the bus

well, i’m taking the bus to work now. it’s a straight shot down woodward, and i’m now going to enumerate the advantages for you:

1. it’s cheaper than gas. i get 30 to 33 mpg, 20 mile round trip, so 3 gallons a week at $2.80/g is roughly $8.50, but parking at wsu at $2.25/day is $11.25, total $20/wk to drive. That’s $80 a month. But a 31-day bus pass is only $47.

2. it’s economically responsible in a number of other ways — it provides employment for a number of people besides me, it could provide for us to be a one car family (yes!), it discourages the oil economy.

3. which leads me to a great advantage, which is that i’m voting with my pocketbook for better public transportation in the detroit area, something we desperately need but which the prevailing auto industry culture is biased against.

4. i get a half-hour walk every day, outside. exercise, baby.

5. i’m breaking out of the ‘me’ zone and getting into the broader community. heck, i might have to sit right next to someone i don’t know and have a conversation.

i know it’s not for everyone, but i’m so pleased to get to take the bus. it’s like a privilege (although check back with me in the heart of winter).

fair use day

it’s fair use day.

i get asked about fair use a lot. actually, i get asked, “is it illegal to copy a cd for personal use?” a lot. this isn’t specifically covered under fair use, but case law generally says go ahead and make a backup.

but as far as copyright law goes, everything is copyrighted. everything put down in recorded form is protected under u.s. copyright law, including everything on the web, whether or not the creator registered it with the copyright office. that’s right: once you set it down on paper/tape/byte, its copyrighted (you have to register the copyright in order to pursue your legal claims in court, so, catch-22).

however, everyone has a little backdoor through the copyright law called the fair use provision. you should take a moment to familiarize yourself with fair use; i’d suggest stanford libraries’ marvelous site. but if you’re only going to read this post, then you should be familiar with the four factor test for fair use:

1. the purpose and character of your use
2. the nature of the copyrighted work
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market.

what are you doing it for (are you adding value – ‘transforming’ the original work – or just copying), what kind of work is it in the first place (non-fiction is more permissible than fiction, for example), how much are you using (a few seconds of film? a single quote? a whole chapter?), and are you negatively impacting the potential earnings of the content creator?

if you can honestly say you haven’t run afoul of these factors, then your use is most likely fair.

many feel that the copyright laws have run out of bounds in the past 20 years or so, and there are major efforts being undertaken to restore copyright to its former sanity, the most popular/impressive of which is the creative commons initiative. they have a search page that can help you find creative-commons-licensed work which falls outside traditional copyright (and is therefore less restricted for use) at http://search.creativecommons.org/. i personally love flickr’s creative commons pages (http://flickr.com/creativecommons/), because i can play with the images there and not worry about copyright.

there. i’ve done my part for fair use day. happy (fair) using.

from the times:

…under a new recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, doctors have begun to offer a new, safer screening procedure to all pregnant women, regardless of age.

About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion…

…Newsweek columnist George F. Will labeled it a ‘search and destroy mission‘ for a category of citizens…

…Dr. Brian Skotko, a medical resident who has studied how mothers were told of prenatal diagnoses, found a high level of dissatisfaction. He said that most doctors have little or no training on how to relay a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome…

…Others take issue with the notion that they do not give parents a balanced portrayal of the condition.

‘It’s a mistake to say ”your baby is going to be mentally retarded, you should have a pregnancy termination,” ‘ said Dr. Allan Nadel, director of prenatal diagnosis at [Massachussetts General] hospital. ‘By the same token, I don’t think it’s quite fair to say ”these are wonderful lovely human beings, you can deal with all of their problems and it’s not that big of a deal.” We strive to have the proper balance.’

(source: harmon, amy. prenatal test puts down syndrome in hard focus. new york times. may 9, 2007.)

this halloween, i’m gonna be google

If you can believe it, Google’s $144 billion market value tops that of Time Warner, Viacom, CBS, ad agency giant Publicis Groupe, and the New York Times Co. combined… Googlezon, GoogleWorld, just plain Google—whatever you call it, it’s scaring the wits out of everyone from the power lunchers of Hollywood to Madison Avenue ad moguls to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs…