The fracas with the Hathi libraries is emblematic of new fractures in traditional literary alliances. For many academics today, their own copyrights hold little financial value because scholarly publishing has grown so unprofitable. The copyrights of other authors, by contrast, often inhibit scholars who want to quote freely from those works or use portions in class. Thus, under the cri de coeur that “information wants to be free,” some professors and others are calling for copyright to be curtailed or even abandoned. High-minded slogans aside, these academics are simply promoting their own careers over the livelihoods of other writers.
An even more nightmarish version of the same problem emerged last month with the news that Amazon had a patent to resell e-books. Such a scheme will likely be ruled illegal. But if it is not, sales of new e-books will nose-dive, because an e-book, unlike a paper book, suffers no wear with each reading. Why would anyone ever buy a new book again?
Consumers might save a dollar or two, but the big winner, as usual, would be Amazon. It would literally own the resale market and would shift enormous profits to itself from publishers as well as authors, who would lose the already meager share of the proceeds they receive on the sale of new e-books.
Many people would say such changes are simply in the nature of markets, and see no problem if authors are left to write purely for the love of the game. But what sort of society would that be?
Last October, I visited Moscow and met with a group of authors who described the sad fate of writing as a livelihood in Russia. There is only a handful of publishers left, while e-publishing is savaged by instantaneous piracy that goes almost completely unpoliced. As a result, in the country of Tolstoy and Chekhov, few Russians, let alone Westerners, can name a contemporary Russian author whose work regularly affects the national conversation.
The Constitution’s framers had it right. Soviet-style repression is not necessary to diminish authors’ output and influence. Just devalue their copyrights.
Scott Turow, a lawyer, is the president of the Authors Guild and the author of the forthcoming novel “Identical."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 15:10
I’m referring, of course, to the question of how many Republican governors will reject the Medicaid expansion that is a key part of Obamacare. What does that have to do with freedom? In reality, nothing. But when it comes to politics, it’s a different story.
It goes without saying that Republicans oppose any expansion of programs that help the less fortunate — along with tax cuts for the wealthy, such opposition is pretty much what defines modern conservatism. But they seem to be having more trouble than in the past defending their opposition without simply coming across as big meanies.
Specifically, the time-honored practice of attacking beneficiaries of government programs as undeserving malingerers doesn’t play the way it used to. When Ronald Reagan spoke about welfare queens driving Cadillacs, it resonated with many voters. When Mitt Romney was caught on tape sneering at the 47 percent, not so much.
There is, however, an alternative. From the enthusiastic reception American conservatives gave Friedrich Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom,” to Reagan, to the governors now standing in the way of Medicaid expansion, the U.S. right has sought to portray its position not as a matter of comforting the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted, but as a courageous defense of freedom.
Conservatives love, for example, to quote from a stirring speech Reagan gave in 1961, in which he warned of a grim future unless patriots took a stand. (Liz Cheney used it in a Wall Street Journal op-ed article just a few days ago.) “If you and I don’t do this,” Reagan declared, “then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” What you might not guess from the lofty language is that “this” — the heroic act Reagan was calling on his listeners to perform — was a concerted effort to block the enactment of Medicare.
These days, conservatives make very similar arguments against Obamacare. For example, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has called it the “greatest assault on freedom in our lifetime.” And this kind of rhetoric matters, because when it comes to the main obstacle now remaining to more or less universal health coverage — the reluctance of Republican governors to allow the Medicaid expansion that is a key part of reform — it’s pretty much all the right has.
As I’ve already suggested, the old trick of blaming the needy for their need doesn’t seem to play the way it used to, and especially not on health care: perhaps because the experience of losing insurance is so common, Medicaid enjoys remarkably strong public support. And now that health reform is the law of the land, the economic and fiscal case for individual states to accept Medicaid expansion is overwhelming. That’s why business interests strongly support expansion just about everywhere — even in Texas. But such practical concerns can be set aside if you can successfully argue that insurance is slavery.
Of course, it isn’t. In fact, it’s hard to think of a proposition that has been more thoroughly refuted by history than the notion that social insurance undermines a free society. Almost 70 years have passed since Friedrich Hayek predicted (or at any rate was understood by his admirers to predict) that Britain’s welfare state would put the nation on the slippery slope to Stalinism; 46 years have passed since Medicare went into effect; as far as most of us can tell, freedom hasn’t died on either side of the Atlantic.
In fact, the real, lived experience of Obamacare is likely to be one of significantly increased individual freedom. For all our talk of being the land of liberty, those holding one of the dwindling number of jobs that carry decent health benefits often feel anything but free, knowing that if they leave or lose their job, for whatever reason, they may not be able to regain the coverage they need. Over time, as people come to realize that affordable coverage is now guaranteed, it will have a powerful liberating effect.
But what we still don’t know is how many Americans will be denied that kind of liberation — a denial all the crueler because it will be imposed in the name of freedom.
Last Updated on Monday, 08 April 2013 18:16
Our hostess, Wanda White, was a young public-school teacher. In the fall of 1967, she worked with Mrs. King, helping with her schedule, as well as other personal and professional responsibilities. During a conversation, Wanda asked the Kings over for a low-key dinner. They accepted, and Wanda invited some of her close friends. (All of us were white.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 18:22
An entry in the Berlin District Court in the April 4 Berlin Daily Sun incorrectly reported a complaint of simple assault against Jeremiah Baillargeon. The Sun regrets the error.
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 18:32
This sickness had gained quite a foothold on local citizens, before proper steps could be taken for precaution. Nine cases had been reported to the board of health by 20 September, with one of them proving fatal.
The paper listed the names of the people who had contracted this sickness and said that the Board of Health was using every effort to quarantine and suppressed is spreading. It had to be scary for all citizens of the city during this time and probably embarrassing to the people whose names were listed in the paper.
On Wednesday morning, at about 1:30 a.m., September 22, 1897, the Post Office in Berlin was robbed. Burglars entered the building by prying up the north window over the safe. Then they used dynamite to blow the door of the safe and rob it of its valuable contents, but they did not get into the vault or iron box where most of the money and stamps were located.
The thieves took $100 and a small box, belonging to Mrs. Germain Cobb and Mrs. George Cote, several registered letters containing money, a few stamps and money in the cash drawer.
Postmaster G. S. Wilson entered the office as usual at 4:30 a.m. and found it to be full of powder smoke. He then notified City Marshal Youngcliss, who got there at 5 a.m., telegraphed the federal offices for an inspector and began the search for the burglars. Of course, this was a federal crime.
The Post Office was on the “Square” back then, near the National Bank, Green House and the Berlin House. It was only at the Berlin House where people heard the explosion, but not sufficient enough to cause curiosity.
A hammer, chisel and adze from CC Leighton’s store and two iron bars from the Grand Trunk tool house were used. Both of these places had been burglarized.
Only one policeman was on duty after midnight and it was very easy for the thieves to know where he was by watching him. Evidently, the work was done by experts, who got away clean.
Berlin's new city building (City Hall) on Mechanic Street was completed by the beginning of October 1897. The newspaper described the first floor in front as a commodious police court room, with a line raised judges bench, along with all of the other necessary conveniences.
On the left of this hall leading back to the cells, the first room was the office of the City Marshal. On the right was a large square cell for woman, all tight and free from observation, unless the door was opened. At the rear were six cells for men, all open to view clear through.
On the upper floor in front was a fine council chamber and in the rear of this were offices for the city clerk and city engineer. The article also said that this building would be sufficient for a long time to come, but just 16 years later, a new and larger City Hall had to be built on Main Street, because of this city’s rapid growth.
On October 8, 1897 the city of Berlin had a new newspaper, when the Berlin Reporter started operations in the Whitney Opera House Block on Mechanic Street.
The first paragraph of their opening editorial went like this: “We present the people of Berlin and vicinity this week with a copy of the newspaper, the Berlin Reporter, which will in the future add its contribution of news concerning the doings and happenings of the city, as well as the adjoining towns and we trust our readers will be pleased with its makeup and general appearance”.
This newspaper was owned by Elmer J Barney and was published on every Friday. The cost for a yearly subscription was one dollar. There was also a lot more said in this original editorial.
Also ordained by the new City Council and printed in a September paper, was an ordinance relating to the fire department. This edict consisted of many sections and took up a whole page of the newspaper.
Section 1 stated that the fire department shall consist of a chief engineer and assistant engineer and a suitable number of hose men, not less than 12 nor more than 18 to form a hose company and a suitable number of hook and ladder men, not less than 8 nor more than 15 to form a company. It also said that no member of the fire department could hold the office of Marshall, assistant Marshall or police officer. As previously stated there were many sections containing the rules and regulations for Berlin's firemen.
Finally, in the end of October 1897 the Independence headlines read “Awfull Tragedy” and the Berlin Reporter’s front page read: “Horrible Murder”. Both captions were referring to the slaying of two of Gorham citizens on Tuesday, October 26, 1897.
The pretty and quiet village to our south was stirred to its depths by the wild scene that had been enacted within its borders and four households were plunged into deep mourning and sorrow, with the whole county was in profound sympathy for the afflicted area.
It was one of the most unwarranted, unprovoked and unreasonable crimes ever recorded in the state annals, and if the community had carried out its threats of lynching, like it wanted to do, it would have almost been justifiable.
Briefly, two brothers by the name of Gauthier came down from Quebec to live in Gorham in 1897 and worked for the Grand Trunk Railway as coal shovelers. On Monday night October 25, the older brother was feeling sick from the effects of a vaccination and was replaced by a man by the name of Frank Barret. The men, when not on duty, stayed in a small shanty on railroad grounds and the company had recently issued orders about visitors being disallowed around the area, because of problems in the past.
Thomas Monahan, who came from a very respectful family in town and a man by the name of Patsy Lydon, came into the shanty seeking shelter from the elements. After a few words with Joseph Gauthier and Mr. Barret, the two shelter seekers were ordered out, and reluctantly departing, but Monahan said in a threatening way that he would see them later. At this point, Lydon left and departed company with Monahan. It seems that Thomas Monahan had made threats his family and getting into trouble with the law as of late, so the workers didn’t want to have anything to do with him.
At about 4:30 a.m. that morning, Monahan returned to the shanty armed with a single breech loading shotgun. The “Heavers” as they were called were fast asleep when the armed man entered and Monahan ordered Gauthier to get up and dance, he also told Gauthier that he was a local and that no Canadian Frenchman was going to tell him what to do. Gauthier, who was 19 years of age, was pleading for his life when the murderer ordered him to kneel down and pray. Monahan then ordered Gauthier to stand up and at this point shot point blank killing the young man instantly.
As the killer was reloading his gun, Frank Barret, knowing his turn was next, made his escape and took refuge behind Chandler’s Livery stable. A man by the name of Oscar Melcher, a fireman just off train number 4 from Island Pond, discovered Gauthier’s body. He notified other employees and also the authorities of his findings.
Meanwhile, Monahan was out looking for Barret and when he got near the Church Street crossing he came across a man by the name of William Thoits of Shelburne, who was going into work at F. Libby + Sons Upper Mill.
Thoits, 24 years old, was accosted by Monahan and at about the same time a man by the name of Tallyrand Goodno came upon them, as he was walking up the tracks. Monahan asked Goodno if he had ever seen a man get shot. At this point, he shot and killed Mr. Thoits instantly and then took Goodno as a hostage.
After the alarm was given, selectmen Woodbury Gates and Irving Fogg went out looking for the murderer. When they saw him with Mr. Goodno, they attempted to approach him. At this time Monahan informed them that he “Had shot two men and just as soon shoot another.” At this instant, he shot Mr. Gates, seriously wounding him, but this time Monahan had used his last shell. Fogg immediately jumped Monahan and wrestled him to the ground, being hit in the face with the butt of the gun. A.C. Chapman, the yardmaster, also showed up helping subdue the culprit and he was soon put in a lock up. Dr. Marble, Dr. Williamson, and Dr. Wight soon arrived to save the life of Mr. Gates.
Much more was written about this shocking double murder that took place in the town of Gorham almost 116 years ago with both newspaper giving complete details of the crime.
I will continue with the local history of 1897 in my next writing.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 18:26