Thursday, September 26, 2013

Is John Whittingdale Looking For A Job In The Media Industry By Any Chance?

I only ask because of this:

A report said that the UK music industry is a bright spot, but is affected by so-called 'pirates'. It accused Google of "notable" failures to suppress filesharing websites.
Committee chair John Whittingdale MP said that delays in the implementation of the Digital Economy Act were a drain on industry revenues. He said that if a voluntary agreement between the music industry and internet service providers is not reached, the only solution will be government enforcement.


The MP said that there is no reason why the web firms cannot demote or remove websites, adding that they already work with law enforcement on the removal of child abuse images.
This is not all the government wants, and also on its agenda is an increase in the maximum penalty for serious online "intellectual property theft". The committee thinks that this should be 10 years, or a penalty similar to that for real world crimes.

 Without wishing to deny the existence of intellectual property it is hard to believe that file sharing is a crime that merits 10 years inside or government control of search engines. However they are potentially lucrative industries to get a post political job.

It is actually speculative as to whether piracy does effect industry revenues in any case.

Speaking for myself, I sometimes download TV shows and music illegally and sometimes buy or rent it. However what often happens is that I initially watch something illegally then decide that I like it and buy it. Had the downloaded version not existed then the producers of Game of Thrones for example would never have had any money from me at all whereas now I've already spent £60 or more on Blu Ray box sets.

Also the defence of intellectual property seems somewhat selective- for example it's fairly obvious that Samsung ripped off Apple when launching the Android system (and Apple have ripped of smaller companies for years)- yet there disputes would never be considered a criminal matter.

If the Parliamentary Culture Committee thinks that who ever provided me with that deserves to spend more time in prison than some killers then it is hard to credit them with honourable motives.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Lessons Of Iraq

One of the main reasons that Western governments have had difficulty getting support for military strikes against Syria over the use of chemical weapons is that the public don't trust claims about WMDs made by our leaders. This is because the claims made about WMDs in Iraq turned out to be complete bullshit.

It should have been known in advance that Iraq could not possibly have the resources to have a viable WMD programme that posed a threat to anyone- their wealth and technical know how was simply not enough.

However this principle when applied to Syria makes it abundantly clear to me that the Sarin gas attack on a Damascas suburb must have been carried out by the Syrian regime not the rebels as various people are claiming- including the Russian government.

Weaponising sarin effectively is clearly very hard to do. Consider the Tokyo subway attacks in 1995- despite the gas being released in a very confined space and thousands of people being exposed only 13 people were killed. This was after an attack that had been prepared by scientists belonging to the cult. Yet supposedly it's a toss up as to whether an incredibly effective open air attack that killed hundreds was carried out by a ragtag assortment of rebels or by the regime that has been running a chemical weapons programme for forty years. It isn't.

That is not to say that we should intervene in Syria- the rebels contain elements that are very dangerous- but there is no serious doubt that the Assad regime fired Sarin into a civilian suburb to massacre hundreds of innocent people.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


It looks as though the USA and France will bomb Syria due to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons. Given the public memory of the Iraq war this is a brave move by Obama and Hollande but there are a number of things to be apprehensive of:

  • A lot of the Syrian rebels are bastards themselves who would make life intolerable for the country's religious minorities (Alawites and Christians).
  • Bombing chemical weapons plants can have unforeseen circumstances- with the potential to leak gas much more widely than would have happened otherwise.
Still if those dangers can be averted and it punishes Assad's regime for gassing hundreds of people then I support their decision.

I've Always Wondered What This "Rape Culture" Is.

The principal's "no buns, bellies, breasts" rule had stoked the destructive flames of rape culture. 

Hmm ok then. Apparently it's "rape culture" for schools to tell female pupils not to expose their breasts in class while not giving similar warnings to the males.

When I went to school I can't recall ever seeing boys deliberately dressing to expose their bodies but maybe that's just my sexist memory.