October, 2006

7 Oct 2006, by

Joy in Mudville

For tonight, there IS joy in Mudville–the mighty Yankees have been blown out. 🙂

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This from today’s edition of the San Jose Mercury News:

Google seeks rivals’ data for lawsuit over libraries
By Elise Ackerman
Mercury News
Google is subpoenaing documents from its two biggest competitors, Microsoft and Yahoo, in an effort to defend itself in copyright lawsuits filed against it by publishers and authors.

McGraw-Hill Cos. and the Authors Guild, along with other publishers and authors, contend that a Google project to digitize the libraries of four major U.S. universities, as well as portions of the New York Public Libary and Oxford University’s libraries, ignores the rights of copyright holders in favor of Google’s economic self-interest.

The publishers support a separate book-scanning effort, known as the Open Content Alliance, that was conceived by Yahoo and the non-profit Internet Archive, and that seeks explicit permission from copyright holders. The alliance has promised to make books available to all search engines.

Microsoft joined the alliance last year and has said it will launch its own book project similar to Google’s.

According to filings in U.S. District Court in New York, Google wants Yahoo and Microsoft to provide descriptions of their projects, as well as documents that show they have legal rights to the books that are included in the project.

A Microsoft spokesman said the Google subpoena had not yet been served. Yahoo declined to comment on pending legal matters.

Google also said it would subpoena documents from Amazon, Random House and the Association of American Publishers. In a statement, Google said that confidential documents it is requesting would be filed under a protective order that would tightly restrict who could see them.

Still, Google’s requests may be hard to fulfill. According to librarians participating in Google’s project, the legal status of some older books can be hard to determine.

As part of its book project, Google returns snippets of text contained in books along with other search results. People who want to read an entire book can buy it or obtain it through a library. People can also pay a fee and read some books online.

In an interview with the Mercury News last year, Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, said he was concerned how accessible a digital library run by Google would be.

“Is the library of the future going to be open?” Kahle said. “Or will it be controlled by a couple of big corporate players?”


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Here’s a prime example of political correctness run amok:

From the October 4 issue of the Tennessean newspaper:

Rebel flag, guns not wanted at battle event
Franklin officials cite safety and sensitivity

Staff Writer

FRANKLIN — A Confederate battle flag and the crack of rifle fire were two of the sights and sounds Civil War soldiers faced 140 years ago.

Yet top Franklin officials contend those things, each fraught with modern symbolism and conflicts, should not be present during a Nov. 30 ceremony to commemorate those killed during the 1864 Battle of Franklin.

Mayor Tom Miller is urging that a color guard planned for the event not fly the Confederate flag. Police Chief Jackie Moore wants re-enactors to keep their rifles away from the ceremony.
“In the strongest terms possible, let me suggest that flag not appear,” Miller told officials Monday night during a committee meeting to approve funding for the event.

Afterward, Miller acknowledged he might face criticism.

But he said he wants to avoid controversy that might come from flying the flag. Moore said he wants to keep rifles away because of security issues. “I do have serious concerns about the safety and our being able as a police department to vouch that firearms used and borne in this event are safe,” Moore said. While both men say they want to avoid conflicts, their stances have raised thorny issues about race and history.

Some say flag simply reflects history

A leading advocate for battlefield preservation, Miller stressed that the flag doesn’t carry any baggage with him personally, but that others might feel differently.

“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Miller about the Confederate flag. “I accept it for what it is. It’s a historic emblem. But to a lot of people, it is an anathema. And we don’t need anything that could potentially polarize our community like that could.”

Miller’s stance drew immediate support from the Rev. Denny Denson, an African-American pastor who believes the planned event would garner little support from black Franklin residents.

“I agree with him totally,” Denson said. “The Civil War means one thing to the majority culture. It means another thing to African-Americans.”

Plans call for members of the Huntsville, Ala.-based Olde Towne Brass band to divide its 14 members into two bands dressed in Union and Confederate uniforms and serenade the crowd gathered in Franklin’s downtown square with songs popular in that era.

They would unite and play American anthems while the Confederate flag is lowered and the American flag raised, all by the light of 10,000 votive candles.

Bob Baccus said his band stays out of politics, doesn’t fly flags and wants to educate.
“We try to be historically correct in everything we do and everything we play. We try to stay out of politics,” Baccus said. “We want to play the music the way it was played 150 years ago. We try to educate our audience.”

Black and white members of Franklin’s Battlefield Task Force that designed the ceremony, as well as re-enactors, politicians and others, fired back at Miller’s suggestion to keep flags away.
“If you’re doing a ceremony where you’re honoring men of two sides and you do away or ban the symbolism of one side, what does that do?” asked committee member Robin Hood, who said he dislikes how the Confederate flag has been used by hate groups who have “sort of kidnapped that flag” for their own uses. But erasing it from the event will cause only more problems, he feared.

Pearl Bransford, a longtime resident and committee member, supported the group’s plan because it presents both sides of the fighting — and is a reminder of that war’s hard-won, bloody lessons.

“Don’t be afraid to talk about the Civil War,” said Bransford, who is black. “It had a lot of ugliness in it. Out of that ugliness came freed people. There were people in bondage. … The Civil War freed me and my people. If it wasn’t for the Civil War, I would be somebody’s slave. And those days are over.”

Meanwhile, Miller’s comments left Williamson County Civil War re-enactor Ronny Mangrum, 49, outraged enough to reconsider his donation to help the city buy battlefield land in Franklin. Mangrum is known by many for his barefoot marches from Columbia to Franklin on the anniversary of the battle.

“How can we properly honor these men who fought and died for this flag because we’re not allowed to carry one today because of political correctness?” Mangrum said. “My God, what in the world is happening to our town?”

Chief cites safety issues

Moore’s problem with the events stems from the historically accurate guns that might be brought to the event by re-enactors and enthusiasts.

“My concern is for the safety of the re-enactors and anyone else who happens to be in attendance,” Moore said. “Weapons, no matter what age they are, were designed in such a manner as to kill human beings.”

Instead of re-enactors carrying rifles or firearms during the ceremony, Moore wants attendees to stack the arms beforehand outside the public square.

Moore’s recommendation left Franklin Alderman Dana McLendon incredulous. “They’re six feet long and 200 years old,” exclaimed McLendon. “We’re not talking about people walking around with Glocks and AK (47)s.” Final approval for funding the ceremony, as well as a permit to hold it, has to be given by city officials.

These discussions may be inevitable as Franklin searches for new ways to mark the 1864 battle.

“The first year of trying to get the elephant up and dancing there are going to be these kinds of problems,” said Joe Smyth, president of the nonprofit Save the Franklin Battlefield Inc.
“This is a matter of working it out with officials and staff. I would expect these issues.”

Let’s recap, shall we? There’s an event to commemorate a Civil War battle on the actual battlefield. The battle was an especially bloody affair wherein fifteen Confederate generals were casualties, including six killed, and was a critical moment in Hood’s 1864 Tennessee Campaign. Yet, they want to prohibit the Confederate battle flag and they want the re-enactors to stack their weapons and not carry them.

Good grief. Talk about political correctness run amok…..

Will it ever end?

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4 Oct 2006, by

KT Tunstall

I’ve told you previously that music plays an important part in my life and always has.  This is a music post, so those of you looking for Civil War stuff won’t find it here.

I’ve also lamented the apparent lack of musical talent in many of today’s popular acts.  Finally, there’s been the “bimboizing” of pop music with the proliferation of air headed morons like Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson, both of whom appear to have the overwhelming majority of their talent in their bras.  Most recently, the ultimate air headed bimbo, Paris Hilton, has released an album, as somebody persuaded her that (a) she can sing and (b) anyone gives a damn. 

To borrow a line once used to describe Bruce Springsteen, I have seen the future, and her name is KT Tunstall.

I am one of those people who can’t concentrate in a silent room.  Consequently, I listen to the radio streaming via the web all day while at work.  On a visit to Susan’s brother a couple of years ago, I discovered KFOG, a terrific Bay Area station.  I was even more pleased to find that KFOG streams on the web, so I listen to it pretty much all day (although there are times when I listen to Jimmy Buffett’s Radio Margaritaville). 

Back in January, KFOG started playing a song called “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree” by some unknown singer.  I really liked the song, so I started paying attention.  The artist who wrote and performed it is named KT Tunstall.  Since then, her first album was released in the U. S., and a second song, titled “Suddenly I See” was released as a single, and has gotten a lot of airplay.  It was the song played during the opening scenes of the recent movie The Devil Wears Prada. 

KT is from Scotland.  She plays the guitar, the piano, and the drums.  She’s been known to be a one-woman band–her performance on the Today show back in the early spring proved that. She writes all of her own stuff, and she can REALLY sing.  Imagine Sheryl Crow with a Scots accent and a big attitude, and you get a very good idea of what we’re talking about here.

Susan and I went to see her in concert  last night.  It’s her first true U. S. tour, and she played in a real dump.  However, we were there for the music and not for the venue.  And let me tell you–I can’t say enough good things about her or her performance.  She played four different guitars over the course of the show, including a beautiful Les Paul that was as big as she is, the piano, and the drums.  She has a fabulous band behind her–her bass player also played the cello on a couple of songs, and it was a great show.

For me, a real indicator of how good a performer is is whether they sound as good live as they do in the studio–and no, I don’t mean lipsynching like Ashlee Simpson, either–and KT sounds EXACTLY the same live as she does in the studio, meaning that her voice is that good that she requires no mixing.  It was very impressive.  She did several songs from her new upcoming acoustic album, and they were all terrific.  She told the crowd that the entire album was recorded in a single day, which is quite impressive.

She is the anti-Britney, to say the very least.  I just can’t say enough good things about her and her music.  If you get the chance to enjoy her and her music, please indulge yourself.  You won’t be disappointed.   

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2 Oct 2006, by

Deleting a Link

Not in Memorium but in Defense was launched early this summer to chronicle the research of a Harvard student working toward her senior thesis. The research has apparently been completed and the thesis is apparently underway, as there hasn’t been a post since July 19. In other words, the last post was ten weeks ago, so presumably that means that the blog has been abandoned. Consequently, I am deleting the link. If I hear that it’s come back on line at some point, I will add it back in again, but for now, there’s no reason to keep it as an actitve link.

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In: Blogging | Tags:

Since posting about the unscientific poll on favorite Civil War battlefields on the CWDG web site last night, we’ve had 15 more votes, presumably from some of you.

Here are the updated results, as of 7:51 PM on Monday, October 2:

Antietam 9.64% (8)
Chancellorsville 1.20% (1)
Chickamauga 9.64% (8)
Fredericksburg 3.61% (3)
Gettysburg 55.42% (46)
Petersburg 1.20% (1)
Richmond 0.00% (0)
Shiloh 3.61% (3)
Vicksburg 3.61% (3)
Other–tell us what! 12.05% (10)

Interestingly, the percentage of folks voting for Gettysburg has dropped slightly, but it still remains the overwhelming favorite. I doubt that will change.

I will continue to update the results here until we close the poll in a few weeks.

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Reader Jack Dempsey posted this comment to my discussion of my trip to Detroit last week:

For someone who tries to read your blog regularly, and would have enjoyed attending this event, I regret there was no prior notice on this blogsite as in other cases, at least to the best of my knowledge. Perhaps this could serve as a suggestion that authors attempt consistently to inform their readership of upcoming appearances. Thanks.

Point taken. It just never occurred to me to announce the date here, and I apologize for not doing so. Jack, I apologize. It would have been nice to meet you.

Consequently, I think that I will see about adding a section to this site which contains my scheduled appearances/talks. In the meantime, the only other even that I have scheduled at present is a joint appearance with J. D. at the Gettysburg Civil War Roundtable on October 26, where we will be discussing Plenty of Blame to Go Around.

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We regularly run polls on the Civil War Discussion Group. We probably don’t change them often enough, but we come up with some interesting and sometimes unexpected results. Other results are precisely what I expect. What makes these unscientific polls interesting is seeing the results that come in and the comparing them wtih my expectations. Some are easier to predict than others.

The current poll, which has now been up for about a month, is completely unscientific. The question is a simple one: what’s your favorite Civil War battlefield. There are a number of specific choices, and there is also one that says “other”. Anyone wanting to respond to the poll simply has to click the button and the vote registers. To date, we’ve had 68 votes, which is actually significantly less than what I would expected when we posted the poll. Here are the results to date:

Antietam 10.29% (7)
Chancellorsville 1.47% (1)
Chickamauga 8.82% (6)
Fredericksburg 2.94% (2)
Gettysburg 61.76% (42)
Petersburg 1.47% (1)
Richmond 0.00% (0)
Shiloh 2.94% (2)
Vicksburg 2.94% (2)
Other–tell us what! 7.35% (5)

42 of the 68 votes cast to date have been for Gettysburg. Nothing else even remotely comes close. The next highest number of votes is 7. I fully expected Gettysburg to come out on top, but I didn’t expect it to be quite so lopsided. I was the vote for Chancellorsville, by the way.

So, even though it’s an informal poll, it still substantiates what I’ve always know, which is that Gettysburg seems to occupy a disproportionate place in the hearts and minds of Civil War afficionados. I have always believed that the emphasis of Gettysburg is misdirected, and that there were other battles that were just as important, if not more so. However, few seem capture the public’s attention with anything even remotely resembling the fascination with which people hold Gettysburg.

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