In a recent episode of the BBC podcast From our own correspondent I heard a segment by Kevin Connolly contained a quote worth remembering:
One middle-aged woman told me, at the beginning of this last revolution in the battered centre of the city of Benghazi, that she thought the worst thing about living under a dictatorship was that it made you ashamed that you did not resist, that you were not a hero.
“You pass the habit of fear on to your children,” she said.
The habit of fear.
This position reminds me of another quote, this time by Salman Rushdie from his book The Moors Last Sigh
By embracing the inescapable, I lost my fear of it. I’ll tell you a secret about fear: its an absolutist. With fear, its all or nothing. Either, like any bullying tyrant, it rules your life with a stupid blinding omnipotence, or else you overthrow it, and its power vanishes like a puff of smoke.
Moby has commented on the recent verdict against file-sharer Jammie Thomas has been found guilty and ordered to pay some $1.92 million in damages for illegally “making available” 24 songs in her KaZaA shared folder. That’s $80,000 per song!
Musician and electronica genius Moby (I only just found his blog/journal) writes:
punishing people for listening to music is exactly the wrong way to protect the music business. maybe the record companies have adopted the ‘it’s better to be feared than respected’ approach to dealing with music fans. i don’t know, but ‘it’s better to be feared than respected’ doesn’t seem like such a sustainable business model when it comes to consumer choice. how about a new model of ‘it’s better to be loved for helping artists make good records and giving consumers great records at reasonable prices’?
i’m so sorry that any music fan anywhere is ever made to feel bad for making the effort to listen to music.
the riaa needs to be disbanded.
Like many others Moby has put his finger on the main weakness on protecting intellectual property through lawsuits. You are either suing and pissing off your best fans or beating up (relatively) innocent bystanders in order to scare others… Isn’t this jailhouse logic? Beat someone up to gain respect?
Playing Moby loudly in the office as a tribute to his good sense and taste… also I like the music…
In 1786 King Gustav III founded the Swedish Academy to preserve the purity, strength, and sublimity of the Swedish language” (Svenska Språkets renhet, styrka och höghet). The Swedish Academy is most famous for decideding who will be the laureate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded in memory of the donor Alfred Nobel. A task it has been carrying out since 1901.
The motto of the Academy is “Talent and Taste” (Snille och Smak) and apparently neither talent nor taste have anything to do with any form of courage.
In connection with the Rushdie affair when the Iranian mullahs pronounced the fatwa against him. The Swedish academy decided not to make a statement in favor of Rushdie and denouncing the death threat he now faced. The academy naturally could comfortably rely on old principles that they should not make political statements. Two of the members of the academy left in protest (Kerstin Ekman and Lars Gyllensten).
So now when the Italian author Roberto Saviano is revieving death threats for writing a book about the Camorra and several notables (amongst others: Michail Gorbatjov, Desmond Tutu, Orhan Pamuk, Dario Fo, Günter Grass & Salman Rushdie) have shown their support, the academy when asked formally to show support replies (my translation)
It is extremely sad that a writer in an European country is in mortal danger because of something he published but it seems to me [Horace Engdahl the academy secretary] to be a police errand and not a question of protecting principles of freedom of expression.
The people of talent and taste are hiding behind their non-political stance to avoid taking formal moral stances. Everything a body like the Swedish Academy does is political. Every time they make a choice in litterature concerning the most author most deserving of the Nobel prize – it is a political choice.
Therefore the decision not to stand up for freedom of expression or, at the very least, to condem death threats is moral cowardice.
CERN is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory and on Wednesday (10 September) they will make the first attempt to circulate a beam in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The first injection of the beam into the machine will be between 9:00 and 10:00 a. m.
So what is it?
Wikipedia explains: The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest particle accelerator complex, intended to collide opposing beams of 7 TeV protons. Its main purpose is to explore the validity and limitations of the Standard Model, the current theoretical picture for particle physics. The LHC was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and lies under the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland.
image from CERN
Some claim (and have attempted to use the courts to prevent the experiments) that the LHC experiments could have potentially disastrous results, in particular they could create “micro black holes”- actually the real experiments that some fear will end the world will not be carried out for another month. The fears are exaggerated and CERN says it’s all safe. This end of the world thing will play havoc with my planning but this is not the first time the end of the world threatened to ruin my plans. I suppose we should get used to this…