TagEurope

European Innovation Scoreboard

  • Sweden, Finland, Germany, Denmark and the UK are the Innovation leaders, with innovation performance well above that of the EU average and all other countries. Of these countries, Germany is improving its performance fastest while Denmark is stagnating.
  • Austria, Ireland, Luxembourg, Belgium, France and the Netherlands are the Innovation followers, with innovation performance below those of the innovation leaders but above that the EU average. Ireland’s performance has been increasing fastest within this group, followed by Austria.
  • Cyprus, Estonia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy are the Moderate innovators, with innovation performance below the EU average. The trend in Cyprus’ innovation performance is well above the average for this group, followed by Portugal, while Spain and Italy are not improving their relative position.
  • Malta, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Latvia and Bulgaria are the Catching-up countries with innovation performance well below the EU average. All of these countries have been catching up, with the exception of Lithuania. Bulgaria and Romania have been improving their performance the fastest.
  • Beerken’s Blog: European Innovation Scoreboard

    Draconian copyright laws in the States. Consider Canada?

    Good ol' Bush Salute

    In the context of all the good advancing copyright law can do for us as we move further into the twenty-first century (see “How creativity is being strangled by the law“), I almost shed a tear for Americans this afternoon because of these two bills being rushed into action:

    House vote on illegal images sweeps in Wi-Fi, Web sites

    The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill saying that anyone offering an open Wi-Fi connection to the public must report illegal images including “obscene” cartoons and drawings–or face fines of up to $300,000.

    That broad definition would cover individuals, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and even some government agencies that provide Wi-Fi. It also sweeps in social-networking sites, domain name registrars, Internet service providers, and e-mail service providers such as Hotmail and Gmail, and it may require that the complete contents of the user’s account be retained for subsequent police inspection. [cont.]

    Download A Song–Lose Your Loan

    Page 411 of this 747-page bill is “Section 494(A): CAMPUS-BASED DIGITAL THEFT PREVENTION” wherein the bill’s meaning takes a serious detour from its title. To prevent college students from illegally accessing copyrighted material, the section says all schools shall (when you see the word “shall” in a law, it’s a requirement, not a suggestion):

    1) Have “a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property”
    and
    2) Have “a plan to explore technology based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity.”

    The craziest thing about this is that noncompliant schools would lose all their federal funding, for all their students. No more Pell Grants. No more federal financial aid. No more student loans. This is not just draconian punishment for students who break the law, this punishes all students at that institution even if they did nothing!

    Beyond that, both requirements actually work against the point of the bill itself–implementation would likely raise school fees. [cont.]

    I won’t name names, but recently I helped out a friend occultist in California review Canadian cities to expatriate to. I sent him a bunch of info on crime, lifestyle, popular job markets, and some ethnic/religious backgrounds to the cities to help him decide which was more his flavour.

    As we move into an era where identity exists more and more online, and who knows as more transhuman technologies become more mainstream over the next decade. Copyright, essentially communications in general, has become the quiet battleground in the American government. Because these Draconian laws benefit not only the corporations down there, but the right-wing zealous nuts who want the world safe for their Sears-inspired Christian regime, might I suggest you, too, look at moving abroad rather than putting up with the weird Fourth Reich that is bubbling and brewing.

    For those of you not caring or fighting your government before it swelters and your personal freedoms are abandoned in favour of a “safe, secure Christian state,” please feel free to inquire with any of us Canadian occultists about which cities might be welcome to you. There’s always South America, Asia, or Europe if you’re thinking more exotic, and I have friends that are always flying down to South Africa to work.

    For those of you that decide to fight on your native soil, kudos to you. To the rest of you, if you don’t feel it’s your battle, the world is your oyster. America is not the end-all, be-all of the human experience.

    Just a friendly word from Fell. And if there is any interest, perhaps I should put together an Guide to Canada for American Counterculture Expats. Aforementioned Californian seemed to appreciate it and is checking out his city of choice this winter. And I know we’re not exactly 100% sovereign from the U.S.’s influence, but things are nowhere near the psycho state that is growing down there. =]

    EDIT — A bit of a perception/context update for the SAFE Act, via the good boys at Ars Technica:

    Despite hyperbole to the contrary, the SAFE Act that passed the House yesterday won’t force local coffee shops, libraries, and home users to monitor their network connections for child porn.

    What values can occultists call their own?

    I’d love to get some feedback from Klint’s wonderful community and readership here, especially those who happen to have experience in design, marketing, and business. After some discussions with fellow designer, Coe, who himself has an esoteric streak, I’ve been considering some issues that might be keeping the contemporary spiritual movement that is the occult subculture (and its legion of niche cultures and interests) from reaching its potential in North America (and possibly Europe).

    First to address is whether being different is something that the members of the occult community thrives on, in and of itself. Personally, I’ve noticed differences between the persons I know involved in the esoteric arts. I’ll call them the Few for brevity’s sake. There are the goth shops that stock the books on magic that I’ll visit if I’m too eager to wait for an Amazon shipment. While the books and knowledge are the factors that draw me to their locale, the people and artefacts that are sold there are of no interest to me and, in fact, sell a stereotype that I find repugnant. (Sadly, the books in my section are the cultural accessories to the majority of wares they huck: clothing, hair dye, witchcraft gobbledygook, incense, shoddy pewter jewellery, and punky goth paraphernalia.)

    There’s also the New Age shops that huck their own brand, though with a more aligned focus to the ultimate goal of spiritual exploration: crystals, incense, oils, lame calendars with ooh-ahh paintings on them, CDs, cheesy T-shirts, et cetera.

    So all this material would be the halo effect, as it’s referred to in marketing. Unfortunately, goth and witch cultures seem to have let the accessories take the focus away from the core cultural values that spawned them in the first place. Which leads me to wonder what state does the North American occult community find itself.

    Now, keep in mind that I’ve worked in design for a number of years and now currently work as a brand consultant. What most people don’t understand about brands is that they are what the people say they are, not what the companies wish to define them as.

    This is an interesting point to get across because persons that decide to hate a particular brand are projecting their own form of identity by hating on the brands that rub them the wrong way. The little mental boxes in your mind that you used to define that brand is neurologically linked to other elements that you associate with in your life that you use to define what you’re not. Sadly, by choosing one’s enemies, like I see in these books and posts about “occult warfare,” fans of this thinking do themselves the disservice of filling in all the boxes they dislike. The mental boxes (or mental white space) that remains moulds personal self-identification with the cultural or experiential leftovers that haven’t been already commandeered by others.

    Rarely do I see popular subculture movements hijack and infiltrate the mainstream in order to spread their art among the masses. The Few that become self-inflicted prisoners, bound by the things they refuse, begin to wrap these leftover ideas into its own mishmash subculture. Then they get mad when the mainstream adopts and makes it their own. Think of punk culture adopting military garb as their own, or the Barbie girls out there that seem to be standardised with a back-ass tattoo and pierced bellybutton and tongue.

    This brings up the universal archetype known as the Elixir. In Joseph Campbell’s monomyth one of the necessary traits of a Hero is to enter the underworld and return to the masses with a so-called Elixir. The Elixir is wisdom. And I define wisdom as knowledge + experience.

    “It is important that art is produced, but it also has to be consumed. The dynamics of producers and consumers is the motor of art.” Turkish caricaturist Ercan Akyol said that, and it remains true in all elements of life (unless you’re pursuing a Zen-like knowledge of the self, in some cave somewhere, by choice.) But think of art in this case as a the Elixir of wisdom, this knowledge and experience that is being hoarded by one group or the next, but rarely shared across borders. Borders who’re really only being defined by these little, semantic boxes we build in our heads: aka brands.

    One of my favourite things that Grant Morrison says during his well-known Disinfo talk has nothing to do with sigils or his writing. It’s that he’s wearing a Donna Karan suit. Then he spills his drink on it and cheerfully laughs, “Fuck it!” The suit is a beautiful piece, and it serves its purpose. It’s Morrison’s mask magic at work. He doesn’t avoid fashion as a vice of contemporary life, but embraces it and uses it as a magical tool in his everyday life-experiencing what a fine garment can elicit in others, and how that attention can be embraced.

    Rollo May says, in Man’s Search for Himself, “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice… it is conformity.” Whom among us have conformed to our particular set of friends? Their expectations of us, our subcultures’, or our families’? Why? Like Morrison, laugh out loud, “Fuck ’em!” I want everyone reading this right now to say to themselves, three times, Fuck occultism, fuck conspiracies, fuck the little boxes in my head that keep me from exploring the things I simply believe I hate.

    And on that, as I digress from my initial hope to encourage some feedback to better a conversation I am having with Coe and sometimes with Rev Max, I leave you with two quotes to encourage some thought on this matter. But remember, they apply when you embrace the lifestyle of a Hero yourself. The archetypal Underworld in many a case might just be the very mainstream that so many so-called “occultists” tend to avoid and dismay. It is that very nightmare I encourage you to embrace! Learn to flirt, learn to dress up as much as you might desire to dress down, and truly put Robert Anton Wilson’s and Ramsey Duke’s ideas to work:

    “It’s amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites.”
    -Thomas Sowell

    “A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.”
    -unknown

    Will genetic research advances lead to a new era of racism?

    At the same time, genetic information is slipping out of the laboratory and into everyday life, carrying with it the inescapable message that people of different races have different DNA. Ancestry tests tell customers what percentage of their genes are from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. The heart-disease drug BiDil is marketed exclusively to African-Americans, who seem genetically predisposed to respond to it. Jews are offered prenatal tests for genetic disorders rarely found in other ethnic groups.

    […]

    But many geneticists, wary of fueling discrimination and worried that speaking openly about race could endanger support for their research, are loath to discuss the social implications of their findings. Still, some acknowledge that as their data and methods are extended to nonmedical traits, the field is at what one leading researcher recently called ‘a very delicate time, and a dangerous time.’

    ‘There are clear differences between people of different continental ancestries,’ said Marcus W. Feldman, a professor of biological sciences at Stanford University. ‘It’s not there yet for things like I.Q., but I can see it coming. And it has the potential to spark a new era of racism if we do not start explaining it better.’

    Full Story: The New York Times.

    (via Hit and Run).

    Gay Civil Unions Sanctioned in Medieval Europe

    I thought legitimizing gay unions would destroy marriage:

    Civil unions between male couples existed around 600 years ago in medieval Europe, a historian now says.

    Historical evidence, including legal documents and gravesites, can be interpreted as supporting the prevalence of homosexual relationships hundreds of years ago, said Allan Tulchin of Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

    If accurate, the results indicate socially sanctioned same-sex unions are nothing new, nor were they taboo in the past.

    Full Story: Live Science.

    (via Lupa).

    Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns

    The survey concluded that “high levels of organic atheism are strongly correlated with high levels of societal health, such as low homicide rates, low poverty rates, low infant mortality rates, and low illiteracy rates, as well as high levels of educational attainment, per capita income, and gender equality. Most nations characterized by high degrees of individual and societal security have the highest rates of organic atheism, and conversely, nations characterized by low degrees of individual and societal security have the lowest rates of organic atheism. In some societies, particularly Europe , atheism is growing. However, throughout much of the world – particularly nations with high birth rates – atheism is barely discernible.”

    It found the US to be one of the most religious nations.

    Full Story.

    (Via Sorceress Jade).

    Interview with the Institute for Applied Autonomy

    You’re referring to our ‘Rogues Gallery’ project in which we took our GraffitiWriter robot to public spaces across the United States and Europe and offered it for use by the general public. One of the things that was so interesting about this project was that so many people were wiling to participate! We’d simply show up unannounced in a public park or city center, drive the robot around, and invite people to use the machine to spray paint messages on the ground. Virtually everyone we encountered was willing to give it a try, even though what we were doing was clearly illegal. To us, this seemed to be an interesting inversion of the usual narratives about technology extending human abilities. With Rogues Gallery, the robot overcame certain kinds of social conditioning not because of its mechanical capabilities but simply because it was seen as legitimate, based on the assumption that anyone possessing a robot represented some large research institution which probably had the ‘right’ to spray its messages on public space, rather than simply being a couple of crazy people who built a machine in their garage. Imagine if we had tried the same experiment without a robot, using only a few cans of spray paint – no one would have participated because the action would have been clearly understood as an illegal act of public defacement.

    Full Story: WorldChanging.

    Institute for Applied Autonomy web site.

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