Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

A storm with some claim to fame,
One Hurricane Katrina by name.
Politics most dire
Set DC on fire.
And poor Katrina gets all of the blame.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


The feasting is done,
The leftovers diminished.
What's for sandwiches
When the turkey's finished?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Copyright and times of change

Sent by a friend, as an introduction to an article on the GoogleBook/ search/reprint issue (more on the controversy here:

New frontiers - where do they allow us to go - do we want to go there? Will some aromatherapist figure out a way to infuse the site with the smell of wood pulp and ink? Tactile screens? Dog-ear the corners of screens ? What about those potato chip or Oreo crumbs in the seams? ... Important issues - oh, yes, and of course -what about copyright laws and compensation ... that too.

Where will they allow us to go? Places we didn't expect when we left.

Do we want to go? Do we have a choice? The choices I see are those of "who's in charge?" We will go, but with whom, and with what guidelines? Who decides, and how?

When books went from hand-scribing to moveable type, the trauma to ownership and authorship was traumatic. We are once again, facing that same trauma. For any who think all works should be free to any who want them, I have one question: Will you go to work every day for nothing? Don't tell me "it's different." It's work. It should be compensated. "It's different because I don't have to (read/watch/buy)." Oh? Try living without TV shows, movies, books, magazines, games. Completely without. Don't watch tv, don't go to any movie, don't rent a movie, don't read anything except instruction manuals that come with the products you buy, don't play any games at all. The people who create these things need to pay rent, buy food, pay for utilities to keep warm in the winter.

We are in a time of transition, which is always traumatic. We will figure it out. We may have to go back to the patronage system, whereby the rich "keep" artists of various sorts, who create for the patron, a la Michelangelo and others.

I think what Google is doing is great. My local bookstores don't stock much in the way of selection these days, just the absolute latest and/or most popular. I like to browse books new to me to see if the writing style is one that I can handle before I buy the whole book. And I still like to buy books. You can't take a computer into the bathroom. You most certainly don't want to use one while you soak in the tub.

In terms of having out-of-copyright books available online, the Gutenberg Project is already doing some of that. I've done some proofreading for them. Quite a lot of out-of-copyright books are also out of print, the only source being used book stores (I recommend How many wonderful stories of life-and-times were lost, along with an understanding of the culture that spawned them, when the library at Alexandria burned?

We live in times of change. I'm not saying we have to like it, or that the change will be easy. We can shape that change, or we can stand on a soapbox and scream that the tide stop.

Jim and I both are personally bleeding from the changing times. We have either lost jobs or job opportunities because of shifts in the computer field. Jim is currently working as a security guard, as jobs in the computer field move out of the country, and what's left go to younger, less expensive employees. So, unlike Steve Forbes who speaks of the trauma of change without ever having it damage his lifestyle, I speak from the emergency room of life.

And choose to enjoy the change.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Halloween's delights

Last year, Disney Hall held a screening of Phantom of the Opera, the 1927 silent film, accompanied by the Disney Hall organ, on Halloween. It was wonderful. It had been restored, with some Technicolor bits thrown in. Apparently some of the original had been filmed in Technicolor, and the Phantom's red cape shines brightly on the screen. The movie itself was riveting enough, I rarely watched the octopus-masquerading-as-human who was playing the organ.

This year, they held another silent-with-organ movie on Halloween, the 1922(?) version of Nosferatu. It did not survive the test of time as well as Phantom. It was filled with what are now seriously funny cliches, such as having the bad-guy rise from his coffin as if he was laying on a board. One could only tell day scenes from night scenes by the action and/or dress of the actors. The bad guy, Nosferatu, however, would still make a good villian today - not at all the dashing Dracula one normally thinks of.

The conversation on the drive home was "what will they do next year?" One I'd like to see, but not until Halloween falls on a Satuday, is Metropolis. Why a Saturday, you ask? Because Metropolis is quite long, and if shown on a Saturday, could start earlier and have an intermission, without running into "We've got work tomorrow," at least for most of us. Several silent shorts, one of which was a 20-minute Frankenstein, would also be fun.