Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Debate: Part 6 - Affirmative Rebuttal

Affirmative Rebuttal
From Kevin McConnell

My rebuttal is solely directed at Philip's negative rebuttal. In this rebuttal I will focus on Philip's main arguments and state why they are flawed and consist of fallacies. Philip states the issue is "Wether piracy, in this case, should remain illegal?", this, in fact, is not the issue. Piracy will always be illegal, thats why it's piracy, the problem is distribution of media.

In Philip's first argument he states that buying a music CD then downloading a digital copy for yourself is wrong by saying "You bought one copy of the CD not an unlimited amount". For one thing this is a fallacy, the consumer has bought the album which is not piracy, but under current laws it is copyright infringement. I feel as long as the consumer bought the physical album they should be able to have a digital version of the same quality and format to complement their CD. In our day and age with MP3 sales on the rise and CD player sales are waning, a digital version is a good solution to curtail a majority of copyright infringement because consumers want CDs' for their cars and digital versions for their iPods. When you buy an album, you buy the songs on the album, this should be in any format. Artist shouldn't be able to charge for different versions of the same song. Daniel has a viable solution "If the record companies provide a key code with the CD, which would allow people to download the songs from the CD if they provide the right code". This is were Philip commits a fallacy, tu quoque, this is committed because Faris states "That is unsound because the artist is selling you one copy of the album, not an unlimited amount. It is not a membership when you buy something of an artist; it is just that specific thing. You do not just buy one thing and get the similar thing." The issue of downloading a digital version of an album and purchasing a physical copy of the album is still considered illegal, but with todays high-tech world the RIAA should reconsider the laws regarding this issue.

Philip brings up his next point of rebranding piracy and how it would not change how people view piracy. Rebranding piracy will change the public's view of copyright infringement as long it is not spun in a negative manner. If the public knew the laws regarding copying a CD for personal use the general consensus would be in favor of changing the laws. The image of internet pirates isn't very fitting with those who are caught, the RIAA focuses on family oriented, middle class citizens who pirated for personal use, in order to deter piracy. This enrages the public, the RIAA should focus on those who download and distribute digital media, this would deter piracy dramatically. Prosecuting the average family won't help the RIAA nor the artist image, the RIAA should go after the pirates who bring a camcorder into the movie theater or the peddlers on the street selling bootleg DVDs.

Philip's next point he brings up alleged an fallacy, the appeal to pity, however he continues of use the fallacies of generalization and bad analogy. Philip brings up an example of a women and her family was caught committing the act of piracy and was prosecuted, he said they should pay the price for breaking the law, I say who is this women where are his sources? Philip brought up a bad analogy of comparing this women to drug dealers by stating, "She knew before hand that there was a chance of being caught. It was a choice that she made and now her and her family have to live with the consequences. This is like saying that we should feel bad for drug dealers that get caught. This makes no sense." Philip, drug dealing is no way comparable to piracy or copyright infringement, you can't download a drug, copy, or share drugs over the internet.

Philip's next point regards my parter Mr.Gromak and his personal views on the RIAA and their ethics, Philip you state that Gromak's ethics are "truly messed up", this the well known fallacy of Ad Hominem, you are attacking the person, not the argument. I am not attacking you, I'm pointing out the flaws in your argument. Next you prove our point by stating that money the RIAA receives from court settlements does not going to the artist, but for "downloader hunting". Faris states "Although they are not reimbursing the artists nor the record labels, they are still helping to cut pirates down. If they help cut the illegal downloaders than they will be forced to buy the album which then will the record labels and artists regain somewhat a profit.", Faris, I'm sure that those who are prosecuted for pirating are not worrying that they have legally buy media, they now have more important issues. The artist's image is not improved, the loss is not regained, and piracy only alleviated by a fraction of a percentage.

I must admit Philip and his group's next point is correct, the revenue lost from piracy. The loss of revenue in United States alone is in the billions, but Philip fails to bring up the benefit of piracy to numerous companies. This companies are hardware manufactures and Operating System producers. This includes companies such as VoodooPC and Microsoft. According to Todd Hollenshead, CEO of iD Games states "There is hidden benefit of piracy... but for computer makers, not video game producers. There's a very real and admitted benefit to computer manufacturers -- but that doesn't mean that there also isn't a benefit for the video game makers themselves.", he follows with "Get PC makers to finance new games, pointing out that if they give out the games for free it will help drive more people to buy the next generation of high powered PCs that are needed to run the games. In that way, everyone can benefit.". Computer sales will increase if new hardware is required to run the programs. Computer manufactures are not the only ones to benefit from piracy, MP3 player manufactures such as Apple, sell more iPods to consumers who have pirated music in order to listen to songs with their device. Microsoft the manufacture and creator of the largest distributed operating system in the world, Windows, admits the company benefits from online piracy. The president of Microsoft Corporations' business division states " Our number one goal is that we want people to use our product. If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else, and that's because we understand that in the long run the fundamental asset is the install base of people who are using our products." If two of the largest companies in the computer industry benefit from piracy, their must be an angle that you guys are missing.

The problem is not piracy, but distribution of digital media, and it's blurred regulations regarding this new obstacle in technology. We must refocus on creating a solution to deter piracy, which will not come without compromise to consumers and artist.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Marx and the Bible

Annotation/research paper for my Bible/Apocrypha class. god is a closet Marxist!

What was supposed to be a dramatically shorter annotation that grew into something .. kind of silly. Was an interesting read, though. I forgot to email myself back the final two paragraphs when I finished it on campus, and will add those later.

Marx and the Bible, written by Jose Porfirio Miranda and translated by John Eagleson, attempts to make the argument that Exodus and the prophets are revelations of the "Transcendent God," whom is also known as the "Liberator of the Oppressed." To be more specific, Miranda argues, both in the introduction and throughout the 300 page, highly academic and densely-written work that Yahweh exists exclusively to deliver [his] people from oppression. As covered extensively in chapter 3, God's Intervention in History, Miranda argues highly effectively that the only instances that Yahweh appears and actually does anything is to free his people from oppression, and that His hand and the voice of the prophets appear only when Israel – or another group of people - is treating it's poor and downtrodden with injustice. Miranda's ultimate goal with this work is nothing short of a complete reworking of the economic and theological systems that have allowed for and even enabled the rise of capitalism. Although Miranda's arguments are often compelling, he does little to address alternate arguments (such as those in favor of a capitalistic system), instead keeping his argumentative focus specifically on the interpretation of the words found in the Bible, and those of various Papist documents. He also heavily employs a variety of dialectic methods, occasionally citing but more often than not assuming that the reader has read the works that he references. Although possibly acceptable to the theologian and scholar in general, it made for frustrated reading as I personally have not read anything that he cited. Marx and the Bible, published in 1974 under the Library of Congress denotation of BS 511.2.M5713, is thrown into an argument that, as I have learned in reading it, has been ongoing for sometime; is God a communist?

That actually isn't the argument that's going on, although interpretations of Yahweh as a Marxist – and Marx as a Yahwist – are found throughout the work. In the first chapter, Private Ownership Under Challenge, Miranda asserts that private ownership is a terrible crime, both to a non-religious society but particularly to any Judaeo-Christian group. This is primarily due to the inherent unfairness of labor/wage contracts; the only way that a worker would sell the only thing he can – his labor – for the low rates that the employer (or: the controller of the means of production) will pay is if he is either under duress ("No one could convince us that we are free to pay or not to pay what is charged for a loaf of bread. This is determined by entrepreneurs as a group. You pay it or you die of hunger. (p. 10)) or has no alternate choice in the system. Although several popes have argued that as long as the original capital was justly (we'll return to this shortly) acquired, then the wage/labor contract is inherently fair; however, Miranda asserts clearly that there is no way that one group of people, regardless of historicity, could have acquired so much of the capital of one (or more) groups of people without violence or spoliation. About this system, he says that
"There has never existed a socio-cultural system whose refined constrictive power was so capable of entrapping and hooking people on such deep and psychic levels as the capitalist system. Not only does it make them believe they are free, but it makes them consider inserting themselves into the system and assisting it to function as a life ideal. For the slaves of old there was at least the interior freedom of knowing they were slaves; at least in that little corner of their soul they were free. ... If by chance they should escape, they have no choice by to return; it is the only way they can survive. (pg. 22-23)
Although not speaking directly or necessarily about capitalism, Miranda also says just after that "Only intellectual blindness could lead one to assert that the working-class masses accept the wage system with true freedom, the wage system on which the Western socio-economic system as a whole is based." The author's feelings on capitalism and any wage-based system become pretty apparent, although he supports each argument with eloquence and heavy citation.

His other central point to the first chapter is the attempt to redefine what it means to be just; "Since at least the sixth century A.D., a bald fact has been systematically excluded from theological and moral consideration: "To give alms" in the Bible is called "to do justice." To give alms essentially reverts to giving materially to another person as an act of goodwill or religious virtue. Miranda takes great effort to explain that not only is this mandated by not merely the Bible but God himself, as the manifestation of God occurs only to free people from oppression – and the closest that a mortal can approach to God is through charity, fairness, and being just to the poor. The difficulty with this is that in order to be truly just, no man can be rich; Miranda states this multiple times throughout the book, and the following passage illustrates this in a most interesting way:
"Many have sinned for the sake of profit; he who hopes to be rich must be ruthless. A peg will
stick in the joint between two stones, and sin will wedge itself between selling and buying."
(Ecclus. 27:1-2)
Miranda also makes absolutely no distinction between "good" and "evil" rich men; to him, the trouble with individual ownership instead of communal has nothing to do with the individual, but the act itself. He says that, "Unless one person has lost, another cannot find," suggesting that in order for one man to profit in any tangible way, the other man whom he bargained with must have lost something in the deal - as otherwise, things like surpluses and profits cannot exist, and only through those two things can trade between groups arise. Because only through the exploitation of the working man can profits arise, Miranda also says on page 19 that
"...therefore alms giving is nothing more than a restitution of what has been stolen, and the Bible calls it justice."
I am inclined to agree with him.

Chapter 2, or The God of the Bible, tends to be a chapter with less focus on modern arguments and socialism as an in-depth look at the God of both the New and Old Testament. Instead of the careful and well-measured prose intermingled with papal edicts and modern literary analysis, the second chapter revolves around actual Biblical passages concerning the immaterial nature of Yahweh, and what it means to know Yahweh. On this, Miranda provides the reader with a series of passages from the Old Testament; "He defended the cause of the poor and the needy; is this not what it means to know me? It is Yahweh who speaks" (Jor. 22:16) and later, "I will not accept your offerings and sacred ceremonies; what I demand is that you do justice to the poor and needy." (Hos. 6:6)
He concludes that "The meaning of "to know Yahweh" is thus all the more clear, almost like a technical term: to have compassion for the needy and to do justice to them." (pg. 48)

Following comes God's Intervention in History, in which Miranda begins his linguistic analysis of much of the Bible with a focus on the Old Testament. This section of the book is particularly where a knowledge of ancient Greek and Hebrew would have been particularly useful, as Miranda references it liberally and, it would seem, with the assumption that the reader is familiar with both. Due to this, it's difficult to develop an opposing viewpoint; although what he writes makes a great deal of sense, having absolutely no point of reference makes it troubling to read as it requires a blind acceptance of his arguments – which should never be the case. He goes over one word with high emphasis; mišpat, which appears multiple times throughout his citations, and would seem to mean justice. But not justice in the traditional sense; justice, to modern western man, has little to do with what Miranda argues is the justness of God and righteousness, as modern man is likely swayed by the notion that to follow the law is to be just. Justice, in the original and Biblical sense, is rather to give alms to the poor and ensure that they are not poor. Miranda in chapter 4 will return to the notions of laws and justice.

The third chapter is also the section where Miranda begins to elaborate on exactly when and why God intervenes in the affairs of humans. According to and well-supported by Miranda is the thesis that God/Yahweh appears and manifests his power only in one situation: when his people are oppressing their own poor, or when other groups are oppressing his people. On page 78 he says,
"Yahweh's intervention in our history has only one purpose. Here (in Isaiah 42:5-7) it is explicit: "to serve the cause of justice"." and on the page preceding, "...Yahweh is the God who breaks into human history to liberate the oppressed."
It's an interesting theory, and try as I might I was hard pressed to refute it, aside from perhaps the story of Jonah – although to be fair, it was never explained exactly what the citizens of Nineveh. His careful analysis is also made clear with passages such as,
"Ezekiel uses phrases such as the following 78 times: "You shall know I am Yahweh when I do such a thing ..." For example, "They shall know I am Yahweh when I break their yokestraps and release them from the hand of their captors." (Ezek. 34:27)" (pg. 81)

"The only meaning of the law is to do justice, in the strictest, most social sense of the word." (pg. 146) In chapter four, or Law and Civilization, Miranda examines western law in the context of both modern times and the time immediately proceeding the death of Christ. He does this through a variety of methods, primarily relying on side-by-side examinations of Biblical passages. These very frequently come not so much from the Old Testament but from the various writings of the Apostle Paul, although the destruction versus the damnation of Soddom and Gomorrha are also looked at. Miranda sets out to make the argument that only through Christ and, in a paralell sense, Yahweh/God can true justice be found – as the slaying of the Christ could not have been just, yet it was by the laws of Israel that he was killed.
"You have broken with Christ if you look for justice in the law; you have fallen from grace." (Gal 5:4)
Miranda further explains and rationalizes the crucifixion of Christ in this way:
"Let me repeat: For us to be free from the law it was necessary that the law crucify Christ before our eyes; only in this way could we understand that justice does not come through the law. Therefore Paul says that he has nothing else to preach but Christ crucified (as in 1st Cor. 1:23)." (pg. 189)

As civilization is built directly on top of and is dependent upon laws – which, Miranda has established, are unjust – then civilization in general is equally as unjust. The only laws that should be followed and can offer any sort of justness are those directly handed down by Yahweh, as they were designed to protect the poor and the oppressed – the very thing that Israel was when Yahweh decided to initially intervene in their history. As to the laws, however,
"It's clear that for the prophets the law is important only because its content of justice. Thus, when they proclaim that Yahweh rejects Israel, the law as law does not serve them as a point of support subsistent on itself. The law as such has no substance for them." (pg. 167)
His evidence throughout the chapter is once again primarily examinations of Biblical passages, both through the Old Testament and the New, in addition to some linguistic analysis. Miranda also freely interjects ideas and sometimes opposing thoughts from other writers, but, as with previous chapters, he assumes that the reader is already familiar with them and thus, doesn't bother to quote them – rendering many of the passages incomprehensible.

Chapter 5, or Faith and Dialectics, attempts to pull all of the criteria concerning justice and the law that Miranda established in the four preceding chapters into the concepts laid out by Marx. It is here that Miranda's goal becomes apparent and is realized; by linking what he considers to be the absolute purpose of both Christ and Yahweh – to free Israel/the Gentiles from oppression – with his established idea that the modern economy and the wage contract system is inherently unfair, he creates an interesting paralell to Marxist concepts. It very often seems as though Miranda, and even Paul, are anarchists, as very often their complaints are not merely with the law but also with the state, which is founded atop civilization and the law. Neither provides much of an alternative aside from Christ, alms-giving and good works, unfortunately, each assuming that to know Christ is to be just. On page 204, Miranda writes:
"Paul is convinced not only that the law has failed in human history in its attempt to achieve justice, but also that justice will not be achieved in this world as long as the law exists."
"If justice comes by means of the law, then Christ died in vain." (Gal. 2:21)
Paul and Marx also come together in this chapter:
"Paul and Marx coincide in their intuition of the totality of evil: Sin and injustice form an all-comprehensive and all-pervasive organic structure. Paul called this totality "kosmos". Marx calls it capitalism. But if Marx does not recognize that capitalism is the consummation and deepening of the oppression which was inherent to human civilization since biblical times, then it is denying dialectics and attributing the birth of capitalism to exterior causes, exactly as metaphysics and mechanistic materialism would do it. Mao Tse Tung asks, "Why is it that the Chinese revolution can avoid a capitalist future and be directly linked with socialism without taking the old historical road of the Western countries, without passing through a period of bourgeois dictatorship?" And he can ask this precisely because the structuralization of injustice into total civilization already existed before capitalism." (pg. 250)
Although Miranda is particularly effective at dismantling well thought of concepts and entranched ideals, he lacks a real voice in suggesting alternatives to the status quo; although he might convince people that socialism really is the true path of Christ and a necessary way to enable a society to be just, he does little to address specifics of how this can be achieved. This may be, however, due to Miranda's propensity to employ the work of other people without directly quoting it – it's entirely possible that he's more than willing to lean back after the revolution and be pleased with whatever just .. happens. It makes for an ultimately unsatisfying work, and fails in the context of the larger debate; sure, there should be change. He effectively describes why, and even to an extent, how this might be accomplished. But he doesn't say what should happen after that - "Everything will be just" - is simply naïve.

Throughout Marx and the Bible, Miranda revisits a variety of themes, although his favorite – or perhaps the one he considers to be the most important aside – is the foundation of Greek philosophy. He accuses it of forcing a materialism, a fetishization of physical objects and of the displacement of man as a living, breathing being from the equation. He also argues that its foundations and those with which modern civilization/laws were built upon is inherently dependant upon maintaining the status quo – and, as he has demonstrated in a variety of ways throughout, the status quo is generally a poor state of living. In chapter 1, he writes:
"For the Bible is nothing like the "neutral arbitration" which the Greco-Roman tradition imposed on us, a so-called neutral arbitration whose unimpeded task is to preserve the status quo by overcoming with force whoever challenges it. For the Bible, law consists in finally achieving justice for the poor and oppressed of the world. Completely opposite to the defense of the status quo, the realization of justice not only subverts it, but it also demands that we abolish the state and the law. ... Anyone who believes that a total change of attitude is possible without a total change of the mental system does not know what a mental system is."
(pg. 22)
This is a theme that Miranda revisits often, and to great effect; he quotes Aristotle as saying, "Truth is incompatible with the condition of the slave."
This work is important because it addresses as aspect of the God of Abraham that is seldom addressed - what it means to know him, and to do his works. More than the contextual definitions that he has provided throughout, Marx and the Bible shows that almost the entirety of modern Christianity is not merely off-track, but outright wrong. Although opponents of organized religion are not rare and are never anything but outspoken, very seldomly do they approach the question of justness, fairness, and overall correctness of both the institution and civilization as a whole with the troubling accuracy and candor that Miranda presents his case with. Although the debate between socialism and capitalism has all but died off in all but academic circles in the United States, this work should still be read - if only so that the notion that God is a closet Marxist can become more widespread.
What is at stake in this argument is the prosperity of all people, and not merely the class of people capable of the production of material goods. Particularly considering that it is that same class of people that ensure that Christianity is the dominant, prevailing mindset in the United States in particular - that they are using a philosophy that is directly antithetical to their methodology of governance and economics is something that the people exploited by their system should and deserve to know. The people that are abused and manipulated not merely by the laws, the state, and the prevailing economic theories should know that they are being manipulated also through their faith. This work, or at least the ideas presented within it, should also be reviewed by those disenfranchised with oganized religion, as I found that Marx and the Bible provided me with more reason to accept not only Christ but Yahweh as divine and just than any other argument I've ever encountered. It's a shame that they're incompatible with thought processes too firmly entrenched; Marx and the Bible is an interesting took for conversion.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New McDonald's Sign:

New mcdonalds sign: 90210 taste. 48503 price.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Game Criticism

Presentation/speech I had to give for Public and Professional Writing. I didn't really follow the directions, provide visual cues, or even focus on the actual presentation of the thing: I delivered it straight-up as a speech read from my laptop, and ad-libbed two minutes when I realized it wasn't long enough. It's filled with lies and inaccuracies, but I got an A on it anyway.

According to metacritic.com, the new PC game Dead Space garnered a perfect score from six gaming institutions. This speaks directly to a problem that permeates the gaming criticism industry at large; the tendancy for a journalist to enjoy a product so much that they forget the function of their position. Gaming journalists are not employed to be fanboys, are not employed to write about the passion they find in a game, no, although these both are things they may do – however, the function of a gaming journalist is rather to analyze, criticize and demonstrate an understanding not only of the game but the game in the context into which it falls. No game is ever released in a vacuum, and all ideas presented within it are a culmination of those that came before; innovation is rare and is certainly to be celebrated, but the pillars that a new game is built upon must also be acknowledged, and often, many current journalists do not employ this. Gaming criticism and art criticism are terribly similar in many ways, and the tenets that bind both are the same; rigorous examination of theme, composition, flow, and the effect on the viewer are among the chief attributes. However, many gaming journalists fail in this regard, doing a disservice to the gaming industry at large, the readership, and most importantly, the consumer that must spend his hard-earned money on the games they review. By failing that most important aspect, the failure to effectively deliver a fair criticism of a game, they trick consumers into purchasing products that, had they been made more aware of faults found within, would have never purchased.

I humbly request a position at Eurogamer for the very reasons above; I have, over the last decade, learned the art of criticism, both by reading a great deal of it and writing a great deal of my own. I have selected Eurogamer above all other companies because I believe, both through your mission statement and the quality of the work found on your website, that it is the optimal place to provide hard gaming criticism. What I will bring to Eurogamer is just that; hard, effective criticism, driven always with the consumer and he forwarding of the gaming institution at the forefront of mind.

As I spoke about in my personal letter, addressed [date], I am currently writing for my university's newspaper, the Michigan Times. Although I am not a particular fan of the overwhelmingly right-leaning content found in the editorial section, I no less do my absolute best work at criticism for them at all times, and genuinely believe that I have made the Arts section of their newspaper a more informative, intelligent, and worthy place for consumers to help determine which pieces of media are worth paying money for. In the first issue of the newspaper, I wrote about the newest Metallica album, Death Magnetic, and although I found a very small handful of the tracks to be worthy of the legacy originally perpetuated by the band in the late 1980's, I found their newest attempt at metal – which, at this point, is really more hard rock than anything else – to be derivative of other bands writing music in the modern day, stale, and though a great deal of effort was put into it, uninspired. I received a small volume of negative feedback for this criticism from members of the community, and although I read them with the possibility that I had misjudged the album in mind, I found that, in the end, the standards that were determined to be used by the newspaper – artistic merit, ingenuity and a sense of forwarding the art – were higher than that small minority of readers. As an aside, I received more positive and intelligent feedback for my work on Death Magnetic than negative.

My focus in education has been in communication, although I do not have a communications degree – I will be attaining a Bachelor's Degree in the Arts – English shortly, and feel quite strongly that the key to effective communication is to have a clear understanding of the impact, effect and motivational shifts that using the proper phrase, tone, and prose structure can have on an audience, whether they be peers, readers, or superiors. I chose English with a specialization in writing because I feel that analysis and ideas can best be delivered by the written word, and as such, have placed great emphasis on bettering my prose. As such, I feel that my extensive writing background would bring an excellent vantage to your institution.

I have also recently begun an internship for the celebrity-news oriented website (Yes, Kathy, it worked) thecelebritycafe.com. Although I personally find the paparazii-style celebrity-mongering format of their site deplorable, I have no less contributed my best work to it. In that capacity, I seek to provide news about the media industry at large, and most recently wrote an article detailing the Supreme Court discussions regarding the usage of profanity on prime-time television. I have placed effort also into covering aspects of celebrity life that focus not on specific celebrities, such as their children and love lives, but the issues that affect them, such as wages, film box-office profits, and striking writers. Well, I would have covered that ideally, but I was not yet interning there when the writer's strike was occuring. My editor and boss – a man named Dominick, whom I know primarily as DSMinderino over an instant messaging program – has told me that he is quite pleased with my work, saying that it provides a hard news angle to their website to help put the celebrity gossip which permeates their website into a better context for their readers, and that it has garnered substantial praise from the community.

While I spend most of my time for the Celebrity Cafe covering news elements, I also write music reviews, providing in-depth analysis and examinations of theme, flow, content and outright enjoyability. My work in this context, while typically longer and I would argue more thought-provoking than many of the other, one hundred “I like it or I don't but don't have a reason why” reviews, has garnered further praise from my employer, and solicits more reactions from the readership of the website than many of the other reviews posted. I believe that this has occurred not due to any particular stylistic differences between myself and the other writers, but because my commitment to the Celebrity Cafe is different; although for some simply stating that they enjoyed an album is enough, my responsibility – my overrriding and completely encompassing responsibility – is to the consumer, and to providing them with the information that they need to determine if an artist is listening to.

Throughout my life, I have worked for a number of institutions whose business practice, ethics, codes of conducts and methodologies I disagreed with, both for moral and social reasons. However, I persevered, much as I do at the Celebrity Cafe, and was granted recognition through employee evaluations and employee of the month awards multiple times. This is because my responsibilities to myself are left at the door – when under employment, my absolute focus is not on doing what I personally enjoy, but doing what I am instructed to do in as timely and effective of a manner as possible. Sometimes, this is difficult; selling warranties on a product that you know cannot be fulfilled, providing accessories to items that are useless, and guaranteeing that returns are always painless and easy. Although I performed my functions well and stayed well ahead of quotas, I kept always the good of the consumer in mind, always asking questions of myself like, “Am I selling a product that is the easiest to sell, or am I selling the product that will most benefit the consumer?”

I always chose and ensured I was making the latter decision.

I, again, ask to become a staff writer at Eurogamer. My skillbase, knowledge of gaming, both in PC, console, and tabletop, is terribly high, and I have taken great effort and pride in my attempts in learning as much as I can about the industry. I would use this knowledge, combined with my analytical skills, honed through years of literary composition, to better not only the publication itself but but the consumers that read – and depend on – effective analysis.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Though this isn't about anybody in particular, I liked how it came out and the wording of it. Missed an IM from someone last night, and sent..

===== me wrote=====
Sorry for missing you last night - hope to again maybe soon.

=====XXXXX wrote=====
you hope to miss me again?

====me wrote====
er, miswrote that; i hope to have another opportunity to speak with you, although wanting to miss you implies a certain desire to speak or be in contact with you; thus, in a sense, i do hope to miss you again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Internet Piracy and You

Copy/paste of the speech I have to give in about .. 21 minutes.

Position Speech: Piracy is Awesome

In an interview with portfolio.com – the web version of the business magazine Conde Nast Portfolio – Jim Griffin, a music industry veteran working with Warner Music said that it has become "purely voluntary to pay for music". With the rise of easily-replicated media, it's easy to see why – grabbing the new Bloc Party album is an easy affair, consisting of pointing your web browser to the correct site and waiting for thirty minutes. Given the ease with which consumers can illegally download not only music, but also movies, computer software and books, it's obvious that the producers of any sort of digital media need to employ new methods if they wish to remain in business and profitable.

Although it is currently illegal to download any sort of media in almost any capacity if you're not paying for it, consumers continue to do so. In an interview on informationweek.com, the IPI – the Institute for Policy Innovation, a group focused on monitoring and making recommendations for economic growth to businesses in the United States – claimed that "global music piracy robs the United States of $12.5 billion in economic output and more than 71,000 jobs annually." The only legal recourse at the moment for the recording industry is, at the moment, to sue people in civil courts, in varying quantities depending on what the RIAA – the Recording Industry of America – believes to be the financial damages that downloaders caused to the record company that owned the rights to the downloaded album. In 2003, the group took 261 file-swappers to court, according to news.cnet.com. Some of them were held liable for $150,000 in damages. Most accepted settlements, averaging from $2,000 per infraction to $12,000. Given that not just music, but piracy of all kinds has continued to grow in the five years since 2003, it is apparent that suing individuals and failing to adjust to the demands of a new, high-speed internet based market is simply not working for the producers of intellectual property.

The trouble with the statistic quoted above about $12.5 billion losses due to music piracy in 2007 is that it assumes that every instance of an illegally downloaded song, had it not been pirated, would have actually been paid for. Groups like the IPI and the RIAA are fond of citing the drop in CD sales that occurred during the early 2000's and late 1990's, arguing that the rise of peer-to-peer file sharing – the first major tool developed for illegally downloading music – was directly responsible for the decline in record sales. They fail entirely to acknowledge any number of other possible elements responsible for this, whether they're due to economic reasons, like people not having the money to buy five $20 albums each week, or reasons of taste, or any number of any things.

Their argument is symbolic of the systemic problem with the methods in which most of the media industry is employing to combat piracy; because it’s so easy to do and the chances of prosecution so rare, and the benefits of piracy greatly outweigh the benefits of purchasing items, consumers have little incentive to go about getting their music, movies and games in a legal manner.

In order for the music industry to return to profitability and to cut the losses incurred from illegal downloading, a series of measures must be taken. First and foremost, media must have a product that is better than what can be downloaded illegally, and there are a number of ways in which this can be done. DVDs can have online-exclusive content, accessible only by people that purchased the product in a store. Buying an album can guarantee rights to download it as long as the record company is in business, ensuring that the death of a computer hard drive or a scratch on a CD doesn't mean that you lose access to the album. Computer games have attained a modicum of success with this, granting people that purchased the game access to new, downloadable content and the ability to download digital copies of the game in the future.

Second, the producers of content must cease in the punishment of people that legitimately pay for said content. Since the inception of computer gaming, CD keys – a set of numbers and letters found typically in the instruction manual for a game – must be input before the game can be installed. The actual CD or DVD must also be in the computer, a so-called security feature that forces the consumer to buy a new disc if they lose their original copy or accidentally damage it. In the recently released PC game called Spore, users were initially allowed to install it three times – ever. That means that if you buy a new computer every two or three years, you wouldn’t be able to play it without buying another copy after a decade. When a consumer purchases an item, it should become his forever – forcing the people that legitimately pay for a product to combat those that would rather not pay is wrong-minded and counterproductive, as Spore quickly became one of the highest-downloaded games in thepiratebay.com history. Across the media spectrum, making personal backup copies of CDs, DVDs and games is not merely frowned upon, but a federal offense – even if it’s only for personal use! Not permitting consumers to have a backup copy of any form of media for personal use in the case of loss or damage to it is unnecessary, and permitting consumers to easily do this would greatly enhance the reason to actually pay for a product – instead of illegally downloading it.

Jim Griffin, working in tandem with Warner Music, has come up with a novel approach to the problem. Tack on a surcharge to an internet access bill, distribute the money made among record companies and media producers, and permit consumers to download all of the music they want. Although I don't believe that this is either a fair or ultimately effective path to take, I believe that they are taking the correct approach – it's innovative and it demonstrates that, at least to an extent, companies are beginning to accept the nature of the modern downloading internet. Disney, infamous for it's prosecution of infringements upon it's copyrighted image of Mickey Mouse, is also changing the way that it views the modern media world. As reported on paidcontent.org, Disney co-chair Anne Sweeney acknowledged that "piracy is a business model," and that "it exists to serve a need in the market." They plan to place some of their television content on the internet in a high-quality format, and package it with advertising. Although pirating the show would remove the ads, it would likely be much lower quality and a larger hassle to do – this is exactly the sort of behavior that television companies need to universally adopt if they wish to continue seeing high revenue from their products. According to the Wall Street Journal, Twentieth Century Fox plans to combat the rampant piracy of their DVDs in Chinese streets by introducing high-quality copies of DVDs for as little as 2$; although this is more expensive than pirated copies, Fox believes that the dramatic increase in quality will persuade consumers to buy official products instead of pirated ones.

Although these solutions and acknowledgments are only the first of a series of changes necessary to curb piracy, they demonstrate that companies are willing to do what it takes – especially since the prosecution of downloaders simply isn't cutting down the quantity of downloads. The primary idea that companies need to understand is that the people paying for their product aren't the criminals, and shouldn't be treated as such – I believe that when consumers feel that not only are they getting a better product for paying, but are also being rewarded for doing so then we will see a dramatic drop in piracy rates. Until then, well – there's always thepiratebay.com.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A beginning

First piece of writing published from a non-school and non-personal institution was today. Placing here for the sake of posterity and chronicling.

http://thecelebritycafe.com/features/21366.html

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

woot

"All we have is belief and beer"
-j3ss1