traffic shaping

The CRTC recently announced regulations around traffic shaping. The way I (and many others) read the announcement, this is a significant restriction imposed on the carriers by the CRTC; they must give customers 30-60 days notice, they must actually prove that traffic shaping is the only option available, and they cannot slow traffic so much that they are effectively blocking the service (which is what Rogers used to do with BitTorrent, although I haven’t checked lately to see if that’s changed).

Anyway, while it’s not the net-neutrality that some people wanted, I think this is actually a victory for consumers. As Michael Geist puts it :

The CRTC’s net neutrality (aka traffic management) decision is out and though it does not go as far as some advocates might hope, it unquestionably advances the ball forward on several important fronts. When considering the decision, it is important to remember that 12 months ago, there was virtually no ISP disclosure of traffic management practices and even an unwillingness to acknowledge that there was an issue. Today’s CRTC decision signifies that traffic management is not a free-for-all and the days of ISPs arguing that they can do whatever they please on their networks is over.

So, the headline in the Globe and Mail today reads:

Big Internet carriers win right to manage traffic

Now I would never accuse a newspaper of being biased (cough, cough), but if you follow the Globe and Mail’s ownership chain upwards, this headline is … disturbing … :)

posted at 10:30 am on Thursday, October 22, 2009 in Current Events | Comments Off on traffic shaping

Are kilts history?

Are kilts history? – The Globe and Mail

I’ve been hearing anecdotes about the battle between students and educators over kilts (and in particular, kilt length and related ‘tarty’ dress) since I was in private school, 20-mumble years ago. I don’t think the ’00s are that different from the ’80s, somehow…

posted at 9:11 am on Tuesday, September 01, 2009 in Current Events, Links | Comments Off on Are kilts history?

IP in Canada

After almost a week of pressure, The Conference Board of Canada finally recalled three reports supporting the lie that Canada is a haven for intellectual property thieves. I love the language:

An internal review has determined that these reports did not follow the high quality research standards of The Conference Board of Canada.

This after Michael Geist accused them of plagiarising the text of one report, without attribution, from the International Intellectual Property Alliance, a major US lobby group representing Hollywood et al.

The details are on on Michael Geist’s weblog, starting with The Conference Board of Canada’s Deceptive, Plagiarized Digital Economy Report . I’m particularly dismayed that they initially stood by the report, that it took three days of intense media coverage for them to back down. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I believe that once the attention dies down, these reports will quietly resurface, they’ll circulate internally on Parliament Hill, and our lawmakers will pass draconian copyright legislation based on a lie.

In fact, Canada is a relatively low producer and consumer of stolen intellectual property. I’ll try to dig up the various references that support this (my browser history is acting up :-). For some reason factions within the US government have decided that they can win more votes, or collect more lobbyist dollars, by attacking their neighbour to the North.

I find this especially interested after a recent article from Eric S. Raymond: Some Iron Laws of Political Economics

Mancur Olson, in his book The Logic Of Collective Action, highlighted the central problem of politics in a democracy. The benefits of political market-rigging can be concentrated to benefit particular special interest groups, while the costs (in higher taxes, slower economic growth, and many other second-order effects) are diffused through the entire population.

The result is a scramble in which individual interest groups perpetually seek to corner more and more rent from the system, while the incremental costs of this behavior rise slowly enough that it is difficult to sustain broad political opposition to the overall system of political privilege and rent-seeking.

Worth a read.

posted at 1:02 pm on Thursday, May 28, 2009 in Current Events, Links, Politics | Comments Off on IP in Canada

Kid walks to soccer, neighbors call the cops

A Mom Lets Her Son Walk to Soccer…And The Police Come Calling

From the Free Range Kids blog, the story of Lori from a small town in Mississippi, who sent her 10-year-old on foot to soccer practice, only to have him picked up by the cops, who reported “hundreds” of 911 calls by curtain-twitchers who were horrified at the thought of a 10-year-old walking a third of a mile to a local school. The cops told her she could be charged with child endangerment After she complained to the cops, the local police chief called her to apologize and to reassure her that she lived in a safe neighborhood. The moral of the story: stand your ground when crazy people tell you that your kid needs to be swaddled in bubblewrap until she’s 22.

From the article:

My 10-year-old son wanted the chance to walk from our house to soccer practice behind an elementary school about 1/3 mile from our house. He had walked in our neighborhood a number of times with the family and we have driven the route to practice who knows how many times. It was broad daylight – 5:00 pm. I had to be at the field myself 15 minutes after practice started, so I gave him my cell phone and told him I would be there to check that he made it and sent him off. He got 3 blocks and a police car intercepted him. The police came to my house — after I had left — and spoke with my younger children who were home with Grandma. They then found me at the soccer field and proceeded to tell me how I could be charged with child endangerment. They said they had gotten “hundreds” of calls to 911 about him walking. Now, I know bad things can happen and I wasn’t flippant about letting him go and not checking up, but come on. I live in a small town in Mississippi. To be perfectly honest, I’m much more concerned about letting him attend a birthday party sleepover next Friday, but I’m guessing the police wouldn’t be at my house if I chose to let him go which I probably won’t.

via Boing Boing

posted at 2:35 pm on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 in Current Events, Links, Rants | Comments Off on Kid walks to soccer, neighbors call the cops

nut allergy hysteria

Who would have thought that a threat to children would be exaggerated by parents, teachers, and the media? “Not I,” he said sarcastically…

BBC News – Warning of nut allergy ‘hysteria’

Measures to protect children with nut allergies are becoming increasingly absurd and hysterical, say experts.

A peanut on the floor of a US school bus recently led to evacuation and decontamination for fear it might have affected the 10-year-old passengers.

Professor Nicolas Christakis, a professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School, told the BMJ there was “a gross over-reaction to the magnitude of the threat” posed by food allergies, and particularly nut allergies.

In the US, serious allergic reactions to foods cause just 2,000 of more than 30 million hospitalisations a year and comparatively few deaths – 150 a year from all food allergies combined.

Professor Christakis said the issue was not whether nut allergies existed or whether they could occasionally be serious. Nor was the issue whether reasonable preventative steps should be made for the few children who had documented serious allergies, he argued.

“The issue is what accounts for the extreme responses to nut allergies.”

He said these responses were extreme and had many of the hallmarks of mass psychogenic illness (MPI), previously known as epidemic hysteria.

Often seen occurring in small towns, schools and other institutions, outbreaks of MPI involve healthy people in a flow of anxiety, most often triggered by a fear of contamination.

Being around individuals who are anxious heightens others’ anxiety, leading to a self-perpetuating cycle which can spiral out of control.

(via Bruce Scheier), who links to Virginia Tech and Thai Chili Sauce as other examples of MPI).

posted at 11:00 am on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 in Current Events, Links | Comments (2)
  1. Jeff K says:

    Not to slight the BBC, but there are a raft of things going on in British newspapers right now that seem very harmful and alarmist, mostly dealing with financial matters. Look around for “Britain bankruptcy”, “punish shareholders”, “end immigration”, “end public health-care”, “Nationalise all banks” (that 2nd last one is out of context, please be sure to read the source, er, “material”).

  2. chk says:

    British newspapers are more alarmist than most, ‘tis true. But I’ve been seeing this level of irrational fear of nuts (and other things) around me and my kids for years, so I’ve started adding it to my blog. :)

internet threat overblown

Who would have thought that a threat to children would be exaggerated by parents, teachers, and the media? “Not I,” he said sarcastically…

I’m not sure how long this link will last, so check it out:

Internet threat to minors overblown: study

The report, released on Wednesday, suggests that the biggest threats to children’s safety online may come from other children, and that their own behaviour could contribute to the trouble they encounter.

“The risks minors face online are complex and multifaceted and are in most cases not significantly different than those they face offline,

They said bullying and harassment, especially by peers, are the most frequent problem minors face both online and elsewhere.

As an aside, I’m particularly amused by the “fairness in reporting” content later in the article. The CEO of a company that sells software to protect minors says that “more needs to be done”. I’m sure everyone agrees that he’s hopelessly biased, but modern journalistic standards require that both sides of a dispute be covered equally, regardless of the distribution of supporters to nay-sayers or the inherent bias of either parties.

Granted, my excerpts are probably biased too, so go read the article yourself. :)

posted at 11:00 am on Friday, January 16, 2009 in Current Events, Links, Security | Comments Off on internet threat overblown

elections

As a friend wrote, I never expected to see anyone but a white male elected President of the United States in my lifetime. (That post is friend-locked, so only some of you can see it, sorry).

On the other hand, I still don’t expect to see the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup in my lifetime. And until last week, I would have given better odds on the Leafs… :-)

posted at 1:23 pm on Wednesday, November 05, 2008 in Current Events, Humour, Politics, Random Thoughts | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    I thought that someone who tries on women’s clothing without ever looking at the price tags was a shoe-in for a high office in the United States, but unfortunately it was not clear that Paulson could continue on under Palin.

orwell or huxley?

I saw this, and I had to share…

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.” —Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

(copied from Will Shetterley)

posted at 8:36 am on Thursday, October 16, 2008 in Current Events, Links, Politics | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    “pain” and “fear” don’t seem to be quite the right words, although they are not completely wrong.

    It strikes me that people who write tend to make associations on paper not unlike the process of paranoid thought, and thus come off as “fear”. Its just a slightly unvarnished side to the creative process, in my humble opinion.

    The real problem is the unwillingness of people at large to re-establish the context of their beliefs as the context changes, or indeed if it is not known.

    Example: “Okay I want to write a book called ‘Clockwork Orange’ about the hedonism of violence and emotional music”. Director “Well, let’s make it into a movie for a buck”. Public: “Oh cool! Let’s beat the director up just like in the movie!”. Director: “Ban movie in Britain for life”.

    Pretty funny actually… (CWO was on a few days ago). Ain’t it sad knowing someone who’s been “cured”? [joke]

voter turnout

Yesterday’s Canadian federal election broke a new record; lowest voter turnout in history, at 59% of eligible voters. This apparently ranks us 83 in the world.

I received six voter registration cards; two for us, and four for previous owners of our house. We’ve lived here eight years and three federal elections. I called Elections Canada to ask if they wanted to remove those bad names from the list, and they replied “no”.

I wonder how much of that “drop” in turnout is real, and how much of it is a growing number of “dead” registrations on the Canadian voter list?

posted at 12:35 am on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 in Current Events, Politics | Comments Off on voter turnout

more ‘i hate people’

Car vandals aim at Liberal supporters

Toronto police patrolled a midtown area overnight, after vandals cut brake lines on at least 10 cars parked at homes with Liberal election signs on their lawns.

posted at 7:48 pm on Sunday, October 05, 2008 in Current Events, Politics | Comments (1)
  1. Nita says:

    I doubt they catch them, but if they do, a large part of me says “nail their asses to the wall.”

found money

For years now, they’ve told us that we can’t afford—that the government providing healthcare to all people is just unimaginable; it can’t be done. We don’t have the money to rebuild our infrastructure. We don’t have the money to wipe out poverty. We can’t do it. But all of a sudden, yeah, we do have $700 billion for a bailout of Wall Street.

— Senator Bernie Sanders, in an interview on Democracy Now

In a fit of synchronicity, Canada is in the middle of an election where three of our four candidate parties are promising to spend money that the government doesn’t have. The Liberals claim they’ll fund with yet another new tax; the Green and NDP would just restore deficit spending.

The older I get, the more I think the libertarians may have a significant truth buried in their theology; Big Government bad!

posted at 7:42 am on Tuesday, September 23, 2008 in Current Events, Politics | Comments Off on found money

groundhogs

I predict that there will be six more weeks of winter…

posted at 3:16 pm on Monday, February 04, 2008 in Current Events | Comments (1)
  1. CL says:

    The thing I’ve always loved about groundhog day is living somewhere where 6 more weeks of winter is pretty much the same thing as an early spring.

interesting reading

I just finished reading through the Livejournals of three FBI agents. They apparently work for a of the Behavioural Analysis Unit? Interesting reading, though. There’s certainly something going on out there that they’re not telling us about…

posted at 7:57 pm on Saturday, January 12, 2008 in Current Events | Comments (2)
  1. Coffee Em says:

    Some kind of weird U.S. security theatre thing?

  2. chk says:

    Anything is possible, especially given the state of “U.S. security theatre” these days!

    Maybe I should reconnect with an old friend that works for CSIS and see if she knows anything about that incident near Sherbrooke QC last month…

qotd

Quotation of the Day for December 23, 2007

“Whoever imagined that you would hear from the United States and from Britain the same arguments for detention without trial that were used by the apartheid government.”

- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in a December 10th speech commemorating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

(via the Quotation of the Day Mailing List)

posted at 10:12 am on Sunday, December 23, 2007 in Current Events, Politics | Comments Off on qotd

I don’t like the world I live in…

Schneier on Security: The War on the Unexpected

We’ve opened up a new front on the war on terror. It’s an attack on the unique, the unorthodox, the unexpected; it’s a war on different. If you act different, you might find yourself investigated, questioned, and even arrested — even if you did nothing wrong, and had no intention of doing anything wrong. The problem is a combination of citizen informants and a CYA attitude among police that results in a knee-jerk escalation of reported threats.

In particular:

I noticed at my son’s hockey arena recently that the anti-photography signs have changed; now in addition to reporting to building staff that I’m using a camera, the sign claims that I’m only allowed to photograph the people I came to the arena with. Why is this relevant? Because policies like this are both driven by, and feeding into, the societal paranoia that defines this decade.

Several years ago at Niagara Falls I saw a child who was climbing, on the wrong side of a safety fence, on the rocks near the river. I told her it wasn’t safe to be over there, and that she should come back. One of her parents finally noticed and came over to scold the child; not for being in a dangerous place, but for talking to a stranger! (She hadn’t actually said anything to me, for what it’s worth :).

I’m sure I could come up with more stories, personal and on the Internet; it’s too easy this days…

Ugh. Refuse to be afraid, people!

posted at 3:34 pm on Wednesday, December 05, 2007 in Current Events | Comments (6)
  1. Jeff K says:

    You don’t really need to do anything at all to attract scorn. After the Trans Siberian Orchestra performance at ACC, I sat watching the roadies take apart the stage for 5 minutes or so and was approached by security and told I should go home. I had been watching the security guard’s behaviour earlier in the evening. He was obviously a mental case. He probably thought the same of me, in his eyes there was nothing left to watch so my behaviour did not make logic sense to his limited mind.

    He probably didn’t even hear the lead guitarist announce that band members would come out into the stands after the show.

    He probably reported seeing a suspicious person to his management for all I know, and some bureaucrap is busy writing up a sign to cover the infraction right now. Something like “last person out at each performance will be shot.”…

  2. Nita says:

    I get lost of grief for not blindly following the “teach children stranger danger”. fear of things that should be feared, fine. Fear for it’s own sake? I call bull.

  3. Jeff K says:

    Had another one today! The cashier at Costco asked me for my membership card, so I stepped up and handed it over assuming the tendering of the previous transaction was drawing to its usual conclusion. Alas, the lady ahead of me was paying for her purchase in $10 bills. Augh, I thought, a waste of another 10 seconds of my life. But then… she glanced at me. So I said “Hello.”. She then continued, by my estimation, on the 60th $10 bill, and glanced at me again. Now I thought, uh-oh, she must be paranoid about something, but I saw a child wandering close by and wondered if she glanced at him. ..but then after $10 bill #70 she glanced at me again and said “I would like you to move away from me, I have a lot of money in my hands, and I do not know who you are.”

    I was aghast, so I said, “What? I made $15,000 on IMAX on Friday, you think I care about a $10 bill in your purse?”… and stepped back.

    She said, “I’M NOT INTERESTED! I WANT SOME SPACE!”.

    To which I said, “This is the most ridiculous conversation I’ve had in a long while..” (that would be since the security guard asked me to leave the ACC after the show last week).

    After the 80th $10 bill found its way out of her purse and she received her bill and was off to pick up her ever so valuable merchandise at the counter, I said to her, “Buy IMAX…”, to which she turned and glared, and then said nothing.

    Anyway, wish me luck, I’m taking the heavy equipment to a Skate-Canada event today. Nikon D200 with IS/ED 400 f/5.6 glass. Come bail me out after the show, I’ll give you a free stock tip.

    Here, I’ll pay in advance: Stay the hell away from CIBC shares.

  4. Jeff K says:

    Yep, I was harassed. I actually decided to put the 85mm f/1.4 lens on, its better for such a venue. The first security lady said I could not bring a camera like that in, but I thought I’d ask the lady right behind her who was selling tickets and sitting under a sign with 30 point letters that said that cameras with lenses “200mm and less” were permitted. After some discussion it turned out that she did in fact know she was sitting under the sign. Once this fact was discovered, some unwritten rules were mentioned about how I could only take pictures of my skater. I simply said “Okay”, and it appeared to be the correct answer. Unfortunately, I was not told which one was my skater, so I had to take pictures of all of them so I did not miss her. Now I’m stuck sorting out hundreds of pictures.

    My elder daughter asked me on the way to our seats, “Daddy, why did the first lady say the camera was not allowed, the second one did not know that 85 was less than 200 (duhhh) and the sign on the wall doesn’t say anything about which skaters you can take pictures of?”.

    …oh well.

  5. chk says:

    I’m pretty sure that Parks & Rec has no legal basis for the photography claim, and I’ve been planning for a while now to give them a call and find out what’s going on….

  6. Jeff K says:

    Hm, some (persons) apparently unloaded 1000 April put options on CIBC today for about a $300,000 profit on CIBC’s wonderous 5% drop this morning. Thus expireth my stock tips. You are now on your own. Keep the $300,000, maybe we’ll sue the camera-nazis next time.

Outsourcing the Picket Line – washingtonpost.com

I’m not sure if this is irony or hypocrisy. The Carpenter’s Union is outsourcing its picket lines to random people off the street, paying them $1 above minimum wage ($8/hr) to protest … low wages.

Outsourcing the Picket Line – washingtonpost.com

posted at 2:18 pm on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 in Current Events, Links | Comments Off on Outsourcing the Picket Line – washingtonpost.com

potter economics

Megan McArdle: Harry Potter: the economics

The low opportunity cost attached to magic spills over into the thoroughly unbelievable wizard economy. Why are the Weasleys poor? Why would any wizard be? Anything they need, except scarce magical objects, can be obtained by ordering a house elf to do it, or casting a spell, or, in a pinch, making objects like dinner, or a house, assemble themselves. Yet the Weasleys are poor not just by wizard standards, but by ours: they lack things like new clothes and textbooks that should be easily obtainable with a few magic words. Why?

An interesting touch on the subject. It seems true that in the Potterverse, magic is free, something that never works very well for story telling. C.S. Friedman just published Feast of Souls, the first book in a trilogy based on the opposite extreme; the source (and cost) of magic is life force. in The Magic Goes Away, Larry Niven deals with magic as a finite resource, to interesting effect. There are lots of other examples in SF&F literature.

So why don’t we care about this inconsistency in Rowling’s work?

posted at 1:22 pm on Tuesday, July 24, 2007 in Current Events, Links | Comments (2)
  1. Nita says:

    Because nowadays, dissing Rowlings works in public is much like going to Rome and picking on the pope?

  2. Greg Wilson says:

    I think it goes something like this:

    1. Magicians can conjure up anything, so why would any of them be poor?

    2. Hey, if they can do that, why would any muggles be poor either? Or have diseases?

    3. Hm… Why are so many people in the real world poor/hungry/sick, when we could clothe/house/feed/cure them if we wanted to?

    4. This train of thought is making me uncomfortable, so I’m going to stop worrying about it and get back to the story.

lessons of history

From Bruce Schneier’s security weblog:

Here’s a clip from an Australian TV programme called “The Chaser”. A Trojan Horse (full of appropriately attired soldiers) finds its way past security everywhere except the Turkish consulate.

At least they remember their history.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs3SfNANtig

posted at 7:30 pm on Monday, July 16, 2007 in Current Events, Humour, Links | Comments Off on lessons of history

first

First tropical storm of the year: Andrea on May 09, 2007. And so begins another year of watching hurricanes…

(with my luck the remnants of a hurricane will blow through Atlantic Canada when we’re supposed to be on the ferry between NS and NF…)

posted at 11:04 am on Thursday, May 10, 2007 in Current Events, Links | Comments Off on first

culture of fear

AlterNet: Rights and Liberties: Culture of Fear: Poetry Professor Becomes Terror Suspect

Because of my recycling, the bomb squad came, then the state police. Because of my recycling, buildings were evacuated, classes were canceled, the campus was closed. No. Not because of my recycling. Because of my dark body. No. Not even that. Because of his fear. Because of the way he saw me. Because of the culture of fear, mistrust, hatred and suspicion that is carefully cultivated in the media, by the government, by people who claim to want to keep us “safe.”

Bruce Schneier has been collecting a bunch of these stories lately. His point is less about civil liberties, though. If police and emergency services are kept this busy chasing false alarms, it’s that much easier for the real criminals to slip past unnoticed…

I’ve linked to some of his recent entries:

posted at 7:46 pm on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 in Current Events, Links | Comments Off on culture of fear
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