That is all.
Following the death of Margaret Thatcher, I am seeing a lot of comments like this one from David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham. I find them baffling. At the risk of Godwin’s wrath, let’s try an experimental rewording:
Regardless of whether you agreed or disagreed with his analysis, he certainly stood up for what he believed in – he certainly got something done. He had guts and conviction – qualities which are much needed today.
Nobody needs to tell me how divisive his politics were on the ground. Poland in 1939 was often not a fun place to be. Yet nobody can deny that he had a vision, as well as the strength and courage to see that vision become a reality. Those qualities are to be admired, regardless of the disagreements we may rightly have with the effects of his policies on the people we stand up for.
Am I saying that Margaret Thatcher was as bad as Hitler? No I am not. But I fail to see how the appalling destruction brought about by her policies is to be overlooked because she stuck to her guns. And if we are going to give her a free pass for that reason, it seems only fair to do the same for Hitler.
As usual, Andrew Rilstone has said it better (and more briefly) than me:
I may not agree with covering all the lands in a second darkness but greatly respect Sauron's political achievements and personal strength.—
Andrew Rilstone (@AndrewRilstone) April 08, 2013
Kent Police force has posted this press release:
Man due to be interviewed in connection with Facebook posting
A man is due to be interviewed by police this morning following reports that a picture of a burning poppy had been posted on a social media website.
Officers were contacted at around 4pm yesterday, Sunday, 11 November 2012 and alerted to the picture, which was reportedly accompanied by an offensive comment.
Following an investigation by Kent Police a 19-year-old, Canterbury man was arrested on suspicion of an offence under the malicious communications act. He is currently in custody.
Posted on: 11 November 2012
More than a million Bristish soliders gave their lives in World Wars I and II to preserve a free nation.
I do not believe the free nation they had in mind was one in which you can be arrested for posting a picture of a burning poppy.
[This is cross-posted from my other blog, Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week. I never cross-post: this is, as far as I remember, literally the first time I have done it. But this issue is so important and so urgent that I am making an exception. Please, please: sign the petition, upvote the Reddit and Hacker News submissions, blog about it, tweet about it, tell your friends.]
Good news! If you want to read research that was funded by the U.S. National Instututes of Health (NIH), you can. Their public access policy means that papers published on their dime become universally accessible in PubMed Central.
If you’re wondering why it’s been so quiet around here recently …
I’ve been working on a new site, which I and two colleagues will be maintaining, and which I think is potentially the most important thing I’ve ever done. It’s called Who Needs Access? You Need Access!, and you can read it at http://whoneedsaccess.org/
We have a problem: the majority of the research that our governments fund is not available to most people. Continue reading
Today is a big day for the Internet. Nearly everyone reading this site will be aware of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), two appallingly ill-conceived pieces of legislation under consideration in the US but with profound ramifications for the whole world. Written at the behest of big copyright holders by people with no understanding of how the Internet works either mechanically or culturally, they would be absolutely disastrous if passed.
In response to this, many high-profile web-sites are demonstrating the results such laws would have by going dark for the day. They include Reddit and, most importantly, Wikipedia. (Also, the entire Cheezburger network and many, many others.) We can only hope that this distributed demonstration results not just in SOPA and PIPA being rejected, but in an emphatic smackdown that makes it impossible for similarly dumb legislation to get mind-space in the future.
But there is another threat also making its way through the US Congress — less publicised but also hugely important.
I just read this article on TechDirt: EU Officially Seizes The Public Domain, Retroactively Extends Copyright. As the article says, “This is nothing short of governments and the entertainment industry seizing works from the public domain”. Let’s be clear: it’s theft. It’s a matter of big companies (and it should surprise no-one that record labels have lobbied aggressively for this) stealing content that belongs to you and me, and taking it for themselves.
In fact, let’s call it exactly what it is: piracy.
And the shocking thing is, this piracy is not a crime. It’s legally sanctioned.
But that doesn’t make it right.
67.9% of us said that we wanted all our preferences but one to be ignored.
In So Long and Thank for All The Fish, the elegaic fourth book of the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy, Douglas Adams gives us this conversation between Arthur, a very ordinary Earth-man, and Ford, his best friend who he thought was from Guildford but turned out to be from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse:
Ford explained, “On [that] world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”
When I wrote about voting reform four days ago, I said “this is the first time I’ve ever written about politics on this blog, and I hope it will be the last.” True to my word, I then wrote about politics again yesterday, and now I’m doing it again. But this is the last time, honest. You know, unless something comes up.
Tomorrow is the big day for how we do democracy in the UK. Please vote.