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

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

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

thing one from Wil

from WWdN: In Exile: Seriously. What would Jesus do?

if I were a Christian, I would be profoundly upset that this huge organization, with such a loud voice at the table and such a significant presence in public life, is declaring that stopping gay marriage and telling women whether or not they can make a deeply personal decision are more important issues — and more specifically more important Christian issues — than helping the people among us who have the least and need the most

posted at 9:10 pm on Sunday, December 03, 2006 in Links, Politics | Comments (1)
  1. David Brake says:

    Hey, at least the USA Today article about the Christian Coalition refers to it as ‘once-powerful’!

5 years

I’m tired of September 11th – me too.

posted at 8:16 pm on Monday, September 11, 2006 in Current Events, Politics | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever get “tired” of Sept. 11, 2001. What that person is tired of is propaganda. I am not tired of that since I don’t listen to it much in the first place. I think its a shame October 16, 1970 is not mentioned much any more.

    Within 48 hours of the proclamation of the War Measures Act, over 250 people were arrested. Among them were some of the better known labour leaders, entertainers and writers in the province. Thirty-six of those arrested were members of the Parti Québécois. By October 31, the number arrested passed 400. The police is [sic] reported to have carried out 1,628 raids by October 20. By the end of the year, 468 will have been arrested. Eventually 408 will be released without charges being laid; only two people were sentenced.

    Ah, the good old days. Oooooh, like the Trudeau quotes from that era “Just watch me”, “There can be no rule of law with a parallel power”(roughly) and “There can be no freedom without rule of law”.

    Tune in this October for a miniseries, I believe.

    The FLQ fell off the front pages in Nov. 1970, and the War Measures Act invocation ran out April 30, 1971.

election

I’m going to (briefly) break a long standing trend.

I find myself completely apathetic about the events of Tuesday. In fact, I didn’t even know what was going on until Wednesday morning when I arrived at work and my cow-orkers were chatting. But I know several people who are majorly bummed about the results. Is this simply part of my whole “If there’s nothing I can do, there’s no point getting worked up” philosophy, or am I missing something fundamental about what it means to have “W” back in power for another four years?

I think the coming crisis for the US (and therefore world) economies has little to do with which president is in power; it has more to do with greedy multinational corporations and lax regulation (which isn’t going to change anytime soon), and with the impending energy crisis; neither of which is going to be affected by any US president…

posted at 10:44 am on Thursday, November 04, 2004 in Current Events, Politics | Comments (1)
  1. David Brake says:

    If Bush’s doctrine turns the Middle East into more of a cauldron of hatred than it is already then it’s bad news for us all. If he stops stem cell research it’s bad news for us all – to take but two issues. And of course while Kerry would not have solved the problems of greedy multinational corporations, lax regulation and the impending energy crisis he was at least on the right side of those issues while Bush will be doing what he can to make things worse on all three of those issues.

Civic Duty

I don’t know if it was TV or radio, but a recent ad stated essentially:

On June 28th, you have a choice. On June 29th, you don’t.

I’ve marked mine; have you?

posted at 5:45 pm on Monday, June 28, 2004 in Politics | Comments Off on Civic Duty

Political Compass

The latest meme traversing the blogosphere is The Political Compass, which calculates out a two-dimensional political orientation that is supposed to be more useful than the uni-dimensional “Left/Right” measure. My results:

Economic Left/Right: -7.38
Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.18

Which came out a little more Libertarian than I think of myself. Either the test is slightly off, or my self-image is slightly off. Some introspection is in order :-)

posted at 10:04 pm on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 in Politics | Comments Off on Political Compass

In Law We Trust

OrionOrion MagazineMark Dowie – In Law We Trust: Can environmental legislation still protect the commons?

An interesting essay. The concept of “the public trust”, and especially preserving public natural resources, has been under assault up here in Ontario as well as in the US. Our beloved Mike Harris has turned Ontario into a profitable toxic waste dump for American business; He’s been busy selling off all sorts of public assets to private interests; and so on.

Where does one draw the line between the legitimate exercise of a free market, and the State’s sovereign duty to protect public assets from abuse? It’s a hard question, but I’m positive the Ontario Conservatives have the wrong answer :-)

[ via Philip Greenspun; see also his entry Why the stock market keeps going up. ]

posted at 10:34 am on Tuesday, June 24, 2003 in Politics | Comments (2)
  1. Harald says:

    Interesting; Movabletype doesn’t email me when someone uses trackback, the way it does when someone adds a comment…

  2. ReidNews says:

    Trackback testing
    I just wanted to try out Movable Type’s “trackback” feature. So I’m writing this and putting a trackback URL from Harald’s blog in the “URLs to Ping” section of the entry form for MT….

Cheese or Peanut Butter?

I tripped over an interesting rant, written by John Lichfield and quoted by Kasia. In a nut-shell, he observes that:

The US has produced more than 50 kinds of peanut butter. They all taste the same but they have radically different labels. France has somehow managed to create 176 (or 258 or 1,000) different kinds of cheese, all of which are subtly different from one another.

If we are being offered a choice between a cheese-eating civilisation and a peanut-butter-eating civilisation, I am with the cheese-eaters. Post-September 11, US politics — and even US journalism — seems to be going the way of peanut butter. There is room for endless freedom of choice between labels. The contents of the ideas are not allowed to vary.

Go read Kasia’s excerpt, or the original column

posted at 8:39 pm on Monday, February 24, 2003 in Politics | Comments Off on Cheese or Peanut Butter?

We’re All Above Average

We’re All Above Average

Tidbits:

The most telling polling result from the 2000 election was from a Time magazine survey that asked people if they are in the top 1 percent of earners. Nineteen percent of Americans say they are in the richest 1 percent and a further 20 percent expect to be someday. So right away you have 39 percent of Americans who thought that when Mr. Gore savaged a plan that favored the top 1 percent, he was taking a direct shot at them.

Why do so many people believe this, when it’s simply not true? The top 1% of Americans make more than $300,000 (or $400,000 depending on who you ask) per year. The top 5%: $128,336. Top 10%: $92,114.

If you look at wealth it’s even more skewed; the top 1% of Americans own 40% – 50% of the total, and more than the bottom 95% combined.

Let’s look at these figures the other way around, though. This means that one out of every hundred Americans earns more than $300,000 per year. That’s pretty impressive; I’d have expected more like one in five hundred or one in a thousand…

It would be interesting to find Canadian versions of these statistics.

posted at 2:16 pm on Friday, January 24, 2003 in Politics | Comments (1)
  1. Reid says:

    Oh, thats easy. Just divide by ten!
    The top 1% of Canadians prolly make more than $30,000 (US), the top 5% $12,834 and the top 10% make $9,211.

    Geez, I hope I am wayyyy off.

Anti-DRM Lobby Group

Blah blah DRM. I liked this quote, though:

“Hollywood leaders … would have organized the monks to burn down Gutenberg’s printing press, if they were alive during that period of rapid change and innovation,” ITAA President Harris N. Miller said.

From New Lobbying Group Takes on Digital Fight; the IT Association of America has taken a stand against current hollywood-style DRM.

One of my co-workers thinks that none of this will matter, since by 2005 Microsoft will have redefined copyright :-)

posted at 9:35 am on Friday, January 24, 2003 in Politics | Comments Off on Anti-DRM Lobby Group

Equal Access

Perverse Access Memory: January 22

That the article is a discussion about unequal access ot abortions before Roe vs. Wade is irrelevant. This quote, in our out of context, is wonderful:

Laws should be made for everybody, not just for the people who haven’t the wherewithal to get around them. That may be an unpopular ideology in some quarters, but its lack of popularity makes it no less American and no less right.
posted at 10:45 pm on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 in Politics | Comments Off on Equal Access