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    Your New Year's Public Domain Report: 2013

    It's January 1, which means it's the day that works whose copyright has expired enter the public domain. Here's the list of works that entered the public domain in the United States today:

    Nothing. Nada. Not a thing.

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    Fighting 'The Government' by Killing Your Neighbors

    Before dawn on Christmas Eve a man set fire to his car and his house and waited for the firefighters to arrive so he could murder them. He shot four, killing two. They were volunteers. One of the men he killed was also a local police lieutenant. They died for going out on a winter morning to protect their neighbors.

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    The Gun Hobby

    Our gun laws have been distorted to suit the needs of a single interest group. That small, privileged group’s desires outweigh the needs of nearly every other American, and have more influence with our elected leaders than the suffering of crime victims, the recommendations of law enforcement, or the common-sense demands of public safety. These privileged few are not hunters, or sportsmen, or homeowners concerned with self-defense. They are hobbyists. We live in a gun collector’s paradise, and it is very dangerous.

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    What You Can Do About Gun Control TODAY

    20 children have been murdered in Connecticut. This what you can do about it right now:

    1. Write and call your Congressman. Writing to your Congressional representatives is the most important thing you can do, more important than writing to the White House. Write and call your House member first, and then your two Senators. You can find their contact information at house.gov and senate.gov.

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    Reading the Renaissance for Fun (and Profit)

    I stopped blogging for a while around Thanksgiving, partly because I was driving instead (I managed to log about 2500 highway miles in a week and a half), and partly because I needed to unplug both from national politics and from the unrelenting dailiness of office politics. (I go to more meetings at work than I used to, and answer a lot more e-mails.) The advent of winter holidays has always been a good time for me to step away from the noisy bustle and think more about what is durable.

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    The Humanities as Sugar Daddy

    So, the Governor of Florida set up a Task Force on higher education, and they decided that humanities majors should pay more than science majors for a college education. The thinking is that Florida wants more technology grads, and fewer humanities grads, and can get them by making humanities degrees more expensive so that students opt for science, math, and technology instead. They call this approach "market based," but its ignorance of basic economic realities is startling.

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    The Death of the Dog Whistle

    There's been a lot of post-election hand-wringing about how the Republicans can "reach out" to minority voters. If they can't win just by energizing their shrinking base of white people, what's next? Immigration reform? Marco Rubio? What's it going to take?

    At the same time, you have former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan blaming the Romney loss on voters from "urban areas." Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

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    Excusing Petraeus

    David Petraeus's downfall at the CIA, resigning after his marital infidelity was exposed, has gotten the kind of press coverage generally reserved for winning the Nobel Prize or becoming the first man on Mars. Story after story about his resignation rhapsodizes about the greatness of Petraeus, his military brilliance, his reputation for "probity and integrity." He is hailed as the model of a modern general, without a whiff of Gilbert & Sullivan irony in that phrase.

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    Where to Vote in Ohio. How to Vote in Ohio

    To vote in Ohio on Tuesday, November 6, 2012, you will need to bring a form of identification, either your driver's license or something that has your name and current address. If you're confused about where to go to vote, you can go to GottaVote Ohio or to the Ohio Secretary of State's webpage. Those sources also have information about the kind of ID you'll need to vote.

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    Predictable Results

    The Eastern Seaboard is getting clobbered by a combined late-season hurricane and blizzard, flooding large areas and knocking out electricity in even larger areas. As I write this, the New York City subways are flooded, there has been an explosion at a Con Edison power station, and a large part of the Rockaways is burning while firefighters, trapped by the floodwaters, are helpless to stop it.

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    Stand Up for Obama

    I don't have anything to say about the election today. It's crunch time.

    If you're ready to knock on some doors, makes some phone calls, or dig deep for one last donation, the Obama campaign could use you. Just follow the link.

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    Reality Is the Enemy: Romney's Foreign Policy

    So tonight Mitt Romney is going to try to outflank President Obama on foreign policy. Romney doesn't know much about foreign policy, but both Romney and Obama represent long-standing traditions of American thought on international security. The President represents the practical tradition designed to guide policy by the party in office, whichever party that is. Romney speaks for the strand that is designed only for opposition figures.

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    Affirmative Action for Unqualified Whites

    The Supreme Court may forbid any use of race in college admissions in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, being heard today, because the conservative wing really wants to overturn previous rulings and because Justice Kagan has recused herself. If that happens, the winning plaintiff will be a classic poster child for anti-affirmative-action litigation: a white kid who got 1180 on her SATs.

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    Romney Stinks, and It's Not Funny

    Here's the thing about Mitt Romney: he's a pretty terrible politician, and he always has been. His presidential campaign has verged on malpractice almost every week, and tonight's debate is not going to turn that around in a significant way.

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    The Big Keep (Or, Intellectual Property Blues: Hard-Boiled Edition)

       Raymond Chandler’s legendary private eye, Philip Marlowe, will be back in bookstores next year. Chandler’s estate has authorized a new Marlowe novel from John Banville, alias Benjamin Black. But the real news is not that Banville gets to write the book. It’s that no one else is allowed to write one.

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    Do PhDs Expire?

    Last week the annual job list for college literature professors went live, in an annual ritual I've blogged about before. And it looks like the worst list for Shakespeareans in history.

    Two years ago, I used this space to explain how the 2008 crash had killed the already far-too-small job market for new PhDs, and how poor the rebound was two years later:

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    The Romney Meltdown

    I was writing a post earlier this week, arguing that Romney was increasingly likely to panic as the election approached, trying to find a "game changer" to help him catch up with Obama, and that these gambles would put him further and further behind. But I held off, because I didn't want to post that kind of political horserace stuff on September 11. Then, before midnight on September 11, Romney had done it.

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    Student Loans: Dems vs. GOP Made Easy

    One thing that Barack Obama has done absolutely right for education is change the student loan program. Romney and Ryan have made it clear that if elected they will switch things back to the old way. This small policy difference demonstrates the larger difference between today's Democrats and Republicans.

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    Labor Day Link: The Bread and Roses Strike, 100 Years Later

    Labor Day is a great day to remember some of the history of the American labor movement. Of course, our leading American newspaper is using the day to lionize Henry Ford without mentioning how fiercely Ford hated the labor movement. So, a little counter-programming:

     

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    Old Men Talking to Chairs Is Romney's Platform

    I've been trying to lay off Clint Eastwood's surreal conversation with furniture, even as facebook friends urged me to blog about it. (King Lear also talks angrily to an empty stool, and my friends have suggested I blog about that.) But I do want to talk about what that incident reveals about Mitt Romney. It was the most revealing moment of the Republican convention. That Romney turned the mike over to Eastwood in prime time, with no script, tells us who Romney really is.

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