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I’m a fan of the “webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language” known as xkcd, and one of the recurring “hero” characters in it is Cory Doctorow, author and founder of former magazine and current blog Boing Boing.  I was perusing some of the older xkcd comics, most of which I’d already seen, and came across one of the references to Doctorow and decided to wikipedia him.  Turns out he’s a pretty interesting person, and a well-read and respected fiction author.  He’s really into comics and science fiction, as well as personal privacy, intellectual property right laws, and a host of other “nerdy” subjects, many of which interest me as well.  I then read about his latest novel, Little Brother, and some of the critical acclaim it had received.  It piqued my interest, so I looked into it more.  Turns out that Doctorow publishes all his books under the Creative Commons license, which is essentially a more flexible alternative to Copyrighting your work.  Creative Commons has been a great success online, along with GNU free documentation and other “share-friendly” licensing methods, and has many sites dedicated to works published under its “some rights reserved” protections.  The beauty of Creative Commons is that it preserves the content creator’s rights to profit from and retain ownership of their work (be it musical, literary, photographic, etc.) while recognizing that allowing the public to freely keep, share, and (optionally) modify artistic work can be a tremendous boon to their success.  To make a long story short, by being published under CC, Doctorow’s books like Little Brother are freely available, and he has a wide variety of text and ebook formats available for free, anonymous download on the book’s website.  If you’d like to know more about why an artist would choose to freely give away their works, read Doctorow’s explanation at the beginning of the book.

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Amid the woeful wailings of my conservative friends over Obama’s solid victory over McCain last night, I thought I’d share my take on how this election ended up.  As you can gather from my previous writings on the subject, I was no fan of McCain in the primaries and viewed him mainly as a lesser of two evils in this election.  I voted for Bob Barr on principle since I fully expected McCain to take Texas without my help.  So I’m not heartbroken that we won’t have McCain in office.  Yet as a libertarian-leaning conservative, I’m not excited about the prospect of four years of liberal power in Washington either.  Nevertheless, while I do wish Obama hadn’t won, there are a number of reasons why I’m not too upset either.  In fact, I think Obama’s victory can have some genuinely good effects, if he stays true to his rhetoric last night.

I’ll also point out that although I opposed Obama because of ideological disagreements, I didn’t buy into the fear-mongering that painted him as a Muslim foreigner who hung out with crazy domestic terrorists and hate-spewing preachers.  Yes, his black liberation pastor is rather extreme in his views and has said some pretty upsetting things, and yes Ayers took the whole anti-Vietnam war thing to some dangerous and irresponsible levels (long before he and Obama met).  But when you put these men’s actions and Obama’s relationships with them into context and try to put yourselves into the shoes of those involved, it becomes less severe than people make it out to be.  Troubling, yes.  Clear evidence that Obama will be a racist and terrorizing president, no. 

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In case you’re interested, I thought I’d share who I’m voting for this year and the reasons why.  For the lesser-known races, I mainly used the Dallas Morning News’ voter guide to decide, although I did look up the candidates’ website if I wanted more information.  Since I’m registered in the Brazos County, some of these picks are specific to that region.

President: Bob Barr (L).  If I wasn’t sure McCain was going to take Texas, I’d be voting for him instead since I do believe McCain to be a better choice than Obama (on purely ideological grounds).  However, since McCain is almost certainly going to win here (and if he doesn’t, he’d probably be so far behind nationally that Texas wouldn’t even matter), I’m voting for Barr because I tend to agree more with his positions than McCain’s and I want those ideas to get more recognition.  Barr is not likely to win anywhere, but if he gets more votes than is usual for a 3rd party and thus shows a growing movement among Americans toward traditional constitutional principles, then I’ll consider that a victory.

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I’m no financial guru and certainly don’t understand a lot of what could happen in Wall Street if the bailout does/doesn’t pass, but since I’ve been following this pretty closely of late, I figured I’d share what I’ve found and what I think of it all.

How We Got Here

Although it may not really affect what we and our lawmakers should be doing now, we absolutely need to consider how we got into this mess so we can avoid it in the future.  We also must be careful that, in our rush to do something, we don’t end up worsening or prolonging the underlying cause of the current credit crisis.  As usual, Ron Paul has some good comments regarding the causes, and makes a good argument for why no bailout is likely the best course of action in the long run.

At the heart of the current situation are the mortgage problems that have been surfacing for the past several months.  My dad sent me this cartoon, which effectively conveys the sequence of events which led to this.  Essentially, poor regulation from the government, corrupt and/or incompetent management of banks and lenders including Fannie May and Freddie Mac, and basic short-sightedness all around allowed lenders to approve loans for people who under “normal” circumstances would never have been able to get one.  The apparent lack of any significant consequences for this foolishness allowed it to continue and spread unabetted.

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Well, we’re about halfway through the 2008 primaries, and it’s been interesting to watch.  Who would have thought nine months ago that Giuliani would be out with 0 delegates?  Or that after all the buzz, Fred Thomson would leave almost as early as he entered late?  Or that McCain, trailing badly in the polls just a few months ago, would be the frontrunner now that roughly half of the delegates have been decided, instead of Romney.  Even more, who would have thought 9 months ago that anti-war libertarian Ron Paul would actually pick up more than a few delegates?  Mike Huckabee’s performance is probably the least surprising, given the fact that he’s genuinely likable and well-spoken.

Of course, things have been less surprising but far more heated on the Democrat side.  With Clinton and Obama virtually tied for the nomination, the upcoming Democratic primaries are bound to be fun to watch.

As a strong Ron Paul supporter, I’m of course disappointed that my candidate isn’t doing better.  Yes, he’s still in the race and will be until people stop giving him money to spread his message of constitutional government and freedom.  But it’s going to take one of the biggest upsets in the history of American politics to make him the nominee at this point, which means it’s time for me to face facts and think about how I will vote in November given how the primaries have turned out.

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