31.12.04

Natural born killers

Don't trust a southpaw

5ives: Merlin's Lists of Five Things

Is gud yah.

Justice Dept. memo redefines acts of torture

Very strange news out of the US. The Justice department has just released an official memo with a realistic definition of torture, and when discussing what circumstances or authorities might allow for torture states: "consideration of the bounds of any such authority would be inconsistent with the president's unequivocal directive that United States personnel not engage in torture."

I wonder what Rummy, Dick, and George think of such shockingly librul ideas.

28.12.04

Biotech companies fight generic genetics

And they use a patheticallyt overburdened and dysfunctional US PTO to do it. (and just in case that fails, they want biotech generics to be much more stricttly regulated than non-biotech generics)

22.12.04

The Graphing Calculator Story

Oh, that's a great story!

21.12.04

Acupuncture works to relieve arthritis pain: study

Excellent news. 570 patients were given drugs and one of:

  • acupuncture
  • fake acupuncture
  • a self-help pain management course

"By week eight, patients receiving true acupuncture began showing a significant increase in function and by week 14 a significant decrease in pain, compared to those in the other groups," Berman's team reported in the Dec. 21 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

20.12.04

McFarlane files for Chapter 11

He's such a dick

The making of the terror myth

So apparently you want to watch The Power of Nightmares

Libel Suit Takes Aim at Print Reporter's Words on TV

A reporter for the Boston Herald writes an article about a judge who told a fourteen year old rape victim to get over it and goes on The O'Reilly Factor confirming it. Except now it turns out that it's likely the judge never said any such thing. Did you know that for a public figure to successfully sure for libel, they have to prove reckless disregard for the truth?

I Am A Conservative Christian, And The Religious Right Scares Me, Too

Oh, really?

A.C.L.U. Hypocrisy

Oh, just read the damned thing.

Canadian 'iPod tax' illegal, judge rules

A Canadian MP3 player christmas present. Thanks, Judge Noël.

Music biz threatens International Red Cross

Your friends and mine, the international music cartels are acting their usual loving selves

Michael Speck of Australia’s Music Industry Piracy Investigations said: "We're preparing our approach to the International Red Cross. I believe this whole thing will come as a complete surprise to them, and we’re only approaching them to stop them disposing of any funds."
Speck expressed his hope that the Red Cross would co-operate, adding: "It would be incredibly disappointing if we had to sue them."

Revolt looms in ID cards debate

Riiiight. In an article talking about back-bench revolts against the UK ID card scheme, new Home Secretary Chalres Clarke utters this gem: '[the schem is a] profoundly civil libertarian measure because it promotes the most fundamental civil liberty in our society - which is the right to live free from fear crime and fear.'
And fear! Don't forget fear! Are you afraid yet? Grrr! Terrorists! Grr!

19.12.04

I did not know that

In an article about the Family Guy episode where Stewie avoids airport security by singing: "Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy and the voice of Stewie, was booked on one of the hijacked 9/11 flights but his travel agent gave him the wrong departure time, he got to the airport late and missed the plane.
"

Emergent Chaos: Econ and Security papers

Say it loud, Adam. In which he points us to another resource dbunknig the whole downloadiing-is-killing-music meme.

Lawyer resigns over terror laws

In Banothe rBBC report, "A senior barrister, given special security clearance to act for suspected terrorists, is to resign in protest at the government's anti-terror laws."

Forecasters face losing key tools

The BBC is reporting that several different microwave bands that are important for weather forecasting and other environmental measurements needs are being encroached on by commercial users. As an example, the 23.6-24 GHz band is very useful because it is sensitive to water vapour but not liquid water. Apparently car radars (collision detection systems) are now allowed to use the band and are beginning to contaminate readings.

17.12.04

bad science awards 2004

Including such goodies as: "Water molecules are broken down to a fraction of their previous size ... diminutive enough to penetrate through the cuticle, and eventually into the core of each hair"

Detainees hope British decision helps them

Some Canadian follow-up.

Coverage from The Guardian:

Law lords back terror detainees
Ancient Liberties
How the law lords reached their conclusion

It calls into question the very existence of an ancient liberty of which this country is proud: freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention
These guys make good sound bite eh?
Judges' verdict on terror laws provokes constitutional crisis
'Enough is enough'

Bugging device found in UN room

How interesting. Note the phrase "Its size indicated it was three or four years old."

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is an idiot

Unlike him, I agree with the Law Lord Nicholls that " Indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial is anathema in any country which observes the rule of law."

He says that it isn't true that detaining suspects without trial breaks human rights laws. Of course, he throws in the adjective phrase "foreign terror" to make it better, but sorry Jack, no dice. I think it telling of his intellectual capacity that he says "the right to life is the most important liberty." Huh? It may be the most important right, but liberty? Twit.

The article continues: "The foreign secretary insisted it was for Parliament, and not judges, to decide how best Britain could be defended against the threat of terrorism." Now that may be true, but it is up to judges, not parliament, to decide if parliament is misbehaving.

16.12.04

Quebec may change the way we vote

It seems they are proposing to add allocate 40% of seats via proportional representation. I wonder if they'll and IRV or Condorcet for the other 60%.

New Scientist - Virtual island sells for $26,500 in cyber assets

Right, so now he owns a virtual island and plans to sell off assets. Except Project Entropia has a 10:1 cash exchange with US dollars. So I wonder what the real world tax bill is going to be. Is it in escrow until he pulls it out? Like you don't pay capital gains on stock until you sell?

New Scientist updated their website

It's chock full o' stuff.

New Scientist's website has just had a major upgrade. You'll now find hugely expanded coverage of all the most fascinating issues in science and technology. News is reported as it happens. Our new special reports each come complete with a unique expert guide. And you can now search our vast online archive for free. You'll also be able to access the entire print dition of New Scientist online. I think you'll find the new site remarkably simple to use, as all stories are grouped into 10 easy-to-navigate subjects.

Of course, they still hide stuff under a premium login but there is more outside now. And if you pay, you have access to the whole shebang. Pretty decent. Feel free to give me an account for 1 year as a Christmas present.

More Millau Viaduct

An write-up with an excellent north-facing pic instead of the usual south-facing ones.

Google News cannot hold they smoke, dat's what it is.

OK, that isn't the problem. The problem is rapid copyright protection lawyers. Perhaps this will calm them down.

Prepping to Pull the Plug on GPS

REPORTER: President Bush? There are still some people who don't think you're a dick. Are you working on that?

SHRUB: Yeah, I reckon that tellin' everyone that we'll be shuttin' down that thar GPS doohickie, and also them European and Russian ones too whenever we feel like it, well, that'll rile some feathers.

Scientists find new Indian monkey

More monkey!

New Scientist - Some people are 'immune' to exercise

I'd go for a walk, but really, why bother?

Wired News: Sleep Disorders Traced to Genes

I don't have to get up early, it's bad for me, my doctor said so.

15.12.04

Poverty Lines, Before-Tax, 2003

if (family.size = 4 && city.size > 500000 && family.income < 37000) {
poverty++;
}

CBC News:Christmas lights fail to brighten U.S.-Cuban relations

Because is a dictator only if he is anti-american (otherwise he is merely pro-Law&Order), the yanks like to be dicks. And you know what? They aren't being dicks about displaying "75" or taunting the Cuban government, they are being dicks by saying it's a Christmas message. So repression of dissidents is only bad at Christmas is it?

Blunkett quits as home secretary

Dancing in the streets as UK ID card czar David Blunkett quits as home secretary over yet another nanny allegation.

Schneier on Security: Behavioral Assessment Profiling

OK, sure, Behavioral Assessment Profiling is the way to go. But will I still have the chance to win a cavity search?

R.I.P. Gary Webb -- Unembedded Reporter

May you have found peace at last Gary, the world needs a few more, just like you.

14.12.04

Ursula K. Le Guin: Earthsea

What she said

Tories come out in support of UK ID card scheme

Aah, those poor Tories. They're just like the Republicans. They are the party of small government, unless you're talking about intrusive, authoritarian patriarchy (or anything to do with the military or police where it's pork pork pork pork pork).

UK Identity Cards Bill

A blog presenting the bill clause by clause for analysis and commentary.

Wired News: Linux: Fewer Bugs Than Rivals

Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyaaah.

Suggested Google Alphabet

Results of typing in 1 letter to Google Suggestions

Muscle Twitch Switch

New Scientist & Nature haven't picked up on this yet but Ronald Evans at the Salk Institute has discovered that dietary supplements of a protein called PPAR-delta increases slow-twitch muscle mass and prevents weight gain on a high-fat diet and massively improves endurance in normal subjects (mice). So. Gimme an order of ribs and fries, but make sure the BBQ sauce has lots of PPAR-delta and alpha-amylase inhibitors.

France shows off tallest bridge

It looks really cool, photogenic even, but I'm scared of heights and driving across it would creep me out. Very impressive though. The bridge, not my driving across it.

13.12.04

The Brick Testament

Props to John for remiding me about The Brick Testament

Et tu, Marvel?

I didn't mention this before cuz I'm lazy. I don't play, but it is still stupid - Marvel sues Citry of Heroes for infringement.

Sensory Homunculus

Models of the human body - scaled to a size based on sensory/movement connections in the cortex.

12.12.04

Executive Pay Redux

Read the comments for suggestions about how to fix the excessive payouts.

Executive Pay

Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly comments on an Economist article concerning executive pay. In 1991 CEOs of large corporations in the US recieved 140 x the median corporate wage. Today it is 500 x. Not 500 x the lowest paid employee, 500 x the median.

11.12.04

Monkeys miss out on music

So, if you were thinking of buying your monkey an iPod for Christams, don't.

EC calls for rethink of data retention proposals

And the rethink composes of: "You didn't say what we should retain. We think all ISPs should retain everything". Right. Good idea. Archive all traffic in and out. What a clever idea. Of course, neither the original nor the new proposal actually say - This will solve problem X by ... They just assume that everyone will agree that archiving all traffic every where will make everyone safer from the terrorists! Uhuh.

Ohio election fraud uproar blasting to new level

freepress.org reports on the fallout from the shenanigans in Ohio on 2 Nov, 2004.

I do not understand how it can be acceptable that person responsible for running the election can also be the person in charge of one candidates campaign. Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004. Why aren't people complaining much more loudly about this blindingly obvious conflict-of-interest.

Boing Boing: Piracy vs. Stealing: Teacher Fails "A" Student for Topic Choice

In which our hero writes an essay on the difference between music piracy and thievery and the teacher fails him because they don't beleive that there is any difference.

School defends slavery booklet

More heart-warming tales from our neighbourly Christian red-state brethren (I'm thinking that the red vs blue thing has crystallized as of this election). An article/a> describing an amusing little pamphlet that was included in an American History high-school curriculum to provide both viewpoints: the north and the south. Excerpts of interest:

Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence.

There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world.

Slave life was to them a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care.

But many Southern blacks supported the South because of long established bonds of affection and trust that had been forged over generations with their white masters and friends.


Hee hee.

10.12.04

Google Suggest

So responsive! You do realize that they are making an http request with every key you type?

Technology Review: Aligned Nanotubes Accommodate Bone

Coming soon after this, snikt.

Dell sells AMD Opterons through back door

Really? Hmm.

CBC News:Security certificates constitutional: court

Troublesome news regarding national security certificates from the Federal Court of Appeal. From a sidebar:

Citizenship and Immigration Canada can remove a person considered to be a security threat by issuing a Security Certificate signed by the solicitor general and the minister of citizenship and immigration, and endorsed by a judge of the Federal Court.
When a security certificate is issued:
  • all other immigration proceedings are suspended until the Federal Court makes a final decision about the certificate;

  • foreign nationals who are the subject of a Security Certificate are automatically detained. Permanent residents may be detained on a case-by-case basis.

If the Federal Court decides that the certificate is unreasonable, it is quashed. If the court decides that it is reasonable, the certificate becomes an order for removal of the person. The court's decision can't be appealed.


I don't have a major problem with non-citizens being treated differently than citizens. However, I think there need to be strict limits to the amount of time this detention can go on and this sort of thing should never be possible for a citizen (of any stripe). The National Security should not trump the consitution. Someone deemed a risk before becoming a citizen should be deported as soon as possible, we do not have the arbitrary right to keep people in limbo. There is also the question of not seeing the evidence against them. Tricky that one, since if the evidence is correct they will be expelled and out of our control and can reveal potetntially damaging information.

Molson, Coors set merger vote for Jan. 19

The full name is Adolph Coors Co. How appropriate. If you are a Molson shareholder or customer, you should not support this merger.

Tenet calls for Internet security

The Washington Times is a wingnut rag, but they got there first so everyone links to this UPI story about ex-CIA chief Tenet's calls for Internet security at an information-technology security conference in Washington.

Sound bite of interest: "Access to networks like the World Wide Web might need to be limited to those who can show they take security seriously" (Like the Department of Homeland Security which standardized on MS software, reknowned for its security)

As an aside, "the national press, were excluded from yesterday's event, at Mr. Tenet's request, organizers said."

Oh, and there are plenty of .mil addresses on spambot lists.

Freedom to Tinker: Gator's Egregious EULA

Why you should never install Kazaa.

More on the Social Security thing

Apparently it's called bait-and-switch

US Social Security Privatization

OK, so here we learn that in the early 80's Alan Greenspanmade SS payroll taxes higher than the payout to build up a trust fund. Payroll taxes hit low and middle income earners more than hgih income earners. The payback would come some time in 2010-2020 when they woudl reverse things and the trust fund would start to drain. Now the trust fund is just a bunch of t-bills so you the money actually comes from the government general fund, whcih is mostly funded by income tax which is proportionally more expensive for hgih income earners than a payroll tax. Now that the working poor and middle class have built up a nice pile, the scum, er, Republicans are complaining about how one branch of governement claiming t-bills is just messing with money and it isn't really there and it's silly and the fund isn't big enough anyway and the reall solution is to give their broker friends lots more commissions and fees by requiring private investment and just reclaiming all the t-bills. So, tax them on a promise, renege on the promise, oh, and then lie about how it's necessary and the new plan will totally work this time.

Seriously, if you don't make millions of dollars, why would you want to live there? To own a gun? You can't protect yourself from corporations and tax lawyers with a gun my friend. Don't forget that you now live in a nation ruled by beleivers in state torture, and, better yet, using information gathered under torture to prosecute the prisoner.

9.12.04

Eschaton

Ah, now that's what I call good ol' family values.

8.12.04

WorkingForChange - Is this American?

I wonder why the Moral Majority doesn't speak up on the issue of defacing holy texts. We're all children of Abraham right? Brothers of the book? There are many houses in my father's mansion?

Gross National Happiness

National well-being does not scale with national wealth.

Did technology help beat the house?

ISo there were these people who attached a laser velocitimeter to a cellphone, used it to measure the speed of a roulette wheel ball and the roulette wheel, photographed the position of the ball at the time, phoned the data home, crunched a best estimate for a range of likely landing spots and won more than 2 million in 2 days. They were arrested on the second day, but later released and now they have their money too, because they weren't interfering with the wheel or the ball. No doubt casinos will all install cell-phone blockers soon. Which will work until someone comes in with an organic processor and does everything on-site.

Those pesky northerners

An amusing montage of Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson talking trash about Canada.

Wired News: EBay Negative on Negativland IPod

So it seems to me that eBay has implemented it's own notice & takedown procedure, but without the part that allows for the poster to challenge. I know that this is merely a manifestation of the Golden Rule, but people's pacificity is frightening. If you can't see that your rights are being trampled on here, what will it take? As Martin Niemöller is often quoted: "First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist - so I said nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat - so I did nothing. Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew - so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left who could stand up for me." Insert your favourite right for Communist/Social Democrat/Jew/Trade Unionist and "didn't care" for "wasn't a". Wake up people, please.

7.12.04

Wired News: Study: Musicians Dig the Net

Apparently "About 43 percent agree that 'file-sharing services aren't really bad for artists, since they help to promote and distribute an artist's work to a broad audience.'"

Not only that, but the apparent threat of downloading allows Canadian media companies to suck money from the public's wallet like the ticks and leeches that they are.

The Ten Least Successful Holiday Specials of All Time

Thanks Kir. Link may not be permanent. Remind me next Friday (not this Friday damn you) to check it.

[IP] Piercing the P2P Myths, Part Two

Michael Geist posted his latest column to the Interesting People mailing list. The archives allow you to avoid the annoying Toronto Star website thta his stuff normally appears on.

The important point is that the estimated yearly loss to all Canadian artists from downloading is $540 000 Canadian. Yup. And amount that the CPCC Private Recording Levy will generate in 2004? About $30 MILLION. Yup. 60 times the loss.

Hey, media companies? Fuck off you filthy thieving bastards.

Activist organization responsible for 99% of FCC complaint

Interesting to know that 99.9% of all FTC complaints this year come from a wingnut moral majority organization. 350 Complaints in 2000, 240 000 in 2003. I'm thinking that it's actually way higher than 99.9, but they didn't want to round it up to 100%. Go to church and stop watching, ya freaks. The pc's that they use to post all their complaints on the web form are no doubt infected with spambots that send out porn on a second-by-second basis.

6.12.04

Blogger and categories - a temporary solution

Perhaps those of us who chaff under Blogger's lack of categories could use del.icio.us categories instead. Like blog_copyfight or blog_I-hate-microsoft or blog_check-ca-man. Waddya think?

3.12.04

On an unrelated note

It seems to me that it might be interesting for the US to pass a constitutional ammendment stating that any one standing for election as a judge must not have been a declared member of a political party for no less than 10 years.

'We will be able to live to 1,000'

Sign me up

Spine-damaged canines heal

Ewww. The research was done at a veterinary hospital and the animals were all victims of accidents, which is nice, but then they reach the bit about the guinea pigs and I realise that I could never have worked in a research job that involves animal testing, I just don't have it in me.

News websites get less protection than print, judge rules

The Ninth Circuit (covers pretty much everything west of the continental watershed) is so liberal that our red friends down south want to break it up. I'm not sure why, perhaps it's because they were the ones that rules that the US Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional because it contained the phrase "one nation, under god". Meanwhile, this bastion of liberty has decided that news websites get less protection than print. Cuz the internet is less important doncha know.

2.12.04

Boing Boing: MSN Spaces = soylent green

Boing Boing has more on MSN Spaces, including a complete lack of standards in their HTML and yet another egregious abuse of a compulsory license.

Name: Hermione Granger, Affiliation: Hogwarts

Those wiley kids over at ICANN are going to use magic to solve all of our internet problems.

Human eggs divide without sperm

Did you know that human eggs contain a full complement of DNA but thar one set of chromosomes normally gets ejected within a few hours of fertilization? Me neither. Anyway, it seems that if you inject the egge with phospholipase C-zeta and do other tricky things, the egg starts to divide just as if a little swimmer had come along. And shortly thereafter you can harvest stem cells. Meanwhile the radical fringe reacted as you might expect:

Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, a London-based pro-life lobby group greeted the new procedure with caution. “I’d be happier if it was beyond all reasonable doubt that it could not become a human life.” She added that women must not be exploited to provide eggs.

Aaargh - Microsoft wades into wide world of Weblogs

So I read the headline to this article and I immediately thought: "Great, they'll stick a button in MSN that allows you to create a blog entry in response to any conversation so all the nugget heads who still use MSN (SHAME!!) would start filling the world up with Live Journal part 2. Then I am reading the article and I see:

Microsoft tied the Spaces service into its free e-mail and instant messenger services.

One of the new service's key features is a ``contact card'' that will include a user's profile information. The card will be visible to other MSN Messenger and Hotmail users, and it will give them a preview of any new content posted to a person's Web page.

MSN is also making it easy for users to publish lists of their favorites songs or albums, which they can import from Windows Media Player. Visitors to a person's Web page can click on the song titles and be directed to Microsoft's MSN Music site, where they can purchase the song.

More CIBC amusement

It seems a CIBC branch in Moncton thinks that the feds aren't the only ones producing legal tender in Canada. The math doesn't quite add up though ...

Brazil to break Aids drug patents

From the BBC news website.

Stamping out tolerance wherever it raises its ugly head

Jesus' General lets us know that the United Church of Christ tried to place an ad which invited sodomites to attend their church. CBS rejected the ad. He`s got a good blog, you should check it out.

1.12.04

Copyright Reform is Not a Spectator Sport

Are you now, or have you ever been, a teacher, researcher, education administrator, librarian, consumer or student? If so, you should read this.

From honeypot to bot in minutes

You know windows is in trouble when USA today does an expose on you average home PC's vulnerability to remote exploits as soon as it is plugged in to the net. Now adding a basic firewall to a cable modem should cost less than $20. I believe that the lack of competition in broadband access is suppressing this market as cable/DSL providers want to sell their customers the cheapest thing they can, and customers can't vote with their dollars to move to a provider who cares more about security. Of course a cable provider who knew anything about networking rather than pushing more and more over DRMed channels down the same pipe leading to unacceptable compression rates would also know that a firewall on their modems would lead to lower bandwidth costs and reduced customer service expense. Idiots.

30.11.04

Ten Most Wanted Design Bugs

RAID 1 saved my life last night. On a related note, on the list of the Ten Most Wanted Design Bugs, the #1 computer design bug is "No safety from power failure". This goes beyond UPSs. All modern power supplies should have 45 seconds of reserve and be able to signal the OS - all modern operating systems should receive that signal and immediately be able to suspend or shut down. Currently power supplies don't because it would add $25-$50 to the system cost. Windows & OS X might be able to do it, but Linux has difficulty hibernating (although not shutting down) because BIOS & chipset manufacturers do not release enough information.

To Hell and Back

I think Dan would like Bill Stone

Tommy Douglas crowned 'Greatest Canadian'

Yay Tommy! As MediaScout points out, even though we think he's the greatest, there is no way he could be elected Prime Minister.

Neil Gaiman has amusing fans

Scroll down this entry until you reach Gilbert & Sullivan and goats.

29.11.04

RFID passports

Ooops, this broke 6 weeks ago. Anyway -

RFID passports are a bad idea.

25.11.04

24.11.04

Textbook disclaimer stickers

Textbook disclaimer stickers. No further commentary necessary :)

School orders boy to cover his T-shirt

A yes, a t-shirt saying "The Real Terrorist Is In The Whitehouse" is disruptive. Yup

23.11.04

The new Chinese counterfeit game

It seems that Chinese counterfeiters are filing utility or design patents for the products they are counterfeiting. The idea is to force extra delays in the convoluted legal process required of foreign entities to claim infringement. 100 years ago this would have happened in the US, but back then the US deliberately ignored foreign IP claims so none of this trickery was necessary.

Persistent coughs melt away with chocolate

Why am I eating this chocolate bar? Why, because I have a nasty cough. Doubting Mustapha! On a related note, the New Scientist article ID is going to roll over into 9 digits soon. I wonder what 99999999 will be.

Only One Third of Americans Say Evidence Has Supported Darwin's Evolution Theory

Yup, that's right. Dumb as posts.

22.11.04

Planet Simpson - Axed & Other Notes

Yeah, so I no longer appreciate Radiohead ... well their management anyway, I sure hope Thom Yorke writes this guy a cheque. OK, I forgive them, it is totally not their fault, but sheesh!

FT.com / Comment & analysis - A natural experiment by James Boyle

That bastion of leftwing anti-business commie pinko liberalism The Financial Times has an article on how well thought out US copyright policy really is. Linked to from boingboing if the ft.com link dies.

The Pirate Captain's Log

No scatalogical Star Trek jokes please. Anyway, it's really pretty funny and there is also a book. Yes, I know it's a Live Journal, forgive them father, they know not what they do.

21.11.04

Clientcopia : Stupid Client Quotes

Quite a nice website for you to browse through. Kinda like Stupid Pet Tricks without the intelligence.

Broken Saints

Now this, here, boys and girls, is some seriously high quality flash comic action. Check it out, co, seriously, check it out. Not only that, but they have released a 4 DVD box-set of the whole thing, with a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. Noice. Oh, and they make a convenient little zip file available for each chapter with the flash and some extras. Also also noice.

EFF, Nonprofits Challenge Secret Government Blacklists

Are you secretly a terrorist working for a charity? Does your name sort of sound like someone who once may have looked like some guy in some grainy photo? A witch, a witch! Burn her!

20.11.04

Wired News: Researchers: Florida Vote Fishy

This is just another tale of woe. Sure, for the most part, voting with electronic devices went well, but as far as I am concenred, worse than if people had voted on paper. What sort of catastrophe has to happen before the agencies in charge of the elections realize that for-profit companies are _not_ the kind of organization you want controlling voting? They have a vary strong negative incentive to admit that anything went wrong, let alone actually fix anything. Open source, open hardware, a (machine & human) readable print-out that gets put into a ballot box by the voter for hand recounts. What is so hard about that? It seems _obvious_ to me. It is completely incomprehensible to me how anyone can say with a straight face that the source should be closed. And no paper trail? Hello? No justification. None at all. Zero, zip, zilch.

Letter to WIPO on stolen EFF documents

This is what copyfighters have to deal with.

19.11.04

Giant squid 'taking over world'

I saw a link to this article on BoingBoing the other day. I tried to find the original article, it's gone, but it's google cache remains. The bit about biomass only appears in the second sentence and no details are provided. Hrmph.

GIANTmicrobes | Ebola

Ooo

18.11.04

The wailing of voices, wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth.

OK, I thought it was clear the left-leaning rags were supposed to be firmly against "Big Business" and strongly for the "little guy" - although not, as history has shown, in any sort of positive libertarian get-gov't-the-hell-out-of-my-face way. Still I guess it was too much to expect a major media delivery system do stick to it's good-of-society principles when it comes to copyright. Oh, and Mr Naurgiad? This is how it should be done. Pricks.

BBC - ID cards: an iCan briefing

The BBC has produced a pretty decent summary page of the issues surrounding the proposed UK ID card. I mean it's a load of crap to believe that a government IT project can be delivered on time, on budget, on target and with any degree of faith that it won;t grow into a festering wound. An all-party committee delivered a pretty damning report and the best Blunkett good extract from it was "Hey, they didn't say I was as evil as Satan - they obviously love the idea" (what they said was that he was "almost" as evil as Satan). OK, they didn't actually say that but you get my point.

NoSoftwarePatents.com - Polish Cabinet Against Software Patents

Sure they were part of the coalition of the misled, but they helped kill software patents in Europe. Go go Poland!

Google Scholar

"Stand on the shoulders of giants." A google search for journals and citations.

New Scientist Article: Clouds of pollution pictured from space�

These somewhat disturbing pictures of pollution on a massive scale led me to the NASA Earth Observatory project.

GOP Pushes Rule Change to Protect DeLay's Post

Republican's are showing once again that they view themselves as above the law and deeply, intensely, corrupt.

16.11.04

And thaaaar they goooo.

Well, that didn't take long now did it? The US has only a few weeks of Congress left this year and what with Senator Orrin Hatch moving on out of the Chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee there is a great deal of urgency in doing as much damage as possible to fair use and non-corporate-producer's rights in the short amount of time they have. Kinda reminds me of pate de foie gras. Ram some law down the throat of society at large and then, when we are full to bursting, kill us and eat our liver.

15.11.04

Stupid RSS feeds

A trimmed a bunch of RSS feeds yesterday. I am adding 2 more today. Pheh. Downhill Battle and SIVACRACY.NET: Siva Vaidhyanathan's Weblog
. I ditched a bunch of peace/anti-war stuff for some anti-Copyright. Let them die, as long as software patents die with them! Umm. Anyway.

The Diebold Variations

Inspired by an image of Stalin voting, Rand Careaga presents, for your viewing pleasure, The Diebold Variations

Honeybees

An interesting idea: instead of looking at the species that went extinct when that big ol' asteroid hit 60 million years ago, look at the ones that survived. Check to see if they have any modern cousins and figure out how bad the temperature drop was from what we know about their environmental tolerances. Interesting conclusion.

14.11.04

Adam and His Eves

Over at The Loom, Corante's science blog, Carl Zimmer writes on tracking your Y chromosome back to Adam, and your mitochondrial DNA back to Eves. Plural. It's pretty interesting. I mean, why would I bother if it wasn't right? Just to waste your time? Maybe, it is always possible that sir is underestimating my sneakiness.

Words that will come back to haunt them

Fallujah operation to end Sunday: Allawi

13.11.04

Juno Reactor Tour & CD

From their web site:


  • Juno Reactor will be touring USA and Canada April-May 2005

  • The sixth Juno Reactor album Labyrinth will be released mid October 2004.

Ashcroft Condemns Judges Who Question Bush

What is the word I am looking for? Oh yeah, scum.

Canadian Internet Freedom.

These 2 links: Canadaian gov't committee proposes an Internet levy & Shaw lies to customers about filtering P2P protocols get their own post.
In the first link we learn that the morally repugnant Heritage Committee is pushing further ahead with its disturbing agenda. It proposes a levy to be placed on all internet access. The levy here would cover all Internet users, including institutions that have the right to re-use work without permission or payment (like schools and libraries), and it won't confer any substantial rights upon you. I would not mind a reasonable levy (say, $5-10/month) if it allowed me to do what I liked with the material I accessed (remember, although court cases are being appealed, downloading mp3s is currently legal in Canada) but this makes no sense. Who is asking for this? Who does it benefit? What problems is it trying to mitigate? The are all questions with no sensible answers.

In the second link we learn that Shaw Cable Internet recently added routing rules that drop P2P based traffic. When a poster on DSL reports revealed that, customer support denials to the contrary, Shaw was in fact blocking the traffic, Shaw sent a nasty-gram demanding their removal.

Those statements contain information that is proprietary to Shaw and have been disclosed in breach of an employer/employee contractual relationship.
This summary from the BoingBoing entry does a good job:
Here's the facts, then:
1. Shaw is indiscriminately censoring its customers' Internet feeds. It's not blocking infringing files (hell, Shaw can't even know for certain what files are and aren't infringing for each customer), it's blocking protocols, applications used to transmit and receive tens, hundreds of millions of public-domain, copylefted and non-copyrightable works.
2. Shaw is lying about censoring its customers' Internet feeds.
3. Shaw is threatening to sue people who tell the world about its lies.
Now Shaw is offering a private subscriber service. I would say that it has the right to offer its customers whatever it wants. On the other hand, Shaw has been granted a monopoly by the CRTC as far as cable delivery goes. Customers who are dissatisfied are forced to go the DSL route. Why is it that Bell needs to share its network and allow 3rd party reselling of services but cable providers don't? Shaw, Rogers, Cogeco, and Videotron all need to be brought to heel, slapped about a bit and taught the joys of competition. The CRTC needs to be brough to heel, slapped about a bit and told in no uncertain terms that the Heritage Committee are being jerks, intruding on it's turf, and that the future lies in innovation and openness, not in a committee room where politicians belly up to the corporate donation trough and monopolists and luddites set the agenda for our future.

Smorgasbord

Today, instead of one post per link, we experimenting with what I call "too many damned links to treat individually".
This post is also strong evidence that blogger really should have topics.

Subject: EU fishery policies directly linked to bushmeat activity in Ghana
Tag:: stop with the over-fishing already
Link:: http://news.bbc.co.uk

Subject: What's the problem with e-voting?
Tag:: you should read the ever erudite Bruce Schneier
Link:: http://www.schneier.com

Subject: Some people who were there on 11:00 am, 11 Nov. 1918
Tag:: no Tag: necessary
Link::

Subject: Music and language - the nature article is about how composer's compositions follow the tonality of their language. The Scientific American article is about how people who speak tonal languages are 5 times as likely to develop perferct pitch.
Tag:: Singin' in the brain. Yes, I am quite proud of that one :)
Link::
http://www.nature.com
http://www.sciam.com

Subject: Science & Journalism - Science strives for accuracy and the triumph of one theory over another. Modern main-stream journalism strives for fairness and balance. This results in poor science reporting.
Tag:: Fair and unbalanced
Link:: http://www.cjr.org

Subject: Disclaimers everywhere. In Georgia, evolution text books have a disclaimer about how evolution is a theory and needs to be examined closely. Now, I cannot actually complain about the disclaimer, it says only that when studying science, we should follow the scientific method. A proposal to offer a similar disclaimer to the Bible is proposed.
Tag:: What's good for the goose ...
Link:: http://www.boingboing.net

Subject: In which the US government tries to deny Indymedia standing in a court case to sue for information concerning the earlier seizure of their servers. The reason? Well the subpoena was served to Rackspace San Antonio, don't cha know, not some rable-rousing Brit!
Tag:: Papa knows best, now go to your room.
Link:: http://www.theregister.co.uk

Subject: BlogsNow - I added a new badge over to the right. The most up-to-date blog aggregator I've found.
Tag:: Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges.
Link:: http://www.blogsnow.com

Subject: George Bush is elected on the morality ticket. And then appoints Gonzalez to replace Ashcroft. Attorney for Enron. Right.
Tag:: Moral values? Them's good eatin'!
Link:: http://www.theleftcoaster.com

Subject: Wired does these photoshops of every-day things of the future. Here for your viewing pleasure they present, an e-voting printout. Obviously I have some issues with it. Like the real-time results.
Tag:: Oh, and not so much saved personal voting history, thanks.
Link:: http://www.wired.com

Subject: In a similar fashion, futurefeedforward presents news articles from the future. Really good, funny sci-fi. Today's entry is "American Medical Association Recommends Warning Tattoos for Children". Like "Do not put in eye" on the thumb.
Tag:: It's always about the witty little taglines with you isn't it? Well, you can't have one this time.
Link:: http://www.futurefeedforward.com

Subject: 10 x 10 and Wordcount - Jonathan J. Harris makes some very interesting web sites.
Tag:: All the news that's fit to click.
Link::
http://www.tenbyten.org
http://www.wordcount.org
http://www.number27.org

Subject: Internation Networks Archive - INA is a project initiated by Professor Miguel Angel Centeno of Princeton University yada yada yada he makes really cool infographics.
Tag:: Ooo, oo oo! Oo. More maps! Yay.
Link:: http://www.princeton.edu/~ina/

Subject: The first 100 Strong Bad emails on a DVD. How do they do the easter eggs I wonder. It's 3 DVD's so it can't just be a DVD-ROM with all the flash movies.
Tag:: <sings>Christmas is coming ...</sings>
Link:: http://www.homestarrunner.com via http://www.boingboing.net

Subject: How the internet affects and is affected by exclusion politics. By William Davies, author of You Don't Know Me, but... Social Capital & Social Software.
Tag:: This one is for Lucky. OK, it's really for me, but he'd probably get off on it.
Link:: http://www.theregister.co.uk

Subject: The Register presents for your enjoyment: New Democrat Outreach Program
Tag:: Reach out and sneer
Link:: http://www.theregister.co.uk

Subject: In which a company proposes to set up a system where people use P2P to stream music over the interent. The company proposes to insert advertising into the stream to cover the streaming radio costs mandated by the lapdogs in Washington. The company proposes that people use the system to gather music over a P2P network. Legally.
Tag:: This would be pretty sweet.
Link:: http://news.com.com

9.11.04

No no no no no

Please please please help stop them.

NZ's future on the table

Stuff.co.nz reports that

The Government has won agreement for a review of the constitution and the role of the Treaty of Waitangi – which could include a discussion on making New Zealand a republic.
They are expected to set up an all-party select committee to consider the make-up of the constitution, including statutes of constitutional significance, the Treaty, and the roles of the Queen and the governor-general.

8.11.04

Economist.com | The music industry

Nyah nyah nyah nyah:

"According to an internal study done by one of the majors, between two-thirds and three-quarters of the drop in sales in America had nothing to do with internet piracy. No-one knows how much weight to assign to each of the other explanations: rising physical CD piracy, shrinking retail space, competition from other media, and the quality of the music itself. But creativity doubtless plays an important part."

CBC News: Iran has deal on nuclear program, negotiator says

Apparently the Iranians worked out a deal with France, Germany, and the UK. Strange, I don't see the helpful hand of El Shrub in there.

Best map so far

Per county, weighted for population, purple

Now I want to see a 3-D distortion of this map for 2 things:
1) Taxes paid vs federal spending.
2) % over GDP on a per-capita basis.

This would show who is getting the pork and who is making the pork.

This page was the source of those maps. There are 2 new ones at the bottom that scale non-linearly (a 70% vote is considered enough to be pure red or blue).

This conversation is continued over at Adam's Emergent Chaos where he brings up the US 16th amendment and a reasonable point. Good God man, can't you let me whine in peace? ;p

P.S. Joke, joke. I read rational stuff too.

CBC News: Hezbollah drone plane enters Israeli airspace

It seems that QNE's (I think it is safe to call Hezb'allah a terrorist organization whenever they operate outside of Lebanon but this time they were playing in their own house) are getting their hands on some interesting tech.

"A lttle patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over ... "

Bill always finds the best quotes.

Thought for today: show me where it uses the words "National Security" in the U.S. Constitution.

6.11.04

Windows admin made easy

Jon Udell reports on MSH. Hmmm. I hope this kids over at Mono and OO.o and Gnome and KDE (and Linus/Red Hat/Novell/Apache/IBM/Mozilla) are paying attention. I see an opportunity for gash and kash.

The Big Picture: We've gone Map Crazy!

U.S. mapaliciousness

Save Canada's Internet from WIPO

This is important. Please read this and if you are Canadian, contact whoever you can (your MP, Liza Frulla, the Heritage Committee, all of the above). Canada does _not_ need a take-down notice law that panders to copyright holders and allows no recourse or dialogue.

5.11.04

Part of the problem ...

More post election strategy.

Informed Comment


To more than 70% of America’s eligible votes--that is, the approximately thirty percent that voted for Bush and the forty percent that didn’t feel this situation was compelling enough to warrant their taking the time to vote--none of it really matters. America is great and strong and can do what it wants, and to hell with anyone who gets in our way, especially if they fight back.

Anti-terrorism fight eroding privacy, watchdog warns

Mmmm hmmm

4.11.04

Secession

Well, Mark Frauenfelder at Boing Boing is posting a modest proposal to relieve the conservative majority in the U.S. of the horrible drag that is presented by the libruhls. All sorts of interesting things are being posted today. Take a look at the ratio of fedral funding to federal taxes broken down by state:

Current deadbeat states who went for Bush: (those getting >110%+ of their tax money back)


Alabama,Alaska,Arizona,Arkansas,Idaho,Kansas,Kentucky,Louisiana
Mississippi,Missouri,Montana,North Dakota,Oklahoma,South Carolina
South Dakota,Tennessee,Utah,Virginia,West Virginia,Wyoming

Non-deadbeat states for Bush:

Colorado,Florida,Georgia,Indiana,Nebraska,Nevada,North Carolina
Ohio,Texas

Deadbeat states for Kerry:

Hawaii,Maine,Maryland,Vermont

Non-debeat states for Kerry:

California,Connecticut,Delaware,Illinois,Mass.,Michigan,Minnesota
New Hampshire,New Jersey,New York,Oregon,Pennsylvania
Rhode Island,Washington,Wisconsin

One last thing, does this map look familiar? Kind of makes you wonder if Lincoln would have bothered if he knew how things would turn out.

Refreshingly honest

Now, if only they could talk like this all the time. Especially on television. Over and over again.

Never Forget: Internets Vets for Truth

How very, very funereal.

3.11.04

[IP] more on Statistical Question

I haven't seen any follow up to this.

E-Voting News and Analysis, from the Experts

This and this show that this is not as important today as it was on Monday. Still, work needs to be done.

Sensor System Enables Real-Time Imaging of Audiotape Tampering

Very interesting news about an obsolete technology.

Novus Ordo Mundi

Of course, according to this map I don't need to worry about where I buy my wines.

FT.com Op-Eds on OSS

Richard Epstein's piece Why open source is unsustainable is now followed by a counterpoint by James Boyle: Give me liberty and give me death?

South o' the border

With every passing day several US deficits increase: trade, budget, and goodwill. This election may become the turning point in the US empire, the point where they begin their long slow painful slide into global irrelevance, eclipsed by the rising star of Asia.

I can only hope.

One question remains. Do I still buy Californian wines?

Yanks continue wiping their bum with the rest of the world.

The United States has a significant inventory of retired ships, including at least 125 obsolete military vessels in its 'ghost fleet.'

'The U.S. government fought this decision all the way,' said Townsley. The U.S. has not ratified the Basel Convention that went in effect in 1992 and is not obligated to follow its rules.

Spamusement! Poorly-drawn cartoons inspired by actual spam subject lines!

Because today you need to laugh.

2.11.04

Strange Horizons Fiction: The Great Old Pumpkin, by John Aegard

I always thought that there was something fishy about Peanuts.

Because governments should be fair and balanced :)

Responding to proposed bill C-17, Senator Joseph Day has introduced S-9, an attempt to grant copyright of all photography (including domestic and personal images) to the photographer. That's right, I hope you have received authorization to post those wedding photos.TheStar.com - Who should own your wedding pictures?

Bill C-17

John Ibbitson at the Globe and Mail writes this opinion piece: Let's remember Prohibition -- and legalize marijuana. C-17 is a start but needs to go further. The whole crop cycle should be legalized. No country which allows the sale of alcohol and tobacco has a moral leg to stand on when it comes to marijuana. I say nothing (here) about other drugs but let us just say that I am something of a libertarian on the issue. C-16, which allows road-side urine or saliva tests is a bit disturbing, but at least the saliva test is no more intrusive than a breathalyzer.

Whatdya mean, free software?

Robin Bloor has an article listing the perils of an OSS IT solution. My problem with the article is that it lists problems as if they would not apply in the closed-source world. Not true I say:

# Open source quality is not guaranteed.
Whereas close-source is? The bug-free Microsoft OSes is the obvious shining example of that I guess.

# There is no standard open source license. The Open Source license is not a commercial contract and this may mean that the user is exposed to some legal risks.
No license is a contract. It is a license. As you point out there are as many close-source licenses as there are close-source companies. At least in the OSS there is one license much more common than others.

# Open source does present some legal risks.
# Legal Indemnification.
I'll take these together. Read all of the closed-source click-through licenses that you agreed to when installing all of your windows software (assuming that you use it ... take someone elses if you don't). Count the number of times that those click-throughs disclaim any responsibility or liability. Count the number of times that they offer indemnification. What is that you say? You can see no mention of indemnification in any of them? Shocked, I say shocked!

# Vendor support.
Have you ever actually tried to get support from a software company? In my experience the user community is the best place to look for help. Bean-counters and lawyers like a safety net, sure, but you can get that in the OSS world too ... an expensive contract with someone that you never use because they are mostly clueless.

Whatever.

1.11.04

1-Box to serve them all

An interesting story to keep an eye on. Using a simple x86 box with multiple KVM support running linux to support multiple simultaneous users. Popular in educational/library circles.

Environmental good news/bad news

Environment Minister Stephane Dion wants to plant trees and flowers on the roof of every federal building, and wants the government to consider tax incentives to dissuade Canadians from driving gas-guzzling cars.

The federal and provincial environment ministers arrive in Ottawa Monday to talk about the implementation of the Kyoto climate change accord, a document Quebec has not signed. Only four Canadian provinces and territories have agreed to the proposed climate change protocol.

The Mystery of the Coca Plant That Wouldn't Die

See, I think that some Saskatchewan farmers should head down to Columbia to pick up some of this Roundup resistant coca and cross breed it with their grain crops. That would sure piss of Monsanto now wouldn't it?

Google plugs hole

phew

31.10.04

Password Scrambler

Remember that javascript password hasher I was talking about? Well now there is a full firefox extension. They want you to click on an asp an auto-install from their server, however, which is irritating. I want to download it and examine it at my leisure before installing it. Call me paranoid, but I think it is worth a little extra time to understand the tool that will be holding all of my passwords in its greedy little fingers.

Update - I downloaded it from extensionmirror it seems that there is a nice binary .dll in there. I don't understand why and I don't trust it, so I'm going to try to make the javascript thing work to my satisfaction. In the immortal words of Monty Python "Strange women lying in web-sites distributing binary scramblers is no basis for a system of trusted security."

Gmail security hole

I am, um, hoping they fix this quite quickly. It is probably an injection attack based on an otherwise valid login, but no details yet.

100 Facts and 1 Opinion

Well, I suspect that is more like 95 facts, 1 opinion, and 5 interpretations but it is also definitely 1 good read.

Nintendo v. Suicide Girls

Alrighty, because apparently some people don't read Boingboing and surf suicidegirls.com (wierd eh?) I thought I would link to a nice summary article that includes a link to the destroy-keyboard-with-coffee funny Penny Arcade take on the issue.

The Globe and Mail

The willingness of the U.S. governement to apply its laws extraterritorially hasn't been much of a secret for the last, oh, 2 centuries, so I am a little surprised that others are surprised that private information about Canadians held by American companies is subject to the draconian 2001 Patriot Act. Perhaps this will be a wake-up call to all levels of Canadian government to not out-source their IT needs to foreign companies or their Canadian subsidiaries? Canada is supposed to be a highly technologically developed country. We should roll our own as much as possible.

28.10.04

Controvery erupts

OK, so I take him to task in a somewhat pedantic fashion about "information wants to be free" -- which is ridiculous, information doesn't _want_ anything, it isn't sentient. I propose an interesting alternative about memes and evolution and he doesn't like that either.

Perhaps "ridiculous" is too strong a word. But I don't think that "information wants to be free" is at its heart a commentary on the difficulty of treating information or ideas as property. I think it very much flows from an economic point of view. Now while I tentatively agree with it, I don't think can be accepted as an a priori assumption for further debate.

We have reached a small dilemma. The original topic of cybot's post was about the usefulness of information flow monitoring. We segued into the whole information-meme thing (completely bypassing the Big Brother aspect of the monitoring) and left me with a somewhat breathless annoyance at the clumsiness of comments.

So now I have four posts to write -- none of which are simple "well lookey here boys and girls" bits. Curse you, nude cybot.

1) information flow
2) free as in beer?
3) sigils and the 3M corporation
4) big brother is watching you.

Sigh. It will have to wait for another day.

27.10.04

xml2

These days, you can find a lot of xml data floating around. A lot of programs have an export-to-xml feature. In the unix world there are a lot of tools that can do very useful things to documents but on a line by line basis and xml documents which have line breaks and padding and indentation and what not can be a pain in the but to parse. So Dan Egnor presents xml2, a nifty little utility that (with it's brother html2) converts structured documents into a line by line equivalent that you can feed into your favourite grep|sed|awk pipeline.

Project Computing - Google Desktop Proxy

Just in case you, y'know, wanted to expose your Google Desktop to all and sundry. Actually, you can have fairly fine grained control over the incoming IP addresses so it's a pretty decent tool to use within a network, say on a file server.

Update: Nudecybot is, as usual, right. He found it. When composing the post on the bus on the way home I had included credit where credit is due. Damn you, public transit, for taking so long.

Little lady of Flores forces rethink of human evolution

news @ nature.com has an article of the recent discovery in a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores of several 13 000 - 19 000 year old hominid skeletons of a new species in the genus Homo. Adults were about 1m tall and had a brain one-third the size of h.sapiens. Also found were many relatively advanced tools that appear to have been in constant but unchanging use for as many as 80 000 years. Skeletal features have lead the discovery team to link the new species closer to us than any of the other hominds that have been around.

Security Pipeline | The Biggest Threat From Digital Rights Management

Or, Why You Didn't Buy What You Thought You Did.

Freedom to Tinker: LAMP and Regulatory Arbitrage

Or, Why Johnny Needs CD-Jukeboxes and a Cable TV Setup Instead Of A Server.

Lexmark ruling: Chock Full O' Nuggets

I'll just get this out of the way. Lexmark thought that they could use the DMCA to stop 3rd party cartridge manufacturers and refillers from selling ink at a price less than 100 year old cognac. Turns out they were wrong.

26.10.04

Hi Fi Writer - Home Entertainment Blog

Hi Fi Writer - Home Entertainment Blog: "Here I report, discuss, whinge about or argue on matters related to high fidelity, home entertainment equipment and the discs and signals that feed them"

And then, the bad news: "Since this Blog is hand-coded (I like TextPad), there are no comments facilities." That's all well and good Mr Dawson. But hand-coded also means no RSS. We hates him.

GearBits is _My_ New Best Friend

Update: I am sad.

GearBits: Gary Shapiro is My New Best Friend - he talks about Gary Shapiro, Presdient and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association who has interesting things to say about copyright and the broadcast flag:

"In closing, let me again reinforce that non-commercial recording of freely broadcast over the air radio programming is a fundamental consumer right, and one that has consistently been given great deference by Congress. Any discussion of curtailing that right, prior to even the most minimal showing of harm, is ill conceived and premature."

The HTML tag of the week is obviously <blockquote>.
I read about this back then, but didn't post cuz I am silly. I found Gearbits while seeking for an audiophile/videophile blog with an RSS feed.

In reference to the last paragraph of Craig's post, I do feel that he is being a little kind to the RIAA, but maybe he's just a softie.

The Great Pigeon Debacle of 2004

Because there just aren't enough things that can go wrong with expensive computer equipment.

Court decision foreshadows policy debate

Michael Geist's October 11th post in the Toronto Star addresses a Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that makes me happy. In it the judges reference recent Supreme Court of Canada rulings that emphasize balance in copyright cases. Real balance.

"the Act's objective is to maintain a balance between the public interest in access to information and the right of the author to prevent others from appropriating the benefits generated from his or her work. Excessive control by authors that limits creative innovation is not in the long-term best interests of society as a whole."


I was going to look for a stupid ruling about privacy or freespeech to balance out the good news, but I changes my mind. Only good news in this post.

25.10.04

CBC News: B.C. voters to choose electoral system next May

Cool. I must make sure that my parents take advantage of the opportunity to vote in favour in a referendum to institute a Single Transferable Vote system for the B.C. provincial gov't. Lucky them. More info here.

can't cast a ballot on Nov. 2?

Vote with your wallet instead. A list of the brands associated with the top 25 corporate Republican party donors.

Explosives? What explosives? Ooooh. Those explosives.

It seems that the International Atomic Energy Agency (you know, the ones who were inspecting Iraq for nuclear weapons and didn't find any) had sealed off 350 tons of HMX and RDX explosives because it is "dual-use" (you need some excellent explosive to ram the parts of a nuke together to make it go boom). The location of the stuff was disseminated to those who needed to know (including the yanks several times). Now during the invasion, when everyone and their brother was either


  • looting, or

  • landing on aircraft carriers acting all macho,


it all went missing. Yup. 350 tons of the stuff. At 2.5 pounds per car bomb, I'd say the insurgents/terrorists/ba'athists haven't even made a dent in a small corner of their stockpile.

Great planning George! Oh, and Don? The bit about new wars not needing lots of soldiers? Turns out not to be the case.

Oh yeah, and they told the interim Iraqi gov't not to tell anyone. They've known it was gone since at least May/2003.

24.10.04

Oo oo. Someone else is ranting about copyright. Yay.

In his latest piece at The Inquirer, Prepare to get screwed by digital rights management, Charlie Demerjian asks the question:

Why would a consumer want to buy something that has more restrictions and less functionality for more money than current solutions?

Strangely, none of the industry (media or electronics) types that he talked to could give him an answer. Shock. Horror.

NY Times - Making Votes Count editorials

This page contains links to editorial and opinion articles concerning voting. The latest entry (October 24) includes such interesting snippets as

Congress should impose much more rigorous safeguards, including a requirement that all computer code be made public

They imply that these articles won't be taken behind a subscriber-only wall, which is very public spirited of them doncha think?

GrokLaw vs O'Gara - Court of Public Appeals

In case you wanted to hear about more unbiased O'Gara reporting. Look no further.

CBC News: French court tough on turbans in school

I'm not sure how I feel about this law. As a fanatical agnostic I don't have too much sympathy for religious dress codes. Cultural ones though, that's a different story :)

Any way, it's easy to say "wait, they target Christians too, noone can were an ostentatious cross!" Well, sure, but you can wear a small one under yourr clothing, but main stream christianity doesn't have too many dress-codes, unlike orthodox Judaism, Sikhism, or Islam. So no, it doesn't affect all people equally.

Fact is, I can't respect any major deity who goes around worrying about how people dress or what they eat but that is my choice, not theirs. Eh. Messy.

Oink, oink | Gristmill: The environmental news blog | Grist Magazine

Grist Magazine talks about the new corporate trough stuffing bill that shrub signed late on Friday (69-17 -- which dems voted for I wonder?). They also have a wee summary of environmental concerns linked to it.

They use pretty creative numbers to spin it as revenue neutral too. 2 years worth of firm hand-outs and cuts are matched against 10 years of expected revenue from closing loopholes. Hands up those who really think that the loopholes will
a) stay closed
b) stop corps that pay 0 taxes from using other holes to still pay 0.

Slashdot | IBM Tells SCO Court It Can't Find AIX-on-Power Code

I was a little worried about this slashdot article because there may be some issues. IBM has rights to SVR 3.2 and the AIX Power code was based on SVR V4 -- we'll see how that plays out. In any case, I am no longer concerned because it turns out that the article on Linuxworld that the Slashdot entry links to was written by Maureen O'Gara. A woman who is so far up SCO's rectal cavity that she cleans their nostrils. Follow the Groklaw link, it is quite interesting. I wonder if someone is going to be disbarred.

Senior Senator for lower fines for copyright infringement

Norm Coleman(R-Minnesota) wants (as of the beginning of October) to introduce "legislation this year to reduce legal penalties for people who download copyrighted music off the Internet." The interesting thing about this guy is that, in addition to chairing the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, is also angling to be the next chairrichwhiteguy of the Republican party senatorial committee.

The first link is a bit skimpy but its an AP report and they only make their articles available to newspapers. The most complete version is at *shudder* fox news. I can't be a good commie pinko pakeha canuck and link to them now can I?

23.10.04

Welcome to Vote2004.eRiposte.Com!

A really great resource that compiles all sorts of information about vote/election fraud, vote suppression, voting irregularities, voter intimidation in the U.S November 2004 elections (note to non-americans - the vote is about a lot more than just homecoming queen, there are representative and senate, local and state and ballot initiatives as well.)

Is copyright necessary?

First Monday is a "peer-reviewed" journal. Obviously the term peer-reviewed brings all sorts of interesting questions to mind: how many peers, how representative are they, what does review really mean. To get on with our story, they present a paper by Terence Maxwell: Is copyright necessary?

White House's truth-bending revisionism on Tora Bora

The important thing to take away from Josh Marshall's article at Talking Points Memo is somewhat tangential:

"And the major news outlets covering the campaign -- as nearly as I've seen so far -- are just treating the disagreement as a he said/(s)he said in which both sides' arguments have equal merit."

Crash Ballet

For your viewing pleasure. NASA crash footage set to music.

CSTB Project: A Framework for Understanding Electronic Voting

F.Y.I

CBC News: 76 species to be added to Canada's 'at risk' list

The article has some interesting things to think about. Apparently there are 2 (among many) species of sockeye salmon - Cultus Lake and Skinaw Lake that are at risk. They were not added to the list because they are virtually indistinguishable from other sockeye salmon and travel up the Fraser river with > $100 million worth of non-endangered fish.

So what to do. Do you shut down the entire fishery (which is what they would have to do if those 2 species were added to the list)? $100 million is nothing to sneeze at. It seems they are going to leave them off the list but continue to try to take other routes to improve the numbers.

No details in the article of the 76 species that were protected. Proposed species are being published in the Canada Gazette today prior to public comment and a cabinet decision in January.

22.10.04

Bush supporters are foolin' themselves ...

OK, everybody else is talking about this as if it wasn't obvious just watching them mouth breathe so, for your edification:

From WashingtonMonthly:


From discourse.net:

Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.

Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.


Wired News: On the Trail of the Analemma

Interesting pics of the sun taken at the same time of day several times a year on the same film

More switch ads

Not Mac this time, instead people who voted Bush in 2000, voting Kerry in 2004.

Howls of laughter continue

The New York Times > Business > Record Labels Said to Be Next on Spitzer List for Scrutiny

Secretary General Clinton?

A Clinton candidacy is likely to receive overwhelming support from U.N. member states, particularly the Third World.

21.10.04

Just in case you were, you know, wondering "What, exactly, is a URI?"

Uniform Resource Identifier (URI): Generic Syntax This is, of course, of no interest to me. It's not like I haven't had to write (85 g'b'jillion) URI regexs and parsers in $1+1 different languages.

Luv me, luv my mad l33t perl references. :p

The problem is, you see ...

I am at 33 RSS feeds and counting. And all of the links they lead to. And all the political blogs. It takes me so long to read them all that I can only find time to link to interesting things. I can reinforce my own opinions or (rarely) change my mind, but I don't really get a chance to create a critical exposé and go into what I think in detail. Not that it is really interesting to you, dear reader, but it would provide more context and flavour. If I had something important to say that I wanted you to believe, I think that would help. Luckily enough most of what I think is explained more clearly by others who have a more focused output on the matter in question. Anyway, on with the linking.

Public Knowledge - Welcome

I think that it is a good thing™ that these guys are actually sitting at the table during negotiations over the Induce Act.

Slashdot | Secure, Portable, Virtual Privacy Machine

See, I want one of these but ... I want it the size of a pack of smokes. I want it to have all of the features of an iPod & a palm pilot. I want it to have several gigs of flash ram for the OS and apps and to (if I chose) save the text portion of my email. I want it to have the functionality of ZOË. I want a removable hard drive to store my media (and mail attachments). I want it to have HDTV out. I want it to have digital out for multichannel listening, with the codecs in firmware but DSP accelerated. It should have bluetooth/wireless/IR or somesuch and be able to live securely on a network as a passive media device or connected to a PC via USB/FireWire/SAS/xxx . It should cost less than $300 US. The headphone jack/amplifier should have externalization capability. The browser should be able to save all of my browsed pages and any other extension I choose to install.

aaaaaaaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaaah

Music sales rise despite RIAA's best efforts

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2004

Some seriously cool pics.

Operation Snowbird

If only I had been able to expose my massive american audience to this a little earlier. Ah well, here's hoping it isn't necessary in 2008. Or wasn't in 2004.

Speaking of ships & sagas and dogs

I guess this is a more appropriate link.

Indymedia -> the continuing saga of a [ship|justice system|governemnt] that's gone to the dogs

From the Blog of Richard Allan, the MP who asked a question about it in parliament. Comments include a link to coverage in The Register. I love the fact that this stuff flies under the popular media radar.

Various Artists: Left of the Dial: Dispatches from the 80s Underground: Pitchfork Review

This compilation sounds pretty sweet to me. As long time readers, first time callers will know, I am not so extremely concerned about my mixes blending seemlessly.

Politech: Harper Markle Cato Water redux

Jim Harper replies to Stu Baker on "surveillance-industrial complex"

matthewgood.org | mblog: We're Better Than This

He is a good singer and composer too.

Copyright Takedown Experiment Reveals Horrible ISP Policies

Oh yeah, the article in the IP Abuse section that I was reading when I noticed the category.

20.10.04

Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: The Ad Graveyard

The first of a series of 5 dog food ads banned for obsenity in New Zealand. Warning: crude language and sexual inuendo :)

19.10.04

Corante > Copyfight > IP Abuse

I never notcied that Cppyfight had categories. Cool. Whenever I need excercise, I can just scroll through their IP Abuse section and get the ol' ticker worked up :)

Froggies

Just in case you thought this Nature article on the huge amphibian die-off was news, well, it isn't

Plus que ca change ...



17.10.04

Court rules against metal detectors at protest

"We cannot simply suspend or restrict civil liberties until the War of Terror is over, because the War on Terror is unlikely ever to be truly over."
"September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country." - Judge Gerald Tjoflat

I don't want to link to CNN, so I'll link to someone who does the dirty work for me. :) All the feelthy yankee newspapers require a trip to BugMeNot these days. The article is an AP release, but they can be pretty heavily edited.

I'll get a link to the ruling once it is up on FindLaw

Obfuscated V Contest

No, you read that right. A contest to write software that looks like it counts votes properly, but doesn't.

Funny guy

Check him out, no, seriously, check him out.

14.10.04

You might think

that my blog is located at http://pacanukeha.blogpsot.com but you would be wrong. Abundant indeed.

IndyMedia Gets Its Servers Back

And you thought I would go a day without giving you a political link to chew on.

Giant virus qualifies as 'living organism'

From news @ nature.com

Bill Gibson

The url to my latest RSS feed:
http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/blogger_rss.xml

Ah William, William, William (we're close y'know). ASP? For shame.

Oh. Here is another one

I need someone to create a Thunderbird => Blogroller extension.

13.10.04

Oh yeah

Note that the Creative Commons link to your right now points to a Canadian version. The image is not CC-CA yet. Soon young ones, soon.

Massive victory at WIPO!

It seems that WIPO is actually coming to its senses. Wierd.

More on that.

A Tiny Revolution

I don't like MT any more, but this guy is using it to spread my kind of righteous indignation.

Censorship in action: why I don't publish my HDCP results

It seems that Neil Fergus has broken HDCP but isn't publishing his results for fear of DMCA prosecution. Yay! I am very happy about this. Why? Becaus if he did publish they might rework it, instead now it will be much easier for DeHDCP to be useful once everyone buys into the tech and starts manufacturing devices and content Good on yer Neil!

Dave Farber & al give a big shout out to their congressional peeps about civil liberties.

Word ?

Of course, the first thing that springs to mind is "Markle Foundation?" Riiight. I wonder if their markles are wise and full of markle.

EPO revokes patent on wheat

And do you want to know why? Because they didn't invent it, it was a strain that Indian farmers had developed.

I can see it now: Next up, Bill Cosby's "People Patent The Craziest Things!"

11.10.04

Morbid Tendencies: Bunny Of The Month Club

This is just so exceptionally cool. I ran across it a while ago, and found it again. My man Neil has a subscription. Sigh. I want a $35 _and_ a $5 subscription. And also 4 7/3/4/8 Block, Leap ST blitzers, but that goes without saying.

EFF & the usual crowd write a letter to congress on 9-11 commission recommendations

Download the pdf

BBC NEWS | Health | Gene switch can 'turn off cancer'

The really interesting part is that the cancerous cells return to acting like normal cells. Now obviously the tumour is still there, and as soon as you stop taking the drug it becomes cancerous again, but it is a pretty cool discovery. Although you would have thought that something that turns of Myc and stops the cancer cells from growing would stop the regular ones too. I guess they were lucky and doxycycline only disrupts the mutated gene. They don't talk about how it works. More information at New Scientist

US seizes independent media sites

The BBC is carrying the story now. The amazing part about this whole thing is that it has taken so long for a major news agency to pick up this story (apologies to the SMH which picked it up on the 7th). And now, of course, since it was servers that were seized they are reporting it under the Technology section. No major dumberican services are following the story. Declan's Politech was the first place I heard about it, and it is registering on politics.technorati.com too.

10.10.04

Global Rich List

An interesting perspective. If only I was paid in Euros, I would jump 5 percent.

5.10.04

Sarah McLachlan - World On Fire

Sarah McLachlan - World On Fire < - what she say.

Although spending $0.25 for a phone call to a volunteer continuity editor would have allowed someone to realize that the guitar playing and the music aren't related :)

4.10.04

Patently Obvious: Patent Law Blog

Patently Obvious: Patent Law Blog <- What he say.

Protecting ourselves to death

Your copyright link o' the day

EFF - BnetD ruled infringing

frowny face

CreativeCommons.ca

It's alive

Point. Shoot. Kiss It Good-Bye.

Cool artical at wired on what happens when you have several thousand digital pics on your hard drive and they are all call something like DSC00234.jpg

30.9.04

More on outsourcing ... of an unusual nature

I am so sorry I didn't post this yesterday. I am a very bad man.
Obsidian Wings: Legalizing Torture

A small update on the Genentech/Celltech patent thing.

The link in the entry I wrote before has moved into Scientific Americans archives, but here is the text of an article that mentions that another company thinks it is mondo stupid too:

AN INTERESTING TWIST ON INTERFERENCE PRACTICE:

It Lives for 29 Years?
MedImmune/Genentech case was sparked by unpredicted patent term

Robin L. Teskin
Legal Times
11-14-2003


A lawsuit filed April 11 in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles has grabbed the attention of the life sciences community. The key parties are three high-profile biotech developers: MedImmune, Genentech and Celltech. MedImmune is challenging the validity and enforceability of an important Genentech patent. Behind that patent, MedImmune charges, is an illegal, anti-competitive agreement that "profoundly and fundamentally altered the competitive landscape in the biotechnology industry."

The Genentech patent under fire, U.S. Patent No. 6,331,415, claims methods for producing monoclonal antibodies -- methods that are used by many biotech companies to produce antibodies for human therapy. For reasons that will become clear, this patent is also known as the new Cabilly patent.

What is curious is that the new Cabilly patent contains the same claims as a Celltech patent, U.S. Patent No. 4,816,397 -- otherwise known as the Boss patent. However, where Celltech's patent would have expired in early 2006, Genentech's patent, which apparently exists because of a settlement between the two companies, will not expire until the end of 2018.

And therein lies the problem. Rather than passing into the public domain in a few short years, valuable antibody technology will stay protected until 2018. Companies practicing these patented methods face paying royalties for an additional dozen years. This fact has frustrated many biotech companies that licensed the Boss patent and naturally assumed that their royalty obligations would end in 2006.

MedImmune has taken that frustration one step further and gone to court, seeking to invalidate the new Cabilly patent.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The sequence of events began back in 1983, when Celltech and Genentech both filed patent applications.

On March 25 of that year, Celltech filed a patent application in the United Kingdom, naming Michael Boss and others as the inventors of fundamental antibody expression methods. Shortly thereafter, the company filed an international application under Patent Cooperation Treaty procedures, which became a U.S. application in 1984. The U.S. patent issued on March 28, 1989.

On April 8, 1983 (two weeks after Celltech's effective filing date), Genentech filed its U.S. patent application, naming Shmuel Cabilly and others as the inventors of similar antibody expression methods. Genentech's patent (known as the old Cabilly patent) also issued on March 28, 1989, as U.S. Patent No. 4,816,567.

Prior to the grant of the old Cabilly patent, Genentech had also filed a continuation application. This application was amended in March 1990, in accordance with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rules: Genentech copied the Boss patent's antibody claims into its own application and requested that the PTO declare an interference between Celltech's patent and Genentech's application.

An interference is a legal proceeding unique to U.S. patent law, whereby the PTO resolves which party, if any, is entitled to priority of invention where the same subject matter is allegedly invented by two different parties. (In principle, the United States awards a patent to the first person to invent the subject matter in question. In other countries, the patent is awarded to the first party to file a patent application directed to the subject matter.)

On Feb. 28, 1991, the PTO Board of Appeals and Interferences declared an interference between Celltech's patent and Genentech's application. Celltech was accorded the benefit of its U.K. filing date and thereby deemed the senior party in the interference. The outcome of the proceeding therefore hinged on whether Genentech could establish a date of invention prior to the U.K. filing date. (Under U.S. patent law, the junior party has the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that it invented the subject matter prior to the senior party.)

Because of the patent laws in effect at the time that Celltech filed its pre-GATT application (that is, prior to implementation of the Uruguay Round Agreements under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), Celltech was not allowed to present evidence of U.K. inventorship prior to its U.K. filing date. By contrast, because Genentech made its invention in the United States, it was permitted to submit corroborating evidence in an effort to establish that its inventors had conceived and reduced the subject matter to practice prior to Celltech's filing date.

After a lengthy (seven-plus years) and complex proceeding, a decision was rendered by the Board of Interferences. The board concluded that Genentech had not met its burden of establishing a date of conception prior to Celltech's U.K. filing date. Genentech was thus not entitled to a patent.

Not surprisingly, Genentech appealed that decision in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. During the litigation, Genentech submitted new evidence in the form of a draft patent application from the files of Cabilly, the company's lead inventor, which Genentech claimed predated Celltech's U.K. filing date.

Based on this new evidence, Genentech filed a summary judgment motion requesting that it be awarded priority of invention. Celltech opposed the motion on substantive grounds, but did not challenge whether Genentech had exercised due diligence in only now locating this document. The District Court denied Genentech's motion. Nevertheless, the parties settled their dispute.

While the settlement agreement was filed under seal and remains confidential, this is known: Celltech conceded priority of invention, and the case was ended in Genentech's favor. The PTO subsequently revoked the Boss patent and issued the new Cabilly patent covering the same subject matter. The new Cabilly patent essentially extends patent coverage on antibody manufacture by 12 years.

A joint press release from Genentech and Celltech issued on Dec. 18, 2001, the same day as the new Cabilly patent, suggests that Celltech will not suffer from its willingness to lose the Boss patent early. Genentech agreed to compensate Celltech for all royalties that it would have accrued until the normal expiration of the Boss patent in 2006, and to grant licenses to Celltech for use of the antibody expressions processes covered by the new Cabilly patent.

WHAT LESSONS CAN BE LEARNED

MedImmune argues that this happy ending constitutes unlawful collusion. It is too early to predict whether the case will bear out that charge. But even the facts so far remind us that patent laws can be manipulated to extend the patent term and suggest that some changes would be wise -- to protect the public's interest in access to technology and to ensure a predictable patent term for all companies:

# Interference proceedings should be expedited. The Celltech/Genentech interference ran more than seven years. Why it took so long is unclear. However, it appears that neither party had sufficient incentive to expedite the process.

Celltech had no incentive because it was the patentee and would continue to collect royalties as long as it held the Boss patent. Genentech had no incentive because its new Cabilly application had been filed before the patent law changes required by the Uruguay Round Agreements. Consequently, Genentech knew that, if granted, the new Cabilly patent would last a full 17 years from its issue date (not 20 years from its filing date, as the law now states for new patent applications). Thus, a delay in the issue date might simply serve to extend Genentech's patent rights into more lucrative years for the biotech industry.

These facts suggest that the Board of Interferences itself should exercise every means available to expedite the interference process. And this is especially critical where a pre-GATT patent application is involved.

# Section 146 litigants should not be permitted to submit new priority evidence in support of a pre-GATT patent application. Under 35 U.S.C. §146, any party to an interference unhappy with the board's decision "may have remedy by civil action." But in the future, such parties should be barred from submitting new evidence to prove priority of invention. This would minimize the risk of patents being issued as a result of §146 litigation that unduly extend intellectual property protection of fundamental technology.

Granted, this is not a perfect solution: Such a rule might infrequently result in a patent being awarded to the later inventor. But over the majority of cases, such a rule would more fairly balance the interests of the public in rapid access to new technology against the interests of the inventor in fully exploiting his or her innovation.

# In some instances, settlement agreements of interference disputes should be made public. A key issue in the MedImmune litigation is whether Genentech and Celltech unlawfully colluded to extend the two companies' proprietary position on antibody expression. Whether the parties colluded is uncertain in part because the agreement was filed under seal. In the future, settlement agreements that result in significant patent term extensions should be made public.

Requiring parties to open such settlement agreements would potentially divulge some propriety information. But, again, the public interest weighs heavier. If such agreements were available for inspection, parties considering whether to license a patent awarded or retained as a result of an interference would be in a better position to assess the patent's validity. And, of course, requiring settlement agreements to be made public would reduce the likelihood of parties entering into unlawful arrangements.

Whether or not the deal between Genentech and Celltech was in any way improper is unclear. The courts will determine that in due course. But appropriate authorities should act to ensure for the future a predictable and reasonable patent term for pre-GATT applications.

Robin L. Teskin is a partner at Washington, D.C.'s Crowell & Moring, where she counsels clients on biotech, pharmaceutical and chemical patent issues; interference practice; and related business strategies. She can be reached at rteskin@crowell.com.