Target these MPs on Same Sex Marriage

As regular readers may note I've been unimpressed by the strategy (or lack thereof) of the trad-marriage movement. A blanket campaign to get people to contact their MP to get them to vote for traditional marriage can only be so effective. Jason Kenney does not need to be pressured to vote for trad-marriage for instance.

But specific MPs could be targeted. Particularly those that voted for traditional marriage but were noticeably absent the last time around.

As a public service I list them here:
Cardin, Serge
Comuzzi, Joe
MacAulay, Lawrence
Matthews, Bill
Perron, Gilles-A.

The last time around the vote split 150 yay, 130 yay against trad-marriage. Since the last election no real movement has been shown in those numbers. But if as little as 10 MPs change their minds, that alone can make a difference.

I certainly don't agree with the strategy around this vote - and I doubt Harper does either. Most of the stuff I'm reading seems to leave the insinuation that it was caucus pressure that lead to this vote.

My thinking has always been that we need to stall. Stall until an election gets called and the make-up of the house can potentially be changed, or the trad-marriage movement makes some inroads with MPs.

Since that's not going to happen all I can do is urge all of you to contact these MPs listed and the MPs of the Liberal Party in particular that seem to have forgotten their "trad marriage" stand in a few years. Like I said the Jason Kenney's of MPs don't need to be convinced to vote on our side because they already are on our side.

And I sincerely hope this vote passes, because if it fails we will not see another opportunity like this for a long long time.

The Science Actually Done on the ISS

Curmudgeon's uncovers that science is actually done on the Space Station.

What are among the items considered vital to research before humanity leaves this nest? Finding out how your "health" changes in space. And if that didn't stimulate your brain, they also have Space Station Alpha astronauts tracking how they sleep in space. But oh, it gets better mind you, they also have experiments on how plants grow in space.

Now I know finding out how to stop bone marrow loss in zero-gee environments is a must if people plan on living in zero-gee environments in space.

But the study on sleep? And we've had study after study regarding human health in zero-gee environments. At what point does it start to become overkill in the context of it potentially pulling away resources from actual space exploration?

Also what happens if after years of research we find there is no way to reverse the effects of zero-gee on the human body? We wouldn't just give up. We would just set "recommended" limits to the exposure of an astronaut to a zero gravity environment.

Creating artificial gravity using centrifugal forces has been a long proposed solution to long duration space missions. I find it hard to believe that some sort of recommendation hasn't already materialized from past experiments on how humans are effected in space. And in that case why are they still studying this issue? Do they not trust their results?

At what point do we stop studying and start actually doing?

Bi-Election Thoughts...

Elizabeth May's suprise bushwacking of the NDP in London should make dippers cringe. They have a new threat to face.

Also the Tories dropped by 4 %. That's a recipe for disaster if that number drop is consistent across all of Ontario. Talk is abounds about those voters migrating over to the Green's of all places. I wouldn't doub it. I know many Conservatives, and sometimes ultra-Conservatives express interest in some of the Green Party's policies. Even I have to admit that some of it doesn't seem completely "out there." Though my guess is Tory sympathy for the Green Party only exists so far as they want them in parliament. Their first loyalty is to the Tory party.

Father Graves is in parliament. Apparently he plans to vote against re-visiting the same sex marriage issue. So much for the pledge he gave not to vote on certain "moral" issues his bishop asked him not to touch. I wonder how he rationalizes such a choice, but some things are between a soul and God.

Climate Change! Climate Change!

The sky is falling! The world is going to end! We're all going to die! Green Party Leader Elizabeth May come and save our poor environmentally challenged hides!

Why? Because Carbon emissions have been rising despite the glorious Kyoto deal that was supposed to fix all our global climate change woes:
"From 2000 to 2005, the growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions was more than 2.5% per year, whereas in the 1990s it was less than 1% per year..."

But how can that be? We were told by our enlightened Liberal overlords that Kyoto was achievable not unrealistic and saner than Public Healthcare. We could meet our Kyoto targets by the deadline by everything they said. And it didn't matter that they were going to magically evaporate their Kyoto reductions by trading carbon credits on a new "Carbon Market" - Free lunches can happen in Liberal land. That's what we were told. That's what we were promised. Can it be that Emperor Kyoto has no clothes?
"'There has been a change in the trend regarding fossil fuel intensity, which is basically the amount of carbon you need to burn for a given unit of wealth,' explained Corinne Le Quere, a Global Carbon Project member who holds posts at the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey."

But isn't that what Bush, and Harper have talked about reducing for years as an alternative to reducing Carbon emissions on bulk? Ralph Klein in Alberta mused about putting targets for reducing carbon intensity didn't he?

That's ridiculous. The Enviro-Enlightenend like Al Gore couldn't be wrong could they?
"'The other trend is that as oil becomes more expensive, we're seeing a switch from oil burning to charcoal which is more polluting in terms of carbon.'"

'The Project does not have data on precisely where this is happening, but there is anecdotal evidence of increases in charcoal burning in parts of Asia and Africa.'

Anecdotal evidence? I see "anecdotal evidence" of environmental science befuddling everyday but that just be me with my errant unenlightened perspective. Because afterall truth is only relative if it supports a particular world view that's best expoused by people in big Cities and yuppy lifestyles. Good. My blinders are back on firmly.
"'At these rates, it certainly sounds like we'll end up towards the high end of the emission scenarios considered by the IPCC,' commented Myles Allen from Oxford University, one of Britain's leading climate modellers."

"The 'high end' of IPCC projections implies a rise in global temperature approaching 5.8C between 1990 and the end of this century. "

Time to get that ground shelter built and start buying rations. We're all going to die folks. Time to take our cash out of the family bank and start cultivating tofu in the bathtub.

Of course there have been times in earth's history when the climate was a few degrees warmer than today, but let's forget about that and drink our environmental Koolaid.
"At the recent United Nations climate summit in Nairobi, a number of delegations, including those of Britain, Australia and the US, pointed out that they had managed to grow their economies without significant increases in carbon emissions."

"But, said Corinne Le Quere, the latest data showed this approach would not be enough to curb emissions in the future."
What's this? The US and Australia - the climate devils - managed to grow their economies without significant increases in carbon emissions? You're telling me that two non-Kyoto countries did better than Enviro-saint Pro-Kyoto countries?

The world has been turned upside down.

Another Day, Another Space Golfer

The Russian's yet again appear to be higher on the free-market curve when it comes to space than the American's are with their impending "Golf stunt." Basically a cosmonaut will tee off outside the station in a space suit for good cashy monie. The "invisible hand" of free-market economics is about to break atmo.

I've talked about these types of gimicks before. My opinion hasn't changed. This brings private enterprise into space - the first step to getting my own behind out there and the rest of my space nutso compadres.

I don't particularly see the safety issue concerning this. In order for this golf ball to become a "ballistic golf ball" and strike the station the cosmonaut would have to hit the ball on a very specific trajectory.

Not to mention the fact that according to some estimates 100,000 pieces of debris already exist in orbit in the same size range as our lovable golf ball. If a single golf ball is a safety issue, the Station is already swimming in a pool of danger as far as I'm concerned.

Bi-Elections Galore

The one I'm most interested in, is whether London North Centre goes Tory or not.
"Results are less clear in London-North-Centre, where a fierce battle has been waged to seize the riding vacated by longtime Liberal Joe Fontana, who resigned to make a failed mayoral run in London."

And the politically foolhardy comment of the year must go to Steve Mackinnon for this:
"A byelection is a byelection. They do not reproduce the conditions of a general election. I don't think you'll hear us, either way, blaring from the rooftops that the country has reached a conclusion about the government..."

And now you've effectively closed the door on using a possible positive result for the Liberals in London-North-Centre as a springboard to fight the Harper Tories. Not that I'm complaining, but if this was a Tory I would be slapping myself in the face at this point.

And I have to say the professionalism I'm seen from the Harper team seems to be getting higher by the day:
"Conservative strategist Goldy Hyder said every seat is important in a minority Parliament, but noted neither seat is the government's to lose."

"Since the Quebec byelection comes on the heels of a strong show for federalism in the House of Commons, he said any slippage in support for the Bloc will be a good sign."

"'If you are doing a barometer of what success looks like for each political party, win or loss is defined by whether the BQ maintains its support or loses support,' he said."

"'It would be a good sign for federalism and a good sign for Canada, if there's any shift away from the BQ to a federalist party.'"

I seem to remember a day when Harper strategists would openly muse about winning elections in ridings where they had a very good chance of loosing. Politics is firstly about managing expectations. And apparently the new Harper Team is accutely aware of that fact.

When Priests Become Politicians

You have to wonder how some Quebec bishops think when they allow priests to enter politics:
Each of the candidates opposing Gravel has taken potshots at everything from his refusal to take part in all-candidates' debates, to his adherence to Catholic doctrine.

Contrary to most Catholic priests, Gravel supports the ordination of women, the legalization of abortion, and the rights of homosexual couples to marry.

His outspoken stances against Church convention even earned him a personal letter of rebuke signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI.

In a provocative 2005 interview with Fugues, a magazine that caters to Montreal's gay and lesbian community, Gravel said most priests don't respect their vows of celibacy, and added "50 per cent of priests in Quebec are gay. But if I became a priest it's because I have faith and I believe in the message of Christ."
I guess the Bloc has become the new home for spiritually aging Liberal priests. It'll be interesting to see if Father Gravel can avoid turning the teachings of the Catholic Church into a joke in parliament.

Harper's Quebec Victory

Harper's Quebec motion has just gained him some points apparently. Though these "law experts" pretty much sums up my own views:
However, some constitutional law experts say the motion as worded by Harper has no meaning in law.

According to the motion, the Québécois, not Quebec as a province, are to be recognized as a nation within a united Canada. The experts said the people themselves are not a legal entity.

Which is exactly what I thought when I read the motion. It's verbage - nothing more. But if it satisfies some, I can't see the harm in it.

Quebec Nationhood Verbosity

Can someone explain to me how this motion isn't more than a bunch of verbosity on the Quebec issue aimed at befuddling the seperatists?
"Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced a motion on Wednesday that recognizes Quebecers constitute a nation within a united Canada, in a surprise move aimed at countering an imminent Bloc Quebecois motion."

"Quebequers" apparently "constitute" in a "united Canada" a "nation?"

That's about as clear as Iggy's moral views on torture...

Mercer shows his true colours...

I knew when I heard of Dianne Haskett, and her previous social conservative history, that London was going to get a lot more attention by the national media - and soon.

Rick Mercer apparently was the first operative of the Liberal Party of Canada to chime in:
The fact that Ms. Haskett has been in America working for the Republican Party for the past six years may seem like a deficit at first glance, but I say every cloud has a silver lining. It will be easy to spot the Tory candidate in the Santa clause parade this Saturday, just look for the car with the American license plates and Bush-Cheney sticker.
First he brands her as an "American" and "Republican" (Translation: Diane Hails from the Deepest Pits of Hell) . Then in the same blog post he brings up the fact that she was formerly a Mayor of the riding she's running in. Funny how those two points seem to be what we "non-Mercers" like to call "kinda contradictory." A former Mayor of Canada is not Canadian enough to run as an MP? Heck, she's got tons more "Canadian" in her than another nameless Harvard Brat this blog shall not mention.

Apparently being a mayor in Canada, having been educated Canada, and having lived in Canada for the 20 years means nothing. Spending as little as 6 years in the US permanently taints you with the "Yankee-Cooties" in Mercer's fantasy land life. Maybe Mercer would like us all to do "Canuck purity" tests before we are allowed to enter politics that would ask questions like: "Do you believe that the Liberal Party of Canada is Divine?" To which the answer "no" would bring you a nice stint at a "re-education" center somewhere up in North Bay where the rest of us non-Mercer's could get up to speed on how stupid we are.

Oh and it just keeps on getting better:
In fact the Prime Minister’s Office has so much confidence in Ms. Haskett’s ability they actually own her. Well they don’t own her of course but they do own her name. As you can imagine in politics these days the single most important tool any politician has is their Internet identify. In Dianne’s case, she doesn’t control her online identity, the Conservative Party of Canada does. In fact the party bought her domain name days before she was given the nomination. The party also owns office furniture, photocopiers and a portable sound system.
In the sixties, radio stations in the United States used to make a practice of owning the on air names of “Negro DJ’s”. This way if they ever stepped out of line the station could fire the DJ and they wouldn’t be able to find other work using their name. Of course this name owning practice has long been abandoned because apparently it’s despicable but it’s nice to see the practice resurrected in the Prime Minister’s Office.
So not only is Dianne an "American" and a "Republican" but the person that backs her is guilty of being similar to 1960's American racists? All for having the gall to have had registered her domain name in anticipation of a by-election? Has that spontaneously become a crime all of sudden?

Wow. That is just one type of loonie I haven't seen since the last Liberal leadership convention.

A long long time ago I warned that Mercer wasn't just a funny man making jokes. He had an agenda. I guess it's finally coming out.

Speaking about falling on your own sword...

Harper's Tories look to already have an idea of just how their government should fall if it has to in the forthcoming budget... The "sword" to fall on apparently is "income splitting" - giving double-income no-kids and kid couples (DINKs and DIKs) more of their tax money back.

The Tories need to pay particular attention to their accomplishments in this government. Things are not boding well thus far. Now a lot of that has to do with the fact that they've been hamstrung in the bonds of a minority government. But Harper no doubt is realizing that he's turning off hard core supporters with two items: Senate Reform (ala Fortier), and Income Trusts.

With a looming vote on same sex marriage that could possibly fail, small "c" conservatives don't have much to hold on to with this government. Malaise, defeatism, and the ire of de-motivation is just around the corner. All this "conservative talk" lately, with Harper's government openly musing about every this and that Tory dream policies certainly does the trick.

If the Air Force had built the Shuttle...

Would we have gotten something similar to this?
"The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is similar to the space shuttle, except it's about a fourth the size and unmanned. The OTV can return from space on its own, said Lt. Col. Kevin Walker, an Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office program manager."
Now that DARPA has the X-37 program completely under it's wing, it'll be interesting to see whether it's the USAF that manages to create the first truly re-usable and cheap launch system in human history... And not the black hole the Space Shuttle has been with NASA's guidance.

PS - Slightly ironic as well that the OTV is taking shape as a launch vehicle 1/4 the size of the Shuttle. If I'm not mistaken, it was the USAF that pushed the shuttle design to a larger size in the first place... Though that opinion is a matter of contention I think since NASA had other reasons for pushing a larger sized shuttle design.

Ambrose The Honest...

She might as well be called so for what she's managed to do at the latest UN climate change convention:
"Kyoto requires its members to cut emissions by five per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. However, some members, including Canada, have said the target is unrealistic and can't be met. Canada's Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, who is attending the talks, says Canada is 35 per cent above its Kyoto targets due to years of Liberal inaction."
This is one of the rarest bursts of honesty I've seen in this whole Kyoto fiasco. Everyone seems to talk and talk and talk and talk.... Years go by. And then some more talk...

No one actually has made a mention of what the progress we've made so far with Kyoto has been.

Canada was a Kyoto-happy for years. It was the darling of enviro-nutsos everywhere for it. "How dare anyone suggest that Kyoto was unrealistic!" it's opponents were told.

So much for realism. For all there Kyoto-happiness, the Liberals managed to prove Kyoto opponents right: emissions are up despite the "Kyoto plan." Not that it was a "real" plan anyways...

Milton may have popularized it, but Heinlein created it...

Post-Death tributes to Milton Friedman are abound. His contributions for the fight against modern socialism can't be denied.

That being said I read this quote from WSJ from Kathy's blog and nearly lept out of my seat:
"In truth, Professor Friedman always argued with civility and a bracing wit. One of his best barbs on the size of government: “Given our monstrous, overgrown government structure, any three letters chosen at random would probably designate an agency or part of a department that could be profitably abolished.” And he popularized 'There is no such thing as a free lunch.'"
Let's get things straight here. Milton may have helped to popularize the phrase, but he wasn't alone.

Legendary Classic Sci-Fi author Robert Heinlein, as far as I know, coined the phrase in his book "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" - A story about an essentially libertarian penal conoly on the moon that revolts against the earth.

Also it isn't "There is no such thing as a free lunch" but "There AINT no such thing as a free lunch." It was acronymed in the story to TANSTAAFL, which become part of the lingo of the colony.

For years computer programmers used the word "TANSTAAFL" to characterise a situation where something went wrong.

Just thought that needed to be cleared up. Friedman though was obviously a Child of Heinlein.

Don't Say "Happy New Year" On The Shuttle...

Tidbits of concern over the coming Shuttle Launch attempt over this quote:
"The software in question is designed to constantly monitor the positions of the sun-tracking arrays and warn flight controllers of possible rocket plume contamination or excessive structural loads, Sources said the new monitoring software - and the training needed to use it - likely cannot be formally certified before Discovery's current December launch window closes."

"Instead, engineers hope to have a workable system in place by Dec. 7, although details about what needs to be done are not yet clear."
Now there are really two things that could be going on here at NASA in my humble opinion.

The first is that the engineers in charge of this software development are covering their behinds by asking for excessive time to complete the software. "Want to cut my time short? We can't guarantee bupkis then..." NASA managers sense this stupidity, and ignore.

The second thing that could be going on is that the engineers in charge of this software actually mean what they say when they say they "hope" to have a workable system done on time. That's usually a code word for: "We're eager to work... We'll agree to your insanity just to please you but we have no clue how to do it... Safe? We'll we hope so..."

Or at least that's a common line of thinking where I come from in any event.

In the "covering your behind" scenario you'd figure NASA would want to delay the launch until it was absolutely sure this new software had the "seal of approval" it needs.

We aren't talking about some temporary system here by the looks of it. Future updates to it might happen, but just what is the risks involved in using "workable" software in the first place?

Put it another way, would you feel comfortable flying in a plane with software that governed a permanent power system that was only "workable"? Even for a short period of time?

Why the rush anyways to launch?
"When the shuttle's flight control software was developed in the 1970s, NASA managers did not envision the possibility of flying missions during the transition from one year to the next. Internal clocks, instead of rolling over to Jan. 1, 2007, would simply keep counting up, putting them at odds with navigation systems on the ground."

And now you know why saying "Happy New Year" on the shuttle is a big no-no.

Zune Blues...

Microsoft has just released it supposed "iPod killer" MP3 player and service.

They're "serious" about taking on Apple's dominance of the legal download market.

So serious that they've chosen to copy the caveman model that Apple and the rest of the magnates of the legal download world have chosen to sell songs with. Songs that can only be played on their own "Zune" player. Once more they will fix their songs prices and make their money off of subscriptions - Just like Apple.

In fact the only difference between the "Zune" and the "iPod" looks to be file sharing. The Zune will allow users to share files between Zune players over a Wi-Fi network. Those files will last three days and then will be automatically deleted from your Zune player.

And it's with this type of player and service they plan on beating Apple? Some difference!

While Steve Jobs and Bill Gates duke it out, you have to wonder if anyone will actually ask the question "maybe it's the downloading model you could change?"

If you ask me two things need to happen before legal downloading really and truly becomes competitive: individual songs need to sold at their free-market price, and the song files need to be easily portable between any generic MP3 player or computer.

Otherwise you might as well buy a CD and create MP3s from it for your own personal use. They won't have the power crazy restrictions that Apple and Microsoft seem addicted to. That alone makes the increase in price worth it.

And for those that love those subscriptions and think they are getting a deal with fixed song prices under $1 I would like to point out that you spend $250 on your MP3 player and >$10 a month on your subscription service. That's a heck of lot of overhead.

There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - they got the money from you in other ways and probably more than the free market price would allow.

Funny enough the recording industry agrees with me about the price fixing. The ease of portability is another issue. So long as parties that build MP3 players are the only ones providing the music they will always limit the portability of the songs they sell.

What we really need is for a Universal or another record company to start an online music service without fixed song prices that allows for ease of song portability... Wow Apple would sure be upset about that idea!

When Space Nerds Freak Out...

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' attempt at building a rocket company for space toursim just had it's first test launch. And space nerds are all gidy.

Secrecy is always a must surrounding this little Bezos project. No one really knows what's going out on that land.

Reminds me of another little project that was clouded in secrecy for years.

I can still remember watching footage of something we would eventually know as the "White Knight" taking off and landing from Mojave. It was supposedly being built by a guy named "Burt."

Intellectual Property Rights Do Not Exist

Now before you get your shorts tied up in knots I am not saying that an artist doesn't have a right to protect and earn money from his work, or that Microsoft shouldn't be able to make money off of it's products, or that copyrights shouldn't be enforced, or that downloading music illegally is all good.

So please take your blinders off, sit back and take a deep breath, and please try to read what I write, instead of reading one or two lines and inferring whatever you want in what I write.

Got it? Good.

Let me say it again: Intellectual Property Rights don't exist. You can't "steal" and idea or a thought or an imagination. Nothing material has been exchanged. If I think of building an airplane first, that doesn't mean that someone else living somewhere else living under the same conditions wouldn't have come up with the exact same idea later on.

But there is something wrong with downloading music illegally, abusing a copyright, or ingnoring what people refer to as "intellectual property rights."

The problem is that it's a lie. It's not theft. I think we have gotten our sins all mixed up in the quest to live honorable lives.

Patents DO Have Problems

Some people try to pepper over the obvious injustices caused by the copyright laws in the world. "It's the law," I've been told. So obviously we must follow it I'm told.

Problem is that the law has, and frequently is wrong and riddled with injustice. Sometimes we have a duty to fight immoral laws in the name of justice.

But those that just sit back and ingnore the complaints of many in the IT industry about how certain monopolies are created by said laws are not doing their cause any justice.

I'll start with a quote with much more wisdom than I have in my pinky finger to make my point:“The granting [of] patents ‘inflames cupidity’, excites fraud, stimulates men to run after schemes that may enable them to levy a tax on the public, begets disputes and quarrels betwixt inventors, provokes endless lawsuits...The principle of the law from which such consequences flow cannot be just.” - The Economist 1851

The Economist was right then. There is something drastically wrong about the way we protect ideas with the granting of patents and copyrights.

But if you still don't think there is a serious problem with the whole concept of intellectual property rights I'd invite you to consider the fact that "Happy Birthday" is patented.

"The current owner of the 1935 copyright believes that one cannot sing 'Happy Birthday to You' lyrics for profit without paying royalties."

You heard that correctly. So he's had lawyers apparently running around the world suing restaurants where people are caught singing "Happy Birthday."

The next time you're in a restaurant you'll notice that when the staff come to a client to sing them a song for their birthday it's always some made up song that the restaurant has come up with... That's no coincidence.

So the next time you sing Happy Birthday, remember to make sure that it isn't in a place or environment that could be construed to be "making profit."

If that doesn't convince you that there is a fundamental problem with the modern concept of people owning an idea - nothing will.

It's not theft, it's worse... It's a Lie

When I start working at a company they immediately throw a pile of documents at me to sign.

In the pile of documents one piece of paper will most probably be titled "Confidentiality Agreement" or something to that effect.

You sign it, and agree to uphold the conditions of the agreement. That means that any information that can be classified as "intellectual property" by the agreement can not be disclosed to people outside the company ie competitors or whomever else they specify.

What happens if you break that agreement? Did you steal the idea?

You didn't walk into the office and take an idea from someone's head that they no longer have access to did you? Nothing material was exchanged, so it wasn't theft.

But the company would still be wronged. Then what did you do? You lied by breaking the terms of the agreement that by signing you indicated that you would abide by.

You broke your word. Some would consider that worst than theft.

Stealing an Idea

We're going to do a quazy thought experiment at this point.

If you walked up to me and said, "hey bub, I got a great idea. Let me tell you about it."

And so you did tell me all about the idea.

Then I went off on my merry way and decided to use your idea for my own benefit without giving you any credit whatsoever.

You feeling pretty good about that plan? Probably not. Why is that? Nothing material was exchanged and I didn't steal anything from you.

Don't matter. You'll still stand up and exclaim "You stole my idea!"

It aint true. And you know it. But there is something wrong with what I did - mainly that I wasn't acting in an honorable or upright manner. You just scream out "You stole my idea!" because you don't know how else to express it.

When you came up to me and told me that idea you probably assumed that I was an honorable guy and I would respect the norms of good conduct. I wouldn't try to screw you over, or use whatever information you gave me in a way you wouldn't want.

In effect we entered into an unwritten agreement. The norms of good conduct would stipulate that I not use your idea unless I received your permission first, and at the very least gave you credit for what you did.

In other words by not observing those norms I was acting dishonestly. I should have told you that I don't opperate by those norms to begin with.

Now who else will work with me? Especially knowing that I was not willing to observe the norms of good conduct in that situation? I might act dishonestly in another situation for all they know...

I won't have anyone come up to me to tell me their idea anymore, or trust me for that matter. Eventually I learn that for other people to trust me I have to abide by those unwritten norms.

Call it "natural law." Call it what you will. It exists.

It's all about the Service Agreement

When you install a piece of software you invaribly have to click "I agree" at the notice of a service agreement or some legal document. Mostly you ingnore and click past it.

Regardless of whether we know it or not we are effectively signaling our intention to enter that agreement with whomever made the software in the first place. It doesn't mean we own the software. It doesn't mean we have a right to a darn thing. It means we agree to use their information in the way they want us to as spelled out in that agreement.

When we buy CD's there is always fine print spelling out a copyright somewhere. That copyright, whether we agree to it or not, spells out that by buying that CD you agree to be bound by their rules whatever they may be.

No one owns information. The whole idea is not valid as far as I'm concerned. But we can and do enter agreements with companies or individuals and we are no less bound to follow them.

The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions

The good intentions of many lead a lot of people to bash others over the head with the comment "music piracy is illegal and it's theft!"

For people such as myself that comment sometimes rings hollow. How can it be theft if nothing material has been exchanged? What about all the injustices that patents cause? How then can patents be just?

"Theft is theft," I'm told. Such a stupid horrible person I am to think any different. Sometimes it's like they assume you're running an illegal downloads site, or you're making pirated downloads by the boat load each night... The possibility that you avoid it, even though it makes no sense to you, mainly out of fear that all these knuckleheads around you are actually right, doesn't cross their minds one bit.

I'm sure that isn't the intent of proponents of Intellectual Property Rights. That being the same myself I want to be the first to admit that I could be wrong about everything I'm saying here, and that I'm not going to beat you down with a stick if you disagree with me.

Heck, I've been wrong many times before. So if you figure you got a better idea then give her up here in the comments section below.

Far too often I hear people asking the question "Is downloading music wrong?" only to hear the answer "It's theft. Of course it's wrong." Really? Have you realy thought about it?

They're most certainly right that in the sense that when you use someone else's idea without their permission we exclaim "you stole my idea" we are "stealing." But stealing implies that if we had bought that "idea" we would then own it.

That creates a whole bunch of new problems that people don't always consider.

When you think it's Stealing...

Currently songs downloaded from Apple's iTunes store have what is called "Digital Rights Managment" (DRM) information stored on them. Some people have suggested that the term is a misnomer and should be called "Digital Restrictions Management." The first insinuates that you have rights and they are being managed. The second makes it clear you have restrictions and they are being managed. The later is the truth unfortunately.

DRM's are used typically to restrict the use of your songs. Like in Napster's case, it's songs will stop playing after you cancel your subscription. In Apple's case it restricts you to only be able to play those songs on Apple's iPod. Apparently that's owning the music you pay for.

Some say they own those songs when they buy them. Because you know, if they stole them, it would be theft. So they subscribe to the idea of DRM stripping with removes the protection of those files. It's unfair that DRM's are imposed on them in the first place.

The only problem is that according to iTunes, and Napster's user agreements, they specify that removing such protections is prohibited. So to download those songs you must agree to those agreements in the first place.

Their position? Until Apple makes a cease and decist order it's not illegal so it's not wrong.

That's one way of doing things I guess... One would not have to care about "honesty" to use that justification I would think.

If you believe that you don't own the songs, but that you bought into an agreement, all of sudden the moral picture changes.

Furthermore DRM stripping is illegal according to the Digital Millenium Copyrights Act (DMCA).

Funny, that if you assume that you own information, you should be able to do with it as you will. The DMCA assumes otherwise.

It would seem that either the US Congress is acting immorally in a digital sense, or the whole concept of owning information must be wrong in some way.

You take your pick as to which you agree with. There is an inconsistency in any event.

User Agreements... User Agreements...

In the end this means one thing - you are bound to the agreements you make.

The law should reflect this by not treating patent holders as Kings of digital fiefdoms. The law should not create imaginary "intellectual property rights." Copyrights, and the like should be used to enforce binding contracts. It should be seen as a matter of "tort law" or just as confidentiality agreements are seen legally today.

That changes the whole nature of the game. If it's all about user agreements, then, in that case not only do you have obligations under the agreement, but the person giving the information has obligations. Software providers should back up the viability of their product in those agreements. Artists could also have obligations that if certain objectionable content is on their song/music/art they would have to make it clearly known to the person entering into the agreement.

Then also it becomes possible for the person who provided the information to breach that agreement. And the courts become a legitimate avenue to satisfy the injustice that was caused by say a software provider or even an artist.

When it comes to "Happy Birthday" agreements could have a "public domain" clause that limits the viability of an agreement before the information becomes part of the public domain.

Those that try to create to restrictive agreements are no doubt not going to find many takers. The Free-Market I believe would encourage a healthy balance between restrictions on use and the price people are willing to pay.

Either way you shake it you are breaking your word by not abiding to copyrights and what they refer to as "Intellectual Property Rights." If you think the difference in wording makes no difference, then your miles ahead of me so please enlighten.

I can't understand how you can believe that you can "own" music without believing that DRM stripping is fine and dandy.

If you do, please fire a comment down below correcting me. I'd rather someone set me straight than I go around preaching falsehoods.

So please comment away... I know I'm bound to get a couple unhappy commenters after writting this that will only read the title of this post and scream at me "it's theft you immoral idiot!" and then go on their merry way.

Things are definitely not as they should be.

Legal MP3 Rant...

Trying to do things the honest way and downloading MP3's legally is like asking for brick to be thrown at your head.

I honestly don't know what kind of marketing research these knuckleheads of the legal download world like itunes, Rhapsowhatevertheheckitscalled, Napster and the rest of the bunch have done but it don't represent me all that well.

Love music and frequently buy it? You'll love these services. All push subscription services that want you to pay a certain amount a month to get a certain amount of downloads.

Every once and while buy an album only for two or maybe three songs out of fifteen? Figure you'll download the three songs so you actually get what you want?

That would require a pay per download service. Plenty of those with itunes and Napster. Everyone seems to offers it. Download a song.

Just so you know the only way you can actually play the MP3s on an MP3 player is if you actually get a "-to-go" subscription.

And what if you switch from one legal download service to another? All your MP3s will stop working.

Forget about actually owning your own MP3s either. seems to have the right idea. You can actually "own" your own MP3s with this service, and they'll work on any player, not just an Ipod or whatever other players the big guys have deals with. Only problem is it's still a subscription based service, and the selection leaves much to be desired.

Honestly, I would be willing to pay $5 or more per song, so long as I could avoid these subscription fees. I'm not that frequent a downloader that I need a subscription package with X number of downloads a month.

I don't understand what the problem is? Sell the songs as individual single MP3s and let the free market determine their price. I would probably buy more music if I knew that I got specific songs that I liked instead of buying bundles of music in an album where mostly I'm getting the album for one or two songs. That was the whole reason as far as I'm concerned why MP3s became so popular.

I'm thinking until competition drastically increases we're going to see much of the same - Poor selection, service, and options.

Klein Vs Belinda

Sitting at dinner with some nameless people last night I overheard the conversation get to Ralph Klein spontaneously. Now the man aint that popular in regular dinner convo, so you can imagine my ears peark up at the very mention of the mad man from out West.

"... Do you know what he said about Belinda?"

I figure ooh boy, this is going to be good. What kind of trouble did King Ralph get himself into this time?

"... he said: 'I don't think Belinda had a Conservative bone in her body... Well except for one... "

Wow. I thought to myself. What a complete master of media stupidity.

Of course I wouldn't have slept last night if I didn't read up on it to find out that yes it was true.

Only problem was it was done at what we like to call a "roast."

A roast, for those that don't know, is an opportunity for politicians to make lewd jokes and get away with it because it's for charity. No seriously the intent is to let loose and make fun of each other a bit.

Now I've heard the jokes at roasts before. I've thought many of them are uncalled for. You can certainly make fun without dragging yourself down into the gutter. Ralph Klein's comments are going to go into that category in my book.

But the response on this one from Belinda and the whole press corp is not warranted. Ralph Klein was at a roast. He can easily use the "roast" defense. My goodness if politicians were held accountable for what they said at these things I think some of them would have had spectacularly shorter carreers.

Disclosure: Ralph Klein is in my bad books. I firmly believe he's not loyal to conservatism one ayota, and I think he's either run a stealth campaign against Stephen Harper in the past or he's just unbelievably politically inept.

Now that that's out in the open, let me say this: not too long ago Ralph Klein was dishing out advice to Harper on how to handle the media.... Where's is Ralph Klein's media wisdom now?

Why the Republicans Lost...

This one doesn't take a rocket scientist. Hell, rocket science doesn't take a rocket scientist for some.

The reason why the Republicans lost is the War in Iraq. Regardless if it was right or wrong, that's what happened. The public was fixated on it. The difference between Bush's re-election bid and these Congressional elections can be summed up with that primary difference.

Kerry wanted to make the election about Iraq. He failed miserably. Instead Karl Rove was successful on making the election about those contentious Moral Issues... You know the ones we're told repetitively make Conservatives loose elections both in the Dominion and in the US?

Social Conservatives for the most part can be broken down into two groups: religious people, and everyone else. The "everyone else" category I think is safe to say a minority group among Social Conservatives.

Religious people aren't exactly raging Bush-a-holics. They've supported Bush in the past only for his moral stands. Many of these people are in fact very liberal. They frequently have an overabundance of charity and don't see Republican laissez-faire economics as being quite so. No matter how wrong they are that's what the majority of them believe as far a Your Humble Servant is concerned.

I've had the unique experience of learning that first hand. Being quite politically conservative before becoming religious, I understand quite clearly that most Christians see the world in an economically liberal, socially conservative bent.

Now part of that bent comes from the fact that western society is just quite frankly very Liberal today. We have to admit that fact. We live in a society that believes firmly in government intervention in our daily lives. The days of distrusting the state are in the dust bins of history if it ever existed at all.

And for the most part these types of social conservatives don't like war, and especially not the War in Iraq. When the focus is on moral issues they flock to Republicans. When the focus is on the War in Iraq the opposite happens I think.

I believe that despite their small size, the dwingdling love-in between social conservatives in the US and Bush because of the War had a large part to play in the loss last night.

But that's just one Canuck's opinion.

What did people expect?... Saddam to get sentenced to Life without Parole?

That's what you'd think hearing not a few people talk lately. Did we honestly expect an Iraqi court, with an Iraqi judge to come out with any other type of punishment that didn't involve sending the dictator to the great beyond?

I've grown particularly frustrated by the indignant behaviour of some towards this trial. It's almost as if people are saying "How could you possibly even think about hanging Saddam for what he did?" Well I can think of many in Iraqis living under the fear of Saddam's regime that would say "How could we not?"

The question of the morality of sending Saddam to the guilotine is one thing. I don't believe in the death penalty personaly because I think giving the state the right to kill someone is like giving a criminal the keys to your bedroom and telling him where the valuables are. A healthy distrust for the state is well more than in order in the case of the death penalty.

That being said I've always believed that a valid moral case can be made for the death penalty in principle. If you believe that the only way to stop someone from comitting a crime or an injustice is to end their lives then I see a case where the death penalty becomes justifiable in a moral sense.

For those interested, the Cathecism of the Catholic Church mirrors that point. Which is interesting because a Vatican official does not agree with the recent decision. Keep in mind that this Cardinal is apparently not particularly overly agreable to some in the Vatican.

Particularly in cases where we are dealing with a dictator that was once powerful and could potentially rise to power once again, the death penalty becomes a morally justifiable means of preventing the aggresor from coming back to power.

Now that justification depends on the belief that the only way to stop Saddam from coming back to power is to end his life. At this point that is very dubious. His power is pretty limited. His chances on returning to power are pretty slim.

Then again to millions of Iraqi's who lived under his regime that possibility may not seem as far off to us "enlightened" westerners that know better than those base "uncivilized" Iraqi's as it does to them... I seem to remember another dictator by the name of Napoleon that attempted to come back to power after he was "imprisoned for life securely" on an island.

If you feel the compulsion to judge the Iraqi's ask yourself this question: if you were in the same situation would you feel so secure with the prospect of keeping Saddam alive? With the Americans and possibly the UN keeping watch over him?... It's not like they haven't screwed up before right?...

The west was in a similar yet diffferent situation many years ago as the Iraqi people.

Are the Nazi trials of Hitler's henchmen that ended in their execution so forgotten that we don't even remember them?

Regardless whether Saddam's execution is moral the question in the end is not ours to answer. And that's why I find the self righteous indignancy to be tirying.

This is a question that Iraqis and only Iraqis should and can answer. We're just outside observers with opinions and not victims or potential future victims that have faced or could face the risks we'd like to impose by keeping a violent brutal dictator alive.

Did we honestly expect anything different from Iraqis? Discretion would say otherwise.

Zubrin's Spaz...

I've been meaning to comment on Mars Society Head Honcho Robert Zubrin's dastardtly comments on the now reversed decision to desert the Hubble:
"...Alone among space advocacy groups, the Mars Society responded the former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe's stupid and cowardly decision to desert the Hubble with forthright opposition, exposing as fraudulent the technically illiterate oaf's claims that a mission to Hubble was more dangerous than missions to the Space Station, as well as his attempt to deceive congress into accepting the telescope's demise through a feckless offer of a fake robotic repair effort."

Among the feedback from the space cadets of the blogosphere, T.L. James provides the scariest view of the Mars Society. Then he takes a shot off the bow at Zubrin's wife that it seems like it's been a long time coming too...

In the end I've said it before, and I'll say it again: something needs to give. If NASA is really going to get back to the business of space exploration, then it's scientific and research efforts need to curtailed or refocused towards initiatives that actually get people into space. Science is great. But sometimes you can do research up the wazoo and still get nowhere.

I think that's where NASA is at this point. I disagree with those that believe that so much more analysis and research needs to go into space exploration before we actually leave these "green hills..."

Testing dead frog legs in space and seeing how mildew grows in zero gee are not what I would call "focusing" on space exploration.

I've argued before scrapping the Hubble could be a good idea. Can the Hubble be used for more a space exploration focus? Sure. But just how much? At a certain point it has to be admitted that the Hubble's more practical use is for scientific research in the astronomy business than the space exloration business. In which case NASA shouldn't have anything to do with it. Maybe I'm wrong, but the Hubble in my opinion should not depend on NASA and vice versa. If NASA wants to be in the space exploration business, then it actually needs to spend money on space exploration, and not merely on taking pretty pictures and satisfying researchers.
"...As a result of the debacle that followed, the Philistine bureaucrat was essentially forced from office, clearing the way for the appointment of a NASA Administrator actually committed to science and the human expansion into space."

And that's the problem with Zubrin's view. In basic terms he figures a committment to science is a committment to the expasion of humanity into space.

Quite frankly, the history of NASA over the last 30 years since Apollo has shown otherwise. More science does not equal more humans in space. He's got the formula all wrong as far as I'm concerned.

The SSM debate Is Back...

And is likely to fail. Unfortunately, that's just the sad truth.

I have never really understood the almost unreasonable belief that many in the "Trad Marriage" movement in this country have that somehow they will win a vote in the commons with the make up of the house as is.

The vote was a close vote but no cigar once before. Looking at the number of "Yays" and "Nays" in terms of MPs not much has changed this time. Strategically, you would figure it would be better for the cause to stall for another election and organize to topple MPs in select ridings to change the power balance in the house to get a pro-Traditional marriage vote to pass.

It's like they can't add. I'm sure they can, but for whatever reason they're plowing ahead - and I think mainly due to political inexperience.