I wish I could take credit for writing this, so I’ll just have to be content with the fact that my son wrote it. Don’t just read it – do something to stop SOPA and PIPA! Little by little, the US Government has taken away our rights and freedoms by pretending to give us “safety” or because “we know what’s best for you.” Thomas Jefferson put it best - ”The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small élite” Keep giving up your rights and the country that you and your ancestors thrived under will not be there for your children and grandchildren!
What’s SOPA All About?
Hey there. I figure many of you lost your daily time-wasters from this SOPA blackout thing, so I’m inviting you to learn a little bit about what’s happening and why it’s important. Yeah, it’s long, but it’s easy to read, it’ll take less than 10 minutes, and I think you’ll have a much better understanding of why people are upset and how this affects all of us – not just us nerds working in the industry. I’m not here to preach and I’m certainly not starting a political argument; rather, I’d simply enjoy knowing that I helped some friends understand why this matters.
This is a complex issue that I’m about to boil down to its simplest form. If you’d like more technical information, it’s already widely available. Google it while you can.
In A Nutshell
Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) are new pieces of legislation targeting the very real and troublesome issue of online piracy. This has been talked about for some time, and copyright owners already have the means to pursue shutdowns on illegal content. If you want to see what they’re already capable of, go to atdhe.net, a site previously used to stream live American Football games.
What makes SOPA/PIPA different is that they aren’t designed to bring down the illegal content, but rather they’re designed to block the “facilitation” of accessing the content. In other words, censoring links, ads, and entire domains (anything .com, .org, .net, and the like). If you’re not going to read this whole thing, here’s the best way I can break it down:
- If you’re a romantic: This will censor our one truly free & open medium.
- If you’re a cynic: This will put the Web in the hands of people who make decisions with their wallets.
- If you’re a student: This will make launching a new career in relevant industries far more difficult and costly.
- If you’re a businessperson: This will destroy the Internet‘s current status as a vital economic tool.
- If you’re a developer: LOL SUCKS BRO
What It Might Do
Unfortunately, the way these have been written is so broad and uninformed that there is no way this will go into law without being abused. The average age of Senators and Representatives are 60 and 55 respectively, and primarily come from backgrounds in law and lower-level politics. Young people – how useful do you think a technology guide written by your parents & grandparents would be? Congress is applying provisions and regulations on an industry of which they have very little understanding. Sorry Dad, but your generation has no place in regulating the Web. None at all.
Here’s a bullet list of situations that are possible (others say probable, others yet say guaranteed) due to the technical ignorance of the authors:
- The US Government (Attorney General’s office, specifically) will be able to blacklist entire domains, meaning they can authoritatively decide that no one can link to ‘Site A’ at all, ever, regardless of whether or not the individual links lead to any copyright-infringing content. If you’re not in favor of censorship, this should piss you off.
- Sites like Google, Reddit, Facebook, and virtually anything with user-generated content will be forced to spend extremely valuable development time implementing new back-end techniques to ensure these links aren’t showing up on their sites. If you’re not in favor of hindering valuable American businesses, this should piss you off.
- Major copyright owners like MPAA and RIAA, known for sueing working-class families for hundreds of millions of dollars over trivial downloads, will also be able to get in on the action of serving court orders. They’ve taken advantage of every flaw in copyright regulation, and they’ll do the same with Internet regulation. If you’re not in favor of corporations abusing flawed policy, this should piss you off.
- New startups will have significantly more initial overhead (explained below), crippling the power of the Web as a business tool. If you’re against dragging down one of a small handful of succeeding industries in an otherwise bleak economy, this should piss you off.
What It Will Do
The most romantic notion about living in the Internet age is that it’s a truly free & open global medium. Any message can be communicated to the entire world. As soon as you allow our politicians to have any measure of control over it, the whole system becomes susceptible to lobbying and before long decisions are being made based on the weight of their wallets over our rights and best interests. We’ve seen it in plenty of other industries, and now they’re coming for the Web.
The Internet has also revolutionized commerce in nearly every modern industry. You don’t need a big music label to release your debut album. You don’t need Hollywood for millions of people to see your film. You don’t need a single physical store to sell your products across the world. This global connection is the reason why we see companies grow from a garage to a multi-billion-dollar corporation. The Web provides us with an accessible, low-cost, universal way of entering virtually any market.
This is very much in danger under the provisions of SOPA/PIPA. New startups couldn’t simply build a site and start making money. Instead, they’d be forced to implement costly censorship techniques, and pay exorbitantly for legal counsel that shouldn’t be necessary. This prevents the Web from being the business outlet that it currently is, and that myself and countless other young professionals in a struggling economy are banking on having a career in. One day I want to make my creative services available all on my own – if something like this is made law, I’ll likely end up doing so outside of the US.
What It Won’t Do
Here’s the real kicker: this will do virtually nothing to stop piracy. This system of blocking and censoring is one than can be easily circumvented by those who know what they’re doing. Hell, even if they block a domain entirely, I can still access the site with nothing but the IP address. I’ll spare you the more technical details – again, if you’d like to know more, Google it. But this is one thing I’m 100% on – supporters are promoting it as protection for American intellectual property, yet it provides none. This is what really infuriates me, as it will get the typical “This is for ‘murica, greatest country in the world” spin and instantly convince the lowest common denominator that it’s in their best interest.
What Do You Want Me To Do?
Look, I know as well as anyone that sometimes it’s just easier to pretend like something won’t affect you and ignore it. I do it all the time. I’m not a political activist for much of anything, and I’ve certainly never cared this much about legislation before. Maybe it’s getting older, maybe I’m selfish, maybe I’m just frustrated that this could even be considered a solution by the leaders of my nation. But I can’t sit back and watch this one happen, and I hope you won’t either.
I’m not going to send you to a bunch of sites and sources, you’re going to see plenty of that today. If you visit Wikipedia, you’ll get your representative’s contact info, and if you click the black bar over the Google logo, you can sign a petition. It will feel futile, but it’s pretty much all we have.
If you’re mad, stay mad, because the bill will be revised again and again until we forget it was even a thing and then they’ll sneak it right past us. They’ve already tried to kill the hype of the protest by announcing SOPA was shelved, even though the main sponsor has since said that work will continue on it in February. This isn’t going to happen soon, but it’s going to happen eventually if we don’t pay attention. And then you’ll just have to come with me to Australia or some shit.
Thanks for reading. If you have questions, ask away. I’ll be working from home today (a luxury I can afford thanks to the Web as it exists today) but I’ll hop on here afterwards to answer anything I’m qualified to.
When you think of Spock, you think of an emotionally detached, logical perspective. My life is ruled by logic. If it’s not logical, it’s just stupid! Many times, I have stuck my foot in my mouth by saying “Why would you do that?” I also get in trouble by saying, “That makes no sense!” Knowing I have a propensity to question other people’s motivations and thought processes has caused me to mask my questions with sarcasm. That’s not necessarily a good thing!
For example, I have a person in my office who begs for sarcastic responses! She doesn’t know it, and she’s not intentionally ironic, but she makes my logical approach to sarcasm entirely logical. Today, she tried to tell me that other people in the office were going to have a meeting on Thursday and they would be expecting my input on a certain document. These people have been meeting every Thursday for about a year now, so Thursday was not a surprise. The document was delivered to me a week earlier, so that was not a surprise either. So, I’m in the middle of my to-do list for the day, with the review of this document at the end of said list, when she came to my desk to interrupt me. She said, as she often does when she interrupts me, “Are you busy? I know you’re always busy, but I just wanted to remind you that the document needs your input, especially parts 3, 5 and 7 because that’s your area of expertise and they want to finalize this document at the meeting on Thursday, so it would be good if you could look it over and give them your input by tomorrow.” That’s not a run-on sentence, that’s how she talks! Every time she brings me information, I pretend to listen while thinking, “I know that, what’s your point?” In this specific instance, I mumbled after she left, “Really? I did not know that! Thank you for sharing!”
She starts every disclosure of information with a monologue of what she was thinking while making her decision on how to handle something. She will tell me things I taught her when I hired her!!! Why the fuck are you wasting my time telling me things I taught you??? Just give me the Cliffs Notes version and go away! This is not logical!!! When I asked her to give me a copy of the most recent Duke bills for a property we manage, but only the Duke bills that have gas charges, she gave me copies of every Duke bill for every month of 2011, prepared a spreadsheet showing the charges, and prepared a graph showing the fluctuations of the charges. My first, and only response was, “Why did you do this?” Her response was, “I already did this for another manager in the office, so I just thought I’d update it for you.” Of course I said, “I don’t need this! I just want a copy of the most recent bill with gas charges on it! How does this help me?!?” Once she pulled out the most recent bill and gave it to me, I was able to recycle the remaining 20 pieces of paper she wasted. Where is the logic in that thought process???
Okay, so I’m realizing I’m missing the emotionally detached piece of the Spock persona. Every time someone does something “highly illogical,” I get confused, which forces me to wonder how they could do something so clearly illogical. This confusion leads to my love of sarcastic responses because they deserve it for their illogical thought process! So if you see me with a confused look on my face, it’s not because I don’t understand you, it’s because I’m confused by how you could think in that way. It’s not a voluntary response, I really can’t help it! To answer the question I know you’re thinking, “Yes, I know this makes me an asshole!”
This post is a look back on my life, with one sentence about one important event that occurred during each year of my life so far:
1961 – I was born, duh!
1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis
1963 – Kennedy Assassinated
1964 – The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show
1965 – By the end of the year, 190,000 American soldiers were in Vietnam
1966 – I enter Kindergarten
1967 - Thurgood Marshall sworn in as first black Supreme Court justice
1968 – Martin Luther King Assassinated
1969 – Apollo 11 Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Ed Aldrin walk on the moon
1970 – National Guardsmen kill four Kent State students during a protest
1971 – Intel introduces the microprocessor
1972 – Nixon goes to China
1973 – Cease fire signed in Vietnam
1974 – Nixon resigns
1975 – Saturday Night Live premiers with host George Carlin
2008 – The federal bailouts begin as the US elects its first African-American president
2009 – The bailouts continue and expand as unemployment increases to 8.1%, the highest level since 1983
2010 – I meet the woman I will marry in 2012
2011 – Occupy Wall Street
Those who know me well know I can get kind of cranky when I get hungry. I’m not talking about, “hey, my stomach is growling” kind of hungry. I’m talking about, “I will eat the spleen of the next person who talks to me” kind of hunger! When I get that hungry, you should throw some food at me and walk away quietly.
Last night, I planned on going home and cooking dinner. This dinner would have been ready at 6:00, which would have put me at the stomach growling kind of hunger. Instead, my brother asked me to drive him to pick up his car in Milford. He always helps me when I need it, so I told him I’d pick him up at his house when I got off work no later than 5:30. All was well and good until I hit traffic on the way to his house. What should have been a 15 minute drive turned into 30 minutes. It’s now 6:00 and time for dinner. There was no food in sight.
We drove to Milford with somewhat lighter traffic, so I remained calm. I dropped him off at his car at 6:30 and headed toward home. By now, my hunger had grown exponentially! Cars and traffic lights were my enemies and they must be punished if they slow me down! Of course I hit every red light possible, but it was the one guy who stopped at the yellow light who really pissed me off! I yelled something at him, forgetting that my top was down. I looked like an insane man ranting at the air.
As I approached I-71 South from I-275, I thought “how bad could traffic be at 6:45?” How about parking lot slow? Now starving and yelling like a mad man, I took Pfeiffer Road as a detour. At this point, I blame myself. I now had access to one restaurant after another and I could have stopped to eat. Since I was on an assignment by Alana to pick up Arby’s for her, I thought I’d just get something near there (I HATE Arbys) and go home. Wrong answer!
Going through a drive-thru pisses me off on a good day! This Arby’s drive-thru speaker had a hand written note saying “Speak Loud.” I had no problem with that! I shouted my order, confirmed it with the idiot on the inside, told him no thanks on the biggie sizing, and drove around to the window. You would think that my order would be ready fairly quickly since I was the only one in the drive-thru. However, following the rule of the land that says “when Jim is hungry, make him wait as long as possible!” I had to endure what seemed like 10 minutes to me (but was probably two minutes) to get the food and drive off.
I then went to Penn Station just around the corner. Again, I was first in line (they have no drive-thru), so I thought all was well. I placed my order and paid for it. My order included a small fry, so I looked to see if I was going to get cold fries or if they were cooking a new batch. When I saw they were doing neither, I said something to the girl who was standing there doing nothing “I ordered small fries, would you be so kind as to cook me some fries?” Or at least that’s what I thought I said. She probably heard, “Bitch, get me my fries before I see how long it takes for that grease to melt your face off!!!!”
By the time they handed me my food, I was like a drug addict going through withdrawal! The DTs were in full swing by this time! I grabbed the food, jumped into my car, and prayed there would be no delay getting home. There was just one more light to go and, of course, it was red and the car in front of me was turning left!
A normal person would have ripped the bag open and eaten the fries while waiting. Even though I was starving, I didn’t want the grease on the steering wheel. When I got home, I threw Alana’s Arby’s bag on the table and launched into inhaling my food! She just sat there like she was watching Hannibal Lecter eating liver & fava beans. When I was finished, I finally said “hello.” What she heard was “Good evening, Clarice“
It was now just past 7:00. It was only one hour later than I planned to eat. I was lucky I resisted the urge to kill someone during that hour. Some people have road rage – I have hunger rage! Next time you hear about a shooting at an Arby’s drive-thru, please bail me out!
For years, my vacations have consisted of me taking a 3-day weekend here, a 4-day weekend there. I haven’t been on a week-long vacation in over five years! I haven’t traveled out of the country since before passports were required to enter Canada and Mexico. So I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of travel companion I would be on a trip to Aruba.
I’m not the most patient person, and I’ve been known to be sarcastic and judgmental at times. I’m so spoiled as an American living a suburban, middle class, life. I find it easy to laugh at the odd people around me, knowing that being “average” gives you half the population to make fun of. Actually, it gives you all the population to make fun of! No one makes fun of boring, average people. Now take that attitude to a Caribbean island and see what happens! When I want something, I can usually get it when I want it. Island life is so laid back, they don’t give a shit what you want or when you want it!
“You want breakfast at 11:31? We stopped serving breakfast at 11:30 and you can’t have lunch until 12:00. Here’s a menu for you to study for the next 30 minutes while I ignore you and do what I want.”
“Oh, you finished your meal? I’ll have your check to you when I damn well please! Enjoy the view.”
“You want draft beer? Here’s a 10 ounce bottle of Balashi Beer instead. It tastes like piss, but at least it’s local!”
It’s people like me who create the image of the “Rude American.” I tried my best, but sometimes I just couldn’t help myself. The last straw was at the end of the week when they brought pancakes without syrup. I went kinda nuts on them, but it still didn’t hurry them up. They brought it when they wanted to!
It’s a good thing it was so easy to decompress by walking across the street and putting my toes in the sand as I walked into the ocean. I can get rude service at home, but I can’t have the ocean! It’s also a great people watching place. Do you have body image issues? Go to the beach! There are women who should have stopped wearing a bikini decades ago and men who are clearly 12 months pregnant, walking the beach and frolicking in the ocean like they’re invisible! I guess it’s that feeling you get when you don’t care what you look like because you’re on vacation. With that being said, those same people go to the water parks around Cincinnati! I have a flabby belly and the muscle tone of a 14-year-old boy, but I was walking the beach without a shirt anyway! I wonder how many people looked at me and thought, “Damn, please put your shirt back on!” Having a tan reduces the glare coming off a beer belly, so I did some preëmptive tanning at Palm Beach Tan before going on vacation. I’m all about the optical illusion of the tan.
Going on vacation makes you feel like you have to be doing something all the time or you’ll waste it. When I’m at home, I watch TV and read and generally sit on my ass. I try to do stuff on the weekends, but I’m content with being a couch potato Monday through Thursday. I woke up every day on vacation not wanting to waste any time. I ran, then I jumped into the ocean to cool off. By the time noon rolled around, it was time to do something! Laying on a beach chair entertains me for about 30 minutes at best. I had to have something to do. So we did stuff you don’t normally do at home and spent money you don’t normally spend at home. Being exhausted at the end of each day meant I succeeded in my quest to do something.
My favorite night was Monday night. Earlier in the day, we rented a car and drove to the tip of the island where the lighthouse was. We took a few pictures, then made a reservation for dinner at the restaurant next to the lighthouse. I was trying to figure out how and when to ask Alana to marry me and I thought that a romantic restaurant with a beautiful sunset would be ideal. We arrived at 6:30 as did 30 other people! We ended up with a good table with a decent view of the sunset, but it wasn’t the time or place to ask. I needed to improvise. After dinner, with only about a crescent moon shining in the sky, I convinced Alana to take a walk on the beach. Since the beach near our hotel was fairly deserted during the day, I thought that would be a good place to find some privacy. We get to the beach and everyone was outside sitting on beach chairs in the dark! I was thinking what the fuck is going on?!? This is really weird! I found a patch of large rocks on the shore away from the people. I sat her down and worked my magic and she said yes. As we were hugging, fireworks erupted in the sky! Of course, I took credit for this and said it was all part of my plan. She didn’t believe me and reminded me it was the 4th of July. So, Aruba puts on a display of fireworks for the American tourists on the 4th. I still say it was all planned out by me!
What made the night even more special was the guy who tried to sell us weed for $20 while we were walking back to the room. He said, “Hey man, you want some weed for $20?” I said, “No thanks.” Then he said, “I have coke too.” My immediate thought was, he would never make it as a salesman of any kind in America! If I refused the “Gateway Drug” that’s supposed to lead to the hard stuff, why would he think I’d buy some cocaine instead? I imagined him trying to sell cars. ”Hey man, you want to buy this Chevy? No? How about this Bentley?” I admired his tenacity. He should have gone to the airport and said, “Hey man, you want some weed? It’s duty-free!” He would have had a line out the door! Americans love putting one over on the man by buying duty-free!
I came home with a fresh perspective on how great my life is. I was able to see the poverty that exists on the island paradise. Living there would be awful. I guess that’s why people always say “It’s a great place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.” I’ll still be annoyed by everything from traffic to rude restaurant servers here at home. Knowing that it could be so much worse doesn’t stop me from telling the asshole who needs me to tell him how big of an asshole he really is. I’ll try to keep the island way of life for as long as I can. No worries, no hurries, it’s one happy island!
On my FAQ post, the responses were mainly about my smile. I thought I’d try and share with you some of the most memorable encounters I’ve had with people due to my smile.
As a kid, it was a non-issue for my friends and family. It was just how I smiled. It was a part of me that made me unique. I had a few negative experiences, one of which comes readily to mind. It was easy to find people to play a baseball game in the Presbyterian Church field. It wasn’t really a baseball diamond – we just made it that way. One day, after months and months of my ignoring this kid who kept calling me “crooked lip,” I cracked and called him by his middle name. He threw down his glove and came toward me ready to kick my ass. I stood my ground and said, “You’ve been calling me “crooked lip” for a long time and I didn’t do anything about it. This is the first time I called you by the name your parents gave you and you want to fight me? That’s pathetic!” He backed down, walked back to his position and never talked to me again.
When I was younger, my mom sent us to the Fraser’s house while she was at the hospital delivering babies (I think it was Carl but it could have been Mark & Martie). All I know is that I was standing up in the rope swing hanging from the Fraser’s tree. My brother, Doug came out and decided to spin me around. I guess when I yelled “STOP” he heard “SPIN FASTER!” I couldn’t hold on and I flew face first onto the sidewalk. To make a long story short, I broke my nose and I lost about 5 baby teeth. The rushed me to the hospital and I ended up needing surgery to put my face back together. The first thing I found out about after I got out of the hospital was that Mr. & Mrs. Fraser wanted to make sure my smile wasn’t ruined! I thought that was really weird at the time, but now it’s a fond memory.
While in boot camp in the Army, I met people from all across the country. This was my first experience meeting a large group of new people who I thought must have seen my smile as an oddity. No one said anything or asked about it until one day, with a big grin on his face, a fellow soldier gave me a nickname. He said, “I’m going to call you Turnip.” When I asked why, he said, “Because your lip turns up when you smile!” I laughed hard at that one!
Since then, there have been random strangers asking me about it. As I age, people have started asking me when I had my stroke. I just tell them I was born with it and that’s the end of the conversation. One time recently, I was sitting at a bar. Next to me was a guy with a hearing aid who seemed roughly my age. We started talking and it turns out that he was an artilleryman for the Army and we both served at Fort Benning,Georgia. He couldn’t stop thanking me for my service to the country. I assumed his hearing aids were the result of blowing shit up. Out of the blue, he said “what happened to your face, did you have some kind of a heart attack?” After briefly considering laughing and correcting him that he meant to ask about my stroke, I just told him about the forceps.
It’s really a non-issue for me. If nothing else, it’s a conversation starter. It hasn’t stopped me from landing a job, making friends, or having children. Actually, that reminds me. There were a few times while holding a toddler (mine or a niece or nephew), that they would inevitably try to mimic my smile. It made me laugh every time!
Everyone has something that makes them unique. Lucky for me, mine also makes me awesome!
Yes, now stop making me think about my parents having sex!
What number are you?
I’m the 9th kid and the 4th son. While not technically the “middle child,” 9 out of 14 is close enough.
What was it like having such a big family?
Yeah, but you always had someone to play with, right?
And we always had someone to fight with too! During the blizzard of 1978, I spent more time at Shawn & Craig Honnerlaw’s house than my own. I walked through a blizzard with snow drifts taller than I was in order to keep myself from going crazy at home.
You guys could have fielded your own basketball team!
If by team you mean unathletic, uncoordinated people who were 5 feet 5 inches tall on average, then you are correct!
What did your dad do? Did your mom work?
My dad drank. A lot. For money, he worked as an accountant. We weren’t allowed to discuss money so I didn’t know how much he made until he co-signed my student loan. In 1984, he made $45,000. That’s roughly $93,000 in today’s money, so he didn’t do too badly. The house was paid off, so that helped. Mom worked during my teen years, but only as a way to stay sane. She could get drunk on less than one beer.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the metropolis of Wilmington,Ohio. It’s located about 45 minutes from Tri-County and 45 minutes from the Dayton Mall. I always stopped at Dingleberry’s whenever I went to Dayton Mall. First, I went there because of their prices and selection of albums. Beginning the summer before my senior year in high school, I shopped more towards the front of the store.
Wilmington, huh? Did you live on a farm?
Fuck you and the stereotype you rode in on! Small town America isn’t all farms! I spent a summer detasseling corn, which was pretty damn tiring. I made good money, but I learned I’m not cut out for that kind of work! I think our house was the farm house before they built the Southridge subdivision, but that was before our time.
Are you married? Do you have any kids?
I got married at 20 and divorced at 35. We have three sons, 23, 20, and 17. I was married for 15 years and I’ve been divorced for 15 years! I love my kids and I’ve remained active in their lives. I don’t think I’ve been active enough, but they turned out to be extremely well adjusted, productive members of society. Remaining friends with their mother may have helped with that, but I’ll give her the credit she deserves.
Are you seeing anyone now?
In the 15 years since I’ve been divorced, I spent 6 years being the King of the One-Night Stand. I didn’t want to be in a relationship because, if I did, it would have been a horrible idea. I spent the next 7 years trying to be in a relationship with a woman who had two young children. That ended after many years of me trying to help raise her kids while she was their mother and also an expert in early childhood education. I was a fool to even disagree with her! I then spent about 6 months alone until I met the woman I love who wants to be the next Mrs. Whittenburg despite all warnings to the contrary! She’s like the character in the horror movie that makes you yell at the screen “DON’T GO UPSTAIRS!!!” She never listens, she goes upstairs anyway, and she dies a horrible death. Whittenburg men (with a few exceptions, maybe), don’t make the best husbands.
Why do you smile like that?
Like what? Like Two-Face from Batman? Like Sylvester Stallone? Like this? - http://www.chacha.com/question/when-you-have-a-crooked-smile,-what-does-that-mean-about-your-personality
My smile is a byproduct of a doctor using forceps to help speed up the delivery while I was being born. He severed the nerve that controls the right side of my face. I can’t raise my right eyebrow or the right side of my smile. The great thing about that is when I think I’m raising my eyebrows, I look like I’m intentionally raising just the left eyebrow. That trick comes in handy sometimes!
Are you really as awesome as you seem?
No! I’m way more awesome than that!
Is this the last question you’re willing to answer today?
Yes it is. Please use the comment section below if you want to know more.