05 April 2010

Bleary-Eyed Monday Morning

It's definitely Monday.

  • A study at the Center for Social Media concludes that copyright ignorance is harming scholarship in communications studies. This is not overly surprising. I've not read the whole report yet — just the executive summary on the webpage — but there appears to be one egregious omission from the potential copyright barriers to scholarship discussed in the report. That omission is best symbolized with one name: Stephen Joyce. The study appears to focus on "ignorance of the scope of fair use" without looking at the flip side: Active misuse of control not to protect income streams, or to protect the artistic integrity of works, but to squelch potential criticism of the source person or entity (not the source material). This is a fairly serious omission and, if reflected in the underlying study, undermines the validity of its data and conclusions. If it's there, though, one wonders why no mention of it appears in the executive summary.
  • Today's math column is both important enough and simple enough for even a politician to understand: the concept of a "limit" as an actual definition. Financial-industry regulations, in particular, would benefit from this sort of thing — and I don't mean imposed by economists, who usually know quite a bit about mathematical tools and less about which tool fits which task.
  • Here's how the Trib describes the Hair v. Hair confrontation:

    Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was ejected from NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice" on Sunday, after yet another display of cluelessness, evasion and arrogance.

    Leaving aside for the moment that this equally well describes Trump, should anyone be surprised that a politician (let alone one impeached and removed from office for corruption in Illinois) is clueless, evasive, and arrogant? The real problem is that the Trib is unwilling to go back in time and examine whether the candidates that it supported for governor are any better (hint: they're not); instead, the wingnuts on the editorial board there are satisfied to imply that they were wiser, when instead their ideological predilictions enabled them to avoid public exposure this time only because their candidate lost (and, therefore, didn't get the same later examination).

  • The real problem with criticism on the net — and particularly film criticism — is the continued failure of the critics to get their thumbs out. At least Roger Ebert seldom has that problem, because — unlike, say, the NYT's own critics — he's perfectly willing to say that Your Movie Sucks (not often enough, but still...). Too often, film reviews are a balance among finding something to praise, finding something to criticize, and finding something to demonstrate how much better a filmmaker the critic would be (if Hollywood would just give him the chance) or how much better a conversationalist the critic would be (if anyone really noticed her at release parties). (And yes, those gender-selective pronouns were chosen with malice aforethought.)
  • Last, and probably least, a short editorial on the NCAA hoops tonight. On the one hand, it would be interesting to have the team that provided the gym for Hoosiers win the title, beating the "big" traditional power. On the other hand, Duke is at least a moderately accomplished university with above-average academic standards (even if examination of the athletes' performance appears somewhat different, or at least did five years ago); Butler... is not (despite the similar 2009 graduation rates). Of course, the sample size for these statistics is somewhat questionable for basketball, and perhaps one can question the entire methodology... because, after all, "student-athletes" are actually near-full-time employees who also attend class, at least in the revenue sports...

    I'm probably going to get pilloried, if anyone actually notices this comment, for being an elitist. So be it: I'm pro-education, and however much I enjoy watching (and enjoyed participating in) college sports, it's wrong to let that tail wag the damned dog. Further, colleges are not created equal; undergraduate programs within colleges are not created equal (e.g., the sociology program at Duke that attracts so many of its scholarship athletes); and although measuring "worth" of an individual on this basis would be foolish, one can at least make some inferences about what the various programs are encouraging in the aggregate.

    And I'm not impressed; then, I'm a Div III guy myself.