Links: Fan- and Media-induced Depression; a Bold Plan; Professional Weinman; Looking at the Wrong Hands; and Ketching Up

Links is a segment focusing on providing you with links worth clicking.  These are articles, podcasts and radio programs, and videos that shed new light on the world around you.  Links is not about promoting philosophies (although I reserve the right to slobber my commentaries with a heavy dose of opinion) and taking you in partisan circles; occasionally, you will find a piece with which I disagree and may virulently lambast, but nevertheless feel needs to be highlighted.  It's about staying informed and seeing through both eyes.


Emmett "Doc Bear" Smith, in a piece about the It's All Over, Fat Man! community, makes several semi-related points that provide some perspective on the way modern coaches and athletes are treated.  Here is what he says about Bill Walsh, one of the greatest NFL coaches ever:
Bill Walsh, just as an example, despite the validity and importance of all the innovations he left behind as well as his own three SB wins in a decade (and, leaving a team to his successor that was so good that they, with some pretty fine guidance from the new HC, won the next Super Bowl as well), was essentially hounded from the game by both the media and the community. He found that he simply could not adjust to the incessant criticism. His experience with that aspect of the job was that the hostility he received was so foreign to him, so out of touch with how he saw reality, and so constant that it eventually overwhelmed him. He could not understand what drove it, and it eventually broke him inside in some very deep ways.
If the great Bill Walsh can't escape "the incessant criticism", who can?  It's rather sad that this man was driven away from something he loved by the actions of others.  Remember this next time you want to criticise your favourite team.  What is the value of being too harsh?

Smith also recalls the league's reaction to the videotaping scandal of 2007, in which most of the fuss appeared to come from fans:
The taping scandal was ignored around much of the league just because so many people admitted that it was a pretty common practice around the league, and of limited help. Very quickly, everyone knows everything about you, in terms of your tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. It’s all right there on film, and there’s more evidence to sift as the season goes on. That’s when you find out who the better teams are. The league’s central office and franchises really didn’t want to talk too much about that, either - you’ll notice that the whole thing was just suddenly shut down, with no real explanation. There have been several stories on this that I trusted, a consistency to the timeline that suggested that it wasn’t going to be allowed to linger because it would have cast the league in a bad light.
Read the full article for more.


The EU has an audacious and slightly over-ambitious plan to protect the privacy of internet users and "boost Europe's digital economy".  The proposal includes creating a single set of rules that will be valid across the entire EU, forcing companies to "notify the national supervisory authority of serious data breaches as soon as possible (if feasible within 24 hours)" and abide by EU rules even if they handle personal data abroad but operate in an EU market, allowing users to access their own data and "delete their data if there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it" (an easy loophole can be found in this one: all a company would have to do is create a legitimate ground; like, say, putting in one's privacy policy or terms of agreement that retaining data is for quality purposes and improving the web.  Users need to have the right to delete their data no matter what - but within reason - just like a supermarket doesn't have the right to keep you buying there.), and strengthening independent national data protection authorities.

These are very broad strokes, but they are also, in my opinion, going in the right direction.  Now, several companies disagree.

According to iTnews, "While Google agreed with that right, the wording of the draft was "unclear", "very technical" and in some situations "unworkable", in particular where it involves a third party that does not have control over that data."  Microsoft's European chief operating officer Ronald Zink said, "How can consumers give or withdraw consent in ways that are relevant to their particular activities? Do specific procedures or even technologies really need to be mandated?"  They also add that, "Another potential problem is the requirement that service providers not impede data portability, that could allow a person to move data between services - for example, from Facebook to Google+".  Although one can indeed see the problems that would present for those services, the benefits for the users from such a development are immense.  Just think how much easier it would be to start over elsewhere after deleting an account.  Users will love it, but websites like Facebook that maintain questionable data retention policies will have to alter or abolish these policies - or face the consequences.  Good for us, bad for them.

For now, we know at least one country is siding with "them", as Malte Spitz, a German politician and privacy advocate says, "[...] Everybody looks forward to this. In Germany the Government formed by conservatives and liberals don't want to touch the issue to modernize the German data protection legislation."


In Metal Insider's excellent interview with The Dillinger Escape Plan's Ben Weinman, the guitarist stunned me with his professionalism regarding singer Greg Puciato's recent run-in with a hallucinogenic substance.  Instead of playing the all-too-predictable role of permissive rock star, Weinman ripped into Puciato for his irresponsibility.
I actually talked to him last night. He was like, “wow there was a lot of press about that…that’s crazy.” I said ‘look, you gotta realize, I might be in Jersey in my basement writing the record and you’re out in Hollywood hanging out and experimenting and figuring out what you want to do with your life and how you want to do it and exploring your creativity and that’s great. But you’ve got to realize you’re the front man and you’re the image of what this band is, not me in the basement working my ass off on riffs with a pot of coffee with a lot of fucking excitement and passion without any care for what’s around me. You gotta realize if you put a fucking Mercedes in a shitty fucking Pinto shell, everyone is just going to see a shitty Pinto shell. They are not going to see the core of what went into that fucking machine.’
Weinman then went on to reject the importance of drugs to creativity, particularly in The Dillinger Escape Plan:
[...] drugs have been the farthest thing from a part of what this band is. I’ve actually researched drugs and how it effects creativity, I have a degree in psychology, and I’ve done a lot of research on it and I think its very interesting. The Beatles are one of my favorite bands and George Harrison has been very vocal about how at one point, certain things being part of the creative process. But I will say that you can find answers on every side if you look hard enough and the more intelligent you are, the worse it is because you have the ability to intellectualize it and find ways where you think it might be a good idea. I’ve been doing this for 15 years, I’m older then everybody in the band. I’ve had friends die from drug abuse and seen a million bands come and go and I know this. All I can say is this, no drug in the world could have helped create Calculating Infinity. When that record came out, nobody had heard anything like it. To this day when I listen to that record it still sounds crazy as shit. It doesn’t sound like anything and that’s the reality. So while no drug in the world could have made that happen, drugs could have very well made that not happen, and that’s a fact.
Agree with him or not, one has to respect him for thrashing one of metal's old clichés.


"Washington elites may squabble over some things, but as for foreigners killed by our numerous wars, our Beltway crew adheres to a sullen code of omertà."  Chase Madar says, before continuing, "Club rules do, however, permit one loophole: Washington officials may bemoan the nightmare of civilian casualties - but only if they can be pinned on a 24-year-old Army private first class named Bradley Manning."

Is Bradley Manning a hero, or a villain?  The very same people that "endorsed a major escalation of the war in Afghanistan" believe it is the latter, without seeing the irony.  Madar argues that, while the  pro-war lackeys of Washington D.C. saw blood on the hands of Manning and WikiLeaks, it actually was and is on their own.


In the most recent episode of Common Sense, titled "The Big Ketchup Show", Dan Carlin catches up on the slew of stories that popped up since the last episode, including SOPA, the Republican Party Primaries, the corruption of Chris Dodd, and the desecration of dead enemy combatants and resulting aftermath.  What Carlin has to say about the urination story is worth mention. 
People flipped out.  Afghan president Hamid Karzai called the act "inhuman"... and it made me just angry when he said that because, of course, there's nothing more human than that.  People have no conception of what war is like in [the U.S.], and that's why they freak out when they see something like that. 
Carlin goes on to compare it to the reaction to the killing and wounding of civilians by a U.S. Apache helicopter...
People were freaking out about the cold-blooded nature of it, and this, that, and the other thing, and we tried to explain, we did a whole show talking about... the reason people were freaking out is because this was the first time that a whole generation, really, had seen what war is really like.  And it shocked them. 
 ...and then makes his point...
This is what war is.  So, when we decide we're going to get in a war, or go to war, this is what you get.  This is not a videogame.  I used that whole programme as part of my long-running argument that we should not be censoring war footage, that people need to see the real results of their policies.  You need to show people war, and then if they look at it and say, "Oh, my goodness, well, that's, you know, well, we shouldn't be doing that," well, then that's a moral decision.  If they look at it and say, "Well, it's horrible, but we have to do this for A, B, and C," then that's a moral decision.  But if you don't show them the war, and then someone like WikiLeaks releases footage that the U.S. government never would have released, and you see it and you go, "Oh, that's horrible," well, now you see why the U.S. government didn't want you to see it in the first place, right?

A whole generation of military men decided that one of the reasons the Vietnam War went the way the Vietnam War went is because it ended up in America's living rooms, and when they saw what war really was, they were against it.  In other words, not saying that the people disagreed with the motives of the war or whether it was worth it, but that you can't show the American public war and have them come to any conclusion but that it's not worth it.  In other words, simply showing people war as it really is is in and of itself an anti-war statement.
(Wow, I have new-found respect for transcript writers.  That was tough!)  What Carlin is saying is that instead of righteous indignation over this singular event, we need to be thinking of the greater picture: the meaning and value of war.  I'll finish with this:
 Soldiers urinating on dead enemy combatants is as old as war itself.

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