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July 28, 2008

Bechdel's Law

Charlie's Diary: Bechdel's Law

Alison Bechdel, cartoonist and author of Dykes to Watch Out For, has an interesting observation on movies — a little test she applies to them. It's a very short checklist, viz:

1. Does it have at least two women in it,

2. Who [at some point] talk to each other,

3. About something besides a man.

I bring this up as a point of interest, because of what it says about the blind spots of popular entertainment. Most Hollywood movies fail this test; if you extend #3 only slightly, to read "About something besides men or marriage or babies", you can strike out about 50% of the small proportion of mass-entertainment movies that do otherwise seem to pass the test.

The reason Bechdel's test is important is because it's a diagnostic indicator for the objectification of women. It's designed to identify the kind of film where, if two women talk to each other at all, the only subject of conversation is men (or babies). What it tells us is that our current movie and (to a lesser extent) our TV culture is pathologically misogynistic — be it in in the adoption of conservative Kinder, Kuche, Kirche values or the more extreme violence of women in refrigerators.

Bks r 2 hrd lol

NYT | Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?
BEREA, Ohio — Books are not Nadia Konyk’s thing. Her mother, hoping to entice her, brings them home from the library, but Nadia rarely shows an interest. Instead, like so many other teenagers, Nadia, 15, is addicted to the Internet. She regularly spends at least six hours a day in front of the computer here in this suburb southwest of Cleveland.... Her mother, Deborah Konyk, would prefer that Nadia, who gets A’s and B’s at school, read books for a change. But at this point, Ms. Konyk said, “I’m just pleased that she reads something anymore.” Children like Nadia lie at the heart of a passionate debate about just what it means to read in the digital age. The discussion is playing out among educational policy makers and reading experts around the world, and within groups like the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association. As teenagers’ scores on standardized reading tests have declined or stagnated, some argue that the hours spent prowling the Internet are the enemy of reading — diminishing literacy, wrecking attention spans and destroying a precious common culture that exists only through the reading of books. But others say the Internet has created a new kind of reading, one that schools and society should not discount. The Web inspires a teenager like Nadia, who might otherwise spend most of her leisure time watching television, to read and write.

P2P File-sharing hitting the textbook industry

Digital Domain - First It Was Song Downloads. Now It’s Organic Chemistry. - NYTimes.com

I remember spending over $300 my first semester at University on books for one class. During that class we only used two of the books and the four remaining books--still sealed in cellophane--were nonreturnable.

AFTER scanning his textbooks and making them available to anyone to download free, a contributor at the file-sharing site PirateBay.org composed a colorful message for “all publishers” of college textbooks, warning them that “myself and all other students are tired of getting” ripped off. (The contributor’s message included many ripe expletives, but hey, this is a family newspaper.)

All forms of print publishing must contend with the digital transition, but college textbook publishing has a particularly nasty problem on its hands. College students may be the angriest group of captive customers to be found anywhere.

Consider the cost of a legitimate copy of one of the textbooks listed at the Pirate Bay, John E. McMurry’s “Organic Chemistry.” A new copy has a list price of $209.95; discounted, it’s about $150; used copies run $110 and up. To many students, those prices are outrageous, set by profit-engorged corporations (and assisted by callous professors, who choose which texts are required). Helping themselves to gratis pirated copies may seem natural, especially when hard drives are loaded with lots of other products picked up free.

But many people outside of the students’ enclosed world would call that plain theft.

July 24, 2008

War criminals get more shit published than you

See, the thing is, you didn't bayonet enough babies. You gotta want it. Blog of a Bookslut | Rollo Romig asks whether poetry can be a war crime:
newyorker.com - Like many megalomaniacs, Karadzic fancied himself a poet. (In the mid-seventies, he took a few poetry classes at Columbia University while studying psychiatry.) Infuriatingly, Karadzic managed to release a new book of verse, a novel, and a play while living underground

July 22, 2008

Baby's First Internet

Baby’s First Internet - The Morning News

A picture book for newbs.