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     Creative Commons Supports the Troops  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Tue Sep 12, 2006 at 05:02 PM
     Viewed:  4,444 times   

    I'm on the mailing list of the Union for the Public Domain. I got the following forwarded email, sent originally to Cory Doctorow himself, regarding his books, which are distributed under a free Creative-Commons license. Just to let everyone know that we open-content hippies are doing our part for the men and women overseas.

    Just like to thank you, from some undisclosed (for operational security reasons, doncha know) location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, for keeping my sanity. I'm in the US Navy, and my ship got surge-deployed without warning a couple weeks ago to "help" with the situation in Lebanon. On a ship underway, there's no room to keep books -- unless they're the ancient, creaking John Grisham paperbacks in the ship's library - and no time to get some anyway if you're scrambling around for the couple days of warning you have trying to get your bills set up to pay themselves and telling your landlord you're vanishing for an "open-ended" period of time. So, the ability to download your stuff from craphound has permitted me to feed my addiction to the printed word without having to have someplace to store the physical artifact of the books. Of course, I actually printed out Someone Comes and Down and Out, the two I don't own dead-tree copies of yet, and stuck 'em in a binder, where they've been passed from person to person in my department, helping keep the other sci-fi junkies similarly sane.

    [three days later]

    Thought you might like to know that what started as "Jamie feeds his print addiction" has turned into something else entirely. The sci-fi addicts rapidly finished off the two novels I'd printed out and bindered, and I had the binder with me in the engine room, reading to pass the time, when one of the other guys asked what I was reading.

    A couple hours later, the only noise in the place was when one of the half-dozen guys sitting around would look up and ask, "Hey, who's got page 41 of Down and Out?" It was... well, I'm not sure I can express how weird it was. These are men who aren't normally readers, much less consumers of slightly wacky science fiction, and they're now getting impatient with each other to finish chapters so they can find out what happens next.

    It's starting to change the very *tone* of where I work on the ship, six hours on and six hours off: instead of the ever-present three B's of talk to pass in the time in the plant -- beer, babes, and bodily functions -- it's discussions of which novel (or short, since we've now got printouts of every piece of fiction on craphound.com stuffed into a file cabinet) we liked best, and why, and what makes this stuff cool, and where can we get more like it, and even starting to talk about the copyfight, and why that's important.

    I spent about two hours last night as I was reading glancing up every so often, and grinning like an idiot every time 'cause there were five guys whose talk usually revolves around how drunk they were this one time head-down in some pretty intense reading.

    Thank you. This is really something else.

     The Best Books?  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Tue May 23, 2006 at 11:36 AM
     Viewed:  9,288 times   

    Interesting article from Salon about the recent New York Times list of the "greatest" novels from the past 25 years. The article strikes against the list mania that so many publications and organizations indulge in--if it were such an innocent "parlor game," why would everyone take it so seriously?

    That said, I actually haven't read very many of the books, so the list is useful to me, since my time is as limited as the people the Salon article refers to--I need to know which novels are worth it. It's a lot easier with non-fiction where you can find a subject that interests you and just sort of hope the author doesn't get in the way too much. With fiction, you really need to know beforehand if you can devote yourself to getting through thing.

    By the way, I have read Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, which is excellent. The rest of the books on the list are below (saved here for posterity once the Times article falls off into their archives.)

     Stanley Kunitz Has Died  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Tue May 16, 2006 at 04:02 PM
     Viewed:  977 times   

    Stanley Kunitz, 100, was the teacher of one of my teachers, Greg Orr, and so many other people. "The Portrait" is one my favorite poems of his or any other poet.

    Most Recent Post: 05/17/06 09:53AM by Mike

     Wikipedia More Accurate Than Britannica  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 11:46 AM
     Viewed:  1,613 times   

    Interestingly, although a recent survey found that Wikipedia articles had, on average, four errors to Britannica's three (which itself is a surprising small difference), the articles in question were longer in Wikipedia, making the error rate in Wikipedia lower than the old standby.

    What drives me bug-shit crazy is when people criticize (usually without citing examples) the accuracy of Wikipedia and then don't do anything to fix it!! If you spot an error, what's the best thing to do? Light a candle or curse the darkness? Fortunately, the editors of Nature have encouraged their scientist readership to do the former.

    What can the rest of us do? Go to a random page (that's the actual random page link--your destinations may vary.) See anything there that doesn't parse, is poorly worded, badly formatted or just flat-out wrong? Fix it. Do this once a day or once a week. Get your friends to do it. The results over time will surprise us all.

     Wimps and Barbarians  View Printable Version  
     Author:  will
     Dated:  Tue Mar 2, 2004 at 12:21 PM
     Viewed:  1,241 times   
    LiteratureThis is a funny article printed by a conservative "review of books" critiquing the decadence of today's youth. The thought problem that sets the piece off is "what would Murphy Brown's child, if he were still alive, look like today? The answer is a thinly veiled attack on "liberal" values. The worth of the piece is in its unintended illustration of George Lakoff's theories on moral politics. Those of you who have read that book will get a kick out of this essay.

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     Said Dies Of Leukemia At Age 67  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Fri Sep 26, 2003 at 10:44 AM
     Viewed:  5,552 times   
    LiteratureEdward Said died yesterday here in New York. As many of you know, he was a professor of literature and a long-time advocate of the Palestinian people (as well as a staunch critic of terrorism and Arafat). His most important work, Orientalism, was a revolutionary book, signaling a sea change in post-colonial studies. He will be deeply missed.

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    Most Recent Post: 09/26/03 04:59PM by Mike

     The End and the Beginning  View Printable Version  
     Author:  Mike
     Dated:  Tue May 27, 2003 at 12:07 PM
     Viewed:  4,692 times   
    LiteratureI have been meaning to start putting contributions into the unfilled "Literature" topic for a while now, but my head has been too full of noise about the war and its sponsors to get around to it. Luckily, this week's Poets Choice column in The Washington Post has a poem from one of my favorite poets, Wislawa Szymborska, that deals with war and its aftermath. I have included it below (probably illegally), just in case the link to the column goes bad. It is from a poetry collection of hers I own that I highly recommend.

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