weeklies 28-1-2012

The final week of my second term, a thesis proposal and a full paper written and survived. And of course, still read a bunch of different stuff and here are some:

– We should all be reading this and thinking about it: Reclaiming the Mainstream – Cosmopolitan Magazine gets the alt media treatment.

– A highly recommended essay on the new Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and female spies: The Future Is Female.

– The priceless discovery of the founder of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act bill) breaking the law he proposed. Captured on a nice meme-style twitpic.

– Speaking of SOPA, the blackout raised awareness to the secretly negotiated ACTA (Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement) and there are suddenly good links explaining why ACT is bad.

ACTA is gaining attention, especially now Poland has sucked up and signed the agreement and everyone is protesting.

Want to learn more? Here are some analyses provided from the European Digital Rights.

An interview with Hanne Blank about her new book, which looks at the history of the concept “heterosexual”. Yes there is a history. An interesting one.

– I had tweeted earlier this week about this article, but it must be repeated. A great article on Ars Technica on the economics of piracy. It touches upon very good points on the SOPA related arguments, and my favorite part is that of the “evidence”.

As a rough analogy, since antipiracy crusaders are fond of equating filesharing with shoplifting: suppose the CEO of Wal-Mart came to Congress demanding a $50 million program to deploy FBI agents to frisk suspicious-looking teens in towns near Wal-Marts. A lawmaker might, without for one instant doubting that shoplifiting is a bad thing, question whether this is really the optimal use of federal law enforcement resources. The CEO indignantly points out that shoplifting kills one million adorable towheaded orphans each year. The proof is right here in this study by the Wal-Mart Institute for Anti-Shoplifting Studies. The study sources this dramatic claim to a newspaper article, which quotes the CEO of Wal-Mart asserting (on the basis of private data you can’t see) that shoplifting kills hundreds of orphans annually. And as a footnote explains, it seemed prudent to round up to a million. I wish this were just a joke, but as readers of my previous post will recognize, that’s literally about the level of evidence we’re dealing with here.

– One of the papers I wrote in my first term was on copyright in academic publishing and I had argued that it didn’t make any sense (research being mostly publicly funded and all, you would think it should be open access). And then I came across this article on the obscene profits of Science/Medical/Technical publishing. This is how it looks:

But here’s what it means to scientists that Elsevier’s profit is 35.74% of revenue:

  • When you pay $37.95 to download a PDF from an Elsevier journal, $13.56 of that goes straight into the pockets of Elsevier shareholders.
  • When you pay $3000 to have your submission to an Elsevier journal appear as open access, $1072.20 of that goes straight into the pockets of Elsevier shareholders.
  • When your library pays $1.7m for a bundle of Elsevier-journal subscriptions, $607,580 of that goes straight into the pockets of Elsevier shareholders.
  • When you or your library pays Elsevier $23783 for any reason, that is enough for them fund Representative Caroline Maloney’s $8500 bribe to co-sponsor the evil Research Works Act, out of their profits alone.
  • Gross.

    Finishing up with some memebase humor:

    okay meme doesn't like SOPA

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