January 18 was “blackout day” and it was a success. Many popular sites—including this one—went dark in protest of the pending SOPA/PIPA acts, which are attempting to slither their way into law. Major news sources are now reporting that many former supporters of this legislation are changing their tune after being inundated with letters, calls, and emails from their irate constituents.
As it stands, it appears that SOPA/PIPA doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing; however, many proponents of the bill continue to insist that it’s not as dangerous as everyone thinks and that we’re all just being paranoid.
Well … so what? The point is, we don’t want it.
Even without SOPA, we’re fucked. A Hong Kong-based website, http://www.megaupload.com, was shut down by the Justice Department and several of its employees were arrested in New Zealand. The site, which according to some is the 13th most frequently visited site on the Internet and has more than 150 million registered users, acted as a cyberlocker and allowed folks to download free movies, music, games, television shows, etc. Apparently, their mistake was leasing some servers in Virginia, which opened up the door for a federal indictment by U.S. authorities.
According to MSNBC: Megaupload was unique not only because of its massive size and the volume of downloaded content, but also because it had high-profile support from celebrities, musicians and other content producers who are most often the victims of copyright infringement and piracy. Before the website was taken down, it contained endorsements from Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys and Kanye West, among others.
In retaliation, the hacker group Anonymous shut down websites for the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Recording Industry of America, Motion Picture Association of America, Universal Music and BMI.com. These sites have since been restored; however, it goes to show that the government is not the only entity capable of scrapping websites.
It was interesting yesterday, scrolling down my Facebook feed. Someone posted that hundreds of parents were pissed off because their children had reports due and Wikipedia was all “goofed up.”
“What the hell is this shit?” demanded one angry mother. “What the hell is SOPA?”
The person who posted this tidbit—or perhaps it was someone responding in a comment—pointed out that these people are angry because a free website went dark. A website that they almost surely never donate to.
I pointed out that people are often ignorant of much of what goes on around them until it directly affects or inconveniences them. Last summer, when the government shut down here in Minnesota, no one gave a damn unless they were temporarily laid off—and the general public paid absolutely no attention until they were faced with the prospect of not being able to buy their favorite beer.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: leave the cute kitten videos alone and … WATCH … THE … NEWS.
Speaking of news, Rick Perry has given up on his bid for the White House. Right after withdrawing from the race, the ex-candidate officially endorsed Newt Gingrich, who may or may not be the next domino to fall.
At this point in the race, we’re at the stage where we bet on who in the GOP field will drop out next. It is a forgone conclusion that Romney will be the nominee; to a lesser extent, it’s common knowledge that Chris Christie will run on the ticket with him as the VP and that they will be beaten stupid in November. These predictions are arguable; however, Romney being the nominee is not.
So … who will it be?
Not Ron Paul; he’ll hang in there until the bitter end—and he’ll probably run again in 2016 if his health permits. It has to be Santorum or Gingrich. This afternoon I put my money on the latter while my wife said that it would be poor old Rick who goes the way of the Whigs next.
But I might be wrong. There is talk of yet another “Gingrich surge”—and rumors of a big influx of money to his campaign from a wealthy friend. As for Perry’s endorsement … well … that wouldn’t even get Newt a cup of coffee in most places.
And what about Santorum? They decided this morning that he won the Iowa straw poll after all, something that will be worth as much to him as Perry’s endorsement is to Newt.
This is a tough one—it could go either way—but I’m leaving my money on Gingrich as the Next Big Loser.
In tonight’s debate, the moderator led with a question regarding fresh allegations that Gingrich is a philandering shit. The candidate, who appeared ready to erupt into violence, said, “I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate with a topic like that. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.”
Huh. Not as despicable as Newt’s views on child labor … or Rick Santorum’s views on gay rights.
Okay. Here’s your wisdom:
John T. Schmitz is the editor & publisher of Secret Laboratory; he is the founder of Maple Hills Press and has also freelanced as a writer and photographer, contributing to various local and international publications. Mr. Schmitz lives in Minnesota with his wife, Megan, and their two children; he is the author of four books.
E-mail Mr. Schmitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.