So says Hannah, just nine years old, when asked why she uses LimeWire to download free music to her mp3 player. Which, of course, reminds me of my all-time favorite Homer Simpson quote: “If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat?”

Honestly, how can you argue with either one?

(via kottke)

Please tell me why each and every one of our Democratic Senators and Representatives isn’t fighting to get in front of this one. It defies common sense.

Where are our esteemed Presidential contenders? Hillary Clinton? Barack Obama? Not a thing. No leadership. Their silence suggests complicity. Is that really so? We’re not only listening, we’re watching your every move.

Harry Reid? He’ll sell out the American people for $22,000 in Telecommunications contributions from 2001 – 2006 (I can only imagine what his take will be for 2007, now that he’s the Majority Leader). And seriously, $22,000 — is that all it takes? He could easily raise much more in an hour with a decisive stand, and motivate thousands of people to become even more intimately involved in his cause.

Jay Rockefeller? Sure, he’ll write a stern letter and talk a mean game, but folds at the first sign on conflict. Is it really this hard? Yet again, he seems perfectly content to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Not even George W. Bush is this incompetent.

It seems only Chris Dodd understands what’s at stake. And it’s clear to me that this isn’t about politics, or winning the election, it’s about standing up for what is right; it’s principled leadership, pure and simple. And just in time too. George W. Bush and his corporate cronies are hell-bent on “saving” us from our freedoms, the very way of life that is guaranteed by the Constitution.

Thus far, only one man stands in between democracy and the destruction of all we hold dear. It sounds preposterous, hysterical even, but think about it: are we all subject to the same laws, or are the President and his benefactors / beneficiaries solely above the law?

The NSA (National Security Agency) and AT&T program to wiretap and data-mine American’s internet and telephone communications is both astonishingly massive and unquestionably illegal. Thankfully, the class-action lawsuit filed by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation — based just around the corner from me on Mission Street) threatens to bring these crimes to light, which is precisely why we see such frantic attempts by both the Bush administration and AT&T’s lawyers and lobbyists to prevent the truth from ever seeing the light of day.

Your world. Delivered. To the NSA.Their wish is either a dismissal of the lawsuit (no luck so far) or retroactive immunity (where Congress gives a free-pass on seven years of blatantly illegal intrusion into the lives of innocent Americans — still a very real possibility given how corporate money has thoroughly corrupted Congress). Clearly, the Bush administration knows that protecting AT&T saves their collective ass as well. For both parties, the cost of getting caught is immense.

Earlier today, Glenn Greenwald interviewed Cindy Cohn, EFF’s lead counsel in the AT&T lawsuit. Their discussion brings a new level of clarity and coherence to the story. Specifically, the case against AT&T is clear, as Cohn states:

We have evidence of an NSA-controlled room in the Folsom Street AT&T facilities in San Francisco. We have evidence that AT&T diverted copies of everyone’s Internet traffic into that room. And we know that there’s very sophisticated equipment in that room that is capable of doing real-time analysis of the Internet traffic that is getting routed into there.

For most of our legal claims, that’s enough to win, and we’re done.

And yes, for those of you who follow my humble blog with any regularity, you’ll recall that she is speaking of the building right outside my home in San Francisco. Sweet.

AT&T’s lawyers have mounted an argument that paints their illegal activities as a “good faith” effort to help the Bush administration fight terrorism. In a word, bullshit. Cohn continues:

Remember, these phone companies are very sophisticated about these FISA laws and the other laws that explain how and when they can cooperate with law enforcement. These aren’t some rouges. This isn’t Joe’s Phone Company. They are very sophisticated and know the law better than almost everyone.

But even if they didn’t, I don’t think it takes a lot of thought to wonder: “huh, the FISA law says that the exclusive means by which the Government can get information is either by a warrant or a short-term certification from the Attorney General in an emergency situation. Huh – do either of these two things justify ongoing wholesale surveillance of all of our customers for five years and counting?”

The answer to that has to be “no.” I don’t think you even need a law degree to figure that one out.

Nor even a college degree, as I can attest. Face it, there’s nothing complicated about it, which is why we see such a sustained campaign to find a way out of this mess…

AT&T is desperately trying to buy immunity in Congress, while Bush is doing everything he can to ratchet up the fear of another terrorist attack that will come the moment he can no longer spy on us, and neither one seems to have any shame whatsoever (no surprise there). If you weren’t already shocked and appalled by their brazen disregard for the rule of law, spend a few minutes reading the discussion between Greenwald and Cohn. It’s enough to make your blood boil.

I wanted to share a few of the more powerful words and images created in the light of Al Gore’s incredible achievement, and humbly add a thought or two of my own.

First, Josh Marshall:

There are several layers of irony and poetic justice wrapped into this honor. The first is that the greatest step for world peace would simply have been for Gore not to have had the presidency stolen from him in November 2000. By every just measure, Gore won the presidency in 2000 only to have George W. Bush steal it from him with the critical assistance of the US Supreme Court. It’s worth taking a few moments today to consider where the country and world would be without that original sin of this corrupt presidency.

And yet this is a fitting bookend, with Gore receiving this accolade while the sitting president grows daily an object of greater disapproval, disapprobation and collective shame. And let’s not discount another benefit: watching the rump of the American right detail the liberal bias of the Nobel Committee and at this point I guess the entire world. Fox News vs. the world.

And not to forget what this award is about even more than Gore. If half of what we think we know about global warming is true, people will look back fifty years from now on the claims that “War on Terror” was the defining challenge of this century and see it as a very sick, sad joke — which rather sums up the Bush presidency.

In spite of what the Republican right wants us to believe, this herculean effort was never about personal glory for Al Gore. It is a selfless act, born of a deep commitment to the truth, and a dedication to the health and well-being of all on Earth. But since they cannot fight the facts, which as Stephen Colbert once said “have a well-known liberal bias,” they must counter with outright slander and the most personal of smears…

Speaking of which, along with the great Media Bloodhound, I too was appalled to see the New York Times give prominent placement to such worthless garbage. Contrast that with the simple and understated treatment on the Apple website:

Al has put his heart and soul, and much of life during the past several years, into alerting and educating us all on the climate crisis. We are bursting with pride for Al and this historic recognition of his global contributions.

Yes, Gore is a member of the Apple Board of Directors (he’s on Google’s Board as well), but he’s also an American icon now recognized for his efforts by the global community, and that feat alone is worthy of acknowledgment. But we can’t give him too much glory, or else some people (even make-believe ones like Fake Steve Jobs) will look to Al for even more…

Now it is time. You must run. Not because you want to run, but precisely because you don’t want to run. That, Al, is your strongest point. You don’t want it. You don’t need it. You dare now to be yourself. No artificiality, no stiffness, no falseness. You are who you are. And we need you. We, your fellow Americans. We need you. Now more than ever. Our nation’s soul, hurt by this foolish war, cries out to you. We’ve been wounded by an administration so obsessed with so-called “terrorists” that they don’t notice the earth’s temperature rising at an alarming rate — nearly a tenth of a degree in just the last ten years. So blinded by fear of Iran that they don’t see the snowcap receding on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and icebergs melting and breaking apart in Antarctica. For nearly eight years we have suffered under this madness. This must end.

I don’t often admit it, but I voted for Bush in 2000. I was warned repeatedly by a close friend, but the overwhelming media bias against Gore (especially at the local level in Ohio — the Columbus Dispatch was ruthlessly brutal) had me so thoroughly snowed that I pulled the lever for Bush instead. I still recall a distinct sorrow and shame for my decision at that very moment, knowing in my heart that I was making a grave mistake (obviously that regret remains with me to this day, and even voting against him in 2004 brought little relief). Luckily, there is a silver lining, as Andrew Sloat so eloquently reminds us of the beauty in the 22nd Amendment…

Clearly, these two men and their causes will forever be linked, and their fortunes intertwined. We know now the many differences and the immense gulf between them. Look no further than these two images for confirmation…

Here is Al Gore. He is consumed with his life’s work, immersed in his passion, actively at play in his mind, and truly unencumbered by his modest office:

Al Gore

On the other hand, here is George W. Bush. He is an empty suit in an empty office, seen here casually bullshitting with Nouri al-Maliki on the phone, obviously fidgeting as his imagined power to wish away an inconvenient truth proves ineffective yet again. It always seems that he is consciously trying to look the part of President, all the while mistaking ceremony for reality:

George W. Bush

Clearly one man is a leader, the other is a farce. History will not be kind to Bush, nor should it be, but that is the least of our worries now. And no, this is not about the election in 2000, it is about the future of America and the fate of the world. We must find a way to move forward, together, and only one person can do it.

So please, Al, run. Run for President of the United States in 2008. And don’t take any shit from anyone when you do. Stand tall. Stand proud. You were right then and you are right now.

As much as I love the new Radiohead release, I have to say I’m still disappointed by their decision to go with 160kbps. The muffled and muddied sound quality of the files feels like a bootleg copy, or something I downloaded illegally because I couldn’t wait for the full and final release…

Admittedly, I have done it before — I downloaded a bootleg copy of Hail to the Thief well before its official release, which is not something I normally do but I really wanted to hear it. I have to wonder if Radiohead didn’t realize that In Rainbows would be leaked soon and quickly p2p’d into the hands of anyone who wanted it. For free. Seen in that light, this is clearly a very shrewd move, and likely very lucrative even if most people pay very little for it. It’s quite likely that a high percentage of those who downloaded this version will buy the cd when it comes out next year.

Just the same, I expected better, and most importantly I paid for it too. Perhaps I’ve been ruined by bleep.com, where I buy almost all of my music these days. It’s DRM free, 320kbps, and reasonably priced. Strange to call that the bare minimum when it seems like the gold standard, but that’s how I rip mp3s from a cd, and have for many years. And since I refuse to buy cds anymore, except in special situations, that’s how I want my mp3s.

I’m a huge Radiohead fan, but this feels like a bit of a bait and switch. The buying experience was lousy, the quality of the files is poor, and there was no embedded artwork (perhaps the most glaring omission of all). Yes, it’s still a new Radiohead album — and I haven’t stopped listening to it since Wednesday morning — but the whole process feels rushed at best, or half-assed at worst. And I have to wonder why.

Am I just being contrarian? Does anyone else see it the same way?

entactogen.gifThe Sun Flowers Are Singing is the title of this brilliant and beautiful new 68 minute mix from Entactogen on Mixotic. Believe me, I am clearly more than a bit opinionated on these sorts of things, and certainly prone to hyperbole when smitten by new sounds, but this is easily one of the best mixes I have ever come across, for free or not, in all of my years of loving electronic music.

As you might expect, the title of the mix superbly personifies the many emotions within, but I was completely unaware of the significance of the word entactogen until I looked it up: it is derived from the roots “en” (Greek: within), “tactus” (Latin: touch) and “gen” (Greek: produce) and commonly refers to a class of drugs designed to provoke feelings of warmth, empathy, and intimacy. Music is the best drug of all, and I absolutely love this explicit connection…

With that in mind, is it any wonder that this mix effortlessly drifts in and out of so many styles and sounds — from indietronic to lounge to folk to downbeat (and that’s just what’s listed in the permalink) to drum ‘n bass to jazz to ambient and everything else in between — yet it all feels as one. Each and every track is top quality, on par with anything I willingly shell out cash for on a weekly basis, which makes it even more astonishing to see that all tracks must be free or creative commons licensed (meaning freely and legally available on the net, as opposed to pay-to-play). This is yet another ingenious invention by Q-man, aka Entactogen, the man who made this mix and runs the Mixotic netlabel.

I am just finishing my third full pass through TSFAS, and already contemplating another. I am so happy to have found this mix, and I only hope (and truly believe) you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Robert Cringely saidbest:

Profit is to be found not just in pleasing dissatisfied customers, but in dissatisfying them in the first place so they will then pay to be pleased.

That’s life to a T in the Bush era.

This scam only succeeds because we continue to support a broken system, rather than demanding a better way. Then again, that’s true of most of our ills these days (see my previous post for more on that subject).

Of course, we could end it all in a heartbeat, if we just worked together…

The problem with America, ruthlessly laid bare by Jim Kunstler:

The people I know complain endlessly about how stupid President George W. Bush is, and how badly he has lied to the public about this or that. But a casual observer from Mars would have to conclude that President Bush perfectly represents a nation that shows such a thoroughgoing incapacity for thought, and such an aversion to the truth about its own behavior. A people so hopelessly unwilling to get its act together deserves to suffer.

And the solution to our woes, masterfully diagnosed by Prince Campbell:

Most people fail to grasp this but our emotions are stronger than our minds. And until you get your emotions under control (especially in stressful situations) your brain can’t work.

My favorite contrarian sets it up and my favorite soothsayer knocks it down. All I have to do it pull it all together…

Speaking of which, I truly believe that America is more than ready for someone or something to cut through the bullshit and call it like it is. We may be shocked by the truth, but at least it’s real; more importantly, it will even feel real after nearly seven years of Bush’s stifling delusions of grandeur.