So lots of people are teary-eyed about that ex-president of the USA dying. That's fair enough, it was a horrible way to die. I do not begrudge them their grief.
I do begrudge them their complete and total fucking stupidity.
The vast quantity of bullshit that is coming out of the media about Regan is quite frankly ridiculous. The Soviet Union did not fall purely thanks to him, it was self-destructing anyway. He tripled the national debt of the USA with his economic policies. He bowed to pressure from the Religious Right to suppress evidence that AIDS was a big thing for non-homosexuals, and ignored the recommendations of the Watkins Commission on the matter. He threw money at escalating the arms race with his Strategic Defense Initiative (the Star Wars program). That's not to mention his worthless War on Drugs or the Iran-Contra affair. Internationally, he was Thatcher's lapdog in the same way that the retard Blair is to the Shrub,
This is not the picture painted by what can only be called at best revisionist propaganda. And people believe what the media are telling them.
Further than that, people are talking as if it's of world-changing importance that a failed actor turned middling-to-poor US president has died. It is not.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of Alan Turing. His life is quite simply far more important than any mere US president. Without Turing, you wouldn't have anything recognisable as a computer. It's that simple. At best, you'd have a large programmable calculator -- assuming that the others at Bletchley Park had succeded without Turing's input and the Allies were still able to win the second world war.
Yes, one man really is that important. Turing was an honest-to-$DEITY genius. There aren't many people that I can say I look up to without reservation, but he is one of them.
His treatment after the war was disgusting. He was on oestrogen supplements for homosexuality, which the government still classed as a mental disease. The dose was so strong that by the time he died Turing had breasts. Because of this and because of hounding by the government of the UK, he killed himself with a cyanide-laced apple. Conspiracy theories still surround his last moments, whether it was suicide or murder. Either way, it was a heavy blow to the scientific world.
So why does one man who didn't really do that much good get celebrated when the most important man in computing, information theory and mathematics to live during the 20th century is ignored?
Now something less-likely to insult wandering Republicans. Actually, it's still likely to insult them because it's all to do with IP and copyrights and the like, but you get the idea. Digital Rights Management.
See, there's this online store, DriveThruRPG.com. I love the idea. You can buy PDF files of gaming books, several of which are given away for free each week. The only problem is that these files are locked with Adobe's DRM, meaning that without a registered viewer, you can't see the files.
I use Linux. I actually downloaded the latest version of Acrobat Reader for linux from the Adobe site, despite it being ugly, slow as all hell, stupidly bloated, and non-free. This is an old version. There is no DRM support. Even using the latest Adobe viewer for my operating system I cannot read these files. The beautifully fast gpdf doesn't support some features of Acrobat 4, let alone 6, so I cannot use my chosen reader.
I'm stuck in the position of wanting to give them money but not being able to. I'm not about to drop into Windows to read a book, I only do that for games any more. Yet I want to read the books.
Now, I understand the goals behind DRM, but they are based on fundamentally flawed premises. DRM is the buggy-whip-makers stopping people buying cars. There are plenty of arguments about copyright. I can understand people wanting to enforce copyright. Even without the necessary re-haul of the intellectual property/copyright system, DRM is not the way to do it. You effectively treat your customers like criminals, and cut off even willing people who would take the legal route if it were available to them.
For a small industry like the RPG industry I really do understand wanting to keep copyrights to ensure that authors get paid. Right now, this shop is using the wrong tactics for the job. It's like anyone walking into HMV and buying a video game getting electronically tagged like a criminal on day-release. Quite simply, it is IMO the right idea but the wrong means of enforcement.
: Free not in price but in ideology. Free as in the liberty.
: Here I will note that Cory Doctorow's Eastern Standard Tribe is released under a Creative Commons license. Nobody has to pay to read the book, but you can do if you want to. This has not notably hurt his sales, despite him being an unknown to people not familiar with BoingBoing or the EFF.