I don’t believe in Imaginary Property (IP)

Canada’s been placed on the US’ copyright blacklist due to our ongoing resistance to implement new DMCA-alike laws to appease the RIAA / MPAA. The Obama administration is apparently upset that Harper keeps promising to enact new laws to protect an outmoded and archaic business model, yet not delivering. Join the club on that one — he ain’t exactly a paragon of virtue to us neither, Jack.

We signed the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) Internet treaties in 1997, much to my chagrin. Presently, we already pay a ridiculously high levy on every piece of blank media (CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes, regardless of what’s going on them, doesn’t matter), a tithe that goes directly to the CRIA, Canada’s answer to the RIAA. Now, at the very least as of my trip to Georgia last year, the States has declared they reserve the rights to search and sieze all counterfeit or copyright-infringing media without warrant at the border, including the contents of your laptop or iPod. I wasn’t searched, but if I had known this before my trip, I wouldn’t have brought my work laptop with me, for fear that it booting to Linux would make me an enemy of the state for not paying the Microsoft Tax, or a terrorism suspect for using a “hacker operating system”, or something else overreactionary and horrifying.

One way or another, the whole concept of copyright has to change, and soon, before these laws turn “piracy”, the act of copying some data without depriving the original user of their copy, from mere copyright infringement, into criminal activity.

Can you wrap your brain around either of these?

Submitted for your approval.

Like the image says.  Click it.  Now.  DO IT.

Like the image says. Click it. Now. DO IT.

I’d credit the image, but I saved it a while ago and can’t recall where I saw it originally — I think it was a comment on Pharyngula.

And this video I found during a discussion I had with our favorite misanthrope, Bob, a few weeks ago. Yes, he’s still alive, he’s just avoiding arguing on blogs now. Place isn’t the same without him.

Spam about the swine flu? How apropos!

As usual, don’t take investment, safety or medical advice from e-mail forwards. Here’s a blog post at the Great Orange Satan dissecting the origin of a new chain mail about the swine flu.

– There are 10-25 times more actual cases (not “possible” cases — actual), than what is being reported in the media. The way they fudge on reporting this is that it takes 3 days to get the confirmatory nod from the CDC on a given viral culture, but based on epidemiological grounds, we know that there are more than 10 cases for each “confirmed” case right now.
– During the night, we crossed the threshold for the definition of a WHO, Phase 6 global pandemic. This has not happened in any of our lifetimes so far.. We are in uncharted territory.
– They are advising President Obama to declare an emergency sometime in the next 72-96 hours. This may not happen, but if it doesn’t, I will be surprised. When this happens, all public gathering will be cancelled for 10 days minimum.
– I suggest all of us avoid public gatherings. Outdoor activities are not as likely to lead to infection.. It is contained areas and close contact that are the biggest risk.
– Tamiflu is running out. There is a national stockpile, but it will have to be carefully managed for law enforcement and first responders as it is not enough to treat the likely number of infections when this is full-blown. I don’t think there is a big supply of Relenza, but I do not know those numbers. If I had to choose, I would take Relenza, as I think it gets more drug to the affected tissue than Tamiflu.
– You should avoid going to the ER if you think you have been exposed or are symptomatic. ER’s south of here are becoming overwhelmed today– and I mean that — already.

I can’t even begin to tell you how irresponsible it is telling people not to visit the doctor if they believe they’re sick, not to mention proclaiming the only treatment to be in short supply when in actuality, virologists are metering out Tamiflu usage to only the most dire cases in hopes of keeping the virus from mutating. Bet the nutjobs will start stockpiling Relenza and Tamiflu because of this. Way to help the virus evolve, nutjobs. Thanks for your diligent work in trying to shorten our species’ life expectancy, you always do give 110% at it.

And that doesn’t even touch on the homeopathic and herbal remedy suggestions!

– N-Acetyl-Cysteine — a nutritional supplement available at the health food store or Wimberley Pharmacy, has been shown to prevent or lessen the severity of influenza. I suggest 1200mg, twice a day for adults, and 600mg twice a day in kids over 12. It would be hard to get kids under 12 to take it, but you could try opening the capsules and putting it on yogurt. For 40 pounds and up, 300-600 mg twice a day, for less than 40 pounds, half that.
– Oscillococinum, a homeopathic remedy, has been vindicated as quite effective in a large clinical trial in Europe, with an H1N1 variant. You can buy this at Hill Country Natural Foods, or the Wimberley Pharmacy.

The fearmongering and outright bullshit in this letter comes thick and fast, so we can’t afford to wait for a Snopes counterpoint to counter this letter. Naturally it’s making the rounds on the rightwing websites like Free Republic, along with aspersions cast about Obama refusing to close borders (you know, now that the virus is already in the country). Beyond all this, none of these assertions are sourced. So, can anyone help debunk this stuff?

Gorgeous picture of The Needle Galaxy

Astronomy Photo of the Day: NGC4565 edge-on. Apparently the galaxy is quite similar to our own, and oriented such that we see its edge rather than the spiral itself.

This picture is absolutely huge though. If you’ve got dial-up, or using a cell phone for internet access, or TCP/ITP (Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Telepathy Protocol), or TCP/IP over Wood, or something, I’d pass on this one.

How long do I have to speak freely?

Boy oh boy, I just can’t wait til it’s illegal to blaspheme here in Canada! Between the UN attempting to pass a measure pushed by Islamic countries to “combat blasphemy”, Ireland including blasphemy in a defamation law, and a seemingly dead Canadian law just waiting to be resurrected (perhaps three days from now?), it’s only a matter of time before some of the less rationally inclined reactivate that law and they come for me. I’ll be in stocks before you know it!

I wonder. What if I proclaimed my love for science as a religion, and any attempt to stifle scientific progress on the basis of other peoples’ false religions to be blasphemy? Would I then be protected?

I also wonder what’s gotten into me today. Suddenly I’m a blogging machine!

First proof that autism is genetic

Researchers find first common autism gene. I have a (wholly unscientific) suspicion that autism is the result of a whole bunch of genes that are expressed in a certain relatively rare configuration in relation to one another, manifesting in the whole spectrum of ‘autistic’ behaviours including a number that weren’t always classified as such, like Asperger’s. The particular configuration of genes determines where on that spectrum you fall. This news fits my suspicion, at least.

Incidentally, I have a suspicion that homosexuality is the same way — there’s no one single gene you can pinpoint, but it’s the result of a whole lot of genes interacting in a specific combination; no one single gene making you prefer partners of your gender. In combination, knowing all the genes involved could lead to, say, figuring out the odds of your kid being gay before they’re even born. Horrifyingly, if that’s the case, homophobic parents might choose to abort or give up for adoption children that have above a specific percentile chance of being gay. Likewise with parents abandoning autistic kids, but there’s no in-grained social stigma about being on the autistic spectrum.

Anyway, back on topic — I wonder whether Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey will claim that vaccines somehow change your genetics. Or if they’ll miss the point and suggest that genetics accounts for only 15% of autistic cases, not realizing that this only means we’ve figured out what one specific gene looks like, not that we’ve “isolated the autism gene”.

Update: Well I was wrong about there being no social stigma about being autistic. Catching up reading Orac, I saw this article. It’s unbelievable the pain people are willing to cause over ridiculous, unfounded, unscientific, irrational fear of the unknown.

Also, Phil Plait has more good news on the vaccination front: rationality wins one in Australia. Plus a brilliant poster about homeopathic Swine Flu remedies being outright scams.