Archive for July, 2007

Free Transit Counter-Arguments

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Free Transit? Experts Are Wary :: News :: thetyee.ca

squareCircleZ » Zipf Distributions, log-log graphs and Site Statistics

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

squareCircleZ » Zipf Distributions, log-log graphs and Site Statistics

Bonobo Swingers?

Friday, July 27th, 2007

Arts&Letters Daily pointed to this fine essay by Ian Parker in The New Yorker. It really is an interesting and entertaining blend of anecdote, history, and good science reporting.

Even the New Yorker Gets it Wrong

Friday, July 27th, 2007

ok, This may be a picayune comment in the context of a serious issue, but in David Remnick’s Letter from Jerusalem: The Apostate: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker he refers to Avram Burg’s “flouting of the fact that he holds a French passport”. Of course the common ignorami more often go the other way and have angry demonstrators “flaunting authority” so at least favouring the more hi-toned word is consistent with the New Yorker’s self-perceived station in the world. But perhaps this flaunting of editorial incompetence may encourage others to flaut the magazine’s presumed authority.

Revisiting the Potential of Free Content ~ Stephen’s Web ~ by Stephen Downes

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Revisiting the Potential of Free Content ~ Stephen’s Web ~ by Stephen Downes

Privileged Peer Review – Whose Opinion Counts? ~ Stephens Web ~ by Stephen Downes

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Privileged Peer Review – Whose Opinion Counts? ~ Stephens Web ~ by Stephen Downes

Fare-Free Public Transit

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

AlterNet: Environment: Fare-Free Public Transit Could Be Headed to a City Near You (and IMO it could and should be paid for with the revenue from a levy on urban auto traffic like the ‘congestion fee’ charged in London)

AlterNet: Environment: What to Say to Those Who Think Nuclear Power Will Save Us

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

AlterNet: has reprinted an article from ‘Orion’ magazine by someone called Rebecca Solnit who claims to be giving advice on: What to Say to Those Who Think Nuclear Power Will Save Us though what she is really arguing is not just that nuclear power is not a panacaea, but that it must be excluded at all costs – and the tone of her argument (as with many on the climate bandwagon) makes it plain that she is more interested in using the threat of global warming to justify the imposition of behavioural constraints than she is on actually doing everything possible to reduce our emissions of CO2. Unfortunately she has nothing new to add to the debate, but some of the exchanges in the comments are more interesting. Much of the discussion on both sides is sufficiently vacuous and polemical as to strain one’s faith in democracy, but at least some of it is decent and it is up to the reader to assess which of the commenters appear to have the more credible arguments. Personally, I come down pretty firmly on the side of those who see a substantial increase in nuclear power generation as an essential component of any strategy for the mitigation of our environmental impact. But even with it, and with everything else we can possibly do, we’re headed to where snowballs have no chance unless the other big unmentionable, population control, is also pushed hard and fast.

CRIA’s a liar

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Michael Geist – CRIA’s “Unprecedented” Decline points out that the decline in sales bewailed by the Canadian Recording Industry Association in 2006 was due to the departure of several independent labels from the organization and not to file sharing as claimed by the association. But it should be no surprise that the thieves who steal a royalty fee from anyone buying blank media to store personal photos would also stoop to outright lies in order to influence the public.

Michael Geist – Canadians Speak out on Media Diversity

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Michael Geist – Canadians Speak out on Media Diversity

I support a policy limiting concentrated and cross-ownership of the media in Canada, and also clearly separating those who control distribution channels from those who produce, aggregate and/or distribute content.

I want a choice in what I see on TV, hear on the radio and read in the newspaper and on the internet, and I do not want any private body to have the power to deny or limit that choice.

The freedom of expression and communication that is essential for democracy is lost when the private holder of a broadcast license can deny the right to purchase advertising on the basis that the proposed message conflicts with those of others to which it is beholden (as happened with the denial of AdBusters anti-car ads a few years ago)- or when the controller of an internet communication channel blocks access to web sites whose message it objects to (as was done more recently by Telus in the context of a labour dispute).

Any public policy seeking to protect diversity in the media must recognize the simple fact that ownership matters, and carries a responsibility to the public interest.

Because this review comes after a wave of media mergers, I call for a policy that forces divestiture by media companies with concentrated holdings in a given market.

I also call for the severance of media producers and aggregators from the control of media distribution channels.

But most importantly, I call for a policy which requires those who control media distribution channels to refrain from any kind of censorship of what is distributed over those channels and to provide access to such channels at the same price for all content producers even (in fact especially) when such content may be detrimental to their own interests.

I want to be assured that my voice will be both heard and counted at all CRTC hearings on these matters.

My email address is: alan@qpr.ca

The Chronicle: 7/13/2007: Banishing the Ghosts of Iran

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

Commenting on the arrest of Haleh Esfandiari in The Chronicle: 7/13/2007: Banishing the Ghosts of Iran, Fatemeh Keshvarz says “We all wish Esfandiari to be freed, but the danger is that we will color all of Iran…” and goes on to harangue Azar Nafisi for not mentioning enough contemporary Iranian women writers in her story of the travails of an occidophilic women’s reading group in post-revolutionary Tehran. As if the readers of ‘Reading Lolita ..’ will not see the protagonist as well as her oppressors as the ends of a spectrum which includes many other categories in between. Perhaps ‘Reading Lolita..’ is a bit two dimensional (but it certainly allows for more than one!) but is concern about this issue is the most appropriate response to the arrest? Don’t get me wrong. I am interested in trying to see and understand a broader range of Iranian experience, but the context of this complaint is really rather dissonant.

Dawkins: How dare you call me a fundamentalist

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

In How dare you call me a fundamentalist the Times online presents an excerpt from Richard Dawkins’ introduction to the paperback edition of ‘The God Delusion’ in which he responds to some critics of the hard cover edition. (more…)

Why Dawkins is Wrong – by D. S. Wilson

Monday, July 9th, 2007

Skeptic: eSkeptic: Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Jim Motavalli at AlterNet on the Nuclear Option?

Monday, July 9th, 2007

AlterNet: Environment: Is Fear About Climate Change Causing a Nuclear Renaissance? provides a balanced review including summaries of a number of people’s positions but doesn’t really add any new information.

Video Debate on Nuclear Power

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Peter Bradford, Patrick Moore and Jim Riccio debate the future of nuclear power
and why nuclear power cannot solve the climate crisis.

The actual debate linked to from Nuclear Information and Resource Service – NIRS is quite interesting, but the intro (including the above description) and the powerpoint style summary notes alongside the video are a disgrace. They accurately summarise the points made by Riccio and Bradford but distort or contradict those made by Moore. In fact Bradford was the most credible presenter followed pretty closely by Moore with Riccio being just totally unimpressive. I think I’ll cancel my Greenpeace support.

Telus Lies to Force Images off YouTube

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Telus Cleanses Image on YouTube :: News :: thetyee.ca

Although requiring a court order before penalties apply to the carrier would help avert this kind of abuse, the most important thing to do to protect public domain property (as well as that of those without the financial resources to defend what is their own) is to VASTLY increase the penalties for falsely claiming ownership.