Archive for March, 2010

They hate us for our freedoms 5

March 24, 2010

Now we come to bureaucracies. This will be a multi-part post because it is a fairly complex topic. The posts will also arrive slowly, because they require more thought and polish than a discussion of the tropes of anime.

Some years back, there was a push to have government ‘work more like business’. That failed, or at least, disappeared, in part because government is most decidedly not a business. A business has customers, and is theoretically engaged in the pursuit of profit, or at least, gains for management. A government has citizens, and is theoretically engaged in the pursuit of happiness for them. Perhaps a better description is that a government is a set of rules for how citizens will play together, together with a set of rules for changing the rules. We could call the first, the realm of law and public administration, the bureaucracy, and the second, the realm of competing interest groups, politics. Let’s talk bureaucracy.

A bureaucracy is not concerned with a profit-generating relationship with a customer. A bureaucracy is concerned with the status of a citizen, within the structure of the laws. A company can, and often is encouraged to, blow off the least profitable 10% of its customer base. A bureaucracy cannot do this. It has to deal with all citizens, of whatever stripe. Failure to understand this is the cause of much grief for people (let’s drop the ‘citizens’, that’s so 1789) who have to interact with the bureaucrats. When you talk to a bureaucrat you are talking to establish your status within the rules and to determine what your rights are as a person with that status.

Now, before all the bureaucrats out there come after me with pitchforks and torches, let me say that I don’t use the term bureaucrat as a slur, I worked in DC for almost a quarter century, and many bureaucrats that I know obtain all the satisfaction that they need by doing their job well. I knew civilian analysts at DIA who could have reverted to a role as (just for e.g.) wife-of-rich-banker, throwing white glove parties in horsey Virginia. Instead, they were paid relatively little money to come in at 5AM to prepare items for the JCS and SecDef, and who said they did it because they liked working with that kind of person. I knew graphic artists (this was pre-Powerpoint), who said they felt more like a worker on the line at GM than an artist, but who came in every day and cranked out high quality work, often at the last minute.

From Linstone’s Organizational perspective, many people look on bureaucracies as just machines, with bureaucrats simply intelligent cogs — there is a whole literature in the Public Administration discipline about whether or not that’s a valid idea, and the discussion is so old that even Thomas Jefferson commented on it. If it is just a machine, then one of the goals is presumably for that machine to run smoothly, and the way you do that is with control. Some jobs require only a little bit of control. The DMV would like everyone on the far side of the counter to trundle up like bottles at a soft-drink plant, with all their paperwork filled out (so that DMV can establish their status), and ready for their test and picture. The DMV person is an experienced expert at nudging the bottles along so that the machine doesn’t jam up. So one goal is a smooth-running machine. Another presumed goal is that the machine not turn out a bad bottle — one that has a license but can’t drive, and I think I’ve pressed this analogy as far as it will go. Analogies aside, the twin goals are smooth operation, and avoidance of failure. The people at the DMV are not against your freedoms, except insofar as they interfere with their two goals.

What causes many people to dislike the DMV (and I think that must have been pre-computer, I’ve always had good experiences there) is that control is inconvenient for the person controlled, but not for the bureaucrat behind the counter. Hold that thought, because my next installment will talk about TSA.

Advertisements

Wednesday Wii: Bad Indicators

March 17, 2010

Correction
Despite owning and using a Wii Fit for almost two years now, and despite paying attention to the signals in preparation for last week’s Wednesday Wii, I still got it wrong. The line and bar indicator does provid an audio indication if your bar is above or below the line. Below the line, it’s what my wife calls a two-step: one and two, one and two. Above the line, it’s a waltz: ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three.

Why did I get it wrong? Well, it’s a question of signal to noise ratio. When you are doing something like the Warrior Pose, you have:

1. the trainer, talking
2. space age music, backed up with
3. an intermittent tinkly piano, and
4. a cymbel/whisk beat, on top of
5. the subdued drums of the line and bar signal

plus, of course, the normal room noise. It took us a couple of minutes (and two passes through the pose) to figure out just what was going on.

So, I missed it. Very probably, you will too.

SousVide@Home

March 14, 2010

Introduction
So, the big thing on all the high class cooking blogs these days is sous vide — literally without air. It has been associated with low-temperature cooking, to the point that people don’t usually differentiate, and I won’t, either. So when I talk about SV, I am talking about ‘seal it in a bag and cook it in a water bath very close to the temperature you want it to end up at’. The trouble is, to do it right you need a vacuum bagger, moderately expensive, and an industrial strength water bath cooker, hideously expensive for something that’s going to take up counter space. But I thought ‘how hard can it be?’ and started experimenting with a more primitive approach. So far, it has produced modest results.

Definition
For those whose idea of high cuisine is to mix your own cheese into the macaroni before putting it into the microwave, the thought process behind SV is that most cooking methods use a heat source that is much hotter than the desired end state — a 500F grill to produce a 140F steak, 212F water to produce a 145F egg. This gives you a timing problem, and a product that is cooked to different temps as you head toward the core. OK, so what if we started out with the temperature we wanted to end up at, and just held the cooker there until the food was that temperature all the way through? We could theoretically hold it there as long as we liked. The trouble is, most cookers, of whatever type, typically cycle through a wide range of temperature. Even if you set your oven to 140F, it’s likely the air would go from 120-160, and the radiant heat from the coils would produce local hotspots on your food. The best way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to put the food in a water or oil bath that can be held at the exact temperature desired. The trouble there is twofold. First, you need good circulation and temperature control. Second, you don’t want your food getting soggy, but you do want all parts of the surface in contact with the fluid. The solution is to vacuum seal the food (so the bag touches all of the external surface), and to use a high grade proportional controller with a circulating pump for the liquid. Like I said, expensive.

Health Hazard Disclaimer
There’s another problem with SV cooking, even when you have the right equipment. The low temperature part of SV means that the food spends a lot of time inside the bacterial growth temperature zone. This poses a health hazard. In fact, the NY state dept of health shut down a number of pioneer SV restaurants a while back, until they could come up with an approved set of procedures. So if you don’t have the right equipment and you don’t follow meticulous food handling procedures, you could find yourself suddenly taken dead. The hillbilly SV cooking described below follows none of them and I have no interest in talking to your heirs and assigns about your standings on the Darwin Awards leaderboard, not even if they offer to share the prize money.

A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend.

Experimental Setup
Problem: no vacuum bagger.

Solution: double zip freezer bags. You put the meat into them and you hand-squeeze out as much of the air as possible.

Remaining Problem: You never get all the air out. The part of the meat that’s still in air doesn’t have the same efficiency of heat transfer that the other part does. Flipping the bag halfway through helps, but it’s not a perfect solution. Lack of heat transfer = improved bacterial growth (see disclaimer). Some have suggested sucking the last of the air out with a straw. That still isn’t 100% effective, and there’s a chance you will suck up raw bacteria-laden meat juice (see disclaimer). Also note that you can’t stick a thermometer through the bag to monitor the internal temperature of the meat. OK, maybe you could, but that would involve caulking guns, and I don’t want to go there.

Problem: No high quality circulating water heater with PID controller

Solution: Crock pot, filled to shoulder with water and allowed to come to final temperature, checked by meat probe suspended in the water. For mine, 137F is the second ‘c’ in Crockpot.

Remaining Problem: Takes hours to settle, and then the temperature can vary by a degree or so (instead of industrial half-degree). Placing large chunk of meat in the water drops the temperature. I need to test the idea of setting the temperature a little high, then bringing it back down when I put the meat in.

Experiment 1
Small round steak, cooked in marinade at 137F for four hours. Not seared. Came out pinkish on the inside, and the texture was a little mushy. The marinade was too much. No more marinade.

Experiment 2
Small rib-eye, cooked at 137F for four hours. No marinade, and not seared. Came out pinkish on the inside, and again the texture was a little mushy.

Experiment 3
Half of a small corned beef. Cooked at 175F for 6 hours. Not noticeably different from the other half, which was cooked the ordinary way, in simmering water.

Experiment 4
Half a small, thin flank steak, cooked for half an hour at 137F, then seared for one minute a side in a cast iron frying pan. Pretty good flavor. Pretty good texture. Appeared overdone inside, possibly because it was a little old to begin with, or maybe the sear was too long/hot for such a thin piece of meat.

Experiment 5
Thick chunk of round steak. Cooked for 45min at 137F. Seared for 1min/side. Pink inside. Good texture. Good flavor. I’d do it again.

Experiment 6
Two eggs. Cooked at 145F for 10min and 146F for 20min. Very hard to do. Temperature kept dropping, and I had to add splashes of boiling water to keep it above 144F, then it would bounce up to 146F. The 10min egg was….interesting. It looked raw, with a clear white and a very runny yolk. It tasted good, in the same way that a rare steak tastes way better than a raw one. I didn’t mind eating it on toast, but I wouldn’t serve it to guests unless they agreed to be blindfolded. The 20min egg was just about perfect. The white was white and wrapped around the yolk, with no tendency to slide off. The yolk was runny. I suspect the interior temperature was closer to 143 than 145, and my source (see link in disclaimer) says that +/- 1C totally changes the character. Were I to try this again (and I might, at lunchtime) I’d leave it in another 5min at 146F.

Experiment 7
One egg. Cooked at 147F for 30min. By lunchtime the water had stabilized at 147.5F +/- 0.3F. I put one egg in for half an hour (all eggs had sat at room temperature for 20min beforehand). It was not much different from the second egg in Ex 6. The white seemed a little looser. Part of it wanted to stay in the shell.

Experiment 8 and final
Two eggs. Half an hour at room temperature. An hour in a 144-149F bath (not sure why the crockpot started such wide swings)*. Soft whites, but not runny. Creamy yolks. Slid out of the shell and sat there looking like they’d been poached. The perfect egg. Served with a chunk of meat similar to Ex 5, except this one was just done sans sous — grilled 3min a side in a grill pan. Results comparable to Ex 5.

*Turns out, it wasn’t the crockpot. My temperature probe has gone mad. At room temperature it reads 115F Sticking it in a glass of ice water brings that down to 90F. So the response is non linear. It’s gonna be hard creating a conversion card.

I wonder if it would be possible to get similar results by heating both water and an oven to some temperature above 147F, say 150 or 200, then turning both off and letting them cool. When the water hits 148, say, you put the eggs in and put the pot in the oven for half an hour. If you had a temperature probe in the water, you might even turn the oven on if needed. It’s not as controlled as the crockpot, but it’s certainly simpler.

Conclusions
The SV@home technique shows promise, but not enough to warrant much more work on it. In some ways the meat was slightly better than I coud have done on a grill, with an inserted thermometer, but not enough better. The eggs show more promise. The trouble is, it’s a time-consuming, fiddly, process. I felt like I was in a steampunk novel, only without the dirigibles. Starting from scratch, the crockpot took a good 12hrs to settle down, and it was actually easier to let it sit on the counter and steam for a couple of days than start over each time. I could probably cut the ramp-up time to a couple of hours by using the add-boiling-water technique, but that adds its own layer of fiddling. If your time is worth money, it would probably pay to buy one of the industrial rigs. As for me, and this rig, I am not sure I want to spend two hours of prep and an hour of cooking to recreate the 3-minute egg, even if it’s the perfect 3-minute egg.

Keeping in mind the mad scientists dictum that no experiment is a failure if it leaves a big enough crater, I’d say this was moderately successful, and that now it’s time to move on.

I wonder if liquid nitrogen ice cream is really as good as they say it is. Could I keep the LN2 in the meat drawer?

They hate us for our freedoms 4

March 12, 2010

Let’s be clear on where I am taking this part of the discussion. It’s not about how the music/entertainment industry needs a new business model — even the industry agrees that the times are changing. It’s about how their rear-guard efforts are turning into a scorched earth operation. Their refusal to adapt, I think, is logical and understandable. This week there have been a number of blogs on Clay Shirky’s keynote at NFAIS. While he apparently said a lot of insightful things, this is the takeaway quote for this essay:

It’s easy to say “preserve the best of the old and combine it with the best of the new,” but in revolution, the best of the new is incompatible with the best of the old. It’s about doing things a whole new way.

The point being, as I said last time, there’s no way that the entertainment industry can survive in its present form. If you are a caterpillar, you don’t care about how pretty the butterfly will be, you just know you won’t be you any more. Now, evolution has arranged things so that it doesn’t matter what the caterpillar thinks. Come autumn, the rules say, it’s spin thread or die. With business, it’s different. You can fight back, you can delay, you can change the rules.

The survival efforts of the entertainment industry have created a set of rules that are inimical to freedom of action in realms far beyond the latest hip-hop lyrics. I can no longer do things that I used to be able to to, because they don’t want me doing the new things that technology makes possible. This creates a lock-down environment, where every producer (in all industries, not just entertainment) wants total, cradle to grave, control over their product. Nintendo are involved in a running fight with makers, with tinkerers, with hackers (in the original, good, sense of the word) because they want total control over their Wii consoles, even after they have sold them to you. They change internal codes. They rig things so that a new update, which you must use if you want to play the game you just bought, will brick any console with a firmware hack. They will claim that they can’t be responsible for the impact of their engineering changes on unauthorized modifications. They are correct, except where they deliberately engineer the upgrades to break a modified system. They have even gone so far as to put a glob of potting compound on one of their chips so that it’s impossible to get access to the pinouts. The only engineering reason to do that would be to make the chip run hotter.

Nintendo isn’t the only one, of course. Back in the day, the Microsoft motto for Windows upgrades was reported to be “the job isn’t done until Lotus won’t run”. In more modern times, Apple has done for the iPhone what Nintendo has done for the Wii: worked very hard to ensure that they have complete control over the ‘user experience’. Medical firms copyright the procedure codes that the government requires hospitals to use as a way of limiting competition. Automobile manufacturers copyright, obfuscate, and change the error codes on their engine control chips so that small independent garages and shade tree mechanics can no longer diagnose and repair the systems. They want to control who does those repairs because control means dollars. It’s as simple as that.

Their control is my lack of freedom.

EDIT: and of course, no sooner do I post this than another good example pops up. Furniture company uses trademark and copyright threats to hamper website that shows how to build knock-off furniture.

Next up, bureaucracies.

Wednesday Wii: Bad Indicators

March 10, 2010

A key rule in designing user interfaces, particularly for control systems, is that they should make it clear to the user what the current state of the system is. This is particularly important in training systems, because you want the user to learn the right thing. The “line and bar” indicators in many of the Wii Fit exercises are bad indicators because they don’t provide the right feedback, and the scoring system is flawed because its response range is too narrow.

In a typical line and bar exercise, like the Lunge, you increase the weight on the Wii Fit board to drive a red bar up until it hits a blue line. Depending on the amount of control you are expected to have, you either hold the top of the bar inside the (wider) line, or you simply drive ahead until you cross the line. Conceptually, this is a good way to learn to control your weight placement and to encourage you to learn the physical moves (deep knee bends, deep upper body bends) needed to do so. In practice, there are two problems:

1. In some exercises, like the Spine Extension, you can’t see the line and bar, because you are bent over, or are facing away from the indicator. Nintendo tried to solve this with an audible signal. If you are outside the bar you hear a steady drumbeat. If you are inside the bar the sound changes to a bell, that slowly fades away as you reach the center. Unfortunately, the sounds don’t differentiate between being over or under the bar, I think — there may be subtle tonal differences that I can’t pick out over the voice of the trainer telling me to count with her. Normally, you would think this isn’t a problem. When you are as out of shape as I am, it’s rare that you can even hit the bar, let alone overshoot it. Except that there are exercises and poses where I tend to undershoot when my right foot is forward, and overshoot when I use the left. This is particularly a problem when I have to cheat, say, when I bend my knee instead of stretching my sciatic nerve three inches longer than it was designed to be. So, why would I want to cheat? Don’t the cute girl in spandex, and the handsome frat-jock with the mullet keep telling me to maintain good form at all costs? Read on.

2. Still reading? Good. The second problem I have with the line and bar is that you don’t get any score unless you have crossed or come very close to the line. No score. Zero. How can I tell if I am improving if I can’t compare my scores? My form may be exquisite, but am I getting that extra half-inch compared with last week? If I cheat slightly, get closer, maybe just enough for the bar to kiss the edge of the line and switch back and forth from bell to drum, then maybe I can get enough of a score that I can start seeing progress. (I’ll talk more about this in a future post.)

The solutions? Well, why not try using a different tone, depending on if you are high or low? In fact, why not try using an actual tone instead of a drum? That way I won’t have to wait a couple of beats for my brain to kick into gear. In the early days of radio beacon navigation, you heard dashes if you were on one side of the beam, and dots if you were on the other, and they combined into a solid tone when you were right on. This meant you had a continuous confirmation that you were on course. On the Wii Fit, you get silence. Does silence mean you are where you need to be, or does it mean the sound card has failed. Should I look up and see? Secondly, give points for effort. Not a lot. But if I grunt and wheeze and move the red line a third of the way up, then give me a point, or a tenth of a point. With those two changes I will be able to keep my head down, or sideways, or whatever, and concentrate on my form, knowing that I will be guided to the proper place and that I will be able to track my progress as I go. Is that too much to ask?

Gunslinger Girl, the anime

March 7, 2010

Introduction
It’s said that if the topic of baby blenders comes up, a good engineer will happily sit down and discuss optimal blade angles. The writers of this series came up with a horrifying premise, and cheerfully followed it to its logical conclusion. The premise is, suppose we took a bunch of little girls, pre-teen girls, girls who would otherwise certainly die or be crippled by disease or injuries — and give them new, strong, artificial bodies, with carbon fiber bones and synthetic muscles….and then, oh yeah, use them as political assassins. It’s classed as shonen, for teen boys, probably because of the graphic violence.

I did not particularly like this anime, primarily because of the sterile premise and the cop-out ending. If you like lots of gunplay and the same kind of frisson you get when the ventriloquist’s dummy comes at you with a knife, you might like it better than I did.

Plot Summary, with spoilers
The premise is as stated. The setting is modern (or maybe postmodern) Italy. There is not much of a plotline – more like four or five separate storylines that get highlighted one at a time. The girls work with their handlers as a team. Each episode centers around the dynamics of a team and the impact the dynamic has on how the team performs. Evil people are targeted and killed. Most of them have large entourages of minions, and these are also killed. Sometimes bystanders are killed. The girls go about their business wearing suits and ties and carrying name-brand musical instrument cases, in which they keep their name-brand automatic weapons.

Other than that, there’s not much to say about the plot. Most of it can be deduced by iterating the question “and then who’d they kill?” There is a subplot of an outside group investigating two deaths, but that’s mostly a vehicle for showing us the team dynamics. Their findings mean nothing and go nowhere.

In the end, nothing in particular is resolved. The handler we have followed the most admits he is aware that they are exploiting the girls in a totally inhumane and immoral fashion, followed with a very Italian shrug and the admission that he doesn’t like it. In the final scene, most of the girls collect at a dark-sky-site to watch a meteor shower, and sing Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th (which, I am led to understand, is a popular Japanese New Year tradition). One girl, who has been overstressed by overconditioning, lies in her hospital bed, listening to the song on a CD, watching the meteors out the window, and dies holding her handlers hand.

Comments
I am sure this series started with the most innocent of intentions: “Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a bunch of little girl assassins who go running around offing the bad guys while wearing schoolgirl business suits and carrying automatic weapons in Amani violin cases?” Later, it moved to the dark side: “You know what we need? They’ve got to be exploited. How inhumane can we make their treatment without actually putting chains on their legs?” “What’s wrong with chains?” “You can’t rappel down the side of a building with them. We have to have psychological chains…” Or something like that.

There are three sets of psychotic psychodynamics at work here:

1. The bureaucracy. The ones who created the girls and designed their mission. The ones who take the girl who was ‘orphaned’ by the ‘accidental’ death of her handler and proceed to use her as a stress test object. How much strength can she exert before the artificial muscle causes the shoulder joint to dislocate? We don’t see much of them, but we see the results of their decisions. To the extent that we see them, they are the epitome of all soulless bureaucrats. To the extent that we don’t, they are…the writers.

2.The handlers. They are professional operatives, recruited from the police, military, and intelligence. They know the girls in their charge are not only short-lived (additional conditioning shortens lifespan) but are totally expendable. The way they deal with this differs. One treats his almost like a little sister, bringing the occasional gift. One treats his like a simple tool, and not a very good one. One grandfatherly type finds he cannot manage her to her death, and attempts to blow the project’s cover. He is killed by the project before he can do so. Much in the way of those who implement torture directives on accused terrorists, the handlers know know better than to do what they do. They are the implementors of much of the horror, but hold it at arm’s length, and so are as guilty as the bureaucrats, only in a different way.

3. The girls. They are emotionless killers. One girl meets a boy her own age while casing a target. Initially, she wonders what to say to him in that situation, but they do manage to talk for a few minutes and become friendly. Later, she encounters him during the ‘kill all witnesses’ attack on the target. She again wonders what to say to him. Oh yes — gomenasai. The girls are naturally fixated on their handlers as father-figures (never more than that, we are spared egregious loli), and are starved for attention and approval. How this need is filled depends on the handler, and is a major driver in team dynamics. In one case, the girl treated as a tool, who realizes that her handler will never have any affection for her, kills her handler, and then herself. Here and there, now and then, the real little girl peeks through.

This is a horrifying series, and the older you are, the more the girls look like somebody’s grandkids, the more horrifying it is.

They hate us for our freedoms 3

March 5, 2010

So, who are these ‘they’ who hate us, and how are they attacking our freedoms? Where to start? Governments? Politicians? Businesses? Let’s start with businesses. Let’s start with music and motion pictures and other elements of the entertainment business.

The problem that our society has with business is that most of the business models and most of the laws that support them originated in 18th and 19th, and early 20th-century realities. Realities like, everything being made of molecules – heavy, expensive, hard-to-shape. In modern times, let’s date that from August 12, 1981, value started to reside in electrons instead. Cheap (effectively free), easy to transport, easy to flip into new shapes. The idea isn’t mine. Nick Negroponte articulated it first. He talked about the value of his laptop. Physically, it cost less than $5K, as I recall. From an information content standpoint, to him it was worth closer to $500K. As soon as this concept took hold, it started to wreck the old economy, or at least, certain aspects of the old economy.

At first, it started out as theft. Once technology got into the hands of HS and college students, they started doing what students have done since time immemorial, they stole things that their otherwise poverty-stricken lifestyle wouldn’t allow them to have. Over the last almost-thousand years, how many starving students in garrets in Paris have stolen a jug of wine and a loaf of bread for their friends, and ended up singing themselves to death in the last act? The difference between then and now is that then, they were stealing things of actual intrinsic value. The marginal costs of producing that jug and that wine, the marginal cost of grinding the flour and baking that loaf of bread might be low, but they were not trivial. In addition, there was a likelihood that the vintner and baker would actually have sold out of wine or bread, if they timed their production properly. In other words, not only did the theft of the bread deprive the baker of his work, it prevented a sale.

Today, the marginal cost of producing the next copy of a video game or a piece of music is essentially zero, and the HS kid in his mom’s basement would likely not buy the game or the music if the price is higher than, say, $1 per song. So theft is still theft, but the meaning, the implications, of that theft has changed. To make an over-the-top analogy, suppose we had the ability restore someone to life, to the instant before they died, memories and physical condition intact. What would that do to the crime of murder? It’s still murder, but is it the moral outrage that it was back in the day, when dead was dead? So the advent of the electron age changed the implications of production and theft, and in those changed implications lies a new business model.

It was, I think, Corey Doctorow who first championed the idea of giving away things with a marginal cost of zero, and making your money on truly scarce items. This works. This is working in the music business so well that there are more people making their livings making more music than ever before. The only part of the music business that has fallen on hard times is the part that prints plastic disks and ties artists up in restrictive ripoff contracts. The big business side of the business. They are hurting, not because of theft (many studies have shown that sales of pirated songs go up), but because they are being disintermediated out of business. There is no way the old music giants can survive in their current form if the new business models take over. They might survive if they change and adapt and shed three quarters of their workforce and nine-tenths of their managers, but 90% of their management would vote against such a decision (and probably all of their stockholders, or at least those of them who only look to the next quarterly dividend, so, nearly all).

What to do? Well, the tradition in American business is that if you can’t beat them on price, quality or service, you can always beat them down with lawsuits. You change the laws. You attack the very concept at its roots, defining copyright as eternal, and violation of copyright as the moral equivalent of drug dealing. Of course, the music business is not the only one to take this approach and to benefit from reduction in freedoms. Disney is notorious for enticing lawmakers to extend copyright, every time Mickey Mouse comes up against existing limits. This drags along millions of works that would otherwise have become available. In another example, once the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was in place (another last ditch defense effort by the music and movie industries), other businesses started exploiting its weaknesses. Printer companies began putting encrypted codes into their machines so that only their gold-flake-expensive inks and toners could be used. DMCA makes breaking that encryption a violation of law. Garage door manufacturers tried the same thing, to lock out secondary manufacturers of openers.

You are not against freedom — as such — but against those freedoms that limit your ability to live the kind of life you feel you are entitled to. After all, it’s been that way forever; well, for for all of living memory; OK, so for the last fifty years. So what if you destroy the concept of “fair use”, and make it impossible for the owner of a DVD to play it on any machine other than the ones you approve of. So what if, in the process of preserving your way of wealth you destroy a whole ecosystem that has nothing to do with you, if you kill innovation and creativity and wealth creation for others, well, that’s too bad. Those others should have found a different way to increase the size of the pie. You have made sure that your slice of the smaller pie is still the same size.