Archive | April, 2006

#27 on the NYT Best Seller List…and climbing?

25 Apr

Apparently some teenagers are so impressionable that they can subconsciously write passages from other people's novels verbatim in their own works of fiction. This teenager unfortunately attends Harvard, and is a sister to boot. Check it out for yourself. Seems pretty obvious to me. She says she didn't realize how much she had internalized the original works. Come on, if you're going to internalize something at least make it a work that contributes to the canon we call literature. Oh wait, she would have been more likely to get caught if she had plagiarized Toni Morrisson. Hey publishers, maybe it's not such a good idea to give so much advance bling to everyone.

UPDATE:  She fessed up.  They pulled the book from stores.  Over 40 instances of copying.  She's the scapegoat for "book packagers."  What drama.  And the book probably wasn't even that good.  'Nuff said about this.  It's pathetic.

Pathological Fantasy

21 Apr

What would it take to become a professional golfer? What if I quit my job and dedicated myself to finding a golf coach, learning how to swing and practicing hour after hour, day after day hitting a golf ball how and where I wanted? Could it be done with, say, $50k? And suppose I made my goal to qualify for the Senior Tour (a.k.a. the Champions Tour) at age 50? That would give 13 years to learn the game. Possible or not possible? (note: I’m reading Open by John Feinstein, which is about the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage). Are these kinds of musings just fantasy? What makes something doable anyway? What percentage of our lives are spent simply doing the easier thing? How many of us are really doing what we want to do? We’re fortunate to have the luxury to even think of such a question, but that doesn’t make answering it any easier. Continue reading

Delicious Library

21 Apr

I’ve spent many of the late-night hours this week using a new program called Delicious Library. With it, I scan the bar codes of my books and cds and they are logged and filed, even as the program links to Amazon.com and other sites for details and reviews. So now I have my own electronic catalog of items that I own and it can keep track of who borrows what, etc. Many of the books that I have in mass market paperback format don’t automatically appear when I scan them. So I have to enter the ISBN number by hand. In these cases, the program will usually recognize the book, but not be able to locate the exact cover artwork. Continue reading

Hate Speech

14 Apr

A couple of people have commented on my use of the term "hate speech" in a previous post. The idea of "hate speech" as it is used in the U.S. is that there may be speech intended to degrade or incite violence against people based on their ethnicity, race, gender or sexual orientation. Which means that there may be some speech that isn't protected under the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Not surprising…there are plenty of things that we can't say without incurring possible punishment. A Canadian law professor named Catharine McKinnon, in a book written in the early 90s called Only Words, takes the idea of hate speech further and claims that there may be some speech which is not simply speech. In her view, such speech is in fact oppression.

Even if the term "hate speech" is not used outside of the U.S., many countries, including the UK, Germany, Canada, Iceland and others, have codified laws that regulate and/or punish hate speech.  Ditto for the Council of Europe. The idea has already criss-crossed the Atlantic numerous times. Here are some examples, and articles on both sides of the debate.  I do think that the concept is often misused, and not  discussed cogently, and I also think it's ultimately a losing proposition over the long term.  But it merits a serious discussion about equality and power, as freedom of speech and expression don't live in a vacuum.  Probably wishful thinking.

Kolkata

3 Apr

It's time to go home.  We've been assigned to the city of Kolkata, India for 2 years, beginning in August 2006.  I suppose it's necessary that I go and live in India.  Just because I was born there, mind you, not for any other particular reason.  I'm not sure what to make of it.  Instead of going to my roots in the south, I'm going east.  Where does one start, really, with a place like India?  How about the National Portal of India? Continue reading