The Null Device

2007/6/21

Lawrence Lessig, one of the leading figures of the fight against intellectual-property absolutism and the expansion of copyright laws into a new system of corporate feudalism, is moving on from that fight to a bigger one (which encompasses similar issues): the fight against a pervasive corruption of our legislative processes, to the point where corporate money buys bad laws:

Think, for example, about term extension. From a public policy perspective, the question of extending existing copyright terms is, as Milton Friedman put it, a "no brainer." As the Gowers Commission concluded in Britain, a government should never extend an existing copyright term. No public regarding justification could justify the extraordinary deadweight loss that such extensions impose.
Yet governments continue to push ahead with this idiot idea -- both Britain and Japan for example are considering extending existing terms. Why?
The answer is a kind of corruption of the political process. Or better, a "corruption" of the political process. I don't mean corruption in the simple sense of bribery. I mean "corruption" in the sense that the system is so queered by the influence of money that it can't even get an issue as simple and clear as term extension right. Politicians are starved for the resources concentrated interests can provide. In the US, listening to money is the only way to secure reelection. And so an economy of influence bends public policy away from sense, always to dollars.

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The Israeli government, realising it has somewhat of an image problem in key tourism markets, has decided on a possible solution: pictures of h0tt soldier chyxx in their underwear, in the lads' magazine Maxim:

In the magazine, one of the women, Yarden, describes how she enjoyed firing her M16 rifle before she entered the military intelligence corps, while Nivit says her job in intelligence was so secret that she cannot talk about it. There is nothing military about the photographs, however, which are taken in different locations in Tel Aviv
Israel is keen to sell itself as a western country with beaches and nightclubs rather than a country full of religious zealots which has been in a permanent state of emergency since its creation.
Needless to say, not everyone's happy with this.

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The Guardian reveals an all-but-forgotten fragment of the social history of 1980s Britain: a ZX Spectrum game named Hampstead, which codified the aspirational values of Thatcher-era Britain in the blocky, primary-coloured computer graphics of the period:

Hampstead was the ultimate 1980s adventure game, yet one of the few that broke from the traditional orcs and goblins fare. In it, you took the role of a down and out dreamer trapped in a grotty east London flat with ideals of leafy suburbs and affluence.
As aspirational games go, this text adventure was pretty high on the narcissistic scale. With the right clothes, the right education, the right muesli and the right girl (Pippa, of course), all that stood between your and your freehold was her Dad. And he was a pussycat. Hampstead taught a generation of future Brees and Tarquins how to climb the social ladder and how to look good while doing it.

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