One Foot Tsunami linked to a story about Washington State’s ballot initiative which would require labeling of genetically modified foods. The pithy comment notes that of the $22 million spent in opposition to this effort, only $550 of it came from within the state. Those interviewed in the article see this as an example of outside interests interfering in the internal affairs of a state.
Isn’t this exactly what would be expected, though? Yes, ballot initiative 522 only applies within Washington, but many of those affected by it are outside the state. Any business which sells GMO foods inside the state would now have to spend more on the labeling, while also giving themselves negative advertising due to public perception of GMO foods — or give up Washington as a market. Both of these are unappealing and damaging to their business, so why should it be any surprise that they would work to influence the vote using every legal means?
If Washington enacted some new restrictions regarding automobiles, such as requiring ugly colors and self-deprecating slogans for gas-guzzlers or something similar, would anyone be surprised if the Detroit-based automakers spent millions to oppose those?
I don’t have an opinion on GMO foods — I just don’t understand the surprise and outrage about this election spending.
The new iPhone’s fingerprint reader has already been hacked. Bruce Schneier has a summary; it’s a hack that can defeat most consumer fingerprint authentication devices, and the iPhone is simply the latest to get this treatment.
I think Bruce’s assertion that this is a good security trade-off is right, but for the wrong reasons. I think he underestimates the importance of a phone (IE, it can be used to make a payment/withdrawal in some cases), but I think it is still a positive development, and I intend to use it if I upgrade my current iPhone. The reason is that this is still more secure than the old PIN lock.
The PIN lock can be defeated in twenty minutes in a coffee shop by anyone with a computer and a USB cable; four digits just aren’t enough randomness to be more secure. The fingerprint hack, on the other hand, requires more materials (a scanner, laser printer, latex or glue, time, skill, a private place to work, and a copy of the fingerprint itself), and therefore more commitment and effort. Neither security scheme will deny a serious intruder, but this one is far harder for any one-off pickpocket or office thief, and therefore more secure.
I saw this tweet by Matt Gemmell yesterday, and found myself conflicted. My first thought was along the lines of, “Hey, he’s right!” Then I considered a bit more, and decided, “Well, no. I spend large parts of my day in iOS, and it is only natural to desire a beautiful and pleasant environment. I see celebrities’ outfits somewhere less than once per day, so of course their choices are irrelevant.” Then I thought a bit more, and realized, “But, wait, the people who tend to care about celebrity fashion also spend lots of their time on following said celebrities, both in their careers and their personal lives. So desiring beauty for them has the same source! They want a pleasant environment — they just have a different chosen environment than I do.”
So I retweeted it. Any 140-character comment that can cause that much thought is one worth sharing.
One of the feel-good arguments people use against copyright infringement (I’ve had more than one person use it on me personally) is that you enjoy a creator’s work without them seeing any profit from your enjoyment. If I pirate Magna Carta Holy Grail when Jay-Z’s label releases it next month, I get to groove to the beat without him receiving a dime.
At the same time, not one soul has ever chastised me for bringing my own store-bought candy into a movie theater. Theaters make essentially no money off your movie ticket — that goes straight to the studio. Theaters make their profit off the concession stand. That’s why they charge ten dollars for a bag of popcorn and five dollars for a soda that you would pay a buck for at McDonald’s. That’s why nearly all theaters say you may not bring in your own food — they want and need you to buy theirs.
So here we are. If I download Jay-Z’s album, I have saved myself ten or fifteen dollars and enjoyed the music (by finding an alternate source that gives me the same product for less), without either stealing from or giving to Jay-Z (he has neither lost nor gained any tangible property). If I bring my gas station M&M’s to watch the new Hobbit movie, I have saved myself ten or fifteen dollars and enjoyed some candy (by finding an alternate source that gives me the same product for less), without either stealing from or giving to the theater proprietor (he has neither lost nor gained any tangible property).
What is the difference between these two “crimes”? Just this: if the theater owner catches me, he might kick me out. If the intellectual property conglomerates catch me, they might sue me into oblivion, putting me millions of dollars in debt; I would be paying that off for the rest of my life.
Lauren and I have missed the last two months or so of Big Bang Theory. This week, we finally had time to try to catch up. We discovered that BBT was not available through Hulu, and their website had only the latest two episodes. To watch the several previous shows, we had to go find a pirate stream to watch. We did this, without too much trouble.
When we got to the episodes CBS had, we switched over. The official stream had ads (more than I’m used to for streams), and the quality was lacking — the stream skipped constantly, and the picture quality kept dropping out for a few seconds. The pirate streams didn’t have ads or quality issues.
So CBS tried to bring me in by giving me an inferior product with less availability, two things that are well within their power to fix. And these people wonder why piracy is common?