This & That

posted in: public affairs 0

I’ve been intending to post on several topics over the last week, but just haven’t had a chance. So let me now say “Bravo!” to the members of Congress—especially those Republicans who had the courage to buck their own party—who put a stop (at least for now) to the ill-conceived attempt to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the oil companies. And similarly to the members of Congress who put a stop (at least for now) to the Bush administration’s efforts to slash social programs to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief, while giving a further tax cut to the wealthy.

And let me give a loud raspberry to Sony, for their dangerous and idiotic mission to install spyware and out-of-control copy-protection on computers playing their music CDs. I’m glad they backed down in the face of pressure, but they didn’t admit to doing anything wrong, and they didn’t promise not to try again. Now, I own a fair number of pieces of Sony electronics, including a Net MD Walkman, a mini-CD-playing equivalent to an MP3 player. I love the Walkman (though, now that my daughter has an iPod, my Walkman seems old fashioned), but the biggest drawback to it is that it doesn’t play MP3 files directly, but converts them first to a proprietary Sony format. All part of Sony’s obsession with anti-piracy protection, I guess. I sympathize with the desire to protect their copyright, but I think the best way to do that is to keep doing what they’re already doing—sell music for download at a reasonable price.

Good news at our house when a Panasonic device we call “Grabber” came back from a factory warranty repair. It’s a DVD recorder combined with a Tivo-like digital video recorder—and I just love it. It leaves the VCR back in the 20th Century, from whence it came. Besides automatically recording current shows I want to see, straight from the cable box, it’ll enable me to gradually burn to DVD all those tapes full of movies and Star Treks and West Wings and Actors Studios that threaten to overwhelm our house.

The best news is that I’m heading off tomorrow for a three and a half day writing retreat, at a bed and breakfast at an undisclosed location. In sybaritic solitude, I hope to recover some peace of mind and mental clarity, and basically press Reset on my brain. No schedule to keep, no dogs to walk, no hundred chores to keep track of. Just me, my laptop, my Walkman, and nature. Oh—and the fireplace and jacuzzi. It was my wife’s idea, and she set it all up, and I love her, and may she live forever.

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