Yes, I hate the carbon tax, too. Am I happy that our society has reached this point where we need to put a price on our own wastefulness? Hardly. Is it the best option? No. Is it going to hurt? Yeah. Will it disrupt the way our lives go forward for here? That’s kinda the point. Will that be uncomfortable? No shit, Sherlock. But is it the right thing to do? Probably. Am I willing to chip in a little bit more on that gamble if it’s really meant to improve the future of our society? Well, until someone comes up with a better idea, and since I don’t qualify for the rebate, I suppose I’m going to do just that. Everything has a cost to something, someone, somewhere. You may not feel that cost. You may never pay it. But someone, somewhere pays for your cheap gas, your plastic toys, and your discount t-shirts. That cost may be money, time, or the health of people or our environment. And we’ve been deferring, offsetting, skipping out on the bill as it grows and looms and grows some more over future generations. You don’t have to understand it or agree with it: but pretending that it’s a lie or a conspiracy makes you into the fool. So, drive a 4% less, eat a few less calories, put on a sweater and some cozy wool socks and turn the heat down a degree or two, and maybe stop buying so much junk: we’ve been trying that for years, and it isn’t as painful as you imagine. Really.
I said it during the Provincial election and I’ll say it again here: I think a lot of folks don’t understand one very important (but nuanced) element of a healthy democracy. That leadership comes in many flavours is obvious, but what isn’t always clear is that leadership –true leadership– isn’t necessarily management. Management is a controlling action: a manager is a boss or an overseer of a fixed process that needs to be followed. Managers are in charge and are usually only accountable to those above them. On the other hand, leadership is guiding action: a leader can just be someone with a good sense of direction and the ability to bring people to the place they need to be. Leaders are accountable to everyone, particularly those who they are leading. Our current government has spent a lot of years managing the people of this country and very little time leading them. Think about that when you go to vote.
I think it’s when I get to have the (occasionally) privileged view of behind the scenes operations of a relatively well-run government.
Ah, June… Summer is at our doorstep, the days are (almost all of them) seeming to get a little bit longer, and for the second year in a row I am partaking in my daily blogging exercise, marginally focused along a theme I’ve simply called Those 30 posts in June. No planning. No writing stuff days ahead. Just this: each day a meanderingly vague prompt drives a meanderingly vague post… and today that post just happens to be:
June 14th // Something You Are Watching
Something very odd started last night in Canadian politics.
See, as I understand, the ruling majority Conservative government did something that wasn’t against the rules — per se — but that was quite uncool as far as bill-writing goes. They took a fairly standard budget bill and crammed into it a heaping stack of very tenuously-related parts that many have argued have no place in a bill of this sort. It has been recently referred to a “trojan horse bill” and touches on not just a budget, but on so many other big and little changes to our rights and freedoms, it is troubling how few Canadians are taking more of an interest.
As they are a majority, there is little doubt that the bill will eventually pass. But the minority parties are — right now — attempting to make that process as long as possible. And this little bit of crazy democracy is being broadcast on CPAC, right now.
A few parliamentarians have a certain privilege — being parties of one or just a few — that allows them to challenge and propose amendments to the larger omnibus bill. These need to be read and voted on one at a time. And last night, for three hours straight, eight hundred and some — grouped into over a hundred and fifty categories –were individually read into the record.
Shortly after that the voting began… and it cannot stop until all one hundred and fifty some categories have gone through the tedious name-reading process that is a single vote. It is expected to take over twenty-four hours, and they are — at six-thirty in the morning (MST) as I write this — not quite eight hours into it. If too many on the majority side fall asleep or wander off and miss a vote, wham, an amendment might pass triggering… well, I assume a further review or outright failure, but no one has been particularly clear on that. (Maybe I’ll look that up later and add that in…)
It is democracy in action, folks.
Edit: 755AM MST – The radio newscast informed me this morning as I drove to meet the train that — to drag things out just a little longer — the opposition is taking their time rising to their feet each round to be counted, adding a few seconds per member and probably adding 25% more duration onto the process by doing so. Oh, and apparently CPAC offers a streaming video feed so you can check it out during the day… though it will be like watching the same thing on loop for twenty hours straight, so be warned.
by Justin Cronin
I’m generally a fairly skeptical guy. This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good bit of fantasy. In fact, quite the opposite. I’m a huge science fiction fan, and I love solidly written stories about the fantastic and futurological-ish. Couple that with the fact that I’m a bit of a dystopia-junkie and I figured a near-future myth about the downfall of society thanks to a mysterious virus would be a solid read. And it starts off very good. But then the scientists turn dark and evil, the government is ruthless and drenched in conspiracy, and the characters are never fleshed out beyond some very basic, high-contrast personality stereotypes. To be fair, I was prepared to accept all that and go with the story… and then the whole thing went sideways. (Spoiler-ish? Maybe.) We are dumped nearly a century into the future and spend a few hundred pages tracking a whole (and largely new) cast of mixed-motivation characters, most of which are being pyschically controlled by the failed result some zombie-vampire-government experiment gone terribly awry (so who cares anyhow) and wham — nothing is really explained, deus ex machina, voila, and the story wraps as most of the main characters die or are left hanging in a survival limbo. Are we talking sequel, or something? Now it may just be that this whole vampire craze has left me a little underwhelmed, but I always understood the literary vampire to be a metaphor for a kind of socially deviant oversexualization of humanity: those vampires have sympathetic motivation. These? I don’t know why they destroyed humanity? Motivation, folks. It’s important.
…without too much critical thought.
This work tells the world…
…that the result of ‘faith’ in that mysterious and evil thing called science, we will destroy the world with mythical beings.
Borrow, Buy, or Avoid?
Avoid. A solid read, but a bit over-rated.
“The Government of Canada is hosting a nationwide consultation on copyright modernization.” I spent a half and hour composing a (somewhat piecemeal, now that I re-read it) letter to the consultation process. I encourage everyone to add their two-cents, either formally or just via comment.
1. How do Canada\’s copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?
I am a media developer and photographer. I support the Creative Commons model of sharing creative works and recently I have been using the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License to share everything I create for public consumption. I rely on this model because copyright in Canada does not afford content creators the ability to both open their creations to fair public use — which is why I create things — while simultaneously preventing others from financially benefiting from my efforts. This is the best model that supports my desire to both contribute to a public pool of engaging and entertaining content, while maintaining my own rights as their creator.
It is my firm conviction that what defines us in this modern age is our engagement with a wide array of many forms of entertainment. Consider the elements of all our lives that are defined by the songs we were listening to, the stories we heard, or the images we saw. Think of a new couple who dances their first dance at their wedding. Think of kids hearing stories before bed. Think of two teenagers holding hands during a movie. Think of the images all of us see in media and in print. These are cultural elements that define us as not only Canadians, but as human beings. And as such, our rights as individuals should be defined by our ability to freely and perpetually have access to these elements of our existence and shared experiences, regardless if they are digital or otherwise.
Unfortunately, not every individual can participate because as a society we have introduced a commercial element to this culture. It is a business. And thus some people have resorted to acquiring these elements of culture — songs, movies, books, etc — through means that are incompatible with that business. But these acquisitions are largely disconnected from the business of their actual distribution. Businesses talk of lost profits or missing revenues, but is there really such a thing? Where has it gone? Do businesses really suppose that those individuals copying content have such unlimited resources that money otherwise spent would be poured into paying for their content? Or is it more realistic to suppose that individuals generally have a fixed budget for entertainment, but that these budgets are unable to provide satisfactory access to this content? Of course, there are outliers and examples at the tips of the bell curve, but in general, as individuals, our ability to purchase and consume media has not kept up with the sheer quantity of it.
What then, is the role of the individual in copyright when the individuals needs and concerns are so incompatible with business.
2. Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time
Changes should be made that protect individuals over the needs of business. Canadians should not be under threat of corporate lawsuit simply for participation in the cultural gestalt that is Canada.
3. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?
Copyright is essential, but the spirit of those laws should not leave individuals at the mercy of deep corporate pockets. Copyright has always been about — as stated — fostering creativity. Overt protection of copyrights through legal means should not allow copyright holders to sue people simply for consuming their content, and participating in the culture of Canada and the world. Rather, it should prevent other businesses from benefiting commercially from that content without formalized permission. I think corporations and societies should have a reduced role in copyright, particularly as far the individual is concerned. And as an example of how this might work I think a tiered level of copyright would help: when content is created, what if the creator had to choose between a commercial versus a non-commercial copyright? A non-commercial copyright might only be available to individuals and would protect them from many kinds of infringement, but a commercial copyright, available to businesses, corporations, international interests, and societies would only protect the content from commercial infringements, and any non-commercial violations — essentially friends sharing books, movies, songs, etc — would be considered protected rights of individuals and supporting the cultural diversity of Canada.
4. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada?
Simply, preserving commercial access to copyright, while finding a balance between the involvement of business interests and the cultural, individual rights of Canadians. Canadians should not be made to live in fear for the harmless act of participating in a cultural Canada that has become largely controlled by corporate interests.
5. What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?
To facilitate the needs of all, copyright should strive to belong absolutely and (for a fixed term) with the individual creator. When copyright becomes corporate asset we risk sell off of intellectual ideas. That said, when copyright is available in distinct layers between commercial and non-commercial, both business and international copyright holders would default to commercial rights thus protecting the individual citizens of Canada from both internal and cross-border prosecution, particularly in an age of seemingly border-less communications.
This is a dual issue: protecting business and protecting Canadians. Let’s keep them separate.
Perhaps you have been watching the news and have heard the rumours. The Government of Canada spiraling into the nether-regions of obscure democratic process and is standing on the brink of something rather historic. And no matter, from whichever side of that particular chasm of political upheaval you throw your tomatoes, the results are promising to be exciting.
So, fine. You are not a political junkie. You can’t be bothered to follow the musings of our small-stature democracy. Go read something else. What do you care that a fragile minority government gambled its fortunes on a minor political gambit, tossed the entire pot on a pair of tens, and the other three players and posing themselves to call the bluff? Huh?
But it is curious to see the arguments being rallied against this process. “It’s not democratic!” or “It’s a coup!” or “These are backroom deals!” Folks, this is democracy at its finest. Thirty eight percent of an underwhelming voter turnout chose the current government. This is how the other half (plus) replies to that, particularly when the other half is so fed up they actually decide to work together. Nice.
The result of sending a letter with your concerns about copyright to your member of parliament and various other influential ministers in federal government is NOT that they listen to your concerns, but rather that they put you on their mailing list and send you propaganda and notifications of exactly how they are ignoring your concerns. For those who don’t happen to be on that particular mailing list, a copy of a letter from my inbox a few minutes ago follows:
The Government of Canada has introduced Bill C-61, An Act to Amend the Copyright Act. The proposed legislation is a made-in-Canada approach that balances the needs of Canadian consumers and copyright owners, promoting culture, innovation and competition in the digital age.
What does Bill C-61 mean to Canadians?
Specifically, it includes measures that would:
– expressly allow you to record TV shows for later viewing; copy legally purchased music onto other devices, such as MP3 players or cell phones; make back-up copies of legally purchased books, newspapers, videocassettes and photographs onto devices you own; and limit the “statutory damages” a court could award for all private use copyright infringements;
– implement new rights and protections for copyright holders, tailored to the Internet, to encourage participation in the online economy, as well as stronger legal remedies to address Internet piracy;
– clarify the roles and responsibilities of Internet Service Providers related to the copyright content flowing over their network facilities; and
– provide photographers with the same rights as other creators.
What Bill C-61 does not do:
– it would not empower border agents to seize your iPod or laptop at border crossings, contrary to recent public speculation
What this Bill is not:
– it is not a mirror image of U.S. copyright laws. Our Bill is made-in-Canada with different exceptions for educators, consumers and others and brings us into line with more than 60 countries including Japan, France, Germany and Australia
Bill C-61 was introduced in the Commons on June 12, 2008 by Industry Minister Jim Prentice and Heritage Minister JosÃƒÂ©e Verner.
Hmm… methinks thar be a wee bit’o doublespeakin’ happenin’ herebouts. Now be the time to be talkin’ amongst yerselfs.
Update: I should have mentioned that there is a really good analysis on Michael Geist’s Blog everyone should check out.
9. My pirate coffee mug was broken upon arrival, but rather than shipping it back I glued it together and filled it with dirt and seeds, and set it in my window at work. This morning there is definite sprouting going on. Yarr!
8. Claire has a new repertoire of tricks since I last wrote. These include rolling over from her front to her back (as opposed to just laying there), grasping at fingers to pull herself to standing (as opposed to balancing once pulled to standing), sitting in her booster chair to eat (as opposed to lounging in her chair), and eating multiple bowls of food whilst offering her assertive assistance in the process.
7. If your employment for some reason is tied to (or in any other way affiliated with) the government, today might be your year end. Happy new year. In an appropriate display of corporate celebration, a paper shredding truck dropped an entire load of confetti-like strips of shredded documents on the Anthony Henday this morning.
6. Karin and I finished watching Firefly last night. Finally. When did that show last air? Like five years ago?
5. We took a trip to West Edmonton Mall on Saturday. Avoiding the mall is usually high on our priority list, but there is a new art supply store there I wanted to investigate. They sent us a flier. I was satisfactorily impressed. I bought a nice set of cartooning pens, and some paper. And I shall return.
4. If you use WordPress for your own blog, there has been a slick upgrade released. This is my first post since I installed the new files yesterday. Version two point five. I also upgraded my gallery, for those paying extra close attention. Though if you hadn’t don’t worry, celebrate. It was only a sub-sub-version upgrade, and if you noticed that you are truly a nerd.
3. While we were at the mall on Saturday we spent some time in the T&T grocery store, a food-based journey into Asia in the midst of the commercial zoo that surrounds it. We bought stacks of bready-type products with various combinations of coconut, green onions, and red bean pastes. Yum.
2. I ran on Sunday morning. My pain was compounded exponentially by the fact I’ve been benched since the Saint Paddy’s run with a lingering respiratory cold. My body was not amused. I suppose it is time to re-address the training issue. That ten K race is a daunting month away.
1. The snow is starting to melt. No, “seriously” starting to melt. It is starting to melt in that I can see the ground in abundance and I can start considering plans for springtime yard work in terms of weeks-away rather than months. I’ve started my tomatoes. I’ve pondered my landscaping. I’ve hatched plans for rodent extermination. And I’ve unlocked my shed. It’s getting serious.
About five years ago when we were living in the urban sprawl of Vancouver our apartment was burglarized. We were suddenly very alone and vulnerable. It wasn’t the stuff, so much. It was rotten-to-the-core feeling of being helpless and insignificant. It was the sleepless nights. It was waking up at all hours from any small noise in the hallway wondering if those footsteps would stop in front of our door. It was the haunting words of the police officer who, despite a fairly good lead on a suspect, was unable to assure us that much of anything could be done. And nothing ever was. Those who take have power over those who abide.
And it was right then that I decided a few things in my own life.
First, it was then that we decided we were done with Vancouver. True, property crime can (and does) happen anywhere, but the attitude that followed it seemed uniquely disturbing and accepting of it in Vancouver. It was a “join the club” type response, we received. Another cost of living expense that I was unwilling to pay.
Second, my faith in the politico-justice system took one of it’s first hard knocks. If I equate that faith to a metaphorical tripod, one could say that one of the legs had been kicked out. It was the start. It was the first stab at something I had held with absolute faith — and subsequent observations of the political and economic climate of the world have severely weakened the remaining two legs.
In the last few months I’ve been patiently observing the new proposed copyright legislation for Canada being pushed by the increasingly corporate theocracy we call our elected Federal government. And, after a long night of reading even more information yesterday evening, I think another of those legs on my so-called tripod of faith has finally given out.
I sent out ten letters this morning to various levels and branches of government. The core of that letter: “By supporting such legislation you are effectively supporting a form of digital prohibition and branding a generation of media consumers as criminals, letting the door swing wide for American-style litigation against individuals who are using the technology they already own, the media they have and will purchase, in ways that they are currently free to do.” Because in a world where I move my music to a computer or an iPod for lack of a portable CD player, record-delay television shows so I can spend time with my daughter and still have something resembling a normal life, back-up valuable media collections for personal peace of mind, blog in parody about passing fancies and topics of public concern, and enjoy numerous other digital conveniences and creative outlets for which I have paid and adapted my life, I am soon to be tagged a criminal for doing so.
Interpret the law how you will, but our rights are about to be throttled by a technologically illiterate ruling class who are essentially equating the life-altering impacts of a break-and-enter burglary with the act of recording a television show.
I’m standing on the one remaining leg, shaky and fragile, and if a single careless law is passed, all faith will be gone. I will be a criminal for simply existing, so I don’t see as it matters anymore. Revolution is at hand.
I don’t know how many of you have been following the latest escapade down in the States. I have trouble understanding how anyone with any scrap of moral fiber could turn a blind eye towards (let alone defend, as I’ve seen on numerous forums) “King George’s” latest trouncing of the laws of his own country. I feel ill when I think of all that implies.
This video, I think, sums it up squarely:
Democracy, truly, sadly, undeniably has taken a second seat to a brutal form of class-based Imperialism where the laws and true justice are for some and the benefits of prosperity are for others.
The days will tell, but when the very moral core of a leader fails society is not far behind. The illusion has been shattered. Pay attention, mark these events, because whether action or inaction on the part of good citizens of the US, this will be an historic crossroad in the path of current events. Action could lead to sweeping political change, vast re-ordering of worldwide influences, and just generally, some sense coming back to things. Inaction is consent, and a blank cheque for tying the government and the very structure of that society in knots through loopholes and tripwires.
As a Canadian, there’s nothing so frightening as the feeling of being a chihuahua leashed to ass-end of raging bull.
Apparently, our bout of unseasonably warm weather is coming to an end. It’s weird observation of the humanity around us that everyone tries to blame the weather on themselves. A superstition, I guess. But so many people I’ve talked to lately have some cornball theory about how their actions have doomed the string of warmth we’re experiencing, like they actually have some effect on the outcome of the global climate.
I’ve heard car related reasons: “Oh, I just switched my tires!” or “I just washed my car!”
Sometimes simple activites seem to be the force behind climate change: “We bought season passes to the ski hill this year, now everythings gonna melt!” or “Just when it got time to take down the Christmas lights — bam!”
Often they are travel related: “Just when we get back from somewhere warm, it turns cold!” or “That cloud is following me wherever I go!”
I mean, I understand superstitious pattern-finding behaviour, but c’mon! This is the twenty-first century. We’re people of science and communications, and the intraweb! Once and for all: it’s not you, it’s not your dog or your house or your car, it’s not even some angry norse demi-god raining chaos down upon us. Everyone should understand by now that it’s the government –using satellites and big quantum magnetic weather rays from space. Jeesh.