ARCHIVES 1997-2007  --- ARCHIVES 2007 +
  JANUARY 2013



Little Brother is available from Cory's website.

Cory writes SciFi, and this is his second novel.

The first one was "Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom", about Disneyland.

To my taste, the best SciFi shows how technology might change our culture.  "Brave New World" was about birth control. "1984" was about surveillance technology.  Ian Banks writes about "The Culture".

Cory's latest book "Little Brother" (Perhaps a play on Big Brother" from 1984?) is about identification technology (facial recognition, movement recognition, RFID, maybe even voice recognition?) and how it might change our lives.  The scariness of the power of the minions of unsupervised agencies is something that Cory displays well.  However he is to my mind too kind in his assessment of European and Australian agencies.  In Australia we only have two levels of government (states totally supervise local government) and no bill of rights, no way of dismissing government (which even Chavez gave Venezuela, and which Californians and about 25 other US states have).

As a "bye the way" he also shows growing sympathy for repeal/reduction of copyright/patent regulation.

I am a member of the PPAU = Pirate Party of AUstralia.  We fight copyright regulation.

Copyright and Patent regulation was originally introduced so that authors and inventors could benefit from their creative work.  Since then the various agencies (MPAA, RIAA to name a few) have managed by a process that has been named "regulatory capture" to have the power of those regulations greatly enhanced & extended.  In the USA it is a criminal act to make a copy of an electronic recording without the holder's permission, and this ownership will be enforced with the full force of the law.  The US is even (at the behest no doubt of the various agencies) attempting to cajole foreign governments to sign treaties whereby e.g. Australia would extradite Australian citizens to the USA for breaking those US regulations in Australia, even though breaking that regulation might not be contrary to Australian law.(*)

Nowadays there are other ways for authors to obtain money for artwork.  My favorite online comic strips girlgeniusonline, questionablecontent, xkcd, smbc, make a good living.  (They are also educational, this strip explains regulatory capture).  A similar financing model might well work for novels (publish a chapter each week?) or music (advertise their concerts?).

Maybe the total take would be less, but it's my guess that the authors would end up richer.  The agents would suffer.

(*) In Australia, it is legal for the purchaser of copyrighted material to make a backup of the material against damage.  Not so in the USA!


President Barack has announced research as one of his initiatives.  Aha! I thought.  He is going to check up on the (so far unrefuted) paper by Lott and Mustard.  Lott and Mustard found:

Using cross-sectional time-series data for U.S. counties from 1977 to 1992, we find that allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes, without increasing accidental deaths. If those states without right-to-carry concealed gun provisions had adopted them in 1992, county- and state-level data indicate that approximately 1,500 murders would have been avoided yearly. Similarly, we predict that rapes would have declined by over 4,000, robbery by over 11,000, and aggravated assaults by over 60,000. We also find criminals substituting into property crimes involving stealth, where the probability of contact between the criminal and the victim is minimal. Further, higher arrest and conviction rates consistently reduce crime. The estimated annual gain from all remaining states adopting these laws was at least $5.74 billion in 1992. The annual social benefit from an additional concealed handgun permit is as high as $5,000.

So it looks as though guns in the hands of law abiding citizens actually make life safer for the rest of us.  I mean the (anecdotal) fact that the rate of school invasions and murders has tripled since the "guns free school zones" Act was introduced in 1990 should set off warning bells.

Of course, guns in the hands of citizens are a provable hazard to our legislators and heads of government and other high profile media people.  But if doubling the risk to the president and a few dozen high profile people is the price to prevent the murder of one thousand five hundred people annually, forever, then I am prepared to risk that sacrifice.  And the unrefuted evidence is that having guns in the hands of law abiding citizens would save 1,500 murders each year.  (not to mention 4,000 rapes, 11,000 robberies and 60,000 aggravated assults, and over five billion dollars of savings.)

And there was Barack, saying "If anything I can do saves the life of one child, then I should do it."  So my hopes were raised.  I thought it was very noble of him, to risk having the Lott and Mustard paper confirmed.  That would have meant that all over the USA people would have the "right to carry" concealed weapons.

But no.  Our media elite and Barack were discussing research on Hollywood movies.

The USA is the greatest hope for the human race.  Everywhere else in the world political power is concentrating into the hands of self appointed elites.  One only has to look at Europe to see that truth.  In Australia, our constitution was written by politicians, not revolutionaries.  And they are taking power.  We do not elect our leaders.  That is done by faceless men.  We do not even choose our own representatives. They are chosen by party fiat.  And the politicians are continually aggregating power, by (for instance) extending their terms in office, dissolving their Senate, etc.

I am fearful that this is another step towards tyranny.  You might say that this is a small, negligible step.

But to me it sounds like being a little bit pregnant.