Monthly Archives: February 2011

Sickening and Beautiful Love Songs for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a special day around my household for many reasons, so to celebrate, here are four really good, sappy love songs, two delivered in weird music videos and the other two live performances:

#4) Sting, doing that let’s make weird SFF images thing with his very sweet tune, When We Dance. You have to doubleclick on this one, as the record company would like you to stick to YouTube, as is their right:

#3) Sir Elton John performing his greatest hit, and one of the simplest and warmest love songs, This Is Your Song:

#2) The band Blue October performing their delicate song about love just getting started, 18th Floor Balcony:

#1) And the Big Daddy by Mr. Big himself, Peter Gabriel doing his signature graphics approach with the all time champ love song, In Your Eyes. This one is also a doubleclick to YouTube:

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Puzzlements and Poetry in Spam Advertising

More fun spam comments:

For a Aliens in Pretty Dresses post in which Victoria’s Secret is mentioned re pictures of extraordinarily skinny models, etc., Victoria’s Secret Coupon Codes had this to say:

Greetings : )
You are shopping on-line or in-store? which would you go for? really wondering lol.. i love in-store just because i hate expecting it to come!
Thanks
Mia

Kind of missing the point there, Mia.

For the post about beer drinking beer workers in Europe, this comment from a German site:

Appeal Roof,support rise circle enterprise source sexual sell meal aim station accompany share railway session summer fill sum below entry will paper interested age suppose figure somebody like generate deny role item yes concept fail leading notice assembly listen acquire charge arrangement push neck ring deal theatre observe yeah whole department pain myself strange sell husband couple test alone water develop either suggestion above particularly communication incident previous large apart fund come video join less sample on student ticket excellent species goal due discover name withdraw scheme like contribution provision generally his leadership

Okay, this is some kind of German spy code, isn’t it? Anyone who can figure out the secret message, let me know.

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Betty Garrett

Betty Garrett was one of my favorite actresses and she died today from an aneurysm at the age of 91. A singer, dancer, and comedienne, she worked copiously on the stage, on Broadway and in L.A. and the U.K.  In film, she played supporting roles in a lot of famous MGM musical films, such as On the Town and Neptune’s Daughter in the 1940’s and 1950’s, and in the seventies, she is best remembered for playing Irene, the feisty liberal neighbor who played the foil to Archie Bunker on the t.v. series All in the Family and as the landlady Edna on the show Laverne & Shirley.  She had big eyes and a brassy voice and I was always happy to see her on screen.

Here’s Betty performing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Red Skelton in Neptune’s Daughter and “You’re Awful” with Frank Sinatra in On the Town:

 

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Interesting Writings for a — aw come on, not more snow! — Wednesday

E-book articles get a bit silly, but these two are a little more useful:

http://www.idealog.com/blog/what-the-powers-that-be-think-about-drm-and-an-explanation-of-the-cloud

http://michaelhyatt.com/six-e-book-trends-to-watch-in-2011.html

A Discover Magazine article that, along with its comments section, sums up many of the reasons why I’m not worried about sentient AI taking over the world:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/sciencenotfiction/2011/01/20/why-im-not-afraid-of-the-singularity/

I love Ursula LeGuin. I truly do:

http://blog.bookviewcafe.com/2011/01/18/a-riff-on-the-harper-contract/

Last year, writer and editor Jason Pinter published a screed on Huffington Post about how book publishing is dominated by women editors so male books that men like to read have a hard time getting published and male authors have it rough. This was his explanation for why guys don’t read. His examples were mainly about non-fiction, which ignored numerous other market factors that effect the non-fiction market, but he tried to make the claim about fiction as well. About the only thing the piece got right about the industry was that there are a lot of female editors in publishing — but not nearly as many in the top executive levels of publishing and bookselling that set policy or in marketing where key non-fiction decisions are often second guessed, where they are dealing with the booksellers,  and from which most of the publishing executives come. While publishers do a certain amount of publishing “for women” specifically, they are focused, especially in the adult market, on male readers, because women will also read male oriented books, especially fiction.  Despite all that female editing that supposedly so taints publishing, in fiction, female authors make up only 30% of the titles published — and a lot of those females are not writing “women’s” fiction either. Males are still getting a higher preference in titles, promotion, reviews, etc., despite females making up the majority of the reading audience and half the population. Laura Miller at Salon.com goes over the numbers, which have stayed remarkably the same:

http://www.salon.com/books/women_writers/index.html?story=/books/laura_miller/2011/02/09/women_literary_publishing

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-pinter/why-men-dont-read-how-pub_b_549491.html — Jason Pinter’s lament

 

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And Now for Something More Fun

How Irish dancing was invented:

 

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Some Things I Learned About E-Book Piracy

So for the past year or so, I’ve found myself entering into discussions about e-book piracy — most recently on author Jim Hines’ blog — and sounding a bit like a crazed woman because I honestly am amazed at how tight a knot people can tie to justify certain behaviors.  So I have decided to stop talking about such piracy, unless pressed, as such topics will largely die off in a few years once the e-book market is more developed anyway. But in the meantime, here are some of the exciting things I have learned about e-book piracy in these conversations:

1) E-book piracy is large and can never be stopped. (This I already knew.) Therefore, what e-book pirates do is not offensive, even the computer hoarders who steal 20,000, 30,000 titles that they will never read, and even if they are making money off of it. Authors complaining about e-book piracy, however, and pointing out that they are the victims of it and don’t like it and it makes it harder to buy groceries, is highly offensive and they should shut up.

2) Other goods and services should be paid for, but creative works are not really owned by their makers, copyright is a lie, and writers should be grateful that pirates are preserving their stuff as a free service. At the same time, since e-book files are temporary and transitory, they won’t last or be conserved, and so it doesn’t matter if pirates have them.

3) E-book piracy is a gray market and there’s always a gray market that helps the legal market develop, putting money into economies, jobs, etc. At the same time, nobody is making any money off of e-book piracy; it’s just a bunch of nice people who want to read books for free.

4) E-book piracy is just like the used book market. In the used book market, someone or some company, like a bookstore or library, buys the book originally, giving money to the author. The books then are re-sold at cost in the used book market, allowing booksellers to recoup losses, increasing the size of the book market, putting money into the legal economy, and keeping titles in circulation, often for a long time. In e-book piracy, seldom does anyone ever buy the book originally, giving money to the author. Instead, they steal them, take them from libraries, hack computer files or use advanced reading copies (bound proofs.) It does not allow booksellers to recoup losses, put money into the legal economy and many of the files are simply dumped or deleted after use, so circulation is limited, especially past the short term. But really, they are exactly the same.

5) Books are not usually a necessity, like food, water or shelter. But in certain places in the world, books and education are vital for, say, African villagers to get out from under crushing poverty and build a better world for their children. Donations, aid funding, and government grants are deeply needed to supply rudimentary schools, and sometimes copies are transcribed because the need is so great. A guy in Poland or Australia, with a place to live, food, running water and electricity, educated, possibly bi-lingual, with a computer, modem, software and lots of equipment, who has to wait a couple of years for the legal e-book of a foreign book he wants to become available in his country due to trade negotiations and technical issues, is exactly the same as those African villagers and we should have the same sympathy for his pain and need to illegally download so that he is not inconvenienced.

6) If you own a DVD of a movie for $15-25, and you get a Blue Ray player, you have to buy a new copy of the movie, usually at a greater price, so that it can play in your new player, even though it’s the same movie. This is fine. If you buy a game cartridge for your portable game player for $50, and you want it for your game console at home, you have to buy another copy of the game that will play on your console, even though it is the same game. This is fine. If you buy a print copy of a book and then get an e-reader and have to buy an e-book of the same book that will work on your e-reader, this is a crime against humanity and thoroughly justifies illegally downloading the e-book.

7) Authors are not really losing much business to e-book piracy because the people who illegally download for free won’t ever buy the legal book anyway, no matter the price. At the same time, most of the people who are illegally downloading would totally buy the legal book if only publishers would not be big meanies.  And if you totally would buy the legal book, then you’re not a thief if you illegally download the book instead.

8 ) Just because people who support e-book piracy are deeply hostile to authors and publishers and express this hostility publicly is no reason for authors and publishers to be hostile to potential customers who pirate but might buy a book someday instead of taking them for free. Or not.  (See Lesson #1.)

As I often tell aspiring novelists, you the author will never be very important in the equation — only your stories are, and nothing perhaps illuminates this better than e-book piracy. It’s a delightful combination of desire and loathing, and it does slow the industry down, but books will adapt. Now I’m going to go take some pain meds for my headache.

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