30 June 2010

Link Sausages and Ponies

These link sausages are mostly of the "biter bit" variety... which has nothing whatsoever to do with long pig. I think.

  • This is obviously a culture-specific (and even subculture-specific) meme: using classical music to disperse teenage loiterers. Better yet: Elevator music, which won't actually appeal to any of them; I would have stayed around and "loitered" in front of that library (ok, I would have been inside the library, but still...) for Bach, or Vivaldi, or Mozart, or even bloody Puccini, but not for Mantovani. Or, of course, you could just fight the teenagers over piracy, but if you're going to do that being polite usually doesn't get results.
  • Hint to local morons who are leaving flyers at local residences, despite the large-print "no soliciting" notice: Before you start calling your Sunday-morning bus service to get the local young-uns to your racially segregated church the "Kid's Crusade," you just might want to know a little bit about the so-called "Children's Crusade"... especially in a college town. But then, that assumes that you can read in the first place, and that you will read in the second place (instead of getting your entire contact with the world via dittoheading), so maybe I'm expecting too much.
  • Mark Newton discusses the misbegotten "show don't tell " meme imposed on writers by other writers who haven't read enough... or read critically (such as the all-too-typical NYTBR reviewer). The problem is that "show, don't tell" is a lazy-ass condensation of an extremely complex set of musings on the very nature of fiction; one of the best (and earlier, at least in English) expositions of this — and pretty well-written itself, too, including following his own prescriptions — is Wayne Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction, which all novelists who actually want to get better at their craft should read. Booth's ultimate point is that "showing" and "telling" are complements, and an excess of either takes a work away from the central conceit of fiction. How much is an "excess," is, of course, the hard question... but if you're not asking it, you're almost certainly getting it wrong.
  • Professor Rebecca Tushnet points out that being able to state the legal rule doesn't mean you understand the legal rule, particularly regarding the parody/satire distinction. And canned unicorn meat. Besides, who says all unicorns are "white" in the first place? After all, the best anthropological take on "unicorns" is that they're a changed-in-the-telling homage to the rhinoceros (but probably not this one)... but "the other grey meat" seems to refer to military cooking.
  • General Kagan has promised to reread The Federalist Papers. That's fine with me, so long as she also rereads the opposing Antifederalist Papers so as to understand what "limited government" really means in Federalist No. 44 (hint: it's not even close to what Sen. Coburn et alia seem to think it does). More troublingly, though, since The Federalist Papers are "legislative history," won't that get her in trouble with Justice Scalia?
  • Professor Grimmelmann very nonjudgmentally describes the Internet Archive's "e-book lending program". I'm more judgmental. I really don't think that just because Brewster Kahle thinks he should have a pony means that he deserves it... particularly not when getting his pony breaches the rights of others. I won't pretend that the situation is easy, nor that there isn't some reason that for some kinds of ponies Mr Kahle can have it. Neither, however, can one ignore the very real impositions on the rights of copyright holders that Mr Kahle (and his organization) are yet again perpetrating.

    We're no longer in Alexandria, and it might behoove Mr Kahle (et al.) to recall that the Library of Alexandria obtained many of the works in its collection by force and involuntarily from the owners... just like he's doing.