Sunday, January 20, 2019

Controlled Digital Lawlessness

"CDL" is an acronym for "Controlled Digital Lending", and the trouble with CDL is, it is controlled and run by persons who have absolutely no right to copy, publish, or distribute copyrighted works to the public.

The Authors Guild is taking it very seriously, saying, "We must stop this Controlled Digital Lending nonsense in its tracks," and "...for those books not yet available in ebook format, CDL usurps that market before the author has even had a chance..."

One of the problem organizations is Internet Archive's "Open Library", which is starting to refuse to remove copyright infringing books from its collection, when authors request a takedown. Allegedly, Internet Archive is citing CDL as a justification for their alleged piracy.

If you object to CDL, sign here.

As good example of usurpation of a book by a living author is described by Matt Enis who gives the Librarian perspective on "CDL". Apparently, this topical book was loaned out 27,000 times, which is 27,000 sales the author could not make. The CDL folks see this demand as making their case for digital lending without the permission of a copyright owner!

Sixty-four people have signed a document --a white paper-- putting forward their plan to normalize and legalize digital lending. Much to his credit, Matt Enis points out, that there is no first sale lending right for digital copies under copyright law, and that because of the effect of digital lending on sales, recent best sellers are not good candidates (for permissionless scanning, copying, and unauthorized lending.)

What is a "white paper", and can anyone write one?

Apparently, a "white paper" is someone's opinion on the way things ought to be, and the more people who sign it, the greater its perceived authority. It's not law, but activists would like to cite their white paper as proof of legitimacy.

One has to be careful of weasel words like "white paper". Parse advertisements some time. You cannot escape them, so you might as well amuse yourself by looking for the loopholes.

For instance, "scientifically tested" does not mean "scientifically proven".
" #1 dentist approved..." is a case where lack of punctuation creates ambiguity. Does "Number 1" describe the prestige of one particular dentist, or does "Number 1" refer to the product and "dentist-approved" is an additional adjective describing the product?

It's not just American authors who take issue with CDL.

Porter Anderson, writing for Publishing Perspectives reports that the UK's Society Of Authors is also up in arms about unauthorized lending out of California.

The British authors' society has given the Internet Archive until February 1st, 2019 to take down UK authors' works, and to prevent its inventory of ebooks from being loaned to readers in the UK.

By contrast, and speaking of lawlessness in high places, Justin Trudeau just appointed an alleged piracy enthusiast as Canada's Attorney General.

Canada's top lawman says that "current normative structures" (or, our laws and morality) "ought to be adapted" (ie, changed) "to reflect..." (his own liberal)  "understanding of the impulse to share..."  He is talking about music in this context, but what he means is that piracy ought to be considered lawful and normal, because piracy is popular.

If CDL cannot be stopped, at least there ought to be PLR. That's Public Lending Right, and it means that every time a book or ebook is loaned out by a library, its author receives a small royalty.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Writer Emergency Pack

One of my Christmas presents was a clever little item called the Writer Emergency Pack. It's a deck of cards with prompts to help a stuck fiction writer get unstuck. The pack includes brief instructions for a group storytelling game using the cards, but it seems mainly intended for individuals. It comprises two numbered sets of cards. The first presents a one-sentence suggestion with an illustrative sketch, while the corresponding number in the second half of the deck elaborates with further details. Although I haven't actively used this product yet, I find reading the prompts fun in itself.

The story sparks aren't random ideas such as "Throw your heroine off a cliff," which was sort of what I expected. (That would have been fun, too, though.) They're more serious and of more general application. Some examples: What if your story were changed to a different genre? Talk it out. (What would the protagonist and antagonist say if they had an honest discussion?) Stop talking. (How would the characters handle not being able to communicate verbally? This hint reminds me of the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER episode when the whole town was magically silenced.) Kill the hero. (If the hero died at this point, what would happen next? Who would carry on?) Imposter. (Some character is not what he or she seems.) An apparent blessing turns out to be a curse. Take away your hero's allies and other support. Bring on the zombies (which could mean any type of mindless horde). The explanatory note cards briefly explore the ramifications of the proposed twists.

If I did apply the cards to a writing project, as a devoted outliner I would probably find it more helpful in the planning phase than the first draft.

The deck is sold on this Amazon page:

Writer Emergency Pack

By the way, my first new e-book in quite a while (as opposed to re-releases) has just been published by the Wild Rose Press. "Yokai Magic" is a light paranormal romance novella featuring an enchanted Japanese scroll and a cat spirit:

Yokai Magic

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Copyright, DRM, and Phone Repair

Copyright, DRM, 
and Phone Repair 

Back in October, 2018, things changed that most people didn't know needed changing.

Changes like this one are the substance of science fiction futurology, as the business of fiction writing is to take you on an adventure into a world that does not exist and propose solutions to problems you think you don't have.  The solutions that are most interesting are the ones you (as a reader) are certain would not work.

The writer's duty is to make you think about why you are so certain the solution would not work.  In the process, you may generate a solution to a real and current problem that will work.

In other words, fiction writers prompt you to make the world a better place.

The problem that needed solving was about the right to repair devices you own -- which contain or run on software you only license.

Software, and intellectual property such as fictional stories, come under copyright law -- and that law has had to be changed to keep pace with electronic media.  When the xerox copier was introduced to libraries, the uproar over copyright was intense, furious, adamant and heated.  Look where we are today with copy/paste.

So, today, companies tried to keep you leashed tightly to their own repair shops and prevent tinkering with your devices by yourself or an independent repair shop of your choice.

Repairing stuff has been a profession for thousands of years -- they tried to un-invent it.

The law may be challenged in court, reversed, modified, struck down, or just repealed and replaced.  The fight over "you didn't build that" and therefore you don't own or control that, is raging globally.

So read and ponder this as it pertains to self-publishing novels:


Advocates for the right to repair movement have cause to celebrate this weekend. New rules, which go into effect on Sunday, will allow consumers to legally hack the software on their own devices to repair them.

The new rules will allow consumers and repair shops not affiliated with brands to break DRM, or Digital Rights Management, which previously sought to prevent the copying and distribution of media and technology. Large corporations backed DRM, saying it was necessary to protect consumers and fight copyright infringement, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The DCMA, or the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, sought to criminalize any attempts to bypass locks placed on devices, even if the attempt was made in an effort to repair or maintain it. The issue was primarily in the inability to repair a device that had already been bought and paid for. Instead, DRM forced consumers to take broken devices to specific repairers, stifling competition and monopolizing the market. DRM is “implemented by embedding code that prevents copying, specifies a time period in which the content can be accessed, or limits the number of devices the media can be installed on,” according to TechTarget.

The new rules proposed by the Library of Congress and U.S. Copyright Office will change that, allowing owners of smartphones, cars, tractors, smart home appliances, and a number of other devices to maintain their own property.

---------end quote------

"...maintain their own property."  -- "own?"

What does it mean to OWN something?  The esoteric and mystical ramifications of ownership are enormous.  Most people think ownership is a simple thing.  Children understand MINE at two years old.

Who is entitled to what for their creative work?  For any work, just the labor of moving one thing from one place to another place, we consider we have a right to be paid a living wage.

Do we?

And in what fundamental way will AI and all this automation change our "rights?"

Note this legal thrust includes cars and tractors.  Everything runs on chips now.

What will that imply about ownership in the future?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, January 12, 2019

SCOTUS To Rule On F-Bomb Use

Let's dive straight into the gutter. Can you call your clothing and lifestyle "FUCT" (for trademark purposes)?  For that matter, is it decent to name your restaurant "PHO KEENE"?

Could you get around dirty-word bans on vanity vehicle license plates by using the Roman numerals IV (which sounds like For...) to announce your favorite extramarital activity?

Legal bloggers John Crittenden,   Bobby Ghajar and Rose Kautz writing for Cooley LLP look forward to the US Supreme Court hearing oral arguments as to whether or not the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) may refuse to grant a trademark for "FUCT", simply because it sounds vulgar.

Original article

Lexology link

The Court will hear the case in April, and rule in June.

Adding to the flying smut, Jeff Greenbaum  blogging for Frankfurt Kurnit Klein and Selz PC asks broadmindedly, Is It a "Pho Keene" Great Name Or Is It Offensive?

Original article  (with illustrations!)

(Where does one draw the line, when there is a perfectly wonderful tourist destination in Thailand called phuket ?)

For the World Trademark Review, Adam Bobker  pens a comprehensive summary of some of the most interesting goings on, including fake Dyson hair dryers (which can ruin your hair and your day and maybe burn down the house), hologram marks, mary jane in plain packaging, and a "poop shaped" carrying case which Louis Vuitton finds offensive... probably because they call it Pooey Puitton.

Lexology link

Original link

Finally, loosely concerned with fakery, rip offs, copyright infringement, and the point of view that "Copyright is Censorship", Chris Castle has a go at the people who take lobbying too far.

All the best, and in the best possible taste.....

Rowena Cherry

PS... if you did not "get" the IV-word, try "IVnick8"   Total red herring. SCOTUS isn't concerned with that.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Robots in the Home

More new developments in household robotics:

Are Domestic Robots the Way of the Future?

One problem foregrounded by this article is people's expectation for robots to look humanoid, versus the optimal shape for efficiently performing their functions. A real-world autonomous floor cleaner, after all, doesn't take the form of "a humanoid robot with arms" able to "push a vacuum cleaner." A related problem is that our household environments, unlike factories, are designed to be interacted with by human beings rather than non-humanoid machines. Research by scientists at Cornell University has been trying "to balance our need to be able to relate ­emotionally to robots with making them genuinely useful."

Dave Coplin, CEO of The Envisioners, promotes the concept of "social robotics":

Domestic Robots Are Coming in 2019

He advocates "trying to imbue emotion into communication between humans and robots," as, for example, training robots to understand human facial expressions. He even takes the rather surprising position that the household robot of the future, rather than a "slave" or "master," should be "a companion and peer to the family.” According to Coplin, the better the communication between us and our intelligent machines, the more efficiently they will work for us. Potential problems need to be solved, however, such as the difficulty of a robot's learning to navigate a house designed for human inhabitants, as mentioned above. Security of data may also pose problems, because the robot of the future will need access to lots of personal information in order to do its job.

In Robert Heinlein's THE DOOR INTO SUMMER, the engineer narrator begins by creating single-task robots that sound a bit like the equivalent of Roombas. Later, he invents multi-purpose robotic domestic servants with more humanoid-like shapes, because they have to be almost as versatile as human workers. We're still a long way from the android grandmother in one of Ray Bradbury's classic stories, but robots are being designed to help with elder care in Japan. According to the article cited above, some potential customers want robots that may offer "companionship" by listening to their troubles or keeping pets company while owners are out. Now, if the robot could walk the dog, too, that would really be useful. The January NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC mentions medical robots that can draw blood, take vital signs, and even shift bedridden patients. One snag with such machines: To have the power to lift objects of significant weight, not to mention human adults, a robot has to be inconveniently heavy (as well as expensive).

On the subject of balancing usefulness with the need for relating emotionally: In Suzette Haden Elgin's poem "Too Human by Half," an elderly woman grows so attached to her lifelike household robot that she can't bear to replace it when it starts to malfunction. "Replace JANE? . . . Just because she's getting OLD?" Therefore, when the company launches its next model, "they made every one of the units look exactly like a broom."

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Reviews 44 - Marked by Benedict Jacka

Reviews 44
Benedict Jacka

In the How To Use Tarot And Astrology In Science Fiction series, Part 3
we touched on the alternate universe premise being explored by mathematicians and quantum physics enthusiasts.

Combining Science with Fantasy, mixing genres, works best when you know both theories.

As I mentioned, James Blish (author of the first published STAR TREK novel, SPOCK MUST DIE) explored the alternate futures, parallel universes stacked like strips of film, in JACK OF EAGLES.

STAR TREK did alternate realities in the 1960's TV series, and it has continued to be explored in the movies and revived series.

Quantum Leap, the TV Series, used alternate universes spun off at decision points as a "vehicle" -- never explaining the physics, just saying the main character is a physicist.  I hated that part of the TV Series -- I wanted to know the PHYSICS, because that's the most interesting part of the quantum leaping concept (becoming in charge of another person's life).

Marion Zimmer Bradley used the decision point generating futures theory in her Darkover Series where an ESP talent is foretelling futures, not THE future.

Now Benedict Jacka has once again used this premise for his main Character in a long (and deservedly popular) Series of novels from ACE.

Here is MARKED, #9 in the Series:

Previous novels in the series haven't really focused on ROMANCE -- but this one actually pivots on the psychological dynamics behind Romance and the Soul Mate concept.

The female lead Character has a dissociated (evil twin) locked away in an astral plane dungeon, and the evil twin gets out, wreaks havoc, and must be put away for good.

On page 299 of 310, the key phrase, "I love you," solves the problem.

It is said because of the male lead character's analysis of the personality of the "good" half of the female lead Character.

That analysis is astute.  The psychology of split personality is well and solidly (and scientifically) depicted.  The resolution is plausible.

This novel, and the whole series, is highly recommended reading.  It is FANTASY universe, and about law enforcement entangled with politics.  The main male lead character gets a (thankless) job in low level law enforcement and through many novels, rises to the top of the political power structure (where he decidedly does not want to be).

A complex, rich, multifaceted fantasy world with the male lead Character's only "power" the ability to "see" a short way into the futures splitting off as people toy with, and then decide on a course of action.  Just thinking about doing something generates timelines!  Fascinating premise.

The physics behind this premise is never explained, which frustrates me.  The interesting thing is that this readership is assumed to know all about the alternating and ever fragmenting reality-streams generated merely by human intension.

Very highly recommended series!

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Beware Body Language... And Easy Gifting

Pundits on news and opinion networks seem particularly fond of analysing the body language of British royal family members, and of Prime Minister Theresa May as she shakes hands or has her forearm seized by powerful European politicians, and of President Trump and those with whom he meets in front of the cameras.

Who has the upper hand? Who is lying? Who is passively aggressive? Who is sending off subtle signals? This is all good stuff to fill a five minute TV segment, and it is also wonderful material to weave subtly into our romance stories to show (not tell).

For the Persuasive Litigator blog, Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm blogs on behalf of the law firm Holland & Hart LLP about reading too much into body language. It's so good, this writer is bookmarking it. One would not want to perpetuate the occasional canard.

If the above-mentioned website asks you to create an account and log in, please look for the textlink to "read the original".

Here is a link to the original:

Maybe a very long tie is the sartorial equivalent of a diminutive man driving a Ferrari. And maybe it isn't!

Angela Hoy has compiled a fascinating list of whispers and warnings for followers of Writers Weekly.

For those who have not yet used their supermarket-bought Christmas gift cards, there is a particular matter of concern.

And now, this writer has a plane to catch.

Happy New Year!

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, January 03, 2019

New Year Customs

Happy New Year!

Do you eat black-eyed peas for luck on New Year's Day? Although my grandmother, who grew up in rural North Carolina, often cooked black-eyed peas, she never mentioned this tradition. Weirdly, I heard of it only after getting married, even though my husband was a "Navy brat" whose family didn't settle in Virginia until he was about twelve. Some cooks include a coin in the pot, with the person who finds the coin getting extra luck. My husband doesn't do that. Nor does he follow the additional custom of eating collard greens along with the peas. Peas symbolize prosperity, and the greens represent money. Another superstition mandates eating exactly 365 peas, a separate portion of luck for each day of the year. (Who counts out 365 peas for each serving at the table? And in leap years, do they add one more?) Lentils, similarly, are sometimes said to bring prosperity because they represent coins. There's an Italian sweet pastry that should be eaten at New Year's to ensure a sweet year. All these arise from sympathetic magic, of course, the concept that apparent resemblances have real-world effects.

Scottish tradition includes the belief that the "first footer"—the first person to cross the threshold of your home after midnight on New Year's Eve—should be a dark-haired man. A woman or a non-dark-haired person as first footer brings bad luck rather than good.

Here's a list of New Year's superstitions, mainly things you should avoid doing on the first day of the year:

New Year's Superstitions

Don't cry on that day, or you'll have sadness all year—okay. But don't wash the dishes or the laundry? Those are new to me.

Another common belief is that you shouldn't begin the year owing any debt. Excellent advice, but most of us have little hope of fulfilling that condition, what with all the credit card charges for holiday gifts and festivities.

My parents had a tradition of taking down the Christmas tree on New Year's Day. Several decades ago I joyfully abandoned this exhausting and depressing habit. I don't start un-decorating until Epiphany (January 6, the end of the "twelve days of Christmas").

Aside from the traditional kiss at midnight, do you follow any particular customs to inaugurate the New Year?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

How To Use Tarot And Astrology In Science Fiction Part 3 - Suspend Reader Disbelief

How To Use Tarot And Astrology In Science Fiction
Part 3
Suspend Reader Disbelief 

Previous posts in this discussion:


Part 1

Part 2

And now in Part 3, we'll look at UFO reports, which are (oddly) lumped in with the "Paranormal" (which includes ghosts).

In ordinary consciousness, people go about their business never giving a thought to ghosts, telepathy, teleportation, prophecy, or kidnapping by UFO.

So when they do turn their attention to such occult phenomena, it is like peering into a compartment where you keep ridiculous ideas, a toy box of concepts to push around into new patterns just for fun.

Most readers of Romance or any of the Fantasy (even Science Fiction) genres don't "take it seriously."  So as a writer, you don't have to work hard to attain "suspension of disbelief."

However, if you're writing a book to be published as non-fiction about such phenomena, you have to hammer away incessantly at convincing people that their toys are real.  It's part of the appeal of the Christmas Classic, The Nutcracker where toys come alive.

Tarot and Astrology, as they are mass-marketed for profit, are regarded like toys by most people.  These toys produce fun stuff, but they don't mean anything and don't have to be taken into account when living your day to day existence.

Romance is like that (until you do experience it for real).  The "for real" experience is like the toys in the toy box coming alive, an astonishing moment suspended outside of time.

In psychology, that moment is called "cognitive dissonance" -- and that experience of reassessing what is and is-not real is the essence of the fiction writer's craft.

To work across the boundary between the real and the inside of the toy box, the writer must study both fiction and  non-fiction.

The New Year's fare in Newspapers is peppered with "psychics" making predictions about the coming year (and other linear prognosticators doing "if this goes on.")  Tarot and Astrology get featured, as they sometimes do for Halloween (see my Halloween Tarot/Vampire story, "False Prophecy" in: Through The Moon Gate (and other tales of vampirism)

In August (the silly season) newspapers carry stories about UFOs.  When people are bored (because Congress isn't in season, all their friends at work are on vacation so projects stall, the kids are home going stir crazy), they open their toy box of ideas and get lost in playing with them.  It's amusing and refreshing.

Non-fiction about UFO visits to Earth, about Astronauts sightings, other credible witnesses, photos (which we disbelieve more so now than ever), occupy that part of the mind.

I've been a UFO-NUT since grammar school when I found that section in the library and had my Mom take the books out so I could read them.  I never believed any of it, but could construct a world where it was true, "...they are watching us!"

Then I met a couple people (at different times) who told of their own abduction by a UFO.  Very convincing, especially since they weren't giving speeches about it for money or writing books, or being paid by a newspaper, etc. No profit motive, just a disturbance in life.

I have friends who follow the UFO reports, so one time I was at a speech where the guy was selling a book on the topic, and spent over an hour presenting "evidence" for the validity and verification, the credibility of witnesses, etc. -- pounding away at trying to prove (to an audience of true believers) that UFOs are real.

So afterwards, I listened to everyone reinforcing their true-belief, buying the autographed book, and treating the author as if he were important.

I waited for most to leave, then asked him why, if his case actually convinced him, he is still trying to convince people.  If these visitations are real, then accept that and move on to the next logical step -- or to debating what that step should be.  If it's true, act as if it's true.  If it's not true, shut up.

I've never before or since seen such a totally flummoxed speaker.

He simply had no answer, and as far as I could tell, had never considered that option -- assuming what he knows to be true is in fact true, and going to the next step.

So, I'm still a wide-open question on UFOs in general, kidnappings in particular.  It seems to be the reason these people write these "non-fiction" books is to make money. There's more profit in manufactured or exaggerated evidence and sincere insistence on the impossible than there is in the truth.

And that gives you a formula for a hot-hot-hot Romance Character, a UFOLOGIST who doesn't know he doesn't believe what he's peddling.

To write such a story, you need a theory of reality built by ripping items from the headlines - using newspaper stories widely believed as if they are fact.

And you need a theory of existence that explains how and why Tarot and Astrology work, how they are related to each other, and what Aliens From Outer Space have to do with that.

Astronomy and Astrophysics are barreling toward Astrology and Tarot (yes, Tarot is more like Astrophysics, if you look aslant the right way).

Here's a TOY BOX item for you:

Subtitle of that article:
The idea that the universe splits into multiple realities with every measurement has become an increasingly popular proposed solution to the mysteries of quantum mechanics. But this “many-worlds interpretation” is incoherent, Philip Ball argues in this adapted excerpt from his new book Beyond Weird.

Tarot is all about decision points in life, and what you USE of your interior, spiritual, innate or learned skills and resources to navigate the white-water-rapids of life's decision points.  This article discusses the new mathematical and quantum physics view of multiple universes -- which has been a staple of science fiction since before JACK OF EAGLES by James Blish (author of the first STAR TREK novel published, SPOCK MUST DIE):

Today, people believe in science even without understanding all that hard stuff.  Science has produced usable results (smartphones for one), so people believe in human interference with the cyclical climate surges (glaciations followed by polar melts over millions of years) because it is settled science.

With the setting aside of religion in most organized forms, humans search for things to believe in.  UFOs, Romance, Science, multiple universes, all have their share of true believers.

To write science fiction romance of the caliber of James Blish's JACK OF EAGLES, you need to grab and incorporate a bit of speculative science and weld it to a bit of speculative occultism, then build your entire world selecting every detail to symbolize or illustrate that composite element.

Psychics have long predicted, in the New Year's Prediction issues of the papers, that this year Aliens will arrive, reveal themselves, or that we will get a signal from outer space proving there are people out there.

So, to get your readers to suspend their disbelief, you must accept your belief in your fictional world as real.

STAR TREK the original series, (all cardboard sets and flat colored backdrop paintings) as popular and gripping because the actors were able to treat what they were doing as REAL (even when it was using a salt shaker to detect an Alien's state of health).

Writing is a performing art.

Accept the reality of your fictional world, your specific blend of the Esoteric and the Scientific, and sidestep reader disbelief.

Your readers believe in Romance, and believe in Science, and some believe in UFOs (at least during August).

Accept what they believe as actually real.  Don't be like the UFO lecturer and be unable to understand what is implied if the belief is real.  Accept the reality, and plot onwards through the next action, and the next.

Your characters have to implement their decisions out of the unconscious assumption that these elements are real.

So, suppose your Character is to meet up with (or be kidnapped by) a UFO alien.

What is this Alien?

Use widely believed science to answer that question.

We are now (with orbital telescopes) discovering the size of our Universe,

Another outlet, Gizmodo, (probably working off the same publicist's press release) gives more depth, pointing out Hyperion's relationship to the supercluster Earth is in, Laniakea.

I discussed Laniakea here:

For decades, science fiction has been speculating about parallel universes (and anti-matter ones -- do read the STEN series).

Here are entries where I discuss the STEN SERIES.

So what sort of Alien arrives by UFO (yes, I do love both THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and STARMAN), and kidnaps a human?

Once you determine what sort of alien, you should be able to derive why he would do such a thing.

Keeping in mind the size of the Universe we are now exploring by reading energy particles that are billions of years old, and keeping in mind all the new science produced from putting humans in weightlessness on space stations (showing how humans can't survive a trip to Mars or living there - we are gravity dependent and cosmic-ray sensitive), think hard about an Alien poking around Earth.

If we can't go to their planet (because settled science says so), then how could they come here?

Your readers keep their UFO knowledge in their toy boxes.   Make them take that knowledge out of the toy category.

How are we going to go visit Aliens who lived billions of years ago, and will be long dead by the time we get there?

Look around at current science headlines.

And look at what Forbes has been reporting on Artificial Intelligence

Forbes -- a financial organ -- talking about the size of reality and the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and robots as tools.

If we can create Artificial Intelligence, we can begin to determine if intelligence is related to the Soul -- and therefore what makes a Soul Mate.

Before we get to such spiritual questions, it is very likely we'll be sending AI entities to Mars and/or Venus - maybe to explore, to send back resources, to terraform, to build a habitat humans can live in.

Remember, with the nailing of the Higgs Boson, we are starting to get a handle on mass, weight, and perhaps one day, artificial gravity so we can take our fragile bodies out to the stars.

One might expect "Aliens" to haul their habitat around with them, too, but likewise to send ahead a wave of Artificial Intelligence -- not just robots programmed to do things, or remotely controlled as we try to do, but AI that can learn, think, reason, conclude and act.

Perhaps an AI explorer was sent out as an ordinary Intelligence, but along the way somehow acquired a Soul?

Perhaps your Main Character is kidnapped by an Alien AI with a Soul, and the experiments described in so many UFO books are actually an investigation into whether humans have Soul, and if so what Soul might be, where it comes from, and how it can be lost.

Or perhaps the UFO denizens are just trying to find Soul Mates?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Tattoo Troubles

Would you permanently affix someone else's copyrighted intellectual property onto your body, so that  you might have to pay that copyright owner royalties every time you exposed their property to public view in the course of your own commercial activity?

If you have artwork "inked" onto your skin, you might be in that situation.  If you write about a hero or heroine with tattoos, they might have interesting problems.

Nicole Smalberger, writing for the South African legal firm Adams & Adams explains the complex legal issues around original ink art in "Listen: Who owns the copyright to the tattoo on your body." When you pay for your tattoo, you pay for the placement of the artwork but not for the copyright of the art.

If you aspire to fame, and may one day be photographed as part of your business activities, be sure to buy the rights to whatever permanently decorates your face or bod.

Whatever would be the situation if you got the lyrics of your favorite pop song tattooed on your back? You'd be a walking infringement of the pop singer-songwriter's copyright.

Happy 2019

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Alternative Christmases

When is Christmas not Christmas? When its equivalent appears under another name in a holiday episode of a TV series or movie franchise. TV Tropes has a page on this phenomenon:

You Mean Xmas

It's not unusual for TV series to have "Christmas" episodes even if they're set in a time or place where Christmas doesn't exist. An episode of XENA, WARRIOR PRINCESS featured "A Solstice Carol." MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC has "A Hearth's Warming Tale," set on the holiday celebrating the occasion when the three types of ponies worked together to save the fledgling realm of Equestria from the terrible Windigos. (This story combines elements of A CHRISTMAS CAROL and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.) Then there's the infamous STAR WARS holiday special, set on the Wookie home planet at the season of Life Day. (I've never seen this film, so all I know is what's summarized on TV Tropes; it has never been re-aired, because it's so abysmal that Lucas himself loathes it.) The inhabitants of Fraggle Rock celebrate the Festival of the Bell in "The Bells of Fraggle Rock," at the time of year when the Rock slows down and would freeze forever if the Fraggles didn't ring their bells to awaken the Great Bell. The characters in DINOSAURS have Refrigerator Day, appropriately commemorated by lavish feasting. Although BEAUTY AND THE BEAST takes place in the world as we know it, members of the secret underground community where Vincent (the Beast) dwells celebrate "Winterfest" instead of Christmas. Print fiction features a similar phenomenon. There's a Midwinter Festival in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar universe. The people of Discworld have Hogswatchnight, as portrayed in detail in Terry Pratchett's HOGFATHER. The world of Steven Universe is an exception to this pattern. Its canon establishes that the invasion of the alien Gems thousands of years ago altered Earth so radically that Christianity doesn't exist, so there's no Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, etc. However, virtually every temperate-zone culture in the world has a winter solstice celebration with such elements as feasting, lights, greenery, and bells, so it seems likely that the people in this series would have one, too. If they do, apparently the producers and writers simply haven't considered it necessary to mention.

In the animated special ARTHUR'S PERFECT CHRISTMAS, Arthur's bunny friend gets so stressed out by his divorced mother's frantic attempt to make Christmas perfect that he wants to invent their own family holiday instead, "Baxter Day." An episode of SEINFELD popularized the anti-Christmas holiday of Festivus, which includes the Airing of Grievances (when everybody complains to everybody else about offenses committed through the year) and an aluminum pole instead of a tree. In short, the human spirit seems to crave festivity at the dark of the year.

A satirical essay by C. S. Lewis imagines what the ancient Greek historian Herodotus would have made of the modern British Christmas. Herodotus concludes that Exmas and Crissmas can't possibly be the same holiday, because even barbarians wouldn't go through all that expense and bother for a god they don't believe in:

Xmas and Christmas

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

How To Use Tarot & Astrology In Science Fiction Part 2 - Now Speculate

How To Use Tarot & Astrology
 In Science Fiction
Part 2
Now Speculate

Part 1 is found at:

In Part 1, we looked at how to do science using Astrology and History.  The process is simple.  Use what science (archeology, paleontology, literary preservations (such as stone engravings, or the Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls) is using for best current theory, then correlate that with a speculative application of Astrology.

Astrologers aver that planets have no effect on humanity (or do not correlate with Events in history) before they are "discovered."  The "What if ..." we are playing with here, is "What if modern Astrology is all wrong?"

What if there's something to Astrology, but it isn't what the experts think it is, and it isn't what marketers of astrological "wisdom" peddle it as?  What if ...?

What if this speculative idea depicts the actual real world, not some alternate or fantasy reality?

So we are exploring what if planetary movements have indeed correlated with historic movements for thousands (even millions?) of years.

One of the most recently discovered planets is Pluto -- and even recently, after decades of calling it a "planet" astronomers voted to demote it from planetary status (for various reasons, all of them perfectly comprehensible).

Neptune and Pluto are in fact different from the rest of our Sun's planets, but as far as their timing the cycles of human history goes, that probably doesn't matter.  Or it might matter when we find out more, and see how their orbits correlate with some mystical energy ebb and flow -- who knows?

Since nobody knows, we get to speculate.

So we pointed to History (as well as it is known) in Part 1, and correlated the general outline of the pattern of Events in the current news with Events of centuries ago.

Human mass migration (and subsequent interbreeding), conquering, flowing around the globe, often prompted by glaciation, usually in response to a search for resources (and riches), has been mapped by paleontologists and archeologists.

The search for the origins of humanity, or modern humanity, is going on using DNA to trace population movements and interbreeding.  We all bear traces of pre-modern-human DNA.

So humanity survives while thousands die, even huge percentages of a population can die off and humanity still survives (civilization not so much.)

We look at the Headlines of 2018, and look back for when "this" happened before.  We have to think in terms of generations, even centuries, to see the patterns we can use to speculate about.

Currently, humans are once again upending the forms and purposes of government.

We've noted how this urge to invent or reinvent governing forms has happened in cycles of about 248 years (irregularly!  Pluto's orbit is long ellipse - speculated to be a "capture" by our Sun).  It's "speed" in orbit is not regular -- it goes faster, then slower.  If we can't think of something new, we stage a revolution and behead the King, get a new King and start over.

The USA is about up to its Pluto return (where Pluto is at the same degree it was when the country was born.)

Meanwhile, the other planets have whizzed around more times than in any one human life-span, creating all sorts of "well, it's different this time" Events.

Yes, it's always different -- but underlying, there is a trace of a repeating pattern.

This time, we will go exploring Space, trying to live on space stations (do read C. J. Cherry's Foreigner Series), and alien planets.

Here's the Amazon link to the list of books in the Foreigner Series.

The Pluto in Aquarius motivation will carry us into space by the urgent need of the generation born with Pluto in Aquarius to seek FREEDOM, to find identity, to be individually sovereign and collectively free to practice any religion.

The need to get away from other humans waxes and wanes, but when it peaks it is very intense.

One can speculate that Climate Change will make Earth less friendly to human endeavor and drive some of our more freedom-seeking individuals to find a way to get OUT OF HERE.

But we have seen that living weightless in orbit is destructive to the human body, cells lose integrity and function, and ills accumulate.  One can speculate that gravity varying too far away from Earth's (maybe the Moon, or Mars?) might be just as destructive to human cells and unlivable.

That's just another problem to be solved -- and our labs are hard at work on mastering cells, and creating whole organisms.  It's just another step toward freedom to be able to re-engineer humans to fit other environments.  Many Science Fiction novels have centered on that.

You know the people doing this work on genetics also read/watch science fiction -- they grow up wanting to do what the books depict, just as the current world is largely patterned on a drive toward STAR TREK (except we're trying to sidestep the genetics war).

What do you want this current crop of babies with Pluto in Aquarius to grow up wanting to do?

On the straight line extrapolation from where we've been (exploring and conquering The Americas) to where we are (fighting each other for resources, trying to damp climate change thus depriving undeveloped countries of resources), to where this leads "If this goes on ..." -- we can only see exploring space.

But how do we do that?  What do we try that fails or is too expensive?  What do we invent to sidestep that problem?

A) engineering human genome to withstand broader living conditions (gravity, air, water)

B) sending remote controlled Robots to scout (doing that already)

C) inventing Artificial Intelligence so we can send them exploring?

Well, scientists are madly working on AI, and business people are striving mightily to make enough profit off the first attempts to finance further inventions.

That's where we're going.

But what if AI is more than "Intelligent" -- actually becomes "conscious" and even "self-aware."

What if we send some AI equipped ship out beyond the beyond, and as it goes, it remakes itself and becomes self-aware?

What if biology can't reinvent human cells fast enough to let humans live on Mars?  So we send AI to colonize and mine Mars, the astroids, etc for the raw material we need to fix Earth's climate disaster?

We're close to autonomous cars.  Autonomous AI isn't that far off.  Pluto is slowing in orbit and will be in Aquarius long enough for the general urge to explore to drive us beyond the beyond.

When the departed group (which might be human+AI+whoknowswhat), returns to Earth what will they find? (yes, PLANET OF THE APES scenario asks this question).

All space travel is time travel, too -- space and time as we've discussed while pointing to various articles, are deeply intertwined. There might, in fact, be no difference between space, time, and gravity.

All of this speculation is to be done with the various novels and series I've reviewed here -- most especially those I've tagged as not being Romance at all.  Those anti-Romance science fiction novels are read by the current people doing the work on genetics and AI that we've discussed here, in Part 2 of this series.

Here are a few of the recent reviews of books where I discuss many of these issues - love stories, yes, but not focused on Romance.

And this one with a pretty strong setup for a hot Romance:

And this one with serious Romance plotting:

Think about all the other books you've read -- compare those written long ago with those currently being published, and consider two things:

a) where was Pluto when the author was born?
b) where was Pluto when the author's target readership was born?

Here are some of the Astrology Just For Writers series discussing Pluto and how to use Astrology in fiction writing without having to learn any.

Re-read this blog entry about Pluto and Expository Lumps in writing:

And here is the key one -- discussing Pluto's position by sign as each generation is born, and how you can use that information to target a readership, and extrapolate what those children will do when they grow up.

That's a lot of reading, but writers have to read both fiction and non-fiction, so get to it.  Fiction and non-fiction are NOT two different things.  They correlate.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Right Of First Sale Does Not Apply To Digital

A copyright owner has the exclusive right to publish, reproduce, and distribute her work. This applies to music files, and to ebooks.

Fair use is, apparently, a rule that was created by a judge and later made law by Congress. However, fair use applies to limited portions of a work, not to an entire book or to an entire song (or tune).  If someone creates a copy, and sells it in competition with the legal version created by the copyright owner or copyright holder, that is not fair use.

One of the best (most readable, most well-articulated) explanations of copyright infringment with regards to digital files is:

and is penned by Samuel J. Zeitlin   and Bruce Rich   legal bloggers for the law firm Weil Gotshal and Manges LLP

If you see that you have to register and log in to read the article, look for the orange text link below the invitation to "register" and click on the orange text to read the original.

Here is the orginal

Now, if only someone would do something about this:

Porter Anderson reports on the same court ruling.

As does Michael Cader for Publishers Lunch,

Also, Publishers Weekly

It is also worth remembering that Amazon has a patent on digital resale.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Acceptable Breaks from Reality?

The TV Tropes site has a page called "Acceptable Breaks from Reality," about the "unrealistic" things regularly allowed to happen in fiction and film in order to move the story along, even though the elements aren't true to life:

Acceptable Breaks

This trope came to mind when I watched last week's episode of NCIS, a favorite series I've faithfully followed since its inception (even though I didn't completely like the star, Gibbs, at first and could hardly stand Agent Tony DiNozzo for the first season or two). Despite my fondness for the show, I'm often distracted or outright exasperated by some of their routine plot devices. One of the most "acceptable," which bugs me anyway if I stop to think about it, falls under the TV Tropes category "The Main Characters Do Everything." They seem to have only one medical examiner, Dr. Mallard, and one assistant, Dr. Palmer, doing all the autopsies. This large, busy organization has only one forensic technician, who literally does everything, including conducting DNA tests instead of sending them out to a specialized lab. In one episode, while the forensic tech was absent for some reason, two of the regular agents temporarily took over her lab and analyzed evidence. With no training or certification in that field? Yikes. Yes, I realize programs want to keep the focus on the stars and don't want to pay a lot of actors to play minor characters just to make the staff look realistically large. How much would it cost, though, to have a group of extras in the background or walking in and out of the picture so that the spaces devoted to autopsy and forensics would appear to be populated in a lifelike way? The program does that for the main NCIS office. In those scenes, the stars are far from the only people on the set.

Most of the time, I don't think about this issue while watching the show. Nor do I gripe too much about the "murder of the week" template, despite the fact that real NCIS agents (as far as I know from having been a Navy wife for thirty years) work more on such crimes as burglaries and assaults in Navy housing than on murders and terrorist conspiracies. The former types of investigations, admittedly, wouldn't be very exciting unless a body turned up before the first commercial. Some other "breaks from reality," however, actively grate on me. For instance,the agents frequently travel to other countries in the course of investigations, although they're based in the Washington, D.C. area, their presumed jurisdiction and operational purview. And they often go to other cities for brief interviews with potential informants instead of calling on the phone. That office must have a lavish travel budget! Last week's episode included several of my "pet peeves." Usually, the number of days covered by an episode isn't specified, so the audience may assume, with a little indulgence, that enough time has elapsed for lab tests to get done. This one, however, explicitly begins and ends on Christmas Eve. The forensic tech uses her superhuman skills to determine whether an unidentified baby is the child of a dead murder suspect. In real life, DNA analysis takes between 24 and 72 hours to complete. (I looked it up.) Yet she gets a result from the DNA paternity test in only an hour or two, judging from how much story time the rest of the episode spans.

Throughout the series, the agents constantly delve into official records that they shouldn't be allowed to access without warrants. Maybe that issue can be overlooked in the interests of streamlining the action. Entering private dwellings without warrants, however, is a more glaring violation. In the referenced episode, two agents talk the suspect into letting them into his apartment, even though they don't have a search warrant. So far, okay. But then they force their way into a closed room he has forbidden them to enter. No warrant, no permission from the occupant, no probable cause. In an actual case, any evidence they found would be tainted. At some point the suspect produces a gun, and one of the agents shoots him dead. We never hear a word about her being suspended pending investigation, as she would be, or even a passing comment about that possibility. For that matter, throughout the series the agents are continually involved in car chases and shootouts with no apparent repercussions.

Then there are the often unintentionally humorous "flyover country" slip-ups in occasional episodes. I know that in many movies and TV series, southern California stands in for almost everywhere. But couldn't film technology have deleted the mountains from the background of a scene allegedly set in Norfolk, Virginia (on the Atlantic coast, a half-day's drive from the nearest mountain range)? As a resident of Maryland, I was especially amused as well as mildly annoyed by an incident when the agents visited the Carroll County sheriff. (Why, I don't remember; that seemed like another interaction that could have been handled by phone.) According to its website, that department is "a full service law enforcement agency" with a staff of 260 employees. To the writers of NCIS, the word "sheriff" must have been free-associated with "Mayberry." They have the sheriff claiming he can't leave the office because there's nobody on the premises except himself and one deputy.

Minor "breaks from reality" to avoid slowing down the story are one thing, but critical research failures or the appearance of just not caring are another. What unrealistic details in movies and TV programs can you overlook for the sake of plot streamlining, and which ones make your teeth grind in exasperation?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

How To Use Tarot And Astrology In Science Fiction Part 1 - Real History

How To Use Tarot & Astrology In Science Fiction
Part 1
Real History 

Tarot and Astrology Just For Writers are indexed here:



The Fantasy genre has focused on two major plot-drivers (some call these tropes).
1) Who Gets To Be King (depicting government by Aristocracy)
2) A Secret Society Of Magicians Co-exists With Normals (Muggles)

The secret, underground society that works hard to keep itself un-noticed by mundanes (muggles) tends to dominate "Urban Fantasy" these days.

That concept symbolizes the blurring effect we see with Neptune Transiting Pisces -- which Neptune "rules" -- and thus blurring the edges and meaningfulness of "facts."  This has made "fake news" a feature of daily life, but each points the finger at the other screaming "fake."  That's NEPTUNE on the loose, and is actually not the way Neptune functions best.

That is the "vice" of Neptune.  Each Astrological planet has a way of manifesting as a "Vice" (an anti-life function) and a "Virtue" (a pro-life function).

Neptune is the planet of the "reality" behind reality, the astral plane where one simply thinks and believes and it is so.  Thus as noted so many times in these posts, Neptune is the signature planet of the years of a person's life where Romance dominates.

When Neptune makes a transit contact with key points in a Natal chart, the person's perception of reality shifts -- kind of like the optical illusions that have become such popular memes.  Blink, and it's one thing, blink and it is the opposite -- so "which is it?" becomes the question.

People rage into emotional arguments over optical illusions.

The argument over whether there exists such a thing as Soul Mate, or Happily Ever After, has the same emotional-rage flavor.

Consider whether the cause of the emotional-rage, adamant advocacy for one side or the other, both arise from the same "place" inside the human makeup.

Some philosophers give up and just declare that there is no such thing as "reality" at all -- everything is illusion.

Some adopt the idea that there exists an objective, hard fact, reality that can be discovered by Science -- therefore, "settled science" is to be obeyed if you want to survive.  See the raging, terror-driven argument over Climate Change -- listen to the tone of voice advocating each side -- does it sound the same to you as the argument over "Fake News" or the argument over "Happily Ever After?"

Are all these emotion-fueled raging, adamant, life-or-death depends on forcing the other to accept, believe, act upon, MY VIEW OF REALITY?

Look at the Religious Wars raging around the Globe.  We had the Catholic vs Protestant war in Northern Ireland spilling into London with bombings.

Now we have the Moslem Religion torn apart, sides taken aligning with whichever son inherited The Prophet's mantle, and as far as I've been able to discern the issue, it's all about which side gets the Divine Privilege of destroying all the Jews, ridding the world of that People and bringing the Islamic version of the Messiah.

On another front, we have serious shooting wars raging in skirmishes around the globe, brewing and stewing up Revolution - the exact same emotional tenor and tone as the "Fake News" argument over what is real (Saturn) and what is not (Neptune.)

Writing teachers teach that story is story -- throughout time, always the same -- because human nature never  changes.

"Human Nature Never Changes" is an adamantly declared Universal Truth one must believe in to sell fiction.

Classics of Literature are "classic" because they outline, starkly showcase, some element of Human Nature that all of us must understand to be educated and wise.

As you all know, my series, Sime~Gen, (14 volumes and still growing) is a science fiction series based on the premise that Writing Teachers -- and High School reading teachers, and university Literature Teachers are just plain wrong.

Human Nature has changed, is changing, and will change.

Not only that, but we (as humans with that nature) get to choose what aspect of us to change into which aspect -- whether to go forward or backward in our Nature Evolution.

We can revert to unmitigated savagery, or we can progress toward unmitigated Kindness.

Sime~Gen is built on the premise that if we, as humans, don't choose to advance in Compassion, then we will be hammered into accepting Compassion, Soul by Individual Soul, whether we like it or not.

We must change our Nature, or it will be changed for us.

The premise that our Professors (what Fantasy Genre based on government by Aristocracy would term our "betters") are just plain wrong is formulated by using the thinking process of the science fiction genre.  Thus the result (whatever esoteric, or fantasy elements might be included) is pure science fiction.

You do the same thing with any branch of science -- What If "They" (Authority) Is WRONG?

What If...
If Only ...
If This Goes On ...

Those are the speculations that science fiction is based on.

"If Only..." is the essence of Neptune's perception of reality.

Many esoteric thinkers regard Neptune influenced opinions as based on a "higher reality" -- a perspective of reality from farther away, from an angle which reveals the interlaced fundamentals of Body and Soul, the juncture of the spiritual and material.

Many call those who see that juncture, "Wise."

Tarot and Astrology are very old disciplines, much older than Science.

Tarot and Astrology are the science of the Unseen (unsee-able).

If you study the historical development of Science, you find that Alchemy is the predecessor of Chemistry.  Now, Chemistry (and Physics) can do much of what Alchemy was believed to do.

In every way, the thinking processes that led to these early attempts to gain ascendancy over Mother Nature -- agriculture, genetics, materials science (flint, copper, iron, bronze) -- all lead to today's "science."

And all of them are rooted deeply into Tarot and Astrology -- but their social acceptance relies on their refutation and rejection of Tarot and Astrology.

Tarot and Astrology are about Human Nature evolving and changing upon interaction with the physical world studied by Science.

Science is about Mother Nature evolving and changing upon interaction with Science.

In other words, they are two halves of a whole.

Science reveals "the truth" about the physical reality in order to give humans complete command over their environment.  That is why the Earth's climate responding to "human activity" is something so terrifying, so horrifying, that these very scientists who measure it can not accept it - the Earth is "out of control" -- and science must control.

Human Nature, on the other hand "never changes."

"What if ..." when human nature refuses to change, and insists on hammering Mother Nature into shape, Mother Nature responds by hammering back?

What if the solution is not to control Earth's Climate but to adapt human nature to the ever-shifting climate?

Look back into pre-history, using archeology and paleontology.  Over many shifts of climate, we see primates adapting and adapting until we find "modern man."  And "Modern Man" migrates and adapts, creates shelter, clothing, hunting tools, agriculture etc etc.

And through all that adapting of human nature (including learning to fight each other with ever-more-powerful weapons), we also developed the studies and wisdom of Tarot and Astrology (which are now disparaged).

So why aren't we accepting climate change and adapting - moving our cities back from the edges where water will rise, building habitats under water, mapping where the arable land will move to as ocean currents shift (farming tropical fruit at the poles?), learning to use the ocean as food source, etc.

Wait a minute.  Who says we won't do this, eventually?  Haven't the survivors of cataclysm done exactly that throughout pre-history?

What do we, today, know that they didn't know?

In Astrology, we know of the existence of planets beyond Saturn.  In Tarot, we know that humans have Free Will and shape fate by choices.  In Religion, we know that the choices that matter involve the Relationship with God developed over a lifetime.  (We know that those who are in critical illness, or dire trouble, benefit when others pray for them.)  Compassion matters. Kindness matters.  We can't quantify it, but Love matters.

There is another dimension where all living things are "stitched" together into some sort of pattern we, with ordinary consciousness, can't see.

So a writer can "reveal" this interface between the esoteric dimensions of creation and the everyday, concrete world studied by Science, using both plot (events in the real world) and story (Character changes on impact of real Events).

The best genre for revealing esoteric truth is Science Fiction Romance -- a science challenge, "what if authority is wrong?" coupled to a Character Arc where the impact of one Character's Soul upon another Character causes them both to change in ways shaped by their ability to understand the sequence of Events.

One good example of this process is the TV Series, X-Files.

So what might such a couple learn as they become a couple?

Look carefully at our Neptune Transiting Pisces (its own sign) shaped world.  Note also that currently Pluto is transiting Capricorn (not at all its own sign).

Neptune's vice is confusion, and Pluto's vice is power run amok (war).

We've noted above how Neptune's illusion and blurring of reality is sowing confusion over the whole globe.  It's not a problem.  It does that periodically, and humanity has survived it -- even learned a thing or two in the process.

Pluto cycles are about 248 years.  Neptune cycles about 165 years, give or take.

So look at now, then look back at Pluto transits and History.  Pluto was only recently "discovered" but that doesn't mean it wasn't active before that (many astrologers accept the idea that a planet is active in human affairs only after it has been discovered -- what if that's not true?)

When the USA was formed, Pluto was in Capricorn (where it is now).  The USA was formed in revolutionary war, and immediately launched a foreign war (Tripoli of Marine Corps Hymn fame).

The USA Natal Pluto is at the end of Capricorn, so the expansion of the 1800's was accompanied by the transit of Pluto into Aquarius, the sign of the USA's Moon and MC.  Aquarius is about Freedom, sudden explosive change, independence, and the "Flower Children's" mission of "Finding Yourself" (otherwise known as the Australian walkabout.)

After stewing through the Articles of Confederation phase, then the intense conflict over writing a Constitution to govern two incompatible ideologies, the Colonies launched a campaign of exploration, conquering the continent.  It was the era of the Mountain Man, the Buffalo Hunter, Gold Discovery in California, Wagon Trains, Oklahoma Land Rush, and of course Indian Wars.

If you know Astrology, you see immediately how all the historical elements in that list are manifestations of Pluto.

The incompatible ideologies that are blended in the USA Constitution are:
A) Government Is Order Imposed By Aristocrats Who Know Better Than the Uneducated In Classics And Science (they wanted George Washington to be King)
B) Government is Order That Protects Citizens From Government (domestic or foreign).  (they wanted Freedom)

The dichotomy is rooted in two incompatible takes on Human Nature.  A) Human Nature Never Changes, and B) Human Nature Rises To The Occasion

A) Humans can't be trusted to govern themselves, but the best among them can Rule better because they are educated.

B)Humans don't need Rulers.  Humans, even the uneducated in classics and science, are good at judging the Nature of other humans, and thus can choose who to hire to run government according to their assessment of Character.

Putting these two incompatible ideologies together was the Pluto in Capricorn innovation (Pluto's virtue is innovation, vice disruption).  A new form of government was established, and to date, at the verge of the USA Pluto return to its place, no other Nation has adopted this Constitution.

So a new governmental form launched a century of Exploration of The Unknown Continent.  And in that century, the 1800's, many other governments went exploring, searching for minerals and resources, and conquered peoples.

The Science Fiction Writer looks at this Pluto through Capricorn and into Aquarius as it manifested last time, and looks back and back through many cycles, seeing innovation and exploration (and war) periodically through history -- usually over resources which were hidden or revealed by advancing or retreating glaciers.

What will happen to human civilization as the oceans rise once again, glaciers retreat revealing what?

Do you see the potential for Science Fiction Romance in postulating what might be revealed by retreating glaciers?  Buried civilizations, UFO, time-travelers time machine?

Tracing the cycle of Pluto backwards through the epochs when it was in Aquarius, extrapolate what might come about this next time, in the 2000's?

Surely we will explore space.  We already are sending robots and remote-controlled devices to planets, asteroids, moons, and telescopes or probes beyond our solar system.

There may be other planets to discover, too.  Maybe that long-long cycle of outer-planets will trace the way Human Nature has changed and point the way toward future changes. Are we becoming more vicious and ferocious, or are we becoming more kind and compassionate?

Or are some of us becoming one, and some the other?

Does encountering Reality change the human Soul?  Or does encountering a human Soul change Reality?  Or both?

Formulate an answer to those questions and you can create a THEME which will support a very long series, such as the ones I've been reviewing for you here.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, December 16, 2018

EBay is still profiting from copyright infringement

After all these years...  Ebay is still profiting from and facilitating copyright infringement, or so it appears.

Do the sophisticated people at ebay seriously believe that Scholastic gives or sells licenses to Ebay sellers to sell up to ten copies at a time of a legal ebook?

Moreover, their "have one to sell" appears, in the context, to solicit copyright infringement.

"Bad Command" And The Perils of Petitions

If a petition has very few signatures, a reasonable observer might assume that not a lot of people agree with the petition.  Likewise, if an online petition has thousands of signatures, it suggests that the petition has tremendous support.

Apparently, if the petition is online, there may be other reasons for lack of support, or overwhelming support.

For instance, last evening, this writer was mildly inclined to sign a petition asking the new Congress to support copyright owners. How many times, though, does a mildly enthusiastic person keep going back to sign a petition (for the first and only time) when entering the first couple of letters of ones first name crashes ones computer, logs one out of all sites, and closes ones browser? 

I tried four times before giving up on my right to support copyright. Interestingly, it was the "firstname" block that was boobytrapped. If one started with ones zip code, nothing happened.   Apple called the issue a "Bad Command".

Imagine a dystopian world where one tries to vote, but if one votes in a way that ones internet provider or a sponsor of the site opposes, that vote would be called a bad command, and would be blocked.

Hacking democracy happens. Online polls and referenda have been manipulated.

Previously, there's been news about tricky campaigns where people who are not eligible to lobby someone elses parliamentary representative (even one in another country) find ways to geek around the rules.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul does not really need to worry about how someone in Scotland would like him to vote on copyright issues.   And European MEPs (apology for the tautology) should not be tricked into voting according to the wishes of someone with very busy fingers and geek skills who is domiciled in California, USA.

Even more shocking is this allegation about foreign political fund-raising at the expense of American taxpayers:

However, there is another peril of petitions and surveys. The petition launchers and survey creators may sell your private information and your private opinions to unscrupulous others.

One outfit that appears to purchase petition and survey results could be  Check it out. They display the most intimate results about individuals (which are not always accurate), and offer to suppress this "information" for a monthly fee. The foreign operatives of this site will ask dissatisfied customers not to contact their credit card providers. Be sure to disregard such requests.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry