Wayward Pines – MidSeason Review

I am a fan of TV. Anybody that knows me knows that I spend a lot of time watching and then talking about the TV shows that I watch. I have not been in the habit of sharing my thoughts in too much detail online. I am going to change that starting now. "Butter Rum"

Thanks to a suggestion by a close friend I have started watching the TV series Wayward Pines. I am 5 episodes into this show now and I must say I am completely blown away by it.

I am going to avoid spoiling anything in this quick review but my friend summed it up best, it is like all the plot twists of a full season of Lost in each episode. The show is constantly challenging your perception of the reality that it is presenting in the most delightful ways possible. As soon as you think you have a handle on what is going on with this shows story you quickly realize you are absolutely wrong as the story shifts constantly. If you like plot twists, science fiction, or mystery I highly suggest this show.

Now, on I go to finish watching this season. I will likely have to check out the books as soon as I am done ūüôā

Why Aaron Swartz still matters.

Outrage. That is the only word that came to my mind when I got an email two days ago from the the White House staff.

I have trouble even writing this right now because I kind of want to scream when I think about it. I was going to make a video but then I decided that would just end up being rather belligerent and would not really convey the point of what I really think about this.

Perhaps I am jumping ahead a bit here.

This all began back in 2010 when Aaron Swartz made a decision that would end his life. He suffered from one of the most deadly traits a human can have, idealism. His story serves as a chilling reminder of how good intentions can reveal the horrors of humanity.

See.. here I go again being all dramatic. Even when typing this out and putting thought into each word I am having a hard time bottling my anger about this in.

If you are not already familiar with the story the decision that would end up being so fatal for Aaron was deciding to download academic papers from an MIT computer that he had access to at the time. It was the type of thing you would do as a student and not think twice about it. Why would anybody care if you took knowledge that was freely available and made copies of it?

Aaron broke the terms of service of the system he copied those papers from. Yes, he had the legal right to download any of those papers but the way in which he did so technically was not allowed. It was a truly victim-less crime. Those who wrote the papers wanted the knowledge to be shared, those who ran the computer systems did so with the intent to share those papers.

So how did this all go so wrong? If nobody was hurt by Aaron’s actions and his only crime was breaking the TOS of the computer he was on then what factor made this story have such a dark ending?

Carmen Ortiz.

In 2011 Carmen decided to take Aaron to court. She was a federal prosecutor that clearly felt it was her duty to make sure that no breach of a terms of service would go unpunished. I would love to say that Carmen was an elected official and that we, the people, had any sort of say in this matter but that would be far to idealistic. Carmen went forward and pressed charges against Aaron in federal court for theft.

Yes, theft is a pretty strong word to use in this case. It would be hard to find anyone outside of our government that would say Aaron deserved anything more than a stern warning for his infraction. The school the papers were taken from declined to press charges, those who owned the system the terms of service were breached on also declined to press charges. Even the state prosecutors who reviewed the case decided to drop all charges. Normally that is when a story like this would end. Aaron would have been arrested and then let free with no charges pressed. However this story is not normal and Carmen just could not let this go.

After the state prosecutors dropped the charges Carmen decided to use her power as a federally appointed prosecutor to supersede that decision and add nine more charges of theft on top of the ones already present and moved forward with the trial.

Aaron was facing up to 50 years in prison and up to 1 million dollars in fines all because he circumvented the computer system he was on and breached the terms of service in order to share papers that were intended to be shared by those who created them.

Like all of you reading this I too have made stupid mistakes in my life. Thankfully for you and I our mistakes did not take the notice of a federal prosecutor looking to make an example of us. Aaron simply wanted to share knowledge and for that crime he was facing a life in prison.

I have never personally wanted to end my own life it is hard for me to imagine a situation where death would seem like the best option. However I cannot blame Aaron for taking his own.

We are all raised in this country to believe that truth and justice are the American way. I learned that this was not the case in my own life at fairly young age. Aaron learned this lesson the harshest way imaginable when his country turned its back on him and decided that the just thing to do was to demonize him for the crime of sharing academic papers.

I still have not gotten back to that email from the White House staff yet have I?

During the build up to the last presidential election President Obama launched a new version of WhiteHouse.gov that included a rather interesting new feature which was an option to create a petition on the site for anything at all. If the petition you created got enough clicks on the site then the Presidents very own staff would be required to formally make a statement on the petition. At the time this seemed like a novel way of finding out what the President and his staff really thought about things. In reality this was Barack doing what he does best and it was all for show. It became quite clear after a few petitions reached the threshold for a response that anything that the president did not think was important would be casually dismissed while the things that fell in line with his politics would be given serious consideration.

Then in 2013 came this –¬†https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-united-states-district-attorney-carmen-ortiz-office-overreach-case-aaron-swartz/RQNrG1Ck

Of course I clicked the button on this one. It was insane that this case spiralled out of control like it did. There was no reason for any of these charges to be filed, let alone pressed with such fervor. I had completely forgotten I had even clicked on that petition since then as time slipped by and it seemed likely that the White House simply did not have the balls to admit they made a mistake in appointing Carmen to the position of federal prosecutor.

Then, two days ago (in 2015) I received this message.

Aaron Swartz’s death was a tragic, unthinkable loss for his family and friends. Our sympathy continues to go out to those who were closest to him, and to the many others whose lives he touched.

We also reaffirm our belief that a spirit of openness is what makes the Internet such a powerful engine for economic growth, technological innovation, and new ideas. That’s why members of the Administration continue to engage with advocates to ensure the Internet remains a free and open platform as technology continues to disrupt industries and connect our communities in ways we can’t yet imagine. We will continue this engagement as we tackle new questions on key issues such as citizen participation in democracy, open access to information, privacy, intellectual property, free speech, and security.

As to the specific personnel-related requests raised in your petitions, our response must be limited. Consistent with the terms we laid out when we began We the People, we will not address agency personnel matters in a petition response, because we do not believe this is the appropriate forum in which to do so.

Casual fucking dismissal is what I read here.

Aaron Swartz may have ended his own life but only after being betrayed by his country who then backed him into a corner and demonized him for something no sane man would consider a sin. Carmen Ortiz was the one backing Aaron into that corner and Barack Obama is the one that enabled her to do so. Aaron Schwartz deserves a better response than “no comment”.

I am an atheist but there are times where I can sympathize with christians. I would love to believe that hell exists so that I could rest assured that Barack and Carmen would burn their together someday. Unfortunately I do not get that comfort as I do not believe in fairy tales any longer. My only comfort is my outrage and in this case I welcome it with open arms.

Behind the Emotional Wall

Earlier this week I was watching an episode of the show Fringe with a friend of mine when I found myself in tears. Surprisingly TV shows and movies move me to such emotional extremes quite often. I suppose I had never really thought about it much in the past but I never get as emotional over real people. I begin to realize that I have a much easier time connecting emotionally to fictional characters than I do real people.

As somebody who prides himself on being as self-aware as possible I began to dig into this within my own mind.

After giving it some thought (in the shower, of course, where all good thinking happens.) I realize that this is likely related to the general dis-associative issues that I have had since childhood. As a child, due to issues that I am not going to detail here, I spent a lot of time hiding out from the world inside my own mind. My outward self developed into a hardened shell that felt no pain and could not be hurt. Meanwhile in my mind great universes exploded with life allowing me a safe place to explore and interact with others that was all my own.

Inside my mind, in a world of imagination, is where I actually developed emotionally. So it is not shocking that I feel a stronger connection to characters that are not real than I do to real people. I have always felt more comfortable in my mind and to this day I still prefer the worlds that exist inside of me to the real one. It is difficult to let real people in because despite my attempts I have still not completely deconstructed that wall I built around myself as a child, but with characters in TV Shows, Books and Movies it is safe to let them in. Such characters walk right past my emotional barrier as if it was not there at all.

Such are the challenges of a broken mind. Many people frown upon watching too much TV but I can honestly say that having some emotional connection is better than none. If you could only feel life when experiencing it through fictional characters you may begin to understand why people get so obsessive with TV shows, and why people like me get so upset when they are cancelled.

Comcast is Full of Shit – As Usual

Recently a representative from Comcast had this to say;

No ISP in the country has been a stronger supporter of the Open Internet than Comcast.”

Now, if you are following the news at all concerning Comcast and net neutrality you may be thinking to yourself “hey, wait a minute, I thought they were absolutely opposed to the open internet” and you would be correct.

Comcast has never been in favor of net neutrality which would make it clearly opposed to an open internet (as net neutrality is all about maintaining the open internet.)

For the best example just read a bit about the¬†court case where Comcast opposed the FCC’s decision to stop Comcast from prioritizing certain traffic on their network over other traffic;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comcast_Corp._v._FCC

Being a normal human being I felt it was my duty to at least call out this representative for blatantly attempting to lie to people in her blog post, unfortunately it appears all comments are censored by default pending approval from Comcast.  I have no hope of my comment actually making it on to that post. As such I am calling it out here.

 

http://corporate.comcast.com/comcast-voices/comcast-response-to-netflix

My Reply:

“What?

I would love to get whatever drugs you are smoking that make you this delusional. They must be amazing. Comcast clearly has a policy of being opposed to the open internet. They even spend money on lobbyists to fight net neutrality, they even fight in court to make sure they can charge people for priority bandwidth on their network.

You either have no idea what the company you work for is up to or you are simply full of shit.

I am going to assume the latter, because most people at Comcast are full of shit (for verification of this just talk to ANY person in Comcast customer support, they will all demonstrate this for you.)”

Comcast, get a life and stop peddling bullshit to everyone you think may be buying it.

Meat is Murder, and So Are You!

There are a lot of things in the world that do not make sense to me. Most of all I am confounded by other people.

Throughout my life I have come across a variety of people that simply act in ways that seem to contradict who they claim they are as a person. This can be the alcoholic who insists they do not drink, or the christian who judges other people. There are reasons why people trick themselves, usually because they are ashamed of admitting to themselves who they really are. Whatever the reason may be, it is delusional and it gets under my skin.

Lately I have spent a lot of time trying to find out if I too have such delusions. I do, I think we all do to a certain extent. I have a much higher opinion of myself than I rightfully should and I convince myself that I am healthy when I clearly am not. I have made strides to try to be more honest with myself and as such I have this to say;

I am a murderer.

No, I don’t kill humans (yet, at least.) However I do support the murder of humans in slight ways (I pay taxes) and I certainly support the wholesale murder of animals in many ways.

Is murder a strong word to use when describing an animal being killed? Maybe. I am of the belief that all life is equal, but I also understand that it is only natural for animals like us to eat other species of animals. So I accept it. I love to eat meat so I must own up to the fact that I not only condone the murder of animals but I also actively promote it by spending my money on animal products.

This is where a lot of people stop themselves though, and I refuse. If I truly want to be accepting of my cold blooded nature can I  be offended when animals are mistreated or abused? Why does one feel okay with a cow being tortured and killed for a meal but cannot stand the thought of dogs being made to kill each other for entertainment?

There is a certain level of hypocrisy, I find, in letting yourself be offended by the torture and murder of any animal when you are actively contributing to such acts for other animals. Let us not kid ourselves, if you go to the grocer and you buy a pound of roast beef you just funded animal torture. So if you then go online and start getting angry about whales being killed for food in Japan, or seals being killed for clothes by the Inuits while you have a pack of hotdogs in your refrigerator you are likely delusional about your place in this circle of life.

I would say that every time you eat a lunch meat sandwich you are just as bad as those who kill for sport. Let’s face it, in this age there is no reason any human NEEDS to eat an animal. We just prefer to get our protein that way as it is tastier than the alternatives. If you truly care about the dogs in Russia being killed ahead of the Olympics think about the animals you killed for your meal tonight. Before you judge a football star for getting his kicks by having dogs battle each other please realize that you are not any better of a person.

I am done lying to myself about this issue. I love meat, I am a murderer. Most of you reading this are murderers too.

2014 – A New Year, A Fresh Start

While I realize I say this every year and never actually follow through, I am going to say it again.

This year will be the year I start working on my life goals.

I had initially planned to present you all with the new show I am working on for the new year, “The Ian Show”, however due to some complications in recording this show that has been delayed. I do not expect that delay to last forever as I will be ordering some new equipment this week which should solve the problems I was having. The idea is to do the show bi-weekly for at least 6 months. This will get me 12 episodes which is enough for a first “Season”. The show is going to be a very basic talk/variety show that will start out very crappy but will help me hone my skills. I am very out of practice with video production so this show will get me used to talking on camera again as well as give me practice with basic lighting, audio, and editing techniques.

Expect more “Ian Show” news soon.

I am also working on re-starting Paint Comic. The older versions of this will be re-branded as “Paint Comic Classic” and the new ones will start back at #1. The reason I am starting this fresh is that I am actually giving each of the characters their own personality. Before each character simply reflected my own personality and they were all inter-changeable. There was not distinct characteristics outside of their visual design. Starting fresh will allow me to give each character a new backstory, improve the art style and hopefully open the doors for more interesting storylines. This is a huge departure from what Paint Comic was before but I think I can preserve the random/insane spirit of the original while still lending it some artistic integrity.

As far as the rest of my life, I would like to get myself in shape but I am not going to prioritize that over my creative endeavors. If I can find a way to make small changes that impact my overall health I will. If not, then I will remain the slob I am for now.  Perhaps if I actually complete some creative works I will get a big enough boost to my self confidence to actually want to improve my physical appearance. We can only hope.

That is all I have for now, just a quick update. Keep it lovely out there my sweet delicious readers from the internet. ¬†ūüôā

The Depths of Imagination – Exploring an Infinite Universe

The human mind is an amazing thing, almost everyone can agree with this statement. The shear wonder of what is can create is astonishing. I have been wanting to write about how my mind works for a long time now. I am sure that mine works the same as many other peoples but as I am not a student of psychology I do not have a lot of information on the subject. Either way, here we go.

I find myself very separated from reality in general. Introverted would be the common way to describe this and from my understanding this would be a very apt way to describe my interactions with the world. I do not relate to, or find emotional attachment to other humans.  I am sure this is a very common thing but not something I hear many people openly admitting to. I spend much of my time staring into space, most likely looking very vacant to the common passerby. Vacant is the worst way to describe my mind however as it is anything but.
Inside this head of mine is multiple universes of my own creation. Characters, stories, locations, and timelines that stretch for thousands of years. Sometimes these people and places have detailed histories, sometimes they are just set decoration. There are stories in my head that have been cultivated for decades. Fantasies that have started small when I was just a wee lad and have grown in complexity over the years.  On any given day at least a few of these fictional universes are running simultaneously in my mind with the rest being put on pause until I come back to them later. Each of these stories gets a few more key plot points each day, the characters interact and learn life lessons.

I do not know for sure how many other people have such vivid fantasies or worlds in their heads but I am willing to bet most people do even if they are not always aware of it. For me these worlds are much more interesting than the one in which I actually live. Through my entire life I have been able to enter these worlds myself, it is not something I can easily describe to be honest. It is like being able to step through a portal and join the fictional characters directly. To me these worlds are as real as our own and when I step into them I living in a realm of my own creation. I am not actually sure what is happening with my own body when I do this. From the few times my parents had walked in on me in this state of mind as a child I remember it being described as looking like I was ‘dancing’. I have always been embarrassed to enter my mind in this way when other people are around as I truly do not know what actions I am taking with my physical body, it is not something I am directly controlling when I enter into these planes of imagination.

I wish I knew if other people entered their minds in this way like I do. I feel as if this also might be something common, but I am not sure as nobody ever seems to describe this.  The entire reason I am writing this now is because I really would like to know if this experience is something I have in common with my fellow humans or if this is something more unique.

Either way, I love the way my brain works. The depth of my imagination has always been the favorite part of myself.  Exploring the depths of my mind, living in fantasy worlds and having adventures is thankfully something I have never had to give up upon growing older. It is something I would never want to give up as well, I could not imagine living a life in just one plane of existence. I am sure I could describe this in more detail but that would require many more words than I care to write at the moment. If you are still reading this, thank you for your interest in the madness that is me. I wish I could bring other people with me on my adventures, maybe someday technology would allow such a thing.

The Five O’ Clock Shadow

I am not writing this blog post about anything, but I am writing it.

Around 5PM every day my mind starts to drift. For most people this time of the day means finally leaving a long day of work, or perhaps starting a long night at the bar. For me 5PM means I have stayed awake much longer than I rightfully should if I would like to get a decent amount of hours of sleep before waking up and trudging off to work. I am a night person now so I get this strange wistful feeling this time of the when the sun is shining bright but my mind is telling me to sleep. It is a strange mix of signals that results in a rather brain dead state for me. Even as I am typing this now I have no idea what I am really saying, I am merely inputting the random mix of words that are appearing in my head.

Like I had stated previously this blog post is not really about anything. Just a passing thought that came into my head just as I sat down at my desk. I think it is time to sleep now, good night world. Have sweet dreams and merry nightmares!

Google Babel, How to Make it Perfect

There has been a lot of talk recently about Google’s upcoming messaging platform ‘Babel’.

Word on the street is that this new messaging client is going to integrate all of Google’s existing messaging platforms into one easy to use app that will work on all devices and sync notifications and messages across the board.

Currently Google has a myriad of messaging platforms that do not work together well at all these include talk, voice, G+ chat, G+ hangouts, Android Messaging, as well as Gmail. This new product is intended to function with all of these services (though apparently it will not support G Voice right out of the gate) by letting you simply choose to message your contact and let Babel choose which way will be the best way to do so.

I love this idea and I hope it works well as currently it can be rather annoying to try to watch for notifications from a few different sources. I know I have personally missed quite a few G+ messages in the past as I almost never check my notifications on that site.

The only problem I have with Babel as it is proposed is that it does not go far enough.

I do not think they need another app to do this. I believe this functionality needs to be built into the core of the Android OS. Why make people download an app just to fix broken messaging instead of building it in for everyone to use by default. I also believe this needs to not only support text messaging by voice and video as well.

Let me describe my dream messaging platform;

I decide I want to contact Jon so I do what is natural and find him in my phones contact list. Then I need to decide how I want to talk to him, under his picture I see three icons. One is for tetxt, one is for voice, one is for video. No matter which one of these I select the messaging interface should always attempt to connect via IP first (as that is the way all phones will eventually work anyway) but it should automatically know if he is going to be available via that method. If he is not online AND active on Google Talk then the phone should recognize that he never replies to messages there and automatically choose the best option to actually reach him. There is no reason this cannot apply to text, audio and video. Google has very good VOIP and video chat services in place and they need to start utilizing this more often.  Babel will be perfect for me once Google integrates not only their messaging platforms but also their video and audio platforms as well.

There is also no reason a company as large as Google who owns the worlds most popular OS cannot build this into their OS to make it easy for everyone to use. I know that some people will claim this is anti-competitive to other messaging platforms. The easy solution to that would be to open up the Babel API so any messaging platform can integrate into it. This would make it even easier for people to connect. In this day and age there is no reason my smartphone with a front facing camera cannot talk to yours when both are connected to the internet, regardless of which OS they are using. We need a unified messaging/communications platform that works across all devices that are connected to the internet.

So, too summarize, I love the idea of Babel but I really hope Google does it right. Those are my two cents at least.

 

Along this Winding Road…

The book that started me on my path to greatness...

I have been meaning to update my site with a new blog post for a long time now. I haven’t written a blog post because I just could not think of anything witty or clever to write about.I thought about writing something angry again, something intended to just piss people off. However I just have not been that angry lately. ¬†I need to write something though, I cannot just keep waiting for inspiration to find me.

So let me write once more about my life, and the winding road I find myself traveling down.

Last year was not a great year for Ian. I started the year dirt broke and working at Mcdonalds. At least when I worked at Mcdonalds I still lived in the Lansing apartment. Then summer hit and against all odds I actually got laid off from Mickey D’s. It was something completely unexpected and it came at the worst possible time. I was in the process of finding a new place to live and the sudden loss of income made my choices very limited. So I ended up moving in with my mom. I intended this to be a very temporary situation. It turns out my laziness was much stronger than my good intentions so I spent most of the rest of the year sitting alone in Olivet.

This ended up being mostly depressing for me and had a large impact on my self esteem. It was good to get close to my Mom and Step-dad again as well as to just have some time to relax, however every time I thought of my life living at home being jobless I would slightly hate myself on the inside.

Just writing about my life can be depressing, thankfully this story actually has a moderately happy ending.

Once winter fell things started to turn around for me quite drastically.  It started at RedditGifts.com of all places. This is a website where you can join a Secret Santa program with other fine folks across the internet. The site sorts everyone out and selects a random person to give you a gift and another random person who you must give a gift too.  Nobody sets any limits on how much can be spent, or not spent. It is all meant to be just good fun.

The person who I was selected to give a gift to was a gay man who used Reddit mostly for looking at “Bear” porn. At first I thought this was funny because back in my days as a gay man the bear community seemed to have a keen interest in the young and furry Ian. Then I started to realize I had no idea what to buy for this guy. I thought maybe he would appreciate some self pictures of me, but then I realized I was just being full of myself again. I didn’t know how I felt about buying a stranger actual porn and sending it to them through the mail. I wasn’t even sure if that was legal, though it would have been rather funny. Instead I waited to the last minute (like usual) and sent him an Amazon gift card. It was not creative but everyone can find something they like no Amazon.

I waited for a while for my package and when I received it in the mail I was quite excited indeed. It was like I was a Kid again, over time I had grown to know what to expect from my family and friends in terms of gifts but this was new. This was a stranger who did not know me personally but he knew more about me than most people probably ever could if he researched my Reddit profile closely enough. ¬†So when that truck pulled up to the house and the driver got out with a box in his hand I was brimming with anticipation. I spent no time taking the package back to my room and promptly tearing the box open. Inside of it was an Amazon gift wrapped box. At this point I knew I had spent to much on the gift I sent out, the gift card I spent couldn’t buy a gift this large not to mention the additional cost for gift wrapping. No matter how much¬†anticipation¬†had built up what lied inside of that box still blew me away.

It was a Blue Snowball USB microphone. The person who sent me this gift had bought me the perfect gift. I had been podcasting for years but had always just used my cheap headset microphone. I had thought many times about upgrading to something that sounded better but I always opted instead to spend my money on things that seemed more important. This cycle would never have ended, and I might have never known what a good mic can do for my voice. Now, thanks to this stranger somewhere on the internet I would be able to get my voice out across the network in the clearest way it had ever been heard before. I was blown away. It was something I had always wanted that I never would have bought for myself. It filled me with a sense of goodwill I thought I would never feel again. This feeling is what prompted me to sign up on redditgifts.com to be a regifter, to buy some other new stranger who got nothing from their first match the gift they deserved (which is another story altogether, this post is about me.)

About a week after getting the amazing gift I had gotten an email from a local web hosting company which I had been applying to for a job. I had an interview scheduled for the day after my birthday. This did mean I could not be completely hungover that day but it also meant I might have a chance at a completely sweet job. The interview went well enough, I was completely nervous and thought I had screwed the entire thing up. They told me they would be in touch and I expected that meant I would not hear from them. The last time I had interviewed at this company they called me two weeks later to tell me I had not gotten the job. I figured it would take at least that long to hear from them and decided to go out to a movie with an old friend. Not even 3 hours later as I was walking into the movie theater my phone rang, I thought it was my brother calling at first since his name popped up on the screen so I answered in the most inappropriate way possible. Turns out it was the HR department at Liquid Web letting me know they had decided to hire me and that I would be started the next week. My brother works for the company so the corporate number was assigned to him in my phone, thankfully they said nothing about my strange greeting.

It was the day after my birthday, I was spending time with an old friend I had not seen in years, about to go do something I love and had just recieved some of the best news I had gotten in a long time. It didn’t even matter what movie I was about to see, I was going to enjoy the time I had that day. This was the start of something new for me, a chance to get out of the rut I had been in for so long. I could see the path ahead of me start to brighten up again. After years of jobs that would go nowhere and opportunities squandered I had this chance to prove I was worth a damn.

The next few months went by slowly. The job was going great, as I expected it would. I was able to buy a truck with the help of my Mom and I started having money coming in every week. Slowly my confidence was building, slowly I was starting to feel more like myself again. After almost 6 months of having gainful employment, and a ride, I decided to finally make the move to getting my own place to live. I must say my decision was guided by the fact that my little sister was moving back home. Not that I do not want to live with her but she was going to kick me out of the room I had been staying in which meant moving into the camper, something I did not want to do. I found a place fairly quickly and moved in that same week.

That leaves me where I am now, sitting here in my shiny new apartment writing a blog post that is long overdue. This is the first time in my life I have had my very own place. Sure I decided to bring on a roommate as well but the lease is in my name and I can actually afford to pay for it on my own. Not once in my life have I ever been completely self sufficient and it feels fucking fantastic.

Life is good, at least for now.

 

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