Odds and Ends

February 24, 2008

My local newspaper ticked me off this morning.  At least half of it did.  For those of you who don’t know, the Chattanooga Times-Free Press used to be two papers, one progressive, the other conservative.  The papers merged and since neither editorial board was willing to cede control of content or opinions to the other, they both maintained (and continue to maintain) editorial pages.  Anyway, the conservative side of the paper was attacking Barack Obama today for saying that he thought the United States should use foreign aid funds to combat world poverty.  According to the paper, Obama’s proposal would cost up to $865 billion over 13 years.  Nevermind that the war in Iraq, which this side of the paper supports wholeheartedly, would cost more than twice that amount over the same period.  Wouldn’t combatting poverty be a better use of our treasure and power?  Isn’t it possible that we’d be thought of better throughout the world if we were as generous with food and medicine as we are aggressive with guns and bombs?

My daughter (the older one) is reading the Constitution and Bill of Rights for homework.  And because it’s densely written, and because Dad has a Ph.D. in history, we’ve been going through it together whenever she has trouble deciphering a section.  Reading it through once more, explaining to her what the clauses mean and why they’re important, I’m struck repeatedly by the genius of the Founders.  In particular I was struck by the following clause in Article I, Section 8, which gave Congress the power “To promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”  My daughter thought it very cool that the copyright I enjoy on my books is provided for in the Constitution.  I thought it was cool that our Founders so prominently recognized the importance of the arts and sciences, even if our current leaders do not.

One of my dearest friends from college, Carla Wise, a brilliant, wonderful woman who has studied science and ecology for years and years, is now making a go of writing professionally.  Her focus is on sustainable agriculture and the local foods movement.  Here’s a link to her latest blog post, which is well worth reading:  http://eatdrinkbetter.com/

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5 Responses to “Odds and Ends”

  1. Of course it makes more sense. 😛 But *that* is why I’m so darn cynical 😛 teehee.

    I never got to read stuff like that in school. All we study up here is the French Revolution, and the times of Shakespeare…which is all very interesting, but it doesn’t give much understanding about how our neighbours to the south work. Oh, we get to go over the American Civil War for about 2 weeks, in one grade, and then a month in another. Though, that’s just a small part… *shrug* Though, I do recall there being more study of the states when that whole bit with Iraq started.

  2. davidbcoe said

    Sadly, I’m sure you learn far more about our history in your schools than we learn about either Canada or Mexico in ours.

  3. Frank said

    I was very surprised to hear that copyright is in the Constitution. I fancy myself more knowledgeable than most Americans, but I’ll admit, I have never sat down and read the Constitution from start to finish. Maybe I should.

    What are your thoughts on “copylefting” and the open-source movement? Creative Commons licenses, and the like?

  4. davidbcoe said

    I think that for those authors who opt to take their work in that direction, it’s a great idea. I haven’t decided yet whether I’m one of those authors. I think that copyright protection still serves a purpose. But this is a difficult and at times emotional issue for some people, and I’m not sure I”m ready to say more than that here. Ask me the next time you see me at Crusts or Mountain Breeze….

  5. Frank said

    I’m not really sure about it either. That’s why I asked. Didn’t realize the topic was a minefield though, and I’ll leave well enough alone.

    I don’t work at Mountain Breeze anymore, So I probably won’t see you there, and I tend to be really busy whenever I see people at Crust, so forgive me if “Hi! How Ya’ Doin’?” is about all the conversation I have time for.

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