Tag Archives: quotes

shorter excerpts

Carlos Cortez

Viva La Huelga - print by Carlos Cortez

¡Viva La Huelga! Carlos Cortez
1993 Linocut, 89×58.5 cm

“When you do a painting that’s it, it’s one of a kind. But when you do a graphic the amount of prints you can make from it is infinite. I made a provision in my estate, for whoever will take care of my blocks, that if any of my graphic works are selling for high prices immediate copies should be made to keep the price down.”

— Carlos Cortez, 1923-2005

Doing research, I found that Carlos Cortez passed away in January. I first saw Carlos Cortez exhibited in Chicago in the mid-1990s, and had the honor of meeting him and his partner, Mariana. A real loss but he is well-remembered.

More info:
Wikipedia
biography at March Abrazo Press
Carlos Koyokuikatl Cortez: A Printed Legacy (1923-2005) by Jesus Macarena-Avila [subaltern.org]
An Interview with Carlos Cortez by Christine Flores-Cozza, at Drawing Resistance.org
Political Graphics.org
– IWW Obituary
– Many of his works illustrate Charles H. Kerr press books

authors vs. copyright owners

Meghann Marco, a new author, would like to have her book indexed by Google, but her publisher says no, they’d rather sue. [link from kottke.org]

As a person who spends a large part of her day trying to get people to read her book, I asked my publisher to include me in Google Print.

They said no.

I think the majority of authors would benefit from something like Google Print.

divine licensing: god and the gang of four

Two great tastes that taste great together.

Many “Daily Show” fans (well, okay, me) have been concerned about the future of “This Week in God” now that Stephen Colbert is leaving “The Daily Show” for his own spinoff. Today’s NYT (10/12) explains that the segment is going to stay, but with a new correspondent — apparently, because of divine licensing:

“God has an exclusive licensing agreement with ‘The Daily Show,’ ” Mr. Colbert said. “We’re trying to get the Devil for our show.”

In completely unrelated entertainment news, Slate informs us (10/5) that the Gang of Four is covering their own songs on what is effectively a tribute album by the Gang of Four, in tribute to the Gang of Four. (Hey, I think they’re worth it.) Go4 was a little less happy with their licensing arrangement than God, apparently:

A sraightforward repackaging of the old recordings, such as a compilation or box set, would only serve to enrich EMI, their original record company in the United Kingdom. And that’s something Gang of Four didn’t want to happen. “We have never made any money at all from record sales with EMI and still have unrecouped advances,” King wrote in an e-mail. “So we didn’t want them to benefit as they did nothing to support us.” As for their original American record company, Warner Bros., King claims that they deleted Entertainment!—easily one of the 50 most powerful and influential rock albums of all time—in 1993 and only rereleased it in 2005 in response to Gang of Four’s having become a fashionable reference point. Rerecording the songs—something that contracts typically allow artists to do after 20 years—puts Gang of Four in a strong bargaining position for negotiating a new deal with superior royalty rates. “It is our way of reasserting ownership of our own material,” says King.

they speak for themselves

Dept. of Homeland Security [DHS Website via america blog 9/3]:

In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort. The new Department will also prioritize the important issue of citizen preparedness. Educating America’s families on how best to prepare their homes for a disaster and tips for citizens on how to respond in a crisis will be given special attention at DHS.

Dennis Hastert, W 8/31 [via salon.com 9/2]:

Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Wednesday that it “doesn’t make sense” to rebuild New Orleans. “It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed.”

“It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed,” the Illinois Republican said in an interview Wednesday with The Daily Herald of Arlington, Ill.

Hastert, in a transcript supplied by the newspaper, said there was no question that the people of New Orleans would rebuild their city, but noted that federal insurance and other federal aid was involved. “We ought to take a second look at it. But you know we build Los Angeles and San Francisco on top of earthquake fissures and they rebuild too. Stubbornness.”

CNN reporters [CNN 9/1]:

MCINTYRE: And as to your question about political, I talked to a lot of people at the Pentagon today who were very frustrated about the fact that the perception was being created that the military didn’t move fast enough. And they did it somewhat as political. They thought that part of the motivation was the critics of the administration to make the president look bad.

And they seemed to question the motives of some of our reporters who were out there and hearing these stories from the victims about why they had so much sympathy for the victims, and not as much sympathy for the challenges that the government met in meeting this challenge.

George W. Bush, Th 9/1 [Good Morning America via crooks & liars 9/1]:

I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the breach of the levees.

Mike Brown, Th 9/1 [CNN 9/1]:

Michael Brown also agreed with other public officials that the death toll in the city could reach into the thousands. “Unfortunately, that’s going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the advance warnings,” Brown told CNN. “I don’t make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans,” he said. “And to find people still there is just heart-wrenching to me because, you know, the mayor did everything he could to get them out of there. So, we’ve got to figure out some way to convince people that whenever warnings go out it’s for their own good,” Brown said. “Now, I don’t want to second guess why they did that. My job now is to get relief to them.”

“What we had in New Orleans is a growing disaster: The hurricane hit, that was one disaster; then the levees broke, that was another disaster; then the floods came; that became a third disaster.”

Michael Chertoff, Th 9/1 [on NPR All Things Considered, transcript via Here’s What’s Left, 9/1, link via Kevin Drum, 9/1]:

“I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the Convention Center who don’t have food and water.”

Mike Brown, Th 9/1, head of FEMA, interviewed by Paula Zahn [CNN; see also NYT 9/3]:

PZ: How can it be that hundreds and hundreds of thousands of victims have not received any food and water more than 100 hours after Katrina hit

MB: I will tell you this though, every person in that convention center, we just learned about that today. And so I had directed that we have all available resources to get to that convention center to make certain that they have the food and water, the medical care they need…

PZ: Sir, you’re not telling me, you’re not telling me you just learned that the folks at the convention center didn’t have food and water until today did you? You had no idea they were completely cut off?

MB: Paula, the federal government did not even know about the convention center people until today.

Mike Brown, Th 9/1, head of FEMA, interviewed by Ted Koppel [via americablog 9/2]:

MB: We just learned of the convention center — we being the federal government — today.

TKl: I’ve heard you say during the course of a number of interviews that you found out about the convention center today. Don’t you guys watch television? Don’t you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today.

MB: We learned about (the convention center) FACTUALLY today that that’s what existed.

Col. Terry Ebbert, director of Homeland Security for New Orleans [NYT 9/1]:

Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, concurred and he was particularly pungent in his criticism. Asserting that the whole recovery operation had been “carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days,” he said “the rest of the goddamn nation can’t get us any resources for security.”

“We are like little birds with our mouths open and you don’t have to be very smart to know where to drop the worm,” Colonel Ebbert said. “It’s criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren’t force-feeding us. It’s like FEMA has never been to a hurricane.”

Trent Lott, F 9/2, interview with Anderson Cooper [CNN]:

Cooper: So you’re pleased with the Federal government’s response?

Lott: I AM pleased with the federal government’s response…this is not a time for complaining…I am really shocked at the comments that are coming.

George W. Bush, F 9/2, Mobile, Alabama [transcript via looka! 9/2]:

The good news is — and it’s hard for some to see it now — that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house — he’s lost his entire house — there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.)

Laura Bush [via salon.com 9/2]:

Bush was asked about the fact that most of them are poor and black. That’s just the way it is, she said. “This is what happens when there’s a natural disaster of this scope,” Bush said. “The poorer people are usually in the neighborhoods that are the lowest or the most exposed or the most vulnerable. Their housing is the most vulnerable to natural disaster. And that is just always what happens.”

Tom DeLay [via salon.com 9/3]:

In an interview with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Lester Holt, the African-American MSNBC anchor, asked, “People are now beginning to voice what we’ve all been seeing with our own eyes — the majority of people left in New Orleans are black, they are poor, they are the underbelly of society. When you look at this, what does this say about where we are as a country and where our government is in terms of how it views the people of this country?”

DeLay would have none of it. His boilerplate response: “What it tells me is we’re doing a wonderful job and we are an incredibly compassionate people.” The aid being contributed by the people in Texas and other parts of the South showed how wonderful the American people really are, DeLay explained.

Rick Warren [Fox, via salon.com 9/3]:

Rick Warren, the author of “The Purpose-Driven Life,” told Cavuto. “I would say play it down and pray it up,” Warren said. “In other words, you know when you lose everything it forces you to redefine your life. If your view of who you are is based on all the things you’ve accumulated — your car, your pool, your house, your boat — and all of a sudden you wake up one day and those belongings are absolutely blown away, you have to redefine what your life is. If your definition of family is tied to the neighborhood you live in or the security gates you live behind or your made-over home, and suddenly that’s gone, then you’re going to have to rethink what your family is … In the next few days millions of these Gulf State residents and millions of us who are watching it unfold are going to have to struggle with these questions. What is life really all about?”

Mike Brown, Sa 9/3, head of FEMA [Wash Post 9/3]:

Brown, a frequent target of New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s wrath, said Saturday that “the mayor can order an evacuation and try to evacuate the city, but if the mayor does not have the resources to get the poor, elderly, the disabled, those who cannot, out, or if he does not even have police capacity to enforce the mandatory evacuation, to make people leave, then you end up with the kind of situation we have right now in New Orleans.”

“Senior White House Official”, Sa 9/3 [Wash Post, 9/3]:

As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco declared a state of emergency on Friday, Aug. 26.

Mike Chertoff, Homeland Security chief 9/4 [Meet the Press 9/4, transcript; quote via thinkprogress 9/4]:

Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, “New Orleans Dodged the Bullet.” Because if you recall, the storm moved to the east and then continued on and appeared to pass with considerable damage but nothing worse. It was on Tuesday that the levee — may have been overnight Monday to Tuesday — that the levee started to break. And it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap and that essentially the lake was going to start to drain into the city. I think that second catastrophe really caught everybody by surprise.

This one speaks for itself so long as you know that as of Monday morning Mayor Nevin was already talking on NBC’s “Today Show” about the levees overtopping; and as long as you imagine that flooding following a hurricane is a “second catastrophe”.

Rick Santorum, S 9/4 [Interview with WTAE-TV CH 4 in Pittsburgh, via whiskey bar, 9/6]:

I mean, you have people who don’t heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.

Barbara Bush, M 9/5 [American Public Media’s “Marketplace”, via Editor & Publisher, 9/5]:

“What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this–this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them.”

US Rep. Richard Baker [quoted at Booman Tribune 9/9]:

“We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.”

US Rep. (House Majority Leader) Tom DeLay F 9/9 [quoted at Dome Blog 9/9]:

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s visit to Reliant Park this morning offered him a glimpse of what it’s like to be living in shelter.

While on the tour with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, “Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?”

They nodded yes, but looked perplexed.

jonathan kozol on education & no child left behind

DS: You also suggest that our current system of locally financed schools be abolished, claiming that it perpetuates inequality by allowing suburbs like Scarsdale or Manhasset to spend twice as much on each student as less affluent cities do.

JK: Schooling should not be left to the whim or wealth of village elders. I believe that we should fund all schools in the U.S. with our national resources. All these kids are being educated to be Americans, not citizens of Minneapolis or San Francisco.

DS: Isn’t that why President Bush enacted No Child Left Behind, to narrow the achievement gap between white students and minorities?

JK: I would hesitate to try to navigate the thought processes of that sophisticated, well-educated product of Andover.

DS: Seriously, why would Republicans, who have traditionally opposed big government, encumber schools with the testing requirements attached to No Child Left Behind?

JK: The kind of testing we are doing today is sociopathic in its repetitive and punitive nature. Its driving motive is to highlight failure in inner-city schools as dramatically as possible in order to create a ground swell of support for private vouchers or other privatizing schemes.

“School Monitor: Questions for Jonathan Kozol”. Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON. NYT Magazine, 2005 Sept. 4.

chortle: atheist meetings

Pharyngula tears up a Christian apologetic, which was fine and entertaining, but it was the commenter Oneiros Dreaming who made me laugh out loud:

pharyngula: Personally, I’m a little bit miffed about this frequent assertion that atheists are just that way because they want free sex. I’m an atheist, and I never got to take advantage of all that free lovin’ hedonism; all of the atheists I know seem to live rather ordinary, conventional lives. I got married, have been faithful ever since, have had three atheist children who haven’t bothered to shoot up their school or muck up their lives with drugs, and as far as I know, my freethinker wife hasn’t been participating in any Black Masses behind my back. Is it all the other atheists who have wild and degenerate private lives?

Comment #35656 Oneiros Dreaming: Dude, you really have to start going to the meetings.

peter jackson: piracy (vs. derivative works)

ordinarily i’m interested in quotes from artists & creators that evidence awareness of or interest in non-copyright maximalism. but in today’s NYT article (“King Kong vs. Pirates of the Multiplex”) there was a quote from Peter Jackson:

“Piracy has the very real potential of tipping movies into becoming an unprofitable industry, especially big-event films. If that happens, they will stop being made,” said Mr. Jackson in an e-mail message from New Zealand, where he is putting the final touches on his version of “King Kong.” “No studio is going to finance a film if the point is reached where their possible profit margin goes straight into criminals’ pockets.”

which I thought was interesting compared with an off-the-cuff conversation between Peter Jackson (PJ), Fran Walsh (FW), and Philippa Boyens (PB) on one of the LOTR DVD director commentaries:

PJ [5:42]: It’s unlikely to find a place actually because there’s nowhere to put it now really even in The Return of the King. So maybe in the 50th anniversary box set we can put it in somewhere.

FW [5:54]: Wouldn’t it be fun to do an edit of all 3 films in chronological order?

PJ: Like the, The Godfather box set?

FW: Oh is that what happens there?

PB: Did they? Oh cool.

PJ: Yeah.

FW: You could put that scene, you know, right after the, the council meeting.

PJ [6:09]: Well, you could, that’s right. I mean, well, people could do that with their – I shouldn’t suggest this, but people could, could do this with the sort of interesting software available on home computers these days, it’s, um, it’s something that any, any fan could do.

PB: Maybe they could do it for us, and we wouldn’t have to do it ourselves.

posted here 2004/12/5, on The Two Towers, Extended DVD, Directors’ Commentary, Disc 2, 5:42 – 6:24

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.

yet more quotes & comments

some links, some quotes, some comments, all in one … I pulled various of these articles up several hours ago from various blogs, which I would like to link back to, but windows got closed, systems got rebooted, and to make a long story short I no longer know which link came from where.

  • Molly Ivins writes about SLAPPs and also reminds us of one of my favorite George W. Bush quotes: “There ought to be limits to freedom.” Uttered in response to a parody website. (which it seems is now on hiatus). [link from sideshow]
  • God, I loved this: famous same-sex swan couples: romeo & juliet, of boston’s Public Garden [link from plaid adder war journal 8/12]
  • This Swedish library is loaning lesbians. [Which reminds me of one of my favorite canvas bags/t-shirts seen around ALA: “Nobody knows I’m a librarian.”] The library project is called “The Living Library” and allows you to check out various, err, types of people for 45 minutes. Now circulating, a lesbian, a Muslim, an animal rights activist, a gypsy, and some other folks. [link from librarian.net 8/17; see also sbs]
  • John Nichols, “Being Like Bernie” [Sanders], The Nation, 2005/8/15.

    At his best, Sanders succeeds in separating policy from politics and getting to those deeper discussions about the role government can and should play in solving real-life problems– discussions that are usually obscured by partisan maneuvering. That’s the genius of Sanders’s independent status. But it is also a source of frustration. While Sanders backers formed the Vermont Progressive Party, a third-party grouping that holds six seats in the State Legislature, he has never joined the party and has sometimes been slow to embrace its statewide campaigns. While the sense that Sanders is a genuinely free agent serves him well, it raises questions about whether Sanders will ever create not just an alternative candidacy but an alternative politics in his state. “He will not leave a party behind him. So what will be his legacy?” asks Freyne of Seven Days. “I don’t see a next Bernie on the horizon. I don’t see what comes after him. There’s a lot wrapped up in one man, and I don’t know where that gets you in the long run.”

    But Sanders makes no apologies for refusing to be a party man. Yes, of course, he’d like the Democratic Party to be more progressive and for third parties to develop the capacity to pull the political process to the left. But Sanders is not going to wait for the right political moment to arrive. What he’s done is create a model for how an individual candidate can push beyond the narrow boundaries of contemporary politics and connect with voters in the same sense that Progressives and Populists of a century ago–operating within the shells of the Democratic and Republican parties and sometimes outside them–did so successfully.

    ai-yi-yi. i must rant. why should sanders have to leave a party to leave a legacy? his unreconstructed individualism is charming. the man stands for himself. people like and appreciate that in almost anybody and especially in politicians. a party? what do parties stand for? mostly, their own ongoing existence. at any given moment, a party might have a general drift — towards theocracy, say, or corporate welfare. or a party might be a confusing morass of many different opinions and no center. evaluating a party by its platform tells you nothing: who could imagine, reading the RNC platform, that there would be such a group as Log Cabin Republicans? is evaluating a party by its inner circle power brokers any more useful in assessing what a party stands for? the value of political parties lies in certain advantages for their members in furthering their common agenda through pooling resources, power, etc. but once a party is too big to reflect any common agenda for all its members, and has significant disagreement on major policy points among its members, then its continued existence becomes just an exercise in maintaining its own power. so bernie sanders doesn’t do party politics, but manages to get things done, stick to and voice his opinions, and he’s wildly popular. hmm. i think there’s a lesson there.

  • Digby, Shameful Indifference, 2005/8/14:

    Memo to those on the right who say the Left supports Islamic fundamentalists: we’re the Godless Heathens, remember? We’re against the religious zealots running governments across the board. Of course, that includes your “base” here in the US too so you’ll have to pardon us for our consistency and ask yourselves why we find you incoherent on this matter.

    Such a useful point. Get rid of the rhetorical labels (“left”, “liberal”, “Republican”, “Islamist”, “Democrats”, and all the various pejorative quasi-puns that conservative blog commenters think are so funny, e.g., “Dims”) and look at specific positions. State control of the press. State control of individual’s sex lives. Specific state positions on individual’s sex lives: same-sex okay or not? Protection of natural resources: important or unimportant? up to the state or the private sector? … and so on. For instance, who’s opposed to non-marital sex, same-sex relations, immodesty in women, indecency on the airwaves; and supportive of patriarchal households, tending to form personality cults around strong authoritarian leaders, pro-military/violence, pro-government entanglements with religion. With so much in common, I guess I should be happy that Islamic and Christian fundamentalists don’t get along better. Hooray for doctrines & deities!

freedom of info, giblets-style

Indeed, the Medium Lobster could not agree more: while some in the petty name of “truth,” “accountability” and “basic humanity” might want to open this material to the world, outrage over yet another American atrocity would just fuel more violence. Oh, ACLU, don’t you have enough blood on your hands? Which is why the Medium Lobster also believes the time is long overdue to classify the Iraq War.

go read fafblog now

terry pratchett’s new secret novel

The widely quoted, hilarious response by Terry Pratchett to the Canadian court order [more from Michael Geist] applied to early purchasers of Harry Potter 6:

Terry Pratchett, by a strange coincidence, chose the H*rry P*tter launch day to issue a stern warning about his next Discworld novel: ‘Now that the bound proof copies of _Thud!_ are out, and will no doubt be winging their way to an e-bay near you, I would like to say that ANYONE WHO READS A WORD OF IT before publication day will be MADE TO SIT IN THE CORNER and their ENTIRE COUNTRY will be given DOUBLE DETENTION until every single person SAYS SORRY!!!!!’ So there.

quote in Ansible; also at forum.rpg.hu via boingboing via minilinks

new yorker on bush on science

In The New Yorker, The Talk of the Town, posted 2005/8/15, Hendrik Hertzberg had this to say about Bush & his recent comments on intelligent design:

If the President’s musings on [intelligent design] were an isolated crotchet, they would hardly be worth noting, let alone getting exercised about. But they’re not. They reflect an attitude toward science that has infected every corner of his Administration. From the beginning, the Bush White House has treated science as a nuisance and scientists as an interest group—one that, because it lies outside the governing conservative coalition, need not be indulged. That’s why the White House—sometimes in the service of political Christianism or ideological fetishism, more often in obeisance to baser interests like the petroleum, pharmaceutical, and defense industries—has altered, suppressed, or overriden scientific findings on global warming; missile defense; H.I.V./ AIDS; pollution from industrial farming and oil drilling; forest management and endangered species; environmental health, including lead and mercury poisoning in children and safety standards for drinking water; and non-abstinence methods of birth control and sexually-transmitted-disease prevention. It has grossly misled the public on the number of stem-cell lines available for research. It has appointed unqualified ideologues to scientific advisory committees and has forced out scientists who persist in pointing out inconvenient facts. All this and more has been amply documented in reports from congressional Democrats and the Union of Concerned Scientists, in such leading scientific publications as Nature, Scientific American, Science, and The Lancet, and in a new book, “The Republican War on Science,” by the science journalist Chris Mooney.

linked from chris mooney 8/15

rights to information on Beta & Barrayar

Okay, I’m on some kind of a roll with fictional discussions of IP etc. Here’s another: Lois McMaster Bujold, in Barrayar, chronicled a cross-cultural exchange about the value of information access. Cordelia, from the planet Beta, is shocked that poor people don’t have access to information; Vorkosigan, from the planet Barrayar, is shocked at her definition of poverty:

“[The town is] very poor. It was the town center during the Time of Isolation, and it hasn’t been touched by renovation yet. Minimal water, no electricity, choked with refuse….”

“Mostly human,” added Piotr tartly.

“Poor?” said Cordelia, bewildered. “No electricity? How can it be on the comm network?”

“It’s not, of course,” answered Vorkosigan.

“Then how can anybody get their schooling?”

“They don’t.”

Cordelia stared. “I don’t understand. How do they get their jobs?”

“A few escape to the Service. The rest prey on each other, mostly.” Vorkosigan regarded her face uneasily. “Have you no poverty on Beta Colony?”

“Poverty? Well, some people have more money than others, of course, but … no comconsoles?”

Vorkosigan was diverted from his interrogation. “Is not owning a comconsole the lowest standard of living you can imagine?” he said in wonder.

“It’s the first article in the constitution. ‘Access to information shall not be abridged.'”

That’s a constitution I’d like to read. The conversation continues:

“Cordelia… these people barely have access to food, clothing, and shelter. They have a few rags and cooking pots, and squat in buildings that aren’t economical to repair or tear down yet, with the wind whistling through the cracks in the walls.”

“No air conditioning?”

“No heat in the winter is a bigger problem, here.”

“I suppose so. You people don’t really have summer… How do they call for help when they’re sick or hurt?”

“What help?” Vorkosigan was growing grim. “If they’re sick, they either get well or die.”

“Die, if we’re lucky,” muttered Piotr. “Vermin.”

“You’re not joking.” She stared back and forth between the pair of them. “That’s horrible… why, think of all the geniuses you must be missing!”

Sparky Valentine & IP

John Varley has made more than a few comments about IP and information politics in his various stories. The Golden Globe (recommended) was centrally concerned with an actor named Sparky Valentine, and Sparky had a few observations about IP:

In the early days, when they were considering various ideas for a corporate logo, Valentine had suggested using a character from the old Popeye cartoons. Since they were all in the public domain, Sparky had settled on Wimpy taking a bite out of a hamburger.

followed by:

There was another department whose mission in life was to steal. Steal from dead people, it’s true, but steal nonetheless. Sparky had long ago given up coming up with plots and, except for the occasional inspiration, characters. Anything in the public domain was fair game. Old comic books were a fertile source. Almost anyone who had had his or her own comic book in the twentieth or twenty-first century had made a guest appearance on Sparky by now. Sparky had visited locations from Gotham City to Surf City. Old movie and television serials had been plundered for plotlines and cliffhangers. Sparky had entered alternative universes, places where classic private eyes, singing cowboys, half-breed aliens with pointy ears, and giant radioactive ants actually existed.

And also about librarians:

Hal had a UniKnowledge module, which was the nearest thing we’d ever get to summing up all human information collected since the days of the Cro-Magnon. It held all the libraries of Old Earth. All the movies, television shows, photo files. Billions of billions of bits of data so obscure a researcher might visit some of it once in two or three hundred years, and then only long enough to find it no longer had any reasonable excuse for being. But it wasn’t thrown out. Capacity was virtually infinite, so nothing was ever tossed. Who knew? In ten centuries the twenty years of telemetry from Viking I might be of use to somebody. A vanity-press book, published in 1901, all about corn silage in Minnesota, of which no hard copy existed, might be just the reading you were looking for some dark and stormy night. The UniKnowledge held thousands of books printed in Manx, a language no one had spoken in a hundred years. It held Swahili comic books teaching methods of contraception. It contained cutting-room debris saved from a million motion pictures, discarded first drafts of films never made. A copy of every phone book extant at the time we began to record data by laser, and every one printed since. Fully half of the information in the UK had never been cataloged, and much never referenced in the centuries since its inception, and most of it was likely never to be cataloged. That would be taking the pack-rat impulse too far. Librarians had other things to do, such as develop more powerful search engines to sort through the inchoate mass of data when somebody wanted to find out something truly obscure.

patents on Barrayar

Well, in the Barrayaran universe, anyway. Lois McMaster Bujold, in Memory, mentions patent labeling techniques during a briefing on a “bioengineered apoptotic prokaryote”:

“I could read much of its product history off its molecular structure. First of all, whoever made this did not begin from scratch. This is a modification of an existing, patented apoptotic organism originally designed to destroy neural plaque. The galactic patent code for that perfectly legitimate medical application was still readable on some of the molecular fragments. The modified prokaryote, however, bore no identifications of laboratories of origin, licensing, or patent markings. The original patent is about ten years old, by the way, which gives you the first point in your time-window problem.”

“That was going to be my next question,” said Miles. “I hope we can narrow things down more than that.”

“Of course. But you see how much we learn already, just from the codes and their absences. The original medical prokaryote was pirated for the new purpose, and the people who modified it were obviously not concerned with legitimizing it for mass trade. It has all the signs of being a one-off job for a one-time customer.”

Memory, Chapter 21 (p.307-308)

owning photographs

In the fourth & final entry in Salon.com’s series on ‘ex-gay’ therapy ministries [‘True confessions‘], the writer describes how one ex-ex-gay’s attempt to control photographs of him is thwarted by copyright:

On the front page of the Exodus International Web site is a photograph of several dozen men and women. The allegedly changed homosexuals, or newly minted ex-gays, are beaming at the camera, apparently celebrating their newfound freedom from homosexuality. Standing in the center of the photograph is 29-year-old Shawn O’Donnell, who was enrolled in Exodus programs on and off for 10 years.

Exodus is the umbrella organization, information clearinghouse and referral service for “ex-gay ministries.”

The only problem with the Exodus photo is that O’Donnell is still gay.

Recently, O’Donnell asked Exodus president Alan Chambers to take his photo off the Exodus Web site. But Chambers, O’Donnell says, told him that Exodus owns the picture and it still signifies that people can change. “I said, ‘How can you say that is true when I know there are at least three people in that picture who have not changed?'” Exodus did not return my calls seeking comment about the photo.

This is a common misconception: people think they ‘own’ the photographs taken of them. In fact, no, they may own the prints of the photographs. But the photographer holds (‘owns’) the copyright, as the ‘author’ of the work. This FAQ written for photographers gives an idea of how photographers interpret copyright:

Even if one were to purchase an original portrait that was specially commissioned, the purchaser would only be able to frame and display the work. Unless the parties otherwise agree, the artist owns the copyright and the work cannot be copied or reproduced. Thus, without permission, the subject of the portrait cannot even make a holiday card from the painting.

Thus, some photofinishing labs (like Wal-Mart) have taken to refusing to duplicate photos that look ‘professional’ unless the holder has permission from the photographer. [See 5/30 story in sandiego.com; related commentary & links Ex Cathedra 6/8; Derivative Work 6/17]

no, not enough ads in the world

In today’s NYT article about ‘tattooed fruit’, this line caught my eye:

“With the right scanning technology the produce could even be bar-coded with lots of information: where it comes from, who grew it, who picked it, even how many calories it has per serving,” said Fred Durand III, president of Durand-Wayland. “You could have a green pepper that was completely covered with coding. Or you could sell advertising space.”

Hey, what a good idea! Because there aren’t enough ads already.

“stealing”: billy on jimi

This week’s Boston Phoenix includes an interview with Billy Corgan, of the Smashing Pumpkins, and an excerpt from a 3-year-old Billy Corgan essay on Jimi Hendrix:

[Jimi] was never boring on the guitar, yet he stole from everyone. But like many of the greats, he made others’ songs his own.

No better justification of an improvements culture than Jimi Hendrix need ever be offered.