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Howard Knopf noticed a piece in the Hill Times today, in which Conservative lobbyist Jeff Norquay claims that:

the copyright lobby will be in full force when the House returns and he expects a draft legislation to be tabled within months. The government introduced copyright legislation in the last Parliament, but it died on the Order Paper when the election was called.

So the Canadian DMCA will be tabled before Parliament once more. Hopefully the new crop of MPs are savvy enough to drop it…yet again.

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Although the term "copyright reform" wasn't included in today's Speech from the Throne, it is still considered to be part of the legislative agenda.

From the G&M (I would have linked to the Speech on but it's not up yet - argh!):
While Monday's Throne Speech does not repeat the non-economic pledges of the Nov. 19 speech, it does say the government will also “attend to the other important priorities that it set out” in its earlier Throne Speech.
So anything mentioned in the previous Speech is fair game...including the Canadian DMCA.
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Tomorrow, a new Parliamentary session will open for Canada’s 40th government. The Speech from the Throne that will kick things off will be mostly about the state of the economy and what the government plans to do about it.

Among the billions of dollars of promised spending, I’ll be looking to see if this Speech from the Throne will repeat the previous promise to introduce DMCA-like legislation in Canada.

Hopefully the Harper government has got the message and will drop its planned changes to the Copyright Act. For one thing, the changing of the guard in Washington last week will likely lessen the foreign pressure to adopt such legislation.

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If I was sure that I had correctly heard this snippet of conversation, I would submit it to Overheard at Western.

One Standard-Issue Western Girl to another: "Now grade six, that's when I realized that I was sin-GLE and I started going On. The. Prowl!"


Dec. 19th, 2008 08:04 am
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Mark Felt has passed away.

Would that someone had followed his example in the last 8 years.

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Finished Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity.

I have now picked up The Canterbury Tales, which had been on The Pile for a while. With the 4 hours that I spent waiting for or riding on buses today to get to and from work, I managed to get a good start on it.

Fun Times!

Nov. 30th, 2008 10:22 pm
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From CBC, just now:

"A deal has been negotiated between NDP Leader Jack Layton and Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion that would see them form a coalition government for two and a half years, the CBC's Keith Boag reported, citing sources.

"The NDP would be invited into cabinet and get 25 per cent of seats, Boag said, adding that the party wouldn't get the position of the finance chair or the deputy prime minister's post."

I'm so glad I'm back in Ottawa for these few months. First, there was a federal election...and now something even more exciting!

Sidenote: As a disgruntled Green, I have to say that Elizabeth May's decision to run against Peter McKay is looking dumber and dumber by the minute (and it was pretty dumb to begin with). Had she run in an easier riding, she would likely have a cabinet post in such a coalition and the Green Party would still be on the political map.
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This is an interesting little application.

From the House of Commons map, you can see which MPs are from which province and even select them by gender.

It's interesting to see the largest group of Conservative female MPs are all lined up directly behind the PM. After that row, it gets a bit sparse.

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I play this game on the Sportsnet website called Premiership Predictor. Essentially, they list the upcoming weekend's English football games and you have to go down the list and pick the winning team of every game, or if it will end in a draw. For each correct winner you pick, you get 2 points. If you correctly pick a draw, you get 3.

Last year, I did poorly, but then I missed the first few weeks due to our honeymoon and then my knee surgery. This year, I have been steadily climbing until, now, I'm ranked #2. Number two! Out of thousands and thousands of people! One of the co-anchors is ranked in the 1700s! If I'm 1st on December 28th, I will win the first half of the contest and get a 16GB iPod.

Of course, last week's #2 dropped to #18 this week, so I can't get my hopes up too much. It's a volatile thing, this Premiership Predictor.

Another surprising thing occurred over the past few weeks. I was late for the bus one day and I saw it reach the corner ahead of me. I immediately started running, my heavy laptop bag and moderately heavy shoulder bag weighing me down quite a bit.

It was only after I had sat down on the bus that I realized that I haven't been able to run since last July. Somehow, something got better with my knee in the last few weeks.

I had actually been really depressed about it since it got too cold for me to cycle to work. I didn't go to the gym anymore and I was feeling pretty resigned to remaining a football spectator only, never again a (recreational) player. After that run for the bus, I started going to the gym.

It's not 100%, of course. It cracks if I try to do open-chain exercises, so I don't do those. But it can take more than it could even just one month ago. I haven't tried running again - I don't want to jinx it - but I'm encouraged and hopeful enough to get back to the exercise routine that I've been following for a year now. As my surgeon said, it is possible for this type of problem to fix itself over time. I just need to keep up my exercises.

And some music from a new iPod could help keep me motivated...
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After October, Phillies fans found excuses to cheer for just about anything.

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To continue our Classics Initiative, I went to the video store on Friday night to rent The Godfather Part 2. I saw Part 3 sitting beside it and decided to pick it up at the same time - they're only due on the following Saturday, so we could watch it next Friday night. When I got to the cash, the clerk told me that I could pick another 1-week-rental for only $1 more.

So I picked up The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It was a sneaky way to successfully end my campaign but I have no regrets. You do what you gotta do.

We watched The Godfather Part 2 on Friday night. I liked it but not as much as the first one. I did find it fascinating to see Robert DeNiro that young, though, and I was very much convinced that he was a younger version of Marlon Brando's Vito Corleone.

We watched The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly last night and I quite liked it. The Missus...well, The Missus hated it. She found it too slow (it takes 10 minutes for the first line of dialogue to be uttered). I, however, kind of enjoyed those long, silent moments when they managed to  add a bit of tension. The Mexican standoff at the end is a good example, and was absolutely classic.

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For the previous two years, I have downloaded the audio files of the CBC's Massey Lectures. They were available through CBC's Ideas podcast as MP3s and also made available for download from the Ideas web site.

This year, Margaret Atwood's lectures are only made available in Flash, with the warning: "Audio files are streaming only. They are not available as downloads."

Was this CBC's decision, or Atwood's decision?
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I'm trying to continue learning Spanish. After spending 8 months listening to Teach Yourself Spanish CDs while zooming up and down the 401, I'm finding that I'm missing it a little. Unfortunately, when I'm not confined to a car for hours at a time, learning by CD isn't my favoured method of picking it up. I can listen (and follow along in the small booklet) for 30 minutes or so but I quickly lose interest. I just don't feel active enough.

So I decided to combine two of my interests: learning Spanish and - naturally - futbol. For the past two weeks, I have had my RSS reader pointed to both Marca and AS, the top two sports papers in Madrid. Sitting at my desk at home, I can quickly flip through my Collins Express Spanish Dictionary to look up unknown words in the articles, which keeps the pace quick and keeps me on my toes.

Finally, I'm going to mine some of my easier movies for their Spanish audio. This weekend, for starters, I'm going to try to make it through the first half of Shrek in Spanish.

Reading: Finished Canadian Copyright: A Citizen's Guide. It'll be a very handy reference until the Copyright Act is updated. I have now moved on to The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System. It's a bit dated now (first published in 2004) but it's a good reminder of some of the things I was following way-back-when.

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Reading: I have started reading Canadian Copyright: A Citizen's Guide. It's really good but it's a little dry, so I need to time my reading in such a way that I'm in the right frame of mind whenever I pick it up. It will make a handy reference guide.

Movies: We have started our Classics Initiative and it is going well. We rented Casablanca two weeks ago and I was floored by how good it was. I cynically expected it to show its age, or not be able to live up to its reputation, or something. But it was just fantastic.

This weekend, we rented The Godfather, which was also excellent. We had a bit of trouble understanding Marlon Brando at some points but that was our only (small) complaint. We'll now finish off the trilogy over the next few weeks (including Part 3, which I understand isn't so classic...).

We haven't decided what to watch after that, but I have already started my campaign for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Unfortunately, my tactic of pushing the soundtrack has not met with much success.

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This year's Massey Lectures are about debt and are delivered by Margaret Atwood. This post is an attempt at a more eloquent way of saying "Worst. Massey Lectures. Ever."

With the Masseys, you have a tradition of experts being invited to deliver a series of lectures about the stuff they really know about.  Examples from my own bookshelf include Martin Luther King Jr. about the civil rights movement (1967), Noam Chomsky about controlling dissent in democratic societies (1988), and Stephen Lewis about AIDS in Africa (2005).

And now Margaret Atwood on...debt? I have read the first three lectures and it doesn't work.

To top things off, I got excited when I saw that the second lecture mentioned Systems of Survival by Jane Jacobs. My hopes were quickly dashed as Atwood completely misinterpreted what Jacobs wrote, and then went off on this incorrect bearing for half of the lecture. It's downright embarrassing. It's like she read Jacobs' book years ago and didn't bother to go back to make sure her memories of it were correct.

She makes attempts at joking, which seem very out of place in such lectures. Even then, they might have worked had they actually been funny. The jokes feel like padding; they're that unnecessary. An example (p. 57), in which she mentions Emile Zola's novel, Germinal:

You'll be pleased to learn that there's a famous riot scene in which the wives and daughters get their full revenge, and the genital organs of the store owner are skewered on a stick that's carried in triumphant procession through the streets - a crude form of entertainment, granted, but there was no TV then.

Was it really necessary to add that last bit? It's lazy, it's not funny, and it adds nothing to the lecture at all.

The jokes, while irritating, aren't as insulting as some of the other bits. In the third lecture, "Debt as Plot", she suggests that we are tempted to go into debt because it keeps the excitement in our lives:

Could it be that some people get into debt because, like speeding on a motorbike, it adds an adrenaline hit to their otherwise humdrum lives? When the bailiffs are knocking at the door and the lights go off because you didn't pay the hydro and the bank's threatening to foreclose, at least you can't complain of ennui.

That makes for great storytelling but it adds nothing to the understanding of causes and effects of debt. Margaret Atwood may be able to laugh off debt by saying that her father had to pawn his fountain pen back in the late 1930s; the rest of us wouldn't mind a bit more insight from someone with an understanding of the causes and effects of the current financial meltdown (and many of us have more harrowing family stories of the great depression than having a family member *gasp* pawning a fountain pen).

In the past, the Massey Lectures have been given by experts sharing their knowledge about a topic. This year, Margaret Atwood is learning about debt on the spot. Her intro says it all:

The motive for this book is curiosity - mine - and my hope is that the writing of it will allow me to explore a subject I know little about, but which for this reason intrigues me. That subject is debt.

Given the current economic situation, I can't think of a better topic to address in this year's Masseys. I also can't think of a worse person to broach that subject than Margaret Atwood.


Oct. 16th, 2008 06:57 pm
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I'm still a bit sick but was tired of working from home, so I went into the office. Luckily, very few people were in today and I had my part of the library to myself, so I don't think I infected anyone.

At lunch, I went out and finally bought Manifesto, the latest album from The Souljazz Orchestra. It's even better than their last one. There's less Afrobeat in the songs, which I miss, but it's been replaced by increased funk.

Reading: I finished the last two Sherlock Holmes novels (The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear). I began the last of the short stories this weekend, but before I started on them I took a small break from Baker Street and read Watchmen. I have mixed feelings about Watchmen.. It was good, but I didn't find it great. Part of it probably lies in my instinctual aversion to serials (I hated The Count of Monte Cristo, and Book IV of The Lord of the Rings is my least favourite of the six). Part of it might be that I was reading it during the onset of a cold combined with a weekend of unending family gatherings. I'll have to revisit it sometime in the future and revise my LibraryThing rating accordingly.

Sick People

Oct. 5th, 2008 10:03 pm
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I was running around town all day today. I went downtown to catch the Liverpool-Manchester City game and noticed that a sign for Conservative Brian McGarry had been completely destroyed by vandals. On the way home, I noticed that all of the Green Party signs on a hill in Orleans had been destroyed as well. I tsk-tsked to myself.

But cutting the brake lines of cars belonging to Liberals supporters and vandalizing their houses? That's pretty disgusting. I hope they find the misguided idiots that did this.

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I watched the English debate. I certainly haven't been a big fan of Elizabeth May, but I thought she did really well last night. A lot of people seem to think that Jack Layton or Stephen Harper won. Not for me. May came across as the most knowledgeable person sitting at the table, and the quickest on her feet. Had she not started talking over the moderator during the second hour, I would have said that she had the best performance possible for a first-time participant.

Stéphane Dion had a least by my standards, which aren't likely shared by others. When he talked into the camera, I felt like I was a child and that he was calmly explaining why I should look both ways before crossing the road. I much preferred the feisty Dion from the French debate (particularly when he took on Layton on Afghanistan, which, for my money, was the best exchange in French). I wish the Liberals had stuck with that feisty style but the party has its own polls that no doubt guided Dion's strategy.

Stephen Harper's continuous use of "Let's be clear" reminded me Paul Martin's "Make no mistake". In both cases, it seemed to be an indication that the words that followed had been memorized by rote beforehand to be delivered robotically during the debate. I was unimpressed but I think others will think he did just enough. Personally, I saw someone phoning in his performance. In fact, the entire Conservative campaign seems to be about "phoning it in" ever since the juvenile Conservative war-roomers were beaten down after the first week of the campaign.

I'm getting so tired of Duceppe. I'm just glad he had some new talking points, unlike in 2006, when he essentially recycled his notes from 2004 and gave almost a word-for-word repeat of that performance.

But that's the opinion of one guy, who watched the debate alone after a long day in his hotel room in Hamilton. Your mileage may vary!
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I've been working pretty hard and my personal life has been pretty uneventful, so there hasn't been much to report here. Professional issues I have encountered (and there have been a few!) are being documented on my other blog. I'm posting there relatively frequently, and traffic is slowly increasing.

Speaking of blogs, I stumbled across my original blog, started in the summer of 2000, about one year after the term "blog" had been invented. I had forgotten that I had been doing this for this long. I went through and read all of my old posts and it's pretty terrible (although nothing that would prevent me from running for public office one day - heaven forbid!). Funny to see it still there, though.

I have decided that this year I'll dress up as Sherlock Holmes for Halloween. I have been enjoying reading through the collected stories and have now passed the halfway point (I'm currently on Novel 3 of 4, and have completed 3 of 5 of the short story collections). Some stories are better than others, but when they're good, they make for excellent bedtime reading (The Hound of the Baskervilles currently has me completely hooked).

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We rented Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? last night and laughed until we nearly cried. The Osama dance video near the beginning was just too much.

Then this morning I woke up early and made it to the pub in time for Liverpool's win over Manchester United. I busted out my new longsleeved Liverpool jersey for the first time.

Tales from the Canadian election trail seemed to cool off a little on Friday after a crazy first week. Hopefully everyone can catch their breath this weekend and then get back to their antics soon.

I noticed this morning that the Green Party has completely revamped their website. Apart from the change in style, it's notable that the direct links to members' blog posts have been replaced by links to sections of the party's policy. Not a bad move. They even put up a photo of Elizabeth May in which she is wearing decent clothing, has her hair done, and is possibly wearing make-up!