Editing Embargo Ends

by Jon Mandle on December 16, 2004

Back in September, 2003, the U.S. Treasury ruled that the U.S. trade embargos against Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Sudan meant that U.S. publishers had to apply for a special license in order to edit scholarly works produced by citizens of those countries. Violations could result in fines of up to $1 million and 10 years in prison. The ruling allowed the publication of those works, but only if they were not edited, since that would be providing a valuable service. The Office of Foreign Assets Control wrote that trade policy prohibits “the reordering of paragraphs or sentences, correction of syntax, grammar, and replacement of inappropriate words by U.S. persons.”

The Chronicle reports (subscription required) that the decision has been reversed. Now U.S. persons can provide Iranian authors the service of replacing inappropriate words.

Blogs by students

by Eszter Hargittai on December 16, 2004

I am teaching an undergraduate class this Winter called “Internet and Society”. [1] I am going to require each student to maintain his/her own blog. This poses some challenges from keeping up with the amount of written material to assuring a certain level of privacy for students (as per related federal laws). I still have a few weeks to think about the specifics and thought would see what experiences and wisdom others may have accumulated in this realm.

The course is a social science course (half the students will be Communication Studies majors, half of them Sociology majors) with a focus on exploring the social, political, economic and cultural aspects of the Internet. I do plan to teach students some technical skills, but that won’t be the focal point of the course. I will provide basic installation of WordPress and then will work with students to tweak the layout and style to their liking. Those who are especially interested in this aspect will have the opportunity to personalize the blog considerably, but that will not be a requirement.

The closest analogy to requiring blogs seems to be classes where students are required to keep journals. I have only seen this done once so I am curious to hear about additional experiences (or, of course, any experiences people may have with blogs by students in particular). The idea is to ask students to comment on their readings and class discussions on their blogs. They would be required to write a certain number of entries (I am not yet sure how many). They would also be required to comment on other students’ blogs (I am not yet sure how often).

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Free speech and hate speech

by Chris Bertram on December 16, 2004

I’ve been wanting to post some observations on the British government’s proposal to criminalize incitement to religious hatred. The issue may be now be moot, thanks to the departure of David Blunkett, but there were assumptions made in the standard blog critique (SBC) that I wasn’t happy with. There were also considerations omitted that I thought should have been given some weight. Let me stress that I don’t think that this bill should have passed. Nevertheless the arguments in the SBC were seriously defective and/or incomplete.

So what was wrong with the SBC?

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by Eszter Hargittai on December 16, 2004

It’s my birthday so I’ll take this opportunity to talk about something dear to my heart: chocolate. A friend who clearly does not realize how little time I spend working out gave me two pounds of some very good quality chocolate for my birthday. (Maybe the idea was that this way even after sharing with him I’d still have enough left for me.:) Another friend – whose wife and I have a monthly ritual of giving each other Belgian truffles on random holidays – sent me a link to a New York Times article about some of the best places in Paris for quality chocolate. One of the most intriguing gifts I’ve gotten recently came from Paris and was chocolate related: chocolate perfume. The scent is very real, and I don’t mean of some cheapo imitation American candy bar. The aroma resembles very high quality chocolate. Surprising as it may be, smelling the perfume can have healthy repercussions. A whiff of that scent will nullify any craving for poor quality chocolate (the type most likely to be around one’s office where such cravings often arise). Before completely dismissing all American chocolate, I should note that at a chocolate party where the hosts had us guests sampling and rating unidentified milk and dark chocolates from all over the world, some American chocolates actually came out quite highly ranked (including something as generic as Hershey’s dark chocolate).

I think a sophisticated chocolate enthusiast has cravings for specific types of chocolate, not just chocolate in general. So sometimes it is that M-azing candy bar you crave while other times only a Cote d’Or hazelnut dark chocolate bar, a Ritter Sport Marzipan bar or a Sport falat will do (just to name some of my favorites).

For those in the Chicagoland area, I highly recommend the Belgian chocolatier Piron in Evanston (the source of my monthly chocolate truffle ritual mentioned above). I welcome pointers to other great chocolate stores wherever they may be.

Wireless Internet on Planes

by Kieran Healy on December 16, 2004

Via “Slashdot”:http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/12/16/005256&tid=126&tid=193, news that the FCC has “voted to allow”:http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&e=2&u=/ap/20041215/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/fcc_air_travelers wireless internet on flights, something that’s been available outside the U.S. here and there (e.g., on Lufthansa, I think). On the upside, this is one amenity that they’ll have a hard time restricting to first and business class. But the realm of Court Cases You Will Hear About Soon on the Volokh Conspiracy now includes the one about the guy who started browsing pornographic sites a couple of hours into the flight. My prediction is that the first offenders will be in business or first class, where they’ll think they have enough room to chance it.