Death And Facebook

May 22, 2007

Boingboing.net recently pointed me to an interesting blog post commenting on the persistence of the facebook profiles of the victims of the VT shootings. While I’m not particularly interested in the shooting itself (in fact, I find that the overall response to the VT shootings shows just how wussified this country has become), this is about facebook freezing the victims’ profiles, and about what happens when people who have an online presence die.

For me, death is just that–death. From the perspective of the deceased, existence itself ceases to be, and thus is uninteresting. What I find far more fascinating is the living, the people the deceased leaves behind to continue existing, and the effects upon thereof. It is interesting that we always refer to the memory of the dead. That’s probably because once a person is dead, all that’s left is the memory, of the person’s words, of the person’s deeds, etc. The effect we have upon others in life is what gives our lives meaning. Thus, preserving the memory of the dead, certainly one method by which the deceased had affected others, is almost like our way of saying that we would not allow the deceased’s life to have been lived in vain. In effect, our preservation of the memory of the formerly living gives that person’s life true meaning.

The perpetual existence of information online means the internet serves as a way for us to immortalize ourselves. I doubt many people have this in mind when they start blogs, or create profiles, or post their videos onto youtube. But intended or not, it is a consequence of an online presence. It isn’t anything new though. In the past, it was letters. How many times have we seen a book published based on some famous personage’s correspondences, or a book that has said correspondences edited for publishing? It’s just that online, we’re all famous. We’re locally famous, as opposed to the more common nationally, or globally famous e.g. that of celebrities. “Locally” in this sense means those who are emotionally close to us–not necessarily those who exhibit this trait physically. And the beautiful thing about the internet is that anyone can go from being a “local” interest, to a global one, dead or alive. Though the internet, we can truly glorify the deceased we held in the highest regard, extoll that person’s virtues in life, and unlike in past generations, we can point to the source material, ensuring little to no noise in the transfer of wisdom and knowledge. How to get the young ones to actually heed such advice is yet another debate–and one I do not dare touch at the moment.

For me, as one who lives in anonymity, I am satisfied that at my passing, even though those affected by me do not necessarily know my name or remember my face, their memory of my words means my life does have meaning. And what I say this, I’m not just talking about this blog.

A Hint of Wrong

May 17, 2007

I hate it when people know they’re doing something wrong, so they put their heads down and continue with what they’re doing, as if that somehow makes it OK, expecting the people around them to accomodate. To put it quite frankly, it’s not OK, and someone’s eventually going to come along, and call these people out on their bluff. And then they pay for their wrongs, sometimes with interest, as the more they get away with their wrongdoings, the less cautious they will be, and the harder they will feel the effects of the retribution.

For the most part, I do not tolerate such bullies. Every so often, if it is an old lady, or a action that’s too trivial with which for me to bother, I will let these things slide. But otherwise, I will call these people out. I don’t see myself as some kind of vigilante, and I certainly don’t claim to be any purveyor of justice. That I leave to other, more capable people. I just let these other people see what they might otherwise choose to ignore, usually out of incredulity or disbelief.

Edit: I forgot to include the title last time.

AACS Key, DMCA, etc.

May 16, 2007

I think it’s time I weighed in on this whole AACS key debacle. The whole idiocy behind the issue is astounding. And I don’t just mean from the AACS/pro-DMCA camp either. While they are the easier target, being more in the wrong than the idiots moderating Digg or the people posting the key around, the other “sides” also share some of the blame.

Allow me to explain why I think this whole thing is retarded. The key that suddenly shot to levels of infamy that made the DeCSS code issue look trivial–a 128-bit number–is actually one step in the lengthy process of decoding a Blu-Ray and HD-DVD movie (yes, videos on both new formats use the same DRM vendor) from its encoded form into an actual standards-compliant video file. Without the decrypting process, the data on the discs would not result in a video. Unfortunately for everyone, this key–one of several–is unique to batches of discs. Or at least, that was how it should have been. For some stupid reason, every Blu-Ray and HD-DVD disc manufactured before April 23, 2007 used the same key. So in effect, at the time of its discovery, the key cracked both formats, and was advertised as such.

Here’s the problem: by the time the key became popular, it was already being deprecated. So in effect, people were circulating around a key whose use was limited to certain older releases. Which meant anyone considering buying a new player because they can now either watch the movies they downloaded online, or backup their legitmate discs, would more than likely not have that functionality anyway. Only those people who own the players and more importantly, the discs, are affected. And that’s a very small subset of people indeed.

So AACS LA and the MPAA were idiots for sending out take-down notices. After all, the logical thing would be for them to go into damage control, but since the effects are limited already, all they needed to do was cut their losses, wait for the thing to blow over, increase their security measures for their future discs (like using different processing keys in a novel manner), and that would’ve been the end of the story. Instead, they had to send out takedown notices, and get several million net denizens up in arms about the whole thing.

What Digg did was also retarded. Upon receiving the takedown notice, Digg moderators started removing any stories that linked to the key. But they went a step further. Actually, they went several steps further. Digg started quietly deleting the users whom had posted the suddenly heretical stories. As word of this got around, people began noticing a connection between this action, and a recent advertising deal. That was when Digg started deleting the comments and users who even mentioned the deletions. As things grew more and more clear about what was happening, that’s when the users started to revolt. As mentioned many times before by others, had Digg simply removed the relevant stories and posted a notice saying why, the users would have vented their anger on the DMCA backers. As it was, by not simply penalizing users without an explanation, but then penalizing the users who attempted to provide an explanation–by attempting to rewrite history–they hit a nerve, and a very sensitive one at that. The rest, as they say, is history.

The users remain clueless as usual. Most people have no idea what this key is, why it’s used, and why people were up in arms about it. Most people took a look at their neighbors (or news aggregators in this case), saw that posting the key was the “in” thing to do, and jumped on the bandwagon. Worse, the bandwagon was being driven by a bunch of anti-DMCA fanatics whom had jumped at the chance to bash the DMCA without even trying to understand what the revolt was about. Thus, most people saw the issue as if it had been a simple take-down notice. Even Digg’s retraction made it appear that way. Then most people started using the wrong parts of the DMCA to defend their actions. The more intelligent ones pointed to the DRM circumvention clauses instead of the copyright clauses. But that’s not too important, as my point still remains valid for them: the revolt came about because of censorship, not because of the DMCA, even as people railed against the DMCA.

Suddenly, we hear nothing about Digg’s attempt at censorship, at rewriting history, and everything about the evils of the DMCA. Don’t get me wrong; the DMCA is a crappy piece of legislation, its spirit against the freedoms upon which the United States were built, and worded overly broad to boot. But the revolt came about as a result of Digg trying to erase the existence of the key’s presence on the site, as well as silence anyone who knew of this. And that’s far more frightening than copyrights and circumventing protection measures. Next time, there might not be a DMCA to spearhead the rally. Next time, it might be an insignificant issue, like someone’s dog dying, or something more important like a new, cheap breast cancer medicine only because they were being sponsored by a major pharmeceutical whose primary source of revenue was from breast cancer drugs (no, unless it was an outright cure, other sites might not pick it up). Digg’s current attempt failed because internet users tend to be more technologically savvy, and aware of the evils of the DMCA, were easily able to sympathize or even empathize with the people revolting. The DMCA carried this revolt, not the true crime.

And that’s why the people revolting–the people putting the hex number on t-shirts and making a big deal out of it–that’s why they’re all idiots too.

Oh, and just for fun, I wrote this, then attempted to find the “key” in what I wrote. The bolded letters represent the key. The translation I leave to the reader. Anyone trying to figure out what the bolded letters translate into however, would be considered employing circumvention measures, and hence would be commiting a crime under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

😉

I’m Back!

May 13, 2007

I’m bored.

It’s been a while since my last entry. Typically, this statement marks the decline and eventual abandonment of a blog. I’ve seen my share of such. I’m not one for trends though. While I’m not anti-trendy or such, I won’t follow a fad just because everyone else is doing it. And while generally, I find myself an exemplary specimen of the typical human when viewed as a whole, I’m going to diverge from the norm this one time.

Why? I’m upset. And annoyed. My little fight with a certain member of the PKFS is taking its toll, psychologically. I have an unpublished post, probably from after the new years wound down and the sheer magnitude of lion dances diminished. It had something to do with a story I heard. But more so, I titled it “The Green Snake” and wrote a little poem at the end:

青竹蛇兒口
黃蜂尾後針
兩般皆不毒
最毒婦人心

Which leads me to believe that I intended to write about a new development in the aforementioned fight with this certain PKFS member. At the moment, I’ve completely forgotten what I was going to write about. And since the title and poem are the only indications in the entire post that I was going to write about her, I’m not even going to try to remember.

It’s not really a fight; it’s really my fault. Though the truth is, if this ever ends and we ever make up, she’s going to insist it was her’s. Fuck her. This began by my hands, and I’d be a worse prick than Senior and Junior combined if I let her take any of the blame.

I can begin at the very beginning, but that’d take too much time. Instead, I’m going to begin at the beginning of the end. To put it simply, I did something I shouldn’t have: I violated her personal space against her will. And while reality was nowhere nearly as bad as what that previous statement could imply, it might as well have been. I apologized, sort of. And I tried to make amends. Sort of. She’s the type to hold a grudge, and even though many would say she overreacted, I think her response justified. Not that I tried very hard to make up with her. I have my pride, and I have my comfort zone. While I can put down my pride with a bit of effort, what I perceived to be her requirement for a sufficient apology clearly was beyond my comfort zone.

Anyway, in the intervening months, I treated her poorly, despite my poor standing with her. It wasn’t so much because she was mad at me and I wanted to somehow get back at her. It was that the things she did or did not do just because of my recommendation and her grudge against me, regardless of the consequences, that irked me to no end. It disgusts me when people let petty things get in the way of important matters. Regardless of my reasons, what I said and did was insult to injury, and only increased this debt I’ve been slowly accruing over this past year.

I made a last attempt at resolving things with her. In the end though, I think I managed only to push her farther away. That’s my failure. I only hope I’ll be able to make things right again. It’s ok with me if she’s going to remain mad at me for the rest of our lives. But I cannot let my apologies slide. And I’ve so far been unable to do it. I said earlier that I’m upset and annoyed. I’m upset that with every attempt at an apology, I’ve only managed to distance us further. I’m annoyed that I haven’t yet figured out how to approach this problem. But what I’m most upset and annoyed at is this foolish pride that’s keeping me from doing what I want to do.

What does this have to do with my return? Nothing. Everything. I don’t know. What I do know is that things will be picking up now that I’ll be able to train without being constantly dogged by these concerns. New years would have been far more fun had this shadow not darkened our time as a group. And to be able to, if only briefly, rid myself of this burden will be refreshing. Yes, Pug and Poodle will be gone for a good two weeks, while Hung will be gone for a month.

On a lighter note, I’ve been improving at a rate that surprises even me. I’ve also been injuring myself at a rate that’s rather annoying too. Regardless, I’m satisfied at where I’m headed. There’s far more for me, both in external and internal power, and in experience. When I sparred for the first time in SKFS some weeks ago, it was among the most rewarding experiences in the recent months. To say the least, sparring with them showed me exactly where I was in many respects, and exactly where and how I need to improve. The laundry list is long, and I get really excited just thinking about it.

The truth is, even before new years, I’ve felt rather nonchalant about training kung fu. I’ve learned more, but it seemed as though other aspects of my life were more worthy of my time. And so I neglected my training for a long time. As well, I neglected this blog. But now with this newfound direction, and these few weeks of freedom from my concerns, I plan to train hard, and get even farther than I have over the first five months of 2007.