~ There is only one journey: going inside yourself. ~
- Rainer Maria Rilke


Japan legislates waist size; Canada legislates Big Brother ~ Friday, June 13, 2008

An article in the New York Times today really disturbed me (well, many articles I read, in a given day, disturb me).  You may need to sign in to see the article.  In a nutshell, they seem to be legislating a waist size in Japan.  33.5 inches for men and 35.4 for women.  The onus would seem to be on employers to enforce it.  You have to get measured, and if you are over the above maximums, then you have to lose the weight.  If you don't eventually do it, then the company gets fined.  

Kinda nasty, IMO.  It's hard enough to lose weight--or to arrive at a positive self-image, at whatever size one happens to be.  Somehow, I don't think getting fined will help.  I can see the argument (that old chestnut) that everyone should be healthier and that carrying extra weight means a heavier toll on the health care industry (though as a side note, apparently a relatively high percentage of adults in Japan smoke, but no-one seems to be fining employers for all the smokers who work for them--which makes the "it's for good health" claim ring a little hollow).  Why not just encourage exercise and healthy diets, but let people choose how they want to live, rather than fining people who don't conform to a certain, exact measurement?  And in the mean while, I can just see the trickle-down effect.  

Peer pressure and prejudice are already bad enough--imagine how much worse, if you start getting the evil eye from your employers because they're getting fined, thanks to the metabolism you've been cursing for much of your adult life already!  Legislated discrimination, anyone?!

Japan, Seeking Trim Waists, Measures Millions - NYTimes.com

The other thing that's got me up in arms these days is, of course, the new proposed copyright act, here in Canada.  Here is the site of an activist against it (so, admittedly, he's going to be somewhat biassed).  I haven't yet tracked down the actual wording, but general coverage seems to be highlighting some pretty freaky aspects of it.  What I'm reading as a bottom line, though, is that it's either unenforceable, or would require something of a police state in order to pull it off.

Essentially, you can get fined for watching an out of region DVD (like those European releases that aren't available in North America?!).  There are some reasonable facets to it, but ultimately, it will either mean that you lose some of your rights to privacy (as ISPs are forced to pass along information to the government or watchdog/Big Brother) or it'll make not one jot of difference (if you manage to retain your privacy).

A side point that Tom brought up is that right now, we also pay a tax on all digital media purchased (blank CDs, DVDs etc.) which goes towards compensating artists, because of the widespread piracy taking place right now.  Fine--even if you don't pirate, you're paying for those who do.

If this law is put in place, they'd presumably have to remove that tax, or, as Tom says, it would be like taxing illegal activities.  But that's just an aside.  The real issue is that I'd frankly rather pay the tax on the CDs and not be spied on.

This is particularly problematic, since I suspect the actual result will likely be somewhere between "unenforceable" and "police state".  It will be selective prosecution, based on other factors (scapegoating, crackdowns, extortion or worse come to mind).  Nasty stuff.  

I'd be open to any counter-arguments or mitigating factors for either of the above pieces, BTW.  I'm reacting based on what I've read.  If you've got another angle or can complete the picture in a different way, I'm open to hearing it!  

::Posted by Anduril Elessar @ 10:30 AM::::


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