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Tool Fans Part 2

Part 1 is floating around somewhere on the Internet, on one of my old blogs somewhere. I don’t know. You can find it if you’re really interested.

After leaving a party because some idiot decided that it would be a good idea to get his gun out of his truck and start shooting–in city limits after dark–I came home and started listening to live A Perfect Circle performances. Since I’m not going to be able to see them while they’re on tour, that’s the best I can do. And I can’t even get started on how much it fucking sucks that I’m not going to be able to see play what is literally one of the greatest and most underrated bands of our time, with indisputably one of the best composers [Billy Howerdel] at the helm. There is no band that has influenced me half as much as Billy Howerdel, though David Gilmour of Pink Floyd is certainly second. But you can hear APC in almost everything I write. Not being able to see them is beyond heartbreaking, to the extent that when someone told me they had tickets, it was extremely difficult to resist the urge to hang up on them for the unbridled insensitivity. It’s hard to state the importance that music has in my life, but nowhere is that importance better exemplified than with A Perfect Circle. Severely underrated, but songs like “Orestes” and “Gravity” are some of the best things a person can listen to.

Go ahead. Listen to Orestes. I’ll wait.

A fucking masterpiece, right?

I mean… What do you even say? The only reason it’s better in the studio version is that the singer was rested up and was able to hit the last chorus an octave higher, which is just… god.

My introduction to Tool came through A Perfect Circle. By happenstance one morning, I saw the music video to A Perfect Circle’s Judith, and I was blown away. It was incredible. It was raw, edgy, and profane, and the lyrics masterfully drove it home. Everything about it captured undistilled emotion and threw it right into your face. When I later heard Schism, I thought that it was A Perfect Circle, and it took me a while to separate the two bands and figure out what was going on. It didn’t help that this was right in the middle of Tool’s dispute with their record company, which led to speculation that A Perfect Circle and Tool were exactly the same band, but with a different name because their record company wouldn’t let them do another album or something. You know how rumors go.

Eventually, I pieced it together, and stumbled across Tool and the album Lateralus. I liked it, but it was no A Perfect Circle. Many people still consider it heresy to say, but there’s absolutely no doubt: Billy Howerdel is a better composer than any of the members of Tool. Perhaps the weakest link in Tool is Adam Jones; I’d love to see what Billy Howerdel, Justin Chancellor, Danny Carey, and Maynard could do together. There was a time that Adam Jones, the guitarist, had a lot of original and clever ideas, and I’m getting to that.

From Lateralus, I went backward and bought Ænima, which I easily fell in love with. Lateralus became largely a thing of the past. “Reflection” was probably my favorite song on Lateralus, but it had nothing on “Third Eye” or “Forty-Six & Two.” There was something qualitatively different between Aenima and Lateralus, but I don’t mean in regard to sound quality, though instrument clarity was multitudes better. It was readily apparent that Tool was no longer an underground band; Aenima had given them the resources to release a studio album with some of the greatest instrument clarity you’ll ever hear. That’s no exaggeration–just check out “The Grudge” for an example of what I mean, or even “Schism” if you’re not sick of it already.

It was more than that, though. It was a gigantic tonal shift, from songs that were about things… to songs that weren’t really about anything. Let me give you an example of what I mean:

Shadows o’er the desert, cast
by the unrepentant crow,
whose callow cries are first and last,
and ring loud from sand to snow.

That’s meaningless bullshit. It sounds very profound. It sounds like it is dripping with meaning and symbolism, but… it isn’t. Any line discussing “shadow” is going to sound symbolic, and throw a desert on top of it, and you’ve got Easy Symbolism For Idiots 101. The next line is my favorite, though: “…by the unrepentant crow.”

What?!

It’s a fucking bird. For what does it have to be repentant?

“…first and last” is an obvious and transparent allusion to the Alpha and the Omega. Is it meaningful? No. I just put it there because it has a pseudo-spiritualistic meaning. It’s nonsense. The cries are first and last? What does that mean? The callow cries? It means nothing, and it means nothing. It just sounds deep. It sounds like it has a lot of meaning to it, a lot of powerful meaning to it, but it’s just bullshit.

Here’s a legitimate scientific study on bullshit. I would suggest everyone who still calls themselves a “Tool fan” to read it. Here’s the first example of bullshit presented by the actually legitimate scientific paper: “Attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation.” It sounds so profound and so meaningful, doesn’t it? But it’s bullshit. At best, it means “You have to try to do stuff for stuff to happen.” That’s hardly a profound thought. One of the biggest indicators of bullshit, actually, is something that I’ve talked a lot about: pretentiousness. Anarchists are really bad about it, surpassed only by voluntaryists. Saying something with three and four syllable words when it could be said more briefly and simplistically is usually an indicator of bullshit, and the scientific study backs me up on that.

The real version: “You have to try to do stuff for stuff to happen.”

The Bullshit version: “Attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation.”

Same meaning, but one is obfuscated severely and made to sound a lot more meaningful than it really is. The same is true of the eye-rolling poetry I wrote above: it’s bullshit without meaning, but it sounds meaningful. But, as is the case with bullshit, if it conveys anything at all, then what it conveys will be an extremely simple idea, or it won’t convey anything.

So what does this have to do with Tool? Well, it should be obvious to anyone familiar with the band.

To be fair to Tool, though, they don’t really go overboard with it. I actually think Tool finds a pretty good balance between bullshit and underlying meaning; usually when they reference something, there is a reason for it, like how the story of Cain and Abel is referenced in “Right in Two” to discuss how humanity divides everything and fights over it petulantly. The song contains some truly profound and meaningful lines, but they also aren’t obfuscated: “Repugnant is the creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here” is pretty clear.

So it’s not really Tool’s fault that this has happened. It’s the fault of people who are so desperate to find meaning in their lives that they make some truly bizarre, nonsensical connections. We’re talking about the people who rearrange the songs from the album Lateralus into the Fibonacci Sequence–or so they say. Somehow, they manage to start this collection–which they call, and I’m not making this up, “The Holy Gift”–with the sixth and seventh songs. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the Fibonacci Sequence applied to Lateralus would include very little of the album and would be:

1. The Grudge
1. The Grudge
2. Eon Blue Apocalypse
3. The Patient
5. Schism
8. Ticks & Leeches
13. Faaip de Oaid or whatever

But, of course, that isn’t what they did, is it? No, somehow they “applied the Fibonacci Sequence” and came up with this tracklist:

6. Parabol
7. Parabola
5. Schism
8. Ticks & Leeches
4. Mantra
9. Lateralus
13. Faaip de Oaid
1. The Grudge
12. Triad
2. Eon Blue Apocalypse
3. The Patient
10. Disposition

I wonder what Fibonacci Sequence they’re using. The only part that makes any sense at all is 1. The Grudge followed by 12. Triad, but then the next song must be 3. The Patient. That would be a neat way of preventing The Grudge from being listed twice, but there’s no way to get 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, or 12 in the lineup. I’m sure they have some lengthy ass document somewhere where a lot of really bored people came up with all kinds of Moon Logic reasoning to explain how they manage to come up with this listing, but we can also find a Moon Logic document on the Internet that shows how the Jews were like totes 4 real responsible for 9/11 and how, seriously, British MPs are shapeshifting Silurians. Once we throw logic out the window, fucking anything goes, including starting the Fibonacci Sequence–which is an actual thing with an actual numeric sequence that most certainly does not start with a 6–with a 6.

Perhaps they meant that it’s based on Phi.

Look, it’s not a coincidence that I have Phi tattooed on my body twice–once as the Greek letter and once as the Golden Shape, nor is it a coincidence that I have Pi tattooed on me. I understand that the universe is a tribute to mathematical function, including human beings. The ratio of your shoulder-to-elbow to shoulder-to-fingertip? 1 to 1.6. The ratio of your head-to-waist to your head-to-feet? 1 to 1.6. Phi. The Golden Ratio. 1:1.6. The Golden Spiral, found all throughout the universe, from spiral galaxies to sunflowers.

So I totally get a person’s fascination and admiration for these things, so much so that I have them tattooed on me. I am marveled and awed by the beautifully woven form of the universe, that the same ratio that dictates the pattern of growth for sunflowers dictates the spirals of a galaxy. It’s nothing short of incredible and breathtaking. But I stop short at attributing any spiritual significance to it. It simply is. I don’t know why, and I don’t see much value in speculating. It’s worth pointing out that Pi is every bit as ubiquitous through the universe as is Phi; Pi is not limited to being the proportion of a circle’s diameter to its circumference. Like Phi, it shows itself throughout our entire universe. And that is why I have them tattooed on me.

But then people start going “Tree of Life” and shit, I have to roll my eyes. There is no need to take something clear and scientific and taint it with spiritual bullshit. Phi is a remarkable proportion found throughout the universe, from conch shells and sunflowers to galaxies. This fact stands on its own. It doesn’t need anyone’s help making it more special by calling it a “manifestation of the divine within us all” and shit like that. It simply is, and it is amazing. It doesn’t need anyone’s help to be appreciated. It’s there for all to see.

Believe it or not, all of this still has to do with Tool. Lunatics aside, there is a lot of beauty and meaning in Tool’s music and in their lyrics. Like Phi and Pi, Tool doesn’t need people’s help; the music stands on its own, without people attributing a bunch of pseudo-scientific bullshit to it. We don’t need conversations about Anasaki and chakras to appreciate the beauty and majesty of Phi. In fact, such things only distract from what is there, from what is clearly visible to anyone who cares to look. As a musician, I think I would honestly be insulted if people said, “Yeah, that riff is great, but what’s really great is how this lead interacts with it to form a tribute to an ancient Tibetan prayer that resonates with the black hole at the center of the galaxy!”

And people do say shit like that about Tool’s music… I ended up clicking *sigh* “The Holy Gift – Full Album” wondering if it was Tool’s new album that has been “on the way” for like 8 years. I thought it was odd that Tool would call an album that, but I clicked it anyway, and it didn’t take long scrolling through the comments before I found someone who said–and I’m not kidding–“Every song here is a tribute to God.”

Honestly, it gives me a headache just thinking about it. If Maynard James Keenan believes anything, it’s overwhelmingly more likely to be that we are all gods. The same guy who wrote a song that contained the lyrics “Fuck your god! Your lord, your Christ–he did this! Took what you had and left you this way, and still you pray, you never stray, you never taste of the fruit, and you never thought to question why?” is absolutely, definitely not writing “tributes to God” of any sort.

Worse yet, it’s all an act, and the band themselves told people that. Maynard has never stopped telling people that. The entire reason there hasn’t been more Tool albums is that he hates Tool fans. He seizes every opportunity to bash them for exactly this shit. They found out that Maynard put the Fibonacci Sequence in the lyrics to Lateralus:

Black
Then
White are
All I see
In my infancy
Red and yellow then came to be…

…and they immediately concluded that other “mystical” things must be hidden throughout. Tool cultivates this on purpose, of course. It’s how they’re marketing themselves, and it’s clearly successful–probably too successful, given what Tool fans have done with it. And people praised that short passage as brilliant! No kidding. Like it’s hard to do.

This
Is
Simple
So easy
To do that I’d bet
Anyone else could do it, too.

You want to talk about brilliant? Talk about the musicians who actually write their lyrics in such a way that they actually have meaning backward, with things like “new moon” becoming “noo mewn.” It’s always slanted when such a thing happens, but many musicians have done it. That is hard. I think it was Barry White who hid a “fuck you” to someone in one of his songs if played backward. But scattering a single sentence along certainly syllabic patterns? That’s trivial to anyone who has ever studied poetry.

But because it’s there, Tool fans took it and ran with it, and “The Holy Gift” is the result, with these… people… stating without the slightest trace of irony that these songs are “tributes to God.” Let’s look at some of Tool’s other tributes, shall we?

Prison Sex

Got your head down, and your hands bound,
And your eyes closed–you look so precious, won’t you
Won’t you come forth, just a bit closer,
Just enough so I can smell you?
I need you to feel this
I can’t stand to burn too long
Release in sodomy
I am your witness that blood and flesh can be trusted…
I have found some kind of temporary sanity
In this shit, blood, and cum on my hands…

Ah, positively dripping with prayers to God, isn’t it? No. It’s a song about a dominant relationship, and a particularly vicious one at that, since it so strongly implies unwillingness on the part of the victim and how the victim goes on to pay it forward: “Do unto others what has been done to me…” It’s a great song, believe it or not, and it actually has meaning. It’s conveyed in grotesque and vivid terms, but it’s about victimization, sodomy, prison sex, and victims becoming abusers while dying inside and finding peace with their abuse–Stockholm Syndrome-ish.

Maynard’s Dick

Kinda like the way you’re breathing
Kinda like the way you keep looking away
Would you like to climb on
Climb on my six inches and go down on Maynard’s dick
Took you out in the back of the toolshed
Put it right on top of your forehead
Took you out in the back of the toolshed
Now you know what you’re fuckin with… Maynard’s dick!

Again, just dripping with symbolism, right? No, it’s a fun song about fucking the singer’s dick.

Stinkfist

But I’ll keep digging till I feel something
Elbow deep inside the borderline
It may hurt a little, but it’s something you’ll get used to
Shoulder deep within the borderline
Relax, turn around and take my hand

Once more, it’s a song about fisting. That’s all it’s about. It’s not a metaphor for modern society, it’s not an allusion to materialism. It’s about anal fisting. And, need I remind you, this is the same fucking band who apparently is writing albums that are “tributes to God.”

4 Degrees

Locked inside you, like calm beneath castles
Is a treasure that no one has been to
Let’s go digging. Let’s go digging.
Bring it out and take it back
You won’t do what you’d like to do.
Lay back and let me show you another way.
I’ll kill what you want me to,
take what’s left and eat it.
Take all or nothing.
Life’s just too short to push it away.
Take it all.
Take it all in.
All the way in.
Let it go.
Let it go in.

Yes, yet another song about anal sex. Why anal sex? Well, look at the name–4 Degrees. Have Tool fans never wondered why it’s called that? It’s called that because the anal cavity is four degrees warmer than the vaginal cavity. It’s literally about taking someone’s anal virginity, cajoling them repeatedly to “take it all, take it all in.” This is the band that is now writing songs that are tributes to God?

No, you idiots. You were played. Tool marketed to you, and you swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. We have only to look to the aptly named “Hooker With a Penis” to see why.

Hooker With a Penis

All you know about me is what I’ve sold you,
Dumb fuck, I sold out long before you ever heard my name.
I sold my soul to make a record, dip shit, and you bought one.

All you read and wear or see and hear on TV
Is a product begging for your fatass dirty dollar
So… shut up and buy my new record
Send more money.
Fuck you, buddy.

Maynard spelled it out, clear as day, for people, and they still missed it. The entire spiritualistic, higher meaning “get in touch with the divine in you” mysticism bullshit is an act. It is how they’re marketing themselves, and, holy shit, has it worked. We’ve got people talking about how “Reflection,” which has wonderful and profound lyrics, is actually an allusion to Narcissus and Greek Mythology. It’s nothing of the sort! It’s a song about ego. “Reflection” stands perfectly well all on its own without people adding nonsensical bullshit to it, and that is why it bothers me.

Because I do like Tool. A lot of their lyrics are really insightful, really meaningful, and reasonably profound, and the music–though it’s getting increasingly predictable and repetitious–is still good. But it’s good on its own merits, without this nonsense added to it, and by adding all that nonsense to it people are missing and overlooking the good shit that is actually there. They end up focusing on the tree of life and dedicating all their time to studying that nonsense instead of simply marveling and enjoying the ubiquity of Phi throughout the universe. So intent upon seeing higher meanings and deeper insights, they are completely missing the meanings and insights that are there, and they’re being absolutely insufferable while they’re at it.

It’s like if I said, “The sun is beautiful because it gives life to Earth, shines brightly, and warms us all,” and someone came along and said, “Nuh-uh! Idiot! The sun is beautiful because it’s a manifestation of the divine and is reaching out to you to convince you of your oneness with it! Dumbass! You just can’t see the bigger picture!”

It’s like… But the sun is literally right there, literally giving life, literally shining brightly, and literally warming us. It doesn’t need that bullshit you said to be beautiful. It’s beautiful all by itself. You’re just cheapening it with that bullshit.

“Right in Two” is a beautiful song about human divisiveness, bloodthirstiness, tribalism, and war. “Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club, and beat a brother down… How they survive so misguided is a mystery…” “Ticks & Leeches” is probably about Tool fans, to be honest. Even with its pretentious, meaningless symbolism about ones, tens, and Saturn, “The Grudge” still has a good meaning behind it: holding grudges is bad. In fact, most of the symbolism in Tool’s songs that is mystical or astrological in origin comes closer to being Big Lipped Alligator Moments than anything, and they rarely have anything at all to do with the song. Sure, it’s pretty obvious Maynard is talking about Saturn moving into a first astrological house or the tenth astrological house and wrecking shit, but what does that actually have to do with the rest of the song? Nothing. It’s just there for people to squee over and motivate them to go looking for deeper meaning, not realizing that they were just marketed to.

Because of that, Tool stopped being a band that I can really get on board with. They’re not marketing to me any longer. They’re marketing to that larger audience: people smart enough to see the symbolism, but too stupid to see through it. And I’m not particularly happy to say that, but it simply is what it is. I shouldn’t have to point out to anyone that randomly bringing up Saturn and ones and tens doesn’t add depth to a song that is otherwise about letting go of grudges. No, I’m not missing the brilliance of the symbolism; the meaning simply isn’t there.

It has spilled into A Perfect Circle, too. As much as I love the song “By and Down,” primarily because it’s the only new APC song we’ve had in like 14 years, most of its symbolism is meaningless. It’s so very, very different from “Orestes” and “The Noose.” “And not to pull your halo down, around your neck and tug you off your cloud, but I’m more than just a little curious how you’re planning to go about making your amends to the dead.” Clear, concise, and meaningful. It’s conveying a lot more than what the words alone indicate. Contrasted to “Pied piper, float on down the river, bloated carcass crippled ‘neath the weight of adoration. Moving in and out of the shadows, it’s no easy mission holding on to how I pictured you,” it’s pretty clear that the references to the piper don’t actually add anything to the song. In fact, the song probably would have been stronger without them, but what do I know? I’m not a millionaire like Maynard surely is by now.

Marketing geniuses, for sure.

 

A Follow-Up About Intellectual Property

As a tongue-in-cheek gag, here is one of my free songs for you to listen to while you read my free article. Of course, I probably don’t count, but here it is anyway.

Most of the feedback regarding my previous article was positive, which is awesome, but one comment in particular here on the site deserves further scrutiny:

Great, just what the world needs, another anti-IP fanatic. The fact is, anyone who takes the trouble to create a game, or anything else, has the right to dictate the terms of its sale (or, if you don’t think the word “sale” covers a contract that stipulates conditions for resale, then use some other word). If you don’t like the terms, don’t purchase the product. It’s that simple.

But nooooo! People like you seem to think you can dictate terms of sale. It’s the attitude of someone who has never created anything others want. You’re like little squalling babies, endlessly whining. I have nothing but contempt for you and anyone else with this attitude.

I’m not going to waste your time, though, so let’s just dive right into it.

“The fact is, anyone who takes the trouble to create a game, or anything else, has the right to dictate the terms of its sale (or, if you don’t think the word ‘sale’ covers a contract that stipulates conditions for resale, then use some other word).”

This seemingly obvious statement is actually of profound importance to the discussion, and the comment accidentally hit the nail right on the head. The very essence of my argument against IP–which you’ll find alluded to in follow-up comments in the above article–is that it turns us from Owners into Renters, much in the same way that property taxes have usurped our ownership of our homes and turned us into renters. And he would hand-wave this entire point away paranthetically, as though it’s not of much significance what we call such a transaction, when this is of utmost significance.

We don’t have to look hard to find the legal definition of sale, and it is provided here from The Lectric Law Library:

An agreement by which one of the contracting parties, called the seller, gives a thing and passes the title to it, in exchange for a certain price in current money, to the other party, who is called the buyer or purchaser, who, on his part, agrees to pay such price.

The first thing we must call attention to is that, despite the comment’s implication that selling something is a one-sided affair, it is, obviously, an exchange between two sides. We’re not actually talking about “buying” and “selling,” not in real terms; in real terms, we’re talking about a property exchange between two people, while one person has agreed to offer up a currency and the other has agreed to offer up literally anything other than currency. The person with the “anything other than currency” up for sale is colloquially called the “seller,” while the person offering up the currency is colloquially called the “buyer.” But in real terms, it doesn’t matter if I offer up $50 or two Dungeons & Dragons books valued at about that; it only matters if the person on the other end of the exchange agrees that my offer meets their price. Similarly, it doesn’t matter if they offer up some form of property–like a video game–or if they offer up $50 in cash, thereby making me the seller. It only matters that each side have something the other side wants.

We lose sight of this because our use of currency allows our economic actions to become pretty circuitous, but if I want to buy a new copy of Grand Theft Auto V, but I lack $50, I might take seventy-six games to Gamestop and sell them for $50, and then use that $50 to buy GTAV. In every real, useful sense I have participated in barter–I have exchange 76 games for one game. Currency allows multiple actors to be involved in this barter transaction, because the universally valuable commodity means that it doesn’t matter that Wal-Mart has no use or need for 76 used games, as long as I can find someone who does.

Nor does it matter if I worked for two hours to earn that $50, having bartered out my labor and time to yet another actor in return for the cash that I use to purchase the video game. Perhaps I cut lawns for a living, and cut two lawns for the $50. Ideally, I could simply cut Wal-Mart’s lawn, and they could provide me with a copy of the game, right? This is literally the issue with the barter economy, because there is no guarantee that “someone selling GTAV” will also “need their lawn cut.” Again, the use of currency allows us to sidestep the issue, by widening my possible customers from “just people who are selling GTAV” to “anyone with money.”

The point of all this is to say that buying/selling are not one-sided agreements. It’s so easy to lose sight of this, because, again, currency masks the true roundabout of our economy, but I’m still putting up something for sell. I’ve probably already sold my “something for sell,” and I probably sold it to an entirely different person, but that doesn’t change the fact that Wal-Mart wants my $50 just as much as I want their copy of GTAV.

There’s a thin line between being pro-market and being pro-corporation, this comment is safely on the “pro-corporatist” side.

“Call it something else.”

Indeed. This is literally the crux of anti-IP arguments, that it is not a transfer of ownership, which is legally mandated in what it means to buy and sell–to exchange property. Going back to our barter economy, if I trade my two D&D books for your new copy of GTAV, I lose any and all ownership rights of those D&D books, because they cease being my property; similarly, you lose any and all ownership rights of GTAV, because it has ceased being your property. It makes absolutely no difference if you don’t want two D&D books, so I’ve sold them to Random Joe for $50, and then I offer you that $50. In that event, my ownership claims of that $50 in currency have ceased to exist, because I have transferred ownership of that money to you.

By the arguments of Intellectual Property, I have just as much right to dictate how EA uses that $60 I paid them for Dragon Age: Inquisition as they have to dictate how I use my copy of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Why not? I worked for that money just as hard as they worked for that one copy of DAI. In fact, I probably worked harder, when it’s all said and done. But we reject that out of hand, without even taking the time to process the argument. “Of course you can’t tell EA how to spend the money you paid them for that game! You gave them that money! It’s theirs now!”

I mean, that’s it. That’s exactly the point.

So of course EA can’t dictate how I use the game, because they gave me that game. It’s mine now.

Licensing

They might attempt to pull legalese bullshit and sell me a license, instead of selling me an actual, physical object, and they do attempt this sort of thing, but it’s hardly of consequence, and it can be pretty easily dismissed.

For example, when Square-Enix released Final Fantasy IV on Android for $19.99, I contacted them with my proof-of-purchase and proof-of-ownership of Final Fantasy IV on Nintendo DS and requested a code for FF4 on mobile. It’s exactly the same game, with the caveat that some content has been removed. Square-Enix predictably replied that my ownership of the same fucking game on NDS didn’t entitle me to ownership of the game on other platforms. Don’t get me wrong–I knew they’d respond that way.

“Fine,” I replied. “So you won’t mind if I rip the cart to my phone and use a DS emulator to play it.”

Again, predictably, their response was that making backup copies is a violation of their Intellectual Property, at which point they informed me that they would–seriously–be forwarding the emails to some government agency piracy watchdog.

But my argument is unassailable, and that’s why the agency never bothered me. For one, we do have the unfettered and unrestricted right to make any and all backups that we want of anything that we purchase. Not only that, but it’s necessary that consumers have this right, so let me get a little technical on you for a minute.

Playing a Game Creates a Copy

Even if all you do is pop your disc into your Xbox 360 and play Final Fantasy XIII, you are still creating an instantaneous copy of that game. That’s right–simply by playing the game, you are creating a copy of it. This is because the “copy” of Final Fantasy XIII that you’d be playing is a ROM–it is Read-Only Memory. But in order for stuff to happen, it must be moved to RAM–Random Access Memory. Since nothing is ever erased from the ROM, ipso facto, launching a game copies the files from ROM into RAM, where they live instantaneously. It’s not of significance whether you create a permanent copy, a temporary copy, or an instantaneous copy; you are copying it either way.

This is the same reason that Microsoft Office comes with a gigantic EULA that allows you to make copies of the program–it’s necessary in order to even use it. To even use Office, you must insert the disc, which copies the files from the CD/DVD onto your computer.

This is also why I made and uploaded this video to Youtube, specifically to call attention to how abused our IP system is. By all rights, Nintendo should have viciously pursued me over this video, but they didn’t. Here I’ve posted a video showing the actual programming of the NES game Startropics.

That’s it. That’s the actual freaking game being played. That’s Nintendo’s programming that I’ve recorded and uploaded. It’s literally proof of piracy. It’s proof that I made a copy of their game, and didn’t stop there–I made a copy of their game and put it online to share with the entire world.

Picking and Choosing

So publishers regularly pick and choose when to apply IP laws and when not to. We can’t act like it’s this Holy Grail of Certainty and Unambiguity, because it isn’t. Not only does that video remain on Youtube–without being ContentID’d–but it will always remain on Youtube, because Nintendo doesn’t give a shit about their intellectual property. When it comes to the game and IP laws, the code for that game is their Intellectual Property. But they don’t care.

If you don’t like the terms, don’t purchase the product.

If only it were that simple. But, see, because of the state, Intellectual Property has a monopoly on video games, music, television, and movies. This is overlooked by this part of the comment. Intellectual Property wasn’t just “such a great free market idea” that every company adapted and every consumer loved it. No, it was strong-armed onto us by the state, and adopted as an anti-consumer measure to protect corporations who had stifled the competition.

This is a critical free market pillar: competition. Intellectual Property, as a solution to a problem, doesn’t have any. It’s the de facto solution, enforced by the state. Sure, I could sit here in my house and listen to any music, not watch any television or movies, not play any video games, and not read any books–for what it’s worth, reading a book also creates a copy in your head–but anyone who would demand such a thing has totally forgotten what it means to be a human being. There’s nowhere to go to escape from Intellectual Property. Even GOG, which takes a diehard anti-DRM stance, doesn’t fight against Intellectual Property.

This argument is nothing more than “If you don’t like America, then you can get out!

Hey, I don’t like living under the state’s monopoly, either. Why don’t I just choose to go somewhere that I wouldn’t have to live under the state’s monopoly?

Oh, wait.

Because there isn’t anywhere to go. Because the state has taken a monopoly, not just over me but over the entire planet. And so has Intellectual Property, thanks largely to Hollywood lobbyists having the United States Government enforce U.S. copyright laws in parts of the world that, you know, aren’t part of the United States–like in Sweden.

Yeah, it’s that easy. Just avoid Intellectual Property. Why didn’t I think about it before?

Probably because I’ve been awake for about 2 hours, and I’m already swimming in a sea of things protected and covered by intellectual property. Like the song I’m listening to right now. Like the web browser I’m using right now. Like the content platform I’m using right now. Like the social media platforms I was on earlier. Like the song that played on the radio as I drove to the store. Like the Newports that I bought when I was at the store.

Every single one of those things deals with Intellectual Property; it’s no exaggeration at all to say that we’re swimming in a sea of it, and this isn’t specific to the United States. Slowly but surely, everything has come to be protected by Intellectual Property, which, as I’ve said and countless others have pointed out, does nothing more than allowing someone who transfers ownership of an item to continue claiming ownership of an item after the point of sale.

People like you seem to think you can dictate terms of sale.

Garbage hyperbole unworthy of a response. Arguing against Intellectual Property is not even remotely akin to trying to dictate anything. Trying to maintain ownership of property that I have purchased is similarly not akin to trying to dictate anything. This actually reminds me of my post about transsexualism, where I had to actually point out to a Voluntaryist that preventing the state from forcing its definitions onto me is not equivalent to forcing my definitions onto the state, much less onto him.

That said, why don’t I have just as much right to dictate the terms of the exchange as the other party? If the other party and I can’t come to an agreement, then the exchange shouldn’t happen, but what lunacy is it to suggest that I have no right to dictate the terms of my side of the exchange? The only difference here is that Intellectual Property prohibits me from going to Wal-Mart’s competition. If I don’t agree with Viacom’s Intellectual Property terms, I can’t just pop down to the meth-head selling bootleg DVDs without risking the full might of the state coming down onto me; this is what I meant when I said that Intellectual Property has drummed out all the competition. It has. Intellectual Property has given the power completely to the person selling the item, and the person selling the currency is just SOL.

My options become to avoid it or to endure their terms, because there is no competition. And while, on the face of it, that seems at least somewhat reasonable, it’s no more reasonable than telling someone to stop driving on the roads if they don’t want to pay taxes. It’s not how any of this works. You’re proposing a free market solution–boycotting–to something that has long since stopped being related to the free market, thanks to government regulations creating IP and stifling competition. Free Market solutions only work when there is a free market.

Yes, if some company could step forward and say, “We’ll sell you these games completely, and they’ll be considered yours from now until the end of time,” they’ll fun into problems. Even GOG doesn’t go this far. Why not? Because if they tried to go that far, then all of the AAA publishers would stop providing GOG with copies of their games to resell.

It’s the attitude of someone who has never created anything others want.

That’s funny to be posted on a free website that contains access to a free book, free music, free videos, and, until recently, free podcasts. And clearly “others” want it. I once created a script for RPGMaker VX that allowed actors with an Undead state to have healing turned into damage, and it was downloaded some 4,000 times. My old band I Over E had one of its songs stolen by a band in New York. I/E also had its music receive about 20 downloads per day. This site receives about 30 hits each day. I gave an essay to V2: The Voluntary Voice for free. I’ve got a game that I’ve made, but which isn’t finished, available for free right now. I’ve got a book I’ve written that represents nearly a decade of work for free right now.

Yet you’ll also find this scattered across everything I create:

It’s a KoPiMi that means, basically, I waive any and all Intellectual Property claims to any and all of my creations. For fuck’s sake, while I was selling a book on Amazon, I personally uploaded it to The Pirate Bay and gave it away. And yes, it did sell–clearly, people wanted it.

I don’t demand that all creators go as far as that. No creator is really required to personally help people get their content for free. But no creator has the right to stop it, either. If I go through the trouble of self-publishing a book and begin selling it on the street for $8 each, and Dickhead Bob buys a copy, hurriedly photocopies all the pages, slaps the copies into manilla envelopes, and begins selling those photocopies for $2 each, I have no right to stop him. How could I? I was the one who sold him the book. He can do what he wants with it.

I could argue and appeal to people’s better nature. “Look, I was the one who wrote the freaking thing. I’m the one who deserves payment for it!” Evidence suggests that this would actually work. People tend to get pissed off when one person tries to sell something that someone else made. Don’t believe me? Watch how people have reacted to idiots trying to upload Minecraft–which we’ll discuss more in a moment–onto Steam Greenlight, hoping to cash in on its noticeable absence to make a quick buck for themselves.

Note: I didn’t quickly see the Minecraft video, but there it happens to World of Warcraft, to exactly the same widespread response.

Ah. Here we go.

Because the videos are in playlists, they’re not linking correctly. It’s video #112 and #41.

Speaking of Minecraft, if you happen to think that only some Popularity Threshold will warrant a person’s opinions on Intellectual Property as legitimate, then it’s hard to get more popular than the blockbuster PC hit that is and was Minecraft. Maybe my arguments aren’t valid because only 74 people downloaded my game, or because only 112 people have downloaded my book, or because only 2700 people have browsed my free site in the past five days. Maybe that’s just not enough to say, with any certainty, that someone would be willing to pay for it if it wasn’t free. Then again, clearly someone is, and at one point I was actually making like $42 a month through Patreon. So…

Anyway, Notch himself, creator of Minecraft, is on the record as not giving a shit about Intellectual Property. You know what? Ed McMillan, creator of The Binding of Isaac and Super Meat Boy, both of which are also extremely popular, says exactly the same thing: “We don’t really care.”

Notch stood on the floor of a MineCon event and told people to “just pirate it” if they couldn’t pay for it. His words: “…just pirate it.” On top of that, though, Minecraft freaking has a free demo version. He didn’t say “Download the demo version if you can’t afford it.” No, he said, “Just pirate it.”

If you have some kind of popularity threshold that has to be met before you’ll take someone’s rejection of IP seriously, then you’re not going to find someone who has made something much more popular than freaking Minecraft.

Minecraft.

The game that fucking redefined video games. The game that has sold more than one hundred million copies. It has sold 2/3 the amount that the freaking Sony PlayStation 2, one of the most successful gaming consoles ever, has sold.

For more perspective:

Super Mario Bros., in all its various forms and re-releases and updates and Virtual Console releases, has sold about forty-million copies. Considering that’s probably the biggest game of all time, with an icon so popular that even people who don’t play video games will recognize him, it’s saying something that Minecraft has outsold Super Mario Bros. by a margin of 5:2.

How about Jim Fucking Sterling, Son himself, the person whose videos I was initially building from? All of his content–all of it–is available 100% for free. And though he doesn’t like it if you use an AdBlocker to view his videos, he understands why, and he doesn’t hold it against you if you do. For example, I’ve posted a lengthy response on his video about AdBlockers, and yet he follows me on Twitter. Don’t get me started on ads, though.

Despite the possibility–and the ubiquity, especially among his audience–of someone using an AdBlocker to watch his video without earning him any ad revenue, he still posts them. You don’t have to contribute a fucking penny to view his website, to watch his videos, or to listen to his podcasts. In effect, he relies on the Honor System, and, you know what? It works exceedingly well for him. As he points out, have you seen his Patreon lately?

So the statement:

It’s the attitude of someone who has never created anything others want.

… is certifiable bullshit. If I don’t count, then surely Jim Sterling does. If Jim Sterling doesn’t count, then surely Ed McMillan does. If Ed McMillan doesn’t count, then surely Notch of Minecraft does. And if Notch doesn’t count, then your threshold of “how many people want it” is so high that it’s irrelevant and meaningless, because the only game that has outsold Minecraft is Tetris, and Tetris has been ripped off and bootlegged in so many ways it’s basically a genre unto itself. Repeat: Minecraft is the #2 best selling game of all time.

Although that gap between #1 and #2 is fucking insane. Nearly 500 million for Tetris? Holy sh–

You’re like little squalling babies, endlessly whining. I have nothing but contempt for you and anyone else with this attitude.

Well, considering I’ve done nothing that resembles squalling or whining, it’s hard to imagine why your contemptible, vitriolic comment of insults wouldn’t qualify but a well-received and very successful article arguing against IP does. But there’s nothing here for me to retort, so I’ll leave it at that.

Moving On To Another Criticism

My analogy about replaying the game a second time constituting a violation of the publisher’s Intellectual Property did go too far, and itself became a false equivalence. I apologize for that, and thanks for pointing it out. You are correct–that went too far and didn’t hold up to scrutiny.

Another Criticism Via Reddit

While I agree that IP law needs a lot of improvement, I have to comment on the idea to compare video games to cars.

In my opinion this comparison is utter nonesense. There are two big differences between cars and games:

  1. While you play a game, it’s value for you decreases. Meanwhile the game’s value for other people is not affected by you playing at all. This is obviously not true for cars whatsoever.
  2. While it takes a lot of materials and physical work to build a car, reproducing a game just takes a couple of clicks and a little work for your computer. You cannot just clone a car.

Therefore comparing these two seems rather pointless to me. Even if they would be similar however, I would find the mindset “We should treat X like this because we’ve always treated Y like this.” being far from optimal. What we should think about is why things should be treated in certain ways. What behavior do we want to (dis-)encourage with our treatement/our rules?
Having IP lawas for example can possibly encourage people to create unique and enjoyable content (be it games, movies, books or whatever). It also can encourage people to try to trick and abuse the system.

I don’t pretend to have the answer to all these questions. I just want to point out that it is not that simple as just applying the same laws we use for cars to games (or movies or books etc. especially in their digital form).

To be clear, I am not being cowardly; I addressed the criticism in the Reddit thread. If someone wants to critique something I’ve said, that’s great–it’s how ideas evolve–but this also means that my reply has to be open, too. So I’m just going to copy and paste what I wrote on Reddit:

1. You are wrong here. The moment you drive a car off the lot, its value plummets. Because of wear and tear, each additional mile further lowers the value of the car. They have value to the owner for different reasons (the car because of travel, the game because of enjoyment), but it’s still the case that each moment spent using either one means that is one moment that can never be used like that again.

For example, I’ve often lamented the fact that I can never read the Harry Potter books “for the first time” again, nor can I play FF6 “for the first time” again. Those first experiences were unique, powerful, and special, and no subsequent revisit has come close to capturing it. Their value has certainly plummeted for me, and I’m not even sure I still own all the HP books. This is 100% true for vehicles, as well. Even the best vehicle will only get to about 300,000 miles. It has longer life and its value is larger, but the same rules still apply: every time you drive a car, its value most certainly does decrease.

2. This reminds me of a conversation I had with someone a few months ago about the replicators in Star Trek. Or with 3-D printers, the first real-life version of replicators we’ve yet made. I don’t see any reason that a person won’t be able to 3-D print a vehicle in a few more decades (though tires and other parts might still have to be purchased rather than printed), which will render your point moot. This is mostly a matter of technology. Once upon a time, it wasn’t as easy to just copy a book, either–it took a scribe hundreds of hours to produce a copy. Then the printing press was invented, and the amount of work required to produce a copy became drastically reduced. Now I can make a copy of a book with a few button presses.

2a. That said, the “copy” produced via the computer with a few clicks is a poor copy of what was purchased, which is what my point about feelers was supposed to call attention to. The only copied CD I ever owned–seriously–was A Perfect Circle’s Thirteenth Step, and I went to great lengths to get a high quality label printed for the copied version, and it still wasn’t up to par. Nor did it come with the booklet. Copied/cracked games often create their own problems, too, in addition to not being able to receive patches or purchase DLC, and these downsides have to be acknowledged. It’s not as simple as a couple of clicks to truly produce an accurate copy of a video game. It’s just not that simple. What one makes a copy of are files (which, incidentally, is necessary for installation of the game anyway, since installing a game from a disc literally creates a copy of that game), but those files don’t constitute nearly the whole package that was purchased.

Edit: It replaced all my numbers with “1”. Sorry.

Edit2: Continuing from the actual first point, a car with 120,000 miles on it doesn’t have anywhere near the value that a car with 12,000 miles on it has. Why? Because a car’s value lowers with each usage, and that usage is typically measured in “miles traveled.” Time itself is also a factor, as even a 2003 Mustang that has been sitting in a garage with only 5 miles on it won’t have anywhere near the value that it had when it was brand new. Really, the fact that a 5 year old game has about 5-10% of its initial value while a 5 year old car has about 25% of its initial value completely nullifies your point. If cars didn’t lose value with usage, then a 2007 Chrysler would be worth exactly as much today as it was in 2007, but that simply isn’t the case. Cars depreciate with usage, too, and often drastically–it’s generally said that even driving a car off a lot causes it to immediately lose a few thousand dollars in value, though, having never bought a new car, I can’t verify that. Regardless, it’s demonstrably true that cars depreciate in value with usage.

Edit 3: No more edits, I promise.

Since I’ve defended my points, and fairly represented the criticisms raised–they were copied/pasted directly, after all–I’m going to leave off here and wait on further objections to be brought up, if any are. Thus far, nothing has been said that truly holds up as a dispute to anything I said about IP and video games in the previous article, except that my “second playthrough” argument failed, and I’ve now rectified that. The reason that argument fails is that, while it’s true that we’re colloquially told that we’re sold “an experience,” that is just a colloquialism for saying we were sold “a license that allows us to have the experience.”

In Memory of a Day

I’m not sure what I’m really about to write about. I’ve been fighting off depression the past few days, but it’s not really depression–at least… it doesn’t feel like depression. There’s certainly a bit of surrender in it, in a sort of “Meh, who gives a shit” way, but it’s not really depression as I’m used to it.

Although, it also is familiar, really.

I’m bored, really. Not “bored” as much as “lonely,” perhaps, though they’re one and the same for me these days. I keep running into unexpected problems with females, and the one I’ve run into most recently is her apparent inability to recognize me as a female. I didn’t think it was an issue until I mentioned that I focused on my legs and ass when exercising because I want a sexy butt, and she replied something like “Ew. TMI.” When I asked how that was too much info, she said “I thought about gay stuff.”

I stopped replying to her, and I’ve only said one other thing to her since, a tangentially related thing about how guys are really bad at sex, with very few exceptions, primarily because most guys think that it’s something that would come naturally, and so they think if they spend any time reading about how to actually pleasure a woman it means they’re lesser men. It doesn’t help that American sex education is a joke, and I’ve been saying for years that sex ed should separate boys and girls, and then spend a semester teaching boys from the book The Black Box of the Female Orgasm, because it would go a much longer way toward making the world a better place than another lecture about STDs and condoms.

It was strange to me that this chick who I was talking to romantically interpreted me talking about my butt as “a gay thing.” While there’s also that underlying idea that she seems to think I’d want my butt to look sexy for anyone’s benefit but my own, that’s not the issue here. But yes, I want to have a sexy butt. I don’t care if you think my ass is sexy. Why do people have such a hard time understanding that? It’s really not complicated.

But why would she think that my butt has anything to do with “gay stuff” anyway? She knows that I identify as a female–or a shemale, if you will–and she knows I’m only interested in women, that I consider myself a lesbian. How badly does she have to not be listening, in order to interpret what I said as having to do with gay stuff?

She replied to my message about guys and sex with “Yeah, blah blah, only one guy was different, blah” and I said “Yeah, that’s what I figured. Guys always struck me as pretty selfish.” I mean, I don’t have a lot of experience with guys, and that’s why I had texted her about it.

She replied: “Uhh… Feeling guilty?”

As though I needed it nailed in, she essentially confessed that she views me as a guy.

You know, it was the Vegas chick who really made me realize that I couldn’t keep parasitically deriving feminine beauty from women as I’d always been trying to do, and I no longer do that, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating to find that, even without that, the chances of me finding anyone who is even somewhat “on my level” are slim to none. That’s why the Vegas experience was so damaging; for years, it had seemed that she was “on my level”–which is not to say my level is above or below anyone else’s, because it could be parallel. Then it turned out that she was, how to put this kindly…

Just like Toni.

Oh, but I haven’t told you that story, dear readers. Oh, goodness, what a story that one is. Not really, actually. She was just a manipulative, drug-addicted sociopath who was a fucking tornado that destroyed everything around her.

fly away–fly away, phantom

Rainbow is in heat again. I say “again,” but “still” would be just as accurate, because I don’t think there’s been more than 5 days this entire year that she hasn’t been in heat. And if you’ve never experienced it, you just can’t imagine how extraordinarily frustrating it is to have a cat constantly walking around the house, meowing loudly.

I still think about the Vegas chick, but not very often. Surprisingly, it’s only been about two months since we last communicated. It feels like much longer than that, but my measurement of time isn’t exactly reliable anyway. I try to slow it down as much as I can, by forcing myself to constantly remain aware of its inexorable passage, but sometimes entire weeks pass me by without me noticing. I hate that. I hate time.

I don’t want to live forever, but I don’t want to age. I want to stay pretty much as I am (except for the obvious changes, of course), and then randomly die a few decades from now.

I should probably play the guitar.

I haven’t done that in a while. Not in a meaningful way, and it kinda feels like I could use that release. I can get lost in my music in a way that I can’t really explain.

Another day has died.

Goodbye, moments of the day.

Countless opportunities were squandered today, and I can think of plenty of ways I could have seized the day better than I did. Carpe diem, after all. Or, for the stupid, YOLO. But I didn’t. And I’d wager that you didn’t, either. An entire day was born, filled with countless moments that waited to happen, and then never did. And we all moved one day closer to death, those lost moments forever gone and beyond our reach.

But we still have this moment, at least. In fact, we’ll always have this moment. Even if you’re reading this five years from the time it was posted, we are still in this moment.

Well, this was utterly pointless, but I think I do feel a little better, so that’s something. And Rainbow shut up, but she’ll be back at it in a few minutes. I am almost able to cast off the wig entirely, which is good because I found out recently that one of my cats put my wig through hell after knocking it off my dresser and then deciding that it would make a great bed.

Humans are funny creatures. We’re easily the most vicious species on the planet.

Think about the dozens of things you do every day that your cat or dog hates. I won’t hesitate to start playing the guitar if my cats are sleeping. There have been several times I pushed Rainbow off my pillow so that I could lie down. And she never hissed at me for it. But reverse the roles, and imagine yourself sleeping on that pillow, only for the cat to come along and try to take it for herself. The human would wake up angry, grouchy, and would probably yell at the cat. A lot of humans would even slap the cat.

Honest to fuck animals are less vicious and temperamental than we are. My cats never yelled at me because i accidentally kicked over their water bowl, but I’ve certainly yelled at them for doing the same. These days, I catch myself, of course, but I’ve still done it in the past: “Goddamnit, cat!” Who the hell am I to bitch at the cat? The cat doesn’t bitch at me.

Two Music Videos

I doubt I’ll normally do this, but I’m really proud of them, so…

That… is fucking bad ASS. My god.

It starts slow, but trust me. If you’re a fan of rock music, then you’ll love the way that builds and builds until, by the end, it’s just… Really, it’s my best improv work ever. I’m sure I’ve improvised better solos and rhythm bits here and there in the past, but that entire thing is just 13 minutes of improv of layering one track on another, starting from a bare scaffolding and building it into… that. It’s really cool, and I think you’ll find it’s worth watching through to the end. Turn on annotations; they explain some of the stuff I’m doing, and why the music drops off like that occasionally (it’s unavoidable with the Digitech GNX3–a phenomenal processor, but with a few idiosyncrasies).

Just so we’re clear… I can play guitar better than you, kick your ass at Call of Duty, pwn you in a debate, fuck your girlfriend, and be hotter than she is while I’m doing all of it.

That’s something I jokingly said to a friend earlier today. It was one of those typical friend conversations, you know–we were each boasting to the other, exaggerating where need be, and just making it a point to work in as many odd, random things as we could. That was the best one I came up with. Anyway. The video.

Celes’ Song and I… have a long history. There is an alternate version of this song that is more orchestral and that is called… Aria de mezzo Carattere. You may notice it looks kinda familiar. That’s absolutely correct–when it came time to select my name, I took one inspired by a song in a video game. But if you knew the song, you knew its context, and you understood the emotional ties I have to it…

Really, it’s the perfect name for me. An aria is an operatic vocal piece sung by a female, so… Obviously, “Aria” is a cool name for a transgender chick who happens to be a musician. “DiMezzo” is not as random as it seems, though, and whether the “i” should be an “e” is something I can’t even say. I don’t speak Italian fluently enough to know.

“de mezzo carattere,” however, translates to “of the middle character,” and DiMezzo translates roughly to “the middle.” Since I’m non-op transgender–a shemale–I will be perpetually between genders; thus, I am in the middle of the genders, but present as a female (tying back to “aria” being a song written for/performed by a female).

And that’s without getting into the fact that this song, and Celes’ Song, never fails to fill my eyes with tears. And this is probably the best rendition of Celes’ Song that I’ve ever played; if I hadn’t been recorded, I’d have had tears pouring down my cheeks by the end of it. Even so, I had to trim the last few seconds because there were tears beginning to fall. It’s a beautiful, powerful piece of music. For that song alone, Final Fantasy VI is worth playing.

The other is Castlevania 2’s bad-ass motif Bloody Tears, which unfortunately has been picked up and ruined by faggot bands like Killswitch Engage who proceeded to butcher the shit out of it because they have no idea how to capture emotions with music. And I can’t capture many emotions with music, but there are some… There are some that I can capture, as Your Fall From Grace demonstrates clearly.

It may be the angriest song I’ve ever written.

How about the raw emotions of this one? This one isn’t “anger,” but I don’t know how to describe the emotions it entails. But… they’re clearly there.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my music. If you’d like to keep up with the stuff I get up to, be sure to check me out on Patreon, because I post everything that I do there. My author’s page on Facebook also gets a link about pretty much everything I get up to, plus some random bullshit. You can download an entire Fantasy novel that I wrote, no bullshit and no strings attached, and read it at your leisure. I hope you do, and I hope you enjoy it. 😀