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Associated Press: “It’s Okay If WE Do It.”

I saw this article (from the AP on ESPN) today, about a push to bring the to bring a version of cricket called Twenty20 to the US. According to the article:

A Twenty20 game is a shortened version of cricket, completed in about 3½ hours to bring it closer to the length of other sports played in the United States.

Emphasis added. I wanted more information, so I went to the Wikipedia page on Twenty20 cricket, where I saw this sentence:

A Twenty20 game is completed in about three and half hours, with each innings lasting around 75 minutes, thus bringing the game closer to the timespan of other popular team sports.

Emphasis added. If you’re me, you’ll notice immediately the parallel structure of the sentences, and the fact that a thesaurus appeared to be used to change the words in the last clause (without actually changing the meaning). I cannot fathom that these are NOT copied from each other. The question is which came first.

This could have been an enthusiastic Wikipedia editor, so I checked the history page of the article, which tracks every change. It turns out that Wikipedia had it first. Here is a link to the 10 July 2009 version of the article.

Let me repeat, to be clear: Wikipedia Had It First. Which means an AP writer or editor cribbed directly from Wikipedia, changed some words, and put it in the article.

In and of itself, that is not the problem. Wikipedia is, in fact, fine with this.

The problem is copyright licenses. According to the copyright license that Wikipedia uses, if you use or re-purpose content from a Wikipedia article, the new work must have a “compatible license”.  In this case, that means the article must…

  1. Attribute Wikipedia as the source.
  2. Have a “share-alike” provision in the license which allows others to copy and re-purpose the entire adapted work as they see fit.

That means the entire AP article should, by rights, be open to re-use. However, the AP violates Wikipedia’s license – the restrictive AP copyright license is NOT compatible with Wikipedia’s open “share-alike” license. So, the AP, as far as I can reasonably tell, is violating Wikipedia’s copyright by not attributing and not having a compatible license.

Of course, in a vacuum, this is an isolated incident. But, in the real world, this flies in the face of the AP’sclaims against Shepherd Fairey, the artist who created the iconic “Obama HOPE” poster. Details of this case, in bullet form:

  • Mr. Fairey used a photo (found on Google image search) to inspire the look of the painting.
  • Nobody (Fairey included) knew the the owner of source photo of the iconic painting at first. It was thought to be a Reutrers photo for a time.
  • Someone tracked down the original, Fairey said, “yup, that one”, and the AP claimed ownership.
  • Incidentally, the photographer claims to be the owner of the photo as well, and that the AP doesn’t own it.
  • The AP claims that they deserve to “get permission”, and that the poster is a copyright violation.
  • Fairey’s lawyer and the AP’s lawyer started talking.
  • According to Fairey at a talk at the New York Public Library in March (which I attended), he was happy to pay the original usage rights he should have paid, but he did not know the identity of the owner.
  • According to Fairey, the AP had some demands (take with grain of salt, but the guy seemed like a straight shooter).
    • Demand 1: usage rights for the value of the photo after Mr. Fairey’s painting made it valuable. (Prior to that, it had one of the lowest usage rights for that type of image, which alone is anything but iconic.)
    • Demand 2: Damages.
    • Demand 3 (Possibly): A piece of the profits (since it was their photo that led to the poster).
  • Fairey claims the use of the photo was clearly within the bounds of “fair use”.
  • Fairey sued for declamatory judgement against the AP’s copyright claim on his poster.

Here’s an article on the Fairey matter.

So… The AP can crib other people’s work without following the rules, but a guy can’t use a photo in what is widely considered to be a CLEAR case of fair use? Well done, AP.

Yup… I got all that from an article on cricket in the US.

Filed under: Culture, Politics, Tech, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

Need for Public Healthcare

To all those opposing a public option (essentially, a Medicare-for-all option to all Americans), here’s a simple way to explain the problem:

Assuming the 48 million number bandied about as the number of uninsured people, the equivalent population of 26 states are not covered!

Alaska
Arkansas
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Hawaii
Idaho
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Maine
Mississippi
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Mexico
North Dakota
Oklahoma
Oregon
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Utah
Vermont
West Virginia
Wyoming

And that doesn’t even cover the under-insured. If the estimates aof some 55 million are correct, add Louisiana to the list.

27 states people. Come on! Get it done, and with the public option.

EDIT: I pulled my data directly from Census.gov population tables, sorted from lowest-to-highest, and kept adding till I got close to 48 million.

Filed under: Philosophy, Politics, Uncategorized, , , ,

REQUIRED LISTENING: Financial Crisis

OR: How We Got Here…

This American Life has a great episode on the financial crisis. This is required listening, and easily explains the entire situation. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Podcast Download Here, from NPR’s This American Life

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , ,

Republican Schism: Ideology Vs. Political Philosophy

Great Slate article discussing how conservatives are going to have a hard time with this.

http://www.slate.com/id/2212893/pagenum/all/

Slate should be more clear though, when they say “conservatives”. There are really two somewhat-overlapping blocks of conservatives, and I think they really mean Republicans.

The modern Republican Party is a tenuous a marriage of convenience between two fundamentally incongruent ideas, politically. The case described in the above article tears at the heart of the tenuous relationship built by two very different types of “conservatives” to make the Republican Party:

Ideology: This is a focus on “traditional family” or “traditional values”. These are people who often fuse religion with political perspectives. All in all, these are generally connected to “social issues.”

Political Philosophy: This is the focus on “small government” and “states rights”, also known as “federalism”. In general, federalist thinking weights the balance of power between states and central government TOWARD the individual states. Essentially, this is a political belief in the supremacy of local government over central government. As such, they see the Constitution as saying power rests at the state level EXCEPT where explicitly stated otherwise. These are the “Live Free or Die” types.

Political conservatives are a dying breed within the Republican Party, but they view governance as bottom-up. The fundamental belief that government is at its best on a local level, and that each larger tier of government is a further removed from the people. Laws should have minimized and localized impact only.  This wing is no longer relevant, in terms of power, within the Republican Party (see Jim Jeffords).

Ideological conservatives within the Republican Party are currently led by ostensibly-Christian groups. As a bloc, they tend view the world through a top-down moralistic perspective, wherein morality literally “trickling down” from God and Jesus through government. Morals, therefore, must be enshrined in law and enforced from the top downward. This wing was strongest between 1996-2008. Since many “enemies” were ‘excommunicated” from relevance within the party, Republicans are floundering for a new voice that encapsulates both sides (e.g, Ronald Reagan), only to find there are no true political conservatives left.

Now, there are ways the ideology and political philosophy are congruent. Localities may have certain values (say, related to school prayer), where they believe the Federal Government has no say in the outcome. But when it comes to situations where conservative ideology comes up against conservative political philosophy, the Republicans are actually weighed down by ideology.

It should be interesting to see how this particular DOMA case turns out, because there is a strong politically-conservative Constitutional argument in favor of gay spousal rights.

It would take some intellectual gymnastics to say otherwise. But I have faith that Scalia, Roberts, and Alito will somehow be able to inject ideology into the SCOTUS. They always do, and claim it to be “original intent”.

Filed under: Philosophy, Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Save Volvo

In light of political/bailout fatigue, I’m forcing myself to think of other things. Namely, my favorite car company: Volvo.

A 1970’s Volvo 244 DL saved my life when I drove about 50 MPH into a tree. I didn’t walk away, but survived with no lasting injuries. Car people have said that the car literally kept my legs intact (which many cars do not do at such high speeds, especially old cars like that), and therefore saved my life. I’m hoping to return the favor.

RECENT HISTORY

In 1998, the Ford Motor Company bought Volvo to round out its “Premier Automotive Group“, a set of distinctive higher-market brands which were managed somewhat independently of FoMoCo. The other PAG companies were Land Rover, Jaguar, and Aston Martin. Lincoln, in fact, was shifted into this group. The whole idea was that upscale cars have high margins, and Ford could make money on efficiencies while these companies maintained unique brand images. Ford, incidentally, also owns a significant portion of Mazda, as well.

Volvo was the key piece of this group…

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Tech, , , , , , ,

Gingrich: “Gays and Secular Fascists”

This is precisely why Newt Gingrich is a reprehensible politician and will never elevate himself to the statesman status he clearly covets.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/17/gingrich-on-prop-8-protes_n_144452.html

He actually called people who believe in EQUAL RIGHTS fascists. There was a time when liberals used to throw that word around with reckless abandon. But at least they understood the meaning. A fascist wants to impose government power upon the powerless, to strengthen the nation AT THE EXPENSE of its citizens, typically, the military-industrial complex.

There was a time when conservatives used a slightly more accurate epithet to describe people who believed in equality: communist.

Were this any other Republican, I’d be less up-in-arms. But Newt Gingrich isn’t just any Republican. In 1971, he received a PhD in “Modern European History” from Tulane, an excellent school. And, in 1971, you can bet everyone understood the political continuum, and where different ideas and values fit. And an American exceptionalist such as Gingrich would understand precisely where America, liberals in America, and conservatives in America, fit on that continuum.

Here goes:

Fascism is all the way over there on the far right. Communism is all the way over there, on the far left. From the right, we have plutocracy, monarchy, and oligarchy. From the right (typo) left are socialism and other collectivist views. And in the middle are republicanism (small “r”) and democracy (small “d”). American conservatives tend towards the former, and American liberals tend toward the latter.

NB: anarchy, being technically the absence of formal government, is not included on this. Libertarianism is a flavor of the impetus toward small “d” democracy.

Some would argue that the continuum is curved, to make something of a “U” or a circle, demonstrating that fascism and communism are, in their implementations, closer to each other than their ideals tell us they are. This is because on one extreme is the sovereignty of a single individual, who is in essence the country, and on the other is sovereignty of the collective national. In the middle is where sovereignty of the individual has its highest place.

So Gingrich knows better. He’s a historian who knows precisely how these ideologies fit on the spectrum, and precisely where those who want government to let them have individual rights actually belong: in the middle. He also is a politician, and knows precisely how his words would be understood.

What does this say about this type of Republican? They are using specific words to code for the fact that they, the moralist Christians (who tend to religious oligarchy) are the oppressed faction by those who want individual rights.

Victim language.

They also use rights language, like “small government”, to imply they want government out of their hair.

You cannot simultaneously want government out of your hair and expect it to enforce ANY moral value (Christian or otherwise). American government is not meant to protect the rights of the empowered against the powerless. It is meant to do the opposite.

You’re powerful, Mr. Gingrich, and playing victim is not only intellectually dishonest, it’s also dangerous. Because America has ACTUAL victims who need ACTUAL help. And when you enable the mindless cronies who DON’T understand history (such as O’Reilly) to practice that victimhood, you are enabling a whole slate boys who cried wolf. Hurting the powerless.

This is not a petty argument. And it’s not about whether gay marriage is right or wrong. It’s about abusing power to keep it, and abusing language to twist reality. White married heterosexual men are the most powerful people in this country. Clinging to power by pretending to be a victim is reprehensible. Someone ought to speak for the ACTUAL victims (though I myself am not one) and say this to you, Mr. Gingrich: You practice the most vile kind of un-Americanism that exists. You know you are lying to keep power, and yet you do it anyway.

Filed under: Culture, Philosophy, Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,

Commentary: Team of Rivals

Doris Kearns Goodwin is zeitgeist right now. The very notion of a “team of rivals” is hot stuff.

But what is best to enable policy? And is Obama actively looking for a team of rivals, or not? AND, most importantly, in the contemporary media era, where many of these supposed rivals are themselves limelight-seekers, how can a President Obama manage the situation?

First: Enabling the Best Policy

Good mangers want the best people in the right positions that enable a smooth flow of work and information. In fact, with all the talk of Bush running the country like a CEO, I wonder if Obama is going to out-CEO him. It looks like it. The best CEOs lay out a vision, get the best possible people to enable the vision, and  With McCain over here, Clinton there, and rumors of Hagel and Lugar flying around, there appears to be no qualified person considered off-limits. By eliminating the “ideology litmus test”, Obama is opening the door for more people.

Chances are, no “heckuva job, Brownie”s this time around.

Second: An ACTUAL Team of Rivals?

Maybe. In his 60 Minutes interview, he implied that he is, he read the book, and sees division as a major problem in this country. I don’t know if this is possible. There is a careful line between creative dissonance and just dissonance, between constructive chaos and simply chaos. Without clear lines of control, and the power to assert authority, and Obama White House could look inept.

The Rahm Emanuel appointment as Chief of Staff is something of a relief, in this matter. Emanuel is an enforcer, by most accounts, and can help manage big egos…

Third: Managing Egos

President-elect Obama’s ego is well-managed by his poise, cool thoughtfulness, warm family narrative, and obvious intellectual abilities. In other words, so far, he wears the robes of power, and they do not wear him (see Bush, George W). This is important: including McCain, Clinton, and various “rivals” (who themselves have and had clear presidential aspriations) in the administration means finding ways to check their personal self-aggrandizement against the success of policy-making and peace-making.

McCain seems the most willing to play the role of constructive thorn, local expert, and general statesman. Clinton has two things that work against her, politically and polciy-wise: 1) Bill Clinton cares a LOT about his legacy; and 2) Hillary Clinton wants to be President someday. Playing second-chair to Obama may be difficult for her/them. Not because of personal character flaws, per se, but because the Clintons know how to use the media to serve their agenda (which is sometimes a personal one, and sometimes a public one). The key here, then, is to make sure the Clinton agenda is brought in line with the Obama agenda. Or, more accurately, that the Clinton agenda is not in conflict with the Obama agenda.

In typical times, this would not be easy. The 2008 Financial Tornado provides an opportunity for a future President Obama to ask EVERYONE to subordinate personal agendas for the greater good. When he was saying this to the DNC in 2004, it sounded, to steal his phrase, “like happy talk.” During his nomination acceptance speech in 2008, it sounded like the talk of someone earnestly trying to recall, and recapture, a time when great people strode the earth with positive purpose. But as 2009 approaches, it’s looking more and more like “the only option.”

This is good, not only for him, but for all of us. We ALL must subordinate our personal good for the greater good. There is an inherent Kennedy-esque equality that Obama has called for. Selfishness and greed wounded us, and this helps “We, the people” to be willing to sign up for his cause of service. Being a a “media whore” looks worse today than it did a year ago, because the limelight now asks for seriousness, and for results. Sarah Palin’s name being increasingly used as a punchline is evidence of this fact.

In the end, the Team of Rivals works as long as there is a cause to fight for together. And that is President Obama’s greatest challenge – to keep us called to causes of greater good, and make us believe the cause is worth fighting for. The moment things get too easy, too black-and-white, and we get too complacent, that is the moment when the team of rivals is no longer helpful.

Filed under: Culture, Philosophy, Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,

The Obama Cabinet – Part One

How’s this for a dream team?

 

  • Secretary of State: Bill Richardson or John Kerry
  • Secretary of the Treasury: Michael Bloomberg (two birds, meet one stone)
  • Secretary of Defense: Colin Powell
  • Attorney General: Hillary Clinton
  • Homeland Security: John McCain (yes, that one)
  • Secretary of Education: Michelle Rhee
  • National Security Advisor: Wesley Clark
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services: Howard Dean

 

Other thoughts…

 

  • Logical consolidation: bring the EPA and Agriculture under Department of Interior. All these things are related to proper land use. Bring back Christine Todd Whitman to lead this new consolidated Department.

That’s it. Still thinking about the Obama administration and what it means.

Filed under: Politics, , ,

Economist Links

Interesting thoughts from the Economist. No commentary, since they are saying a lot of the things I’ve said. Too bad I found these articles today versus yesterday or earlier.

Richard Milhouse McCain

Republican Party Smear Tactics

Effects of the Financial Crisis

Election Money

All interesting, and color the campaign. In the end, it seems clear to me that the Republicans have less substance to offer than the Democrats. I hope Obama wins in a landslide so we can put the first nail in the coffin of smear politics.

Filed under: Politics, , , , , , , , , ,

(Media) Blackout, Open Letter to John McCain

The new McCain has yet to emerge from his hole and tell us if it will continue to be winter or if summer is around the corner. So far, they feel as though a media blackout is the best way to go. The new McCain has been the opposite of the 2000 self.

Oh well. John McCain was once the guy who could reach through the chatter, across the aisle, and say the things that needed saying. He used to believe in country before party. He used to believe in doing the right thing, even if it was unpopular. John McCain was even considered by John Kerry for running mate, remember.

Open Letter to Senator McCain

Senator McCain, if you actually read this, I have only this to say: it’s too bad that you mortgaged your values for a campaign. You used to be the one to cut the crap, now you run with it. You used to be a Barry Goldwater Republican, and now you are a Dick Cheney Republican. I’m going to ignore the fact that you are running against Obama, and ask you this – what happened? You were an aisle-crosser. You called a spade a spade when you criticized Bush for pandering at Bob Jones University. Then you supported George Wallace Jr, a frequenter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a well-known white-supremacist/segregationist organization.

Senator McCain, I used to like you. I honestly believed that you could remake American politics. You were the honorable Republican in the room, yelling at the liars on both sides of the aisle. You were a critic, the check, the balance, that made the Republican party pause. You were Barry Goldwater’s intellectual heir. A true conservative who believed in state’s rights and libertarian values.

But no more. Your choice of Governor Palin is illustrative of this – she is a shoot-first thinker, with none of the qualities that made you a maverick. You were a maverick because you stood up for beliefs regardless of who agreed with you, and yet you worked with those who didn’t. She is a maverick because she refuses to cooperate with anyone who disagrees with her.  You were a maverick because you believed in radical transparency and government accountability. She is a maverick because she is shockingly opaque in her decision-making process, and tries to find ways to skirt accountability. You, on the other hand, were above such pettiness. That is why Democrats and Republicans alike used to think of you as a statesman.

No longer.

Your lies are shocking and obvious in the public, and your campaign reflects a Bush/Palin approach – opaque, divisive, and obfuscatory – and not the McCain we believed in. When it comes to the issues, I’m not surprised at some of your stances. But then you supported invading Iraq, despite the lack of intelligence. And you now no longer believe torture is torture? You, of all people?

And now you think the judicial system rules by fiat? Those justices you now admire believe the Constitution doesn’t apply to all people, and the government can do whatever they want to those people. That’s fiat. And the ones you don’t like are saying government should be small, and should protect people from those with power. That’s protecting individual liberty. Saying you “oppose judicial activism” is code for saying you only support people who agree with you. I recommend you read the Barnette case. And Marbury vs. Madison. You clearly don’t understand the role of courts, and how they always scale back government power. You’re talking now like the anti-Goldwater, a watered-down version of Bush. You’ve become the person you didn’t like.

If you are willing to forego your beliefs for victory, then you clearly deceived me, and America. “Straight talk” indeed. It doesn’t really matter to me now which one of you is the “real” John McCain, because you clearly showed your willingness to put party unity, and electoral victory, above the needs and wants of the United States of America. Senator McCain, I said in 1996 that you would have been a more compelling candidate than Bob Dole, I said in 1998 that I hope you are the 2000 Republican candidate because then it is not a choice between two evils, and I said in 2000 that I hope you hold Bush accountable.

Senator McCain, you failed me. If you win in November, it will be in spite of people like me, who used to think you were better than the bunch.

Best regards,

Vijtable

Filed under: Philosophy, Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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