Ferretcast II – Grumpy Old Men

by Wardog

Ooops, we did it again.
listen to podcast
(MP3, 62:17, 64 kbps, 28.39 MB)
Introductory Notes

This is our second attempt at podcasting. As has now become something of a Fb tradition: we recorded it about eighty million years ago, forgot about it, unearthed it, recoiled from it, buried it again, rediscovered it, edited it badly, fucked up on Audacity and lost all our changes, re-edited it and, finally, to triumphal trumpets, published it, a mere four-to-five months after the original recording.

Yes. We are Vogons.

Like the first podcast, this one is a) wildly out of date b) unstructured. We each brought a topic to the table and worked our way through them in a random order, while eating pizza and drinking wine, getting increasingly grumpy and incoherent as we went.


Minor Topic (00m00): In Which We All Discover We Are Called ‘Me’ (a.k.a. introductions)
Minor Topic (00m19): Favourite Things of the Week (whenver it was we recorded this)
Major Topic (03m03): All modern cRPGs suck, sez Julian
Minor Topic (16m27): In which we decide Rami is a terrorist, Arthur is a communist and women should rise up against the oppressive range of razors available to them (Topic was nominally called ‘Beards’)
Major Topic (22m48): The American Elections (topical, huh?)
Minor Topic (26m27): Things We Hate About Christmas (super-topical!)
Major Topic (33m40): Cassandra Clare and Other Things We Hate
Major Topic (47m19): Sandbox Games
Minor Topic (53m41): Crimes We Don’t Think Of As Being Crimes (this makes sense, honest…)
(1h01m20): Ending And Apologies

Cast and Crew

Technical jiggery pokery, as ever, performed by Rami. Really bad editing by yours truly, skating the learning curve.

Articles Mentioned

The Precise Moment I Stopped Reading City of Bones
City of Stupid
Cassie Clare and the Canon-Sue Debate
Not Just a Town in Germany
The Precise Moment I Gave Up Playing Grand Theft Auto IV
Rockstar Ain't Shit (Volition Is Where It's At)

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Comments (go to latest)
http://fintinobrien.livejournal.com/ at 22:40 on 2009-04-14
And I wasn't even aware there was a first one.

I listened to them last night and really enjoyed them both. It's weird to think of you guys with actual voices though. >_>
Sonia Mitchell at 22:59 on 2009-04-14
Awesome stuff guys :-)
Wardog at 10:14 on 2009-04-15
It's weird to think of people thinking it's weird we have actual voices =P

But thanks for listening - podcasting is a peculiar, experimental business that we are only capable of embarking upon when we are significantly fortified (with alcohol) :)
Rami at 10:34 on 2009-04-15
significantly fortified (with alcohol)
And pizza!
Arthur B at 10:37 on 2009-04-15
There was a really self-indulgent bit that ended up being cut from this episode (due to being too navel-gazey) where Rami, Julian and I reviewed the pizza we were eating, because we ended up getting a custom pizza with all the toppings we could unanimously agree were alright. It was this really weird combination which ended up working brilliantly - I don't suppose either of the folks editing the podcast happened to note down the recipe?
Rami at 10:42 on 2009-04-15
Anchovies, goats' cheese, balsamic vinegar... olives? I don't quite remember but I'm sure the first three were on there somewhere.
Shim at 13:59 on 2009-04-15
On the copyright thing, a good example of the clash of interests has just emerged here in my parents' village. The Performing Rights Society (or their thugs) have been around the village last week. They've now insisted that all the shops have to buy a PRS licence or turn off their radios; also the electrical goods shop can't have TVs running.
Now the whole point of the PRS was supposed to be making sure people get fair compensation for their work and don't have it exploited to profit other people. At least, not more than it is by the record companies...
There's two things that spring instantly to mind:
a) Musicians are ALREADY paid for the use of their music on the radio. They're not losing out on anything.
b) The licences are supposed to cover use of music as a commercial tool. Oddly enough, if I went to a hairdresser (you may assume, correctly, that this is a hypothetical example) I wouldn't go in order to listen to the week's Top 40, or hear the new Steps CD; I'd go to get my hair cut. The music doesn't lure customers in, like you could argue for a pub or somewhere with a dancefloor; it just helps the staff not go mad with boredom. No different to radios in offices. Similarly, I really DON'T think the streets are packed with people eager to watch TV, without sound, through a window, while getting cold, wet and menaced by feral pigeons; having them on just shows people what they do.

I'm also told the licence for a shop is a fixed cost - so the tiny hairdressers has to pay the same as the Safeway in the next town. Apart from being petty-minded and discriminating against small shops, it also annoys me because it doesn't make any sense. Where do we stop? Do builders need a licence for the radio on the site? Do buses? If a non-gender-specific individual comes to install a new boiler, do they need a licence to play music on a radio in their place of work - my house? If you're self-employed, do you need a licence to listen to the radio at home?
Rami at 14:23 on 2009-04-15
do you need a licence to listen to the radio at home
A point that many have made is that the ideal from the point of view of those who profit off copyright protections is that the radio station would need to purchase a fresh license for a song every time they wished to play it, and you would similarly need to purchase a fresh license for said song every time you hear it on the radio.

It's like software licensing -- you're not paying for the code (music), you're paying for the right to install and execute (listen to) it.
Arthur B at 14:45 on 2009-04-15
a) Musicians are ALREADY paid for the use of their music on the radio. They're not losing out on anything.
b) The licences are supposed to cover use of music as a commercial tool.

If this is what the PRS are telling you, they are explaining things badly.

Copyright is a weird beast as far as intellectual property goes. With patents and trademarks, the type of thing you can protect has expanded over the years, but the actual rights you enjoy as a result of the protection haven't changed that much. With copyright, however, not only has the type of thing protected changed, but the extent and type of rights that exist in a particular work has also expanded. This has led to odd situations like this one.

In the case of radio broadcasts, the radio stations have paid royalties to the copyright owners for broadcasting material for private consumption. There's a separate "performance right" which allows copyright holders to restrict the performance of their works in public. When radio stations negotiate their royalty payments they tend to take the stance that their broadcasts are intended for private consumption; in other words, the burden's put on individual radio owners to sort out the performance rights because that's significantly cheaper for the station.

My current (incomplete) understanding of the law with regards to your examples is as follows:

- Builders will probably need a licence for the radio on their site, as would buses. Case law on this subject suggests that "private" enjoyment of a radio broadcast involves it being listened to by a group of people with some common element binding them together. In the case of the buses, you can't really argue that a bunch of people on the same bus constitute a private group. As far as workplaces go, there is case law to the effect that even if the workplace isn't open to the general populace, a group of people bound by no common factor beyond being employed by the same company or working in the same location don't qualify as being a private audience.
- A person coming to your home to install a boiler is an interesting case and I'm not aware of any case law. On the other hand, if it's happening in your private home, and you don't tell the PRS, and the builder doesn't tell the PRS, then you're not likely to get sued for it unless they actually send spies around to peep in your windows, which would seem to be incredibly counter-productive, and it would be a tough case for them to argue.
- Whether or not you're self-employed doesn't change the fact that your home is your private residence as well as your place of work and I would be very surprised if a court ruled against you on that.

That said, none of this stops the PRS from sending nasty letters around in the hope that people will knuckle down rather than incur legal expenses. (There is, in fact, such an offence as "issuing groundless threats", detailed in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; in brief, lawyers can get in trouble if they send nasty letters threatening to sue people from out of the blue, but people tend not to be very aware of their rights in this regard.)

Health warning: I am not a qualified IP professional, don't rely on my word as gospel, if you are going to plunge into the murky world of IP you should really get in touch with a professional as soon as possible.
Shim at 15:10 on 2009-04-15
Hmm. Lorry and taxi drivers?

As so often my ire has got in the way of explanations. I haven't actually got any connection with the PRS myself. But as the bloke in the street, that's how I conceive of copyright working and my (unresearched) understanding of the licence. As you were discussing in the podcast (hence the rant in the first place) the legal status of all this doesn't tie in with what the people in the village see as "reasonable" copyright protection. Similarly, whether or not a court sees a workforce as a "private" audience, I think most people would see it as a private, restricted group and contrast that with a public setting, or a group meeting specifically to listen to the radio. But then the public/private distinction is a legalism anyway, I don't think I really see things in those terms when I think about the issue. I suppose to some extent I see it as "like listening to a walkman really" and "not". So the workplace-type examples are just a safer, wireless way to listen to the radio privately (albeit in a big room), whereas somewhere like a caff or pub it's part of the environment customers pay for.
Wardog at 15:59 on 2009-04-15
Surely, on a more practical level, it's unenforceable anyway? I mean, the PRS can hardly skulk around your village in the off-chance somebody turns on a radio in a public place...
Arthur B at 16:05 on 2009-04-15
I think there's an enforcement issue as well; with these inspections the PRS are clearly trying to enforce a side of the law they were happy to led slide previously.

Back in the day, radio play was like advertising that you got a bit of royalties for; if you didn't get the maximum royalties you were theoretically entitled to, it didn't matter too much because you still got the advertising. These days, things are tight all over and the PRS and record companies understandably want to squeeze whatever they can out of their dying, old media sources of revenue.

Unfortunately, there's no way to enforce the rules on performance rights in public unless you send inspectors out to poke around shops and workplaces, which is horribly intrusive (and, in the case of workplaces, that aren't open to the general public, isn't even likely to work unless they turn the radio up loud enough that it can be heard from outside). Which means the PRS inevitably end irritating the general public, whereas previously people would have only rarely had run-ins with them.
Shim at 16:17 on 2009-04-15
Kyra - this is precisely what they did, so the village is a bit peeved and all the shops have turned off their radios etc. That's why it came to mind. Sorry, didn't mean to monopolise the comments, it was relevant to the podcast when I started writing...
Jamie Johnston at 16:24 on 2009-04-25
Hurrah, another fun podcast - well done. Comparing with the first one, a few thoughts:

In a way it was nice to have a smaller panel because it made it easier to identify who was who, though on the other hand it was a bit male-dominated this time. The smaller number of speakers also reduced the number of times people spoke over each other and it was difficult to make out what they were saying. I think possibly the sound quality was better this time too, which meant that when people did speak at once there wasn't the odd tinny effect like in the first 'cast.

On the one hand it was good to hear you go into some of the topics in more depth and length, but on the other hand I slightly missed the feeling I had with the first episode of a great wealth of different topics, even though they were treated more briefly. I suppose the 'have-cake-and-eat-it' solution is just to make a longer show, if you can bear it! Having listened to the first two pretty much consecutively I can quite confidently say that a single longer one would hold my attention without any trouble.

Finally, a couple of things I particularly enjoyed, aside from the actual interestingness of the content and all that obvious stuff:

The way the emperor Julian (generally called 'the Apostate' except by annoying neo-pagans who try to make him into a saint-substitute by calling him Julian the Blessed or similar) audibly went up two or three notches in the estimation of the entire panel when it was mentioned that he tried to abolish Christianity and restore paganism.

The way Dan occasionally sounds a bit like Mark Lawson, thus allowing me to imagine that I was listening to a sort of uncensored anarchic edition of Front Row. (For an example, prepare a mental image of Mark Lawson and then fast-forward to the bit where Dan says, "Are you saying black men can't wear cowboy boots?")

Finally, a quick note on the law of theft, picking up from Kyra's topic: you may be amused to learn that the law of theft currently has the ridiculous effect that you are not committing theft unless you think that what you're doing is dishonest and you think that most other people would think that what you're doing is dishonest. (Luckily for the sane administration of justice most juries are not told this but are simply told that theft is exactly what everyone thinks theft is.)

Looking forward to the next 'cast!
http://arkan2.livejournal.com/ at 00:00 on 2009-05-19
Another one from the archives. Love the Podcasts (by the time you get to 6 I may have worked out how to distinguish between everybody more accurately than just by gender).

I agree with finitobrien, it's weird matching your voices to the people I've come to know solely through what you've written.

Julian (18:32): ... It's a satirical missive to the people of Antioch ...
Me: All right, quick, I want to make a clever in-joke that won't be totally incomprehensible to anyone not familiar with my college.
Dungeon Master: Okay.
Me: What skill set is that?
DM: How the hell should I know? I'm you, and you know bugger all about tabletop RPGs except it's fun to watch other people playing them. It probably doesn't come under any of the classic skill sets anyway.
Me: Special skill set?
DM: Comedic aptitude, I suppose.
Me: What starting stats can you give me on that?
DM: With you? Call it a 3.
Me: Oh come on!
DM: Just roll the D20.
Me: *rolls*
DM: Well?
Me: Critical miss.
DM: *bursts out laughing*
Me: Well? Go on.
DM: All right. You wrack your brains trying to come up with a witty allusion, and instead embark on a long and utterly pointless discussion that even you can't figure out, let alone anyone else.
Me: *sigh* Are they laughing, at least?
DM: I don't thinks so.
Me: Uh-huh.
DM: And you completely failed to make any sort of allusion whatsoever.
Me: *sigh*

Meh, my problem with Christmas presents is that my imagination isn't worth crap when it comes to gifts (which, to be fair, extends to gifts I'd like for myself as well as gifts I think other people would like).

Kyra (36:32): ... The Amulet of Samarkand and that's a fucking awesome book ...
Me: So true.

And I'm not going to root around for it, but somebody (Dan, maybe) said near the end something about how "in this case, the best interests of the game manufacturers and the everyday consumers are diametrically opposed."
... As usual.
Robinson L at 18:00 on 2015-05-19
Continuing my trawl through "Ferretcasts: the early years" I had a listen to this not so long ago, and I have some new thoughts on it.

First, having now visited England and rode the Oxford Tube a half dozen times or so, I have to say I didn't find it a particularly unpleasant experience - maybe I caught it on good days, or maybe it's only so bad in aggregate? I dunno.

Second, Dan's point about half-assed multiculturalism in The Dresden Files and Western media in general reminds me of one of my issues with the Sleepy Hollow television series. It's not the same thing but it's related.

Despite the fact that the show's mythology is pegged to the Book of Revelation from the Christian scriptures, to the point where the sodding Headless Horseman in the show's mythology is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - despite that, the show goes to ridiculous lengths to strip away any mention of Christianity, the Christian God, Jesus, etc.

This is especially notable in the second season. In the first, Christ, God, etc., are mostly absent, but we do get some bits with Irving's priest, and you could believe Moloch is just a lieutenant of Lucifer's - they tiptoe around the subject, but it's not intrusive. In the second season, though, Irving tells the Horseman of War/
- as evidence of why the latter is untrustworthy - "you work for a demon," which for someone raised in 20th/21st Century USA (even a staunch atheist) packs a lot less punch than "you work for the Devil." Also, it becomes clear in the second season that they regard Moloch as the Big Bad, (rather than just Satan's field commander), especially after
Moloch is killed mid-season
, and Abby and Ichabod seem to think they've averted the apocalypse. (We still haven't gotten around to watching the last three or four episodes, but at this point it looks like only reason they haven't is that
Henry steps into Moloch's shoes

I'm as much of an unbeliever as anyone, but when your whole friggin' show is premised upon a key component of the Christian religion being true, then you've got to commit. The show doesn't commit; it waffles - which, under the circumstances, is an achievement in and of itself, but not one anybody should be proud of. It's kind of like inventing a way to make milk spoil even faster. It's deeply insulting for the people whose belief system their butchering, and it's intellectually insulting to the rest of us.
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