aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, May 26, 2007
James Surowiecki introduces his New Yorker piece on feature creep by noting that “at least half of returned products have nothing wrong with them. Consumers just couldn’t figure out how to use them.” What gives?
[While] consumers find overloaded gadgets unmanageable, they also find them attractive. It turns out that when we look at a new product in a store we tend to think that the more features there are, the better. It’s only once we get the product home and try to use it that we realize the virtues of simplicity. A recent study by a trio of marketing academics-Debora Viana Thompson, Rebecca W. Hamilton, and Roland T. Rust-found that when consumers were given a choice of three models, of varying complexity, of a digital device, more than sixty per cent chose the one with the most features. Then, when the subjects were given the chance to customize their product, choosing from twenty-five features, they behaved like kids in a candy store. (Twenty features was the average.) But, when they were asked to use the digital device, so-called “feature fatigue” set in. They became frustrated with the plethora of options they had created, and ended up happier with a simpler product.
It seems odd that we don’t anticipate feature fatigue and thus avoid it. But, as numerous studies have shown, people are not, in general, good at predicting what will make them happy in the future. As a result, we will pay more for more features because we systematically overestimate how often we’ll use them. We also overestimate our ability to figure out how a complicated product works. A new study by Katherine A. Burson, a marketing professor at the University of Michigan, shows that, when we buy things like golf balls and digital cameras, we generally do a poor job of evaluating our skills, and so get stuck with unsuitable products. We’re also willing to pay for extra options because we feel shortchanged if we don’t have them. But, once we actually have a product, our patience with all those features runs out very quickly. Elke den Ouden found, for instance, that Americans who returned a product that was too complicated for them had spent, on average, just twenty minutes with it before giving up.
Interesting to contemplate how this plays out in politics and democratic governance.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Make it yourself Star Wars
George Lucas, creator of “Star Wars,” has never hesitated to protect his intellectual property, which is why some call him “Lucas the Litigator.” But this week, his Lucasfilm plans to make clips of “Star Wars” available to fans on the Internet to mash up—meaning to remix however they want—at will.
Well, actually, there are plenty of caveats to protect the franchise. And while I did, in fact, stand in line at Mann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd for the original Star Wars in 1977, I really don’t give a hoot about Star Wars anymore.
As to Lucas figuring out that maybe he can use the internet to keep his franchise alive, color me unimpressed. Now Jonathan Lethem’s giveaway, that I’m impressed by. Maybe I’ll have time to dig in and say more over the holiday weekend.
Hyundai’s image problem
Hyundai sent a mailing today encouraging me to save a tree. I can switch to email mailings from the car-maker but not opt out. So we kill a couple more trees and they blame me. My take is that the cost of the mailings is the only disincentive I can send!
I bought my second Hyundai last year. I’d have rather bought a Camry, but $5,000 and half the warranty convinced me to stick with Hyundai. Their goal must be not just to keep me as a customer but to make me choose them again next time based on something other than price. If anyone can do it, this guy can:
As senior vice-president for global marketing at Nissan in Tokyo and vice-president for marketing at Nissan’s North American operation before that, [Steve Wilhite] was used to looking at Hyundai as a competitor. He’d seen its quality improve “to scary levels,” he says--and sales stall. It was clear that the company needed a new “big idea” to redefine its brand and move it away from an association with cheap, tin-pot vehicles. Wilhite had reinvigorated brands before, earning marketing-guru status at Volkswagen in the 1990s when he led the German carmaker’s comeback, largely through clever advertising. Then he’d gone on to become Apple Computer Inc.’s top marketer. That Hyundai chose Wilhite to run its entire U.S. operation says volumes about how critical a strong, new brand identity is to Hyundai’s future.
Apple & VW; those are great associations. But the job is a tough one:
Wilhite is focused on repositioning Hyundai as an overachieving, underappreciated brand that smart people are discovering. While briefing the ad agencies bidding for the new Hyundai campaign, he evoked the “Drivers Wanted” ad campaign that Arnold Worldwide created for Volkswagen in the mid-1990s, as well as the classic VW ads from the 1960s, that “made consumers look at a brand through a different lens.” Says Scott Goodson, CEO of ad agency Strawberry Frog: “Even when you show a consumer that quality is higher than Toyota, they don’t believe you.” [...]
In the end, Wilhite and a committee of managers and dealers opted for San Francisco-based Goodby, Silverstein + Partners. Goodby helped to define Hyundai’s problem using research involving 200 people who sized up the new Veracruz crossover. When a group was shown the vehicle without any identifying logos on it, 71% said they’d buy it. Once the Hyundai logo went on, however, that dropped to 52%. In the same research, a Toyota logo lifts intent-to-purchase by more than 20%.
Goodby’s campaign, due out by June, is expected to blanket TV, the Internet, and newspapers with data about safety ratings, quality, and value pricing using a tone that agency CEO Jeff Goodby describes as one of “disarming honesty.” The idea is to create an environment, he says, where neighbors and co-workers of Hyundai buyers completely understand why they bought a Hyundai. “Hyundai,” he notes, “has no social currency today.”
I hope they succeed. A freind’s Mercedes broke down, again, in the parking lot at lunch the other day (actually, it switched to “limp mode” so that it could hobble home) and still I feel defensive the logo on my grill. But I love the car. Highest safety rating, great gas mileage as prices soar, bumper to bumper warranty and roadside service.
60% believe God created the world in 6 days
ABC News headlines its breathless coverage of the creationism museum - “designed by the same man behind some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida” - with presumably new poll results:
According to an ABC News poll, 60 percent of Americans believe God created the world in six days. In Petersburg, Ky. this weekend, a creation museum is opening that depicts a story far from what you may have learned in science class.
Exhibits at almost every natural history museum teach that dinosaurs are millions of years old and that they died out long before human beings existed, but at the creation museum, they say God created dinosaurs and humans at the same time.
The ABC News report includes some balance - “Mainstream scientists worry that because this museum is so sophisticated it will be more effective at giving children a distorted view of science.” - but no real articulation of the scientific facts. Say, for example:
There is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. Courts have repeatedly ruled that creationism and intelligent design are religious doctrines, not scientific theories.
No, what ABC gives us is a media thrill ride, a fluff piece that advertises a theme park as credible (if questionable) science tied to a nugget of news (the poll).
Fundamental changes at Facebook:
In discussions with multiple sources involved with the launch, we’ve come to see the platform as a highly ambitious idea, approaching the idea of Facebook being an operating system with other web apps riding on top of it. [...]
This move is more than catching up with MySpace and Bebo and what have you by adding outside widgets; Facebook has become a primary relationship and identity broker for millions of people. Now outsiders can capitalize on that information in a safe way, pulling from users’ expressed interests in their profiles, building on their stated intention to attend events, or simply giving them more dedicated tools for expressing themselves. The outside apps will be woven into a structure that’s already been built and is utilized every day.
Users can upload and record videos directly to their profiles and send them as messages to friends. They will also be able to upload video directly from their mobile phones.
Facebook is clearly pushing the personal video angle, saying “We’ve designed the application to discourage misuse, and our users agree only to upload video of a personal nature that is about them or their friends, or created by them or their friends.” Videos will not be public or downloadable; they will only be playable by a member’s friends and networks.
Making it even more important that educators understand social networks and “mediated publics.”
Tolerance vs. Equality & Justice
Wendy Brown’s Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire sits on my bedside table. A small book, it’s a long read. In the first chapter she observes that once the call was for “liberty and justice for all.” Now, instead of calling for “equality,” we call for “tolerance.”
Marc Fisher brings us an example of how this plays out. A cashier at the University of Maryland’s College Park campus food co-op was offended by a student’s t-shirt. Said she, “I won’t ring you up.” The response was a model of modern tolerance:
The collective, which rents space from the university, announced last week that it would serve any customer who was not physically or verbally abusive, but that any worker who was offended by a customer’s politics could discreetly slip away and find another clerk to serve the patron.
Imagine that at the lunch counter. We could have black waiters wait on black patrons, or gay on gay, or Christian on Christian, Jew on Jew and so on. No more need to negotiate, instead this ideal has us living in our separate equality. The logical extension of our tolerant accommodation.
[T]he students seem blind to the core rationale for freedom of speech, the idea that a marketplace of ideas is only worthwhile when it is truly, wholly unfettered.
Gretchen Metzelaars, director of Maryland’s student union, met with the collective “trying to help them come to the conclusion that they must abide by the university’s human rights code,” which prohibits discrimination based on age, sex, race and, yes, political beliefs.
Despite hours of conversation, “it became apparent that they were not coming to the right conclusion,” Metzelaars said. “So we delivered it to them.” This week, she told the collective that if it discriminates again, it will have 60 days to vacate the premises.
“They can’t see that this is discrimination,” she told me. “They’re more committed to their righteousness than they are to the rights of other people. The fact is, you have to serve everyone.”
In the end the students still don’t get it. I’m not sure that most of us do. The move towards tolerance means a shift away from equality and justice. That shift brings with it the assumption that differences cannot be negotiated. Instead they can only be tolerated.
But the flip side of the tolerance coin is the legitimation of intolerance for those incapable of exercising tolerance. (James Dobson, Osama bin Laden, PETA, and ACT-UP spring to my mind.) And we miss the opportunity to make a more just and equal society for all.
Military disavows Christian event in Georgia
Only after a DC-based group objects:
After complaints by a government watchdog group, the Air Force and the Army partially distanced themselves yesterday from a three-day evangelical Christian event this weekend at a Georgia theme park.
The Memorial Day weekend “Salute to the Troops” celebration at Stone Mountain Park is sponsored by Task Force Patriot USA, a private group that says its purpose is “sharing the fullness of life in Jesus Christ with all U.S. military, military veterans and families,” and whose Web site says “Christ is our Commander-in-Chief.”
In recent days, both the Task Force Patriot USA Web site and the newspaper of Robins Air Force Base, Ga., described the celebration as “an official U.S. Air Force 60th Anniversary event.” Along with speeches by evangelical ministers, church services and distribution of Bibles, the published schedule promised “hourly flyovers” by Air Force jets, performances by military bands, color guard presentations, a parachute demonstration by the Army’s elite Silver Wings jump team from Fort Benning, Ga., and exhibitions of Air Force equipment.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
FDA: Gay blood still tainted
Recently I had blood drawn for a physical. Students saw the band aid and asked had I given blood?
“No,” I replied, “I’m gay.”
They thought it a non sequitur.
I explained the 1983 prohibition that was affirmed again yesterday:
Before giving blood, all men are asked if they have had sex, even once, with another man since 1977. Those who say they have are permanently banned from donating. The FDA said those men are at increased risk of infection by HIV that can be transmitted to others by blood transfusion.
In March 2006, the Red Cross, the international blood association AABB and America’s Blood Centers proposed replacing the lifetime ban with a one-year deferral following male-to-male sexual contact. New and improved tests, which can detect HIV-positive donors within just 10 to 21 days of infection, make the lifetime ban unnecessary, the blood groups told the FDA.
Think Progress has more.
More lanes, trains and automobiles
Yesterday I doubted that new Interstate Highways would be built in Georgia. I have even greater doubt that proposed train lines - from Atlanta to Macon and Atlanta to Athens - will ever get built. The Georgia Department of Transportation committee charged with making a decision held a meeting yesterday:
“I frankly am fearful that if it’s pushed to a vote at the board ... there won’t be enough votes to pass it,” he said.
To that end, several options emerged at the end of Wednesday’s nearly four-hour session, any one of which could be recommended to the full board. The options, as described by Walker and other members of the DOT’s Intermodal Committee, which Walker chairs, are:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Shelve the project.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Go forward with the Lovejoy line, which would require finding a funding source for expected multimillion-dollar operating losses associated with running the trains. This has been a sticking point - so much so that it has essentially brought plans to a standstill while state and local government officials dicker over who will cover the losses, or whether anyone is willing to cover them.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Shift gears and make a similar commuter route connecting Athens to Atlanta a higher priority than the Lovejoy line. This so-called Brain Train has had a higher profile lately compared to the Lovejoy-Macon line, as students and developers have been lobbying state leaders hard. But Brain Train supporters say they also support the Macon project and would like to see the two joined in Atlanta.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Hire an independent consultant to get “fresh information” and “tell us what, if anything, we should do,” Walker said.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Hold off on decisions until this fall, when the DOT is expected to complete a new analysis to update cost, projected ridership and other figures that have grown stale as the project languished. In many cases, figures are five or more years old.
This - a bad idea if ever there was one - I think most likely to get built:
[DOT board member David] Doss has proposed a 1-cent tax to pay for transportation projects and make up a predicted multibillion difference between the costs of projects planned and the money available to do them. His plan includes a controversial tunnel beneath the city of Atlanta and more highway lanes.
Not much more from the AJC.
I’m a train fan but unfortunately have come to believe their time has past and the die is cast. Our population is too dispersed, our car-culture too entrenched. We grouse about gas prices and long commutes but keep making the same mistakes in city after city. 24 lanes in Phoenix, 23 coming soon to Atlanta. Our legacy to our children? They will sit in traffic on those roads; then clean up the mess we’ve made.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
It’s a boy
Named Samuel David Cheney:
Vice President Dick Cheney is a grandfather for the sixth time.
According to the vice president’s office, Cheney’s daughter, Mary Cheney, 37, and her longtime partner, Heather Poe, welcomed 8 lbs., 6 oz. Samuel David Cheney into the world at 9:46 this morning at Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C.
LATER: Andrew Sullivan points to “Christianist” media:
According to reports, Mary’s homosexual partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, “will have no legal relationship with her child. She can’t adopt as a second parent. She won’t have her name on the birth certificate.”
Blow the whistle on the the HMO and pharmaceutical industries
Michael Moore sent out a letter today on his way back from the Sicko premiere in Cannes. A canny marketer he:
At my festival press conference, the only negative word came from the Canadians. Two critics didn’t like all the nice things I said about their health care system. Yes, Canadian health care has its flaws, but when I asked the two critics if they would exchange their health care cards for mine, they said “No!” Of course they wouldn’t. Canadians live longer than we do and their infant mortality is not as high as ours. Their system is underfunded because their leaders have been trying to push for more American-style health care.
The rest of the week has been good and I am now on my way back to the U.S. The New York Post reported Sunday that the Bush administration, in addition to going after me for filming scenes in or near Cuba, may now go after the 9/11 rescue workers I took with me to get the medical care they were denied by our own government. I couldn’t make up irony like this if I wanted to, and I will do whatever is necessary to defend the human right of these true American heroes to receive the medical attention they deserve.
We’ve also received word that the HMO and pharmaceutical industries are gearing up to fight “Sicko.” We received so many great whistleblower letters while we were making the movie from employees of these companies. We’d like to hear from you again! Send us the internal memos and any other plans you run across at the company copying machine or internet server. It will help to stay ahead of whatever they are up to, and it will also give us a chance for a bit of fun at the industry’s expense.
Exposing the plea bargain racket
You may know that I’d like to see all police interrogations videotaped. Thus, my gut wants to see all plea bargains published.
There are three “rats of the week” on the home page of whosarat.com, a Web site devoted to exposing the identities of witnesses cooperating with the government. The site posts their names and mug shots, along with court documents detailing what they have agreed to do in exchange for lenient sentences. [...]
Federal prosecutors are furious, and the Justice Department has begun urging the federal courts to make fundamental changes in public access to electronic court files by removing all plea agreements from them - whether involving cooperating witnesses or not.
“We are witnessing the rise of a new cottage industry engaged in republishing court filings about cooperators on Web sites such as http://www.whosarat.com for the clear purpose of witness intimidation, retaliation and harassment,” a Justice Department official wrote in a December letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States, the administrative and policy-making body of the federal court system.
“The posting of sensitive witness information,” the letter continued, “poses a grave risk of harm to cooperating witnesses and defendants.”
In one case described in the letter, a witness in Philadelphia was moved and the F.B.I. was asked to investigate after material from whosarat.com was mailed to his neighbors and posted on utility poles and cars in the area.
I see the reasonable argument that posting witness info can be abused. Dangerously. But the reasonable counter-argument is a strong one too:
Defense lawyers are, in fact, hungry for any information about the nature of the case against their clients. “The more information out there, the easier it is for the truth to come out at trial,” said David O. Markus, a criminal defense lawyer in Miami. [...]
Eliminating electronic access to plea agreements and related documents would represent a real hardship, Mr. Markus said.
“It doesn’t advance any of the stated safety goals, and it just serves as a roadblock to the public’s constitutional right to access to their court,” Mr. Markus said. “If there is an issue in a particular case, then let’s address it, but to sweep everything under the rug isn’t right.”
I like case by case. And I’m glad for us to learn the difference and distinguish between “public” as in “not secret” and “public” as in “made easily accessible to the world.”
The article reports that a federal judge in Miami has blocked electronic access, arguing that it’s still available by going to the courthouse. That may be the way forward. Or it may be the proverbial camel’s nose under the government’s information lock-down tent.
Another route might be for the government to see the light and put up its own site for free (whosearat charges) that does redact for a limited time or in delineated fashion on a case by case basis as approved by a judge.
Call me jaded but I don’t expect either the proposed I-3 (which I might oppose) or I-14 (which I might support) to ever be built. We’re not willing to spend the money needed to maintain the highways we have so where will we find money for these new ones? (Though they’re using military arguments for I-3, “the Third Infantry Division highway,” and God knows we’re willing to spend like drunken sailors on anything military!)
Yesterday’s Knoxville News Sentinel had an update on the proposed I-3 project, which would create a $50 billion, 450 mile interstate highway from Savannah, GA, to Knoxville, TN where it would connect to I-75. Here’s an AP report. Here is KNS’s map of the proposed route.
Environmental groups oppose it because it runs through the wild, undeveloped Southern Appalachians in North Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, skirting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are also concerns about traffic and pollution in Knoxville, where two major U.S. Interstates (I-75 and I-40)already intersect, fed by I-81, another major U.S. Interstate. [...]
Neither recent news article mentions an important fact, though. Maybe I’m missing something, but Savannah already has an Interstate highway route all the way to Knoxville by way of I-95, I-26, and I-40. According to MapQuest, the existing, all-Interstate route is only 419 miles, downtown to downtown, as opposed to the $50 billion, 450 mile proposed route.
Not only is I-3 not needed, and not only will it wreck portions of the Southern Appalachian ecosystem, it appears that it is nothing more than a massive $50 billion boondoggle for road builders and land speculators. Why we’re spending $1.3 million to study it is beyond me.
For more info, see StopI-3.org.
In the scheme of things $1.3 million is nothing, another signal to me that this highway ain’t happening. Now.
It will be interesting to watch how this plays out:
Neither Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire nor Bishop Martyn Minns of the breakaway Convocation of Anglicans in North America have been asked to attend the next Lambeth Conference, a once-a-decade gathering hosted by the archbishop of Canterbury. The conference is scheduled for next summer in England.
The communion’s secretary-general, the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, spoke at a briefing for reporters in London, and his remarks were later distributed.
In the invitation sent Tuesday to more than 850 Anglican and Episcopal bishops, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the 77-million-member communion, said he had decided to forgo invitations to Robinson and Minns so that the meeting would focus on holding the increasingly fractious fellowship together.
Including bishops “whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the communion” would hurt efforts to create trust, Williams said.
But Robinson, whose 2003 consecration as the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop caused an uproar with conservative church members in the U.S. and abroad, may be asked to attend the conference as a guest, Kearon said.
He said there was no question that Robinson had been properly elected as a bishop according to Episcopal Church rules. The 2.3-million-member church is the American branch of the Anglican Communion.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Dell Ubuntu PCs available Thursday?
Blogger Jeremy Garcia says on his blog that a Dell employee e-mailed him to say that the Ubuntu Linux OS will be available pre-installed on the E520 model desktop, XPS 410 gaming desktop, and 1505 model laptop, starting Thursday.
Garcia doesn’t name his source, and Dell is not talking. Spokesman Kent Cook said he could not confirm models, dates or availability of the forthcoming Ubuntu PCs. He did say that the release is still on track for the “end of the month.”
The world’s second-largest PC maker announced in early May that it had chosen the “Feisty Fawn” Ubuntu version of Linux to be pre-installed on a few of its PCs after polling its customers on its IdeaStorm blog.
Endgadget followed suit this morning, “it certainly gives Linux some cred with mainstream consumers who don’t know the difference between Beryl and that thing you shoot fish in.”
Said Dell’s John Hull, Manager of Linux OS Technologies, on Monday, “Before we announce the availability of Ubuntu 7.04 on select Dell client systems, I’d like to give an overview of what customers can expect from our initial Ubuntu offering...” Read on.
LATER: It’s Thursday. They’re available.
Still room for Justice. Genarlow Wilson deserves it.
The Georgia Constitution bestows Attorney General Thurbert Baker with power and independence. He ought to use both to obtain justice for Genarlow Wilson, the young Douglasville man sentenced to 10 years in prison with no chance of parole for having consensual oral sex with a younger high school classmate at a 2003 New Year’s Eve party. [...]
Wilson’s behavior deserved reprimand, but not a decade behind bars, a sentence so severe that some jurors wept upon hearing it. The decision of the Douglas County district attorney to charge Wilson with aggravated child molestation represents prosecutorial overreach that ought to concern Baker.
A similar overreach occurred in the Duke lacrosse case, in which three players were accused of sexually assaulting a stripper at a party.
Last month, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper overruled the local prosecutor and dropped all charges. “In the rush to condemn, a community and a state lost the ability to see clearly,” he ruled.
Unfortunately, Baker may duck the chance to bring clarity and justice to the Genarlow Wilson case. “Our office intends to uphold the presumptive valid sentence and conviction of Genarlow Wilson,” Baker spokesman Russ Willard said Monday.
While that doesn’t sound promising, some optimism can be teased out of the phrase “presumptive valid.” The qualifier suggests that Baker is open to the possibility that Wilson’s defense fell short and that there may be constitutional grounds to revisit the case.
Baker has proven a cautious man; he has a chance now to prove he’s also a just one.
Gore gathers raves in latest media lap
Word is Apple is discontinuing the 17” iMac. Would that we could all have a set up like Gore’s (above via Time). Al was back talking sense - the media is strangling democracy - on GMA this morning; Think Progress has lowlights from yesterday’s interview. Radar remembers when Gore was a different kind of hot.
Much the way that the movie “An Inconvenient TruthÃ¢â‚¬Â� showed a more accessible Al Gore - at ease with himself and passionate about the dangers of global warming - this book shows a fiery, throw-caution-to-the winds Al Gore, who, whether or not he runs for the White House again, has decided to lay it all on the line with a blistering assessment of the Bush administration and the state of public discourse in America at this “fateful juncture” in history.
Howard Kurtz says Gore’s getting hot:
Al Gore, non-candidate for president of the United States, is suddenly drawing such warm coverage that you wonder whether climate change is melting the hearts of journalists who once portrayed him as a cold fish.
E.J. Dione finds him free to be Al Gore:
Gore, to his credit, won’t talk about Florida, but I will. Whatever flaws he has, Gore suffered through an extreme injustice with great dignity. His revenge is to have been right about a lot of things: right about the power of the Internet, right about global warming and right about Iraq.
LATER: Media Matters points out that Kurtz failed to mention his own Gore turnabout.
Ann on Jerry
Let me be the first to say: I ALWAYS agreed with the Rev. Falwell.
Actually, there was one small item I think Falwell got wrong regarding his statement after 9/11 that “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians—who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle—the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’”
First of all, I disagreed with that statement because Falwell neglected to specifically include Teddy Kennedy and “the Reverend” Barry Lynn.
For the record, I’m not “actively trying to make...an alternative lifestyle.” I’m actively trying to normalize a culturally accepted and naturally occurring part of the human condition.
On Helprin and Shakespeare and copyright claims
In A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn’t Its Copyright? Mark Helperin calls for perpetual copyright terms, “Congress is free to extend at will the term of copyright. It last did so in 1998, and should do so again, as far as it can throw.”
Helprin does not present the total cost of infinite copyright. Instead he presents it solely from the point of view of the author’s benefit. However, were the idea of infinite copyright to be taken to its full conclusion, then authors would be paying the heirs of all the ancient Greek tragedies every time they created a derivation of Homer’s Odyssey. The works of William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens would require permission from someone’s distant heir… Helprin is best known for his novel “Winter’s Tale,” which is loosely based on a Shakespearean work by the same name. This raises the question as to whether Helprin intends to pay royalties to Shakespeare’s descendants.
Death by veganism
WHEN Crown Shakur died of starvation, he was 6 weeks old and weighed 3.5 pounds. His vegan parents, who fed him mainly soy milk and apple juice, were convicted in Atlanta recently of murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty.
This particular calamity - at least the third such conviction of vegan parents in four years - may be largely due to ignorance. But it should prompt frank discussion about nutrition.
I was once a vegan. But well before I became pregnant, I concluded that a vegan pregnancy was irresponsible. You cannot create and nourish a robust baby merely on foods from plants.
How about soy?
Too often, vegans turn to soy, which actually inhibits growth and reduces absorption of protein and minerals. That’s why health officials in Britain, Canada and other countries express caution about soy for babies. (Not here, though - perhaps because our farm policy is so soy-friendly.)
Democrats lead in first quarter fundraising in Georgia
Democratic presidential candidates collected about 62 percent of the $1.6 million raised from Georgians in the first three months of 2007.
Democrats also led presidential fund-raising in Georgia in the same quarter leading up to the 2000 presidential election Ã¢â‚¬” the last race without an incumbent. But back then, their hold on the dollars wasn’t nearly as tight: Democrats led Republicans by just $36,000.
Now Democrats are leading Republicans by $382,000 - a gap more than 10 times greater - according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of first-quarter presidential contributions.
Obama leads, followed by Romney with Edwards coming in a close third.
One striking facet of the Democrat’s first-quarter resurgence in the South: It isn’t based on just one candidate.
In North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, Democrats held the overall advantage, and Edwards was the top fund-raiser. In Florida and Virginia, Democrats collected the most, with U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) as the overall leader. Democrats also took in more in Kentucky, with Obama in the lead.
Only four states in the region - South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas - gave more money overall to Republican presidential candidates. And in South Carolina, Edwards was the leading individual candidate.
Monday, May 21, 2007
MySpace buckles on sex offender data
Faced with legal demands from several state attorneys general, MySpace.com said Monday it will immediately begin sharing data on the registered sex offenders it has identified and removed from the popular social networking Web site. [...]
[MySpace general counsel Mike] Angus said the company hoped to have data moving by Monday afternoon.
“We’re going to get most of it out today,” he said. “We have zero tolerance for those creeps. We don’t want them on our sites.”
CNET News.com’s Caroline McCarthy talks about MySpace’s about-face.
LATER: As reported in the NY Times.
GA Lesbian reunited with child she hopes to adopt
Elizabeth Hadaway spent the weekend with the seven-year-old girl she has been trying to adopt for almost a year, following a months-long legal dispute that saw a Georgia judge remove the young girl from Hadaway’s home after discovering she was a lesbian.
While details of the legal cases surrounding the dispute remained unclear early this morning, the attorney representing Hadaway said the child has been taken out of state foster care and returned to her home.
“The long and short of it is that DFCS agreed to release Emma to Deborah [Schultz, her biological mother], and then Deborah gave Emma to Elizabeth,” said Gerry Weber, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia, which assisted Hadaway.
Via Gay News Blog.
Presidents, Vice Presidents, Gore & Obama
I’m watching Al Gore with Diane Sawyer on GMA. He calls her on the logo behind him - “the frame for the discussion, the logo ‘Campaign ‘08,’ that’s not what this is about” - yet that’s the frame the show insists on.
In the 8 o’clock news segment, Chris Cuomo (has anyone forgotten his political pedigree?) sticks to the storyline, “Former Vice President Al Gore says he isn’t running for office but he sure acted like a candidate bashing the Bush administration.” I get that Gore knows what he’s doing, and that this is how the modern media/politico game is played. I’m ready for it to change.
I like Gore. I liked him when he ran for president. Then liberals complained he wasn’t liberal enough. I don’t expect him to run for office;
no way will he win. (I came back and deleted that, not remembering why I wrote it I don’t agree with it now.)
I’m dreaming of a Hillary/Obama ticket. Which offers up another opportunity to quote Melissa Harris-Lacewell, this time on Obama’s presidential possibilities:
I don’t think Barack Obama’s going to win the American Presidency in 2008- right now he’s this kind of opportunity for lots of Democrats to say, “We want something different, we want something new.” But my bet is that, that sort of notion of new and different doesn’t quite carry over in the general election. I’d love to see him as the Vice President even though I know this irritates a lot of people. I’d love to see him as the Vice President because my bet is that he could win eight years later. And the reason is because we know a lot about black elected officials at other levels-at mayors, congressmen. And it turns out white voters get really comfortable after a black person has been incumbent when they realize that, in fact, no one opens up-- black officeholders don’t increase welfare payments or open up the jails and let all the black criminals out.
In fact, black people govern just about the same way that white people govern, and it tends to reduce white anxiety and increase the likelihood of white support when it’s a black incumbent.
TiVo expands its Internet search
The new feature will be pushed out over the next 8 weeks:
TiVo will narrow the gap between Internet video and conventional TV viewing this week by introducing what it calls the first “TV-centric on-screen search tool” to find programming in both realms.
The DVR pioneer’s system, called Universal Swivel Search, will let its subscribers who like a TV show or movie search for other programs they might like based on elements in common, including the title, actors and subject matter—as well as suggestions from other fans. [...]
Rogers says that search tool may prompt more Web sites to make video available via TiVo.