Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
More lively minds, less grinding suckage
The Questia Online Library The texts are freely accessible. If you want to use Questia's special features, such as highlighting and marginalia, it's $20 a month. Not altogether lovely.
Top 10 FREE Books
Thanks to Tara Calashain for the heads up
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
armed and squamous
There are 90 guns for every 100 Americans, making the U.S. the most heavily armed country in the world, a new report released Monday says.
The "report" does not say what percentage of USians are possibly undereducated, sociopathic, or submoronic.
("Armed and dangerous" was unavailable.)
On a per-capita basis, Yemen had the second most heavily armed citizenry behind the U.S., with 61 guns per 100 people, followed by Finland with 56, Switzerland with 46, Iraq with 39 and Serbia with 38.Isn't Iraq more like 1,783 guns per Iraqi?
France, Canada, Sweden, Austria and Germany were next, each with about 30 guns per 100 people, while many poorer countries often associated with violence ranked much lower. Nigeria, for instance, had just one gun per 100 people.
The study also found that civilians are acquiring greater numbers of increasingly powerful guns, and that this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Prismatic opacity pattern recognition
Tom Wilson, Publisher panic, Information Research Weblog, August 24, 2007.
The commercial journal publishers are really in a state of panic. Reports from various sources point to their launch of PRISM: The Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine, a lobby organization to help them try to persuade the US Congress (and presumably Parliament in the UK) to ban Open Access. Of course, they don't say that: we have the usual weasel-worded statement that lobby organizations in the USA seem to be adept at.... via
Why is the publishing industry afraid of open access? I can't answer that question, but I can point you to the evidence for their fear: it's right here. Jonathan Eisen points out why PRISM, the anti-open access lobbying group, is total bullshit. The Open Reading Frame doesn't like it either.
From an anthology of comments about PRISM, a USian faction fighting open access, found on A Blog Around the Clock, a blog by the community manager of PLOS-ONE. More about PLOS, the Public Library of Science, here. Much more here.
Comments on Open Access News from an online discussion about PRISM, PLOS and small-minded publishers.
And on Slashdot:
word munger writes "Commercial scholarly publishers are beginning to get afraid of the open access movement. They've hired a high-priced consultant to help them sway public opinion in favor of copyright restrictions on taxpayer-funded research. Funny thing is, their own website contains several copyright violations. It seems they pulled their images directly from the Getty Images website — watermarks and all — without paying for their use."
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The bigger the drive
say people are bulking up against some Terminator future where there is no outside worth speaking of. Your Hummer'll navigate all that. But for all intents and purposes, we're inside that big drive.
Monday, August 27, 2007
from the Histories desperately needing to be written dept.:
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Another open access resource
Pointed at by David Weinberger here. Interesting to note it's cited in the course of his analyzing the argument of Andrew Keen's book.
The core principles of PLOS:
- Open access. All material published by the Public Library of Science, whether submitted to or created by PLoS, is published under an open access license that allows unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
- Excellence. PLoS strives to set the highest standards for excellence in everything we do: in content, style, and aesthetics of presentation; in editorial performance at every level; in transparency and accessibility to the scientific community and public; and in educational value.
- Scientific integrity. PLoS is committed to a fair, rigorous editorial process. Scientific quality and importance are the sole considerations in publication decisions. The basis for decisions will be communicated to authors.
- Breadth. Although pragmatic considerations require us to focus initially on publishing high-impact research in the life sciences, we intend to expand our scope as rapidly as practically possible, to provide a vehicle for publication of other valuable scientific or scholarly articles.
- Cooperation. PLoS welcomes and actively seeks opportunities to work cooperatively with any group (scientific/scholarly societies, physicians, patient advocacy groups, educational organizations) and any publisher who shares our commitment to open access and to making scientific information available for the good of science and the public.
- Financial fairness. As a nonprofit organization, PLoS charges authors a fair price that reflects the actual cost of publication. However, the ability of authors to pay publication charges will never be a consideration in the decision whether to publish.
- Community engagement. PLoS was founded as a grassroots organization and we are committed to remaining one, with the active participation of practicing scientists at every level. Every publishing decision has at its heart the needs of the constituencies that we serve (scientists, physicians, educators, and the public).
- Internationalism. Science is international. PLoS aims to be a truly international organization by providing access to the scientific literature to anyone, anywhere; by publishing works from every nation; and by engaging a geographically diverse group of scientists in the editorial process.
- Science as a public resource. Our mission of building a public library of science includes not only providing unrestricted access to scientific research ideas and discoveries, but developing tools and materials to engage the interest and imagination of the public and helping non-scientists to understand and enjoy scientific discoveries and the scientific process.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
American Home on the Free Range Horse Nugget Manufacturing Pulsar
This year, as borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages saw their monthly payments rise, more and more of them had trouble coping with the bills.
The first group affected were borrowers with low credit scores who received subprime loans from companies such as Countrywide Financial.
Buuuuuuuuut soon, even borrowers with higher credit scores -- American Home's Alt-A borrowers -- started showing signs of strain. *
Ah, yes, the Alt-A's. What are Alt-A's?
Alt-A loans are issued to people with high credit scores, but the loans are considered riskier than prime loans because they require less documentation of income.
One might think a lender would wish to document income rather than just go on the word of the borrower and his/her credit rating agency. Yet apparently it's entirely otherwise: Because some people have high credit scores, they submit less documentation.
...or is it,
Some people have high credit scores because they've lied to credit rating agencies (submitting less, or false, documentation), therefore American Homers assume more risk, and demand less documentation?
Some people have high credit scores because credit raters are under pressure to rate people upwards regardless, therefore we need no steenkin documentation?
We lenders will happily believe whatever tumid turds borrowers give us because Alt-A loans will cost them more than Primes, so more money for us?
The gap between the bureaucratic measuring process of credit rating (tracking one's past record of timely debt payments) and the promise of power to maintain that rating (credible guarantee of future income) is the barn door that allows enthusiastic USian Bullshit free range. Borrower, credit-rater, lender are just different parts of the same Intestinal organ. As conditions deteriorate, the energy to squeeze out ever more baroque arabesques of steaming piles has no choice but to rachet:
American Home's business model worked well when the housing market was booming. But when falling home prices led to record-high defaults and delinquencies on Alt-A loans, a company like American Home would feel pressure to continue increasing its loan volumes to maintain its standing with creditors, analysts said...
Kind of like Iraq -- the bigger the disaster, the more resources you need to fund the full faith and credit of your credibility.
"The market conditions in both the secondary mortgage market as well as the national real estate market have deteriorated to the point that we have no realistic alternative," said American Home Mortgage's chief executive Michael Strauss.
"The company employee base will be reduced from over 7,000 to approximately 750."
The market volunteered its own credit rating:
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
we have cognition
"If the government doesn't respond to the demands of the people, they will replace the government." ~ President Geo. W. Bush.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Ragù for a dead princess
Up and down the dark courtroom, stately buzzardwalking caged hauteur. Gaggled reporters on either side of the center aisle might as well have been clumps of earthworms. No warmth, no eye contact, no attention to anything other than the New York Times Magazine's food section. Pen in hand she made notes, then a call -- to discuss with an assistant or chef the menu for the evening meal. It seemed to involve carefully deliberated substitutions within the paper's recommended ingredients.
Recipe: Pasta With Shrimp RagùTime: 40 minutes
1 1/2 pounds medium-to-large shrimp, in their shells
Salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium or 1 large chopped onion
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 large or 3 plum tomatoes, chopped, with juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram or oregano, plus a few leaves for garnish
1 pound pasta, preferably fresh.
1. Shell shrimp; boil shells with just enough water to cover, a large pinch of salt, a grinding of pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Simmer 10 minutes, then drain, reserving liquid (discard shells). Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta and salt it.
2. Meanwhile, finely chop about a third of the shrimp. Put olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; a minute later add onion and carrot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are quite soft, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, herb and chopped shrimp, and cook, still over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down. Add stock from shrimp shells and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is no longer soupy but still moist.
3. When sauce is almost done, cook pasta. When pasta has about 5 minutes to go, stir whole shrimp into sauce. Serve pasta with sauce and shrimp, garnished with a few leaves of marjoram or oregano.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
19 aspects of NPR music programming in Florida
- the Charmin of the soul.
- a plush replica of Henry VIII's codpiece.
- the antennae of forgotten ancestors from Switzerland.
- the cream in your lungs.
- a way of being acoustically engineered to play golf.
- the plan of the petite bourgeois' mastery of his existence.
- a cummerbund girding the arse of Naples, FL.
- the doily between your ears.
- an aural mask sufficient unto the day.
- the salt in your wounds.
- the logo of corporate anaesthetism.
- a songfest for senile folk on beta blockers.
- a lullaby for the poor in spirit but not in the biblical sense.
- the representation of happy times 221 years ago in Vienna.
- sturm of traffic, drang of spouse.
- a gated community doorbell.
- the starch in your paycheck.
- the top-25 hit parade for anglophiles.
- the pompandcircumstancing of your morning, Mendelssohnization of your noon, Borodinning of your early cocktail, Brucknerfest of your evening meditation.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Hedges on theology of despair
They hated this world. And they willingly walked out on this world for the mythical world offered by these radical preachers, a world of magic, a world where God had a divine plan for them and intervened on a daily basis to protect them and perform miracles in their lives... #
this theology of despair . . . says that nothing in the world is worth saving. #
Despair was there long before Mr. Bush, aka the USian Scion of Nihilism, arrived. He simply punched it up. Softened up the targets, readied them.
The only answerable mode for Bush and the fascist pearl forming in his pud is a language that does not feed upon despair, anxiety, terror. That means an end to media as usual.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Newshole: Insert for August 11, 2007
Divers took another body from the wreckage of a freeway bridge, shrinking to five the number of people known missing and presumed dead in the collapse. Meanwhile, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters on Friday pledged $50 million to help Minnesota with its recovery and rebuilding.
HUNTINGTON, Utah/PRINCETON, Ind:
Three men fell from a construction bucket Friday and plunged no word from the miners since the Crandall Canyon mine collapsed early Monday. A microphone lowered into a smaller hole yielded no sounds of life and an air sample taken through the 2-inch hole detected little oxygen.
The nation's biggest lenders may face a cash shortage because investors who buy their loans aren't bidding and bankers have cut off credit lines. The fallout has toppled at least 70 mortgage companies and half a dozen hedge funds that bought their loans, and stalled buyouts including MGIC's takeover of Radian Group Inc. Regulators in the U.S., Europe and Japan have responded by pumping money into the banking system.
"Any company that has products related to home sales is in trouble," said Ja...
Friday, August 10, 2007
No end insight
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
The Bible strikes back
Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves
or was that at the Mall...
A self-described battle for the toybox of the soul.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Udell on what we don't have: Shared Context
Hugh McGuire, Interview: Jon Udell, DataLibre.ca, August 5, 2007. Excerpt:
While the idea of shared context seems to go against the drift of David Weinberger's sense of things in Everything is Miscellaneous, there is, I think, a deep affinity. After all, what Weinberger is talking about is the breakdown not so much of shared contexts as of traditional, factitious, arbitrary contexts imposed by middlemen, media, Aristotle fetishists, etc.
2. what do you think is the most compelling argument for making public data available to citizens?
Well it’s ours, our taxes paid for it, so we should have it. But the compelling reason is that we need more eyeballs, hands, and brains figuring out what’s going on in the world, so that when we debate courses of action we can ground our thinking in the best facts and interpretations....
8. what do you think are the connections between open access to public data and other similar movements - free culture, free software etc?
There’s an arc that runs from free and open-source software, to open data, to Web 2.0-style participation, and now to the collaborative use of software, services, and public data in order to understand and influence public policy.
9. with your crystal ball, where do you think the confluence of these movements will take us in, say, 5 years?
I’m sure it won’t happen that soon, but here’s what I’d like to see. Imagine some local, state, or national debate. The facts and interpretations at issue are rarely attached to URLs, much less to to primary sources of data at those URLs and to interactive visualizations of the data. We spend lots of time arguing about facts and interpretations, but mostly in a vacuum with no real shared context, which is wildly unproductive. If we could establish shared context, maybe we could argue more productively, and get more stuff done more quickly and more sanely.
While I don't think Weinberger devotes enough attention to the new middleman, Google,* I think it's pretty sure that the breakdown of the bogus contexts he envisions is part of a reconstruction of a far richer sharedness of things.
Elsewhere in the interview Udell says:
Here’s an argument I don’t buy: That amateur analysts will do more harm than good. I don’t buy it because there will be checks and balances. Those who don’t cite data will be laughed at. Those who do cite data but interpret it incorrectly will be corrected.A reasonably Weinbergerian sentiment, it seems to me.
*I noticed after writing the above that David addresses this very criticism here.
Remarkably, there's a strange disconnect between the fury of many bloggers and the condemnation of groups like the ACLU on the one hand, and the relative reticence of large media, including not just the Times but even tonight's breezy NPR discussion via Andrea Seabrook on NPR. (Schorr had his own take.) Strange, that something reaching so far into basic principles of rights(including physical searches), powers, and priorities would garner this mass of dead air between squealing mice and bovine placidity.
Greenwald, of Congress:
...what they’ve done is they convened Congress and stayed in session under the President's order to revise a law at his direction, that they actually have no idea how it’s been administered and what this government has been doing.Marjorie Cohn, about the law:
It basically hands over the power. It takes the power out of a judge’s hands and puts it in the power of Alberto Gonzales and the director of intelligence.Is it that there are no publicly available media mechanisms for examining and judging this sort of thing? Too many campaign dollahs at stake? The only thing clear is that MSM has punted the punting of Congress.
Has the entire country turned into a quivering mass of bushdumb chickenshit?
Saturday, August 04, 2007
One last delighted glance at Sven
The bigger question, if we accept that these are the early symptoms of a far-reaching transformation, is what does this transformation mean for books, for reviewing, for the literary life? %$*#That someone in 2007 deadpannedly advances the anadiplodic catacosmesis that the fate of the literary -- the art that foregrounds the defamiliarized, the fictive, the sign of the trope, the rhetorical panoply, the improper -- hangs upon how many goobers pick up and read the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, and even here, in the city where America's literary culture was born, at The Boston Globe... is truly one of the most "LMAO-LMFTO-PMSL" events of humor to come down the pike in a very long time. Thanks, Sven!
(I would dare to say, for sheer hilarity, it stands shoulder to shoulder with:
the three at one time are more than anyone (except maybe Melmoth) can bear.)
- JSTOR blocking human beings from human knowledge, and - close second -
- Rupert Murdock buying The Wall Street Journal -
What matters for Sven, the anti-miscellaneous man
I'm talking about print reviewing here. For as exciting as the blogosphere is as a supplement, as a place of provocation and response, it is too fluid in its nature ever to focus our widely diverging cultural energies. A hopscotch through the referential enormity of argument and opinion cannot settle the ground under our feet. To have a sense of where we stand, and to hold not just a number of ideas in common, but also some shared way of presenting those ideas, we continue to need, among many others, The New York Times, the Globe, the Tribune, the LA Times, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. -- Sven Birkerts via wood s lot
Birkerts' four-panel dis-ease with blogs (zero links, two vaguely noodled examples) culminates in a call for a return to print, to the stable, the vertical, the non-miscellaneous: to corporate media-controlled newspapers. Blogs are too snaky, too id-dy, too ephemeral. His is a passion for the solid, for some sturdy, super-egoey bit of ground to stand on. He freely grants that the Arnoldian ideal was a chimaera, except possibly "in Ivy enclaves and a few nodal centers in post-war New York," but dismisses the possibility that conversations happening now transglobally among literate folks can produce value.
Here's what's odd: The for-want-of-a-better-word seeming confusion of "mattering" with the materiality of the medium. What matters for Sven is not the words, but the matter of them. If the cultural conversation is not in print (ideally in newsprint in a major USian city), it is immediately suspect. At no point does Sven take up any conversation, any discourse, any attempt to produce meaning on a blog. Yet he appears comfortable dismissing the entire phenomenon with a suspiciously self-deprecating wag of his graying locks:
The implicit immediacy and ephemerality of "post" and "update," the deeply embedded assumption of referentiality (linkage being part of the point of blogging), not to mention a new of-the-moment ethos among so many of the bloggers (especially the younger ones) favors a less formal, less linear, and essentially unedited mode of argument. While more traditional print-based standards are still in place on sites like Slate and the online offerings of numerous print magazines, many of the blogs venture a more idiosyncratic, off-the-cuff style, a kind of "I've been thinking . . ." approach. At some level it's the difference between amateur and professional. What we gain in independence and freshness we lose in authority and accountability.
Experiencing this, I become the gradually graying reviewer again. I can't help it. I am in every way a man of print, shaped by its biases and hierarchies, tinged by its not-so-buried elitist premises. My impulse is to argue that if the Web at large is the old Freudian "polymorphous perverse," that libidinally undifferentiated miasma of yearnings and gratifications, unbounded and free, then culture itself -- what we have been calling "culture" at least since the Enlightenment -- is the emergent maturity that constrains unbounded freedom in the interest of mattering.Here Birkerts joins that other master anti-miscelleneator, Andrew Keen, in calling for the de-emergence of voices that happen not to consist of the right stuff. (Calling it "print" is somewhat misleading, since blogs are mostly written, therefore at least emulate print.) Keen, who poses quite self-consciously in his blog as the anti-matter of David Weinberger:
Could Weinberger exist without me? Could I exist with him? Is this a publisher's plot or just the public effluence of a bad marriage?Effluence smeffluence. Messers Keen and Birkerts, Arnoldian upholders of each other, ought to know that if they wish to distinguish what is the matter, and they discover that it is, in fact, the matter, then deviations from the material rules cannot be tolerated. Mr. Keen, who says "I'm currently reading everything about authority that I can get my hands on" ought to know that after the joys of dead trees and ink, nothing is more basic to the shared way of presenting...ideas in print than the ordering principles of grammar. Behold, then his handling of the apostrophe, and weep:
O tempura, o boar's head. The Apostrophe Protection Society has been advised.
See also this on one of the two blogs Sven noodles.
Update: Clay Shirky takes issue with Sven almost as an aside to a commentary on Nick Carr's criticism of Everything is Miscellaneous:Birkerts frames the changing landscape not as a personal annoyance but as A Threat To Culture Itself. As he puts it “…what we have been calling “culture” at least since the Enlightenment — is the emergent maturity that constrains unbounded freedom in the interest of mattering.”
This is silly. The constraints of print were not a product of “emergent maturity.” They were accidents of physical production.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
We don't need no steenkin JSTOR
Directory of Open Access Journals -- via Dialogic. It lists 66 journals of Philosophy alone, including various publications from places like the Ecole normale supérieure, the University of Florence, the University of Dublin, the Universidad Central de Venezuela, the University of Trieste, the Queensland University of Technology (Foucault studies), Rhodes University, South Africa, the University of Limerick, the Society for the Advancement of Philosophy, Zagreb, Croatia, the Universidad del Zulia, Centro de Estudios Filosoficos, and lots more, even a couple of USian universities.
Then there are dozens of journals for arts, music, religion, languages, linguistics, etc. Have a look around. Look up something you're interested in. They are not JSTOR, or PROJECTilevomitMUSE, or SCIENCE. They'll actually let you in.
Here's a bit of a letter from David Amram, published in Chapter & Verse from the University of Leeds:
I spent the first day in Windber giving concerts, and hosting a screening of Pull My Daisy, the film in which I collaborated with Kerouac in 1959, prior to a marathon 12 hour reading of On the Road the next day, for which I provided some of music, as well as playing between and during the readings with local musicians. I also had a show of my caricatures of everyone from that era.The DOAJ might not be the most beautifully designed site you'll ever see, but it is unquestionably the most beautiful site I've seen in a very long time.
Agriculture and Food Sciences
Arts and Architecture
Biology and Life Sciences
Business and Economics
Earth and Environmental Sciences
History and Archaeology
Languages and Literatures
Law and Political Science
Mathematics and Statistics
Philosophy and Religion
Physics and Astronomy
Technology and Engineering
Sign the Petition.
How's this for zeitgeisty? For background, this.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
fuck you all and to all a good night
“University Publishing in a Digital Age” – a report sponsored by Ithaka and JSTOR.. . . was released late last week. On Thursday, IHE ran a detailed and informative article about the Ithaka Report, as I suppose it is bound to be known in due time. The groups that prepared the document propose the creation of “a powerful technology, service, and marketing platform that would serve as a catalyst for collaboration and shared capital investment in university-based publishing.”
Clearly this would be a vaster undertaking than JSTOR, even. The Ithaka Report may very well turn out to be a turning point in the recent history, not only of scholarly publishing, but of scholarship itself. Scott McLemee, "Sailing from Ithaka" (bolding mine). See also here, here ($), here, etc.
From the Ithaka report:
“A shared electronic publishing infrastructure across universities could allow them to save costs, create scale, leverage expertise, innovate, unite the resources of the university (e.g. libraries, presses, faculty, student body, IT), extend the brand of American higher education (and each particular university within that brand), create a blended interlinked environment of fee-based to free information, and provide a robust alternative to commercial competitors.” (italics mine)
Guess the report has thought of everything...
- pregnant pause -
except how, freed from the shackles of intellectual proprietorship, shared scholarship could allow universities to educe, enlighten and empower the human imagination.