Friday, July 30, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
Today I want to talk about piracy and music. What is piracy? Piracy is the act of stealing an artist's work without any intention of paying for it. I'm not talking about Napster-type software.
I'm talking about major label recording contracts.
When you look at the legal line on a CD, it says copyright 1976 Atlantic Records or copyright 1996 RCA Records. When you look at a book, though, it'll say something like copyright 1999 Susan Faludi, or David Foster Wallace. Authors own their books and license them to publishers. When the contract runs out, writers gets their books back. But record companies own our copyrights forever.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
EU Authorities: Implementation of Net Surveillance Directive Is Unlawful | Electronic Frontier Foundation
In a landmark announcement issued today, the data protection officials across the European Union found that the way that EU Member States have implemented the data retention obligations in the 2006 EU Data Retention Directive is unlawful. The highly controversial 2006 EU Data Retention Directive compels all ISPs and telecommunications service providers operating in Europe to retain telecom and internet traffic data about all of their customers' communications for a period of at least 6 months and up to 2 years.
The timing of the Article 29 Working Party’s opinion is particularly sensitive because the European Commission is currently conducting an evaluation of the impact of the Data Retention Directive on economic operators and citizens in Europe. One of the possible outcomes of this evaluation is a recommendation that the Data Retention Directive should be amended or repealed in its entirety. The Article 29 Working Party has submitted its report to the European Commission to provide the Commission with vital empirical evidence for its evaluation of whether to recommend the amendment or repeal the Directive.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Some of the restraint and self-defence measures approved by the Ministry of Justice include ramming knuckles into ribs and raking shoes down the shins. Other extraordinary passages in the previously secret manual, Physical Control in Care, authorise staff to:
■ "Use an inverted knuckle into the trainee's sternum and drive inward and upward."
■ "Continue to carry alternate elbow strikes to the young person's ribs until a release is achieved."
■ "Drive straight fingers into the young person's face, and then quickly drive the straightened fingers of the same hand downwards into the young person's groin area."
Earlier this month the government was prepared to go to a tribunal to fight against the disclosure of the manual, despite the information commissioner ruling that the public interest was so grave the document should be released. The Ministry of Justice backed down and last week released the entire 119-page document. Previously, officials had even refused to give a copy to the parliamentary human rights committee.
MDMA (ECSTASY)-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY RELIEVES TREATMENT-RESISTANT PTSD IN FIRST COMPLETED CLINICAL TRIAL
London, UK (July 19, 2010) – MDMA (±3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as Ecstasy), may one day offer hope for individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even people for whom other treatments have failed. Clinical trial results out today in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, published by SAGE, suggests that MDMA can be administered to subjects with PTSD without evidence of harm and could offer sufferers a vital window with reduced fear responses where psychotherapy can take effect.
Participants treated with a combination of MDMA and psychotherapy saw clinically and statistically significant improvements in their PTSD – over 80% of the trial group no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, stipulated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV-TR) following the trial, compared to only 25% of the placebo group. In addition, all three subjects who reported being unable to work due to PTSD were able to return to work following treatment with MDMA.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
The authors found that children raised by lesbian mothers — whether the mother was partnered or single — scored very similarly to children raised by heterosexual parents on measures of development and social behavior. These findings were expected, the authors said; however, they were surprised to discover that children in lesbian homes scored higher than kids in straight families on some psychological measures of self-esteem and confidence, did better academically and were less likely to have behavioral problems, such as rule-breaking and aggression.
In addition, children in same-sex-parent families whose mothers ended up separating did as well as children in lesbian families in which the moms stayed together.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Smoking mind over smoking matter: Surprising new study shows cigarette cravings result from habit, not addiction
Nicotine patches and gum are common -- and often ineffective -- ways of fighting cigarette cravings
The intensity of cravings for cigarettes has more to do with the psychosocial element of smoking than with the physiological effects of nicotine as an addictive chemical, according to new research.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
As the U.S. struggles with the prospect that thousands of file-sharers will receive threatening letters in the now-famous Hurt Locker lawsuit case, over the pond in the UK there is a continuing escalation of the ‘turn piracy into profit’ bandwagon. A new firm of lawyers has entered the market and while their business model appears identical, they are attempting to sugar-coat their actions.
Despite the very clear attempts at presenting a more acceptable side to the copyright settlement business, thus far the ‘meat’ of this operation seems to be no different to those that have gone before.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Friends on the right, you wound us. If we didn't love America, why would we spend so much time and energy on bake sales and discussion groups and lecture series and petition drives and demonstrations to make it a better place? I mean, there may be some parts of Dallas we're not too keen on, and personally, you couldn't pay me enough to live in Phoenix, but on the whole, sure, love that America. Friendly people, nice beaches, great forests, er, what's left of them.
After all, who was it that said that the 9/11 attacks allowed, quote, "the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve"? It wasn't any leftist, that's for sure. It was that jolly old moral majoritarian, the Rev. Jerry Falwell.
I posted a question on Twitter: “How many studies need to come out showing the huge wealth disparity before the government acts to fix it?” and got the usual snarky, flippant response I’ve grown to expect and love from readers. The standard response goes like this: the government knows it’s a problem, but the rich, connected people are the ones in power, they benefit from this feudal system, and so they vote to preserve it.
Yet, our wealthy overlords seem incapable of reversing their myopic governance. They demonize the poor and unemployed, and dangle benefits before their noses before ultimately yanking them away. They propose severe austerity measures in the midst of an economic recession, and casually discuss privatizing Social Security – one of the last meaningful government programs. And they can generally get away with abusing the underclass because the corporate state – assisted by both political parties – toppled the sole tool of the solidarity labor movement, the union.
t r u t h o u t | The Lonely, Dangerous Fight Against Christian Supremacists Inside the Armed Forces
In his fight against British imperialism, Mahatma Gandhi described the life cycle of successful civil disobedience: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Mikey Weinstein, the 55-year-old founder of the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), likes to quote it, knowing full well he's crossed the line into a bloody-knuckle brawl. Over the past year, Weinstein and his organization have recorded a tremendous string of victories in the fight against Christian supremacists inside the armed forces.
The United States military cannot favor one religious sect over another, staying true to the Constitution's establishment clause that service members pledge to defend. More pragmatically, the military cannot favor one religious sect over another because it's destructive of good order and discipline, creating divisions between service members when they must rely on the guy next to them to survive in a firefight. Yet inside the U.S. military a small, determined, and fanatical clique wants to abuse its power and prosetlyze to service members below them in the chain of command. Through this captive market, they can inject their peculiar ideology into the most powerful institution on earth.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”
“Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be,” read a recent Onion headline. Like the best satire, this nasty little gem elicits a laugh, which is then promptly muffled by the queasy feeling of recognition. The last five decades of political science have definitively established that most modern-day Americans lack even a basic understanding of how their country works. In 1996, Princeton University’s Larry M. Bartels argued, “the political ignorance of the American voter is one of the best documented data in political science."
But researchers are working on it. One avenue may involve self-esteem. Nyhan worked on one study in which he showed that people who were given a self-affirmation exercise were more likely to consider new information than people who had not. In other words, if you feel good about yourself, you’ll listen — and if you feel insecure or threatened, you won’t. This would also explain why demagogues benefit from keeping people agitated. The more threatened people feel, the less likely they are to listen to dissenting opinions, and the more easily controlled they are.
Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully: in Ten Minutes - Great Writing Creative Writing Community
I am going to tell you these things again because often people will only listen - really listen - to someone who makes a lot of money doing the thing he's talking about. This is sad but true. And I told you the story above not to make myself sound like a character out of a Horatio Alger novel but to make a point: I saw, I listened, and I learned. Until that day in John Gould's little office, I had been writing first drafts of stories which might run 2,500 words. The second drafts were apt to run 3,300 words. Following that day, my 2,500-word first drafts became 2,200-word second drafts. And two years after that, I sold the first one.
You want to write a story? Fine. Put away your dictionary, your encyclopedias, your World Almanac, and your thesaurus. Better yet, throw your thesaurus into the wastebasket. The only things creepier than a thesaurus are those little paperbacks college students too lazy to read the assigned novels buy around exam time. Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. You think you might have misspelled a word? O.K., so here is your choice: either look it up in the dictionary, thereby making sure you have it right - and breaking your train of thought and the writer's trance in the bargain - or just spell it phonetically and correct it later. Why not? Did you think it was going to go somewhere? And if you need to know the largest city in Brazil and you find you don't have it in your head, why not write in Miami, or Cleveland? You can check it ... but later. When you sit down to write, write. Don't do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.
Our findings highlight the importance of situations and historical factors that can produce political shifts by affecting psychological needs pertaining to uncertainty and threat. The need to achieve closure and to resolve ambiguity, for example, are heightened under conditions of destabilizing uncertainty (for example, with the outbreak of terrorism, economic turmoil or political instability). Thus our research is best understood as addressing the cognitive and motivational bases of conservatism (and liberalism) rather than the personalities of conservatives (and liberals).
We readily acknowledge that identifying the motivational underpinnings of a belief system does not constitute a valid argument in a political debate any more than it does in scientific debates. What counts is the cogency of the political arguments and the degree to which they fit with independently verifiable facts and reasonable assumptions. When the dust settles on the current debate, we hope that these important messages will be seen as the real focus of our research.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
The nitrogen in chemical fertilizer does two things incredibly well. It supercharges crop growth, and it produces nitrates, chemicals that are ultra-soluble in water and easily pass through soil to accumulate in groundwater. Once there, nitrates can persist for decades and increase in concentration as more fertilizer is added.
Ingestion of nitrates by infants has been shown to lower levels of oxygen in the blood, leading to the potentially fatal blue-baby syndrome. And several studies have shown that consumption of nitrate-contaminated water can cause cancers in animals.
Anyone who has seen teosinte, the wild grass from which maize (corn) evolved, might be forgiven for assuming many genetic changes underlie the transformation of one plant to the other.
Plant domestication can be thought of as a two-step process. In the first step, plants acquire traits in what is called the “domestication syndrome” that make the plant worth the labor of cultivation. These include traits that allow a crop to be reliably sown, cultivated and harvested, such as uniform seed germination and fruit ripening.
In the second step, the now domesticated plant is selected for improved qualities. It is in this stage, for example, that farmers might breed many different varieties of a crop that differ in grain taste, fruit color or fruit shape.
Why More Equality?
Our thirty years research shows that:
1) In rich countries, a smaller gap between rich and poor means a happier, healthier, and more successful population. Just look at the US, the UK, Portugal, and New Zealand in the top right of this graph, doing much worse than Japan, Sweden or Norway in the bottom left. Inequality vs health and social well-being
2) Meanwhile, more economic growth will NOT lead to a happier, healthier, or more successful population. In fact, there is no relation between income per head and social well-being in rich countries.
3) If the UK were more equal, we'd be better off as a population. For example, the evidence suggests that if we halved inequality here:
- Murder rates would halve
- Mental illness would reduce by two thirds
- Obesity would halve
- Imprisonment would reduce by 80%
- Teen births would reduce by 80%
- Levels of trust would increase by 85%
4) It's not just poor people who do better. The evidence suggests people all the way up would benefit, although it's true that the poorest would gain the most.
5) These findings hold true, whether you look across developed nations, or across the 50 states of the USA.
This installment of my series debunking the American history lies told on Glenn Beck is about a study published in 1984 in The American Political Science Review, and how that study is misrepresented to make it appear that our founding documents were based on the Bible, especially the Book of Deuteronomy.
I sometimes get criticized, even by those who think that Barton is a complete charlatan, for coming right out and calling him a liar. They ask me how I can be sure that he's intentionally lying, and not just a really crappy historian. Well, it's moments like that one with John Hagee that expose him as the liar that he is, and that is exactly what I will continue to call him.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Brazil has proposed a broad update to its copyright law (Portuguese) and it contains a surprising idea: penalize anyone who "hinders or impedes" fair use rights or obstructs the use of work that has already fallen into the public domain.
DRM must be defended only when it restricts acts that are "not permitted by law." Since the law in places like Brazil, the US, and many other countries contains fair use or fair dealing provisions, those countries are authorized to allow DRM circumvention for those uses as long as general bypassing is disallowed.
Judge Nancy Gertner knows that Joel Tenenbaum did it. Tenenbaum, the second US target of the RIAA's five-year litigation campaign to complete a trial, eventually admitted his music-sharing liability on the stand—and Judge Gertner issued a directed verdict against him. But when the jury returned a $675,000 damage award, they went too far. Way too far.
"Weighing all of these considerations, I conclude that the jury’s award of $675,000 in statutory damages for Tenenbaum’s infringement of thirty copyrighted works is unconstitutionally excessive," she wrote. "This award is far greater than necessary to serve the government’s legitimate interests in compensating copyright owners and deterring infringement. In fact, it bears no meaningful relationship to these objectives.
A couple of salient points in the article:
That prompted Louis to ask Crom and their conversation was the basis for the poker table discussion viewers saw in the episode. "I kept [what he told me] inside," says Louie. "And what I learned from it. ... It didn't tell me not to use that word or any other word, but it did tell me take responsibility for the words you use, to know their impact."
Asked about the idea that words like "faggot" should never be used because it's too offensive, Louis says, "I want to point out that there may be gay people who hear me use that word and talk abut this stuff, that might be offended by other things that I do, but point to this as an example of getting these words out there, getting the worst of your thoughts out there in a safe place like comedy can lead you to moments like this where 'Hey, we all just learned something. That's interesting!'
Thursday, July 8, 2010
An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"
"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern."
—Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006.
An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko.
Love this thought:
I expect that history will show ‘normal’ mainstream twentieth century media to be the aberration in all this. ‘Please, miss, you mean they could only just sit there and watch? They couldn’t do anything? Didn’t everybody feel terribly isolated or alienated or ignored?’
‘Yes, child, that’s why they all went mad. Before the Restoration.’
‘What was the Restoration again, please, miss?’
‘The end of the twentieth century, child. When we started to get interactivity back.’