Don’t Underestimate the SOPA Pushers

The first thing you should keep in mind about the advocates of SOPA/PIPA is that they are not stupid. They know exactly what they are trying to do. The people who cite the “unintended consequences” of the attempt to over regulate the Internet are naive at best and complicit at worst.

Let’s think about it. Who are the main people behind SOPA/PIPA? The big media companies. What has happened to the big media companies since the Internet got popular?

Who used to make the money? NBC, Tower Records, Time Warner.

Who is making it now? Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google.

Some Ideas to Make the New Year Better

It’s almost the end of the year, and, like a lot of other people who don’t have anything better to do, I’ve been thinking of some things I should be doing instead of sitting around thinking all the time.

Here they are:

As Dorothy Parker said, “I hate writing. I love having written.” So, I’m going to do more “having written” and less hating. One of the things I plan on concentrating on is fictional obituaries of people I don’t know but don’t like so I still have an outlet for my hate.

Sometimes You Have to Go Home

I grew up in Council Bluffs, Iowa. According to my grandfather, Council Bluffs was, “the only town that ever hurt Chicago.” I’ve given his pronouncement a lot of thought over the years and I’ve still never quite figured out what it meant.

Maybe it was because Council Bluffs made fun of Chicago on the playground when they were kids. Or maybe it was because someone from CB wrote a letter once to someone in Chicago saying that having broad shoulders and being hog butcher to the world wasn’t really that great. Especially when Carl Sandburg went on to mention that it was also the city of skanky whores and slimy gangsters.

On Journalism and Bullfights in Madrid

Ernest Hemingway

Madrileños, unlike most denizens of big cities, are genuinely friendly and eager to talk about their city, Spain, and almost anything else you want to discuss. Our first night here, we had a discussion about journalism and its position as a profession in Spanish society over beers and a plate of olives at an outdoor cafe in the Plaza Mayor with a young man named José Angel. José Angel’s girlfriend is a journalist and he’s a carpenter, so he allowed as there was some friction with her parents over his “station” in life. I assured him that their positions would probably be reversed if he came to the United States and he’d be welcome to visit us anytime the in-laws got to be too much.

Well, I’ve Had Better Days

I’m trying hard to figure out how to make this come off as something less than bitter, but the truth is that Kris and I could not be happier about leaving Ecuador.

Perhaps this joy is informed by the fact that tonight we were robbed for the fourth time since we’ve been here. For a little perspective: in the 31 years we lived in Minneapolis, we were robbed twice. In the seven months in Quito…well you do the math.

We were having sort of a bad day anyway. For some inexplicable reason, I’ve been trying for the last 30 days or so to renew our visas to stay here, but today I got the final “fuck you” from the Ecuadorian authorities.

First Steps in Quito, Ecuador

virgin panecillo quito ecuador

I’ve been living in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, for about four and a half months now, counting the two trips back to the U.S. to take care of some business. Now my wife, Kristin Henning, and I are here for the duration, and that could be indefinite as we’ve just applied for resident visas.

The picture at the top of the blog’s home page is the view from outside the picture window of my apartment. The apartment is very small, very inexpensive, but, except for the mattress, very comfortable. Depending on how successful I am with the visa application, I will remedy the mattress situation soon.

The view is of a hill, which rises right in the middle of the valley of Quito and is called the Panecillo, which translates as “Little Loaf of Bread.” It’s topped by a large statue of the Virgin Mary, which sort of serves as the logo of Quito. And, as Quiteños are proud to point out, she’s the only Virgin with wings in the world. That’s because she’s the Virgin of the Apocalypse and is stomping on the snake from the Garden of Eden. It’s the image of the final triumph at the end of the world of good over evil. I’ll believe it when I see it.