February 24, 2006

To the reader who employs his leisure ill   {Comments: 0}

From Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy:

Whoever you are, I warn you not to insult the Author of this work, or to cavil and mock at him. Nay, do not silently condemn him (to speak in a word) because of the censure of others, nor ineptly and sarcastically disapprove of him, nor make up false tales about him. For if Democritus Junior is really what he professes to be, at least akin to the older Democritus, or smack ever so little of his genius, it is all up with you, he will act the part of your censor and accuser, being of petulent spleen, will inundate you with jokes, crush you with witticisms, and sacrifice you, I may add, to the God of Laughter.

I again warn you not to cavil at all, lest, (while you defame Democritus Junior, who has no animosity against you, with your railing, or disgracefully disparage him,) you should hear from some sagacious friend the very word that the people of Abdera of old heard from Hippocrates, when they accounted their well-deserving and popular fellow-townsman Democritus a madman. "You, Democritus, are wise, it is the people of Abdera that are foolish and mad." You have the heart of the people of Abdera. Having warned you thus in a few words, O Reader who employ your leisure ill, good-bye.

February 22, 2006

Share and share alike   {Comments: 2}

This also seems like a good time to mention that I'm conveying all of the material here at locussolus under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 license. I don't know why I've never formalized this licensing in the past, given my interest in the subject and strong feelings about content sharing (maybe any license at all seemed to restrictive?), but this seems like a good idea in light of my sister's problems last week.

MORE: One question: does anybody know if comments here are protected under Creative Commons? Who owns that content?

Sleight of hand   {Comments: 0}

Comments are back, and thanks to Barrett over at TMC for the suggestion that should make things more workable for the forseeable future. There may still be some minor problems with the comments template; if you notice any problems please let me know and I'll try to get to it. I've also updated my two informational posts (about me and about this blog).

I was hoping to post tonight about a couple of things, but that can wait until tomorrow!

February 20, 2006

Double knotted   {Comments: 3}

February 18, 2006

Life is elsewhere   {Comments: 0}

1) One of my photos of the Rockwell Gardens housing project demolition made the Rearview photolog at Gapers Block. It should be up for the rest of the weekend.

2) And I have a recipe for Rice with Achiote up over at Too Many Chefs. I hope to be posting there from time to time (again!), so check it out.

February 17, 2006

Something's happening here   {Comments: 0}

I meant to blog about this before: it turns out classical music downloads represent a much higher percentage of iTunes sales* than internet downloads generally or record sales. This should be fantastic news for classical music enthusiasts, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Tyler Cowen is right that "many people don't want classical music to succeed on the Internet." There is, after all, this weird elitist bunker mentality, this feeling of impending gloom that has professionals self-consciously parodying themselves and their audiences.

A friend once told me that music always lags behind the other arts. She was referring to the careers of various modern and postmodern -isms, but with any luck it will apply to the ability to adapt to new technological contexts as well. Fixating on one's musical place seems a bit silly when society's whole media orientation and structure is transforming around us.

*I can think of two likely confounding effects here. The first is that it's much harder to find a selection of classical music (as opposed to any popular music) in the world of illegal downloads. Trust me, it is. The second is that classical music listeners may be disproportionately iPod/iTunes/Macintosh users. My guess is that neither of these effects would change the numbers that much, but who knows? Of course, it's a good thing if classical listeners are more honest, if only because it makes them easier to track (and respond to).

How things used to work   {Comments: 0}

Jay Rosen has a provocative read of the whole Cheney-on-the-grassy-knoll phenomenon, culminating with his larger thesis about the changing role of the media vis-a-vis government.

I think the Bush years have been a disaster for the Washington press. In my view, the White House withdrew from a consensus understanding of how the executive branch had to deal with journalists. It correctly guessed that if it changed the game on you, you wouldn't develop a new game of your own, or be able to react. I believe this strategy is still working, too.
And I agree that the Bush folks have played the press well generally -- in my post below, I was quite serious when I said that the administration (or Cheney, if there's really a dissonance there) didn't mishandle the press in this case, and furthermore I think it's insane ever to assume that there isn't a good reason for the way these folks handle their business. They're too smart for that. Whether it's part of a visionary reading of the press's role and how the executive can shape it, I don't know, but they sure do work those levers of power.
February 16, 2006

Change vs more of the same   {Comments: 0}

1) Chicago tells the GOP to fuck off, expands Blue Line service.

2) And Mike Davis announces he will end his tenure as head coach of IU basketball: "This is a great day for Indiana basketball. Trust me, it is."

February 15, 2006

Thieves in the temple   {Comments: 0}

This is totally bizarre. I've heard of sites that mirror your content so that it can be viewed anonymously (although I'm a little hazy on the details of how even that works), but this altered mirror of my sister's travel magazine The Long Trip Home looks like out-and-out content theft. The domain registration information is available from WHOIS, so I've suggested to Jackie that she contact the registrant and raise hell. But does anybody else have a thought on 1) what the aim of stealing this content might have been or 2) how to deal with it? If so, please email me.

MORE: From Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today:

I'm not sure what this person hopes to gain from this particular infringement. While there are some advertisements to be found, including the dollar search box at the foot of the home page, I don't think that's enough to recoup costs. I could be wrong, but I think that it's possible this is a site in evolution, starting out with a completely ripped off version of your sister's page and morphing it over time with more adds, hopefully, new content. However, that doesn't seem likely as the domain was registered almost a year ago, plenty of time to have moved on.

Instead, I have a feeling this has to do with search engine warfare. He's using your sister's layout and conent, probably because she was ranked high for some good terms, to generate search results and "respect" for this site. As this site moves up in the search engine standings, he'll probably link to another site of his, one loaded with either ads or some kind of sales pitch in hopes of raising that in the rankings as well. It's a sneaky game where you steal content to get Google's attention, but it does work. Do a search for the term "splogging" and you'll see what I mean.

Exoticization of the Other   {Comments: 0}

Benjamin Zimmer has an informative post up about why the NBC folks are calling it Torino rather than Turin, given that the latter is an accepted English form and is even somewhat famous among English speakers because of the Shroud of Turin.

The interesting historical claim at the end of Zimmer's post aside, it's always seemed strange to me that we have alternate spellings for places that use the same alphabet -- or rather, it's always seemed strange that such alternate spellings are considered standard. The business about exoticization of the Other and fetishization of authenticity rings true, but it also seems likely that there are similar reasons the names are different to begin with. Or is this just an example of diachronic language change?

February 14, 2006

Dick is a killer...   {Comments: 0}

Unlike Ari Fleischer, I don't think the administration has mishandled the press on this issue. Rather, I think they've done the only thing they could do: Given the choice between a murderous drunk of a vice president and an intractable sneak of a vice president, I'd choose the latter seven days a week and twice on Sundays. Is there any other explanation? Why else would they have avoided alerting the public for 18 hours? or "arranged" to have local law enforcement interview Cheney the next day rather than immediately?

Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said that about an hour after Cheney shot Whittington, the head of the Secret Service's local office called the Kenedy County sheriff to report the accident. "They made arrangements at the sheriff's request to have deputies come out and interview the vice president the following morning at 8 a.m. and that indeed did happen," Zahren said.

At least one deputy showed up at the ranch's front gate Saturday evening and asked to speak to Cheney but was turned away by the Secret Service, Zahren said. There was some miscommunication that arrangements already had been made to interview Cheney the next morning, he said.

Frankly, I'd rather see the press investigating the Katrina mismanagement or the illegal wiretaps with this kind of ferocity, but I'll take what I can get. Was he or was he not drunk off his ass when he shot this dude in the face at 30 paces?

MORE: A friend suggests:

I believe that in Texas being too drunk to aim your shotgun IS simply classified as a "hunting accident." I should check with my wife, who is studying for next week's Texas bar.
In their yellow bus   {Comments: 0}

February 13, 2006

A cosmic ideological void   {Comments: 0}

1. This is old, but it's not going anywhere.

2. Abbas Raza on the cartoon madness and understanding. Also, metamadness.

3. And: sometimes even egomaniacs speak the truth. (This is as close as I've come to required reading.)

February 12, 2006

1930's   {Comments: 0}

The vaporish closeness of this two-month fog;
forty summers back, my brightest summer:
the rounds of Dealer's Choice, the housebound girls,
fog, the nightlife. Then, as now, the late curfew
boom of an unknown nightbird, local hemlock
gone black as Roman cypress, the barn-garage
below the tilted Dipper lighthouse-white,
a single misanthropic frog complaining
from the water hazard on the shorest hole;
till morning! Long dreams, short nights; their faces flash
like burning shavings, scattered bait and ptomaine
caught by the gulls with groans like straining rope;
windjammer pilgrims cowled in yellow hoods,
gone like the summer in their yellow bus.

--Robert Lowell, 1973

February 10, 2006

Cold partisan mudslingers   {Comments: 0}

1. Venkat is here wondering (as we all should be) why the "inherent authority" the president is claiming trumps FISA legislation was so limp after Katrina hit the gulf coast.

2. stAllio! investigates the slimy (and highly redacted) nature of Josh Claybourn, something I have a little experience with. The story's also kind of a notable case if you're interested in how blogs concentrate media influence, and what the ill effects of that influence can be, in the hands of the unedited and the unscrupulous.

3. And as promised I've added a few more photos of the demolition of Rockwell Gardens at flickr.

February 9, 2006

Institutional quality is endogenously determined   {Comments: 0}

Maybe relatedly, my friend the economist Andrei Levchenko just got his working website up and running, and I was thinking about how impressed I am with economists and their use of the internet as a means of professional communication. If you look around for what's current in economics, you're bound to stumble across very transparent and informative websites, working papers, conversations in progress.

This doesn't seem to be true for instance in literature, where ideas are jealously guarded and the internet doesn't really exist as a scholarly medium. I remember a friend of mine (who's a lit prof) telling me a year or so ago that no self respecting academic would publish on the internet. She was clearly wrong about this, if you consider economists or political scientists or legal scholars to be academics, but I don't doubt that in literature her attitude toward the internet's popular communication is widespread. My inclination is to blame this on the literary academy's elitism and insecurity, but it probably also has a lot to do with literature's intimate relationship with the text, and the frightening lack of control (or even information) the internet embodies. It's a context where priestly elites, whether religious or academic, don't hold much sway.

Vetted by an authority (or not)   {Comments: 0}

Mel over at In Favor of Thinking (kind of a hard name to argue with) suggests what only seems natural to a former lit student: that the Oprah-Frey fiasco can be so instructive on "the basic questions of our discipline."

My thought is that it seems likely a student entering "our discipline" today is much much better equipped to deal with these kinds of quetsions, thanks not so much to high-profile pretenders like Frey, but rather to the internet, which demands a more critical stance on fact, fiction, narrator, author. The stakes today are so much higher, because the reader is so much more responsible for editing, filtering, deciding whether or not to believe. This should make us all better readers, but especially the young. I wonder if teachers are seeing this.

In the above context it seems telling that we've had such talked about cases of literary or journalistic deception in recent years. It's almost as though a cult of the factual has arisen to defend what little surety there is left in what we read. If you'd asked me ten years ago I would have envisioned instead a kind of knowing cult of the text. But I suppose those were different times.

February 8, 2006

Anniversarial   {Comments: 0}

Also, before I forget, the other day was the 3rd anniversary of my first entry. It doesn't feel particularly monumental given the pace of things around here lately, but milestones like these should at least be noted, no?

Secretarial   {Comments: 0}

By the way, I am still working on figuring out the comments; probably it's just a question of sitting down for an hour and a half to integrate TypeKey with my templates, but I'm not super motivated to work on the blog at the moment. Instead I've been spending all my time at Flickr.

Standard stoppages   {Comments: 0}

1. I doubt I'll actually read this book, but apparently it exposes even more of Knight's shenanigans, including an episode involving a shotgun at practice. Somehow despite all this I'm still nostalgic about his IU days (and I still cheer for his team).

2. Here's a nicely done blog about scrap metal.

3. Baude links to this excellent post by Jim Leitzel explaining some of the reasons drugs are still illegal. If I ever get back to writingv regularly here this is the stuff I'll be writing about.

4. Here, via I can't remember where, are some absolutely mesmerizing aerial photos of urban sprawl in Mexico City.