Our Writing is NOT their Property!

Kindle E-Reader: A Trojan Horse for Free Thought

By Emily Walshe
The Christian Science Monitor
from the March 18, 2009 edition

Brookville, N.Y. – All you really need to know about
the dangers of digital commodification you learned in

Think back. Remember swapping your baloney sandwich for
Jell-o pudding? Now, imagine handing over your sandwich
and getting just a spoon.

That’s one trade you’d never make again.

Yet that’s just what millions of Americans are doing
every day when they read “books” on Kindle, Amazon‘s e-
reading device. In our rush to adopt new technologies,
we have too readily surrendered ownership in favor of
its twisted sister, access.

Web 2.0 and its culture of collaboration supposedly
unleashed a sharing society. But we can share only what
we own. And as more and more content gets digitized,
commercialized, and monopolized, our cultural integrity
is threatened. The free and balanced flow of
information that gives shape to democratic society is

For now, though, Kindle is on fire in the marketplace.
Who could resist reading “what you want, when you want
it?” Access to more than 240,000 books is just seconds
away. And its “revolutionary electronic-paper display
… looks and reads like real paper.”

But it comes with restrictions: You can’t resell or
share your books – because you don’t own them. You can
download only from Amazon’s store, making it difficult
to read anything that is not routed through Amazon
first. You’re not buying a book; you’re buying access
to a book. No, it’s not like borrowing a book from a
library, because there is no public investment. It’s
like taking an interest-only mortgage out on
intellectual property.

If our flailing economy is to teach us anything, it
might be that an on-demand world of universal access
(with words like lease, licensure, and liquidity) gets
us into trouble. Amazon and other e-media aggregators
know that digital text is the irrational exuberance of
the day, and so are seizing the opportunity to codify,
commodify, and control access for tomorrow.
But access
doesn’t “look and read” like printed paper at all –
just ask any forlorn investor. Access is useless

Why is this important? Because Kindle is the kind of
technology that challenges media freedom and restricts
media pluralism. It exacerbates what historian William
Leach calls “the landscape of the temporary”: a hyper
mobile and rootless society that prefers access to
ownership. Such a society is vulnerable to the dangers
of selective censorship and control.

Digital rights management (DRM), which Kindle uses to
lock in its library, raises critical questions about
the nature of property and identity in digital culture.
Culture plays a large role – in some ways, larger than
government – in shaping who we are as individuals in a
society. The First Amendment protects our right to
participate in the production of that culture. The
widespread commodification of access is shaping nearly
every aspect of modern citizenship. There are benefits,
to be sure, but this transformation also poses a big-
time threat to free expression and assembly.

When Facebook, for example, proposed revisions to its
terms of service last month – claiming ownership of
user profiles and personal data – the successful
backlash it spawned caused complex (even existential)
ideas about property, identity, and capitulation to
bubble up:
Is my Facebook profile the essence of who I
am? If so, who owns me?

The hallmark of a constitutionally governed society,
after all, is the acknowledgment that we are the
authors of our own experience. In an Internet age, this
is manifest not only in published works, but also an
ever-evolving host of user-generated content (Twitter,
Blogger, Facebook, YouTube, etc.). If service providers
lay claim to digital content now, how will it all end?

Print may be dying, but the idea of print would be the
more critical demise: the idea that there needs to be a
record – an artifact of permanence, residence, and
posterity – that is independent of some well-appointed
thingamajig in order to be seen, touched, understood,
or wholly possessed.

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture,”
Ray Bradbury once said. “Just get people to stop
reading them.”

Access equals control. In this case, it is control over
what is read and what is not; what is referenced and
what is overlooked; what is retained and what is
deleted; what is and what seems to be.

To kindle, we must remember, is to set fire to. The
combustible power of this device (and others like it)
lies in their quiet but constant claim to intangible,
algorithmic capital. What the Kindle should be igniting
is serious debate on the fundamental, inalienable right
to property in a digital age – and clarifying what’s
yours, mine, and ours.

It should strike a match against the winner-take-all
casino economies that this kind of technology
engenders; revitalize American libraries and other
social institutions in their quest to preserve the
doctrines of fair use and first sale (which allow for
free and lawful sharing); and finally, spark Americans
to consider the extent to which they are handing over
their baloney sandwich for a plastic spoon.

Like a lot of people, I’m a sucker for a good book. But
not at the expense of freedom, or foreclosure of

Emily Walshe is a librarian and professor at Long
Island University
in New York.

going somewhere?

“On a New York-to-Denver flight, a commercial jet would generate 840 to 1,660 pounds of carbon dioxide per passenger. That’s about what an SUV generates in a month.”


“The FAA projects that the number of U.S. airline passengers will nearly double from 739 million last year to 1.4 billion in 2025. Air traffic controllers are expected to handle 95 million flights by all types of aircraft in 2025, compared with 63 million last year. Worldwide, a growing middle class with the means to travel is spawning new airlines and big orders for new planes. China plans more than 40 new airports to accommodate the growth.

By 2050, emissions from planes are expected to become one of the largest contributors to global warming, according to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, an independent group of scientists that advises the British government.”

chicago and a new airport?


and peak oil? hello?


Do we really have ‘til 2050 to fuck around like this?

US says:

US Says it Shot Down Iranian Drone Last Month

By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer (with some help from me)

“BAGHDAD – U.S. jets shot down an Iranian unmanned surveillance aircraft last month over Iraqi territory about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Monday. A U.S. statement said the Ababil 3 was tracked for about 70 minutes before U.S. jets shot it down “well-inside Iraqi airspace”and that the aircraft’s presence over Iraq “was not an accident.  An Iraqi official said the Iranian aircraft went down near the Iraqi border town of Mandali. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.”

Colin Powell anybody? (Colin who? did what?)

“The Iranians consider the presence of about 140,000 U.S. troops in a neighboring country as a threat to their national security.”

oh, and one of my favourites:
“Also Monday, a 12-year-old girl was killed when American soldiers fired at a vehicle…”

now there’s a good example of your passive voice use:

Active Voice would make that read:

‘Also, Monday, American soldiers killed a 12-year-old girl when they fired at a vehicle…’

the article continues:

“…speeding toward them and Iraqi police near Mosul, said the U.S. military.  The military said the girl was standing about 100 yards (meters) behind the vehicle and was struck by a round.

But Iraqi police said the girl was shot while in a car with her father. The discrepancy could not be immediately explained.”

The People’s Mujahedeen said Iraqi troops have prevented food and fuel from reaching Camp Ashraf…”

“But Iraqi national security adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie branded the allegations “totally baseless.”

Iran and the United States consider the People’s Mujahedeen a terrorist group…”

“…21st anniversary of...poison gas attack by Saddam’s forces against Kurdish separatists….1988…killed thousands…
biggest use of chemical weapons against a civilian populated area in history.

(gee, how original!)

Every year, we wait for the anniversary and condemn that deplorable attack committed by a dictatorial regime against its own people.”

insert regimes/peoples here ~

are we past 365 yet?

Gone with the Wind: Don’t ya just hate it?

Molly Haskell on npr, re: Frankly My Dear…. :

“We We We” just loved that story!

…. I don’t think so.

Gone with the Wind: Don’t ya just hate it?

My Mom was addicted to it;

I’m sure I saw it by the time I was 7 or 8, and it didn’t impress me;

She said I wasn’t old enough.

When I was around 13, it came around again; I still didn’t like it; She said I still wasn’t old enough.  At that point I was beginning to wonder if she was right, or if…

I’m not really sure if I saw it again in my 20s, but I vividly remember giving it one more shot when I was in my early 30s and

BAM! Not more than, what, 15? 20 minutes in? it was blaringly clear to me why I’d always hated that movie:

Talk about some whiny ass white southern bitch/es I could not possibly care less about! Talk about racist shit! Oh my God!

It made me sick.

And I was so glad to know that in all my youthful days something about that movie just didn’t work for me.

Listening to Molly Haskell go on and on about We We We, oh we loved it, and her new book Frankly My Dear…

Speak for yourself and your southern pals!

Maybe I’m too much of a yank; maybe I like black folks too much; maybe I’m too disgusted by lazy spoiled rich plantation aristocrats, prancing around drinking and scheming while everything they own and are crying over losing was built up by – ahem – “slaves”!

SLAVES, Hello? Did Molly miss that part?

Oh yeah, Butterfly McQueen; my Mom loved imitating Butterfly McQueen: “I don’ know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ no babies, Miss Scarlett!”…oh really?  Somehow out of the two of them, I’ll bet it wasn’t Butterfly who didn’t know nothing.

And good ol’ Hattie McDaniel as Mammy, yeah…’just like on the syrup bottle, Mommy’…


And Miss Scarlet and her flouncy flirty airhead babble: “War War War, that’s all anybody talks about!”.

Scarlett O’Hara as Feminist Archetype (according to Haskell)???

Please…she employs her wits to use the only qualities a woman was (is?) allowed to use – her sexuality and attractiveness, not to mention status – to go after everything/everyone she wants; she’s the same manipulative materialistic type that can be encouraged/found everywhere;

And Rhett was just another sucker, ‘til he woke up the hard way.

Eventually she decides to get tough and fight for “her” land, to work as hard as a “slave”; but I’ll bet she had her black Mammy waiting on her as soon as she got hooked back up;

And oh, poor Atlanta; all those southern riches burning to the ground…

Man, as much as I love fashion, I’m just too much of a yank to stomach that story ever again…