Does Saying So Make It So? Copyrighting Blog Posts

Read an interview with someone somewhere – here is the kicker at the end:

© Eileen A. Joy and Figure/Ground Communication. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Awesome, right. The only problem is that, it appears, that the author simply threw this at the bottom of the text as if the magic formula works in and of itself. Well, I don’t think it does. I believe you have to register your blog post with the Copyright Office and pay a fee. Copyright Act was written and passed before blogs, so it is an interesting and tricky question. You certainly cannot just claim you have the copyright to stuff, can you?

I am quite certain that the brain behind Figure/Ground – Laureano Ralon – who at one point hilariously listed all the schools he has been accepted to and uploaded the acceptance letters to his then individual blog, did not in fact do any copyrighting. And this is just for show – look, we are a real publication with copyright claims!

(Actually a couple of letters are still linked to in his biowho does that?)

The easiest way to test my theory that Figure/Ground did not in fact register their blog (or individual blog posts) with Copyright Office and are therefore claiming copyright where none exists (blogs are not considered “published materials”), thus violating the law they claim is on their side, would be to republish their interview (or interviews) and wait for a “cease and desist” letter. But I am too lazy to do so.

© The Mind of Mikhail Emelianov. Unauthorized use without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. 

PS. The Figure/Ground blog has a Creative Commons logo:

You are free: to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work.


Subtle Egomania

I think the best examples of egomania are not the obvious “illusions of grandeur” that are easy to spot, but subtle intonations that suggest something like this: “I am doing X, I find X to be interesting and I am excited to do X, therefore everyone must be doing X and if, in fact, they are not doing X or think X is lame, there’s something really wrong with them, because, since I find X to be interesting, I can’t comprehend why they don’t.”

In philosophy this annoying characteristic is most often seen in people who project their own personal likes and dislikes onto the general field of philosophy and claim that because they are really into something and their friends are really into it as well, it is the latest most important idea in philosophy while any sensible person knows that it cannot be the case, because every single graduate student group, either online or offline, thinks its ideas are the freshest and the most exciting. But to cite an obscure early Christian writer, “When I was a graduate student, I thought like a graduate student, every book I read was the best book ever, every conversation I had was the most insightful and promising. But when I grew up, I realize how huge the world really is and how insignificant and banal my little observations are. I realized that there are people out there who neither agree nor disagree with me, because they are doing their own things and are not easily moved by my project.”

To think that just because you find online interactions productive for philosophy, they are the future of philosophy is foolish, especially since the blogs were around for many years and nothing philosophically interesting really came out of it.

On a sad personal note, my old iPod died today and I was going to go and try to get it fixed at the Apple store or get a new one, but guess what? I cannot, because tomorrow is the day iPad is out and there are already lines outside of the store. Damn it!

Depraved Indifference and Christmas Shopping

While some have been bitching about how unfair The New Republic was to Zizek, here is an inexplicable article about a worker being trampled by a mob trying to get into Walmart last Friday:

A Wal-Mart worker died early Friday after an “out-of-control” mob of frenzied shoppers smashed through the Long Island store’s front doors and trampled him, police said.

The Black Friday stampede plunged the Valley Stream outlet into chaos, knocking several employees to the ground and sending others scurrying atop vending machines to avoid the horde.

When the madness ended, 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour was dead and four shoppers, including a woman eight months pregnant, were injured.

Out of control…

Obama: Overcoming Anti-Intellectualism?

Clearly influenced by this post Nicholas Kristof has this to say about Obama:

The second most remarkable thing about his election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual.

Maybe, just maybe, the result will be a step away from the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life. Smart and educated leadership is no panacea, but we’ve seen recently that the converse — a White House that scorns expertise and shrugs at nuance — doesn’t get very far either.

We can’t solve our educational challenges when, according to polls, Americans are approximately as likely to believe in flying saucers as in evolution, and when one-fifth of Americans believe that the sun orbits the Earth.

Almost half of young Americans said in a 2006 poll that it was not necessary to know the locations of countries where important news was made. That must be a relief to Sarah Palin, who, according to Fox News, didn’t realize that Africa was a continent rather than a country. Continue reading

PHDs in Googling?

I picked up Mark Bauerlein’s new book, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future, a while back and have at long last (barely) cracked the cover. There’s a decent, if not problematic review and reaction to the book and the issues Bauerlein raises in The New Atlantis:

…Professor Bauerlein, who teaches English at Emory University and is a former director of research and analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts, is not always sure just how much a matter of mirth “the dumbest generation” is, or isn’t. After all, it is not really their fault if, as he says, they have been “betrayed” by the mentors who should have taught them better. Yet he seems to agree with Nicholas Carr that what we are witnessing is not just an educational breakdown but a deformation of the very idea of intelligence..As The Dumbest Generation rightly notes, “the model is information retrieval, not knowledge formation, and the material passes from Web to homework paper without lodging in the minds of the students.” Generally speaking, even those who are most gung-ho about new ways of learning probably tend to cling to a belief that education has, or ought to have, at least something to do with making things lodge in the minds of students—this even though the disparagement of the role of memory in education by professional educators now goes back at least three generations, long before computers were ever thought of as educational tools. That, by the way, should lessen our astonishment, if not our dismay, at the extent to which the educational establishment, instead of viewing these developments with alarm, is adapting its understanding of what education is to the new realities of how the new generation of “netizens” actually learn (and don’t learn) rather than trying to adapt the kids to unchanging standards of scholarship and learning. Continue reading

Palin To “Perhaps” Invade Russia (Good Thing It’s So Close To Alaska)

My prediction – Russia will “perhaps” be really entertained by this comment from really a nobody as far as they are concerned. Most sane people already concluded that, despite Russia’s willingness to invade and occupy, Georgia started the recent conflict, even if blaming it on the Russian provocation – that’s the point, silly, a large powerful nation can provoke as much as it wants, not very nice but still, you don’t go to war with it without either confirming that you are crazy or, which is more logical, having some unspoken support from your masters – and let’s be clear here, with all due respect but Georgia is a client-state of the US. Now Palin claims in the about-to-come-out interview with Barbara Walters Charlie Gibson:

GIBSON: Would you favor putting Georgia and Ukraine in NATO?

PALIN: Ukraine, definitely, yes. Yes, and Georgia.

GIBSON: Because Putin has said he would not tolerate NATO incursion into the Caucasus.

PALIN: Well, you know, the Rose Revolution, the Orange Revolution, those actions have showed us that those democratic nations, I believe, deserve to be in NATO. Continue reading

The Awesomeness of Interviews


As everyone knows, the academic job market is pretty tight, not to mention, ummm, more or less random (as SEK points out here). We all have our job market horror stories. I for one had the audacity to correct one of the people interviewing me when he used the word “disjunctive” incorrectly. I also explained in a ludicrous digression that Osama Bin Laden is a close reader of the Koran. True, well maybe, but it didn’t go over so well. Another choice “incident” was when I was explaining my dissertation/research to the lovely search committee and in true form, I made an aside about how I have a rather heterodox understanding and interpretation of philosopher X and felt that approach Y was the worst approach imaginable and the crap of the crap of the secondary lit. Guess what? Unknown to me, one of the people on the search committee had written a dissertation espousing the very thing I had described. I don’t feel bad, however. Nobody really confronted me with it, well, verbally. I just can’t help myself. Later on, as I was commiserating (by which I mean drinking heavily) with someone I convinced myself that this person had most likely–prudently of course–changed his mind about his approach. Continue reading

Cultural Intertia, Spirals of Rage

A good friend of mine has been a working artist for many years and is now in the process of applying to MFA programs. Of course, such applications involve a portfolio of one’s work and the usual personal statements. Today, he sent me this question posed by the U of Berkeley (most egregious aspects are in bold):

In an essay, discuss how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree.

You may place a maximum of 8000 characters in the text box below.

Good grief! For some reason this question has sent me into a spiral of rage! Continue reading