It’s been a crazy, busy summer and as you can see, I finally gave in and let Twitter do some blog posts for me.
So, what stories have caught my attention in the last few weeks?
Back at the turn of the century the House and Senate passed the Digital Millennium Copyrights Act. It’s a real piece of work, and shows the ignorance our electorate has when it comes to the digital medium. First we have to back up and understand why it was passed.
Our copyright system in the US is messed-up. It’s antiquated, it’s abused, and it’s overburdened. Tossing the internet and software explosion on top of it further broke it. The DMCA was meant as a stop-gap patch, heavily supported and written by lobbyists (think the RIAA, MPAA), in an attempt to assert some kind of control of this crazy internet world.
What it did was seriously encumber Fair Use rights, and resulted in all sorts of shenanigans such asby being used to take down any sort of website content a person or corporation found objectionable. It become a ten-ton hammer in a world where a screwdriver was needed.
Thankfully, a few weeks ago large parts of the DMCA was rolled back in federal court. Fair Use once again reigns and you can do things like make back-ups of your own DVDs, root your own devices for complete control (othweise known as jailbreaking), and generally muck-about in devices and content YOU purchased. Yes, a few short weeks ago all that was illegal as defined and enforced by the DMCA. Scary, eh?
H. Res. 1593 – Bringing facts back to education
A bill was recently introduced into Congress in an effort to establish a baseline for education standards as developed by board of education committees. It’s sad this bill even has to exist, but given the actions of an especially ignorant group of Texas representatives, here we are.
HR 1593 says:
“Supporting academically based social studies curriculum standards for the Nation’s elementary and secondary education public school textbooks.”
OK. And its methods would be:
“Whereas the National Council for the Social Studies believes that State social studies standards should be developed by consulting scholars for their expertise, soliciting input from community members and educators, and having master social studies educators write standards to ensure that they are effective and grade appropriate.”
Sounds sane right? Contrast this to the current state of the Texas Board of Education who were re-writing what would be used in school textbooks (which by benefit of its size, what Texas wants everybody else gets). The board contained no experts, no scholars, and admittedly ignored advice and research on the topics they struck from the textbooks. And let us not forget the board’s leader, Don McLeroy’s now famous rant that, “We need to stand up to these experts…”. Just what we needed as a nation more dumbing-down of education.
I think HR 1593 is a powder keg. Should it pass it will blow open discussion of curriculum standards in education. The discussions of what passes as facts and standards alone will be epic, especially in the science arena. For now, though, it’s a sleeping giant. Let’s hope it’s not killed in committee.
And of course Prop 8 was back in the news.
The whole affair reminds me of these Madison and Jefferson quotes.
In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority. – James Madison
The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society. Thomas Jefferson
Founding Fathers rolling in their graves? Not quite.
Then there’s the Google-Verizon proposal – I’ll cover this colossal blunder in a separate post.