23 July 2010

Daily Digest, 2010.07.22

Thursday (100th Post!): more heat (and little light) on tenure; RIAA files appeal over Tenenbaum award; blurring the concepts of counterfeiting and copyright infringement; the earliest dog jawbone?; tenor Anthony Rolfe Johnson has died; Timothy Andres reimagines K. 537; Leopold Museum pays $19 million to settle "Wally" case.

A relatively thin day (somewhat of a relief for me, given the bounty so far this week). And I'm hoping for time to write a reflection on the blog so far, in honor of my 100th post (this one).


More reactions to the CHE piece, "Tenure, RIP: What the Vanishing Status Means for the Future of Education," and the five contributions at the NYT Room for Debate blog, "What if College Tenure Dies?," which I've previously discussed here and here:

Kerim at Savage Minds, "On Beyond Tenure," which links to

Amardeep Singh at The Valve, "Debating Tenure, Again,"

and some others.  Mostly heat, rather than light, it seems to me, and no one is addressing the issues that seem most salient to me (who was ejected based partly on the basis of anonymous denunciation from a tenure-track job, and has been paid $1500 to teach semester-long graduate level courses based on my original research).

Kerim's post did bring to my attention Marc Bousquet's site How the University Works, which bears further investigation (I've subscribed); I'm also going to look for his book, How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation (not, alas, in the Minuteman system).

Copyright &c.

Recording Industry vs. The People reports that the RIAA has filed its appeal of the recent judgment reducing the award to a "mere" $67,500 in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v Tenenbaum. (RIvTP has a link to the RIAA's notice of appeal.)  See also my Digest for 9 July.

Mike Masnick at Techdirt deconstructs the House testimony of John Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security's Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) division, pointing out in detail how Morton is (apparently intentionally) erasing the distinction between counterfeiting and copyright infringement.  The "framing" here is an attempt to erase the (conceptually and legally very clear) distinction between counterfeiting (an issue in which the ICE has a legitimate interest) and copyright infringement (where it doesn't). 

Ask yourself: does it make sense for Immigration & Customs Enforcement to be involved in policing copyright infringement?

But this, writ large, is the direction in which ACTA (which was, after all, supposed to be an international agreement on counterfeiting, not copyright infringement) is going. So the conceptual blurring and doublespeak is part of a wider push by government agencies and their industry handlers to use the state apparatus to police the financial interests of corporations.


There is a new (and on the face of it not very persuasive) claimant for the title of "earliest known dog fossil":  a long neglected (it was discovered in 1873) partial jawbone from Kesslerloch Cave in Switzerland.  Bruce Bower has an excellent and contextualized report at ScienceNews.

The article reporting the "discovery" is:
Hannes Napierala and Hans-Peter Uerpmann, "A 'new' paleolithic dog from central Europe," International Journal of Osteoarchaeology (Early View). The article is behind a paywall at Wiley InterScience, and costs $29.95.
(For those of you who are asking yourselves: "Why the interest in dog articles?"  In 2008-9, I took Bruce Blumberg's Harvard Extension course "The Cognitive Dog," for which I read basically the entire literature on dog cognition and evolution.  The dog is one of the earliest if not the earliest of all domesticated animals, and the co-evolution of dogs and humans (and human culture) is a fascinating topic with deep implications.)

This is a good example of the scientific version of a "new attribution" story.


English tenor Anthony Rolfe Johnson has died at the age of 69.  Obituaries at Gramophone, the Telegraph, and The Guardian.  I know his singing best, perhaps, from his Tito in John Eliot Gardiner's La clemenza di Tito, which is the recording that I used in teaching for many years.  Here's "Fuor del mar":

Alex Ross at The Rest is Noise writes on a performance on 20 May at the Angel Orensanz Center by Timothy Andres and the Metropolitan Ensemble of Mozart's "Coronation" Concerto, K. 537, the solo part of which in Mozart's autograph is notoriously missing most of the left hand part.  Ross writes.
Andres, in a fine display of creative bravado, decided to fill in the gaps in his own early twentieth-first-century style. I attended the concert, and, to be honest, I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing at first. All manner of odd things have been done in the cadenzas of classical concertos over the years — Schnittke's polystylistic fantasias, Gilles Apap's Gyspy-bluegrass improvisations — but it is much rarer to hear a performer tampering with the main body of a score. A lot of people will cry sacrilege when they hear this. After recovering from the initial shock, I found Andres's approach mesmerizing, if not always entirely convincing.
The audio of this entire performance is now available on line, and I've listened to all of it as I write this post.  I love it.  Very refreshing in an age of doctrinaire Mozart reconstructionism, and so much less egotistical and more respectful to the spirit of the music than most of what purports to be more deferential and reverent.

Great playing, wonderfully imaginative and inspiring, and only a tiny bit depressing that Andres was born in 1985.  Listen to it.


Bloomberg reports that the Leopold Museum in Vienna (whose website seems to be constructed almost entirely of Flash objects) has paid $19 million to the heirs of Jewish art dealer Lea Bondi Jaray in settlement of a very long legal dispute over Egon Schiele's "Portrait of Wally":
Austria’s Leopold Museum paid $19 million to the heirs of the Jewish art dealer Lea Bondi Jaray to settle a decades-long dispute over Egon Schiele's portrait of his lover Wally, stolen by the Nazis in the 1930s.
A U.S. district attorney seized “Wally” in 1998 on suspicion that it was stolen after the painting had been on exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. For the past 12 years, the dispute has been enmeshed in the U.S. court system and was about to go to trial in Manhattan on July 26.
Schiele painted the portrait in 1912, a year after he met the 17-year-old Wally Neuzil, who became his muse, model and lover. He painted his “Self-Portrait With Chinese Lantern Plant,” which hangs in the Leopold Museum, at the same time. The museum hung the two portraits alongside each other until “Wally” was seized.

Under the terms of the agreement reached late yesterday, the U.S. government dismisses its action against the Leopold Museum, the heirs drop their claim to the painting, and the portrait will be displayed in the museum with a sign detailing its full provenance, including Bondi’s former ownership, the statement said. Before “Wally” returns to Vienna, it will be exhibited at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, according to the heirs’ lawyers.

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