Will SOPA and PIPA Turn Us Into Robots?

We like to consume, don’t we? We like to go to town and buy stuff. It pleases us somehow. I like to buy stuff, too. Right now I can’t really do it, because I don’t exactly have money, but I have enough to buy myself a pencil or something, so…

But we don’t just like to buy stuff. We’re not completely overtaken by consumerism. We also like to share and give, don’t we? That’s why we do things like filesharing on the internet, or copying songs on CDs and giving them to friends so that they can have the same awesome songs on their iTunes library as well. And that’s exactly what freaks SOPA and PIPA out. They hate that.

Prepare for the rant rant: SOPA and PIPA want us to be more consumeristic, and stop sharing and giving away free stuff. Why? Well, simple: Because if we buy stuff, the media industry will profit. (That’s usually how it works, Jan…) But since sharing and giving has some weird connection to what makes us humans, SOPA is basically going against human principles here. They’re taking away our ability to share and give freely and anonymously via the largest platform for generosity (as well as greed): the internet. And, SOPA, that’s kinda impolite.

So right now, we’re trying our best to stop SOPA. But I believe that even if that law passes, thousands of talented hackers will find new ways to create internet 2.0. You can’t just let one group of people control the internet – it’s too large. And too many hackers and internet gurus know how to circumvent the system anyway. But still. The fact that they’re taking away our ability to share annoys me. Who came up with that idea in the first place? Some guy who was like, “Hey I have an idea. How about we take the whole internet and turn its users into consumeristic robots?” Yeah, no. It’s sad, people. Freedom of speech, shmeedom shmof shmeech.

America, Land of the Captive

So there’s this new law that had just been passed in the United States. Its original name was HR 1540, but they changed it to “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.” Not many people have heard of this law, so that’s why I’m writing about it here, so that you get an idea of what’s going on behind the governmental curtains.

Basically what this means is that the president has the power to detain “suspected terrorists” indefinitely. This doesn’t just apply to foreigners; it means that any US citizen can be arbitrarily arrested on US soil for “suspicious terrorist activity.”

Presidents in the past claimed to have the power to do so, but they really didn’t. It was assumed, however, that they did have the power because of unclear, confusing, and obscure issues in the Constitution. But yeah, now the president actually has the power to arrest anyone at any time, and kept under detention indefinitely.

Here’s the problem: Now, the Administration is able to define what a terrorist is, as well as who is and who isn’t a suspect. Also, the president can misuse this authority, but I really doubt that he will.  But there’s still the chance…

Anyway, all of that to say, America is not the land of the free, as much as people want it to be. Out of all the countries I’ve been in (45 or so), America is definitely the most law and rule-infested country. It’s a police country. And there’s also SOPA and PIPA, which will restrict your freedom of speech on the internet. At least there’s still the right to bear arms…

What’s Up With SOPA?

You’ve most probably heard of SOPA before. And if you haven’t, well, you have now. What is it, you may ask? It’s an acronym for the Stop Online Piracy Act. It’s basically a “proposed bill that aims to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting access to sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content,” according to an article on CNN Money.

So what does this mean for the internet? Gizmodo says, “SOPA is an anti-piracy bill working its way through Congress that would grant content creators extraordinary power over the internet, which would go almost comedically unchecked to the point of potentially creating an “Internet Blacklist,” while exacting huge costs from nearly every site you use daily, and potentially disappearing your entire digital life, while still managing to be both unnecessary and ineffective, but stands a shockingly good chance of passing, unless we do something about it.”

Now, some people want that bill to pass, while others are creating the largest online protest movement in the history of the USA. One of my favorite bloggers, Siobhan Curious, blacked out her blog in protest against SOPA. So this has to be pretty serious stuff, guys. But yeah, people are saying stuff like, “I want this to pass because sometimes we just need to establish horrible rules in order for us to see how bad they are.” Others are saying stuff like, “This would pretty much force programmers and hackers to join up and release new protocols and standards as soon as possible, effectively creating “Internet 2.” And even others are saying, “The passing of this law could work as a warning for future generations, just to tell them ‘Hey, don’t make this mistake.'” And people who could care less say stuff like, “I could care less.”

I already hate the idea of a copyright because that promotes individualistic capitalism, which I think is stupid. But I want to know what you guys think. Are you against SOPA, are you for it, or do you not give a shit? Comment below, let me know. Cheers!

More Than Just Didactic Art

When you look at visual art (paintings, drawings, mixed media, abstract stuff, and other things of art), what’s the first thought that comes to your mind? Either, “Well that looks pretty cool,” or, “My two-year-old could do better.” Either way, it’s for entertainment purposes, isn’t it? You go to museums so that you can look at awesome stuff and indulge your eyes in the beauty of artwork. Some people actually go there to look up facts and data about artwork and artists, but not me. I usually go to museums and art galleries just to look at the awesomeness people can create. “Dude, look at that realistic painting of a tree! It’s got leaves and branches and everything!”

In school, when I studied mixed media, I learned all about the artists, their lives, their families, and studied the artistic components, methods, and designs used and embedded in their work. That was the extent of what my teachers taught me about art. I had to figure out for myself what the artwork’s meaning was. My teachers told me, “It’s up for your own interpretation. Now, sit down at this computer and write a paragraph about what you think this piece of art means. Include philosophical concepts and be sure to cite your sources. And do not, under any circumstances, use Wikipedia. It’s from the Devil.”

Anyway, I think art should be more didactic rather than just intelligent entertainment. It can be both. The problem is, there is didactic art out there, but it doesn’t shift any paradigms or world views. The morals that the artworks convey are usually merely reminders of social norms, political correctness, or awareness raisers. But they aren’t dramatic paradigm-shifters and radical life-changers.

But what if art was like that? What if art wasn’t just didactic in the traditional sense (portraying moral values), but actually had the power to change lives, and shift paradigms? What if you looked at a piece of art and then realized, “Woah there, so that’s how Jesus dealt with money! This could even be the new economy! Holy cow, I have to tell Steve about this!” or “Wait a second, this painting totally describes a new way of doing education! I could present this painting to the crowd instead of giving a one hour speech!”

So what are you waiting for, artists? Tell the world your life-changing idea in form of a painting, a collage, an assembly, a construction, or whatever else you do. Let it not be a moral preaching, but a life changer instead. That would be cool. I’m gonna go draw a stick figure now and call it abstract art.

The Truth About Money and Happiness

The two extremes of wealth neighboring each other. Sao Paulo, Brazil.

You know, we all say “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” Even Spike Milligan said, “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.”

But do we believe it? Do we really think that money doesn’t buy happiness? If that’s the case, why on earth do we crave money? And once we have money, why do we keep wanting even more? Why, if we’re rich, do we give away less money than if we were poor? We seem to protect our money more than we protect ourselves, and this makes banks very happy.

The truth is, money does make you happy. There’s less stress when you have money and you know you can pay the gas bill at the end of the month. There’s also more freedom; you can take your wife out for a fantastic dinner (sorry, I mean girlfriend), travel around the world, or buy a new car or five. Why? “Because I got money.”

But then I look back at the times I had spent in Tunisia, Egypt, Uganda, the Philippines, and India. There’s sadness in the poor people’s eyes, but there’s also an immense joy and gratefulness. They don’t crave money like us westerners, mainly because they haven’t ever seen a shiny car or shoes that cover your entire feet. For them, having a roof over their head, some food to eat, and a blanket to sleep with is all they need. They don’t want anything. They’re need-driven, not want-driven, unlike us.

So, my point is this: for us in the western world, we crave money because we secretly believe that it does, in fact, buy us happiness, no matter what other people say about it. We don’t tell people our view on money, because it’s almost politically incorrect to say something like that. Well, I’m saying it right here.

Some people live in poverty and they’re fine mainly because they’re used to it. Other people live in poverty, and right around the corner, there’s a 5 star hotel. Kind of like in that picture of Sao Paulo.

Money money money, it’s so funny, in a rich man’s world.

Well… they say that giving is good. So give your money to people who need it more than you.

We Should Be More Like Penguins

Yesterday I went to a presentation about an expedition to Antarctica. It’s kinda hard to explain what my friends did there, so I won’t go into that now. However, I do want to talk about penguins. Let’s do this!

These little guys are awesome. But they smell even worse than pigs who wear Axe body spray. Yeah, that bad. There’s one thing that really fascinates me about them: They don’t have predators on land. Their lives are only in jeopardy when they’re in the ice cold water, which by the way is -1.5 degrees Celcius (34 degrees Fahrenheit) because of the salt. Also, the ice bergs aren’t made of salt water. They’re made of the purest drinking water ever. 70% of the earth’s drinking water is frozen in Antarctica. Back to penguins. Because they don’t have predators on land, they are very curious animals. The guy who led the presentation yesterday said that the penguins would come as close as 30 cm away from him. “They came close enough for me to pat them on the head, but I wasn’t in the mood to wash my hands, and I also couldn’t bare the smell,” he said.

Penguins don’t have a concept of fear, at least not on land, because nothing harms them on land, probably because they stink so bad. If there’s a noise, they won’t run away. They’ll turn their heads and try to figure out what’s going on, and sometimes they even go and check out what’s happening. I thought that was really interesting. They’re one of the most curious (and worst-smelling) animals on the planet.

We’re not like penguins, because we’re driven by fear and they aren’t. Well, and also we take regular showers. We are always scared, aren’t we? That’s kind of why we put our money in private banks and off shore accounts, right? That’s also why we are afraid of the concept of marriage and a life-long dedication. That’s also why we want to control other humans and stuff as much as we can so that they can’t turn against us to harm us.

What if we weren’t fear-driven? What if, instead, we were driven by curiosity? What if we ask ourselves questions like, “What happens if I stop promoting my business and solely help other people?” instead of saying, “I want as much as I can get for me, myself, and I, because I am important!” We try to ameliorate things that seem to work but still have their problems instead of thinking of entirely new solutions. But we’re too afraid to do that because we risk everything we have worked for so far. That’s why investors only invest a little bit here and there. That’s why we don’t get married until we’re almost in our thirties. That’s why you won’t grow a pair and finally go skydiving!

… Damn penguins, you make me feel bad about myself with your inquisitive attitude.

But seriously, guys. Why are we so afraid? Why have we lost that sense of curiosity? People only keep telling us what not to do, but they never encourage us to do something that nobody has ever, ever done before. Let’s go ahead and do exactly that. Do something that nobody has ever, ever done before. Be curious.