The best thing I have read all year | Andrew Dubber

Heaven is not a place guarded by immigration officials interested only in passports and certificates, nor is it the higher class to which we are promoted by passing an examination showing what we have learned in this world. Heaven is this world as it appears to the awakened imagination, and those who try to approach it by way of restraint, caution, good behaviour, fear, self-satisfaction, assent to uncomprehended doctrines, or voluntary drabness, will find themselves travelling toward hell, as Ignorance did in Bunyan, hell being similarly this world as it appears to the repressed imagination.

– NORTHROP FRYE (1947) Fearful Symmetry: A study of William Blake, Princeton University Press


Against Monopoly

In short, why should public moneys be spent to guarantee ever higher, not to say exorbitant, returns to copyright owners? This is not the sort of argument lawyers will find attractive, but why trust their judgement since they are big gainers from enforcing prosecution. Better not to have the public pay for enforcement and make the lawyers earn their generous take.

A repackaging of Tim O’Reilly’s fiendishly unattractive “Piracy is progressive taxation” meme is included. 

Strangest health stories of 2011

Few of the studies that these stories are based on are ???bad science???, but overeager reporting of findings can turn interesting, but minor, findings into overblown news. Thankfully, dangerous claims are rare. More often, the claims made in the media are just plain weird. Here???s a selection of the strangest:

  • Saucepans can cause early menopause. This bizarre claim suggested that household objects may be a health risk. In fact, they based this inference on a limited study of chemicals called perfluorocarbons (PFCs) in drinking water. The research did not prove that PFCs can bring on the menopause.
  • Bear bile may help the heart. Ursodeoxycholic acid can affect heart rhythm in heart cells extracted from rats ??? beyond that it???s unclear what this chemical that is produced synthetically (but can be extracted from bears??? bile) does for humans.
  • Quilting keeps you happy and healthy. One paper hyped this survey of 29 women that did not objectively measure any aspect of their physical or mental health, or compare quilt-making to any other type of hobby.

Copyrights Are No Longer About Copies (Part 1): William Patry – Bloomberg

Hollywood???s best box office yearsever were 2009 and 2010. Net revenue from book sales was up 5.6percent in 2010 from 2008. And sales of e-books, in particular,grew 1,274 percent in those two years.

In the music industry, while the decline in sales ofphysical recorded music continued, the global performance-rightsmarket share increased an impressive 13 percent in 2010 over2009. Even musical instrument sales increased 8 percent over2009.

I note in the debacle surrounding SOPA, rights holders are saying, “Well, maybe SOPA isn’t the way to solve the problem, help us find a better way.” Which sounds pretty reasonable. But as the figures quoted above show, the problem doesn’t exist to be solved. Sure, people are infringing, but rights holders aren’t suffering.

They certainly are not suffering enough to be given State power of coercion to attempt to achieve what only the most despotic and tyrannical regimes on the Planet can.

Selling Our Wireless Future

As a revenue source, spectrum auctions are a particularly pernicious tax on wireless innovation. They pick the wrong technology for wireless infrastructure by regulatory fiat, and strengthen the market dominance of already-dominant players. The costs of this policy to innovation and growth greatly outweigh its revenue benefits.

These auctions may lock in an outdated regulatory paradigm, strengthen the dominant mobile broadband carriers, and block the path for some of the most innovative wireless technologies that could improve mobile broadband speed and reduce its price over the next decade

The proposed spectrum auctions are being promoted under the false premise that boosting mobile broadband, smart grid communications, inventory management systems, mobile payments, and health monitoring requires auctioning exclusive pieces of licensed spectrum. In reality, these markets are fast developing through unlicensed wireless applications, like WiFi.

These dynamic markets are telling us something new: The future of wireless will likely be mostly unlicensed, with an important, but residual role of auctioned, licensed services. And yet the drive to auctions simply ignores the evidence from actual markets in favor of an outmoded regulatory ideal that is the opposite of what cutting edge radio engineering and dynamic markets show.

Yochai Benkler


Sound familiar?

To me it sounds very like the dominant incumbent exclusivity regime being chosen over the developing innovative, chaotic, anarchic, and successful models.  That sounds like the copyright struggle to me.

If you haven’t, read this. He puts it so much better.

Poisoning DNS perhaps a bad idea – Operations and other mysteries

The caf?????s upstream ISP is ???Optus???, one of the major Australian carriers. To my astonishment I found that Optus???s DNS servers are interfering with Google searches, stealing their DNS lookups and serving results pages on their own (shitty quality) branded search instead! Try https:? No connection; and Google+ wouldn???t load either.

Obviously as soon as realized what???s going on I immediately changed DNS servers to something reliable. Before I did I found a tiny ???about this page??? link at the bottom of the heinous Optus search results page, where I was told how great this was for me, but how I could opt out of their ???default??? search engine if I wanted to but was warned this was an ???advanced setting???.

Seriously, what do Optus think they???re doing? From a commercial standpoint, do they really think that their captive audience matters to anyone advertising on the web? Of course not, but in the mean time they???re certainly going to alienate customers who just maybe actually do want to use (in this case) Google sites.

There???s a bigger issue, though. Unaltered answers to DNS queries is a backbone of net neutrality. That???s our problem, but once carriers start poisoning nameservers in their own favour it will be but a blink before everyone is doing it to each other and lookups will become worthless. While I???m sure the morons in Marketing who thought that sabotaging DNS queries would be a good idea won???t be worried about the wreckage that will cause for everyone else, such a war wouldn???t be good for any of the companies involved, either. And meanwhile, if they really want everyone to learn how to install an app to ???fix??? the internet???

Corruption is everywhere.

File-Sharing Darling Dan Bull Publishes Anti-SOPA Rap

???As an internet geek, a musician, and a non-evil person, SOPA is abhorrent on several fronts,??? Dan told TorrentFreak. ???It threatens the future of the internet, which is something far more valuable both commercially and socially than the entertainment industry ever has been, or ever will be.???

Dan recognizes that everything we do is influenced by something else, and richer cultural landscapes can be achieved through remixes, mashups and sharing.

???Creativity is all about interpreting and re-imagining what you see and hear around you. The idea that creativity exists in some kind of vacuum, and that you???re not a real artist unless you can make something ???completely original??? is not only stupid, it contradicts the most fundamental axioms of how the universe works,??? he adds.

???Thirdly, the internet is an amazing new forum for free speech and holding those in power to account. The idea that governments and even private corporations can police the internet and decide what people on a global scale are allowed to say and hear is tyrannical.???

My Mother Wants An iPhone

If you think about it, the entire entertainment business is about not playing, about trying to keep the customer in the dark, back in the twentieth century.

But when even eighty five year olds need the latest gadget you know that philosophy is doomed.

You may think CDs are better than MP3s. That a physical book is better than a Kindle.

But try telling that to the people in my mom???s building. They???re completely wired and up to date. They want what we???ve got. And it puts a smile upon my face.