Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Kol Atzmotai Tomarna, Hashem, Mi Chamocha!

There are three kinds of fun, Morgan shouts back at me, smiling big.
About thirty feet up the mountain from her, I lift my left boot , foot, leg, out of the snow and place them another step in front of me. I am now wearing only my right snowshoe. My left I grip in hand—it detached my foot for the last time when I stepped into a meter or so of virgin snow that had collected invisibly on our trail. With only a couple of miles down Burnt Rock to the parking lot, I could not muster the energy or will to bend over with my backpack and replace it to my foot. So my left snowshoe sat in the grip of left fingers, which were ungloved and wrapped in shredded, blood-caked toilet paper. The ache that my shoulders had been screaming for hours unanswered had long since gone hoarse. I lifted my right foot in right snowshoe and placed it another step down the mountain. Seven hours of nearly unbroken climb and hike were coming to a close, but I knew we were hours late, that I would be leaving my parents waiting at a gas station in South Lake George for several hours for me, that we had underestimated the extent of our journey, that despite the fact that we had not taken 10 minutes of break in the past seven hours we would not make it in time. Knowing this, the determination and joy of the adventure began to drain from my eyes, leaving a dazed and empty look. Morgan sees this, and I know she is worried about me.
There are three kinds of fun. The first is fun while you are doing it. The second, is NOT fun while you’re doing it, but fun after you are finished. The third kind of fun is not fun while you are doing it or after you have finished. Oh, and the fourth kind is fun while you are doing it, but not fun after you have finished. The second kind of fun is the by far the best kind of fun. The second kind of fun is unmatched.
Morgan coaxes my smile back, and I lift my left foot.

A few hours later, a mile and a car ride and two liters of Powerade and several frantic and relieving gas station phone calls and a shower and a hot wood stove and a bowl of tomato and chickpea soup later, the shared conquering of ElizabethMorganAri revels in my limbs. Every movement of calve and shoulder and back and forearm sings aching praise. Muscles that had hidden in hibernation from my awareness wake up, twitch and hurt and move and sing hashem, who is like you.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Rebuild Hamikdash, rebuild that holy-making place, rebuild Jerusalem
Quickly in our days
My holy brother Joe has been witness to some wounds that need healing. May G!d give us all the strength to rebuild Jerusalem with compassion, humanity, and urgent determination, beemhera beyamenu.

Monday, December 06, 2004

From the Future of Music Coalition newsletter, the results from a Pew survey of musicians suggests that most musicians dont see internet file sharing as a grave or significant threat to them--the results potently illustrate the deep divide between the Recording Industry and the musicians whose interests they claim to represent.

In March 2004, FMC and Pew Internet & American Life Project worked with an
array of other musician and songwriter organizations to conduct an online
survey to gauge musicians' opinions of copyright and the internet in
general. Over 2700 musicians completed the survey.

In May, Pew Internet released some preliminary findings, but now the entire
report is complete and downloadable here.

The report includes results from three separate surveys that shared some
common questions. In one, Pew telephoned self-identified "artists" –
painters, writers, poets, musicians. In another, Pew telephoned the
general public. And a third was the online survey that FMC and Pew
launched last March.

The results are fascinating, especially when the musicians' survey
respondents are broken down into four groups based on the amount of time
spent and amount of income derived from being a musician.

Key findings from the musicians' survey:

Musicians use the internet to promote and sell their work

? 87% of the musician respondents say they promote, advertise or display
their music online, and 83% provide free samples or previews of their music
on the internet.

? 69% of the respondents say they sell their music online. 63% say that
they sell their music online someplace other than their own Web site; 56%
sell CDs through online stores like Amazon.com or CDBaby, 28% sell
downloadable files through digital stores like iTunes, and 18% sell their
music someplace else online.

For independent musicians, in particular, this newfound ability to bypass
traditional distribution outlets and geographic boundaries has been a
watershed. One musician explained that having the ability to sell music
online was the most significant impact of the internet: "A huge positive
benefit is being able to have my music available for sale to anyone in the
world who wants it. Ten years ago there was absolutely no way to sell your
CD except through major distribution deals or at your own shows."
Musicians are divided over file-sharing
Echoing the sharply conflicting opinions within the ongoing public debate
about file-sharing, musicians are equally divided over file-sharing
services' impact on artists. There is no clear consensus regarding the
effects of online file-sharing on artists.
? 35% of the online musician sample agree with the statement that
file-sharing services are not bad for artists because they help promote and
distribute an artist's work
? 23% agree with the statement that file-sharing services are bad for
artists because they allow people to copy an artist's work without
permission or payment
? 35% of those surveyed agree with both statements.
Musicians have a wide range of ideas about how to best address the
unauthorized distribution of music online.
In an open-ended question, musicians taking the survey were asked what they
thought would be the best approach to dealing with the unauthorized music
distribution of music online. The responses ranged from "file-sharers
should be prosecuted" to "music should be free". However, there were also
a number of surprising variations provided by musicians that signal the
complexity of the issues associated with file-sharing.

For example, a surprising number of respondents said that peer-to-peer
file-sharing is not the problem, but that it is a symptom of bigger
structural issues for the major labels. Many respondents suggested that the
music industry needed to recognize the changes that peer-to-peer and
digital entertainment in general have brought to the music industry, and
change its business model to embrace it, instead of fighting it.
Another batch of respondents used this question to talk about the need for
artists to control their own music. While negotiating control over content
is difficult in a digital environment, many artists suggested that
decisions over peer-to-peer file-sharing and digital distribution should be
made by the artist, not the label.
View the report here [PDF]:

Read FMC's press release here:

Read an excerpt of the report on musicians' opinions on how to deal with
online file-sharing, including select quotes from survey respondents that
illustrate the wide range of opinions among musicians and songwriters:

FMC sees this report as an essential document that begins to articulate the
real complexity of the issues, and the varied opinions of musicians on many
of these key matters. In the next few weeks, FMC will make sure that the
report's results are properly disseminated to advocates and policymakers.
And we will continue to insist that musicians and creators are considered
rightful stakeholders in these ongoing debates and demand that we have a
seat at the policymaking table.

News stories have been coming in hot and heavy since yesterday's release,
with Google listing over 30 related articles so far. Two of the more
interesting articles to pop up include:

Pew File-Sharing Survey Gives a Voice to Artists
By Tom Zeller, New York Times, December 6, 2004


Study: Musicians Dig the Net
By Katie Dean, Wired, December 6, 2004

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Two voices, enter into each other

The nineteenth of Kislev (today), 1798. Rabbi Scheur Zalman of Liadi, one of the founding lights of Chabad Chassidut and author/revealer of the Tanya, sits in a jail cell, reading the 55 Psalm. As he arrives at the nineteenth verse, he is told that he has been freed, by order of the Czar.
The nineteenth verse of Psalm 55 reads:
Podah beshalom nafshi, meekrav li, ki berabim hayu eemadi

Redeemed in peace my soul
From my those who assailed me
because in multitudes,
they were with me

At the close of his autobiography, Nelson Mandela reflects on three decades in prison:

It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black. I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.
When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both. Some say that has now been achieved. But I know that is not the case. The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not take the final step of the journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made many missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.

Chabad Chassidim celbrate today, the day of Reb Schneur Zalman of Liadi's liberation, as the Chassidic new year. He taught of that verse in psalms, that his redemption came only in peace, when his assailants were with him, that he and those who imprisoned him were redeemed together.