  There was simply no longer a need.  This ‘new’ system was easier and more convenient.  The fact that it was ‘legal’ and actually helped support the creators of the entertainment that I valued were mere icing on the cake.  The search for profit led the market to fulfill my needs without my even having to ask.  That is the true beauty of freedom.

Oh, for those of wondering why I want back to my ‘evil’ ways in the last week, it’s because my bank screwed up my debit card a few days before Netflix tried to charge my monthly fee.  So my account’s suspended while things get worked out with the beauracy.  Meanwhile I’m cringing for the variety that Netflix offers and making due with sub-par pirated releases.

Part of the Applied Anarchy Series - Previous in series        Next in series
Apr 162008

Since it’s National Library Week I invited some fellow bloggers to comment on my recent anti-public library funding post.  So far, only one has taken me up on the opportunity, but he did help point out a major weakness in my original post.  If you’re looking for some hard numbers on the Santa Clara County Library System you can check out his post – National Library Week – Archaic or Fresh.

It’s an excellent response to my original argument except for one thing: the numbers I was citing in my original post actually covered all seven public library systems located in Santa Clara County: Los Gatos Public Library, Mountain View Library, Palo Alto City Library, San Jose Public Library, Santa Clara City Library, Santa Clara County Library and the Sunnyvale Public Library.  Unfortunately, I did not make that clear.

The post concludes with the following-

The primary library I have access to is at a University, and most of their focus is on the acquisition of scholarly works, instead of items of popular fiction.

In these times of internet knowledge, libraries often seem like a thing of the past but I think they have done an admirable job of evolving over the years with the technology to try to keep providing some measure of public service. Once teachers and students realize the differences between an expert source and a peer-created resource such as Wikipedia, I think more emphasis will be placed on libraries once again.

Besides, if we didn’t have libraries, how could we lose our library cards?

With an extra $195 in my pocket (the amount the government takes from me to fund the libraries here) I could easily buy all of the fiction books I wanted.  Even more beneficial to me would be to voluntarily pool that money with other interested fiction readers to purchase a pool of fiction works and share them among ourselves.  Essentially creating our own private library that serves our needs directly without wasting funds and energy on services we aren’t interested in.  Most importantly, everyone involved would have a choice and force would not be used to take from one person in order to give to another.

As for his second point (in the quote above), I couldn’t agree more.  I’m constantly fighting against Wikipedia as a “source” document and always seeking primary sources whenever possible.  Libraries are excellent for this very purpose.  The problem with the argument in this case is that I was not the one arguing that the purpose of libraries in the modern world was to provide internet access.  That was the President of the Friends of the Library.  I think that the primary purpose of a library should be to provide information that cannot be easily, or affordably, found elsewhere – such as nonfiction works and periodicals.

Again, I’m a big supporter of libraries and would gladly donate money to support those that serve my community well.  However, I don’t have the option of doing so because my money is being stolen away from me by the government before I can decide how to spend it.

So, what do you think?  Should libraries continue to be funded through force?  Would you help financially support a library if one wasn’t provided for you by the government?