Category Archives: Culture

e-Book piracy: a moral dilemma

Here is a moral dilemma that I’ve not seen discussed before — maybe surprisingly, since it’s one that I imagine lots of us have run into. However I think through this, it leads me to a stupid conclusion. Can anyone help me to see what mistake I’m making?


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Old music was better

For a long while — decades at least, I’ve had the impression the modern popular music is not as good as it was in the 60s, and indeed when I was growing up in the 70s or even the early 80s. What do I mean by “not as good”? I mean less melody, less harmony, less lyrical invention and most of all, a growing uniformity, where every song songs increasingly the same as every other song. Continue reading

Help me understand poetry

Here is the well-known poem The Red Wheelbarrow, by William Carlos Williams:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

That’s the whole thing. The line-breaks are as in the original.

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My struggles with git have been well documented. One thing I didn’t touch on is its tendency to suddenly change the behaviour of core commands from release to release. I’ve got used, over the last months, to seeing this:

mike@thor:~/git/other/kindle-backup$ git push
warning: push.default is unset; its implicit value is changing in
Git 2.0 from ‘matching’ to ‘simple’. To squelch this message
and maintain the current behavior after the default changes, use:

git config –global push.default matching

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To Kill A Mockingbird is a fine example of how copyright is failing us all

I read this recent piece on how Harper Lee has finally allowed an e-book edition of her classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, to be produced. Of course, in the absence of an authorised e-book that readers can pay for, there are plenty of unauthorised ones — it’s trivial to find on any torrent site. My eye was caught by a comment on the article, discussing the existence of these pirate e-books:

This is sad, but doesn’t surprise me. Its the reality of the world we live in today. I suspect the biggest purchasers of this e-book will be over the age of 40 – those under don’t tend to realise the purpose or value of copyright.

That is exactly wrong.

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Who is this for?


uhu-glue-advisor-500pxWho is this for? I’m genuinely interested. Is it an if-you-build-they-will come kind of a gig, or is there a ready-made community out there, all thinking “Oh, if only I could get a UHU glue advisor app for my smartphone”?

As J. B. S. Haldane so presciently observed, the universe is not only stranger than we imagine; it is stranger than we can imagine.

My response to the Privacy and Security inquiry

I found out only today that The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament is soliciting evidence for its Privacy and Security Inquiry. As this is one of the most important issues facing the UK at the moment, I made time to write a response, and if you’re British then I encourage you to do so as well. See also this excellent response from Glyn Moody.

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