Shifting formats a bit, tonight's episode of Robot Overlordz covers SOPA, cord-cutting, and the joys of Zima. Join Mike and Matt (along with a special guest) as we dig into these topics. Recorded on 12/1/2011, 12/11/2011, & 1/15/2012.



You can download the episode here.


Mike & Matt's Recommended Reading:

Stop American Censorship, a project by Fight For The Future

The Government Wants to Kill the Internet, posted by therockbottom (, 11/16/2011)

The Four Big Steps To Cutting The Cord, by Matt Burns (TechCrunch, 3/11/2011)

The Cable Executives Blame ESPN for 'Cord Cutting', by Rebecca Greenfield (the Atlantic Wire, 12/6/2011)

More about The Five Best Cord Cutting Devices (Plus One Bonus!) also by Matt Burns (TechCrunch, 3/16/2011)



Omega: You’re listening to the Robot Overlordz with a Z podcast. On tonight’s episode, we take a look at the congressional disaster that is SOPA, the phenomenon of cord cutting, and a funny beverage from the 1990s that also uses a Z.

Mike Johnston: Welcome to another episode of Robot Overlordz. I’m Mike Johnston.

Matt Bolton: And I’m Matt Bolton.

MJ: So tonight we’re going to talk about some issues facing the Internet, specifically SOPA and Protect IP Acts.

MB: SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act which is the House of Representatives version of a bill that’s also in the Senate and the Senate’s version is called the Protect IP Act. They’re essentially the same thing. This is a very important topic that a lot of people don’t know about and it’s going to affect everybody. More or less, the government wants to start censoring the Internet like do they in China and Iran and some of these other places.

MJ: I think the interesting thing about this, and a lot of the problem legislation that comes up in the government about the Internet specifically is driven by these copyright industries, the recording industry, the movie industry. If you look at the history of copyright and how it, how it’s formed, a lot of those interests have kind of dictated things and created some pretty big industries but the problem with having that drive this act is that we’re not always looking at the big picture, that there are a number of other industries, including the tech industries, that they’re kind of lumping in, as if this bill will help, and really, it won’t. It would limit what you could do with the Internet. It would limit the types of innovative companies that could be started.

MB: This bill would make it so that if you’re on Facebook and you share something that is copyrighted, technically, this bill would allow Facebook to be taken down. Same with YouTube. It’s going to create a lot of headaches for companies that host a lot of videos. Right now, the way it works is if you post a video that is copyrighted, the copyright holder can request that the video be taken down. This would change the entire game completely.

MJ: The supporters say that this will help the American economy. I think the problem is that they don’t understand how the Internet actually works and that this fundamentally damages the way the Internet works in the same way that you mentioned China and Iran and Syria and some of these repressive regimes. I mean, that’s how they break the Internet in those countries. This really would apply the same techniques in the U.S.. Yeah, it’s to help protect copyright, but the copyright industry really does not have a very good track record of using their power wisely.

MB: Absolutely. One of the greatest things about the Internet right now is the fact that it’s not censored at all, at least not in the United States. 18 of the 22 sponsors of this legislation have already received substantial donations from television, movie, and the music industry for the 2012 election cycle. 18 out of the 22. So it’s not a, this isn’t going to be a fair vote, it’s not going to be a, you know, they’re basically just paying to get what they want.

MJ: Yeah.

MB: We’re talking about, what’s the average age of somebody in Congress? It’s 60 or 55 or something.

MJ: Yeah, most of them probably grew up listening to the radio, not even television yet.

MB: Basically, the Internet has only really been around for normal consumption since about ’95.

MJ: Most people don’t know what DNS is. Most people don’t know what the bill is really talking about. And honestly, I don’t think that the people who wrote it really understand.

MB: No.

MJ: Because even in the entertainment industry, if you look at the people who make decisions about, you know, which directions to go like on something like this, they’re that same generation.

MB: So whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, this is something you really need to look at and be very wary of.

MJ: Yeah, it’s definitely important.

MB: Yep.

O: Got something to say on SOPA? Give us a call at 630-708-0492 or send us a tweet at @robotoverlordz with a Z. Coming up next, Mike and Matt talk about the phenomenon of cord cutting.

MJ: For those of you who don’t know what cord cutting is, it is basically doing without cable or satellite TV service and this is a topic that we’ve both been into, at least following, for quite a little bit now, I think it?

MB: Yeah, absolutely. It’s one of those things that every six months or a year, my cable bill starts, seems to get higher and higher. I think it should be noted that Mike is officially a cable cutter. I am not yet, however, inching ever closer. So...

MJ: Yeah. One of the articles we’re going to share tonight talks a little bit about if you would consider making this leap into cord cutting, you know, really, the kinds of things you’d think about before making that leap because I think there’s, there are some cost savings but also, there are some hassles that go with, you know, cutting the cord from cable.

MB: Yes.

MJ: So I think this is one of those trends that like the landline phone, over time, you’re just going to see this stuff naturally drift that way because really both, both phones calls and really, video or TV service, they just make more sense as parts of a data service offering.

MB: Right. The first article, which is the Four Steps to Cord Cutting, one of the things that I, the first, number one is basically get you’re, what you’re getting yourself into and they make the point that, you know, right, your subscription TV is a mindless activity. You just kind of turn it on and look around for something to watch. I’d almost compare it to listening to the radio. You turn on the radio, you hunt around for a few stations until you find a song that you can stand, which is kind of how cable TV is. Whereas if you’re cutting the cord, you’ve got to basically come up with your own playlist of things to watch.

MJ: Yeah. Well, you’re basically, you know, self programming and that is, it’s a lot of work. I mean, it’s, in a lot of ways, like the media management of just having a media library.

MB: Yes.

MJ: That can be a full time job. That can eat up just a huge amount of time organizing things and just deciding what to watch.

MB: Right, well, and the other thing is, is you’re finding new shows. It’s kind of like going back to the analogy of the radio where, where if you did away with radio and you just use MP3s, finding the new music that you like, this is... you're finding shows and a lot of them, they don’t have. Some of them, luckily, they offer, like the pilot show, they’ll offer for free or for $0.99 or $1.99. You can download that and, and see, you know, if it’s something you’re going to want to stick with.

MJ: Well, I found as a cord cutter, though, it does make you a lot more deliberate about what you’re willing to watch and really think about what is the value of paying attention to this? You know, because really, I read a lot of articles that talk about we’re in kind of an attention economcy, and understanding that your attention has value, I think is a lot easier when you’re, actually, when you’ve cut the cord and you don’t have that just automatically available stream to dip into.

MB: Yes.

MJ: You know, it really makes you think about, 'am I getting anything of value out of spending my time this way?'

MB: Right. Well, and it makes you think, you know, you start looking at the shows that you watch, TV, you’re kind of like, 'is this really necessary for me to sit through this show? Am I only sitting through it because it’s on? Or do I really, really like it?'

MJ: Exactly. Well, and I find that that can free up a huge amount of time to then devote to other things.

MB: Yeah.

MJ: You know, and actually, I guess pay more attention to what’s going on around you.

MB: I think it’s also, it’s becoming much, much easier just because there’s so much now that you, you know, a year or two ago, it was very, you know, there was not a lot of stuff that was available for people who cut the cord.

MJ: Yeah.

MB: I mean, now it’s becoming much, much easier to cut the cord. One of my big things was, I like football and I didn’t want to cut the cord just because that’s one of the things that’s not available on Pay-Per-View.

MJ: Yeah. Well, I think they’ve followed the blackout rules a little too closely. You know, I think sports and news still seem to be where cord cutting is the weakest. You know, the real time news, that like, CNN and things like that and I think they at least have, now, iPad apps and things like that. There may be ways to fill in that gap with news anyway.

MB: Yeah.

MJ: But I think in particular sports, they observe those blackout rules where if it’s on network TV, you’re not getting it through an app anymore.

MB: Well, the only sport I really watch is football and the nice thing is now through the Playstation 3, you can actually buy the entire NFL Sunday pass without having to have DirectTV or whatever the satellite requirement is. It’s expensive. It’s $350 for the season but you’re getting every NFL game and it doesn’t matter if you have cable.

MJ: Okay, so that one doesn’t, then, follow the blackout rules?

MB: No, it doesn’t.

MJ: So I would think there’s, there’s probably a market for that kind of thing especially if they start adding things. You know, I think one day recently you and I were talking about the possibilities of, you know like, an NFL app that would run on something like an AppleTV, where anyone in the room could control the camera angle or instant replay or, you know, things like that and if you, you know, start adding the history of every game recorded ever from every camera angle ever, they aren’t letting people, you know, use some of the social networking to put together their own commentary or own like, comparisons maybe of like best passes ever or things like that. You know, you build a huge amount of support for your sport, I would think.

MB: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. You know, you’re only getting your fans more involved. The other thing, too, is I find that, you were talking about news before, but I don’t remember the last time I watched news on, on my actual TV. The only place I get news is off the Internet.

MJ: Yeah?

MB: I, I can’t sit, I , and I know you’re the same way, I just can’t sit and watch news on TV. I find it so mind-numbingly horrible.

MJ: Well, I think once you see the format that it falls into, you know, of the way they do their lead-in stories, the way they have their human interest stories, the sensationalistic way that it’s presented and it’s so manufactured. I think once you see that outline, you know, it’s impossible to not see anymore and it, it actually, I gotta admit to becoming physically aggravated when I’m in the room with news because just, the way it’s structured, you know, it’s so manufactured to get you riled up.

MB: Yes.

MJ: I think.

MB: Oh, absolutely. Or to get you to pay, you know, whatever the story is, they give you that brief overview of some story where they’re like, 'learn why this man threw a bag of puppies off the bridge' and you’re like, 'well, I gotta, I gotta sit here and find this out', you know, for the next hour.

MJ: It does focus very much on negative events.

MB: Yes.

MJ: Because that’s what gets people’s attention. You know, and I find, well, I think you and I both kind of agree on the value of the Internet as a news source for this, is that, it’s just, it allows you to go way more in-depth, get a much wider variety of perspective, and it’s so much easier to get focused and especially with the Internet still very reliant on text and I think that actually makes you more reflective rather than like, TV signals, I think, are designed to get you active and worked up.

MB: Yes.

MJ: Where as the act of reading really engages your more kind of analytical brain and I think you think deeper about events then.

MB: Yeah. Well, and the other thing too, is, I still get news from,, some of these others. But when I go to them, I’m picking out the stories that interest me. It’s not, I’m not being kind of sensationalized at the beginning of the hour about what’s coming up. I can just, I can go in and go, oh, this looks interesting, and I’ll read it.

MJ: Right? Well, and I think that’s an important part of the, kinda, cord cutting mentality is that you have to be kind of willing to do that self programming and actually think that that’s a good thing. And you know, I think it is certainly a lot of work. It’s much easier to just sit there and you know, allow the kinda, media to just wash over you and just kinda numb out your brain.

MB: Yeah.

MJ: But I think there is a lot of value in that act of cord cutting and becoming a little more an active participant in your media consumption.

MB: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it is a little more work but I think you made a good point, too, is that you start realizing that there’s more to life than just sitting in front of the TV especially if you’re having to program your own, what you’re watching, it does, I think it would free up a lot more time.

O: Want to sound off about cord cutting? Give us a call at 630-708-0492 or send us a tweet @robotoverlordz with a Z. Coming up next, Mike and Matt are joined by a special guest and take a look at the joys of Zima.

MJ: Joining us tonight is listener and old friend, Mark Davis.

Mark Davis: Hello. This is something different here. I’m actually one of the very few people who actually liked Zima. You know, Zima was a Coors clear malt product in the early ‘90s that came out. And I’m serious about it. I actually did like it. What was interesting is, you know, it’s a clear malt, or it’s a malt beverage. It didn’t taste like beer. Didn’t taste like wine. Probably more in the like, Little Kings or Mickey’s type of category but didn’t really have a beer flavor and I think probably a number of the listeners out here have heard a lot of jokes on it or have actually had it. I thought it was a good product and it did evolve and change over the years from the early ‘90s through the mid-2000s. And by the time, I’d say around 2005, 2006 came around, I mean, it was just a completely dead product. And I, and I had actually stopped drinking it too at some point but I just thought it was different and there’s really nothing else out there like it. It was something that I did enjoy back in my college years.

MJ: Yeah, me too. I remember it being huge when it first came out among like, the freshmen particularly. We used to give it to freshmen girls a lot, like at parties. Okay, I didn’t say that actually. Nevermind. But you know, I remember people putting Jolly Ranchers to flavor it and things like that. And I always thought it tasted sorta like an alcoholic sprite.

MB: Yeah, to me, it kinda almost tasted like a mix between 7-Up and beer.

MD: A friend of mine says it tastes like Windex and tin foil.

MB: Mark, would you like to expand a little bit on the Zima Gold?

MD: Yeah, yeah. There was a, kind of a rum flavored Zima that came out in 1994, 1995 and it absolutely bombed. In fact, I was probably one of the first persons who bought that one as well and it was just absolutely horrendous. You know, I don’t know a single person who actually liked it whatsoever. But it was called Zima Gold.

MJ: Yeah. I think the nearest thing nowadays out there like that is like the Smirnoff Ices. And you know, I think that the Smirnoff Ice is a little bit more of an alcoholic seeming drink than Zima ever was.

MB: Yeah. There was also the Captain Morgan’s drink that they tried to compete with Zima. What was that called, Mark?

MD: I know exactly what you’re talking about. It was right around the same period of time.

MB: It bombed so bad that they actually sent Captain Morgan representatives into the liquor stores to forcibly take it back.

MJ: Wow.

MB: It tasted like watered down pancake syrup. That was the only thing that I could, it was one of the worst. I still have a bottle just because I figured, 'let’s keep it, just for nostalgia’s sake', but yeah it was one of the worst things I’ve ever had in my life.

MJ: Mark, thanks for joining us.

MD: Thank you very much guys.

MB: Thanks.

O: Visit us at robotoverlordz with a z .com or follow us on Twitter @robotoverlordz with a Z.


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