I try to read as many news “sources” as I can. I say “sources” as opposed to “newspapers” because, let’s face it, “newspaper” is sooo 2009. In an average day, I’ll check CNN.com, the NY Times, the local news from my hometown, the news from the Albany area, and several news sources from where I live now in the North Country. Also, when I say “read,” what I actually mean is “glance at the headlines and the first few sentences that are visible without clicking on the link.”
I have a routine surrounding my news gathering. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is stumble to the living room, pick up my laptop, and load up the news. I’ll slowly (very slowly) get ready for work. Once there, the first thing I do is stumble to my office, sit down at my desktop, and load up the news…again. Every day, I anticipate some huge, world changing event to transpire in the two minutes it takes me to get from my apartment to my office. (By the way, don’t ever live where you work. It may be convenient, but it also means you never don’t work.) What’s more, I am disappointed when I load up the news at work and nothing has happened. It’s like a great, big letdown.
As I sit at my desk, I will compulsively reload webpages all day long, once again on the chance that something huge has happened. Up to this point, we can safely find fault in my behavior. That whole “compulsively checking for some horrendous world-wide news that will give me a reason to leap from my desk and say to my co-workers, ‘Hey! Did you guys hear about this?” and then feel important because I told them something they didn’t know” thing that I do?“ I’m not proud it, but it is my burden to shoulder and I accept it. However…
The news is at fault too! And I don’t mean the news agencies. I mean the actual news. It’s boring! Sure, there are lots of terrible things happening to lots of innocent people. I get it. But can we talk about me for a minute, please? It has been several days since a celebrity has had a sex tape or naked photos stolen. Come on, people! I need some low-quality porn! Also, enough about the economy! What about the Justin Bieber paternity test? That kid went through puberty about 20 minutes ago. It’s about time there was a sex-related story about him. Oh! And never forget…about Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling almost killed off a character that she created in books that she wrote! How dare she almost do something?! Those books don’t belong to her…except in every sense of the word “belong.” Those are our books!
I realize there are lots of people who are much funnier than I, with a much larger audience, who are way more informed on all that the news is doing wrong. My point is this: This is what people want from the news. It’s like a bizarre form of user error. Furthermore, I am definitely one of the err’ing users. Give me the choice between a story about government corruption run amok or Paris Hilton’s missing dog and I will walk away knowing way too much about celebrity canines. I mean, let’s face it, the government will eventually work through that whole corruption problem. But Paris Hilton? That woman will be famous forever. Clearly, I have my priorities in order.
In this age of everything internet, we may, at times, take for granted the unlimited and inexhaustible resource we have in online options. You can do almost anything online. Want to buy groceries? No problem. Pay all of your bills? Easy. Get a doctorate? I swear to god, you don’t even have to talk to someone. So in an age when everything is easy and accessible, I try and imagine the creators of the internet and what they must think of this frankenstienian creature into which they breathed life. I have written a little play…only a few words! Go ahead and give it a read.
Jesus: Hey, Dad?
God: ‘Sup, Little J?
Jesus: I was thinking…you know how people are meant to be good and just and moral and all that?
God: Do I? I practically wrote the book on it!
Jesus: Well, I was thinking about how challenging it can be for people to lead good lives and…
God: (Very paternally) Go on, Son. You know you can tell me anything and I promise I won’t be mad. What’s the worst I could do?
Jesus: (Nervously rubs the palms of his hands) Well, what if we make it really easy to not do that? Like, all it would take is sitting down at a desk, wiggling your fingers, and suddenly you find yourself in a den of inquity hitherto unimagined by the likes of man?
God: That’s an awesome idea. Get me Satan on the line.
This little vignette is based on a true story.
So now that the internet is here (shout out to the Light Bringer!) we find ourselves confronted with issues that we never before considered. Back in the mid-90s, it was a lack of understanding about the internet itself. No one knew what was possible when you combine a computer, an internet connection, a morbidly obese computer expert (by which I mean nerd), and a frightening amount of orange soda and Cheetos. By about 2000, the age of internet piracy had really begun. I knew people who had tens of thousands of songs they got from Napster. (I was certainly not one of these people. Nor did I download, six days before its release, that Metallica album they bragged would never be leaked. I don’t even like Metallica.)
These days, it’s less about internet piracy and more about internet privacy. Thus we come to the real topic at hand: obnoxious and misleading governmental jargon and acronyms. As I write this, a hotly debated topic in Washington is the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA. Now don’t be confused. Sure, internet piracy is a huge part of this bill, but there are privacy implications as well. The long and short of the bill is this: The US can’t control websites that are housed on servers outside of the US. A website operating in a country that has looser copyright laws is accessible by anyone in the US with an internet connection. This new law would force internet providers to block their subscribers from seeing any content that infringes on US copyright.
Well, that doesn’t seem so bad, right? It’s a law that enforces an already existing law. But, as with anything like this, there is the potential for long-term effects. What is to stop the government from later deciding that this law should also cover content thought to be in bad taste? So now, that awesome website operated out of Freakypornistan is not accessible to the US. Not a huge deal necessairily, but we’ve just established a precedent that will inexoribly lead us to a limited number of websites like GodSaidManSaid.com. (Seriously…that’s a real site. It is awesome in how completely unawesome it is.)
But what can we do about all this? If you’re just an average joe, you can contact your congressperson or senator (on the internet, ironically enough). If you’re a movie studio, you can laugh manically as you throw kittens on burning piles of hundred dollar bills. If you’re an incredibly popular (and free!) website, you can blackout your US site for 24 hours. (Although, this is probably a dumb idea considering the people who use your website more than anyone else are the aforementioned obese Cheetos consumer and likely don’t need to be convinced that SOPA is a bad idea.)
In a show of internet solidarity, BlueMilePodcast.com will go black from 2:47 am to 2:48 am EST. That oughta show those bastards in Washington a thing or two. (If anyone wants to send a link to BlueMilePodcast.com to their senator or congressperson…please don’t. We’d rather stay under the radar. Jess has fears that could only be described as Orwellian.)
Rest assured, no matter what happens, someone will be hugely pissed off and declare that the end of freedom is upon us. Regardless, the BlueMilePodcast will still be here leading the charge for the tens of people who visit the site each month. Well, we probably need to exclude the bots that hit our site, so we’ll be here for the ten of you.
I’m having an identity crisis. Ever since I was a youngling, I believed that my heart truly belonged to the movement of the Rebel Alliance. As a privileged, white, upper middle class female, I was raised to think that I was questioning authority by utilizing the Socratic Method while regurgitating the liberal agenda that was being spoon-fed to me by my left-wing commie teachers. Obviously. My name has appeared at the bottom of countless documents supporting the liberal agenda. Gay marriage is ok marriage! Keep the US government out of my womb! No blood for oil!
Last month I split from my domestic partner of four years. I braved the Champlain and drove to visit a friend from college in downtown Burlington. We were to meet in a tea shop and validate each other’s angst. So here I am, thinking insularly, acting selfishly, and finding a parking spot. As I round the corner the roar of the unwashed masses reached me. “You are the 99%!” they told me as I was enveloped. Conveniently, the parade was headed towards my destination, and like a passive participant on a Lazy River, I accidentally Occupied Burlington.
Why did I not get excited? Why did I not jump for joy at the opportunity to be a part of my generation’s movement? The answer, my friends, is one that would break the heart of previous incarnations of myself: Things are going pretty well for me as it stands. I am employed by a decent organization that is paying me above the living wage. I’m insured, housed, clothed, and fed. To take off and hunker on down on Wall Street would cost a bus ticket—and my employment status. And then how would I pay my student loans?
And so it hits me. I am one of those sad bastards that was blown up on the Death Star. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not enlisting as a member of the 501st. (Wait. Did they accept women? THOSE SEXIST BASTARDS.) You know, I would have my desk job working for an Empire approved Not-For-Profit. I’d convince myself that I was making a bit of a difference. I certainly wouldn’t be in a position to WikiLeak the secret Death Star plans to the rebels. But hey, it was a trap anyway.
I blame the beta release of Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR) for feeding into this Occupy Wall Street guilt. How hypocritical would it be to claim that I was fighting on behalf of the Republic? Yet I’d feel so sith-y if I were to jump the aisle and shake hands with those Ewok haters. (Do you see what I did there? You’re welcome.)
So, rock on, Occupiers. Leia Organa would be proud. And let me know if you want to crash on the couch in my heated house when it gets a little bit colder. We could totally marathon the original trilogy and order a pizza.
What is the Blue Mile Podcast?
We've often wondered the same thing. We're pretty sure that we're a sketch comedy troupe from Upstate New York and New England. We'd tell you more, but your question has sent us into an existential crisis. Thanks a lot.