Catching up

A lot of my attention has been occupied by the Lessig audiobook project in the last few days (on which, more in a moment), and so I’ve been neglecting some of the other interesting bits and pieces that have crossed my desk in the past week. Here’s where I catch up with that stuff.

But first: I was on the telly this evening. Flipside had me on to talk about Low Power FM radio in New Zealand. They even did their “ask the expert” thing on the website, and viewers could send in their questions. It went okay.

“I have arranged with my year 3 radio students to record the Lessig book as a class project.”

Okay. Now here are some things that have caught my attention:

Professor Ian Foster complains that the internet bandwidth in New Zealand is embarrassingly slow – and he’s right. I’ve had hosting issues this week, and bandwidth is exactly the problem with that.

Wouldn’t you know it – it seems that file sharing and downloading might not be the problem the RIAA were making it out to be. Here’s the research that proves it: pdf file. Download it, read it – share it. Oh, and guess what? Even the kids today think that modern music sucks.

Congratulations are due to Dove (soap, underarm, moisturiser, etc) for using human-shaped women in their new UK marketing campaign. This is not to say that small, thin women are not people-shaped too (though some models look decidedly in need of a pie), but they are certainly over-represented with rather poor repercussions for – particularly – teens. In an environment that is desperate to get people to lose weight in some alarming (and sometimes alarmist) news items, perhaps the line should be that ‘being healthy and happy is a good thing’. I’m still confused about why the models – whatever their size – are doing in their underwear though. Doesn’t moisturiser go on your face?

Following up on that abbreviated Lord of the Rings version I posted yesterday – there’s also a great unused Fellowship DVD commentary track by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, who undertake a reading against the grain, as they so often do. The two liberal academics point out that the Orcs of Mordor were “…trapped, with no mineral resources — hemmed in by the Ash Mountains, where the “free peoples” of Middle Earth can put a city, like Osgiliath, and effectively keep the border closed.” – and not only remark that desperate people do desperate things in desperate times, but also note the “rhetoric of fear” that Aragorn and Gandalf (both of whom go by numerous pseudonyms) cultivate in their ‘War on Evil’. Brilliant.

After 13 years of court battles, it seems that Disney has finally won – and has ended up with Pooh on its hands. Er… you know what I mean.

Hot toy for summer this year will be the Scubadoo underwater scooter. Cooler than a Segway in so many ways.

If you’re like me, and a fan of collective nouns – then this is the place for you. I particularly like “a tower of giraffes” and “a smack of jellyfish”.

Sadly, Alistair Cooke has died at the age of 95. His Letters from America were good, old-fashioned radio – for 58 years! He talked about ducks quite a lot, I seem to recall… Click to listen to the last ever Letter from America.

As far as the Lessig audiobook project goes, some new developments. I have arranged with my year 3 radio students to record the Lessig book as a class project. Here was my core of my rationale to them:

“You are all learning about these issues as part of your Communication Studies degree; you are all learning sound editing; you are all learning vocal presentation skills. There are 14 chapters in the book, plus an introduction and a conclusion. There are 16 of you. I also think the issues in the book are particularly pertinent to radio in the present day – and more so as we move into an increasingly digital world.”

Several of them have their assigned chapters and are pre-reading them now. It’s going to be a structural job-and-a-half to juggle that and keeping their radio station Static on air, as well as do all their assignments – but all of the ones I’ve spoken to so far are very excited about the idea – and the more they read about it, the more excited they get. I think it’ll be great all round for them. I’ll let you know when you can start downloading the Free Culture ‘Static Remix Project’…

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