Opinions, Etc 4.15.04

Anyway…you can keep referring to the Cubs as non-existent until Mike Remlinger (Dartmouth ’88) comes off the DL. When he’s active again, I will insist that you acknowledge the Cubs’ existence. Got it? – The Pride Of Dartmouth His Own Self, in two separate missives to me.

No. The team does not exist and never will, no matter who’s allegedly playing for them.

Ah, yet another typical day with very little to inspire other than the Usual Suspects. I do apologize for this, but it does seem that the Dog Days are coming a few months early this year. So, congrats to the African National Congress on their election victory in South Africa and on with the show…

THE PIMP SECTION

The Porcine, Saturnine Feline has returned with another screed, and he’s talking retards to boot. Enjoy!

Haley gets drunk playing the ponies and yet does not reference “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent And Depraved”. A minor sin, but we shall not tolerate any more of those.

Posten delves into the deep and mysterious regarding music.

Misha needs some medication, stat.

Yeager is still new enough to not know that staffers are immune from YAM, but he still pimped me anyway, which was nice. Good column, bud.

Cocozza still owes me a paragraph of praise.

Rutherford should know that Rocky Horror is beyond review and past criticism.

Stevens has the DC side of your comics news, while Sebert covers the Marvel end.

Erhardt tries to explain DC’s Elementals, which is nearly impossible, but give him credit for trying.

AND THE BULLSHIT KEEPS ON COMING

Dubbaya deigned to address us with only his third prime-time press conference of his illegal occupation on Tuesday. It was essentially the kick-off of his campaign to continue his illegitimate administration. He had some very telling quotes during the whole proceedings, and ones that I can definitely riff on. So let’s go for it.

“I don’t plan on losing my job.”

Oh, but you should. Planning ahead for such emergencies is the best way to be able to deal with prolonged periods of unemployment. That’s a lesson a lot of people learned during the Junta’s occupation, and that’s the reason why they’ll be out of a job on January 20th of next year.

“We’re not an imperial power…We’re a liberating power.”

You know, strangely enough, when I took the oath, I didn’t swear loyalty to Halliburton, but maybe that’s changed. And, frankly, more and more Iraqis aren’t very pleased with us either due to the situation at Fajullah. Approval ratings, fortunately, are easily measured in Iraq: just count the number of dead bodies of non-Iraqis, which has been skyrocketing over the past two weeks.

“The American people may decide to change. That’s democracy. I don’t think so. I don’t think so. And I look forward to making my case. I’m looking forward to the campaign.”

But the American people didn’t decide last time. Four men and one woman did. This action will be a stain on American history until America actually ends. As for the change part, oh, you’d better think so. There’s not a lot of time left before the election to show the economy’s improving (it may have finally bottomed out, but not thanks to anything the Junta’s done to stop the bleeding), and that’ll be the key factor. The undecideds also aren’t going to like it if there are still troops being killed in Iraq for no good reason after June 30th. Spin that, bitch.

“I feel strong about what we’re doing. I feel strongly it’s the course this administration is taking that will make America more secure and the world more free and, therefore, the world more peaceful. It’s a conviction that’s deep in my soul.”

Start doing some soul searching, and try to come up with an explanation for all of this for the families of the dead soldiers. “National security” hasn’t flown since the Sixties, you know. And please explain to me how invading Iraq has made the world “more peaceful”. Before the invasion, it looked like Saddam was well on his way to become Qadaffi and fading into the background. The fact is that the Junta wanted to invade Iraq before September 11th, and there’s documentary proof of that. Unilaterally going to war to make the world more peaceful is straight out of the George Orwell Book Of Foreign Policy.

“The person responsible for those attacks was Osama bin Laden.”

Agreed. So why did the US invade Iraq? What does that invasion have to do with bin Laden? The Junta has never explained this to anyone’s satisfaction. There is zero connection. Or does the Junta actually believe that the American public thinks that one towelhead is as good as another?

On the smoking gun memo and the alleged FBI surveillance of bin Laden’s followers:

“Frankly, I didn’t think there was anything new. I mean, major newspapers had talked about bin Laden’s desires on hurting America…Had there been a threat that required action by anybody in the government, I would have dealt with it.”

So the Federal Bureau of Investigation didn’t find any suspicious patterns while they had bin Laden’s known followers under investigation. Despite the press talking about bin Laden’s threats and his previous terrorist activities, there was no imperative by the Bureau to expand the net and start connecting dots. Damn sloppy work by the FBI, if that’s true. Personally, I don’t believe it. The FBI may have a lot of sins on its plate, but they’re a good, effective law enforcement agency. The truth is that the administration didn’t give a damn, and there’s sworn testimony that states that.

“Of course, I want to know why we haven’t found a weapon yet.”

Because there were no WMDs. Which means the reason we went in is a complete lie.

“But I still know Saddam Hussein was a threat. And the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.”

A threat to whom? Daddy’s ego, since he didn’t get rid of him when he had the chance and there was a much firmer basis for international approval of such a move? To the oil companies and Halliburton? What was Saddam Hussein doing to the United States, specifically, that required an invasion? Can someone tell me, because I sure as hell can’t figure it out?

When asked what his biggest mistake was since September 11th, this was his answer:

“I don’t want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I’m confident I have. I just haven’t — you just put me under the spot here — and maybe I’m not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.”

How about dragging back the old discredited notion that tax cuts would stimulate the economy? What about trying to use Gay Marriage as a Wag The Dog to get people to ignore Iraq? What about the invasion itself? There’s lots of mistakes. But maybe Dubbaya’s right. There are so many mistakes he’s made that choosing just one would be difficult.

All in all, it was another bullshit festival for the Junta, trying to snow the American public into believing that they deserve to continue their occupation. Nauseating in the extreme.

And how desperate are they? How about today’s volte-face regarding pulling out of Gaza? Yeah, Sharon’s doing the right thing for once, but this is definitely a political move by Dubbaya to try to simmer the boiling pot of Arab anger over the invasion. Cynical.

A lot of people even in the press have become cynical about this. Don’t take my word for it, take the word of Jeff Proctor, who actually is in the media:

Please explain to the filthy Republicans that work in my TV newsroom that The Shrub’s campaign speech disguised as a press conference is not a lead story for a local newscast. I quickly got sick of the dirty looks I got for leading tonight’s show with a f*cking local story. And while you’re at it, explain to the assholes at Fox News Channel that if you’re going to cover The Shrub’s “press conference”, you should allow a Democratic rebuttal, preferably from John Kerry. Fucking Fox. It goes right along with the hatchet job Neil Cavuto did on Kerry last week. At least Alan Colmes seems to have grown a set of nuts lately.

Obviously, with my stomach, I can’t watch Fox without triggering some serious effects, so I avoid them like the plague that they are. But something as blatant a campaign statement as this, disguised as a news conference, should have merited a rebuttal. But Fox would be the last place that would play it.

Now, as per the other issue, on a local news show, it’s only appropriate to focus on stories of local interest first. The only time that a local news show should lead with a story of national scale is if the story is so dominant and important that it eclipses all other news of that day. The beginning or end of a war, the death of a major world figure, etc. A press conference doesn’t qualify, unless it’s by the mayor or someone local. There is a purpose for local news, and that’s to focus on local stories. If someone wants to watch national news, they can turn to any number of outlets. You watch the local news to find out what’s happening in your neck of the woods. It’s a well-established format: local news, commercial, national news, commercial, weather, sports, commercial, cute story to close. There’s your thirty minutes. It’s a formula that has stood the test of time and should be kept. So f*ck them.

BUT IS THERE HOPE?

Moqtada al-Sadr dropped his conditions for demanding peace talks to end religious-oriented fighting around the holy city of Najaf, but observers on the scene are reporting that he’s probably going to end up using those talks, if they come out, to buy time and reinforce his positions. Well, you can’t fault his tactics, really. He has a lot of public support, and he’s got the God-on-his-side thing going for him, but he’s a little bit out-gunned.

You have to feel bad for al-Sadr. He’s been getting loads of press the past couple of weeks, he was the trigger for all of the recent hostage-taking activity, but he still has less public awareness in the US than William Hung. Maybe al-Sadr should release a videotape of himself to al-Jazeera singing “She Bangs”.

The big surprise in this one is that the Iranians have shown up. Yes, the Iranians. Apparently the Great Satan actually asked the Iranians to intervene on the basis of Shi’ite-to-Shi’ite understanding. And they went for it. Jesus Christ, how bad is this situation when you actually have to ask the Iranians for help? And how bad off is Iran in the department of international relations that they said yes?

This one’s going to get a lot weirder and a lot more bloody before it’s over, folks…

SPYWARE VS. SPIES

It’s really incredible sometimes. No one who reads this column is unaware of my feelings about spyware: I’m against it, and I actively fight back against it by continually providing links to anti-spyware tools and good utilities, giving out advice, and helping people who write to me to overcome their problems. Believe it or not, I’m actually getting a bigger audience by doing it. An older gentleman wrote me last week who found this site by doing a Google on a piece of spyware he’d been infected with that I happened to mention by name in a column a couple months ago. I helped him through a CoolWebSearch infestation, and now he’s become a regular reader. Spyware has become such a plague that I’m attracting septugenarians to 411, and it has the popularity of a malignant tumor, especially over the last six months or so, when the advertisers’ desperation caused them to turn to people committing electronic breaking and entering.

So what do we make of a couple of pieces of news to have come out over the last few days?

First of all, on Monday, WhenU, one of that sterling bunch, filed suit in Utah to prevent that state from applying its recently-passed anti-spyware law. The law is a great first step toward getting rid of these parasites. It outlaws the creation of spyware, the installation of spyware in drive-by downloads, and the transmission of information without the consent of the computer owner. It also provides some nice penalties, up to ten large per violation. Not strong enough for me, of course; I prefer that the perpetrators be sent to pound-me-up-the-ass prison for a long, long time, or maybe a little community service, like being tied to a stake and having everyone who’s ever been infested with their shit get one shot with a whip. Sell the visuals on PPV and use the proceeds to hire a large team of experts to clean up every computer thus indisposed. But that’s just a fantasy. I wish that Fleabag would front me some money so I can go to Russia and hunt down the f*ckers who created CoolWebSearch.

WhenU is claiming unlawful restraint of trade. Aw, poor babies. The fact is that WhenU’s been in court for the past two years in Noo Yawk due to the fact that their crapware’s targeted ad system has a nasty little habit of displaying competitors’ ads in pop-ups whenever you go to a business website. 1-800-CONTACTS got so sick of that shit that they hauled them into court over it. In fact, WhenU is blaming 1-800-CONTACTS for the Utah law being passed. This quote, from Brice Wallace’s story in the Deseret Morning News, is very, very telling on where this is coming from:

The suit claims the act, while intended to prohibit spyware from delivering advertisements to computer users, actually protects Web sites of online merchants “from lawful competition from software-based contextually relevant advertisements, regardless of whether the software invades user privacy.”

Let’s just use an example (purely hypothetical) to show how absolutely rapacious these people are. I want to do a little maintenance on the Damn Vaninator, let’s say new spark plugs. I want a certain brand of plugs, but the local Auto Zone doesn’t have it. Well, when I was back in Chicago, I went to Murray’s for that brand, so I head over to Murray’s website to order some to be sent here to Hellhole, Nebraska. The moment I do that, I get a pop-up filling my screen describing the wonderful deals on spark plugs at Auto Zone. Look, f*ckers, I already went to Auto Zone. They don’t carry what I want. I know Murray’s does. I don’t need you intruding on me without my prompting just because your idiot advertisers want me to see something.

WhenU and their ilk is desperate. Advertising revenue from websites is minimal these days. Pop-ups have alienated everyone so much that the number of machines that use the Google Toolbar in IE or have replaced using IE with Mozilla or one of its variants are now nearly a majority. And now Microsoft will introduce a built-in pop-up blocker into IE in WinXP SP2. Banner ads don’t work either, and annoy the hell out of everyone. So they have to foist their ads on people without them being aware that there’s software on their machines, eating resources, that’s causing these ads to appear. And the software is getting harder and harder to remove, with many programs using multiple methods of startup, multiple methods of maintaining its integrity, and extremely scummy ways to make sure it stays there (including a couple instances of replacing system files in older versions of Windows). Apparently, beating people into submission is their only option of winning. It’s only the efforts of the anti-spyware groups that are slowing them down, and they know it; a trend over the past few months in spyware has been to throw anti-spyware sites into a Hosts file redirecting them to 127.0.0.1.

So they’re desperate. They have the community against them. In Utah, they have the law against them. So what’s there for a group of scum-sucking pigs (like our advertisers here who use spyware) to do? There’s only one thing to do: an IPO.

That’s what Claria is doing. Claria is better known to all of you as Gator, the unrepentant kings of foistware. They seem to have a business plan that some underwriters think is nifty: throw out “free”, minimally-useful tools that carry a payload that will bring advertisers directly into your computer and send info home about you and your habits and let people download them to their heart’s content (and all of their little utilities have much better equivalents that don’t carry any payloads at all). Someone, somewhere, thinks that they’re a perfect company to go public. There are little things that can be overlooked, like the half-dozen lawsuits they had against them for their practices, and the fact that they tried to shut up two prominent computer journalists, Rob Cheng and Dave Methvin, when they posted information about exactly what the hell Gator was doing when it got put on your systems, whether through your own doing or through a drive-by. They mean nothing.

This is like Murder, Incorporated listing themselves on NASDAQ, folks. It’s so utterly ludicrous that I’m tempted to buy on the day of the IPO just to short the sons of bitches and make out like a bandit when the Wall Street types realize who they’ve clasped to their bosom. If you think that any of their programs are beneficial in some way, or if you’re using them or you know someone who’s using them, please, head over here, to Cheng and Methvin’s site, to find out more information on these scumbags and to get links to the alternatives (I had to help out a Semi-Regular a couple weeks ago whose mother insisted on using eWallet, and directed him to have her read this site and a couple others, and to get a copy of RoboForm).

Jesus, spyware companies planning an IPO. What’s next?

Okay, Mailbag’s next…

MAILBAG!

Well, only one person said to officially make Anton Semenov a two-time YAM winner, as opposed to numerous ones requesting me to grant him mercy. So I shall do so. I am a benevolent god, after all.

Let’s also close off the whole Cobain thing. Lots of agreement, lots of disagreement, no consensus possible. But Line of the Week has to go to Semi-Regular James McTyre, who really cuts me to the quick:

Also, I can’t believe that someone who takes drugs can insult someone who takes drugs. It’s all drugs in the end, just one is given by a doctors prescription and the other is off the streets.

James, the difference between me popping pills and Cobain shooting smack is that my consumption has a therapeutic use. My taking Lamictal, Klonopin, and Lexapro (which I’m not right now except for an occasional Klonopin) is to treat a psychiatric condition. My taking Nexium or Prevacid is to treat the fact that if I didn’t, I’d be prone to getting an ulcer (and came goddamn close to it four and a half years ago). There’s no therapeutic use for street heroin. You take it to turn you into a zombie. What smack does is gives you the illusion that the world is good, and that’s not healthy.

I was going to print Regular Ian Wright’s letter refuting The Joe In Me’s screed against Cobain, but I’m not here to promote dissention among my regulars. I do have to ask Ian this, though: is the only difference between me regarding Ian Curtis’ suicide a tragedy and Cobain’s a futile act simply my age?

“Joe” asks me a question on a subject near and dear to my heart:

I’m using PTC and I get good download speeds occasionally (being on cable). I was wondering what’s the secret to choosing the best torrent client? I’ve tried few of them with same .torrent files, however they don’t give me the same speed as PTC does. I know PTC is probably not the best choice. What client(s) do you use and their pros and cons? What’s the best alternative for Suprnova?

I use Azureus for my BitTorrent client. Good speeds, open source, lots of support, keeps up with the latest developments in the BitTorrent root quite well, and available for different operating systems. Its biggest drawback is that it’s written in Java, so it gets a little hoggy with the CPU time. Also, you have to be running the Sun Java Virtual Machine, which you should be anyway since MS JVM has security holes in it that allow some of the worst pieces of spyware, especially CoolWebSearch, to get through. But it’s definitely my client of choice.

Right now, Suprnova’s down, most likely because they’re doing maintenance and installing a new server. If you want a good list of BT sites, go to BTSites.

Tramel Raggs from Gary, Indiana (a.k.a. the Chicago suburb with cheap cigs) asks a couple things:

I have a couple of questions about Spyware. Now, I’m familiar with Adware and Spybot, and they’re on every machine I own (as well as every machine I have to clean up for people), but I recently got infected with PurityScan. Now, I have NO clue how it got on my machine since I never click yes to those certificates and I know I didn’t download it. I got the removal tool for it, since Adware nor Spybot could take care of it. I was wondering if you knew of any Spyware that “autoinfected?”

Oh, yeah, definitely. As I said above, there is a thing called a “drive-by download”. That happens when certain websites are configured to install a piece of spyware through a combination of IE (via ActiveX) and MS JVM security holes. There is a good defense against drive-bys, and it’s simple. Do all of the following:

1) Install the Sun JVM and use that instead of MS’s. You can get that at http://sun.java.com. It’s a simple installation.

2) Download and install SpywareBlaster, a program that prevents over twelve hundred malicious ActiveX controls from running on your system. Also, be sure to keep it updated after you install it.

3) Keep your copy of IE updated through Windows Update, which you should be running anyway.

Or don’t use IE.

Point the second:

Now, I know that you’re big into methods of piracy, and even though you’ve fielded eleventy billion questions on it, I have one more. I’ve been using Torrents for a while now (I got Matrix 2 off of a torrent 2 days before it hit theaters) and Suprnova’s pretty much been the way I go. I also use Shareaza because it can handle torrents plus EDonkey. You gave an alt to Suprnova as a place to get torrents and I checked it out. It was pretty nice, but it took me back to those “warez” days of 94-97 due to all of the files that were no good, failed hunts, etc. I was wondering, is there any engine out there that you can actually do a SEARCH for a torrent and find it? I’ve been trying to get KOTOR for a while and this ultra slow hit/miss on EDonkey just isn’t cutting it anymore (been in the 80% for a week).

First of all, I have ‘Raza on my system, but I’m using it only for Gnutella and G2. Its eDonkey implementation is far behind the core programs (it doesn’t have Kademlia, for instance), and so is its BT implementation. Also, ‘Raza’s author has done a great job at alienating a lot of other client authors, and some popular clients actually ban ‘Raza (BearShare did for a while, for instance). I prefer using an eMule mod for eDonkey work and, as I said above, Azureus for BT. You can get the latest eMule mods here. I’ve never gone wrong with a Sivka mod. The only problem in switching from ‘Raza to a dedicated eMule mod is that you lose whatever you have in progress due to incompatibility with partial files.

Now, as for a torrent search engine, there are a lot of people who want to come up with one and a lot of people who claim to have one. But due to the transient nature of torrents, it’s impossible to keep track of. There’s nothing really stable per se about the protocol like with eDonkey. With BT, when it comes to big programs (and KOTOR is four CDs), you’re at the mercy of the seeder and hope that he or she stays online long enough for someone to grab everything and start seeding themselves. That’s the case with the few torrents I’ve found for KOTOR that are active right now; no one’s seeding. Just keep snooping around and checking for it. It’s a popular enough program that someone will end up seeding it and you can grab it.

What annoys me most about the sites on BTSites is that a lot of them are boards that require registration. No thanks. Yeah, they’re supposedly keeping out the narcs, but no thanks.

Former YAM winner Coby Preimisberger wants to go anti-Democrat again, but this time not in a moronic fashion, so I’m letting him:

What I hate are hypocrites and once again your party are being hypocrites. On comments that Chris Dodd made ot Robert Byrd on his long and distuginhsed career in the Senate. His comments specifically stating Byrd was a man for all seasons and would have fit in any time of are countries history including the Civil War. Now these comments may be true, but one problem, Byrd was once a member of the KKK, now I do know Byrd has changed, but you just don’t say that. The reason I bring up Chris Dodd, becuase he’s the same man who ripped into Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott for his comments on Strom Thurmond, saying we would’ve been better off in 1948, had Thurmond had been elected. It was stupid and if Lott was chastized, why isnt Dodd being chastized as well. Simple the elite media doesn’t have the guts. Heck the only other mention of this, besides Fox News, is Roll Call, which is definitely not a right-wing quarterly.

First of all, Roll Call is not right-wing, but they do tend toward the right. Second, it was never proven that Robert Byrd was a KKK member. However, he definitely had to make accomodation for the KKK when starting off his career, because they were a force in West Virginia in the Democratic ranks. That doesn’t excuse it, but it’s just an example of Byrd’s ability to play politics at the highest level. The guy is a master of that, and a master of pork-barrel spending as well. Being a product of Chicago, I tend to forgive that moreso than other people. The difference between Dodd’s remarks and that idiot Lott’s is that Robert Byrd has never been a proponent of overt racism the way Thurmond was (and all this while getting Brown Sugar and having a half-black daughter), and Dodd wasn’t extolling that part of Byrd the way Lott did with Thurmond. In other words, the remarks weren’t impolitic. The only people who decided that they were were members of the media who were biased against Dodd, namely Fox News. Lott’s remarks, though, offended even his fellow Republicans. That’s what the difference was, not some crackpot right-wing belief about the “liberal media”.

He continues viz. Richard Clarke:

Plus if Richard Clarke were such a big guy, then why did his agents not book him on one Fox News Channel Show, O’Reilly Factor understandable, but all the Fox News Channel shows, I know that Fox and Friends while at times can be confratational is a friendly show and isn’t it odd that CBS got the first interview and then wouldn’t mention during the 60 Minutes piece that Simon and Shuster, the book arm of Viacom, was the bookhouse releasing his book.

Because Fox News is biased and would be out for blood if Clarke appeared on any of their shows. Period. As for the fact that he went on 60 Minutes, consider the fact that the show is the most important American news magazine show and has been for three and a half decades now. It’s the outlet you go to with a story as big as this. The whole Viacom connection is overblown in your mind (probably just another piece of evidence in the “liberal media” conspiracy). Viacom has an ownership stake in WWE. Does that mean that I should consider Bradshaw’s statements as being in Viacom’s interest?

Please, son, give it a rest and get the ideological blinders off.

KROMODAS13 tries to link wrestling and politics as well, asking me what I think about Ric Flair coming out in support of Dubbaya. That’s his right. He’s a rich white guy from a southern state in his 50s. I’d be shocked if he wasn’t a Republican. As for me not going off on Flair for doing this while I’d go off on Flex if he did the same, remember that Flex did address the Gathering Of Pure Evil in 2000. Unfortunately, at the time, I kept politics out of the column (I didn’t start until the election that year). That was beyond what Flair’s done, though.

Benjamin Rickert wants to go deep into the political waters and start talking about free trade:

Would a democratic candidate ever have the courage to discuss how free trade not only has the potential to hurt U.S. manufacturing jobs, but it isn’t doing any good for third world countries that these agreements purportedly benefit as well. Notice that third world countries which generally have comparative advantages in agricultural and less capital intensive manufactured goods find free trade provisions on agriculture absent, and several exceptions to many less intensive capital goods subject to exceptions (i.e., textiles). Add to that the fact that Western IP rights concepts are forced onto developing countries through TRIPs and the Berne Convention, when 90% of IP originates in the US and Europe. Further, multilateral dispute settlement bodies, such as the WTO, favor wealthier countries who receive repeat player benefits (as the US and EU are involved in 90% of WTO litigation. The WTO litigation trend has tailed off a bit, in part due to the Legal-Aidesqe body set up by the WTO; however, the US and EU certainly maintain a decided advantage in multilateral dispute settlement. The short answer may be the US public could not care less about how free trade affects third world countries, but I think it would be a refreshing stance to say not only does free trade present risk to us, the majority of empirical evidence shows that it does not benefit poorer countries’ economies (except in skillful comparative advantage graphs done in ECON 200 courses at UC.

It’s not normally discussed in political arenas because the issues are very complicated. There’s a lot of simplification done when it comes to the effects of free trade and the building up of protectionism in certain areas that the Third World could gain an advantage, and that simplification normally devolves into an outsourcing argument. If free trade was universal, there would be a benefit to Third World economies, but right now, there’s too much protectionism going on, as you said.

The two areas you mention are trending heavily toward anti-competitiveness, but in one of those areas, opportunity is making itself available. I’ll discuss that one first, and that’s the issue of IP, especially in relationship to computers and computer technology. Thanks to the DMCA and its EU equivalent, traditional methods of extending and advancing IP like reverse engineering are suddenly being outlawed, and companies are being sued to death because of it, like 123 Software with DVD X-Copy. Countries that give a nod and a wink to the Berne Convention and who are outside the US and EU or its sphere of technological influence (and that includes Japan) can still utilize those techniques, and there are countries who are tech-savvy but poor and are motivated enough to do so (Russia, India, non-EU Europe). If the DMCA isn’t repealed, there will be a major catch-up in those areas within ten years.

Now agriculture I know something more about. I’ve studied EU meat inspection laws just to compare and contrast, and like the laws we currently operate by in the US, they are favored toward agri-conglomerates who can afford the “safety” measures that the laws mandate. Furthermore, agricultural laws in both the US and the EU are utterly ridiculous. The CAP was forced through Brussels by the political power of French and German farmers, and creates an atmosphere that’s very hostile to imports of agricultural products. If forced to compete on equal terms, those farmers couldn’t win, because prices would be driven low, and they can’t really compete on quality. The farm support programs here in the US are one of the biggest welfare programs in existence, keeping prices of farm goods inordinately high. Of course, the agri-conglomerates here don’t help the situation any. The price of chicken and beef is whatever Tyson/IBP wants it to be, period. Convenience foods are essentially fixed by ConAgra and Kraft.

So what am I getting at? Nothing, really. It’s just that with the amount of political pressure that’s brought to bear and due to the complexity of the situation in the minds of voters, no candidate will ever get into an abstract discussion about free trade and its effects on the global economy. They let the macroeconomists worry about that.

That’s it for this column. I’ll be back this weekend for the Round Table over in Wrestling, while you can keep enjoying everyone else here. Toodles.