I was just hanging out at my house, minding my own business, when a package arrived from a reader. Nothing unusual about that.
So I opened it. Nothing unusual about that.
And unusual. I mean, how many times have you seen this expression?
It is DAVID HASSELHOFF’S HAIR.
Remind me never to cross my readers. You guys scare me.
My reader Tyler has a friend with a brother who works as a hairdresser. Or at least that’s the story he’s telling people.
So now I have this. And it’s real. What should I do with it once I finish the cloning experiment?
It should not surprise you that when you go way, way down, you find great piles of crabs coming together, and that it would be appropriate to name them after this blog’s patron saint.
The SHOCKING NEWS in the journalism world (OK, just the world inhabited by this blog and my readers) is that the National Post has been very unfairly treated throughout this whole intellectual property theft business. (In the Post’s honour, I’m leaving out the hyphens in the compound modifier.)
Yes. It’s pretty sad. The Post has been forced, with egg on its face, to post this note at the top of the column they stole from a Metis blogger:
It was JUST A MISUNDERSTANDING GET OVER IT AND FOR GOOD MEASURE HERE’S THE WRITER’S REAL NAME ARE YOU HAPPY NOW WE STILL GET PAID PER IMPRESSION FOR THE ADS ON THAT PAGE RIGHT?
You’ll note there is nothing in there that suggests they were wrong to steal the column or that they will compensate the writer for her work. It’s a byline error, move along. Nothing to see here!
I’m the one who sent the link to your blog to the National Post, hoping they could use the excellent information when they were reporting on this issue. I don’t have any relationship with the National Post, or any other media for that matter. They mistakenly assumed I wrote it and credited it to me. I noticed it on the site and emailed them to tell them that I didn’t write it, and they had my name removed from it within minutes.
This is a fascinating glimpse into the National Post’s publication process. Mr. Hodnett sent the link to the Post. They grabbed it, put it under his byline, and published it. (I note with some satisfaction that at least they took the time to copy-edit it: I would have made different editorial choices, but I’m glad to see that they put a small amount of effort into it.) This tells me that the Post’s normal publication process must allow editors to receive e-mailed links from writers, copy the text from the web page, and republish it under the writer’s byline without so much as a “how do you do?” to check ownership, receive permission to republish, or arrange payment.
Arrange payment. I crack myself up.
Seriously, how many other times has this happened? If I send the Post a link to Townie’s “Moving to Iqaluit” post because I think it’ll help them with their research, will they republish it under my byline without even responding to my e-mail?
I had a plan to start a new blog. I was going to cover it with ads and make a ton of money off of it with little to no effort, because all of the content would be stolen from the National Post. Don’t worry: I was planning to make sure that all of the stolen content would arrive as e-mailed links, so my butt would be covered NaPo style. (Low riders, baby.)
Sadly, my plan hit a snag. I was going to start by stealing the intellectual property of people from socio-economic or political groups that have historically been underrepresented in the media. You can see how this would pose a practical challenge if all of the content has to come from the Post.
Theft is wrong. You stole this article, and you removed the original author’s byline.
Prime Minister Harper’s scratching his head, eh? That looks awfully familiar. Where the heck have I seen that lately? Seems like it was in a blog post that went viral last week. But I thought the author was an Aboriginal woman, not some guy named Brett Hodnett. I’ll have to think about this for a minute. Where did that come from?
Ah, yes. There it is.
To quote the author’s response to this blatant plagiarism:
I am the author of the blog this Full Comment piece was taken from:
I do not mind that you reprinted the entirety of my article without asking first, as I specifically licensed it that way. I would like to note yours is the only publication who did not ask before doing so, however and I may change my license to reflect my unease with what you have done.
I do mind that despite the small attribution link at the bottom, this article appears to be attributed to Brett Hodnett. It is clearly misleading and I would appreciate it if your publication did not make it appear that someone else has written this.
You can reach me at ***, or at home at ***. I very much expect to hear from you on this matter.
I suspect that when âpihtawikosisân selected the license for her blog post, she thought that other bloggers might want to quote and link back to her post. I also suspect that it never occurred to her that a national newspaper would steal her entire post and put someone else’s byline on it.
There’s a lot I could say about how it’s sickeningly fitting that an Aboriginal person’s words were stolen with only a tiny nod (“originally published here”) to her ownership.
Reader-submitted question: How does one form the possessive of McDonald’s? I’m sure I could simply avoid it by saying something like, “The book describes the restaurant chain’s entry into Russia.” However, that doesn’t seem very sporting. There MUST be a rule.
First: It’s NEVER unsporting to reword the sentence. There’s no shame in rewriting something that just seems wrong.
Second: Ah, the possessive form of possessive words! “McDonald’s” is already possessive. And I have to admit that “McDonald’s’ fries aren’t as good as the ones at the fieldhouse” just seems wrong. I suppose it’s technically correct, but I am concerned that the multiple apostrophes make it look like the word is missing letters, as in “fixin’s” or “bo’sun”. (Or, to have even more Fun With Grammar, “bo’s’n’s”.) Grammar is supposed to fade into the background and make sentences clearer, not call attention to itself like a desperate girl on a first date, adding more and more apostrophes “just in case” until everyone’s uncomfortable and hoping someone else will casually mention it.
I would rewrite the sentence: your suggestion is just fine. The alternative is to make things even weirder by constantly referring to McDonald’s as “the McDonald’s Corporation” or “McDonald’s restaurant”. And do we really want to have people wondering if there should be quotation marks around the word “restaurant” in that context?
Thanks for your question.
I’ve been having great fun decorating cookies. Scott, I hope you enjoy the tiny David Hasselhoffs. You truly earned them with your Hoffensive contest entry.
Pro tip: Start by smearing the chocolate on Hoff’s crotch. It’s easier to spread it from there.
Oh…and I’m sorry about this:
Special note: I did not write this. It is a guest post from Mark, the winner of this year’s Being David Hasselhoff Contest. I am pleased to hand my blog over to him. I know he’ll do great things with it.
Reflections on a Black Friday
I smoked a Kretek once. A clove-flavoured cigarette, popular in southeast Asia. That unique scent took me away from this frigid north – to someplace exotic. I have never been to Asia, or across the Pacific, but I imagine lands where the smells are as abundant as the colours. Hot, humid smells. Overpowering. Cloying. Some repulsive.
It must have felt that way for Guy Hamilton, the protagonist in Christopher Koch’s book “The Year of Living Dangerously”. One scene from the brilliant film adaptation by Peter Wier, stays with me. Haunts me. Reminds me that some things don’t change.
It is Jakarta. 1965. Tension is in the air as Sukarno’s revolutionary, anti-colonialist government is threatened by forces, both internal and external. It always seems to be night or dark in the film. (In a strange way, like our winters up here.)
On his first foreign assignment with the Australian Broadcasting Service is Guy Hamilton, played by Mel Gibson. Guy walks at night with Billy Kwan, a dwarf, played in an Academy-Award winning performance by Linda Hunt. The voice-over is Billy Kwan’s:
“Most of us become children again when we enter the slums of Asia. And last night I watched you walk back into childhood. With all its opposite intensities: laughter and misery, the crazy and the grim, toy town and a city of fear.”
And as they walk together, Billy turns to Guy and says:
“And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?”
“What’s that?” asks Guy.
“It’s from Luke, chapter three, verse ten. What then must we do? Tolstoy asked the same question. He wrote a book with that title. He got so upset about the poverty in Moscow that he went one night into the poorest section and just gave away all his money. You could do that now. Five American dollars would be a fortune to one of these people.”
“Wouldn’t do any good, just be a drop in the ocean,” says Guy.
“Ahh, that’s the same conclusion Tolstoy came to. I disagree,” Billy responds.
“Oh, what’s your solution?” challenges Guy.
“Well, I support the view that you just don’t think about the major issues. You do whatever you can about the misery that’s in front of you. Add your light to the sum of light. You think that’s naive, don’t you?” asks Billy.
“Yep,” responds Guy.
The question struck a chord with me. Tolstoy wasn’t the first to ask it after St. Luke. Twenty-three years before Tolstoy published “What Then Must We Do?” Nikolai Chernyshevsky wrote a novel titled “What Is To Be Done?”.
But the books didn’t do anything – except to carry the question forward. And as frustration and revolution fermented in Russia – as it did 60 years later in Indonesia – Vladimir Lenin became frustrated with the lost, disillusioned café intellectuals, heads in their hands, unable to change their society. He tried to answer the question, in his 1902 pamphlet also titled: “What Is To Be Done?”
And on it goes. Can you hear that steady march of history? That repeating cadence? Perhaps it is my Slavic background that makes me think I see the forces of history working down through the ages: inevitable. Perhaps it is what makes me hear life written in the minor key.
Perhaps because I keep looking for that message, I keep seeing it. In 2009 I read Peter Singer’s new book “The Life You Can Save”. There, on page 16, I again saw that ethical question – which he goes on to answer.
Singer’s an Australian philosophy professor at Princeton who wrote that our current response to world poverty is not only insufficient but ethically indefensible. He argues that we need to change our views of what is involved in living an ethical life. (http://www.thelifeyoucansave.com/book).
I read that book – and Singer’s voice was Billy Kwan to my Guy Hamilton. And he says: You could do it now. Five American dollars would be a fortune to one of these people. And unlike Guy, I can’t just wave it off and say: wouldn’t do any good. A drop in the ocean.
Billy Kwan watched as the sick child of a prostitute slowly died, living by the canals and sewage of the slums of Jakarta. He tried to help. The child died. But he added his light to the sum of light.
Several years ago a public health nurse in town told me about a two-year old girl dying of pneumonia in a small island community called San Pedro, in Belize. Her people are literally landless. She fell into the salt-water swamp that surrounds her home built on stilts. A drop in the ocean.
That child’s death – a child I did not know – moved me so profoundly that I could not rest. It reminded me of watching my own child in the hospital, a few years ago, struggling for every breath. I remembered the feeling of utter helplessness.
My son lived. The little girl in Belize died.
So I asked this nurse how I could help – as she herself has been spending her annual leave from work building the public health program at the tiny elementary school that serves that slum. She and her family, friends, and her parish welcomed my involvement. I met the people that founded the school and I was overwhelmed by their commitment and sincerity.
I gave until it hurt. Regularly. To be honest, I know that I want to give again and I know that it will mean my having to make some choices and I am embarrassed at the resistance in me to be generous. I know that we need to change the structural economic and political forces that make people poor, and that charity is not enough. It’s my inner Guy Hamilton talking to my inner Billy Kwan.
It is now dark. Another cold night here in the far north. I smoke my pipe and the room fills with the exotic aromas of places I have not visited – maybe never will. I reflect on the crassness unfolding around us that begins this season – on the rather ironically named “Black Friday” – and as I struggle with the madness and injustices that become so much more apparent, I want to try once again, in my small way, to add my light to the sum of light.
What Then Must We Do? I know. http://www.holycrossbelize.org/