Help stop the renewal of the Copyright Term Extension Act

I just encountered (and signed) the rootstrikers.org petition to stop the renewal of the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), making me wonder what’s up with the Act. A quick Google search landed me on this Washington Post story story with the following paragraph distillation of the current state of affairs:

The copyright extension Clinton signed will expire in five years. Copyright holders like the Disney Corp. and the Gershwin estate have a strong incentive to try to extend copyright extension yet further into the future. But with the emergence of the Internet as a political organizing tool, opponents of copyright extension will be much better prepared. The question for the coming legislative battle on copyright is who will prevail: those who would profit from continuing to lock up the great works of the 20th century, or those who believe Bugs Bunny should be as freely available for reuse as Little Red Riding Hood.

Thank you, Dorothy Duff Brown, for teaching me about dissertation writing

In the mid to late 1990s, the Berkeley campus offered to its doctoral students a dissertation writing workshop for Berkeley run by Dorothy Duff Brown. I remember it after all these years as a lifesaver. Brown offered so much good practical advice. Don’t rely solely on my computer but also make use of print in writing large documents. Decide as a matter of personal discipline (and sanity) when to stop working each day, rather than on when to begin. After all, writing a dissertation is a process of guilt management. Even more valuable than the advice, however, was the kind sympathy that the Dr. Brown offered me and my fellow grad students — something that was, alas, often in short supply on the campus.

I will have to find out from the Berkeley Grad Division what has happened to the dissertation writing workshop. I see mention of such workshops in a list of offerings. I am, however, glad to see that folks at Michigan State University had captured some of Dorothy Duff Brown’s wisdom when she spoke there.

Good Prose by Kidder and Todd

I knew that Tracy Kidder is a famous writer but I didn’t know that he had received many of the most prestigious national literary prizes.  For better or worse, that understanding has raised the chances I’ll end up buying Good Prose, the book he recently co-authored with Richard Todd, his long time editor. The book’s publicist certainly understood that a book on non-fiction writing will have to be sold on not only the merits of the authors’ reputation but also on first impressions of the content.  And he standards will be high since the promise of learning from a master team are dangled before prospective readers/buyers.

I’m in no immediate need to buy the book since I just borrowed it from the university library.  Ideally I can even read it once before deciding whether to spend money for my own copy.

Congress: help us think about Syrian intervention

I usually call my elected representatives to advocate for specific policy stances.  I’m torn about whether Congress should vote to intervene militarily in Syria.  (My heart and gut say no but I’m not totally sure.)  So instead of advocating against military intervention,  I currently plan to say to my Congressional representatives:  put away the usual game playing, the stuff of day-to-day politics, and embrace fully the sobering task you have before you in deciding which potentially world-altering and calamitous actions to enact.  Please help lead this country and me, your constituent, in this serious work of prayerful and thoughtful consideration.

Happy Centenary, Rite of Spring!

Today is the centenary of the shocking premier of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Though I vaguely knew how famous the piece is, I hadn’t listened to it until last night. In addition to watching the impressive visualization of the piece (Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, Part 1: The Adoration of the Earth  and Part 2: The Exalted Sacrifice ), I took in the Keeping Score documentary on the work, narrated with great passion by San Francisco Symphony director Michael Tilson Thomas (the ever charismatic MTT).  I look forward to listening to more versions of The Rite of Spring and reading more about the history of the piece.

Sunday quiet?

If I had been slightly more organized this Sunday morning, I would have walked down the hill in quiet solitude to catch a bus into Berkeley.  Instead, I will now hop in my car to make the short pilgrimage to All Souls Parish.  With a bit of preparation, I’ll arrive in a relatively unhurried state of mind.  Should I, however, putter around on my computer any further, I’ll arrive slightly late, wondering why I can’t be prepare myself properly for worship service.  The wheel turns again.

The factors that make up 2012

Soon after the clock struck midnight, I said to Laura how pleased I was that 2012 is an even number.  Something about its factorability made me irrationally optimistic about the new year.

This morning, during the light of day, being curious about what prime factors make up 2012 — and being properly lazy on a new year’s day — I turned to Wolfram Alpha for the answer:

2^2×503  (3 prime factors, 2 distinct)

1  |  2  |  4  |  503  |  1006  |  2012   (6 divisors)

Hmmm….503….what does that mean?

First of two birthday celebrations for Bach

Using today’s Gregorian calendar, we would say that Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 31, 1685 in Eisenach, Saxe-Eisenach. However, it is very common to commemorate JSB’s birthdate as March 21, 1685, the day of his birth in the Julian Calendar, the system in effect in central Germany in 1685. I say: let’s use both days to remember and enjoy the life and work of this most amazing composer and musician. Happy Birthday, Bach!