29 July 2010

Daily Digest, 2010.07.28

Wednesday: ASCAP boss refuses to debate Lessig—claims it is an attempt to "silence" him (???); British Library wonders if copyright is hindering research; music publishers, deeply fearing their own obsolescence, demand that musicians hand over even more rights; House hearing on public access to federally-funded research; Open Scholar; the NOAA's "State of the Climate 2009"; Condoleezza plays Mozart and Aretha sings Puccini (and, allegedly, Gluck); Piaf stretched, sliced, and diced in the score of Inception; Nimoy's first solo show; Justin E. H. Smith on "Eastern and postcolonial" philosophy; copy[-]editing; Chewbacca fights Nazis while riding giant mutant squirrel.



Copyright/Copywrong

Multiple items of interest from Mike Masnick at Techdirt:

—"ASCAP Boss [i.e. Paul Williams] Refuses to Debate Lessig; Claims That It's An Attempt to 'Silence" ASCAP."

Yes, that's right, Williams is refusing to debate because, he claims, the debate is an attempt to silence him.  Welcome to the wild and wacky world of Industry Newspeak.

—"British Library Worries That Copyright May Be Hindering Reseach"

Gosh, ya think?

Masnick links to a new report from the British Library (a brochure, really), Driving UK Research—Is copyright a help or a hindrance? (also available to read directly on the Techdirt site).

The subtitle is "A perspective from the research community."

Remarkably, there seems to be no mention in the report of the problem of Closed Access (I haven't read the entire report, but there's no hint of this in the Executive Summary).  I guess we wouldn't want to upset the Nature Publishing Group.

—"Music Publishers Demanding Musicians Hand Over More Rights." Masnick writes:
It would be amusing to watch the various parts of the legacy music business fight with each other over who can screw over artists faster if it weren't so sad. The latest, found on Hypebot, is that music publishers -- who used to be considered the part of the business whose interests were most "aligned" with songwriters -- are now demanding the equivalent of "360 deals" from artists. Basically, since their own business is struggling, they're trying to demand more rights from artists, who increasingly have other options and don't need to deal with such middlemen. What's amusing, of course, is that these publishers keep pretending they actually have the songwriters best interests at heart. Yeah, right.
—Masnick's post on the refusal of Paul Williams to debate Lessig links back to an important Masnick post from January, before I was following him: "The Future of Music Business Models (And Those Who Are Already There)."  I intend to write separately about this, but my readers who are especially involved with the question of how creative artists can make a living in the digital world should very definitely read it.  An absolute must read, in fact.



Access

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that there will be a hearing on Thursday (that is, the day I'm writing this) of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the topic "Public Access to Federally-Funded Research." There will be a live webcast of the hearing (which unfortunately I won't be able to watch).

The EFF post also points to the "excellent" Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA):
...a bill that would require a great deal of research funded by government agencies to be made publicly available through a digital database no later than six months after publication. The law is modeled after the National Institute of Health's Public Access policy, which on its own has granted millions of people access to critical, up-to-date medical research since it was implemented in 2008.
Public access policies essentially "close the loop" on tail end of the cycle of research funded by the government. Now, the public pays for scientific research through taxes, but in most cases, that same taxpayer-funded innovation and discovery gets locked up in journals, accessible only through expensive per-article fees or massively expensive institutional licenses. With the FRPAA, academic journals still get a critical window of time to be the first to publish important findings, but shortly thereafter, the public gets unprecedented access to the knowledge that they paid for.
Do everything you can to support the passage of this bill.



On the topic of access and self-archiving: on Wednesday, I ran across the website for the Harvard-based project OpenScholar, "an open source web site building and content management tool intended for academic scholars. It enables the creation and management of multiple web sites upon a single Drupal installation."

Drupal is one of those platforms I would be investigating and perhaps using if I were in a position of having to set up a moderately complex website (for an institution or an online journal, for example), and it's good to see the platform being extended to meet the particular needs of scholars and research groups. The project will be worth tracking.



Environment

80beats reports that The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just released its annual report on the "State of the Climate," verifying what we already could feel, that the 2000s were the hottest decade on record.  The NOAA's own press release is here.  The report itself, "State of the Climate in 2009," appearing in the June 2010 issue of The Bulletin of the American Meterological Society, is available here.



Music

Alex Ross at The Rest is Noise links to a review by Peter Dobrin at the Philadelphia Inquirer of a concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra this past Tuesday at the Mann Center featuring Condoleezza Rice playing the second movement of Mozart's Concerto in D minor, K. 466, and Aretha Franklin singing her big hits, plus "Nessun dorma" and (as Dobrin wryly puts it) "a piece that a Mann publicist confirmed as "Che faro senza Euridice" from Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice."

On Rice's performance, Dobrin writes: "On the whole it wasn't an artistic statement as much as an exercise in survival, and, heard from that point of view, she achieved what she set out to do."

Ross includes a link to a YouTube video of the performance (there is also a video with Dobrin's review), but I haven't quite been able to muster up the courage (or masochism?) to watch it.  So proceed at your own risk.



I have not yet seen the new science-fiction film Inception (where is Dr. Mike when I need him?), but Cory Doctorow calls it "one of the two best science fiction movies I've ever seen (along with Gilliam's Brazil) -- in fact, it's one of two sf movies that I'd rank with the very best sf novels." Which is very high praise indeed, considering the source.

Doctorow links to a video explaining an interesting procedure in the film's score: one prominent musical source in the film is a "grainy Victrola" of Edith Piaf singing "Je ne regrette rien." As camiam321, who posted the video at YouTube, recognized, another prominent musical "sting" in the film, a "threatening, bassy throb" (in Doctorow's description) is in fact just "Je ne regrette rien" slowed way down.



camiam321 has addded a link to his YouTube post to an piece by Todd Martens at the blog Hero Complex at The Los Angeles Times, "Hans Zimmer and Johnny Marr talk about the sad romance of 'Inception'." Martens explains: "Pieces of Piaf's interpretation of the song were stretched, manipulated and woven into Zimmer's score."

Additional quotes:
As the film unravels, and becomes an exploration of the unconscious, there are moments when Piaf's vocals are used amidst a rush of violins. 

"You realize that the elements that we’ve extracted from the Piaf song are the way you get from one dream level to the next."

[...]

"I was writing this tune, and I kept hearing this sound," Zimmer said. "It took me three of four days before I realized, ‘This is Johnny Marr. It’s singularly him.’ If it not’s him, it was not going to be in the movie.
"Instrumentalists aren’t interchangeable," Zimmer continued. "I’m thinking about Jacqueline du Pre playing Elgar Cello Concerto. There are many great performances, but her performance it that performance."



Arts

Charles McGrath reports at the NYT on "Secret Selves," Leonard Nimoy's first solo photography show, on now at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Mass.



Humanities?

Justin Erik Halldór Smith has an interesting essay, "What Are 'Eastern and Postcolonial Voices'?," a rumination on the title of a chapter ("Eastern and Postcolonial Voices") in an introductory philosophy textbook that had been sent to Smith unsolicited.

As he points out, Eastern and "postcolonial" voices in philosophy have very little in common, and many "Eastern" voices (he mentions Avicenna) are firmly in the discourse of "Western" philosophy.  Thus to lump the non-Western (in other words the non-European) together in a kind of ghetto (my analogy), separate from the "rest" of philosophy, is, in fact, a kind of racism.  Which is, of course, exactly the opposite of what the authors probably thought they were doing (being "inclusive").

I like the essay, but I wonder why Smith doesn't tell us the title of the book and the authors.  I understand that this "drawing a veil" is a kind of tradition.  But why not be candid about the things we write about? There's nothing to protect by our silence, and no reason to remain silent.



Copy[-]editing

Language Hat links (with commentary) to three recent articles on copy[-]editing:

—"Copy Editing at The New Yorker with Mary Norris," which I commented on this past weekend.

—Lori Fradkin at The Awl, "What It's Really Like To Be A Copy Editor," which some readers apparently find amusing...which I guess it is in that not-very-amusing, forcibly clever, me-centered way of so much current writing.  (Yes, I'm guilty too.)

It's clear from the first paragraph, though, that Fradkin is precisely the sort of dictionary-and-style-book-bound martinet who should never be a copy editor.

—R. L. G. at Johnson at The Economist responds: "What it's really like to be copy-edited"

And (at least for this former copy editor) it's amusing to note the varying approaches to spelling and usage of "copyedit" as a verb and noun.

The interview with Norris keeps the words separate (at least in the headline): "Copy Editing."

LanguageHat
has "copyediting," as does Fradkin (including the ungainly and slightly weird "When I left to take a non-copyediting position..."). 

R. L. G., in contrast, has "copy-edited" (the only form in which the compound appears, apart from "copy editor").

I note, too, that everyone studiously avoids any construction that would require a decision between "to copyedit" and "to edit copy."

And I ask myself:  if "copyediting," then why not "copyeditor" instead of "copy editor"?  In fact, the pronunciation follows the "first component accent" rule that R. L. G. mentions as indicating a compound that no longer requires a hyphen, as in "blackboard" or "yearbook."  And we in fact say copyeditor, not copy editor.  So....

I'm so glad I don't do this for a living anymore....



&c.

Chewbacca fights Nazis while riding giant mutant squirrel.  What more is there to say? (via BoingBoing; artwork created by gamefan84 at deviantART.)

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