Orphan Works: Tell the Copyright Office Your Stories

I thought of Krista when I saw this; she'll probably have some insightful things to say about Orphan Works, a site where you can share your stories of copyright's becoming an obstacle when trying to use orphan works (works whose copyright holders can't be found). The deadline is March 25, though, so please share your stories soon! I plan to submit my story of trying to use the poem "Roseville, Minn., U.S.A." by Marcela Christine Lucero-Trujillo. The acknowledgement in the book I found the poem in is: "Copyright 1976. Reprinted by permission of Patricia Trujillo-Villalobos." The copyright clearance center at my university was never able to track her down.

Via Intellectual Property and Social Justice, a mighty fine new blog by a group of students at the UC Davis Law School. Their post about orphan works is well worth reading.


I'd like to plead with people to register here. Benefits of registration include, well, being able to leave comments here, as well as at any other Drupal site that enables distributed authentication (which means that if you're registered with any other Drupal site, you'll be able to use that username and password to login here*). You'll also be able to edit your comments. You'll have a signature at the end of your posts and comments, in which you can put any information you want, including a link to your weblog. You'll have the option to use an avatar too if you like. Also, if I decide to take a hiatus, it would be really easy for me to set registered users up as guest bloggers.

If you're on a computer you use often, you can just get your browser to save your login information so that you can login with one click. It might seem like too much trouble, but it's really not that bad, I promise! If you go ahead and register now, you can just login every time you come to the site and post as many comments as you like. This way you don't have to wait until there's a post you really want to comment on to register.

* Let's say you're registered at Kairosnews, which is another Drupal site. If you want to login here, you'd type in "" and your Kairosnews password. If you're registered at Kairosnews or at any other Drupal site, you don't have to register here at all.

Family Politics

There's an eye-opening article in today's Washington Post about Japan's shrinking population. It brings into sharp relief the extent to which economies depend on women's bearing children:

The national child shortage, even as the population ages, is raising fears about Japan's long-term ability to maintain its status as the world's second-largest economy after the United States. With more Japanese choosing to remain single and forgoing parenthood, the population of almost 128 million is expected to decrease next year, then plunge to about 126 million by 2015 and about 101 million by 2050.

In Japan, schools are closing, obstetricians are shutting down their practices or becoming geriatric specialists instead to meet the demands of the market, and amusement parks are shutting down. Whole towns are folding and merging with other towns. They don't even mention toy stores, maternity clothing, and the sale of other baby-related accoutrements, such as bottles, formula, baby clothes, diaper bags, baby powder, baby lotion, baby oil, etc. etc.


It has happened in part because towns such as Nishiki suffer from a shortage not only of children, but also of eligible women. When Japan's economic bubble burst in 1990, Japanese companies seeking less expensive alternatives to men began hiring women for contract and part-time jobs. Gender roles have changed as a result. With increasing financial independence, more women are avoiding marriage. According to a poll released this week by Japan's Yomiuri newspaper, seven out of 10 single Japanese women say they have no desire to become wives -- a role that in Japan still largely means staying home and raising children.

I wonder: Is there really so much resistance to stay-at-home fatherhood in Japan? After learning a lot about the misleading ways the U.S. media covers the one-child policy in China*, I tend to be skeptical of these representations of life in other countries.

Good discussion at 11D about separate finances in marriage.

* See my notes on Arabella Lyon's presentation here.

Where did I go?

You might be wondering why my blog was down all day yesterday and part of today. Well, that would be because thousands and thousands of spam comments hit my blog at once, taking down the server at Open Source Host. For several days beforehand, I'd been watching phpMyAdmin and running these commands:

DELETE FROM `comments` WHERE `subject` = 'insert spam subject here'

which would delete ~2000 comments at a time (and I did this more than once a day). Finally it was too much for the server to handle. After much discussion with Charlie about possible options, I agree that the only solution, at least for the time being, is not to allow anonymous comments. This means if you want to comment, you'll have to register here. I've got comments turned off completely now, and I'll wait a few days before turning them back on.

I've been adamant for a long time that it's best not to put up any perceived barriers to communication on my blog. People don't want to register on sites and login, even though I have to point out that logging in isn't any more trouble than leaving one's name, email, and URL every time one leaves a comment. I know that after I make this change, my number of comments will be drastically reduced. People who are just cruising by, who don't plan on commenting here long-term and don't want to make the commitment of registering with the site, won't leave comments anymore. People who comment here regularly but who don't want to register won't leave comments anymore. I worry that my blog will become more broadcast, more one-to-many. I don't want it to be that way, but it seems the alternative is no blog at all, unless I want to use a different software tool, which I don't.

UPDATE: More at Cyberdash and Dr. B.'s.

Michael and Julia

The new, real-life Griffin and Sabine? Artists Michael Mandiberg and Julia Steinmetz have decided to publish their correspondence online under a Creative Commons Attribution license. From the about page:

IN Network is an extended cell phone life-art performance about distance, communication, intimacy, telepresence, and living together while apart. In August 2004 artist Michael Mandiberg moved to New York; Julia Steinmetz remained in Los Angeles, postponing her move for a year because of commitments to her job and her collaborative art practice. Faced with a year apart, and the prospect of a long-distance relationship, the two artists got their frequent flyer numbers handy, and switched both of their cell phones to a provider with free "IN Network" service.

Michael and Julia started out having normal conversations, giving each other updates about their days, and sending cameraphone pictures back and forth, etc. As they switched to using hands-free microphones, they began using the phone differently. They started doing things together at the same time, 3000 miles away, via cellular connection: driving to/from work, eating dinner, giving lectures to students, going for a walk, having a cocktail, reading books in silence, falling asleep and waking up.

What began as a pragmatic attempt to make their relationship last the year of separation through good communication, turned into something less about communication and more about intimacy through (misuse of) technology, and sharing (sonic-virtual) space.

During the month of March the artists will present this cell-phone life-art performance via a Photo Moblog and Podcast on The IN Network site will host a Podcast of recordings of their phone conversations. . There will be several live webcasts of audio of the artists sleeping together on their cellphones. They will route all text messages and picture messages sent to one another through the IN Network site.

More about the artists here. Via Jill, whose response is perceptive and well worth reading.

Here, have some links.

Last night I watched the Oscars, well, not so much watched them as had the show on in the background while I did other stuff, such as a bit of live commenting at Chuck's. Crooked Timber also has a good wrap-up of the Oscars, but today I found a funny (Oscar-inspired) post from Joe. My. God. in which Joe lays out "a list of movie genres that [he] will never see again." Ha! It's great.

I just noticed that the December 2004 issue of Meow Power is out. Of particular interest to me was Tough and Tender, Buff and Brainy: A New Breed of Female Television Action Hero Blurs the Boundaries of Gender by Diana Dominguez. Two examples of this new breed of hero discussed by Dominguez are Aeryn Sun of Farscape and Sydney Bristow of Alias. Is it any wonder that article jumped out at me?

If you read nothing else tonight...

Please read Hungry for Air, by Deborah Stone. It is exquisite. The essay is a sustained juxtaposition of and reflection upon torture at Abu Ghraib, particularly "water boarding," and Stone's mother's battle with lung cancer. Stone's writing is a stunning illustration of the inseparability of the personal from the political:

There is something surreal about this juxtaposition of my mother’s end and global politics, about the way torture inspires humanity’s most compassionate moments and its most hate-filled engagements. It all makes you wonder: Does the concept of humanity hold any meaning whatsoever? Are we really all the same people?

[. . .]

In the last months of my mother’s life, I lived in two parallel universes, private and public. Both of them were under seismic stress. At a wedding reception in June, one of my political-science colleagues opined, with typical academic hedging, “We have to take seriously the possibility that torture might be the only way to get information.” No one commented on the fact that we were discussing torture-as-public-policy at a wedding reception on an idyllic summer day. No one knew that the victims they imagined as faceless bogeymen with unpronounceable names, I imagined as my mother.

[. . .]

On May 1, the day my mother first coughed blood, the major headlines were about President Bush’s meeting with King Abdullah II in the Rose Garden the day before. With his characteristic playground-bully, I-couldn’t-care-less detachment, Bush said he had told the Jordanian king that “Americans, like me, didn’t appreciate what we saw, that it made us sick to our stomachs.” As a citizen with no clout over American soldiers and as a daughter with no power over cancer, I wonder whether Mr. Bush felt sick to his stomach the same way I did when I first connected air hunger with water boarding and torture.

Just read the whole thing; these snips don't do it justice. I will assign this essay in the next writing course I teach. These are the kinds of connections we all want our students to make.

The "Money Follows the Student" Plan

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has proposed a plan to allot 2/3 of the state's budget for higher education to students rather than institutions, according to today's Daily (more here). The plan "would force the institutions to be more market-driven and accountable to the state and students."

Under Pawlenty’s plan, students’ decisions on where to attend college would drive reform and change the higher education marketplace, the governor said.

It would create a more dynamic marketplace in which institutions can respond to student needs better, he said. If the institutions have to compete more to attract students as a way to get funding, they’ll have to focus more on quality and keeping costs down, he said.

Institutions need to be more “customer-focused and customer-friendly,” Pawlenty said.

Yikes. My inner extreme cynic wonders if we'd have a situation in which the party schools would get more money and course easiness and teacher hotness would be taken more seriously as criteria. I'm not trying to advance that argument, don't get me wrong, but I do wonder. What do the rest of you think? If P.Z. Myers has blogged about the proposed plan, I'd appreciate a link. I haven't been able to locate a search box on his blog.

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