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How Perl and R Reveal the United States' Isolation In the TPP Negotiations 152

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the just-look-at-those-graphs dept.
langelgjm writes "As /. reported, last Thursday Wikileaks released a draft text of the intellectual property chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Since then, many commentators have raised alarm about its contents. But what happens when you mix the leaked text together with Perl regular expressions and R's network analysis packages? You get some neat visualizations showing just how isolated the United States is in pushing for extreme copyright and patent laws."
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How Perl and R Reveal the United States' Isolation In the TPP Negotiations

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  • by DrPBacon (3044515) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @06:13AM (#45461753)
    "In summary, what can we conclude from these data? Canada, with by far the most sole-country proposals, seems like it is up to something." Those shifty Canadians. I knew it.
    • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @07:05AM (#45461915) Homepage Journal
      It's just Mayor Rob Ford's plan to go oot the hoose and take the world off to a the great, white, crystalline North. Beauty, eh?
    • Political scientists often talk about dyads, by which we simply mean groups of two. ... If we did this for every possible dyad, we could compare the frequency of dyads and get a sense of how often countries’ negotiating positions overlap.

      I hope the above quote from the TFA may answer what you are looking for when you look at the chart on the TFA...

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @06:26AM (#45461779)

    In summary, what can we conclude from these data? Canada, with by far the most sole-country proposals, seems like it is up to something.

    Right, "Canada is up to something" is a great way to report on international negotiations. Okay, they've taken the geek approach of grepping through the drafts instead of reading it in full (fair enough), but at least they could have extracted whatever keywords appear after "Canada" and "oppose" / "propose", to figure out the something it's up to. It's not hard in Perl, gee...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Narcocide (102829)

      I can only assume that they must have meant it sarcastically. I analyzed the data they presented and came up with the conclusion that the US and Japan are "up to something," while Canada just seems to have a lot of friends and new ideas. But I didn't read the actual drafts either.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @07:11AM (#45461931)

      Yes, this one-page article clearly represents the entirety of his knowledge on the subject, he's obviously not a political science professor or anything.

    • Author here (Score:4, Insightful)

      by langelgjm (860756) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @09:40AM (#45462497) Journal

      Hi, I'm the author of the article. Thanks for reading it. Originally I thought I might extract the "oppose/propose" and attach it to country names, but I didn't for a number of reasons.

      First, as you note, "oppose/propose" by itself tells us very little without knowing the content of what is being opposed/proposed. But even if we do know the content, without the context it may still convey little. E.g., we might find "[US propose: a]" or "[CA oppose: the]". I thought about using Perl's extract_bracketed (and actually did at first), but decided against it.

      Second, anyone familiar with these issues already knows where the countries line up. The US is pushing extreme IP laws. Australia doesn't necessarily agree, but follows along in many cases. Canada often tries to do its own thing (e.g., they were one of the only countries to take advantage of a TRIPS provision [keionline.org] allowing them to manufacture an on-patent drug and export it to a developing country without manufacturing capacity). So showing people this information wouldn't necessarily add much value.

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by bluefoxlucid (723572)

        A few tips: Python re is better than Perl's regular expressions; and Python RPy directly integrates R.

        • I've never used Python, though I did read this article from R-bloggers [r-bloggers.com] yesterday that made me think I should probably start learning it.

          I used Perl mostly because it's what I grew up with, though I rarely do that kind of coding anymore.

    • Canada is up to something

      The only thing Canada is up to is their long planned invasion of the US, with the Great Canuck Hordes swooping down on their battle moose. Instead of the nuclear option, they'll deploy their strategic reserve of maple syrup (pleasantly warmed of course). If you think that's a joke, recall the Great Molasses Flood [wikipedia.org].

      P.S. They'll also try to convince us that that crap they serve is bacon.

  • Perl? Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @06:31AM (#45461789)

    Here [wordpress.com] is the original article with a little more technical detail. To those interested (like me) what was Perl doing there, it was just a single line script with regex. The rest is R.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      From TFA:

      print "$_\n" for @match = $txt =~ m/(?:(?:AU|BN|CA|CL|JP|MX|MY|NZ|PE|SG|US|VN)[0-9]*\/)+(?:AU|BN|CA|CL|JP|MX|MY|NZ|PE|SG|US|VN)[0-9]*/g;
      It’s ugly, but it seems to get the job done.

      I agree, it's Perl^Wugly. But Python wouldn't be much better. At least we can remove the redundancy in the regex:

      countries="(?:AU|BN|CA|CL|JP|MX|MY|NZ|PE|SG|US|VN)[0-9]*"
      print "\n".join(re.findall("(?:{0}/)+{0}".format(countries), txt))

    • what was Perl doing there, it was just a single line script with regex

      Perl = Pathologically Eclectic 'R' Lister.

    • Re:Perl? Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by biodata (1981610) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @09:35AM (#45462469)
      Why would you use something other than perl for parsing text? This is what perl was designed for and it's most likely faster than anything else scripted. I'm sure you could write a text parser in any language you happen to like, but if you have the skills then perl is the correct tool for this job.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      OMG I read the summary and title and concluded that if I want the magic power of regular expressions then I must use Perl!

  • I thought I was always supposed to praise Canada over the US ... yet they lead us in "sole country" proposals, supposedly an awful, cowboyish thing ... ugh, my Slashdot head must asplode!
    • I thought I was always supposed to praise Canada over the US ... yet they lead us in "sole country" proposals, supposedly an awful, cowboyish thing ... ugh, my Slashdot head must asplode!

      Narrator:"... And thus cascadingstylesheet did realise that garnering his opinion from the surmisings of others was folly, and set about remedying his ways by sourcing evidence himself and forming opinion based upon fact, not conjecture."

  • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @06:41AM (#45461827)

    ...until I actually got to know it. While the political rhetoric is more even-handed and they do have a proper health service, the country is all about big business, just like the US.

    • Having traveled in both France and Quebec, I am amazed at how American Quebec is. They strive to save their French heritage, but it little resembles actual French culture. The two groups have been separated too long. Many of their French customs are as French as US ones are English.
      • by Nemyst (1383049)
        Meanwhile France's French is using more and more English words peppered throughout, or worse, "englishified" words (a word with -ing slapped to it). It's quite weird considering how the French don't particularly like the English.
        • word with -ing slapped to it

          I think that French adds English words like that deliberately to sound as hideous as possible, so they can wave their fist angrily across the Channel for uglifying their language.

          Every time I hear "LE blah-ING" I want to punch a Frenchman.

    • by Nemyst (1383049) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:15AM (#45463447) Homepage
      I'd be curious to compare the political stance before and after Harper's rise to power. To me the difference is quite stark and I feel like things went very much American when he arrived. Anti-environment, anti-science, pro-oil, pro-business, anti-social policies, etc. Heck, we've had more debates on abortion, the capital sentence and other such social issues since he came around than we've had in the decades before.
  • How unsurprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vikingpower (768921) <exercitussolusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @08:00AM (#45462081) Homepage Journal
    The US is being gently pushed ( nudged ) into a beginning of rrelevance. Has already been going on for a couple of years: computer technology, aerospace tech, politics. NSA scandal accelerated it. The sun is going down over US America.
    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @08:21AM (#45462143) Homepage

      The US is being gently pushed ( nudged ) into a beginning of irrelevance

      I'd consider it more the US government trying to do whatever it can for the 0.1% of the country that pays for the majority of political campaigning, and screw the other 99.9% of us. And whether the US government becomes irrelevant or not, as long as the corporate overlords are happy, the politicians will be kept comfortable.

      In the words of Number Two: "But you, like an idiot, want to take over the world. And you don't realize there is no world anymore! It's only corporations!"

      • In the words of Number Two: "But you, like an idiot, want to take over the world. And you don't realize there is no world anymore! It's only corporations!"

        On the bright side it's nice to have a Starbucks coffee bar in World Domination Headquarters. They even have cream for the cat.

      • The US is being gently pushed ( nudged ) into a beginning of irrelevance

        I'd consider it more the US government trying to do whatever it can for the 0.1% of the country that pays for the majority of political campaigning, and screw the other 99.9% of us. And whether the US government becomes irrelevant or not, as long as the corporate overlords are happy, the politicians will be kept comfortable.

        In the words of Number Two: "But you, like an idiot, want to take over the world. And you don't realize there is no world anymore! It's only corporations!"

        Those 0.1% are not Americans as such. They are international. They have their money scattered all around the world. Dick Cheney is practically a citizen of Dubai. So don't expect them to keep this country in any kind of livable shape. Scrape every last dollar out of the economy, and go live like a king in the Middle East. I worked for currency traders when they devalued the Mexican Peso 20 years ago. Boy was that a feeding frenzy. History will repeat itself.

    • Re:How unsurprising (Score:4, Interesting)

      by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortexNO@S ... t-retrograde.com> on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @08:22AM (#45462147) Homepage

      Although it helps, you don't have to stop running to lose your position in a race; The others can simply speed up. When both factors are at work the rate of decline accelerates.

      You can trace much of the change in position of USA and others via the amount of essential economies and state resources are privatized, and thus funding promised to them and thus the private interest in influencing politics (deregulation) increased. For instance: Solid Rocket Booster designs have had funding lobbied for based on the merit of bringing and keeping jobs in certain congressman's local economy instead of on the pros / cons of the various designs themselves. The same sort of thing ran amok in Chile in the 70's. [youtube.com]

      When progress is averse to profit you get stagnation in a private industry -- Like ISPs in the USA: Instead of spending on infrastructure to provide a better service they can simply charge more for less (oversell bandwidth) to make more money. Bits have never been cheaper to distribute and yet their cost doesn't reflect this.

      The sun sets not upon one country, but around the world at different times. If we're not careful our country could be next.

      • For instance: Solid Rocket Booster designs have had funding lobbied for based on the merit of bringing and keeping jobs in certain congressman's local economy instead of on the pros / cons of the various designs themselves.

        Surely that didn't happen during the heyday of the military-industrial complex in the 50's and 60's - an era when our economy was growing hand over fist. I don't like pork, but it's hardly the biggest of our problems.

    • by westlake (615356)

      The US is being gently pushed into a beginning of rrelevance.

      If the US is so irrelevant, why is the geek so obsessed over its cultural exports and IP?

      • Having trouble with the word "beginning", fatso?

        • I presume that "fatso" is meant ironically from someone who posts as Hognoxious (the hog part being ironic, not the noxious part).

          • Nope, more to do with the negative correlation between reading comprehension/intelligence and obesity.

            I used to ride a Harley, before they became fashionable among twats.

    • Re:How unsurprising (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sabriel (134364) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @10:35AM (#45463001)

      It might not stay gentle. Do you remember the decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire?

      Oh, wait, yeah, that was a while back. Here, some reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_of_the_Western_Roman_Empire [wikipedia.org]

      Hmm, that's a tad indigestible, I need a car analogy. No, a gorilla analogy!

      Imagine a tribe of gorillas. Let's call the biggest, strongest, most heavily-armed gorilla "Sam". Luckily enough for the tribe, Sam was actually a fairly nice guy - so long as you purchased his stuff or at least used his bananas to purchase stuff, and didn't draw attention to his tendencies to vanity and his insistence on being in charge - and it really helped that he kept the more aggressive males in check (every so often one'd get nasty where Sam could see it, or even challenge him, and everybody else'd get a reminder of why nobody fought Sam).

      When the second-biggest gorilla, a tyrant and almost as big as Sam, collapsed from steroid abuse, things were really starting to look up.

      But as time passed, the other gorillas noticed Sam was changing. Now some folk go doddery and forgetful, but Sam, he kept poking through the tribe's stuff, peeking in on them all the time. It was like he'd spent so long keeping a lookout for what his old nemesis did, he couldn't stop doing it. And he started to care less and less about whether the other gorillas complained when he rode roughshod over someone. He even started hassling his own young, creating lots of rules about where they could go, what they could take with them, what they should report back to him, and his punishments got harder too.

      Trouble is, it's not just Sam's young and his friends in the tribe that have noticed. Some of those aggressive gorillas, both the older ones who kept their heads down while Sam was in his prime and the younger ones who don't remember how bad it was before Sam became the tribe's silverback, they've noticed too. They've noticed the changes, and they've noticed he's having trouble holding his bananas.

      Can you guess what they'll try to do if, some day, Sam can't hold his bananas anymore?

      • Do you remember the decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire?

        Not personally, no, but I have read about it. One of the things I read is that it took centuries. Perhaps in a few hundred years my descendants in North America will live like characters from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail".

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          One of the things I read is that it took centuries.

          The British Empire fell apart in decades, not centuries.
          My point being that the pace of these types of changes has significantly accelerated.
          Anyone that thinks America's hegemony can or will linger for centuries is delirious.

          Perhaps in a few hundred years my descendants in North America will live like characters from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail".

          Anyone that's watched enough sci-fi knows that in the future, everyone is speaks English with a British accent [tvtropes.org]

    • The US is being gently pushed ( nudged ) into a beginning of rrelevance. Has already been going on for a couple of years: computer technology, aerospace tech, politics.

      To the extent we're being pushed into irrelevance it's mostly by shooting ourselves in the foot. Historically decline of great powers has been more because of rent-seeking by domestic special interests, rather than by external causes. For example, the big landholders in the Roman Empire were exempted from taxes. Similarly for the aristocracy in pre-revolutionary France.

      Special interests with excessive (and often corrupt) influence in the US? "Intellectual property" interests? Check. Finance? Check. Medical-

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @08:19AM (#45462139)

    A negotiation is possible only when both parties can benefit.

    • by PPH (736903)

      You give us what we want and we won't bomb you into oblivion. Now that's what we call an offer you can't refuse.

  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @08:44AM (#45462203)
    Can we drop the nonsense that TPP is a 'free trade agreement?' A free trade agreement would be very simple. Don't bomb us or torture our citizens, and you can trade freely with us. TPP undermines free trade by forcing countries into even further support of anti-capitalism legal monopolies as a condition for not restricting trade.
    • by MacTO (1161105)

      Free trade agreements are complex because you are dealing with nations with different laws. The classical examples are the cost of labour or agricultural subsidies, which may give industry in one nation a distinct advantage and result in the destruction of industry in another nation Another example, and one that has popped up a lot lately, has been the protection of service industries that are public in one nation and private in another (like health care).

      Now you could write a simple free trade agreement

      • If you want to have a complex system of protectionism trade agreement, you can have one of those. Just don't call it a free trade agreement if the reasons for restricting trade go far beyond direct physical harm upon citizens.
        • No, you're conflating freedom with winner-takes-all, deregulated crony "capitalism".

          • Free trade would be deregulated trade. That's what 'free' means here. Uninhibited. Success and failure in such would be based upon the market. Now, this may or may not be a good thing. We are talking about the meaning of free trade, not 'good trade.' You can have a trade agreement that isn't a free trade agreement, and that sounds like what you want. That's fine. Just don't call it a free trade agreement.

            BTW, TPP is pretty much the definition of crony capitalism, in which the regulations and lack
      • "Free trade agreements" is a propaganda term. We have trade agreements, but they're not about "free trade".

        The classical examples are the cost of labour or agricultural subsidies

        Eliminate them or it's not a "free trade" agreement. Don't talk about "complexities" when you're merely distorting the issue.

    • Can we drop the nonsense that TPP is a 'free trade agreement?' A free trade agreement would be very simple. Don't bomb us or torture our citizens, and you can trade freely with us. TPP undermines free trade by forcing countries into even further support of anti-capitalism legal monopolies as a condition for not restricting trade.

      It is kind of free, free of government interference. It's really just the uber rich fucks agreeing amongst themselves how to split up the world.

      • It's not free of government interference, it is government interference. The uber-rich fucks are scared as hell of a world in which the government doesn't protect them.
  • Yah you know me!

  • by fritsd (924429) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @09:02AM (#45462263) Journal
    When I looked at the map, I saw the following countries were missing from the list (plus lots of Oceania countries): Russia, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Fiji, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala.

    Isn't it odd that at least Russia, China, Taiwan, Indonesia and Panama are excluded? I'd imagine they do lots of trade across the Pacific Ocean (for Panama I meant transport rather than production).
    • by Random2 (1412773)
      It's because they didn't want to apparently [wikipedia.org]

      "The negotiations to set up the TPSEP initially included three countries (Chile, New Zealand and Singapore), and Brunei subsequently joined the agreement. The original TPSEP agreement contains an accession clause and affirms the members' "commitment to encourage the accession to this Agreement by other economies".

      In January 2008 the United States agreed to enter into talks"

      Basically most of the current countries joined after-the-fact, it was originally onl
  • Just looking at the graphs, it appears Japan is approximately as isolated as the U.S.
  • In my travels in Europe and Asia, I am amazed at how often I run across US products. Not manufactured, but copyrighted. Most movies are American. Most people use language specific versions of American websites. People Google things. The hang out on Facebook. Many of the items they used, though made elsewhere, were designed an copyrighted in the US. So yes, the copyright laws to protect these ideas would be lopsided.
    • by Hairy1 (180056) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @11:25AM (#45463537) Homepage

      It isn't like its the wild west out there; we already have strong copyright legislation. What the TPPA is seeking is corporate control over the ability to exclude people from the internet at will, with no judicial oversight. To a large extent it already does; I dared to critique the Business Software Allience on YouTube and my account was closed. No comeback here - to challenge it I would need to agree to defending myself in California. Unless you are a U.S citizen there is no fair use or free speech on YouTube, Facebook, Google, Yahoo etc. You are there at their pleasure, and easily ejected.

      The TPPA seeks to extend this power to your local ISP; to actually cut you off from the net totally if you are saying things they don't like.

      It isn't about protecting works, it is about controlling the channel. The Internet was a danger to corporate control of how people got their entertainment and information. They are now getting the people back under control, subservient to their masters like they should be. The thing is that most are happy with having their entertainment and information fed to them, told what they should be angry about.

      The risk to Hollywood isn't that we will steal their content - it is that we will discover their content is gilt covered crap, and that we can beginb to express ourselves without getting one hundred million dollars from a VC. What the RIAA and MPAA care about is making sue that they control the music we listen to and the movies we watch.

      That is the focus of the TPPA. Control.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Not manufactured, but copyrighted.

      A necessity to keep IP from being stolen by US entities. Prior art or prior use in other jurisdictions has little standing in US courts, so foreign manufacturers obtain US copyrights and patents.

      Most movies are American.

      Ah yes. The movie industry. One of the last bastions of organized crime in the USA. Most movies you watch are American because the US studio system throws roadblocks up for the distribution of content other then their own. Who do you think created The Office [wikipedia.org]? A few notable works do manage to push their way through t

  • by langelgjm (860756) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @10:14AM (#45462767) Journal

    Author of the article here. Michael Simeone from the University of Illinois asked for my data and code so that he could experiment with some D3 visualizations. He did a little bit last night, and I thought I'd share [illinois.edu] the results. [illinois.edu]

  • by Bill Dimm (463823) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @10:40AM (#45463057) Homepage

    Canada, with by far the most sole-country proposals, seems like it is up to something.

    Doesn't the raw number of sole-country proposals seem like the wrong metric? It seems more sensible to divide the number of sole-country proposals by the total number of proposals for that country to see what fraction of its proposals have no support from other countries. From the next to last graph, it seems that Canada has both a lot of sole-country proposals and a lot of joint proposals. If the fraction of Canada's proposals that are sole proposals is not particularly high, the large number of Canadian sole-country proposals would just reflect them making a lot of proposals in general -- you might conclude that they are just putting more effort into getting the treaty right (in their opinion) than other countries. I only skimmed the article -- did I miss something?

    Anyway, interesting analysis. Unfortunate that the Washington Post didn't make the graphs available in a format that is large enough to read the labels.

    P.S. I'm not Canadian.

    • by langelgjm (860756)
      I'm adding a table showing the ratio of sole country proposals to total proposals from that country. It does change the order, though the main observations remain intact. Japan, the US, and Canada, come at the top, Malaysia and Brunei at the bottom.
      • by Bill Dimm (463823)

        For anyone that is looking for it, the table was added in this blog post [wordpress.com], not on the Washington Post site.

      • The data source seems flawed from the start. Changes to it may be documented but the initial proposals before the leak; that is, the ones who drafted it initially, have a huge influence. Knowing that information would likely end up in huge changes. The USA likely would have the most proposals and that would be a good reason for them having fewer of them at this phase of the process.

        The approach and tool use is interesting. It highlights another way to analyze or summarize such things; although, I'm not su

        • by langelgjm (860756)

          This draft text is dated August 30, 2013. You're absolutely right that earlier (and later) texts will likely reveal very different patterns. So what I did is really just a snapshot in time. Ideally, I would have had multiple texts in chronological order, which would make it possible to provide an animation of changing patterns.

          However, I'd argue that having any insight into the process, even if it's just a single point in time, is better than nothing. We'd all like to see more transparent negotiations, alon

  • Why are countries like Australia, Canada and others supporting this kind of crap?
    These kinds of trade agreements give greater powers to big US IP holders (Hollywood, big pharma etc etc etc), they dont give any of the reductions in agricultural protectionism that countries like Australia want and they probably have very little benefit in terms of actually reducing trade barriers.

    So why don't countries like Australia say "no, we wont sign up to a treaty that gives a whole pile of benefits to big US corporatio

  • USA is also working on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the EU. That one is supposed to be done in 2015, and it seems surrounded by much more secrecy.

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