I guess I never really thought of wildlife tracking in the bigger context of universal media....
Here, the walleye of Montana get the treatment.
Think about how the current logic about IP protection plays out when it's not about music and movies, but about the food supply. Don't doubt for a second that the issues being played out in downloading will have huge implications for the entire world.... Just wait until we get to the agricultural version of the RIAA crackdown. ...
From the New York Times -
A federal judge let proceed an antitrust case that accused the Monsanto Company and other big agricultural seed giants of conspiring to control the world's market in genetically modified crops.
This antiturst suit was brought by farmers, who complain that Monsanto (which produces about 90 percent of the world's biotechnology traits, the genes that transform ordinary seeds into new types of crops and then patents and licenses its traits to other seed companies), Bayer, Syngenta and Pioneer (the world's largest seed company) conspired to drive up prices.
Monsanto (which, as you may recall, morphed from a chemical company to a "biotech" company) has already famously sued farmers for IP infringement, including a Saskatchewan farmer who vociferously opposed the introduction of Monsanto seed in his area, but whose crop was cross-pollinated by a nearby field.
Monsanto is also the purveyor of the "terminator gene" which renders next-generation seed sterile -- you have to buy new seed every year, instead of saving part of your crop for planting. Farmers outside the US, who have been saving seed for several THOUSAND years, are fighting this "feature." Oh, and Monsanto is a leader in finding crops that do well in certain areas, like India, (because they have been selectively bred to thrive there by many generations of farmers) and patenting those genetic strains. So the farmers who plant that crop, but don't buy the seed from Monsanto and its competitors/alleged co-conspirators, are violating Monsanto's IP rights.
But, of course, it's a lot easier to form crucial IP laws and practices favorable to industry about something like music downloads, and then apply it to everything else that comes up.
In the wake of Isabel, we get to examine once again the fragility of many of our systems. (Electric power in the DC area is still off for many residents -- mine was only down for 12 hours.) In the rush to put reporters in harm's way, the TV stations sent their fearless correspondents to the Outer Banks of N. Carolina. The "OBX" are a favorite vacation spot for lots of easterners. I am constantly amazed by the number of SUVs in No. Virginia that sport OBX stickers on their back windows....
These barriers islands are fragile, shifting, and waaayyy overbuilt. It is a huge, expensive effort to keep them from migrating, which is what barrier islands do. Luckily, Sergeant Silt of the US Army Corps of Engineers is on hand. I will let the reader ruminate on the heroic futility of keeping sandy beaches from washing into the ocean.
Watching the storm beat the living shit out of the houses on those islands, one's thoughts may run along the lines of "gee, hope they've got insurance." And indeed they do. However, you wouldn't catch any of those steely-eyed actuaries in the insurance business selling flood insurance to a "foolish man who built his house upon sand." (To quote one well-known 2000 year old source...) No way. Only the US taxpayer could be called upon to underwrite such a venture. Enter FEMA, and the federal flood insurance program. This huge, unsustainable boondoggle allows you and me (US readers only) to bear the risks for what no company in the business will -- building multi-million dollar houses in unstable, flood-prone, ecologically sensitive areas. Makes perfect sense.
We will all be bearing even more of the burden in pretty short order. Although these guys say Isabel isn't a problem, AIG says she is (at least for the weaker insurance companies). I think that we are going to be seeing lots more "weaker" companies. Check out Bruce Sterling's Viridian Mailing List for some timeless observations on why the world is becoming uninsurable.
Well, except for what you and I insure.
Here in NoVa, the weather is starting to get bad. The size of Isabel is impressive -- the storm just "came ashore" 250 miles away in N. Carolina, and we're already getting some serious wind and rain. Not expecting the worst part of it until late tonight. Wind is about 30 mph here in the western burbs at about 4 pm. We're not weather sissies -- really! I mean it. Northerners mock DC during snowstorms, and Southerners mock DC in rainy/hurricane weather. Oklahomans mock us when we have tornado warnings. Basically, we get our ass kicked by pretty much every disastrous natural phenomenon except earthquakes....
In typical fashion, the kids are living it up -- the liquid equivalent of a snow day. There are cascading effects here in the DC area. When Metro announced (yesterday) that they would close the above-ground trains and buses when winds hit 40 mph, the federal government had to assess when it would send people home. Something like 200,000 people ride the Metro system every day. When the federal government closes, all the schools close, and vice versa. Last night, they just called the whole thing off. There have been some occasions in the past few years when the feds were a little slow closing down, people got stranded, significant unhappiness ensued. So now we shut down at the drop of a dime.
Also in typical fashion, my wife sees today as a home-improvement windfall -- so my day is pretty well filled up. Hanging valences, moving furniture, spackling, tinkering, etc. In previous hurricanes (non-DC), I've just been getting started with the party right about now. With 2 small kids and a pregnant wife, a heavy two-day party seems like less of a good idea.
The massive power failures have already started. Hundreds of thousands of people without electricity in NC, VA and MD. And this is just getting started. Although the local stations are yakking endlessly about what to expect, we are not getting word about what's really happening in NC right now. They are reporting that the winds are still right around 100 mph, with higher gusts. But where? How are those folks doing?
Just heard that PEPCO (the power co.) will be handing out dry ice in the parking lot of RFK stadium. I can't even compose a sentence to react to that announcement....
Suggested hurricane reading:
J.G. Ballard: The Drowned World (Obsessive, makes me sweat profusely just thinking about it.)
John D. McDonald: Condominium (One of McDonald's best. No reason to think that the shitbirds that build condos on the beaches of NC and VA are any different from the shitbirds that build them in Florida...)
Ernie the Attorney said some very nice things about my recent blogging efforts. Thanks Ernie! That's quite encouraging for a total newbie.
Ernie recently asked his readers at PDF for Lawyers if anyone was interested in co-authoring some posts for the site. After about 2 years of non-blogging/lurking in the blogosphere, I decided "what the hell." I had signed up for TypePad (awesome tool guys!) but hadn't written anything yet. So committing to write for that site motivated me to start posting some things here too.
Oh, and Ernie . . . I live in Northern Virginia near Dulles Airport, not Dallas :) I work in downtown DeeCee.
Which, by the way, is closed on Thursday due to inclement weather.
India's Business Standard newspaper reported [back in January (?)] on the RNC's 'smart' use of campaign funds - using low-paid sweatshop call centre workers in Noida, India to call up Americans and pump them for campaign funds to support the Bush re-election campaign.
The Republicans deny it, including this remarkable assertion that, rather than the RNC, the company "could be referring to some other Republican Party entity or conservative organization."
Oh yeah, one of those other "Republican Parties." That Indian magazine must not be fair and balanced. Certainly no American rag would publish such an unsubstantiated tissue of ... whatever.
The rebuttal also says
"A check of Federal Election Commission disclosure reports through July 22 by WorldNetDaily confirm neither HCL Technologies nor eServe received disbursements from the RNC."
I can only link to The Shifted Librarian, who fully covers AG Ashcroft's latest assault. Posted as "Offered without Comment Because It's Just So Damn Absurd"
I can offer no other commentary right now either....
by the way, you must follow the link "Why You Should Fall to Your Knees and Worship a Librarian." And buy the t-shirt....
can we nominate a dead guy for Attorney General so that I can vote for him?
Nothing like an impending natural disaster to focus the mind. Washington DC, your global climate change test zone (sorry Frenchie, your troubles have nothing to do with us!), is bracing for the latest in this year's weather extravaganzas. If I'm reading the latest warning correctly, tomorrow afternoon should start looking pretty hairy. Are we talking about a good sized storm surge coming up the Potomac? Cause the way that sumbitch is lined up right now, it looks like the old counter-clockwise rotational thing is going to blow a whole, whole lotta water up the Potomac. That ought to do wonders for the Blue Plains sewage treatment plant, which on its best day is a health hazard. . . Paging Dr. Wexelblat . . .
So if the blizzard last winter shut down the US government for days, and the recent thunderstorms rendered people (literally) power-less, I can't wait to see a storm that's about 300 miles across. Oh yeah, and we have had the wettest spring and summer on record . .
Check out the National Hurricane Center satellite photos.
This just in about "smart stamps" from the US Postal Service
Though details remain sketchy, an intelligent mail system would involve using barcodes or special stamps, identifying, at a minimum, the sender, the destination and the class of mail. USPS already offers mail-tracking services to corporate customers. The report proposes a broad expansion of the concept to all mail for national security purposes. It also suggests USPS work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop the system.
Sketchy is right.... The report itself is here.
Oh, I get it -- it's really a matter of standard government contracting business development...
The commission that released the report is overseen by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and was established by an executive order from President Bush last year. It’s led by Harry Pearce, chairman of Hughes Electronics, a subsidiary of General Motors, and James Johnson, vice chairman of Perseus, an investment banking firm.
Major high-tech companies, including Canon, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Pitney Bowes, Symbol Technologies and Stamps.com, are pushing the Postal Service to adopt intelligent mail systems. Each participates in a special committee on intelligent mail run by the Mailing Industry Task Force, a cross-industry group formed in 2001 with the support of Postmaster General John Potter.
The USPS has plenty of problems, and it's positively bleeding cash. Paying for a boondoggle of this magnitude probably isn't going to cure that situation. But, don't worry about your privacy in the short term -- this system would undoubtedly suck. However, once it gets running, we are all neck deep in the Surveillance Society. This has all the earmarks of a billion dollar rathole down which your tax dollars can flow (into the pockets of the above-named Task Force participants).
Besides, when was the last time the USPS really truly lost a piece of your first-class mail? How freaking "smart" does mail need to be? Maybe if I could send an email to all the junk mail headed my way and tell it to throw itself away, I'd go for this....
Like all "Impactiful" developments, this looks to have its good and bad points. From Wired News:
A consortium of retailers and consumer goods companies plan to unveil the replacement for the bar code next week. The upgrade will use a controversial radio technology that critics say will significantly expand the powers of retailers to track the whereabouts of their goods and the people who buy them.
The EFF expresses its concern....
The Auto-ID Center will not publish its plan for protecting consumers, however. A draft proposal recommends that retailers disable the RFID tags at checkout, but only when shoppers ask them to do so, said Kevin Ashton, a Procter & Gamble brand manager and the center's director.
That's nice -- "yes, we have a plan for protecting your privacy. No, we won't tell you what it is. Trust us to know what is best for you. (And by the way, you should squeeze that tube from the bottom and roll up as you go....)"
Now, why would it even be optional that these things be disabled? Shouldn't that be the default? And then if you want it to talk to your internet-enabled fridge, or medicine cabinet, or whatever, you can opt in.... oh yeah, those items don't exist yet.....
And when will we yokels be able to get in on the action? In Bruce Sterling's Distraction, every object, child, etc. is radio-tagged, so you never lose anything. (Also, every thing/where is bugged.)
Interesting what that does to the idea of ownership. Am I going to get sued by Procter & Gamble if I use my PowerBook to keep track of my razor for my own selfish purposes? What if I disable the RFID myself; is that going to be a violation of some license? Is Walmart going to pay me to use my broadband connection when the finkware decides to file a report?
EFF has a point -- just because it's buggy and lame now, doesn't mean it's harmless. Once something gets built into the infrastructure of commercial society, it's really really hard to dislodge it. Code, as Professor Lessig says, is Law....