Sunday, August 31, 2008
Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis
Massive, multiple coordinated raids with dozens of police in SWAT gear, on people who pose no physical threat at all. Maybe the Chinese will start criticizing our human rights record.
PS. Seriously. Even the Chinese don't do this when they think someone's looking.
Friday, August 29, 2008
ABC Reporter Arrested in Denver Taking Pictures of Senators, Big Donors
Includes video. You see it over and over again: "I'm the police. You do what I tell you to do, I don't have to tell you why, 'cause I'm the police."
During the arrest, one of the officers can be heard saying to Eslocker, "You're lucky I didn't knock the f..k out of you."
The library has determined that hundreds of items are missing, including photographs, manuscripts and letters by Yehudi Menuhin, Jascha Heifetz, Pablo Casals, Felix Mendelssohn and Richard Strauss. Many items are also gone from the archive of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv and a historic music library in Haifa. The search of other music archives is just getting started....
[The suspect's] lawyer responded with a short statement by e-mail saying that Mr. Bizanski was a collector of Judaica who often visited libraries and archives and had committed no crime, and that the police did not understand how collectors operated.You have to like that last line.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
In another study, researchers placed fliers in freshman dormitories on a college campus. In one dorm, the fliers emphasized the health risks of binge drinking. In another dorm, the fliers linked binge drinking to graduate students. Participants in the dorm with the second flier consumed at least 50 percent less alcohol than those who saw the health risk fliers.
Bart! Don't make fun of grad students! They're just people who've made terrible choices.
Now, whenever James says something I don't like, I'm going to say, "Yeah, they believe that at Washington, too."
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
evolutionists have caused more misery, and killed and torturedone Tom Willis advocates some familiar solutions: concentration camps and torture. No mention of reeducation, which I take as a flattering acknowledgment that rational minds are never as controllable as a theocrat would wish.
more people, in the last 90 years than all the wars of the last
There's a slight tongue-in-cheek quality here, but it comes across as a the type of pose you take when the fantasy is unattainable, but is your real fantasy nonetheless.
From the LA Times, Disney's rights to young Mickey Mouse may be wrong
I'm sure nothing will come of it - Disney deploys lawyers faster than campaign managers deploy press releases - but it does serve to highlight how copyright has evolved. The title card for "Steamboat Willie" lists a number of creators, then claims copyright without declaring precisely which of those creators was the holder. Under the 1909 Copyright Act, that was enough to ruin the claim altogether.
Labels: intellectual property By Scott Hanley
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Here's a potentially significant ruling in the Copyright Wars: Copyright Owners Must Consider 'Fair Use' Before Sending Takedown Notice
A woman (Lenz) posts a YouTube video of her toddler dancing to a Prince song; Universal orders YouTube to take it down; woman demands it go back up, citing Fair Use, and wants damages from Universal for filing a false takedown notice. Here's the issue at stake: previous claims for filing false notices have been made because the person making the claim did not own the copyright and could not legally make a claim. Lenz is arguing that the takedown notice is false because Universal knows perfectly well that her video falls under Fair Use.
The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) states that the complainant must file:
(v) A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. [emphasis added]Universal argued that they have no obligation to consider whether Lenz's video might fall under Fair Use; the judge has ruled that, because it's the law, they do have to consider it. I believe that Lenz now has the burden of proving that Universal acted in bad faith, knowing full well that her video was legal. There's plenty of room for Universal to make an effective defense here and they probably will, but it still confirms that the statute means what it says: Universal has to consider whether a use is legal before they start issuing takedown notices.
Here's how Universal tried to argue otherwise:
Universal contends that copyright owners cannot be required to evaluate the question of fair use prior to sending a takedown notice because fair use is merely an excused infringement* of a copyright rather than a use authorized by the copyright owner or by law.
And a reading of the DMCA demonstrates, in no uncertain terms, that this is patent bullshit:
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
Let's read that again: "the fair use of a copyrighted work is not an infringement of copyright" (ellipses elided). The copyright warriors really want this not to be the case, but it is. Now, Lenz still has to demonstrate that Universal acted in bad faith, knowing full well that her use was actually legal (and while her use is noncommercial and does no harm to the market value of the original, it's still hard to fit into any of the enumerated categories). But it's helpful to see Fair Use reaffirmed as The Law, not just a funky exception to the law.
*And what the hell kind of legal principle is an "excused infringement," anyway? Isn't that rather like a statute declaring a crime to be okay, but still a crime? Can such a thing even exist in law?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
In an interview Friday with the Pueblo Chieftan, McCain committed what could amount political suicide in the state by saying that the 1922 water compact negotiated between seven western states should be renegotiated to give Arizona, Nevada, and California (the Lower Basin states) more water.
The Denver Post writes:
Memo to: John McCain.
Subject: Forget about winning our nine electoral votes next November. We don't vote for water rustlers in this state; we tar and feather them!
Here's some free advice, wrinkly guy: When campaigning in Colorado, you might survive advocating atheism, taking our guns away or outlawing apple pie. But never, ever, mess with our water.
I use Gmail and I especially like the way it handles trash: when you delete a message, it remains in the trash for 30 days, allowing rescue if you need it again before then. Nice - it's almost like a regular records schedule. But the trash is searchable only if you're looking in the trash folder. That is, you can search the trash, or you can search your Inbox + Archives, but not all three at once.
I can see why you wouldn't want the messages in your trash to show up in every search. They only stay around the 30 days as a measure of disaster avoidance. But there are so many messages that have a short, but highly relevant, lifespan and it would be nice to be able to put these in a folder that showed up in search results, but also purged itself without manual intervention. C'mon, Google! Learn something from the records managers!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
A contrarian position at Library Juice:
To me it would seem more accurate to say that Boomers are projecting their love of youth culture onto a generation that doesn’t care about it as much, and getting a vicarious sense of youth from it. This is evident in the picture of the Millennials painted by Boomers and the young students’ actual responses to it. Efforts to make libraries more like “places that young people like” may turn out to be more effective in making older librarians who use the spaces feel young than they are in making young students feel at home. I find Boomers’ preoccupation with youth conspicuous in Information Commons-related discussions about what the new generation of young people is like.
I can't say whether young people are as indifferent to "youth issues" as Litwin claims, but it's an interesting perspective nonetheless.
So I'm reading blogs, especially takedowns of WorldnetDaily, and my mind suddenly takes me back to the ol' D&D days, when I actually subscribed to The Dragon magazine, read it cover to cover, and tried out most of their suggestions (not IRL, though). And I remember an issue that included a game, complete with cut-out board and components, called "Food Fight." You moved your player around a school cafeteria, throwing different foods at your rivals. Some foods caused more "damage" than others and you tried to use up your opponents' hit points before your own were exhausted and you had to retire from the fight in disgust.
Here's what I remember: the cheerleader character had, oh, five hit points or something like that. The first Boston cream pie that landed in her hair, she was fleeing the room. The nerd, on the other hand - he had 100 hit points. He could be one sticky, gooey mass of butterscotch pudding, with soybean porkchops sticking out both ears and keep going with no sense of embarrassment. Not a fair fight at all.
Just a random memory while reading people trying to criticize idiots on the web. I have no idea why I remembered that just now.
PS. You can find anything on the web! Especially if it appeals to nerds.
Lower drinking age is backed
21 'is not working,' Md. college officials say
This is going nowhere anytime soon, but I hope I'm wrong. When you have high demand for a product you can't actually control, outright bans are a dreadfully counterproductive strategy. Alcohol is always going to cause problems, but encouraging the youngest consumers to do so underground has been a disaster.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Ouch. Even Pravda can scold us for hypocrisy these days:
Why don’t you shut up? Do you really think anyone gives any importance whatsoever to your words after 8 years of your criminal and murderous regime and policies? Do you really believe you have any moral ground whatsoever and do you really imagine there is a single human being anywhere on this planet who does not stick up his middle finger every time you appear on a TV screen? Kinda makes ya’ll think, eh?
Do you really believe you have the right to give any opinion or advice after Abu Ghraib? After Guantanamo? After the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens? After the torture by CIA operatives? Kinda difficult, eh?
This bears repeating: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith, Addington, and all those assholes thought that the world would be helpless to contest our lawlessness and we would never have to be sorry, just because we have the biggest army. They really did.
A giant inflatable dog turd brought down a power line after being blown away from a Swiss museum.
Insert your own all-too-obvious joke below.
Many of the camp's records were destroyed right after the war, and those who worked there were sworn to secrecy ... The National Park Service, which now runs Fort Hunt Park, has been trying to piece together the story of the interrogation facility — code-named P.O. Box 1142 during the war.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
What happens if this situation escalates? Will Dr. Myers take credit when churches are vandalized and tabernacles are destroyed so that hosts might be desecrated? Will he post pictures of priests and nuns beaten in the streets so that his hoodlums can steal the hosts and oils for the sick?and then in the comments:
Urging people to steal hosts and to desecrate them is the sort of thing once reserved to crazy people abd dabblers in the occult. It can escalate into all sorts of other** crimes.
The Other. There's just no telling what they might do! Father Joe extols the virtues of imagination, but I wish he would reign his in when it comes to imagining how criminal a person has to be to disagree with him.
*No jokes about the South; I already thought of them.
**Other crimes? There hasn't even been one.
I can't vouch for the authenticity of this quotation, but it's still apropos:
It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence. – Charles A. Beard
It's #41 here.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
It's not Bigfoot, but there are multiple sightings and the species is known to exist: a black bear is prowling Washtenaw County.
The lone bear may be a sign of things to come, wildlife officials say: Bears have been steadily moving south from northern lower Michigan and are likely to be living among us someday.
Labels: wildlife By Scott Hanley
Friday, August 15, 2008
Via Library Juice, a find a link to A Marxist Analysis of the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. I'm not going to read it, but I did glance at the abstract. Here's the line that caught my eye:
We need to get back to basic Marxism and to make it applicable to the global capitalist world that we find ourselves in today.
Let's try that in a couple different settings. Which do you think you might really hear someone say?
"We need to get back to basic Christianity and to make it applicable to the global capitalist world that we find ourselves in today."
"We need to get back to basic Darwinism and to make it applicable to the global capitalist world that we find ourselves in today."
And that tells you what I think of many Marxists,although not necessarily Marx himself.
Labels: belief By Scott Hanley
There's been a fascinating, and unusually lengthy, discussion going on at the SAA's Archives & Archivists listserv. The original question was
I was wondering if anyone has had the task of digitizing a yearbook from another "era" and dealing with images that would be considered controversial in today's environment. Our intention would be to preserve the images in-house, but the yearbooks that were made available to the Web would be missing them. Any insights/advice would be appreciated
Most of the immediate response was horror at the idea of censoring anything, but a few people brought up an important point: there is a difference between making images available to researchers and publishing them on the internet. Perhaps more importantly, there is a difference between publishing them in an obscure journal or coffee table book and publishing them on the internet. Simply put, if you have some kind of offensive sexist or racist material on your website, the craziest loons on the intertubes can use them in ways that might reflect back on your institution. It's not unreasonable to be concerned about that. Deciding not put something on the net isn't the same thing as hiding its existence; it's still available to anyone who really wants to see it.
Of course, there's always the possibility of being overly sensitive; some commentators even questioned the very idea that old yearbooks could contain anything that offensive.* I would tend to err on the side of publishing anything and everything, myself. But I've seen some pretty ugly historical images that I wouldn't want showing up on a white supremacy website with a link back to my institution and I'd be willing to keep lower, rather than a higher, profile in order to prevent that.
Meanwhile, the thread has spun itself into a discussion of postmodernism, rationality, and - wait for it - Nazi ideology.
*There's been no discussion of why these particular images are controversial, so I don't know what's in them, either.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
This looks like a terrific development in combining social networking with research: Mendeley is intended to compile an enormous bibliographical database comparable to Last.fm's database of music and tastes.
“As the database of Mendeley Web grows, you will be able to view statistics about emerging research topics in every academic discipline, and readership statistics for each individual paper” explains Victor Henning, one of Mendeley’s co-founders. “Soon we will also include a recommendation engine. Basically, it’s like a Last.fm for research.”
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Bush to relax protected species rules
Plan takes scientists out of decision making on species status
The stated fear is that we need to cripple the ESA so that it can't be invoked to force the government to protect species (most notably, the polar bear) from the effects of climate change. The more general idea is that projects would move a lot faster if you removed those methodical scientists and just let the politicos make the decisions. Which is exactly why it's such a bad move.
The Interior Department said such consultations are no longer necessary because federal agencies have developed expertise to review their own construction and development projects, according to the 30-page draft.
Apparently, closing down libraries and dispersing the collections so they can't be reconstituted develops the type of expertise the Bush Administration admires.
Monday, August 11, 2008
For no particular reason, I perused a typically stupid rant at American Daily. The line that caught my eye was this:
How would Leftists respond? Would they wage rhetorical war against Islam? Do any Leftists seem that brave?
Not the first time I've seen that statement that Islam gets treated more gently because people are afraid of getting themselves killed. But I keep seeing it in this same sort of context: not that it reflects worse on Islamists, that they're willing to kill at the drop of a hat. No, the real atrocity is that it's not the Religious Right that the world is afraid of. There's a disturbing streak of envy that runs through these statements: "They wouldn't talk about us like that if we were as violent as the Muslims!" I think I distinctly hear the sound of the religious extremists goading themselves into action: "Are we gonna take that? The Muslims wouldn't take that!"
We should pay more attention to this. Maybe I read too much into these statements, but I don't think so. The radical religious agenda is slipping, with gay rights going mainstream, the anti-abortion movement still stalemated, and their creationist Trojan Horses getting blown out of the water every time. I expect frustration to lead to violence yet.
UC Wins Lawsuit Over Christian Courses
The best part is in the comments:
University reviewers had asked Calvary to accurately identify the book because they could not verify its existence,followed by
What, you didn't think Jack Chick tracts have ISBN numbers, did you? That would mean accepting "the mark of the beast."
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Seriously. Slacktivist has a fascinating post on what looks to be an attempt to persuade the Left Behind-types that Barack Obama just might be the Beast of Revelation.
It's a very clumsy kind of dogwhistle, though. When torture-apologist Michael Gerson inserted evangelicalisms into President Bush's speeches he did so seamlessly. The intended evangelical audience understood the dogwhistle message, but it was embedded within a coherent message addressed to the larger audience. McCain's ad works as a dogwhistle, but there's no larger message for the larger audience. The Left Behind readers will understand his coded message, but the larger audience will just see him standing there, growing red-faced from blowing into a whistle that appears not to work.
"White people, for a long time, have thought of our government as being for us ...."
And that's the whole problem, right there. In a democracy, the government is supposed to be for everyone, but some folks just won't accept it.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Heather linked me to this article a few weeks ago and I'm just now getting around to commenting: Out of the wilderness
I hate to see the Economist indulging in such silliness, but I guess they have pages to fill.* Thirteen paragraphs to discuss a "problem," then the "real reason" gets tossed out in the next-to-last paragraph, with no prior - or subsequent - discussion. That's not even half-baked - it's only 15% baked.
There's been a resistance to rebuilding campsites in Yosemite, but can you really jump from there to the notion that environmentalists are locking everyone out of the national parks? The author himself notices that demand for high end hotel rooms exceeds demand for cheaper accommodations. That should have been a tipoff that the affluence-challenged aren't trying very hard to get into the parks.
I've certainly seen this trend at Yellowstone: rotting old cabins at Canyon get torn down (deservedly, to be sure) and replaced by pricier rooms in Cascade and Dunraven Lodges. Or the cheap old Snowlodge - a brick dorm, originally - replaced by the pretty new hotel with the same name.**
Changes in park visitation have been going on all the time, of course. We can trace that with a brief review of one of my favorite places - the Lake Yellowstone Hotel. It was built in 1890 as a plain ol' cookie-cutter hotel with no pretensions to aesthetic quality, but soon sported Greek Revival columns and false balconies to give the place a sense of style. When the NPS was formed, there was a conscious effort to make the national parks comfortable for rich folk, just to make sure that the parks had a politically powerful constituency supporting them. Lake Hotel was never Yellowstone's "Grand Hotel" (that title belonged to the fabulous Canyon Hotel), but it was hardly a shabby place. The class consciousness of the era can be seen in the fact that employees of the nearby lodge and cabins weren't even allowed to enter the building.
Hotel visitors tended to reach the park by train and travel in buses, but throughout the 1930's the trend was unmistakably toward people driving their own vehicles. The operators made plans to replace their hotels with more lodge-and-cabin arrangements to better match American travelers' tastes. For a couple years after WWII, the top two floors of the hotel remained empty because the concessioners didn't want to add a sprinkler system to a building they thought they were going to tear down.
But the post-war boom brought hordes and hordes of motorists to the national parks and the concessioners had to keep the Hotel - they just needed every room they could get. But lodging expansion plans centered on projects like Canyon Village and Grant Village, completely abandoning the Grand Hotel concept in favor of a more middle class style. Lake Hotel continued to operate, but its glory days were past and it slowly decayed until it was a dingy old ghost that would have chosen "Memories" as its favorite song, if it could sing.
Between 1985 and 1988, the Hotel received a major renovation and was intentionally restored to its 1920's style, complete with a string quartet in summer evenings. In the same two decades, the trend toward more expensive and luxurious accommodations has grown more and more noticeable, as I described above.
The simple point here is that it's complete BS to take complex phenomena, point at one little thing or another that you happen to dislike, and say that's The Story. It's an utterly complex-free analysis, which is a fancy way of saying "ignorant BS." The Economist should be ashamed to publish it.
* (Virtue of being a blogger - no publication schedule to maintain)
** (Older winter employees told me they noticed the change in clientele almost immediately - the laid-back locals couldn't afford it any more and were replace by more demanding and high-maintenance guests)
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Richard Cohen weighs in on the decline of books as the essential means of reading:
It's really tough being a book lover in a digitized world
But then there's this paragraph:
I never buy from Amazon unless I have to. I buy from actual bookstores. You go there and people are browsing or having coffee or staring into open laptops and pretending they're writers or something.
What!? You still find people in bookstores? Then what's the #v*%ing problem? I love books, too, but sometimes the medium is not the message. As long as reading remains vibrant, I don't care how it's being done.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
Fire commanders say they are often pressured to order planes and helicopters into action on major fires even when the aircraft won't do any good. Such pressure has resulted in needless and costly air operations, experienced fire managers said in interviews.
The reason for the interference, they say, is that aerial drops of water and retardant make good television. They're a highly visible way for political leaders to show they're doing everything possible to quell a wildfire, even if it entails overriding the judgment of incident commanders on the ground.
Firefighters have developed their own vernacular for such spectacles. They call them "CNN drops."
Labels: politics By Scott Hanley
This was the third time in his 10 years with FCPL that the FBI has come to the library seeking records, Batson said. It was the first time they came without a court order.The library's procedure for such requests usually requires a court order, however after the agent described the case and the situation, he was persuaded to give them access, Batson said.
"They had an awful lot of information," he said, but he was not allowed to discuss specifics.
Warrentless search and seizure. I'm ashamed that a librarian would put up no resistance. After all, if they had so much relevant information, how hard could it be to obtain the warrant? Do we really believe a 24 scenario was underway?
(Via librarian.net target='blank')
I visited Heidi in Columbus this weekend and we attended the "Atheist Coming Out Party" on Saturday. You can read a little write-up here.
As expected, the debaptism got the bulk of the attention. That's really the only reason it was held - you need something attention-getting so that a reporter and photographer from the Columbus Dispatch will show up. The real purpose of the party was summed up in a banner at the back of the room: "It's okay to be an atheist." It sounds anemic, but we live in a world where even the mildest statement of unbelief is immediately labeled "hate speech."
Hement Mehta gave a nice little speech about being patient rather than obnoxious when dealing with theists, and I applauded his comments. But you see the dilemma: we're trying to a)let people know that atheists exist and that b)we're okay people. It's so hard to do (a) that it's easy to mess up on (b) in the process. Especially when many theists believe that the slightest tolerance of atheism is a denial of their religious freedom.
Friday, August 1, 2008
There's an interesting thread at Slashdot asking "Are There Any Smart E-mail Retention Policies?"
Major points emerging from the discussion: Several people have jumped up to defend retention, saying "It really saved my ass to be able to document this, that, or the other thing many months later." As for lawsuits - if a judge decides that your short term retention policy is designed to limit evidence against you, you're in a world more trouble than you probably would have been had you saved the data.
The counterpoints: of course, sometimes what you were doing is so heinous that you really would rather be merely presumed guilty than have it proven just how guilty you really are.* But aside from that, there are honest temptations to short retention times, just because retention is expensive. Storing a lot of data means more expensive servers and possibly slower overall performance. Also, if you do get sued, the discovery phase is horribly expensive; the more data you have, the more hours you're spending looking for the relevant information. I would consider these honest temptations to retain less data (just attempting to save money, not trying to hide anything).
But on balance, I think the "save it longer" voices have the better of the argument. Documents don't just incriminate - they can exonerate, too.
*Or have it come out that you're guilty of more than your accusers knew about.
Labels: Archives By Scott Hanley
Without archives, we wouldn't know this:
Barack Obama and Wild Bill Hickock are sixth cousins, six times removed.
And if that doesn't win South Dakota for Obama, nothing will. And nothing will, I'm sure.