January 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The hardest thing about writing a regular column is revealed in those weeks where you notice a lot you’d like to say a little about, rather than the one important thing that you want to rail on. If nothing else, it makes it awful hard to give the column a pithy, cutesy, newspapery title.
You know what I’m talking about. Pun-like. I swore years ago that I would never indulge in that in my writing, and then a few years as staff on a newspaper and the next thing you know, you’re writing out titles like “Dancer takes a leap at Mass MoCA” or “Hot sax will make you horny.”
In that spirit, I would love to permanently name this column “The End of the World News.” It’s a pun-like moniker, but at least a mildly literate, wholly pretentious one that singles me out as a pseudo-intellectual boob, and that’s always okay with me — better that than a Republican.
The title comes from an Anthony Burgess novel — yes, he wrote several more other than “A Clockwork Orange” — which was itself a twist on a portion of the sign-off for the British World News broadcast, and repurposes it for the more dire circumstances of the 21st century reality. In Burgess’ usage, you would read it “The End/Of the/World News.”
where as in mine it’s “The/End of the World/News.” You see. If that’s pretentious enough for you, then it’s pretentious enough for me.
The point of the column would be to make pithy commentary on little news nuggets that portend the coming fall of man. It could be anything from climate change to celebrity gossip — anything that reflected on the horrible state of our world and how it’s careening down the dark sinkhole of eternity.
The Republican race for the White House is always good for this sort of thing.
We call it a “race” because we like to think that it will result in one of the nominees actually ending up in that structure. We humor the Republicans because we on the outside know that with the exception of Jon Huntsman, there is no way in hell that the whack jobs and clowns that they have lined up for their combination freak show/circus will ever get elected, no matter how gormless the Democratic sitting president might be.
Obama’s biggest weakness is that he’s polite — Mitt Romney’s is that he is a dullard and the epitome of the elitism that Republicans so often rail on about in regard to people like John Kerry. There are elitists with a sense of duty, and then there are elitists who think everything should be handed to them regardless of their actual skill. It seems obvious that Mitt is the latter. He likes to fire people, he said so himself. Anyone who can’t imagine how that resonates as a sound byte — even if it’s sort of taken out of context — has no business being in front of cameras for anything other than a reality television program.
Now that I think about it, that may just be what the Republican race for the White House is.
But let’s forget the Republicans on the campaign trail and turn to the ones in the courthouse. You know how Republicans hate those activist judges, other than the ones they appoint, of course.
Like Justice Scalia, who I hear from a friend in the Washington D.C. restaurant scene is a terribly friendly man, albeit an evil one who does not have our best interests at heart.
While mulling over decency laws on television — that hearing just took place this week in a challenge to the law that stops our privately owned television broadcast companies from having the same freedom to broadcast curse words and nudity like those Socialist state-owned ones in places like England — it was pointed out to Scalia that while a naked butt could not appear on television, they could appear in the Supreme Court.
The lawyer pointed out two statues with bare buttocks right there. Scalia commented that he had never noticed them before. You know it’s all ending when someone in charge of the supreme law in our land doesn’t even consider what’s in the room where he spends most of his time.
Does he even know what color his robes are?
I think that’s a perfect metaphor for the people who would be our overlords, tell us what to do, but can’t see what’s wrong in their own personal spaces.
For these types, I would like to coin the phrase “they can’t see the buttocks in front of them.” Scalia certainly can’t, nor can Romney.
Ron Paul definitely can’t see the buttocks in front of him, nor most of his fellow Republican nominees.
Jon Huntsman seems to see the buttocks — if not all around him, then definitely out of the corner of his eye.
This all leads me to believe that “The End of the World News” was a bad idea for a title. “Seeing The Buttocks” is much more the point.
January 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Some might ask “What do museum curators do all day?” but for Mass MoCA curators, the question might instead be, “What don’t they do all day?”
With positions that require them to realize the visions of people on the cutting edge of the contemporary art world — and that sometimes means helping art get made by any means possible — curators Susan Cross and Denise Markonish can’t easily explain what their jobs entail because they seem to be constantly changing from day to day.
“No day is ever the same,” Cross said.
For instance, this previous Monday saw Cross sitting at her desk, briefly catching up on a few emails to artists who had contacted her, before dashing off to Amherst to sit on the jury of a public art project.
Markonish was in New York City, traveling to a fundraiser for the museum, which means she had to give a presentation and generally “work” the crowd, while spending her time in the hotel room writing.
Multi-tasking is the essence of their job responsibilities, wherever they are.
“Juries, grant reading, going to different schools and doing critiques and lectures, and all of that,” Markonish said. “Two days after we open Sanford Biggers, I’m heading to Ohio to do that at OSU and give a talk at the Waxman.”
And then there’s the work of just getting museum shows together and making them work — as Markonish says, “from soup to nuts.”
“When people ask me what a curator does, I often describe it as similar to being a film producer,” Cross said. “More people understand that. There’s this umbrella. We definitely have duties specific to a curator, which involve research and dealing with the artists and the conceptual structure of the shows, but we are responsible in a sense for everything that happens with a particular exhibition.”
A good bit of this work involves finding the materials for a work — any given show at Mass MoCA is bound to use a few off-the-beaten path materials that require vigorous searching and special handling. “For Sanford Biggers, we were trying to find transparent, colored plexiglas,” Markonish said, “so it’s finding places that have it and the best price, that’s part of it, to the very scholarly end of things. Cleaning mango seeds in your kitchen, that’s part of it, too.”
“When I first got here, the first show I organized was the Walker’s retrospective of Huang Yong Ping, so I had to find pythons and tarantulas and scorpions and frogs,” said Cross. “That was fascinating. I flew up in Joe Thompson’s plane with Huang Yong Ping to a pet store in New Hampshire to pick them up. It was very telling about what the rest of my time here would be like.”
The two point out that, for a museum the physical size of Mass MoCA — with some unusually huge gallery space, the budgets for their shows is fairly modest and produced with a small staff. One of the major challenges for the two is not only to find the materials but to do some wheeling and dealing in order to get them at the cheapest price — or, if at all possible, donated.
“It’s really about being creative,” Cross said. “Everyone has a stake in it here. We all collaborate with artists by helping them do something and see it from start to finish, too, which is interesting because we make so much work.”
Divisible lab work
As a collaborative space to create art — the museum literature often refers to itself as a “laboratory” — no one staff member becomes more important than the other, and everyone is expected to pitch in to make things happen. For those regularly on the inside, the absurdity of some of the tasks is expected — they have seen enough final results to know that there is a method to the madness, but for newcomers, the oddity of the work can be a revelation.
“I remember when I first got here, my first intern from the grad program at Williams said that one day she went home, after working here for a day, and asked some of her fellow students what they did at their internship, and they had spent the day in the library, and she said, ‘I spent the day measuring the leaves of a tree,’ ” Markonish said. “And, not to say that we don’t send them to the library as well, but more often than not, it’s these oddball things, which I think is really interesting because you start with that strange request of ‘go to The Porches and measure the leaves of the trees out front’ and then a year later, you have this piece of artwork that you know you had a hand in helping be made.”
There’s plenty of work to be done before a show even gets to the point where interns are measuring leaves, and that involves a lot of study, travel, interaction and thought. Both Cross and Markonish said that fashioning group shows is a hard-to-document process that generally starts with the art but eventually results from noticing patterns and making connections in the work that begin to build into a concept for a show.
“It starts with the art,” Cross said. “I don’t think a theme would come to us if we hadn’t been making links and seeing the galleries that inspired that theme because that’s always a pitfall. If the curator has a theme, they are trying to force the work into, you can always tell.”
“Sometimes you see an artist here and there and you start noticing connections and you build a theme around that,” Markonish said.
The Workers is an example of a show that seems completely current, given the political landscape of the country, but Cross points out that it was conceived and worked on years before the protests in Wisconsin and the explosion of Occupy Wall Street. The illusion of timeliness given the months and months it takes to realize a show is as simple as paying attention to trends in the world and in artwork.
“It’s really serendipitous,” Cross said. “But then again, if you look at the past five years, it was all building up to this. Labor’s always been an important topic; it’s just now in the news. We think about labor issues much more just being here. It’s in the fabric of this building, in our consciousness.
“Plus, because we work with contemporary art — and contemporary art done by very young artists — I think that that art usually speaks to our time, so we’re looking at how our time is defined by what’s going on now. I think that’s just integral to being a contemporary art curator, especially now, because probably a decade ago, I think artists weren’t as interested and audiences weren’t as interested in political art. But now, more so, people are ready for it.”
Part of successful curating is as simple as looking ahead at the calendar and having a clue what will be happening when a show opens.
“When I did the show ‘These Days: Elegy for Modern Times,’ I was working on it two years in advance,” Markonish said, “but knew that it was going to be opening around the election time and thinking that political situation and turning it into this poetic meditation with artists that I had been looking at and thinking about. It’s just about awareness. My shows aren’t overtly political, but they have these undercurrents in them that are about a certain time. That can’t not affect you.”
Adapting the space
One daunting aspect of a Mass MoCA curator’s job is Building 5, a huge space that presents challenges not only because of its physical dimensions, but its historical and emotional ones as well. Visitors tend to compare what’s in it now with what came before.
“With that space, you’re not only dealing with that epic space and bringing in a single artist and trusting them in that space, but you’re also dealing with the history of that space and what’s been there before,” Markonish said. “I think when people come into our other galleries, they don’t say, ‘Oh, I’m on the first floor, remember when I saw this show here,’ but they do that with that space. ‘The last time I was at Mass MoCA was when Cai Guo Qiang was up’ and so people, their memory for that space is different. They might remember other shows, but they won’t remember it in time as much. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges.”
Marknonish’s first show in that space was Inigo Manglano- Ovalle, while Cross’ was Simon Starling — both those shows took a minimalist approach, whereas their most recent shows in Building 5 — the recently closed Katharina Grosse and the upcoming Biggers show — reach back to the spectacle approach.
“I think for both of us, there’s always that idea that you have to fill the space,” Markonish said. “That idea can be varied. What are you filling it with? Does it have to be stuff? It can be. Our first approach was to push against what people expect when they enter a space like that.”
“It’s a tough space, but it’s an exciting space,” Cross said. “And it’s funny because every artist, they walk in there, and their eyes just light up. They want to take it on.”
“It’s like that image in cartoons, where your eyes actually bulge out of your head,” Markonish added.
The other huge part of the curator’s job is to deal with artists, and each artist is different. The curator’s part can be likened to the mom role or even that of an editor, since part of the job is to help the artist negotiate just about every obstacle and nurture the effort, while also offering criticism and guidance that helps the focus in on their own vision and makes sure the show ends up being the best reflection of that.
“I always say to people who are thinking about getting into curating that it’s all of those things we’ve already talked about, but it’s also a large part being a therapist, being a sociologist,” Markonish said. “It’s all of these things, where you have to deal with these multiple personalities and not just in different people, but sometimes in the same person. Working with an artist two years before a show becomes very different from working with that artist the month that you’re installing and they might be freaking out, so you’re always negotiating personality. No matter what scale you work on in the arts, you’re doing that.”
“I love working with artists. That’s why I do what I do,” Cross said. “I feel like I develop these very intense relationships with the artists and they become friendships often. It’s really a gift to be in their head for the two years that they’re thinking about a project.”
For curators, there is no rest. They’re constantly traveling, collaborating, procuring, assisting, communicating, supporting, writing and thinking. Being a curator turns to not be so much a job as it is a lifestyle.
“We’re always in front of our computer, our laptop or our Blackberry, or our phone,” Cross said. “We’re never not working. I’m working when I’m brushing my teeth. Curators work constantly. I think about what I’m writing when I sleep.”
January 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The problem with consuming the news from one news source — I’m staring point-blank at you, Fox viewers — is that the only way to understand the news in any effective way is to stretch your brain a little and connect some dots.
News — hard news and even news analysis — is only the first step to figuring out not only why the world is the way it is, but what way it actually is. It’s part of a casual scientific process that requires comparison and analysis in order to create a full picture of reality and, therefore, problem solve when that reality goes awry.
It’s best to enter into this action by not expecting your preconceived notions to taint the purity of the information. You’ll have your prejudices — that’s just part of being human — but the trick is to not let them screw up the data. You can even reject the truth if you so choose — not advisable, but we do things for all sorts of emotional reasons — but that doesn’t make the truth you deciphered less true. It makes your choice of knowledge less reflective of reality and more reflective of your internal needs.
Taking in the news is a lot like putting together a puzzle. If you take a little bit from world news and a little bit from business news and a little bit from medical news and a little bit from tech news, and you smoosh them all together, you might find a kernel of revelation that tells you so much more than one single columnist.
I encountered that last week with two different articles from two different sources that fit together so well with each other that it was a wonder I wasn’t already seeking them out, trying to solve a brain teaser.
The first was from The Atlantic and had to do with food and brain power — specifically that taking in an overabundance of junk food is like having a degenerative disease. Trans fats will actually shrink your brain, and that results in poor memory and general cognition. Now if you down too much trans fat, you probably didn’t understand that sentence — what I said was that junk food makes you stupid and what you do know, you can’t remember anyhow.
Shortly after I read this, I came upon a piece in The Daily Beast about the psychological effect of consumption of the economic kind — simply that buying stuff and having stuff doesn’t make you happy. It’s an effect called hedonic adaptation, which basically means that we get used to the things that excite us at first, which is why you have people called shopaholics — if they don’t keep acquiring, they slip into a depression. Bad news for a free market capitalist consumerist society and worse for compulsive eaters.
I have not yet sought out any specific article about the educational system’s failure in our country or the level to which we have fallen behind in the fields of technology and science, but that’s of course next. Before any of that, though, I’ll be looking into the battle to make school lunches nutritious. Based on the information in The Atlantic, that is certainly a better place to start in upgrading the general education of our kids instead of more useless standards testing.
It’s a funny lesson you learn about consumption, though — some is bad, some is good, and either way, it’s a delicate balance. To get at reality, you have to consume more than one source of information and you have to make sure it’s actually information. With food and junk, though, your efforts could make it nearly impossible to actually be capable of reading the information you find — between the adversity of lifting up your depressed head to look at the articles and understanding the several-syllable words that might crop up in a sentence, I’m not betting on a wave of innovative problem-solvers popping up in our country anytime soon. And remember, whatever you vote, vote Republican.
January 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Director Yoav Potash’s documentary “Crime After Crime” started out as a portrait of an incarcerated woman and ended up as a life-calling for everyone involved.
The film screens at Mass MoCA on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. In 1983, Deborah Peagler was imprisoned for 25 years in a California prison after being convicted of murdering her husband, who had brutally beaten her and forced her into prostitution. Peagler’s husband was murdered by two neighborhood gang members who she sought protection from, but she was prosecuted when the district attorney’s office claimed that it was an insurance fraud murder.
Peagler found herself convicted of murder instead of manslaughter because evidence of her abuse was not allowed in her defense. It was in 2002 that California became the first state in the country — and currently still the only state — to pass a law allowing women who are imprisoned for killing their abusers to have their cases reopened, giving them the opportunity to present evidence of their abuse and how it factored into their crimes.
At that time, lawyer Nadia Costa heard about Peagler’s case and decided to take it on pro bono — her associate, Joshua Safran, soon joined her. In 2005, Safran alerted Potash to the case and suggested filming what had unfolded and was about to happen, but at that point, Potash had his doubts.
“To be honest, I wasn’t 100 percent sure this was the story I wanted to follow because I think I had the usual questions that people have,” he said. “They ask, ‘Did she do it?’ — meaning did she kill him or not? And it’s not one of these black and white cases where someone did not commit any crime at all. This case is much more gray in the sense that Debbie was implicated in the murder of the man who had abused her, but on the other hand, none of the evidence of the abuse and none of the full circumstances, even about the murder itself, was really properly looked at in court.”
Personal contact, though, made all the difference, and Potash began to view any resulting film as an opportunity for the empowerment of incarcerated battered women quite beyond the circumstances of Peagler’s crime.
“It just took meeting Deborah and hearing the story from her to seal the deal for me to want to tell the story,” said Potash. “I think part of that was hearing how sympathetic her backstory was, but the other part was seeing who she was today, the fact that she had been through all this abuse and injustice and yet was still living and leading an inspiring life and teaching others.”
Potash had to be careful about filming for his documentary, since prisons are not very cooperative with giving documentarians free access. Peagler’s role as gospel choir leader became the focus of the director’s efforts to get through the door.
“I thought that I’ve got to find a way to get back here with cameras and film the Sunday service and anything else I can do to document what her life is like in prison,” said Potash. “I told them I wanted to document their various programs that Debbie was participating in.”
Potash made a separate documentary about those specific programs from the resulting footage. He also gained direct access to Peagler as her official legal videographer, as requested by her attorneys. It’s not unheard of in the legal world, but something that is mostly utilized in depositions. Costa and Safran were able to procure Potash’s services as they mounted the defense that they would attempt to use to get Peagler out of jail.
That, however, took quite a bit longer than anyone involved in the case expected. A commitment from the district attorney to release Peagler following the appeals made all involved feel the end of the story was coming, but that wasn’t how it worked out. “We all thought Debbie was going to be released in 2005 when the district attorney put it in writing that they felt she should be released,” said Potash. “That felt to all of us like a sure thing, so we were thrown for a loop when the DA flip-flopped on their own written word, and from there it became unpredictable.
Potash’s main film project currently is to translate Peagler’s story into a dramatic form to get it out to a wider audience — he’s currently working on a screenplay that he hopes to be able develop.
One thing to grow out of the legal efforts is Debbie’s Campaign, which has transformed the film effort into an activist one. Debbie’s Campaign makes sure that DVDs and informational packets are distributed to women’s shelters and criminal justice groups around the country — as well as supporting continuing education programs for judges and lawyers in the field of domestic law.
“Why not use the film as a way to spark discussions and put a human face on something that’s maybe a little bit difficult to comprehend when you learn it in a text-only fashion?” Potash said.
Debbie’s Campaign also interacts with groups in other states that want to pass a law similar to the one in California, providing information and sending Costa, Safran and Potash to screenings and speaking engagements to help the efforts.
Currently, a top priority for the group is the Domestic Violence Survivors Act, which is poised to be passed in New York. They recently hosted a special screening of “Crime After Crime” for the state legislature in order to educate them further about the issue behind the vote and to look towards further efforts in other states.
January 17, 2012 § Leave a Comment
In 2012, the panic is already showing in the religious right — at least in New Hampshire and Indiana where, yet again, we see those who can’t differentiate between over a century of research in the pursuit of actual knowledge and the fairy tales we tell children so life doesn’t start out seeming as complicated as it eventually turns out to be.
Yes, I’m talking about the war against teaching evolution again.
In each of those states, there are efforts to ensure that Biblical design is presented as an equal area of scientific study. Some might see this as further gusto on the part of the bullying wing of the Christian right, but statistics about church attendance and belief among the young reveal such moves as the last gasp of the desperate. And they know it.
It turns out that while that sector has been waging it’s jihad against science and humanism, the children within have been turning away in droves.
That’s the central point of a recent book by guy named David Kinnaman, the head of an evangelical research firm and latest in a series of Chicken Littles who aren’t necessarily imagining that falling sky.
According to Kinnaman, the post high school years on through to age 30 sees a 43 percent drop in church attendance.
A recent report from CNN suggests that the reason the flocks are flocking away has less to do with a change of spiritual belief or politics and more to do with the basic human reaction against dictators. They are simply tired of not only being told what to do, but also that what they do is wrong.
They are tired of being controlled.
This dissatisfaction grows from a change in moral outlook, from one that wags a finger to one that accepts difference and even keeps out of people’s private lives. It is not these kids’ fault if God won’t change with the times.
According to CNN, the under-30 crowd has an entirely liberal view of private lives.
A whopping 70 percent support premarital sex, the majority of women who are mothers in their 20s are unwed, 60 percent support gay marriage and the same number believes abortion should be legal.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, that same crowd embraces economic equality, higher taxes for the wealthy and more financial regulation.
They also overwhelmingly believe that creationism is an outdated and evolution is a fact.
Did you know that 33 percent of young evangelicals voted for — gasp — Barack Obama?
Go ahead and try to legislate fairy tales in the science class, because you are losing.
The revolution of the religious right and their control has been built on false statistics that don’t consider the beliefs of the young and don’t fathom that critical thought may well turn out to be a basic human trait that breaks apart whatever overbearing indoctrination you heave on your children.
By the year 2020, the so-called millennials will account for a third of our population, and their liberal viewpoints, even among the faithful, will be the ones that dominate parenthood in our country.
Just as I looked at the racism of my grandparents’ generation as alien and ancient history, these families will view the controlling social agendas of people in my generation and my parents as antiquated nonsense.
They will be the first American generation in more than half a century to look to the future rather than clinging to the past in fear and weakness because tradition dictates they do so. I can’t wait.
January 17, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The one positive thing I can say about Big Brother is that he infringes on everyone’s rights — he’s a nonpartisan dictator. No wonder prominent Republicans are starting to register as up in arms about Big Brother’s latest manifestation, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act), as any liberal. Heritage Foundation research fellow James Gattuso, members of the Libertarian think tank the Cato Institute and online journalists Erick Erickson, Matt Drudge and Glenn Reynolds — as well as Ron Paul and Rand Paul — have all raised concerns with the bills, which currently are winding their way through the House and Senate.
For the record, co-sponsors of the bills — you know, the bad guys — are all Democrats, including Al Franken and Kirsten Gillibrand, and it portrays just how far in thrall to the entertainment industry that party can be. Our civil rights mean nothing against profits on the latest Twilight movie.
Both bills are designed to combat online piracy by restructuring the Internet itself.
Think of it this way: In order to combat pirates, they have decided to declare martial law on the ocean rather than just deal with the pirates.
Under SOPA and PIPA, our government would have the right to order online companies to block foreign websites if suspected of copyright infringement — specifically Google and other search engines.
Domestic sites would just be seized by the government. There are also incentives for Internet providers to block sites independently that they have a “reasonable belief” might infringe copyright. The entertainment industry gets to dictate much of the criteria for these blockages and seizures.
When China or Iran does this, we call it censorship. When we do it, it’s called protecting copyright.
The bill has caused constitutional scholars and Internet engineers to line up in opposition to it. Domain hosting companies like GoDaddy who once not only supported the legislation but was consulted in framing it, has pulled out of supporting it thanks to the protest of its customers. The company has lost more than 37,000 accounts that pulled out in protest of the original position.
Meanwhile, a group of law firms are demanding their names be taken off the list of supporters of the bill, as are Gibson Guitar and several other companies — they all claim to have been added to the official list even though they do not support either bill and never consented to be on that list.
Numerous other successful Internet companies have come out against the legislation as well — Google, OpenDNS, EasyDNS, Hover, Dreamhost, NameCheap and Name.com, as well as a group called SaveHosting, that featured the signatures of 300 business executives in protest.
Given the outcry, you’d expect our legislators to be interested in the suggestions of experts in the field. Instead we’ve had the spectacle of clueless politicians insulting those testifying and denigrating any expertise they have for analysis.
Earlier in December, when a group of respected engineers appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to explain the slippery slope of SOPA, they were greeted with such comments from the committee as “I’m no nerd, but I just don’t believe it.”
Comments like these point to one of the main problems in this dizzying issue — having clueless old guys who look at computer technology as exotic and weird in charge of our country is no longer an acceptable option.
Infrastructure is important for any politician to understand — digital infrastructure more than ever. Do they treat city planners this way? If they approach the actual facts as weird or dorky, then they probably aren’t absorbing the information well enough to have our best interests at heart.
The government doesn’t have a very good track record with seizures, anyhow. For more than a year, the government has had the right to seize domains over copyright infringement.
The poster child for misuse of power here has been Dajaz1.com, which was seized under the 2008 Pro IP Act following reports of copyright infringement. The domain was held for months and months without explanation despite demands from lawyers — the website owners were not allowed to see the actual charges.
Eventually the government changed its mind and released the site back to the owners. Despite the insistence of the Recording Industry Association of America, there was no case worth pursuing. But like detainees in Guantanamo, that didn’t stop the government from detaining indefinitely and providing no documents of justification — or acting like lap dogs for the entertainment industry. And there are plenty more of those cases out there.
It’s not as if they are trying to hide their intentions.
“When the Chinese told Google that they had to block sites or they couldn’t do [business] in their country, they managed to figure out how to block sites,” said Chris Dodd, the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, in an interview in Variety.
The MPAA should clean its own house before scrubbing up the rest of us. BoingBoing released an analysis of IP addresses downloading copyrighted films that revealed illegal activity within the offices of Sony Pictures, NBC Universal and Fox. The RIAA and the U.S. House of Representatives have also been documented as file sharing centers — more than 800 downloaders in the House, actually.
There’s also the issue of conflict of interests. The two Congressional staffers who wrote the bill for the House and Senate judiciary committees have exciting new jobs. Allison Halataei got a high-paying position with the National Music Publishers’ Association and Lauren Pastarnack matched that — she’s now with the Motion Pictures Association of America. Their actual jobs in these organizations involve helping to lobby for the very laws they drafted.
After a holiday season that saw the iPad as one of the hottest gift items — a gadget dependent on Internet connection for its allure — we need to all understand how much the online world has melded with our own, and how legislation controlling it impacts the so-called real world. The MPAA may see Communist China as a role model, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should.