Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   some peer to peer poison
Wednesday, October 9 2002

For the past few days, there has been an aggressive male squirrel hanging around the back stoop. I can tell he's male because of his huge testicles, which are probably as large as my own, though encased in a balloon-tight scrotum. This squirrel seems to delight in taunting Sally and Edna. He spends hours each day out on the fire escape or in the lower boughs of the maple tree, chuckling and cursing and flicking his tail. Sometimes his boldness strays into the quasi-suicidal as he casually marches right up onto the porch, dashing away at the last millisecond when Sally comes charging. I've seen male squirrels acting this way as a kid in rural Virginia, and I figure it must be some sort of boldness display, a squirrel equivalent of bungee jumping, geared to winning the attention of females. An attraction to "bad boys" is evidently a very primitive mammalian trait. It must convey a powerful reproductive advantage on the males who practice it, since they occasional go beyond the limits of self preservation; my parents have witnessed daredevil squirrels being caught and killed by Fred the dog.

I've been suffering from a mild cold for the past few days. Its chief symptoms are an occasional cough, a sore throat, and the discomfort of thick mucous membranes hanging down the back of my throat. Today, though, I also felt weak in my legs and joints. Originally I'd planned to drive to New Jersey to look at a pickup truck, but after driving down to South Brooklyn to have the Honda Civic photographed (for insurance purposes), I realized I wouldn't be able to go anywhere.
Compounding my feeling of illness was the shoddy nature of the commerce I'd been experiencing in Brooklyn. It felt more like communist East Germany than the heart of God's Capitalist Utopia. For three days I'd been unable to get anyone to photograph my car at the nearest Park Slope insurance-company-approved garage, always because the person who does the photographing "didn't come to work today." So I'd had to go to the garage in South Brooklyn. Then, trying to find a working gas station willing to sell me gas proved to be equally difficult. Sure, there were gas stations, but when I'd pull in, someone would invariably run out to tell "We no have gas." Or else there'd be some big machines digging up the tanks. Or else it would be on the other side of Fourth Avenue in a place where left turns were impossible.
While I was tooling around in the car, I found myself listening to the radio, something I almost never do these days. I heard a new Red Hot Chili Peppers song that I liked, a song called "By the Way." I'm not much of a Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, but I usually find something beautiful in most of their songs. Unfortunately, such beauty is often spaced out between long spans of annoying pseudo-rap or "look, we're a funky party band too" space jams. Like the Pixies, the Red Hot Chili Peppers manage to make their beautiful stuff seem especially so by playing it off against musical junk. (My least favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers song is "Suck My Kiss" which, to my way of thinking, might as well be by Lenny Kravitz.)
So later on tonight I fired up KaZaA in order to download "By the Way." This experience gave me a fresh view of the state of file sharing. Normally the stuff I download is obscure enough that record companies don't bother mounting much effort to defend it. But a new Red Hot Chili Peppers tune is a horse of a different color. The first several attempts at KaZaA downloads yielded simple loops of the "By the Way" chorus repeated enough times to pad out the length of the actual song. This is a now well-known technique record companies have been using to "poison" peer-to-peer networks. Ironically, this particular loop of chorus happens to be the only part of the song I actually like. Nonetheless, everything, even the good part of a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, gets tiresome after awhile, and I wanted the whole thing. So I had to try again a few times. It only took a little extra effort to get the real deal, and I simply deleted the bad copies.
The thing that music companies don't seem to understand about the file sharing universe is that it's an inherently Darwinian system. Sure, they can shit in the Easter basket by releasing defective copies into the mix. But defective copies don't survive long among the users. They're quickly deleted, while the good copies propagate. It takes a massive and continuous effort for a record company to dilute the sheer volume of good copies of a currently-popular tune. They might as easily order the Mississippi to flow northward or declare the war on terrorism won.

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