Archive for January, 2006
not exactly tempted by faith or incomplete

Then-mere Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) wrote in “Introduction to Christianity”, his “best-regarded book”:

“Just as the believer knows himself to be constantly threatened by unbelief, which he must experience as a constant temptation, so for the unbeliever, faith remains a temptation and a threat to his apparently permanently closed world,” he wrote. “In short, there is no escape from the dilemma of being a man.”

Unless you’re a woman, I guess, which is maybe why I escaped the temptations of faith.

More recently, as now-exalted-and-infallible Pope Benedict, he wrote:

While the biblical narrative does not speak of punishment, the idea is certainly present that man is somehow incomplete, driven by nature to seek in another the part that can make him whole, the idea that only in communion with the opposite sex can he become ‘complete.’

Fish without a bicycle, that’s me.

[nyt 1/29]

interesting things happening but also life

so, interesting things are going on right now that I have plenty of valuable, earth-shattering comments to make (google’s resistance of the DOJ subpoena, the new google 512 decision, siva’s latest article about google in the Chronicle, a recent discussion about personal releases & permissions culture, an exciting conference I just attended), but so is life. Blogging will have to wait.

will right-wingers finally appreciate international law?

Right-wing homophobes have been freaking out over the Åke Green’s conviction under a Swedish hate speech code. They were particularly incensed because Green made his anti-gay comments from a church pulpit, and hailed the conviction as a sign of the treacherous path of hate speech codes. His conviction was reversed on appeal and then the Supreme Court of Sweden took it up. Now, interestingly, I found out that at the end of November, the Supreme Court also acquitted Green. Why? Because although he did violate the Swedish hate crime legislation, a sentence against him would likely violate the European Convention on Human Rights. So, right-wingers have to recognize … international law … for protecting human rights. I’m sure I’ll see that on the same blogs where right-wingers thank the ACLU.

(Caveat: I don’t read Swedish so my understanding of the Supreme Court opinion is based on this short synopsis by a Swedish attorney.)

monthchunks plugin

Justin Watt @ JustInsomnia wrote the lovely monthchunks plugin which formats wordpress archives in a very condensed & useful way. And is on the ball like you wouldn’t believe, putting up a new version within hours after an odd possible-bug was reported.

wordpress, now two point oh

WordPress released 2.0, I duly upgraded, and this post is by way of testing some of the new features …

economic research on database protection

The EU has researched the effects of the EU Database Protection Directive (Directive 96/9/EC), discovering that despite, or perhaps because of, the EU’s “protections” for its database developers, database development in the EU has been outpaced by the US’ competitive, “un-protected” database industry.

From the press release:

On the basis of the information available, the evaluation finds that the economic impact of the “sui generis” right on database production is unproven. However, the European publishing industry, consulted in the online survey, argued that “sui generis” protection is crucial to the continued success of their activities. In addition, most respondents to the online survey believe that the “sui generis” right has brought about legal certainty, reduced the costs associated with the protection of databases, created more business opportunities and facilitated the marketing of databases. Therefore, further evidence on the usefulness of “sui generis” protection needs to be gathered.

While the report found no benefits from the protection, the publishers were nevertheless unanimous in wanting to keep it. Such is the power and allure of the property metaphor, that nobody ever wants to give up any kind of conceived “property right”, even when it is self-evidently not helpful or a hindrance.

At this stage, the evaluation concludes that repealing the Directive altogether or repealing the “sui generis” right in isolation would probably lead to considerable resistance by the EU database industry which wishes to retain “sui generis” protection for factual compilations. While this resistance is not entirely based on empirical data (many factual compilations would, most likely, remain protected under the high standard of “originality” introduced by the Directive), this evaluation takes note of the fact that European publishers and database producers would prefer to retain the “sui generis” protection in addition to and, in some instances, in parallel with copyright protection.

“Stakeholders” are invited to comment on the report by March 12, 2006.

[Evaluation of Directive 96/9/EC on the legal protection of databases, 2005 Dec. 12; press release 12/12; related docs. James Boyle writes about the study in the FT, linked from BoingBoing; the report, linked from wikipedia]

jetblue blocking daily show segments?

Coming home on JetBlue on Thursday 12/29, we had an interesting experience with the TV programming. One entire “Daily Show” segment was wiped out. The program did one segment, then skipped straight to the interview with Howard Stern, and then ‘programming was temporarily unavailable due to normal motion of the aircraft’. Pretty much until the next show started when programming magically resumed. Other channels were not affected.

crooks & liars has the video of the gaywatch segment.