Ha ha ha, WIPOUT!

I just run across this really cute site, www.wipout.net, which has a bunch of essays on why the current intellectual property regime is dumb. It was a response to an international student essay contest that the WIPO sponsored in 2001 about, like, “What does intellectual property mean to me?” Which sounds like something that would make any decent student barf. So this collection of essays says stuff like, “I can’t purchase anti-HIV drugs because of patent law” instead. The site is cobwebby and not terribly standards compliant, but people were less conscious of standards back then (yes, a matter of a couple of years has made a difference). The essays don’t have airtight arguments, but it’s nice to see the perspectives of ordinary people on the subject.

In other news, I went into Philly today with my main man Steve Bhardwaj and Ivan Boothe of Why-War, to be interviewed by Lynn Landes for DUTV. While we were there we met Rebecca Mercuri in person for the first time, and we chilled and talked about all that good ol’ voting stuff. That was pretty cool, but the best part was driving there in Steve’s car listening to Simon and Garfunkel! Steve and I were singing “Keep the Customer Satisfied” all day, in harmony 🙂 That is, he harmonized, and I just blundered along, but trust me, it was cool.

Were old video games actually any good?

This is the funniest article I’ve read in a LONG time, it had me in stitches for 10 minutes when I should have been doing my Chinese homework. I found it on a random Swat alumn’s blog, continuing in the tradition that Swarthmore students pioneered.

The thing is, just think about how hard it would be to play old games if we didn’t have emulators. Most of us can’t play these old games and laugh at them anymore, because unlike the staff of a gaming magazine, we don’t have every piece of the history of gaming at our disposal. Unless you’re uber-careful with your equipment, your old gaming consoles are probably dead or dying, and what use will all of your game cartridges be without the machine that plays them? Sure, Space Invaders and other really popular games have survived to some degree in commercial form, but the more obscure games become completely unavailable as it becomes more difficult to find the old, proprietary hardware needed to play them. Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir if you got here from the SCDC‘s website, but we need the freedom to format-shift our old games to our new computers, so that all of this wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) creativity and entertainment isn’t lost forever.

Oppose the FTAA

Stop! Instead of reading this, go do something about the FTAA!
If you don’t know what the FTAA is, or why you should oppose it, read on.
To borrow from globalexchange.org, the FTAA is essentially an expansion of NAFTA, both into new geographic areas such as Central America, South America and the Caribbean, and into new areas of the economy and the law that NAFTA didn’t cover.

Even if you’re not opposed to NAFTA (and if don’t know enough about it to make a judgement, you really ought to research it more), you should be strongly opposed to the FTAA. As reported by IP Justice, the FTAA has a truly horrifying chapter on intellectual property rights. Basically it exports our poorly conceived copyright regime to the rest of the Western Hemisphere, and adds on even more autocratic provisions. Among other things, it mandates imprisonment (!) for P2P filesharing for signatory nations, and destroys many of our remaining “fair use” rights. To see for yourself, try searching the chapter for “prison”… then read the whole thing, if you have a legal bent. Otherwise just visit IP Justice’s page.

I just love how the government talks in Newspeak: Free Trade here means “we throw you in jail for trading files”. Are they going to arrest people for making mix CDs for one another? I thought it was bad enough with the RIAA‘s frivolous lawsuits; now we really may get the police spiriting you away in the night for using Kazaa, no joke.

The judge expedites our case

So, in case you haven’t heard, my friend Luke Smith and I are suing Diebold for trying to use copyright law to suppress their internal company memos that expose questionable business practices. We are being represented pro bono by lawyers from Stanford’s Cyberlaw clinic.
Today the judge set an accelerated schedule for our case, which seems like a good thing, since we would like to have free speech again as soon as possible 🙂

I asked the folks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation to link to the website for our club, the Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons, and they said they would… which would rock! It’ll be like a permanent Slashdotting! Ooh, Branen and all the other SCCS sysadmins are going to kick my butt for this one…

When flats are good

Last night I got a flat tire on my bike while riding past the construction around the new science center. I was very annoyed, because since I live in Woolman, slightly uphill from campus, biking to class and stuff is very convenient, and I save a good deal of time. I also enjoy leaving skid marks on the pavement and playing around with my 21 gears. I was quite dismayed at the prospect of having to actually walk around. However, a while back I was telling Blake how wonderful it was to save time with my bike, and he said, “So what do you do with all of the time you save?” I didn’t have a good answer. Where does the time go that I save in transit?

I guess it probably goes towards checking my e-mail or reading Slashdot; it doesn’t really help get me to class on time.

Today as I was walking back to my dorm, I noticed for the first time that the leaves were changing, and many of them had fallen to the ground already. In retrospect I remember that there had been leaves on the ground before; I like to step on the leaves and hear them crinkle and crackle, and I recall crinkling leaves several times in the last few weeks. However, it hadn’t really computed that, “Oh, fall is here, the leaves are pretty!” I’m glad that I took the time to look at all the colors, and check out the big picture, of the greenery of Swarthmore preparing for winter.

Eat? Sleep? Work? Party? Save the world?

My parents are probably going to kick my butt next time they see me, because I keep forgetting to eat, and I’ve definitely gotten thinner. There are several reasons this happens:(1)I get wrapped up in homework or SCDC business, and never make it to the dining hall or my room to eat (2)I make it to the dining hall, but something terribly exciting comes up and I drop my food and run off, or an interesting topic of conversation comes up and I neglect my dinner (3)I make it back to my room, but instead of cooking something, I just nibble on a snack.

The positive side of all this is that I’ve become so insubstantial that I can sneak around like Frodo Baggins with the One Ring, and nobody can catch me! Whee!