Monday, May 19, 2014

What Chris Hadfield's version of "Space Oddity" can tell us about Copyright

Cory Doctorow at Boingboing points us at a very good essay about Chris Hadfield's "Space Oddity" and what it means for copyright in general.

Doctorow's comment bears repeating:

Ironically, if Hadfield had recorded the song and sold it on CD or as an MP3, there would have been no need for him to get a license from Bowie, and no way for Bowie to remove it, because there's a compulsory license for cover songs that sets out how much the performer has to pay the songwriter for each copy sold, but does not give the songwriter the power to veto individual covers.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Daryl Gregory on Investigating the Numinous

Over at, Daryl Gregory explores the concept of the numinous from a hard-SF viewpoint. He jumps off from Barbara Ehrenreich's essay in the New York Times.

Gregory's core quote:

But that profundity, that quality of realness, is also just a feeling. If one of the symptoms of the numinous was that it felt “fake,” as some visual hallucinations do, neither Ehrenreich nor anyone else would be lobbying for pursuit of external intelligences.

The brain, after all, is lying to us all the time, about things great and small. It edits our sense of time so that neuronal events that reach the brain at separate times seem to occur simultaneously. It makes us see patterns in random noise. And, in its finest deception, it makes us think that there’s a self behind our eyes that’s steering a body around, an illusion so pervasive and natural-feeling that it makes the numinous look like a cheap card trick.

He also links to Ross Douthat's response to Ehrenreich, which leads me to say something I never thought I'd say: Ross Douthat makes more sense than Barbara Ehrenreich (at least on this narrow topic).

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Vi Hart on Net Neutrality

As if I didn't already have enough reasons to adore Vi Hart, she has a fantastic explanation of Net Neutrality and why it matters so much.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Why I read Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow comments on Common Core:

The rise of standardized testing, standardized curriculum, and "accountability" are part of the wider phenomenon of framing every question in business terms. In the modern world, the state is a kind of souped up business. That's why we're all "taxpayers" instead of "citizens." "Taxpayer" reframes policy outcomes as a kind of customer-loyalty perk. If your taxes are the locus of your relationship with the state, then people who don't pay taxes -- people too young, old, disabled, or unlucky to be working -- are not entitled to policy outcomes that reflect their needs.