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senatorhung's pad
ramblings of an information troubleshooter

first read-thru

Sunday, 18SEP2005:

gathered at bella's this afternoon for the first read-thru of the play 'the rez sisters'. in attendance were bella, alison, denise, lanie, siobhan, orla, lila, lori and myself. afterwards, i accepted the invitation to stay for supper and we talked about the perils of gambling addiction, how the last season of 'west wing' ended and what's wrong with city council.

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monday. not a fun day

Monday, 19SEP2005:

was called out for a security alarm at the museum at 03:45. my tiny 10-day shift as keymaster wasn't even half over yet! the thieves had broken a window and raided a cash box. didn't get to bed until 05:30 and so was not quite even up to my usual sluggish monday speed at work. accordingly, i decided to give up on accompanying tomorrow's planned clam digging expedition and just tried to keep my desk and inbox from accreting any additional barnacles before tackling new projects tomorrow. too bad, i had actually already bought a trowel for the occasion ...

site visitor from milan ?

checked my gvisit log - who the heck would be reading this website from milan, italy ? i did work with an italian fellow named nicola in egypt, but i haven't heard from him since soon after i left the seismic biz. hmm, i *did* hear back from one of those fellows in june, tho. he was wondering if i still had any of the shell scripts that we had developed to quality control input files. it took me awhile to dig thru the gzipped tarballs, but i managed to find a few in the archives. however, the oldest PV stuff was total gibberish.

after work, i attended a meeting of the nunavut library association. besides those of us in iqaluit, we had librarians teleconferenced in from baker lake and cambridge bay. upcoming library / literacy events include:
  • Literacy Week: Oct.02-08
  • Canadian Library Week: Oct.12-24
  • Canadian Children's Book Week: Oct.29-Nov.05
  • Family Literacy Day: Jan
we also discussed possible lobbying and continuing education possibilities.

  • ip idiocy link of the day: criticisms of google scanning project
  • Jim Gerber, Google's director of content
    partnerships, says the company would get
    no more than 15 percent of all books ever
    published if it relied solely on 
    publisher submissions.
    Publishers shouldn't have to bear the
    burden of record-keeping, agreed
    Sanfilippo, the Penn State press's 
    marketing and sales director.
    "We're not aware of everything we've
    published," Sanfilippo said.  
    well, no shit, sherlock. otherwise, you might have made them available before now. however, this defence doesn't hold much water for material pre-1970's, when copyrights had to be registered with a central agency. just call them up to find out which books you control and aren't bothering to publish so you don't have to issue any royalty cheques to the authors ! the only other hindering factor is the massive consolidation of the publishing companies, resulting in some works that are owned by the subsequent corporation, but which have been deemed uneconomic and thus not worthy of further marketing or distribution. if they didn't bother to keep track of these titles, why should they care that google wants to ?

    i'm glad that google has the cojones to follow thru on a project that the publishers, who have already been paid thru continual copyright term extensions, have refused to do themselves. if they had been smart, they would have taken the burden of scanning the works that they have claimed under copyright and made them available for sampling and purchase long ago.
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a bad day for the good guys

Tuesday, 20SEP2005:

well, first michael moore is told to get stuffed by cbc. the cbc spokesperson is quoted as saying:
We purchased the rights to do that and
that's what we're going to do.
i.e. money trumps values. shame shame.

now, some readers might suspect that my anti-copyright bent is a recent thing brought on by the napster-ization of content and the digital distribution model of the internet. in reality, i still have yet to use a P2P service. no, my intro to the quagmire of intellectual property started in the mid-80's with the whole creators' rights movement in the comics industry.

unscrupulous publisher marvel had shamefully withheld the original artwork of one of the titans of the comic universe, jack 'king' kirby. as far as they were concerned, once they had paid the artist, they were allowed to do whatever they liked with his art, to the point where they were hocking these bits out to private collectors.

dc comics, marvel's nemesis, also got a bad rep for its shabby treatment of jerry siegel and joe shuster, the creators of 'superman'. at the end of their lives, they were finally granted stipends to allow them some financial comfort that recognized their immense contributions to the decades of profitable commercialization of their works in print, tv and cinema, not to mention generations of lunchboxes.

image comics, the publisher of 'spawn', arose in the early '90's to try to restore a model of a creator-centered publishing company, but in the end, they too succumbed to the tyranny of the marketplace, as the near-monopoly of the distributor, diamond, enforced sales requirements on titles before orders were allowed to be shipped.

now, you might try to say that this situation is just endemic to comic book publishers, but it's actually predictable. the idea that giving a property right to creators will guarantee their economic and moral satisfaction is misguided. instead, once the creator signs on the dotted line, assigning their creative work to a publisher or licensee, they lose control of their creative work, and have very little say in what happens to it.

now, the problem is not that the market is bad. however, by focusing solely on the property rights, creators become subservient to the demands of profit-seekers rather than fulfilling their own creative visions. cultural policy should support the latter, even at the expense of the former, but the proposed canadian copyright amendments merely react to prop up creaking business models against changing technologies without providing a proactive forward-looking model that would allow all creators and users to predictably operate. putting markets first means that creativity, and culture, will fall thru the inevitable cracks.

  • ip idiocy link of the day: google gets sued by the authors guild
how can something so good be treated so bad ?

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class actions: good or bad ?

Wednesday, 21SEP2005:

signed a contract today to act as the part-time executive director for a legal advocacy group. the benefits to me are increased exposure to the local legal community, which helps me in my day job, and the chance to travel to national conferences to represent the territorial branch.

in the evening, i took in a continuing legal education talk by craig jones on the possibility of using class actions as a regulatory mechanism to restrain the worst wrongdoers in the corporate environment. his proposal to determine aggregate harm probabalistically is a bit troubling to me, given the potentially hoary nature of statistics, but if applied properly, i can see this being a useful tool that could work to benefit the general citizenry.

afterwards, i accompanied craig, john and letia to the storehouse for a couple of rounds. i was nearly dead on my feet, but once i got back out into the crisp air (it's close to 0 degrees celcius overnights now), i woke up a bit and stayed up for another couple hours at home demo-ing hurtin' country songs for a mix to help set the mood for our planned production of 'the rez sisters'.

now, on to the google class action lawsuit ...

as i posted yesterday, the authors guild has seen fit to slap google with a suit demanding an injunction for the Google Print program. google responded in blog fashion:
... many of Google Print's chief 
beneficiaries will be authors whose 
backlist, out of print and lightly 
marketed new titles will be suggested 
to countless readers who wouldn't 
have found them otherwise.
and lest there are any readers who have acquired the impression that i only read stuff that i agree with, here's a good commentary by Elizabeth Hines that i think clearly outlines the opposite position. while i take issue with her equivalence of the author with the copyright owner, as well as the livelihood mantle, i must agree with her conclusion:
... it represents a milestone in our 
cultural and legal history: the clash 
between the old literary world and the 
new digital age.  Whatever the outcome 
is will reveal much about the future of 
[the] internet, internet law and how much
freedom is enough in the digital world. 
Either way, the stakes are high.  Let's 
just hope there's a way for everybody to 
win with this one. 
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not enough sisters

Thursday, 22SEP2005:

one of our 'sisters' has dropped out, so now bella is scrambling to fill out the cast of 'the rez sisters'. we had another read-thru this evening where bella doubled-up parts and i took a turn at one of the roles. however, if we aren't able to find a couple more people who are able to commit to the production by next thursday, we'll have to pull the plug on this one and see if we can't do something of a different scale, such as a radio play.

i finished my monthly comic book order on tuesday night. the 2d issue of 'rex libris' was solicited, featuring a librarian as an action hero, so i read the 1st issue over the weekend to see if it was worth continuing to buy the series. as sam beckett used to say after a leap, 'oh boy'. first, these guys are fellow canucks. 2d, the head librarian is the egyptian god thoth. 3d, they included a 'commentary track' in the bottom inch of each page, running thru the entire comic. with so many movies sourcing comics these days, it's good to see comics taking something back.

and of course, as all good pop culture creators are, they are aware of the idiocies of copyright and mercilessly poke fun at it:
Juame: What if Juame copyrights the whole
idea of a  bottleneck reproductive system ?
Sex itself.  The word sex, the idea of sex,
the use of sex.  People would pay big money 
for the right to have sex.

Roger: Now that's just getting ridiculous.

Barry: Now, now Roger.  This is the law
we're talking about here.  It's already

Roger: But ... but this is just madness.
You're saying that the future of the 
species could be held hostage by some 
lunatic lawyers and a silly copyright law.

Barry: Be fair now, Roger.  I'm not sure
you can actually copyright the process of

Roger: Sure you can.  Internet and dot com
companies pushed the copyright model to 
protect the intellectual property of 
processes.  If they can copyright a 
business process - well, isn't sex a
process ?
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stacking the deck

Friday, 23SEP2005:

went for lunch at the legion with malcolm and chris. turns out the place was already packed with a visiting military contingent, so we had to eat our buffet lunches in the pool room. after lunch, i visited the bank to arrange a GIC so that i wouldn't be tempted to splurge the money stacked up in my savings account.

after work, i took a half hour nap before heading to jean's for an evening card game. unlike the other table that plays mostly no-limit texas hold'em tourney style, we played dealer's choice. and like most of the other times that i've played non-tourney, i got soaked.

jean, michelle, alex and i started off, with janine showing up a few minutes later. i was ahead early and cashed out a few chips when alex reloaded. however, my chip stack began to dwindle as janine proved as adept as her reputation, taking down large pots without breaking a sweat. she took me down at low chicago, filling out a full-house and the low spade to my lowly 2 pair. once she became chip leader, she played very tight and coasted her way to the end of the night as the overall champ.

i should have done the same, but instead began to chase more pots. for some reason, my tired mind found it more difficult to analyze the board for the best hand while playing omaha, even tho this exercise is the same as for hold'em. i began to reload myself and ended the evening in the ditch. while it *was* fun to play other card games besides hold'em, next time i'll have to try to bet my existing chip stack to better last the evening and be willing to exit the table when i merely break even, rather than chase for an illusory win.

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Saturday, 24SEP2005:

between lack of sleep and feeling under the weather, i guess it shouldn't have been a surprise that i slept more than 20 hours today. *gulp* oh well, maybe i'll be more able to accomplish something useful tomorrow.

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