My IPR on my IPR infringement scheme have been infringed upon!

"Valencia? These are juice oranges!"

I was busy vacillating over whether to use my real name and address when signing one of those most-likely-frivolous online petitions a few days ago when I learned that someone stole an idea that I’d been keeping under my hat for some time.

I recently stumbled into a situation that provided me with expansive access to JSTOR, an online service that provides access to scanned, OCR’ed, and generally nicely polished content from so-called “academic journals”, which are indistinguishable, as far as I can tell, from the more plebeian-sounding magazines they actually are. The content is great, but the prices are just disgracefully high. They’re prohibitively high, in fact. The average person cannot afford to access the content they, presumably, painstakingly digitized. You can pay for a subscription for some ungodly amount or you can pay to download individual articles. If you’re an infrequent user, I suppose the latter is the better idea, but it’s still absurdly expensive.

My school, however, has a subscription to JSTOR, as well as other similar services, such as Springerlink. As soon as I found this out I noticed that they’re doing something sneaky where they’ve got a proxy server set up that students can use to remotely access the school JSTOR account and download content from anywhere. In other words, the school is not-so-subtly encouraging its students to engage in disingenuous behaviour, if not blatantly illegal copyright infringement.

I had known of the existence of JSTOR and some other similar services before enrolling in this school, but I never imagined I would be able to access the content. For that matter, I was sceptical of whether the content even existed, since JSTOR and Springerlink are invariably the top search results on Google when you search for the title of an article or the name of an author on Google Scholar. It seemed similar to the phenomenon by which you’re searching for a DDL link or torrent of some obscure object of desire and Google presents you with links to torrent indexers like Bitsnoop and or DDL site search services like Filestube, which you click only to see that it just leads to a page informing you that no results were found for whatever you typed into Google. In other words, just an SEO tactic used to steer visitors looking for thing X to the JSTOR website where they procceed to sell you things Y and Z.

Having said that, I now know that JSTOR is a legitimate service that actually has the media they purport to have available.

Seeing how great the service apparently was, it seemed like a given that I could just go on over to my favourite torrent indexer or private tracker and download gigabytes of PDFs harvested from JSTOR for free. No dice though. I was very surprised, since it seemed like the sort of content to which the benefit of piracy would extend greatly, due to its ridiculous price. That is, it seems to me that the benefit of pirating, for example, a $15 music CD is relatively low when compared to the risk and discomfort of the moral qualms it may arouse, whereas pirating a PDF of academic materials that would have cost you $250 to purchase is a better risk to take. Educational content seems to be more expensive than popular content. I don’t know why; they’re printed on the same paper and pressed on the same CDs and DVDs as popular media. Perhaps it’s not that they’re more expensive because they’re educational but rather that niche stuff is always more expensive and many educational materials are considered niche enough to render a price comparable to popular materials unviable.

I’m digressing though.

Finding that, on the one hand, I couldn’t afford to purchase the materials I wanted legally, while, on the other, I couldn’t even acquire them illicitly if I wanted to, I was in a bind. That’s why I was happy when I enrolled in this school and learned of how they’re basically encouraging us to download content from JSTOR with reckless abandon (and, implicitly, do with it what we will).

You’d have to be an idiot or someone with absolutely no sense of opportunism at all not to think about making some script or other that downloads everything available to you from JSTOR and then publishing a torrent of it. Of course, let me make clear that I am a law abiding citizen and would never actually do that; I’m just emphasizing that you’d have to be pretty dense not to take notice of an opportunity that presents itself quite so flamboyantly.

But, to my simultaneous chagrin and moral endorsement — distinct from practical endorsement (read: I do not endorse this) — the founder of, Aaron Swartz, stole my idea, as people seem to have a penchant for doing. He was promptly arrested, it seems, but, to JSTOR’s credit, they did not pursue a civil suit against him, though the gummint threw the book at him.

This all happened in July, but I didn’t know anything about it until the other day, when I was signing one of those ubiquitous petitions against SOPA and PIPA. I didn’t want to give my name and address on a website run by some PAC I knew nothing about. For all I knew was run by American Crossroads. But it’s not; it’s run by an east coast pirate redditor whiner hipster-doofus troublemaker who stole my idea and I’m okay with that.

I think I encountered a cpanel bug

My host moved the mysql server a week or so ago so I expected to have some downtime. I feel stupid that it took me so long to realise that they had finished the move due to what I believe is a cpanel bug. They finished the move a long time ago but I couldn’t log in because of this bug (and intermittent ddos didn’t help either). Even though my login credentials hadn’t changed, I still kept getting an error message at the phpmyadmin login screen as well as this error from WordPress, which I had never seen before:

We were able to connect to the database server (which means your username and password is okay) but not able to select the “databasename” database

It turns out that all I had to do was change my password by clicking “Change Password” in cpanel and then everything worked. It also still worked when I tried changing it to something else and then changing it back immediately. But if I hadn’t read about this bug on a forum somewhere I never would have known. I would have just sat here twiddling my thumbs assuming that the problem was due to residual issues from the move. I’m very happy now though, in any case.

Before realizing that this was such a trivial thing to fix, I tried visiting some of the other sites hosted on this server (in a virtual machine, of course) to see if they were having problems too and, sure enough, most of them just throw out “Error establishing a database connection”.

I’m happy that exams are over (but I quit anime again)

I'm a winner.

I quit anime again. Initially this was because I figured I’d be playing Skyrim right now but I’ve been embraced by one of my periodic waves of morality and decided that I will buy it instead. In keeping with that decision, however, I’ll now be waiting a year or so until the price decreases.

If I’m not watching anime or playing Skyrim though I have no real reason to keep writing anything. I never have anything interesting to say anyhow. I’m to media consumers as Takeru Kobayashi is to diners. I’m the least discerning viewer out there.

Calling someone a Type B anime viewer can have a pejorative connotation. I once maintained the delusion that I could claim to be a Type A viewer because I count series and films like Ghost in the Shell, Serial Experiments Lain, NHK ni Youkoso! and Satoshi Kon movies among my all-time favourites. But I can no longer delude myself about being a Type A viewer when I’ve also seen Okusama wa Joshikousei. I’m not a connoisseur, I’m a garbage disposal.

One of my guilty pleasures is watching Hoarders on television. This is a reality TV show in which camera crews and TV therapists exploit people who suffer from chronic disorganization and clutter in their homes. Some of these people are really hopeless nutcases who pose a danger to themselves and their neighbours, but others are just normal people who have too much junk in their homes. Part of the definition of a “hoarder” that the show employs is that, regardless of the type of item that the patient accumulates, it must be relatively worthless. Occasionally they profile people who do collect valuable items. They’re not hoarders; they’re collectors. I see an analogy between the behaviours of these people and my own omnivorous appetite for pandering, derivative, clichéd shows that rely on preexisting, done to death tropes rather than taking a leap and telling an interesting story.

If it weren’t for FTTH and my lack of ethics, I’d be the ideal consumer. I can easily imagine myself buying any Blu-ray with an attractive cover design, any video game with voice actors I like, and anything associated with a studio that produced a single franchise that I may have once enjoyed, regardless of how abhorrent their subsequent work may have been. I have no taste whatsoever. The only reason I can associate somewhat competently with people when they talk about anime masterpieces is because I watch everything. The principle of averages means that it’s inevitable that I eventually watch some gems with the kind of methodology I employ.

Having said that, I’ve stalled on one of the only two shows I’m keeping up with this season: Idolmaster. To my credit, I’m still watching the type A show, Mawaru Penguin Drum. The opening of this most recent episode reminded me of that famous painting which, proving to myself that I’m not a complete buffoon, I knew was by Seurat, though I had to look up the name,

This show is great, but I sometimes find that, rather than strain my head to try and construct some understanding of the overall plot, I just say to myself, “Fuck it. I’ll give the show the benefit of the doubt that it’s profound”. The more abstract an episode is and the harder the narrative thread is to discern, the more likely I am to be impressed yet the less likely I am to understand why.

Figuring out exactly what I am supposed to be most impressed by is too much effort so I sometimes skip the drawn-out post-viewing contemplation session and jump ahead to the part where I just give the show credit for saying something incisive, deconstructing some taken-for-granted assumption about the social world, or challenging my preconceived notions about some social construct, even without knowing which cornerstone of my worldview has just been shattered. It could be all of them for all it matters. Something is certainly being chipped away at. It just remains to be seen exactly what.

As for my vengeance driven experiment, I’ll go ahead and try to resume that next week. I couldn’t very well count how many people were using electronic devices while taking exams. Incidentally, I don’t know whether I should do a facepalm or be impressed at the security-by-obscurity tactic to prevent forgeries used by the City University of New York on their official department stamps:

One more thing: child broiler? What is that? a German fairy tale?

Blargh… midterms are hard (and days 6 and 7)

If only I could be more carefree and forget about highfalutin status symbols like good grades and literacy I could spend more time watching Enlightened, Bored to Death , and all the terrible anime airing this season that I can’t resist and I’d finally be able to buy and play Tales of Xilia. But alas, I’m stuck here trying to learn the difference between a taisha zukuri and a shinmei zukuri while keeping track of these loony characters:

With all these names, I almost feel as though showing them in kanji would actually help me learn them. Even if I don’t know how to read them, the kanji could at least help memorization, if only because it would allow me to devise some mnemonic devices. I don’t know who Sarutakhiko is, but if I saw his name in kanji and saw the 猿田毘古 I’d assume he was a monkey or if I saw Ame no Wakahiko, 天若日子, I’d assume he was some young guy sent from the heavens, which is actually partially correct since he came from “high up heavenly place”, 高天原, and married Shitateruhime according to the Nihon Shoki. Even if you’re like me and can’t read, if you know a few basic kanji you can make some bullshit guesses that might be good enough for an exam if you can see the names written out in Japanese. You don’t need to be able to know that it’s phonetically “Takamagahara” to deduce that it’s some kind of heavenly realm. In romaji though you can’t even take a wild guess like that except for the most obvious distinctions like the safe assumption that names ending in -hiko are probably male gods. Some of those names, moreover, aren’t even spelled correctly. Ignoring for a moment the differences between traditional and modified Hepburn, Taka-Mikazuchi no Kami should be Take-Mikazuchi no Kami, Sukuna-hikona no Kami and Sukuna-bikona no Kami are the same kami and thus shouldn’t be listed twice or separately, and I’m not sure who Tokoshiro nushi no Kami is supposed to be. It’s probably supposed to be Kotoshiro nushi no Kami, 事代主神, and may be the same as Ebisu in some contexts, who was a son of Ookuni nushi no Mikoto and is a god of fishing or something like that.

Thankfully I don’t actually need to know all these names, least of all Ame Nigishi Kuni Nigishi Amatsu Hiko Hiko Ho no Ninigi no Mikoto, who I think is supposed to be the father of Emperor Jinmu. I just enjoy complaining. I must know the important ones though. The question, of course, is deciding which are important. I think that any names that I hadn’t heard of before enrolling in this class are unimportant enough to not bother remembering; that’s just the kind of hubris I need to muster up to avoid getting melted hippocampus all over my shirt collar. Any name that’s famous enough for me to have known about the god or place before entering the class must be important enough to warrant focus. I didn’t know who Sarutakhiko was and he’s apparently pretty important.

If only there were a Chinese cartoon that could solidify their identities in my mind…that’s how I learned all about Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Eventually I’ll read Water Margin too. I can get a cheap copy of the nice boxset from Foreign Language Press from eBay.

Anyway, here are days 6 and 7:
Abstract here

Day #Offences for male students (within 5 minutes of start of class) #Total offences for male students (inclusive)
6 0 0
7 3 4
Day #Offences for female students (within 5 minutes of start of class) #Total offences for female students (inclusive)
6 7 12
7 8 11
Day #Total offences(Male + Female) %Offenders [%Offenders(adjusted)]
6 12 24% [40%]
7 15 30% [50%]