E-Books are #1 Format for February

“For February 2011, e-Books ranked as the #1 format among all categories of Trade publishing (Adult Hardcover, Adult Paperback, Adult Mass Market, Children’s/Young Adult Hardcover, Children’s/Young Adult Paperback).”

(I believe they’re lumping downloaded audio books with text ebooks to get this result, which is cheating.)

Read the full article.

(Thanks to Tony Cratz on a private mailing list.)

 

Stadium Woes

Reasons I hate the downtown stadiums (now plural):

  • They were paid for with tax dollars, so they represent the worst kind of corporate welfare—welfare for billionaire team owners and millionaire employees.
  • They have killed off the restaurants I actually went to downtown (no, of course I don’t know if they were the actual cause; but given my changes in behavior it seems quite possible).
  • They cause parking rates to be randomly sky-high throughout downtown.
  • They cause random horrible traffic jams.
  • They caused extra taxes to be imposed on customers of downtown businesses.  (For these three reasons, I’ve stopped going downtown as much as possible. )
  • The whole American obsession with professional sports (which seems to be mostly gambling-based) pisses me off.
  • The obsession trickles down to university and highschool sports, where it does severe damage (wasting resources, sending the wrong messages about what’s important, dividing students).

Today, for the first time, both stadiums have a game at about the same time. They’re warning people to leave work early if they can, and predicting bad traffic problems. Gosh, somebody should have thought of this earlier!

I’m especially pissed off at MPR who gave the warning, but gave no indication of what game time was or when the actual traffic jams were likely to happen.

Art vs. Reality (XKCD on University web sites)

Today’s XKCD cartoon seems to have hit pretty accurately. (If you’re not familiar with XKCD, it’s brilliant surprisingly often and very good most of the rest of the time.)

XKCD #773

Mark Gritter had the idea of analyzing his school’s homepage.

So I’m going to analyze Carleton’s.

Carleton College front page 30-Jul-2010

Present:

  1. Campus photo slideshow — right there on homepage, with popup labels; also “campus photos” link
  2. Alumni in the news — not linked from front page (they’re in “Carleton in the Media” which is linked from “Carleton News”)
  3. Promotions for campus events — Calendar on the front page
  4. Press releases — “News and Stories from Carleton” on the front page
  5. Statement of the school’s philosophy — no direct link
  6. Letter from the president — no direct link
  7. Virtual tour — no direct link
  8. Full name of school — yep

I score that 4/8 (I’m not scoring #2).

Things people look for:

  1. List of faculty phone numbers and emails — “Faculty and Staff” link then “Campus Directory”.
  2. Campus address — “Mailing address” link
  3. Applications forms — “Prospective student” / “Apply”
  4. Academic calendar — “Academics” / “Academic calendar”
  5. Campus police phone number — no (search reveals that the campus security emergency number is 4444)
  6. Department/course lists — “Academics” gives list of departments, clicking through gets a department homepage with “courses” link
  7. Parking information — no
  8. Usable campus map — “Maps and directions” link, then “Interactive campus map”; it’s Google-powered, and names the buildings, and looks accurate
  9. Full name of school — yep

I score 7/9 (I’m counting things that are indirect links but the chain is “obvious”; obviously this is subjective).

So, not nearly as bad as one might expect; Carleton actually has a higher proportion of the things people look for than they do of the things XKCD lists as always present.

The emergency number is something I never would have thought of, and is probably a good idea.  The page does give the main switchboard number. When I was there that was staffed 24 hours a day, but I don’t think it is any more. And it needs to give the external number for emergencies, since people finding that from the web site will mostly be calling from their cell phones. Carleton would never call it the “campus police”, of course.

I’m tempted to snottily say that there’s no parking information because Carleton doesn’t allow parking—but in fact they’ve built a lot of parking lots since I was there, though still not nearly enough for student cars to be common. It’s not in a crowded metro area, and most of the time you can just park on the street fairly close, and the rest of the time you have to park on the street further away; but it should explain that somewhere, and I didn’t find it, even in the “travel by car” section of the campus visits page.

This iteration of the Carleton site is actually pretty decent.

Lost Ansel Adams Negatives

As some of you have probably heard, some negatives that may be by Ansel Adams, and which pre-date the 1937 darkroom fire that destroyed all his early negatives, have come to light.  Rick Norsigian bought 65 6.5×8.5 inch glass-plate negatives (a size Adams was known to use in the period) at a garage sale, and has gradually come to believe they’re by Adams, and has found experts in relevant fields to agree with him.

The experts place a value of around 200 million dollars on the find, and Norsigian has already started offering 30×40 darkroom prints and smaller digital prints for sale ($7500 for the darkroom prints) from a web site.   This makes me very suspicious, of course.  Rushing to commercialization is not conducive to figuring out the truth.

Adams’ grandson has given interviews saying he doubts they are by Ansel Adams.

An interesting issue is that two handwriting experts say the writing on the envelopes the negatives were stored in matches Virginia Adams’ (based on samples known to be by her), while the grandson says the writing is not hers.  I don’t know what the state of modern handwriting identification is; I don’t know how seriously to take the evidence there.

Extracts from the experts’ reports being used to authenticate the negatives are online. Weirdly, that URL is at a different host than the first link; it appears to go to a Russian design studio.  This may mean that business partners have been brought in, I suppose.

In the report itself, and specifically in the extracts from the experts’ reports, there are a number of points that bother me.

Point 8, “THE SIZE OF THE NEGATIVES ARE UNIQUE TO ANSEL ADAMS”, is interesting.  And blatantly nonsense.  So that doesn’t look good.  (Glass dry-plate negatives of a unique size?  Does that mean he had them custom-manufactured for him, and a plate holder for the camera too?)   (Other references in the document refer to the size and the camera as fairly standard, just not that popular; a 6 ½ x 8 ½ inch Korona view camera.)

Points 2 and 3,

2.
ONE OF THE IMAGES IN THE NORGISIAN NEGATIVES IS VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL TO AN AUTHENTICATED ANSEL ADAMS PHOTOGRAPH
3.
THE LOGICAL CONCLUSION BY THE EXPERTS IS THAT THE TWO VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL PHOTOGRAPHS WERE

also bother me—taking two nearly-identical photos seems very much contrary to how Adams presents himself as working.  But I haven’t browsed the actual negative archives at U of A (I think is where they are?) to see how they speak to the matter; and these negatives are much earlier, so he might have done things differently then.

And with regard to #3, Patrick Alt is quoted as saying “AS TO WHETHER THE SPACING BETWEEN THE POINTS OF COMPARISON MAY NOT MATCH, THAT IS EASILY EXPLAINED BY HIS USING A DIFFERENT LENS, WHICH WOULD CHANGE THE SPACIAL RELATIONSHIPS BASED ON THE FOCAL LENGTH OF EACH LENS.”  Um, no; the focal length of the lens would not change the spacial relationships.  So now I’m questioning Patrick Alt’s overall level of knowledge, and whether I should care what he thinks.

So, one clear conclusion is that this document is amateurish, and has not been carefully reviewed by knowledgeable people.

Now, if in fact these represent not-previously-published works by Ansel Adams—then, for those made after 1922, the copyright is clearly still in force, and I believe would be owned by whoever owns the bulk of his copyrights, probably the foundation or a museum.  So, if the claims of the negative finder are true, his actions in selling prints are clearly illegal.

ETA: Or, maybe they’re by Earl Brooks.

Is This the Kind of World You Want?

I’m ashamed of my country again. I’m posting about the Peter Watts thing, of course.

I stole the title from Jo Walton, because it is perfect.

The story started popping up on my friends list after it appeared on Boing Boing this morning.

If you don’t know at least the bare outlines by now, you’re living under a rock; but you can find out at the links above, so I’m not going to repeat any of it.

Here’s what’s terrifying about this: there are quite a number of people commenting on the basic theme of “that’s the way things are.”  That’s terrifying—apparently police (in the broad sense; I believe these were border guards) have been jack-booted thugs above the law for long enough that people have learned to take it for granted.  That’s really, truly, deeply, terrifying.

The concept that the Constitution protects our rights is…incomplete. Nothing static can really defend against hundreds of years of political maneuvering. What it can do is give some basis for fighting back. Rights always need protecting. Ours in the USA have been fairly badly ignored over the last couple of decades, so we need to work extra hard for a while to recover from that.

There are the usual claims that Watts “must have” done something to bring this on himself.  It’s entirely possible he did some things that I would describe as “inadvisable” in his situation.  Nobody who knows him thinks he started  hitting the policemen, though,  so I don’t either. At worst, from what I’ve read, he asked questions, perhaps more than once, and he got out of his car. Those are not actions that could justify a police beating! As Jo put it, “he should have cringed more”.

We’ve given money to Watts, and to the ACLU, and I have written to one elected official already.