Monday, December 5, 2011

Final Blog Post.

Final blog post assignment:
"Choose two or more articles from the four Scoop It channels. I’ve set up that are related to a similar issue. Compare and contrast the various articles and state your own opinion on the matter. Your must provide support for your opinion based on the articles from the Scoop It channels and other materials you have found that are related. You will be expected to provide links back to the supporting articles. You also will need to include at least two excerpted quotes from any of the supporting materials you choose."
 In my previous blog post for class, I blogged about Copyrights, and the inseparable Politics of cyberspace. In summary: Starting circa 20th century, an artist's work is subject to copyright as soon as that work is created. The phenomenon of the internet has forced democratic nations to rethink their constitutions of copyright laws. This is because media subject to copyrighting is so feasibly shared through the internet, via P2P networks and such. Thus record labels and big companies (big business) are loosing money, and policies like SOPA take effect. Now, the music industry is being revolutionized from the inside out, and the future the music business is coercing our fancy.
(Note: The above applies to Western democratic values. For worldly view points of nations with different value, I urge you to read fellow blogger William Yeow's post)

The Copyright

Basically, internet mediums such as BitTorrent sites have driven the music industries to lose a lot of money. As Jukka Jouhki ponders in his blog post, Copy Right or Wrong - The Pirate Bay Case and Mind Games, it's a questions not only of copyright violations, but also one of ethics--what our society values as right or wrong. What Torrent sites like do is merely link to links that link to other links with the actual copyrighted material, which is being uploaded by not one, but many servers. With such a perplexed concurrence, one must consider all the actors and moving parts, and ponder. Jukka wraps it up succinctly:
Eventually copyright is a cultural phenomenon par excellence. It has always been an intriguing ethical issue and the digital age makes it even more so. It seems like the rapid progress of digital technologies makes it very hard for strict copyright to exist. Especially if the counter-sharing technologies and the law-making processes are not able to keep up with the development.

Is it really right to go after these Torrent websites? Aren't they really just promoting the share of wealth amongst the world through the internet? To answer this question one must speculate where the artist stand and whether these big record labels are truly necessary.

The Artist

Jason Feinberg does a great job at speculating how the artist fall into copyrights laws in his blog post What's wrong with copyright? Where he expands on Brazilian musician Denis Borges Barbosa's critique of copyrighting music. He explains how the great composers and artists of the past had numerous master pieces, juxtaposed to the few that contemporary artist have in the last century:

"Eighteenth century composer Georg Philipp Telemann...wrote some 8000 opi. There was no copyright law to protect his works. Likewise, Vivaldi composed over 500 concerti, 43 operas, published 100 opi. Handel staged 50 of his operas and 23 oratorios. Beethoven produced 849 opi (eight concerti and nine symphonies). Mozart and Bach were incredibly creative and prolific too...
...However, by the twentieth century, long after copyright laws had been laid down...Gershwin wrote a mere 19 classical pieces, 35 Broadway shows and contributed to 22 other plays, and seven films, while Bernstein wrote just three symphonies, two operas and five musicals"
 This copyrighting laws, in theory with Barbosa's speculation, has greatly limited our current artist potential. Knowing they will well copyright to sell their work as they please, they become successful and stop there. Humanity has been cheated out of possible masterpieces, all because of this limiting and restricting copyright laws that don't motivate current artists to toil away in their talent, doing what they love and are good at.

The Record Labels

So how much power does the artist actually have? Given the advent of the internet allowing the spread of media rapidly and efficiently, are the big music business really that important? According to Jason Feinberg,  president and founder of On Target Media Group, an online music industry and market, the music industry makes the most of it's money from the sales of the physical product. The internet has instantly taken that away, as the iTunes store sees more sales of mp3s than the actual CDs do.

So why would a capable artist need a record label? Our current technological world allows the individual artist to sell and distribute his music all on his own. Heck, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog have bragged about selling their tapes from the back of a truck back in '93. The information age world should certainly allow more feasibility than that.

The only thing left of the companies and record labels to do is promote their artist. All artist need an experienced marketer to get their music out there, in the right places. Thanks to the internet and noble advancements, there can now be gargantuan amounts of music artist our on the net. As Feinberg points out:
"Ultimately, labels will need to find new ways to generate revenue from their artist relationships, as the continuing decline in physical product sales will not sustain profitability."

The Future

But a smart artist and a smart manager can get past that need, if they market themselves accordingly. Erin Carrol's final presentation for the class was about Block fm and TYC Radio and and Recordings using social media to promote their artists. She seem on the roll with technology, and plans to manage and promotes her artist. As she showed us in class, she's already got "a family" of artist and marketers. With fresh young talent thinking out of the box like this, there isn't much home for big labels in the far future of music. Jukka ponders in the future:
"Imagine the year 2050. Will we laugh at the ancient practice of having to pay for likeavirgin.mp3 as all possible public digital data is accessible free by anyone...?"
If "outside-the-box" thinking from newer generations who chew up the internet protocols for breakfast can get past the necessity of  a useless middle man as the big record labels, then humanity will benefit greatly from art and freedom to enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

CopyRight and Politcs - Blog # 5

The average citizen being prosecuted for copyrighting?  The hard working artist loosing money from pirating of their work? Can government policies really help?

Expanding my weekly blog posts #4 and 5 on this topic.

Part 2

Just what exactly is a copyright, and how does it fit into democratic societies' doctrines? An individual's intellectual property and work is for the most part subject to copyright. You cannot plagiarize others' writing, steal their music, or copy their artwork--for profits. After all, it is the American dream to work hard and be happy; enjoying your liberties as long as they do not harm the liberties of others.

Copyright Philosophizing

But how much of this work can be measured and how would it infringe liberties? Mika LaVaque-Manty an Associate Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at the University of Michigan tackles this question by speculating on the opinions from "The Father of Liberalism" Himself, John Locke. Any undergrad taking the core requirement of a political science course (such myself) knows John Locke's philosophies on Human Rights and government interventions. Our noble nation of America was founded on these theories.


LaVague-Manty ponders on how Locke's philosophy about people having rights over their hard labor--and being compensated for violations of that labor--fit with the internet and copyrights. As an American this is most intriguing. To specify Copyrights, Simon Whaley details how, as soon as you write something or create an artwork, it is yours and copyrighted to do as you please. He points out how confusing this can get.

 Copyrighting Organizations

Creative Commons preaches on how they build a network of instructors and students to share and edit learning materials and copyright them, Open Education Resources, (OER) as it were. Along with CK-12 and other organizations, they have indeed limit the cost of Textbooks to schools Kinder through 12 grade, and made extraordinary use of the internet.

Aside from that positivity, Creative Commons is not all that wonderful. One most develop opinions through research. For serious writers meaning to profit from their creative work, Creative Commons is a back fire. Tony Lawrence (PCUnix) warns us how CC jeopardizes our--in accordance with Simon Whaley--already copyrighted work.

He explains how sticking Creative Commons into your copyrighted-for profit-work, you are telling the whole world it is OK to "Copy and Remix" your original work.
Proceed with Caution.

 Laws Hampering Creativity

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a bill that pushes laws to punish those profiting from pirating others' work and copyrighted material, thus ending piracy. They preach:
"To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes." —H.R. 3261
Basically, they are protecting the work of the big companies such as Disney, Universal, and 21st Century fox, along with the big record label companies, from being exploited by foreign nations hosting Bit Torrent servers, which ironically get downloaded by us Americans.

For these big companies, it works quite well. They get to keep all the profit they make from selling their artists work. But do SOPA laws really promote creativity and innovation into entrepreneurship?
Let's refer back to LaVague-Manty's speculation on human philosophies. Thinking outside the box on Politics: There are certain levels of rights an individual is entitled to.

We The People...Die For Freedom.
Starting at the basic level, there are Human Rights under UN charter. Next comes some idealistic American rights to liberty, which Americans continue to value and fight for. What comes after that? Should the Government guarantee their citizens Employment? Guaranteed Medical benefits? Guarantee most amenities that require hard work and planning?

The answers to those questions can be answered by the Billionaire who limits his decedents their inheritance, down to the bare necessities, rather than having them born into riches, thus spoiling their would-be accomplishments. This is because, by human nature, if we are given everything, we do not develop our talents or work our minds into their fullest potential; since there is no immediate need. After all, "Necessity is the Mother of Invention."


So if we develop our best through immediate motivation, does a copyright on intangible goods we create really helps us grow? The most intriguing article I have read that my professor has provided me in this Cyberspace in Society class, has got to be David Bradly's "What's wrong with copyright" article. He definitely presents empirical evidence from outside the box.

His writing should really be read and considered. He begins stating that it's well-known that the big labels have made a lot of money and hardly compensating their artist, in the past. After criticizing the music charts, he expands on Denis Borges Barbosa's critique of the state of copyright in the world of music. The Brazilian musician looks back at the 18th century publishing of music. He accounts Mozart's, Vivaldi's, Telemann's, and their contemporaries' numerous master pieces.

Back then, there were not such copyright laws guaranteeing the artists patent sales of their work. Therefore, the artists kept motivated and inspired to continue working hard and creating their best, while their previous work was being recomposed by others. In theory, these others did not possess the talent, and would never produce at the level of the original composer. Ergo; The brilliant composers would continue publishing and staying on top. The genius of all these composers can surely be heard and felt through their gorgeous master pieces. 

Samuel Barber, contemporary genius
Artists post-twentieth century have had copyright laws guaranteeing them sole benefits from their creations. Barbosa points out how this is what has limited contemporary artists' work. Three Symphonies and two operas will suffice the successful career of a modern composer; juxtaposed to the hundreds  and thousands of concertos and symphonies from the enlightenment period. Copyright laws have certainly hampered our current artists full potential, and cheated human culture out of possible masterpieces.

If Samuel Barber made such a remarkable classic as "Adagio for Strings," why isn't his other work as potent and famous? It's as if Mozart would only have his 40th symphony, no 21st, 25th, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Rondo Alla Turca, and certainly no Requiem.
Only aficionados would know the rest of Samuel Barber's work. It's this Copyrighting that, in theory according to Barbosa, has hindered contemporary artists from becoming workaholics of what they enjoy and are good at.

Governing humans has never been an easy task, and the internet certainly doesn't help. However, it is a tool that helps us grow to our potential--if used properly. If an artist's work is truly great, why would there be a need for a record company and copyrighting? Surely money; However, how much is humanity loosing to greed?

Final Questions Regarding Copyright and Politics:

1. When is a person's work subject to copyright?
a) After signing in with a record deal
b) After petitioning for a patent
c) As soon as the work is created.
d) After the FBI confirms it is an original work.
Answer: C

2. What does Creative Commons do?
a) Copy other peoples work and makes it available to the common public
b) Pays people for copyrights to their work to distribute it for everyone in the Internet
c) By individuals' consent, builds a network of shared work in the internet which others can use and edit as long as is not for commercial profit
d) Allows people to copy others' work as long as it's for commercial profit in the internet.
Answer: C

CopyRight and Politcs - Blog # 4

The average citizen being prosecuted for copyrighting?  The hard working artist loosing money from pirating of their work? Can government policies really help?

Expanding my weekly blog posts #4 and 5 on this topic.

Part 1

One must certainly appreciate the power of the internet. Through the spread of information and media which may very well benefit all of society; it has challenged our established constitutions, legal systems and international relations. It's always forcing us to recall what a revolutionary change it has brought to all of humanity as we had known it.

By it's ground-breaking spread of ideas, events, and media; America begins to question what form "Freedom of Speech" actually takes, the definitive form of intellectual property, and sets new laws constantly and dynamically as the internet continues to rapid grow and improve.

Media in the Internet

The media topic has been at the essence of much debate. The biggest being the spread of music, since there is so much of it, in such small and easily sharable files. Next comes motion pictures, movies, as they have been Americas immediate form of entertainment after the radio. Lastly, comes other forms of art, such as writing and visual art.

Big companies are loosing money as the internet feasibly compresses this media and rapidly shares it around the world. They are loosing money and desperately want this to stop; as they lobby and push their will onto politics, and laws get passed. Now anyone, by the click of a mouse, might be accused of pirating other peoples work.

Of course, as these laws evolve, people begin to panic and interject without fully understanding what this laws mean, as Catherine Fitzpatrick enlightens us in her article.
But now, in understanding that the average individual would not be so prosecuted, what about the mediums that serve this sharing purpose?

Sharing of the Media, Through internet mediums.

With big names such as LimeWire shut down for good, and MiniNova rendered useless by the courts; this companies are affective in politics.  Still such sites find loopholes at sharing this media. The ones who had been in under the scanner since early 2000's were the BitTorrent sites. Most Popularly, The Pirate Bay was the biggest torrent hosting site in the world.

This sites don't practically share the copyrighted media in their servers, but Torrents; mere shells of a movie or ebook being uploaded by others. Therefore exploiting the nature of the internet and intangibly engaging in illegal sharing of intellectual work.

That's the main reason why the individual cannot be so prosecuted for posting a link of a link of a link that links to a server with copyrighted material, in a sense.

Google, in all its hypocrisy, has definitely set  restrictions and limits on it's searches to such sites as Google no longer yields suggestions and search results when typing up this sites on the search bar, until the full word is typed.

Laws, Restrictions, and Adapting

The American public certainly and surely do not take restrictions on their freedom lightly. The sound of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) causes mass panic amongst internet users. A group of lobbyist have come up with Demand Progress, which it's founders have been battling internet restrictions and raising awareness online, and the founders have even been arrested for it. Although a bit on the extremest liberal side, their urgency has proved effective in elongating and stopping bills all together.

So It's there hope? Apparently, yes. Any Armed Forces service member is aware of OPSEC. As a newly made United States Marine, we all take instructional courses on how to keep the Department of Defense free of Phishing, Malware, but most of all for the warriors fighting wars, to not give out any military intelligence over Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube while on deployments.

The use of computers was monitored and restricted to only contacting family through approved internet protocols, however that's now changing for the better.

LCpl. San Sim (RIP, Brother) enjoying some electronics in Country
My last year in the Marine Corps was 2010. Back in that summer, I remember a big movement happening. The internet was opened to us! As an Non-commissioned Officer I was a liaison to get the word out to "Tell the Marine Corps Story." That's right. We all know how the news makes us the bad guys and doesn't ever publish the good we did in country. Now we were taking it into our own hands.

We were getting our story out there. I had to do "Periods of Instruction" on how exactly to do this, to our newer Marines. Mainly because I was the Training NCO working in the offices, as it was my last year with the company--and active duty.

Purple Heart recipient, Cpl. Marcus Chischilly approves of this.
We could now use Youtube to post our videos and make Facebook pages of our company and the good we were doing. America and the world would now see our side and the good things we do.

If the strict, held-to-higher-standards Marines can adapt to the changes in cyber society, so can other policies.

Final Questions regarding Politics and Copyright:

1. What does SOPA Stand for?

a) Start Operating Protocols Act
b) Stop Occupying Places Act
c) Stop Online Piracy Act
d) It stands for people's rights to download media freely on the Internet.
Answer: C

2. How does Google stop the spread of Piracy sites and Bit torrent usage?

a) By not showing any results for searches on Torrents.
b) By reporting those who search for these to the authorities.
c) By yielding no suggestions and search results before typing the full word.
d) By directing searches on Torrents and Pirate sites to proxies in different countries that allow such usage of the internet.

Answer: C

The Big Hip Hop!

Another assignment submitted by Tim Owens in ds106 is The Big Hip Hop where he says to:
"Take any photo from The Big Picture and overlay it with lyrics from a Top 100 song."
I grew up in Los Angeles, CA, greatly influenced by Hip Hop and Rap music; so I just HAD to do this assignment!
I quickly found the perfect picture from The Boston Globe of a Libyan Rebel holding a gun, acknowledging the people in victory. Here it is:


The lyrics are actually featured in two of my favorite rap songs, which both made the top 100s. The Original song is by Grand Master Flash and the Furious five, "The Message." It's such a good song with great lyrics and a good beat. It goes:
"Can't walk through the park cuz is crazy after dark/
Keep my hand on my gun cuz they got me on the run."

The second Top 100 song that featured those lyrics is Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dog's "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" which embodies the West Coast gangster rap culture:

I grew up listening to a lot of this music and have always found it funny to place hardcore gangster rap lyrics in everyday things. I've said this quote when ever I got a gun in my hand! Tim Owens seems to share the same sense of humor!

Leadership Troll Attack!

This one might be a tough one...

One of the most intriguing memes on the internet is the "Trollquote" which involves:
  • A clearly recognizable person or character
  • A clearly recognizable quote or statement
  • A clearly recognizable name that the quote is attributed for
As a ds106 assignment that Darth Ba'al submitted, tells us to:
"The assignment is to take a photo, a quote from a different character than the one in the picture, and a name from a third character different from the other two, place the quote in the picture, and "sign" it with the third person's name. The three characters are to be from three different, but similar in genre, series."
As I kept on seeing Troll quotes with Capt. Picard all over the internet, I kept on associating his leadership character with others. He is my favorite Star Trek captain, and he reminds me a lot of my First Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, First Sgt. Carson.

This guy was a real Clint Eastwood, come to life! He was a bad ass in every way, but most importantly, a fatherly role model for "Suicide Charley," C. Company of 1st Battalion 7th Marines. He motivated us through every misery during training and in combat. He had some damn motivational speeches, as though we were in a movie. Imagine watching a bunch of warriors ready for war after one of his speeches.

Anyways, he always used to say "Don't think you are, know you are," Which is a famous quote from a movie featuring a leader motivating his team. Can you guess the movie quote?
Here's the finished work:

The picture is a well-known mentor/master from a well-known movie series.

What all these three guys have in common is that they are all fictional Leaders and Mentors in their universes. I think the quote will be the hardest one to figure out.

My Spubble! - I look DRUNK!

Your very own Spubble is a ds106 assignment in which you take a picture of yourself with an eccentric body expression and add a speech bubble to it. The assignment was submitted by Jim Groom, as he states:
"Learn to love yourself, grab a picture of yourself in which your body language, actions, gestures, etc. suggest one thing and then play off that using a speech bubble. Ideally the result would make people laugh..."
So I found one of the silliest of my pictures, and added a bubble and quote accordingly:

When I first saw this picture after the party I cracked the hell up! I looked so drunk and ridiculous, when in fact I was the sober one! I was the bartender for my friend's party. I hadn't drank at all when they called me over to take a group picture. Every body looks so decent, yet I look like a drunk retard! It's freaking hilarious!

It was easy work. I downloaded this picture from my friend's Facebook, then I uploaded it on Picnik. Picnik is quick and extremely easy to use. There I added the frame for effect, and spubble. Justin warned me to first add the text bubble, and afterwards the text. That's all it took!

I hope you guys found it entertaining!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

English Teacher in Tokyo - Blackout Poetry

For Native English Speakers Teaching in Japan.

Black out Poems are a contemporary form of  poetry, lead by Austin Kleon who is the creator, I'm sure. I fell in love with the work I've seen at ds106 and their creative Blackout poetry assignments. I just had to do one!
I ran a quick Google search hoping to find a detailed Wikipedia entry, which to my demise wasn't there. However, shortly after Austin Kleon's search result, I found Kevin Harrell's work: Creative Destruction which deserves a good look! I love the power in his words. He's at the tip of the spear in Blackout Poetry.

The ds106 assignment was submitted by Tim Owens and states to:
"Grab a marker and today's morning edition and start blacking out sections to create a new story. It could be a poem, a picture, or a novella, all drawn from the words of the latest news." 
I work at the Temple University Japan Campus library, so it was easy to grab a copy of the Daily Yomiuri. I found an article by Takamasa Sakurai, in which he describes his newly published book: Let's Talk in English! (Eigo de hanso! 英語で話そう! ) He tells how Japan is connected to the world through social media. It was a great article!

After taking joy in reading it, I decided to make a Blackout Poem about this, conveying my feelings as an English Teacher in Japan; I think any English teaching foreigner will agree. However the words didn't come out quite right. Following Otto Paertz's advice on linking words; I put some digital art to work. Good ol' Paint helped me guide my thoughts. Here it is:
Not having the artistic capabilities held by Giulia Forsythe--who drew out images in her digital black out poem, or Stephanie Hughes who made some hand-drawn interpretations of her dream--All I did was circle the picture of two Japanese high school students in the cover of Sakurai's book. This is the second reason why I included his name in my work, the first being that I really liked his article. 
Sans the lack of eloquence, my poem conveys the feeling of being an English teacher in Japan. We come here because we really like Japan, the young Asian students are the most zealous about learning English, and we both form friendships while doing it. It's an immensely delightful feeling.

As for the work, it was far more appealing to do the Blackout by hand. It was relatively simple.

And here's the original work by Takamasa Sakurai. As I said, it's most interesting. Please notice the last paragraph, where he mentions keeping worldly relationships with from Japan through social media.

I've taught this last semester of preparatory English to Japanese high school students through the AEP program at my school, Temple University Japan. As the curriculum involves English conversation, we chat for the first 30 minutes of class. I find myself constantly telling them that phrase in both in Japanese and English "Let's Talk in English!" As they soon start chatting in Japanese.

Here in Japan, teaching English is were the money is at. Straight talk, but for my American readers who haven't lived in Japan before, my following words might be enigmatic. 

As soon as I came to Japan I was working as a freelance conversation partner. I'm also a Chat Host at Com'Inn English Cafe (sorry, only Japanese page for this one!) Where I get paid to drink coffee and talk to people, and drink and Party! As an extroverted American, this comes naturally and I do it all the time back home, but here I'm getting paid for it!

I've learned so much about Japanese people there. Demographics range from Businessmen and Office Ladies, to International artists and doctors. I love my work at Com'Inn, and the owner and co-workers are my distant family. It was featured in a Japanese show (sorry, no English subtitles):

I love working there SO MUCH, but I've found the greatest joy in working with Japanese high school students.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Skip Barber Treacherous Trip! Google Maps Story

 From The Desert to The Snow in California!

ds106 has a web assignment called Google Maps Story and it was submitted by David (Mr. Thimble). I think this assignment is extremely fun and enjoyable, to my surprise, mainly because Google Maps website is pretty advanced an updated now. The directions to get started on the assignment are:

  • Use Google Maps to tell a story! It can be the story of a trip you took, a trip you would like to take, a strange occurrence, a war, anything you like!
  • The only rules are that you have to use Google Maps proper in order to tell your story.
This assignment enticed me because I have been on a great many epic trips, some of them international! I could picture them in my head, as I was motivated by David's well-depicted story. I also thought it would be awesome to explain a detailed historic battle marked in a map of our current world! (That will be saved for when I have the time, though. And I also wanted to tell the story of my 1st deployment to Iraq, which was exiting and full of different missions around Iraq...but that would bee against OPSEC so I can't.) Surprisingly, the more I read on Google Maps Stories, the more I found comments on how they are underrated. I also couldn't find any archived examples from ds106 :-/ must be the lack of proper tagging. I'm guessing it's because Google maps USED to be a pain to navigate still might be on somethings, but it's FUN!

FEAR NO MORE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, Google Maps website is all updated, it even has rich text html! At every point in your map, you can add pictures to colorful and highlighted text! I kept mine at default text font, size, and color, but certainly added picture!

It's super easy to use! Just write the title of your story, add some description, and use the tools to mark your first check point. There, a bubble will pop up; which you can edit just like a word document, or a blog! Add links and pictures! A story can actually be SO detailed, if you add a picture of the event, and a link to a wikipedia page or blog with more pictures and description! There are great possibilities!

I've done plenty of epic trips across America and internationally! But for this story I chose one that I will always remember, mainly because it was actually pretty dangerous. I've always been an automobile enthusiast, but I grew up in Los Angeles, CA. Unlike the Midwestern boys, I never had a chance to become a good driver, only driving freeways and such. (Eventually I traveled to the Midwest with my Marine Corps brethren, and the car scene was unparalleled!) My friends an I raced, but I wasn't good. After I totaled one of my cars before my second deployment to Iraq, I told myself that was enough. (If you're my friend on Facebook, you can see more pics of this event, here.)

Back then, I was 22 years old and invincible. Shortly after I came back from Iraq, I bought my dream car--a 530i back and sexy BMW, all by my own! Knowing I was a bad driver, I had been researching Skip Barber Racing School and their programs. I waited for the Christmas 30% off discount back then, and paid under a grand to drive high performance vehicles for 2 days!

As an Infantry Marine, I was stationed in Twentynine Palms, CA which is in the Mojave Desert. The base is the only thing keeping that desert town alive. There is nothing around, and the weather is deadly HOT. There isn't much different between 2-9 (as we called it) and Iraq. Many adventurers have died from heat there. However, it's peculiar weather also throws storms and blizzards at you on winter. You will find the roads dilapidated with "Subject to flooding" signs around. This is what made my trip treacherous.

I was used to pulling trips on a 48hr weekend "libo." Except this time, a blizzard randomly showed up, as I decided to take the less traveled back-roads instead of highways. The suspense entails....

View Skip Barber Treacherous Trip! in a larger map

As for the assignment, I had to dig through old emails between my best friend, Justin, who was in Afghanistan at the time, as I told him the story. I also had radical pics from that trip, but they were all left back home before I came to Japan :( So I had to google some. Fortunately, most of them are from the same place and time. ALSO, Google Maps has this awesome feature, where you grab this one dude from the zoom bar, and drop him on a road to get a street view! This reminded me where things happened in the 550 miles stretch that I drove!

I also googled the weather at that time, and read up to refresh my mind of the whole trip. I should have seriously written it down back then!
Any ways, Here it is! My Skip Barber Treacherous Trip! Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Walter's Midterm Exam: Practical Activity ds106, Marines, and wine haiku xD

Welcome back to my blog. As I've been sick this last week I've been MIA (missing in action), UA (Unauthorized Absence - of duty in the USMC), and AWL (Absent Without Leave), all at once. I've also been lost in the sauce on what's new in my Computers in Society class since I was absent for a very important lesson/lecture on something new. This "ds 106" concept/entity. It sounds like an AWESOME internet society, from what I've heard, but I have to admit I'm not too sure what it is. All I know is that I'm far behind my class and I need to catch the heck up. Fortunately I have Otto Paertz's blog for encouragement! For now I'm rejoicing being back on line, in my blog space, doing what I love to do and I'm good at--writing.

With that, I have to reveal the reason why I'm writing a new blog now: It's part of my midterm exam. That's right. yeah. But most definitely love writing, specially my blog. Before I roll the red carpet on writing with prejudice and undiscerning pros, I'm using this paragraph to write down an epiphany. As I've always been an over-achiever, I'm now realized I'm a bad way. I'm taking 5 courses this semester, not much, but all my other legitimate free time I'm basically working. There's a great market for charismatic gaigin in Tokyo, and I've been exploiting that. Now, however, the wheel is turning the other way. Midterms have come crashing down on me this week, that has nearly made me loose all consciousness of time and events, and that near loss of consciousness has been completed by other pertaining life things. Bills, due dates, and of course, money matters.

I feel lost in the most crowded place and all I can grasp is the most obvious thing.
It was easier when I used to work hard and get paid really good before college, about a year ago. I just have to throw it on in here since linking to blogs is part of my assignment: Steven Moyer blogged about my unit while we where busy kicking ass in the city of Hit, Iraq. I think that is so awesome that he kept that record of us, while we didn't get much glory since we were stuck in the middle of nowhere and not Falluja.  I miss all those guys, and working hard and getting paid. College is is cool, too, though.

Umbrella Woman
Umbrella Woman by Extra Medium through CC Licensing

But! This is not a whiny complain! This is an epiphany! A positive realization! I desperately want to spend my time on my studies. With that, I will enter "sd 106" and the purpose of this blog. ds 106 (I keep on purposely spelling sans capitalization) seems to be a society started in academia by college students and their brilliant professors, but now has widen to the cyberspace society. (Very Ghost in the Shell sounding.) They're essential life source, from my belated, limited understanding, is this "Digital Story Telling assignments. That's right, communicating digitally through a specified assignment. Very college-like. These are nothing but awesomeness, bound by positivity, only paralleled by the imagination of those undertaking this assignments.

Listen to this while you read :)

I am choosing to write about the assignments of writing, for writing is the noblest form of human communication of ideas, art, and transcending cultures. As a matter of fact, I should add how much I despise imagery. Though beautiful and ingenious, imagery in our contemporary electronic society has led to nothing but emptiness and zombies running around. Kind of harsh, but if you think deeply about it, you will agree. People are too easily attracted to imagery, with out first critically thinking or analyzing anything. Take Hollywood movies, for example. They love the explosions with out appreciating a story line. Anyways, Back to not pissing people off, ds 106 has many visual assignments, these are extremely creative and appealing, and I like them, they're way more elaborate in content; however, still simple. I chose to write about their writing assignments for digital story telling.

The writing assignments from ds106 are quite inspiring. Have a look. Although the one about "taking down google" is pretty biased, naive, and extremist; in my unprofessional opinion, we all know numerous companies are evil, but in this day in age, you have to cyberspace privacy, and if they're making money through people's stupidity, then that's what America is all about then. But of course I'm biased my self, and I haven't read into it to see if they're serious or just comical...Oh! Also the one about haiku, because after living in Japan I've found it extremely difficult to write a haiku in English, since it's originally written in Kaji and all :-/ but of course it fun and creative! Here's a blogger with a good perspective, on his wine haiku.

Anyways, if a picture is worth a thousand words, I'd much rather write the thousand words, so come back after my midterms to see the story I choose! :D

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Political Gossip

Would you believe the gossip on Democratic Rep. David Wu?

As a project for Computers in Society class we were assigned groups with a specific "Pop Culture" topic to be considered in the context of social media and cyberspace. Solid assignment!

My Group is "Gossip 1." The group was initially composed of six students, left to decide on what to work on. We figured to divide such a broad topic into popular categories. Movie stars, pop divas, etc. In the end I was left with gossip in politics as the most common were taken.

Quite a challenging task, as I came to figure that political gossip is much different than your average gossip topic...mainly due to the fact that politicians are in charged of responsibilities that can easily affect your own life! But also because these politicians are already well-defined public figures to be scrutinized and criticized in every speech and action they take; political or not. Their reputation is their profession's livelihood. Rumors and gossip are of the most harmful essence.

But first let's review what gossip is, and how it manifests it's self in our contemporary lives. As most sources agree, gossip is the spreading of negative and unverified information about an individual.

The Wikipedia page defines gossip as malicious in nature, and it is popularly regarded as such by popular opinion (that is, what we can derive from pop culture). I liked the definition that has to offer:
"In general, gossip involves the creation and repetition of rumors regarding an individual who is not present to offer his or her perspective on the purported events under discussion. Generally, gossip has little or no basis in fact and is sometimes intended to convey a negative image of an individual. This process of spreading rumors is utilized in just about every setting from reporting on the movements of public figures to discussing situations involving family, friends, and acquaintances"
I like how this definition included the fact that the individual the gossiping is being done about is NOT present to defend his/her self against the allegations. Thus, gossip is just bad in general and the more considerate individual will usually avoid it. One can perceive the correlation of gossip with teenage school girls. As much of a stereotype that is, it is only by experience that people learn the dangers of gossiping.

What ever gossiping has been trough out human nature, it is now amplified by the improvement of the tools humans have made. Now, the most useful tool is the internet. Gossip now spreads instantly around the world, with a filter on which gossip to read/watch about in the web. However this all applies to your average gossip. Everything gets weird when we introduce the Political gossip into the web.
Since politicians are already set to be criticized under scrutiny by every one, the news and reports about them are presented upfront by major news companies. Big names such as ABC and CNBC news companies present politician's current events right upfront. This reporting gets spread around by people, and as all gossip works, soon more opinions will be added to the facts, and thus a fallacious image of a political candidate is made.
 Here the First Lady is stalked at Target, forming a scandal with gossip:

People who are into this make their own political gossip websites, such as and Here the blogger/writer will present this political scandals with their opinion or bias.
But where is the line between these political scandals and gossip drawn? What ever gossip arises from political events will harm the politician's reputation. This collective bad image perceived and reciprocated by the people is the advent of gossip rather than the original factual scandal it self.

People, specially politicians, are prone to making mistakes. This mistakes continue to happen with technology, specially the internet. This is how Democratic Rep. David Wu of Oregon resigned from politics by accidentally emailing pictures of himself in questionable outfits. Yeah, the hilarious tiger outfit.

One of the biggest phenomenons in politics for me has been how the internet has crept it's way into our politicians smartphones: Twitter. Anybody who is somebody in the political world has Twitter. All their tweets can be found here, with each politician having their personal "@your_favorite_candidate."

Twitter is now the stage where most of the political dirt and gossip comes into play, in a hand held device near you! Mainly because it isn't just updated by their administrative counterparts--no--they personally write their comments and opinions on the matters at hand; specially during on-going speeches by their competitors.

Now not only is this gossiping harmful for the individual politician, but the biggest reason why political gossip is different than other gossip is that leadership capabilities or political competence in a candidate may all go to waste by  negative perceptions of this person formed through gossip. The good politician might have a scandal that could ruin his career forever, while the genuinely bad politician will get away into office and affect every ones lives negatively.

Bringing the internet and cyberspace into politics can of course be a good thing, as most political administrations like Obama's have a facebook page where he can reach millions of varying demographics using such websites.

Twitter, however, can be the downfall as the politicians' comments and opinions get recorded and spread faster than ever before, giving them much of a less change to defend themselves. As Rep. Wu showed us, politicians have to be careful on how they use their technology and present themselves through cyberspace.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pop Culture

If we Google "Pop Culture" we can find many sites on the web with pretty good explanations. Here's the wiki page:

So, a succinct explication would be Pop Culture derives from the popular cultural themes in one group of peoples, usually a nation. These themes range and vary with all that on the surface of the mainstream media. Examples are movies, music, current events, fashion, and other phenomena. The internet has definitely played one of the biggest roles with the impact it has had on society by providing the fastest and broadest medium for all this things to be transmitted to everyone and anyone. With out the internet, there also wouldn't be a fairly new addition to the themes of pop culture: Memes.

Which has certainly provided most of us with great sources of entertainment.

I really liked this other pages:

I like the way that last link sums it up nicely:
"Popular culture has been defined as everything from "common culture," to "folk culture," to "mass culture." While it has been all of these things at various points in history, in Post-War America, popular culture is undeniably associated with commercial culture and all its trappings: movies, television, radio, cyberspace, advertising, toys, nearly any commodity available for purchase, many forms of art, photography, games, and even group "experiences" like collective comet-watching or rave dancing on ecstasy. While humanities and social science departments before the 1950s would rarely have imagined including anything from the previous list in their curricula, it is now widely acknowledged that popular culture can and must be analyzed as an important part of US material, economic and political culture. "Pop culture" is also one of the US' most lucrative export commodities, making everything from Levi's jeans to Sylvester Stallone movies popular on the international market. "
These group experiences they mention, such as rave parties, and fads such as Planking:
Certainly fall under pop culture.
At the end of the paragraph they mention how Pop Culture is one of the U.S's biggest exports. Like wise, as the U.S's counter part in Asian, Japan also exports and sells gargantuan amounts of "pop culture," most prominent in other Asian countries, but also big in the U.S, such as video games and anime/manga. May be some music...but in ALL absolute honesty, Americans don't consider Japanese pop music to be that great, unless they are "otakus" (Which Otakus from the US are inherently different than Otakus in Japan) or REALLY just love Japan.

The way I like to think about pop culture is the collective preferences of the masses, since when boiled down to the individual, their unique preferences will be very different from every one else's, but when all added at ones, they will lose their singularity and become the huge mess of pop culture out there.

I personally dislike most pop culture as most of it is painful to bare, hear or watch and choose to enjoy what I want, when I want, and if it happens to coincide with pop culture then it's on mere coincidence. This is why I feel like I'm an 80 year old man.

As for pop culture in social media, there's, Facebook pages, and all sorts of other links to follow. Here's one that apparently keeps up to date:
For Japanese craziness of pop culture, would be your best gateway.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Quick Rant

 How many of us have tried leaving a comment on a peer's blog and all of the sudden--POOF! All that we've typed disappears? It's happened to me often. :( Damn it! And there's explanations.
  • I wasn't logged in when I clicked the link to their blog, once I try to select a profile, it recognizes my IP, and logs me in while totally deleting my comment once the page is reloaded.
  • From my laptop, the mouse pointer is out side the textbox. As I quickly type I accidentally touch the touch pad mouse pointer, and click outside the box. When I press backspace on a typo, the page, not the textbox is selected, then the backspace activates the useful "hot key" of going back to the previous pages! Now I come back to watch my comment deleted!
  • Lastly, the big reason that happens to experienced computer users like myself, or total n00bs: RANDOM THINGS HAPPENS WITH TECHNOLOGY THAT CAN'T BE EXPLAINED! 
I think I just type and move my hands too fast because I'm impatient and all. Either way after typing so much of my feelings or opinions about something just to watch it disappear when I'm trying to post it makes me want to...
LOL, just kidding, I would never throw away 500 bucks like that (at least the $100 screen) more like this:
My girlfriend may be right at saying that I need anger management...and you think so too now!


What the HELL now?!?! Even though I'm logged in, it logged me out, I just tried logging in with the same account and now it works...blogger sucks.

Screen shot:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Internet in Our Society

Many praise the internet as the greatest phenomenon to occur to mankind. As I also share this opinion, for the longest time I've also felt disappointed on how the internet has impacted humanity. It's actually been a continuing paradox in my mind where the internet is the best thing ever, but at equal times the worst thing for people in our current society. Since our class revolves around information technology and the internet, I'm sad about feeling so could have been caused by reading some of Ted Nelsons opinions. Ultimately I can't get it out of my head, so this rather negative things about the internet is what I'm going to write my blog about.

I should state that the negative things are not in the internet itself but rather in the people that use the internet, therefore it's back to the "humans are bad but some are good" argument or theory that presents it self in every aspect of human life, whether politics or entertainment. Here's my opinion on humans being bad with the internet. There's a lot to cram in, so let's just take away the obvious evils and focus solely on the technical side of the internet and computers.

I'll begin with the founding fathers: Vannevar Bush,  J.C.R. Licklider, and Douglas Engelbart all envisioned something that would facilitate the access to human knowledge and information, but most of all, be able to share this information. Early in their writing/thinking, they've either said it, or we can derive that, they meant this initially for the elite few scientists and researchers that really needed this information and to share it, for peer review or future improvements. Which makes perfect sense, they're the thinkers and researchers that bring about technology and human advancement. By "elite" I don't mean they're better or smarter than most of us, but rather that they've chosen quite a noble profession to help humanity. Later on, they've fancied that this information would be available for all mankind to benefit from. Noble, and truly great. Their visions can be seen at work now and it is inevitable to ignore the impact the internet and computers have had on mankind. The biggest thing right now off the top of my head is the role the internet played in the political events in Egypt and elsewhere in the world. Work has become more efficient and certainly life has facilitated and this "Globalization" was possible because of the greatness of the internet, to say the least. Just like the founding fathers of America were elite, they were forging something for the average man, and now we have the noblest nation and constitution that has ever existed, in my utterly biased and prejudice opinion.

But I did leave one guy out of the Benjamin Franklins and Thomas Jeffersons of the internet world, and that is Ted Nelson. I guess in a way he has inspired my pessimism. All you have to do is Google his name and click on any link, most all those pages will have a quote of his that...unfortunately, sum his character up; which is,
"most people are fools, most authority is malignant, God does not exist, and everything is wrong"
From an optimist point of view, it is sad that this intriguing enigma of a person leads his life buy this four principles...but in the back of his head, he knows there's plenty of truth in that quote. Let's take out the God thing, that always leads to arguments that can't be proved right or wrong...and um...let's take out the authority out of that, too...because that will lead to the recent craze of conspiracy theories that have swept America since September 11. So that leaves us with the base that most people are fools, and the consequence that everything is wrong. I can't help to agree more that most people are fools, and let's emphasize that MOST. Any writer or author that wants to keep a decent occupation has to always say things not even from an unbiased point of view, but even a point of view that satisfies all. In conventional terms "sucking up" to the people. With that in mind I will say how there's some great people out there that have done so much we all have the potential, yada yada. All these is true. But we can't deny the vast majority of people that just don't contribute much to humanity, and just live life wasting others hard work. They're everywhere.

Now before I get lynched, I'll have to emphasize that I'm an extremely positive and optimistic person, and through my positive thinking and actions, I've lead a successful life and continue to be happy. REALLY.

Now back to Nelson, if you read his history, as an amateur psychologist we can derived that he might be a frustrated individual and the above quote is a reflection of that. Compared to the noble pioneers of Bush and  Engelbart, he's the egoistic pessimist. However, there's truth there. The hard work of many of these internet and information visionaries is being laid to waste by these mindless internet operators. Cutting aside the truly negative things on the internet like racist pages and the overwhelming amount of pornography sites more than anything else on the web, the negativity of the internet is right there. Right next to you at the computer lab or at cafes. The people that spend countless hours on Farmville on facebook and the likes of mindless, zombie things to do in the web. Humans are so naively given into pretty pictures and colors. There's so much useless stuff on the internet, perhaps there's more useless things than useful ones. 

Sure facebook, twitter, and pictures can certainly benefit humanity, but humans are just not aiming to. People have to be nurtured into things. If never taught manners they will not develop them on their on, and as a society as a whole, these norms are hard to develop. Think of the brutality the previous centuries considered normal. Yeah. Therefore, the average internet user is either an older person lacking higher education, or a young person who has grown up wasting their time with the internet. Even though a scholarly lifestyle will completely turn that internet usage an 180 degree, there's still only a fortunate few that attend universities. The result is all the negativity of the internet caused by ignorant users. People just don't know any better. To describe this negativity and to vindicate good or bad internet usage--as I my self and many scholarly peoples play flash games or video games form time to time--would require a college level research paper...and I've already written to much. I'll leave it up to the scholarly public that reads this to fill in the blanks.

And every public will have the whiners: Those who consider this thoughts blasphemy. Mainly because they're in denial and just enjoy their indulgence in life-wasting too much. Hardly any individual would find a balance of work and play in life, which leads to all this negativity in the internet, not because the internet is bad, but because people them selves are just...unproductive.   

Thursday, September 8, 2011

CIS Class

I guess I have to make an ACTUAL post here, my bad. I guess I'll be following the whole class soon.

So to fill in the void, On the history of the internet article, they failed to mention Yahoo! :( Man, when I was in High School, Yahoo was awesome. Just saying....damn I feel old now. By the time the article hit 1995 I liked it more, mainly because I could relate with my own experiences doring those years.

Final Blog Post.

Final blog post assignment: "Choose two or more articles from the four Scoop It channels . I’ve set up that are related to a simila...