Tag Archives: excerpta

longer quotes

the bear stearns of organized pedophilia

It’s a bit dicey to find anything funny in the sexual slavery / prostitution ring known as the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, aka, the Mormon child abuse cult). Bill Maher managed to do it by pointing out the discrepancy between society’s treatment of misbehavior by “cults” and misbehavior by “religions”.

If you can stomach it, watch the video at Crooks and Liars. It’s funny but only if you can laugh at the really fucked up things that infuriate you and make you despair of the world.

Relevant transcript below the fold.

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adultery and the “alpha male”

Natalie Angier began an article on sexual monogamy in the natural world by reference to the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal. The entire article is a rebuke to the evolutionary psych hogwash that has been bandied about the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal, although I particularly enjoyed the first sentence of the second paragraph:

You can accuse the disgraced ex-governor Eliot Spitzer of many things in his decision to flout the law by soliciting the services of a pricey prostitute: hypocrisy, egomania, sophomoric impulsiveness and self-indulgence, delusional ineptitude and boneheadedness. But one trait decidedly not on display in Mr. Spitzer’s splashy act of whole-life catabolism was originality.

It’s all been done before, every snickering bit of it, and not just by powerful “risk-taking” alpha men who may or may not be enriched for the hormone testosterone. It’s been done by many other creatures, tens of thousands of other species, by male and female representatives of every taxonomic twig on the great tree of life. Sexual promiscuity is rampant throughout nature, and true faithfulness a fond fantasy. Oh, there are plenty of animals in which males and females team up to raise young, as we do, that form “pair bonds” of impressive endurance and apparent mutual affection, spending hours reaffirming their partnership by snuggling together like prairie voles or singing hooty, doo-wop love songs like gibbons, or dancing goofily like blue-footed boobies.

Yet as biologists have discovered through the application of DNA paternity tests to the offspring of these bonded pairs, social monogamy is very rarely accompanied by sexual, or genetic, monogamy. Assay the kids in a given brood, whether of birds, voles, lesser apes, foxes or any other pair-bonding species, and anywhere from 10 to 70 percent will prove to have been sired by somebody other than the resident male.

She just smoothly demolishes, with evidence, all the claptrap and bloviating about men in power and their testosterone and their alpha-ness and their prostitutes. It’s everywhere, not just in the circles of the powerful, and not just in men.

Read the whole thing, because like all of Natalie Angier’s work, it’s a pleasure simply to peruse the prose, while appreciating the elegance and humor of the natural world.

west coast salmon collapse

Federal officials have indicated that they are likely to close the Pacific salmon fishery from northern Oregon to the Mexican border because of the collapse of crucial stocks in California’s major watershed.That would be the most extensive closing on the West Coast since the federal government started regulating fisheries.

“The Central Valley fall Chinook salmon are in the worst condition since records began to be kept,” Robert Lohn, regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Portland, Ore., said Wednesday in an interview. “This is the largest collapse of salmon stocks in 40 years.”

Counts of young salmon, whose numbers have dwindled sharply for two years, were the first major indication of the problem. The number of fish that survive more than a year in the ocean, or jacks, is a marker for the abundance of full-grown salmon the next year. The 2007 count of the fall Chinook jacks from the Sacramento River was less than 6 percent of the long-term average, Mr. Lohn said.

The Central Valley salmon runs are concentrated in the Sacramento River, the focus of a water struggle between farmers and irrigation districts on one hand and environmental groups and fishermen on the other.

NYT, 3/13

Washington & Alaska fisheries are still okay, but of course this will put major pressure on them.

atheist’s creed

i like this atheist’s creed pretty well. it was posted at pharyngula and i suspect that pz myers wrote it.

An atheist’s creed

I believe in time,
matter, and energy,
which make up the whole of the world.

I believe in reason, evidence and the human mind,
the only tools we have;
they are the product of natural forces
in a majestic but impersonal universe,
grander and richer than we can imagine,
a source of endless opportunities for discovery.

I believe in the power of doubt;
I do not seek out reassurances,
but embrace the question,
and strive to challenge my own beliefs.v

I accept human mortality.

We have but one life,
brief and full of struggle,
leavened with love and community,
learning and exploration,
beauty and the creation of
new life, new art, and new ideas.

I rejoice in this life that I have,
and in the grandeur of a world that preceded me,
and an earth that will abide without me.

The post was in response to a sad illustration by someone who thinks that atheists are sad people and that atheism is depressing. In response, Myers titled his post: “Actually, it’s theists who believe in nothing, quite fervently”, which is a nice point that unfortunately didn’t get followed up on in the post itself. But it’s such an elegantly expressed truth: Theists believe in non-existent things, or no-things; theists believe in nothing, and that belief in nothing crowds out so much of what there is in the world.

Who doesn’t care about political hypocrisy

Joe Conason at Salon explains why the leaders of the religious right don’t care that Republican Christian nationalists are hypocrites, and predicts that they’ll be ba-a-ack:

The leaders of the religious right don’t care whether White House hacks love them or laugh at them, because they see themselves as the users, not the used. Winning power in the Republican Party represents the work of more than two decades for Robertson, Falwell, Dobson, their ultraright comrades and the new leaders, such as Tony Perkins and Rod Parsley, who will eventually succeed them. Their radical goal is an America under the dominion of men like themselves, and the Republican Party will continue to be the most plausible vehicle for their movement. They may lose ground this year — but they will most certainly be back with renewed determination in 2008.

LA Times thinks Hollywood is going too far

Is it a sign when the LA Times thinks Hollywood is going too far? God, I hope so.

In today’s editorial, the LAT says:

[editorial summary: Copyright infringement is bad, intellectual property is good, yadda yadda.] But what the entertainment industry is seeking in this year’s proposals isn’t merely protection from piracy; it’s after increased leverage to protect its business models.

That’s why lawmakers must bear in mind the balance needed between copyright holders’ interests and the public’s, something Congress has not done well lately. In 1998, it gave copyright holders broad power to block legitimate uses of works, even those in the public domain, through the use of electronic locks that impede copying of digital products. And that same year, it prolonged the public domain’s starvation diet by extending copyrights an additional 20 years, to 70 years beyond the death of the creator.

As they weigh the entertainment industry’s pleas, lawmakers shouldn’t assume all consumers are bootleggers and every digital device is a hand grenade aimed at Hollywood.

I really ought to read the LAT more often, because this seems pretty sensible.

music and rants in honor of south dakota

i’ve been too angry to post about south dakota — and really, too unsurprised and cynical to have anything particularly interesting to say — but some music has been particularly resonant to me the last few weeks watching the South Dakota legislators presume to regulate the personal lives and medical decisions of women. so here’s a few pieces i keep in my ‘favories’ playlist, plus a couple of others i dug out special from my music archives:

  • “Butyric Acid”, by Consolidated, from the album Business of Punishment (1994). [lyrics below the fold; you have to click on “more” to open up this page separately and then the lyrics link will work]
  • “Green Monkey” by Laura B., a spoken word piece on the album Cause – Piece of Mind: Rock for Choice (1992). [I’ll try to get the text but don’t have it now.]
  • “Femme Fatale”, by Digable Planets, from the album Reachin’ (A New Refutation Of Time And Space) (1993). [lyrics below the fold]
  • A trio from Ani:

  • “Hello Birmingham”, by Ani DiFranco, from the album To the Teeth (1999). [lyrics below the fold]
  • “Lost Woman Song” by Ani DiFranco, from the album Ani DiFranco (1990). [lyrics below the fold]
  • “tiptoe” by Ani DiFranco, from the album Not a Pretty Girl (1995). [lyrics below the fold]
  • and just a couple more:

  • “Every Sperm Is Sacred” / Monty Python, from “The Meaning of Life” [lyrics below the fold]
  • And a special dedication goes out to SD state Senator, Bill Napoli: “Dead Men Don’t Rape”, by 7 Year Bitch, from the album Sick ‘Em (1992) and also on There’s a Dyke in the Pit! (1992). (Lyrics below the fold, but I think you can guess the refrain.) And don’t construe this as a threat because I’m a pacifist, but when I listen to this song I reflect on the ways that state-mandated pregnancy is a continuing, multi-month, invasion into a woman’s body. And I hold every one of those legislators and officials who signed off on this obscene legislation equally culpable for that violation. I’d call them fuckers but I really hope they never get laid again.

and here’s another I just thought of, and will get lyrics to after work tonight:

  • “Here’s to the State of Mississippi” / Phil Ochs. (Because the list of benighted states just keeps growing ….)

Lyrics below the fold.

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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]

Reader, I married fafblog.

It was the only thing to do, after such postings as:

There’s No “War” in “Warrant”1 (12/17):

So George Bush secretly authorized the NSA to spy on Americans without warrants or judicial oversight. Oh, it violates your civil liberties, oh, it illegally breaks the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, oh, that tape of you and your boyfriend having phone sex has been playing in the NSA break room for a month and a half. Well boo hoo hoo! Do you hear that sound, America? It is the world’s tiniest violin playing just for your civil liberties. You can hear it in excellent quality sound because it has been bugged by the NSA. …

“Oh but Giblets the president’s executive order is illegal” you say. That’s the kind of namby-pamby whining that would have the U.S. follow “international opinion” and “the Geneva conventions” and “U.S. law.”

Fafblog followed up on the no-FISA-needed Executive Order with The King of Freedom (12/23):

…How soon we forget the lessons of September 11th! Faced with a threat unlike any before, America can no longer afford its cumbersome system of unwieldy checks and balances. Instead it must nimbly respond to terror with a single, streamlined, omnipotent executive branch. Instead of waiting for critical domestic spying programs to pass through Congress, where bickering Senators can selfishly subject them to public scrutiny, an efficient White House can put them into practice so quickly the country doesn’t discover them for another four years.

All the usual suspects have begun ringing all the usual alarm bells, calling the president’s new powers unconstitutional or even dictatorial. This, of course, is absurd. There remain numerous checks on the president’s powers, such as God, who may override the president’s veto with a two-thirds vote, and the president himself, who may bring himself to justice should he find himself to have violated his oath of office. Nor have Congress and the courts been rendered powerless, as all three branches of government have vital roles to play: the executive branch to be the president, the legislative branch to support the president, and the judicial branch to tell the president he is constitutional….

Fafblog’s coverage of the war on terror is also must-read-blogging: (World Without a PATRIOT Act, 12/17):

So I’m browsin through my local library checkin out the latest developments in shelving technology when Osama bin Laden jumps outta the card catalogue an hijacks the reference section!

“Oh no!” says me. “Stop him before he misfiles that almanac!”
“Mwa-hahaha, you’re too late!” says the terrorist mastermind escapin into the periodicals. “Now nothing can stop me from researching the history of your hometown’s spicy marmalade festival!”
“He’s in the microfiche,” says the crusty ol librarian. “We’ll never catch im now!”

Oh John Ashcroft, where are you when we need you most!

And see The Central Front in the War on Facts (12/8):

The usual antiwar suspects have been up in arms for well over a week over the military’s planting of covert propaganda in Iraqi newspapers, caterwauling about the undermining of a fundamental tenet of Iraqi democracy. As always, their concerns are wildly misplaced. First, shouldn’t a pretend democracy have a pretend free press? Second, most of these pieces weren’t factually inaccurate, but mere “spin” – such as the article that spun an Iraqi general’s death under torture as death under not-torture. Third, propaganda is merely a weapon. America’s leaders would be foolhardy indeed to refuse a weapon in their arsenal, especially against an adverary as deadly as the truth.

While it may not be the ideal of journalism in a free society, is this planted, pro-military propaganda so different from the anti-military truthaganda published every day in the New York Times? While military propaganda shows a bias towards distortion, obfuscation, and outright lies in the service of the war effort, the baleful face of the Mainstream Media shows a clear bias towards reporting reality – and reality has always been America’s greatest enemy in Iraq.

And the ongoing coverage of the torture?-we-don’t-torture-but-we-need-to-be-able-to-torture-(even-though-we-don’t-torture) story was as good as it gets; most recently with Let a Thousand Bad Apples Bloom (12/17) (“Rest assured, from this day forth, the detainees tortured in American military prisons will only be tortured by accident or happenstance, or by dozens of rogue soldiers acting in simultaneously and of their own accord.”)

And on domestic issues, Fafblog also nailed it with Nature’s Harmonious Money Cycle” (12/8):

So you can’t afford to heat your house and somebody went and cut your Medicaid and food stamps. “Oh no!” you say burnin a spare child for warmth. “Whatever will I do.”

… and righteously chastised us all about dangerous support for the HPV vaccine (God Bless the Plague, 11/17):

God created death and disease to provide a divine disincentive against soul-sullying sin. Can America afford to innoculate its children, insure its poor, and make peace with its neighbors if it means not living in fear of an insane, invisible overseer in the sky who barks at his creation in a series of mad, contradictory myths? Absolutely not. God bless the plague!

In conclusion, I highly recommend daily conjugal visits with fafblog (the worlds only source for fafblog).

happy holidays in dover

Happy holidays and merry xmas to rational Christians: Judge Jones (a Bush 43 appointee) has not only found the obvious religious motivation in the Dover School Board’s actions, but also found the obvious religious motivation in the development of the intelligent design curriculum.

[decision available @ MD PA court website and also @ msnbc. News coverage at nyt 11/20; significant commentary at pharyngula and panda’s thumb; commentary roundup @ questionable authority] Additional commentary, added as I come across it: Ann Althouse had a great potential headline for the story: School Board in the Hands of an Angry Judge. Chortle. Timothy Sandefur laid out ten responses to complaints about Kitzmiller‘s legal analysis, authority, etc. Jasen Rosenhouse @ CSICoP offers a point-by-point summary.

This was nothing less than a judicial smackdown. Judge Jones, “out of an abundance of caution and in the exercise of completeness” (p.71), covered all possible arguments for ID as science — and frankly decimated them. Demolished? Destroyed? Devastated? So many verbs from which to choose. My take on the principal takehome points are this (1) ID is religion not science; (2) the Dover School Board intended to offer it as religion; (3) this is an establishment under both the endorsement test and the Lemon test no matter how you read them. I’m highlighting my favorite parts in that order, below the fold.

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elijah wood not upset by queer fan photo alterations

hollywood.com 9/12

HOLLYWOOD, September 12, 2005

Wood Stunned by Gay Photo ‘Revelations’
By WENN
……………………………………..
Elijah Wood is continually stunned by clever cyber pranksters who try to prove he is gay.

The Lord of the Rings star is often caught out by Web sites with far from subtle names, like www.veryverygay.com, when he’s surfing the Internet, but he’s rarely offended.

And, unlike many stars, he isn’t planning any legal action to stop the pranksters–he simply marvels at their creativity.

He says, “There’s one that’s called elijahwoodisveryverygay (sic), which is actually a personal favorite of mine, it’s absolutely hilarious.

“It’s this kind of joke Web site that maintains that they have proof that I am very very gay in various photographs–photographic evidence (of me) holding hands with a male.”

Even fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy want the stars of the film to be homosexual. Wood explains, “(They) want to create moments that they didn’t get to see in the film, of these characters in sexual congress.

“I was actually at a film festival once… and this fan came up with a gift… I open the gift in front of all these people that I’m talking to and it happens to be a photo from one of these Web sites of me and Dominic Monaghan making sweet love. If you didn’t know any better, it kinda looks real.

“These people have a lot of time on their hands and my hat’s off (to them) because it’s very good work.”

lemony snicket copyright

The copyright notice in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography (2002):

No part of this book may be used, reproduced, destroyed, tampered with, or eaten without written permission except in the case of brief, possibly coded quotations embodied in critical articles, reviews, and subpoenas. Allegedly printed in the United States of America. For information address HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019, although the people at this publishing house have no idea where the documents enclosed in this book came from. If you recognize yourself in any of the photographs or illustrations in this book you may find yourself in Very Frightening Danger and/or slightly embarrassed but there is nothing you can do about it. Please note that the author has been called a fraud, a criminal, a bestseller, a corpse, a fictional character, an unreliable narrator, an objective flaneur, an embattled gentleman, a magnetic field, an arsonist, and late for dinner by an odd number of dubious authorities. Send help at once. All rights reserved. Wouldn’t you rather read about ponies?

on file sharing “the daily show”

Okay, I’m sneaking a little break away from visiting family in Virginia to breathe the fresh air of the Internet. I wouldn’t exactly call Virginia a hellhole (at least not in front of the family who lives here), but the Internet cafe (Panera Bakery) I’m surfing at blocks arthur silber’s the light of reason and poor man as Forbidden Category “Adult/Mature Content”. Sigh.

Anyway, one of the sites I can read is Wired. In the recent interview with Jon Stewart & Ben Karlin (Daily Show’s Exec Producer) (“Reinventing Television”) I noticed this commentary:

WIRED: [“The Daily Show”] is among the most popular shows traded online. People download and watch the whole thing, every day. Were you guys aware of that?

Karlin: Not only am I not aware of that, I don’t want to be aware of that.

WIRED: Well, don’t go shutting it down.

Stewart: We’re not going to shut it down – we don’t even know what it is. I’m having enough trouble just getting porn.

Karlin: If people want to take the show in various forms, I’d say go. But when you’re a part of something successful and meaningful, the rule book says don’t try to analyze it too much or dissect it. You shouldn’t say: “I really want to know what fans think. I really want to understand how people are digesting our show.” Because that is one of those things that you truly have no control over. The one thing that you have control over is the content of the show. But how people are reacting to it, how it’s being shared, how it’s being discussed, all that other stuff, is absolutely beyond your ability to control.

Stewart: I’m surprised people don’t have cables coming out of their asses, because that’s going to be a new thing. You’re just going to get it directly fed into you. I look at systems like the Internet as a convenience. I look at it as the same as cable or anything else. Everything is geared toward more individualized consumption. Getting it off the Internet is no different than getting it off TV.

WIRED: Isn’t that going to pose a challenge to the traditional network model?

Stewart: But we’re not on a traditional network: We’re on the goofy, juvenile-delinquent network to begin with. We get an opportunity to produce this stuff because they make enough money selling beer that it’s worth their while to do it. I mean, we know that’s the game. I’m not suggesting we’re going to beam it out to the heavens, man, and whoever gets it, great. If they’re not making their money, we ain’t doing our show.

And on the famous clip of Stewart on CNN:

WIRED: [T]he show was a total sensation: Something like 3 million people saw that – but mostly online. Less than a quarter of them saw it on CNN proper. It was huge, phenomenal viral video.

Stewart: It was definitely viral. I felt nauseous afterward.

WIRED: It was one of the most downloaded clips ever.

Stewart: Really? That’s not true. Pamela and Tommy Lee?

WIRED: OK, maybe that was bigger. But it was amazing that CNN was so clueless about what you gave them. Suddenly, for once, everybody wanted to see Crossfire. They could have taken the show and put it on their Web site, said Click Here, and gotten all this traffic. Instead, everyone had to go through these other sites and back doors to find it.

Stewart: That’s really half the fun, isn’t it? If CNN had put it on its Web site, it would have lost some of its allure.

Karlin: It’s people going, “Holy shit, did you see this?”

And, last but not least, my favorite quote:

Stewart: The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom.

fantastic library pork

Garrison Keilor imagines library pork like the Alaskan bridge-laden Republican Transportation bill. First, the model:

For Alaska, the Republicans earmarked $223 million for a bridge almost as long as the Golden Gate to link the town of Ketchikan (pop. 8,000) — which is a town that exists to sell T-shirts and postcards to cruise passengers for three months a year — to the local airport on Gravina Island, replacing a seven-minute ferry ride. Alaskans also will receive a billion-dollar two-mile-long bridge connecting Anchorage to hundreds of square miles of undeveloped wetlands, a great convenience for bird-watchers who now, instead of having to kayak across the water to observe the red-bellied grommet, can drive over in their Explorers and bring a mobile home with them.

Alas, I fear the undeveloped wetlands may not stay either un- or wet- very long. Next, the improved library library pork version:

I imagine that a super-library of that caliber might cost $223 million if you add in the books, the banks of computers with high-speed Internet connections, the movie theater, the Children’s Room, the Steam Room, the Nap Room, the Hobnob Room where English majors can gather for a libation, the underground parking garage, and the kindly reference librarian with the bun, the faint mustache on the upper lip, the navy-blue knit dress, the sensible shoes, and the glasses on a chain around her neck. Those ladies have become rare and do not come cheap.

Ahem. I’ll resist going on the usual anti-librarian-stereotype rant just because Mr. Keilor is so charming & hilarious. He offers us one final bit of lobbying strategy which I think is a sure winner:

And we need to promote public libraries as a tool in the war against terror. How many readers of Edith Wharton have engaged in terroristic acts? I challenge you to name one. Therefore, the reading of Edith Wharton is a proven deterrent to terror. Do we need to wait until our cities lie in smoking ruins before we wake up to the fact that a first-class public library is a vital link in national defense?

“These people have not the principles of government amonst them…”

The Ludwig von Mises Institute has published an excerpt from Murray Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty, a Colonial history, on “Pennsylvania’s Anarchist Experiment: 1681-1690”.

Not an anarchist experiment I would want to live in, but some interesting features: religious freedom for Christians (ahem) and Quaker-Native American relations. The essay charts William Penn’s annoyance that the people of Pennsylvania kept taking freedom farther than he intended. Penn established the colony, intending to grant certain liberties. But given the opportunity to govern themselves, the people of Pennsylvania granted themselves more freedoms than Penn et al would have liked. It started with tax resistance — here’s William Penn complaining about the difficulty he had enforcing taxes:

The great fault is, that those who are there lose their authority one way or another in the spirits of the people and then they can do little with their outward powers.

Penn swooped down to the colony to try to work on the tax issue for a while, but eventually had to go back to England. In the interim, he established a governing council for Pennsylvania.

After Penn returned to England in 1684, the Council virtually succeeded him in governing the colony. The Council assumed full executive powers, and, since it was elected rather than appointed, this left Pennsylvania as a virtually self-governing colony. Though Thomas Lloyd, a Welsh Quaker, had by Penn been appointed as president of the Council, the president had virtually no power and could make no decisions on his own. Because the Council met very infrequently, and because no officials had any power to act in the interim, during these intervals Pennsylvania had almost no government at all—and seemed not to suffer from the experience. … The councillors, for one thing, had little to do. And being private citizens rather than bureaucrats, and being unpaid as councillors, they had their own struggling businesses to attend to. There was no inclination under these conditions to dabble in political affairs. The laws had called for a small payment to the councillors, but, typically, it was found to be almost impossible to extract these funds from the populace.

Of this period, Rothbard concludes:

[T]he reality must be faced that the new, but rather large, colony of Pennsylvania lived for the greater part of four years in a de facto condition of individual anarchism, and seemed none the worse for the experience.

Eventually William Penn appointed John Blackwell as deputy governor to reign in those damn Quakers. Blackwell also rapidly “lost his authority” and could “do little with his outward powers” in the face of passive resistance, ultimately complaining to Penn:

“These people have not the principles of government amongst them, nor will be informed…”

Interesting.

guvmint

The Poor Man explains checks & balances & the US government in commenting on the Newsweek thing:

Our government was set up two centuries ago by a group of men, some quite clever, who expected that it would be administered by the corrupt, the cowardly, and the stupid – in other words, by human beings. Checks and balances were put in place so that one branch’s cowardice could be employed to counterbalance another’s corruption, with the stupid serving to restrain the other two. By and large, we have elected the sort of men the Founders trusted we would, and so things have generally worked as intended.

Equally important was that the players in this clown show would be accountable to the people they represented. Now, the people would be stupid, cowardly, and corrupt as well, for such is the nature of people, but, through the miracle of thermodynamics, the voting process would cancel out individual eccentricities leaving the only free parameter The National Interest. All in all, the worst idea anyone has ever had for running a government, except for all the others.

There’s a lot of other good stuff including the Bill of Rights explanation and the tie-in to the Newsweek thing.

foglio comic online !

Kaja Foglio & Phil Foglio have taken their Girl Genius comic online. Here’s Phil writing about why:

So- Here we are, several weeks into The Great Experiment. So far no one has been able to find another example of an established comic jumping directly to full-time free online mode. There are any number of examples of comics that have gone the other way, in the mistaken belief that printed comics are a vital, glamorous artform that will bring their creators vast amounts of money, respect and dates.

Unfortunately, this is true everywhere in the world, except the United States.

In Europe, comics are printed exclusively in full color on a pure linen paper that the E.U. has designated, by law, as being exclusively reserved for comics. These comics are leather bound, and sold in trendy boutiques. The creators are feted by royalty and treated like rock stars by the general populace.

In Japan, if a comic doesn’t sell seventeen million copies every week and become a hit anime series, the entire creative team and their families are branded failures and are expected to do “the honorable thing”. Of course, no one is quite sure what this mysterious “thing” is, since no manga series, no matter how idiotic, ever fails to sell less than seventeen million copies every week and become a hit anime series.

But here in the United States, the country that gave comics to the world in the first place, more people willingly read bad science fiction about worlds where everything is just like Earth, but everyone is an ocelot or something. Some of this, I believe, is because of the fabled crushing of the comics industry that took place in the fifties. However, that excuse is close to sixty years old and is getting a bit weak. A lot has to do with the Comics Industry, which has labored mightily to suck as hard as it possibly can in the intervening years.

But the biggest competition has come from stuff that is FREE!

Television? Free. Radio? Free. The Internet? Free. Comic books? Four bucks for twenty two pages of people beating each other up which you read and toss in five minutes.

To me it is obvious that if we want to compete with other forms of entertainment, we have to keep up with them. When they hit upon something that works. Steal it. In this case, the business model that says, “Give your product away for free and hope they like it enough to pay money to own it in a material form.”

Others have done it. Can we? We shall see.

As for how well the experiment is working: Well, it’s working on me, because now I know about the very cool comic and as soon as I make my way to a comic shop with some $$$ to spare, I’ll invest. It was many years ago that I ran across their art in Magic: The Gathering and I’m pleased to reacquaint with them now. A thousand blessings on the Internet!

cory doctorow & john scalzi & others discuss SFWA & ‘piracy’

cory doctorow writes about SFWA’s ongoing campaign against copyright infringement (Why writers should stop worrying about “ebook piracy”– boingboing 5/14)

cory also cited from & linked to john scalzi writing about the same thing (The Stupidity of Worrying About Piracy 5/13).

personally, i much appreciated john’s description of how he feels about readers who can’t pay — borrowers rather than thieves:

Who are pirates? They are people who won’t pay for things (i.e., dickheads), or they’re people who can’t pay for things (i.e., cash-strapped college students and others). …

As for the people who can’t pay for things, well, look. I grew up poor and made music tapes off the radio; my entire music collection from ages 11 to 14 consisted of tapes that had songs missing their first ten seconds and whose final ten seconds had DJ chatter on them; from 14 to 18, I taped off my friends; from 18 to 22 I reviewed music so I could get it for free. And then after that, once I had money, I bought my music. Because I could. As for books, I bought secondhand paperbacks through my teen and college years. Now I buy hardbacks. Again, because I can. Now, being a writer, you can argue that I’m more self-interested in paying for creative work than others, but I have to honestly say that I don’t know anyone who can pay for a book or a CD or a DVD or whatever who doesn’t, far more often than not.

I don’t see the people who can’t pay as pirates. I see them as people who will pay, once they can. Until then, I think of it as I’m floating them a loan. Nor is it an entirely selfless act. I’m cultivating a reader — someone who thinks of books as a legitimate form of entertainment — and since I want to be a writer until I croak, that’s a good investment for me. More specifically, I’m cultivating a reader of me, someone who will at some point in the future see a book of mine of the shelf, go “Scalzi! I love that dude!” and then take the book off the shelf and take it to the register.

i haven’t read his books but i love that dude!

and then john’s posting was followed by many comments from other writers … among them, scott westerfeld … which led me to scott westerfeld’s new blog. scott posted (without worrying about copyright violations!) on his blog a copy of a letter from a reader who sent him a “token of appreciation” after reading his novel in a bookstore. then scott discussed his feelings on sharing (okay) and mass for-profit reproduction (not okay) and reminded us all that writers are not the whole industry, that publishers and editors and libraries need love too.

… and it all led me to hilary rosen (!) complaining about DRM! consumer unfriendly, she says. user unfriendly. irony is not dead, after all.