If Only…


Tonight, of course, is the first night of Hanukkah. Coincidentally, it also happens to be the first night of Chanukah. As you may know, this winter festival commemorates a military victory of the Jews over the Greek king Antiochus and the miracle of one day’s worth of oil that burned for eight days. In celebration, we teach our children how to gamble with chocolate coins. So spin the latkes, light your dreidls, douse your menorahs in sour cream and applesauce, and have fun!

Someone Should Send This To Congress


Click the image for a concise and sobering description of how people who never in a million years would infringe a copyright can have their online lives disrupted beyond repair under SOPA. Written by a former Google, now Twitter, lawyer.

Our Amazing Interwebs, Episode CCXXIV


In case you haven’t heard, a guy named Gene Marks wrote a column for Forbes magazine called “If I Were a Poor Black Kid.” Mr. Marks is manifestly not (and never has been) a poor black kid, and his column is full of all sorts of helpful advice – including a rah-rah listing of technology (Mr. Marks’s usual beat is business tech) – to help someone who is a poor black kid overcome the disadvantages of being a poor black kid, just like Mr. Marks never had to.

Here is Mr. Marks’s column, which has been virally infesting all corners of the Internet this afternoon. Go read it. Then click the logo above and read Jeff Yang’s reply column, posted on wnyc.org. Mr. Yang, like Mr. Marks, is not a poor black kid. Nor is he a rich white dude, but he has written a column ostensibly from the perspective of a poor black kid, full of actually useful advice about how a rich white dude can avoid coming across as a snotty, ignorant jackass when discussing something about which he is entirely uninformed. (Spoiler: It involves getting informed.)

I am not confident that Mr. Marks will learn anything from this episode. The snark and derision of the Interwebs are more likely to make him defensive than contrite. And rich white dudes are so hard to teach. But one can dream.

Can’t say I’m surprised

According to torrentfreak.com, a raft of music and video have been downloaded through IP addresses associated with several major content owners (Sony Pictures, Fox Entertainment, NBC Universal, etc.). These are, of course, the companies that are lobbying hard for the right to shut down websites accused of promoting or encouraging copyright infringement, without actually having to prove the infringement in court; the same companies that send the authorities after suspected downloaders of infringing materials; the same companies that have tried to bolster their failing business model by assuming their customers are all criminals.

My favorite part of this story is the “our IP address was spoofed” defense being raised by at least one of these companies that were caught red-handed swiping mass quantities of other people’s content. Because, as the article points out, if IP-spoofing is so easy and widespread, then those content owners are going to see a rash of accused infringers raising that very same defense. Good luck and have at it!

The Interwebs Continually Amaze and Astound


Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is an absolutely brilliant webcomic retelling of the story of Pied Piper of Hamelin. The art is terrific but the use of technology to enhance the visuals – you’ll see what I mean as you scroll rightward on each page – makes it a truly engaging piece of work. I was sad to see that only three (long) pages are done so far; I’m looking forward to the rest.

Click old Ratty up there to see it all.