Some enterprising Boxee hackers have created a plugin that lets you view Hulu on your Boxee install. Lifehacker has some great documentation. I knew it wouldn’t take long for this to happen. I predict two outcomes: Content providers will figure out that we’re going to get their content on Boxee one way or the other, or they’ll pull everything from Hulu immediately, just to make extra sure nobody can watch their content on their televisions over the Internet.

Sadly, the latter is far more likely. I still think, though, we should send empty boxes to the networks. Or, even better, send them boxes with a piece of paper in them. On the paper write “A Clue.” Because they obviously need one.

This is also a great illustration of the power of a network. We saw a blockage, and routed around it. The Internet was designed for this sort of thing. It’s a force of nature now, like a wave. Old industries can either start paddling and ride the wave, or they can resist it and be smashed to bits.

This week, Hulu announced that their “content partners” have told them to stop cooperating with the Internet video service Boxee. Boxee is a piece of software designed for nerds like me who have a computer (or Apple TV) connected to their HDTV that allows them to access video content through an interface designed for using a remote control.

Boxee and Hulu were perfect together. Hulu provided tons of network content in high definition for free. The ads on Hulu videos were unobtrusive, only 30 seconds or so in length. It was the perfect wife-friendly way to get video onto the TV without going through our satellite provider. It was so good I was even thinking of dropping satellite altogether, getting all of my content through Hulu or iTunes. It felt nice to be entertained legally for a change.

But network executives apparently hadn’t figured out that computers can be connected to large HDTVs these days. I’m sure they viewed Hulu as a way for nerds to get content on their computers, since all those losers do is sit in front of their computers all day. When they found out that we could, horror of horrors, watch Hulu and its limited commercial interruptions on our TVs, they were apoplectic.

But what I can’t figure out is why they’re like this. They make their money off of ad revenue, right? On broadcast TV, all they know about the person viewing the ads is when they’re watching, and maybe the region they’re watching it from.

But with Hulu, they know where they’re watching down to the city level. They know what time the person is watching the show, not when they recorded it. They know the other shows the person has watched, and what things people who like those shows like. Combine this with the limited commercial interruptions, and you get an ad space that’s worth orders of magnitude more than a broadcast advertisement.

To put it bluntly: I actually *watched* the ads on Hulu, rather than fumbling for the remote to skip over them. Or pausing live TV long enough to get through a commercial break.

But beyond that, I was exposed to more TV shows through Hulu on Boxee than I’d ever have seen on TV. The fantastic Fox drama “Lie to Me” runs Wednesdays at 9PM, opposite ABC’s “Lost.” Having watched Lost since its inception, we tuned in for it, oblivious to Lie to Me. We only found out about it because one of my Boxee friends recommended it to us. And now we love it.

The same goes for back episodes. My wife was skeptical of this whole AppleTV thing until I showed her that we could get the entirety of The Twilight Zone on it. Emphasis on the word “could.”

But I’m still hopeful. As always, the Internet will see a limitation and route around it. Right now there are dozens of people working on Boxee and plugins for Boxee that will access Hulu through their web interface. There’s an open source project on Google Code called Understudy that lets you watch Hulu on Frontrow, though it’s not really mature.

The point is that people want their content the way Hulu and Boxee provided it: Freely available any time on their TVs. We’re willing to sit through reasonable amounts of ads for it. And since there’s enough of us out there, we’ll find a way to get the content we want. Networks don’t seem to understand that there are more of us than there are of them.

Not to mention we’re way smarter.

Saw this on Fark the other day and loved it.

It goes to the tune of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” and apologies to The Proclaimers:

We’re the Big 3,
The Big 3 of the Big 3
We’re the three CEOs who farked shiat up for you

But don’t you worry
Because we know we’re gonna be
We’re gonna be the men who grovel up for you

Okay that first time,
Yes, we prob’ly shoulda drove
We shoulda drove the cars we try to sell to you

We’re driving this time
Yeah, you know we’re gonna drive
We’re gonna be the guys who drive a deal for you

But we would fly 500 miles
And we would drive 500 more
Just to be the men who begged for cash
From Congress like a dirty whore

We’ll cut our sal’rys,
Yes, we know we’re gonna be
We’re gonna be the men who sacrificed for you

And when the money
Floods in from taxpayers too
We’ll buy some mansions somewhere nice in Malibu

As for our bonus,
Yeah, we know we’re gonna get
We’re gonna get that cash whatever else we do

When we retire,
Well, we know we’re gonna be
On our estates so very far away from you

But we would fly 500 miles
And we would drive 500 more
Just to be the men who begged for cash
From Congress like a dirty whore

da da da (da da da)
da da da (da da da)
Da Da Da Dun Diddle Un Diddle Un Diddle Uh Da Da

When we cut costs,
Well, you know we’re gonna cut
We’re gonna cut the jobs of lots and lots of you

It’s ironic,
Cuz you know we’re gonna say
We need the cash because we’re “looking out for you”

When we’re bailed out,
Well, you know we’re gonna be
We’re gonna be the men that some will call “astute”

We’re not worried
Cuz you know we’re gonna be
We’re gonna be the men with golden parachutes

We’re gonna be the men with golden parachutes

But we would fly 500 miles
And we would drive 500 more
Just to be the men who begged for cash
From Congress like a dirty whore

What is happening to the Republican Party
What is happening to the Republican Party

For the better part of 20 years, the Republican Party, through people like Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and others, have been experimenting with a zombie virus. It’s a combination of anti-intellectualism, cultural warfare, and divisive rhetoric. It’s what gave us the Contract with America and the Impeachment trial. It’s the origin of “Al Gore invented the Internet” and the Purple Heart Band Aids. It’s what created “Get a brain morans” and “Barack HUSSEIN Obama.”

But since Obama’s victory, it’s started to come unhinged. Others are likening it to a circular firing squad. They say the fiscal conservatives are shooting at the militarist conservatives who are shooting at the social conservatives in a circle of blame over who lost the election.

But I see it differently. The leaders of the party, the “elites” who pull the strings, who run the think tanks, created this situation for themselves. By promoting anti-intellectualism, they’ve made their base unable to be reasoned with. By promoting “with us or against us” rhetoric, they’ve removed any ability for the more reasonable members of their base to talk their friends out of rash action. And by framing politics as warfare, they’ve eliminated any hope of compromise.

And this will lead to a fracturing of the conservatives in this country similar to what happened to the liberals in 1968, and gave them control of the government for the next 20 years. And I can’t see a downside to this.

I realized a little while ago that the only person who I hadn’t communicated directly with about this whole “atheists are evil” North Carolina Senate flap is Elizabeth Dole. So I decided to write her a letter. And to share it with everyone else.

Senator Dole,

As an atheist, I am appalled at your blatant bigotry against my co-non-religionists. While I am painfully aware that we are the last minority group for whom bigotry against is still politically correct, your trio of attack ads against Kay Hagan is most blatant example I’ve seen since President George Bush Sr. said “No, I don’t know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

There is nothing wrong with what Kay Hagan did. Taking money from atheists is not bad, and it does not mean that she will support their agenda. Neither is associating with atheists. (I’m sure that if you asked your staff to fill out anonymous forms, you’d find some atheists among them.) We are not evil or immoral. I am a loving father and husband, a hard worker, a loyal friend, and a patriotic American. And yet my lack of belief in god makes me ineligible to lobby my congressman for fear that they would be attacked by the likes of you, preying on the obvious bigotry that still exists in this country.

I do share the ideals of the Godless Americans PAC. I would like to see “under god” taken out of our pledge, to which it was only added in 1951. I would like to see “In God We Trust” taken off of our currency, to which it was added in the mid-1960s. And I support giving people floating Federal holidays rather than forcing them to take Christmas off regardless of their beliefs.

I don’t feel these are extreme positions. I shouldn’t have to lie when I say the Pledge of Allegiance. Something I disagree with should not be put on the money I am forced to use. I should be allowed to observe my own holidays, not forced to observe yours.

I am ashamed that, even in the 21st century, in the most advanced nation in the world, an honest, hardworking American citizen can still be discriminated against in this manner. I would ask for a public apology, but I know that you would never do this. All I can hope is that these desperate smear tactics work against the bigotry that I have felt because of my lack of belief.

Sincerely yours,

Paul Rothrock

I found this response to the whole Hagan/Dole “atheist” flap over at The Digital Cuttlefish, and it really summarizes my thoughts on the subject well. So I thought I’d share.

I proudly am an atheist;
I do not share your views.
Imagine how insulting,
When I watch the evening news
And I see you point at folks like me
Indignantly, with rage,
As if we were the lepers
Of a less enlightened age!
No need to watch your language
Or to treat us with respect—
Because demonizing us is still
Politically correct.
You’d never talk like this regarding
Blacks, or Gays, or Jews,
But with atheists, just look at all
The language that you use!
“Obama is a terrorist”—of course
The claim’s obscene;
But “Hagan is an atheist”?
The worst you’ve ever seen?!?
Comparing her to me is now
The lowest of the low?
It’s good I don’t believe in Hell—
I’d tell you where to go.

I proudly am an atheist
I proudly am a Jew
I proudly am a Christian,
And I’m proudly Muslim, too.
I’m proud to be both Gay and Straight
I’m proudly Black and White
I’m proudly Man and Woman
And I’ll proudly join the fight.
I proudly am Humanity,
Whatever that is worth;
There is no group below me,
Or above me, on this Earth.

Edited to fix the formatting

Elizabeth Dole has released an ad that has audio of her opponent, Kay Hagan, shouting “There is no god.” But there’s a little problem with it. That never actually happened. Dole either faked the audio, or used another women who sounds a lot like Hagan to record it and played it over a picture of Hagan. Kay responded with two ads of her own, and a cease and desist letter calling the accusation that she is an atheist slanderous.

Now, slander is defined as “the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation.” Now, I can understand that calling Hagan, who is active in her church, an atheist would be innaccurate. But is it defamatory? Are Christians really that insulted by being accused of being atheists that it would be slander? Would it really be so bad for a group of people to think you’re an atheist.

So I’m not sure which is more insulting: That calling someone an atheist is considered a political attack, or that such an attack is considered slander by believers. I mean, how do you think people would have responded if Obama had called the attacks that he is a Muslim slander?

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My 27th birthday is approaching, and I’ve decided to make it an open invitation to anyone who can read this. I’m planning a pub crawl for Saturday, September 27th, starting at American Bar & Grill on Plum Street in Lancaster around 8:30 and working my way down the bars on Plum to Quips or Lancaster Brewing Company.

If you can’t make it out at 8:30, I’m going to be putting my current location and state of inebriation on my Twitter feed which is also on the right side of my blog. So to find out where I am, check there before you come out.

No need to bring presents. Just show up and maybe buy me a drink. Good company is the best present I could get.