Collected activism

Copyright is forever, not just for Christmas

The Eldred vs. Ashcroft case was decided, in Ashcroft’s favour, by the US Supreme Court last week. This was the case calling into question the constitutionality of the Mickey Mouse copyright extension act. Lawrence Lessig (one smart cookie) was Eldred’s lawyer, and he writes about the defeat in his blog. He has already proposed a comeback, which would allow an estimated 98% of copyrighted works to enter the public domain as if the copyright extension hadn’t been upheld. It sounds like a fair compromise, that people from all sides of the argument could rally to. So it’ll probably fail.

Fuel efficiency is for pussies

Via Webword come two articles (here and here)on how SUVs are not nearly as safe as their manufacturers would like you to think, and how their owners are generally more aggressive and careless behind the wheel. And they have concrete facts and figures to back this up.

“To illustrate the kind of selfishness that marks some SUV drivers, Bradsher finds people who rave about how they’ve survived accidents with barely a scratch, yet neglected to mention that the people in the other car were all killed. (One such woman confesses rather chillingly to Bradsher that her first response after killing another driver was to go out and get an even bigger SUV.)

“The tragedy of SUVs is that highway fatalities were actually in decline before SUVs came into vogue, even though Americans were driving farther. This is true largely for one simple reason: the seatbelt. Seatbelt usage rose from 14 percent in 1984 to 73 percent in 2001. But seatbelts aren’t much help if you’re sideswiped by an Escalade, a prospect that looms yet more ominously as SUVs enter the used-car market. Not surprisingly, last year, for the first time in a decade, the number of highway deaths actually rose.”

If you’re going to drive a tank, chances are you’re going to treat the road like a battleground. And vice versa. It’s a nice self-fulfilling prophecy that does nothing but stuff money into the pockets of the car manufacturers and–most of all, the oil companies. Yes, them again. Remember: by driving an SUV, you’re supporting terrorists.

Truth in advertising? No thanks.

Also via Webword (people will start accusing you of being a Socialist soon, John 🙂 comes notice of another US Supreme Court case up for consideration soon: are corporations entitled to “free speech?” The simple answer is “no,” but unfortunately corporations have gained so much political power in the Western world that they’ll probably come out with a “yes”, or at the very least a strong “maybe.” If the justices do come out with a “no”, it’ll be framed in such a way that it still leaves the door open for corporations to be treated as “persons” in plenty of other areas of the law. Cynical, moi?

War on Iraq

Via Charlie Stross, a highly eloquent article in the Times from John Le Carré. There are circumstances in which war is justified. This war, though, is predicated on dishonesty. If it goes ahead at all, the US and British governments will have won their first victory already: they will have defeated their own people. That first battle is being fought with PR, spin, defective reasoning and outright lies. Decades of television and media infestation have worn down our intellectual defenses. “If we say you can go to war, will you please let us go back to our soaps and our reality TV?”

Wake up. Saddam Hussein is a bad man, but this isn’t the way to get rid of him. It isn’t the way to put a stop to terrorism. (Would an invasion of Ireland have put a stop to the IRA bombings in the 70s, 80s, and 90s?) And it sure as hell isn’t going to stop the proliferation of nuclear or biological weapons, as North Korea is busy proving. Or are we going to invade them, too? (Hmm. I think not.)

Overall: grrr

At some point I’ll have to do my paranoid rant about how I think corporations have developed some kind of gestalt consciousness of their own, and are controlling the world at a level beyond the comprehension (and influence) of ordinary humans. (It’s a Gaia kind of thing, but more selfish and less benign.)

2 Replies to “Collected activism”

  1. I Just Love the “by driving an SUV, you’re supporting terrorists” link and I’m sending it to a friend who drives a Suburban as soon as I’ve finished this comment!

    I’m not convinced I agree with your anti-war position. I’m not in favour of military action against Iraq at the present time but I don’t think I’m as against the whole idea as you are.

    I’m also not convinced by the Le Carré piece, he has a few good points, but mostly I have to agree with Lileks that it is a rant published by someone with a recognisable name – although that is about the only thing I agree with Lileks on and I’ve not bothered to bookmark his site.

    On the subject of invading North Korea have you seen the Onion article at:

    http://www.theonion.com/onion3901/bush_on_north_korea.html

    Remember this is the Onion, it’s not to be taken seriously…

  2. Hi..
    I couldn’t agree more regarding SUVs. I live in the States (we’ve met), and I curse SUV’s daily. Today, my wife (Karen Francis) and I were nearly driven off the road by a SUV. The driver was coming up fast behind us, and I thought I had better put on my signal light to let the driver know that I needed to get to the other lane. In response to my attempt to be considerate, the bastard sped up, honked at me, and made obscene gestures. Another thing that I dislike about SUV’s is the fact that if you’re driving behind them, you can’t see the road. It’s like driving behind a wall. Lastly, they will give improved performance in heavy snow, which is why most Michigan drivers claim to buy them. The truth that is seldom admitted is that they’re not a damn bit better on ice! Besides Karen, I always thought I was in the minority when it came to complaining about them. It’s good to see that someone else feels the same way. Take care.

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