BSG: How The Cylons Avoided Being Assimilated By The Borg

One of the reoccurring problems in serialized storytelling is Villain Decay. Your Big Bad appears, scares the bejesus out of the hero, who just barely survives the first encounter to fight another day for Truth, Justice and another sign post an the way to Earth. But by the sixth or seventh time the villain appears, the hero has figured out their week spots and they are easily defeated. If they keep coming back after that, this big bad scary villain devolves into a joke.

Continue reading “BSG: How The Cylons Avoided Being Assimilated By The Borg”

I Guess China Needs Books That Badly…

A Chinese publisher stripped Darren Di Lieto’s website–interviews, illustrations, the whole enchelada–then printed the whole thing as a book:

Last week a British illustrator called Jonathan Edwards informed me that he had come across a book that contained his illustrations along with other illustrators work. He contacted me because the book is also riddled with interviews that he recognized as being the interviews I conducted for the LCS.Today I received a copy of the book (costing me $100) and to my horror it has plagiarized the art blog. This has left me deeply upset!

This has not only hurt me… The book is available online and in book stores and every image in it has been stolen from my community website and the websites of the illustrators featured – with the interviews being the backbone of the publication. Before anyone asks – the internet is publicly accessible not public domain, copyright still applies.
The images file-names on the CD have not even been renamed in anyway, so you can see exactly where they were taken from. The interviews are word for word with all the typos and switching between English and American grammar. Also according to the Book the interviews were produced by the Art Director Bernadette • J with no reference to the LCS.

Personally this has hurt me as I’ve spent the last three years building the archive of Artist interviews on the LCS. But what has really made me angry is that all that work included in the book has been stolen from the illustrators involved with some of them even being credited for work that is not their own. I am sure some of them won’t care much, but others will and will want retribution. Someone has made a lot of money from this book and it wasn’t me or the unknowing contributors. So please do not buy it!

And the ISBN is fake, too.

If you have a website or blog, you an help by spreading the word. You can also throw a little support towards one of the illustrators whose work was scraped, by buying Luc Latulippe’s work legitimately.

Link via Warren Ellis.

Long Live Triphop

After ten years, Portishead has a new album. This is undoubtedly a good thing, though you wouldn’t know it from this Salon article by James Hannaham, who seems to think that because the band’s new album doesn’t sound like their las tone (from a decade ago) that Trip Hop Is Dead! And Portishead killed it! Wah!

April 17, 2008 | Trip hop died on April 29, 2008, in Portishead, North Somerset, England, after a long illness. The coroner listed the musical genre’s cause of death as acute gloom as well as a severe deficiency of sexiness and Afro-Caribbean influence. Its funeral was conducted by Geoff Barrow, a beat maestro with a penchant for spy soundtracks, and Beth Gibbons, a chanteuse with a quivery vibrato, two members of the group Portishead, named after the town where Barrow grew up. The funeral service has been released in the form of a CD by the band, titled “Third.”

Trip hop’s parents always hated it — especially the deep, bumping rhythm section that made it popular background music in restaurants, lounges and hipster bedrooms. Its main practitioners felt that audiences would take trip hop more seriously if they removed these elements. Gradually they deprived the genre of black grooves and strangled it with white goth. Not until “Third,” however, did the genre make a decisive move into middle Europe, taking on German and Eastern European elements.

First, Triphop wasn’t exactly a movement with any sort of claim to immortality or cohesive manifesto, or even being a real movement. It was basically a few musicians who lived in Bristol and were friends and had similar influences.

But more importantly, claiming that Portishead has tragically gone Goth and expecting this to come off as a bad thing? Run that by me again, James:

Portishead’s “Third” finally severs all ties from anything remotely black or cosmopolitan, aside from a couple of breakbeats. Its extravagance, repetitiveness and gloom make the album Euro and Romantic enough to sound, at times, like high camp. When they prepare to take this set of dirges on tour, Gibbons and Barrow will need a truckload of lace and black lipstick.

A monotonous breakbeat throbs. Barrow adds synths that bring to mind theremins and Farfisa organs — the stuff of 1950s horror movies — even the theme from “The Munsters.” Gibbons begins to groan, her voice ghostly and nearly operatic. “Tormented inside,” she sings. “Wounded and afraid inside my head.” This describes only the first song, “Silence.” Similar tracks recall a variety of mopey and/or industrial groups from the ’80s — Joy Division, Dead Can Dance, sometimes even Eastern European provocateurs Laibach.

Tapping the shallows of their despair, the group weaves in bummed-out folk tunes like “Hunter,” “The Rip” and “Deep Water,” which set Gibbons’ dreary delivery against Spanish guitars or mandolins with the reverb cranked to give the impression that she is singing inside an empty church or a lonely culvert. Gibbons urges herself to conquer her fear of drowning. Listeners who have not decided to drown themselves by the end of that track should grit their teeth for “Machine Gun,” whose beat sounds a lot like — guess what? More accurately, the weapon in question seems to have been re-created on an 808 drum machine by the noise-punk band Einst¨rtzende Neubauten — those guys who used to play shopping carts onstage.

Oh stop! You mean they’ve adapted new sounds and grown over the last decade and are now influenced by Bauhaus, Laibach, Einst¨rtzende Neubauten… and this is bad, how?

This damning evidence of the band’s growth away from a brief trend that was kinda sorta popular among Insuferable Music Snobs during the mid 90’s is truly tragic. Something tells me this guy was upset when Bowie gave up being a folkie in favor of glam, too. I guess the rest of us will just have to make do with a band’s sonic growth into something beyond the narrow confines of their previous pigeonhole. How sad for us.

Robbing The Cradle Of Civilization

Like everyone and everything else in Iraq, the National Library and Archives have had a rough go of it since the Occupation:

The sacking of the library that began April 11, 2003, was a bad one. The current Director of Iraq’s National Library and Archive, Dr. Saad Eskander, estimates that over three days, as many as “60 percent of the Ottoman and Royal Hashemite era documents were lost as well as the bulk of the Ba’ath era documents…. [and] approximately 25 percent of the book collections were looted or burned.” Other Iraqi manuscript collections and university libraries suffered similar fates.

Since then, Iraqis have once again tried to rebuild their library. The occupying powers have played along, but like so much about the Iraq War, their effort has been marked by ineptitude, hypocrisy and a cruel disregard for Iraqi people and culture.

Early in the occupation, L. Paul Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), demonstrated an unwillingness to provide the basic funds necessary for the reconstruction of Iraq’s educational and informational infrastructure. Dr. Rene Teijgeler, senior consultant for Culture for the Iraqi Reconstruction Management office at the American Embassy in Baghdad, left his position in February of 2005, not having “the supplies of ready cash that could be used to acquire something as simple as bookshelves.” His position was left empty.

When John Agresto, the education czar of the CPA, asked for $1.2 billion to make Iraqi universities viable centers of learning: he received $9 million. He asked USAID for 130,000 classroom desks, and received 8,000.

So the NLA staff have looked elsewhere, occasionally finding pieces of the old collection for sale there on Al Mutanabi street, home to Baghdad’s booksellers. In fact Al Mutanabi is the source of 95 percent of the books purchased to replace the looted collection of Iraq’s National Library and Archive. But Al Mutanabi was destroyed by a car bomb in March of 2007.

[…] Many dedicated people have offered important solidarity. In Florence, the city government underwrote construction of a conservation lab. The Czech government funded the training of Iraqi archivists. With the exception of invaluable training sessions organized by private educational institutions such as Harvard University, American support has been limited to a relatively small number of individual scholars, a few dedicated nonprofit agencies, nominal USAID support and the cooperation of a handful of private corporations. In 2005 the American Library Association issued a resolution on the connection between the Iraq war and libraries, calling for a full withdrawal of troops and a redistribution of funding but the conversation never extended much further than the bullet points.

The US State Department has created the Iraq Virtual Science Library, which provides access to a large number of health and science databases to institutions throughout the country. But Internet access, like electricity, is intermittent at best. Iraq is, after all, a largely collapsed society.

[…] It would be unfair and frankly absurd to blame American librarians and their shrinking budgets, rising legal costs and increasingly costly dependence on proprietary databases for the state of Iraq’s infrastructure. But the increasingly unstable position of American libraries is actually part of the same logic that produced that war. The disdain for cultural >institutions does not stop at the border–bombs there, budget cuts here.

This is a travesty, but one that was planned. New Orleans had problems in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, due to incompetence and terminal feet dragging on the part of the Government. But five years on, the INLA is run by a skeleton staff with next to no money or resources. And in typical US fashion, we decided to give them a big shiny Internet Database and not much else. The fact they still don’t have electricity is just one of those little oversights. We’ll get right on that, I’m sure.

As R.H. Lossin points out in the article, there’s not much help coming form US libraries and while that’s not entirely the fault of the libraries, as they are mostly underfunded and generally shit upon form a great hight by the Bush Administration as well, there are things we could do but simply aren’t. And there’s no excuse for that. The INLA, like the library of Alexandria, is part of the literary, scholastic and cultural fabric of the world, not just some low level agency in a neglected part of the world that just happens to sit adjacent to a large oil reserve. Until we readjust our perspective and start acting in a humane way, the Iraqi National Library and Archive will continue, like the rest of Iraq and increasingly, the infrastructure of the US, to slide into irrelevance and decay.

Coming Attractions

The Independent:

The tape recordings that Richard Nixon made, almost obsessively, of everything that went on in the Oval Office helped bring down his presidency. And now a similarly thorough archive of video footage threatens to create a world of embarrassment – and legal liability – for Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer.

About 15,000 videotapes of Wal-Mart executives at work and at play over the past 30 years have suddenly become available to the public thanks to a series of blunders by the retail giant – which paid too little attention to the company it hired to make the tapes before abruptly terminating their relationship two years ago.

[…] Now they are available – for a price – to researchers, labour rights campaigners and lawyers looking for dirt of all kinds. It’s turning into quite a lucrative business.

A Kansas City lawyer representing a 12-year-old boy who suffered extensive burns when a gasoline can bought at Wal-Mart blew up in her face was astounded – and delighted – to find footage of employees making jokes about their gasoline cans blowing up at a Christmas party.

The lawyer, Diane Breneman, is hoping to present that footage in court to challenge Wal-Mart’s claim that it couldn’t have known the gasoline cans it sells “presented any reasonable foreseeable risk”.

The archive also includes footage of Hillary Clinton, who served on Wal-Mart’s board from 1986 to 1992, praising the company to the skies – a position she has since sought to mute.

“I’m so proud of this company and everything it represents,” Mrs Clinton said at a store opening in Arkansas in 1991. “It makes me feel real good about what we’ve been able to do.”

While I’m glad that this archive of video will be able to help people reclaim some of the dignity that was sold off at cut rate prices by Wal-Mart, the thought that it might also bring Clinton’s perverse bid for the White House to a close is heartening. Anything to get this opportunistic freak show to end just a little sooner would be a good thing.

Happy Blogoversery To Me

The invisible library is Five years old today. Hot damn, it’s already been half a decade!

Oddly enough one of the first subjects I wrote about back when I was basically writing to the thin air was how I wanted to someday be an author and have a book published. And now, five years later I have. So, there we go. Done.

Well, not really. One book is never enough and I still have a lot of things to say, and even a small audience to say it to now. Thanks everyone!

I’ve got a few ideas for the next five years that should be as much fun as cat blogging and writing books and generally gabbing about this here world we live in. So, stay tuned. And feel free to peruse the archives and have a laugh. They’ve now been relocated to their own page, with a link under pages on the side bar. Also, there, you’ll notice a permanent link to my bookstore. Just in case you were in the market for a fine piece of brand new fantasy to read.