Friday, 10 June 2011

Do-it-yourself ramble


I’m off to Melbourne this morning to join 90,000 screaming fans watching Geelong beat Hawthorn tomorrow night at the Cathedral of Sport.

So there’ll be no ramble this morning from me.

So why not take the opportunity for a do-it-yourself ramble—to post in the comments links and stories that interested you, and are sure to interest other readers.

Go to it!

And enjoy!


Thursday, 9 June 2011

NOT PJ: Taking the Mickey

_BernardDarntonThis week Bernard Darnton wouldn't steal a car, but he might download one if it was old enough.

Taking the Mickey

Outrage erupted this week as an anti-piracy video featuring comedian Rhys Darby was released to New Zealand schools. Pro-piracy campaigners announced a boycott and said they would immediately stop watching their downloaded Flight of the Conchords episodes. Darby is expected to miss out on revenues of up to $0 a week until the boycott is lifted.

There is an escalating war between the creators and distributors of films and music and the “information wants to be free” crowd who think they should be allowed to consume whatever entertainment they want without paying for it. The law is on the side of the copyright owners and technology is on the side of the pirates. Matters are foggied because the technology has myriad legitimate uses and the law is being used as a blunt weapon to bludgeon the pettiest of offenders and any inconvenient bystanders.

MickeyExhibit A: Steamboat Willie starring Mickey Mouse. This film was released in 1928. Its copyright was due to expire in 1956. Then it was renewed giving a new expiry date of 1984. Just in time, the law changed extending its protection until 2003. Yet again the horrors of public domain were avoided with the passage of the Copyright Term Extension Act, taking the date out to 2023. Ergo, according to the anti-copyright folks, Congress has been bought by “big media” and Disney is writing America’s laws.

Without wanting to fabricate complicated conspiracy stories, the steady increase in copyright protection does look odd. By rights, Steamboat Willie should have fallen into the public domain by now and the file-sharers should be allowed to share and remix this nugget of Americana to their hearts’ content.

At this point you need to put your conclusion-jumping shoes on because we’re off to the land of Non Sequitur. Steamboat Willie is 80 years old and I would be allowed to copy it if not for some shady corporate welfare deal. Therefore copyright is bollocks. Therefore I should be allowed to download X-Men: First Class, which is 8 days old, which is what I wanted to do in the first place before making up this rambling story about Mickey Mouse.
So, a question for the Rhys Darby boycott crowd: if information wants to be free, why didn’t X-Men: First Class just spring into existence by magic? Why did hundreds of people have to spend months of effort and $160 million to bring it into existence?

Like every good political stoush, everyone is yelling, and everyone is wrong. Media corporations are wrong to keep lobbying for extensions of copyright, lawmakers are wrong for criminalising fair use and format shifting, and file sharers are insane for thinking that they can take products without paying for them and expect the producers to keep producing.

Lawmakers are wrong for writing legislation that assumes guilt as soon as copyright infringement accusations are made and wrong again for mandating that internet access be denied to those accused. Opposing lawmakers are wrong when they claim that internet access is a human right. (Tom Paine was silent on the matter.)

Whenever I listen to an argument on this topic I want to stick both sides in a room and reboot the lot of them.

* * * * *

Bernard Darnton boots himself into action every Thursday here at NOT PC.

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Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Why do Weiner et al keep being given more power?

As yet another politician disgraces himself, this time by tweeting his Weiner to folk who hadn’t asked for it, isn’t it time to ask why so many people so readily grant so much power to such demonstrably stupid people like this?

As Tibor Machan says, it’s very puzzling.

Why, in the face of repeated scandals and corruption across the world and this country,are  there well-educated folks who continue to be confident that if only one hands a problem over to politicians and their appointees, all will be fine.

Tibor, naturally, has both an answer and a solution.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Double-dip? Or never-ending bust?

WillPredictRecoveryForFood“"Whether one likes it or not, it is a fact that the main issues of present-day politics are purely economic and cannot be understood without a grasp of economic theory. Only a man conversant with the main problems of economics is in a position to form an independent opinion on the problems involved. All the others are merely repeating what they have picked up by the way. They are an easy prey to demagogic swindlers and idiotic quacks.   Their gullibility is the most serious menace to the preservation of democracy and to Western civilization.”
            - Ludwig Von Mises, Bureaucracy

‘Midst expectations of a “double-dip” recession and in the light of the above,  you might be wondering “Did the (U.S) Recession Ever Really Go Away?” 

And you might appreciate  “ A Primer on the Never-Ending Bust.”


“We’re awful,” sayeth the teacher

Ann McElhinney, former teacher and now famous for her films "Not Evil Just Wrong" and "Mine Your Own Business," gives a heartfelt speech about how children are being indoctrinated by teachers.

Don’t think her stories only applies to the States.

What she’s talking about are the modern-day Comprachicos.

But the modern heirs of the comprachicos are smarter and subtler than their predecessors: they do not hide, they practice their trade in the open; they do not buy children, the children are delivered to them; they do not use sulphur or iron, they achieve their goal without ever laying a finger on their little victims. The ancient comprachicos hid the operation, but displayed its results; their heirs have reversed the process: the operation is open, the results are invisible…

[HT Robert at the Small Dead Animals blog]

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Monday, 6 June 2011

June 6, 1944

June 6, 1944, is one of the most momentous days out of many in twentieth-century history.

It was the day sixty-seven years ago that the free west summoned every resource available, and gambled everything on the outcome of this one day, and one vast attack—an assault across the English Channel on five beaches in western France. It’s object: to free Western Europe from the Nazi jackboot.

This was D-Day.

The tale of Operation Overlord, a heroic assault on the Atlantic Wall launched by the greatest invasion armada the world has ever seen, has been told many times but never so well or as effectively as the sweeping story told by Cornelius Ryan in his non-fiction account The Longest Day—which became a surprisingly effective 1962 movie starring everyone at the time who held an Actors Equity card.

Don’t accept cheap imitations.  Unlike the Spielberg splatterfest which purports to portray the same momentous event, this film (and more especially the book on which it was based) shows both the context of this landmark event and its human interest stories.

Cycling around those Normandy beaches a few years ago with my copy of Ryan’s book as one of my guides, I soon discovered that when they saw the book the locals were still keen to stop me and talk about what happened that day so many decades ago.  And sometimes (since they were talking very fast, very idiosyncratic French) I could even work out what they were talking about.  Or some of it.

And I remember sitting in a pillbox on Omaha beach, imagining how it must have felt that morning to have looked out to sea and seen the whole horizon armed to the teeth and heading straight for you…

… fast forward to 3:15. And keep your buttocks clenched.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: On minimum wages

“The proposal is to make low wage earners less employable. To
steal their right to work for whatever wage they want to. To ensure
that they don't get the work experience they need in order to earn
more later in life. And most crucially of all, the increase in the
minimum wage would cement job security for those already
earning above the minimum wage. It does this by reducing
competition. That's why unions came up with the idea.”
           - Nickolai Hubble, from The Daily Reckoning Australia

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Sunday, 5 June 2011

Rand on religion

See, even big government liberals can admit “Ayn Rand Wasn’t Always Wrong.” Says P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula,

    This is a video of Ayn Rand on a talk show in [1979, three years before the died]. Don't run away yet! The interesting part… [is] the audience and also the host: they seem horrified that someone has so boldly stated that they don't believe in god. And that liberal host, Phil Donahue, "tsk, tsk, tsk"s her, and you can tell he's just unable to comprehend someone denying the deity.
    We have come a long way. I don't think a modern audience would be much less annoyed, but at least they wouldn't be as surprised.