Pennsyltucky here we come.

So, I have officially been rejected from every school I applied to as of today.  Julie has gotten into UPenn with a big scholarship, and so there is very little holding us in Boston.  So much as I love this city and my friends here, it looks like I'll be following Julie and our cats to PA.   I'll get to see my family more regularly, which will be good.   I have missed them. 
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Tell me what's wrong with this solution to IP and filesharing

Nationalize Art.   And Porn.


Not by setting up public ownership of art, but rather by setting up a public corporation to exist as a fincancial transfer organization, to encourage artistic entrepreneurship on a grand scale. Set up a non-profit publicly funded corporation to represent all published artists.  Let unpublished artists buy in.  It would be kind of like the BBC, only instead of commisioning Art, they would collect statistics on filesharing networks, to determine how often specific files were being traded.  The US Government would then pay the corporation whatever the artists commission from their publisher would have been (or a set, small rate for those who buy in) for each copy which was traded that month, funded by a new tax on bandwidth which would just be added on to every cable or DSL bill (preferably pro-rated to income).  The government could even re-imburse the record companies promotional costs and a nominal amount to compensate for lost profits - though obviously not the same amount they would have made if they had successfully convinced the customer to go to a store and buy their value-added  physical product.  Thus the record companies would still have a business model, selling two lines - a high-end physical product with extras, memorobilia, etc. and a vastly discounted (but still profitable) online traded model.

The same model would work even better for the pornography industry.  Whether we like it or not, the Porn industry represents a huge percentage of the money earned on the internet, and a huge sector of the economy at large.  Yet precious little of that money makes it to the women.  Puting in place a system whereby the performers are paid directly and less of the profit goes to the producers could only be an improvement. 

I see this as a fiscal model for web 2.0 - giving artists the ability to be compensated for their art, and yet still have it be freely distributed, without completely eliminating  (though undeniably hobbling) the corporations whose investment makes larger productions possible. 

It also could give basically anyone the opportunity to make money from their art. Pay a nominal membership fee and get a standard commision on however much of your art is downloaded each month (though that commision would likely have to be less than what a published artist would get).

So what's wrong with this idea? Would it work? It seems a perfect solution to me. So what am I missing?

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Best. News. Ever.

I have a 25 page paper due tomorrow, which is why I have been reading news sites all day.  I stumbled upon this article, and it makes me very, very, very happy.

Rupert Murdoch has decided to add an environmentalist spin to the right-wing propaganda his networks spew. 
Never, ever, could I have imagined that this evil man would make me so happy.

Don't get me wrong.  I still hate Murdoch with a passion, and I know this is a cynical business ploy (he even says as much).  And yet, what this means is that the center of gravity on climate change has radically shifted.    Murdoch represents the right wing voice in public discourse.  Hell, Murdoch IS the right-wing voice in public discourse.  For Fox News, Sky One, et. al. to throw their weight behind environmental responsibility at all means that there will be no anti-environmental voice in the media. 

Now, I'm sure his networks will not be in favor of government regulation, and will push a private sector, individual-responsibility approach to the problem which is ultimately far from sufficient.   But that doesn't matter. This represents a radical shift in the discourse on perhaps the most important issue of our day.   Suddenly, terms of the debate are centered on the question of HOW should we address the massive and compelling threat of global warming, whereas before the  the question was SHOULD we address it at all.

A tiny bit of my faith in humanity has been restored.  Perhaps, just perhaps, we will actually get to die natural deaths of old age instead of drowning in the ocean, starving to death when the world's food supply collapses, or being slaughtered in a post-apocalyptic state of global anarchy. 

That would be nice.

That Jesus dude was completely and utterly wrong. . .

The poor will not always be with us, because global poverty can be eliminated by 2025. At least that is what a study featured recently on MSNBC's front page found. If the world's richest nations double their development aid, poverty can be cut in half by 2015 and eliminated by 2025.

I'm not sure how reliable the study may be, but I find the thought that we have the opportunity to lift the vast majority of the world out of poverty in my lifetime and yet we probably won't do it extremely depressing. Hopefully the Tsunami response is a begining of a new relationship between first and third world and not a once-off event, but I'm yet to be convinced it will be.

Oh, and in case this motivates you to check out how Jubilee 2000 (the movement to cancel 3rd world debt) is doing, make sure you go to and NOT, as the former site is about eliminating debt whereas the later is about eliminating your bowels. On someone else. I was very, very disturbed. :0

Narrative, pt 2.

I've really been thinking more intensely about the ways in which the human brain relies on narrative to make sense of the world. I become more and more conviced that placing experiences into the context of stories we are telling to ourselves is the fundamental way that we process our encounters with the outside world. We can't understand the world except as in the context of the story - we can seldom escape our own narrative. As a result, the stories we tell are perfect reflections of ourselves. All our fears, hopes and noble ambitions are reflected in the stories we construct. I think this is why we as a species love stories so much - from Shakespeare to the Red Sox, to America's Next Top Model, even the most un-reflective and anti-intellecual souls among us hunger for stories. We crave stories (and the stories are profoundly important) because they are a mirror to ourselves - we encounter and to some extent define who we are as a species by the stories we tell.

Narrative, Dialogue and Theodicy OR God I love Quakers . . .

So I've been waiting for satyadaimoku to post his thoughts on narrative so I could respond to them, but decided to go ahead and post some of my own here instead. I'm sure Dan's eventual post will have a markedly different emphasis (more on narrative, less on theodicy) and will likely be better articulated, but these thoughts are bouncing around in my head and until I get them out, they probably won't stop. :)

Much of this is entirely narcissistic, since it refers to my personal narratives moreso than the idea of narrative in general (which I'm sure Dan will adequately cover) so you are forewarned.

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Philosophical promptings

This weekend, Dan and I watched "Waking Life", twice. Waking Life is one of the most amazing films ever, ever, ever made. Wandering through a surreal world, the main character is repeatedly prompted by different characters delivering philosophical monologues which merge and flow into one another in an ever-quickening sequence, mirroring the ever-increasing pace of human evolution and advancement which is discussed in an early monologue.

I loved the film and found it intensely fascinating, but on reflection, the really remarkable thing is that the past three weeks of my life have felt similar, with a string of really challenging conversations, events, and prompts being thrown at me, without me having much time to consciously digest them, culminating in this film.

Amidst the mundanity of routine, the perennial anxieties of uncertainty, and the comforting familiarity and the challenges of work, I've been swimming in a pool of ideas, some fascinating, some troubling. The ideas keep being thrown at me, and I haven't really processed them. I feel like I have just moved into a new house and I'm excited by the possibility, but I have yet to unpack and keep getting sent more and more boxes. I intend to use this livejournal in part to do that unpacking (let's see now if I actually get around to writing more than this one post!)

Some things to ponder:

- After the election, I tuned out of politics entirely in disgust. And then, two things happen: A friend of Dan's loses her husband in Iraq, and I find out that two of my favorite kids are close to becoming homeless. Dan writes in his blog "Politics isn't about who wins and who loses, it is about who lives and who dies". The world seems intent on sucking me back in.

- My mother calls, unprompted, to tell me that she thinks I need to keep up my spiritual life and my political / service work, because she thinks it is important for me and she worries I am losing track of it. I'd been pondering the same myself, for some time.

- I have a long conversation with Ryan about world politics in which he makes a very compelling and convincing case that the world is heading toward massive first-third world conflict resulting in a direct take-over of the third world by the first. Something about it doesn't sit right, beyond the fact that it is such a depressing outlook. Somewhere inside, I gain a greater understanding of eschatology.

- Dan and I see "I Heart Huckabees", a film about meaning and meaninglessness in the world, how the two go hand in hand and about they ways in which human suffering connects us all.

- I have several long (often drug induced) conversations with Dan about human perception, consciousness, free-will, the fragmentation of what we consider to be a unitary "self", and the mind's ability, through training or choice of perceptual framework, to manipulate its own emotional state.

- I go with Mike and Dan to the Black Nativity prompting discussions of the inherent political radicalism of Christianity in its inception. On the way there, we eat chinese food. My fortune cookie? "You are almost there"

- We see "Waking Life" immediately after the Black Nativity.

I don't know how to take tall of this or where to put it. I feel like I am being shoved towards taking a more active interest in spirituality, philosophy, and especially politics, but I have been given only questions, no answers. I *have* been reflecting lately on how my life used to be much more exciting / less routine, and this time of my life coincided with me dedicating a considerable amount of my energy to these pursuits. "Waking Life" closes with the thought: Time is an illusion, there is only this one moment, in which eternity is offered to us by the divine, because if we say "yes" to even one moment, we say yes to all of creation. Time, the director says, is just a sequence of us saying "no" to God. I've been saying "no" for a couple of years and I feel like I'm now being asked to say "yes".