Mar. 21st, 2012

x_los: (On A Ship)
On Women’s Rights: Yeah, Yeah, Blah, Blah, Blah. Whatever.
Men Will Never Truly Understand A Day In The Life of Women. But Shouldn’t We Try?
Women are Prescribed More Drugs But Take Less of Them
Judge Chooses Pi Day To Reject Lawsuit Over Attempt To Copyright Pi As A Song
The Story of the Most Common Bird in the World: Why do we love what is rare and despise what is all around us?

"At the moment at which Mao decided to kill the sparrows, there were hundreds of millions of them in China (some estimates run as high as several billion), but there were also hundreds of millions of people. Mao commanded people all over the country to come out of their houses to bang pots and make the sparrows fly, which, in March of 1958, they did. The sparrows flew until exhausted, then they died, mid-air, and fell to the ground, their bodies still warm with exertion. Sparrows were also caught in nets, poisoned and killed, adults and eggs alike, anyway they could be. By some estimates, a billion birds were killed. These were the dead birds of the great leap forward, the dead birds out of which prosperity would rise.

Of course moral stories are complex, and ecological stories are too. When the sparrows were killed, crop production increased, at least according to some reports, at least initially. But with time, something else happened. Pests of rice and other staple foods erupted in densities never seen before. The crops were mowed down and, partly as a consequence of starvation due to crop failure, 35 million Chinese people died. The great leap forward leapt backward, which is when a few scientists in China began to notice a paper published by a Chinese ornithologist before the sparrows were killed. The ornithologist had found that while adult tree sparrows mostly eat grains, their babies, like those of house sparrows, tend to be fed insects. In killing the sparrows, Mao and the Chinese had saved the crops from the sparrows, but appear to have left them to the insects. And so Mao, in 1960, ordered sparrows to be conserved (replacing them on the list of four pests with bedbugs). It is sometimes only when a species is removed that we see clearly its value. When sparrows are rare, we often see their benefits; when they are common, we see their curse."

"In 1889, just 49 years after the introduction of the birds, a survey was sent to roughly 5,000 Americans to ask them what they thought of the house sparrows. Three thousand people responded and the sentiment was nearly universal: The birds were pests. This land became their land too, and that is when we began to hate them."

The GM genocide: Thousands [an estimated 125,000] of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

"But GM salesmen and government officials had promised farmers that these were 'magic seeds' - with better crops that would be free from parasites and insects.
Indeed, in a bid to promote the uptake of GM seeds, traditional varieties were banned from many government seed banks.

The authorities had a vested interest in promoting this new biotechnology. Desperate to escape the grinding poverty of the post-independence years, the Indian government had agreed to allow new bio-tech giants, such as the U.S. market-leader Monsanto, to sell their new seed creations.

In return for allowing western companies access to the second most populated country in the world, with more than one billion people, India was granted International Monetary Fund loans in the Eighties and Nineties, helping to launch an economic revolution.

But while cities such as Mumbai and Delhi have boomed, the farmers' lives have slid back into the dark ages. [...] Far from being 'magic seeds', GM pest-proof 'breeds' of cotton have been devastated by bollworms, a voracious parasite.

Nor were the farmers told that these seeds require double the amount of water. This has proved a matter of life and death."

"Officials also point to surveys saying the majority of Indian farmers want GM seeds - no doubt encouraged to do so by aggressive marketing tactics.

During the course of my inquiries in Maharastra, I encountered three 'independent' surveyors scouring villages for information about suicides. They insisted that GM seeds were only 50 per cent more expensive - and then later admitted the difference was 1,000 per cent.

(A Monsanto spokesman later insisted their seed is 'only double' the price of 'official' non-GM seed - but admitted that the difference can be vast if cheaper traditional seeds are sold by 'unscrupulous' merchants, who often also sell 'fake' GM seeds which are prone to disease.)"

"But the debt does not die with her husband: unless she can find a way of paying it off, she will not be able to afford the children's schooling. They will lose their land, joining the hordes seen begging in their thousands by the roadside throughout this vast, chaotic country.
Cruelly, it's the young who are suffering most from the 'GM Genocide' - the very generation supposed to be lifted out of a life of hardship and misery by these 'magic seeds'."

The Trayvon Martin Killing, Explained: How did a kid armed with Skittles and an ice tea get gunned down by an overeager neighborhood watch captain? And why didn't police detain shooter George Zimmerman?
On Fandom and Ownership:

I really strongly disagree with this and think there's a blindingly obvious legal-custom rationale in the Public Figure and paid vs. gift economy breakdowns, not to mention on the Death of the Author/Entering Culture/Writing Traditions side. Also, fuck, Marx, and whether property rights reside with the people who own the land or the people who work it, and his successors on whether that's actually a more nuanced question. I'm actually shocked none of this has entered the text, though it may well show up in the comments.

I'd agree that there's a lack of consensus on monetization of fanworks, but I'd argue that part of that is due to internalization of disdain for fanwork that's present in a lot of fan-discourse, including this article.

This, in particular: "(Sure, it was supposed to be sold at cost, which was an distinction the law wouldn't recognize: the question is money changing hands, not the percentage of profit.)" seems wrong, because the law certainly recognized NFP models, so selling at cost--also fuck me sideways with a banana if there isn't tort for 'selling to recoup costs but not for profit' as a concept.

"Fandom is supposed to be outside the market economy; but the truth is that the medium of exchange is all that's different." I think this is partly true, but grossly over-simplifies the breaks and ruptures and complications inherent in something being 'outside' the economy. It also doesn't take advantage of Tiziana Terranova's breakdown of late capitalism's capacity to subsume gift economy into itself and use it as an engine of capitalism, which Olga Goriunova touches on re: Creative Commons and, briefly, lj, and which I think would deepen what's currently a relatively flaccid economic inquiry.

It's probably not really fair to get angry about this because I wrote a thesis on discourses of legitimacy in fic and big papers this year on people's relationship with and right to 'national epics' and on gift economies and internet crafting communities, and as such I have TOO MANY FEELINGZ!! on the issue. And I can't expect someone else to have pretty much done an MA on this before posting meta. I'm sorry, that sounds pretentious. I don't mean 'omg no one understaaaandz fandom like Iiii dooooo' at all, just: I've recently done work on similar subjects in an academic context with due rigor, and going 'this meta is not going to get a Distinction, is it?!' is a bit beside the point and dumb.

"Fanvids are prettier, higher quality, and more convenient on dvd." Seriously though, *what*?

Also who wrote this section on vid distribution, the Henry Jenkins ChairGhost of Christmas Past?

Also: zero discussion of fanwork communities as sites of creative engagement and fic not being born of immaculate creative isolation: annoying me.

Also I don't think this point about the zeitgeist is correct: what about Blanket Permission for podficcers as a concern?

"It also may vary depending on how much the final product is valued; if BNF Jane rips off a few paragraphs of Newbie Mary's PWP and turns it into a 30,000 epic, it's possible the bulk of the fandom just won't care about the theft, if Jane's story is sufficiently popular. Again, perceived benefit to the community may outweigh the plagiarized fan's equitable interests."--Disagree, I think that people's relationship to the work and the writer would be complex and accommodate for this problematic development, esp. if BNF attempted to conceal or repudiate the borrowing.

"and where there are no real penalties at this time for most of that behavior, and where the benefits accruing to this behavior are real (if not large)." Disagree on both: the penalties of being excluded and/or judged to be without artistic and personal merit are as large as they are in any artistic field. The lack of money doesn't change how people psychologically relate to their friends and creative products into like, the Coke Zero of Feelingz. This is that old lie about the internet fostering lesser/fake social relationships, which has proven to be a position of digital-phobia rather than an honest evaluation of the capacity of these social networks.

I would say that I sooort of agree with her about the implied change re: attribution/gift economy functioning with the advent of tumblr, but not in the way it's framed per se.

Feel like I'm constantly having repetitive arguments about this and copyright that are pointless because I'm trying to bridge a basic mutual incomprehension/we fail to agree on basic premisses, and everything is pointless and sucks. It's one of those really arrogant moments where you feel that if people understood what you were saying, they'd omg HAVE to agree with you!!, which is obviously kind of a shitty thing to think.

the Dear Author series on Fanfic I thought would be gaggingly bad is gaggingly bad: THRILL!! to people who do not know what the fuck they are talking about use your terms!! HOLY FUCK, watch pro RoMo writers embarrass themselves by whining about modern concerns infiltrating Georgian/Regency period work and never mention Georgette Heyer!! ENJOY?! a no-mention of Jane Austen Book Club where it would totally and usefully deepen a boring-ass breakdown of Austenalia!! Never respect!! these people ever again, if you did previously!

"When ZatB was fan fiction, that doesn’t need to be explained. But in original fiction, the way a character speaks has to come from somewhere and the P2P author was, in this case, too close to her source to know to explain that when she was publishing it as original fiction."

...or she just needed a competent editor of any kind. That too.

God this whole article reeks of a terror of being 'had' or 'fobbed off' on something that seems really insecure. Idk guys, lit doesn't come with disclaimers, fucking deal with it, swim with the sharks, google and be wrong sometimes. Honestly. There's a buried point in here about whether reading a work in juxtaposition with its source text can enrich it and whether 'FotSN' does violence to the text, but these are not the people not have it.

God I am going to puke allllllll over the Fanfic As Incubator paradigm. Bring it to me: I have some puke for it. Someone say 'developing' and 'craft' in a sentence near me, I dare you. Apologies in advance if you were talking about, idk, scrimshaw.

"Conflict and suspense. It’s very hard to introduce this in fanfic, because conflict and suspense rely on CHANGE, and fanfic writers 1) often don’t want to truly change the characters they love 2) even if they do, their audience may not accept the change."

Ahahahah run that by me again, precious?

Yeah there ARE some differences between writing original and writing fic, but again, getting a clear sense you're not the droids I am looking for, and much like Watto, I am immune to Jedi mind tricks/a Jewish stereotype (that's 'Watto is a', not 'they deployed a').

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