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Comment Most bizarre musical infringement? (Score 1) 386

A formidable contender for the title of "most bizarre case of musical infringement" has got to be the case brought by the John Cage Trust against Mike Batt for the latter's "A One Minute Silence", ostensibly an infringement of Cage's " 4'33" " (consisting of 4 minutes 33 seconds of silence). The suit was settled out-of-court for a six-figure sum (edition.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/Music/09/23/uk.silence)

Comment Utopia? (Score 1) 233

I was (and remain) a huge fan of ST:TOS. That said, i fail to see the series as depicting a utopia. Despite the international (and outernational) cast, the setting is one of typical European-style exploration/colonization, with armed crews aboard heavily armed ships imposing their will on those subjects who's culture is deemed to be inferior (on numerous occasions, Kirk acted against the Prime Directive that purportedly protected against this). Hostility (typically promulgated by nefarious aliens, but also arising from unintended actions, primitive Vulcan rights, etc.) is depicted far more often than peaceful coexistence (presumably to advance compelling story lines).

Admittedly, the series lacked the dystopian elements that disturbingly have predominated in science fiction movies for the past 50 years (have always wondered about that - presumably ushered in by the cold-war nuclear era?)...

Comment Notable achievement, but hardly revolutionary (Score 2, Interesting) 51

With all due respect to the accomplishment, recall that transcontinental telegraphs had been operating for over half a century prior to this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Transcontinental_Telegraph), and the transcontinental telephone was strictly a wealthy person's luxury at the time, with a 3-minute call costing USD $20.70 at the time (worth something on the order of USD $400 in today's currency)...

Comment Wrong word? (Score 1) 105

"Kibbitz" (or "kibitz") is a Yiddish term meaning, "to offer unsolicited advice". Until very recently, this is the only meaning i'd heard for this term, but lately people appear to be using it to simply mean, "converse" (or perhaps more precisely, "engage in small talk"). I understand that language evolves and word meanings change, but if this is indeed the case with "kibbitz" it would be a real shame, because the word in its original sense is useful for conveying a concept concisely that otherwise cannot be conveyed in English using a single word...

Comment What about the microbiome (Score 1) 187

Recent studies have elucidated the importance of a creature's microbiome (especially gut flora) to its digestive capabilities and overall health. How healthy can an animal whose microbiome is extinct be (unless it inherits a suitable microbiome from its surrogate elephant mother)?

Comment Re:Temple in the picture is not Noh mul, it's Lami (Score 1) 276

I spent two seasons in the mid-1980s excavating at Nohmul, and can put a rest to some of the speculation here.

Nobody in this region is unaware of the nature of these ruins, nor their significance. This part of the country is flat limestone plains, and it is generally understood that any small hills are in reality ancient ruins.

The site draws almost no tourists whatsoever (it is almost entirely unrestored), so liability is not a concern. While not amongst the better known sites, it had much historic value nonetheless, which is why it was the subject of numerous investigations by Cambridge and Rutgers Universities, National Geographic, etc. The destruction of one Nohmul's primary structures for road fill is indeed a tragedy. The gentleman who owned the site when I excavated there would never have let this happen, but I suspect that ownership changed hands in the interim.

"Don't think; let the machine do it for you!" -- E. C. Berkeley