Screw Generation X, here comes Generation Me!

Yesterday evening, MSNBC posted a story about teenage narcissism and what it could mean for students going forth into the working world. They posit that the sheer amount of self-centeredness that most college students have could prove to be detrimental to their development as human beings. Whether this manifests in their lack of respect for their peers, a need to assert “over-control”, or any other form, they show serious risk of having severely stunted personal growth and development.

I’ve met my fair share of college aged kids. My opinion: this article, while perhaps a bit on the extreme side, has it exactly right. It doesn’t take a middle eastern mystic to tell you that over the past 10 years, we’ve gone from being a pretty fair and balanced society to one that coddles little Timmy from the day he emerges from the womb. “No, he’s not stupid, he’s got a learning disability.” “Oh, my daughter isn’t depressed, she’s just ecstatically challenged.”

We watch these little bundles of joy mature from babies to young adults, all the while repeating endlessly how special and important they are. We tell them they’re unique snowflakes and anyone who disagrees with them is obviously blind, deaf, and dumb — excuse me — visually challenged, hearing impaired, and cognitively different. It gets to a point where they start to believe the bullshit that we continually send flying their way, until they reach the age where they’re forced to fend for themselves. That’s when the problems begin.

Whether they feel that they deserve the best jobs even if they’ve been performing substandard work, or they deserve praise for doing only the bare minimum, we’re on a slippery slope as it is, and things aren’t getting any better. We’ve got so used to treating these kids like our princes and princesses of everything holy, that when it’s time to sit down with them and let them know that they haven’t been performing, they throw a temper tantrum all the while completely disbelieving they could have possibly done anything less than perfect.

Of course, I don’t have children, so what the hell do I know? I’m merely speculating on what I see. I do, however, remember my childhood vividly (partially because, to a certain extent, I’m still living it), and I can say with 100% certainty that I am glad that my father raised me as strict as he did. Growing up, I would have never admitted it, nor would I have even realized what he was doing, but by telling me no sometimes (OK, all the time), and telling me that I wasn’t perfect, he was in essence preventing me from developing an entitlement complex, and/or narcissitic tendencies.

I wasn’t Prince Justin who ruled the Kingdom of Smith while my parents gave me everything I could have ever dreamed of; I wasn’t Emperor Justin of the Smith Islands where I was waited on hand and foot. I was just Justin, my dad’s son, who had to work for everything I wanted (honestly, I was told at age 12 that I would no longer be receiving an allowance and that if I wanted to buy slurpees or lunch at school, I would be on my own and that flyer delivery companies were hiring). I may not be the cover story for Well Rounded People Weekly, but I can sure as hell say that for once in my life, the grass is definitely greener on my side of the fence.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times where I’m sure a little extra confidence wouldn’t hurt, or having everything given to me would be a nice change of pace; that’s not to say however, that on the whole I’m not thankful for what my parents gave me. After looking back on the past 24 years of my life, I can say that I’m pretty happy with what I’ve accomplished. I’ve written enough music to put out a CD, I’ve lived on a (sub-)tropical island, I’ve had a number of real, meaningful relationships with people outside of my immediate family, and I think I’ve found a profession that I enjoy and that I’m good at.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m sure bein a parent is hard; you watch your kids grow up and you can’t help but want to give them everything you didn’t have growing up. Whether that was eating out twice a week from age 6, or a brand new car at 16, you want to provide your kids with a life you could have only dreamed of. All I’m suggesting is that parents reconsider handing their children life on a diamond-encrusted silver platter because I’m getting very tired of watching fights between supervisors and their employees.

I mean — the managerially averse.

Should developers be allowed to fight back against piracy?

I was browsing Reddit today, and came across a link to a website where a developer had decided he was going to take the software piracy fight into his own hands. This person had programmed an application for Mac computers that allowed people to make videos using their desktops, which would they could later use in training videos to show where someone would click to perform a certain function.

Now this application seems to pirated quite frequently among the Mac community and as such, the developer implemented a feature that would check the registration key you used to “register” it, which isn’t uncommon nowadays with the advent of the internet and subsequently file sharing programs like BitTorrent or Limewire. The difference between most other programs and his, is that if the key you use to register it is known to have been stolen, it will erase a random file on your computer.

Now I will admit, I have used software that I may or may not have obtained completely legally, but regardless, does my breaking the law give the creator the right to delete data off my hard drive? No where in the License Agreement does it state that “by breaking the terms of this agreement, you give the creator permission to delete random files from your computer”; it just does it.

On the website where he explains his actions, almost every post after his lambasts him for the actions and suggests that he should seek legal counsel. I’m not saying that every person on the internet knows everything there is to know about law, however the sheer number of people suggesting it would indicate that he might have something of a battle on his hands.

I guess what’s got me most up in arms is how he is determining which keys are legitimate; what happens if the key I legally purchase is somehow misidentified as being stolen? I would lose my data, and he would very quickly lose me as a customer. He would also quite quickly find a subpoena in his hands demanding that he pay me reparations for my lost files.

Or from another perspective: when you pay for software, 99 times out of 100, you are paying for the right to use that piece of software on a single machine. You give programmer money, he gives you the right to use his software. Which key you use should never even be considered. For example, let’s say I pay Microsoft $300 for a copy of Windows. In the most strictest sense (according to their usage agreement), I’m not paying for the box, the manual, or even the CD, I’m simply paying for the right to use their software. This is why technicians with large corporations with hundreds of computers are able to install Windows on their PCs with any of the keys they purchase; Microsoft doesn’t care which PC has been installed with which key, they just care that each PC has a licensed purchased for them. If you use the same key on every one of them, what the hell do they care? The fact that I have a legally purchased key or keys in my possession is my proof that I have the right to use that software.

My main worry surrounding all of this is its potential for abuse. I now know that the developer has taken it upon himself to protect his software by deleting files if he believes I’m breaking the rules. How can I be sure that this is all he’s doing? Deleting random files by any other software would be considered a trait of malicious intent at best, and a trait of a virus at worst. Should it not be treated as such?

At any rate, I do believe that programmers should fight to protect their intellectual property. As a musical artist, I know the value of people stealing my work, and I believe that owners of that property should fight tooth and nail to keep control of it. I do not believe, however, that instilling fear in not only the pirates, but also well-intentioned, paying customers is the right way to go about it.

As an alternative, perhaps the program could remove itself when these keys are detected. At the very worst, it would be a nuisance for the paying customer who may have to call customer support to get a new code, but I would hazard a guess that the developer would rather that than a lawyer.

Dior by Galliano: Old world, meet new world

After reading about all of the Fall 2007 fashion shows that are going on right now, I realized that I must not have been paying attention last month when John Galliano had his Spring 2007 show. Not wanting to see what I had missed, I quickly headed over to Style.com and took a look.

Of course, the page had barely finished loading when I was able to conclude that yet again, the fashion coming out of Christian Dior by way of John Galliano’s brilliant mind has no intent of stopping or even slowing down.

John Galliano has a way of taking the most elegant dress and adding a whole lot of attitude, making his creation the most stared at in the room. Unfortunately, his creations are rarely if ever sold in stores1, but it’s not difficult to imagine the number of heads that would turn if they were. He takes patterns that are usually equated with the absolute highest members of old societies, combines them with beautifully bright colors and just the right amounts of texture to bring them from days past to days ahead.

His 2007 spring show is no exception, this time taking notes from the Japanese rather than the English or French that he’s been known for in the past. Not only are his works stunning, they almost seem to have leapt right off ancient artifacts and into cans of bright paint. They are intricate pieces with just the right colors; the right textures combined with the right mediums.

He has been my favorite designer for nearly 3 years, and judging by his latest show, he will hold that top spot for a very long time. He takes timeless pieces, brings them in to the “here and now”, and then knocks them into next week, just for good measure. It’s obvious why he’s the head of design at Dior: great work, great design, great everything.

For those of you who are too scared to click on a link to a fashion website, here are a couple of my favorites:

Galliano #1Galliano #2Galliano #3Galliano #4

click for bigger versions at style.com

1 – Haute couture is designed primarily as art; the clothes are usually not meant to be sold or worn, but rather like sculptures which are to be presented in a gallery to be admired