Archive for December, 2004


Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads and sold his soul to the devil in trade for being made the best guitar player the world had ever seen. A while back I ran into an energy witching group, then a few weeks later into large and quite odd animal apparitions.
Today I came across this set of inscriptions. You should be able to recognize what they stand for.
Or would this help?

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Reconnected with old friend, poet, book designer and friend of many beatniks, David Southern, through a request for help in finding an open source replacement for the late Dyna-web SGML search engine. David is working on the Carlyle Letters project at Duke University Press. The solution and the connection is close at hand. I believe that Nassib Nassar‘s Amberfish will do all that Dyna-web did and much more.
In a kind of intellectual barter, David pointed me to “Breakfast Comix” by Tom Raworth who I met years ago at David’s digs out in the county. Loaded with post-structuralist and poetic humor. Even more post-beatnik visual humor on Tom’s site.

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Blues guitarist, Armand Lenchek, sends on this notice of the death of 83 year old Big Boy Henry. Armand got the news from bluesman Gary Erwin. I also heard the sad news on the new WCOM in Carrboro tonight.

Carolina blues giant RICHARD “BIG BOY” HENRY, who passed Sunday, December 5, 2004, will have his funeral Thursday, December 9 in New Bern, NC. Family has asked that friends & family convene at the family’s home at 713 Cedar St., Beaufort, NC 28516 at 9 am on Thursday morning. The faithful will caravan to the mortuary in New Bern.

BIG BOY HENRY was a figurehead of the Carolina blues and among the last of his generation. A big-hearted man and true folk artist, Mr. Henry was a NC Folk Heritage recipient, WC Handy Award winner, and amazing and prolific touring artist. Born in 1921 and faithfully departed 2004, he left friends all over the world.

Condolences and farewells can be sent to

Ann Henry
713 Cedar St.
Beaufort, NC 28516

God bless you and thank you, Big Boy.

Earlier Gary Erwin wrote:

Inspired by Blind Boy Fuller and other exponents of the Carolina blues style, Big Boy made his first recordings in 1947 while working at a radio shop in New Bern, NC (finally issued in 1988 on the Swingmaster label). He also recorded four sides with Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry in NYC (the masters of which were reportedly lost); created his own cassette label, Hometown Records, on which he released nearly a dozen of his own albums, and recorded for other labels such as New Moon, Erwin Music, Audio Arts, and Music Maker.

A recipient of the coveted Brown-Hudson Award for folk arts, Big Boy took his music all over the world with tours of England, Ireland, Switzerland, France, Italy, and Holland throughout the 1990s. He enchanted everyone who heard him play & sing.

A wonderful, spontaneous bard of the downhome blues, Big Boy was one of the last of his generation; a true ambassador of real blues. Moreover, he was a kind-hearted man who made friends everywhere he went. He will be greatly missed.

Big Boy Henry leaves behind his wife of 42 years, Ann Henry, and many children and grandchildren. He will be buried in Beaufort, NC later this week. Arrangements are being finalized

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Patrick mentions is a comment below about the powers of 1, 3 and 7 — and so 13, 37, and 137. Sevens definitely rule as there are so many rules of seven. In poetry, I use the Welsh seven syllable line of Dafydd ap Gwilym (14th century) as a basic building block. The idea is that the odd syllable count adds drama in that you never quite get a series of iambs going unless you emjamb to get there. If you do — you being the poet, but the reader is of course taken on the same ride — your rhyme hits in ways that break the Frankenstein tendencies of the iamb to modern ears while still keeping the expectations alive and occassionally even fulfilled.
Two other poems I’ve built this way are “Dividing Waters” and “Lent 2003″. The last was written for the Poets Against the War and is not build on seven lines and seven verses as “Birds and Fishes” and “Dividing Waters” are. “Birds” and “Waters” have other brothers in their set which I will make available later (or after they are publishing or abandoned).

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A newly released report entitled “Artists, Musicians and the Internet” from the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that musicians like music sharing and not just amongst themselves. Musicians like their work to be heard and have an expectation that they will be paid in concert attendance etc. In a non-random survey of over 2700 musicians and songwriters conducted online, the findings showed that while most were opposed to illegal music sharing, few felt that they had lost money from sharing but instead overwhelmingly the musicians saw the Internet as vital to their potential and actual income. 2/3s of the musicians surveyed said that filesharing was only a minor thread at best.
Of course, our friend Roger McGuinn has been saying this for over ten years now having used his monthly uploads of his own music to his now over 100 song Folk Den project and having testified to the Senate in 2000 about the importance of MP3s to artisits and selfpromotion.
Wired has the best article on the Pew Report as you might expect from the folks who put out the Creative Commons Benefit CD.
One note on the survey: It was done in December 2003. I wonder what changes in musicians attitudes have taken place in the past year.

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The most recent legal challenge to the current state of the information commons is that of Brewster Kahle of Archive.org and Rick Prelinger of Prelinger Film Archives. They, with the help of the Stanford Law Center for Internet and Society, contend that the copyright law as it now exists locks up works that have been abandoned or otherwise should have and could have been returned to the public domain. This locking up of such works is, they allege, unconstitutional. They point out that they are not up for taking works that the authors actually want and that are in publication, but rather works that are now out of print and whose authors (or owners) are impossible to find.
They lost in District Court without a hearing, but have appealed to the 9th Circuit.
Wired News has a good brief article. Stanford Law refers to the decision as a setback [longer paper in pdf available there]. Lessig was somewhat involved and his commenters have more to say on his blog. Slashdot covered the story earlier and of course the chorus of commenters was loud there ;->

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Today’s New York Times Magazine cover story, “The Hidden (in Plain Sight) Persuaders,” by Rob Walker is mostly about the Boston-based BzzAgent, a company that organizes the word-of-mouth marketing equal to astroturf. Although Everett Rogers’ diffusion of innovation is mentioned and described, this article and the company seem to owe more to Douglass Ruskoff’s “Media Virus: Hidden Agendas in Popular Culture” and the concept of meme than to Rogers. If nothing else, the success of BzzAgent, if this article is more than just bzz itself, is to show that early adaptors need not be ‘cool people’ or ‘trend setters’ or even successful models. They just need to get the bzz or, as Doug would say, meme out and get it out to a lot of people. This is more Mark Granovetter than Rogers, if you asked me (and since I’m writing this I asked myself).
Both Rushkoff’s media virus/meme and Granovetter’s strength of weak ties [Granovetter, M. (1973), "The Strength of Weak Ties," American Journal of Sociology, 78 (6): 1360-1380.] speak more directly to the way memes make their way through a culture or, dare I say it, a market.

I am also trying to see how the various parts of Ronald Burt‘s work on Structural Holes and creativity and information dissimination fit in here. It looks like Burt’s new book [downloadable at least in part in pdf] “Brokerage and Closure: An Introduction of Social Capital” might contain the answer and/or his paper, “Bandwidth and Echo: Trust, Information, and Gossip in Social Networks [pdf],” [Pre-print of a chapter in Networks and Markets, edited by Alessandra Casella and James E. Rauch. Russell Sage Foundation, 2001].

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Christian Stalberg, who founded the local Computer Professional for Social Responsibility chapter, sends this announcement:

Is Your Vote Counted?
Panel Presentation and Community Speak-Out on the Question of Voter
Integrity
Wednesday, December 8, 2004 7-9pm
Chapel Hill Town Hall, 306 North Columbia St.

Introduction by Joyce McCloy, Founder, NC Coalition for Verified Voting

David Price, US Congressman: 4th District

David Allen, Systems Engineer, publisher and tech consultant “Black Box Voting:
Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century”

Justin Moore, Computer Scientist, member National Committee for Voting Integrity

Lewis Pitts, Legal Aid Attorney, Advocates for Children’s Services

Moderator, Christian Stalberg, founder, RTP Chapter of Computer
Professionals for Social Responsibility

(downloadable flier for printing available at
http://mysite.verizon.net/resnxfv2/ )

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I have my own obsession with the number seven as seen in the past few poems that I’ve published (mostly in the New and Observer — thanks Marcy Rice for choosing them), but this post is about the now vanished public and yet stealth art project that appeared on the doors and windows of the old Chapel Hill Bus Station called “Seven Windows, Seven Doors.”
I left here hoping to escape
Sally took Tucker and me out on Thanksgiving Day to shoot pictures of the silhouettes on plywood. Since Sally had first seen the art, the demolition of the building had begun and so chainlink fences kept us from getting as close and clear images as we would have liked. Still, the little Pentax Optio did a good job considering. Now you can see the art even though the demolition has begun in earnest. And read Sally’s blog entry.
Brian Russell did a podcast interview with one of the creators, Matt Robinson, at audioactivism.org and Ruby Sinreich posted an entry on OrangePolitics.org to which Matt has commented in an essay that explains a bit about each image.

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David Byrne is blogging and is a pleasure to read. I met him briefly at the Wired Magzine Creative Commons benefit concert he did with Gilberto Gil. He spoke to me. He said, “Can I get by, please.” It was a deep moment of personal interaction.
He did do a good report on the Wired Rose Planetarium party that I had to pass on. Too old to pop up to NYC for one night every month. Me not Byrne. He don’t used permalinks so you have to scroll down looking for a meteor.

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I’m delighted how our seminar in Virtual Communities turned out. We had good presentations and good papers that showed an understanding of the readings, discussions and of the talks by visitors (Searls, Dauber, Muller and Hood). Thanks folks for visiting and to the class for being energetic and smart and resourceful.
We ended the week with a presentation to Center for Research and Development of Digital Libraries (CRADLE), on three ibiblio projects: Osprey, Lyceum, and folkstreams.net. Fred, John, and Max did fine presentations on the projects.
I’ve turned in my judgements on the Framed contest put on by Duke Law’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain. No I can’t tell you which movies I picked as winners. You’ll have to wait and watch their web site for the results. I’m one of three judges so there may be discussion yet to come.
Got a lovely alert from the Yes Men disguised as Dow Ethics clarifying the Dow/Union Carbide reaction/retraction of the BBC report in which a spokesman for Dow (actually a Yes Man posing as Jude Finisterra) admitted that Union Carbide was completely responsible for the Bhopal disaster (20 years on) and announced a plan for atonement. All fake of course.

Date: Fri, 3 Dec 2004 20:37:48 +0100
From: Dow Chemical Corporation retractions @dowethics.com
To: pjones
Subject: DOW “HELP” FOR BHOPAL A HOAX

December 3, 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“DOW” STATEMENT A HOAX
“Historic aid package for Bhopal victims” a lie

Contact: Marina Ashanin, Corp. Media Relations, +41-1-728-2347
Related information: http://dowethics.com/bhopal/

Today on BBC World Television, a fake Dow spokesperson announced fake
plans to take full responsibility for the very real Bhopal tragedy of
December 3, 1984. (1) Dow Chemical emphatically denies this
announcement. Although seemingly humanistic in nature, the fake plans
were invented by irresponsible hucksters with no regard for the
truth.

As Dow has repeatedly noted, Dow cannot and will not take
responsibility for the accident. (“What we cannot and will not do…
is accept responsibility for the Bhopal accident.” – CEO Michael
Parker, 2002.) The Dow position has not changed, despite public
pressure.

Dow also notes the great injustice that these pranksters have caused
by giving Bhopalis false hope for a better future assisted by Dow.
The survivors of Bhopal have already suffered 20 years of false hope,
neglect, and abdication of responsibility by all parties. Is that not
enough?

To be perfectly clear:

* The Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) will NOT be liquidated. (The
fake “Dow plan” called for the dissolution and sale of Dow’s fully
owned subsidiary, estimated at US$12 billion, to fund compensation
and remediation in Bhopal.)

* Dow will NOT commit ANY funds to compensate and treat 120,000
Bhopal residents who require lifelong care. The Bhopal victims have
ALREADY been compensated; many received about US$500 several years
ago, which in India can cover a full year of medical care. (2)

* Dow will NOT remediate (clean up) the Bhopal plant site. We do
understand that UCC abandoned thousands of tons of toxic chemicals on
the site, and that these still contaminate the groundwater which area
residents drink. Dow estimates that the Indian government’s recent
proposal to commission a study to consider the possibility of proper
remediation at some point in the future is fully sufficient.

* Dow does NOT urge the US to extradite former Union Carbide CEO
Warren Anderson to India, where he has been wanted for 20 years on
multiple homicide charges. (3)

* Dow will NOT release proprietary information on the leaked gases,
nor the results of studies commissioned by UCC and never released.

* Dow will NOT fund research on the safety of Dow endocrine
disruptors (ECDs) considered to have long-term negative effects.

* Dow DOES agree that “One can’t assign a dollar value to doing
what’s morally right,” as hoaxter Finisterra said. That is why Dow
acknowledged and resolved many of Union Carbide’s liabilities in the
US immediately after acquiring the company in 2001. (4)

Again, most importantly of all:

* Dow shareholders will see NO losses, because Dow’s policy towards
Bhopal HAS NOT CHANGED. Much as we at Dow may care, as human beings,
about the victims of the Bhopal catastrophe, we must reiterate that
Dow’s sole and unique responsibility is to its shareholders, and Dow
CANNOT do anything that goes against its bottom line unless forced to
by law.

For more information please contact Marina Ashanin, Corporate Media
Relations, +41-1-728-2347, or reply to this email.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

(1) On December 3, 1984, Union Carbide – now part of Dow -
accidentally killed thousands of residents of Bhopal, India, when its
pesticide plant leaked a vast cloud of lethal gas over the city.
Since that date, at least 12,000 more people have died from
complications, and 120,000 remain chronically ill. The Dow Chemical
Corporation hereby expresses its condolences to the victims.

(2) Union Carbide was originally forced to pay US$470 million in
compensation to survivors, which amounts to about US$500 per victim.
(Note: Dow hereby wishes to retract the 2002 statement of Dow PR Head
compensation to survivors, which amounts to about US$500 per victim.
(Note: Dow hereby wishes to retract the 2002 statement of Dow PR Head
Kathy Hunt as to US$500 being “plenty good for an Indian.” The poor
phrasing of this statement has often come back to haunt us.)

(3) Arrested in India following the accident, Andersen posted
US$2000 bail and successfully escaped India.

(4) Dow settled Union Carbide’s asbestos liabilities in the US, and
paid US$10 million to one family poisoned by a Dow pesticide. This
is a mark of Dow’s corporate responsibility.

# 30 #

UPDATE: The Yes Men’s own blow by blow of the Dow hijinks including the BBC news spotis now posted on their site. A great read indeed!

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Not Dick Cheney, but Lynne has talents the evidence of which might have vanished had not certain fans of her novel, “Sisters,” transcribed the entire rare and difficult to find book into a blog on Live Journal. You can now read this great erotic and historic work. And you can comment on it chapter by chapter.

UPDATEThe Live Journal has been killed (as a commenter here has noticed). Copies of the book are selling for $500 and up on Amazon. But the fine people at Whitehouse.org have copies of the covers and excerpts up for you to enjoy if you don’t want to spent your entire year’s movie allowance including several giant popcorns per flick on the book itself.

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We, Kevin Jeffay, Diane Pozefsky and myself, drove over to the manly restaurant, the Angus Barn. The Barn was decorated for the Holidays with innumerable Nutcrackers including a Nutcrackers
festooned tree in the same room as cowhide covered chairs and a wall of guns and rifles. One room nearby was dedicated to cigar smoking. Another room full of preset tables and a well stocked liquor bar — no wine — awaited state-power-brokers (as near as I could tell).
The Barn has long had the smokefilled rooms of choice for the Democratic Party. The place was founded by the son of the “oldest rat in the Democratic barn” himself, Thad Eure (Sr and Jr). Eure, Sr was elected to office on the slogan “Give a young man a chance” and served for 52 years more as Secretary of State retiring at age 88. There is more color to this family than you could squeeze into a major multi-generational saga. And that’s only that part that they will tell you themselves.
The IBM Academy gathering was lively and not in the same vein as the political meetings to which the place is accustomed. For one thing there was wine, pretty good wine too. But no liquor which as driver was fine by me. While the meeting was mostly a meeting of guys, there were women there and women who do strong research and who like like the others from the IBM Academy were Distinguished Scientists and Engineers.
Duke, NCSU and UNC each sent three faculty members. NCSU sent Mladen Vouk, the amiable Michael Rappa and Ioannis Viniotis. Among the folks from Duke was Richard A. Lucic who I met at the John Hope Franklin Center a few weeks back.
I had some fun exchanging Treo tricks with John Cohn who is an IBM Academy Fellow from Burlington VT then great conversations over dinner with the IBMers from Australia and the UK. The good news is that most all the IBMers not only knew of ibiblio, but were also readers of groklaw.net as well as TLDP and other sites.
I spent some time explaining some of the challenges that we face at ibiblio as we scale up more and more. And all of this presented interesting challenges to the IBMers as well. I guess that’s good. Getting an answer would have been okay too ;->
About the food — this is for Miles — I had out of an season softshell crab which is better than it sounds. I think either the Barners are fooling the crabs into thinking it’s spring and summer by using heat lamps or that freezing seafood has gotten pretty good. My crab was accompanied by a filet mignon wrapped in bacon. I eat it rare. Very rare. I may not be drinking liquor and smoking cigars and talking politics, but I can be manly about meat. I also had a good Caesar salad and galic mashed taters. The desserts were also good if slightly basic. I had strawberries seemingly grown in the same seasonal deceptions as the crabs. They were fresh and good. With cheese cake. Even the coffee was good. Basic and manly and robust. No hazelnuts in this java.
I would have been happy with just soup as long as we could have had the came great conversations. The talk was geeky and good covering not only a variety of technologies but also society and tech issues that are dear to my heart. It’s great to sit with smart folks who are eager to trade tales and ideas.

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