In re: Hawaii…strange

A friend of mine was in Hawaii recently and gave me a call and it got me thinking how strange it is that these islands in the middle of the pacific, so completely far away from my world (read Ohio and east coast cities), yet the phone call isn't international even with the six hours difference and there are no passports.  Why do I think this is strange?  Maybe its just because I haven't been, but also the idea that something could be so far away and still beholden to the rule of Washington.  Somehow the fact that the UK is less of a time difference is just…well strange. 

None of this of course makes for a compelling thesis, but it also had me thinking about the history of Hawaii and how few of us seem to know the history of our newest state (remember it wasn't until 1959 that it became a state)  The first time I realized I didn't know the history of Hawaii was during a class I took in Switzerland during college where the professor wanted to alert us Americans to our possible misconceptions of the world, or at least the bias in our education and proceeded to show us a documentary (an American one no less) on Hawaii (see some history on Wikipedia for those of you inclined) and basically from a large group of Americans who had all been through a few years of college not one of us could really tell anything about how it became a state or admit to having read anything about it in our classes (as a side note my senior year of college I took an intro history course on post reconstruction US history and I believe we covered some of it, and our textbook was written to be 'up to date' including pretty harsh words about things we had done or didn't do, and attempting to portray certain historical figures in a more complex light then we might have had in highschool (for example President Wilson, who didn't appear as enlightened as I had once been led to believe…)  Ok so I guess thats enough on Hawaii…just thought it is strange.


In re: Place-shifting, is it legal?

You may or may not know the Sony Betamax case (Sony v. Universal City Studios) where the Supreme Court held that it was fair use to 'Time-shift' TV shows via videotape, i.e. tape the whole program and watch it at a different, possibly more convenient time. That was all well and good, more recently there has come about the idea of location shifting or place-shifting, such as the Slingbox which allows you to watch your own tv shows (live stream) via the internet. Similarly SageTV has just come out with place-shifting software.
Apparently Slingbox is extremely popular with certain markets, such as business travelers who can watch their home teams in their hotel rooms, or in the airports (assuming they pay the rip off fees I've mentioned before) This is all well and good, but the question comes in do content providers want you place shifting your TV shows? You've clearly paid for the content (its coming into your house via the air, cable or satellite) and would be entitled to watch it in your house, but can you watch it half way around the world? or across town? or across the country? For some things like sports they have meticulously setup regions and blackout zones where you won't see the broadcast (the other night the cleveland indians game for example was only shown on the local channel and not ESPN, but if I lived somewhere else and slingboxed it here, or if i had a friend who would let me log in and watch his TV) So you see the potential problems, including setting up slingbox accounts for people who don't live there to send them games that would be out of market (NFL is probably the most likely to hate this as their games are broadcast on air and are mostly at the same time, so regional restrictions matter)
The argument that place-shifting was fair sue was made in the case of UMG v. and the court didn't accept it. That case dealt with shifting CDs which you proved ownership of once and could then stream from a central server to anywhere else. Clearly this would be different though as you are streaming in the slingbox case your own content, not some central clearinghouses content. Still proximity is at play in certain content such as sports that I mentioned so its unclear to me how this would be treated legally (see here)

"I'll bet there will be a Supreme Court ruling sometime in the next decade specifically addressing this issue: Does the consumer have the right to place-shift as they do time-shift their content?" said Ted Shelton, chief operating officer of Orb Networks, a competitor to Sling Media that offers its own place-shifting software online free of charge.

Then on a side note, is place-shifting going to lead to more homogenization of the country (and is that bad or good?) You can't really argue that sports teams are that local anymore (probably as many yankees fans in Florida as NY) but at one point people went to the game, today TV is a bigger deal. There was an interesting blogpost I thought kind of touched on this called 'Place-shifting Walmart'

Update:  A few articles that I saw recently that are worth checking out on SlingBox and the legal issues:

Will Hollywood sue the SlingBox out of existence?

Goodmon: Stop the SlingBox

In re: The Economics of Smoking

I read an interesting article in the Economist about how some Economists have tried to explain why so many more Europeans smoke than Americans (only 19% of Americans smoke according to their data).  Affluence was ruled out, as was the cost of cigarettes (which are much cheaper in the US for the most part)  The reason the study came up with was that Europeans didn't believe they were as harmful as Americans believed.  "The two authors conjecture that beliefs are the result of smokers' habits, not the cause of them. A person who enjoys his cigarettes has an incentive to persuade himself that they will not do him much harm. But even non-smokers in Europe are less likely than their American counterparts to believe the weed is dangerous."  
I find this answer a bit unsatisfactory however as both the US and Europe have had education on the problems with smoking and somehow I would never have guessed Americans would have been more likely to accept it, who knows.

On a side note I think I may have mentioned it before, but when I go back to Cleveland that doesn't have the smoking ban that we have here in Columbus, I am always amazed at how smokey the bars are there and can't believe that at one time I was used to it to some degree.  (I always smelled it when I got home and had to take a shower to get the smell out of my hair) 

In re: Recent diversion Foyle’s War

Trying to be busy doing work here, but I thought I'd mention since I don't think I have before that I've been really into the British television series Foyle's War.  The show consists of movie length episodes that I think were shown on PBS here a few years ago, I've been watching them on Netflix following seeing it listed under recommendations on the site.  The show follows Detective Foyle, who works in the south of England during WWII.  I am not sure exactly why I like it, but part of it is the interesting juxtaposition of the murders, which in a conventional detective show might seem important, to the war making an individual murder seem relatively unimportant.  Another way it plays in is that constantly Foyle is butting into choices of arresting people and possibly hampering the war effort or going outside the law possibly for the greater good.  Generally he seems content to follow the law, but in one episode he allows a fishermans son to help with the rescue efforts at Dunkirk.  The show clearly doesn't have the large budget that you might think one would need for a show set, but it is well done and looks good.  Not sure if I'd recommend it to many of my friends as the pacing might be a bit slow and it could be said to lack action, but for someone who likes England and time period it is pretty good.

In re: Your looking at it

So I decided to change hosts so no new posts will be going up on the old site, so feel free to update your bookmarks to this address ( I hope to sometime move to a full featured blog interface where I can have more control, but as of this time that requires hosting fees of at a minimum of $50 a year which I can't justify right now. Anyway, all the older posts have come with me to this site and I'll be going through and categorizing them as time permits (its exams for us so I probably won't be getting to it for a while)

In re: Lemonade and Herbs?

lemonadeSo this weekend I went out and got some herbs at the garden store and put them into some pots on my front porch. Since then I've been able to use them in a few ways, including putting some mint in some fresh made lemonade which I make using a boston cocktail shaker to dissolve the sugar (as opposed to using a simple syrup). Put some mint in and you get a nice contrasting taste. (half a lemons worth of juice and about 2 tbls of sugar for a pint glass worth of lemonade with ice works nicely) You can turn it into a cocktail pretty easily too, by decreasing the water, sugar and adding rum or bourbon, or really anything.

In re: Mounted police back in Cleveland

The Cleveland mounted police force, which was put in hibernation (the horses were kept stabled and paid for by a private trust to save the force) during cost cutting rounds by former mayor Jane Campbell. Apparently the mounted police force is coming back. Why does this matter? Well some would say it doesn't, others of us are excited. "The Cleveland Mounted Police are the second-oldest mounted police unit in the Country, with roots that go all the way back to the nineteenth century Cleveland Cavalry" and if your not into preserving history, theres also the practical matter that mounted police serve in a way that foot patrols or police in cars cannot, as they can move slowly down a sidewalk and observe from up high, not to mention the visibility that they provide. Lastly, people like me (and others) like them for the beauty and placing our police officers in situations that allow people to come forward (people like horses) and interact, reduces the distance between officers and civilians and this is a good thing.

And for a great story from 1904 in the Cleveland News read "Big Kentucky Thoroughbred Is Cleverest, Fastest, Gentlest Animal in the Department Stables" (pdf file)