Friday, March 31

Wednesday night: Drive to Breckenridge by way of Keystone, to see State Radio play a bar called Yeti & Sherpa's. The music is good. The crowd talks a lot, which seems to be standard practice for Colorado crowds at rock shows.

(Us Against the Crown is a damn fine album, by the way.)

Ride with a friend of Beau's from Keystone. Pick up, on the way back, a 50-something hitchhiker who keeps saying "Not this one, but the next one, I swear" and offering us bong hits.

Thursday, March 23

After about four hours of beating my head against and LaTeX, here is test.pdf, which is bad on several levels, but is probably 9/10 of the way to being a real book. Given that I keep running into ways for raw HTML to play hell with LaTeX, this is actually relatively painless.

Stephen might well [March_19_2006|be right] about using TeX directly, or at least there might be a better package to use than LaTeX. Making the switch should be trivial, since I'm generating the whole thing from a quasi-HTML source file.

This book thing has highlighted some massive, heretofore only-just-suspected holes in my technical knowledge & sense of history. It's a familiar sensation, but I haven't felt anything quite like it while using a computer in years.

Wednesday, March 22

Today's revision; much closer to final poem count, most of CarolAnn's stuff & the collaborations in. Just need to pare down from here.

more: chapbook_source_beta

Tuesday, March 21

Working on compiling some stuff. Here's today's revision of my material for the dead tree project.

more: chapbook_source

Sunday, March 19

dead trees

CarolAnn was in Boulder last week, and in between bottles of Jameson we managed to compile a stack of poems for the chapbook I've been wanting to print and distribute.

My current plan is something like 32-46 pages at 8.5 x 5.25. I think I can get a hundred copies, saddle stitched, for around $160 — which my upcoming tax return ought to cover. (If anyone has suggestions for which printing service to go with, let me know. I have a couple in mind, but I'm new to this game.) I plan to fit all the poems CA gave me, a couple that CA and Elizabeth wrote together, and one of Alan's, then fill the balance with old stuff from p1k3.

I was going to use some kind of free desktop publishing package for this, probably Scribus. I still might, but an offhand remark from Levi has me thinking about LaTeX instead.

LaTeX is a document package based on Don Knuth's TeX. TeX is a typesetting language which has been around since approximately the dawn of time, and LaTeX itself dates from 1985 or so.

LaTeX seems to get most of its use in the academic & scientific communities. From what I've seen, the markup is not especially pretty, and probably isn't much fun to write. There are lots of backslashes and curly brackets. As far as I can tell, nothing produces better looking output.

tuesday, march 14

unexpectedly, i am sitting
in the coffeehouse again
at the same table by the
dirty dish window
the coffee tastes the same
the girl with the short black
hair is still behind the counter
just outside the door,
the guy with the tattoo
on his throat hits me up for

Saturday, March 11

standard wiki markup

Alan asked the other night what I thought a core set of wiki markup/syntax conventions would be. I've attached the bulk of the mail I wrote, on the off chance anyone's interested.

I think there's probably never going to be a really standard wiki syntax, unless you count things like Textile, which a lot of people seem to like, or MediaWiki's syntax, which probably sees the most use, given the sheer size of Wikipedia. This doesn't actually bother me too much as long as people keep designing with a couple of ideas in mind - transparency and low barriers to entry, more or less.

It might be cool to see a straightforward standard ("here is my set of regular expressions") for transporting wiki text. Wonder if anyone's working on this.

more: wiki_markup

Tuesday, March 7


To pick up on an earlier post and some subsequent discussion, I think I see three priorities with regard to IP law. I'll use the first person plural in the highly restrictive sense of "me and people who feel pretty much like I do".

First, we should work to increase the overall breadth and depth of the public domain. This includes efforts to create more free content - and just as importantly, to release more existing content.

Secondly, we should work to subvert existing intellectual property laws as much as possible, and use their provisions to achieve effects precisely contrary to their industrially designed intent. I think GPL and Creative Commons style licensing falls under this heading, though it clearly overlaps in intent with "increase the public domain".

Thirdly, we should attempt to create an attack-resistant infrastructure for directly subverting an intolerable legal regime.

Saturday, March 4


Modified public domain footer to sound slightly less self-righteous.


last night, after the symphonic led
zeppelin cover act, we hit a bar in
denver with some people
t. was buying rounds of jaegger shots
let's be conservative and say
20 shots of jaegger is, what
maybe a hundred, hundred and twenty?

it was not a bad time
i miss drinking with people
my age in decent bars
and they served a pretty good
cheeseburger, with lots of
condiments on a plastic tray
and three bucks for a rolling rock
is about as cheap as the
drinkable beer gets in these parts

in the other room
elizabeth is making a scrapbook
about going to india
pictures of dark skinned, fine
featured kids at a trade school
holding intricate objects they
have obviously made themselves
"i have held a job since
i was four years old".

Thursday, March 2

steal this electronic abstraction of a text

There hasn't been a copyright notice on this page for a long time, for reasons which may be obvious to those who know me well. Lately I have realized that in a world where infringement is generally presumed for any use without a documented disclaimer, the lack of a statement is perhaps insufficient.

So now there is a notice in the footer on, which reads as follows:

All original content on p1k3, unless otherwise noted, is dedicated to the public domain and may thus be freely re-used or modified, for any purpose whatever, in perpetuity. I, Brennen Bearnes, assert only the moral right to attribution where it is both reasonable and practical.

I thought about using either a Creative Commons license or the GNU Free Documentation License, a la Wikipedia & its sister projects. I appreciate the cultural momentum that CC is building, and the viral legal hack of the CC attribution/share-alike license or the GFDL has value. Turning strong IP against itself has probably been necessary to the flourishing of the free software movement. (Advocates of less restrictive licensing will disagree with this last. My contention is not that a GPL-style viral license is necessary or desirable for every body of code, but rather that the GPL has helped enormously to create a strong and defensible ecology of free code in a hostile legal & social environment.)

Ultimately, though, I don't believe that the creative work I do is in much danger of being hijacked for purposes of which I would not approve. And unlike much useful code, the text of a poem is essentially transparent in its received form. While there is a strong rationale for ensuring by legal means that software remains open when modified by a third party, releasing my text and images into the public domain is probably a sufficient guarantee of such transparency as the form demands.

Even so, I feel some hesitation. There is vanishingly little chance that I will profit from work I release on the web, and even less that making it freely available would impact any profit, but it's still hard to shake the sense that waiving copyright is dangerous or foolish. We are taught, under this legal framework and the dominant culture of art, to assume that copyright is an inviolable moral right, inherent in the act of creation. I no longer believe these things, and I no longer equate legal structure with moral value, but the gut feeling dies hard. Still, my attitude towards so-called intellectual property (I will note in passing that I include especially patents and any ownership of genetics) is anarchistic, and has been for a while. It is well past time to put my text where my mouth is.

As Lessig points out in Free Culture, the act of releasing a creative work into the public domain was once unnecessary: The legal framework generally placed the burden on those who wished to obtain and defend a copyright, by requiring registration and an explicit notice. Under current US law, this situation is reversed. Copyright is automatic, and the burden falls squarely on the shoulders of anyone who wishes to disclaim restrictions on the use of their own creative work, and to an even greater extent on any party attempting to re-use the work of others. Additionally, the potential costs of failing to document and cover every border-case are so egregious that it is always safer to assume a legal obligation exists. Along with the public domain, the doctrine of fair-use is effectively nullified for almost all applications.

Though I used to like the "you made it, you own it" model for its apparent simplicity and its neat mapping onto the sense of ownership which any creative act inspires, right now I suspect that it has deeply problematic (unintended?) consequences. Even in a world where copyright protection is desirable. I would rather not feel obligated to make any statement at all, but it seems necessary, in a quiet way, to do something.

I used to come across a graffito about once a week, on some wall or sidewalk in Nebraska: What is left that isn't owned?

This is my answer.


Which brings me to unintended consequences. Quotations fall under fair use, and my own text is not problematic. Running a wiki, though, is interesting.

In a saner world, it wouldn't present a problem. The entire model of a wiki is more or less orthogonal to the existing legal model of content ownership. And I'm happy with that. In fact, I'd generally like to encourage it. But I suppose if I'm going to the trouble of putting boilerplate on the main page, I ought to think about the big wad of pages in p1k3::wala.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Is there an established framework for making sure your bases are covered and everything's out there in the open, wiki-wise? (By which I mean a small page footer kind of framework, not a GFDL kind of framework.)

For that matter, does anyone particularly object to bits of text they've put up being tossed to the public domain winds?