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Recommended: The death of Nortel, the Encana bombings, the end of moon travel, and copyright reform

Posted on 23 July 2009

There’s a lot of links out there. Twitter, Facebook, blogs– they are all full of links to everything: music, photos, news articles. And they’re fun to follow, but time-consuming, too. I’ve decided that while I’ll probably still share micro-update links, I’d like to give recognition to the things that I ACTUALLY WANT OTHER PEOPLE TO READ, as opposed to things I think they may or may not enjoy. This is the first batch.

In the Globe and Mail, Jeffrey Simpson questions why Canada did so little when it came to saving Nortel, especially when compared to GM and Chrysler. As he says,

GM and Chrysler did very little research in Canada, because most of it was done in the United States; Nortel was by far the largest private contributor to research in Canada. GM had a hundred engineers on staff in Canada; Nortel had thousands. The car manufacturers spawned parts suppliers and dealerships; Nortel, it is estimated, spawned 260 startup companies.

At its height, circa 2000, Nortel had 33,000 employees around the world, with 6,000 in Canada. Even in decline, Nortel continued to spend $1.8-billion a year on research, in a country starved for private-sector research.

It’s a good profile of how indifferent this country is to fostering successful private sector initiatives that can compete globally. As he writes, in Canada “too many titans feel success is defined by selling their company to foreigners to ‘maximize shareholder value.'”

We Were there for GM and Chrysler. Why not Nortel? »


This Magazine has an excellent three-part story by guest blogger Max Fawcett, the editor of the Chetwynd Echo. Cheywnd is a very small town that I have driven through many times on my way to visit family in Dawson Creek (it’s also the heart of the world’s chainsaw carving scene, despite what Hope claims), and both these communities are, of course, near the sites of the Encana bombings. What Fawcett captures very well, at least in my own understanding of the situation, is that while most people in the area don’t necessarily agree with the method being used to protest Encana’s presence, they do agree, to some extent, with the protest overall.

Virtually everyone who owns land in the Peace Region has had to come to terms with a legal technicality that dictates that while they might own the land on which their home, their farm, or their ranch sits, they don’t own the rights to what lies beneath it. In a region rich with oil and gas deposits and an international commodity market increasing desperate for each, that’s a recipe for conflict.

Part 1: Why No Leads? »
Part 2: Everyone’s a supect »
Part 3: Will the bombings chane anything? »


 Reflecting some of my own thoughts, but articulating them far better (if hyperbolically), Joseph Romm over at argues that while the acheivements of the space program are laudable, the time has come to focus on more earth-bound pursuits, such as handling the energy/environmental crisis, and handling it now.

In 2002 dollars, the entire Apollo program cost $185 billion over 10 years — an increase of $128 billion over the existing space budget. The stimulus bill passed by Congress this year increased short-term funding for the development and deployment of clean energy technology by $90 billion. While that is projected to sharply increase the market share of clean energy over the next several years, the public and private sector of this country alone will need an Apollo-level effort every year for the next few decades to avert climate catastrophe.

Goodnight, Moon Travel »

EDIT: I’m adding to this debate a piece in the Washington Post by Kim Stanley Robinson, a science fiction writer/futurist, who explains why space exploration may be an important component of moves towards a carbon-free economy (and also why it might not be). It’s brief but balanced, and worth taking a look at if you’re interested in this sort of thing.

Return to the Heavens, for the Sake of the Earth »

And finally, you should know that the Canadian government is undergoing consultations for modernizing copyright laws. This may sound boring and mundane, but it actually affects a lot: whether you’re allowed to transfer records to tapes, whether you can put music that you bought on CD onto your iPod, artist rights, and so on. Even if that seems trivial to you, getting educated about copyright law is important in a global sense because, internationally speaking, it gets right into who owns and is allowed to interact with culture, and even who, if anyone, should own ‘intellectual property’ such as cures to diseases. If you’re a complete newbie to this stuff, I highly recommend watching (for free!) RiP: A Remix Manifesto, which offers an excellent and entertaining introducation into the issues at play.
Copyright Consulations website »
RiP: A Remix Manifesto »

EDIT: If you don’t want to watch a movie, Michael Geist has launched a new site that provides an introduction to some of the major issues behind the copyright debate in Canada. Geist is a leading thinker on these issues, so it’s worth a look. Learn More »

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