Last month, [Jonah] Lehrer was accused of a curious journalistic offense: the act of “self-plagiarism.” Lehrer, a staff writer at the New Yorker and celebrated author of three books, cannibalized his own work, posting often word-for-word excerpts from Imagine on the New Yorker’s blog without noting that it had been published elsewhere. To some, it was a tenuous charge—as one journalist commented to me, this was like “being accused of stealing food from your own refrigerator.” Others highlighted the pressures brought to bear on young writers to produce more and more content.
That’s just background. The real meat of the article is Moynihan tearing apart the chapter of Lehrer’s new book * Imagine: How Creativity Works* that discusses Bob Dylan’s creative process:
I’m something of the Dylan obsessive—piles of live bootlegs, outtakes, books—and I read the first chapter of Imagine with keen interest. But when I looked for sources to a handful of Dylan quotations offered by Lehrer—the chapter is sparsely and erratically footnoted—I came up empty, and in one case found two fragments of quotes, from different years and on different topics, welded together to create something that happily complimented Lehrer’s argument. Other quotes I couldn’t locate at all. […]
Over the next three weeks, Lehrer stonewalled, mislead and, eventually, outright lied to me. Yesterday, Lehrer finally confessed that he has never met or corresponded with Jeff Rosen, Dylan’s manager; he has never seen an unexpurgated version of Dylan’s interview for No Direction Home, something he offered up to stymie my search; that a missing quote he claimed could be found in an episode of Dylan’s “Theme Time Radio Hour” cannot , in fact, be found there; and that a 1995 radio interview, supposedly available in a printed collection of Dylan interviews called The Fiddler Now Upspoke, also didn’t exist. When, three weeks after our first contact, I asked Lehrer to explain his deceptions, he responded, for the first time in our communication, forthrightly: “I couldn’t find the original sources,” he said. “I panicked. And I’m deeply sorry for lying.”
Holy fuckballs. Moynihan continues, in detail. Definitely click through for this one.
Not technology related — its tag line is “A new read on Jewish life”. And, incidentally, it has a wonderful wordmark. ↩
So here’s something that apparently happens in the United States: cow floating. From a 2011 article in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel by Karen Herzog:
When Chloe, the ailing Holstein cow, went down and couldn’t get up on the hottest day of the year Wednesday, her owner did what many modern Dairyland farmers would do:
He called a cow floater.
Thanks to her own buoyancy, Chloe began to float as a special tank she was moved into was filled with 80-degree water. Buoyancy reduced the weight she had to bear as she scrambled to get her footing.
The plan is for Chloe to receive 18 to 24 hours of water therapy to relax her muscles, reduce swelling and boost circulation before the water is drained Friday in hopes that she will walk out of the tank.
I cannot think of a single thing to say about this.
In it, he mentions a legal case from 2006 about being hit by pitches. Some background from the opinion by Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar:
During an intercollegiate baseball game at a community college, one of the home team’s batters is hit by a pitch. In the next half-inning, the home team’s pitcher allegedly retaliates with an inside pitch and hits a visiting batter in the head. The visiting batter is injured, he sues, and the courts must umpire the dispute.
The court ruled that, even though the rules of baseball state that a pitcher can’t intentionally hit a batter, it’s commonly accepted as an “inherent risk of the sport” and so can’t be sued over in this way.
Being intentionally hit is likewise an inherent risk of the sport, so accepted by custom that a pitch intentionally thrown at a batter has its own terminology: “brushback,” “beanball,” “chin music.” In turn, those pitchers notorious for throwing at hitters are “headhunters.” Pitchers intentionally throw at batters to disrupt a batter’s timing or back him away from home plate, to retaliate after a teammate has been hit, or to punish a batter for having hit a home run. (See, e.g., Kahn, The Head Game (2000) pp. 205-239.) Some of the most respected baseball managers and pitchers have openly discussed the fundamental place throwing at batters has in their sport. …
It is true that intentionally throwing at a batter is forbidden by the rules of baseball. (See, e.g., Off. Rules of Major League Baseball, rule 8.02(d); National Collegiate Athletic Assn., 2006 NCAA Baseball Rules (Dec.2005) rule 5, § 16(d), p. 62.) But “even when a participant’s conduct violates a rule of the game and may subject the violator to internal sanctions prescribed by the sport itself, imposition of legal liability for such conduct might well alter fundamentally the nature of the sport by deterring participants from vigorously engaging in activity that falls close to, but on the permissible side of, a prescribed rule.” (Knight, supra, 3 Cal.4th at pp. 318-319, 11 Cal.Rptr.2d 2, 834 P.2d 696.)
So there is legal precedent in the United States that, if you get hit by a pitch, you have to suck it up.
Well, since then, more have been found! Jeanna Bryner on LiveScience:
A group of monkeys whose nostrils are so upturned they are said to sneeze audibly when it rains has been discovered in China, say researchers, who have now snapped the first photographic evidence of the snub-nosed monkeys there.
At the time, scientists thought the species was limited to the Kachin state of northeastern Myanmar.
The new discovery of the monkey, called “mey nwoah” in local dialects (or “monkey with an upturned face”), suggests its range extends into China.
Shining light on inequities like the rampant abortion of female fetuses, caste discrimination and the slaying of brides in dowry disputes, actor Aamir Khan has reached an estimated one-third of the country with a new TV talk show that tackles persistent flaws of modern India that many of its citizens would prefer to ignore.
"Satyamev Jayate", or "Truth Alone Prevails," is a clever blend of hard news and raw emotional appeal — part 60 Minutes, part Oprah. Its influence has even prodded the notoriously lethargic government machinery into action, though it’s too soon to know what policy changes may be in the works.
The issue the article spends the most time on is the abortion of female fetuses, which is a disgustingly enormous problem in India. Even just using an ultrasound machine to determine the sex of a fetus has been illegal since 1994. It hasn’t helped.
Just recently finished this graphic novel. Very much enjoyed it. Especially recommended to anyone who enjoys lots and lots of world-building. Oh, and plus, female comic author and artist and female protagonist.
When I heard they were adapting Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell’s 2004 incredible, six-stories-in-one novel, I was really sad. The book seems almost impossible to adapt to the screen. But the more I learned about the project the more excited I’ve gotten. Tom Twyker and the Wachowskis in charge? Maybe it’ll work.
Now we’re finally getting to see our first look and holy crapola does it look awesome. I really hope the five-minute trailer is indicative of the rest of the movie being just as gigantic — nothing less for this amazing book.
For those who haven’t read it, the basic premise of Cloud Atlas is that it tells six stories, but the stories are each split in two so we read six beginnings and six endings. What’s more, each story is linked to the previous one — sometimes the previous story is actually written in a diary or letters, but some of them are more out there, like a film or an oral history. It sounds hokey but the device serves the central themes of the book — one of things Mitchell loves exploring is lives jutting up against each other, intersecting but never quite fully joining.
The idea that we are fundamentally and definitionally alone, yet live our whole lives seeking to be connected, to be heard, should be a familiar theme to readers of David Foster Wallace, and those readers will definitely enjoy Mitchell’s work. He has a gift for language, and each of the six stories is written in a completely different prose style and told in a completely different genre, spanning from Melvillean sea adventure to modern thriller pulp to full-blown science fiction. Seriously, so damn good.
From Sharon Begley’s profile in the WSJ of Ben Barres, born Barbara Barrres, a neuroscientist who underwent sex reassignment therapy:
As an MIT undergraduate, Barbara was one of the only women in a large math class, and the only student to solve a particularly tough problem. The professor “told me my boyfriend must have solved it for me,” recalls Prof. Barres, 51 years old, in an interview. “If boys were raised to feel that they can’t be good at mathematics, there would be very few who were.”
Although Barbara Barres was a top student at MIT, “nearly every lab head I asked refused to let me do my thesis research” with him, Prof. Barres says. “Most of my male friends had their first choice of labs. And I am still disappointed about the prestigious fellowship I lost to a male student when I was a Ph.D. student,” even though the rival had published one prominent paper and she had six.
Whole piece is really good. Very interesting to hear from someone who has been on both sides of privilege.
Interesting tidbit about the upcoming U.S. Presidential election from Tom Raum of the AP:
The race between President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney marks the first time since World War II that neither major-party candidate has had any military experience.
I suspect this will become much more common in the future. The draft ended in the U.S. in 1973, thirty-eight years ago, so we’re very near the point where future candidates will not have been of age before the draft ended or will not have been born at all.
Rodrique Ngowi writing about some cool tech for the AP:
Boston officials are testing an app called Street Bump that allows drivers to automatically report the road hazards to the city as soon as they hear that unfortunate “thud,” with their smartphones doing all the work.
Before they even start their trip, drivers using Street Bump fire up the app, then set their smartphones either on the dashboard or in a cup holder. The app takes care of the rest, using the phone’s accelerometer — a motion-detector — to sense when a bump is hit. GPS records the location, and the phone transmits it to a remote servers hosted by Amazon Inc.’s Web services division.
So I’m reading various things on tumblr, related to Legend of Korra, the portrayal and representation of dark-skinned characters in fiction, and the question that comes around is: Why is this even important?
There’s a lot of gold in the “Production” section of the Bambi article on Wikipedia.
Sidney Franklin, a producer and director at MGM films, purchased the film rights to Felix Salten’s novel Bambi, A Life in the Woods in 1933, intending to adapt it as a live-action film. Deciding it would be too difficult to make such a film, he sold the film rights to Walt Disney in April 1937.
I can’t possibly fathom why this wouldn’t work as a live-action film!
There was a scene involving two autumn leaves conversing and eventually dying by falling to the ground, but the artist found that talking flora didn’t work in the context of the film and instead used a visual metaphor of two realistic leaves falling to the ground.
Screenwriters what were you on, dogs. Why would that have been a good idea.
There was a scene of Bambi stepping on an ant’s nest and showing all the devastation that he caused, but it was cut for pacing reasons.
Yes, it was cut because it threw off the film’s timing. Not because an ant massacre might not be appropriate for a movie like Bambi. No siree bob.
Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi left Square-Enix in 2004 and formed a new studio named Mistwalker. Their first iOS game is coming out soon and it’s called… Party Wave. It’s about surfing. Okay then!
Spaces in a new car park in the Black Forest town of Triberg now come with male and female symbols. The spaces for women are wider and well lit, while those for men are close to concrete pillars and can only be reversed into.
Explaining the policy, Mayor Gallus Strobel said it was a natural decision because men are better at parking than women.
… Mr Strobel, who denies accusations of sexism, also pointed out that 10 spaces were reserved for women as opposed to just two for men.
In case you missed it earlier this week, there’s a new episode of Postmodem. Which, if you don’t remember, is the podcast I do with Patrick Thomson and Phillip Bowden. It also showed your sister a nice time with dinner and a movie, no funny stuff.
On this latest episode we talk about programming a little but also comics, hipsters, music and probably some other stuff that I’m forgetting. If you enjoy this blog you’ll definitely like Postmodem
The frequency of doctor-assisted euthanasia in the Netherlands has changed little since the longstanding practice was legalized in 2002, according to a new study.
A summary published Wednesday on The Lancet magazine’s website said that “in 2010, of all deaths in the Netherlands, 2.8 percent were the result of euthanasia. This is higher than the 1.7 percent in 2005, but comparable with (levels seen) in 2001 and 1995.”
The Netherlands was the first country to nationally legalize euthanasia, so these numbers are the first we’ve ever had for this kind of thing.
Residents of a London apartment tower went to court Monday in a bid to stop their rooftop from being used as a missile base during the Olympic Games, saying the deployment in a densely-populated area could make the building a terrorist target.
The British military plans to deploy surface-to-air missiles at six sites around London as part of a vast security operation for the July 27-Aug. 12 games. But residents of the 17-story Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone, east London, say they were not consulted about the move.
I can barely imagine having a missile battery installed on the roof of my place. That would be pretty cool but also really dang horrifying.
NASA scientists had found evidence that life on Earth could rely on alternate chemistry, one that replaced the phosphorus used in many biomolecules for a chemical relative that is usually toxic: arsenic.
… Researchers quickly identified a number of holes in the initial analysis, both logical and experimental. Less than six months later, Science published a series of responses to the original paper that raised significant questions about its accuracy. Now, the topic is back in the pages of the same journal. Two labs have obtained the original arsenic-tolerant bacteria and shown that some of the original paper’s conclusions are completely off-base.
It would’ve been cool if the results were validated, but hey: that’s science. The scientific process works, you guys.
I like things, and some of those things are problematic. I like Lord of the Rings even though it’s pretty fucked up with regard to women and race (any narrative that says “this whole race is evil” is fucked up, okay). I like A Song of Ice and Fire even though its portrayal of people of colour is problematic, and often I find that its in-text condemnation of patriarchy isn’t obvious enough to justify the sexism displayed. I like the movie Scott Pilgrim vs The World even though it is racist in its portrayal of Matthew Patel, panders to stereotypes in its portrayal of Wallace, and trivialises queer female sexuality in its portrayal of Ramona and Roxy’s relationship. For fuck’s sake, Ramona even says “It was a phase”! How much more cliche and offensive could this movie be? Oh wait, remember how Scott defeats Roxy, his only female adversary, by making her orgasm? Excuse me while I vomit…and then keep watching because I still like the rest of the movie.
Liking problematic things doesn’t make you an asshole. In fact, you can like really problematic things and still be not only a good person, but a good social justice activist (TM)! After all, most texts have some problematic elements in them, because they’re produced by humans, who are well-known to be imperfect. But it can be surprisingly difficult to own up to the problematic things in the media you like, particularly when you feel strongly about it, as many fans do. We need to find a way to enjoy the media we like without hurting other people and marginalised groups. So with that in mind, here are my suggestions for things we should try our darnedest to do as self-confessed fans of problematic stuff.
Insurance companies began sending crews to wildfires around 2006, said Paul Broyles, former head of fire operations at the National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates federal firefighting efforts from Boise, Idaho. Land use changes in the past two decades have allowed more homes to be built in or near wildfire-prone areas, prompting the insurance companies to offer such a service, said Michael Barry of the New York-based industry funded Insurance Information Institute.
“It’s an added layer of protection for our clients,” [Kevin Fuhriman of Chubb Personal Insurance] said. “From a business perspective? It’s an extremely advantageous business proposition.”
Completely privatized firefighting is an exceptionally terrible idea for a lot of reasons. But in addition to a public fire department? It kind of strikes me as fundamentally unfair that one should be more protected from having their life destroyed solely by dint of having more money, but not really in any way I can argue.
Maybe we could just stop cutting fire budgets in states.
Prior to repeal, various conservative groups and individuals — including many conservative retired chaplains — warned that repeal would trigger an exodus of chaplains whose faiths consider homosexual activity to be sinful. In fact, there’s been no significant exodus — perhaps two or three departures of active-duty chaplains linked to the repeal. Moreover, chaplains or their civilian coordinators from a range of conservative faiths told The Associated Press they knew of virtually no serious problems thus far involving infringement of chaplains’ religious freedom or rights of conscience.
The Japanese Society of Anesthesiologists (JSA) on June 29 announced the results of an investigation finding that at least 172 research papers by Yoshitaka Fujii, a former associate professor of anesthesiology at Toho University, contained fabricated data.
The investigation covered 212 papers listing Fujii as an author in 41 journals between 1991 an 2011. The society judged 172 papers published since 1993 were fabricated as they could not confirm experiments had actually been conducted, due to factors such as missing raw data and an absence of details on the administration of medications.
One hundred and seventy-two papers with confirmed fabricated data. That’s insane.
Three key figures from Argentina’s “Dirty War” got hefty jail terms for the systematic theft of babies from political prisoners during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, an Argentine court ruled on Thursday.
The missing children — stolen from their parents and illegally adopted, often by military families — are one of the most painful legacies of the crackdown on leftist dissent in which rights groups say up to 30,000 people were killed.
Ed Yong on Discover's Not Exactly Rocket Science blog:
Some flies, known as phorids, specialise in decapitating ants in a gruesome way. They lay their eggs inside their victims. When the maggots hatch, they move towards the ant’s head, where they gorge upon the brain and other tissues. The ant stumbles about in a literally mindless stupor until the connection between its head and body is dissolved by a enzyme released from the maggot. The head falls off and the adult flies burst out.