The Great ‘Captain Marvel’ Soundtrack Scam

Captain Marvel movie poster re-done by Goose Danvers (cropped)
A funny thing happened when I searched Amazon for the soundtrack to Marvel's upcoming superhero blockbuster, Captain Marvel.

The first match is, of course, "Captain Marvel Soundtrack" -- but it's by someone named Roguey, selling a 28-second song with the title "Captain Marvel Soundtrack." And that 28-second song is also the only song on a one-song album -- which Roguey has also named "Captain Marvel Soundtrack."

It has 0 reviews, but Roguey's received three disparaging reviews for his other offerings in Amazon's digital music store. ("Too short, only 30 seconds. WTF...")

In fact, his entire "recording" career seems to span 10 weeks in the summer of 2018, releasing 53 songs -- all of which are 28 seconds long. Most of them have titles that look like popular songs from popular movies -- for example, "Waterloo (From Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Soundtrack)" -- but the songs themselves sound very suspiciously like sound clips. Another example: his 29-second song "Rubber Band Man (From The Avengers Infinity War Rubberband Soundtrack)" is indistinguishable from the original 1976 song by The Spinners.

And he's not the only one in Amazon's digital music store selling musical knock-offs. There's also an enterprising musician peddling a track called "Music from the 'Captain Marvel' Movie Trailer - Cover Version" -- which appears to be a wholly unauthorized synthesizer recreation of whatever's playing in the background of Marvel's trailers for their upcoming film.

It's not hard to figure out what's going on here. The premiere date for Captain Marvel is March 8, 2019, but there's already an incredible amount of pre-release excitement -- plus a lot of pre-release publicity. Alaska Airlines already has a 737 jet that's been customized with a Captain Marvel paint job. And there's already a Twitter feed for Captain Marvel's cat.
So I can't be the only one who's now wondering which songs will be featured on the film's official soundtrack.

But interest really spiked when Marvel unveiled the official Captain Marvel web site -- which was done in a deliriously retro 1990s style. (Wired said it paid homage to those glorious early years when the internet was "glittery and welcoming and amateurish and wonderful and absurd.") It reminded everyone that Captain Marvel is set in the 1990s -- just like Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy begins in the 1970s. And that soundtrack, with its collection of '70s super-hits -- went on to become the fifth best-selling album of 2014, selling over 2.5 million copies worldwide and grabbing the #1 best-selling album spot on Billboard's chart -- the first time in history that the #1 album has been a soundtrack with nothing but other people's previously-released songs.

Would Captain Marvel's soundtrack do the same thing for music from the 1990s?

Imagine her impressing the hell out of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury to the tune of the Breeders' "Saints", or fighting shape-shifting Skrulls to the insinuating vocals of Veruca Salt's "Seether".

Yes, I rushed to look up the track listing on the yet-to-be released Captain Marvel soundtrack.

And all I found was some crap by a guy named Roguey.

UPDATE: The movie's been released and it did feature many songs from the 1990s, including:
Nirvana - Come as you Are
Hole - Celebrity Skin
No Doubt - I'm Just a Girl
Garbage - Only Happy When it Rains
Unfortunately, as of yet they haven't been gathered together into an official "Music from Captain Marvel" album.

Will ‘The Hunt for Gollum’ Satisfy True Fans?

The Hunt for Gollum

Hardcore Lord of the Rings nerds will get a little somethin'-somethin' on Sunday to help them through the Middle Earth drought until Jackson's production of The Hobbit is released.

But let's be real. This internet-only production isn't a "fan film." Rather, it's a vehicle for a crew of young, talented Hollywood wannabes to break into the industry by showing their chops.

It's true, the flick could end up being as badly-written and poorly-acted as your average fan film, but it's not likely. And in any case, the production values completely deprive the audience the pleasure of audio-visual comic fail should it turn out to be otherwise unwatchable. The trailer proves that.

There is further evidence that this is a professional endeavor, not an amateur one.

The lead actor who plays Aragorn, Adrien Webster (who claims to be a devout "fan," as do all of the 150 volunteer crew-members) was pressed to provide some nerd credentials so that the audience didn't feel it was being exploited.

"I don't think we're exploiting anything," said Webster. "I'm actually Viggo Mortenson's evil twin."

But, while we have no doubt that the guy makes a convincing Ranger, what could he offer in the way of story details from the LOTR appendices that the plot's allegedly drawn from — something to indicate a real depth of love for the mythology that would show he's anything more than a casual cinema-goer like so many "fans"? Not much. (He couldn't even give us a good nerd joke from on-set.)

"I think it does follow more closely to the books in terms of timeline," Webster said. "The movie deals with Aragorn's search for Gollum after Gandalf has charged him with this task. It allows us to show more of Aragorn the Ranger."

Well, yeah, but we read that on the movie's website, dude.

From an interview with the film's writer-director, Chris Bouchard:
It's all written in the appendices of the books, where he tells of what Aragorn and Gollum got up to before the trilogy began. Last May I took elements from that story and didn't even have to fill in many gaps before I had a 25-page script. It worked like a short episode — an additional chapter of the Peter Jackson trilogy... Above all I was so inspired by Peter Jackson's trilogy. And jealous that he got to make it first! I loved the scale, the quality, the epic scope of it all and figured, hey, maybe we can do that too.

The filmmakers do seem unaware that the chapter in Fellowship of the Ring titled, "The Council of Elrond," includes Gandalf's report to the Council regarding Gollum — his capture, imprisonment, and escape from the elves of Mirkwood.

"Hunt" film editor Lewis Albrow claims in his bio on the crew page that he read The Hobbit when he was seven and LOTR when he was 11, but then — what's this? — "he skipped past much of The Council of Elrond"!

Gandalf's report on Gollum is omitted from Jackson's film adaptation.

It's pretty clear that crafting a traditional, if low-budget, piece of cinema was the driving factor in making this film. This is supported by the fact that Bouchard's been occupying his time in recent years making independent, low-budget zombie movies, not learning Elvish or arguing online about whether Tolkien was a racist.

As for the legal status of the project, Bouchard has said that he's been in contact with the Tolkien estate and that they were OK with it, though his movie's disclaimer says otherwise. (It warns that The Hunt for Gollum "is in no way affiliated with, or sponsored or approved, by Tolkien Enterprises, the heirs or estate of J.R.R. Tolkien, Peter Jackson, New Line Cinema, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. or any of their respective affiliates or licensees…")

And while the overt visual mimicry of Jackson's films raises obvious questions about dilution of trademark and other legal vagueness surrounding fan fiction, it's also clear that, with such a non-profit, online-only film, the rights-holders have very few options. The film is finished and loaded into the chamber. Regardless of any legal victories by those who might want to stop the release of this thing, it only takes one anonymous finger to pull the trigger and fire it around the world in an instant.

"I'm just saying my prayers and eating my vitamins brother," actor Webster told us. "I haven't been involved too much with the legal side of things."

Any publicity would only guarantee a larger audience. And a more general audience would likely be made up of folks who are even less able to distinguish between a New Line Cinema release and an "amateur" fansploitation effort.

How precious.

See Also:
Neil Gaiman has Lost his Clothes
When Cory Doctorow Ruled the World
Lost 'Horrors' Ending Found on YouTube
A Selection of Obscure Robert Anton Wilson Essays
Is The Net Good for Writers

Hype Smackdown: iPhone v. Paris Hilton

iPhone v. Paris Hilton

It's a battle of pop culture titans as two empires -- one high-tech, one high-rise -- clash in explosive PR fury. Since these two heavyweight memes have climbed into the competitive media ring of their own volition, we thought we'd size them up for you. As Stephen Colbert would say: "Pick a side -- we're at war!"

iPhone: Simple to use.
Paris Hilton: Simple.

iPhone: Well-protected against viruses.
Paris Hilton: Has herpes.

iPhone: Critics complained battery life too short.
Paris Hilton: Critics complained prison life too short.

iPhone: Provides driving directions.
Paris Hilton: Knows how to drive. (Sort of.)

iPhone: Responds to touch from multiple fingers at once.
Paris Hilton: Responds to touch from multiple fingers at once.

iPhone: Wants to be held by everyone.
Paris Hilton: Wants to be held by her mother.

iPhone: Sexy footage leaked onto the net.
Paris Hilton: Sexy footage leaked onto the net.

iPhone: Appeared in multi-million dollar ad campaign.
Paris Hilton: Appeared in House of Wax.

iPhone: Everyone wants what's in the box.
Paris Hilton: Everyone knows what's in the box.

Feel free to make your own comparisons in the comments...

See also:
Expect Trouble Activating Your iPhone
I'm a Mac v. Bill Gates: iPhone debate
5 Sexiest Apple Videos
How the iPod Changes Culture
Wonderful Wizardry of Woz

The Future of America Has Been Stolen

Monica Goodling from the Washington Post

Investigative reporter Greg Palast says 4.5 million votes will be shoplifted in 2008, thanks largely to the "Rove-bots" that have been placed in the Justice Department following the U.S. Attorney firings. Being the guy who uncovered the voter "purge lists" of 2000 that disenfranchised black voters, he's worth listening to, even if the mainstream press chooses not to.

This time around, he claims to have 500 emails that the House subpoenaed and Karl Rove claims were deleted forever. They prove definitively, says Palast, that the Justice Department is infested with operatives taking orders from Rove to steal upcoming elections for Republicans and permanently alter the Department.

The "clownocracy" of Bush and Rove is criminal and even evil in its attempts to steal past and future elections, according to Palast, and can only be stopped if "Democrats...find their souls and find their balls."

In an updated new version of his best-selling book, Armed Madhouse, Palast lays out the case for the future theft of the presidency, along with lots of other Executive malfeasance. I chatted with him about the role of the Justice Department in this scheme, and what it means for the viability of our "democracy."

PUBLISHER'S UPDATE: Here are some of the 500 emails. —JD

JEFF DIEHL: First off, the "lost" emails. I guess you're confident those 500 emails aren't themselves a hoax? Considering the source? [John Wooden, the man behind the spoof site,, forwarded them on to Palast after someone accidentally sent them to Wooden's domain.]

GREG PALAST: Oddly, the GOP verified their authenticity to BBC. I almost fell over dead when they did that.

JD: How did they do that exactly?

GP: We asked them on camera. They did not deny they were the party's internal emails — just disagreed what the "caging" lists were. Saying, for example, they were "donor" lists. Men in homeless shelters?

Remember, there's no First Amendment in England. I'm wrong, I'm sued, I'm broke, I'm toast.

JD: Let's move on to former Justice Department counsel (and Regent University graduate) Monica Goodling's recent testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee, since it's so fresh...

GP: The blondeling underling of the Police State. The lady was trying to tell us something important, but the dim bulbs of the U.S. press and the committee dolts wouldn't listen. She began by accusing her bosses of perjury. The issue was her allegation that they knew all about "caging." And no one asked her one damn question about it. Like what is "caging" and why would they commit perjury to cover it up?

JD: Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) asked, and Goodling said, "It has to do with direct mail."

GP: And that was it. D'oh! It's not about "direct mail." Direct mail has to do with Victoria's Secret and stuff like that. This was all about stealing the 2004 — and 2008 — elections. That's why she wanted immunity. She was afraid it would all unravel, the caging game...but she had nothing to fear.

JD: Well, it is a direct mail term, but it's also a voter supression term. Do no senators know that, not even Committee Chair John Conyers?

GP: Conyers knows — and he knows me. He's keeping his powder dry. The others are clueless.

Caging works like this. Hundreds of thousands of Black and Hispanic voters were sent letters — do not forward. Letters returned as undeliverable ("caged") were used as evidence the voter didn't live at their registered address. The GOP goons challenged these voters' right to cast ballots — and their votes were lost.

But whose letters were caged? Here's where the game turns to deep evil. They targeted Black students on vacation, homeless men — and you'll love this — Black soldiers sent overseas. They weren't living at their home voting address because they were shivering under a Humvee in Falluja.

JD: As you put it in regard to election rigging, 2000 was about "purge lists," 2004 was about "caging," and 2008 will be about "verification." Can you briefly explain the difference between these?

GP: Sure. In 2000, I cracked the computer disks (CD-ROMs then) from Katherine Harris' office showing 56,000 names of voters "purged" from voter rolls as felons who aren't allowed to vote. In fact, every one — every one — was an innocent voter, though most were guilty of VWB — Voting While Black. That was the 2000 "purge."

In 2004, it was nearly identical. Except, instead of calling voters "felons," they called them "suspect" voters, fraudulently using a false voting address. The effect was the same: the voter would lose their registration; or their vote on election day when they showed to vote; or, in the case of soldiers, their absentee ballot would be challenged and tossed.

JD: You claim the reason for Democrat inaction in election scandals is because of racism, that the white caucus is bigger than the black caucus. But don't Democrats gain by making sure black people are enfranchised?

GP: Which Democrats? The huge purge and block of voters in Georgia [were done by] reptiles like Zell Miller in control of the Georgia Democratic Party. There's an awful lot of Democrats who would not win primaries if dark-skinned citizens could just vote any time they pleased.

JD: My mind goes back to Conyers. What did you mean earlier by "keeping his powder dry?"

GP: We talk. 'Nuff said.

JD: Fair enough. So you're working also with former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, David Iglesias, yes?

GP: Claro que si.

JD: I was watching Chris Matthews' TV show — "Softball," as you've called it — and he asked Iglesias what his long term plans were — if he was writing a book. Iglesias indicated that he was, and also, that he wanted a TV show similar to Matthews' at some point, and seemed to be totally serious. Given that Iglesias has been willing to go "along with the game" in the past, are you concerned that his recent turn might be motivated by opportunism?

GP: I don't care if he's motivated by a love of Barbie dolls. He's been pushed by the Rove-bots to expose the game. I'll take it anyway I can get it — the facts, ma'am.

JD: Do you have a wide-angle view of the current Administration's strategy with the Justice Department, and if so, give us the summary. Is it about election theft, or is it mostly about stocking the lake for future conservative judge appointments?

GP: Yes. First, it's elections. They don't want the voters making any foolish choices. Specifically, while the attention's been focused 100% on the firings, no one is talking about the hirings. That's what Goodling was trying to get across.

The key: at the "Pearl Harbor Day Massacre," they replaced the prosecutors with Rove-bots, a sleeper cell of anti-Constitutional saboteurs who will explode in 2008, led by the new prosecutor for Arkansas, Tim Griffin.

JD: Talk a little bit about the relevance of Tim Griffin — the perp who became prosecutor — and Arkansas in 2008.

GP: It was Griffin who directed the "caging" ops for the GOP. Caging, by the way, is illegal. Law Professor Bobby Kennedy pointed out it violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — and I'd add, as a former racketeering investigator, mail fraud statutes. So Griffin's a felon — now U.S. Attorney.

JD: Is Kennedy still actively publicizing this?

GP: Yes. The incriminating email is reproduced right in Armed Madhouse. That's why Griffin and Goodling were high-fiving over the fact that no one's picked up the investigations of that "British reporter" Palast.

The key thing is, Griffin is not just "involved," he is directing the scheme. His denial was confidential — had to be subpoenaed. Remember, as Goodling testified, the line of the Bushies is that Griffin had nothing to do with caging.

JD: So is Congress eventually going to get to all this? Is that the end game with the Justice Department investigation?

GP: No, Congress won't do squat. Did anyone do anything about the felon purge? It went backwards: Bush signed the Help America Vote Act. God forbid.

Explore more of Greg Palast's reporting on his website.

See also:
Homeland Security Follies
John Edwards' Virtual Attackers Unmasked
Iraq Battle Videos
Did Bush Spin Like Nixon?
The Chicks Who Tried to Shoot Gerald Ford
World Sex Laws
Is It Fascism Yet?
Detention and Torture
Awesomest Congressional Campaign Ever

5 Best Videos: Animals Attacking Reporters

It’s cruel to even want to watch these videos. You do know that, right? Not just because people are attacked by animals. The added cruelty is you'll be enjoying an animal attack on a human who only wanted to enlighten you.

At least that’s what they’d have us believe. Reporters doing animal reports stand there delivering information like some objective beacons of knowledge, when we all know the level of vanity required to presume you belong on camera — especially with animals. We all know this because, on some level, we all desire it.

Leave it to non-humans to rip aside this facade — and leave nothing but gashes and bruises for the world to see.

1. Jeff Corwin and the Elephant

Coming to you from an "elephant rescue center" in Cambodia, Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin (rhymes with "Steve Erwin" in Australia) stands between CNN's Anderson Cooper and a bathing pachyderm.

This clip aired as part of CNN's own segment, "most popular video @". It's presented by a cute blonde who, safe back at the studios, "reports" on the horrific details everyone is ROTFLing about in front of their PCs. Hear the other anchor chuckle and say "gosh..." as Corwin, voted one of People Magazine's "most beautiful people" in 2002, screams in pain with the elephant's trunk constricting around his arm and thrashing him underwater. "We understand he was hurt," says the blonde. "Watch it one more time..."

Then one of the elephant handlers zaps the animal with a cattle prod as iron man Anderson Cooper, with seemingly no regard for his own well-being, calmly helps Corwin out of the water. There were claims on the internet that the elephant was euthanized afterwards, but that claim is disputed by Corwin. Corwin also claims to be related to Dracula.

2. "This Little Guy's Havin' Fun"

In yet another case of TV news cannibalism, a local Fox channel in Cleveland delivers a report on a reporter's report (because of popular demand, of course) — in which she gets attacked by a cat. This time it's the cute blonde reporter, Kathleen Cochrane, who gets the business end of a pair of sharp claws.

"No, no, no," insists Cochrane in a post-interview, "I was not crying. I was instantly laughing." Decide for yourself if, after the cat releases her face from its claws, she doesn't give a bit of a whimper.

Because angry animals + television cameras = irony, this had to be a sympathy piece as well. The storyline: Becky the cat, who we later see playfully and oh-so-sweetly leaping around an empty studio desk, is up for adoption. Poor Becky the cat had been shot by a BB gun, broke her front leg, and had her tail torn off. Reporter Cochrane was only trying to help.

As the male anchor in the studio puts it: "Becky is a very 'special' cat, who just needs a good home."

3. The Calmest Member of the Farm

The reporter in this short and sweet piece is foreign, and the clip is narrated by an English speaker. She introduces the bear, Manya, "the calmest member of the farm," to emphasize just how ruthless bears can be. Right before the dreadful moment, the reporter is laughing, and we see just how badly humans are at reading animals. She is giggling, interpreting the bear's nose nudges and tongue-flaps as playful, or even affectionate.

I think you know what happens next.

4. Pinky the Loving Cat

This is a classic, and always worth another look. Kathleen Cochrane should have watched it before doing her piece, because it's also an attempt to find a home for an orphaned cat.

"Son of a bitch," says Pinky's male human benefactor, after the attack. "Excuse my language."

After what you just went through? You are excused! Seriously. There isn't a cartoon by Chuck Jones that portrays an animal more outlandishly animated than what we see in this video. If cats can be possessed by demons, then I'd swear at least half a dozen came into Pinky's body at once — half a dozen demons starving for human testicles.

"He's a very loving cat," says the man right before the banshees arrive and Pinky starts pinwheeling on the end of his leash.

"We got a wildcat on our hands," the man jokes unsuspectingly. "Someone get a catch pole cuz I'm not picking him up." Pinky tangles himself in the leash around the man's upper leg, then strikes with his teeth and claws, bearing down on fleshy human groin meat.

The next time you hear someone utter sarcastically, "Yeah, and Pinky's a very loving cat," you'll know they're calling bullshit on something.

5. Leaping Lizard

This one is pretty light-hearted. In fact, except for the utter panic of the reporter, it doesn't qualify as an "attack." The lizard probably thought the dude was a tree or something.

Right from the start, double-entendre sets the mood. "Let's see how long it is, let's hold it out," says the anchorman regarding a snake that his animal handling guest is showcasing. But one of the lizards waiting off to the side gets, well, jumpy.

It might as well have been a ravenous land barracuda that hurled itself onto the reporter's jacket, because that's the only thing warranting the girlie reaction that results. Almost as amusing is watching him then try to deal with his own embarrassment.

Bonus: When People Attack

This is the fiercest confrontation of all, and it shows that animals aren't the only ones who will attack reporters. It's so bad, Matt Lauer asks the reporter later why the cameraman didn't stop taping to help. (It's not like he was in the Sudan or something — this was San Diego!)

Investigative reporter John Mattes is ambushed by "suspects" in his real estate scam piece. The buildup is raw and intense, starting with water thrown on the camera and ending with Middle Easterners being arrested at gunpoint. In between there are strikes to the face, punches to the face, tackling, kicking — and blood.

As the anchor puts it: "Mattes told CNN he suffered cracked ribs and human bite marks, along with the obvious damage to his face..."

We humans are so evolved...

See also:
Iraq YouTube Battle Footage
10 Video Moments from 2006
2007 Re-Mixed
The Simpsons on Drugs: 6 Trippiest Scenes

EFF Attorney Jason Schultz vs. Stephen Colbert

Starting with a whiteboard and a teacher’s instincts, Jason Schultz makes the Michael Crook free speech case as clear as a flowchart. He also explains why the EFF made a video apology part of the settlement.

Please note that this video was posted to Blip days before Stephen Colbert ripped Jason Schultz off, using a whiteboard to diagram the problems of the EFF’s case against Viacom to John Perry Barlow!

Colbert and Barlow

To watch the Schultz video, click here.
To watch the Colbert video, click here.

See Also:
Crook Apologizes
In the Company of Jerkoffs
The Case Against Crook
Steve Wozniak v. Stephen Colbert — and Other Pranks

Official Launch: 10ZM.TV

One of the reasons for the "video apology" term in the settlement agreement with Michael Crook is that we were already planning to launch a video property. Having Crook's apology in video seemed an appropriate format, and its wide viewing would help get some visibility for this new effort. We figure he owed us that much. There are a few things we're going to experiment with in the show, called 10ZM.TV, and hosted on the video sharing network. First, we'll be collecting video commentary from web figures on stories and themes we explore on our various other properties, such as this site, The RU Sirius Show, NeoFiles, Destinyland and Pastor Jack. Second, we'll record bits from our own writers and commentators. And finally, we're going to publish hot little bits from the continuous series of mind-blowing interviews conducted by RU Sirius. Rudy Rucker's interview is the first one we videotaped, so you'll see several clips from that in the coming weeks. So stay tuned, subscribe via RSS or iTunes, or watch Rudy Rucker now:
Science fiction writer Rudy Rucker, author of the book, Mathematicians In Love, claims that any natural process can be regarded as a computation, and that computers are not "digital."

Is Yahoo/Flickr DMCA Policy Censorship?

Mashup of Michael Crook by Thomas Hawk

Reflections about the Michael Crook affair will surely be all over the web soon. People will look back in anger, although the prevailing sense of outrage may be tempered by many notes of caution — it's not all fun, being hassled by a griefer. I probably leaned more towards that sense of outrage in this recent conversation with Thomas Hawk, popular community photographer, prominent blogger and all-around evangelist for the digital revolution.

Jeff Diehl: So I guess the first thing is to offer you a chance to disclose some stuff.

Thomas Hawk: I'm CEO of Zooomr. We would be considered a competitor to Yahoo's Flickr photo sharing site. I've been very active on Flickr both before and after joining Zooomr.

JD: Explain precisely what happened when Crook DMCAed you.

TH: I posted a photo of Michael Crook on Flickr. I've got a reasonably popular Flickr photostream and so I posted an image of him there using a mashup that I made with the image of Crook. After posting these images of Crook I received DMCA take down notices from Crook for the images on Zooomr and Flickr also received a DMCA notice and used it to take down my mash up of Crook.

I don't so much have an issue with Yahoo taking down the image (at least temporarily until the legitimacy of the claim could be investigated) but I do have a problem with Yahoo taking down all of the conversation and meta data around the image and permanently deleting it. There was a long conversation on the image by many different people about Crook and this case. Public discourse, opinion, ideas, etc. that was just wiped out by Yahoo without telling me first.

After they took it down they sent me a threatening email. I responded back to Yahoo staff about it and pointed them to a Boing Boing link where Fox News in fact had given Boing Boing, and anyone else, permission to use the images, but that email went unanswered. They never did put my stuff back up and now an important discourse is permanently lost.

JD: Do you feel the discourse is especially "important" because it's about free speech? Or does that just make it ironic?

TH: This is most certainly about free speech in my opinion. It sucks that all anyone has to do to kill a conversation at Flickr is to claim a DMCA violation. Irrespective of the fact that Yahoo should have done a better job actually investigating the claim before deleting the image, there was no reason to delete the words and comments associated with the image.

I'm a strong advocate of free speech. Especially on a community based photo sharing site. Especially one like Flickr where people frequently use their photostreams to express opinions, thoughts and ideas.

JD: It seems that Yahoo has an extreme policy regarding DMCA takedown notices; even beyond what the law stipulates.

TH: I don't know how many photos of Crook Yahoo wiped out but there was no need to wipe out the metadata, comments, descriptions, posts, etc. And there was no need to permanently delete this stuff. Yahoo went way beyond what the DMCA requires and I don't like that anyone can just send in a bogus DMCA notice on my Flickrstream and have hundreds and thousands of lines of text deleted that might be associated with an image.

Yahoo needs to change their policy on this.

JD: Do you know of any other community sties (other than Zooomr!) that have a different, more reasonable approach?

TH: Unfortunately I'm not as familiar with other sites so I'm not sure how they would handle all this. Eventually Yahoo sent me a notice after Crook rescinded his bogus DMCA notice. But when this happened they didn't put my old photo and all of the commentary and dialog that went along with it back up, they merely said I could reupload it if I wanted because he rescinded. He held the power. Not me, not Yahoo. And he largely succeeded at least there because he wiped out tons of negative personal criticism about him and his behavior. This is censorship to me.

JD: I know my host, Laughing Squid, handled it brilliantly, but it's a small company; it's more complicated with a behemoth like Yahoo, isn't it?

TH: Well yeah, Scott Beale handled it really well. But Yahoo's being big and corporate and all that shouldn't be an excuse. I pay them money for Flickr. Lots and lots of people pay them money for Flickr. If they need to hire a few more people to better review DMCA takedown notices I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. They are a billion dollar company and certainly have the resources to do the right thing here. In any case, irrespective of investigating the bogus claim there is simply no — zero — reason to kill the text that accompanies an image. Ideas are important and ought to be protected.

JD: You say in your comments: "My biggest problem is that they destroyed *my* metadata associated with the image." That's a powerful way of putting it.

TH: Well some of it was mine. The post that accompanied the image for instance. And lots of comments that I made in a public discussion about this. The metadata also belongs to others at Flickr as well though. In fact anyone that commented on the photo and expressed their thoughts and opinions had their metadata destroyed.

The biggest distinction between my vs. Yahoo's, though, is that I consider the stuff I post on the site to belong to me. They are profiting from my data no doubt, but all of the images, text, comments, thoughts, ideas expressed on Flickr don't belong to Yahoo, they belong to the users and the users should be treated with more respect than I was when I just had my stuff unceremoniously deleted.

JD: I'm not sure when exactly the take down and safe harbor provisions of the DMCA were drafted, but it seems possible that sites like Flickr, where original images are intertwined thematically with original words, weren't on anyone's radar.

TH: Maybe not, and I certainly understand that Yahoo can find itself in a dilemma and feel that they don't have much choice about it. But they still shouldn't allow just anyone to kill speech attached to an image. I've posted many many images on Flickr that are political. Images where I've run into harassment from security guards while shooting out in SF. Images associated with what I've considered child abuse. Images of a sleazy camera retailer that almost ripped me off, etc. In these cases, like the Michael Crook case, the commentary that accompanies the image is super important and should be protected. There is no way that Yahoo could be held liable for free discussion. They take things too far by deleting all of the commentary with the image.

I'm not concerned with any kind of retribution on this. I'd just like to see Yahoo apologize, admit the mistake, put my old photo and the commentary back up if they can (if they still have backups, hopefully). And I'd like to see them change how they handle DMCA stuff in the future by only taking down the image (not the commentary, metadata, etc.) and doing it temporarily so that someone could dispute it.

JD: Did you have any final thoughts?

TH: No, but just want to say thanks to you for really being a catalyst around this entire issue as it relates to Crook and his behavior. You played an important role in bringing up a very important issue, DMCA abuse. The conversations around this are important ones and have important implications for both free speech and democracy.

Details of a settlement will be announced on this site soon. Also, there will be a party and fundraiser for EFF in San Francisco on March 22nd.

See Also:
"Dear Internet, I'm Sorry"
The EFF's Diehl v. Crook page
The Case Against Crook
Craigslist Sex Troll Gets Sued
Thomas Hawk versus Rent-a-Cops

A Selection of Obscure Robert Anton Wilson Essays

I was prompted by yesterday's news of the passing of RAW to scan the pieces he wrote for his 1999 column on, the progenitor of this webzine. It was a casual act, under the assumption that they would be somewhat dated. But as I reread the articles, it became clear that admirers who are unaware of them might in fact find them enjoyable.

So, here are their links, with excerpts:

Coming Again: The orgasmic release of the Apocalypse myth

Sometimes, the Apocalypse can ruin your whole week.
[T]here may be more here, just as there is to horror and catastrophe movies if you think about them. Neo-Freudians, and especially Reichians, suggest that our form of civilization stifles and constricts us so much that at times we all long to experience some orgasmic but catastrophic "explosion," like King Kong breaking his chains and wrecking New York, or even more like the masochist in bondage, according to Dr. Reich. This sudden release from the bondage-and-discipline of our jobs and our taxes — actually called the Rapture by Fundamentalists — seems ghoulishly attractive to Christians, New Agers, and others who believe in a "spirit" that will survive the general wreckage. In that case, the end of the world seems no worse than a visit to the dentist: You know you'll feel better afterwards. This sort of desire for Total Escape/Total Annihilation has always had its bards and visionaries.

Reality Ain't What It Used To Be: Thirty-five years after Bell's Theorem

Sounds like Zen to some, but others fear this is opening the door to Dr. Berman's solipsism and the moon that is only there when we look at it...
In my own (hazardous) attempt to translate Bell's math into the verbal forms in which we discuss what physics "means," Bell seems to prove that any two "particles" once in contact will continue to act as if connected no matter how far apart they move in "space" or "time" (or in space-time). You can see why New Agers like this: It sounds like it supports the old magick idea that if you get a hold of a hair from your enemy, anything you do to that hair will affect him.

In Doubt We Trust: Cults, religions, and BS in general

Can we actually "know" the universe? My God, it's hard enough finding your way around in Chinatown. — Woody Allen
I have no commitment to materialism as a philosophy that explains everything, since no correlation of words can ever do that, and a philosophy is never more than a correlation of words. But restricting myself to the "materialistic"/scientific method of asking questions that have definite experiential answers, I observe no difference in operation between "cults" and "religions." Catholic nuns and priests vowing celibacy seem no more or less weird than Heaven's Gate members who also make that choice. Mormon extraterrestrial cosmology seems as goofy as Scientology, etc. Religions and cults all use the same techniques of brain damage, or "mind control," i.e. they all instill BS — Belief Systems.

The Lumber Of The Beast: Tracking the Antichrist

Did you know that Bill Gates is the Antichrist? Well, you've probably suspected it, but some people have set out to prove it...
Among the fundamentalists, the Antichrist is always considered a specific individual appearing only in the last days of Earth. Recent candidates have included Aleister Crowley, Yasir Arafat, Prince Bernhard (founder of the Bilderbergers!), Henry Kissinger, Saddam Hussein, Mickey Mouse, Barney the Dinosaur, and even Ronald Reagan — whose full name, Ronald Wilson Reagan, has six letters in each word, thus yielding 6-6-6.

Bugs Bunny And Other UFO Victims: Reality isn't always consensual

Although few people remember this, Bugs Bunny was the first UFO "abductee" in a 1952 cartoon called "Hasty Hare."
Imagine what would happen if "many millions" of U.S. citizens said they had been sexually assaulted by aliens from Mexico or Iraq, instead of aliens from Outer Space. Obviously, there would be no scientific taboo against investigating such cases, and Congress might even have declared war on the invaders by now. If the subjects claimed, as most of Dr. Mack's subjects do, that they now love their kidnappers and have received important ecological warnings from them, as well as learning from their extraterrestrial sermons about how wicked and wretched our society is, this would be considered evidence that they had been "brainwashed" as well as raped (think Stockholm Syndrome). The differences in scientific and political reactions to atrocities by human aliens and nonhuman aliens seem even more confusing than the rest of this mystery.

I Remember Satan: 'Recovered memory,' demonology, and duck soup

Or, worse yet, is it possible that Daffy Duck is the Devil? Keep an eye on your local media for further Feminist or Fundamentalist revelations.
In 1997, a jury awarded $2.4 million in damages to one Nadine Cool, who had sued her former therapist, Dr. Kenneth Olson, for malpractice. He had convinced her, under hypnosis, that when she was a child her father had forced her to participate in Satanic rituals of human sacrifice. He also convinced her that she possessed no fewer than 126 alternate personalities, including angels, demons and even a duck. She had believed it all — including the duck — until she confronted her father with these hideous memories and he dropped dead of a heart attack.

The Devil On The Chimney: A tale of Lovecraftian horror and psycho-archeology

I sort of think the fundies have it right for once. Santa not only has an unsavory pagan ancestry but a rather criminal family history all around. Let me Illuminize you...

As Weston La Barre pointed out a long time ago in his classic Ghost Dance: The Origins of Religion, you can find remnants of a primordial bear-god from the bottom of South America up over North America and over the North Pole and down across most of Europe and Asia. This deity appears in cave paintings from southern France carbon-dated at 30,000 BC. You can find him and her (for this god is bisexual) disguised in Artemis and Arduina and King Arthur, all unmasked via canny detective work by folklorists — and etymologists, who first spotted the bear-god when they identified the Indo-European root ard, meaning bear. You can track the bear-god in dwindling forms in a hundred fairy tales from all over Europe and Asia. And you can find the rituals of this still-living god among the indigenous tribes of both American continents.

See Also:
Robert Anton Wilson 1932-2007
Neil Gaiman Has Lost His Clothes
When Cory Doctorow Ruled The World
Thou Shalt Realize The Bible Kicketh Ass
Is The Net Good For Writers?

The Web 2.0 Guide to Loving Neologisms

Sam Jackson

Have you ever been talking shit with friends and heard someone scream, "I hate that fucking word!" (Probably right after they themselves have just said, "Web 2.0”). Hipsters. That's why I've become a proud neologophile. I hereby challenge the rest of you neologophobes to explore and embrace the rich ecology of made-up words, because otherwise, you're just living in the past. Don't be afraid; we'll go at a nice, leisurely pace...

Let's look first at words that are used to describe the realm of neologisms itself:
  • Protologism — a neologism that is not yet widely-accepted. It could be argued that the word itself is a protologism, which makes for some interesting pretzel-symantics. As compared to a neologism, which enjoys some popularity.

  • Metaneologism — a true protologism, since I could find no use of it on the Web. It is the class of words we are defining right now in this paragraph, so my official definition is: a word that describes the class of newly-coined words. Like protologism, it falls into the class of words it is used to describe, i.e., metaneologism is a metaneologism; so are protologism and neologism.

  • Neologophobophobe — a foreseen smart-ass attempt to mock me by creating a ridiculous protologism, but which I am hereby revealing as the fraud that it is (so don't even try it, or I'll tell everyone you're a neologophobophile).
Before we continue, we should consider an important point. Sometimes rejection of a given neologism is simply the right thing to do, like when marketing dorks start abusing it to sell a product. This makes "Web 2.0” — the most cited Wikipedia entry of 2006 — an interesting case study. The term was coined in 2004 as the title for a series of tech conferences, and such conferences are little more than marketing bonanzas. But just because big business co-opts something doesn't make it invalid, just as some words that business will never co-opt are never considered valid. (Example: Synergism.)

OK, with all that out of the way, we can move on to our vocabulary list of neologisms and protologisms. Study the following thoroughly:
  • Blogosphere — used ironically, except not, since everyone knows exactly what it means.

  • Folksonomy — the spontaneous cooperation of a group of people to organize information into categories; not to be confused with the protologism, folktsunami — the wave of global usage which swamps the language, leading ultimately to a folksonomy.

  • Diary-a — the act of passing off self-indulgent journal-style entries as informational weblog entries.

  • Hyperclink — a URL possessing an obvious mistake.

  • Linkpimping — shamelessly emailing bloggers with "tips" on link-worthy posts you "discovered" (i.e., wrote), to boost your Technorati ranking.

  • Re-coining — the act of adding to or replacing the definition of a neologism whose meaning is, despite its youth, varied and muddy.

  • Netrosexual — I'm re-coining this one out of historical necessity. Its new, protologistic definition is: a person whose corporeal being is so devoid of sexuality that they overcompensate online in horrific and often malicious ways.
  • Tail-o-vision — the long tail of the coming internet video economy, poised to supplant the dominance of television. (Can be shortened to tailvision for aesthetic purposes.)

  • Flickle — the emotional state of a Netflix user who is no longer sure they want to watch the movies they have added to their account, ushering in a frantic session of queue re-ordering.

  • Goothenasia — the phenomenon of Google attempting to perfect the Web, and instead swallowing and digesting it. Can also be called, "Grey Google," after grey goo, the runaway nano-replicator doomsday scenario.
See how fun that can be? Your turn. Use these words in a sentence in the comments, or define some of your own.

Destiny contributed to this article.

See Also:
iPhone Debate: I'm a Mac vs. Bill Gates
Pulp Fiction Parodies on YouTube

Has Michael Crook Harassed You?

Note: The above screen capture is from a 2005 Fox News Channel appearance. The image has been re-inserted on November 15th, 10 business days after filing a counter-notice (PDF) in response to a DMCA takedown notice filed by Michael Crook which forced its removal soon after it was originally published.

Are you a blogger or webmaster who tried to cover the story of DMCA fraudmeister, Michael Crook, only to be served a DMCA takedown notice by him? Maybe you covered the antics he's performed with websites he owns such as forsakethetroops.orginfo,,, or

Did you choose to comply with his DMCA notices in order to avoid the possibility of legal action? If so, then your story could help 10 Zen Monkeys and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in our civil lawsuit against Crook.

Please take some time to tell us your story. It's the best way to help ensure that nefarious griefers like Crook are no longer able to use the DMCA to violate Free Speech and silence critical commentary.

We would also ask that you post a link to this page on your website(s) to help broadcast our call as far as possible. Below is a graphic and HTML that you can put on your site:

Crook vs. the Internet

<a href=""> <img src=""> </a>

For all the latest on the lawsuit and related events, start here.

Please contact us now with the details of your Michael Crook experience!

Recommendations for Truly Last Second Gifts

This is one one of those Christmas seasons where The Day falls on Monday, which means the stores are open all weekend. And that means fewer excuses for not gifting all the meaningful, local peeps you know.

And, sure, it's last second, so online buying isn't an option, but that doesn't mean you have to be stupid about it. Following are some recommendations from the editors at 10 Zen Monkeys for select books and movies you can find at your local atom-based shop.

A couple of tips: 1) Avoid lines and buy indie. 2) If you have to go to a chain store, be sure to go online and check that they have your title in stock before you venture out.

RU Sirius Recommends 10 Books

I read a shit-load of books this year in preparation for interviewing guests for The RU Sirius Show and NeoFiles. In nearly every case, whatever book I was reading became my favorite for at least a few days while I was getting excited about the coming interview. I only got one turkey all year — and no, I'm not going to say which one it was.

I'm not going to go through these one-by-one and explain why I picked them out and placed them above other books that are lower on the list or — indeed — excluded from it. For me, putting together lists of favorites becomes finally an act of intuition. I have to put aside any self-conscious desire to show off how smart or cool I am and just see which ones come bubbling up to the surface.

When I got done putting this list together I was shocked — just shocked — to realize that the first four books on my list were written by women! Well, this has certainly never happened to me before! Of course, one of those women may have had some people fooled but I knew he was a she when I read those books.

OK. I do have to single out a few books for commentary or some might not understand why I included them. Although Robert Greenfield missed the point of Timothy Leary's project, he caught something really poignant about the life. The book touched me as much as it beat me — a Leary fellow traveler — up. Lynn Breedlove still hasn't appeared on The RU Sirius Show. That particular one was canceled by a storm. But I had to acknowledge the book. It made me rise out of my seat and pace around, several times.
  1. Sarah: A Novel JT LeRoy
  2. The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things JT LeRoy
  3. Godspeed: A Novel Lynn Breedlove
  4. Frantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles: An Accidental Memoir Kate Braveman
  5. Timothy Leary: A Biography Robert Greenfield
  6. Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century edited by Alex Steffan
  7. From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism Fred Turner
  8. The Visionary State: A Journey Through California's Spiritual Landscape Erik Davis & Michael Rauner
  9. Sperm Are from Men, Eggs Are from Women: The Real Reason Men And Women Are Different Joe Quirk

Destiny Recommends Altman

Robert Altman died this year after directing some great films that were sadly overlooked.

James Caan and Robert Duvall starred in Altman's forgotten
Countdown, released just one year before the actual moon landing, in 1968. A surprising human fallibility lurks within the astronauts, but Altman had already proven his fondness for putting conventional heroes through wrenchingly dark plots. His forgotten work on TV shows like Combat and Bonanza are now available on DVD.

During his "exile" from Hollywood in the 80s, Altman filmed a shockingly personal monologue by a disgraced president Richard Nixon (played by Philip Baker Hall). Nixon recaps secret bitterness — while getting drunk — and describes a Secret Honor which (in his story) he must hide from the public. Altman revisited the theme in Tanner '88, a political comedy written by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau — using his camera to capture a personal nobility at odds with both the media and political landscape.

My favorite Altman film is The Long Goodbye, where Elliot Gould captures that moment in time when the stoic code of Raymond Chandler detective Phillip Marlowe meets a radically different 1970s Los Angeles. But Altman also challenged John Grisham's code for Hollywood heroes in The Gingerbread Man, by trapping Kenneth Branagh in a troublingly muddled universe. Can a dime-novel lawyer bring justice to a truly dysfunctional Southern family? Daryl Hannah plays its troubled daughter, and 30 years after Countdown Robert Duvall worked with Altman one last time.

See Also:
Santa's Crimes Against Humanity
Robert Altman's 7 Secret Wars
David Sedaris Exaggerates For Us All
Author Slash Trickster "JT Leroy"
Why Chicks Don't Dig The Singularity

Is Iraq really THAT bad?

This roundup of YouTube clips is meant to give a small sense of what it's like for the people who are killing and getting killed in Iraq — a view that, limited as it is, one can't possibly get from the mainstream newsmedia.

1. Insurgents Shoot U.S. Soldier

According to the slate at the opening of this footage, it takes place on the 4th of July, 2005, so the fact it's from the perspective of a couple of insurgent snipers makes it all the more poignant. There are at least two males stalking the lone soldier, who is standing next to a Humvee on the far side of an automobile thoroughfare. They mutter to one another, perhaps discussing the optimal time to fire. We hear a sudden metallic clunk and then the soldier falls straight to the ground.

On a pro-Marines website also hosting the video, text reads, "Thank God for Body Armor!" and as the hit infantryman gets onto his feet, we see that he's unhurt. He quickly scuttles to the opposite side of the Humvee as the insurgents mutter praise to Allah. Their praise does not sound celebratory, but rather, fearful. Perhaps they expect an inevitable and massive retaliation.

2. Apache Gun Kill

This one has been around a while; it's from December 2003. But this extended near-4-minute footage gives an interesting glimpse into the thought process of people on the triggers of some of the biggest guns in the world. Note the very calm, clinical voices trying to discern what the two targets are doing, what they're carrying and, ultimately, when to "smoke ’em." The men seem to be aware that they're being watched, but it's unclear they know exactly what awaits. (The Apache has the ability to monitor and track targets even when concealed.) Adding to the detachment is the Terminator-like view through the Target Acquisition and Designation System. When the guns finally go, the destruction to the human bodies is sickeningly complete and obvious, even through the infrared scopes.

3. Mortar Attack on U.S. Troops

Here, a small group of troops are outside a military compound in a vehicle when mortars start to rain down. The footage is from a soldier's camcorder, and we hear them saying, "Damn!" as the explosions go off near by. We hear the whistling of incoming mortars, and the shock & awe of the guys when mortars go off inside the compound (“Ohh, right inside the fuckin' base!"). They rush to pack up and go into the compound to help with emergency aid. In the distance inside the compound, we can hear the chaos of urgent voices and we can see plumes of smoke rising. (“We obviously pissed somebody off in the last few days.") The clip has footage of a roadside explosion spliced onto the end; U.S. troops are jovial as they pass 3 apparently civilian cars, smile and wave, and then get hit.

4. Counter-ambush Operation

This dash-mounted video is straight out of Hollywood, and it makes you wonder whether war movies tell us about reality, or help shape it, or both. After an ambush, retaliation is called for. "Shoot those motherfuckers! Get some! Get some!" shouts one soldier as we zip down tight residential roads after an unseen enemy. "Get yer Sixteen up there!!!" Gunfire. "You stupid motherfuckers!" It's chaos, and adrenaline, and of course, death in the streets.

5. Apache Voyeur

It's not all artillery and death, though. The last two clips are glimpses of the lighter side of war. Here, the troops catch another sort of hot Iraqi action. "That's a chick." A dark figure in a convertible car with a ponytail is visible. "What's she doin'?" "She's bouncin' up and down. On him!" A burst of laughter. "I swear to god, man, this chick is going crazy on this guy, it's incredible." Indeed, with the night-vision we see it clearly. The clip is over 7 minutes long, but who knows how much time and fuel was wasted on this "operation." The woman switches positions. "Stop moving," says someone to the helicopter pilot. An official voice says, "We got activity out here but I don't think we really need to report it...appears to be fornication in the convertible." "Do a target/store and I'll be there in a second." "Oh, we're tapin' it."

6. Night Vision Donkey Sex

No commentary needed for this one.

Not all of the above items are new, but as a series, we find them powerful. We decided to exclude montages set to music. (It is possible to find these from Coalition and insurgent perspectives.)

Know of better clips? Leave links in the comments, but please do not embed them.

See Also:

Hallucinogenic Weapons: The Other Chemical Warfare
Catching up with an Aqua Teen Terrorist
Lost "Horrors" Ending Found on YouTube
Homeland Security Follies
5 Best Videos: Animals Attacking Reporters

Sorry ‘Bout That, Nick!

We like Nick Douglas. A lot. He's funny, playful, unafraid to say crazy shit. So we naturally stayed as up-to-date as we could with the situation surrounding his departure from Valleywag. Little did we know the role we played in his exodus.

Today, a leaked internal email surfaced on the New York Times' Dealbook blog. It's from Gawker executive Lockhart Steele to Gawker staff, and here it is:
We let Nick Douglas go from Valleywag yesterday.

As you know, we don't make moves like this lightly, so let me explain our thinking, and the lessons from it.

Gawker sites are designed to be written from an outsider perspective. That's one reason we're game to hire writers like Nick Douglas, who came to San Francisco last January straight from college as a near-total outsider to the web scene. But anytime a writer settles in too closely with the subjects he/she's writing about, there comes the inevitable tradeoffs: favor trading, and an elevated sense of one's own importance to the field at hand. Both, to some degree, ended up being the case here.

We were also concerned by Nick's repeated misunderstanding of the purpose of our sites. Here's a quote from a recent interview with him, after we'd asked him to lay off the press interviews:

We haven't gotten a serious legal threat so far. Well, a couple of minor ones, but we're still waiting for a good solid cease-and-desist and a good lawsuit. We're really trying to get News Corp. to sue us.
They tried to stop the publication of some article [ed: originally intended for publication by someone else] calling MySpace a spam factory. And the author was revealing some of the background behind the company — that it wasn't really started by these two guys in their basement. And, since News Corp went to such lengths to stop the original publisher from publishing the article, we were hoping that if I actually published it on Valleywag, we could finally get sued. (Sighs) It didn't happen yet. I'm really disappointed about that. alleywag-nick-douglas/

We don't report stories to "finally get sued." We report stories because we think they deserve to be out there. Whatever follows from them is whatever follows from them. Sarcasm or not, it's quotes like these that could make us look really foolish — or worse — down the road.

I don't want any of these problems to be misinterpreted as one-strike-and-out situations. These are issues that we repeatedly spoke to and warned Nick about. It finally reached a break-point where changing editors was the only solution. That said, I'll miss working with Nick — he was a hellishly funny writer, and I don't doubt he'll go on from this to grander things in the Valley.

Beginning today, Valleywag's editor is someone we've worked with before — Nick Denton. Nick's been in San Francisco for the past week, and will stay out there until a new full-time Valleywag is installed. His intro post, reflecting on Valleywag past and future, is here: e-candidate-2-214343.php

Let me know if you have more questions about this — happy to discuss.


It's all a little confusing because, in his audio interview with RU Sirius, Destiny and myself, Mr. Douglas indicated that he was working on new projects, though he declined to say what they were. But since the announcement of his departure from Valleywag, we didn't really believe the speculations that he'd been fired. And never in a million years would we have thought he was, at least in part, fired because of what he said to us.

For what it's worth, consider this a public apology to Nick Douglas. But, maybe it's not something Nick regrets.

Based on the content of the above email, I'd say Gawker made a mistake. A big mistake.

What do you think? Comment here.

Update (11/30/06): Nick has been hired by the Huffington Post to do "real journalism" for it's Eat the Press section. Good luck in your relationship with the (inverted) inverted pyramid, Nick.

See also:
Where in the World is Nick Douglas?
Interview With Valleywag Nick Douglas

EFF and 10 Zen Monkeys vs. Michael Crook and DMCA

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is representing 10 Zen Monkeys in a civil lawsuit against griefer Michael Crook for abusing the DMCA and violating our free speech rights.

In September, we published an article about Crook when he mimicked Jason Fortuny by trolling CraigsList and sex-baiting guys into giving him private information which he then revealed on his site (now offline), He apparently did not like what we had to say. In a brash and hypocritical (though not at all surprising) move, Crook filed a fraudulent DMCA take-down notice with our then-ISP, knowing that the "safe harbor" provision would compel the ISP to take immediate action, even before proof of copyright ownership was examined.

I was personally given an ultimatum to remove the material cited in the notice (a TV screen capture of Crook's appearance on Fox News Channel), or have my account canceled. Needless to say, Crook did not own the rights to the image, and even if he did, there's a little thing called "fair use" in the context of critical commentary.

Appalled that he was able to so easily, and without any onus of proof, jeopardize my standing with my ISP, I immediately set about moving the site to local San Francisco ISP Laughing Squid, owned by my old pal, Scott Beale — his services are more expensive, but I knew Scott would understand and respect free speech at least to the point of asking me for details before threatening to pull the plug on my site.

The first thing I did after migrating 10 Zen Monkeys was re-insert the image of Crook into the offending article and, sure enough, within 24 hours he had sent another DMCA take-down notice to Laughing Squid's upstream provider. I'm sure he was emboldened by his success at forcing me to relocate my website once, and was trying for a repeat. But this time, Scott indeed called me to get the story. He was as angry as I was, and said I should contact the Electronic Frontier Foundation. (As an ISP, Scott hadn't seen this particular abuse before, and was concerned — it showed just how easy it is under the current DMCA provisions to intimidate a website, for any reason whatsoever.)

"This is yet another case of someone intentionally misusing copyright law to try to shut down legitimate debate on an issue of public interest," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "Crook certainly doesn't own the copyright to the news footage — Fox News does."

The "safe harbor" provision of the law is meant to shield service providers from liability for any copyright violations that might be committed on their clients' websites. It basically states that, upon being notified by letter or email that there is content in violation of copyright, they can avoid any legal consequences by immediately removing it. (The reason the "safe harbor" is even necessary is because of the draconian copyright "protections" built into the DMCA — ones which sacrifice fair use among other things.) But since the take-down notice doesn't require a court order, or any type of judicial scrutiny, it means that shady individuals or organizations can easily use the law to stifle free speech.

"Crook has used a bogus copyright claim as a pretext to squelch free speech," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "Unfortunately, it is easy to abuse DMCA takedown provisions and most internet speakers don't have the ability to fight back."

I removed the original image in the Crook article and instead linked to a similar image residing on someone else's server (Crook is widely reviled on the internet, so it's not difficult to find materials criticizing him on Google).

Surprise! Crook didn't like that either, and on October 24th, he filed yet again, this time thinking that the DMCA could be used to intimidate an ISP for a site that links to content that doesn't reside on their servers!

Crook seems to have a particularly malicious interpretation of the DMCA. He has declared on his blog his own campaign to serve take-down notices on sites he doesn't like, regardless of whether he owns the copyright on the material in question. From his blog:
One site has gone completely down. It currently routes to a "Suspended" page. This site has remained down because the webmaster hasn't responded to the complaint. I can't be responsible for that.

None of this is surprising from someone who has devoted so much time and energy finding others in a compromised state — whether it's horny men online, or wounded soldiers — and then systematically hurting them further, for nothing more than a fleeting, self-defeating publicity.

Until now, the instances of social griefing made famous by Jason Fortuny and aped by Michael Crook have brought up mostly privacy issues. In the case of Crook's abuse of DMCA, we see the same childish, ill-intentioned publicity-seeking, but that's not to say there's no difference between Fortuny and Crook. Fortuny has never tried to stop anyone from saying anything about him — in fact, he seems to enjoy the direct negative criticisms he's received. Crook, on the other hand, is clearly operating on a level of complexity that is far beyond his capacities — he wants to be notorious, but then uses unrelated, legalistic (though illegal!) manipulations to silence those who speak out against him. Despite his comical claim to the title of copyright defender, he is creating a real chilling effect on free speech.

Some of the targets of Crook's DMCA exploits have self-censored, in part because to give him attention is a reward he doesn't deserve, but also because they don't understand their rights and cannot afford to fight. The takedown provision of this law is bad for publishers and anyone who cares about free speech, and Crook has clearly demonstrated a reason why. He has also stupidly underestimated the resolve of this publication; we hope to set an example of what can be done when First Amendment rights are fully understood, nurtured, and worn into battle.

Crook taught students how to properly use the internet
Crook serves DMCA takedown notice to BoingBoing. (BB gets permission from Fox News to post image.)
Tucker Max deconstructs Crook

See also:
EFF's press release
PDF of complaint
In the Company of Jerkoffs
The Secret Life of Jason Fortuny
Jason Fortuny Speaks
Good Griefers: Fortuny vs. Crook

My Opponent Pays for Gay Teen Bestiality!

Things are so bad for Republicans right now that they absolutely must rely heavily on individual attacks on the opposing candidates.

Republican Congressional candidate Paul Nelson is even recycling Vernon Robinson's notorious attack ad, word for word, by simply splicing in his opponent's name and his own; even the voice of the narrator is the same. The ad claims, among other outlandish (though somewhat true) things, that Democrats "paid for sex" by funding a study that had teenage girls watching pornographic videos with probes attached to their genitalia. revealed that, according to an online abstract from the National Institutes of Health, even though there was pornography involved, the word "teen" never appears. That is true. For that matter, when we checked ourselves, we couldn't find reference to any "genital probes" (doesn't mean they weren't used!).

What we did find, however, is that the subjects in the study of visual arousal in females were required to view some video clips of "non-human animals" having sex (as a control)!

In the interest of keeping this wave of eminently entertaining campaign ads alive, allow us to suggest one possible way forward for GOP media strategists in the post-Foley atmosphere of Republican "ickiness."

Even though "zoophilia" technically doesn't have to involve the act of having sex with an animal, it is only a hop, skip and a jump away from bestiality. Animal-on-animal porn is a gateway to far more disgusting activities. No doubt about it.

But let's not take any chances. The stakes are too high (boredom!). What's the one thing that's more repugnant than human sex with animals? Homosexual human sex with animals! By teenagers! (Which this NIH study very well may have supported.) That's even more disgusting than anything Foley has been accused of doing -- so far.

Allow us to suggest some catch-phrases for Republicans' media strategy.

"Not only does my opponent oppose body armor, but he wants to subject teenage girls to films showing horny warthogs humping."

"My opponent spent his time in Congress advocating gay sex with animals."

One other bright spot: should this program get funded again soon, it will no doubt use a new technology called "thermography" instead of "probes." This allows arousal to be measured by infrared cameras aimed at the subjects' genitalia. Do not fear; the suggested catchphrase then becomes:

"This Democrat Congressman denied body armor for our troops, in favor of night vision for degenerates in long coats to stare at penises and vaginas in the dark."

Etcetera. We leave the final tweaking up to you savvy political types. We trust you to keep us amused.

Adopt an African Hottie’s Clitoris!

Rael is back.

A few years ago, the "UFO cult" leader claimed to have cloned human beings, and was widely dismissed as a crass self-publicizer and hoaxster.

"Once we can clone exact replicas of ourselves," he says on the Clonaid website, "the next step will be to transfer our memories and personality into our newly cloned brains, which will allow us to truly live forever."

His latest achievement is only slightly less ambitious. He has undertaken to single-handedly restore the clitorises (clitori?) of African women disfigured by the tribal ritual of clitoral excision. Rael is passionate in this cause, since the beneficiaries "now have the possibility to regain sexual pleasure and be whole once again."

There is, of course, a website, and the first impression given is that, wow, there are a lot of hot, genitally-disfigured African women out there!

One testimonial on the website reads:
I am XXX, a 23 year old Somali refugee now residing in America. I was circumcised as a young girl while still residing in Somalia. Even until very recently i was made to beleive that it was 'good' to be circumcised and as i result i had never fully understood the consequences of this evil practice. Recently i started my university education and have moved out of my parents' house. As a result of this new found freedom i started exploring my sexuality. I thought sex was supposed to be this amazing experience but for me it was extremely uncomfortable and unsatisfactory.

Desirable women in the marketing materials must make it easier for possible donors to pony up; after all, denying these smiling, bright-eyed specimens the capacity for clitoral pleasure is certainly a waste! (And let's face it, if you're a cult leader, it can't hurt your image to literally bestow blessings upon the genitalia of nubile females.)

The Raelians are notorious for using sex as a major inducement into their movement. According to this web page, former Raelian Pete Cooke was recruited into the cult by a dancer in Montreal's Kit Kat strip bar.

"I didn't like all the opening of genitals or all the focusing on the anus," he says.

I may be reaching here, but guys, if you find yourself in a nightclub and a hot chick with an African accent approaches you and starts telling you about how alien scientists incubated life on Earth, you might want to clench your butt cheeks and walk quickly in the opposite direction.

See also: California Cults 2006

Awesomest Congressional Campaign Ever – Vernon Robinson, N.C.

Helms & Robinson

"Brad Miller even spent your tax dollars to pay teenage girls to watch pornographic movies with probes connected to their genitalia."

That's from a TV campaign ad by Vernon Robinson, who's trying to unseat incumbent Democrat Miller for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 13th District of North Carolina. In the process, he's created some of the most amusing campaign messages in recent memory.

Here's another, from the same ad:

"Brad Miller spent your money to study the masturbation habits of old men."

Robinson is an African-American and a rabid conservative Republican. In 2004, he lost a bid for the 5th District, but not before providing the locals with some high-concept political cabaret. He's so far to the right that the Winston-Salem Journal declared in an editorial about Robinson, "Jesse Helms is back! And this time, he's black." Robinson's campaign then adopted it as a slogan. A radio campaign ad was so controversial and borderline illegal that local station WSJS felt it had to pull all ads for the 5th District Primary.

His current campaign is wonderfully absurd and offensive, which makes it a joyful slapstick take on national politics. One radio ad uses a Mariachi soundtrack while claiming, "If Miller had his way, America would be nothing but one big fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals." And another, with banjo music in the background: "Hey all you illegals, put your shoes on. Go home. Don't come back now, y'hear?"

Beyond ads, Robinson pulled an old trick of his and suggested that since Miller is middle-aged and childless, he must be homosexual. Miller then felt he had to explain that his wife is unable to bear children due to the fact she had a hysterectomy and suffers from endometriosis.

Robinson's media savvy is matched only by his massive set of huevos. But the meanness is almost enough to feel sorry for Miller. Certainly, if they weren't both public figures, Robinson would be giving the keynote address at the yet-to-be-announced First Annual Griefer's Convention.

See also:
5 Nastiest Campaign Ads So Far
5 More Nasty Campaigns
My Opponent Pays for Gay Teen Bestiality.

Downfall of “The Seducer”

Ross JeffriesWhat happens when an aging pickup artist of legendary proportions falls from grace and is supplanted by a younger crop of studs? And how does the elder Don Juan deal with seeing his classroom-centered “hypnosis” strategies made obsolete by the bolder, hacker-inspired models of the next generation?

Author Neil Strauss devotes part of his bestselling book, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists to just such a real-world changing of the guard. It’s amusing to read the latest in the world of Ross Jeffries, the original “speed seducer,” because I had personally crossed paths with the man back in 1999, and it made a lasting impression.

He’d invited me, as manager of the webzine, to attend one of his weekend-long seminars teaching geeks and losers how to pick up women. It was as absurd and ridiculous as you would imagine such an event should be.

Later, after we published a negative article about the course and the man, he lashed out, threatened to sue, and then backed down. Just a year ago he returned to the comments section of the article and, in an effort to recover his reputation, questioned my journalistic objectivity.

Thanks, Ross, for allowing me to now expand upon my memorable time at your seminar.

I'd attended according to Jeffries' invite, which allowed two people, a male and a female, to sit in. So I brought the zine's sex editor, Cara Bruce, along. She later wrote about the experience here. Sadly for her, she was extremely tired from partying the night before, and soon after swallowing a questionable “wake me up” pill, she fell asleep during Ross' class. About 30 minutes later, he noticed and jarred her awake by screaming at her. When Cara awoke, she was tripping balls, eyes bugging wildly, and the sight of Ross' hideous mug barking in her face was enough to really freak her out. She grabbed my forearm for support and I led her into the hallway for reassurance before we returned to class.

But it was all the other stuff we saw that day that freaked me out. I expected a playful, if sexist presentation of half-baked pickup advice. But when Jeffries' hostility and aggression came whining to the surface, I became shocked that anyone would willingly sit through such treatment.

Nowadays, Ross is in a fight for his career and his relevance. The next generation of pickup artists, like author of “The Game,” Neil Strauss, who mentored under the best PUAs (including Jeffries) before ascending the ranks himself, are blowing Jeffries out of the water with field seminars where they take chumps into clubs, and proceed to demonstrate, guide, and tutor in the skills of macking (or rather, “FMAC”ing — Find, Meet, Attract, Close) on girls.

Indeed, all aspects of “seduction” (even this term has evolved — it’s called “sarging” now) have been profoundly affected by the Internet since the days of Jeffries' initial groundbreaking workshops that cost upwards of $800 per person. PUAs now openly share their best strategies with each other, and they deconstruct social dynamics like superstar computer hackers cracking code on crystal meth.

"Me personally, I’d never spend money on something I can persuade someone else to purchase for me," says nlpimp in the article's comments. "And thank God for the Internet, because it allowed me to attain these skills ABSOLUTELY FREE."

But there are certain types of instruction you simply cannot get online (yet). For a price into the thousands, a peacock of a stud will snatch you from in front of that computer, whisk you off in a limo, and toss you into a thumping night club crawling with HBs (hot babes). They'll watch over your shoulder while you steal the show from the very same alpha males that have always taunted you and banged what should have been YOUR cooter.

Ross Jeffries, on the other hand, has a different focus. He's in his mid-40s, so he sticks mostly to the classroom, and teaches his students scripts to memorize and recite, like this "blow job pattern" found on the Internet:

Yeah well, do you like chocolate? (Or is there a food that when you see it you absolutely have to put it in your mouth?) … And then there’s that moment, that moment when the first molecule of chocolate touches your tongue and you know it’s inside your mouth and you just want to keep it there because it’s so rich and so good. And there’s that extra special warmth when you swallow that sweetness down.

If the above seems like it would not quite yield the speaker a blow job in the real world, keep in mind that Ross puts just as much effort into conquering the men he teaches as he does teaching them how to conquer their fears with women. He has built a cult that specializes in humiliating the guys who come to him, using his students' deep inward pain, and hypnotic suggestion. Ross’ sessions are insulated, intense, and very male-centric.

In Strauss' book (a great read even if you're not desperate to learn Lothario's trade secrets), the author, who was already an established writer of rock star biographies before becoming a pickup artist, tells the story of how he too was invited early on by Jeffries to attend a seminar for free. Strauss accepted but quickly became alarmed by Ross' obsessive need to get him to disparage other pickup artists and pledge exclusive allegiance to him.

"You are being led into the inner sanctum of power, my young apprentice," he said to Strauss, "and the price for betrayal is dark beyond measure of your mortal mind."

The darkness of Jeffries’ dominance-inspired methods often shows itself as dark comedy. At one point, Strauss is cajoled by Jeffries to take him to a Hollywood party so he can hit on "real celebrities." At the party, he initially pretends to be Strauss' gay lover, but ends up following Carmen Electra around on all fours, sniffing her ass as if he were a dog.

"I made a mental note," writes Strauss, "never again to take Ross anywhere cool. It was an embarrassment."

Later in the book, when Strauss' close friend and master PUA, Mystery, has a nervous breakdown and is feeling suicidal, he blubbers that he doesn't want be "another Ross Jeffries." In what can only be a painful irony for Jeffries, what he started as a kind of homoerotic fraternity for geeks has, in the hands of his successors, evolved into a valid toolbox for getting laid, leaving him largely alone, outdated, and struggling desperately to maintain even the moniker of "seducer."

Three Hundred Pound Porn Queen Decimates Oklahoma Town

Doris the Porn QueenOne woman, one very large and apparently out-of-control woman, has caused the resignation of a city councilman, the mayor, and the police chief of Snyder, Oklahoma. Libertarians across the blogosmear were quick to react with support for the First Amendment and condemnation of the religious sensibilities of the town and its churchgoing residents.

Some citizens, perhaps catalyzed by the town's ex-mayor, who has been critical of now-former Police Chief Tod Ozmun, unearthed pictures online of the chief's wife giving blowjobs, which was enough for them to call for his resignation. But something else got revealed as well -- a sizable rift between the moral orientation of the town and its governing officials.

The resulting social distortions are arguably part of the reason that now-former Mayor Dale Moore released an official statement that is philosophically libertarian in a town that is anything but.

"We do not endorse pornography," the statement read. "However, we do endorse an individual's rights under the First Amendment of freedom and expression."

It's strange to consider how elected officials and a top police officer in a small, rural, and very religious town in Oklahoma could suddenly butt heads with fellow citizens and make such radical statements against moralism. Indeed, Councilman Clifford Barnard said of the police chief's dismissal, "I think this is wrong and I won't put up with it. I don't want to work in a community like this." He resigned from the council in protest.

Why did the councilman and the mayor from a small conservative town stand up for the civil liberties of a police chief whose wife is a smut star?

"He's done more drug arrests, solved more crimes than anybody else in town has ever done," Moore said. So, perhaps it is the price they were paying to have law and order in a part of the country that has been unable to get a grip on a seemingly invincible methamphetamine plague.

There may be more clues to this mystery in the past of the Ozmuns.

Tod OzmunIn 2000, while he was director of the Jefferson County Narcotics Enforcement Team, Tod Ozmun was investigated (but never charged) during an internal probe over a meth lab, during which Doris, who was his girlfriend at the time, was arrested. She was convicted of conspiracy to distribute a controlled dangerous substance, sentenced to 10 years in prison, and paroled after a few, even though she claimed she was working as an undercover narc.

In 2001, they married while Doris was incarcerated in Oklahoma County.

It's a common theme in cop films and TV shows that the best way to fight the drug trade is to become part of it. In the corrupt world of narcotics and counter-narcotics, it's not so strange for a cop to fall in love with a drug dealer, right? Or even for him to be one -- maybe just a little?

We don't yet have the full story of the current meltdown in Snyder, Oklahoma. Some further questions beg to be answered: What was the exact association between Doris and Tod and the meth lab? How did Tod avoid prosecution while Doris was convicted? What might their romantic courtship have been like? And how does the Chief of Police feel about coming home after a hard day of fighting "scumbags" -- to his ex-con, porn actress wife?

Perhaps he enjoys following the legacy of another Snyder police chief, Larry Roe, who was charged in 1994 with providing alcohol to minors.

Or maybe this is simply the case of a very strong-willed woman steering an entire town into her hedonist's playground -- consequences be damned!

"My wife is 6ft 3in and weighs 300 pounds," says Ozmun. "If there is somebody that thinks they can control her, have a go at it. I have tried for 11 years and haven't been able to."

Oklahoma was the first state to restrict the availability of pseudoephedrine, a decongestant crucial in making meth, by moving certain non-prescription cold tablets behind the pharmacy counter. The meth lab count in Oklahoma fell dramatically, and the state was promptly hit by a massive wave of cheap Mexican superlab meth. Drug purity and jail populations are at an all-time high.

Sex For Memes’ Sake

A man sneaks away from his wife and kids and their suburban homestead, and descends into a dungeon late at night, allows a dominatrix to strap him to a rack, and has his testicles electrified. How does the rational science of biological evolution make sense of the man who gets off on this? It’s a vital question. You can call this guy a freak of nature, but there are many like him, seeking similar strange kicks, far removed from “reproductive success.”

Despite the recent efforts of the Kansas Board of Education, many people understand the basic tenet of evolutionary theory — the interaction of a species’ genetic makeup with its environment is the process that is responsible for the vast configurations of life on the planet. We call it natural selection.

Sociobiologists, accordingly, have attempted to elucidate the spectrum of human behaviors in terms of evolution, but they find themselves facing big problems when explaining sexual activities. This is certainly ironic, since the act that transmits our genetic code would seem most effectively described by evolutionary theory.

Indeed, we modern humans do very odd and problematic things with our sexuality, things that can’t be satisfactorily explained as mere “mistakes” of evolution. We commit to celibacy, have sex with the same gender, use birth control, and fetishize our lifestyles beyond anything a Darwinian geneticist can possibly explain.

The confounding and seemingly anti-Darwinian nature of contemporary sex practices is one of many issues explored in Susan Blackmore’s The Meme Machine. This book expands the field of memetics, pioneered by popular science writer Richard Dawkins, into new areas, and provides powerful explanations for cultural dynamics that have long perplexed evolutionary scientists. According to Blackmore’s theory, memes — like genes — are “replicators.” They seek, at all costs, to make copies of themselves. In the process, they affect the behavior of the “vehicles” that carry them — humans.

But unlike genes, they can spread “horizontally” (from one brain to another, regardless of the genetic relationship) as well as “vertically” (from parent to child, and even child to parent). For instance, the thesis of this article is a meme that has copied itself from my brain, to the Internet, to your brain, even though we’ve never met and are probably not related. Genes, on the other hand, can only copy themselves vertically, from generation to generation, through biological reproduction.

Also, unlike genes, the biological fitness of the meme carrier doesn’t necessarily impact on the spreading of the meme. If someone commits suicide in political or religious protest and witnesses are so impressed they take up that person’s cause, then the meme he was carrying has won. It has successfully copied itself, perhaps more successfully than if that person had not committed suicide.

Genes, on the other hand, rely on biological reproduction. While they’re apathetic about the fate of their vehicles after they reproduce (note the bodily effects of the female who is no longer of reproductive viability), breeding is an imperative for gene survival. If a given person dies before reproducing, regardless of political or religious intent, the genes lose.

This means that the two replicators, the genes and the memes, are often in competition for the resources of the human vehicles. This may account for the bizarre behaviors for which biological evolution cannot. (Blackmore uses the “second replicator” theory, a major aspect of her thesis, to elucidate all sorts of phenomena, from human brain size, to the origins of language, to the Internet.)

So, let’s return to our man who deliberately seeks out cock and ball torture. Electrifying his scrotum might actually make him impotent — a definite genetic disadvantage. But from the memetic perspective, his action makes perfect sense.

You see, he is the carrier of the “genital torture” meme. The man has either heard about or seen images of this behavior at some point. When this “informational unit” entered his brain, it found a comfortable home (perhaps he has other memes that caused him to perceive himself as deserving of punishment). The man is likely to now serve the cause of the meme further. Maybe he’ll meet others in the fetish community and communicate the practice, and a few will practice it themselves. We have successful memetic replication!

From a wider perspective, the memes are now harnessing the biological energy of sexual desire to serve themselves at the expense of genes. Instead of devoting their lives to their genes’ survival by breeding offspring and raising kids who in turn might start families, people bathe themselves in the information-rich behavior of fetishes, associating with other fetishists who are susceptible to being infected with ever-more fetishistic memes.

Until the memes finally work out a way to do away with the need for humans altogether, I think it’s clear that the further we wander from our genetic imperatives without sacrificing our ability to spread memes, the more useful we are to our true masters.

See Also:
Deep Throat, Big Brain
Pregnant Nympho Sex
Screech’s Sex Tape Follies
World Sex Laws