Jan 182012

I guess you’ve figured out by now that we didn’t black out the NCS site today.  Frankly, I got confused.  I thought on-line sites were organizing a protest against sopapilla.  I’ve long been a supporter of sopapillas.

I used to eat them all the time in Tex-Mex restaurants when I lived in Texas.  They’re popular in other border states, as well as in many countries in Central and South America.  If you’ve never eaten one, you’re really missing out.  They’re kind of a fried pastry, sometimes powdered with sugar and/or cinnamon and served with honey.  They’re light, they’re crispy, they’re kind of chewy.  They’re just damned good eating.

So why, I wondered, were people up in arms over sopapillas?  Y’know, they may not be the healthiest food in the world, but shutting down places like Wikipedia and Reddit in protest seemed like an overreaction to me.  I mean, buffalo wings and pizza are crappy kinds of food and you don’t see anyone organizing internet blackouts over them.

Then I figured out that people weren’t protesting sopapillas. They were protesting SOPA and PIPA!  Turns out these are acronyms for bills that are pending in the U.S. Congress — the “Stop Online Piracy Act” in the House and the “Protect IP Act” in the Senate. They seem to be targeted at non-U.S. web sites that pirate intellectual property owned by U.S. businesses, but there are (or were) provisions in the bills that would require U.S.-based sites to make sure they aren’t linking to foreign sites that engage in piracy.

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