aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
A Fair(y) Use Tale (NOT a Disney movie - again)
Eisner “believes” in copyright. But Fair Use? Not so much. Which makes this viral hit mash-up from last year all the more fun to watch. I promise you’ll laugh and learn…
Bucknell prof Eric Faden has produced the most amazing video mashup I’ve ever seen: “A Fair(y) Use Tale” cuts together thousands of extremely short clips from dozens of Disney cartoons, lifting indivudal words and short phrases to spell out an articulate, funny, and thoroughly educational lesson on how copyright works. This is the most subversive and hilarious use of Disney material I’ve ever seen—and there’s even a really smart chapter about why Faden used Disney material to make his film. This should be required viewing in every K-12 classroom in the country.
Eisner & Lincoln & copyright
Michael Eisner gave an interview at SXSW on Tuesday (with Mark Cuban acting as the interviewer). While he discussed a variety of things, at one point he was asked about copyright issues and he responded with a strongly pro-copyright statement:“I have a long history, obviously, of believing in copyright. I think basically what separated this country from the rest of the world was patents and copyrights. President Lincoln introduced a lot of this, fought for (the idea that) to pay people for their intellectual work was no different than paying them for their physical work. And nobody would think twice about paying someone for their physical work.”
Eisner has been repeating this bizarre and near totally incorrect claim about Lincoln for years. In fact, in 2002 he wrote an editorial for the Financial Times with the bizarre claim that Abraham Lincoln would hate file sharing. Then, last year, in another interview he talked about how important intellectual property was in the US since the time of Lincoln. It certainly would appear that he has Lincoln on the brain when it comes to intellectual property. There are just a few problems with this, with the first one being that Lincoln had almost nothing to do with intellectual property laws in this country. While he is the only president to hold a patent, he didn’t do much with that patent, and during his administration there was no major legislative changes to either patent or copyright law. Thus, it’s not at all clear why Eisner seems to repeatedly be crediting Lincoln with setting up our modern copyright and patent law. [...]
Furthermore, Eisner seems to have a total blind spot to the fact that much of Walt Disney’s success was due to its widespread use of stories and concepts from the public domain (the very public domain he doesn’t seem to want to exist any more). Even the beloved Mickey Mouse was originally a concept copied from a popular movie (which was still under copyright at the time Disney copied it). Eisner is no longer at Disney, but it’s not a stretch to suggest that a big part of Disney’s troubles, leading to his own ouster, had to do with his inability to adapt to the changing times and changing marketplace that wasn’t so reliant on artificial scarcities.
Dawkins on God and Einstein
Last week Fresh Air repeated an interview with God Delusion author Richard Dawkins. I hadn’t heard it before and found him wonderfully eloquent, particularly in this explanation of why he believes that to credit all human achievement to God is an impoverishment of what the real world has to offer:
I think that the understanding of life, and indeed of science generally, the understanding of the universe generally that we now have at the beginning of the 21st century, is an astoundingly rich, poetically valuable, truly wonderful achievement of our species, something that we have every right to be proud of. You could spend a lifetime imbibing and learning and understanding and increasing understanding of this view that we now have. It is incomparably richer than anything that our ancestors in past centuries could have. It is an enormous privilege to have it. No one individual could possibly comprehend it. It’s a lifetime’s worth just to understand bits of it. And I think it is demeaning to retreat from that to a medieval worldview which simply says, `God done it,’ which is so trite, so cheap, so over simple, so parochial and so impotent in the face of the huge phenomena which need to be explained and which now are being explained.
I urge you to listen to the interview because I do not believe he is disrespectful of religious people (though they, of course, may think otherwise). Gross asks him to read from his book where he quotes Einstein on God. I’ll excerpt that here:
Mr. DAWKINS: Let me make a distinction between two versions of what you’ve just said. There’s what I would call the Einsteinian version, which pays homage to the mysteries that lie in the universe at the base of physics, the mysteries that physics has yet to solve and may never solve. Einstein had immense reverence for that, as do I. Einstein used the word “god” for the deep problems, for those fundamentals which we don’t understand and may never understand.
But I would want to make a distinction between that Einsteinian view and the one that says there is a spirit which has some sort of intelligence; there is a supernatural, intelligent, creative being who created the universe and made up its laws. I think that’s radically distinct from the Einsteinian view that the laws of physics are renamed God. And I have no quarrel with somebody who wants to use the word God for the fundamental laws of the universe. My only quarrel would be that it’s confusing to everybody else. But once we’ve set confusion on one side, then I have no quarrel with that.
What I do have a quarrel with is people who confuse that with God in the sense of some kind of supernatural intelligence or creator who worked it out, and I think there really is a big distinction there.
GROSS: Well, since you brought up Einstein, and since you quote Einstein several times in your book “The God Delusion,” let me ask you to read a few of the things that you quote by Einstein about religion.
Mr. DAWKINS: Right, well, from page 15 of “The God Delusion”:
(Reading) “It was, of course, a lie, what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious, then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
And further down the same page, I quoted Einstein as saying, “I am a deeply religious nonbeliever. This is a somewhat new kind of religion.’
GROSS: So do you consider yourself religious in the Einsteinian sense?
Mr. DAWKINS: Yes, I do consider myself religious in the Einsteinian sense, and obviously with great humility. Einstein was the greatest scientist of the 20th century and maybe ever, and so I humbly am happy to be classed as in his camp in this respect.
1 in 4 teenage girls has STD: Study
One in 4 teenage girls in the United States has at least one sexually transmitted disease, according to a first-of-its-kind study released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The trend is even worse among African-American girls: Nearly half have one or more STDs, compared with 20 percent of whites.
Human papillomavirus was the most common of the four diseases included in the study, affecting 18 percent of the girls studied. Chlamydia was a distant second at 4 percent, followed by trichomoniasis and genital herpes.
The data is based on a nationally representative sample of 838 young women who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2003 and 2004.
Teen health experts say the study, billed as the first to look at common STD rates among young girls, highlights the need for comprehensive sex education that goes beyond the abstinence-only message pushed by the federal government.
On the science of names
I tell the students to call me Joe. I’m not a “doctor” and not fond of “mister.” My brothers are Karl and Kurt, much more interesting names if you ask me.
I like southern names - Satchel, Chance, Chase, Bond, Tyler, Dixon are some of the boys’ names. The NYTimes had a story on the science of names yesterday:
By scouring census records from 1790 to 1930, Mr. Sherrod and Mr. Rayback discovered Garage Empty, Hysteria Johnson, King Arthur, Infinity Hubbard, Please Cope, Major Slaughter, Helen Troy, several Satans and a host of colleagues to the famed Ima Hogg (including Ima Pigg, Ima Muskrat, Ima Nut and Ima Hooker).
The authors also interviewed adults today who had survived names like Candy Stohr, Cash Guy, Mary Christmas, River Jordan and Rasp Berry. All of them, even Happy Day, seemed untraumatized.
“They were very proud of their names, almost overly proud,” Mr. Sherrod said. “We asked if that was a reaction to getting pummeled when they were little, but they said they didn’t get that much ribbing. They did get a little tired of hearing the same jokes, but they liked having an unusual name because it made them stand out.”
For a chuckle:
“Today it’s all about individuality,” Mr. Sherrod said. “In the past, there was more of a sense of humor, probably because fathers had more say in the names.” He said the waning influence of fathers might explain why there are no longer so many names like Nice Deal, Butcher Baker, Lotta Beers and Good Bye, although some dads still try.
“I can’t tell you,” Mr. Sherrod said, “how often I’ve heard guys who wanted their kid to be able to say truthfully, â€˜Danger is my middle name.’ But their wives absolutely refused.”
And what about the boy named Sue?
“Researchers have studied men with cross-gender names like Leslie,” Dr. Evans explained. “They haven’t found anything negative - no psychological or social problems - or any correlations with either masculinity or effeminacy. But they have found one major positive factor: a better sense of self-control. It’s not that you fight more, but that you learn how to let stuff roll off your back.”
RELATED: An old Times story says names are prophetic:
Apt names were dubbed aptronyms by the columnist Franklin P. Adams. Once you start collecting them, you can’t stop. Think of baseball’s Cecil Fielder and Rollie Fingers, the news executive Bill Headline, the artist Rembrandt Peale, the poet William Wordsworth, the pathologist (not gynecologist) Zoltan Ovary, the novelist Francine Prose, the poker champion Chris Moneymaker, the musicians Paul Horn and Mickey Bass, the TV weatherman Storm Field, Judge Wisdom, the spokesman Larry Speakes, the dancer Benjamin Millepied, the opera singer Peter Schreier, the British neurologist Lord Brain, the entertainer Tommy Tune, the CBS Television ratings maven David Poltrack...Then there are the names of people who succeeded in their professions despite what might be called their an-aptronyms: Dr. Kwak, Judge Lawless or Orson Swindle, a member of the Federal Trade Commission. Long before Armand Hammer bought Arm & Hammer, the baking soda company, many people assumed he owned it.