Christopher Merle

Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, but first I need more coffee.

Month: September 2007

Beyond Tomorrow

Beyond Tomorrow was the title of a science fiction anthology edited by Damon Knight. I was already a fan of TV science fiction and a fan of comic books. That was the anthology that made me fall in love with science fiction and it has been a lifelong love afair. It introduced me to Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Clifford Simak to name a few. “Desertion” by Simak is probably my favorite story from that anthology. It is certainly the most memorable followed closely by Don A. Stuart’s “Twilight”. Stuart was John W. Campbell’s pen name.

More nostalgia later. I thought of using that title for a new podcast. I’m already doing the Conestoga podcast to help promote the a science fiction convention. I’m not as plugged into science fiction as I once was. I am not a voracious reader. I read what I read. There may be months between novels. I’m slightly more plugged into movie and TV sci fi. What I’m saying is that if I do this podcast, I will not be on the cutting edge of “literary SF.” And I’ll be committing the big sin of nostalgia. And you know what? That’s OK by me.

After going through a lot of names I came up with Escape from Cubicle 17. It sounds cool but it doesn’t really hint at what it is. I have several episodes up. It will eventually be a variety podcast show. We’ll interview guests, we’ll entertain, we’ll talk about stuff. It’s not intended to be a sampler. It’ll be what interests me.

Note – I’m clearing out my backlog of wordpress post drafts and this one seemed done enough to publish.

The Mad Scientist

I took an online Myers Briggs personality test several times. Most of the time I’m an ENTP though I did score ENFP one time. I’m almost ENT/FP. Anyway., I found this MB page:

The Real Myers-Briggs Personality Test Made Relevant. I thought it was cute so I looked to see what it had to say about my type:

ENTP The Mad Scientist

The ENTP, like the ENTJ, is charismatic, outgoing, and intelligent. ENTPs are often quickwitted, clever, and genial; they typically display a highly organized, rational cognitive ability which makes them natural scientists and inventors.

The rest of the description is a ‘hoot’. Something about destroying the world and all that stuff. They list famous ENTP types

Famous ENTPs include Spencer Silver (the inventor of Post-It Notes), Robert Oppenheimer, and Dr. Jeckyll.

Another page lists Walt Disney and Richard Feynman as ENTP types. Well that page just had pictures. This page lists them by name including a real “mad scientist”, Nikola Tesla.

I’m not a scientist unless computer science counts (I have a BS in CS and I’m a web developer by trade). The extent of my science experience comes from college and high school chemistry and physics labs with extremely rare forays into some amateur astronomy.

The Third Eye (Tuatara)

Tuatara is a reptile. They live for almost a hundred years and only become sexually mature at the age of twenty. They are only found on some remote isles off the coast of New Zealand. These creatures are a living fossil much like the coelacanth is. They are endangered. The most interesting thing about them is their third eye or what is called a parietal eye. It’s not a fully developed eye but it’s on the top of the and only in juveniles. As they get older it is covered with scales. Other creatures have them.

I’m publishing this blog entry because I’m tired of looking at it in my drafts, and I keep forgetting the name of that damned reptile. It’s not a lizard but closely related. I’m wondering if this third eye thingy somehow connects to our mythical third eye ideas. Is there some basis for it?

More later, maybe.

SFWA vs. Scribd vs. DCMA

This is a quick essay and I’ll need to flesh it out and links but here is my take on the mess.

I’d never heard of Scribd until I heard about the big stink caused by some DCMA takedown notices issued by the SFWA VP Andrew Burt. Cory Doctorow and Jerry Pournelle have already weighed in on this. After looking at Scribd and doing a quick search I did find several copyright violations. So what happened? SFWA screwed up. Scribd screwed up. And neither side of the argument is completely right. Scribd’s Terms of service do say the right thing about protecting copyrighted work and the DCMA. DCMA is a flawed law but does have some useful provisions.

One side, Doctorow is saying Andrew Burt issued fraudulent takedown notices. Scribd’s lawyer who works for the EFF says that SFWA issued improper notices and that they need to be in a certain format for them to take action. Scribd did take down a lot of stuff that was not infringing. It is my understanding that SFWA is supposed to be acting on behalf of authors to protect their works. So I think Mr. Burt was trying to do the right thing but he screwed up. Big time. Did Mr. Burt consult SFWA’s lawyer before issuing the notices or have the lawyer issue them? I get the impression he did not. Where is SFWA’s lawyer in all of this and what does he or she have to say? Pournelle seems to think that SFWA has blinked and can no longer be trusted. As for suggestions that Doctorow sue SFWA is a very bad idea. SFWA does far more good than harm.

It is interesting to note that you can upload stuff anonymously to Scribd. This certainly defeats the spirit of of their TOS if not in practice. They should make uploaders affirm that to the best of their knowledge they are not infringing on copyrighted material. There should be some burden on the uploaders.

Technology makes it very easy to abuse and infringe copyright. I’m no fan of DRM (digital rights management) but there needs to be a way to track the source of infringement. Digital signatures perhaps? It’s going to take time to sort this out. Society and laws are playing catchup to the technology. At this point SFWA needs good legal counsel to get themselves on the right track.

Update (9/17/07) — The best discusion about this can be found at Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s Making Light blog: SFWA: DCMA abusers.

Update (1/11/08) — A lot has happened in the last few months. SFWA had an exploratory committee on how best to protect copyright. Jerry Pournelle seems more reasonable in his update and Scribd seems to have implemented real protections. A lot of the stuff I could find before are no longer there. So all in all things seem to be moving in the right direction. I’ve found a few more things about the situation and I may link those later.

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