Tuesday, January 22, 2002
"Sorry. We were unable to tabulate your vote because our entire staff is currently surfing the Web for mega-babe links. But by clicking, you assigned to Microsoft the rights in perpetuity to all intellectual property that you or your descendants may someday create.
Still, at least this deals with that IP problem I had...
But it becomes a rather fraught subject when you're producing more than an essay a week where the practice, if not the intention, is for your essay to serve as your notes when exams come around. Condensations of the abstract or conclusion of psychology papers are pretty hard to write without shadowing text closely. And for complex passages of philosophy it's murder to do it and retain sense.
When graduate work came around, I'm fairly sure the final versions had nothing in them that was anywhere near those definitions. Some drafts may have done, but lost so many words (outside and inside quote marks) that nothing could have remained. Besides which, three of the four papers I wrote wandered wildly away from ground others had covered. Pretty sure that the fourth, whilst crucially relying on an argument from someone else's published work, was a) fully referenced, b) based around quotes for a chunk of it, and c) into my own words to get it into the space available.
But I've never been happy with the notion of putting someone else's ideas "into my own words". In the graduate stuff, there are a lot of foot-notes and attribution where it's happening (IIRC), partly out of nerves. It's never been clear to me what's plagarism, what isn't, and why if you've said who's said it and aren't copying line for line. The difference would seem to be, in the Ambrose example, par example, that when it's plagarism (say of Descartes) it's not plain that the idea's Descartes, whereas some serious echoes of the translation are allowable in a paragraph setting out his idea of the relationship between mind and body (or whatever).
Would I be burnt if I submitted some of my undergrad essays to an American university? If they checked, but then I'd have footnotes etc if I did. Would I be burnt if I submitted any of my exams or my post-grad work to a fine-tooth comb investigation? I hope not...
"IN THE second paragraph of his latest column, Robert Fisk informs us:
"I've written this story before."
Which saves us all the trouble of reading this one. Thanks for the heads-up, Bobby!"
This is absurd. International organisations who had widespread support, sympathy and respect pre-9-11 have thrown it all away on a succession of ludicrous arguments. The list's too long to go over. But it's shocking that organisations that have saved innumerable lives, protected individuals genuinely at risk of mistreatment, and stood as beacons of light throughout much of the world have decided that it's not worth it any more, and that murderous, suicidal, insane war criminals, traitors and mass murderers (between those adjectives, everyone imprisoned at G-bay should be covered...) need a choice of toppings on their bagels. Seems to me that there are actually problems in the world: perhaps they should try to rectify some of them?
Monday, January 21, 2002
On the other hand, still worth remarking that the US is giving more in one year than Saudi will give in three, and that the UK's pledged more in total as well.
"Breakfast - typically bread, cream cheese, an orange, a pastry, a roll, a bottle of water
Lunch - typically a box of cereal, two cereal bars, a packet of peanuts, one packet crisps, one packet raisins, a bottle of water
Evening meal - typically white rice, red beans, a banana, bread, a bottle of water"
They're cages are warmer than my abode too, and they're less likely to get assaulted.
All I get they don't (bar the booze they wouldn't drink) is the Simpsons:
I spent the next three years in a POW camp, forced to subsist
on a thin stew of fish, vegetables, prawns, coconut milk, and
four kinds of rice. I came close to madness trying to find it
here in the States, but they just can't get the spices right ---
I'll probably keep at it for a little while, but here's today's main argument:
POWs get to go free at the end of a conflict (unless they've committed war crimes). al-Quaida members can't be safely released if there are any sharp objects to hand at the time. There's no way they can or would hold up their "side" of the bargain the Geneva Conventions represent. So they lose a few of the comforts that came in with the tenth century.
"Have you heard about the Russian and American generals? They are arguing about who has the best troops.
The Russian general says, "We feed our troops one thousand calories a day."
The American general says, "We feed our troops three thousand calories a day."
"Nonsense!" says the Russian general, "no one can eat an entire sack of potatoes in twenty-four hours.""
Sunday, January 20, 2002
Here's another barren looking POW camp from WWII, in Lordsburg, New Mexico. Scroll down to the rough concrete looking building.
Here's a chunk of stuff about facilities in Oklahoma POW camps. Lots of facilities listed: chapel, theatre, school, gym, day-rooms, library, orchestras. But then, that's for a much longer haul (1942-5) than we're looking at currently. And the guys in Cuba have religious facilities, regular exercise, medical facilities, and (I'm guessing) not much interest in the legitimate theatre. Given the security concerns of letting them mingle, they're getting a fair deal there (it seems to me).
Only difference I'm noticing is the panopticon prison rather than tar-paper coated wooden barracks (cue Monty Python "luxury!" rant). And ,given that POW camps in the US were located in the south to save on heating costs, I'm guessing they'll be about as well taken care of if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
"Lemur," came the reply.
"Ohhh ... what's it taste like?"
"Kind of like cat." "
[That's come out sounding slightly sexist. Wasn't meant to.]
So: the underhanded Muslim-hating Yankees gave twice as much money to Afghanistan (when it was run by a nice Islamic regime, and so all was no doubt well there) than Saudi Arabia is giving to a war-ravaged nation, bombed into submission by the pitiless infidel. Dig that brotherhood.
From the illustration provided, it looks like the slabs (laid flat) are somewhat larger than a person. So at least some kind of memorial to everyone who died could be fitted into an area the size of a couple of football fields at a price that wouldn't be unaffordable. Actual statues (or similar) would take up rather less room (a football pitch is 5400 metres-square (says my math), but 1m sq. is an awful lot relative to the size of a human being). And I'll try to make that my last bit of speculation on the subject for a while.
"The Unknown Wittgenstein: Architect, Engineer, Photographer is at the Library Print Room, Royal Academy of Art, London W1, until January 28. Details: 020-7300 8000."
"Was it not a false and ill-advised step on the part of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to deny outright that it had links with the ship whose cargo of weapons was seized recently by Israel?
Israel’s public relations machinery has converted the incident into a big propaganda weapon. Though most Arab writers rallied round the Palestinian Authority and emphasized its lack of involvement in the arms shipment, Israel, on the other hand, is bent on using the matter against the Palestinians."
At this point, the suggestion would seem to be that the PA weren't responsible, but we're just talking tactics for dealing with foul Israeli accusations. A consistent, if not evidentially backed, approach to take.
And then it just goes crazy.
"The mistake on the part of the PA was not that it bought the weapons and made an attempt to bring them to the Palestinian homeland. On the other hand, its hurried denial was a gross mistake. The denial made the PA fall into the trap laid by Israel’s public relations officials who wanted to capitalize on denial by PA officials rather than the actual capture of the weapons.
It would have been much better if Arafat had stated that the shipment belonged to him and that he was forced to import the weapons in the face of the Israeli challenges and moves which aim at destroying his authority in the region. If he had made such a statement, Israel would not have been able to make use of the situation so powerfully against him."
So: it was OK for Arafat to import the weapons (a position that makes sense for the author); the rest of the world wouldn't have cared about that (um...); the Israelis were more concerned about showing Arafat to be a liar than stopping 50 tons of weapons reaching the PA or showing that they were importing them (um...); and "most Arab writers rallied round the Palestinian Authority and emphasized its lack of involvement in the arms shipment" in spite of the PA having a right (say they) to import the weapons, and having no evidence to base the denial on, and not (in the author's case at least) believing it.
Doesn't this article basically just say that the Arab press can't be believed on the subject of Israel, that they'll just make stuff up for partisan advantage, and that they think that the PA (and, by implication, Arab governments) should lie like crazy (but deniably, like Clinton (see link)) to beat Israel. Sure makes parsing stories easier if we take that approach...
The main thing, of course, that it reminds me of is the Star Wars Technical Commentaries, one of the first places I chipped in with unwanted advice. And, I now realise, the source of a lot of spam: if you feel tempted to contribute, note the owner puts up the e-mail addresses of people whose comments he takes on board. Curiously enough (given current news topics), my main points were about the laws of war.
The classic SWTC article remains, of course Endor Holocaust: "What happens when you detonate a spherical metal honeycomb over five hundred miles wide just above the atmosphere of a habitable world? Regardless of specifics, the world won't remain habitable for long." Way, way too much thought has been given to a lot of these topics. But if you ever had a query about how something in Lucas's trilogy of four works, that's the place to look.