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cynical_moose

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(no subject) [Sep. 28th, 2004|08:29 am]
cynical_moose
Life without some of the anchors of sorrow can be a little weird.
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(no subject) [Sep. 22nd, 2004|02:11 pm]
cynical_moose
Unless I get used to this fast, I'll be slipping out of control into a less comfortable life.
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(no subject) [Sep. 19th, 2004|11:21 am]
cynical_moose
I hope the ashes do not extinguish the phoenix.
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The acceptable face of the BNP [Jun. 14th, 2004|05:22 pm]
cynical_moose
[Current Mood |pensivepensive]

(Was going to make a post about myself, then started surfing, and became sufficiently annoyed to write something else)

So: the United Kingdom Independence Party

I felt I had to visit their site simply to find out what their policies were, apart from leaving the EU (of which more below).

They advertise 5 "essential freedoms",
1) Freedom from the EU
This is their main platform. There's too much for me to digest at once. Anyway, if they want to be a major party, you would of thought that they ought to have more than one policy.
2) Freedom from crime
I've never seen a party that doesn't want to reduce crime. They usually have a pet method like "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime". The UKIP take on this involves the amazingly myopic statement: "It is criminals that cause crime". So how to solve it? "A UKIP government will do whatever is necessary to reduce crime and criminality to the levels of the 1950s".
3) Freedom from overcrowding
This is the standard anti-immigration rant. "The UK is full up" - hence why Amartya Sen has called UK unemployment "dangerously low". "We are bursting at the seams". Complaints about hospital waiting lists follow. The solution they propose is: stop immigration. This ignores the simple fact that immigration is not the root cause of these problems - on average, immigrants take up less NHS time, and live in more dense areas. The UKIP would continue the "honourable British tradition of offering asylum", but consider that all multiparty democracies are safe, all countries with UK or UN peacekeepers are safe (Afghanistan, anyone), and that all asylum applications can be turned round sensibly within 14 days.
4) Freedom from bureaucratic politicians
Apparently politicians now view us as part of "Great Britain PLC". The UKIP would "hack away" all corporate legislation coming from EU directives, reduce targets and make them realistic (targets are what you aim for, not what you can achieve - "a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for"). They also want Direct Democracy, by allowing petitions to force a referendum, as in some states in the US. You may not remember, but the budgetary problems in California were in no small part caused by the problems that successive voter imposed limits on taxes and spending meant that only about 30% of taxes could be raised and only 40% of spending cut.
5) Freedom from political correctness
"No group has the right to tell us what to think" - what are they doing, exactly (ahh, I see, they are telling us what to vote, and that's quite different. ). There is then a sob story about a UKIP graffitti artist, ending with the comment "There is no right view ... on the European Union". There may not be, but there is definitely a wrong view.
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Fair use and the mess we're in [Jun. 9th, 2004|06:56 pm]
cynical_moose
The concept of copyright is changing very fast. I want to have a quick look at where it was, is, and where it's going.

Originally copyright placed a restriction on the outright copying, modification, or processing of text. You could read it, but not write it out several times, even with every word backwards - because that was processing the information. You could copy small parts to illustrate your point, or for your own use - the origin of "fair use".

As IT became more significant, it became obvious that processing a book electronically was also prohibited; you could not just search a book in copyright, or publish your results. That was also reasonable; otherwise people could claim that their simple processing - even putting the entire text in upper case - had changed it so much that they could redistribute it.

That works fine for books. It works pretty much fine for software, but there was a definite slope. Copying the source code of a program was obviously out. On pretty much the same line, compiling source code without the copyright was also a bad idea. Copying the binary code was also not permitted. This seemed obvious on a commonsense principle - if only the source code was protected, then proprietary software would go out. (Some would like that, of course, but the majority of people would agree that some proprietary programs have been a good idea).

But where this fell down was running the program. This was clearly processing the binary code. But equally clearly, such was necessary for running the program. Licences sort of fudged this issue; but the emphasis in most was copying, not giving you permission to run the code.

Move a step down the line, to digital media. You definitely have to process this stuff. You have to decode it, and then change it to a waveform. What's more, there is no obvious difference between sending the waveform to disk, and sending it to the speakers. After all, the speakers make a copy in the air; which you could re-record. Would that be OK? In the US, not, in the UK, perhaps, depending on the apparatus.

With a DVD, where you have to descramble before viewing, you go even further. You descramble the stuff, then render it, and do all this using someone elses software. Who owns the copyright on this stuff isn't at all clear. But you definitely need a licence, because of the copying/processing involved.

So, what's happened?

Because of the complexity of digital media, copyright is no longer used to protect artists, but to control distribution. Because everything must be licensed, you can impose terms on that license that aren't what copyright was designed to do. Take a DVD, for example. The license reqiures that you play it back through a particular, licensed set of players (ones with the CSS system licensed to them); and restricts where it can be sold and played, through the regional system. Now playing a DVD should be like reading a book - you ought to be able to do it anywhere, with anything, like you can read a book naked, in an aeroplane, with sunglasses on. But, no, to do it legally, you have to jump through the hoops of having a specified player, and set the region, and only change it 7 times etc.

Copyright was designed to protect artists from copying. It should be simply that; stopping copying. I will not argue the case for file-sharing; all I want is the ability to view DVDs and listen to music with the same freedom I have to read a book.

Isn't it time we brought the laws up to date, but with the consumer in mind?
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Money [May. 26th, 2004|09:01 pm]
cynical_moose
If money talks, why can't it just shut up for a bit and let us enjoy our lives without its constant call?
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Acting like Children. [May. 25th, 2004|09:22 pm]
cynical_moose
I just took a GCSE German exam.

That wasn't too bad. But why is there this need to give topics that 'young people' can understand. As I recall, we had a question about this 'young person' complaining that her parents were angry when she didn't tell them what time she would be back. There's a wider problem. Past papers are littered with young people complaining about their parents (which, yes, young people do, but not in the way that is portrayed) or spending all their time on environmental projects, or, as I saw one, encouraging people to spend more time helping old people.

I've two questions:
1) Why is this necessary? We can cope with texts anyway - we don't need to be able to 'identify' with the texts, just to understand them.
2) Even on it's own terms, this fails. We don't 'identify' with them, we deride them. After all, the exams aren't set by 'young people'.

It's actually quite demeaning.
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And you think that Baghdad is bad... [May. 7th, 2004|03:11 pm]
cynical_moose
I said I'd talk about American prisons for Iraqis, but I got distracted by American prisons for teens, which are, if anything, slightly more disturbing. (Small disclaimer - I do not especially criticise the US here - the British system is also very dangerous - Victoria Climbe, for example - but it seems apt with the current news about conditions in Iraq)

For those of you who haven't heard about these camps, there appears to be a business (particularly one called WWASP, World Wide Association of Speciality Programs), which runs camps and centres (often termed "speciality boarding schools") for your difficult teen (which includes those suffering from drug use - signs in adolescents include "Physical appearance changing", "Seems to have lost motivation", or just being regularly "sleepy" - as well as those sleeping around "our program makes them understand and fear sex for what they are" (sic)). These camps are often called "speciality boarding schools".



And they are, to me, more disturbing than the conditions inside American prisons. The major problem, however, is exactly the same. In JTF-GTMO (Camp Delta to the rest of us), one of the major psychological problems is that the prisoners have no clue when they will be released. They are, however, allowed to talk (finally!), wash in clean conditions (this is something the ICRC has actually half-praised), and think.

Compare the programs operated by STRAIGHT (no link, this has now been effectively shut down, but has spawned
[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<a [...] children</a>') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

I said I'd talk about American prisons for Iraqis, but I got distracted by American prisons for teens, which are, if anything, slightly more disturbing. (Small disclaimer - I do not especially criticise the US here - the British system is also very dangerous - Victoria Climbe, for example - but it seems apt with the current news about conditions in Iraq)

For those of you who haven't heard about these camps, there appears to be a business (particularly one called WWASP, World Wide Association of Speciality Programs), which runs camps and centres (often termed "speciality boarding schools") for your difficult teen (which includes those suffering from drug use - signs in adolescents include "Physical appearance changing", "Seems to have lost motivation", or just being regularly "sleepy" - as well as those sleeping around "our program makes them understand and fear sex for what they are" (sic)). These camps are often called "speciality boarding schools".<br><br>

And they are, to me, more disturbing than the conditions inside American prisons. The major problem, however, is exactly the same. In JTF-GTMO (Camp Delta to the rest of us), one of the major psychological problems is that the prisoners have no clue when they will be released. They are, however, allowed to talk (finally!), wash in clean conditions (this is something the ICRC has actually half-praised), and think.

Compare the programs operated by STRAIGHT (no link, this has now been effectively shut down, but has spawned <a href="http://thestraights.com/the-straights/thestraights-fc.htm"many children</a>) and <a href="http://www.wwasps.org/Introduction.php">WWASPS</a> (it appears that WWASPS makes the program, which the independently owned schools implement. Right down to the text on their websites, which is identical). They all operate on much of the same principles, detailed best in a <a href="http://education.guardian.co.uk/classroomviolence/story/0,12388,987932,00.html">Guardian article</a>. It talks about <a href="http://www.difficultteens-tranquilitybay.com/">Tranquility bay </a>. This is in Jamaica, which has very lax child protection laws.

Especially enlightening gems include:
<em>It permits the Jamaican staff, whose qualifications are not required to exceed a high-school education, to use whatever physical force they feel necessary to control their child. The contract also waives Tranquility's liability for harm that should befall a child in its care.</em>

<em>The only moment a student is alone is in a toilet cubicle; but a chaperone is standing right outside the door, and knows what he or she went in to do, because when students raise their hand for permission to go, they must hold up one finger for 'a number one', and two for 'a number two'.</em>

[Of each day]<em> 'Yep, identical,' says Kay . 'Exactly identical. Now you see,' he adds, with a grim nod of satisfaction, 'why kids are not happy here.'</em>

<em>"Jay Kay </em>[the director]<em> is 33 years old, and the son of Wwasp's chief director. He opened the facility at the age of 27. Previously he had been a petrol-pump attendant, having dropped out of college. He has no qualifications in child development, but considers this unimportant."</em>

It appears that they are nearly all situated outside the US, so that children can be moved there - sometimes forcibly - but the camps conditions do not come into question as the sanitation laws are less strict, and US child protection laws have no jurisdiction.

Even more disturbing are the <a href="http://fornits.com/anonanon/thought-reform/">accounts
</a> (also <a href="http://freerick.org/blog/carcar716/casaentries.htm">a journal of an inmate</a>) and <a href="http://www.voy.com/58570/">discussion boards</a>.

The one quote that really sums up what these places appear to do to people (and that actually catalysed me into posting this): <br><em>When I admitted in therapy that I was raped I was made to feel that it was my fault because of my behavior.</em>

And I sit here, privileged, and wondering why soldiers do these things in Iraq, and I honestly feel that I would prefer to be in Iraq than in one of those camps.

Isn't it time that we recognised that children have a right of habeas corpus, even if their parents think otherwise?
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Earth Day [Apr. 22nd, 2004|09:04 pm]
cynical_moose
[Current Mood |discontentdiscontent]
[Current Music |too many raucous teenagers]

On Earth Day, the BBC releases a report showing how global warming is going to require a mutiple fold increase in flood defence spending. Wonderful.

Stop flying and start taking the train today. And if you are in the US or Russia, please lobby your government representatives about the Kyoto protocol. It won't do much, but it's a start.
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(no subject) [Apr. 19th, 2004|10:03 pm]
cynical_moose
Blank journals are depressing, so I'm going to add something to make your day feel even worse. I hope that this will be my first and last post.

People tend to ask me for a credo, but they never call it that. In case anybody actually wants to read it, it comes with a health warning. See your nearest cigarette packet for the wording.

I believe that life is pain (and conversely, that pain is life). Happiness is a numbing of that pain, love a way to ease it. Equally, breaking up is painful because the protective cushion you have formed departs and you fall back to what you actually are. Some find relief by inflicting pain on others - others ease the suffering through revelling in pain themselves.

Somebody once tried to convince me that the opposite was true. I can't believe it, though. We don't have a direct way of telling, but it's reasonable to assume that the world will depart little from type, and so as there is lots of suffering and less happiness, pessimism is therefore justified.

So what do we do about it? Find somebody to love? Try the chemical painkillers available? Close up on ourselves?

Or just accept it, shuffle on, and get on with our lives.
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