Happy birthday, TJ

Thomas Jefferson was born 260 years ago today in my home state of Virginia. Ten years ago, I spent the day at Monticello with the Virginia Glee Club, singing on the Today Show (and standing at a urinal next to Willard Scott, but that’s another story (and, speaking of other stories—Aven, if you have the photo of Stancil, Tyler and Scott holding Katie Couric aloft as she wears her VMHLB cap, I’d pay money for a scanned copy!)), before riding on a bus to Washington to sing at a ceremony at the Jefferson Memorial and shake Bill Clinton’s hand.

For those of you who don’t know who Thomas Jefferson is (e.g. apparently most members of the current Presidential administration and leaders of the Justice Department), he wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, was ambassador to France, and founded the University of Virginia. Oh yeah and he was president too.

In the spirit of Jefferson, then, a few of his words:

  • “I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind.”
  • “If there be one principle more deeply rooted than any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.
  • “I have much confidence that we shall [Col 2] proceed successfully for ages to come, and that, contrary to the principle of Montesquieu it will be seen that the larger the extent of country, the more firm its republican structure, if founded, not on conquest, but in principles of compact and equality.”
  • “The government of a nation may be usurped by the forcible intrusion of an individual into the throne. But to conquer its will, so as to rest the right on that, the only legitimate basis, requires long acquiescence and cessation of all opposition.”
  • “Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government.
  • “The most successful war seldom pays for its losses.
  • “It should ever be held in mind that insult and war are the consequences of a want of respectability in the national character.”

Oh, and check out this year’s winners of the Jefferson Muzzles awards, given to those who seek to abridge freedom of speech and press. This year’s awards included many of the usual suspects at this blog, including everyone’s favorite singing ex-senator, John Ashcroft—and the 107th US Congress, who passed the PATRIOT Act.

Follow up to Apple and Universal

Generally lots of positive follow up to the article I wrote Friday about Apple’s possible purchase of Universal. A few of the comments, and some of the other articles on the subject, touched on the one question I didn’t hit: digital rights management, or DRM.

DRM is technology intended to restrict access to digital content so that the rights of copyright holders are enforced. Unfortunately, most current implementations of DRM support the rights of the copyright owners to the detriment of the rights of the purchasers of the content. Apple, mercifully, has so far avoided the issue by implicitly encouraging the use of MP3 (a DRM-free music format) through products like iTunes and the iPod, rather than pushing a proprietary format which could be extended to restrict use of the content (e.g. Quicktime).

Emphasis on so far. If Apple purchases a major content provider, the temptation to go over to DRM may become too great to avoid. After all, it will have the bottom line of Universal to think about. Or will this be Apple’s opportunity to prove that a content business model without DRM can actually work?

God, I hope so.

Second career

This weekend, in summary:

  • Friday: Thanks to Dave, about a thousand hits to the article about Apple and Universal (more on that in a minute). That night: dinner party and wine tasting (thanks, Catherine and Peter!). Guests stayed until after 1, laughing and talking.
  • Saturday: brick laying (what a fabulous way to follow up a wine tasting party!). We dug out a pine-bark covered path, laid in sand, put the bricks down, poured more sand over the path, and swept the sand down into the gaps between the bricks. Then we both felt a disturbance in the Force: as though a thousand back muscle cells cried out in anguish, and were suddenly silenced. Afterwards we went to a friendís cocktail party and reawakened the muscle cells, only to put them asleep again with some great sangria.
  • Sunday: laundry and more bricklaying, this time the muddy path between our fence and the brick pad where the garbage cans rest. Then a quick trip with our friends to Molbakís, where we bought dill, marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary, mint, camomile, and oregano for the garden. Then lawn mowing, grass seeding, flower plantingÖ and near total collapse, before rallying to make angel hair pasta with shrimp in olive oil and lemon, salmon with Thai herbs, asparagus, and new potatoes. Followed oddly enough by Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Oy. I think Iíll give my second career as a garden maintenance guy a miss.

How was your weekend?