You know how in the movies the good guys have an initial victory, then the bad guys come back worse than ever, but though the odds are outrageous the heroes come back in the end with some insane plan to save the day?  Well, that’s what is happening this Saturday, February 11th.  Where?  Everywhere!

View ACTA Protests Worldwide – Brought to you by in a larger map

Who are the good guys and bad guys again?  To translate from above, the internet had an initial victory with the PIPA & SOPA copyright bills in the United States, but now there’s all kind of secret shenanigans going on internationally to push through trade agreements with the same absurdly overreaching copyright and intellectual property provisions as SOPA, just this time on a global scale.  For this round, the response is being led in Europe as the EU has not yet ratified ACTA.  The action, however, will be happening worldwide, with over 200 cities planning protest events.

In case you haven’t been keeping score, this is how the saga has progressed:

1 – COICA, Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act – S.3804 – [Wikipedia|Bill Text] 2 – PIPA, or Protect-IP, Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act – S.968 – [Wikipedia|Bill Text] 3 – SOPA, Stop Online Piracy Act – H.R.3261 – [Wikipedia|Bill Text] 4 – ACTA, Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – [Wikipedia|Text] 5 – TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership – [Wikipedia|Text]

The timeline is the most shocking part.  COICA was introduced in September of 2010.  In 17 months, the entertainment industry and its faithful servant, the United States government, have managed to get three pieces of legislation shot down by overwhelming public opposition, yet still had the time and the nerve to try to get their way by bypassing every democracy on Earth.

In the U.S., Obama has already signed us on to ACTA, although that doesn’t mean it will stick.  As Digital Commons explains it, “The problem is that the President lacks constitutional authority to bind the U.S. to the agreement without congressional consent; but that lack of authority may not prevent the U.S. from being bound to the agreement under international law.”  Then again, Obama might be left holding the bag on this one, as Poland and the Czech Republic have now suspended their ratification of ACTA and the European Parliament is about to get an earful encouraging them to not even bother.

Now back to the movies.  Yes, you’ve already had to hear and do a lot about this crap, you’re tired, it’s Friday and you want to go home, but we can’t walk away yet.  There would be no entertainment industry if the heroes never finished the job.  Go ask a focus group.  We’ve got to see this through and it is going to require a little more effort.

What can you do?  Once again, Fight for the Future has everything you need at  Join in one of the events mapped above, sign the TPP petition and don’t hang up your spurs until you write your representatives about ACTA, which you can take care of right here, in Brainerd…


Stop ACTA & TPP: Tell your country’s officials: NEVER use secretive trade agreements to meddle with the Internet. Our freedoms depend on it!

For European users, this form will email every MEP with a known email address.
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Here’s to happy endings!

BFFs: A Look Through the Fannie Maze

In 2008, two institutions with profoundly unfortunate names were taken over by the federal government.  Known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they owned or guaranteed half of the entire U.S. mortgage market at the time and their subsequent rescue represented “one of the most sweeping government interventions in private financial markets”… “in decades”.

Who were the captains of this Titanic?  Who let them behind the wheel?  Though not the most glamorous of posts, as government-sponsored enterprises, they were unsurprisingly stocked with people who were in the government.  Below we have a venn diagram (one from a larger set created by showing a selection of people from both sides of the fence equation.

(click for venn diagram collection)

That’s the tip of the iceberg though.  Let’s see who on this list comes up in the NNDB Mapper, a very fun tool for mapping the links between people, companies and events ranging from Rihanna to the Funeral of Richard Nixon.

(click for NNDB interactive version)

Okay, we got 6 out of 13.  Above we have the connections they share.  Now let’s look at everyone associated with Fannie Mae.

(click for NNDB interactive version)

Mainly board members and CEOs.  But what happens if we blow out all of their nodes?

(click for NNDB interactive version)

We get a picture.  A picture of the myriad influences and connections that led to a spectacular failure.

The End.

[Venn diagram via Infoplasm]

Fracking, Not Frakking

The kids are always talking about propagating fractures in rock layers to release the natural gas trapped underneath, but what is “fracking” all about?  Thankfully someone has made a beautiful website to quickly walk you through the entire process…

Why should you care?  Because fracking got an exemption in the Safe Drinking Water Act, despite the hazardous stew it leaves underground.  Also, there already happens to be bills stagnating in Congress to take the exemption away.  Let’s go ahead and take care of this very specific little oversight.  Go direct to taking action here or enjoy Linda Dong‘s site, Dangers of Fracking, which will take you to the action and further resources at the end.

[via Daring Fireball]

Compete with Ape Con Myth to Click Your Life Away!

When you boil down a lot of online games, you are basically being rewarded for clicking the screen over and over again.  Not that there is anything wrong with it necessarily, so long as you know what you are doing.  The people making the games know.

The unknown forces behind Click Your Life Away know too, but were kind enough to spare you the cute design, shallow story lines and incessant baiting to buy-in.  The object here is to click in the box, and Ape Con Myth wants to take you on!

The contest?  Click as many times as you can.  The stakes?  Whoever is in the lead Friday, February 10th at 5pm PST wins a free Ape Con Myth t-shirt.  Contest entry will be tracked in the comments, so please include your email and tell us your username* if you want to win.  ACM has started a new account for the occasion, so don’t worry, you’re not already 5,000 clicks behind.

WARNING:  Refresh the page if you let it sit for a while!!!  It WILL have logged you out, but pretends to still be keeping score.  Otherwise, it’s as simple as it goes.  Good luck!

[*Work “ape” into your username for non-redeemable style points.]

Land of the Satisfactorily Free (or The U.S. Gets a Yellow Card)

posted in: Ape Con Myth, Maps 0

Thanks to Occupy Wall Street and the arrest of journalists covering it, the United States fell 27 places in Reporters Without Borders’ latest Press Freedom Index.  The thanks is for the heads up on yet another soft spot in our democracy.  You don’t have to look at this map long to appreciate what a rare thing freedom can be.

freedom of the press map(click to enlarge)

Sadly, there are 130 countries with less satisfactory conditions.  Some much less so…

From the release:

It is no surprise that the same trio of countries, Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea, absolute dictatorships that permit no civil liberties, again occupy the last three places in the index. This year, they are immediately preceded at the bottom by Syria, Iran and China, three countries that seem to have lost contact with reality as they have been sucked into an insane spiral of terror, and by Bahrain and Vietnam, quintessential oppressive regimes. Other countries such as Uganda and Belarus have also become much more repressive.

That’s the other side of this coin.  It’s the place we are trying not to go when we cry foul.  It shouldn’t matter what you think of those getting arrested.  No news is bad news.

Unfortunately over the weekend the Oakland Police Department started working on dropping the United States down a few more slots.  On Saturday night, Occupy Oakland had another run-in with the OPD in which 400 people were arrested, including six reporters.

Though four were released on the scene, two got to see the inside of a jail before the night was over.  Gavin Aronsen was one of those two and wrote up the story over at Mother Jones.  Below, a couple of tweets from Kristin Hanes, one of the semi-lucky reporters, who sums it all up quite well:

Luckily a judge has had his eye on the OPD for a while now and this weekend likely increased the odds the department will go into federal receivership for being “woefully behind its peers around the state and nation”.  Not that Oakland’s is the only force dragging down the country’s freedom of the press rankings.  If you want to see the full journalist arrest tally or follow it as the Occupy movement continues its diagnostic tests of the United States’ checks and balances, Josh Stearns is tracking it right here.

[Press Freedom Index via Boing Boing; High-res map in report PDF]

Things Doing and To Be Done

As Captain Monterey Jack said, “Thomas Edison was a great man, but he was bastard to his wife and kids.”

That’s not the real story of course, but we’re just here for a glimpse of a mighty to-do list, which just happened to be penned by the fourth most prolific inventor in history*…

That’s just the first of five pages.  You can see the rest of this list and more in Rutgers’ collection.

[via Lists of Note]

* Legally at least.

Anything that Flies, on Anything that Moves

posted in: Ape Con Myth, Maps 0

Thanks to a declassified set of georeferenced bombing data, we now know that America’s official story on activity in Cambodia during the Indo-Chinese War bore little resemblance to the reality of the campaign.

From the article, Bombs Over Cambodia by Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan:

“The data released by Clinton shows the total payload dropped during these years to be nearly five times greater than the generally accepted figure. To put the revised total of 2,756,941 tons into perspective, the Allies dropped just over 2 million tons of bombs during all of World War II, including the bombs that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 15,000 and 20,000 tons, respectively. Cambodia may well be the most heavily bombed country in history.”

(click to enlarge)

How does set a drastic course of action get set in motion?

“After telling Kissinger that the US Air Force was being unimaginative, Nixon demanded more bombing, deeper into the country: “They have got to go in there and I mean really go in…I want everything that can fly to go in there and crack the hell out of them. There is no limitation on mileage and there is no limitation on budget. Is that clear?”

Kissinger knew that this order ignored Nixon’s promise to Congress that US planes would remain within thirty kilometres of the Vietnamese border, his own assurances to the public that bombing would not take place within a kilometre of any village, and military assessments stating that air strikes were like poking a beehive with a stick.

Five minutes after his conversation with Nixon ended, Kissinger called General Alexander Haig to relay the new orders from the president: “He wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn’t want to hear anything. It’s an order, it’s to be done. Anything that flies, on anything that moves. You got that?””

Read the whole story at The Walrus.

[via iRevolution]

FaceBook, Inc. Offering Best Free Scrapbooking Class Ever

Facebook Timeline Tobias Scrapbooking

“We supply the glitter, glue, the crepe paper and the ready-made template pages for you to decorate and fill out…”

Munch Facebook Timeline

“So, dig ug whatever you can and remember, photocopies are not admissible as memories” – Prof. Zuck

How much will you put in your F.B.I. profile scrapbook timeline?

The 2-to-1 Funny Chart/Unfunny Chart Friday Special

First we have a couple of samples from a Businessweek feature on the ease of using charts and data to say whatever you want.

Just because some numbers line up doesn’t make it meaningful.  Yet to look at it, say skimming this page and only looking at the charts, you might wonder why Facebook has to be such a bully.  Who knows what drives the yield on government bonds in the first place?  Oil, debt, Facebook, it’s usually one of the three.

In the case of the mountain though, perhaps it would be best to leave this one alone.

That, of course, leaves us with the unfunny.  Lines that moved together until one slipped and the other failed to notice…

Sadly, this last chart tells us something.  Namely, that the economy doesn’t really care about 6.6 million of us no longer having jobs.

Have a great weekend!

[Final chart via The Atlantic‘s Most Important Graphs of 2011]

Stop Being So Sensitive

posted in: Ape Con Myth, Maps 0

Think Progress’ headline lays it out starkly: Climate Change May Flip 40% of Earth’s Major Ecosystems This Century.The article questions whether or not species will be able to adapt to such quick change and an important point to remember is that we are one of those species.  …  A species projected to add two more billion to its ranks by 2050.

You don’t have to rush to the Sahara, but if you ever wanted to see tundra, don’t take your time about it.

[Map from Climatic Change journal via Think Progress via /r/collapse] [Related: Get To Know Your Biomes]

Adolescent Issues (or A Note to Congress)

The following chart was sent in by a younger reader as a life hack for teenagers seeking more freedom.  It’s logic parents will have a difficult time fending off.

Is it the same for adults?  The earning of trust and taking on of responsibility are continual processes in all aspects of our life.  They form the basis of all our relationships.  But as adults, are we still proving our freedom?

Following laws keeps us out of jail.  Following requirements keeps our job.  Following etiquette keeps our friends.  Our freedom is never quite complete as the conventions of society create boundaries that we are free to cross, but only at a price. We prove our freedom to live within the context laid out by our community through maintaining the trust.

For the trust to be preserved, our responsibilities must be managed in the spirit of what earned the trust in the first place.  This is how perceived value is made real.  The follow-through is the proof, and perhaps as such our freedom.

…  Seems like this should have been sent to Congress too.  They don’t seem to understand the last step and endanger our freedom in the process.

[Guest chart from Mars]
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