March 14, 2012

Blog Carnival 3 at GuildMag

Filed under: Gaming, Gaming — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 12:15

We’re encouraging fans to submit their articles about Guild Wars 2 character diversity for the next Blog Carnival at GuildMag. Now that we’ve had some opportunity to digest all the new information that came out after the press closed beta test weekend, it’s time to let the fans express themselves about what we’ve learned about the game.

Michael Geist rounds up the changes to Bill C-11

Filed under: Cancon, Law, Liberty, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:58

It’s not wonderful, but as he points out, it could have been much worse:

In the days leading up to the clause-by-clause review, many focused on three key issues: no SOPA-style amendments such as website blocking or warrantless disclosure of information, maintaining the fair dealing balance found in the bill, and amending the digital lock provisions. By that standard, the changes could have been a lot worse. The government expanded the enabler provision, though not as broadly as CIMA requested. Virtually all other copyright lobby demands – website blocking, notice-and-takedown, iPod tax, copyright term extension, disclosure of subscriber information – were rejected. Moreover, the provisions supported by consumer and education groups including user generated content protection, time shifting, format shifting, backup copies, Internet provider liability, and statutory damages reform were left untouched. This represents a major victory for the many Canadians and groups such as Open Media that spoke out on these issues.

The fair dealing provision was similarly left unchanged despite a full court press from publishers and copyright collectives who sought elimination of the education category within fair dealing (didn’t happen), inclusion of the Berne three step test in the law (didn’t happen) or a new fair dealing test that overrules the Supreme Court of Canada CCH test (didn’t happen). The expanded fair dealing provision will not cause the horrors claimed by those groups and it is heartening that the government dismissed the misinformation campaign.

The only loss was the least surprising — digital locks. Despite widespread support for compromise legislation and sensible amendments from both the NDP and Liberals, the government rejected any changes. Given the government’s consistent support for digital locks, the ongoing pressure from the U.S., and Prime Minister Harper’s direct intervention on the issue in 2010, amending the digital lock rules presented a major challenge. Government MPs yesterday emphasized the possibility of future new exceptions via regulation but that will be cold comfort in the short term to those with perceptual disabilities, researchers, documentary film makers, consumers, and the many others adversely affected by the restrictive approach. In fact, one NDP MP raised the possibility of constitutional challenges to the bill.

A possible solution to Canada’s long, long search for new search-and-rescue aircraft

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Cancon, Military, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 11:46

David Akin in the Toronto Sun:

Here’s the back story: For nearly a decade, the Department of National Defence has had cabinet approval to go out and spend $3.1 billion on new search-and-rescue planes. That’s a big contract and several aircraft vendors wanted to win that deal.

Aircraft makers and their lobbyists knew which buttons to push within DND but also at other key government departments such as Public Works and Government Services and at Industry Canada.

The goal of the lobbyists was to rig the bid so only their plane could win.

Pulled eight ways to Sunday by the heavy lobbying, the bureaucrats at three departments kept pushing pieces of paper at each other but never got close to making some purchase decisions.

Now, with the possibility that the search-and-rescue purchase process could be tied up in the bureaucracy for yet another year (followed by delivery of planes years after that!) the government may be ready to slice through this Gordian Knot and simply turn to our American allies to pick up most of their fleet of C-27 Spartans.

Apparently one of the remaining hurdles to be cleared is that the manufacturer of the Spartan aircraft, Alenia Aermacchi, is trying to prevent the sale and is even threatening not to provide spare parts or service to any country that buys the aircraft from the US. I have no idea why, but I’m sure there’s a reason for it.

The red meat of medical churnalism

Filed under: Health, Media, Science — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:38

Rob Lyons on the latest red meat scare from the medical press, who “churn out scary-sounding studies about steak and bacon faster than McDonald’s produces Big Macs”.

It’s official, it seems: red meat — particularly processed red meat — will be the death of you. ‘Small quantities of processed meat such as bacon, sausages or salami can increase the likelihood of dying early by a fifth, researchers from Harvard School of Medicine found. Eating steak increases the risk of early death by 12 per cent’, declared the Daily Telegraph yesterday. BBC1 Breakfast’s resident GP, Dr Rosemary Leonard, told millions of viewers the link was ‘very, very clear’.

[. . .]

The topline results were that, after adjustment for major lifestyle and dietary risk factors, there was a 13 per cent increase in the risk of death for each portion of red meat eaten per day and a 20 per cent increase in mortality for each portion of processed meat consumed per day. This is not the first study to suggest that eating meat is bad for you. But that might simply mean that this study shares many of the same problems that all the other studies have had.

However, before we get to the problems, here’s some brighter news. At the end of the study, the members of the two groups studied had, on average, reached the grand old age of 75. How many had died along the way? Less than 20 per cent. Those who started the study were four times more likely than not to reach 75. So, whatever your eating habits when it comes to eating red meat or processed meat, the most important lesson is that most people live a long time these days. ‘Early death’ is very much a relative concept.

The authors claim that 9.3 per cent of deaths in men and 7.6 per cent of deaths in women could be avoided by eating little or no red meat. To put that into some back-of-an-envelope statistical perspective: multiplying that 9.3 per cent by the 20 per cent who actually died shows that about 1.8 per cent of red-meat eaters would die by the time they were 75 because of their meat-eating habit. Even if that claim were absolutely accurate (and even the authors call it an estimate), would you really give up your favourite foods for decades on the slim possibility of an extra year or two of old age?

The culture of Goldman Sachs

Filed under: Economics, History, Humour, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 11:31

Joshua M. Brown responds to the “why I’m leaving x” meme, specifically about Goldman Sachs variants:

The “culture” of Goldman Sachs was, is and always will be about making money, often at the expense of a client. Do you even know where the term “wirehouse” originally came from? Let me help you out with that. In the 1920’s, there was no CNBC or internet — there was only news delivered by wire and cable, stock market news and prices included. The “wirehouse” firms like Goldman would transmit stock and bond prices to their far-flung offices around the country from Wall Street where the action was taking place. It is a peculiar and yet telling fact of history that during the Crash of 1929, not a single major Wall Street brokerage firm went under. Wanna know why? Because when the sell-off began, they dumped all their holdings prior to wiring the news out to the rest of the investing public and their clientele across the country. Sound familiar, motherfucker? THAT is your firm’s culture, going back a hundred and fifty years.

Deal with it or leave and open an Etsy store.

EFF reports on most recent legal setback for former owners of Righthaven

Filed under: Law, Liberty, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:26

It’s pretty much good news all the way through for bloggers and anyone else who quotes and links to material on the web:

Late Friday, the federal district court in Nevada issued a declaratory judgment that makes is harder for copyright holders to file lawsuits over excerpts of material and burden online forums and their users with nuisance lawsuits.

The judgment — part of the nuisance lawsuit avalanche started by copyright troll Righthaven — found that Democratic Underground did not infringe the copyright in a Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper article when a user of the online political forum posted a five-sentence excerpt, with a link back to the newspaper’s website.

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