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It is good that diamonds should be stolen … provided only … that the new possessor exhibits them to better advantage

Posted by Ben
on 04.14.12

Let's read some Victorian defenses of plagiarism! Or anyway excerpts from such, along with discussion of such, accompanied by some (bad) Victorian centos.

Why would we do a thing like that? Because it's interesting, that's why, and easier than starting to write a paper. The linked pdf is the introduction and first chapter of Paul K. Saint-Amour's The Copywrights; the intro is perhaps less immediately interesting (especially once he gets into describing the plan of the book), though Halford might appreciate the reference to "Wordsworth's pro-copyright-extension sonnets", but it does contain quotation from a remarkable act of literary prescience on Learned Hand's part:

Borrowed the work must indeed not be, for a plagiarist is not himself pro tanto an "author"; but if by some magic a man who had never known it were to compose anew Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn", he would be an "author", and, if he copyrighted it, others may not copy that poem, though they might of course copy Keats's.

Take that, Pierre!


 

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Stories

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.13.12

Remember this guy? I saw him tonight at another conference, and after a glass of wine or two, I went up and said "Guess what! You told me a story a couple years ago, and I thought it was great, and then I went and told it and nobody believed me. Could you retell it to me again?"

He was sort of taken aback, being a very gentle person, but he complied. I planning on being boisterously nosy and ask for more details, like "So when you say you'd never heard of the Vietnam War, how literal are we being here? Is it that you just didn't realize how big a deal it was?" But it ended up seeming - yet again - too confrontational to pester him like that. He just retold the story, the exact same way.

Some stories you just can't retell because they're too ludicrous to come from anyone but the person whose story it is.

He did tell one additional story, though.

Sometime in the early 1970s, he was flying from Tennessee to Kansas. He showed up at the airport, and looked for his airline, and instead of a counter, there was just a guy off to the side, with a sign. The guy gave my friend his ticket and said "Wait right here." Then the guy disappeared into the back.

A few minutes later, he emerged, wearing overalls and said "I'm the baggage handler. I'll be taking your luggage. Wait right here."

A few minutes later, he emerged, wearing a leather jacket with little wings on it, and said "I'll be your pilot. Come with me."

It was some guy's personal plane. He took three passengers, and his brother, the co-pilot, over to Kansas. Complete with costume changes for each role. See, every time this guy tells a story, I have a million questions - how exactly did he purchase these tickets? - and somehow it's impossible to ask them.


 

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Guest Post - Minivet

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.13.12

Minivet writes in:

I just got out of jury duty after two days of service. The charges were assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest - the incidents were a month apart, but both by the same member of Occupy Oakland.

The judge spent a much longer time than I anticipated (over 3 hours) explaining the need for jurors to restrict themselves to facts in evidence, only decide on fact (i.e., no nullification, though he didn't mention that word), not make profession-based assumptions as to credibility, etc. This was presented in a Socratic style to the potential jurors in the box at the time, with a couple of people excused on the basis of their answers, but no actual voir dire until that was all over, on day 2.

I had prepared a rebuttal to the judge on the subject of nullification, to wit, that it does throw gears in the works and negate democratic decisions, just as he said, but it's still a needed check on governmental overreach when all branches of government have let severely unconscionable or unconstitutional laws stand, and was supported by Founders like John Adams. I didn't realize until afterwards, when checking TFA on the issue, that if I had actually wanted to put those ideals into practice, I shouldn't have spoken up on the subject at all; but as it turned out, they filled the jury without calling on me, and I didn't want to be on the jury anyway, what with two weeks having been scheduled for trial and deliberations.


My other declaration of bias would have been that I had marched with OSF (on which point alone I imagined the prosecutor would exclude me), and that having searched myself I felt I could separate my sympathy with Occupy from my judgment about the defendant (after all, there are different tendencies within Occupy), but I couldn't put aside a belief that the police had been very heavy-handed in suppressing Occupy and in this context were highly likely to have committed abuses and then lied about them, regardless of what the evidence presented might say.

Certainly this probably would have gotten me off the jury, but should that have been the case? Did the above judgment actually make me inappropriate from the standpoint of justice? I consider it a rational conclusion, after all, not an emotion or impulse, though admittedly a prejudgment from the perspective of the actually existing judicial system.

I was surprised at how few people (compared to what I've heard happens elsewhere) declared biases or inability to follow the judge's instructions. There were two people who objected in ways that were amazingly, aggressively stupid, and to his credit the judge worked very politely and carefully with them to figure out what they were really saying. (One person said they didn't want to punish people because "everything has a reason", and could not be induced to elaborate. Malign influence of The Secret?) A number of them declared sympathy with one side or another but eventually decided that wouldn't affect their ability to decide the case fairly. As many as 50% explicitly said they had no problem with anything the judge had laid out. It went much faster than the court expected; two days were blocked out for voir dire/jury selection, and only one was needed (not including the judge's lecture on the first day). Possibly people were intimidated because they knew if they objected they knew would be in for another fifteen minutes of Socratic dialogue.

Based on the questions the attorneys asked, it looks like some of the important issues, besides which side is more credible, will be (a) whether the police officer was acting legally at the time of the incident and (b) whether the object being improvised as a weapon constituted a deadly weapon based on how it was being used.

Minivet

Heebie's take I probably would just give the "right", pro forma answers and try to get on the jury, mostly because it's something I'm curious to do.


 

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I've got mail.

Posted by Stanley
on 04.12.12

This sticker came in the mail today. I can't wait for the first shrill patriot to note that it's clearly a dogwhistle to France regarding Obama's seekrit forthcoming plan to capitulate to the French.

Ouibama.jpg


 

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The Zimmerman Arrest

Posted by Stanley
on 04.11.12

...probably deserves its own thread. The whole thing invites speculation, really, so I guess speculate away here, if you must.


 

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So perfect.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.11.12

A few years ago, I was collecting money for the building custodian and secretary, before Christmas. I sent an email telling everyone when I'd drop off the card, and then I did. A few days after I dropped off the cards, my least favorite colleague stopped by and said "Here's $10 for them." I said, "Oh, I already passed along the cards. But you could just give it directly to them." He said, "I'll just give it to you, and you can give it to them." He put the money on my desk and left.

I nodded and stuck the $10 in my desk, because no, it's just as awkward and annoying for me to have to change your $10 into two 5s and then approach various people and give them small bills of cash, as it would be for you, jerkbutt, so do it yourself.

Now he's retiring, and there's a collection up for his retirement gift, and I feel oh so content donating a certain dusty $10 bill.


 

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TV

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.11.12

For the past five years, we've gotten the free TV networks, and watched a crapload of TV over Hulu and Netflix. For some reason, we were recently given free access to about 20 new channels - Discovery, Lifetime, VH1, etc, etc, etc.

It's so deadly. On Sunday evening, I thought I'd turn on some mindless programming to watch while I graded exams, and I sat they surfing for the right degree of mindless for like 30 minutes. Last Saturday night we got stuck watching a marathon of Hard Time, a documentary-series about life in a maximum security prison in Ohio. It's riveting and sad and disturbing and hypnotic.

We used to watch whatever we wanted, but we had to choose deliberately. This new glut of TV is dangerous.

(Or, maybe the novelty will wear off in another few weeks. Who knows.)


 

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Mellow yellow smellow melons

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.11.12

Who said it - James Joyce or Kool Keith? I got 7 out of 10.


 

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Benched

Posted by Stanley
on 04.10.12

Man, I sort of love Ozzie Guillén. Learned the hard way that, yep, in the year 2012, if you're the ambassador for a new baseball team in Miami, it's still definitely a bad idea to make laudatory public comments about Fidel Castro.


 

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Crossfit - Two Weeks In

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.10.12

First, it is way harder than I expected it to be. I thought it would be rough and I'd be sore, but I haven't finished a workout without major modifications. I have ranged from sore to excruciatingly sore over the past two weeks. It seems to be a thing where you can expect to be somewhat sore, forever.

The plus side: I feel super proud of myself each day, and I look forward to it, mostly.
The cons: I'm not sure it's sustainable. I mean, I'm loggy for an hour or two afterwards. It's a major dedication. I wanted to try it out because I wanted something rigorous and efficient, and I'm not sure it's actually that efficient.

I would not recommend it to someone unless they basically like intense exercise and feeling beat and sore. The preening macho hellhole part is not there whatsoever - everyone is friendly, and the rest of the class is what I call wriggly-puppy-20-somethings - just sort of goofy and playful and self-absorbed, but not badly so. The trainer is really nice, but I'm a stoic exerciser who will push myself until I puke*, and trainers like people who push themselves. Also this gym is pretty small - the classes have been in the 2-6 people range. So YMMV.

* True story: in high school, when we were training for soccer, after practice I would stop on the way home, and make myself run more sprints. On occasion I puked. My reasoning went like this: I am just not an athletic person, so if I want to compete, I'm going to have to out-train everyone else. So I did. Also I didn't tell anyone.


 

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Mobility

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.10.12

This device seems vastly superior to a traditional wheelchair. (Warning: starts to play immediately and with sound, but you can get the point just fine watching it without sound.)

Especially the point about how this is a front-loading device, as opposed to a back-loading device. How are you supposed to get yourself in a wheelchair without help or significant athleticism?


 

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I never wanna be lukewarm again

Posted by Stanley
on 04.10.12

While waiting for my French press to steep this morning, I was googling around, curious what lengths of time various strangers on the internet recommended for French press steeping. This guy suggests 3-4 minutes, which seems to be the most common recommendation, but what I really liked was this:

Bring water to a full rolling boil, then remove from heat immediately. Pour about half a cup of the boiling water into the plunger pot and a splash into each of the coffee mugs to heat them. This step is essential to avoid lukewarm coffee. [my emphasis]

What a clever trick! Having now tried it, I fully endorse this maneuver. Sure, it's probably making only a minor difference in the coffee's long-term temperature. But anything that makes me feel even the slightest bit more competent first thing in the morning is definitely worth doing.


 

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Homicide by intimate partners

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.09.12

Thirty plus years ago, men were almost as likely to be killed by their female partners as women were to be killed by their male partners. Intimate partner homicide (IPH) has dropped for both sexes, but more dramatically for men.

As I dug around looking for more info about IPH, one point was emphasized again and again: statistically speaking, men and women kill their partners for different reasons:
Women tend to commit homicide against a partner as a last resort in a long history of abuse ... Men tend to commit homicide based on perceived threats to their power and control
What the researchers I'm quoting and others have found says that women's shelters save men's lives. The availability of shelters, abuse hotlines, and other networks of resources and support means that many fewer women are driven to the last resort of murder, and so many fewer men are killed. It's pretty clear that the scholars think most of these men need killin', but that doesn't mean the women in question deserve to have to become murderers.

Weird, but makes sense! Also weird, the IPH for white women hasn't budged over this time span.


 

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Aches and pains

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.09.12

How old would you think you were, if you didn't know? My grandmother has said that she felt increasingly not-her-age (more youthful) the older she got. I feel about my age. Possibly I'd guess I'm older based on how creaky I feel. When I first wake up, I'd guess I'm 50. After I move around, I feel 34 again.


 

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UNFOGDECADECON!!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.09.12

Decunfoggedecon? Decadecondunfog? Anyway, it's 2013, to celebrate 10 years of this place.

I'd like to plan something, but only if there is sufficient interest. Here's what I picture:
Rent a large house in a city, and keep costs under $300+travelling costs for anyone who would like to keep things as cheap as possible. In addition, I would take donations to offset airfare/lodging for those people who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend.

All this is to say: if you're strapped for cash, I think this trip could stay on the cheap. I hope that cost isn't a limiting factor for anyone.

What I want is to find out what kind of interest there is, because IMO Unfogged people notoriously like to stay in the peace and security of their own homes. I think meet-ups sometimes sound like "All the pain of smalltalk with strangers plus it's noisy and expensive, so why again would I attend?" But I swear they're fun. It's not strangers, it's me. You know me.

Anyway, it's a lot of work and I don't want to do it unless there is actual interest.

So here's how the poll works: your answers are
A. "I'd make an effort to attend" means "there is a 75% chance I'd be there. I'm not committing right now, but I'd make an effort to see if it would work out."
B. "Maybe" means "I'm truly 50-50. I'm not against the idea, but there are a lot of reasons it might not happen for me."
C. "Unlikely" - well, duh.

New Year's Eve, in the following location:
1. Raleigh-Durham
2. Charlottesville
3. Metro DC*
4. Boston
5. Philadelphia
6. Austin**

Additional info:
7. New Year's Eve is really tough for me, but I'd love to attend something held (this time) .
8. ....like Memorial Day weekend (2013)?
9. East Coast is really tough for me, but I'd love to attend something held (here)

* I assume we'll end up here, for the record.
** But it'd be really cool if we ended up here.


 

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Feaster

Posted by Stanley
on 04.08.12

I drove to Richmond today for Family Easter Dinner Time. Isn't it sort of rude to serve ham at Easter? I mean, the guy was Jewish.


 

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