July 1st, 2005

Editorial

So it's O'Connor

Sandra O'Connor is retiring, not William Rehnquist. That puts a different spin on things. Both are pretty conservative, but O'Connor is less so. In these days of the neo-con movement, the press will most likely label O'Connor as a centrist or swing vote. That's only because Washington has tilted so far to the right that anyone to the left of Rush Limbaugh is labelled liberal. Given the Bush administration proclivities, it's likely that a more reliable neo-con will be nominated. And that's a shame. It'll be a bruising fight that the Democrats will likely lose, at least in the mainstream media.

Like a trainwreck, I won't be able to look away. I need to go see a doctor about dosing up on blood pressure medicine.

Especially if he nominates Theodore Olson or Kenneth Starr. That'll be fun and aggravating. At least with them, there's a whole bunch of material on their willingness to look past the truth during the 1990s that the Democrats can use.

Editorial

Monorail news

In other news, the Seattle Monorail Project board killed the financing plan for the future transit system. From what I can tell (I haven't read all the documents yet) the financing plan is the part that didn't really meet the terms of the original plan that voters approved. Other parts deviate slightly (with one exception I may write about later), but because the project underestimated how much revenue a car tax would bring, they had to find other ways to pay off the bonds. The project resorted to junk bonds that have a high interest rate. Meaning we'd be paying off the tax until 2050, unless miraculously people started buying more cars in Seattle or more expensive cars.

Now it's back to the drawing board to find another plan to finance the thing. Which is good. Though I don't know how likely that occurence will be. I'm not skilled in the world of government bonds.

Canyon Falls

What is an author?

So this entry on the Patry copyright blog caught my eye. That's a blog covering legal issues related to copyright. And it's definitely geared toward lawyers, whereas places like Groklaw try to make their legal stuff accessible to non-lawyers.

The reason why the question posted as the title is relevant is that the U.S. constitution grants Congress the power to extend copyright to authors. But the constitution doesn't define what an author is. At the time, an author would be pretty clear.

Merriam-Webster defines author as such:

1 a : one that originates or creates : SOURCE b capitalized : GOD 1 2 : the writer of a literary work (as a book)

In the 1700s, it was rare to have a group of people co-author a work and even rarer for them to care about the authorship of a work for economic reasons. Today it's a little more complicated. When you work for a company, stuff you write within the scope of your work is a work-for-hire, and the company is considered the author. Legally that is. I'm not sure I agree with that morally though. It's still my thoughts, effort, and inspiration that created the work.

When you have a small group, it's not a big deal to consider yourself a co-author. Does everyone have the same rights? Or does it mean you get to put it up to a vote within that group? What if the group become larger? I don't mean this to be a legal question. I'm pretty sure there's some guidance from the courts on these questions already so I don't much care what they think until I get into a legal copyright situation.

Books

Blinded By The Right, David Brock

Blinded by the Right
David Brock
Best Price $3.75
or Buy New $10.20
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Just finished Blinded By The Right: The Conscience Of An Ex-Conservative, the memoir/tell-all by David Brock. Brock wrote for Insight and American Spectator, and also wrote an attack book on Anita Hill shortly after the Clarence Thomas nomination fight. However, in 1996 he published a book on Hillary Clinton that was widely expected to be an attack piece. When it turned out to be relatively balanced, the right wing disavowed him. In the years since, he wrote this book, and started Media Matters, a counter-information source on the right wing.

I don't know how much of the facts in the books can be independently verified. My guess is a lot of it is. It was interesting for a number of reasons. First, Brock is one of few who has moved from conservative to liberal. Second, the inside look at the attack media that nearly brought down Clinton and prevented from Gore from winning in 2000 is priceless. There really was a right-wing conspiracy, though it may not have been vast. Third, the insight Brock gave into how he thought and felt at the time, and what might have motivated him. However, that part seems to veer into the psycho-babble realm more than I like. Fourth, and last, he offers retractions and mea culpas on the prominent pieces he wrote. These days, it's rare to see any kind of substantive correction in the media at all, much less something as prominent as this book.

Brock, David, 1962-
Blinded by the right: the conscience of an ex-conservative / by David Brock.
ISBN 1400047285 (pbk.)
ISBN 0-8129-3099-1 (hardcover)
1. Brock, David.
2. Clinton, Bill, 1946—Adversaries.
3. United States—Politics and government—1993-2001.
4. Republican Party (U.S.L 1854- )—Biography.
5. Journalists—United States—Biography.
6. Conspiracies—United States—History—20th century.
7. Conservatism—United States—History—20th century.
8. Right and left (Political science)—History—20th century.
E886.2.B754 2001
973.929—dc21
2001-028853