Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Intolerable Acts

US Capitol Building, originally uploaded by Hey Paul.

Here is a copy of a letter that I sent my Senators and my Representative in Congress in regards to the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. We will see what happens…

Dear Senator McCain,
I am writing to you as a registered Arizona voter and concerned constituent about S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act. I urge you to vote "no" on the upcoming motion to invoke cloture on the bill.
Albeit well-intentioned, the PROTECT IP Act does not provide adequate oversight over measures targeted against alleged offenders, raising legitimate concerns about the Act's constitutionality. PROTECT IP would also effectively overturn critical portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act—portions that form the legal backbone of the American tech industry. These sections (in particular, 17 U.S.C. §512) are what allow the start-up technology companies of today to become the Googles of tomorrow, creating jobs for thousands of Americans in the process. Lastly, the methods through which the PROTECT IP Act would combat copyright infringement are similar—and sometimes identical—in nature to those used by regimes with questionable human rights records. The impression that the United States created the "Great Firewall of America" would irreparably damage our credibility when asking them to remove censorship barriers that impede the spread of democracy and free enterprise.
The PROTECT IP Act is fundamentally flawed, as it would stifle the growth of our nation’s tech sector, would introduce due process questions, and would erode America’s position as a global leader. As such, it does not deserve floor consideration. Any solution to the piracy problem needs to consider the effects it would have on the Internet economy—a place where the United States has a clear competitive advantage. I hope you will take my concerns about this bill into account, and oppose this legislation by voting "no" on cloture.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ripping the fabric of space-time

IMG_0130, originally uploaded by Titoxd.

Sometimes I wonder why I take pictures, especially when I hear people close to me rattle off all the ways I lose money by taking them. Sure, I have to spend money to get the equipment to take them to begin with, and also have to spend money in storage, hosting, etc... However, that incessant ranting has become so prevalent lately that it has been difficult for me to feel comfortable taking as many photographs as I want to.

However, when I see pictures like this one, it reminds me of why I love being behind the lens. At their very core, photographs are literally snapshots in time.

The result of depressing the shutter button, at least in my DSLR, is an image file that stores information of the position and illumination of objects within a given number of steradians. However, behind the technical definition of photographs lies a deeper meaning. Camera sensors do much more than store the number of stray photons that strike a surface—they also store a snapshot of the emotional state of the person operating the sensor. A camera opens a portal to a particular time and place, allowing us to recall our thoughts, our companions, our experiences—in short, our emotions.

A photograph can thus can act as a portal through space-time, warping us to a time and place when memories where born. As such, I don't care if my hobby is expensive, as its opportunity cost is minuscule compared to the benefit I attain from it.