Thursday, February 12, 2009

why i enjoy the university atmosphere

In most places, when you walk into the men's room, if you find some reading material it's usually yesterday's sports page or, if you're lucky, a magazine. But if you were to walk into the stall up here on 3rd floor McKenzie at the UO, you'd find last quarter's issue of the American Political Science Review. Instead of reading about A-Rod and steroid drama, I got to learn about the first study to demonstrate a link between genetics and various forms of political participation.

Thank you, Plato

Saturday, February 7, 2009

keepin up

Well hello. The Chumblog has seen better days, I know, so this post will try to remedy that.

Much has changed since we last left off. In case you haven't heard...
  • America has a black President (though whether he is actually that amazing is still up for debate
  • I (successfully?) completed the first term of grad school
  • the new topical blog has gotten off to a verrrry slow start
  • I have struggled to kickstart a new era of ma vie (in more ways than one)
  • the ducks beat the oklahoma state cowboys in the 2008 Holiday Bowl!
All of these things have combined to create quite a new world for a chumber. Fortunately, each new experience brings excitement. My life has been consumed by equal parts of
  • reading; (okay not really, but I gotta pretend)
  • class
  • rererediscovering that great phenomenon we call "music" via, as well as other things which shan't be spoken of on the interwebz...
  • getting closer to the ideal computing setup via, among other things, rhythmbox to listen to my music and share it with others, dropbox to sync files between my desktop, laptop, and cloudtop, simplifymedia to share my music and listen to that of even more people, and ubuntu to string it all together
  • trying to forego eating out for buying groceries and, shocker i know, making meals
  • playing pool and, occassionaly, playing pool well
  • and becoming friends-bordering-lovers with my roommate (although no one should fret...old roommates have special real estate saved in my heart).
There have been countless news articles and happenings that I've wanted to comment on here, but I never really got around to it. I'll make up for it with two today.

In a great opinion piece for the NYT, the top dog over at Netflix gave his opinion on how President Obama should handle the issue of exorbitant pay to big time CEO's. I'll let you read the article on your own (it's short), but this pretty much sums it up:
Perhaps a starting place for “tax, not shame” would be creating a top federal marginal tax rate of 50 percent on all income above $1 million per year. Some will tell you that would reduce the incentive to earn but I don’t see that as likely. Besides, half of a giant compensation package is still pretty huge, and most of our motivation is the sheer challenge of the job anyway.
If only we had more guys like Reed Hastings...

Completely unrelated but even more interesting to me is the saga of a legal proceeding involving a grad student at Boston University and that evil, silly, asinine, backward consortium of crooks called the RIAA. After doing something that most like every college student has done at one point, Joel Tenenbaum was served by the RIAA and very quickly was facing the difficult choice of settling for $10,000 or going to court against a huge corporate legal machine. That is, until a Harvard Law professor, Charles Nesson, who runs a class on hands-on legal experience and specializes in internet and society, decided to take on the case as one the course's projects. The project has brought on several young law students and has generating quite a following. One early victory was when the students working on the case successfully convinced the judge to allow a pretrial hearing to be streamed over the web (against heavy RIAA complaints of course). For more on the case, see this article over at Ars Technica.

I've always been excited about file sharing and the new (I hope) music discovering paradigm that can be created with things like computers that are linked together over things like the internetz. While plenty of people find this to be highly bad and illegal and maybe even wrong, even calling it 'piracy,' I'm keeping an open mind about it all. The article linked below makes mention of how Radiohead made more money than their all their previous cd sales combined using one simple, seemingly dumb tactic: allow people to choose their own price and download the CD for whatever they wanted. The experiment worked great, and other artists have picked up on it. I just bought my first from Roman Candle...gave $3.50 for their latest. I think it's great. They even had a choice of bitrate and file type. The future is on it's way....For a really long but absolutely exquisite and perfectly informative discussion on the whole debate, read this piece written in the aftermath of the shutdown of OiNK's Pink Palace, a filesharing community that I was a member of and miss everyday.

Okay, well, that's looking like a pretty good post. Hopefully it won't be several months before I find the time to rant again.

And, one more thing. Listen to the everybodyfields. It will sooth your soul.