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~ Archive for fly-by-wire ~

Hello world!


Welcome to Weblogs at Harvard Law School. This is the first post via the new cyberwordpress setup; happy is the day, and long. Flock may become marginally handy for me now.

I wonder if we should set up, as Mathias imagined…

Plagiarism, Copycenter, and Avoiding attribution : Where copyright has always failed


Everyone has heard of a few occasions when a major publication or
journal has an author or paper accused of plagiarism or copyright
violation.  Theoretically, the quote of even a short recognizable
excerpt from another’s work — a three-word characterization, a
one-term neologism, a 100-pixel icon — falls somewhere on the spectrum
of illegality from impolite non-attribution to outright theft.

Book authors have been roasted over this particular fire for a few
sentence-long sentences lifted from one or another source.  These
days, three notes is in some court cases enough to identify a bit of
creative work and indemnify someone who reuses it without
permission.  In theory, fragments far shorter than a sentence
could be every bit as illegal to reuse without great care.

The open secret of the history of creative work, authorship, and
copyright, is that significant portions of ‘original’ work have always
been copied without attribution, in some sense, from others. 
Modern copyright is continually being violated.  Early
dictionaries and
encyclopedias and compendia and histories were often quite brazen in
borrowing from previous works with no attribution.  Authors of
philosophy, poetry, and even fiction have similar issues; in a field
full of 100-word poems, could borrowing a few two-word phrases, rhyming
schemes, or conceptual conceits possibly go unnoticed?  This was
not always an absolute evil.  Attribution was not always desired
or even possible in the context of publication.  How does one
footnote or attribute one’s style, use of epithets for public figures,
choice of jargon? 

And when one has learned material from a few
dozen sources, compiled it in one’s own head, and synthesized it into
something “new”, how can that possibly be entirely separate from the
specific word-choice and thematic structure of what has been
read?  A significant % of authorship choices inevitably hearken
back to the choices made by those whose work has been read or watched
or listened to.  In practice, people often do less synthesis than might be ‘optimal’ in the legal sense. 

A random example about the Macchi C.202 — the precise phrase “Asso XI RC.40 that, compared to the best foreign realizations, was underpowered
may have come from a print book on the history of planes which came out
recently in Italy.  At any rate, ‘the best foreign realizations’
is an unusual phrase.

If one is writing to pursue a specific end other than the legal enforcement of copyright,
is it not right for others to come and use whole parts of one’s work in
a better way, demonstrate rearrangements and substitutions that yield
the best possible result?  This is not at all the same as allowing
anyone to reuse the entirety of one’s work without attribution. 
It is different from the kinds of freedoms offered by modern
‘copyleft’.  Key elements of the trouble with modern copyright
come from its not being subtle enough; from presuming too much; from
imagining every problem as a nail for its well-used hammer.  Some specific thoughts:

  • Some very basic form of “financial protection from wanton
    copying” should be granted to all authors by default; under any
    provisions whatever (100-year, &c).
  • Some forms of “protection from world-readability” should be
    available on request; with a well-organized database of works so
  • Some forms of “protection from being quoted, or having short
    segments reused or repurposed” might be available under restrictions
    and time-limits, again on request.  This is already an unusual
    provision to ask for publicly-distributed work.
  • Some forms of “reduced/waived protection for reusers sharing some
    larger purpose” —  use under ‘a similar license’, use towards a
    specific goal (such as education, narrowly-defined).

Boston it is


Boston will host Wikimania 2006.  Details to come.

Intent is little; interpretation is everything


Some multilingual thoughts on a sunny day:  a UN history of massively parallel interpretation, and some old gathered advice on breaking into simultaneous interpreting.

TR35: self-images and naming names


Stewart Butterfield, asked about his role models, mentioned a few people who had inspired and guided him, including Wittgenstein, which philosophical bad boy was acrobatically allmost connected directly to Flickr
And to all you playboys and social barnacles out there : throwing fancy
dinner parties and making political connections will be the end of your
creativity and great ideas.  The audience was full of

And Tracey Ho, as understated as she is hot, admits that despite believing she would spend her live in civil service
in Singapore, and doing just that after college, she came back around
to academia and was lured back to MIT and now Caltech.  It was
good to see the civil service come up as an important life-choice
option among these young stars.

The ‘late show with our moderator’ format didn’t work perfectly, but it
brought out a lighter side of the TR35 members and helped make the
awards ceremony more than just a show.

GFDL places Rita directly over central Houston


Hurricane Rita is apporaching the Gulf Coast, and will hit land somewhere between Texas’s Corpus Christi and New Orleans
Galveston, one of the country’s largest ports (New Orleans was the
largest), is the most vulnerable target, despite its protections
against normal storms.  Parts of Houston are also at risk, and the
early evacuation of Houston has lead to much of the clogging of roads
in southeast Texas.

The GFDL (an acronym for “Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory“),
is one of the key modern hurricane path-predicting models.  It is
a “limited-area baroclinic” model developed specifically for hurricane
prediction, including convective, radiative
and boundary layer parameterizations.  It makes special allowance
initializing the storm circulation.

GFDL is a ‘late‘ model, meaning that it is run with hard data, and not
with interpolations from earlier data… as of 10pm last night, the GFDL had Rita passing through central Houston and veering west once it comes level with Fort Worth.

UPDATE: Rita is veering East a bit, pushing it more directly towards Galveston and moving its water-heavy easterly side away from Houston.

A few quick media links


Some Wikimania coverage in English :

Lincoln Pond is streaming down…


Address: Elizabethtown, NY 12932
Campground Phone:

It’s no Heart Lake, but it’s moughty fine all the same.  Update:
Light, cascading showers!  Porters who smoke packs while running
up and down the mountain, as found about Kili, were nowhere in
sight.  Great fun was had by all.

Atmosphere, Disruption, and Movie theatres


The biggest lapse in the recent Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galazy film wasn’t its disconnection, unbelievable romance, or score. It was Marvin, who the director, like trillions of others before him, didn’t understand. Marvin didn’t annoy merely with his voice and his sarcasm; he was a master of timing, annoying by waiting exactly the right number of milliseconds before responding or doing anything.

It is remarkable, how much meaning one can put into a pause, or a well timed step, look, twitch, or breath. Life can be lost or thrown out of joint by less. I’m not sure that hell is full of pain and suffering and lack of freedom. Worse would be the constant promise of freedom, curtailed by a stream of mishaps or reality shifts outside one’s control; I imagine Sisyphus’ unlife as complicated to the point that he can never be sure that success is truly outside his control.

For instance, for the last two weeks, ‘net access has been flaky. Not bad enough that Verizon techs can catch it when I call, but bad enough to cut me off a few times a day and interrupt a half-dozen important conversations. (We need to develop the network equivalent of a UPS for stateless services…) So I have to decide each night whether to go down to the campus lab to work, or stay home. Or to go to the theater across the street with superb wireless.

So that’s where I went yesterday night. There were too many people everywhere; I needed to get away. What a great atmosphere a movie theatre has for doing work. I could have camped out there all night, but I don’t think they would have approved. Maybe they should consider opening a side business after hours.

Clue: The Librarian, in the Bishop, with the Candlestick


Thanks to greyhound racing and long-past temporary insanity, I will be antilaxing at a lavish de villa tomorrow, or in some sort of canadian bishopric, with a small casket of librarians.

I tried to put a positive spin on this, but rura quickly shot me down.

   No, you won't be special.  you're not a librarian.  

Gnaaaaaah. I certainly hope the Europeans are there over the weekend, or I will feel silly about the whole thing.

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