Dried Roses

Sunday cat pix



LinkNovember 7, 2005 in Cats

Open Access: Penn Libraries

Winning Independence” at the Library of the University of Pennsylvania begins with a succinct summary of the situation now in scholarly publishing. A great deal of consolidation has taken place in the last twenty years. In mathematics, Springer has absorbed Birkhäuser and several other presses that were part of the Kluwer group; other presses, like North Holland, which published many works in logic, have likewise been absorbed (in this case by Elsevier); Cambridge and Oxford are almost the sole venues in Great Britain; and in the US the American Mathematical Society accounts for much of what is published in advanced mathematics. (See Rob Kirby’s home page for more, including a price comparison between journals published by scholarly societies and journals published by commercial publishers.)
One result is that the prices of journals, especially in the sciences, have increased enormously, to the point that academic libraries devote the bulk of their budgets to science journals. This is at the expense not only of the humanities, but of monograph purchases in all disciplines. (At Penn, 70% of the acquisitions budget goes to journals.)
“Winning Independence” includes pages on authors’ rights and copyright policy at Penn (every university should have such a page); a bibliography on the Open Access Movement; and charts and graphs of journals classified by discipline.
See also the SPARC Open Access Newsletter and some of my Livejournal entries:
  • “Open access” (on the Public Knowledge Project), 26 Apr 2005
  • “Images at the NYPL” (on rights to images and the difficulties now faced by documentary film-makers), 24 Apr 2005
  • “IP Gone Wild” (who owns the Bible?), 3 Mar 2005
  • “Not better, just bigger” (on the consolidation of the publishing industry in France), 27 Dec 2004
See “C’est pas donné!” at Biblioacid lnglabfr.png for more. A survey by Allen Press indicates that the U.S. prices of philosophy journals have increased 66% since 1997 (Gene Kean, “18th Annual Study of Journal Prices”, JP 2005, no. 3).

LinkNovember 12, 2005 in Academic Affairs · Society

Sunday cat pix



LinkNovember 13, 2005 in Cats

Darwin complete

London Sketch Book
(Figaro), 1874
An antidote to the claptrap* emanating from one of our neighboring† states: the complete works of Darwin online at (where else?) darwin-online.org. At the moment the site includes only a description of the project. But the published works of Darwin can be found at another site also edited by John van Wyhe, and some letters from 1858 and 1859 have been published online by the Darwin Correspondence Project.
*See The Panda’s Thumb for details on the decision by the Kansas Board of Education. Pat Robertson has told the good citizens of Dover not to bother praying if a disaster comes. I’m glad somebody knows what God’s up to. His ways, of late, have been yet more mysterious than usual.
†Missouri, by the way, has eight neighbors. Only one other state has as many.

LinkNovember 13, 2005 in Current Affairs · History of Science · Science

Virus installed by music CD

Still think government should be run like a business?
This is a book. It will not infect your operating system. It will not communicate surreptitiously with its publisher. No one will know if you’re reading it unless you tell them. The FBI can’t use it to track you. You don’t need a machine to decipher it…
Deeplinks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation has several posts on the “cloaked” antipiracy software that some Sony CDs install on Windows PCs (Macs are unaffected). As if it were not bad enough that potentially troublesome software is being buried inside system files, hackers have already learned to take advantage of the “back door” to the outside world that the software opens up (in order to communicate with Sony—unbeknownst to the user). The infected CDs include not only Celine Dion’s On ne change pas—as if that were not bad enough—but also several classic jazz albums.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been following the story:
As if that were not bad enough, Sony’s End-User License Agreement (EULA) requires you to delete all copies if you no longer possess the original CD, so that (as EFF notes) if the CD is stolen you must delete the music from your computer; it also requires you to delete the music if you leave the country in which you bought the CD; and finally, all your rights are revoked if you file for bankruptcy or have your wages garnished—and you’ll have to delete the music from your computer (Art. 9, nos. 2 & 3). Talk about Matthew Effects
Other links: Sysinternals Blog (technical info; search on ‘Sony’); xtracto at SlashDot; Molly Wood, “DRM this, Sony!”, C|NET, 3 Nov 2005; Tom Zeller Jr. “Sony BMG learns hard lesson in war against ‘casual piracy’ of CDs”, Internal Herald Tribune, 13 Nov 2005.
Sysinternals (Mark Russinovich) has the latest (“Victory!”, 16 Nov). Sony has finally agreed to release a stand-alone uninstaller in place of an uninstaller that created new problems even as it attempted to solve the problems created by the copy protection “rootkit” (which was functionally identical to a virus). They haven’t admitted any wrongdoing and probably never will. Moral clarity and all that. —See also “Sony recalls copy-protected CDs”, BBC News World Edition 16 Nov 2005, and Gregg Keizer, “Sony Sued For Rootkit Copy Protection”.
The Betrayer Betray’d—or something like that. It turns out that original rootkit software, written by a company called First4Internet to whom Sony outsourced their digital rights managment, may well itself infringe on GPL (or LGPL) licenses for software routines incorporated into the code. See “Muzzy's research about Sony's XCP DRM system”; Ed Felten, “Sony’s Web-Based Uninstaller Opens a Big Security Hole; Sony to Recall Discs”, Freedom to Tinker 15 Nov 2005; and “Is Sony in violation of the LGPL? - Part II”, Programming Stuff 16 Nov 2005 (go to the home page for yet more revelations).
Freedom to Tinker has a clear explanation of the violations in question: “Open source programs are distributed with license agreements. If you copy and redistribute such a program, you’re a copyright infringer, unless you’re complying with the terms of the program’s license. The licenses in question are the Free Software Foundation’s GPL for mpg123 and DRMS, and the LGPL for the other programs. The terms of the GPL would require the companies to distribute the source code of XCP, which they’re certainly not doing. The LGPL requires less, but it still requires the companies to distribute things such as the object code of the relevant module without the LGPL-protected code, which the companies are not doing. So if they’re shipping code from these libraries, they’re infringing copyrights” (Ed Felten, “Does Sony’s Copy Protection Infringe Copyrights?”, 21 Nov 2005).
The ph’los’ph’r says: Learn an instrument and make your own music. Stop being a parasite.

LinkNovember 13, 2005 in Current Affairs · Web/Tech

Sunday cat pix

The essential Josie.


LinkNovember 20, 2005 in Cats

Reality intrudes, a little

“You can’t spin this. You’ve got to have a real solution,” Murtha said Monday when asked about her remarks at a news conference in Pennsylvania. “This is not a war of words, this is a war”.
Congresswoman Jean Schmidt has, despite the headline, not apologized. She has, in the now traditional manner, lied about her intentions. The AP goes along with it, because ‘reporting’ now means ‘repeating what people say’. Otherwise you get bombed.
“While I strongly disagree with his policy, neither Representative Bubp nor I ever wished to attack Congressman Murtha,” she said in a statement. “I only take exception to his policy position.”
Bubp, also a Republican, has denied discussing Murtha with Schmidt.
“Our conversation was based strictly on the proposal to immediately withdraw our troops from Iraq and the consequences of such a proposal,” Bubp said in a statement.
Here’s what she said:
She told her new colleagues of a phone call she had just received from freshman Ohio state Rep. Danny R. Bubp of West Union, a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve.
“He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message—that cowards cut and run, Marines never do,” said Schmidt, of Miami Township. “Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body that we will see this through.”
Poor Jean Schmidt—the unfortunate victim of a failed talking point. She should learn from the pros. Better luck next time!
See also Murtha’s remarks on Meet the Press, 20 Nov 2005 (NBC at Huffington Post). For reminders of what people really said, see Iraq on the Record, a compilation “prepared at the direction of Rep. Henry A. Waxman” of remarks by administration officials. On Cheney’s remarks at the American Enterprise Institute, see Jim Lobe, “Cheney Tries to Raise the Stakes”, Inter Press Service 22 Nov 2005, and Dana Milbank, “Opening the Door to Debate, and Then Shutting It”, Washington Post 22 Nov 2005.
Meanwhile, at conference in Egypt, some Iraqi leaders call for “the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces … control the borders and the security situation”: Salah Nasrawi, “Iraqi Leaders call for Pullout Timetable”, AP 22 Nov 2005. They also agreed that Iraqis had a right to armed resistance against foreign occupation, but condemned the murder of civilian noncombatants. See Juan Cole’s remarks at Informed Comment 22 Nov 2005.
Added 24 Nov: It looks like Schmidt may be facing opposition from within her own party (not to mention the other party). See “Lying Jean blames media and spins vote”, People have the power 23 Nov 2005. Plus: a little background on Col. Bubp from Max Blumenthal (“Who is Mean Jean’s Marine?”, Huffington Post 21 Nov 2005).
On the New New Journalism of Bob Woodward, which strongly resembles the Old Old Journalism of eighteenth-century court gossip, see “Woodward's definition of ‘journalism’? Reporting Bush administration falsehoods as ‘their point of view’”, Media Matters 23 Nov 2005.

LinkNovember 23, 2005 in Current Affairs · Society | TrackBack (0)

Satirists face redundancy

Feds take over
Used to be we’d laugh at Soviet propaganda—rosy-cheeked peasants reaping bumper crops, burly Stakhanovs mining tons of coal with shovels, the May Day parade…
We weren’t fooled by those Commies! Our government would never engage in such obvious deceit!
Not so fast, Pilgrim.
11. Top FY05 DHS Accomplishments: FEMA
DHS Today will highlight FY05 Accomplishments in this column over the next several weeks. This week’s focus is on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The top FY05 FEMA accomplishments included:
Hurricane Katrina: The response to Hurricane Katrina was FEMA’s largest response in its history. The aid given within six weeks of landfall included almost $3.8 billion for more than 1.24 million households. More than half a million people visited 100 Disaster Recovery Centers that had been quickly created across the Gulf Coast. Working through the American Red Cross, FEMA supported the nation’s largest-ever sheltering operation, with more than 273,000 evacuees at the peak. In addition, again working with the Red Cross, FEMA paid to house more than 600,000 people in emergency hotel housing. Almost 70,000 temporary roofs had been put on damaged homes through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, more than 16,000 manufactured homes or travel trailers had been placed on site, and 20 million cubic yards of debris had been picked up.
For some reason they left out the unpaid migrant laborers working for subcontractors of the Halliburton subsidiary KBR.
They also left out the lucrative deal with Carnival Cruise Lines to supply temporary housing on cruise ships for refugees. Ships that are now half empty.
They also left out the protests resulting from a FEMA decision to stop paying for hotel rooms for refugees on 1 Dec. This decision left people with 15 days to find housing. That deadline has since been postponed till 7 January. See “FEMA extends Katrina housing deadline”, UPI via Science Daily 23 Nov 2005, and “Hotel stays at an end for Katrina victims”, 16 Nov 2005.
Not to mention the seven weeks’ salary paid to Michael “Heckuva Job” Brown after his resignation.

LinkNovember 23, 2005 in Current Affairs · Society

Thanksgiving cat pix

Ever since it stumbled out of the Forest Primeval of possible weblogs, Philosophical Fortnights has made it a tradition to give thanks for all we have by consuming as much of it as possible on this hallowed day.
In other news: wild turkeys reassert their native rights in Massachusetts.*


LinkNovember 24, 2005 in Cats

But don’t alienate the base

From around the world, I gather sure-fire tips on retaining power. Here are the latest finds. Free of charge as always, but you might want to consider a contribution to my favorite charity.
  • Appoint your own senators.
  • Claim that your astrologer won’t let you talk to the press.
  • Hire soothsayers!
See Zimbabwe Situation 26 Nov; Connie Levett, “Thai PM talks lunacy as political storms brew”, The Age (Australia) 21 Nov 2005; “Sindh CM hires soothsayers to perpetuate his ruleDaily Times (Pakistan) 26 Nov 2005.

LinkNovember 26, 2005 in Current Affairs