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Like my brownhouse:
   cybercensorship, creative straightjacketing, and Web paranoia
Tuesday, February 25 1997

Funky thing to say today: it's not the apple but the person who hands it to you.

I used to have Fugazi's "Smallpox Champion" on a tape I made from college radio, followed immediately by Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl."
I slept until 3:30 pm and went directly to UVA's Cocke Hall to do work after having a slice of pizza at Hot Tomatoes on the Corner. There was a performance of some local band called Agents of Good Roots causing a distraction in Plan 9, so I didn't go in there until later. When I did, I picked up Fugazi's In on the Kill Taker used for $5. I like some songs on this album a lot, but there are a number that do nothing for me whatsoever. There is an obvious ska influence in some of the songs, which is not that appealing to me. But a surf-rock sound is also mildly evident, and I like that a lot. Track 4 ("Smallpox Champion") is great with it's tinny little vocal recorder accompaniment. I used to have that song on a tape I made from college radio, followed immediately by Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl." Unlike most Fugazi tunes, "Smallpox Champion" is remarkable tonal. But then, this particular album itself is remarkably tonal even if it is on the Dischord label. But then track 7, "Sweet and Low" does a beautiful job of swinging between dischord and melancholic sweetness in the style of Sebadoh.

I missed a visit of Cecelia the Brazilian Girl while I was out.

I sat and watched a teevee show on the Fox network called the World's Scariest Police Chases or something like that. It featured much spectacular footage of horrible auto accidents, some of which resulted in death! Such programming was unthinkable a few years ago. But the public's demand for video carnage has risen, and the marketability of programming such as this far outweighs any negative ramifications from the "too much violence on teevee" carpers. I'm ambivalent about what such programming does to the quality of teevee since while it is geared to the reptilian part of my brain that revels in the tragedy of others, it is still just plain stunning video. If I had video like that it WOULD be on the Web in a heartbeat.

Before falling asleep for an especially early beginning of my pre-work nap came the arrival of Bn. He'd brought over a keyboard that had been collecting dust over at Main Street Guitar and Drum. It was the same model as the one I'd seen yesterday in Snooky's, and all was fine with it except some of the controls were stuck by some sort of accidental gluing process. He'd decided to loan it to me after learning of yesterday's keyboard-obtainance-failures in my musings. I played with it a little and he showed me some basic things about how to use it. It has a fairly cheesy sound, which isn't so bad when you consider what my effects pedals can do. But it also automates much of the process of rhythm construction. This automation comes at a price though; it all fits within the realm of stiff little pre-defined templates such as "Waltz," "Slow Rock," etc. I could view it as tool or a straightjacket. Still, I have had luck with similar synthesizers in the past. I created a beautiful musical composition on my Commodore 128 computer when I was 17 called "The Tadpole" programming a chip that was probably simpler than the one in this keyboard.

Bn claims that this is it; he has finally broken up with Helen for good. Apparently it is an amiable break up, but still, it is having social consequences. During his two-and-a-half-year-long realtionship, Bn neglected his other friendships and social connections and now finds himself socially isolated. I told him that it would be cool for us to hang out together more and that he should come by occasionally. I'm sympathetic to his plight since his current anæmic social situation is much like mine was when Leslie Montalto (a girlfriend I'd had for two years) broke up with me in Oberlin, Ohio in late August, 1994. Or, to a lesser extent, like Monster Boy's current situation.

I hated waking up from my pre-work nap tonight. I'd been having strange dreams in which I had another name and a bureaucratic job. Somehow they involved Jessika.

Katherine DeGood and Deohjee the Alsatian were hanging out with Ches and maybe John in the living room as I left for work. I passed a very belligerent slate-grey pussycat on the front porch yowling through the door at Deeohjee.

I thought some about Dolly the cloned sheep today. Over the weekend researchers in Scotland announced that they have cloned an adult sheep and that the clone's name is Dolly. It seems the future is coming faster and more furiously every day. First it was life on Mars and now it's mammal clones. As I recall, just the other day "James" was in Sam 'n' Ellas telling me that wholesale chromosomal replacement in mammal cells was a long way off or impossible. Soon it seems my genes really will be available on a CD-ROM.

Today I found myself becoming INFURIATED by the arrogance of cybercensorshit companies.

Private Cyber-Censorship

At work I was reading Willa's Journal and followed a link to a number of sites related to cyber-censorship. The injustice of censorship software has cropped up in my mind before, but today I found myself becoming INFURIATED by the arrogance of cybercensorshit companies. Points that infuriate me include:

  • Cyber-censorship companies consider the specifics of what exactly their software filters block to be trade secrets. Thus no one is supposed to know what is filtered; parents are apparently expected to buy such software on faith that doing so is "the right thing." Hysteria about pornography on the web is their main marketing tool.

  • Brian Milburn, the president of Solid Oak Software, which made and markets the CyberSitter Net-filtering software, has threatened LEGAL ACTION against individuals in the media who have brought to light the fact that among the things filtered by these "products-for-the-paranoid-parent" are the sites of the National Organization for Women and a number of religious organizations, as well as whole domains in which small amounts of any kind of controversial or otherwise interesting content may be found.

  • Not only are controversial sites and domains with diverse content filtered by Solid Oak's CyberSitter, but so are all sites and domains containing sites critical of CyberSitter and other net-filtering products. In the safe world walled off Cold-War-Berlin-style by CyberSitter there are no questions raised about the Wall.

  • This would be a laughable situation, but supposedly 900,000 copies of Cybersitter are now in use and a number of public libraries are installing this and other net-filtering software on public net workstations. Effectively this gives government support and legitmacy to one corporation's secret idea of what objectionable content is.

The result is that, as an alternative to government regulation, those who do not have the money to afford their own net access will be forced to use machines that are hobbled by some private corporation's secret idea of what the morals of the nation should be. Such a preposterous situation is not only frightening, it should inspire REBELLION and the SMASHING AND BURNING OF OBJECTS OF OPPRESSION as well as e-mail letter bombs to corporations whose business is the blocking of ideas. Send your e-pipe bombs to: The Solid Oak Corporation and do some blocking of their goddamn information.

Interesting Sites concerning Private/Semi-Private Cybercensorship Issues


Peacefire-an organization of youths organized against the forces of cyber paranoia and filtering.

Center For Educational Priorities-what is really behind the fears of what children may learn?

The Net Labelling Delusion-the first step towards destruction is labelling the offending people, animals or objects, be they Jews in Germany or errors in a draft of an essay. "Voluntary labelling" of material for possible exclusion is a slippery slope that can lead to government mandates and censorship.

Net News Article

Programs and Advice for Disabling Net Filtering Software-take control of the information flow into your mind.

The Villains: those whose ticket to money and orgasms is deciding what the world may tell you. Flood them with multi-megabyte e-mail attachments!

Innovative Protection Solutions Corporation-developers of Triple Exposure for Windows, a computer pornography probe. Supposedly "an alternative to ineffective Internet filtering and blocking software."

Diversified Associates International (DAI)-involved in business and software development. The latest software product called "Parental Discretion" helps paranoid parents protect precious children from Internet pornography.

Library Safe Internet System-server-based internet filtering system to prevent access to pornography, uncomfortable ideas and fraud.

Fresh Software Company-parental control software that allows parents to block programs from precious children .

Net Nanny-the name itself is enough to inspire nausea.

Solid Oak Software-if the "problem" was Jews these guys would be building the ovens.


Cyber Patrol-for the repressive parent who has everything.

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