We interrupt your regularly scheduled serious stuff to bring you this important word from some joker.

Many of us spend lots of time thinking about things that annoy us, or problems that we have to deal with. The oblivious driver that just cut us off. Or the person sitting next to us in the coffee shop, talking on their cell phone so loudly that the person on the other end of the line could probably hear them even if they weren’t using the phone. And what about those arrogant trees, always dropping their leaves and needles everywhere, as if the whole world were their recycle bin? Or the incessant weasels, whose only great joy in life is to climb up our pant legs when we aren’t paying attention… or maybe that one is just me.

Yeah, life is rough. But, have you spent any time lately contemplating the good things in life? You know, things like buttons. How can you think of buttons and not smile? Buttons that hold clothes together, buttons pinned to shirts with clever quips on them, buttons you click with your mouse on the computer screen (like the one at holdthebutton.com), buttons on a phone, or on a remote… Truly, buttons are one of the great marvels of life, and indeed, also one of the most overlooked.

There are buttons all around us. As I write these words, there are easily over a hundred buttons within ten feet of me. I would wager that you could find at least two dozen buttons from where you’re sitting right now. But how often do you take a moment to think about all the good things that buttons bring into your life? Probably never.

In order to help you to better appreciate the button, let’s go over a brief history. In the year 1636 AD, the representatives of the States-General, presiding over the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, issued a decree. It stated that anyone who was able to devise a way to keep their giant fluffy pants from riding up their legs while at the same time allowing them to dispense eggs from the chicken coop with ease, would be crowned “king for a day.” In addition, the winner would also be awarded with a big bag full of tulip bulbs. Since tulip bulbs were insanely valuable in the Netherlands in those days, hordes of people began frantically searching for a solution. In practically no time at all, nearly fifty different viable solutions were proposed to the States-General. Being the cheerful and benevolent government that they were, they awarded the prize to all of the inventors. However, since the representatives of the States-General were not particularly inventive themselves, they named all of the solutions “buttons.” Over the years, many of these amazing “buttons” were lost, due to advancing technology, the language barrier, and badgers. But today, we are blessed to still have a small handful of these “buttons” remaining as a part of our culture.

I hope that with your new-found knowledge and awareness about buttons, you can begin to let life’s little annoyances slide off your back and appreciate the joy that they can bring. This article has brought you more information about buttons than you could have possibly researched in an entire lifetime; both because a lifetime is too short and because most of it was completely made up. But don’t let that little detail that stop you from deepening your appreciation for buttons. The next time someone cuts you off in traffic, or those pesky weasels run up your leg, look for a button, and smile.

Internet Copyright Practices

In today’s world, we have millions of people who own computers. What has emerged from this collective ownership of computers is a community, if you will, of computers which spans the entire globe through electronic connections. This commune of computers has become known as the Internet. On the Internet, there is contained immense quantities of knowledge. People ‘post’ items on the Internet, and in their own way, they contribute to the collective of knowledge available to basically anyone with a computer and a phone.

Placing something on the Internet is just like broadcasting something over the television waves. In the case of television, someone with a VCR could, if they wanted to, tape an NBA game, so that they may watch it later. However, at the beginning and end of each NBA game, it is stated that basically it is illegal to reproduce or rebroadcast the game without the expressed written consent of the NBA. Unfortunately for them, once they broadcast the game, there are people who tape it regardless of the copyright, therefore breaking copyright law. In the same manner, when someone posts something on the Internet, they can put all the copyrights and warnings that they want on it, but inevitably, it will be copied and used somewhere else without the “owner’s” permission.

Copyright laws are very good ideas to have so as to protect the rightful owner of a particular image or idea. Unfortunately, in most cases, copyright laws are so difficult to enforce, that they may as well be nonexistent. Software copyrights are violated left and right, and most people are unaware that they are even breaking the law by copying a friend’s program to their computer. It is the same with Internet copyrights. People copy images all the time, and later use them on their site. While it may be legal only for non-profit organizations or those with the owner’s permission, many, many people participate in this activity on a regular basis. In practice, most copyright laws, on the Internet and elsewhere, are simply enforced in such a manner that if you’re not making any money off the reproduction of an item, then you are okay.

On the Internet, when you post an item, you in essence say that anyone may take the image and do what they want with it. This is not the way it should be. If there was a way to enforce a law which prevented people from copying images without authorization, it would certainly be instituted, at least by the major companies with Web sites, such as Microsoft© and Intel©. Possibly the only way to enforce such a law would be to have some sort of program which detected when someone was copying off your server, and then would prompt them for a password. If they supplied the incorrect password, it would then scramble anything they tried to copy. Although this sounds like a good idea, it is highly infeasible. If it were possible to do such a thing in the first place, one would most likely need to have some sort of special server that would function in this manner, therefore making the idea ludicrously expensive.

Taking all of this information into account, it can be determined that although Internet copyright laws may be good ideas, Internet copyright practices would not change with or without a law, as people generally do what they want to as long as they think they can’t get caught, and in the case of copying things off the Internet, it would be a rare occurrence that one would get caught.

The views expressed in this essay are not necessarily those of the author.

Contents of this essay copyright 1997 tHE bRAIN© technology.

To be used only with permission.