Copyright: what do we want it to do? -
Copyright is in tremendous flux at the moment; governments all over the world are considering what their copyright systems should look like in the 21st century, and it’s probably a good idea to nail down what we want copyright to do. Otherwise the question “Is copyright working?” becomes as meaningless as “How long is a piece of string?”
Let’s start by saying that there is only one regulation that would provide everyone who wants to be an artist with a middle-class income. It’s a very simple rule: “If you call yourself an artist, the government will pay you £40,000 a year until you stop calling yourself an artist.”
Short of this wildly unlikely regulation, full employment in the arts is a beautiful and improbable dream. Certainly, no copyright system can attain this. If copyright is to have winners and losers, then let’s start talking about who we want to see winning, and what victory should be.
In my world, copyright’s purpose is to encourage the widest participation in culture that we can manage – that is, it should be a system that encourages the most diverse set of creators, creating the most diverse set of works, to reach the most diverse audiences as is practical.
That is, I don’t want a copyright system that precludes making money on art, since there are some people who make good art who, credibly, would make less of it if there wasn’t any money to be had. But at the same time, I don’t think that you can judge a copyright system by how much money it delivers to creators – imagine a copyright system for films that allowed only one single 15-minute short film to be made every year, which, by dint of its rarity, turned over £1bn. If only one person gets to make one movie, I don’t care how much money the system brings in, it’s not as good as one in which lots of people get to make lots of movies.
Diversity of participation matters because participation in the arts is a form of expression and, here in the west’s liberal democracies, we take it as read that the state should limit expression as little as possible and encourage it as much as possible. It seems silly to have to say this, but it’s worth noting here because when we talk about copyright, we’re not just talking about who pays how much to get access to which art, we’re talking about a regulation that has the power to midwife, or strangle, enormous amounts of expressive speech.
The Daily Show, 18th Nov. -
This episode of the Daily Show could only be more perfect if Lewis Black had had his segment. Really.
It just exposes and ridicules the idiocy and downright maliciousness of Fox New Network, and how they want to lead us merrily down the path to mental enslavement.
The Caravan Park Solution -
Bob Ellis, you’ve done it again. All Australians who think harder about asylum seekers other than “shoot the ragheads” need to read this. An excellent idea from a great mind.
Aurora Australis from space. The Auroras Borealis and Australis occur when charged particles streaming from the Sun (a.k.a the solar wind) interact with Earth’s magnetic field, resulting in collisions with atoms of oxygen and nitrogen in the upper atmosphere.
Personal freedoms? -
Leaving aside all arguments of whether this is prank by 4chan or not, or whether what this couple is doing is right or not, it’s a classic argument about personal freedoms. For argument’s sake, let’s say that this is totally real and not some pro-life stunt.
The uproar over this couple’s decision to let the blogosphere determine whether they keep their unborn child or not swirls around the main point that many people think they have gone too far. It’s an interesting take on what people assume personal freedom is, and how they perceive the freedoms others should have.
Many people will call this couple’s decision to let other’s choose whether they keep their unborn child or not reprehensible. Others may say that they’re within their rights to do so. But the majority who are unhappy with the couple’s actions will say that personal freedom has gone too far.
The argument with personal freedoms is that you cannot pick or choose who is allowed to be free and who is not. Either everyone has the same inalienable rights, or no-one does. Discriminating against people and restricting their personal freedoms is oppression. However, there will always be people who go for far. Neo-Nazis, the WBC, and the KKK are just some examples. But if we restrict their rights and leave the rights of others untouched, then we’re being hypocritical.
When it comes down to it, we must keep a blanket ban on all restrictions of personal freedom, and trust others not to be swayed by the more mentally unhinged members of society. We must let others have their freedoms, and not just the ones which we restrict them to.
There will be people who will now ask “Well, what about incest, or rape, or bestiality?”. To that I say “So? Let them stay illegal. They’re illegal for a reason”. However, what might be more productive is, as a society, we teach our kids in the first place about respect and what is right and wrong. Then, those laws may not be needed and will become largely symbolic or used only to punish those socio- and psychopaths who stray outside the law.
Call to modernise tribal punishment -
What some people might not be aware of is that in Aboriginal communities, and when sanctioned by the respective state’s Department of Justice, tribal punishment in the form of traditional punishments to transgressions is carried out.
If you are an Aboriginal person, and you commit a crime in the community, you are subject to tribal law and all that entails. For instance, if you commit a certain crime, you are speared in the leg. You are allowed medical treatment immediately after justice is carried out, and it’s generally a safe enough procedure. It’s largely symbolic in nature and not meant to kill, only to punish someone.
On the other hand, I thought we were past all that? You know, the archaic punishments meted out for lesser crimes. The Middle Ages were the time for those sorts of punishments, not the Information Age. This is a time for a deeper assessment of the law, and for a more knowledgeable discourse on punishment vs. prevention, along with the prisoner having a more qualitative correctional system process which allows individualised treatment for each prisoner.
I don’t wish to offend any person who believes in tribal law, but it’s not of the times we live in. It is the outdated justice system of a culture which, until 200 years ago, still existed in the Stone Age, and had been for millenia upon millenia. It is a justice system for that culture, not the one which exists now.
There comes a time where maturity and sensibility must clash with tradition and cultural allowances. Don’t get me wrong, I think cultural tradition should be given as much space as possible in this highly homogenous and anti-individual society. However, when justice systems clash and one must be chosen above the other, I will always side with the system that does not have the potential to leave a criminal paralysed.
That being said, maybe a spear to the leg might be sharper reminded not to do something that just a stint in jail waiting a sentence out?
The Terrorists Won?
I’m really dreading the next time I have to fly; I really hate the idea of these backscatter X-Ray and millimeter wave scanners they’re putting in airports these days.
The scanners see through clothing to attempt to detect if someone is carrying a device or weapon.
Now it’s not the idea of some TSA random seeing my junk via x-ray that bothers me, please by all means get a good look. What bothers me is the fact that I’d really rather not be compelled to be bombarded with radiation. X-Rays are ionizing radiation! You know, the kind that gives you cancer. X-Rays and Gamma Rays are essentially the same thing, the only difference is what part of the atom they come from.
But how dangerous are these scanners really?
Well, nobody really knows. The FDA says they’re safe, but they also say FourLoko is illegal so I don’t trust them.
Peter Rez, a Physics Professor at Arizona State University at Tempe concludes that per screening, there’s a 1:30,000,000 chance of developing fatal cancer from a single screening. So if we conclude that the average citizen takes 2 flights a year for a period of 30 years, there’s a 60:30,000,00 - or 1:500,000 chance of developing fatal cancer from airport screening with backscatter X-Ray.
Statistically over 600 Americans will die of cancer from Backscatter X-Ray Airport Screening over the next 30 years.
Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that there was a 1:25,000,000 chance of dying aboard an Airliner in a terrorist attack during the decade of the 2000’s. Lets assume, for a moment, that these statistics hold true for the next 30 years. Over those same 30 years one’s chance of dying in a terrorist attack aboard an airliner are 3:25,000,000 - or 1:8,333,333.
So that’s 1:500,000 for Backscatter X-Ray, 1:8,333,333 for Terrorism.
Over 16 Times More Likely That You’ll Die from the Screening than the Terrorism.
Oh, also, the Backscatter X-Ray machines don’t detect PETN, the explosive the underpants bomber was trying to use, making them effectively worthless, and they rake in billions of dollars for companies with gigantic congressional lobbies!
Welcome to America!
Stars Wars weather — Kit·blog — Cristian ‘Kit’ Paul