One thing the Internet seems to encourage is the desire to write down every stupid
idea that the writer thinks is clever or novel. It also seems to encourage everyone
to think that they're competent writers...
Ok, so I'm not immune either. :)
The View from the Middle
Everyone on the Internet has an opinion about something - these are mine. I read a lot of strange ideas and opinions about computers and
I've tried to drop in a comment from time to time, but I'd rather just say what I
want to say without having to jump through an editor's hoop.
I wanted to write a werewolf story which was different - not a dreary unhappy
thing where the werewolves are all miserable and doomed... and I also wanted to try
something odd in the way the story worked. This is what I came up with. It's
long... and the whole thing was written in a way contrived never to reveal the names
of our main characters (which isn't easy, let me tell you...). Not a brilliant work,
I'm afraid, but I enjoyed it.
This story is about a possible future where businesses take the concept of copyrights
a little too far. When I originally wrote this, I had been reading an article on
how memory is stored and then had read the copyright in a British novel - something
A Flaw in Capitalism
This is a small essay about a mathematical weakness in capitalism. It shows that
there is a basic flaw in the way traditional (or idealistic) capitalism works. It
also discusses a serious problem with employment and shows why welfare is actually
a good idea - even though it can't work.
This essay always generates a lot of angst in people which is unfortunate, but is
to be expected - I'm challenging a religion here, but if you read it and feel angry
and want to write a couple of pages of insults and expletives, feel free - the beauty
of electronic mail is that I can delete it in one click.
I strongly recommend reading Jeremy Rifkin's "The End of Work"
(ISBN 0-87477-779-8 G. P. Putnam's Sons Publishers 1995). I found this book in
Jan 1996, and it was reassuring to see that someone else has noticed the trends I
had - even if we disagree on some of the details.
Another excellent book is Angus Reid's "Shakedown" (ISBN- 0-7704-2761-8
McClelland-Bantum Inc 1996) . He discusses the trends in Canada which stem from
systemic changes in the culture in Canada over the past twenty years, mostly because
of American cultural and economic influences on Canada. He offers a number of interesting
views and possible solutions as well. Reid is the founder of Angus Reid Polling,
one of the most respected polling agencies in Canada, which has been taking the pulse
of Canadian opinion for several decades and as such has access to upfront insight
about how Canadian think.
John Ralston Saul's "The Unconsious Civilisation" (ISBN 0-88784-5762
House of Anansi Press, 1995) provides a similar view to the future of Canada
that Shakedown does, but presents it from a philosophical standpoint and offers some
very different solutions. He is the only author of the one's I cite who is daring
enough to say that perhaps we should just not play the Global Economy game. He also
offers ways to make Canada work even if we do stay in the game.
Finally, a must for all Canadians who want to know where this is all heading and
more importantly, where it all came from, check out David Orchard's "The
Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism." (ISBN
0-7737-5569-1 Stoddart Press 1993) . This is a rivetting and more than a bit
disturbing account of the American "Manifest Destiny" concept as it applies
to Canada and Mexico. He recounts repeated military actions against Canada by the
US starting in 1613 and ending in the War of 1812 to be followed by economic and
cultural attacks continuing to this day, the most recent of which being the North
American Free Trade Act (NAFTA).
To understand why I think the NAFTA agreement is flawed and favours the US unfairly,
compare NAFTA to the European Community (EC). One major difference is that in the
EC, workers are considered to have the same status as businesses. As an EC citizen,
I can, as a worker, travel to all countries in the EC and sell my skill and time
as I see fit without even having to apply for special access - I just move to where
I want to work and work.
However, as a Canadian citizen (or worse, a Mexican citizen) in the NAFTA, no such
general movement of workers is allowed. Only people with degrees or who are in professional
associations (which generally require a degree or a degree level of education) can
move, and then only with appropriate documentation. The NAFTA agreement continues
a long standing distinction between a worker and an employer while the EC, for the
most part, does away with this distinction.
Since the US has the largest market and strongest economy of the three current NAFTA
members, it's not surprising that there would tend to be a flow of people seeking
employment to the US. Yet, there is little to stop the flow of businesses out of
the US into Canada and Mexico where workers are generally paid less. The agreement
clearly favours American businesses at the expense of Canadian and Mexican workers.