SOPA, does anyone care?

Today, founder of the non-profit behind information archive Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, announced that the site will go dark for 24 hours on Wednesday in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).  (TNW Insider).

First, for most, SOPA is short for Stop On-line Piracy Act, a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Congress that proposes to extend the power of law enforcement and copyright holders in the US to combat online piracy, and it would essentially allow the US Department of Justice – and copyright-holders – to seek court orders against websites accused of facilitating copyright infringement.

Ironically, this is the second such bill.  The first one, part of the Patriot Act, already grants broad powers to the United States Government to go after and shut down data sites, but this is the first one that allows the copyright holders to bring the action, and numerous luminaries believe this will cripple the Internet more than anything that has come before. And they are probably right.  But a bigger question is this: Is anyone paying attention?

Like most bills, this one is an attempt to resolve what is perceived as a problem, without fully addressing the scope of the issue and using a howitzer to remove a tumour.  People that do not understand the issues are rushing to impose their political view (is it a surprise this is being introduced by the small government unless it is related to stripping away your rights Republicans) on people that not only know better but could probably solve the problem in a couple of minutes without the need for pages of legal documents.  Worse, the sources of the violations are not in hosted in the United States and the law will have no impact on these sites.  In fact, all it will do is hasten the brain drain from the close-minded United States to those countries that are more open minded about change and resolution.

Since September 11, the citizens of the United States have, in the name of security, seen more of their rights chipped away than at any time in the country's history.  And SOPA is only one more example of this.  So what are you going to do about it?  The Presidential election is only 10 months away.

U P D A T E: Maybe someone is paying attention: "SOPA is not dead; it has been shelved and won’t return “until a consensus is reached,” according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)." (Imgur)  The Senate is still scheduled to vote.

Personhood, Take 2

RICHMOND, Va. - A proposed "personhood" bill in Virginia's General Assembly could spark debate that may leak over to the Presidential campaign. (WTOP)

Was Virginia not paying attention when Mississippi went through this?  It is no surprise that Bob Marshall (R) has introduced this bill.  If it is related to the erosion of women's rights or the destruction of logic, Bob Marshall is usually behind the effort, but just because the bill might survive a legal challenge, this does not make it any more sensible, logical or necessary.  And, in fact, it could result in more harm, to the living, to those it is meant to protect and to those not yet thought of than it will bring benefits.  The delegates in Richmond have a number of much more important issues to be discussing over the next 60 days than grandstanding.    If Marshall would focus more on the damage that sitting in hours of gridlock than on the trivialities that he focuses on, he would find a lot more people supporting him, than treating him with the derision he deserves.

Feeling heavier?

While Americans expend fewer calories at work, they spend more time in cars -- almost twice as much as in the 1970s. They spend 26 hours per week consuming TV or online entertainment. Americans could theoretically compensate for more sedentary lifestyles by stepping up their recreational exercise -- but only about 20% of Americans bother. Some 80% never do -- including presumably all those failed dieters. (CNN)

If you, like me, read this article and nod your head, then you, like me, understand why it is getting harder and harder to lose those extra pounds (or kilograms) each year.   And I have to admit, I would certainly like to.  I started last year by cutting back my intake of the sugary sodas (no, I will not start drinking Diet Coke....for starters, I don't like the taste of artificial sweeteners and I am not about to replace something natural for something artificial.  It is better to just go without), but clearly I have not cut back enough so this year will see me cut back more.  Of course, what I really need to give up is my Starbucks habit and my wine habit.  So I am going to try.  We will see what happens.  If nothing else, forgoing Starbucks should save me close to $100 a month, so that should be incentive enough right?

But it is more than giving up, as our beloved politicians should begin to realize about ten minutes after they are sworn into office.  It is also about increasing energy output.  My job is sedentary.  I sit in front of a screen for at least 8 hours a day and I spent another two (on average) driving from point A to point B.  I used to get a good walk in as part of my daily commute, but now, I do not even get that.  So I need to find an excuse to get off my butt and get moving.  I will admit that I am not a gym person.  Maybe it is the 20+ years I spend going to the pool every day, but getting me to a gym to lift weights and cycle to no where is not going to motivate me to get more active, which makes it even harder to get active.  The normal activities of youth are no longer available and the traditional methods are so unmotivating that they are pointless, but I will have to find something, since buying new pants is not in my plan.

America is getting larger.  And it is going to take more than willpower and desire to reverse the trend.  As Frum points out, changing this will require a great deal of effort.  Effort beyond the simple idea of getting off our backsides and at least going for a walk.