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Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007

Slashdot notes a new service where users can pay to have certain songs re-written the way they like.  While the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Springsteen and U2 haven’t signed up to offer their tunes as such yet, it’s still an intriguing idea and maybe a wave of the future- a new way for musicians to get income if they don’t mind their songs being tinkered with.  Surely to some musicians, their work is sacrosanct and they wouldn’t dream of such a thing but for plenty of other songwriters, bands and musicians, this might be an income stream.


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Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007

It isn’t usually the cases that don’t make it to the Supreme Court that get the coverage, but the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District decision, which ruled that Intelligent Design is a form of creationism and thus cannot be mandated in school curricula, has inspired at least two, soon to be three, full general-interest books. The case has also proven a durable fuel for blogs on both sides; the decision, though legally binding, has far from resolved the tooth-and-nail conflict between Intelligent Design advocates and scientists. And, as seen in the analyses of those who covered the event, the ruckus raises systemic questions about how we can talk about issues when we talk about issues in America.


It’s obvious that Edward Humes, author of “Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul”, is solidly in the science camp. He highlights the shortcomings of claims made by members of the Discovery Institute, the originators and proponents of Intelligent Design, and the overtly but denied religious agendas of its legal supporters, even as he praises the research and presentations done by the plaintiffs’ witnesses and lawyers. Gordy Slack, who wrote “The Battle over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design and a School Board in Dover, PA”, has said in public interviews that despite a religious family, he also was rooting for science. And Lauri Lebo, the author of the upcoming account of her tenure as the lead local reporter for the York Daily Record (the book is tentatively titled “The Devil in Dover: Dogma vs. Darwinism is Small-Town America”), wrote to me that “I knew one side was lying,” even as she strove for objectivity.


Humes noted that a large part of the American psyche craves fairness above all, and this desire to be fair has lead to an almost post-modern equal privileging of viewpoints—for example, the thought that a “debate” between ID and evolution would be a great way to present the issue.


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Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007
by Ari Y Kelman

Casting Samuel L. Jackson in the role of God says as much about the power of Pulp Fiction as it does about hermeneutics, but imagine a God that sounded like Eartha Kitt…

Denzel Washington, one of the voices in The Bible Experience

Denzel Washington, one of the voices in
The Bible Experience


The 2007 Audie (the Oscar for audiobooks) for “audiobook of the year” was awarded to The Bible Experience, a new 19-CD recording of The New International Version of the New Testament.  Produced by Inspired by… Media Group, The Bible Experience features a full cast of A and B list African American performers from Denziel Washington and Angela Bassett to MC Lyte and Eric Benet (nee Mr. Halle Berry).  Combining the The New International Version of the New Testament‘s contemporary sensibility, lush musical accompaniment, and effusive individual efforts, it is, as the title insists, not just a recitation of the Bible, but a full-blown “experience”.

Since its release in November, 2006, The Bible Experience has become something of a juggernaut, even among other versions of the Bible.  The good book was featured on Oprah, was the subject of a story on NPR, and received coverage in almost every major newspaper in America.  All told, The Bible Experience has sold over 800,000 units in eight months, and it has quickly become Zondervan publishers’ (one of the leading Christian publishing houses in the United States) best selling title.

To become a best-selling title as a version of the best selling-book of all time is itself, no small feat, and I think the popularity of this version suggests something new is afoot in the world of faith, text, media and message.  In effect, it is a revision of the old question about style and substance, but in this case, the stakes seem higher.  And, with all due respect to Mr. Jackson’s powerful Pulp Fiction riff on Ezekiel 25:17, substance generally trumps style in questions of faith.


 


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Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007

Two rather disturbing stories about radio.  First one is from the Future of Music Coalition, which found out that Clear Channel is demanding that indie-rock acts sign away their rights to get played on their stations- hey guys, why not just take their first-born?  Then there’s this story from the Salon blog about how SoundExchange is demanding that web radio stations will only get a break in royalty payments (which would let them survive) if they combat piracy (i.e. users copying music from their service).  As the article notes, there’s no silver bullet that’s gonna kill off all piracy of this type and it’s not clear how they’ll enforce this anyway.  No matter- SoundExchange has them over a barrel so who are they to complain?


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Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007
by Chris O'Brien

SAN JOSE, Calif.—Harry Potter dies!


No, wait, he lives!


If you’re lying awake at night counting the minutes until Saturday when the final Harry Potter book is released, then boot up the computer and get Googling. Copies of the closely guarded Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows may have leaked onto the Internet, sparking legal skirmishes and outrage among fans who are trying to avoid spoilers at all costs.


The apparent leak demonstrates how difficult it can be to keep secrets in a digital age. But the key word is “apparent.” Because amid all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, there’s one question that nobody will answer: Are the copies real?


So read on, you Muggles. This story is spoiler-free.


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