Hollywood Means Business

Theater owners are in three different businesses: showing movies; showing advertisements–previews, which must be shown as part of their contract, don’t generate any revenue–and selling popcorn and soft drinks. The only business that makes a profit for them is the third, so it makes sense to cater to teenage males, who gobble the most popcorn and slurp the most soda. This demographic is reputed not to give a hoot if the picture is fuzzy and dim, as long as they can see the explosions. […] It’s hard to imagine even Wal-Mart imposing the kind of rules that made the Hays…

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An ”Aha!” Moment: Emotion, Opinion, and Fact

Since my graduate school background is in literature rather than composition studies, I may be stumbling along a well-trod path, but a conversation I had with a colleague in the hall lit off a lightbulb in my head. Today in my Seminar in Thinking and Writing class (our version of freshman comp), students shared sample thesis statements for a paper on the role of America in global culture. Last week, students voted on four essays they wanted to read for this unit. I had predicted (correctly) that they would choose the excerpt from Joel Andreas’s Addicted to War, a political…

The Liminal Classroom

“What,” I asked, “are we to make of Plato’s attempts to define justice?” A chill descended. Noses burrowed into The Republic. One student hesitantly volunteered a comment; another offered a passing observation. Something resembling a discussion followed, but most of the remarks betrayed the superficiality of the students’ engagement. They were eager to discuss their favorite movies and books, censorship, or the problem of date rape, but they shrank from the seeming irrelevance of Plato to their lives. Often the brightest students were the most subdued. Their occasional remarks showed intelligence and sophistication, yet every gesture and tone of voice…

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Teacher In Trouble For Ripping Bible

An Idaho English teacher is in trouble for ripping up a Bible in class. Burley High’s Karen Christenson said she was trying to illustrate a point about censorship, as her sophomore students read Ray Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451,” which is set in a future society that commands all literature be burned. —Teacher In Trouble For Ripping Bible I once did a scene from Dr. Faustus for a drama survey course. I did the same scene two or three different times, to demonstrate how a different acting style could bring out different themes. At any rate, at one point, I threw…

Silencing Huck Finn

Maybe there was some legitimacy to banning some of the books on the list. Maybe there were lines that should not be crossed or limits that should not be tested. And so we would read the books and identify the lines and come away with a better understanding of censorship and book banning. But, when the class started, something happened that I did not plan or expect. No sooner did I approach my first lecture on Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn than I began to think about censoring myself. —Douglas L. Howard —Silencing Huck Finn (Chronicle of Higher Education) I regularly…

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Chipping away at Pygmalion and Galatea

Chipping away at Pygmalion and GalateaJerz’s Literacy Weblog) Pygmalion is a legendary sculptor (whose role as King of Cyprus seems unimportant to most versions of the story) known for carving Galatea, a statue of a woman so beautiful he is no longer interested in real women. Moved by his devotion, the goddess of beauty Aphrodite brings the statue to life, and the artist marries his creation. Since the Greek legends were oral tales, I don’t think there’s any such thing as a definitive version of the Pygmalion legend. Bulfinch’s Mythology is a good source of the main plot details. This…

Humanity will survive information deluge

There are instances when, in the interests of the majority, some censorship may be used for a period of time. Indeed, there is material which virtually everyone would agree should be kept out. Sadistic pornography, incitement to violence against racial or ethnic minorities are just two examples. | But we cannot strive for an information society without allowing the free flow of information which is a pre-requisite. We just have to become better managers, navigators and users of information – let’s just say we need information maturity. | The Information Age has opened many doors for our eager minds to…

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Examples/Discussion on Academic Blogging Policies?

Is it possible to write a policy for academic blogging that respects a university’s mission but doesn’t amount to censorship? The vice-president for academic affairs asked me to draft a policy for student bloggers. Since we are a Catholic institution, the administrator’s off-the-top-of-her-head suggestions included suggestions like “no foul language” and “no links to porn”. Since it’s possible that an anonymous commenter (or spammer) might leave offensive content on a site, or the contents of a page linked to by a blogger might change, and since a student might actually want to research the usage of a curse word or…

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CBS Passes on "Reagans" Biography

Kitty Kelly has sold it to CBS. No, just kidding. A tremendous night. It’s the beginning of a second media century, Joe, where it’s much more of a people-driven media. And I say that not lightly. It was the Internet, it was talk radio, it was cable that put pressure on CBS, and heretofore, there’s never been this kind of pressure applied to one of the big titans, one of the big three. And the pressure went all the way to the top of a super company called Viacom, and the chairman earlier today is my information said, “Listen, let’s…

Terranova: Golems and Community

Everyone should agree that good AI certainly creates more enjoyable games (see Barney in Half-Life). This is probably a correlative of the fact that bad AI ruins some games. But query: does smart AI create better communities? | Of course, real-life bots are the subject of a vast amount of pop literature. Asimov is a good place to start, but golems (not gollums) have an older pedigree. —Terranova: Golems and Community (TerraNova) A pleasant introduction (via GrandTextAuto) to a group blog that’s new to me. Even more pleasant because it links to my RUR website (suggesting that Google is doing a…

Art Spiegelman, Cartoonist for The New Yorker, Resigns in Protest at Censorship

“The great majority of the readers who adore the warm and relaxing bath of their accustomed New Yorker were very upset by the ‘shock treatment’ of my covers. Those readers will feel more at ease with the calm and submissive New Yorker of the tradition which, since the 1920s, mixed intelligence, sophistication, snobbery, and complaisance with the status quo.” Cartoonist Art Spiegelman slams the New Yorker after his departure. —Art Spiegelman, Cartoonist for The New Yorker, Resigns in Protest at CensorshipElectronicIraq.net) Thanks, Jim. The quote above is from an “unoffical translation” of an interview published in Corriere della Sera (Milan).

Google Censoring Web Content (Oct 2002)

“Nobody expects Google, or any index, to be perfect, since the Web is growing and changing so fast and many parts of it are generated from databases and therefore essentially impossible for a search engine to find or classify. | However, researchers at the highly-respected Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University have found that the company is actively removing sites from its database, and that this censorship is going unnoticed.” Bill Thompson —Google Censoring Web Content (Oct 2002)BBC News) Thanks for this link, too, Jim.