Globalization Primer

I was going to put something fun and happy here. This isn't it. This is a concise tour of why the world is in such bad shape right now, and getting worse. This is the evil empire at work. It's not a pack of snarling wolves, just a cabal of fat cats getting fatter riding on the backs of the other 6 billion of us.

Greg Palast On Globalization - via Robot Wisdom



Slowpoke Comics

It's [not] funny, 'cause it's true!


Gaudí in New York

Architect, visionary, and alien abductee Paul Laffoley is campaigning to build a design by the Catalan master Antoni Gaudí on the former site of the World Trade Center. (BBC Story)

Meanwhile, Christo and his wife have gotten permission to erect their "The Gates: Central Park" project, first proposed in the late 70's.


Revenge of the Irony

Olivier de Kersauson was skippering his yacht, the Geronimo, in the 'round the world "Jules Verne Cup" competition when his hull was captured by a Giant Squid.

(Cape Times (NZ) article)

- via Flutterby
Paranoiac Logic

Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense for these United States, gave us the following sterling example of newspeak in a press conference last Wednesday:

"The fact that the inspectors have not yet come up with new evidence of Iraq's WMD program could be evidence, in and of itself, of Iraq's noncooperation." (cnn story)

Speaking of noncooperation... Who's going to toast our asses for ignoring World Court rulings and encouraging our allies not to comply with Security Council and General Assembly resolutions? Is making Saddam dance for us more critical than, say, preserving the global environment?

- via Flutterby


Mrs. Orchid Thief

John LaRoche's fiance is posting to this Message Board about "Adaptation", the movie about the writer who is struggling to adapt a book by a writer who struggled while writing a book about him.

Word is that Mr. LaRoche was never a porn king, but did put together a porn site for another company in Florida once. No one has volunteered the link, but word is that no photos of Meryl Streep or Susan Orlean can be found there anyway.


Online Iconographical Reference

Saints in Art by Clara Irskine Clement is now available free to the public.


Step Right Up and Get Your Free Money!

Capital, EMI, Virgin, Priority, Time Warner, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic, Warner, Warner Bros, Atlantic, Elektra, Rhino, Universal, UMG, Bertelsmann, BMG, Sony, MTS, Tower, Musicland and Trans World settled a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of all those who bought prerecorded music products between 1995 and 2000 and were thereby victims of illegal conspiracy to fix prices.

This means you.

To claim your share of the $6,375,000 settlement, fill out a form at the official
site and wait. Depending on how many people file claims, the individual award will be either nothing, or a check for between $5 and $20. (The "nothing" comes into play if too many people file claims to justify the expense of mailing out checks, in which case the award will go to charities.)


Opt Out!

The Central Opt-Out Database provides bulk mailers with a list of encrypted addresses which will allow them to remove your email from their mailing lists. Currently this is voluntary and unlikely to have much effect, but the tide is going to turn against the spammers, and databases like this one may someday be the enforcement tool (either from ISP's or the Gov't.)

At least your participation counts as a vote for opting out of unsolicited mail.


Free Maria Callas!

World renowned operatic soprano Maria Callas, under contract to EMI Records since 1952, is now beginning to shed her cash-cow straitjacket and enter the public domain --- our domain. Yesterday her first EMI recording - a test of "Non mi dir" from "Don Giovanni" - became the shared property of the citizens of the European Union. It's still the property of EMI in the United States, though. (See the New York Times Story on Yahoo). Callas, who cashed her last royalty check before she died in 1977, has since become the property through which EMI takes in as much as five percent of its annual corporate earnings. (I use the word "earnings" in the loose commercial sense).

At this point, it seems silly to argue that extended copyright protection for her recordings is fulfilling the original intent of copyright law, which is to encourage the distribution of creative works. It appears to me quite the opposite - EMI uses its ownership of Callas' rights to stifle any distribution that does not enhance their corporate profits and steers its resources into protecting and enhancing the marketability of fifty year old creations at the expense of fostering new creative work. Copyright, intended to protect the artist's ability to reap the rewards of appreciation of her work, is siezed and harnessed to the service of capital investors, the least creative group you could imagine.

It is those investors, through their good friends and golfing buddies in congress, that have succeeded in extending copyright protection for creative works from the original seventeen years to as much as one hundred years after the death of the artist. These rights can be bought and sold on the market and benefit only publishers and heirs. They provide no benefit to the public and should never have been enacted by a body sworn to serve the public.

As it now stands, European artists and publishers will be free to re-release, re-interpret, revise, alter, incorporate, enhance and distribute any recording more than fifty years old. Anyone who attempts to share any of that creative effort and public property with the citizens of the free United States will be subject to felony prosecution. How different this is than the rhapsodizing of Thomas Jefferson on the free nature of human creative output:

"That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation keeps this Copywrite FAQ archived for your reference. The Jefferson quote is from an inspiring essay by EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow