aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Micahel Pollan on the Conspiracy of Confusion
In the Times Magazine this weekend, not yet out from behind the TimesSelect wall, Michael Pollan tells us we’ve gone from simple to complex, from clear to cloudy, from food to a new ideology of food.
Michael says, “Ideologies are ways of organizing large swaths of life and experience under a set of shared but unexamined assumptions.” And the food ideology we’ve been snookered into is.... NUTRITION!
[F]ish, beef and chicken through the nutritionists’ lens become mere delivery systems for varying quantities of fats and proteins and whatever other nutrients are on their scope. Similarly, any qualitative distinctions between processed foods and whole foods disappear when your focus is on quantifying the nutrients they contain (or, more precisely, the known nutrients).
This is a great boon for manufacturers of processed food, and it helps explain why they have been so happy to get with the nutritionism program… [T]he food industry set about re-engineering thousands of popular food products to contain more of the nutrients that science and government had deemed the good ones and less of the bad, and by the late ‘80s a golden era of food science was upon us. The Year of Eating Oat Bran - also known as 1988 - served as a kind of coming-out party for the food scientists, who succeeded in getting the material into nearly every processed food sold in America. Oat bran’s moment on the dietary stage didn’t last long, but the pattern had been established, and every few years since then a new oat bran has taken its turn under the marketing lights. (Here comes omega-3!)
By comparison, the typical real food has more trouble competing under the rules of nutritionism, if only because something like a banana or an avocado can’t easily change its nutritional stripes (though rest assured the genetic engineers are hard at work on the problem). So far, at least, you can’t put oat bran in a banana. So depending on the reigning nutritional orthodoxy, the avocado might be either a high-fat food to be avoided (Old Think) or a food high in monounsaturated fat to be embraced (New Think). The fate of each whole food rises and falls with every change in the nutritional weather, while the processed foods are simply reformulated. That’s why when the Atkins mania hit the food industry, bread and pasta were given a quick redesign (dialing back the carbs; boosting the protein), while the poor unreconstructed potatoes and carrots were left out in the cold.
Of course it’s also a lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary cereal than on a potato or carrot, with the perverse result that the most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over, the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming about their newfound whole-grain goodness.
YOU MUST READ THIS ARTICLE.
I’ll link when it’s out.
Robert Moses reconsidered
A bunch of exhibits in New York are billed as reconsidering Robert Moses‘ accomplishments. Significantly, Robert Caro, author of The Power Broker, the definitive biography of Moses and New York in that era is not invited.
I read the Caro book in the 70s and a well-worn copy has been front and center on my bookshelves since. He still makes sense to me. From the Times:
“The enduring legacy of Robert Moses includes magnificent achievements, which I celebrated in ‘The Power Broker,’ “ he said. “But it is also necessary to look at his overall impact.”
He cited the ouster of more than half a million people from their homes in the Bronx, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, in Sunset Park in Brooklyn and on Long Island farms for the sake of new highways or “slum clearance”: evictions that largely could have been avoided by using alternate routes and that in some cases helped create new slums.
“His highways and bridges and tunnels are awesome all right, but no aspect of those highways and bridges and tunnels is as awesome as the congestion on them,” Mr. Caro said. “Congestion was always going to be inevitable in New York, but it could have been substantially less had he only combined his roads with the mass transit suggested by so many planners.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
I enjoy Jones Beach as much as the next guy, I marvel at his bridges and roads, too. I learned from him that one way to move a project forward is to go ahead and start it without authorization because, once started, it can hardly be stopped. I can marvel at his imperious anti-democratic ways without minimizing his negative impacts from which the city is still recovering. None of those reconsidering Moses are disputing those negative impacts. They’re not even quoted as saying the good outweighs the bad.
In the Times’ article Daniel L. Doctoroff, the New York City’s deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding instead complains that “we haven’t been able to do as much is because people overinterpreted the lessons from that period of time.Ã¢â‚¬Â� But later he admits, “there hasn’t been a single project we have pushed through that hasn’t been approved.”
Those doing the reconsidering say the Caro book was a sign of its time; it looks to me like the reconsideration is a sign of our times. Just as Mussolini made the trains run on time, we look back on those autocratic, anti-democratic days through rose-colored glasses.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Facing jailtime for spyware porn
A 40-year-old former substitute teacher from Connecticut is facing prison time following her conviction for endangering students by exposing them to pornographic material displayed on a classroom computer.
Local prosecutors charged that the teacher was caught red-handed surfing for porn in the presence of seventh graders. The defense claimed the graphic images were pop-up ads generated by spyware already present on the computer prior to the teacher’s arrival. The jury sided with the prosecution and convicted her of four counts of endangering a child, a crime that brings a punishment of up to 10 years per count. She is due to be sentenced on March 2.
I had a chance this week to speak with the accused, Windham, Conn., resident Julie Amero. Amero described herself as the kind of person who can hardly find the power button on a computer, saying she often relies on written instructions from her husband explaining how to access e-mail, sign into instant messaging accounts and other relatively simple tasks.
Read the entire article, clickthrough to its links. You will find that in this case, as in so many others, the jury believed the police over a computer forensics expert and the testimony of the teacher. Said the expert:
This was one of the most frustrating experiences of my career, knowing full well that the person is innocent and not being allowed to provide logical proof.
If there is an appeal and the defense is allowed to show the entire results of the forensic examination in front of experienced computer people, including a computer literate judge and prosecutor, Julie Amero will walk out the court room as a free person.
Technophobia and sex panic combine in a lethal mix to find innocent people guilty. We need a Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld of the computer forensics world. We need those who look for innocence, rather than only those who look for - and assume - guilt.
NOTE: Criminalizing the IT department for an expired firewall or not installing spam blockers isn’t that answer either:exclaim:
LATER: Mike Conwell, a computer consultant from Austin, TX angered at the conviction has a blog dedicated the Amero case, state v. Amero.
A plea appended to all of my Amero posts:
WE NEED A COMPUTER FORENSICS INNOCENCE PROJECT; a Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld of the computer forensics world. We need experts who believe in the presumption of innocence and are willing to spend the time it takes to dig through logs, registry entries and hard drives to find exculpatory material when present. This is hardly the first case of its kind and, unfortunately, it’s not likely be the last. Prosecutors who look for - and presume - guilt do selective searches for data supporting guilt; those accused rarely have the resources to pay computer forensics experts to counter that selective evidence.
Peter Singer on Ashley’s Treatment
The Food, Ethics and the Environment conference I’ve been talking about lately was put together by Peter Singer. As it happens, today Singer has an OpEd in the Times about The “Ashley Treatment.” Ashely is a little girl born with static encephalopathy, a condition that means she may never walk, talk, eat or sit up on her own, and her mental abilities will never develop past that of a six-month-old baby. The controversial treatment will surgically limit her growth so she will never grow larger than a six-year-old child.
Singer addresses the three argument against such treatment - that it’s unnatural, that it sets us on a slippery slope and that it robs Ashley of her dignity. While I find myself in complete agreement with Singer, I can’t do justice to those arguments here. I urge you to read the piece. To better entice you, I quote his conclusion:
What matters in Ashley’s life is that she should not suffer, and that she should be able to enjoy whatever she is capable of enjoying. Beyond that, she is precious not so much for what she is, but because her parents and siblings love her and care about her. Lofty talk about human dignity should not stand in the way of children like her getting the treatment that is best both for them and their families.
Peace Not Apartheid
I have not weighed in on Carter’s new book. I’m with Jimmy.
The Wilson Prosecutor
More from the ESPN story on Genarlow Wilson:
Every story needs a villain, and in this one, the villain’s hat has been placed squarely on the head of Barker, the prosecutor and a former college baseball player. Barker doesn’t write the laws in the books to the left of his desk. He simply punishes those who break them.
“We didn’t want him to get the 10 years,” he says. “We understand there’s an element out there scratching their heads, saying, ‘How does a kid get 10 years under these facts?’ “
In Barker’s eyes, Wilson should have taken the same plea agreement as the others. Maintaining innocence in the face of the crushing wheels of justice is the ultimate act of vanity, he believes.
“I understand what he’s saying,” Barker says. “I think he’s making a bad decision in the long run. Being branded a sex offender is not good; but at the same time, if it made the difference between spending 10 years as opposed to two? Is it worth sitting in prison for eight more years, and you’re still gonna be a sex offender when you get out?”
Barker is quick to point out that he offered Wilson a plea after he’d been found guilty—the first time he has ever done that. Of course, the plea was the same five years he’d offered before the trial—not taking into account the rape acquittal. Barker thinks five years is fair for receiving oral sex from a schoolmate. None of the other defendants insisted on a jury trial. Wilson did. He rolled the dice, and he lost. The others, he says, “took their medicine.”
No Mr. Barker, he did not turn down a 2 year sentence. It is a life sentence as a registered sex offender for accepting consensual sex with an age appropriate peer. If ever there was cruel and unusual punishment, this is it. We may not like to accept the sexual activity of our young people, but the answer is not to criminalize teens and brand them pedophiles.
The Georgia sex offender law, passed in 2003 and still blocked by the courts - and certainly familiar to Mr. Barker - bars sex offenders from living within 1000 feet of school bus stops, churches, schools, child-care centers and other places where children congregate; the goal of this odious ineffective law is to make our problem
go move away. Maybe to your state. That’s Christian?
Barker’s office could release Genarlow today. His ineffective pandering to a hyped sex panic feeds the crime; his prosecutorial pandering to a law-and-order-loving base is forever unforgivable.
At the same time this trial was under way, a local high school teacher, a white female, was found guilty of having a sexual relationship with a student—a true case of child molestation. The teacher received 90 days. Wilson received 3,650 days.
Now, if Wilson wants a shot at getting out, he must throw himself at the prosecutors’ feet and ask for mercy, which he might or might not receive. Joseph Heller would love this. If Wilson would only admit to being a child molester, he could stop receiving the punishment of one. Maybe.
“Well,” Barker says, “the one person who can change things at this point is Genarlow. The ball’s in his court.”
Hope for Genarlow
THE STATE’S HIGHEST COURT gave no explanation when it refused to hear the appeal of Genarlow Wilson, a young man whose case made headlines after he was convicted of aggravated child molestation for having what he says was unforced oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.
But in a concurring opinion, Presiding Justice Carol W. Hunstein said that although she was sympathetic to Wilson, who is serving a 10-year sentence, the court couldn’t help him because the Legislature had refused to make retroactive a new law that would downgrade Wilson’s actions from a felony to a misdemeanor.
State Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, said he took Hunstein’s words as an invitation. This week he introduced legislation that he said he hopes would allow a judge to re-sentence Wilson under the more lenient sentencing provision. [...]
Jones’ Senate Bill 37 proposes that a judge at any point may change a sentence imposed on someone convicted prior to July 2006 of certain sex offenses that last year’s legislation deemed misdemeanors because they covered activity between teens in certain age ranges.
Wilson’s lawyer, B.J. Bernstein of Decatur, said that would give trial judges clear direction: When resentencing those cases, they could disregard mandatory minimums imposed by statutes amended in 2006.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
ESPN on Genarlow Wilson
A major piece on the Genarlow Wilson case on ESPN.com today. You’ll remember that Genarlow is serving 10 years in a Georgia prison for engaging in consensual sex when he was 17 years old with a 15 year old girl:
He has followed his appeals from behind bars. He watched as the state legislature changed the law that put him there, then declined to make it retroactive, for reasons that still boggle the mind. That was a dark day.
He watched as B.J. Bernstein, his new attorney, filed a petition for writ of certiorari, asking the Georgia Supreme Court to review the case. The petition was denied, then set aside, then denied again, then appealed, then denied again. Those were darker days. [...]
No one involved believes Wilson should be in jail for 10 years.
The prosecutors don’t.
The Supreme Court doesn’t.
The legislature doesn’t.
The 15-year-old “victim” doesn’t.
The forewoman of the jury doesn’t.
Privately, even prison officials don’t. [...]
Hope is all he has left. He believes in a system that has failed him. He believes in those powerful men in Atlanta. He believes in the kindness of others, and in the skills of Bernstein. He lets her work, spending most of his days in the prison library, reading all the books he can. Sometimes, he pretends he’s a character, living in a fantasy world, not in a cellblock.
When the weather’s nice, he can run laps around the yard, as if he’s still on a football field, chasing down future first-round picks. The burn in his lungs feels like a time long past. It feels like freedom.
He looks through the windows just a moment more, sadness in his eyes, then turns around. Wilson stares down the hall of his prison, waiting on a day when he can go home.
Free Genarlow. Sign the online petition.
Hillary & Yahoo Answers
Hillary Clinton has turned to Yahoo Answers, the social media driven Q&A experience from Yahoo, to look for some ideas on how normal Americans would improve health care in the United States.
I find this quite interesting as not only a campaigning tool but also in choice of media.
Senator Clinton asked her question 22 hours ago and already has over 24,000 responses (with 12 days of Answering remaining). I cannot think of another form of media which would allow the same kind of user interaction AND approachability that Yahoo Answers brings to the table.
You won’t find that on CNN, radio, townhall meetings or 99.9% of the Internet.
Yahoo Answers dominates not only the Q&A site market with a 96% market share, but also dominates social media in terms of community, 17.9 million users according to comScore, and its hodgepodge of lifestyles amongst such members.
Amazon + Wiki = Amapedia
Amazon has just released a new Wikipedia clone, called Amapedia. It’s described as "a community for sharing information about the products you like the most." So far Amapedia has had no promotion from Amazon, but it was discovered today byRogers Cadenhead. Anyone with an Amazon.Com account can edit the site. Regarding the name, Amapedia appears to be a combo of the words Amazon and Wikipedia:
The site looks pretty raw currently and has little info in it - it is after all brand new. But a wikipedia for products makes perfect sense for Amazon. Who better to spotlight products and gather product information from the community, than Amazon? Another way to look at this: Amapedia could become the next generation of user reviews. User reviews on websites today are relatively rigid and old fashioned, so Amazon may be thinking that Amapedia will be a new platform for user reviews - it may help remove redundancy in reviews, while offering more completeness.
Who’s out of line?
Via Andrew Sullivan:
The vice-president really does believe that he can somehow champion a party that declares that his daughter must be barred from any legal protections for her child and marriage and never be confronted with the contradiction. Sorry, Mr vice-president, but one day you will have to address how you can front a party dedicated to smearing, marginalizing and disenfranchising a member of your own family. Wolf Blitzer’s question is not out of line. Your hypocrisy is.
The story of the gay sheep became a textbook example of the distortion and vituperation that can result when science meets the global news cycle.
The news coverage, which has been heaviest in England and Australia, focused on smirk and titillation - and, of course, puns. Headlines included “Ewe Turn for Gay Rams on Hormones” and “He’s Just Not That Into Ewe.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
In recent weeks, the tide has begun to turn, with Dr. Roselli and Jim Newman, an Oregon Health and Science publicist, saying they have been working to correct the record in print and online. The university has sent responses to senders of each PETA-generated e-mail message.
Dr. Roselli, whose research is supported by the National Institutes of Health and is published in leading scientific journals, insists that he is as repulsed as his critics by the thought of sexual eugenics in humans. He said human sexuality was a complex phenomenon that could not be reduced to interactions of brain structure and hormones.
I first happened on the gay sheep story at Outside the Beltway and have been following it since. I was completely persuaded by Jim Newman’s emailed response to Andrew Sullivan and ignored the blogosphere hubub.
Their media strategy seems to be working out. On the merits, I’m all for legitimate research; and the prospects of picking your baby’s sexual orientation are far from an imminent threat. They don’t scare me. Instead, maybe one day gay people can parent gay children raised in gay families.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The sunk costs fallacy
When one makes a hopeless investment, one sometimes reasons: I canÃ‚’t stop now, otherwise what IÃ‚’ve invested so far will be lost. This is true, of course, but irrelevant to whether one should continue to invest in the project. Everything one has invested is lost regardless. If there is no hope for success in the future from the investment, then the fact that one has already lost a bundle should lead one to the conclusion that the rational thing to do is to withdraw from the project.
To continue to invest in a hopeless project is irrational. Such behavior may be a pathetic attempt to delay having to face the consequences of one’s poor judgment… For example, it is now known that Lyndon Johnson kept committing thousands and thousands of U.S. soldiers to Vietnam after he had determined that the cause was hopeless and that the U.S. would not win the war (McMaster 1998: 309). George W. Bush continues to argue that thousands more soldiers and billions more dollars be committed to the war on Iraq, despite the fact that the majority of his generals, his senators and congressmen, and the American public do not think the U.S. should invest any more in that war.
Michael Pollan in the Times Magazine this weekend: “Eat Food”
I’ve been slowly savoring Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I have it in print and audio versions. I will be quoting it here from time to time I have no doubt; I’d have quoted more already save for the difficulty of transcription. It’s so good it’s worth it (and he’ll lose no sales through my quoting of it). Yesterday I finished a podcast of his talk at Princeton’s Food, Ethics and the Environment conference from last November.
Foods a popular topic. Friends here have been on a trans-fats kick lately (and may dispute specifics from the Wikipedia entry I just linked to, twice). They’re imagining that eating healthy is more difficult here. I’m thinking it’s difficult everywhere; that we, here, are a microcosm of America: our small group includes a vegetarian and organic gardener and homemade bread baker and gourmet chef and aspiring biodeisel producer and me, an unabashed omnivore.
The general tenor of all that I’m reading is optimistic. As my small group here in rural Georgia illustrates, we are growing more aware of our food, where it comes from and how it gets to us; we want better food, more sustainably and ecologically farmed. Most of those I’m reading and hearing know far better than I just how bad it is, and they say it’s going to take work (and government intervention) but that for the first time in decades it is getting better. It will get better still.
So I came home from the Chinese restaurant - where in the midst of a trans fat discussion we called the owner over and asked what oil he used - and found in my TimesSelect Preview that Michael Pollan has an essay in Sunday’s Magazine. I’ve yet to read it, but I’ll share the opening paragraph:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy. I hate to give away the game right here at the beginning of a long essay, and I confess that I’m tempted to complicate matters in the interest of keeping things going for a few thousand more words. I’ll try to resist but will go ahead and add a couple more details to flesh out the advice. Like: A little meat won’t kill you, though it’s better approached as a side dish than as a main. And you’re much better off eating whole fresh foods than processed food products. That’s what I mean by the recommendation to eat “food.” Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket. These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims, which brings me to a related rule of thumb: if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.
I’ll quote again, and link, when the article’s out from behind the Times Select wall.
Schaller on Colbert
RELATED: Nicholas Lemann doesn’t change my opinion either.
Stereotyping a Fulton split
Yahoo headlines an AP story, White Atlanta suburbs push for secession:
ATLANTA - A potentially explosive dispute in the City Too Busy to Hate is taking shape over a proposal to break Fulton County in two and split off Atlanta’s predominantly white, affluent suburbs to the north from some of the metropolitan area’s poorest, black neighborhoods.
Legislation that would allow the suburbs to form their own county, to be called Milton County, was introduced by members of the Georgia Legislature’s Republican majority earlier this month.
Supporters say it is a quest for more responsive government in a county with a population greater than that of six states. Opponents say the measure is racially motivated and will pit white against black, rich against poor.
It’s inevitable that race will come into these discussions, as it’s inextricably linked to urban-suburban fissures. Still, the headline takes a side, implying that race is the central motivating factor when that almost certainly is not the case.
Surely, one can explain the desire of wealthy suburbanites to keep their money within their local community independent of the racial make-up of said communities. Pouring that money into a larger pool means that they have to share. That means that their kids will go to inferior schools, their local police and fire departments will be underfunded, and that social services that go to the poor will be overfunded relative to the desires of the suburban constituency.
There are terrific arguments to be made by the downtown community as to why the suburbanites, most of whom derive their affluence owing to the city, should be compelled to pay into a common tax pool. That’s a legitimate public policy debate. Prejudging them as racist, however, poisons the well.
If the same story was Westchester County, NY splitting off Yonkers, you would not see that headline. I have no idea where it was written, but it comes from a stereotype that is insidious and unhelpful even if rooted in some history and experience.
UPDATE: The roundtable discussion on News & Notes tackles the proposed Fulton split. No consensus, plenty of suspicion; and parallels to Baltimore and LA.
For the record, I flat out oppose the split and don’t expect it will succeed.
Microsoft & the Wikipedia doghouse
Microsoft has landed in the Wikipedia doghouse today after it offered to pay an Australian blogger to change technical articles on the community-produced web encyclopedia site.
While Wikipedia is known as the encyclopedia that anyone can tweak, founder Jimmy Wales and his cadre of volunteer editors, writers and moderators have blocked public relations firms, campaign workers and anyone else perceived as having a conflict of interest from posting fluff or slanting entries.
So paying for Wikipedia copy is considered a definite no-no.
“We were very disappointed to hear that Microsoft was taking that approach,’’ Wales said.
Yes, paying is a definite no-no. Still, I’m not fond of the Wikipedia policy that disallows interested parties from correcting inaccuracies. I understand the issue, but couldn’t Wikipedia at least allow those with a conflict of interest a “statement page” to post their corrections?
Many bloggers believe disclosure gives readers the information they need to assess the legitimacy of a post. Similarly, a statement known to be from an interested party would give Wikipedia readers what we need to assess the legitimacy of the information.
The sincerest form of flattery: a Daily Show rip-off from Fox
Fox News Channel might air two episodes of a “Daily Show"-like program with a decidedly nonliberal bent on Saturday nights in late January, with the possibility that it could become a weekly show for the channel.
Oh. My. This could get interesting… It’s also rumored that Laura Ingraham would be hosting, who’s idea of humor in college was to attend a gay students’ club meeting in order to publish the names of the attendees.
Yeah, I’m having a hard time seeing this, considering what Ingraham’s class of pundit considers humor. (Then again, I suppose the show will be delightful to those who find “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building.” or “Club Gitmo” t-shirts hil-larious.)
OTOH, I suppose it’ll make for Daily Show fodder.
Speaking of fodder for The Daily Show, here Rush Limbaugh gushes about the hilarity we can only anticipate:
“There’s a new show that probably will air soon, I’m not sure when, but it’s called The Half Hour NewsHour. That’s the working title of it now. I guess that’s subject to change. Well, actually it’s not, because if it changes I gotta go back out there, but nevertheless it’s a parody newscast, takeoff on liberal media newscasts, and I play the president of the United States in the opening segments of this program.
I went out and shot three takes. Ann Coulter is the vice president. (laughing) It’s hilarious. The whole thing is hilarious...”
I think Jossip called it correctly: “less truthiness, more falsihoods.”
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Manhattan if sea levels continue to rise
From Vanity Fair, 2006: the year in pictures
Andrew Sullivan moves. Again.
The prospect of being part of taking this deeply American institution into a new medium in a new century is, for me, an English immigrant, a real honor and privilege. The blog retains its complete editorial independence, of course. You have that guarantee. But it will, I hope, be part of something bigger as well: a voice in a new conversation, dedicated to the American idea, of no party or clique, in pursuit of freedom, national progress, and honor. Come along, will you?
He says Time was great but the opportunity was too good to miss. Maybe he can get James Fallows to take up blogging!
The record labels imagine allowing unlimited copying
CANNES, France, Jan. 22 - As even digital music revenue growth falters because of rampant file-sharing by consumers, the major record labels are moving closer to releasing music on the Internet with no copying restrictions - a step they once vowed never to take.
Executives of several technology companies meeting here at Midem, the annual global trade fair for the music industry, said over the weekend that at least one of the four major record companies could move toward the sale of unrestricted digital files in the MP3 format within months.
Is “no restrictions on copying” the same as no DRM? Close enough I guess. Way to go Derek, you called it!
9th Circuit: copyright orphans stay orphans
In a move that’s a blow to the U.S. movement to reform copyright law, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Internet Archive’s Brewster Kahle, in his lawsuit to allow orphaned works into the public domain.
What’s a copyright orphan?
An orphaned work is a piece of copyrighted material, such as a film or book or song, for which there is no longer a commercial life, and no discernible owner. It’s otherwise out of print or unavailable, but no one can re-issue it, because no one can find out who they need permission from to re-issue it. Surprisingly, a majority of the works of the 20th century actually fall into this category.
Back in 2004, Kahle and Perlinger sought the help of the Stanford Cyberlaw Center to sue for an opt-in system on copyright of orphaned works. This would mean that to keep the work in copyright, someone would have to come forward and claim it through registration of some sort. Larry Lessig argued the case last November 13, 2006.
They believed that there was a First Amendment issue with works that sought to build on orphan works and that without the formality of opt-in, and that the system was creating a de-facto in perpetuity or near enough as make no odds perpetuity that violated the constitution’s clause on copyright, which states it’s there to:
"To promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
9th Circuit said no dice on either argument.
Barry Glassner, author of The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know About Food Is Wrong, is interviewed in Salon today:
I think that one way that the food industry is brilliant is in picking up on the bipolar approach to food that we have in this country where we think that certain foods are good or bad, or sacred or profane. The food industry will sell us foods that make us feel like we’ve been good and righteous and then they’ll say, often in so many words, “Now that you have been good you can be bad and buy this other product.” And they win both ways.
When you listen to a lot of people talk about their meals, they use words like, “I’ve been bad,” if they order a creamy dessert at a meal. Or, “I’ve been good,” if they stay on their diet. The key motivator there is guilt and the avoidance of guilt. And it applies not only to ourselves, but to other people. So many Americans take as a literal truth the old maxim that you are what you eat. We believe that we can tell a lot about a person by what he or she eats when really what we’re expressing are prejudices.
In the book I talk about one of my favorite studies, which was a study where students were shown photographs of people their age and researchers told one set of students that the people in the photographs ate foods like whole wheat breads and chicken, and they told another set of students that these same people ate hamburgers and French fries and hot fudge sundaes. And in fact, the students had been shown the same people, but they ranked them very differently based on what foods they’d been told they ate; ranked them as more or less likable, more or less attractive. I think that really goes to a deeply ingrained prejudice in society.
Monday, January 22, 2007
2007: the year music DRM begins to fade
Derek’s a whole lot more optimistic than me, but who knows? We can only hope:
First it was Yahoo!’s Dave Goldberg, now Real’s Rob Glaser has called for an end to DRM on music downloads. At the Midem conference, Glaser reportedly stated that he is “seeing some signs the industry is open to … giving consumers a way to purchase music with the flexibility that you can only get if you take the DRM off…. For purchases, move away from DRM” (emphasis added). What common sense — when you buy music, you own it and should be able to make personal use of it however you want.
With six prisons in my town I always say we’re not a college town, we’re a prison town. A couple stories today highlight the state of justice in Georgia. We’ll begin with the a man in prison twenty two years for rape. He always claimed he was innocent; last week he was proven right:
An Atlanta man sentenced to 45 years in prison, who has always claimed his innocence, is being released after modern day technology cleared his name.
Willie ‘Pete’ Williams was convicted in 1985 for raping a woman near a Sandy Springs apartment complex. The case relied heavily on eye-witness accounts, and with the help of the Georgia Innocence Project, Williams was finally able to clear his name.
The Innocence Project also identified someone they believed to be the real attacker. That guy still lives in Atlanta, apparently free after a 4 year sentence for pleading guilty “to rape, aggravated sodomy, kidnapping and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.”
Four years for the guilty guy vs 45 years for the innocent guy, the Innocence Project does the detective work that police are reluctant to accept and finds an admitted rapist that fits the profile who “reached by phone Saturday, said he has not heard from authorities.”
Michael wonders, what if that innocent guy had been sentenced to death? McClatchy Newspapers answers in a special series that finds few safeguards in capital cases in Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Virginia. Bad lawyers and Appeals Courts reluctant to intercede are the culprits.
That said, Georgia may be “an emerging bright spot” thanks to “a publicly funded, statewide capital defenders office began spending whatever is necessary to scour clients’ backgrounds for mitigating evidence.” McClathy profiles that office:
They spend what’s necessary. They do what’s necessary. They work every case as if it were their only one, no matter what.
The idea is to fulfill - at long last - the Supreme Court’s edict that everyone who’s accused of a capital crime receives an adequate defense, in accordance with the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. [...]
Their record: 23-0.