Saturday, April 21, 2018
If you wish to tweet about creative women who rock your world, the hashtag is #worldipday
Going one better, the copyrightalliance.org is co-sponsoring an entire business week of Intellectual Property related events (April 23rd - April 28th) with the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) across the country, and at each event honoring a local female or creator's advocate.
Some of the VLAs are Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville; California Lawyers for the Arts; Chicago Lawyers for the Creative Arts; Springboard for the Arts; St Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts; Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts; The Ella Project; Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLANY); Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts
Recently, the copyrightalliance.org interviewed Carolyn E. Wright, an attorney who specializes in the legal needs of photographers.
Whether you are a professional photographer, an amateur photographer, or someone who makes use of photographs you find online... check out her words of wisdom.
Only a copyright owner may report copyright infringement, but that does not mean that friends and good citizens cannot help out. The copyrightalliance.org can help persons who wish to pass on a tip to a copyright owner.
Malcolm Harris blogs on The Authors Guild platform about the value of a word. ("How Much Is A Word Worth?"
If you wish to be paid for your writing, this type of knowledge is power!
If you are looking for a copyright attorney, here's a resource:
Happy IP day!
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Recently on Quora someone asked why human beings can't stay awake for a week straight and then sleep for the same amount of time, instead of alternating sleep and awake time every day. The most convincing answer is that we evolved to live in harmony with the alternation of light and darkness. We are diurnal mammals, and our (roughly) 24-hour circadian rhythm harmonizes with daily changes in sunlight levels, making us active by day and at rest by night. We need that period of dormancy every night for our brains to repair ongoing wear-and-tear and process the events of the previous day. Not all animals function the same way, of course. Some are nocturnal. Cats sleep in short stretches throughout the day, with a lot of activity around dawn and dusk (crepuscular). Dolphins, some other aquatic mammals, and some birds sleep with only half of their brains at a time, so one brain hemisphere is always awake.
It occurred to me to wonder what our lives would be like if we hibernated. I would be happy to sleep through the dreary, cold stretch from January 2 through the third week of March, when the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts convenes in Orlando. Aside from skipping the worst of winter, I could gorge on goodies over the holidays, then painlessly burn off the fat while asleep. I've read only one story featuring a sapient species that hibernates, Melanie Tem's unique vampire novel, DESMODUS. Her non-supernatural vampires are essentially humanoid, intelligent vampire bats. The females, the dominant sex, are the only ones who hibernate through the winter. The males migrate. With access to human culture's modern technology, they drive south every year in a convoy of huge trucks, in which the sleeping females and the young (cared for communally) are safely ensconced. How would their clan manage if they all had to hibernate, though? Wouldn't they be overly vulnerable?
Risks of vampire-slayers finding their dens and slaying them while dormant might be minimized if Desmodus had a metabolism like that of bears, which don't really "hibernate" in the strictest sense, Instead, they enter a state of torpor from which they can wake up quickly and easily if the need arises. In true hibernators, heartbeat and respiration slow drastically, and body temperatures decrease to the level of the surrounding environment. Arctic ground squirrels may even reduce their abdominal temperatures below freezing.
Could a hibernating species develop an advanced technological civilization? What would happen to their machines and infrastructure during prolonged periods of universal dormancy, with nobody available to perform upkeep and maintenance? Maybe a hibernating intelligent race might be limited to preindustrial technology. If we discovered such a race on a distant planet, we could supply them with machines and technicians to care for the equipment, but the natives would remain dependent on us for those resources. Of course, such a species might instead take their cultural evolution in a completely different direction from ours and produce a civilization that doesn't rely heavily on physical technology—biologically based, perhaps. It's hard to imagine, however, how they could achieve space flight, so I visualize their being confined to their home planet when we meet them.
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypt
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Previous Parts to the Strong Characters discussion are:
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/11/definition-of-sf-what-is-science.html -- which is about science fiction romance and Strong Characters.
And we've discussed what editors mean by calling for manuscripts with "strong characters" (not big muscles, either).
Here are some entries where we discussed Characters from many angles.
And this one recent one about sexual harassment
So, with the understanding that strength of character is invisible, and thus must be DEPICTED -- shown via something visible, a symbol, or dialog, or mode of dress, or something more subtle such as responses to provocations -- we understand that the "strength" referred to by editors is all about the story, not the plot.
You can have strong characters in Action Romance -- bulging muscles, or not. But you can showcase the strength of a character in any genre -- the wimpish looking Geek in a science lab, the UPS delivery woman, the counter clerk, the person answering tech chat calls, or the kid born without a foot who becomes an Olympic Champion skier.
Strength of Character is about vision - imagination mostly - the ability to see what the results of success at a sequence of endeavors will be, and to assess whether those results are desirable enough to be worth the cost.
How much of yourself - your inner self where you seem to be real to yourself - should you invest in achieving something external (such as Olympic Gold, the CEO's office, the Presidency?)
The Strong Character has a good, solid (if perhaps erroneous) assessment of their own inner resources, their own emotional stability and balance under duress, and their own personal view of reality.
A devoutly religious person may be a Strong Character with serene conviction in their idea of God. These ideas can range from the most benign Christian view to the most savage destroyer-of-world, or one who demands destructive acts of followers.
Whatever the religion's portrait of Supernal Forces in charge of Destiny (I'm assuming you've studied Greek Mythology, Roman Mythology, Mythology in General, maybe Assyrian and Egyptian and possible some of the Oriental ideas), the "Strong Character" will not just believe, not just cling white-knuckled, not just sacrifice himself idealistically -- but will study, know, understand and adhere to that religion's view for reasons.
Those reasons may seem perfectly rational to the Strong Character, so you as the writer must portray the Strong Character's reasons in a way that convinces your reader (all of your readers, no matter their personal opinion of religion) that this Strong Character is Righteous.
If your novel's Theme is about Religion, or the structure of the universe as discovered by science, or the nature of humanity (as opposed to Aliens evolved on another planet), you have a big problem convincing the whole spectrum of readerships that this Strong Character is Righteous.
Ponder the Depiction Series for ideas of how to show-don't-tell that a religion you make up for your Aliens is righteous.
Now consider the currently extant theory that Atheism is actually a Religion, or at least a "religious belief."
Study Anthropology and Psychology, and you may find how the human brain and mind has a "place" -- like a compartment -- a structural space designed specifically for "belief."
It is a survival trait, or so most people think, to be able to accept and integrate a diversity of facts, some of which contradict each other, and act in ways that stake your life on a set of such unproven, assumed, or acquired-from-others facts.
Some think that the most potent survival trait of humans is the need to "fit in" -- to become part of a human group (Tribe, Club, Nation, Culture) by adopting the predominant belief, wearing it as badge of honor, fraternal lapel pin, declaring membership in the Group.
"Blending in" is one of the primary lessons learned (often the hard way) in High School. In dress, accent, mannerisms, and taking "sides" (clique joining), teens learn to become one of the Group - whereupon the Group defends them and makes them feel safe.
This basic mechanism becomes internalized throughout life, and becomes the "default" behavior (if it was successful in High School) the person goes to under duress - during crisis situations.
Strong Characters usually have "default" behavior patterns that have been successful for them in the past, and that apply to a wide variety of situations.
The Atheist will reject any course of action proposed by a Religious person applying the tenets of Religion to a problem. ("Turn the other cheek" seems ridiculous to the Atheist).
The Religious person will reject any course of action proposed by an Atheist who is applying the tenets of "God is a Delusion" to a problem. ("Nobody's going to help you; you're on your own" seems ridiculous to the Religious person).
There have been many TV shows and films about passivist religions such as the Quakers being provoked into hitting back. That is almost a cliche by now.
But what about the heroic Atheist, the go-it-alone, it's all up to me, Character who is "provoked" into not-hitting-back?
What would it take to make an Atheist who is being attacked (physically, socially, psychologically) look at the attacker and see the attacker's torment?
What would it take to make an Atheist Strong Character - absolutely convinced Atheism is correct, not a blind-religious-superstition - flip to an understanding of reality wherein their fate, destiny, and future rests in a decision made by The Creator of The Universe Who is assessing their Devotion to the Creator's purpose?
We all know the maxim that a battle plan does not survive the first contact with the enemy.
We all have heard the adage that there are no atheists in a foxhole.
There are interactions (human-to-human or perhaps one day Alien-to-Human) during which "anything can happen and usually does."
The outcome of any such wild, pure-chance, situation often reveals the Master Theme of a novel or series of novels -- I've called it "Poetic Justice."
Scan the headlines any day, glance through Facebook for YouTube videos, and you'll find many examples of Poetic Justice.
It is not usually easy to see in real life -- how things come out the way they "ought" to come out, Justly and Beautifully.
But every once in a while, you can see Poetic Justice in the outcome of a real world situation.
The job of a writer is to reveal that Poetry inside and underneath everything in this real world. That is what artists do -- show the reality behind what we "believe" is real.
Examining the nature of "belief" and our subjective assessment of "reality" is what science fiction writers do. Take some humans, ram them up nose-to-nose with some truly alien Aliens, scrunch them together hard, and crack some skulls -- find the Poetry behind reality.
That's what Gene Roddenberry did with Star Trek and the non-Emotion of Vulcans. Roddenberry was a "Humanist" and so created a lot of stories where the Enterprise met what seemed to be a Supernatural or God, and revealed the mundane truth behind that illusion.
Subsequent producers have taken a more atheistic stance.
Set yourself the problem of creating a commentary on your target audience's "belief" system (or lack of system), and then take a Strong Character with settled convictions and change that Character's view of Reality in such a way that the Character naturally changes response to a Situation.
That is the thematic material of a series of novels.
In a Comic or Graphic Novel (maybe most Games) such changes take place in the blink of an eye when presented with concrete evidence. We all wish life were that easy.
Romance makes a Character suffer while changing their basic view of Nature and their Self Image.
Marriage is a process of changing self-images (of both parties), a learning process, often called "learning to love."
What would make an Atheist pray?
Remember why we cry at weddings:
Consider Romance, ripening to true love, becoming marriage, and then some horrible threat to the life of one partner which the other can do nothing about.
Now consider all those years of growing together. How many instances of Poetic Justice have occurred? Are there enough strange outcomes to tricky situations for the one left in a helpless position to connect them and "see" a "Finger of God" moving their lives poetically, with purpose and Divine Love?
What sort of person could or would put "two and two together" and break down and address a foreign deity -- maybe a Catholic praying to Allah, or a human praying to some Alien's deity?
The point here is not to pick out the correct vision of the Creator, but to Depict how humans assess reality and act on their assessment, even if their assessment is not their own.
In Comics or even Film, it is usually depicted as one, singular Event and the person totally abandons their former view of the universe to embrace a new one.
In good drama, in Romance novels, in Science Fiction Series, it is never that simple.
There is the saying, "You have to have been there."
This refers to the tiny, baby steps, experience after experience, that adds up to a Poetic Justice outcome too vast to put into words, or even think about consciously.
Epiphany works that way -- it is the last step in a long series of steps that lead to what seems to onlookers a "sudden" change.
But it is rarely sudden. What would it take for a Strong Character Atheist to have that final epiphany and appeal to a Deity?
The Stronger the Character, the more novels it takes.
Notice how long the TV Series "X-Files" (yes, a fabulous Strong Character Meets Strong Character Romance) took to get ideas and evidence, proof, and belief all in line?
How many different explanations were adopted along the way?
Bringing an Atheist to prayer is a long process.
Breaking a Devout person's belief is usually swift sudden and unexpected. For example, the undeserved death of a loved one, absolutely no justice to it, despite real, genuine prayer filled with begging. And the person "blames" God, or comes to think others are correct, and there is nobody Listening.
Atheists are usually harder to convince. Are they stronger?
THEME: Atheists Are Stronger In Their Belief Because They Are Correct.
Try it. See if you can write it, then construct the biography that would set the Atheist up for a change of opinion or a Religious person for a glimpse of "The Cold Equations" of a godless mechanism that is reality - where "life" is just an accident of chemical combinations and the sense of "self" is an illustion.
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Targeting pharma advertisements seems wrong to me. Would the business that selected persons for pharmaceutical suggestions have any liability if their targeted recommendations proved seriously unsuitable for the targeted person?
Hospitals post signs advising visitors not to use their cell phones, but not explaining why not. Perhaps it is because cell phones have GPS, and therefore, strangers and authorities could know that the cell phone owner is inside the hospital, perhaps even in which department, and for how long. Of course, most modern cars will tell strangers and authorities that the car owner is in the hospital parking lot.
Was there an ulterior motive behind "Cash For Clunkers"? Why did those surrendered clunkers have to be crushed? At the time, we thought that Big Brother didn't want spare parts available to repair older gas guzzlers, but maybe they wanted us all to be in trackable vehicles!
This You Tube skit from June 2006 on ordering a pizza in a world where salespersons have access to medical, credit card and financial records is prescient and very Jason Bourne.
And, this is a later version of the same video, with more detailed attribution.
All the best,
Thursday, April 12, 2018
A heartily recommended story in APEX (which can be read at no charge): "A Witch's Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies," by Alix E. Harrow:A Witch's Guide to Escape
There are two kinds of librarians in the world, "the prudish, bitter ones. . . who believe the books are their personal property and patrons are dangerous delinquents come to steal them; and witches." This story's narrator, a librarian of the second kind, makes it her life's mission to guide readers to the books they need. Delightfully, books in her library have feelings and WANT to be read. A deeply unhappy boy in the foster care system finds his way to the library and becomes enthralled with tales of travel to other realms. Of one obscure novel whose "happy ending" returns its protagonist to the mundane world, the boy says, "The ending sucked." The narrator knows what he needs is the book whose title forms the name of the story, but to give him access to it, she would have to break a fundamental rule of her vocation.
Tolkien, in his classic essay "On Fairy Stories," lists the three primary functions of "Faerie" or "Fantasy" as recovery, escape, and consolation. About escape, so often condemned by "realists" as "escapism," he says, "I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which 'Escape' is now so often used: a tone for which the uses of the word outside literary criticism give no warrant at all. In what the misusers are fond of calling Real Life, Escape is evidently as a rule very practical, and may even be heroic. . . . Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter." C. S. Lewis, commenting on this passage, asks which people most dislike talk of escape; he answers, "Jailers."
This past week, I read THE HAZEL WOOD, by Melissa Albert, with a seventeen-year-old girl narrator whose grandmother wrote a collection of dark fairy tales that has become a cult classic. The narrator discovers that the world of the tales, as we would expect, actually exists and that the truth of her own past is inextricably bound up with the reality of her grandmother's stories. This novel combines my two favorite fantasy motifs, portals to magical worlds and a hero's discovery of his or her own other-than-mundane origin. (In THE HAZEL WOOD these revelations come with a grim twist, for the faerie realm the narrator enters is a far cry from Narnia.)
Another recent metafictional portal fantasy that grabbed me was Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children trilogy (EVERY HEART A DOORWAY, DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES, BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY). It centers on a boarding school for children and teenagers who have traveled to fantastic worlds, have returned against their wills to the "real" world, and find themselves unable to adjust to the change. Their oblivious parents expect the school to "cure" them of their "delusions," but in fact the founder of the home is a former traveler herself. Each inmate searches desperately for the door back into his or her true home; few ever find it. Such fantasies of "escape" incorporate the poignant realization embodied in many of "James Tiptree's" stories as well as countless other speculative fiction works: There is a place where I truly belong, but it is not here.
As more than one author has pointed out, it seems funny that critics often labeled science fiction "escapism" when that field grappled with world-changing issues such as nuclear war, overpopulation, and climate devastation long before they were on the radar of most members of the general public. (We may hope that attitude is fading away, now that many blockbuster films are SF or space opera and a science fiction romance—THE SHAPE OF WATER—won an Oscar.) Fantasy and SF, of course, aren't the only fictional escape portals available to us. Horror can serve as a consolation for real-life evils because the monsters in horror stories are clearly defined and able to be destroyed. In murder mysteries, including those populated by the bloodiest of serial killers, we escape to a realm where truth is revealed and justice prevails. Even a "realistic" novel about the dreary problems of a mundane protagonist can offer temporary relief from our own dreary problems, because art gives shape, structure, and direction to the turmoil of ordinary life. And aren't truth, justice, and artistic structure worthwhile phenomena to contemplate regardless of genre?
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypt
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Previous Parts in Theme-Conflict Integration:
In Part 4, we looked closely at the TV Series The Orville, first season.
Now we will compare that brilliant TV writing to a novel, a completely different story-medium.
I like Dave Bara's novel series, The Lightship Chronicles, which we discussed previously:
I like and even love them because of the presence of various favorite ingredients of mine. So I'm biased in comparing these two stories THE ORVILLE and LIGHTSHIP CHRONICLES - one arising as homage to STAR TREK and the other exploring what happens to humanity after we spread to the stars.
After the Star Trek epoch of human history, when the civiliazation we have built collapses, then what do we do? And why do we do it?
Sound familiar? Yes, my interest in that question dates back to way before I sold my first story -- which is the Sime~Gen story, Operation High Time, set in the epoch after the collapse and even after the rebuild of Earth's civilization when humanity is at the verge of exploring the Stars (again?).
So variations on that far-future story are irresistible to me.
Dave Bara has created a universe with a different History from what I have played with but retained the element of "Love Conquers All" that is my special interest.
In Bara's hands, the Romance theme becomes more a matter of "Love Conquers All After Love Causes All The Problems."
Problems caused by Love are usually the worst sort.
So while both THE ORVILLE and LIGHTSHIP CHRONICLES have strong elements of STAR TREK (the Galaxy spanning canvass), lots of explosions, fireballs in space, daring rescues, etc., they are each designed specifically for their delivery medium.
As I have noted in the Theme-Conflict Series, The Orville is tissue thin drama, hammering on Teen Themes played out in Adult lives - a miss-match that annoys a lot of folks who grew up on Star Trek.
The Lightship Chronicles are dense drama, hammering home one of my favorite master themes, "Don't judge a book by its cover."
Or put a more old fashioned way, "All is not as it seems."
The Orville is "on the nose" in theme and dialogue.
The Lightship Chronicles strives mightily to stay "off the nose" and only fails in action scenes.
The Orville is a stripped down, crystal clear (to adult viewers) depiction of a life of adventure working beside various Alien species -- comically recreating 21st Century social issues (such as prejudice against gelatinous beings as Chief of Engineering) -- a broad parody of current US culture for adults that seems plausible to the kids it is aimed at.
The Lightship Chronicles is a deep, complex depiction of interstellar trickery, betrayal, illusion, power-play strategies, firm alliances, trustworthy indivduals in a non-trustworthy bureaucracy. The substance is adult fare -- the writing craft inadvertently creates the Marty Sue effect referred to in my previous review of the Trilogy.
If I were 10 years old, reading this trilogy and watching The Orville (not acquainted with the previous decades works), I would be screaming for the depth and substance of the Lightship Chronicles done as the TV Series The Orville is done.
I wouldn't know as much about why I see it this way, or why it could never be this way. So I would set out to make it this way.
The themes and conflicts that are possible on TV (even now that we have the episodic structure of series replacing the anthology structure Star Trek had to use) are expanding as the audiences become redefined.
The Orville is a major network, prime time, production aimed at the broadest and thus lowest common denominator -- what is called, in screen writing, High Concept. So it has to glue more eyeballs to the commercials than a novel.
A printed novel doesn't have to glue eyeballs to the page. It has to induce individuals to part with a chunk of change, and that's it until the sequel is published.
These two different functions define the difference in content.
However, if you've been following my "changing world" posts,
...you know how enthusiastic I am about the expanding opportunities for video-production storytelling to reach small, but well defined audiences. Streaming, and "originals" from Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, Apple YouTube, and more jumping into the fray every year, provide platforms for works to reach a narrow audience in a cost-effective way.
That audience may have narrow tastes but it is scattered worldwide. Netflix is distributing (and redistributing) worldwide. I watch non-USA produced TV Series on Netflix and Amazon (with subtitles in English!). Many are more substantive than US TV fiction.
Long series with deep, complex themes are beginning to appear.
However, most of the deepest and most complex video drama series are running one or two seasons, not twenty years as is necessary for the real depths to emerge.
There is hope to see some of these complicated novel series with abstract IDEAS (science fiction is the literature of ideas, and must become the video of ideas very soon!) to reach small audiences via streaming-original productions. Pilots for such series are now appearing as 90 minute movies, not labeled pilots.
Violent action, solving problems by killing people and destroying things still sells better than problem solving by understanding and love.
Soon those small streaming video audiences will be nurtured by additional offerings, and the numbers watching will grow to commercial success magnitudes.
Small is not a property of "streaming" as a delivery channel, but rather of the type of theme and which of all the conflicts inherent in that theme are deemed most popular.
Right now, the prevailing theme that The Orville (and The Lightship Chronicles) are bucking is, "Success = murder, theft, dishonesty, trickery"
The only way for a Hero to win is to break his/her code of Honor, and breaking that code makes the Hero righteous.
Dave Bara uses the novel structure to pose the question, "When, Why, and How must we destroy to survive?" Many thematic questions of right and wrong -- and of Identity -- are posed by the material Bara is working.
The scene structure craft deficiency Bara displays leads to his Characters coming off as children (not very bright ones, at that). So he generates every action scene by the orders of the one Character authorized to give orders being challenged, discussed, or suggestions being made DURING the action. In real life, this behavior leads to the questioners dying very quickly, and the rest learning when to speak and when not to.
Scene structure and information feed skills we have discussed in these Tuesday posts would cure that quickly, and re-form this marvelous material into something that could translate to a TV Series. I think it could be made into something that would draw a wide audience.
The strength of Bara's presentation lies in the Main Character having a trait of "Intuition" -- he just knows things that others don't.
On The Orville, the First Officer (ex-wife of the Captain) likewise has Intuition but focused more on reading people (of various species).
Yes, the oddball trait of knowing things others don't, things the Character can't possibly know but does, is one of the main ingredients in stories I love the most.
Bara's Main Character is right, bucks authority, acts on his own recognizance, and wins. He's my guy.
It's clear why his subordinates don't take his orders without question. But placing the questions during the action destroys the effectiveness of this trait.
Do an in-depth contrast/compare between Bara's Peter Cochran Character and:
A) Jean Johnson's Ia
B) Gini Koch's Kitty Kat
Both rise from lower ranks to Command Rank, just as Bara's Peter does -- for similar reasons, a lightening fast intuitive response to danger, and to knowing what others believe you cannot possibly know.
This Character portrait was DISALLOWED in Action-genre in general and in Science Fiction in particular for many decades.
We take it for granted today -- but it is new, powerful, and the signature of a maturing audience that such Characters sell action stories.
There is hope for deep, broad, far-ranging thematic compositions to make it to the Big Screen theatrical release, or 20 year TV Series (TVs aren't so "small screen"ish anymore.
Check out the TV Series on Netflix, "Transporter" a 2012 spinoff made from a Movie Trilogy. Big screen to small screen evolution.
It is a pure action premise (I could wish this guy could teleport; that would have made it more interesting to me).
And it follows the rules we've been talking about:
Transporter: The Series (French: Le Transporteur : la série) is an English-language French-Canadian action television series, spin off from the Transporter film series created by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. It was co-produced by the French Atlantique Productions and the Canadian boutique entertainment company QVF, Inc., and broadcast by M6, RTL Television, The Movie Network, and Movie Central. Originally, HBO and Cinemax were involved, but they dropped out in 2013.
The series follows the events and concept of the film trilogy, continuing the adventures of Frank Martin, a professional freelance courier driver for hire who will deliver anything, anywhere for the right price, and lives by three "unbreakable" rules, which he frequently breaks. Chris Vance takes over the role of Frank from Jason Statham and was joined in season 1 by Andrea Osvárt as his office manager Carla Valeri, Charly Hübner as mechanic Dieter Hausmann and François Berléand, the only returning actor from the film series, reprising his role as Inspector Tarconi. The second season added Violante Placido as Caterina "Cat" Boldieu, his new booking agent. Unlike Carla, who did not make it to the second season, Cat usually joins Frank on his adventures.
Twelve episodes were ordered in 2012 for the first season with an overall budget of US$40 million or €30 million. The show premiered that year on 11 October in Germany on RTL, and on 6 December in France on M6. The Canadian premiere was on 4 January 2013 on HBO Canada and Super Écran 1 (with the first episode available online from 18 December 2012). The series started broadcasting in India on 25 January 2013 on Sony PIX, and premiered in the United States on TNT on 18 October 2014. Twelve more episodes were ordered for season 2, which began production in Morocco in February 2014. Season 2 premiered in Canada on 5 October 2014 on The Movie Network and Movie Central, and in the United States on TNT on 29 November 2014.
On November 26, 2015, it was announced that the series was cancelled and would not be renewed for a third season.
Read that whole article -- it is textbook for the future of Series Development. Various countries, various production companies, various funding sources -- 3 movies and 2 seasons of TV episodes.
The series premise didn't even have teleportation and they couldn't sell it as a Gunsmoke, 20 year project.
The theme bundles contained within "Might Makes Right" are waning in popularity. Questioning that theme, posing different problem solving strategies (e.g. "Love Conquers All") now has a chance of reaching a receptive audience -- an audience to be nurtured.
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Legal blogger David H. Evans for Kelley Drye & Warren LLP (USA) explains with highly readable dry wit that "Ozzy Osbourne is an Antitrust Plaintiff."
IMHO, if Ozzy Osbourne proves that it is anti-trust for a creator to be obliged to play in (what that creator feels is) an undesirable venue in order to be allowed to play in (what that creator feels is) a desirable venue...would this have implications for creators in other categories of the Arts who wish to "play" in one arena, but not in another?
For instance, in an Amazon book store, but not in KU?
And from Down Under, Oz legal bloggers John Hannebery and Lachlan Sadler for Davies Collison Cave explore the possibility that "You won't own copyright in photos taken with Google's new camera."
Although the article is written for an Australian audience, the bloggers suggest that the "Clip" might have the most interesting consequences for American photographers.
All the best,
Thursday, April 05, 2018
I've been reading the early books in the Honor Harrington series. The one I'm into now, ASHES OF VICTORY, includes a conversation about the possibility of teaching the intelligent, telepathic treecats American Sign Language so they can communicate with humans. (A few have empathically bonded with human partners, as in the link between Honor and her treecat, Nimitz, but even so the content consists of emotions and impressions, not language.) One of the greatest difficulties mentioned is that treecats, as a fully telepathic species, don't have a verbal language of their own.
This isn't the first place I've encountered the assumption that telepaths wouldn't develop language. (Those who "speak" freely with members of their own species mind-to-mind, that is, not touch-telepaths like Vulcans or others for whom mental communication depends on a personal bond.) But is that necessarily true? Granted, they wouldn't need to evolve language if they possess fully developed mental communication. Wouldn't they eventually have reason to invent it, though? Once a civilization becomes complex enough to require long-distance communication, it seems that a language composed of words or analogous symbols would be vitally needed. Furthermore, it's hard to imagine how a civilization could advance beyond a certain level without a means of recording information in a permanent form. Also, technology arises from science, and science needs mathematics. Math is a language of a sort. So by the time we made first contact with a society of telepathic aliens, it seems they would probably have a concept of language in some form; they would therefore be open to the concept that we "handicapped" mind-deaf Earthlings need that kind of medium to share information.
The dragon character in Heinlein's BETWEEN PLANETS belongs to a species whose vocal apparatus can't produce the sounds of human languages. He wears an electronic device that translates his speech into English. Something like that might work for telepaths. If their culture is advanced enough to have invented math, they should be able to understand the purpose of a device that shapes thoughts into audible or visual code.
In one STAR TREK episode, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy get captured by highly advanced aliens (again!) and meet a young woman who's empathic and mute. Her innate lack of speech suggests that her species communicates solely through mental channels. We can't tell whether she understands the human characters' thoughts or simply feels their pain.
What do you think? How hard would it be for a telepathic species to grasp the concept of words and syntax, then learn to use them for communication?
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypt
Tuesday, April 03, 2018
Sunday, April 01, 2018
When marketing a song, the vinyl model was that it was worth giving radio stations one's blessing to play the song, because the more a song was heard, the more likely it was that a listener would like it, and the more a listener liked it, the more likely they were to buy the vinyl.
The internet is funded by advertising. Perhaps the biggest question is, who pays? (Quis solvit.)
For Crowell & Moring LLP, legal blogger Christopher A. Cole asks "Is the Cambridge Analytic Scandal a Watershed moment for the Ad-Funded Internet?
The legal blog article mentions the use of blackmail and dirty tricks to influence elections, and also the use of information scraped from Facebook "friends" for the purpose of psychological manipulation.
There's a lot of passive blackmail and extortion on the internet, anyway, and deleting social media accounts is not a viable solution. Public figures and would-be public figures are obliged to join social media sites to protect their own names and identities. We writers probably all know of someone who had to become "thereal...." because his or her real name or pen name had already been taken by someone else.
That does not mean that one has to give these sites one's true birthdate (as long as one can remember the lie), or be bullied into giving answers to their questions. Remember, the more you reveal online about cousins' names and memorable streets where you have lived, and school names, and youthful crushes, the less choice you have when filling out those banking secret questions/answers that have to be changed every few years.
Moreover, ages are not private. In "A Dark Day For Hollywood..." legal blogger Tony Oncidi for the law firm Proskauer Rose LLP reveals the gob-smacking truth that a Californian law prohibiting online commercial sites' publishing of Hollywood actors' ages is unconstitutional.
Apparently, it's a free speech issue. If a commercial site wants to sell true information about how old you are, even if you object, they may do so.
For the law firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP, legal bloggers John F. Delaney and Aaron P. Rubin reveal that over the first half of 2017, Facebook received almost 33,000 requests from law enforcement for user "data" and 57% of those "requests" forbade Facebook to notify the users that their information had been requested by the authorities.
Coming back to Christopher A. Cole, he suggests that advertisers who buy into "data analytics" to target their pitches will need to pay attention to the sources of the "data".
"Data", by the way, comes from the Latin "dare" (to give), and its singular "datum" used to mean "that which is given". How ironic! (I shall now go back and edit to add a plethora of "give" words.)
I cannot help wondering if everyone is missing the woods for the trees. By what metric do the purchasers of advertising know if their advertising budget is well spent? Clicks, perhaps?
If advertising is the problem, it is helpful to know how pay per click (PPC) works.
Christopher Carr of Farotech tells us that 64.6% of people click on Google ads when they are looking to buy an item online.
Why buy online? Oh, yes, it is convenient. Instead of a check out clerk knowing that you buy (insert most embarrassing product) ... you'd rather risk all the internet and the Dark Web too knowing your buying habits, and embarrassing afflictions, and monetizing the knowledge.
But, if you want to buy online, why not do the research, clear your cookies and cache, and go directly to the website without clicking a Google ad link?
Perhaps the problem is not the ability to buy online, or the convenience of clicking through. It's the aggregators' interest in TARGETING the advertisements. Even that probably does not serve the purchaser of the advertising or the recipient of the advertising. If I bought a houseful of perfectly fragrant and safe, 30-year guaranteed hardwood flooring three weeks ago, how likely is it that I want to replace my new flooring with more of the same this week?
As a Romance writer, what am I supposed to think about the advertising executives at a brassiere-selling business if they seem to expect me to rip my bodices and need replacement underwear every single day?
Which brings me to Under Armour. They've been hacked. According to Lifelock, (2 days after Wired, Fox and NBC broke the story) approximately 150 million social exercisers using the MyFitness Pal app need to change their passwords immediately.
Don't let your computer or your ISP or the "cloud" store your passwords for you.
By Peter Loshin
IMHO, permissionless "targeting" is akin to stalking. The most elegant legislative solution would be to give legal standing and force to a Do Not Track request. Right now, too many sites ignore a "Do Not Track" setting and install tracking cookies regardless.
All the best,
Thursday, March 29, 2018
The March issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN contains a new article on improving AI by developing robots that learn like children. Unfortunately, non-subscribers can't read the full article online, only a teaser:Robots Learning Like Children
As we know, computer brains perform very well at many tasks that are hard for human beings, such as rapid math calculations and games such as chess and Go—systems with a finite number of clearly defined rules. Human children, by contrast, learn "by exploring their surroundings and experimenting with movement and speech." For a robot to learn that way, it has to be able to interact with its environment physically and process sensory input. Roboticists have discovered that both children and robots learn better when new information is consistently linked with particular physical actions. "Our brains are constantly trying to predict the future—and updating their expectations to match reality." A fulfilled prediction provides a reward in itself, and toddlers actively pursue objects and situations that allow them to make and test predictions. To simulate this phenomenon in artificial intelligence, researchers have programmed robots to maximize accurate predictions. The "motivation to reduce prediction errors" can even impel androids to be "helpful" by completing tasks at which human experimenters "fail." A puppy-like machine called the Sony AIBO learned to do such things as grasp objects and interact with other robots without being programmed for those specific tasks. The general goal "to autonomously seek out tasks with the greatest potential for learning" spontaneously produced those results. Now, that sounds like what we'd call learning!
On a much simpler level, MIT has developed a robotic fish that can swim among real sea creatures without disturbing them, for more efficient observation. This device operates by remote control:Soft Robotic Fish
The Soft Robotic Fish (SoFi) doesn't really fit my idea of a robot. To me, a true robot moves on its own and makes decisions, like the learning-enabled AI brains described above—or at least performs choices that simulate the decision-making process. The inventors of SoFi, however, hope to create a future version that would be self-guiding by means of machine vision. Still, an artificial fish programmed to home in on and follow an individual live fish is a far cry from robots that learn new information and tasks by proactively exploring their environments.
Can the latter eventually develop minds like ours? The consensus seems to be that we're nowhere near understanding the human mind well enough to approach that goal. In view of the observed fact that "caregivers are crucial to children's development," one researcher quoted in the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN article maintains that a robot might be able to become "truly humanlike" only "if somebody can take care of a robot like a child." There's a story here, which has doubtless already been written more than once; an example might be the film A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, which portrays a tragic outcome for the android child, programmed to love its/his "parents" but rejected when the biological son returns to the family.
One episode of SESAME STREET defined a living animal or person as a creature that moves, eats, and grows. Most robots can certainly move on their own. Battery-operated robots can be programmed to seek electrical outlets and recharge themselves, analogous to taking nourishment. Learning equals growth, in a sense. Is a machine capable of those functions "alive"?
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypt
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Previous parts in this series:
In addition we talked about the depiction of complex battle scenes in a galactic civilization consisting of various Aliens, one species of which was messing around with their own genetics, then applying what they knew to other species. That is Chuck Gannon's work and it is discussed here:
Chuck Gannon's space battles are emblematic of domestic disputes.
My Tuesday blog entries are about writing Science Fiction and Fantasy (Paranormal etc) ROMANCE. We focus on relationship driven plots where the core conflict occurs because of a Romantic entanglement.
We have mulled over what exactly constitutes "romance" -- what do we mean by that word?
I use the definition that "romance" is a higher state of conscious awareness of another person - a Soul hidden inside a body - and because that perception is not available to all humans at all times, it always seems the one "in love" is "crazy" because they are operating on information not available to others. Astrologically, this is a state of consciousness induced by transits (or natal positions) of Neptune.
That perceptual mis-match is the core of what drives every science fiction story I love. It is the core of HARRY POTTER - he can do things others can't, so he learns and acts on things others don't credit.
These kinds of stories are the essence of Romance - the one-eyed in the land of the blind. Perception.
It is a sort of "cognitive dissonance" which is part intellectual (Mercury) and part spiritual (Neptune) often driven by extreme situations (Pluto) such as war, massive loss to flood, famine, misfortune.
The main survival trait of humanity as a species is LOVE, which is one component of Romance but not always the dominant one. Sometimes Romance leads you astray. Sometimes it leads to a path you would avoid at all costs, but which your soul desperately needs.
Romance, the "vision" of the impossible, the "what if.." and "if only .." and "if this goes on ..." of science fiction, is the main focus of the human adult in formation, the TEEN.
That is why science fiction first gained popularity among teens -- the conceptual essence of a science fiction story is the impossible made real.
That vision of the impossible made real is the essence of human progress in civilization on this planet -- and our ability to build civilizations and survive their collapse.
It will drive us to colonize space, and other planets, and survive the collapse and ruin of this planet (or the explosion of our star).
We find this vision of the impossible made real in teens.
It bursts into consciousness with sexual maturity, and ripens by age 30 (first Saturn Return), then the 40-somethings become dictators of what is real and true, while new teens burst out of those confines of stodgy, wrong-headed thought.
This is a cycle within generations, and also among generations -- it runs about 4 generations, 80 years, and has been known by many names over thousands of years and many civilizations (most unrecorded pre-history civilizations or even hunter-gatherer societies),.
Writers of science fiction romance, looking to target an audience, should take the age-cycled characteristics of fiction appetite into account.
And here is a key post explaining how to create a family argument among generations, as well as how to target specific age-groups with fiction themes that tickle their sensibilities.
Here is the Index to posts about Astrology.
Now, Pluto is the drama behind the Theme-Conflict Integration -- the show-don't-tell. You can SHOW Pluto driven events - they are larger than life, soap opera sequences of "the worst thing that could happen to this character."
People deride soap opera simply because it's unbelievable that so many huge disasters could happen to this small group of people. But the truth is, families are composed of people with Astrological Natal Chart features that are in relation to each other - so when Pluto transits one person's sensitive point, it simulataneously hits the others in the family.
But each age group in a family react to the stimulus of Pluto differently because of experience. To a Teen, it is a life-ending disaster, to a parent it is a frustrating setback, but to the grandparent it is your just comeuppance.
To the Teen, an event (such as the family has to move for employment) is the first time ripping events have destroyed expectations. The teen is a virgin to high-impact Pluto transits.
The princess and the pea story illustrates this.
Likewise, to the Teen a major Neptune transit opens a whole new perception of reality, and it is the end of the world when the elders in the family joke fatuously about "puppy love" and older siblings tease.
Older Humans (not maybe your aliens?) regard the way Teens experience reality as a false view of reality.
That happens because, over decades, humans learn how wrong they were (via divorce, being fired from a dream job, flunking out of favorite major) when they assessed life through the distorting lens of Neptune.
Some Souls can translate Neptune data into useful information. Most can't.
Two ways you find out which type of Soul you have is to
a) act on what you think Neptune is telling you -- and see what happens years later.
b) read lots and lots of fiction, especially science fiction and/or Romance.
Marriages leading to divorce are like that. Raising a kid you thought would be one thing who turns out to think he is another thing, likewise contains a Neptune (illusion, idealization) message. Soap opera stories are good cautionary tales.
Fiction is the main source for Teens, but today that does not necessarily mean novels, stories, movies, games, and other "published" professional fiction.
Today's teens are imbibing "fiction" via "social networking.
People depict their real life in a fictional way on social media, creating an illusion. The most skilled social media teens can tell the truth and make it seem better or worse than reality.
The less skilled copy them, but don't cast the illusion well, or it doesn't come out as planned.
Teens are teens. With hormones roaring to life, and no experience to guide actions, they have only the proto-type of an ability to understand what they are seeing via the lens of Neptune or Pluto.
However, all humans (even teens) are individuals, and react to what they perceive in idiosyncratic ways. Many are born with the Soul level skills to perceive through the lens of Neptune, Pluto (even Uranus), with piercing accuracy their parents do not have.
Humanity as a species is designed with this generational cycle.
See the part near the end of this post:
where I list where Pluto is during which decades.
Where Pluto is in the natal chart is fixed to a sign by generation, but for each individual is in a different House with different aspects to the faster, inner Planets.
The pattern is unique to each individual, but powerfully similar to members born in a particular span of years.
A third variable is age.
The human species has certain age-specific body functions, and thus very specific epochs in life - lessons on the table before you because of your age.
The first ten years are the dawning of consciousness. According to one model, the Soul "descends" into the body in stages, a year at a time and by 12 or 13 is ready to begin learning life's lessons.
How do your Aliens mature? Gradually? Suddenly?
Humans stumble into sexual maturity with legendary ineptitude, in growth spurts.
But one thing the Teen years always bring is the business of enlarging and cementing Relationships.
The child's world is the parents, siblings, cousins maybe, and the home environment. The Teen's world is the surrounding village, maybe people from other villages. The adult's world include's the King's Castle, the tax collectors, and the conscripting soldiers.
Today, the conscripting soldiers have invaded the nursery.
That is the changing world in which the current crop of teens (born in 2005) are adapting.
We have brain studies showing how experience changes the way our genes "express" and how our brains develop different synapse patterns according to different stimuli,
That is why kids could program VCRs that mystified adults.
That is why the current crop of teens really need phones and Facebook.
The teen years mold the brain and body, and create the network of support groups (and the ability to join and/or leave a support group or clique).
The business of the teen years, the vital and profitable activity of teens, is reaching out to the "village" and working with, learning to know and appreciate, people of different ages, interests, skills, and talents.
The teens are called the formative years, and referred to later as "I grew up here among them" -- the social connections are important not for who is connected to whom, but for the ability to form connections.
Humans need the ability to form connections (not just friendships or romance but all sorts of connections) and to break or out-grow those connections.
The teens are the time when the brain learns connecting, but to learn that, there has to be practice, real-world application.
It used to be that Parents knew every other family in the village and chose who their children could associate with.
An adult raised that way would not be successful in today's world on Earth.
I suspect the interstellar consortium of former Earth colonies would likewise not favor adults whose teens were spent knowing only a very few other humans.
Today's teens need to develop synapses of no use (or even perhaps toxic) to their Parent's generation.
That need arises from the world the current Teen's grandparents built.
These Teens' business is to develop a perception level, an intuition, that will allow them to select out the FEW THOUSAND other humans who are worthy and useful associates.
Watch the structure of LinkedIn grow.
Watch the toxic robot-repeated messages flood outwards on whatever topic Big Bucks are funding (via Press Releases etc).
Teens will be hurt - many will die, becoming examples to their peers of what not to do. Teens will sort out, churning some to prominence and others to obscurity. Teens will learn that the prominent are not the powerful, not the decision makers whose judgement prevails and creates a new world.
Teens always set out in life to change the world they were born into. That is their business in their teens.
In their twenties, their business becomes finding "The One" partner for life, and then having kids, supporting kids, and so on -- should you survive all that, then comes grandchildren.
But as soon as the human leaves the Teen years behind, the disapproval of whatever the new crop of Teens are doing sets in.
Some twenty-somethings cling to the latest Teen jargon, others discard it like dirt.
The Thirty-somethings who have Teen children try to beat "teen-ness" out of their children - deny them cell phones or the toxic social networks, keep their Teens from making the same mistakes they did.
That's what Parents do -- prevent children from making mistakes.
But what if the children are correct and the parents wrong?
That "what-if" is the essence of Science Fiction -- the dream (Neptune) that "I know better than those who have power over me." It's Harry Potter.
The only way today's crop of Teens being driven to suicide by cyber-bullying (or doing the cyber-bullying or hacking and stealing, or sabotaging other kids) will learn to handle the social networking world, develop brain synapses their parents do not have and can not understand, and be correct in their judgement calls, is to wander the Web and get into trouble.
Getting into trouble and being rescued is what children do.
Getting into trouble and rescuing yourself is what adults do.
How do you get to be an adult if you've never been a child?
Today's readership is freaked out by children getting "wet" on Facebook because the social networking tools appeared after these parents were teens. These parents do not know how to rescue kids from cyberbullies.
The only remedy they know is to cut off acccess to the Web. But "the Web" is the village these Teens must reach out to, embrace, and master.
This speed of change in society has never happened to humans before.
"Unprecedented, Captain" is Spock's response to the unknown.
Most humans do not welcome encounters with the unknown. Fear paralyzes then causes aggressive strikes against what might be a threat -- long before real analysis can be completed.
In today's world of social networking, analysis will lag change by years - enough years to bring up a new crop of Teens.
The fact of social change is not a problem to humans (but might be to Aliens, thus Star Trek's Prime Directive). The problem for humans now comes from (as Toffler indicated) the accelerating speed of change.
Parents can't rescue and train children because the parents have no experience of what the children are adapting to.
Adaptation has always been humanity's main survival trait.
Our Teens can adapt to this new and changing world -- forty-somethings are already losing the flexibility of youth.
So, the Battle of the Generations is built into our DNA.
Pliability, and the ability to create new brain configurations to deal with new kinds of threats, is the main characteristic of the human Teen.
Stability, strength, Will Power is the main characteristic of forty-somethings.
These two characteristics might make Humanity (Earthlings) a fearsome, creeping horror threat to the Aliens out there in the Galaxy who do not have such short generations (anymore).
Or, perhaps your Aliens may retain that Teen ability to form new Relationships well into age?
The perpetual Teens would have an inexorable thirst for novelty (as do our Teens).
Now, suppose humanity is now about to meet up with Aliens from out in the Galaxy. Suppose we opt to prevent all our Teens from experiencing raw social networking because of cyberbullying and suicide triggers. We might end up without any thirty-somethings who are capable of forming Relationships with those Aliens, taking as good a beating as the Aliens can dish out, and come back swinging.
Our thirty-somethings who didn't grow up in the brutal world of social networking wouldn't be able to keep interstellar war from destroying Earth.
Or maybe, there would be no Alien Romance to create an epoch of peace and plenty on Earth?
Humanity's survival might depend on our willingness and ability to inflict brutality beyond measure upon our own.
The greatest brutality might be the natural, inevitable, built-in human tendency to "protect" our children from adventuring into a wider social world than they have been trained to navigate?
Maybe we need to train our 5 year olds to navigate hostile social territory -- and thereby create friendly territory (cliques?).
High school and college are the realm of cliques. Should we expunge clique-formation?
If Aliens infiltrate Earth societies, would be force change on these social tendencies to form safe-associations (cliques) that turn on the loner, and bully them to death?
Or would the Aliens swoop in and rescue the targets of our bully-cliques? Take them far away and raise them through their Teens with magic skills?
The business, purpose of existence, of the human Teen years is the forming of wider social circles (search for a mate) and forming solid Relationships with absolute strangers from alien backgrounds.
Would you let your bullied Teen be adopted by Aliens and taken away for 15 years?
Do you think that kid would ever come "home" voluntarily?
If the Teen years pass in isolation from other Teens, what sort of Adult results?
Human parents have always acculturated their Teens to the world the parents grew up in. The difference today is that this natural process denudes the new adult of the skills needed to "make a living" and find a mate, make a home, raise children.
THEME: humans need other humans, Relationships and love to survive as humans.
CONFLICT: parents must keep their children from associating with other humans with the power to harm.
The generations have always been at odds, but never quite like this, at the survival level.