With a new trailer out to promote Kutcher-starring biopic Jobs, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has new thoughts on the movie—not all of them negative. [Jesus Diaz / Kinja]
Canadian MPs use bogus video-game industry data to defend hated DRM law they're about to ram down the country's throat
Michael Geist sez,
The False Link Between C-11's Digital Lock Rules and Video Game Industry Jobs
The Canadian government has turned to the video game industry as a major source of support for its much criticized digital lock rules. Given the fact that writers, performers, publishers, musicians, documentary film makers, and artists have all called for greater balance on digital locks, the government has been left with fewer and fewer creative industries that support its position. On Monday, government MPs repeatedly referenced the video game industry and the prospect of lost jobs as a reason to support restrictive digital lock rules. For example: "I wonder if the member and her party opposite are talking about putting an end to the video gaming industry in this country with weak TPM measures [ed: that is, making it legal to break DRM if done for a purpose that doesn't violate copyright]."
Later, an MP asked an MP: "Could he explain to the House how, in the absence of effective technical protection measures, that industry could continue to flourish in the province of Quebec?"
Government MPs regularly referenced the 14,000 jobs in the industry and suggested that they would be put at risk with "weak" TPM measures. Given the focus, it is important to examine the evidence that supports claims that jobs are at risk. A closer look at the industry' own evidence demonstrates the government's claim that adding balanced digital lock rules to Canadian copyright law would destroy the industry is plainly false. Based on the industry's own data, opinion surveys of Canadian video game makers, industry growth in other countries with balanced digital lock rules, and the massive taxpayer investment in the industry, there is little reason to believe that amending the Bill C-11 digital lock approach would harm the Canadian video game industry.
First: The details. This fact came not from a recently published study, but from a Wall Street Journal interactive tool that allows you to look up data about pay and employability by undergraduate college major. The data in the tool is drawn from previous research done by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, an independent research center at Georgetown University. So they're not just pulling this out of thin air.
If you want to see where the information comes from in more detail, there are a couple of relevant reports: One comparing the economic value of different college majors, and another looking at the demand for people with science, math, engineering, and technology skills.
Here's what I found scanning through those reports:
• In the college majors report, the sample size of astronomy and astrophysics majors was very small—small enough that the researchers couldn't put assign those majors a statistically significant median salary. So when you see 0% unemployment, that could represent a small number of people surveyed. It could also represent the fact that this is a small field, to begin with.
• The same report stated that 94% of astronomy and astrophysics majors were employed. That's pretty good for a single major. But it's not 100% employment, either. I couldn't find a mention of 0% unemployment for astronomy and astrophysics majors in either Georgetown report. It could be that the Wall Street Journal was using background data from these reports, but making the calculations of unemployment percentages in a different way.
• Just because they're employed, doesn't mean they're employed as astronomers and astrophysicists. In the sciences, you're usually paid to go to graduate school, so that often counts as being employed, depending on who is doing the calculations. The Georgetown report also shows 8% of astronomy and astrophysics majors are employed in food service jobs, and another 8% in office jobs.
As near as I can make out, it boils down to this: Astronomy and astrophysics grads are pretty employable (as Neil deGrasse Tyson says, "There are no street physicists") but they're probably not perfectly employable, and definitely not perfectly employable within the fields of astronomy and astrophysics.
I'll be honest. I did not realize that you could just apply to be an astronaut like it was any old job listing. Nor would I have guessed that the NASA "Apply to be an Astronaut!" recruitment video would feel as odd and strangely lame as the recruitment video for any old normal job.
Astronauts: They're just like us! (But with way more awesome resumes.)