Archive for October, 1997

Spuck Fammers: Netizens Protection Act Useless

October 30th, 1997 at 10:48 pm by Mark
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     First off, I am totally against this so-called US “anti-Spam legislation.”

     This stance may piss off quite a few would-be Mark Steel fans out there, but before you make up your mind that I’m a complete ass, please read the reasoning behind why I’m against it.

     I’ve been thinking about the issue of “Spam” quite a lot after writing this page on the 30th, and I’ve had a bit of a change of heart regarding the issue of New Jersey Rep. Christopher Smith’s H.R. 1748, the so-called “Netizens Protection Act of 1997.” Without linking to the Bill itself, and to the sites supporting it, there is no way for me to objectively tell you why I am against this legislation.
     As well, I decided to change this page entirely. Yes, I admit, it was a bit too inflammatory. Those of you who responded nicely about the issue are thanked, beforehand.
     And after reading your reading your letters, now I wish to rebuff a few arguments. You see, I’ve read your reasoning, and it still doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. This proposed law will make some changes, but not in the manner that most of you think. A lot of you who responded were not looking at the “Big Picture,” so here’s a bit of it for you.
     I am in no way claiming that this is the entire “Big Picture,” but it’s assuredly a lot larger than what most of you bothered to think about. I think I’ve addressed every issue that was brought up. If I missed something, e-mail me again. Be nice about it and I’ll cover it, too.

     One of my core political beliefs stems from reading way too much of the works of certain “founding fathers of America” like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. You see, I was a history buff as a child. I admit that the older I get, the more I forget. But I do remember that all of them stuck to a single idea. I think Henry David Thoreau stated it most eloquently in his paper, “Civil Disobedience.”

     “That government is best which governs least.”

     The United States Code Title 47, Section 227 is an Amendment to the Communications Act of 1934, and looking at the proposed law, it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. However, thanks to the number of Lawyers in D.C. posing as Elected Officials, things have to be spelled out specifically, or else they’ll leave, as they say, a loophole by which a violator can prevent him or herself from being prosecuted.

     The unfortunate fact of the matter is, when you spell things out explicitly in a law, you leave more loopholes for “extenuating circumstances.” These days, people are much less concerned with the “spirit of the law” and much more concerned with the “letter of the law.” Proof of this is in the Clinton/Gore campaign scandal, and the bipartisan agreement that Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson’s council give up the fight. It doesn’t make Clinton innocent, but that’s another story altogether…

     The enforceability of H.R. 1748 is in question for several reasons. A lot of you have complained about Usenet messages in our correspondence, but let me be the first to inform you that this law does not, in any way, shape, form or fashion, address anything with regards to Usenet and newsgroups. It only addresses the issue of Unsolicited Commercial E-mail.

“Our own stats indicate that almost 80% of Usenet and 20% of email is nothing but Spam. Obviously this is a major drain not only on our infrastructure but everyone else’s as well. It must stop…”
– Ed Kelley, AT&T WorldNet Service Customer Care, Forums Manager

     That being said may change a lot of your minds by itself. If not, keep reading. Oh yes, there’s more. Lots more.

     One of the largest problems on the Internet is that it’s often hard to tell where a Spammer is from and to whom he or she is sending these messages, regardless of whether or not Section 227(d)(1)(C) is amended as proposed. Logic would hold that since this will become of issue only within the United States, the Bill cannot address the problem of International Spam.
     You may think that’s all fine and good, that the majority of Spam does come from inside the United States. But supposing this Bill does become Law, there is nothing to stop an American from putting a machine at a remote location anywhere in the world, and running all Spam and business through that country. The violator can still be a silent partner, still reaping the profits of his labours.
     Many people say “Oh, no, that kind of thing is too costly for most Americans.” They are incorrect in that assumption. All they have to do is build a simple machine, ship it somewhere in the world for around $60 US, and put it on the subnet of a willing Internet provider. The average cost for this type of venture is around $200 US, not including business registration by their “partner,” of course. Giving the provider a percentage of the profits reaped by this “business,” the need for business registration and paperwork can be overlooked entirely.
     Discarding that, no company in the United States is barred from using any “advertising company” they wish. This proposed law only affects the spammer, and not the company they’re “marketing for.” Nothing stops a would-be business owner, who wishes to market his company in the United States, from going to a Spammer in some other country and having them send these “unsolicited advertisements.” This section of the proposed law states that the “identity of the business, other entity, or individual sending the message” and their respective contact information must be listed “at the beginning” of the “unsolicited advertisement.” This does not, however, disqualify the foreign entity from promoting anyone they wish. The promoted company will be held without guilt, as the foreign Spammer, being a marketing company, was actually responsible for the Spam. And to make matters worse, not only can they not be prosecuted because they are a foreign entity, they complied explicitly with the proposed Law.

     Bad loophole, isn’t it?

     Thanks to the “letter of the law,” the wording of Section 227(b)(1)(D) creates a problem in itself, and I can think of no way to rectify it. As Internet Providers gain more and more users and the domain name registration databases grow larger and larger, a simple typographical error on the part of an “advertiser” will not necessarily be returned as undeliverable – it’s likely to actually go *to* someone.

     As far as adding “knowingly” to the first line (“…to knowingly send…”), that seems a good idea, but as the violator will most assuredly say “I didn’t know” in his defence, he will be found innocent of “knowingly” sending the Spam except my a massive preponderance of evidence.

     Regarding the current U.S.C. Title 47, Section 227 — it’s quite tough for an individual or company to find anyone to take action against a violator. The burden of enforcement for these laws falls under the umbrella of the FCC. Your liaison used to be the Public Service Commissions in your respective states, however, many states are doing away with them. Even if this new Bill becomes Law, who will you call to report the incident?
     And even if you do find someone to take your claim and begin to help you get your damages, it’s impossible to *force* anyone to *pay* the amount of the rendered judgement. Many people will say things about “Oh, well, having a default of several thousand dollars on their credit report won’t look too good!” You’d probably be amazed to know how many of your elected officials have filed bankruptcy. I guess proponents of this line of thinking aren’t aware of the current laws regarding Bankruptcy, which can effectively erase any sort of “bad marks” on their credit except for the bankruptcy declaration itself. There are plenty of institutions out there to loan money to recent bankruptcy filers. So what’s that going to hurt?

     People just don’t think about what laws cost. There’s all that time that it’s just a Bill, being passed about amongst elected officials, taking up time and taxpayer money. And then when it’s passed, there is additional time and effort spent writing up informational and educational materials for those who are planning to enforce the law. Then additional government funding must go to the enforcement groups responsible for upholding the law. And it’s never enough… They always need more.
     And then there’s the already overcrowded court system (not to mention the jail system). Think of all the petty lawsuits this bill will create. Think of how much wasted time and money will go to that. Think about how much each court member has to be paid to try the case. You go to court, you’re probably going to be taking up the time of at least twenty people. Figure twenty people at an average of about $9 US an hour. Add up each employee who has anything to do with this case, and the time it will take each one of them, singularly to do their job. Figure around five hundred hours spent on each case. Multiply your hours times your average rate. Now think of this from a nationwide standpoint. Use a conservative figure, like maybe one hundred petty cases per month. There are twelve months in a year. The sum to your American court system, just for the small, petty lawsuits… Only $5,400,000 US.
     And that’s a very conservative figure. Americans, as we have to admit, are litigation crazy. I would venture to say that this conservative estimate of $5,400,000 US will more like be $54 Million US in the first six months of enforcing the law.
     And how much of that money does the court get back? Just the sum of their court costs and paperwork fees, which never amounts to enough to support them.

     So, now… What if HR 1748’s amendments *are* passed … Will the FCC hold the burden of responsibility for this law, or will a new Enforcement body be created? Will the costs of enforcement be offset by taxing your Internet usage, or will they simply raise your US Federal taxes more?

     Do you complain about your taxes? Do you support this bill?

     If you answered “yes” to both questions, I can’t help but wonder what logic brought you there.

     Especially if, after reading this article and Bill in question, you are still under the mistaken impression that UCE will be “illegal.” It isn’t. This Bill only gives you the “right” to sue a spammer, which is ridiculous at best. At last check of the US Civil Law System, you can sue anyone for any reason at any given time you wish in a Civil Court, right?

     I have been using the Internet for many years now, and feel that this type of Invasion into what is largely a private sector, International body is unwarranted. I have no quarrel that unwanted e-mail and Usenet messages are a problem — I hate them, as well. But this a problem which can be taken care of in the Private sector without government intervention.
     Proof of this is in Aegis.net’s disconnection of one CyberPromotions, Inc. Since CyberPromo’s denial of service, as well as quantcomm.com and a few others (which have brought up legal issues regarding contract violations), the amount of Spam in my mailbox has decreased astoundingly. Before these denials of service, I was getting a solid ten messages a day of e-mail Spam. Now I get two or three a week.

“Spamming is the scourge of electronic-mail and newsgroups on the Internet. It can seriously interfere with the operation of public services, to say nothing of the effect it may have on any individual’s e-mail mail system … Spammers are, in effect, taking resources away from users and service suppliers without compensation and without authorization.”
— Vint Cerf, Senior Vice President, MCI

     If more companies were willing to use their right to enforce Terms of Service Agreements and Acceptable Use Policies, and to refuse service to these companies and individuals responsible for Spam, the problem would simply not need to be addressed by any Government.

     One of the other, similarly annoying things about the supporters of this bill is some of the supporters, themselves. Many of them showed so much defiance last time an Internet-related Bill came up. Remember all those pages, white on black, bearing the Blue Ribbon of the EFF? Remember all those people saying “Keep your laws off my Internet!” over and over, and having candlelight vigils to the Death of Free Speech on the Internet when the Communications Decency Act was initially passed? Why on Earth are they now running back to the US Government for help about spam, when they spoke out so fervently against the intrusion before?
     Not all Spam is for-profit — much is passed around from the same well-meaning idiots trying to promote a cause. That being that, I can’t help but wonder if some peoples’ idea of Free Speech and Expression is strictly limited to anything that doesn’t annoy them. If that’s the case, they should be ashamed of themselves.

Attention Deficit

October 29th, 1997 at 9:05 pm by Mark
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     Ritalin still calms me down.

     Most people will tell you that it only works for kids, but I’m one of those people who is, somewhat deniably, the hyperactive sort. Many people will argue this point, however, as I keep up the “mellow” facade quite well. I’ve learned a few tricks over the years that are a tremendous help in achieving this goal. Those people who would argue with me rarely notice that I never actually stop moving.
     The women I’ve been with have been well aware of it, as it unnerves most of them to no end. Quite often, I lie in bed tapping my foot until I fall asleep. They’ll generally remark about it, that I’m keeping them awake. And because they’re awake, they’ll notice how my body “jerks” right at the moment I lose consciousness and fall to sleep…
     …and in the morning, I’ll “jerk” awake. This usually startles them somewhat, and starts their day off rather badly. And I don’t do it out of being startled. It’s just that my body suddenly realises it hasn’t moved for several hours.
     You may very well be laughing about all of this, but unless you’ve been there, you’ve no concept of what a problem this can be.

     I can’t even write anymore…

     I’ll pick up a pencil or pen and begin to write down an idea, and well before I’ve completed a single sentence, it’s lost in a fray of tangents and muddled thoughts. Ruled paper is so distracting that way. So, of course, I type (one hundred and some odd words per minute, I type), often nowhere near as fast as I need to. You see, sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I’m going to have a problem keeping up with the speed of brain.
     And I’ve been this way my entire life.

     I’ve heard that Hyperactivity diminishes with age, but in my case, it’s done nothing but get worse. I have, for the most part, learned to cope with it reasonably well. I’ve created “stops” for myself to help me think coherently, including that wonderful little “foot tapping” ritual (often simply bouncing my toes inside my shoe so as not to annoy everyone around me). As well, I’ve done some changes in my thought processes and created some stops so that I can attempt to catch myself when I get into those patterns of circular thought… where I’m paying far too much attention to details and not enough to the big picture.
     These things are usually enough to fool the average person into thinking I’m this quiet, mellow sort who doesn’t have a lot on his mind. They never realise the amount of “over thinking” I do just to make a the average judgement call or respond to “Can you go out and check the post-box?” Questions like that often elicit an “Ummm…” (insert no less than four second pause, followed by an emphatic:) Yes!” from me.
     Of course, having a drink, or a few, tends to pull out those stops rather quickly…

     …which brings us to the fact that, even sober, it’s often extremely difficult to think in such a way that other people can understand me. It’s not that I have a problem paying attention, but rather that I tend to pay too much attention to certain other, non-specific, things. Sometimes it’s hard for me to follow changes in subject. Other times, I’ll be the one changing them every three seconds. It’s not uncommon for me to carry on five or six completely separate conversations with the same person, provided they have the same problem I do. Oh, but if they don’t, they become terribly confused.
     This is probably the biggest reason why some people think I’m “on something.” Despite my looks, and my admittance to enjoying a drink now and again, I don’t partake of anything that’s considered to be a “controlled substance” (and quite often, I wonder how these things they’ve labelled “controlled” can cause such a tiff at the US-Mexican border, but that’s entirely beside the point).
     Most of my close friends know this. Quite often, it’s tough to convince someone out of the loop that I’m not “on anything.” They see the problems I have paying attention, maybe that I’m too attentive; perhaps that I’m not attentive enough to what they think I should be focused on. But, most of the time, if they start that, I just don’t give a shit what they say or think, anyway.
     For that reason, school was always a real bother.

     Quite often, I’d be going about my day and a teacher would ask me a question. Before answering, I would sit and stare, perhaps vacantly, at them for a few moments, maybe listening, maybe not.
     They’d usually stare back at me, wondering whether or not I was going to answer. If I didn’t do it at the exact moment they thought I should, they’d wait until after class and ask one of the other students if I’d dropped a hit of acid recently. Of course, the other students would later remark about how “Mr. or Mrs. So and So thinks you’re on drugs, Mark.”
     But what Mr. or Mrs. So and So never realised is that while I was staring at them, I had noticed exactly what was on the chalkboard, what they were wearing, that they had just come from the restroom (they had toilet paper dangling from the heel of a shoe), they were coffee addicts (their front teeth had those familiar grain-stains on them), their shirts weren’t buttoned/tied up quite where they should’ve been (so they’d dressed themselves in a hurry that morning), and on the way to work they had eaten a very flaky croissant while driving (those tell-tale flat crumbs). I would also have ascertained, by the look on their face, that they already knew the answer to the question they had just asked me, and, lastly, that they were wondering whether or not I dropped a hit of acid recently.
     I would replay the question they had asked in my head, and, after grinning slightly at myself, I would rattle off the correct answer.

     This would often prompt them to complain about “all the talking” going on in the room. They just knew that someone had whispered the answer and I had heard it, and that’s what my little “grin” had been about.
     It never occurred to most of them that my little “grin” had been nothing of the sort. It was simply that my amazing powers of observation had alerted me to the toilet paper dangling from the heel of their shoe. And being me, I was wondering what type of adhesive had attached it there so permanently.

     Some people say Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder causes individuals to become easily distracted. That I can agree with. My entire thought process works on circular tangents. You’d never know that this web page actually started out to be a dissertation about the economic effects of the Bill Clinton campaign scandal on the now-industrialised nation of China as opposed to the rest of the Asian market (while listening the The Wall).
     But what I cannot agree with is that many Teachers will profess that it’s difficult to teach people with ADHD. I find that this is not the case at all. My learning ability was never impaired in the least! I just felt that since I had already learned what they were teaching me, having to prove it to them was surely a waste of everyone’s time. Maybe if their methods of Teaching had changed slightly, it would have been easier on all of us.

     Besides…

     When everyone else was talking about going to college, I already knew that making $23000 a year as a certain middle-aged Economics Professor, minus the great expenses of a heavily medicated wife who refused to work, their sheltered youngster whose first words were “Vote Mondale-Ferraro!”, the house they’d bought at a deal but the property was now worth less than the unpaid portion of their mortgage, the two new cars, that damned Beagle puppy who pisses on the carpet at any given moment despite its costly obedience training (which it was kicked out of during the last week for howling — after the trainer stuck the dog’s nose in its own urine for doing what Mommy & Daddy sent it to obedience school for to begin with), the weekly change of curtains and interior latex paint for the whole house so Mommy wouldn’t go apeshit during her many, many do-nothing days, and let’s not forget the maid who comes to vacuum and clean clothes and cook breakfast and dinner since Mommy’s crazy, just wasn’t worth working sixty hours a week at a University for.
     I came to this because after spending $40,000 for his Doctorate to net a total of $23000 a year in pre-loan payment savings, adding yearly interest to the unpaid balance of his loan, which he’d have to keep paying the minimum balance on and only covering a small portion of the principal because of his high expenses, it was going to take him at least ninety more years to even pay for his education. And after his pre-mature death at age sixty-four and nine months, that everyone else saw coming because his wife was an alcoholic bitch who’d pressed every button he didn’t even know he had and strained his ticker a bit too hard so that he could try and relax at retirement, someone besides him was going to be more than a little miffed…

To Ally: Always remember, just because they’re “educated” doesn’t mean they’re smart.

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

Mine’s Bigger Than Yours!

October 26th, 1997 at 11:58 pm by Mark
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     Is it just me, or are people ever-more infuriated by other peoples’ choices and opinions?

     I usually try to make light of things, but maybe sometimes even I go overboard to the point that I piss someone off. But all in all, I really do respect other peoples’ opinions… Moreso, if they’ve an inkling about “why” the feel the way they do, and can explain it.
     But as most everyone realises these days, you can’t even go into a Usenet group without seeing people up in arms over whatever subject, and getting pissed off about it. Dare I say, if you ever ask a question in a Newsgroup, you’ll get bombarded with badly formatted paragraphs full of spelling mistakes written by some weenie-head with nothing else better to do than tell you how stupid you are. And if you even make a statement in the newsgroups, it’s absolutely impossible not to piss someone off. Flame War
     Looks like the whiners are all grown up now (at least according to their birth certificates). And the arguments have only gotten sillier with time.

     Oh, I remember… Way back when… It all began with modems…

     …a 300 Baud acoustic-coupler modem, an Apple ][ and a Super Serial Card. “Gee, this is fun,” I used to think. I’d sit for hours on end calling up BBS’s and chatting with people, learning more as I went.
     Of course, it was slow. Not 14400 slow, or even 2400 slow. This was 300 bps slow. Not only were you connecting at 300 baud (remember that word?) to a few select places (usually long distance), but the phone lines back then were crap (uphill, both ways, through nine feet of snow!). We had to actually set the telephone handset down on the modem and be extremely quiet, or else all we’d see was

        [[[/!2|#-[[-
        ```NO CARRIER

     After a while, I got a 1200 baud modem. I was still using my Apple predominantly, although I had upgraded to a ][+ by that time. IBM’s were really starting to hit the scene in a big way.
     And the noise of the masses? Oh, it only got louder.

     I had my reasons for sticking with my Apple back then. There were Warez-a-plenty, and IBM programs were just too damn big to download, even at 1200 baud. At that time, I just didn’t care to run Lotus 1-2-3.
     Funny… that much hasn’t changed.

     I remember how arrogant the IBM users were, too. At the time, it was the machine of choice for professionals, and their particular sort of Classist mentality carried over. They were professional, and, by definition, anything else was a toy. They were absolutely relentless in their idea that the IBM was a better machine than the Apple ][+. It was ridiculous, the whole argument. After a while, I quit worrying about it and realised the argument for what it was.
     You see, when it came right down to it, I had a machine that was “fun,” and they didn’t. You have to admit, looking back, guys, that the machine I was using had games, and graphical ones at that, and in colour, even! The IBM had: Lode Runner. Little else, really.
     Then came the Apple //e and the 2400 baud modem and things got a bit better. So much better, in fact, that I plugged the 2400 baud modem up to my IBM. I still used my Apple, of course, and had even gone to the silly extreme of buying a Commodore 64 to play with.

     That’s when the shit really hit the fan. Apple released the Macintosh. I liked it. God, it was so simple… The first consumer GUI… A Paint programme that didn’t lock up!
     When it was first shown and later released in 1983 and 1984, it really sparked something in everyone. Many people loved it. Others who had never even used the machine simply despised it. Called it names… “Jackintosh!”
     Me, I did what I was supposed to do. It was new, and I embraced it as a wonderful innovation. And it didn’t take long to realise that Cut & Paste was a damn handy thing. I wrote HyperCard games for years, and loved it!
     But most of the IBM users were still aghast at the Mac. “There’s no colour!” they go on, knowing full well that most of the IBM’s were still using green screens. The tiny, grey-scale monitor on the Mac was so much easier on the eyes.
     “There’s no DOS prompt!” they would say.
     “I don’t need it,” I would tell them. They simply couldn’t understand that. I didn’t need all that crap — I just wanted to have fun with it.
     Those sorts of concepts flew over their heads like Mandelbrot’s “The Fractal Geometry of Nature.”

     But that’s beside the point.

     I still used my IBM. I used my Mac. I still used my Apple //e, the Commodore 64 and those damned Tandy Model-III’s in the labs. It was a computer, and it was, therefore, fun and exciting.

     Some time around 1985 or 1986, I started building PC’s and realised that I could make quite a bit of money doing something I really didn’t mind doing. I started fixing PC’s for people, and in doing so, noticed that the Macs never seem to break down.
     My mind was made up, for sure, at that point. I liked my Apple //e. I liked my Mac. But I wasn’t going to make any money with them. So I started fixing PC’s.

     Shit hit the fan again. The arguments became completely ludicrous. The Mac users’ groups hated me because I had “sold out.” The PC users’ groups hated me because I was a Mac person. And I wasn’t either… I was simply in it for the money.
     Computers were still relatively new to people. There weren’t a lot of us using them, and everyone became so cliquish that it became impossible to breathe around them for all their stuffiness.
     But I was doing something they weren’t … I was making money.

     The arguments have continued, and they’ve become much, much worse. They’ll threaten each other, call each other names, hate one another. As with any heated debate left in the care of the righteously indignant zealots, sooner or later, someone’s going to get physically attacked.

     The reason?

     Because someone had bought a Mac instead of an IBM… Because someone said their ISP was faster… Because someone’s Jewish instead of a Presbyterian… Because someone thought their Jaguar was better than a Mercedes… Because someone’s a Republican instead of a Democrat… Because someone’s from the US instead of New Zealand…

     Or someone thought they had a bigger wiener…

Mr. Bill’s Bill … Take Two

October 26th, 1997 at 5:18 pm by Mark
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     Apparently, many of the quotes and ideas I mentioned on my original “mr. bill’s bill” page were taken well. As the issue of Communications Decency regarding the Internet and Television Programming becomes more and more widespread as a conversational topic, I’ve begun to see and hear myself repeated almost word for word both from Mass Media and American Politicians seeking a vote. It’s a bit depressing, really, to see “Put simply: The CDA is a Federal Law which makes Bad Parenting legal” and not at least get my name next to the quote. Nonetheless, there’s more to life than the Andy Warhol experience … although, it is annoying that stating “I said that!” after Media has plagiarised your material frequently greatly decreases the chances of anyone taking you seriously as writer.

     As usual, I’ll start out with a few Quotes which I feel are very relevant to the ideals of Freedom and Democracy — at least to the people in the United States.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Benjamin Franklin, 1759

“I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
Thomas Jefferson, January 30, 1787

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
Samuel Adams, 1776 (not just a decent Beer)

     I find it rather unfortunate that the quotes above will do little more than give the American Mass Media ammunition to make people think you’re a radical Militia fan, or someone who’s going to one day be in the same sort of mess as Timothy McVeigh (who’s a right bastard, IMHO).
     All I can do is say that I’m not like that in the least. I simply feel that two-party systems were designed specifically so that people could be Moderate. The ideal of Freedom is to let people make up their own minds about things.
     To be, in essence, able to change the channel themselves.

     On 25-Jun-1997, several people claiming to write Newspaper columns contacted me. They wanted to hear my comments about the CDA, as it had been ruled Unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court.
     With little forethought, I wrote about it and forwarded it to each of them with a simple request: “If you print any of this, please send me a copy of the article.” And, like I had thought, none of them sent me a copy.
     Bastards, all.

     I realise that that’s a bit of a subject in itself, but I felt it was worth mentioning. Having this wonderful thing called an Internet has always allowed me to get foreign viewpoints from unrestricted media. The CDA could well have abolished that in the United States.

     So could the V-Chip.

     On with the letter:

26-Jun-97

     My primary reason for being against the Communications Decency Act was that it restricted free speech rights inexplicitly. That section of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 attempted to block any speech which may be found indecent, in any context, and did not apply simply to Pornography as we have been preached to on numerous occasions. Immediately after the passage of the bill, many people began receiving e-mail from “do-gooders” who were off on a lot more that just pornography. According to them, “Indecency” ranged from informational material about Venereal Diseases to ‘why someone hated a particular President’ to discussions about Religion and Spirituality, many of which were called “occult” simply because they were non-Christian. The way the law was written, most anyone could have been prosecuted for anything they said.
     In the beginning, it seemed that a lot of conservative groups jumped on the bandwagon and convinced a good many people that this bill was simply an Anti-Pornography law, something to help our nation’s children. But as I said in the text of my web page, it’s not for our government to take care of our nation’s children and legalise bad parenting. Nor is it Constitutionally viable for a governing body to restrict our free speech. Nor was it an Anti-Pornography law.
     Correct me if I’m wrong, but certain limitations of our Freedoms, such as Freedom of Religion and the freedom to speak our minds, was a big reason why many Europeans came to this continent to found this country. Since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the CDA because they found it unconstitutional, I’ve been watching a lot of mainstream Media. They seem to have all jumped back on the “Anti-Pornography” bandwagon.
     A bit over a year ago when this controversy started, mainstream media was blasting the government for passing this law, claiming that it was a limitation on free speech. Now, many of them are blasting the government yet again for overturning a bill which they claim was simply an Anti-Pornography law.

     People seem to have this idea that Republicans are the scum of the Earth, that they’re the “classic moderators of thought” as I’ve seen so many times. What people must remember is that this bill was created by Democrats. The bill was passed by both Democrats and Republicans. Both sides have their conservatives and their liberals, and they’re pretty evenly distributed, despite Mr. Clinton’s claims. The two party system was put together to create a system of checks and balances by which ideas could be voted upon fairly, but this seems no longer the case.
     I don’t want to run the risk of sounding like a federal-building-bomber, but I think this quote not only gives merit to a lot of what I believe, but also states the problem quite eloquently:

...when all government... in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.
     -- Thomas Jefferson, 1821

     The passage of the CDA, itself, seems a case in this point. I would hate to think that our nation’s elected leaders would pass a bill without reading it from top to bottom, sideways, backwards and inside out. The Telecommunications Bill of 1996 was so full of convoluted, useless articles, so long, boring, hard to read and comprehend, and just perhaps the passage of the CDA portion was simply an oversight. I say that because I’m not quite ready to hold dear the idea that our elected officials are 100% corrupt and don’t really give a damn about the rights of the American People…
     …and I hope I’m right.

     But there is a flip side to my argument….

“We can’t be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans…”
— William Jefferson Clinton, USA Today, March 11, 1993

     God, I hope I’m wrong.

So, you Dated a Psychobitch?

October 7th, 1997 at 4:14 am by Mark
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     Somehow, I don’t believe you.

     I don’t mean to sound rude or anything, I just wanna make you think about something before you call this woman you were obviously in something with a “psychobitch.”

     Let’s be honest. The whole term “psychobitch” is completely cliché, isn’t it? What does it mean?

     Is this a woman who…

     …has made you very afraid for your life? Did she attempt to stab, shoot, bludgeon or otherwise assault you simply because of the colour of her kitchen wallpaper? Has she created a public scene in front of no less than fifty witnesses, claiming that she hates you, and that if she can’t have you, then nobody else can? Is she pissed off simply because you have a car, and has she screamed about this to everyone she knows? Has she assaulted you in public, screaming at the top of her lungs, in front of no less than twenty people, “You’ve had an attitude with me ever since!” and you have no idea what she’s on about? And continues to scream about your sexual escapades with her, and you’ve honestly never even slept with her?
     Did you once date, well over five years ago, haven’t seen her for at least two years, and somehow she’s miraculously three months pregnant with a child she swears is yours? Has she bashed in the window of your car as it sits in your parking lot, seen by at least ten witnesses, but subsequently claimed that she couldn’t have done it as she was with her psychiatrist? Has she ever sat with you calmly at dinner in a four-star restaurant, stood up, started throwing tabletop items at everyone in the place, screaming at everyone for no apparent reason, sat back down, a calm look about her, and asked you what happened to her silverware?
     Have you ever walked in on her when she has some sod tied spread eagle on a bed, immobilized, she’s on top of him going at it like mad, and, when she notices you’re standing there, proceeds to beat him, all the while screaming bloody murder for you to help her, that she’s being raped? Has she ever run over you with her car, later giving the explanation that she did it simply because she had never done anything like that before? Has she boiled your aquarium? Has she stalked you, years after the fact, leaving little clues in the form of written notes — “I’m watching you, Love, Laura”?

     It’s perfectly normal, often understandable, to feel angry after a break-up. For some, it’s even normal to exaggerate a bit about simple things, blow them out of proportion. But people are ever-more likely these days to use the term “psychobitch” about their ex-whatever just because they feel like it. Never mind that they haven’t actually done anything to them…

     Keep that in mind the next time you think about saying it. And next break-up, try this… have your break-up, maybe fight, maybe not and get over it. Get on with your life.
     Sometimes it’s hard to do that, and one of you might have a little problem letting go… But you really need to start asking yourself the big question before you start going off about them to everyone.

     Is she nuts…?

     …or is this “psychobitch,” as you call her, just someone who you feel is, indeed, full of more shit than last night’s dinner casserole?