Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Arresting Reading:

Arrested for holding a placard quoting Magna Carta


Arrested for holding a placard containing quotations from George Orwell


Hans Koning

Koning was a Dutch novelist who played an active part in the anti-fascist resistance during World War II, and subsequently emmigrated to the USA. Author of several novels including The Revolutionary and De witt's War, he also wrote a "groundbreaking" book on Christopher Columbus: Columbus: His Enterprise: Exploding the Myth (1976) and a sequel The Conquest of America: How the Indian Nations Lost Their Continent (1993). He played an active part in opposition to the Vietnam War and was one of the founders of the anti-war group Resist.
There is a good overview of his life on InterActivist Info Exhange:
and an obituary in the New York Times:

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Petition of Support for Nawal El Saadawi

Egyptian writer and novelist Nawal El Saadawi is facing another campaign of intimidation. A few years ago she faced accusations of apostasy and an attempt to separate her forcibly from her husband. Now a recent play "God resigns at the Summit Meeting" has angered the authorities of Al-Azhar who have threatened court action against her for apostasy and disrespect for the principles of Islam.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Mutiny and Democracy

In 1647 the New Model Army spent three months based in and around the market town of Saffron Walden. The fighting of the first civil war had come to an end, and heady ideas of democracy and equality were circulating among the soldiers. Labelled by Parliament as "enemies of the state" the increasingly radical soldiers elected their own representatives - providing a practical example of democracy in action - and set up their own parallel organisation within the army. Important debates, preceeding those held later in the year at Putney, took place in the local church.

Find out what happened during the turbulent years of 1647 and 1648 at
‘Saffron Walden: Cradle of the English Revolution 1647-8’ - A Day School for the general public in the Town Hall to be held on Wednesday 16 May 2007. Speakers at the Dayschool will be: Martyn Everett on the rise of the Agitators, John Sutton & Sue Sadler on the Battle of Linton, Andrew Lacey on King Charles I and John Walter on Parson Drake, the Vicar of Radwinter.

For a copy of the programme write to the Tourist Information Centre, 1 Market Place, Saffron Walden (including an sae). Tickets £15 (Cheques should be made payable to "Saffron Walden Initiative")
Full details of events related to Saffron Walden 1647 are available on:

Monday, April 02, 2007

Freedom of Information Act - more time to oppose restrictions

The Government is proposing to amend the fee regulations on FOI requests, setting a limit on public authority expenditure, above which the request can be refused. It has just announced that it is to extend the consultation process to allow more time for opinions to be heard on this issue.
The Government commissioned an "independent" report from a thinktank called "frontier economics" whose Directors are narrowly drawn from the business sector - rather than from the voluntary sector and civil society.

The various reports and consultation documents are available on the Department of Constitutional Affairs website:
and here:

Some of the reasons why this measure should be opposed are set out by Heather Brooke on
her blog, Your Right to Know:


First Monday

Two interesting articles in the current issue of First Monday - John Willinsky writes on "What open access research can do for Wikipedia", discussing the way Wikipedia could be enhanced by systematic linking to open source online content.

Charles Lyons poses the question: "The Library: a distinct local voice?" He writes of the "Long Tail" as key factor in the provision of information and books through Libraries, concluding:

"Local libraries can distinguish themselves as local information resources and strive to transform their communities by: embracing technology to enhance access to local information while also humanizing an activity that is becoming more technology-driven; specializing on the hyper-local niche while also broadening the scope of the types of local resources collected; facilitating access to a burgeoning number of locally-relevant resources while also creating their own; participating in and creating online communities while also building on their important physical presence; providing tools that empower the community to create, access and share local information on its own while also striving to become informed local experts themselves."


Dead Plagiarists Society

Paul Collins reflects on the history of plagiarism in the age of google, in The Slate:
..."Even more inventively, Lawrence Sterne's immortal diatribe against plagiarism in Tristram Shandy was itself ... plagiarized from Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. There have always been a dizzying array of ways that authors can rip each other off, even in reverse: Literary critic Terry Eagleton has written entertainingly of "anti-plagiarism," a 19th-century literary wheeze favored by Irish critics, who pounced on poets or novelists for plagiarizing or surreptitiously translating some little-known domestic or foreign work and presenting it under their name. The trick was that the "original" work presented by the prosecuting critic was itself a forgery, written after a new work's publication to frame an enemy."


[via John Hubbard's Library Link of the Day]

A Linear B tablet from Knossos

This tablet, more than 3,000 years old, and now kept at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, records the sale of coriander for the Mycenaean perfume industry. This web page tells a fascinating story.