31 December 2012

Is The Pirate Bay so bad?

Here is an article from a popular news site that I found very interesting and thought-provoking. With all of the profit-driven media bullshit flowing around about the 'evil' file sharing sites and the millions that they are allegedly costing the entertainment industry, this piece sheds a new light on the issue.

Why this Silence About The Pirate Bay as a Distributor of Culture?

As many readers of TorrentFreak already know, I have received hundreds and hundreds of e-mails from people all around the world who wanted to send their greetings to my son Gottfrid, one of the founders of The Pirate Bay. The support and encouragement they express is overwhelming.

Many of these e-mails provide a different picture than the common one of what The Pirate Bay’s operations can mean. They come from all kinds of people. Here is one example, a quote from a mail sent by a man in Canada:
“I’m a musician. I work hard to create my music and while I´m certainly not wealthy or famous, it´s made me very happy to have my music shared with other people. Stories, songs, books, and films are meant to be shared.”

There are many people, especially older women, who have explained how The Pirate Bay has helped them out of their solitude by offering them entertainment that they could not otherwise afford. Others tell of how The Pirate Bay helps them to discover new artists that they would otherwise not have known of, like the American who adds:
“… I seek their licensed material and purchase it as often as I can.”

Many e-mails focus on access to culture in a broader sense. Young people in Saudi Arabia, for example, write that cinemas, concerts or theaters are not available to them in their own country, but that they have now received access thanks to The Pirate Bay.

From other countries, people write about how they can take part in things they would never be able to afford because of their restricted living conditions. Someone wrote that The Pirate Bay has blurred the line between the rich and the poor as to the opportunities to cultural participation.

Another example is an e-mail from Romania in which a person expresses his gratitude for the future that The Pirate Bay has opened for the younger generation in his country. It is now possible for everyone to take part of Western culture and knowledge, which the country was excluded from for such a long time:
“….If you hadn’t existed we would have been 20 years back in time from where we are now, because we would never have had the money to buy all that culture. Now, thanks to you we have great musicians, great architects, advertising companies winning prizes all over the world, great engineers working all over the world, film makers and most important, normal young people with a greater view over history and the world, thus enabling them to have a better and dignified life.”

Students in poor countries like Ghana and Colombia write about how they have gained access to educational materials, which they would never have had otherwise.

A student in Argentina tells about how she could continue her studies thanks to The Pirate Bay. A mother in the United States says that she was able to arrange home schooling for her children.

A teacher in Georgia tells about how he was able to produce English teaching materials for his students, which would otherwise have been impossible.

A father in an African country expresses gratefulness for the opportunities that The Pirate Bay has opened for his son to further studies. And so on.

This list of e-mails of this kind could be made much, much longer.

Last but not least I would like to mention e-mails that come from countries like Egypt, Iran and Iraq. Many people, young and old, are thankful for the fight for a free Internet, the struggle that is so closely associated with The Pirate Bay and what it represents.

I think it is about time that this perspective on The Pirate Bay gets highlighted. One must keep in mind that there is much to obtain from the site also for those who do not want to violate any copyright rules. If creators and other people representing cultural institutions want to suppress access to culture and knowledge and to free speech without considering this perspective, I think all of us are in trouble.

This text is a revised version of a text published in Swedish on Christian Engström’s blog. Christian is a Member of the European Parliament for Piratpartiet, the Swedish Pirate Party. I wish to thank him for giving me the opportunity to make the text public – just as I wish to thank TorrentFreak.

22 December 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Area 51:Nightstalkers - Bob Mayer

Nightstalkers (Area 51, #10)Nightstalkers by Bob Mayer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It appears that the whole Area 51 series has been re-released and with this book the author has decided to take the story in a completely new direction. As an introduction to what could effectively be a new series it's pretty good. However, I hope that we do link up again with the familiar ancient aliens from the previous books.

The Nightstalkers are an efficient albeit eccentric (slightly bonkers) group of soldiers and technicians who have been brought together to tackle various unexplained phenomena that have been occurring around the globe.

The action is typically good for this author being very descriptive with lots of hardware and explosions and all that good stuff. I felt that there were a few scenes missing that I would have quite liked to read - like getting a 'posessed' horseshoe off a horse without hurting it. That would've been interesting. This happened a couple of times but didn't really detract from the book as a whole.

The main characters are really good. They are the usual deep and mysterious covert types but they display enough humanity to make them likeable. There is a bit of time spent on building the main cast so I assume that we'll be seeing them in action again.

If I didn't know it was continuing into other books in the series then it would've seemed a little 'aimless', but it looks like the series is going to pick up right where it left off (if in a slightly tangential way).

A good book.

View all my reviews

16 December 2012

Sleepy time for our Tommy

Didn't quite stay awake for the trip home from Koro & Kui's place.
A bloke needs a little nap every now and then.

13 December 2012

Star Wars Wookieepedia

Are you a Star Wars fan? Well, if you are, then you probably already know about Wookieepedia

"Wookieepedia is a Star Wars encyclopedia written collaboratively by its readers, who are known as Wookieepedians. The site is a Wiki, meaning that anyone can edit almost any article right now by clicking on the Edit link that appears at the top of the page. Much of Wookieepedia follows a similar setup to its parent wiki, Wikipedia."

04 December 2012

Book Review: Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

Ender's Game is the winner of the 1985 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

This novel has won a couple of heavy-weight awards, and over the years friends of mine who also enjoy sci-fi could not believe that I hadn't read this classic book which is, by all accounts, a real doozy.

Well, I finally picked it up and have been cruising through it for that last week or so. I say cruising because that's all the pace I've been able to muster with it - up until around the three quarter mark. That's when the book suddenly grabbed me and the last 25% was easy.

The first 75% deals with Andrew "Ender" Wiggin and his selection and early training as a potential military commander with the space forces defending Earth and our solar system. There have been two previous invasion attempts by the "Buggers" and a third is coming. The powers-that-be have spent years finding and grooming future commanders from an early age and have identified Ender as the best hope yet.

After he is graduated from up to Command School things really pick up. This is when we finally get to learn a bit of the historical stuff around the story, like who the Buggers are and what humanity has been doing to combat them. This is the kind of story that I had been waiting for!

The final 25% is fantastic and ultimately defines who Ender really is - and his destiny. I found that I had really connected with Ender throughout the story and I guess that this is why the book has been so successful; great characterization.

I really liked it overall but was frustrated with my lack of interest at the start. The conclusion makes up for all of that, however.

If you liked Ender's Game then you're in luck! There are more books that follow in the "Enderverse" series, a parallel series, a prequel series that has only just been begun, and even a movie has been announced. Whew, success indeed!

A deservedly popular book. I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.

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03 December 2012

Are extraterrestrial UFOs real?

This is a question that has long fascinated me and I enjoy some part-time research of the subject.

This is an article about someone who claims that it's all true - that aliens from other worlds have been visiting us and that we've been playing around with their technology.


It makes interesting reading.

Do you believe? Look into the issue. There's lots of info out there.