Made In America Laws

The Canadian copyright bill has distinctly American origins. Unlike most other bills that emerge as a result of genuine concern this one is mostly the result of intense lobbying by the American Government and the intellectual property industry. The released American Cables give insight into this political process showing the pressure of American Government has applied on Canada to implement reforms that it views in line with it’s economic interests. During private discussions between the former Minister of Industry Maxime Bernier and the then American Ambassador to Canada, Bernier was told that copyright enforcement was the most important issue to the American’s economic interest in Canada. Other cables discuss moving Canada to the top of the Special 301 Priority Watch List that lists countries that offend intellectual copyright laws. This list has widely been known as an American Political tool to try and force countries in conformance with it’s views. Canada has topped China and Russia on the latest list, an almost hard to believe accomplishment considering the scale of counterfeit in those two countries.
It is almost without a doubt that the continued persistence of C-11’s draconian DRM provisions exist for the purpose of appealing to the American government which has in turn been lobbied by the entertainment industry. In the cables the conservative government mentions that any update of Canada’s copyright laws would assist in the updating of laws that would enforce intellectual property rights. C-11 is viewed by both governments as just a partial solution to the protection of intellectual property.

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DRM Provisions Remain Most Concerning Part of C-11

C-11s most concerning feature are the provisions to prevent the circumevention of drm. This measure is present throughout the bill and seems to be a primary motivator for the bills passage. Regardless of what rights the bill seems to enshrine, if companies are given the ability to sue an individual for circumventing DRM, these rights are essentially void, because companies would be able to dictate how a intellectual property is to be consumed.

These policies would not be enforced on the level of the individual, which would be essentailly impossible, but rather tools that would make circumvention of DRM possible to the average user would become more difficult to distribute in Canada because the distribution of these tools would essentailly allow for the illegal activity of circumventing digital locks. Almost all media today comes with the inclusion of some DRM DVD´s, blurays and videogames. That makes most fair dealing uses of copyrighted material void, which is of course the intentional point of this bill.

It’s likely that the protection of digital locks will remain in the final bill that is passed. It technically doesn’t violate any constitutional rights and it doesn’t really affect bushiness’s interests. Part of the anti-SOPA push, a legislation that would have prevented user-generated content, was that it strongly opposed to by many prominent companies that would have been affected by the bill. These companies have no real incentive to stop the passage of this law. Business like it or not has as large of a voice in the political system as people do and for most business’s the DRM provisions may actually be seen to help increase sales.

I Guess We’ve Lost

In laughable contempt to the spirit of democracy and fair play the entertainment industry has spent the year trying to pass legislation intended to censor the internet and freedom of speech. It is hard to understand what is going on in the heads of these people, so that they have so little regard for anything beyond their own economic interests. Hollywood and the recording industry have been trying to pass laws in Canada very similar to American laws. The current copy-right bill B-13 which may be passed sometime this year, would make it more difficult for Canadians to access material they have purchased in the ways they want. ACTA which has recently been passed by the EU and signed by Canada will create a international consensus to enforce draconian policies that have almost certainly been written by the lobbying industry. Then the EU is putting on pressure for Canadian to extend the copyright terms to 70 years.

No one asked for these measures, most people are happy with the current situation that strikes a balance between fair use and protection. But the politicians have obviously been bought and paid for. In the next few month’s Canada will be invariably dragged down by unfair laws that will take decades to get rid of, if they disappear at all. The lobbyists have won the battle and they will probably win the next few. I hope they are happy with themselves.

A Partial Solution Toronto Transit

The Toronto transit system is glaringly deficient. The size of the transit system is far to small for such a great size of area, it is underfunded and is very poor in terms reliability. Toronto being very much a car city and now under the control of a car loving mayor, transit is undervalue. Cars are the focus which is also ironic for a city preoccupied by the prospect of increasing traffic. In short it is a clusterfuck. Some proposed projects have been initiated too try and deal with the cities transit infrastructure. Transit city seemed to be an adequate solution until it was cancelled by Rob Ford. More and more it seems like any new infrastructure projects will resemble Transit City, the irrational opposition the mayor being the major thing to overcome.

Making Toronto cyclist friendly would also help ease the traffic and burden on the cities roads but it seems unlikely in Toronto. The GTA/905 region loves there cars and any solution to making Toronto more bicycle friendly would come at the cost of road space, something that would not be allowed. Don Cherry was ridiculed for saying he was “wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything” but that comment captures the sentiment of a large piece of Toronto. It’s unfortunate and municipal politics at it’s most irrational stupid but it’s a known fact that drivers do not like bikers. Some of this is certainly from bad behavior of cyclists, but I would imagine most of it comes from anxiety of having to share the road with bikes. They do behave a bit differently then cars and the best solution would be a separated bike and car lanes. But of course this takes up even more road space, which is disliked by drivers.

In ten years Toronto will probably have a much better transit system, but the byciclist will find his routes to work even worse to travel than in 2012.

Scientific Literacy: What It Actually Is Part 1

Scientific literacy is obviously needed in the world today but it’s presence is not necessarily as easy to measure as the percent of population that can read or write. The definition of scientific literacy depends on which scientific facts you perceive as important and whether the beliefs of the layman count for anything.

It’s fair to say that knowledge involved in scientific literacy then must be broad in scope and involving an idea of how the process of science works. But also a complete understanding of each concept is not expected. Yet I will argue that something else is expected; adherence to the status-quo of knowledge.

My mom’s friend believed that Newtonian Gravity explained the cosmos and had not yet superseded by a more complete theory. Another person I knew was well up to date on the latest theories of the origin of the universe and gravity but did not believe in evolution. Evolution is central to scientific understanding of everyday life, but the minutiae of gravity is not. In one sense the latter is more scientifically literate than the former. OECD defines scientific literacy as the ability of people to apply scientific knowledge to understand phenomena but the person who is clearly quite up to date on most sides of science puts holes in this definition. Nor is the ability to apply scientific method to a problem a great way of defining scientific literacy because knowledge of scientific method does not necessarily lead to rational outcomes. Many creationists think that their theory is scientific and results may very closely resemble scientific method.

Since literacy is defined as ‘competence or knowledge in a specified area’ it would be thought that literacy would be improved by greater exposure to science. A person cannot become less literate by greater exposure to a subject. But it seems that scientific literacy of an individual can actually regress if they are to buy into dogma or delusion, as the one individual above did. Literacy in any other subject doesn’t work like that, one doesn’t forget to read because he is exposed to more reading. A person does not become less literate in literature for like Twilight. So I hesitate to call ‘scientific literacy’ as anything with any sort of validation. Literacy does not encompass a persons views of a subject of their reasonableness .

Scientific literacy is more a euphemism for knows when to ‘trust the right sources’. Science is too complex for people to understand without investing large amounts of time and an idea of the basic principles will not illuminate anything but the most basic phenomena to the layman. Instead it is trust the biology to the biologists and medicine to the doctors. Trust authority and stop listening to the pope.

A person is scientifically literate if:

1) They accept theories that a reasonable person would think of as true. Even if sometimes this means putting blind faith in ‘experts’.

2) They can understand and apply these theories to identify pseudo-science.

Decline of The American Hegemony

The fall of Rome was slow, devastating and changed the course of history. With all luck the decline of the American hegemony will be a far smoother transition. I may even grow to miss the American overlords, the the world with China at the helm will be a far less welcoming place. even though the Americans were not the most principled or even effective police of the world, the rule was never Imperial in nature and at the heart of its policy was a genuine concern. This will not be the case in the next two decades when China comes to power and will be tempted to use its influence in shocking ways.

Today American politics is a mess to look at, special interests have embedded themselves within the government and the philosophies of the major players is as skewed worldview as anything that would be said by a feudal baron. The government is corporatism, anti-civil rights, and the worst kind of religious. Although the problems of stupid governance are worse in the Republican Party they are by no means limited to it. In order for it to maintain its standing it will no longer be able to rely on military might and will have to rely on it’s voice. Hopefully this realization will be sobering and snap Americans and their idea of American exceptionalism back into reality.

Maybe America will fall like Rome, or maybe it will fade gently into the background.

Sexual Scandal

A politician falls from grace because of a sexual scandal; it’s an often repeated story that happens all too regularly. When a politicians public face, fails to carry over into his private life the public pounces on the politician and their political career is over. Even those who survive only do because of exceptional circumstances, and only remain as shadow of their former political selves. Bill Clinton’s semi-successful stint in the white house is overlooked for a poorly timed blow job that almost got him impeached. But it is the tabloid fascination with sex and drama that distracts from issues far more relevant to a politician’s ability to do his job. The fascination with sex scandals has everything to do with our soundbite political climate, sex scandals are not actually concerned with morality but are one of the medias successful ways of turning political theatre into the central element of politics. It is this rather sick fascination what goes on in the bedrooms of our politicians that dilutes any reasonable conversation.

What separates a politician from us? Clearly we hold them up to different standards. I think it’s fair to say that politicians are expected to be better versed on current issues and have a passion for whatever their dealing with. Politicians are usually also very charismatic although this is not an ironclad rule, but there is a kind of politician, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, people with infectious personalities that you remember. Of course you always end up with candidates of convenience that have very little charisma, but they usually make up for it in intellect or political savvy. They also happen to driven by different things, they are attracted to power, it’s important in the current political situation that no one show this kind of ambition but among the public it’s kind of taken as a rule of thumb that most politicians are out for power, we seem to be satisfied though if they take the courtesy not to show it.

More confusingly there’s a double standard of morality for politicians. This double standard seems to focus more on their personal lives and less on their public ones. Almost all prominent politicians have a scandal or two that is in the sphere of general knowledge but very few scandals are enough to end the politician’s career so long as what they do is not clearly illegal. In some cases even an illegal action is not enough to bring the politician down. But this standard seems to be less lax for a politicians bedroom habits, no one will give up with the opportunity to report on a sex scandal. Eliot Spitzer was a promising candidate until it got out that had an affair, there were no allegations of any other wrongdoings, but his political career was effectively over because he had not been monogamous. Yet it seems that the actions of monogamous evil men aren’t nearly as bad, so long as it doesn’t get completely out of hand and a scandal isn’t bad enough they can have political careers spanning decades. Corruption is illegal, affairs are not, but if affairs are to be treated on at least the same level as corruption, I suggest we make affairs illegal and punishable by prison.

Sex sells and politics doesn’t, there is very little ratings wise to talk about policy minutiae. It’s also a great opportunity for the opposition to unambiguously deride the fallen opponent without any chance of an effective counterattack. People interested in very small scopes of things will find sex scandals immediately relatable, unlike most things in politics it is a unhealthy nonpartisan show of hypocritical shaming. Yet a politicians commitment to monogamy has very little to say about the ability to do their job, it has less to say about their commitment to a cause or their ability to manage. Does any of this really matter to anyone, if they are not getting into a relationship with that person? The standards of a politicians conduct by the public is strikingly high in regards some things and striking low in regards to others.

5 Lessons From Skyrim

  1. Money talks: Skyrim is a massive world with hours of dungeons to explore so it is most telling that my character has become little better than a accountant who occasionally kills monsters as a hobby. Most of my time has been spent shuffling from shop to shop trying to make money
  2. Dungeons are scary: For what is a three dimensional dungeon crawler my character avoids dungeons like the plague. They seem to make him scared, perhaps he will never emerge from one of these dungeons, only to be found years later by a wandering skeleton to have his body defiled in the worst ways possible.
  3. Polytheism is stupid: its Johnny god of the unseen and unknown. *Yawn*. Like ancient Greece there’s a god for every stupid thing you can think of. Theology in real life is boring enough already.
  4. Routine is king: I have four places that I go regularly, these places make me money. I dare not go anywhere else because that’s exploring which sounds dangerous.
  5. Diplomacy is for suckers: Sorry bandits, if given the choice between avoiding you and bludgeoning you into eternal sleep to steal all your goodies, well you know which one I will pick. Really I feel guilty about it though.

Trauma Review

This game came with the Humble Bundle package. Holy-shit, holy-shit, holy-shit. It’s scary like your lost dead uncle that haunts you. I refuse to finish this game, but I can say it’s the closest to the something I would categorize as an art game. Some people will love this game, most will hate it. I happen to hate it and it’s strange abstractions. So what is it? Basically it’s a Freudian adventure into the psyche of an injured woman, this woman is one crazy bitch, and it’s not just her voice that indicated it. That being said, I guess it is a unique game and the unique vision of one artist but I could not appreciate it. Call me someone who does not understand, I would call myself someone who understands and is scared the shit because he does.

Investment Bankers Have No Soul

Investment bankers and hedge fund managers don’t usually risk their own money, they bet with other people’s money. They aren’t stupid and they know risk is better taken by someone else. It’s a win-win system for them. When they make returns they charge fees and when they lose, it’s someone else’s business. Many of these investment bankers aggressively sell their services to the average person through financail advisers who get kickbacks to sell these services and then granny becomes a major contributor to the investment bankers questionable monetary strategies.

Waiting in the emergency room of a hospital recently I met an investment banker. He had been hit in the eye by a tennis ball that had ricoched off his racket and was sporting a decent looking black eye. We somehow got from small talk  into a discussion about the economic crisis in Europe. I found out he was a investment banker and I asked him if was short-selling the euro. He was and he told me it was a non-issue. I asked him if he thought it was beneficial and he responds that it was because the the devaluation would increase their exports, increasing their ability to fight off debt. I thought this was reasonable argument I left it.

That’s when he got into his crazy investment banker plots. This guy is a foreign exchange trader who makes his money by moving other people’s money around. He works with banks, especially in South America and his secret to keeping his customers is to party with them. He has a firm with a couple other guys, they take home millions each for trading paper. The foreign currency exchange market is a tricky place to make money, he admitted this. But he also admitted money makes money and with enough money you could buy a currency to create a big upswing in the price of that currency on the market, then he would sell off the currency and collect the profits. In stocks this would be illegal, in foreign exchange which is impossible to regulate, I’d imagine this is fairly common.