SF Chronicle: Space shuttle may provide a sky show -- But overhead clouds could spoil local viewing
Looking Up Department
Although the forecast isn't great, a break in the clouds should reveal the shuttle's blazing re-entry into the earth's atmosphere more than 40 miles high and speeding at 15,500 mph.I've seen this reentry before from Austin -- I had thought only more southern locales were in the path -- and it's spectacular. Some photos of a reentry over Houston are on the web, but they don't really do it justice. «» (0) comments
To better represent the world as it is, rather than the way it was at the close of World War 2, the roster of five "permanent members" of the UN Security Council should be updated. Britain's seat can become a new European Union seat, and France's seat can be transferred to the newest "Great Power": Texas. «» (0) comments
It seems that the NBA Houston Rockets' Chinese rookie, Yao Ming, brings to mind cell phones nearly as much as he does basketball.
Be Here Yao
There are other examples [of how small the world is becoming]. In South Korea last summer, hundreds of Chinese men and women (bankers, brokers, even a fashion journalist) traveled to China's first game in a World Cup. They wore the latest clothing and chatted on cellphones.Slate: He's a Bust! No, Wait; He's the Next Shaq!
And while the Rookie of the Year award is already engraved with Yao's name, he doesn't deserve to win it. At 20, Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire is a far more advanced player. His ferocious dunks make the ESPN highlights, but it's his spacing and non-stop movement that make him so hard to guard. Yao found this out first-hand Wednesday when Stoudemire dropped 24 points and 13 rebounds on the Rockets, including an in-your-face dunk on big man; Yao settled for a quiet 11 points and seven boards. If only Stoudemire could sell mobile phones to 1.2 billion Chinese, he'd have a shot at beating Yao for the year-end hardware.(An earlier NYTimes piece on Yao Ming, last December, noted that when his games are broadcast in China, the viewing audience could be larger than the entire population of the United States.) «» (0) comments
Jack M. Balkin, a professor of constitutional law and the first amendment at Yale, finds a silver lining in the Eldred decision in his weblog entry, Is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Unconstitutional under Eldred v. Ashcroft? (permalink).
Department of Silver Linings
The key holding of Eldred is that �when ... Congress has not altered the traditional contours of copyright protection, further First Amendment scrutiny is unnecessary.� The reason for this is that fair use and idea/expression provide �built-in free speech safeguards,� which �are generally adequate to address� the problem that copyright makes reproducing certain speech illegal.So even while Eldred has forced the battle over statutory copyright terms back to the Congress, it may have bolstered the prospects for constitutional challenges of the DMCA. «» (0) comments
Arnold Kling at TechCentralStation: Content is Crap
Perhaps misled by the constant refrain of the Creative Commons animated presentation -- "It's easy when you skip the intermediaries" -- Arnold Kling interprets the CC liberal licensing ethos as being primarily a defense against content being "stolen by the evil media companies." In fact, it's nothing of the sort. By disclaiming certain of the rights copyright grants authors, under certain conditions, you could even say that the CC licenses make it *easier* for third parties to "steal" (repurpose, redistribute, reuse) creative works.
The filtering duty provided by current publishers Kling highlights is important -- but in a system of strong copyrights, many novel highly effective filtering, distribution, and promotion avenues can be precuded, because casual handling of a work is prevented by the default copyright conventions. For example, your biggest fans may be reluctant to forward your work to others, via email/blogs/P2P. You couldn't even feed many works through the sorts of "bayesian filtering" algorithms Kling favors, as that might trample certain creator's copy-control rights.
The kinds of liberal licensing -- or outright public-domain donations -- promoted by CC enable thousands of flexible new filtering roles, processes, and technologies to be tried. Many -- probably most -- won't prove any better than the old linear value-chain fed through publishers. But some will outcompete the traditional process, at least for certain works and certain audiences, because the net does many-to-many better than any system rooted in the physical world.
Liberal CC-style licensing isn't the enemy of novel, useful, expert content-filtering: it's filtering's greatest friend.«» (0) comments
The New York Times: Music Companies Agree to Antipiracy Plan
Despite the headline spin, the main development here seems to be that the RIAA has agreed to oppose government mandates for copy-control technology in all digital media devices. The prime example of such mandate proposals would be last year's Senator Hollings-sponsored "CBDTPA."
The CBDTPA was a technologically and economically illiterate proposal from the start: more of a boogeyman than something with a real chance of being adopted. The new Republican Senate majority made it even less likely that such mandates would receive a serious hearing in Congress. Still, it's nice to see even the measure's natural constituency -- the record industy -- write it off as a lost cause, in the grand scheme of their strategy for protecting their interests. They've left their friends at the MPAA in an untenable lobbying position.«» (0) comments
New Scientist magazine reports that scientists have stored text data in the DNA of living bacteria -- and then recovered the message after a hundred generations of reproduction:
Bacterial Backup Bureau
The scientists took the words of the song It's a Small World and translated it into a code based on the four "letters" of DNA. They then created artificial DNA strands recording different parts of the song. These DNA messages, each about 150 bases long, were inserted into bacteria such as E. coli and Deinococcus radiodurans.No word yet on if they've searched the DNA of creatures in the wild for pre-existing messages from ancient extraterrestrials.
Lawyers from Disney and the Harry Fox Agency have sent a "cease and desist" letter to the E. coli and Deinococcus radiodurans demanding that they immediately stop reproducing Disney's copyrighted lyrics. At 7 cents a copy, the petri dish of ever-dividing bacteria now owes $24 trillion in mechanical licensing fees, and counting.«» (0) comments
The Smoking Gun: In re the matter of: Jack Ass, Plaintiff, and Viacom International Inc., Defendants
A Montana man who changed his name from Bob Craft to Jack Ass in 1997 is suing Viacom. He writes in his complaint:
Viacom International, through the use of MTV jackass (Johnny Knoxville / P. J. Clapp), is liable for injury to my reputation that I have built and defamation of my character which I have worked hard to create.Jack Ass has a website where he promotes his (planned?) beer, which features a reminder to use a designated driver on the label. Jack is also graduate of Budweiser Beer School. «» (0) comments