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Your Fair Use rights are in danger (again)

In case you haven’t yet, you really need to read about The INDUCE Act. The potential is for any device that could be used to illegally copy copyrighted material to become illegal, and the manufacturers of said devices liable for their use.

This is wrong for so many reasons. Take the example of the crowbar.I can use a crowbar to break into my neighbor’s house. By this logic, a crowbar should be illegal. Never mind that a crowbar is a useful tool. I own two of them. I bought them so I could pry out the rocks that make up my patio so I can put down a weed control mat under them. I hope I’ll never have to use one to free someone from a car whose doors and windows won’t open, but I can. If I use a crowbar to free my neighbor from a car wreck, I’m pretty sure he’ll be glad I had that tool. Even if I could have used it to break into his house.

The main target is P2P networks. But the bill is too broad. Under some interpretations, an iPod would be illegal because you might load CDs that you borrowed from me into it. I suppose a camcorder would be illegal too, because someone might take it into a movie theater. Never mind that 99.999% of camcorder owners use them to shoot home movies. The risk of someone using a camcorder to make an illegal copy of a movie is too great to allow you to preserve family memories.

Is this really the direction we want to head? Do we want to be a dictatorship run by big media conglomerates?

Mr. Hatch, I suppose you believe that when someone uses a firearm to kill someone, the manufacturer of said device should be held liable? I suppose you believe that the risk of consumers using firearms to kill one another is great enough that firearms should be illegal? Am I following your logic correctly?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a pinko Commie who doesn’t want to pay for anything. I’m actually a Republican. But real Republicans believe in balance. I respect intellectual property. I’ve written and published a book. A few people even liked it. I really didn’t make enough money off it to make it worth my while–I could have made more working the late shift at a fast-food restaurant. The biggest things I have to show for it are a published book on my shelf with my name on it, and the thrill of having walked in to Borders and seeing it.

So I didn’t make as much money as I would have liked. That’s my problem. I don’t blame photocopiers and scanners for my book not selling 4 million copies. I can blame my publisher for not promoting it and not getting more copies of it into the niche marketplaces where it sold well, and I can blame myself for not promoting it and not sending out news releases saying I got published, and I can even blame myself for not targetting it properly.

If I write a book that people want to read, and my publisher and I do a good job of getting the word out about it, I’ll make money. If I can make more money fixing computers or mowing lawns than writing books, then the answer isn’t to try to manipulate the legal system. The answer is to either figure out how to make money producing intellectual property, or spend that time doing something else.

If my desire to protect my rights starts infringing on your ability to do things you need to do, then it’s gone too far. As my former journalism professor Don Ranly was fond of saying, my constitutional rights end at the tip of your nose.

Why do Orrin Hatch and his buddies cooperate in the creation of what’s essentially a welfare state for large corporations, at the expense of our liberties?

Would you please ask your Congresspeople these questions?

It’s a girl!

Jon and Bethany, the recipients of the emergency baby shower last month, had a daughter Monday morning. Her name is Savannah. And that’s all the detail I know.
Bethany’s doctor took her off bedrest just after the first of the year. He estimated the baby’s weight at about 7.5 pounds then. I was talking to Jon then, and he told me about those classes pregnant women take in order to learn how to have a baby. (I know how to say it but absolutely no clue how to spell it, so I won’t embarrass myself any further.) Jon said they told the men that hand massages can really help during pregnancy, but warned not to press on a certain spot on the hand because it can induce labor. I filed that in my useless information bin.

A couple of weeks ago, Jon and Bethany were at a party. Jon mentioned Bethany was ready for the baby at any time. The room was ready, the house baby-proofed, they had a crib–the crib Jon slept in, and all of his ancestors on his dad’s side slept in, because it literally came with them on the boat from Germany. Everything was ready except the baby. I can’t imagine anyone blaming Bethany for being tired of carrying around a 7.5-pound infant inside her. If she were carrying one outside, she could make Jon carry his fair share of the time, after all.

I told Jon I couldn’t believe he’d forgotten about the spot. His eyes lit up. “The spot!” he hissed. He took his left hand in his right and started pressing. “It’s not working!” he hissed, with his trademark diabolical mad-scientist twinkle in his eye. He pointed his left hand at Bethany, like a remote control, and kept pressing. “It’s still not working!” he hissed. Bethany tried to act like she wasn’t paying attention.

A few minutes later, he walked over to Bethany and grabbed her hand. She said something about that feeling good. “Dave reminded me about the spot,” he said, that diabolical look returning.

She didn’t just shoot him one of those looks women make. She shot him The Look. If you’re male, you know exactly what look I’m talking about. If you’re female, imagine your guy trying to patch a leaky tire with the last of your favorite chocolate, then go look in the mirror. “Not now!” she said. Yelled. OK, she half-yelled it. With a really big howl of protest in her voice. You know, smooth fluctuating pitch, going up on the vowel, then down again and trailing off. “Wait until we get home!”

She was ready, but not quite that ready. Jon dropped her hand. He knows what’s good for him.

I talked to Bethany again on Friday. “Everyone tells me it must be a girl,” she said. “It can’t make up its mind.”

I left that comment alone. And I won’t repeat the other thing she said either. It’s one thing when girls say something about girls fluctuating between impatient and stubborn. It’s another thing when guys say it. I left that comment alone too. I just said one thing: “It’s good to be male.” She rolled her eyes at me.

And on Monday, Jan. 28, 2002, Savannah made up her mind. She’s here, and only about a week before her expected due date.

A tough question, and an answer

Late post Sunday. If you checked early and it wasn’t there, there’s mail. The post I originally intended is no more, unfortunately. So it goes when you depend on something other than a real operating system. Say what you will about Linux’s ease of use, but its stability certainly is a productivity gain. I’ll take having to learn new tricks over having to tolerate crashes any day of the week. Now if Southwestern Bell will just get their infrastructure working right again so something other than Win98 can connect…
A tough question, and an answer. It’s been well over a year since anyone asked me why I believe in God, and specifically, one benevolent God. Maybe people are afraid to ask, I don’t know. But on Sunday I heard a story that reinforces exactly why.

One of our elders had a pregnant wife. She was a little under two weeks from her due date when, tragically, she was in a car wreck last Thursday or Friday (I don’t remember all the specific details). She was shaken, but there didn’t appear to be any harm. Still, the obvious question was, why? Why would a loving God allow such a risk? Especially to this family, which has been through so much and yet remained so faithful? Where was your God then, I can hear some asking–especially as you said “had a pregnant wife,” as opposed to “has…”

Well, the story’s not over. The doctor insisted on keeping her overnight for observation, when he noticed the baby’s heart rate going down, down, down, until it reached dangerous levels. So, the doctor decided, it was time to get him out of there and he induced labor. Their son was born healthy. But here was the rub–the umbilical cord was wrapped all around him. Most notably, around his neck. Had he gone full-term, the doctor said he probably would have been stillborn.

Suddenly that car crash makes a whole lot more sense. How many people can literally say a car crash saved his life?

See enough things like that, and the doubts start to fade a little.