Monday, February 26, 2007

Alright, Scorcese! One word for the Academy: Finally.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Dream: Banner of Coexistence (Toledo, Spain)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

For this blog’s fourth birthday tomorrow, it might be fitting that sensationalist journalism from the New York Times deserves condemnation. (What else is new?) “In open defiance of the United Nations,” we read, “Iran is steadily expanding its efforts to enrich uranium, the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] reported…” Is this true?

The actual IAEA report, to which the Times provides a link, says something quite different. “The Agency has no information to report regarding the assembly of centrifuges…” The Times: “…the nuclear agency reported that Iran was now operating or about to switch on roughly a thousand centrifuges … at its nuclear facility at Natanz.” There is no mention of any new developments at Natanz; this appears to be complete fabrication.

IAEA: “As of 17 February 2007, no UF6 [uranium enrichment gas] had been fed into the process at FEP [Fuel Enrichment Plant].” Times: “If the country could operate 3,000 centrifuges continuously for a year, it could produce about one weapon’s worth of highly enriched uranium [HEU].” This gets buried several paragraphs later: “The report said that between Nov. 2 [2006] and Feb. 17, Iranian crews fed 145 pounds of uranium into the pilot plant for enrichment,” which “produced only about 15 pounds of low-enriched uranium — too little for anything but experimental analysis.”

The IAEA is more specific: “The environmental sample results thus far indicate a maximum enrichment of 4.2%…” (The threshold beyond which it becomes highly-enriched is 5%, according to the Depleted Uranium Management Information Network, a branch of the Argonne National Laboratory’s Environmental Science Division.) This is alarming; about that there’s no doubt. It seems, though, to be a far cry from catastrophe.

Some cause for concern, from the report: “Iran has not agreed to any of the required transparency measures, which are essential for the clarification of certain aspects of the scope and nature of its nuclear programme.” The Islamic Republic is being arrogant (no surprise), and we’re threatening war. The heart of the matter appears to be that “Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activites,” what the Times calls “open defiance” — omitting where the IAEA also says that “Iran has been providing the Agency with access to declared nuclear material and facilities…” Or it’s just playing cat-and-mouse about the stockpiles it’s keeping hidden, like Iraq did.

Maybe we all, the Times and its buddies in the White House included, should stop giving invaluable ammunition, and massive boosts of ego, to the madmen of this world — like Bush and Ahmadinejad — and their apocalyptic visions.

Monday, February 19, 2007

“… What a field day for the heat,
a thousand people in the street/
Singin’ songs and carryin’ signs/
Mostly say, ‘Hooray for our side’ …”

— Buffalo Springfield (1966)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

So it’s finally come to this: There’s no discernable way to tell whether it’s the Washington Post or the Onion that’s joking. Crazy times.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Winter Wonderlake (Chicago)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Okay, so this isn’t about YouTube. Enough’s been said about it, and the national obsession is starting to get embarrassing. But in a way, everything now seems to relate in some way; regardless, the issue is much larger and snags along a lot in its way. Lemme get right to it: we are living in a universe of media in which the traditional notions of copyright and even hallowed intellectual property are becoming irrelevant.

One could say that Old Copyright is in itself increasingly a form of theft in today’s environment. It might seem crazy to say that, but how do the provincial holdings of hard media not deny a freer, more open nebula of information that “new” media promise? There is a wholly novel understanding of media ownership that escapes the logic of a system struggling to keep up. Print journalism is already dead, for example. Not as in lifeless, but without currency.

Ideas that are the creation of an author still belong to him, of course. No one is taking away what rightfully belongs to anyone; there is no actual piracy when it comes to media/file sharing and associated trends because things like information, and even music, are more a part of the so-called public domain than the holding of barons who make intangible things like thoughts and notes their own. People should give credit where credit is due, and respect basic property rights, but there are natural limits and they have been crossed for too long. Yet, hopefully, things are starting to turn around.

FOOTNOTE: Earlier today, Apple chieftan Steve Jobs announced that the stranglehold of Digital Rights Management (DRM) should no longer be enforced. In “Thoughts on Music,” Jobs writes, “Convincing [the major record labels] to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace” that “Apple will embrace … wholeheartedly.” His message is directedly principally to “Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI,” which “control the distribution of over 70% of the world’s music.” It’s a start, so keep fighting.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Old insights as the jabber-jaws continue prattling about ’08:

“Is it a trifling mischief, that our population, divided into two almost equal numerical halves, should be every four years … precipitated against each other, with all the animosity, bitterness, revilings, and resentments which now mingle all their bad elements to swell that huge evil of Party Spirit, which all deplore, yet all share, and all contribute to stimulate? That so much time should be wasted, so much capital squandered, so much energy misapplied, so much bad feeling mutually excited, so much demoralization, public and private, engendered?”

— from “A Much-Needed Reform” (April 1865), in the United States Magazine, and Democratic Review