Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Saturday, December 28, 2002day link 

 Permissions and copyrights
picture The publishing world is giving itself a lot of extra work because it hasn't yet discovered stuff like Creative Commons. I was just contacted by a major book publisher that wanted to get permission to use something I've written in a book of theirs. Quite a few people have asked to use stuff I've written in books or articles or pamphlets, but usually it has been a friend thing of somebody calling me and asking if it is OK, and I say "Sure, use whatever you want", and I don't even keep track of it. So this was the first time it was a formal thing. First they contact me to be sure they can find me, and a few weeks later they send me forms to fill out and sign and get back to them. Actually it is a separate company doing all of this, as I assume they need to do a whole lot of it, so they contract it out. In this case, after several messages back and forth, and forms and so forth, it turns out that they were talking about something I didn't write. An old entry about LETS systems in Global Ideas Bank. It is on my server, and I did the database, but I don't administer it, and the content is aggregated by hundreds of different people who have sent it in. Which obviously is something that confuses traditional publishers. Btw they didn't even copy it - they paraphrased a few paragraphs, and left out the actual details. And they still felt they needed to ask for written permission to paraphrase two paragraphs. The biggest problem here is that copyright law tells them that everything is copyrighted (owned and restricted) by somebody, unless they specifically have been told otherwise. Creative Commons does it the another way around. You're told up front what you can use and how.
[ | 2002-12-28 15:32 | 1 comment | PermaLink ]  More >

 Blogging from Baghdad
picture This fellow is apparently writing his weblog from Iraq. He doesn't quite seem to be a native, but it is nevertheless a good look into how it is to be there.
"You learn to deal with the scheduled blackouts, you know when they are and for how many hours. But the last couple of days have been really bad. Very erratic, they turn it on and off whenever they like. We just freeze and thaw then freeze again. It has been very cold for the season and it is expected to get colder. The prices of kerosene heaters have gone thru the roof. There is a local factory, state owned, which manufactures these heaters, 130,000 Iraqi Dinars a pop. But buying one requires approval from the general manager. Don't ask. I can't figure why. It wouldn't be called bureaucracy otherwise.
Now take your newly acquired heater and stand in front of the company's building, someone will offer you 200,000 Iraqi Dinars for it within a minute. Look for it in the shops you will find it for 260,000 ID. That's free market economy isn't it? I decided it was cheaper to bring down an extra blanket."
When NATO was bombing Beograd I was chatting with a Serbian friend there online, while it was happening and sirens were going off, etc. That really gives a different perspective on things. You can't just generalize a population into some abstract symbol of an enemy when you can actually talk with them and we're friends. I hope some more people in Iraq can be online.
[ | 2002-12-28 15:58 | 3 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Noam Chomsky on Corporate Power
picture Transcript of talk by Noam Chomsky on Taking Control of Our Lives: Freedom, Sovereignty, and Other Endangered Species. Much good historical stuff. For example, he says this about corporations:
A century ago ... corporations were granted the rights of persons by radical judicial activism, an extreme violation of classical liberal principles... They were also freed from earlier obligations to keep to specific activities for which they were chartered... Furthermore, in an important move, the courts shifted power upwards, from the stockholders in a partnership to the central management, which was identified with the immortal corporate person."
And about who are the main enemies of (personal) freedom and (regional) sovereignty on the planet:
"An array of mega-corporations, often linked to one another by strategic alliances, administering a global economy which is in fact a kind of a corporate mercantilism tending toward oligopoly in most sectors, heavily reliant on state power to socialize risk and cost and to subdue recalcitrant elements."
Very well put. He goes on to describe very well how the current power structure in the world is not much more than a continuation of previous times where kings ruled and basically owned the kingdom, and all political, economic and legal structures were designed to keep it that way, and to keep the people from ever having any real power. The elites who own things are protected from the general population. Things are structured so that popular opinion is essentially irrelevant if it conflicts with the aims of the ruling elite.
"One striking example (there are many) has to do with the international economic order -- what are called trade agreements. The general population, as polls make very clear, is strongly opposed to most of what's going on but the issues don't arise. It's not an issue in the elections because the centers of power, the minority of the opulent, are unified in support of instituting a particular kind of socio-economic order. So therefore, the issue doesn't arise. The things that are discussed are things that they don't much care about. Like questions of character or questions of reform which they know that aren't going to be implemented. So that's what discussed. Not what people care about. And that's pretty typical and it makes sense on the assumption that the role of the public as the ignorant and meddlesome outsiders is just to be spectators."
If the population actually starts organizing itself, it would ironically not be considered democracy, but more like a crisis of democracy. The kind of thing that riot police and press silence might calm down eventually.
[ | 2002-12-28 16:38 | 15 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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