the shadowy incessant dread

i’ve been staring the TPP in the face for so long, the details of its horrifying features fade away sometimes. numbed to the shock and anger, the thought of it morphs into a shadowy incessant dread. it’s hard to make it go away, even when i’m supposed to be relaxing.

the negotiations ended two weeks ago, then the Intellectual Property chapter leaked a few days after that. that bit is pretty much as bad as we’ve always thought it’d be. we haven’t even seen the other 29 chapters.

but the specifics don’t matter if the whole thing’s rotten.

At the National Lawyers’ Guild Convention where i spoke this morning, someone from the audience got up to say that with social and economic justice work, we’ve all been painting and fixing the roofing on the house when its entire foundation is caving in beneath our feet—that, the entire edifice of democracy based on common public interest (at least the hope of a universal, inclusive kind that many are trying to build) is crashing right before our eyes.

the TPP, and other trade deals TTIP and TISA, is representative of a longer trend of policymaking that’s based on myopic priorities of “economic growth” at the expense of ALL other considerations—be it human rights, economic/gender/racial equality, etc. it seems like we’re nailing ourselves into the coffin of neo-liberal, corporate-sovereignty-enhancing international regulations.

on the whole i’m optimistic that we’ve got a chance to kill this thing, and make room for a larger dialogue about how we ought to be making good, solid policymaking that’s not driven by an elite of private wealthy interests.

but sometimes, here and there, i let the immensity of it get to me and i just want to roll up in a ball and cry at the indifference, the greed, and the powerful toxic insecurity that drives it all. the insecurity of corporate execs who fear the diminishing growth of their companies and will do anything to curb it. the insecurity of U.S. officials about whatever threat BRICS countries poses to its current hegemony (and similarly for countries that take advantage of the United States’ current geopolitical standing ::cough:: japan ::cough:: australia ::cough::).

years of sending trade delegates back and forth across the world meeting at expensive luxury hotels to make a giant deal based on a screwed up agenda, with the guaranteed sugarcoating by officials who’ll do anything to make it all seem palatable to the common person…it’s so goddamn frustrating that we’re wasting so many resources doing this when we actually have real problems to solve.

i just want to take Obama by the shoulders and shake him and yell “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS.” he, more than anyone else in this world, is in a position to pop this bubble of madness. he used to be critical of all this… at least he claimed to….

anyway. i’m exhausted. i feel somewhat better having dragged this rant out of me. tomorrow i have to wake up and think optimistically about all this or else i’ll never want to get out of bed.

 

ISDS: the crown jewel for global plutocracy

Wikileaks has publicly exposed another chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, and in effect, has delivered a massive blow against this secret, multinational trade deal. This time it was the text on Investment, which has, among many other things, language on what’s called “investor-state dispute settlement,” or ISDS for short. This investor-state process essentially enables corporations to file lawsuits against governments—federal or state/provincial—over policies that the company claims harms their investments or “expected future profits.”

There have been ISDS cases involving oil companies suing small countries, like Ecuador, which tried to enact rules to protect the forests and rivers. There have been cases where an energy company sued a country for deciding to shut down its nuclear power plants. And there have been cases where a court found that an over-broad medicine patent was invalid, leading the pharmaceutical company to challenge the ruling in an ISDS process.

I’ve briefly ranted about ISDS before. Now that we’ve seen the text, we can confirm it’s utterly as evil as we expected it to be. This is about corporations having sovereignty, and having the power to challenge government rules, even if the law was passed democratically and is seen as totally legitimate in the eyes of the people. Given all the other provisions in trade agreements, such as those on “Intellectual Property”, ISDS enables corporations to challenge the way government interprets those provisions as long as the corporation can claim that the law stifled their profit-making abilities.

Think about that.

These rules mean that private industries can unravel public-interest policies, through the singular, self-interested justification that their ability to make money has been made more difficult…Since when do companies have an unalienable right to profit, at the expense of everyone else’s concerns?

More importantly, why the hell are public officials selling us out to mega-corporations? Are they just getting lobbied so hard, and have become so intimate with myopic corporate representatives as to believe that this is remotely compatible with an actual functioning democracy?

 

The Evil, Boring Trade Triad

John Oliver did a terrific number on the net neutrality debate to expose the fuckery involved in making shitty public policy, but the best line in his whole bit was this:

“If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.”

begin rant/

That’s pretty much the strategy behind the triad of massive, corporate-driven trade agreements which are currently being negotiated: TPP, TTIP, and the recently discovered* TISA (*recently discovered by activists like me, that is).

I’ve been fighting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for over two years now for EFF, over copyright provisions that would, in a few words, restrict free speech online, limit how we can all create and remix culture, and in several oppressive ways, control how we are allowed to understand and modify the technology that we use every day. It would massively expand and export already broken copyright laws to countries that don’t have them, and elevate them as new “international standards” for others to emulate and to which they would become pressured to conform.

In the beginning of last year, another new trade agreement was announced during Obama’s State of the Union Address—one that would encompass all the European Union countries and the United States. It’s called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (or T-TIP, for short). Based upon news reports, it seems like it’s riddled with so much controversy that the EU and US still can’t even decide which policies to include in it. We haven’t covered it much at EFF since we don’t yet even know if it’s going to include copyright or digital privacy-regulating provisions, but it’s very, very likely that it will.

Alright so we have TPP, TTIP…and now TISA, the Trade in Services Agreement. Just as with net neutrality (although Tim Wu is the one that should be to blame for coining that term…but whatever), policymakers have adopted the most boring names for the most EVIL things they’re trying to pass into law. In the case of the Evil Trade Triad—it’s corporate interests pushing for the laws of their choosing into international law.

I often get asked, “Who even cares about international law though? Isn’t it mostly ignored?”

Totally fair question.

The thing is that when it does get enforced, it’s done selectively and almost always for geopolitical, economic reasons. The danger with these agreements, and the many that came before it, is that they’re increasingly being used to undermine publically-beneficial policies.

So your government wants to pass a law banning mining in that protected rainforest? Good luck. You’re violating a corporation’s right to make profit and it can totally sue your government for a billion dollars for trying to stop them.

You think it might be good public policy to limit the kinds of patents big pharma companies can file so they can’t just jack up the price on medicines on patients? Nope! Pharmaceutical corporations can sue for hundreds of millions of dollars for even daring to challenge their bottom line.

And that’s just talkin’ about investor-state dispute resolu…..ZZZzzzzzz~

Yup, boring as hell. And fucking evil.

Okay okay so what’s the deal with TISA? I need to do more digging to figure out exactly what the deal is with this TISA agreement, but so far it looks and smells fucking wretched. The fact that the agreement will be kept secret five years after it enters into force is enough to make me want to smash all the fingers off the Invisible Hand. But this week, Wikileaks revealed only part of the agreement—and it showed that it would undermine nations’ ability to regulate financial services.

Remember that financial crash a few years ago? Where millions of people lost their jobs, their homes, and the people who were and continue to be disproportionately affected are those who were already poor and struggling? Well there were many reasons why it happened by lack of regulation was NOT one of them. One of the major reasons it happened was because previously enacted regulations that we had enough foresight to pass the last time we had a devastating economic crash were struck down in the previous decade. Then banks went full DGAF and invested in shady assets and went off the deep end with wacky loan packages and debt trading. Pretty much everyone who was behind it got off scot-free, while society, and especially the poor, suffered most of all.

Policies that could help us avoid disasters like that might become “inconsistent” with our trade obligations under TISA. But that’s only one piece of it.

From the little we know about TISA, it looks to be in the business of undermining existing or future public services, and force such programs to become open to private contracts so that multinational corporations can take over. Public Services International had this to say about it:

The “disciplines,” or treaty rules, would provide all foreign providers access to domestic markets at “no less favorable” conditions as domestic suppliers and would restrict governments’ ability to regulate, purchase and provide services. This would essentially change the regulation of many public and privatized or commercial services from serving the public interest to serving the profit interests of private, foreign corporations.

What would that mean for public transportation? National parks? Public education? Even public utilities like water and power? Will TISA impact these? Or will it impact only some? Who knows! And it’ll be secret for FIVE YEARS after it goes into effect. Just imagine—we’ll start seeing all of our public services privatized into useless oblivion and we won’t even know why or how it’s being legitimized.

This is why the Evil Trade Triad must be stopped.

We need to stop them for the sake of ourselves,
for the sake of a society that is built on rules that are rational, pragmatic, and designed for the common good,
for the sake of those who will never read or hear about these agreements but will be the most adversely affected,
for the sake of defending any remaining shred of democratic principle that’s left in our world.

/end rant

A stream of consciousness on US trade policy and nationalism

Working in the trade policy space has really made me question my thoughts about nationalism and my own feelings about how I care about my home country, the United States.

So, some people have tried to get me say I hate America. Whether I’d expatriate and move somewhere else. Or question why I even bother fighting for democracy here when it’s seems so far gone into the depths of corporate depravity. Any one of my friends or family can tell you that in conversation, I can quickly slip into a various kinds of lamentations about the state of the U.S.—sad, angry, sarcastic—depending on my mood. I never restrain my disgust for its policies that seem ass backward to me.

But I complain about the U.S. because I love it. I want it to be better. I KNOW it could be better…

Before I go on, let me get one thing straight: I don’t think the U.S. is “the best,” I don’t think it ever was, nor will it ever be. Our culture or ideals (whatever that constitutes) aren’t inherently better or more enlightened than any other nation’s. The U.S. is to blame for some of the WORST atrocities of the last couple centuries. Like any world power, we have justified invading and slaughtering people for all kinds of horrific reasons, and continue to do so to this day. Americans have collectively acted like we’re entitled somehow in a way that no other country isn’t. That we know better than others.

Despite this, I have to admit that my cultural pride of being American is probably never going away. There’s something collectively raw about us. We’re stupid honest and don’t really care about formalities. I’m fascinated by, and myself a victim to, our ideological addiction to “freedom”…which may or may not be what undermines our own ability to ever create good common services (“How dare you make me contribute to something that we can all commonly enjoy!”). It’s like we’re united in our desire to have the right to say fuck you to each other.

We’re idiots. But it’s MY group of idiots. I can’t deny that I culturally identify with people here in a way that I don’t in other places…just for the simple reason that I grew up here. I recognize that we are flawed. Deeply deeply flawed. But what country isn’t? In terms of our bullying of the rest of the world, I’d like to remind everyone that any country with any power turns into a big asshole: England, France, Russia, China, Japan, and the countless other ego tripping countries/societies/tribes that have invaded and attacked anyone else weaker than them.

Anyway, I think the sense of entitlement U.S. has is the problem. Our leaders, along with some many millions of people who elect them, still believe that the U.S. has something the rest of the world doesn’t. Sure, we’re MUCH more armed with weapons and have multiple thousands more in the military than other nations. But that’s really not something to brag about. There are dozens of other countries that provide more economic stability for its people. Our educational system is falling behind, and our healthcare system lags big time. The amount of national resources we spend on the military is INSANE. It’s like we’re building a huge wall around us with weapons pointed at every direction, while our society inside becomes more feeble and unstable as we neglect to put resources towards basic infrastructural necessities.

So, how does this relate to trade policy?

Well I can only speak to the portions of the TPP that I know about: the digital policy provisions. Based upon that, and the little I know about the medicine patent provisions, it seems to confirm the idea that “free trade” policies that have been classically pushed forth by England, and now, the U.S., are really there to undermine economic development. It’s the basic premise of Ha-Joon Chang’s book Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective, the title of which refers to how these already develoPED countries try to deny the currently develoPING countries the protectionist policies they used themselves to bolster its own industries.

Recently, I realized that my work in TPP partially consisted of fighting this attempt by the U.S. to kick away the “technological” ladder for other countries. Like other things on the U.S. “free trade” agenda, it seem very likely to me that the U.S. is purposefully exporting bad digital policy to try to stunt other nations’ growth in the tech sector. This great article by Jonathan Band on the gross inconsistencies between U.S. domestic vs. foreign copyright policy made this point, although I’m not as optimistic as him that this inconsistency “gap” is closing.

The goal of the U.S. may be to give its own tech and content industries an advantage by making other copyright frameworks shit in other countries through the horrible, secretive trade policy process. But I’m pretty sure it’s going to fail for two reasons:

1) The Internet’s a force to be reckoned with. Seriously. Maybe I’m wrong here, but I really do think that the trade policy debate has gotten WAY more attention since they’ve included provisions that threaten Internet users. A big reason I think is that the Internet transcends national borders. We use the Internet to save the Internet…our ability to share intel and anger with each other about what’s going on in real time across the world really puts a damper on those closed-door, secretive corporate negotiation parties. I will guarantee (and will continue to work to exacerbate) users freaking out when state policies challenge what we have, and try to stifle our dream of an Internet that continues to thrive as the beautiful nebulous mess that it is.

2) The U.S. just isn’t as intimidating as it once was. I can’t imagine that countries that have signed trade agreements with the U.S. and got a bad deal out of it, weren’t aware about what was happening. But they probably felt pressured into agreeing to most of the terms. The way the U.S. is pretty much alone in pushing the worst copyright provisions in the leaked TPP chapter shows how other countries are a bit emboldened and unwilling to cave to them. When I went to the TPP negotiations, one of the main things we did was tell other negotiators how BAD the U.S. “Intellectual Property” proposals were. It’s looking like they get it. Chile and Canada even have better systems than the U.S., so they’re trying to hold strong against their demands.

I mean, I think it’s great that the U.S. is in less of a position to bully other countries. That doesn’t make me anti-U.S. though. I just want what’s best for us, and by extension, everyone else who then won’t have to deal with our bullshit as much. The pressure to be THE BEST MOST POWERFUL NATION OF ALL is what makes U.S. so horrible. If we’re not the most powerful, some American patriots may say, god forbid it’s going to be someone ELSE. Okay, if that’s the case then we clearly have a bigger problem on our hands. No concentrated power, whether in a government or in the global geopolitical system, should ever maintain hegemonic control.

Maybe this whole “I’m not here to make friends” approach to foreign policy is just an inevitable symptom of the nation-state system. I have all kinds of thoughts on that…but I gotta go pack to go to LA early tomorrow.

Our National Insecurity (a rant)

Whether or not my job necessitates me to constantly pay attention to the brokenness of our society, I’d do so anyway. There was a turning point in high school Morality class when we were discussing the morality of war. A fellow student who claimed to be the most faithful to Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior, said that the invasion of Iraq was well-justified in our hunt for terrorists. Moreover, that the lives that were lost were unfortunate, but unimportant in the scheme of things because we had to win the War on Terror and bring justice to the lives lost on 9/11. National security must be restored, she said.

At that point I lost it. Without a word, I shoved everything off my desk, threw my chair backward, and stormed out of the classroom to find a place to cry. I ended up in a fire escape, where I promised myself I’d fight against such ignorant callousness in any way that I could. As that girl continued to spew neoconservative garbage throughout that semester, what stuck to haunt me ever since was the concept of “national security.”

Really though, what the fuck is “national security”? I may not know exactly what it is, but I do know where it isn’t.

It isn’t in a society that allows millions of people to fall through the cracks of the broken educational system and throws them aside into poverty because it recognizes no use for bodies no longer capable for manual labor.

It won’t be found in a system wherein billions of dollars of value is held by a few thousand individuals who can buy their way through democracy and rig the rules in their favor.

It isn’t in a world where discrimination based on gender, race, sexual preference, religion, ethnicity or any other characteristic is exacerbated by violent and savage rhetoric that is perpetuated out of unsubstantiated cowardly fear.

And it definitely won’t be found in a state that uses technology to intimidate, surveil, and kill innocent individuals for the sake of state-defined interests.

 

The U.S. has become a crumbling fortress from which we coerce our neighbors and shoot at our illusory foes. We bully others through the manipulation of international law, and cultivate enemies through state-sanctioned violence.

We have an entire agency committed to this thing “national security.” We throw billions of dollars at it, and all it does is undermine the exact values necessary for people to feel secure: trust and good will.

 

 

 

=====

 Sidenote:

I just finished listening to this week’s episode of This American Life and it made me furious.

“Trends With Benefits” is about the U.S. federal disability program where 14 million Americans receive monthly payments because they’re unable to work. In theory, because they are too “disabled” to have a job. They step you through the statistics, peppered with interviews with individuals who are part of the system to personalize the cold numbers. As the number of people on welfare has declined, the number of those on the disability program has about tripled in the last 30 years. Private sector groups benefit from the situation, as do states and counties across the nation who can relieve their ailing budgets of the thousands of individuals on welfare, by shoving them over to the federal disability system where they tend to receive better benefits overall.

You just have to read this piece or listen to the story. It’s nasty.

 

 

Social Static / Disconnecting Facebook

Him: “For real? Gonna go for it huh?”
Me: “Yup. I’d been thinking about it for a while and I finally committed myself to following through. It was time.”
Him: *pause* “Nah…you won’t be able to, you’ll miss it too much. I bet you’ll come back.”
Me: “Uhhh…No. I won’t. I really, REALLY won’t.”

And I haven’t. Soon after I did away with my Foursquare account, I went ahead and closed my Facebook one and haven’t looked back.

For starters, it was the privacy concerns. It never ceased to irk me that their entire business model rests on collecting and selling users’ information. They’ve got tons of algorithms to predict what ads would be the most effective to show you. They look at your age, gender, Likes, friends, where you check-in, and the worst, what tabs or windows you may have open in the same browser where you have Facebook running. Just by the very fact of knowing that their business runs this way made me feel slimy for being one of their users.

Then there are the news stories, which in themselves show the pathetic negligence and lack of regard the company shows for the data they collect from people’s profiles.

I read this short Op-Ed piece in USA Today a while ago, aptly describing the relationship between Facebook and its users through the analogy of a party, where a focus group has been secretly watching everyone for hours and hours, scribbling away their findings about who you all are to figure out how to better sell you things. That bumped up my creep-out level a few notches.

Then there was their plan to get their next billion users: make deals with local mobile networks in emerging markets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and make it seem as if Facebook and the Internet are one and the same. Or how they take down pages for “copyright infringement” in the least classy way possible. Or their latest partnership with marketing company Datalogix, which, according to the EFF blog, will mean that they will “assess whether users go to stores in the physical world and buy the products they saw in Facebook advertisements.” I can’t even name all the creepy Facebook has gotten away with this year (although ProPublica has done a fine job).

Last but not least, the fact that Facebook wants people to believe that their service is as functional and inane as chairs…or doorbells, airplanes, bridges, and “things people use to get together, so they can open up and connect about ideas, and music, and other things people share.” Yeh yeh I know it’s old news by now but it’s just off-putting as a few weeks ago. I feel like it says so much about how they view themselves. It’s disgusting that their PR campaign is meant to mislead people into thinking that they’re not giving any of their personal data away, for the company to harvest into their massive database and sell to whomever, however, they please. Further, that people need them, rely on them, as much as chairs.

Ugh. Fuck all of that.

All of those stories, plus how shoddy and un-user-friendly the platform is (way…too…many…to mention), gave my decision all the logical weight it needed to sway me.

But, more than anything, I hated how lonely it made me feel despite being exactly as social in the real world as I’d like to be. There’s something about the structure of it, the function of it, that dissolves the meaningfulness of moments and makes even my most important relationships feel shallow. Sure when I’d post something and it got Liked or Commented, it always made me feel every-so-slightly tingly…just enough for me to keep wanting more.

But seriously, why? What does a Like even mean?
Isn’t it just social approval, meant to be disguised as some other kind of higher social value, all the while helping Facebook feed their voracious appetite for data?

When I’d get a Like from a close friend who I don’t see enough, it felt sad, as if it were a reminder that we’re apart and unable to talk about that link or photo together, in person. Or even when I saw life updates no matter how mundane, it made me feel like I had my face pressed up against the glass of a window, peering into their life. It was disappointing that I didn’t have a conversation with them to learn about whatever thing that happened to them.

I also resented how much time I’d waste on it. There were hours…HOURS where I’d spent clicking through an Ex’s profile, reading Wall posts of someone I had a crush on, or even worse, look through photo albums of a random high school classmate. And by the end of these sessions, which were usually abruptly ended by a sudden realization over how much time had passed, I reliably felt shittier. Beside the few times in college when I found out the person I had had a crush on listed themselves as Single (when people were still ever honest about that), I can’t think of any other moment where I felt happy or satisfied after spending time on that site.

Of course I recognize the disadvantages of closing the account. I’m probably missing out on random get-togethers, some funny inside jokes, or adorable photos of a friend’s new baby or puppy. I won’t deny that it sucks that almost everyone I know uses it and I’ll miss out on things for quitting. But all the other factors had finally outweighed these reasons for staying. I refuse to feel trapped into continuing to use their service despite all of my criticisms. Aren’t I better than that, simply as a consumer?

Sherman Alexie wrote a poem a while back titled The Facebook Sonnet, published in the New Yorker. The line that got me was: “Let’s undervalue and unmend / The present. Why can’t we pretend / Every stage of life is the same?”

I feel that way about Facebook and Foursquare, and well less so, but even Twitter. There’s a suspended reality to our digital social environments that requires us to remove our attention from the current physical reality that presently surrounds us. As long as it gives me enough value, as Twitter does, I don’t mind stepping out as long as I can maintain a good balance with it. I stopped using Foursquare because it made me feel like I was always missing out on something. It sucked seeing someone check-in somewhere, and not be able to be there with them since I was busy, or more pathetically, since I wasn’t explicitly invited. In the case of Foursquare, those lame moments were fleeting, but they always sucked me away from my physical Present.

The Internet and it’s many, many overlapping asynchronous worlds are a huge part of my life. But for me, some of them come with too much static noise to handle. And is it worth those minor questionable social benefits, to spend my time in those lonely digital limbos? Do I want to let those minutes and hours add up…?

Nah.

TPP hangover

I went down to SoCal last week to partake in the first two days of action against the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP)’s intellectual property chapter. The negotiations were in San Diego at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel, where I spent a few days running around organizing materials, attending tables/briefings, and giving talks about what’s so wrong about the TPP in regards to digital rights.

Stakeholder briefing event: The trade negotiators lined up taking questions.

Before attending all of these events and getting to know other activists who are fighting this huge monster of all international trade agreements, I wasn’t too familiar with the other countless ways in which the TPP would screw over everyone and their mother. It’s my job to know how the TPP would strangle the Internet and digital speech/privacy/innovation, but it’s not my job to learn or talk about what the IP provisions in the TPP (of what we know from the only leak that occurred two years ago) will also mean for people’s health, environment, and security.

The TPP’s IP chapter as written would extend patents on medicines in a way that will make it so expensive for massive populations in developing countries, that millions of people won’t be able to afford lifesaving drugs anymore.

The investment chapter that leaked a few weeks ago, prevents countries from holding multi-national corporations accountable for environmental damage they may do. The companies can *sue the countries* for the loss of profit/production that may have lost because their operations had to be shut down, because say, the children around a given factory were getting poisoned from the fumes that it produced.

And the bullshit goes on and on…

It was really wonderful meeting all the activists who’ve been attending these negotiations and working their asses off to fight it. I got a high from speaking at these events and explaining why they should be pissed off about this crazy purposefully-complex monster agreement. But holy crap, it’s exhausting.

begin rant/

It’s not just that it takes a lot of energy to do everything, it’s the heavy mental weight of it. There’s so much power, so much money, so much interstate politics wrapped up in it that it almost feels hopeless. It’s obscene how the things that are being sought to be put in there is completely backward. So backward that it feels like they’re trying to restore the Dark Ages at a time when there’s so much endless potential for some truly cathartic problem solving and frank empirical research to be done.

When I think about all the ways in which the TPP is fucked, it leads me to think blame the underlying political problem: Our democracy is broken. This is why people, the trade negotiators, who claim to represent the interests of the country would concede to things that are completely and utterly bad for the broader public while protecting and advancing the interests of multi-national corporations (mostly pointing the finger at the U.S., since I don’t know what it’s like in those other countries). The TPP is one palpable manifestation of how badly broken our institutions of power have become.

It comes down to the fact that certain interests are out to make the rules, and these rules put everyone else at a huge disadvantage. The question is, how can the legitimacy of these powers be undermined? How can we prevent these destructive rules and laws from getting established?

I want my laws to make sense. I want my laws to be about promoting security and justice in a way that can be empirically justified. Laws can’t be founded on fairy tales anymore…We’re too scientifically and philosophically advanced for this bullshit.

/end rant

Anyway, here’s a photo of Carlos, who organized many of the Occupy SD events, and I after the rally speech:

 

 

IP is my fight.

I got a sudden urge to rant:

It’s pure madness that government reps can get away with establishing global intellectual property standards of law based upon imaginary concepts of economic and social well-being.

They say:

Copyright infringement robs artists.

Patenting medicines so that scientists and companies can get a return beyond what they invested into the research helps innovation.

School teachers, disabled persons, artists, and researchers can be prevented access to content and technology because the threat of copyright infringement is important above all else.

Bullshit.

They shove poisonous IP rules down our throats while they continue to lie and tell us it’s good for us. Intellectual property policies have become one manifestation of the gross power imbalance in society. My government is enacting unwarranted, burdensome policies based on manipulated data to protect entrenched businesses and interests.

It infuriates me that the powers that be continue to mindlessly protect “intellectual property”.
It’s a legacy of centralized, concentrated powers upholding the interests of a powerful minority over the benefit of everyone. Like the tyrants, the monarchs, and the hegemonic religious institutions throughout history: they benefit from people being ignorant and afraid.

When laws are created to superficially remedy insecurity, instead of responding to the underlying cause of societal imbalance, we cause more imbalance. State policies need to ground its function upon thorough analysis of the facts. When fear is involved, logic gets thrown out the window.

It’s about controlling knowledge, innovation, and creativity because new technological situations cause uncertainty for those who play the game and have learned how to win by those outdated rules. The intellectual property policies the U.S. government forces upon the rest of the world denies the rich innovative world of the 21st Century. These policies are meant to restrict ideas, not to free them. They’re meant to deny developing countries the chance to be their own hubs of innovation.

These laws are based on Capitalist ideas of value. When we are taught that the underlying sign of worth is based upon the accumulation of wealth and property, nothing else matters. These policies reinforce these savage values at the expense of creativity and free speech.

Lastly, policymakers’ justifications for these laws are downright insulting because they undermine something at the heart of what makes creativity beautiful: Artists and scientists–at least the passionate, curious, dedicated ones–don’t create, don’t ask questions, don’t spend their lives at their craft because they want to make a profit. They do it because they NEED to create to feel fulfilled, productive, and happy. It’s true that they need to be able to sustain themselves by the work that they do. However, policies that pervert the entire creative, scientific process through regulation is by far the worst way to address this issue.

So you know what? Even if ACTA passes, even if TPP’s IP chapter passes, these are not my laws. They do not represent my interests, nor the interests of all the dear artists, scientists, and creators that are beloved to me. They may be forced upon me, but if I desire to live in a society governed by democratic rule, whereby the rules of society are decided by democratic processes, I cannot consider ACTA or TPP to hold any legitimate authority.

Mmk. I’m done.

an exercise in patience

Woohoo I fixed my layout! That is, only after essentially re-installing WordPress folder-by-folder and scoping out dozens of WP forums. When I realized that my first post looked fine but the rest of my posted were all wacky, I googled the right terms and figured out that it was a stray Div closing tag that was in the last post that had done it. Bah!! =_0

Anyway, I finally got my photos from my Yosemite trip I’ve been trying to get these up for a while but I kept losing my patience with the process so I kept putting it off. The reason I made things more difficult for myself was because I decided not to share my photos on Facebook. I thought it’d be easy enough and generally wanted to start disassociating myself with an advertising data mining company that doesn’t give a single shit about me. So until I find a better alternative to sharing photos I’ve decided that this is where they’re going to go. Sadly, this turned out not to be as simple as I’d thought.

I use an iPhone and an app I bought called Camera+, and I enjoy the convenience and quality of photos that I get from using these. But there’s two areas of bullshit that exist for someone who’s shaking off the curse of Facebook: 1) How they stick Facebook-sharing options/icons on everything making it both stupidly easy to post photos to them and extremely tempting to ditch my efforts, and 2) Once you’ve become accustomed to the convenience of going the FB route, having to resize it, find a place for it, and figuring out how to comment on each of them in an alternate way feels like a huge pain in the ass. Out of my stubbornness and fueled by my annoyance of the thought of giving my photos to FB at that point, I figured it out. I have a great resizing app for my Mac (iResize btw) and found a good plugin that I’ve messed with enough so it’ll definitely be easier from here on out. I just know that if someone wasn’t so adamant about not sharing their photos on Facebook as I was going into this, it totally makes sense for them to not to want to put in the effort.

Most people don’t want to sacrifice convenience for principle, especially when it comes to something as seemingly mundane as where to put your photos. What’s awful is that Facebook totally knows it.

X-mas is my schizo friend.

Dec 18, 2004

I had forgotten how nice mayfield is the week before Christmas. They decorate a tree in the entrance of the house and wrap the wood-carved stairwell with lights and christmas branches. Though i do have my mixed feelings about the holiday. I love it for the giddiness, family, warmth and all but I HATE it. The two main reasons are 1) Christmas songs and 2) The fact that Christmas has to clash with the complicated psychology of Japanese gift-giving culture.

Let me elaborate. I don’t even think people in Japan can exactly explain all the rules and the ins and outs of everything involved with giving anything. You never “just give a present to someone” because you have to have a speech prepared showing your utter humility and low-liness (is that a word?) compared to the person you’re giving to. Then, the person who receives the gift will have to either a) give back a present or b) write a thank you card emphasizing how you are not worthy of the gift (even if its a plate of cookies).

ANyways, that surely isnt the end of it. I guess im in awe of people who can just give/get a present & not really think twice about it. Christmas could be better if we just didnt have so many expectations. Its always hyped up to be more than it actually is, and when the day comes, I find im always disappointed. Not for lack of gifts or anything, but the momentum before it doesnt match the anti-climacity of the day itself. As my grandma says, “God knows I’m not christian, but I like Christmas. I’m just a practicing Pagan celebrating the winter solstice.”