Thursday, March 5, 2009

Christian salt instead of kosher salt?

CRESAPTOWN, Md. (AP) - You've heard of kosher salt? Now there's a Christian variety.

Retired barber Joe Godlewski says he was inspired by television chefs who repeatedly recommended kosher salt in recipes.

"I said, 'What the heck's the matter with Christian salt?'" Godlewski said, sipping a beer in the living room of his home in unincorporated Cresaptown, a western Maryland mountain community.

By next week, his trademarked Blessed Christians Salt will be available at, the Web site of Memphis, Tenn.-based seasonings manufacturer Ingredients Corporation of America.t's sea salt that's been blessed by an Episcopal priest, ICA President Damon S. Arney said Wednesday. He said the company also hopes to market the salt through Christian bookstores and as a fundraising tool for religious groups.

Arney and Godlewski, 73, said a share of the proceeds will be donated to Christian charities, but neither would specify a percentage.

Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, kosher administrator for the Chicago Rabbinical Council, said marketing Christian salt as an alternative to kosher salt reflects, at best, ignorance about Jewish dietary laws. He said all salt is inherently kosher because it occurs naturally and requires little or no processing.

Certified kosher foods are not blessed by rabbis but examined by them to ensure that the food and its processing conform with Biblical passages regarding food preparation and consumption, Fishbane said.

He said coarse-grained kosher salt is named for the way in which it was traditionally used - to draw blood from freshly butchered meat, because Jewish law prohibits consuming blood. Chefs often favor kosher salt because it's crunchy and easy to pinch.

Godlewski said his salt, packaged in containers bearing bright red crosses, has at least as much flavor and beneficial minerals as kosher salt - and it's for a good cause.

"The fact is, it helps Christians and Christian charities," he said. "This is about keeping Christianity in front of the public so that it doesn't die. I want to keep Christianity on the table, in the household, however I can do it."

A one-time Catholic who now holds Bible studies in his home, Godlewski is a longtime entrepreneur. In 1998, he founded a kielbasa sausage business now run by a nephew. In 2000, he introduced the Stretch & Catch, a fishing gizmo that he says was copied and buried by foreign competitors.

If the salt takes off, Godlewski plans an entire line of Christian-branded foods, including rye bread, bagels and pickles.

Food industry consultant Richard Hohman, of Tampa, Fla., said Christian branding is a clever idea that could do well in the Bible Belt.

But Christine Johnson, managing editor of the trade journal Christian Retailing in Lake Mary, Fla., said marketing channels are limited. Although Christian scripture candy and Christian fortune cookies have won shelf space in some Christian bookstores, "there's a very, very small market for Christian-type foods," she said.

"As far as there being a market for salt, I cannot really see it" in Christian bookstores, Johnson said.

Rabbi Fishbane said he doesn't blame Godlewski for seizing a business opportunity, even one that plays on public misconceptions about kosher products.

However, "if it comes from a lack of knowledge on his end or, even worse, anti-Semitism, then I have an issue with that," Fishbane said. "I can't see anything good coming out of something like that."

Godlewski makes his aim clear: "There's no anti-Semitism. I love Jesus Christ and he was a Jew."


Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Audacity of Copyright

A poster of President Barack Obama, right, by artist Shepard Fairey is shown for comparison with this April 27, 2006 file photo of then-Sen. Barack Obama by Associated Press photographer Manny Garcia at the National Press Club in Washington. Fairey has acknowledged, the poster is based on the AP photograph. (AP Photo/Manny Garcia/ Shepard Fairey)

AP alleges copyright infringement of Obama image

NEW YORK (AP) — On buttons, posters and Web sites, the image was everywhere during last year's presidential campaign: A pensive Barack Obama looking upward, as if to the future, splashed in a Warholesque red, white and blue and underlined with the caption HOPE.

Designed by Shepard Fairey, a Los-Angeles based street artist, the image has led to sales of hundreds of thousands of posters and stickers, has become so much in demand that copies signed by Fairey have been purchased for thousands of dollars on eBay.

The image, Fairey has acknowledged, is based on an Associated Press photograph, taken in April 2006 by Manny Garcia on assignment for the AP at the National Press Club in Washington.

The AP says it owns the copyright, and wants credit and compensation. Fairey disagrees.

"The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission," the AP's director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement.

"AP safeguards its assets and looks at these events on a case-by-case basis. We have reached out to Mr. Fairey's attorney and are in discussions. We hope for an amicable solution."

"We believe fair use protects Shepard's right to do what he did here," says Fairey's attorney, Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University and a lecturer at the Stanford Law School. "It wouldn't be appropriate to comment beyond that at this time because we are in discussions about this with the AP."

Fair use is a legal concept that allows exceptions to copyright law, based on, among other factors, how much of the original is used, what the new work is used for and how the original is affected by the new work.

A longtime rebel with a history of breaking rules, Fairey has said he found the photograph using Google Images. He released the image on his Web site shortly after he created it, in early 2008, and made thousands of posters for the street.

As it caught on, supporters began downloading the image and distributing it at campaign events, while blogs and other Internet sites picked it up. Fairey has said that he did not receive any of the money raised.

A former Obama campaign official said they were well aware of the image based on the picture taken by Garcia, a temporary hire no longer with the AP, but never licensed it or used it officially. The Obama official asked not to be identified because no one was authorized anymore to speak on behalf of the campaign.

The image's fame did not end with the election.

It will be included this month at a Fairey exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and a mixed-media stenciled collage version has been added to the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

"The continued use of the poster, regardless of whether it is for galleries or other distribution, is part of the discussion AP is having with Mr. Fairey's representative," Colford said.

A New York Times book on the election, just published by Penguin Group (USA), includes the image. A Vermont-based publisher, Chelsea Green, also used it — credited solely to Fairey_ as the cover for Robert Kuttner's "Obama's Challenge," an economic manifesto released in September. Chelsea Green president Margo Baldwin said that Fairey did not ask for money, only that the publisher make a donation to the National Endowment for the Arts.

"It's a wonderful piece of art, but I wish he had been more careful about the licensing of it," said Baldwin, who added that Chelsea Green gave $2,500 to the NEA.

Fairey also used the AP photograph for an image designed specially for the Obama inaugural committee, which charged anywhere from $100 for a poster to $500 for a poster signed by the artist.

Fairey has said that he first designed the image a year ago after he was encouraged by the Obama campaign to come up with some kind of artwork. Last spring, he showed a letter to The Washington Post that came from the candidate.

"Dear Shepard," the letter reads. "I would like to thank you for using your talent in support of my campaign. The political messages involved in your work have encouraged Americans to believe they can help change the status quo. Your images have a profound effect on people, whether seen in a gallery or on a stop sign."

At first, Obama's team just encouraged him to make an image, Fairey has said. But soon after he created it, a worker involved in the campaign asked if Fairey could make an image from a photo to which the campaign had rights.

"I donated an image to them, which they used. It was the one that said "Change" underneath it. And then later on I did another one that said "Vote" underneath it, that had Obama smiling," he said in a December 2008 interview with the photography Web site


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Here's the problem: 'No problem' is replacing 'You're welcome'

Maria Tucker | McClatchy Newspapers
January 29, 2009 06:06:00 PM

WASHINGTON — After they say "thank you," millions of traditionalists expect to hear "you're welcome." However, millions of laid-back — and younger — Americans say "no problem" instead.

That's a problem. It's not that the distinction between "you're welcome" and "no problem" is important. Rather, it's that it bothers a lot of people a little. They're convinced that whatever is said after someone says "thank you" is telling.

Joseph Foster, a self-described language curmudgeon at the University of Cincinnati, for example, said he associated "no problem" with "the baseball-cap-worn-indoors and backwards cohort."

"I'm tempted to ask what the person would have said if the thanked-for thing had actually been a problem," sniped Foster, an anthropologist.

Deborah Tannen, the author of "You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation," has a different bone to pick.

"You're supposed to say something that minimizes the pleasure when you do something for someone," said Tannen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University in Washington.

So she's a "tiny bit offended," Tannen admitted, when someone responds "you're welcome" after doing something for her instead of "no problem," which she considers a clearer expression of minimized pleasure.

There'd be no problem if the American gratitude formula weren't a three-step dance, according to Foster and other members of the "Ask a Linguist" panel, a nonprofit group that provides language expertise online.

You know the gratitude dance by heart, however you perform it:

Laura says: "Please pass the pepper, Bob."

Bob passes the pepper. Laura says: "Thank you, Bob."

Bob says: "You're welcome" or "No problem."

In many countries, the gratitude formula has only two steps, so "you're welcome" seems overly formal or even unnecessary.

Geoffrey Sampson, a British "Ask a Linguist" panelist and University of Sussex linguist, said he'd noted the superfluity when he lived in the United States some years ago.

His British view was that after "please" and "thank you," "the transaction was complete and no further words were required on either side."

Historically, "you're welcome" is a linguistic newcomer. The Oxford English Dictionary cites its first appearance in 1907, although "Ask a Linguist" panelists say that it went unnoted for some years before that, as most idioms do.

While "no problem" is a recent Americanism, they added, the same sentiment arises among people such as Russians ("nichevo"), Spaniards ("de nada") and Italians ("di niente").

Jack Chambers, a University of Toronto linguist, theorized that "no problem" came into American English because "you're welcome" came to seem formal.

As "you're welcome" fades further, he added, "it will eventually be quaint and then it will be obsolete."

He said that "no problem" simply had advanced as "you're welcome" retreated.

It could be worse. "No problem" could be replaced by "yup."


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