Leavitt, David

Author who published his first short story in The New Yorker in 1982 while still an undergraduate at Yale–it was also the magazine’s first openly gay fiction. Leavitt’s literary reputation was cemented by a trio of finely wrought works (Family Dancing [1985], The Lost Language of Cranes [1986, adaptation shown on PBS], Equal Affections [1989]), that elevated him above many media-celebrity contemporaries.

But in 1993, Leavitt’s reputation suffered severe damage when his novel While England Sleeps, based on Stephen Spender’s 1951 memoir World Within Word, was withdrawn from publication after the still-living poet threatened to sue Leavitt for “plagiarizing my life.”

Spender died in July 1995 before a revised American edition was published with a Leavitt preface in which he referred to the poet as “an enemy of the imagination.” In 1996, Leavitt published three novellas in one volume, Arkansas (including a fictionalized account of the Spender drama) and Italian… Continue reading

DPN – Diseased Pariah News

Brazenly morbid zine by and for people with AIDS (PWAs). Founded in 1991 by Silicon Valley computer freelancer Beowulf Thorne (b. 1964), the semi-regular publication paved the way for the literary Art and Understanding and glossier “positive” publications aimed at the one million infected Americans; these included the Chicago-based Plus Voice and the New York-based Poz.

The latter was financed when the founder, Sean Strube, used a viatical settlement to cash in his life insurance policy. DPN is still the cheekiest, with cover lines like “How to Tell If Your Loved One Is Dead” (“increased sleeping during the day,” “abrupt cessation of sarcasm,” “relatives looting apartment”) and essays such as “Get Your Fucking Red Ribbon out of My Face.” One motto has it, “We don’t care how you got HIV, as long as you’re not a whining and hateful virgin about it.”

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Digital cash – Dead as a Dollar

"Dead as a Dollar" by James Gleick, New York Times Sunday Magazine,

Electronic exchange of money without coin or paper. The commercialization of the Internet has lent currency to the ideas of David Chaum, who is largely credited with devising a system of “digital coins” rendered difficult to steal or forge using public-key cryptography.

Chaum envisions an extensive system of “micropayments,” where users are charged page-by-page for penny access to online information.

Consumers first experienced digital cash in the ’80s, when mail-order companies began accepting credit-card payment over the telephone without requiring written signatures, but Chaum’s systems add anonymity-a fact that fills U.S. law-enforcement officials with fears of untraceable bribery, money laundering, drug trafficking, and smuggling.

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