Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Canadian election insanity

So the Canadian parliament is being dissolved today. Last night, the minority Liberals lost a no-confidence vote. So we're headed for a holiday campaign. Yay. Just when we were enjoying a campaign holiday.

In today's Toronto Star, James Travers wrote a decent article outlining why this election is important - and why voters will likely vote Liberal once again. He was pretty much right on, except he used a turn of phrase that has always irked me.

Here's the email I sent Mr. Travers, with apologies to those unfamiliar with the Canadian system:

Dear Mr. Travers,

In today's article ("Why this election matters") you did a fine job of articulating the issues facing voters this time around - including why a larger number continue to choose Martin over Harper.

However, I'd like to point out a habit that I have noticed among analysts that I find quite irksome.

In the article, you state that voters might "opt for a majority".

Surely you are well aware that our current political system does not allow for this sort of event. We don't vote en masse. We don't collectively decide who will vote which way in order to "send a message" to governments. We each have one vote. I might WISH to give 60% of my vote to Martin and 40% to Layton in order to tell Mr. Martin I am displeased with the current state of affairs, but this is simply not possible. With my one vote, then, I must vote entirely for Mr. Martin. If everyone in Canada felt the same way I did, then Mr. Martin would get 100% of the vote. Does that mean we are not displeased with him? Of course not.

Why is it then that analysts constantly refer to the electorate as if it were one person? We don't "choose" percentages of the vote. Our system is something akin to rock,paper, scissors - you don't know how things will turn out until everyone shows what they chose.

Further blurring the issue is the fact that we vote in ridings. So if I vote NDP to send a message, outcome be damned, that message might still not be delivered if my riding goes Liberal. In the end, the seats are what count and no one really remembers how close the riding vote was. So again if 40% of every riding votes NDP, while 60% votes Liberal, the Liberals get 100% of the seats. Does THAT send a message? Of course not.

So, in the spirit of rock, paper, scissors, what we end up with is people voting based on how they think OTHERS will vote. If the west is largely going to vote Conservative, well then, Ontario will largely vote Liberal - not because they WANT to, but because it will keep the Conservatives from winning.

I don't want to vote Liberal. I want to vote for the alternative. But I will NOT vote Conservative while Mr. Harper and his uber-right wing policies are the fashion. Since the NDP have no chance of winning, (and such a vote would open the door for the Conservatives) I must vote Liberal.

Think Mr. Martin will get the message? Neither do I.

Philip Sullivan

p.s. Doesn't all this Harper talk merely highlight the tragedy of the Conservative party? Had they simply stuck to their guns and NOT joined forces with the Alliance/Reform, I have no doubt that they would be a force to be reckoned with right now and the Liberals WOULD be suffering. Mr. McKay, much as he may seem to be a decent man, brought about the death of that party. Perhaps if he were at the helm he might be able to revive it. He may have to grow a spine and become his own man first, though.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Cory Doctorow needs a bitchslap

Some of the threads/posts on Boing Boing piss me right the hell off.

It took me a while, as I made my way through the archives, before I realized many of these posts were written by the same contributor: Cory Doctorow.

See, I just finished a stint at Ryerson University (don't worry if you've never heard of it, the term "university" is misleading) in the Radio and Television Arts program, where many of the students were cybergeeks. Or at the very least very cyber-literate. Considering "hotmail" was a word I learned in the second year of my undergrad (1994...oh man, that is way too long ago), I am not quite at their level, though I speak the language (my first computer was a Vic20...oh man, that was way too long ago - part deux).

Many of the "kids" there (and they were kids - especially since Ontario got rid of OAC/Grade 13 - another subject for another day) were advocates of downloading music and movies. No matter what you told them, they thought it was their right to have access to that content.

That's the biggest crock of shit I've ever heard.

Yes, I've downloaded a few CDs worth of tunes myself, but I make no bones about what I've done. It is infringing upon the copyright of the artists I selected and I have that on my conscience. But don't feed me this argument that "music belongs to everyone" or "well, if it's on the net, it's fair game". Hogwash. You're stealing the music. Admit it, deal with it, go to Hell if that's what the Plan is, just don't make excuses.

My own personal guilt is somewhat assuaged by the fact that I would not have bought those CDs. I don't buy CDs. I don't care for music enough to pay $15-$20 for the 4 or 5 songs I might like by one artist. My tastes are eclectic enough that I actually prefer compilation CDs and refuse to buy albums at that price point. So, in effect, I might argue that, in my case, the music industry benefits from me downloading the music, since I am exposing myself to an artist to a greater degree than I otherwise would have. As a result, that artist is more likely to get my attention when it comes to concerts or endorsements.

But that's pretty weak, too. I stole it. I know it. I'm going to Hell. At least it's warm.

See, this is where my good friend Cory comes in. He advocates this piracy crap. He mocks those who think it's theft. He is one of those guys who thinks the industry should change to suit his habit. The industry should adapt to the technology, copyright be damned.

(uh, oh, my blood's starting to boil...)

I'm a supporter of copyright. People should be rewarded for their creations. The point of copyright was to allow an inventor a monopoly over their product for a period of time, so that they might reap the rewards of their creation in any manner they saw fit for its marketing and distribution. After that period, the invention was fair game.

And it worked.

Yeah, a lot of people make crazy amounts of money of it, but boo-effing-hoo. They created the thing? They deserve the cash.

And don't even think about quoting Betamax to me. Have you actually READ that ruling? The majority judges were way off base and had no foresight. I'm not going to bother pointing out the flaws in THAT decision. Read the dissenting opinion. That judge was spot on.

Back to Cory. Cory's from Toronto. Which should make me want to cut him some slack. But, damn, son, you should know better. Stop advocating all this hacking and piracy, man. Yes, the entertainment industry is a juggernaut and makes a boatload of cash and does stupid things like put DRM on their product, but it don't make the cybergeeks right.

My housemate Dan gets the brunt of my Cory rantings. Every once in a while I'll send him an email about something I saw on Boing Boing and why I'm losing my mind over it. Here's a recent example:


> It never ceases to amaze me the ridiculous arguments (typically young) media content rippers will come up with to justify their actions and accuse the content providers of being old and stupid.


I've heard this argument before and it is ridiculous. It is indicative of the type of person who says "well, they should come up with new business models" (as if it's THEIR responsibility to react to thieves) and in fact, cannot come up with suitable ones themselves.

So let me get this straight. The content provider/studio/whoever should make a deal with sites like Napster etc to "regulate" the distribution of the content THEY ALREADY OWN.

Sure. Let's do that.

Napster makes a killing for coming up with this thievery, but at least the "industry" has some control, right? Uh....but then Grokster comes along. Does the industry "cut a deal" with them, too? And any other "ster" that comes along to blackmail them? This is stupid. Where would it end? Every computer geek on the planet would be lining up to get their piece of the pie.

Bottom line: content creators should be able to control how their content is distributed. Period. They've earned that right.

Mark Pesce should be lobotomized. And if he thinks that's unfair, well, he should quit bitching and come up with a "new thinking model".


If I ever go off for Dan again, I'll try to remember to post it here, too. Why waste a good rant? Or a rant, at least...

I wonder if Cory or Mr. Pesce will discover my blog if they google their own names? Hmmmm...

Coooooory! Come out to plaaayyyy!

(ah, yes: "The Warriors" - 1979)

Boing boing for Boing Boing

My name is Phil and I have a problem.

I am addicted to Boing Boing.

Haven't heard of it? That's ok - I'd say most non-cybergeeks haven't. And since I consider myself to be a non-cybergeek, well, you're ok by me.

See, Boing Boing is this blog-type site (though I don't consider them a "blog" so much as a wacky news/magazine site - but that's another argument for another day) that has all these interesting news bits and links to the World of Weird. It's a decent time-killer if minesweeper is getting old for ya.

Considering I am terribly bored at work most of the time, my buddy Dan put me onto the Boing Boing scent and it's been a raging mad-on ever since.

See, my boredom was so profound that waiting for new items to appear on the site would not quench my thirst for mental stimulation. I went back in time. I began to read the archives. And then I continued to read the archives. I'm currently sitting at December 2004.

That's pretty messed up.

I need help.

Someone needs to put me onto another site or I'll be Boing Boinging my way back to January 2000...That's as far as the archives go, unfortunately.

I figure I'll get there by Valentine's Day, depending on workflow and covert naps.

Seventy-five percent

Since highschool, some friends and I have had the theory that 75% of the world is a waste of flesh.

I'm running into many "seventy-five percenters" today.

I'm being tested, I swear.

My blood is beginning to boil, my brain is turning to mush, my hands are turning to stone. The voices are getting louder.


Losing my virginity

There. My first blog. Done.

Just had to get it out of the way.

Now I can blog all I want without debating whether to start a blog or not.

(I can't say I'll blog every day, or that you'll like what I write, or that I'll write for more than a couple of minutes at a time --- gee, it is just like sex)

Unfaithfully yours,