Journals and the Web

by Brian on September 6, 2003

These days many academics, including I would guess most who read this blog, keep collections of their papers available on their websites. (If you’re interested in seeing some samples, Dave Chalmers keeps a fairly comprehensive list of people with online papers in philosophy.) In the last few years several issues about the relationship between posting something to a webpage and publishing it in a book or journal have become a little pressing.

There’s actually a tangle of inter-related questions here that could use sorting out. For one thing, there are both legal questions (about copyright) and moral questions (about whether such posting is stealing from editors who’ve agreed to publish things) about the practice. For another, the answers to those questions may be different for articles that have been published, or have been accepted but not published, or are as yet homeless. For another, it might make a difference whether the journal in question is electronic or dead tree. So there’s potentially ten or twelve different questions here.

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Good news for a change

by Henry Farrell on September 6, 2003

“Teresa Nielsen Hayden”: posts on a story that I’ve been interested in the last few days; how some conservative Alabama Christians have come out in favor of higher, less regressive taxes in the state. This may be a flash in the pan; for one thing it’s unlikely that these Christians are going to be successful in persuading Alabama’s public to sign on to tax reform. But it’s potentially important nonetheless. Grover Norquist and his ilk have been uncannily successful in boiling down a rich and complex tradition of thought into a single, sloganistic programme of all tax-cuts, all of the time. It’s nice to see some principled conservatives reacting against this.

The “TAP article”: that Teresa cites to sees these Christians as reminiscent of Dorothy Day; I think that may be going a step too far. These people aren’t interested in substantial redistribution of wealth so much as in ensuring that the poor have the basic minimum of opportunities which will allow them to look after themselves; decent education, access to justice, perhaps some form of public health care. Still, a “superior moral justification for selfishness”: it ain’t. I wish them luck.

Pasolini’s gospel

by Chris Bertram on September 6, 2003

I watched Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St Matthew yesterday. I’d been meaning to watch it after reading Jerry Cohen’s report of the effect it had had on him (see If You’re an Egalitarian How Come You’re So Rich?). I’m not a religious person, but the film did not disappoint. It is an extraordinarily sparse portrayal of the story, shot in black and white against the Italian countryside. The acting can’t account for the power of the film, because, there really isn’t any. The actors are all non-professionals and, mostly, they just stand around and look (there are many closeups on their faces). The camera often shakes, and the production values are crude. But Pasolini succeeds in creating something of great beauty and emotional power.

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Meacher flips

by Chris Bertram on September 6, 2003

There’s no real need to comment on Michael Meacher’s ravings about 9/11, but the BBC report (as currently displayed – I’m sure they’ll fix it) contains the following:

bq. Mr Meacher told the Today programme he was a conspiracy theorist and said he was simply “in favour of giving people the facts”.

UPDATE: They’ve now inserted the “not”.

Sub Pop

by Ted on September 6, 2003

We all know that polls taken more than a year before the election are going to have virtually no predictive power. But this analysis caught my eye:

Some 41 percent of all registered voters say they will definitely vote against Bush; just 29 percent say they will definitely vote for him. So Bush must woo about seven in ten swing voters — not a difficult task for a popular incumbent, but far from a certainty.

Does it make sense to call him a “popular incumbent” in the sentence immediately after the one that says that 41% of likely voters will vote against him, and 29% will vote for him?

Euphony in Language

by Kieran Healy on September 6, 2003

Tim Dunlop and Jonathon Delacour wonder if some languages are more pleasant to listen to than others, whether you understand them or not. This is certainly true from person to person. When I moved to the U.S., I sometimes found that things I complacently thought were due to my natural wit and charm were in fact explained by my speaking in a pleasant Irish accent. Conversely, these days I am routinely berated by almost everyone for having lost that accent after a mere six or seven years in America.

The more general proposition — that some languages are inherently better-sounding than others — is usually just a step back before taking a kick at the Germans. But Clive James, I think somewhere in his autobiography, makes an elegant case for Italian. As I remember, he quotes this bit from Dante’s Divine Comedy (Inferno, III, 1-3):

Per me si va ne la città dolente,
per me si va ne l’etterno dolore,
per me si va tra la perduta gente.

“Through me you pass to the city of woe / Through me you pass into eternal pain / Through me to amongst the lost people.”

Bitter words, James says, but because it’s Italian you still get to say “tra la.”