Lawsuit Against Warner/Chappell Music Claims Happy Birthday Belongs to Public Domain

20 years ago, I chose for my dissertation texts written from 1920 through 1950, expecting them to come out of copyright one after the other during my career as a professor, but the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 added 20 years. Disney has made dozens of movies based on characters that are in the common domain, but lobbied for a law to protect its own property. The story of…

Water discovered deep beneath Earth’s surface

The water in the mantle rock, which could equal the amount of water in the world’s oceans, may be an integral part of sustaining water on the surface, Smyth said. It also implies that the Earth’s oceans likely formed from water stored deep beneath the Earth, rather than from a comet or asteroid, as other scientists have theorized, Smyth said. “Geophysicists have debated where…Earth’s water came from,” Jacobsen said. “From…

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There are more museums in the US than there are Starbucks and McDonalds – combined

I have no particular problem with the plural of “Starbucks” being “Starbucks,” as “Starbuckses” would sound a little too precious, but how does the Washington Post get from the singular “McDonald’s” to the plural “McDonalds”? There are roughly 11,000 Starbucks locations in the United States, and about 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants. But combined, the two chains don’t come close to the number of museums in the U.S., which stands at a…

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Raise It Up! :: Star-Spangled Banner – 1814-2014

I usually start my American Lit I course with an analysis of “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” “Two hundred years ago, Francis Scott Key, inspired by the sight of the flag’s ‘broad stripes and bright stars,’ wrote a song that gave new significance to a national symbol and started a tradition through which Americans have invested the flag with their own meaning and memories,” said John L. Gray, director of…

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Blood & Laurels : Emily Short’s Versu launches iPad Game

Emily Short (Galatea, First Draft of the Revolution), formerly employed by Linden Labs to work on the interactive fiction storytelling platform Versu, announces that her Versu game, Blood and Laurels, is now available for iPad. (The Versu team also includes Richard Evans and Graham Nelson.) It’s the eight hundred and twenty first year of the city of Rome, a year of bad omens and unrest. The Emperor is bloodthirsty and…

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Advent of Digital Humanities Will Make English Departments Pointless — New Republic

Don’t overreact to the headline, which is the internal headline the New Republic put in its <title> tags. The headline on the page itself is not much better: “In the Near Future, Only Very Wealthy Colleges Will Have English Departments.” Both versions overhype and (in my opinion) misrepresent the author’s thesis, which is actualy “Only wealthy institutions will be able to afford the luxury of faculty devoted to studying written…

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The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom

Maybe the students in this photo are diligently peer-reviewing each other’s work. I know full well students are not always attentive during my classes, but a study that explores whether laptops help students perform better on pop quizzes makes the interesting assumption that we measure learning by comparing scores on pop quizzes. (Or that students actually take notes, which is another issue altogether.) I teach very few courses where I…

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How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution

While I appreciate the efficiency of uniform standards, I am concerned because it becomes even more efficient to teach to the test, which means more students will arrive in my college classes expecting to be told exactly what to do. I want them to take risks which means I have to convince them that I will reward them, not take off points, for making and fixing mistakes — which can…