Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sweden and File Sharing

"Last Jan. 1, almost on a whim, 35-year-old IT manager Rickard Falkvinge got into politics.

Concerned about the reach of copyright and patent law, Falkvinge erected a web page with a sign-up form for a radical new pro-piracy party to compete in Sweden's parliamentary system. He didn't know if anyone would care, but the next day the national media picked it up, and two days later international media started calling.

The site was flooded with new members -- enough for the nascent movement to sail past the requirements for participation in the national election. Falkvinge now faced a decision: stay with his nice job and let the whole thing quietly sink, or quit and become a campaigning politician. He chose to become the leader of Sweden's newest and fastest-growing political party: Piratpartiet, or the Pirate Party."
From Wired

File Sharing is clearly a hot topic that won't go away. The RIAA just released a propaganda video (Here's the recommended Boing Boing post), which is always a good approach towards winning over your enemies. The vid has already become a parody. Weird Al Yankovich, who's apparently still alive, has released a free song parodying the RIAA.

It seems that Sweden is at the center of much of this. The Pirate Bay, a well known torrent tracking site had its Swedish headquarters raided in May, making international headlines. The site was temporarily shut down, but has since been restored. Last week, a Swedish-based company released software that masks the user's IP address for a small monthly fee (part of the proceeds go to the Pirate Party. Arrrrrrrr indeed.) If the Pirate Party gets a minimum of 4% of the national vote, they get funding and a relative percentage of seats in the parliament. What can we expect to happen in the next year? five years? ten years? Will the record companies abandon tangible mediums of music distribution, opting instead for an Itunes-esque business model, or will they try to hold on to their archaic business model while suing music fans left right and center? Will we see a rise in political parties standing up for file sharing?

Volcanic Eruption Photo From Space

I'll avoid the obvious, but please feel free to submit a caption.

CBS To Mimic Harsh Reality Of America

This year's Survivor will have teams split up into ethnic groups. Wow, that's totally like how real neighbourhoods are split up into ethnic groups! Shit, my high school cafeteria was split up into ethnic groups.

For anyone in a pool, here are my picks: The Black Team (consisting of the whites) will win. Even if they don't win, they'll still win. The Chinkies (consisting of the Hispanics) Will be overwhelmed by completing their own tasks as well as those for the Black Team, who will pay the Chinkies incredibly low amounts of food in exchange. The Dirty Mexicans (consisting of the Asians) will abandon the game early when their lone calculator battery dies. And finally, the Don't Worry, We're "TV-Friendly" Blacks (consisting of the blacks) will be confined to a crappier section of the island, until they form a grassroots political organization, which eventually dismantles due to disagreements over the use of force. Team names to be confirmed.

"Yo, straight goods Q, when I die, there best be a bitch at my funeral, takin off her clotheseses."

Funeral... Strippers...

I guess when you share your local market with 940,313,685,174,288,52½ neighbours, a death is cause for celebration. Truth is, it's to attract attendance. Apparently it works. Attendance huh... where's that will of mine?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Here's some rice. Don't eat it all at once.

"Preparing for a Financial Setback" is a four page booklet, part of a 150 page packet, that United Airlines distributed to staff who were either going to be laid off, or have/had their pay cut. It included such gems as:

"Take a date for a walk along the beach or in the woods"
"Don't be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash."
"If you have saved some money, pat yourself on the back -- you deserve it,"
"Take out only what you need and spend prudently."

Thanks for the help daddy!

I love it when executives confuse good intentions with wealthy douchebaggery.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I can't wait to eat Matt's monkey

Who said that?? Damn vandals terrorizing my blog!

Anyways, a big shout out to my buddy Matt who turned 36 today, and doesn't look a day younger(Photo by Evan). I'm not around tonight, so you gotta drink double. Enjoy the responsibility. Happy Birthday dude. Gratis min kompis. Skål!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I can't wait to eat that monkey!

planning a trip but worried that your helper monkey won't be able to join you? Just visit the TSA's site on helper animals.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Jesus Rubs You

Only 23% of Swedes believe in a God.

Holy masturbating Christ, athiests are actually a majority here. Yowza.

Workin' man

I apologize for the lack of updates. The computer at My's mom's place crashed less than a week before we got there (I smell sabotage! No wait, that's bacon. mmmmmmmmmm...) so now we have bacon. No, I mean we have no computer, and the computers at the library are about as useful as a librarian at a computer. Wooooaaahhh.. On the bright side, I discovered this thing called "outside". There's no blogs or viral video outside, but you can do this thing called walking around which I found kind of interesting, though it did take a bit of practice.

I'm now more able to post here because I've got myself a bit of a job, working in a small shipping & receiving warehouse for My's step dad. Booyakasha. Or as they say in Swedish, Kvxöfk¤spabfå!!! It's just two shifts a week, but it's still money. Here's a picture of me three days ago before I had a job. The man made me sell out.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Skipping on the fare

Meet Planka.

"Buses, trams, commuter trains and subways are necessary for us to get around in society. We cannot choose to walk 5 kilometers if it does not suit us to pay the fare. The public transportation should be like the sidewalk – paid by all, free to walk on.

"Plankakassan, or the p-kassa, is a fund for fines available to the free riders in the Stockholm public transport system. As a member, the fine you get from the SL controllers for free riding, gets paid by the fund."

Basically, you pay these guys a very reasonable fee ($10/month, $50/half-year) and they cover any and all fines you may infer from "planking" (the Swedish term for dodging the fare.) Planka seems to have come about in response to the ubiquity of planking here in Stockholm. Stand by the entrance at any subway stop and you'll be amazed at the number of people casually skipping on the fare. It's not just youths either. Guys with briefcases. Fancily clad women. Families.

I suppose when you pay some of the highest taxes in the world, you get a bit more demanding about public transit. And for good reason. I can't help but wonder if the recent substantial reduction in transit fares has something to do with Planka. Keep up the good work guys.


After a weekend of cat sitting for some friends, My and I returned to find her 13 year old sister, Minna, and their mother in a room together, with Minna in tears. We soon found out that a friend of hers had tried to take her own life. I'll admit that my initial reaction was that her friend probably took some pills, or made a little cut on her wrist so that people would all think that she wanted to die. I've certainly seen this cry for attention before among the 13-16 year old females. It turns out her friend jumped from her fifth floor balcony. Hardly a little plea for attention. It seems that her alcoholic father frequently beat her. She had phoned the police several times, but for whatever reason she remained living there. I can't imagine the pain and fear that a 13 year old must have been through to come to terms with jumping five floors to a hopeful death. I almost feel like saying she was brave, though bravery and suicide should probably be held somewhat apart from each other. Luckily for everyone, she didn't die. She was lucky that she wasn't parilyzed as the doctor said she came real close to breaking her neck. I'm not sure what the injuries are, but apparently they're not too serious.

I'm thinking at this point, someone somewhere, aside from the father, will be feeling a fair bit of guilt for not intervening. My's and Minna's mother used to work as a social worker. Her job involved opening her family's door to children who the city felt needed it. For much of their upbringing they lived with various children escaping various households. Many of these children were child abuse victims. More often than not, the city would end up returning the child to their parents. My told me the story of a young girl, about four years old, who came to live with them around Christmas. She was very closed off, often quiet, emotionless. As Christmas neared, the family was decorating the house, and after about a week or so of silence, the girl suddenly started singing. She had broken her shell. About a week later, the city said that she could go back to her heroin addicted parents. Tragic.

If there's a bright side to any of this, it would be someone somewhere keeping Minna's friend away from her father. We can only hope. All the best to her.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Hungry anyone?

Yum Yum Yum

The Swedish town of Flagsta has apparently been taken over by hoards of larva. Yum.

All Scalliwags Best be Avoidin Me Lass, For There Be Stern Consequences

Y'aaaaaaarrrrrrr Matey!!!!! The buccaneers who weild the moniker "The Pirate Bay" be hostin a wee brannigan on the eve of the morrow. It costs narry a gold coin, an there be strange sounds with movin pictures. I hope to record some of me own pictures using a still image grabbin contraption. Bottoms up!

It's pronounced Nucular!!!

Swedish nuclear reactors shut down over safety concerns

"Three of Sweden's ten nuclear reactors have been shut down due to safety concerns following an incident last week at the Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant in which the reactor cooling systems failed. The reactor has since been shut down there. After the incident, the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate, SKI asked all the nuclear power plants to demonstrate that the same failure could not happen in them. On Wednesday, two more reactors at Oskarshamn were shut down after the operator said their safety could not be guaranteed."

So it takes a near meltdown to reveal that three of Sweden's nuclear plants can't guarentee their safety? With the ubiquitous talks of oil prices and consumption, I think we forget the prevalence of nuclear energy. 20% of the US is powered by nuclear energy. Although Canada relies on nuclear energy for just 15% of its power needs "Ontario has 16 operating reactors providing about 50% of the province’s electricity, plus two reactors undergoing refurbishment."

Is this another calling to move towards safer forms of renewable energy, or should we continue to rely on nuclear power and simply increase the scrutiny?

Friday, August 04, 2006

True Talent

If you've got 10 minutes to waste (i.e. you're working) then check out these two flash animations. These are the kind of music videos we should be seeing on tv.

If you have an additional five, this should put you in a good mood.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Stockholm Moves Forward

Yesterday marks the end of a six month trial period for a sophisticated (3.8 billion kronor, about 250 million CAD) traffic taxing system. Following in the footsteps of London, and other major cities, Stockholm setup a taxing system for cars entering the city center. Although it brought in less revenue than expected, it is still being considered a success, as city centre traffic has decreased by between 20-25% and transit has seen an increased ridership of about 74,000, comparing this June to last. At the same time, they've actually reduced the fares here in Stockholm (whhhaaaaaaaaaa....?) to encourage the use of transit. Toronto. You listening? For a metropolis of over 5 million people, Toronto's transit system is garbage. Expensive garbage at that. The Stockholm system will be voted on by the public in September, when the nation goes to the polls to decide on their local and national representatives. The vote is expected to favour the taxing. Sadly, I think the majority of Torontonians would likely vote against such a proposal. The last thing drivers want is a tax, and the last thing transit riders want is more transit riders. And believe me, there's already too many of both.

The Lieberry

You might have noticed a lack of posts lately. This weekend My and I went to stay at her mom's place in Stockholm. As luck would have it, her computer crashed the previous week. So here I am, at the library, with my pre-booked one hour time slot. After putting up with two behemoth women, who felt it necesarry to have a noisy battery operated fan with them (pink, I might add), instead of simply not wearing layers in the middle of fucking summer, I'm now dealing with air-drum dude. He's decided that the best thing to do while awaiting a page load is to air drum. Further to that, he seems to want to ensure that I'm fully aware of his presence, so he's adding sound effects. Wow. What a free spirit. Apparently the standard library code of conduct doesn't apply here. Anyways, I'll do my best to keep this thing rolling along.