Tag Archives: Human + Rights

James Joyce and fair use

The New Yorker has the background details

Stephen is Joyce’s only living descendant, and since the mid-nineteen-eighties he has effectively controlled the Joyce estate. Scholars must ask his permission to quote sizable passages or to reproduce manuscript pages from those works of Joyce’s that remain under copyright—including “Ulysses” and “Finnegans Wake”—as well as from more than three thousand letters and several dozen unpublished manuscript fragments…
Over the years, the relationship between Stephen Joyce and the Joyceans has gone from awkwardly symbiotic to plainly dysfunctional…

and the Lessig blog the results of the current controversy

As reported at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, Shloss v. Estate of James Joyce has settled. As you can read in the settlement agreement, we got everything we were asking for, and more (the rights to republish the book). This is an important victory for a very strong soul, Carol Shloss, and for others in her field.

Addendum

Public Rambling on copyright problems in science blogs

Science crowd-sourced

I have recently read about a round-table discussion on “so called experts” – a frequent topic in environmental circles. Have to say that I do not fear so much half-way baked knowledge – even renowned experts are occasionally slipping to a closely related field where they are no expert at all. Or do you believe that a Nobel prize winner in physics has any primacy in ethics?

In the same vein, there is comment in nature medicine about Wikipedia – complaining that a 4th year medical student (“who is barely old enough to buy beer”) has such a large influence on medical writing at Wikipedia. As there doesn´t follow any details of his major errors or misunderstandings, I conclude that this comment is more about the beer drinking habits of the author Brandom Keim.

Anyway, there are quite interesting new sites by medical doctors like Gantyd (“get a note from your doctor”, so far 3000 topic pages, 200 editors from 6 countries) or Ask Dr. Wiki (4 editors, clinical notes, pearls, ECGs, X-ray images and coronary angiograms) all worth a look.

It’ s a small world

Sometimes erroneously described as global village phenomenon the notion of a small world goes back to an experiment by Stanley Milgram (who became famous with the “obedience to authority” experiment – I did not know until last weeks that the punishing experiments had been repeated here in Munich where 85 percent of the subjects continued until to the end!).

The small world theory says that everyone in the world can be reached through a short chain of social acquaintances. The concept gave rise to the famous phrase of phrase six degrees of separation – I believe that a scientist may even reach another scientist in 4-5 steps.

My first PubNet example here is to reach F. Sanger by joint co-authors. This doesn’t work – my estimate would be 3 intermediary steps.

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My second PubNet example is to reach N. Morton (the foreword of his anniversary book says that a qualification of a genetic epidemiologist can be counted as “Newton”-points – the number of joint publications with Professor Morton).

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Addendum 8/7/08

Arxive.org has the largest study so far: 6,6 steps in 30 billion messenger conversations among 240 million people.

Climate change

There is no need for another diagnosis here. There is also no need about the impact of the automobile industry – I have published in 1993 the first large epidemiological study about traffic and respiratory health here in Munich.
What could we do? People need to move but need alternatives to public transport or 1000kg cars.

One such alternative is being the Swiss made twike Twike that I could get for a ride – excellent driving experience (quite fast too!) while needing only 0.5 l equivalent per 100 km. Although I am also attracted by recumbents and gyrocopters, this seems to be the best alternative ;-)

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Doctor help yourself

Physicians do have a lower life expectancy than the average population – which argues somewhat against the health (some believe also disease) expertise of physicians. ZEIT magazine now has an article about “Guter Arzt, kranker Arzt”. It is about the hierarchic system in German hospitals, the daily indignities, the long working shifts and the hope that this will improve by climbing the next step of the career ladder.

Open the window

Micro- and macroclimate factors certainly have more influence on our health than being reflected by current research. A new PLOS study now finds that

facilities built more than 50 years ago, characterised by large windows and high ceilings, had greater ventilation than modern naturally ventilated rooms (40 versus 17 air changes per hour) … Old-fashioned clinical areas with high ceilings and large windows provide greatest protection. Natural ventilation costs little and is maintenance free.

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Bionic woman and artifical bladders

I am always fascinated by surgery – the new Lancet shows the re-inervation map for a complete left arm. There is also an excellent lay article. The paralympics photos are always spectacular and I admire all people who manage their life with an amputation. I am, however, also impressed by advances in tissue engineering which may not seem so spectacular on a first view but are quite important for many children.

DNA data travel across Europe

heise.de reports that a top German politician wants to apply the Prüm contract also to the EU. The Prüm contract signed in May 2006 by Germany, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria and Spain regulates anti terror measurements and cross border prosecution of crimes. Mainstay of these activities are databases that allow the exchange of DNA and fingerprint data. Within the first 6 weeks of activity (as by November 2006) they report 1500 German hits in Austrian records (8 million inhabitants) and 1400 Austrian hits in German records (82 million inhabitants) if I understand that correctly. What does this now mean to have a German or a British or Swiss passport? For a respectable citizen and for a desperado?

Addendum

5-2-07 update U.S.

6-3-07 update Germany

Allein im vergangenen Jahr nahmen die deutschen Polizeibehörden laut einer BKA-Statistik 72.280 Verdächtigen den genetischen Fingerabdruck ab, “immer häufiger auch bei eher geringfügigen Straftaten”, kritisiert Datenschützer Weichert.

Tono-Bungay

No, this is not about H.G. Wells’ book, but about Paul Pearsall (who quotes Wells) and what he has to say about the ever increasing self-help-, Dr. Phil-, Dr. Laura- and Dr. Ruth- and whatsoever market The Last Self-Help Book You’ll Ever Need: Repress Your Anger, Think Negatively, Be a Good Blamer, and Throttle Your Inner Child.

Publisher Weekly says that he is

… arguing against the “platitudes of self-empowerment” that dominate the self-help bookshelves. Their relentlessly upbeat tone and unrealistic idea of happiness will only make you feel worse, he says. Using research studies to bolster his points … Dr. Phil. Pearsall, an adjunct clinical professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, wants readers to stop being so self-centered. It’s more important, he says, to love others before oneself, and appropriate guilt and anxiety are essential to learning to live a better life.

I enjoyed every sentence of this book, the inner pages fulfill what the title promises: A realistic approach that follows sound scientific principles.

I swear by God that I will speak the pure truth

Will you state your full name?
Will you repeat this oath after me?
I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth, and will withhold and add nothing.
You may sit down.

I have heard this sentence now eight times – on eight new CDs from the Nuremberg trials with original material by the American Record Group 238 “Die NS-Führung im Verhör” documented by Ulrich Lampen with an introduction by Peter Steinbach. The introductory remarks are well balanced, the sound quality excellent, translation and dubbing artists outstanding, but there seems to be no documentation in the CD box in particular for CD 7, the interrogation of Prof. Dr. med. Karl Gebhard.

I am giving therefore some links here – as otherwise you will not really understand what this man did. None of the other interviews recorded such an aggressive, rude and loud tone – a big-headed, omnipotent medical professor that still believes that winning of the war would have enobled his medical research.

www.shoa.de, the largest German portal on the Holocaust has an article about Herta Oberheuser that contains some information about Gebhard; more at German Wikipedia but the most detailed account may be found in Klee, Auschwitz pp 152. Gebhard was one of the few German physicians that were hanged after the war.

Born in 1897, he studied as Mengele here in Munich, habilitated 1935 as a scholar of Sauerbruch and became associate professor in Berlin. As of 1937, he held a chair of orthopedic surgery, became head physician at the sanatorium (Heilanstalt) Hohenlychen and “Oberster Kliniker beim Reichsarzt SS”. Ravensbrück was only a few kilometer from Hohenlychen. Klee has all the terrible details of his medical research: artificial infection with Clostridium, wood and glass implantation into the lower legs, explantation of limbs, trepanation with artifical brain injuries, phosphor burning of the perineum as punishment, consecutive murdering of patients with evipan or by shooting. Gebhard was medical attendant of Heinrich Himmler and president of the German Red Cross (sic!)

Protocols

The protocols are available as microfilms. I am currently checking with the editors if they can be copied to PDF format.

Epidemiology in a fascist system

Götz Aly and Karl Heinz Roth show in their book that the German Nazi system would not have worked without counting people, identification, classification, separation and elimination. It is a detailed historical account on technical details of coding and storing information about the population, the census of 1933 and 1939, the infamy of telling people that their data of Jewish ancestry in a separate questionnaire would be treated anonymously (p 93). The 1939 census required a “supplemental card” in addition to the household card (p 32)

This card developed by security service, police as well as statistical office was used by the authorities to ask for individual descend (“Was one of you grandparent Jew?”) as well as for the education in commission of the military services. The card should be given back in a separate, closed envelope. The envelope – together with the official affirmation – should delude potential victims and let them believe by the fictitious anonymity to make absolutely true information which was indeed facilitated and guaranteed.

The supplemental cards were then used to build the “Reichskartei der Juden und jüdischen Mischlingen” – the basis of the Holocaust. The Holocaust started with a  knitting needle – the tool to lift the punched supplemental cards.

As mentioned earlier, I think there is a particular obligation with population based studies in Germany where it took 40 years to build epidemiology from scratch again. This is a must-read book for every epidemiologist.

A few hours before being executed, Eichmann was asked by Mr. Ofer, the director of the prison (in my translation)

“What should the Jews have done? How could they have resisted according to your opinion? Eichmann: Disappear, disappear. Our most sensitive point, that they would disappear before being registered and concentrated. Our command units were too weak and even when the police of the respective countries supported us with all their strength, [the Jewish] had a at least a chance of 50 : 50. A mass escape would have been a disaster for us.

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