[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Thursday, 2013-11-14

Harry Potter review

Filed under: Books,Movies — bblackmoor @ 19:22
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone

I liked the first Harry Potter book and the first Harry Potter movie. The whole setting is nonsensical, but it was fun to explore this wacky nonsense world, and Harry was a sympathetic underdog. I liked each successive book and movie less, as they became progressively less fun and more dreary, while remaining completely nonsensical, and while Harry became progressively less sympathetic.

Dreary, nonsensical, and unsympathetic is not a recipe for a good movie (or book).

My favorite character is Snape, of course.

Tuesday, 2013-06-18

Arcology: The City in the Image of Man

Filed under: Art,Books,Ecology,Society — bblackmoor @ 14:58
Arcology: The City in the Image of Man

I read voraciously as a child. I stumbled across Arcology: The City in the Image of Man in the library some time in the late 1970s, and it made a huge impression on me. I immediately created some imaginary worlds for people to live in within these immense structures. I have been thinking about the cyberpunk genre recently, in large part because of some conversations with Chris Helton´╗┐. I made an offhand comment about cyberpunk being the 2020s as imagined by the 1980s, but really, I think cyberpunk has its roots even earlier, in the work of Paolo Soleri and Samuel Delany (Babel 17, Dhalgren).

Saturday, 2013-03-16

Sherlock Holmes and the public domain

Filed under: Books,Intellectual Property — bblackmoor @ 22:07
books_old

Susan and I had a conversation earlier about Sherlock Holmes, and whether the 125-year-old character was in the public domain (it should have been in the public domain before either of us were born, but that’s another topic).

In process of researching our discussion, I turned up this article regarding a suit filed recently in federal court in Chicago. A top Sherlock Holmes scholar alleges that many licensing fees paid to the Arthur Conan Doyle estate have been unnecessary, since the main characters and elements of their story derive from materials in the public domain (as of 2004, only 9 of the 60 Sherlock Holmes stories by Doyle are still covered under US copyright).

Saturday, 2012-11-17

Copyright Law Destroys Markets; It’s Time For Real Reform

Filed under: Books,Intellectual Property,Movies — bblackmoor @ 10:58
The Future According to Disney

I had to double check to make sure this wasn’t an Onion article. This is amazing. I thought the media robber barons had successfully brainwashed everyone in Washington.

Copyright was an Enlightenment-era social experiment: use the power of government to prevent people from selling or copying creative works without the consent of the creator for a limited time. As originally conceived, I think it was relatively reasonable. However, the current perception (perpetuated by large media companies that seek to own and control our cultural heritage) that when someone creates something once once, that they (rather, the corporation they work for) should be able to monetize that and prevent other people from sharing it or building on it forever has caused and continues to cause severe damage to our common culture, and to the culture of future generations.

If current copyright law had always existed, there would be no libraries, because there would be nothing to put in them.

Update (2012-11-18): That didn’t take long. Less than 24 hours after this “eminently sensible copyright position paper” was posted, the paper has been pulled and the Republicans are falling over themselves to placate the media robber barons. Money doesn’t win elections, but this makes it abundantly clear that money does buy politicians. (In case you doubted it.)

Should you want to read the paper, I have a mirror of it here, and there are also a mirror at KEI, and another from the MD Pirate Party.

Thursday, 2012-05-31

Collaboration marketplace needed

Filed under: Books,Work,Writing — bblackmoor @ 09:01

Old booksI had an idea a couple of months ago. It would be a marketplace for writers, editors, and artists to come together as collaborators. It would be driven by the authors: in the new model of book distribution, authors are in control. They set the prices, they decide where the book will be distributed, and they are the ones that get paid by the distributors.

But authors need talented editors and gifted artists. Most authors aren’t either of those things. How is an author to find an editor with a good track record, one who sees themselves as on the authors side? How can an author find a cover artist or map artist who can meet a deadline and produce work according to spec? And how can the editors and artists find the authors who need them and who will pay on time (editors and artists want to feed their cats, too).

So my idea was a marketplace for this, where authors, artists, and editors would meet as peers. Everyone would be able to review everyone else, but only if they’d worked with them. The marketplace site would make sure that everyone got paid, and would act as the middleman to keep everyone honest. For this service, the marketplace would keep, say, 10% of the transacction (which should be enough to cover the site’s costs).

I pitched this to the company I work for, but it was too far from our current business focus to interest them. I would love to get it started, but I don’t have the start-up capital or the business acumen to make it work. I wish I did. So, here it is: a business that I believe is desperately needed. If you have the resources to start a business but just lack the idea, feel free to use this one.

Wednesday, 2012-02-08

No gatekeepers needed

Filed under: Books,Society,Technology — bblackmoor @ 20:11
Book in chains

There was a reason for the rise of the great publishing houses of yesteryear — not everyone could afford a printing press. That gave power to those who could afford them: the power to control what books were printed, and what books were not. The criteria publishers have used to make that decision have varied, according to the fashion and politics of the time, but the quality of the book itself has rarely, if ever, been the primary consideration.

There has been no need or reason for publishers to be wardens of our culture for at least a decade. Today, anyone can be a publisher. Where a few Goliaths once stood, now there are a thousand Davids. People who pine for “gatekeepers” and who sneer at ebooks simply because of how the book was distributed… it’s just sad. It’s like an ex-convict who can’t handle the outside world and wants to return to prison.

A good book is a good book, and a bad book is a bad book, and how the book reached the reader has no bearing on that whatsoever. I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul who wants other people to control which books he may read and which he may not.

Monday, 2011-08-15

Where the Neuter Computer Goes Click

Filed under: Books,Poetry — bblackmoor @ 16:48
Univac

I have an update on that poem I was looking for.

I finally found a single reference to this poem, through Google Books, in The Columbia Granger’s guide to poetry anthologies, a book which is itself a listing and review of other books. The poem is called “Where the Neuter Computer Goes Click”, and it was contained in the anthology Of quarks, quasars, and other quirks: Quizzical poems for the supersonic age, edited by Sara Westbrook Brewton, John Edmund Brewton, and Quentin Blake, published in 1977. That’s not where I encountered it: as I mentioned, I read it in a literature textbook.

The anthology is out of print, but used copies are really cheap, so I went ahead and bought one.

Wednesday, 2011-06-22

The Neuter Computer says “click”…

Filed under: Books,Poetry — bblackmoor @ 00:14
Univac

When I was a pre-teen in the mid-1970s (I must have been nine or ten), the textbook for my English class had some great short stories, such as Harrison Bergeron and Who Can Replace A Man? One of the poems in it that still sticks with me was called The Neuter Computer. “The Neuter Computer says ‘tick’ / The Neuter Computer says ‘click’ / …”.

I have looked for that poem since, but have never found it — or any mention of it, anywhere. Even the mighty Google shrugs its shoulders at my query. Am I the only one who remembers this poem?

Monday, 2011-06-20

Defending Starship Troopers

Filed under: Books,Movies — bblackmoor @ 00:20
Starship Troopers

A fellow named Andrew Godoski has written a defense of the movie Starship Troopers over on Screened. The gist of his argument is that people dislike Starship Troopers because they don’t get that it’s satire. Critics gave it bad reviews because they didn’t get that it’s satire. People who complain about the plot, or the acting, or anything else don’t get that it’s satire.

You just don’t get it, do you? It’s satire.”

Well, in fact, I do get it.

First, critics are idiots. Anyone who needs to be told that the Starship Troopers movie is satire is an idiot — it’s obviously satire.

Second, the reason why a lot of people dislike Starship Troopers is because, in addition to it being a stupid movie (it’s fun, but it is a stupid movie), it takes a classic work of science fiction and basically craps on it. It’s like making a movie based on The Jungle and turning it into a 90-minute hot dog commercial (and not a satirical one). Starship Troopers the movie is to Starship Troopers the novel as the Phantom Menace is to the original Star Wars.

Paul Veerhoven can make good movies, and he has. Robocop was great fun. Black Book is brilliant. But Starship Troopers is not one of those movies. It’s entertaining in the way that many bad movies are entertaining (and many are), but it is by no means a good movie.

Wednesday, 2010-04-14

Never going back to Memphis

Filed under: Books,Music,Writing — bblackmoor @ 18:14

Serendipity is a strange thing.

I am working on my homework (I am in my twenty-third year of a four-year degree), and listening to music. I have a sizeable music collection, but for variety, I was listening to the “Blues” music channel on Comcast cable. “Never going back to Memphis” came on, and I thought, hey now — this is good. Who is this?

Google told me that it was Shemekia Copeland. Another quick search brought me to a lyrics page — hosted at a site called Spinetingler magazine, which is a site as much about the craft of writing fiction as it is about the fiction itself.

Which, as it happens, is something that had been much on my mind for the past few days.

Serendipity.

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