Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Perpetual Emotion Machine; Guilty Pleasures

There, I did it. I managed a two-part title, divided by a semi-colon. I think that was the style when I last did academic reading. I've probably got it wrong, though, since I'm no good at punctuation. It might have been a colon.

Is there anybody out there who actually still wonders why, for instance, digital "content" cannot be protected in a way analogous to the old embodiments of ink and paper, or vinyl for songs? Is there anybody still innocent enough to take up a credit card offer of impossibly free money and then think that they can use the card without burying the low interest debt under usurious rates for actual usage? Do you still wonder why the banks prefer to take their hits with credit card fraud, rather than to plug the holes the way the Europeans do. And they don't go so very far in that direction either . . .

Once you realize that you are meant to feel responsible for the collapse of the economy, these trivial mysteries evaporate like fog in sunshine. The game is to dangle candy right before your nose, and then to be certain that you feel responsible for taking it. You bought the house, you signed for the credit card, you downloaded the music for free, and you belong in jail. We will present you with horrifying examples of innocent naifs, in jail while still cute and preppy.

Your parents teach you this as children, strong fathers spanking you for wanting what the adults take freely. There would be nothing terribly difficult about using some variant on public/private key encryption to register who's the owner and who's the purchaser, and to allow you to lend out your copy for ever decreasing returns to the "original" owner. We're not waiting for some technological breakthrough,

There is no real trouble creating credit cards which require a secret key to unlock. The funny thing is that even when they are not allowed to hold you reponsible for the fraudulent debt racked up in your name, it's still not worth their while for banks to do this. The reason simply is that you can be, thereby, made to feel responsible, and their letting you off the hook deepens that feeling. You are magically indebted twice for your own failure to protect your identity. And we'll gladly sell you supplemental policy to protect it.

The critical thing is for you to want, and digital media proves over and over again that there is no limit to your willingness to pay and feel guilty about it, no matter how lavish the freebies become which are dangled before your eyes.

I read artificial books now because the real ones have become too pricey. Except that I can't help noticing that this ephemeral copy still costs more than a conscionable price from only a few years ago for one I could lend to my friends and recirculate.

But, it is true, I can download many classics - Moby Dick, for instance - from the Gutenberg project, and I can publish my own blog for free. So, let's be clear here, I'm no Luddite complaining about what has been lost to progress. I just want my government back, and for the actual honest leaders to be sent to Washington on my behalf. I want people who are smart enough to understand their briefers, strong enough to withstand debilitating compromise, and jaded enough not to be tricked by sleight of hand.

Then I will give my baby candy, whenever I am having some myself. Which isn't all that often, to tell you the truth.

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