AL Librarian Catches Plagiarist
By Staff — January 15, 2006
In October, Margaret Butler, a librarian at the Tuscaloosa Public Library (TPL), AL, chose for her collection Brad Vice’s short story volume The Bear Bryant Funeral Train (Univ. of Georgia Pr.), winner of its publisher’s Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. But Butler, an avid reader in Southern literature, noticed similarities between Vice’s text and Carl Cramer’s Stars Fell on Alabama (1934; reprint. Univ. of Alabama Pr., 2000) and notified TPL’s assistant library director Elizabeth Bradt. They contacted both publishers, and Georgia agreed to recall all copies, pulp the book, and rescind the award. “I’ve lived here a long time and read most everything about Tuscaloosa or Bear Bryant or Alabama that I see,” Butler told LJ. “I just had a feeling that [Vice] felt nobody would’ve read Cramer’s book.” While the remaining copies of Bear Bryant are now collectibles, several libraries around the country still have it. Said Butler, “We pulled them off the circulating shelf, but since it’s local history, we’ll probably keep them.”
My take. Perhaps Vice is practicing remix culture which is legal in the eyes of copyright, but by not crediting his sources he was also practicing plagiarism. Unlike say Pound or Eliot who also borrowed, he borrowed heavily and directly enough without crediting his sources and influences.
Harry Shearer’s Le Show for Jan 15th notices that military bloggers are being shutdown unless they toe the line. No surprise there. Newday reported the story earlier this month. While everyone sees a need for information control in a war zone especially, the Newsday writer notes: a complete milblog blackout may never succeed.
In class today, we’ll be talking about “As We May Think,” Vanevar Bush’s 1945 Atlantic Monthly article. I’ve also assigned H. G. Wells’ earlier (1937) “World Brain” and Michael Buckland’s article on the near forgotten inventor of a pre-Memex Memex, Emanuel Goldberg, who had most all of what Bush dreamed of already working in the 1920s.
To my mind, Wells better grasped the potential social use of shared knowledge than Bush, while Goldberg operationalized the Memex concepts so much earlier (and I would say from most of my background readings better) than Bush.
“I am turning over a new leaf this year and will be wearing polos and khakis, cardigan sweaters and sweatshirts tied around my neck. This resolution will fall somewhere between sobriety and monogamy.”
–Dykki, The King of Downtown Durham
Quickly pick up a copy of the January 11 – 17 issue and turn to page 27. Is there irony at play here?
Let There Be Wi-Fi
Broadband is the electricity of the 21st century—and much of America is being left in the dark.
Two decades ago, the chattering classes fretted about economic upheaval rising from Japan and the Asian Tigers. They feared an invasion of cars, microchips, and Karaoke that would take away American jobs, take over U.S.-dominated industries, and shift cultural norms. In the 1990s, America responded with a boom in high technology and Hollywood exports. But a revolution is again brewing in places like Japan and South Korea. This time it’s about “broadband”—a technology that, in terms of powering economies, could be the 21st century equivalent of electricity. But rather than relive the jingoism of the 1980s, American policy makers would be wise to take a cue from the Asian innovators and implement new policies to close the digital divide at home and with the rest of the world.
Imagine being 3 feet from Ralph Stanley as he sings O Death (a capella of course). I was there in the Manuscripts Department of Wilson Library about 2 hours ago listening not only to O Death but to Ralph Stanley talking about his early days in music, about learning banjo from his mother, watching him play the old time clawhammer style that she taught him on “Shout Little Lulu.”
Ralph is nearly 80 and has serious hair. He started out singing “Girl From The Green Far Shore” accompanied by his grandson, Nathan, on mandolin and James Shelton on guitar. When Bob Cantwell asked if that was a Carter Family song, he said no it was older. But then owned up that he learned it from T-Bone Burnett.
It was then that we heard a little banjo-playing on “Shout Little Lulu” which turned into a really fast paced romp.
At Bob’s request, Ralph talked a little about his banjo style how he added a finger and played mostly three finger style. These days, he allowed, he didn’t play banjo so much because of arthritis, but he looked pretty damn good to me.
He next sang “Man of Constant Sorrow” which he had first recorded in 1948. In his version, he sings “Farewell to old Kentucky” (I have about 40 versions of this song and each singer says farewell to a different place. Bob Dylan bids farewell to Colorado).
Bob asked about his distinctive vocal style and Ralph said that it was God’s gift and that he hoped he had used that gift wisely. He wouldn’t sang hardly any old Carter Brothers songs because he sings tenor and he needed someone to harmonize with. His son, Ralph 2nd, was in the hospital with flu-like symptoms.
Then he sang “Little Birdie” along with some clawhammer frailling.
Bob asked him about the coming of Elvis which he said “starved out” most of the old time and bluegrass bands. The Stanley Brothers continued because they were (and are) distinctive.
Nathan played lead on “Sandy Ridge” then on another of his own compositions “Papaw’s Mule” named for Ralph’s old white mule.
James Shelton did some crosspicking on “Sunny Side of the Mountain.”
Then the three played “Will You Miss Me” as an instrumental.
After a little discussion, Ralph sang his “scary” song, “O Death” which he later said sold over 10 million copies.
James finally agreed to sing on a song he said he learned from Bob Dylan, “Walking on down the line.”
The group finished up with Ralph on banjo as they played “Old Time Picking”
They’re playing in Memorial Hall with the Red Clay Ramblers right now (I didn’t get tickets in time to go — it’s sold out).
A Conversation with Ralph Stanley
Thurs. Jan. 12, 5-6 p.m.
Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Library, 4th floor
Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley will discuss his life and work in a free public forum at UNC-Chapel Hill on Thursday (Jan. 12) from 5 -6 pm. in the Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Library (4th floor). Dr. Robert Cantwell, an adjunct associate professor in UNC’s Curriculum in American Studies and the author of Bluegrass Breakdown: The Making of the Old Southern Sound, will moderate the talk. Space is limited to approximately the first 125 people.
The program is sponsored by Carolina Performing Arts, the Southern Folklife Collection, and the Center for the Study of the American South. For information, contact Steve Weiss, Director of the Southern Folklife Collection, at (919) 962-1345.
Ralph Stanley and The Red Clay Ramblers will perform Jan. 12 in Memorial Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The 8 p.m. concert, part of the 2005-2006 Carolina Performing Arts Series, is sold out.
Researcher studies Facebook use by college freshmen at UNC
Facebook is an online social networking directory that has become the rage on college campuses since it debuted in 2004. College students have created around six million accounts. Students make personal profiles pages, which typically contain photos. They can exchange messages, and join groups of friends. Profiles often contain a lot of personal information, such as relationship status and sexual preference.
The Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library have been sponsoring a series of talks on Einstein. Tucker and I were at the first three, but he had a conflict today and I was there alone. Alone with a completely packed room! Dr. Henry Greenside does a fantastic job of making Einsteinian concepts approachable and understandable to the layman and his listeners obviously appreciate his work.
Einstein’s most spectacular achievement as a scientist was his 1915 general theory of relativity, which explained gravity as a geometric bending of spacetime by matter.
Dr. Henry Greenside, Professor of Physics at Duke University, will present a non-technical overview of Einstein’s theory and then explain some of its amazing implications, including the bending of light by gravity, how strong gravitational fields cause time to slow down, the properties of black holes that form when massive stars die, and how space itself can expand and contract. Dr. Greenside will desribe how general relativity is being used by scientists to understand many mysterious astronomical observations — monstrous black holes at the center of each galaxy, an ever-expanding universe, and the mysterious “dark matter” of which the universe consists.
Finally, Dr. Greenside will describe the major crisis with which physics is currently faced: our two greatest physical theories — general relativity and quantum mechanics — conflict with one another. The resolution of this crisis is likely to lead to spectacular and unprecedented insights.
Okay, it’s not a final report, but it’s an end of Fall semester analysis. Fred has been reviewing the Facebook usage at UNC in aggregate (not in detail) for the past semester and he has some very interesting findings. Check them all out at his blog. Much insight into UNC students’ political self-identity, ideas and practices of privacy, taste in music, books and film.