Sunday, April 23, 2017

Wild West Web... and Sympathy for The Charging Bull

On the subject of "www", pantsers and procrastinators might like to be reminded that your websites will be more searchable if you migrate from http  to  https.

Here's some info
https://www.keycdn.com/blog/http-to-https/

Allegedly, if you (authors!!!) do not have https links, most of the popular browsers will flag your links as "not secure", which may mean that a few potential visitors will decide not to visit or not to follow your links.

At the same time, register your copyright agent!

This author needs to take her own advice!

Last Sunday, I wrote about the perils of curating content. If an internet platform starts to make active front end decisions on which user-uploaded "content" to post and which to suppress, (before any DMCA notices have been sent in from copyright owners about allegedly infringing files), those platforms may lose their Safe Harbor Protection.

I was reminded of this last week, when news commentators were discussing recent rapes and murders and other illegal activity being streamed on Facebook. The shocked commentators called for Facebook to actively curate "content" before it goes live, as most internet sites seem able to do for child pornography. Curating this or that might be the thin end of the wedge (or the camel's nose under the tent) for loss of "Safe Harbor" for sites whose business model depends entirely on "content" that other people provide at no cost to the sites.

The argument last Sunday, as I recall, was that if there is a copyright-claiming watermark on a photograph that a moderator actively decides to display, the moderator ought to be assumed to have "red flag knowledge" that the watermark says for example "Joe Doe owns the copyright", but Jane Blow has uploaded it purporting to have all rights.

As Joy R. Butler of the Law Office of Joy R Butler expresses it (in the context of featuring someone else, or someone else's property in a commercial advertisement )

"Ownership of a copyrighted work is not the same thing as ownership of the copyright in the work."

http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=ca4af3d4-867a-4537-9c13-0dd0b96c0aea

A lot of people don't understand that.

The same rule probably applies to internet memes, too. Most memes that I have seen, appear to be based on a copyrighted photograph of someone or something, with the addition of a quote.  Is that a "transformative use"? Or is it a "derivative work" and "copying", in which case, it is probably copyright infringement.

Ought you to be "liking", "sharing", and "retweeting" it? How about "memejacking" it? What if you try to monetize or make commercial use of other people's memes?

Claire Jones of Novagraf writes "One does not simply post memes without reviewing the IP issues".
http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=c470fc1e-d61e-4f98-a3b3-d113233998db&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email+-+Body+-+General+section&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2017-04-19&utm_term=

Methinks some do!

Claire Jones recommends checking out the history of memes on
www.KnowYourMeme.com

Finally, a puzzler. Does the placement of the statue of "Fearless Girl" infringe on any of the rights of the artist of "Charging Bull"?

I thank Joy R Butler for this thoughtful analysis of the legal and moral issues.
http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=101194a2-5dee-4371-aac5-c5dd47effd24&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email+-+Body+-+General+section&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2017-04-19&utm_term=

The bull used to be charging.  Simply charging. That's a good, strong, powerful, natural, even joyful activity. It symbolized "animal spirits" on Wall Street. (These are my thoughts). Now, that bull is charging AT a defenceless little girl. The bull has become a bully.

The Fearless Girl would not merit her title if she'd been placed on any other street in any other context. My view is, she should be displayed somewhere else, and her creator should create his or her own threatening animal as a companion piece.  What do you think?

But if you are pleased to comment, please use your own words and do not add copyrighted images or links without full and proper attribution.

Thank you.
And all the best,

Rowena Cherry
www.rowenacherry.com


Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Problem with "They"

Nowadays it's not uncommon to meet people who don't identify with either pole of the standard "he" and "she" binary. "It," our only singular neuter pronoun, doesn't work for sentient creatures. "They" is often used as a gender-neutral pronoun in these cases. My elementary school and high school teachers hammered into our heads (and your teachers probably did the same to you if you're close to my age) that singular "they" is ungrammatical and should never be spoken or written by literate persons. Those who hold the contrary position point out that singular "they" for subjects of unknown gender has been around for at least 600 years. I can grit my teeth, defy my early training, and accept that usage in a case like this:

"Somebody left their car keys in the lounge."

That sentence refers to a hypothetical or unidentified person. This example, however, seems fundamentally different to me:

"Lee left their car keys in the lounge."

A pronoun that's nominally plural applied to a single, known individual just sounds weird. The one exception that comes to mind, the "fusion" characters in the animated series STEVEN UNIVERSE (made up of two or three individuals temporarily fused into a composite person), isn't likely to be met in everyday life.

If we don't want to say "they" in place of "he" or "she," though, what do we do? (Well, aside from asking what pronoun a given person prefers, as the page linked below suggests.) The phrase "he or she" might work in writing but would be cumbersome in speech. Besides, as mentioned, some people don't identify with either one of those. We could repeat the proper name every time instead, as some church liturgies do to avoid assigning a sex to the Supreme Being (including the odd compound "Godself"). Madeleine L'Engle often refers to God by the ancient Hebrew word "El" instead of "He" or "She." In ordinary conversation, though, constantly repeating a person's name sounds awkward. What about inventing a neuter or inclusive pronoun, which has often been tried?

This page discusses gender-inclusive and gender-neutral pronouns, with a brief historical overview of these words and a chart of gender-neutral pronouns that have been coined and used in some speech communities:

Gender Pronouns

There's a surprising variety of neologisms proposed to solve this problem, and no consensus term has been adopted in popular speech. As linguistic scholars tell us, the basic building blocks of a language resist change. In the course of its development from Anglo-Saxon, English has freely adopted such parts of speech as verbs, nouns, and adjectives from Latin, Greek, French, and many other languages. A familiar joke declares, "English doesn't borrow from other languages. It mugs them in dark alleys, rummages through their pockets, and takes what it wants." Structural elements such as pronouns, however, are a different matter—with some little-known exceptions mentioned on the page cited above.

The languages of aliens with more than the two sexes displayed by typical Earth mammals would include other gender pronouns. Writers who create such aliens can invent words to match. Transforming languages actually spoken in our own cultures isn't so easy.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Self Image And The Tree of Life by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Self Image And The Tree of Life
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Many Paranormal Romance novels include the premise that Long-Lived or Immortal Beings walk among us.  Some are scary and some are yummy hunks.

There is something sexy about the Immortal, or near-immortal.

Check out the TV Series LUCIFER --
https://www.amazon.com/Lucifer-Complete-First-Season-Various/dp/B01G43HC66/



Here you have fallen angels, angels on a mission, certain they know their father's Will, then not so certain.  They have powers. They lose powers. They walk as mortals, get hurt, get confused, do wrong, experience remorse, struggle to complete a mission -- and just plain struggle.

Many viewers see Lucifer, himself, as the prime hunk - but others see some of the other Angel characters as riveting.

We find an Immortal, then wonder about ways to kill him.  In the TV Series Lucifer - a dagger is presented that can destroy body/soul/ -- even an Angel can be destroyed.  Uriel is destroyed by Lucifer using that dagger, and it is Uriel who brought the dagger to Earth to use, perhaps, on their Mother.

Vampire and Werewolf Romances often turn on the premise that the Supernatural beings strewn through our everyday world, hidden by subterfuge or magic or just human inattentiveness, are long-lived and/or Immortal.

The everyday reader is familiar with the idea that Souls (if they exist) are Immortal.  There is an "afterlife" -- and/or rebirth, reincarnation.  These are not within our everyday experience (except perhaps the Meet Your Soul Mate experience), so they make great "What If...?" premises for fiction.

The Tree of Life, in the Garden of Eden, is the source of fruit that confers eternal life.

Vampire and Shapechanger novels often explore the advisability or dubious value of "eternal life."

Which side of that argument you prefer to take, in fiction or in real life, may be a function of your Self Image.

What entertains us, and what writers put into their fiction, comes from deep in the unconscious -- sometimes of an individual, but often of our culture or even Humanity as a whole.

Artists depict
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/04/index-to-depiction-series-by-jacqueline.html
that non-verbal information about individuals and whole cultures (sometimes humanity as a whole) -- whether the artist knows it or not.  Usually, the artist does not know it -- at least before creating the work of Art, and often for decades afterward.

Reading what you wrote thirty years ago may reveal what you thought and felt back then -- but it also illustrates how you have changed.

Once you grasp that living a human life means CHANGE - you have a clue to what "Immortal" may mean, and why it might not be all good.

Your Self Image changes because your Self changes.

This is clearly depicted in your Astrological Natal Chart and the tools Astrologers use to evolve the potential at birth into the possibilities of today.  The "Self" changes.

If the Self Image does not change to match the Self's own evolution, psychological difficulties emerge.  Those difficulties will be externalized by each individual depending on how they are situated in "life" (e.g. waiting tables in a failing greasy spoon or sitting in the Oval Office).

Sometimes we become saner with time.  Sometimes we become less sane with time.  Sometimes we can handle everything life throws at us. Other times we cave in, get wiped out like a Surfer riding a tsunami.

The Art of Astrology is about figuring out which times are which, and what the available options are -- and how to update the available options list.

Writers don't have to know Astrology to use it in crafting a Character and the plot of the Character's story.

Here is the Index to Astrology Just For Writers.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2010/03/pausing-for-you-to-catch-up-with-me_30.html

Whether aware of it or not, all humans "know" Astrology -- we hear the still small voice prompting to do or not do; we feel great or depressed; we take risks or avoid them; we blurt out inadvisable remarks or keep silent.

Since your reader has had this experience, you must depict your Characters as either having and heeding that gut-feeling, still-small-voice, or being deaf to it.  There will always be Characters around your main Character who hear that voice.  We often call it Intuition - or other less admiring terms.

In March, we discussed an Interstellar War/Action series by Dave Bara

in which the main character (a Marty Stu type Character) is the most Intuitive around, and his Military uses a scientific method of measuring Intuition to rank people.










Intuition can be treated as a science fiction element, as can precognition (see Jean Johnson's series
https://www.amazon.com/First-Salik-War-3-Book/dp/B01HH3OWRO/

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2017/03/reviews-31-dave-bara-lightship.html

In the Art which the writer creates, the writer's Self Image will be the key.

As in music, notes are selected to go together, creating a "key" and all the notes in a sequence have to be in the same musical key.

A novel is like a symphony -- and the novel composition is as formalized and set as the structure of a symphony.

The "key" you write in is your Self Image.  Your "Voice" as a writer is like a singer's voice.

Developing your writer's Voice takes exercise and training, strong breathing muscles, strong vocal cords (which get strong only by exercise), good vocabulary, command of grammar and syntax, and above all an "ear" for emotion, and an "eye" for reality.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2013/12/reviews-3-by-jacqueline-lichtenberg.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2017/02/cozy-science-fiction-part-2-style-and.html

We've talked about developing your writer's Voice for years on this blog, but have seldom touched on the elements of your self-image that you inadvertently reveal in your fiction.

Most of what you reveal comes into your fiction via Theme.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-to-use-theme-in-writing-romance.html

You may consciously think so-and-such is the theme of this novel, but the dialog and plot events speak of a different theme.

Likewise in the Worldbuilding that we have explored extensively -- how the fictional world you build has to be constructed of the elements of your target audience's real, everyday world.  This is especially critical for self-publishing authors.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/04/index-to-theme-worldbuilding.html

Theme must be integrated into every element in the framework of a story -- every clever bit of dialogue or Character backstory, every detail of furniture or Alien Creatures, must be selected by the Theme.  Any stray bit that does not bespeak the Theme will jar the reader out of the story -- or get blue-penciled by a great editor.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2014/04/index-to-theme-worldbuilding.html

So, since Self Image is the basis of all Themes you actually write (as opposed to what you think you are writing), that deepest self-image shapes everything in a story -- the World, the Characters, the Story, and the Plot:

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2013/05/index-to-theme-plot-integration.html

And all of this integration, the nails that hold your fictional work together, come from your people-watching, critical observation of science, funding for science projects, politics, and every aspect of human behavior.

All of these elements you share in common with your target readership are filtered through the lens of your self-image and their self-images.

 The self-image quirks you have in common make your fiction "resonate" with your audience -- meaning they will recommend your novels to their friends.

So we've been discussing the components of a writer's self-image, where to get them, how to hone, define and strengthen those components, and how to discover which components the writer has in common with the target readership, for years.

Bit by bit, we've been building an image of self-image.

Self-image is the "key" you write in, sing your song in, and the color palette you paint your pictures in.

Know Thyself.

Are you an Immortal Soul on a journey through life, or on a vacation?

Do you inhabit your body -- or are you just your body and nothing more?

Do you have a Soul Mate?  Have you found (and maybe lost) your Soul Mate?

Have you been loved -- and known it at the time?

Have you experienced Life at its fullest?  Have you had the "time of your life" on some vacation, or perhaps at an awards ceremony where your triumphs were celebrated by people you didn't even know?

What moments have you lived that your readers also have -- or have not -- lived?

What do you know that your readers need to learn?

Where do you find out what your readers already know?  And where do you discover what your readers don't know that you can explain to them?

Many readers gravitate toward Science Fiction to meet "Alien" Characters, and to walk that mile in Alien moccasins, to feel what it is to be Alien (i.e. not human).

The closest we come to that experience is meeting someone from a different culture, a human who just functions from a different set of assumptions about Reality and the Human Condition.

Popular Science articles, such as appear all over the internet, explaining publications in Peer Reviewed Journals (and often misinterpreting those publications in order to get 'clicks') are one great source of discovering what your prospective reader knows is fact.

If you know that the reader's firmly accepted facts are incorrect, you can leverage your knowledge into Conflict and Plot that everyone will be talking about.

The art of contradicting is commercial art.

Does your self image include the archetype Skeptic?

Where does Self-Image come from?

Science is in hot pursuit of answers to questions about Human Behavior, just as other scientists are pursuing longevity, the Fountain of Youth, and even Immortality.

Here is a bbc.com article ...

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170118-how-east-and-west-think-in-profoundly-different-ways

...about the contrast between Eastern and Western civilizations, and the attitudes toward "self" that prevail in Collectivist Societies vs. attitudes toward "self" that prevail in Individualistic Societies, and how geography may play a part.

Each type of self-image, collectivist vs individualistic, produces entire spectra of political and philosophical systems, attitudes, and movements.  So maybe this is the master key to the essential dichotomy in human history?  Maybe there really are two kinds of people?

The Skeptic would view this article with the question in mind, "How do you prove that Collectivists differ from Individualists?"  In other words, what proof is there that these two concepts are mutually exclusive, either/or choices?

The non-critical thinker would simply accept this decree as truth -- after all, it is the result of doing science.  What idiot would question whether science is reliable (after all these centuries of it being proven correct?)

Here is a quote from the middle of the bbc.com article:

----------quote----------
When asked about their competence, 94% of American professors claimed they were ‘better than average’ – a sign of self-inflation

--------unquote---------

Taken out of the context of this article - reduced to a factoid - this statement might be interpreted to mean that 94% of American Professors are self-deluded.  Some might conclude that being American means being deluded.

But think about it.  You get to BE a professor by being way-way-way above average.  You have to get a Ph.D. before you even start on a professorial career -- and "Ph.D." is defined as someone who has contributed something new and original to the sum total of human knowledge -- to the basic wealth of all humanity for all time.

The average person has not done that.  So professors are not "self-inflating" their importance.  Their importance has been hard won by impressing a jury of peers and producing something nobody has ever produced before.

Despite that shaky hole in the article's reasoning, there might actually be a usable point here, if your objective is to create a Science Fiction Romance story.

------------quote------------
‘Weird’ minds
Until recently, scientists had largely ignored the global diversity of thinking. In 2010, an influential article in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20550733
reported that the vast majority of psychological subjects had been “western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic”, or ‘Weird’ for short. Nearly 70% were American, and most were undergraduate students hoping to gain pocket money or course credits by giving up their time to take part in these experiments.

The tacit assumption had been that this select group of people could represent universal truths about human nature – that all people are basically the same. If that were true, the Western bias would have been unimportant. Yet the small number of available studies which had examined people from other cultures would suggest that this is far from the case. “Westerners – and specifically Americans – were coming out at the far end of the distributions,” says Joseph Henrich at the University of British Columbia, who was one of the study’s authors.

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

In other words, "science" the touchstone of reliable facts, was doing it all wrong.  Therefore, they got wrong results.  (Why? Ask yourself that? Why were they doing it all wrong? Remember: Follow The Money.)

Now the study has gone to look at Japan where a government decision caused people to move to a deserted island that Japan had claimed -- fearing the Russians would come snatch it if it were deserted.  So, the article points out, this island, Hokkaido, was Japan's version of America's West (remember this is a bbc.com article).

--------quote-----------
Few people living in Hokkaido today have ever needed to conquer the wilderness themselves. And yet psychologists are finding that the frontier spirit still touches the way they think, feel and reason, compared with people living in Honshu just 54km (33 miles) away. They are more individualistic, prouder of success, more ambitious for personal growth, and less connected to the people around them. In fact, when comparing countries, this ‘cognitive profile’ is closer to America than the rest of Japan.

Hokkaido’s story is just one of a growing number of case studies exploring how our social environment molds our minds. From the broad differences between East and West, to subtle variation between US states, it is becoming increasingly clear that history, geography and culture can change how we all think in subtle and surprising ways – right down to our visual perception. Our thinking may have even been shaped by the kinds of crops our ancestors used to farm, and a single river may mark the boundaries between two different cognitive styles.

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

And the conclusion is that Collectivist thinking is a survival trait acquired by those who grow crops that take large numbers of people to produce (rice), and Individualistic thinking is a survival trait acquired by those who grow crops that thrive with fewer hands (wheat).

The implication of this article -- really, go read the whole thing as I excerpted it out of order -- is that socialism vs the American Republic style of independence and self-sufficiency is an either/or choice based on which is more likely to produce survival and more children who survive.

It's all about The Tree of Life -- or survival of the fittest.  The fittest to survive may be determined by how vital dependency on others is due to environment.

But it is an either/or choice.

If you make such a choice, it becomes the keynote of your self-image -- both the fact of which option you selected, and the fact that you bought into the idea that the options differ and a choice must be made.

The determination that a choice must be made rests on a philosophical view of the universe which is very Aristotelian, very zero-sum-game.  The validity of the argument that something is "wrong" with society when some people are so much richer than others depends on the zero-sum-game model of life, of the fight for survival.  In that model of the universe, the only way to get that much richer than others is to suck all the wealth up into your coffers -- because there is a limit to the amount of wealth that exists.

In the Collectivist model base, the idea that there is a "pie" that gets "sliced" and "fair" means everyone gets the same size slice, proceeds naturally from the assumption that "you didn't build that" -- that whatever you have, you have it because of other people's hard work, and your individual contribution hardly matters.

In the Individualist model, if there isn't enough to go around, you just make some more, and if you make some more, then it is yours to keep.  The Individualist model means that you aren't dependent on the contributions of others, but rather you support others by giving 10% of what you make voluntarily.

Either you must depend on "everyone else" --- or you must depend only on "self."

That, too, is an either/or choice which is a false Hobson's Choice.
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2016/05/theme-conflict-integration-part-2.html

The article presents this view of the universe, which is vastly prevalent among your readers, as if it is a firm, and immutable fact of reality.

The Skeptic asks, "Is it?  Is it, really?"

Non-humans from way out in the galaxy somewhere may never have thought of this dichotomy, or even of the process of dividing the world into dichotomies.

As a science fiction writer, you should look around for other solutions to the mystery of why different human populations ascribe to different classes of self-image.

Through millennia, humanity has produced many answers to that question.

As I mentioned above, Astrology is based on a world view that is very useful to writers because, whether they know it or not, your readers are familiar with the Astrological model of the universe.

It is a model based on balance of opposites.  The zodiac is depicted as a circle, going all around the Earth (even to the night-side).  We are in the middle of a globe of stars.

The circle is divided into 12 sections or "houses" -- (the old, classic zodiac of 12 signs which isn't "real" anymore as the Earth and Sun have moved).

Because it is a circle with 12 sections, each section has an equal and opposite section.  They all meet in the middle, (Earth is the center point in a natal chart).  Each House has an opposite.

The meanings that have been experimentally discovered for each of the Houses shake down into 6 Houses representing the inside of the person (psychology or Story) and 6 Houses representing the world outside of that person (politics, world affairs, or Plot).

For example, the First House representing self-image is opposite the Seventh House representing other.

First House represents Self, Seventh House represents Spouse.

Fourth House represents Home, Tenth House represents Career.

It is not an either-or choice, but a choice of method of balancing and integrating opposites.

So by Astrology - well known to the Ancient Egyptians and probably even before that - Individualism (1st House) does not exclude Collectivism (7th House), but integrates and balances it.

Likewise, the current feminist issue of Work (10th & 11th House) vs. Home&Children (4th & 5th House) is not an either/or choice, but a choice of methodology of balance.

Astrology is an empirical science, a method of indexing and storage/retrieval of information gathered by experience over many centuries.  Like all old wive's tales and herbal remedies, some is worth paying attention to because it is correct, and some is plain nonsense.

Whether you know it is called Astrology or not, you already know most of the information codified in Signs, Planets, Houses, Cusps, Aspects, Progressions, Solar Arcs, and all the rest.

You learned physics by dropping your food off your high chair tray.  You learned astrology by screaming for Mom to pick it up.

If you found Math useful in understanding physics and falling objects, you will find Astrological symbolism useful in understanding human behavior well enough to write about it and convey your wisdom to the next generation.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter... and Save The Date... and Safe Harbor

A very interesting situation may be developing around "Safe Harbor", the provision in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) that was intended to shield internet service providers who act in good faith from liability for the misbehavior of their users.

Courts are now paying attention to the concept (in the DMCA) of "red flag knowledge", and whether an ISP can claim Safe Harbor protections on the grounds of "ignorance" (or lack of knowledge) when their employees or assignees "moderate" or "curate" or "select" the user-uploaded content that they will display, (as opposed to allowing the users to post everything and anything without interference or assistance or supervision.)

Perhaps (this author speculates) this may be an unintended consequence of certain sites trying to keep so-called "fake news" off their sites. Or porn. Or actual crimes being live streamed.

Armen N. Nercessian and Guinevere Jobson of the law firm of Fenwick & West LLP penned a fascinating blog about a case where the 9th Circuit reversed a district court.

http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=845462af-ee94-46de-86ba-8342c6a303a3&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email+-+Body+-+General+section&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2017-04-14&utm_term=

Perhaps, if there are moderators, they ought to be able to recognize a watermark that indicates that a particular photograph is copyrighted.  This could be interesting. Apparently different Circuits have different views... this may go all the way to SCOTUS.

For those interested, (and I am sure that few of you are!) April 18th from 1:00 pm Eastern Time until around 5:00 pm, the Department of Commerce's Internet Policy Task Force will be hosting a public meeting on Consumer Messaging In Connection with Online Transactions Involving Copyrighted Works.

https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/ip-policy/copyright/consumer-messaging-connection-online-transactions?utm_campaign=subscriptioncenter&utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

The problem is that consumers who download copyrighted works appear to have a poor understanding of what they can legally do with those downloaded copies. Indeeed!

This author will be listening in. It's been 22 days since I last logged in to BLASTY.co to check the current status of copyright infringement of my four works (Mating Net, Forced Mate, Insufficient Mating Material, and Knight's Fork). It appears that Amazon-owned Goodreads is being implicated for decoration of the pages.  The KROGER grocery chain is giving paid advertising support to a site called something like "colourpalette" that appears to be encouraging folks to infringe copyrights,
while deciding on perfect shades of colors for their artwork or websites.

If you do a Google search for ebooks (perhaps looking for a title and also for ".pdf" and "download" and "free"), there are multiple sites with gd.fs inside the url that appear to go to a page selling hardware. Huge waste of time!  There are also some "Very Dangerous" sites that either Google or Norton will block, if you have their help.

On the subject of warnings about internet nasties, authors who own Trademarks are often sent official looking notices through the mail that appear to demand that the Trademark owner pays a surprisingly large fee for overseas Trademark Licensing, or else for "SEO". Read the fine print. Usually, legitimate demands for Trademark renewal are sent to the Trademark owner's lawyer, and renewals are due every fifth year.

Mary Bleahene of the lawfirm FRKelly blogged recently about Trade Mark scams. If you own one, or are considering owning one, you might enjoy her expertise in "Trade Mark Scams - Beware of Unofficial Notices."

http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=64a088e2-1649-4cec-8faf-d96f83c3fe29&utm_source=lexology+daily+newsfeed&utm_medium=html+email+-+body+-+general+section&utm_campaign=lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=lexology+daily+newsfeed+2017-04-14&utm_term=


All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Writing "Wild" Sex

Three books about animal mating and reproduction recommended as sources of inspiration for writers who invent alien species:

WILD SEX: WAY BEYOND THE BIRDS AND THE BEES (1991), by naturalist Susan Windybank. Each chapter covers a different theme, such as "Group Sex," "Mating Calls," "Promiscuity," "Strange Sex Organs," etc. Except in the chapter devoted solely to birds, the author leaps from species to species in almost a stream-of-consciousness style and spends anywhere from a paragraph to a page or two on each. The reader can discover all sorts of intriguing body structures and behaviors for further exploration elsewhere. The book has a glossary, an index, and a short bibliography. WILD SEX is a fun read if you don't mind the pervasive, often too-cutesy anthropomorphizing of its animal subjects.

At the opposite extreme stands BIOLOGICAL EXUBERANCE: ANIMAL HOMOSEXUALITY AND NATURAL DIVERSITY (1999), by biologist and cognitive scientist Bruce Bagemihl, the most technical of the three. Directed at both academic and non-academic readers, this monumental text (over 700 pages counting footnotes, index, and credits) explores alternative mating activities among a wide range of animals, focusing mainly on birds and mammals. These fascinating analyses of animal behavior are backed up by statistics and careful explanations of the limits of zoological observation. The first half of the book gives an overview of the field, with many specific examples. Bagemihl tackles problems such as defining homosexuality, transvestism, and transsexuality among animals and the hazards of equating these phenomena with human behavior. The second half, "A Wondrous Bestiary," organized by categories (e.g., primates, marine mammals, hoofed mammals, etc.) under the two classes of birds and mammals, devotes about three pages to each creature. Individual bibliographic lists appear at the ends of these reference items. If you want to construct a rigorous scientific and statistical background for the sexual biology of your aliens, consult this work.

DR. TATIANA'S SEX ADVICE TO ALL CREATION (2002), by evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson (which I may have mentioned in the past). The most entertaining of the batch, this book is structured as "advice to the lovelorn" replies to letters from various animals and even a few non-animals such as slime molds (which may have about 500 sexes—not that all 500 have to unite to reproduce, but the organism can have that many distinct kinds of gametes). It's divided into three parts, "Let Slip the Whores of War," "The Evolution of Depravity," and "Are Men Necessary?" Dr. Tatiana explores the sex lives of all kinds of creatures from microbes to arthropods to mammals and most classes in between. The answers to the letters are long and detailed, using each creature's question as a springboard to discuss a variety of organisms that use similar strategies. She even explores the most deviant sexual pattern, strict monogamy, and the question of why purely asexual reproduction is so rare. Footnotes and an extensive bibliography provide supporting material to verify the seemingly bizarre facts. In my opinion, this would be the most useful research source for non-specialists seeking a wide—and wild—overview of reproductive biology in all its variations.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Depiction Part 28 - Depicting A Grifter And His Mark by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Depiction
Part 28
Depicting A Grifter And His Mark
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Index to the Depiction Series is here:
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/04/index-to-depiction-series-by-jacqueline.html

During this long series on how to SHOW DON'T TELL many intangible story elements such as Nostalgia, Love, Hatred, Fury, Alien Culture, whole battlefields, Paranormal Forces, and so on, we have delved into the major headlines of the times, searched history, read a lot of novels, and thought deeply about lofty topics.

Now let's examine a kind of Relationship that generates story both in everyday real life and in novels. 

As Romance writers, we know that one of the greatest turn-ons in a Relationship is a disparity of "power" (the dominatrix, the he-man hunk, Kings, Princes falling in love with Cinderella, Pygmalion, etc.).

A Power disparity can also be a huge buzzkill for Romance of any kind.

Humans easily hate people who are "different" -- and one visible difference is wealth which translates into the power to solve or avoid problems which literally kill ordinary people.

The Aristocrat drunken gambler who commits a crime, meets the constable on the street and is offered a ride home.  The day-laborer drunken gambler who commits the same crime is pilloried, maybe beaten and abused first, certainly doomed to death or a life as a cripple.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/01/depiction-part-5-depicting-dynastic.html

Disparity of social position, often denoted by gender, also has worked that way in some cultures throughout history.  Even today there are places where the law discounts a woman's word and disallows women from owning or controlling wealth and the power that comes with it.

We see many headlines, pushed by expensive and slick Press Releases so that the headline appears from a number of sources simultaneously, thus hammering home the impression that this item is a)true and b)important.

The world of the Press Release, and the world of media editorial selectivity are both closed to your average novel reader.

We are admonished to "check your sources" -- to disbelieve Fake News because it come from this or that media outlet.  This admonishment is, itself, suspicious -- as audience, you "pay" all those people to check the truth of an item before disseminating it.  You pay with suffering through commercials and occasionally buying something.

Media editors and reporters (and Press Release writers who are Public Relations experts) are paid (often not very well) to nail down 3 sources on each news item, and each of the 3 must be "independent" of the others -- in other words, not reprinting the same Press Release.

Reporters are paid to sift through Press Releases and find the things you need to know -- then make phone calls, go to events, interview real people (not Public Relations representatives) and determine if the Press Release is true and that the wording gives the facts, without spin.

Every news story arriving in your inbox has multiple hours of depressing, often futile drudgery and boredom behind it.  Or if it does not, then it should.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/02/depiction-part-7-using-media-to-advance.html

The writer has to discover a view of human society in general (through history -- based on human nature), then use the art of storytelling to select details that sketch that view for the reader.

Art is a selective representation of reality -- and the screen used to select which details to include (and exclude) is called THEME. 

Here are some examples of THEME for a novel about a Grifter and his Mark.

1) The Media Always Lies

2) The Media Always Tells The Truth

3) The Media Spins A Narrative Tale To Control Popular Vote

4) The Media Serves The Wealthy Masters Who Own The Outlet

5) The Media Panders To Its Audience To Make A Profit

6) The Media Hires Honest Kids And Turns Them Into Grifters


7) There Is Nothing Wrong With Being A Grifter If You Use The Talent To Righteous Purpose


Notice those are statements.  THEME can also be stated as a Question - and the story does not have to ram an answer into the reader's mind. 

The idea that a scam artist can be righteous is the core of many TV Series, very popular ones, such as

It Takes A Thief

Remington Steele
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remington_Steele

Leverage

White Collar

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2010/05/tv-show-white-collar-fanfic-and-show.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2011/10/believing-in-happily-ever-after-part-4.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2011/12/sizing-up-competition-part-2-winning.html

The thesis behind these shows and so many similar ones is that the End Justifies The Means. 

You can lie, cheat, misdirect, fool, and manipulate people and it is perfectly righteous, justified, provided it is for their own good.

The thesis behind "for their own good" is that people don't know what is good for them. 

So humans who know what's good are morally obligated to do (any nefarious deed) to force ignorant humans to choose what is good for them - a free will choice. 

After so many decades of very popular, extremely well made TV Series based on the theme of "End Justifies Means" general audiences see nothing wrong with that. 

So you can use this ploy to depict truly admirable characters that the reader will embrace whole heartedly.

You can create a Character who believes that if you love someone, it is perfectly justified to trick them into loving you back. 

You dress to attract them, choose a perfume that doesn't make them sneeze even if it stinks to you, wear wicked high heels that sculpt your legs, laugh at their jokes, hide your intelligence, and pretend you like sports and getting drunk.  Wear a skirt you can't run in so they have you trapped. 

Or if you are a guy, you choose gifts to trigger gratitude so you can get her into bed, you take her to places you can't afford, laugh at her bad jokes, flatter and tease her into thinking you like her because of her formidable achievements not her bra size or pert ass.

In other words, when someone attracts your sexual interest, you may behave in ways you would not ordinarily choose to, for the purpose of attracting their sexual interest to you.  This is not considered dishonest until after the Honeymoon. 

Every human knows the "game" and is expected to discount the dis-information.  If you are naive enough to believe what you see, you get what you deserve. 

Most humans don't think those courting behaviors make the person into a grifter, or the beloved into a Mark.

Maybe your Aliens look at flirtation and the age old human mating dance that way -- as dishonest and abuse of power.

Yes, normal human behavior, perfectly well sanctioned by society and firmly counted on by the Mark, could easily be seen as reprehensible power abuse.

Aliens could easily define humanity by the disparity in "power" between the genders -- all women are weak, all men strong. 

To a human, a disparity of "power" in a relationship can be crazy-sexy or serious buzzkill.

The entire profession of Public Relations (PR) is founded on the use of advanced mathematics and "big data" to gain power over and control the behavior of large segments of the population (for their own good).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_relations#History

Statistics has been the mainstay of tricking people for a long time.  Things may be changing.
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/19/crisis-of-statistics-big-data-democracy

Tricking people pays very well.

So tricksters have become more proficient as audiences have become more savy.

If you are constructing a Romance novel, consider whether one of your characters is 'conning' the other.  Then decide when in the novel you want your reader to twig to the trick. 

One way to be transparent to the reader while making an admirable, smart, savvy Character completely oblivious to the trick is to use the False Hobson's Choice.

First establish that the Character to be tricked understands their life and the world as a series of Free Will Choices -- but all options are listed in a menu that this Character does not know is populated with the options a powerful person approves of.

To be well and truly tricked, a Character must feel perfectly free to choose otherwise.  At the point in the novel where you reveal the trick (usually 3/4 point), the Character comes to understand that all the options available for Free Will Choice actually lead to exactly the same result, "You Are Screwed." 

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2013/03/theme-plot-integration-part-7-fallacy.html

The False Hobson's Choice has been discussed previously.

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2016/05/theme-conflict-integration-part-2.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2012/10/theme-worldbuilding-integration-part-5.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2012/04/believing-in-happily-ever-after-part-7.html

The Hobson's Choice concept of a Free Choice where the only item on the options menu is 1 thing is an old tradition explained here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobson's_choice

By extension, if all the items on the options menu are actually the same thing by different names, you also have the ploy of the Hobson's Choice, which gives power over the naive victim to the perpetrator.

You could set a hot Romance in a political election where your Main Character sleuths out the hidden (by PR tricks) fact that both candidates are beholden to the same Big Money Donor, and will implement that Donor's agenda. 

The "aristocrats" who pull the strings on today's Earth (most all countries) don't care who wins, but only that the people gladly accept the aristocrat's agenda as their free will choice. 

You can translate that Situation and the set of Themes to a setting such as an online Dating Service that might be manipulating marriages for the purpose of guiding human genetics.

Politics set in a Galactic Civilization would qualify as Science Fiction Romance, as would Romance set in a Genetics Lab.

Maybe a dating service is funded by a University Department that obtained the Grant for genetics research.

Maybe the University Department head is an Alien sent here to reshape human genetics (to what purpose?)

Or you can rip an issue from modern headlines that will likely persist for many decades, and set the story on some planet lightyears away where some human colonists crash among Aliens.

C. J. Cherryh's fabulous Foreigner Series uses that setting to entangle the reader in Alien politics.




Maybe your Alien Planet, infested with a small but growing colony of humans, belongs to a galactic consortium of planets.  The humans are a problem - politically, maybe genetically, maybe disease breeders, maybe disseminating some religion.  The Consortium insists the planet choose between being Alien Dominated or Human Dominated (but humans are a minority).

It would likely be a human who notes that all either/or choices between two elements that are equally odious are attempts to dominate by mental castration.

Either/or choices are based on the Aristotelian model of the universe which views reality as finite and "yes" as precluding "no." 

Human creativity sees the universe as infinite and infinitely malleable.  You will find a great depiction of this human view of the universe in Star Trek: The Original Series ( ST:ToS ) and all of Captain Kirk's various creative solutions to problems.  He solved the problem even if it meant violating the Prime Directive and got away with it.

Humans don't accept limits readily. 
A vast majority may accept Microsoft's dropdown menu choices, shrug off the grayed out ones, and make a free will choice from the black ones.

But Hackers do not do that.  If the program doesn't behave the way they want it to, they rewrite the program -- and they do it with pure glee.

That personality trait now gravitating toward "hacking" has been active in human history, probably since before there were humans.

It is human creativity.  You can't keep humans in a box for long.  Someone will figure out that if you wet the cardboard, you can poke through to the wider world.  If no choices on the menu are acceptable, create some new choices and write your own menu.  That's what humans do -- and nothing spurs a man to do that faster than winning a woman's love.

Most humans can be convinced they are helpless and without any recourse than the ones on the menu populated by their manipulators.  What if, among your Aliens, most Aliens were like our Hackers and only a few would accept pre-populated menus as the only choices?

An Alien Interstellar Consortium could never get away with demanding a human/Alien colonized world choose between being human dominated or alien dominated.  They would invent other choices, or un-invent the very concept of domination.

Here's the principle to remember as you are plotting your novel.

The Grifter Character tells the Mark what the problem is, and then reveals the only solution.

The pattern is clear in the Gypsy Curse Scam.  The Grifter finds a rich Mark, arranges for accomplices to inflict some bad-luck incidents on the Mark, then explains to the Mark that this run of bad luck is due to the Mark's money being cursed.  But don't worry, I know a Gypsy who can cleanse that cash for you.  Perhaps a demonstration is orchestrated to show how luck changes after the tainted item is cleansed.

The Mark hands over the cash, or jewels, or whatever, and never sees it again -- never sees the Grifter or any of his assistants again, has no idea where to find them.

It is the same thing as the handsome suitor who finally gets the woman into bed -- has his fun for a while -- and one morning just leaves.

The Grifter's main tool in getting what he wants is the false Free Will Choice - the Hobson's Choice - either take this horse or no horse at all.

Both options are equally unacceptable -- be a human dominated planet or an alien dominated planet; go to bed with me or wind up an old maid.

Most humans readily believe the choices listed on the menu are the only choices there are.  They don't look in the back of the stable to see what other horses might be there.  They don't jailbreak their iPhone to see what it can do with third party programs. 

Can curiosity and independence be bred out of humans by an Alien genetics program run through an online Dating Service? 

Can humans stranded on an Alien world be bred for compliance or defiance at the behest of the Aliens?

The trick in keeping humans happy is to convince the humans they have a variety of free will choices.  Give them choices.  Just make sure all the items on the menu are equally favorable to your purposes, so it doesn't matter what the human chooses.

Grifters leverage this human trait.  What would your Aliens think of humans who manipulate other humans that way?

Old Science Fiction used to rely on the Aliens having heard our Radio or seen our Television to learn our languages.  Yes, Earth leaks signal, but somehow I doubt this would be possible unless the Aliens were very close to Earth (our signals are weak). 

So, what would your Aliens make of current Television News broadcasts -- or can they get Cable or Satellite?  Would they understand the trickery?  Would they admire successful tricksters?  Would they scheme to insert "fake news" items onto the internet and wait to see if they become TV News items?

How could a writer use Fake News to introduce Soul Mates to each other?  Kidnapped by a UFO?


Watch the real news for short lists of your options - either it is this way or it is that way - try to find another way.  If "they" tell you what options you may choose among, create another option or three and you will have your Science Fiction Romance blockbuster title.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com



Sunday, April 09, 2017

Is That Legal?

Disclaimer. This blog does not give legal advice, I simply point out where to find legal advice, and recap (make fair use of) some of the most interesting snippets from legal advice provided on the internet.

Attribution and kudos to Desiree F. Moore and Alexis Crawford Douglas of the legal firm  K&L Gates for a list of five things to consider if you see something (defamatory, offensive, infringing your copyrights, or private) on social media that suggests to you that you may have been wronged by the uploader.

http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=74cc5c3c-5193-4df4-b52d-dc01feac12fe&utm_source=lexology+daily+newsfeed&utm_medium=html+email+-+body+-+general+section&utm_campaign=lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=lexology+daily+newsfeed+2017-04-07&utm_term=

Some of this advice also could be useful to authors who are shocked by a negative review. The usual wisdom is to not respond to such things.

On a recent road trip, I listened to the audiobook version of "Rogue Lawyer" by John Grisham. I recommend that book.  One of the cases in "Rogue Lawyer" was that of an elderly couple who were not at all internet savvy, and who had the misfortune to live next door to a serial copyright infringer (or perhaps he was an internet drug dealer?) who managed to hack into their internet and do his dirty dark web deeds on their IP address instead of on his own.

I was reminded of this scenario when reading the blog by  William D Dalsen  of  Proskauer Rose LLP   
which concerns what happens when you cannot identify (or unmask!) a copyright infringer except by their IP address.

http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=2100cf38-db3c-4f72-b5c7-a605edf9ab2e&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email+-+Body+-+General+section&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2017-04-06&utm_term=

Needless to say, the swat team in Grisham's yarn did not follow the advice offered by Proskauer Rose!

Those who think that BitTorrents are above reproach and safe for anonymous interest consumers of copyrighted material... should read the above article.

Thirdly, and finally for this week, Mark Sableman of  Thompson Coburn LLP offers some fascinating and useful insights into what one may and may not do with other people's Creative Commons works.

http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=a9ede4c2-a03f-4dd6-b2a7-c4a0e95306db&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email+-+Body+-+General+section&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2017-04-03&utm_term=

The cardinal rule with Creative Commons licensed works is that subsequent users absolutely must provide truthful and accurate attribution. In a hypothetic situation where a user photoshops a real Creative Commons photograph into a different photoshopped location to perpetrate "fake news", the fine and witty legal mind of  Mark Sableman suggests “Original photo by Mary Jones. Deceptive alterations by John Smith.” 

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Accelerating Human Evolution

If you have a chance, pick up the April 2017 issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC and check out the cover article, "The Next Human." Contrary to popular belief, the human species hasn't stopped evolving. This article mentions several examples of recent evolutionary change, such as the two most widely known: While most ethnic groups lose the ability to digest milk in adulthood, a few have developed adult lactose tolerance, which led to cultures based on dairy herds. The gene for sickle cell anemia causes a serious disease when doubled, but inheriting only one copy of the gene seems to provide resistance against malaria. Adaptations less familiar to the general reader include populations living at high altitudes who have evolved a hemoglobin trait that enables them to use oxygen more efficiently and desert dwellers who can handle a wider range of temperature extremes than most people.

Evolution doesn't have to wait for the slow processes of nature anymore, though. Technologies such as CRISPR can alter genes to order. Few people would object to using genetic engineering to correct disabling or lethal inherited conditions. But what about choosing an embryo's eye and hair color or trying to enhance intelligence in utero?

The article, however, also explores technological advances that adapt users to the environment in ways natural processes alone can't. One man born with achromatopsia—he's literally color-blind, seeing only blacks, whites, and grays—has an antenna attached to a sensor in his brain that enables him to perceive colors. Not only that, he goes beyond ordinary human vision to "see" infrared and ultraviolet. Hundreds of people have been implanted with devices that allow them to unlock doors or log onto computers without touching anything. The University of Southern California is running tests on "chip implants in the brain to recover lost memories."

Does becoming a cyborg count as a form of "evolution"?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Worldbuilding From Reality Part 6 - Ringling Brothers Closing

Worldbuilding From Reality
Part 6
Ringling Brothers Closing 
by
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

The previous parts to Worldbuilding From Reality are here:

Part 5 is the "Realistic Happily Ever After" post from November 2016.
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2016/11/worldbuilding-from-reality-part-5.html

Part 4 - Creating a Story Canvas
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2016/03/worldbuilding-from-reality-part-4.html

Part 3 Creating Future History
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2013/07/worldbuilding-from-reality-part-3.html

Part 2 Advertising Video Writing
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2013/02/worldbuilding-from-reality-part-2.html

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2010/03/worldbuilding-from-reality.html

Back in January 2017, an announcement came out on a weekend that Ringling Brothers Circus was closing.

http://www.abc15.com/news/national/ringling-bros-and-barnum-and-bailey-to-close-146-year-old-show-in-may

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/7655288/ringling-bros-barnum-bailey-circus-to-close-after-146-years

They are currently running two different shows.  A while ago, they eliminated their display of elephants in compliance with the outcry over how badly those elephants were treated.  If they were losing money, that might be where they would cut expenses.

This past Christmas selling season, Mall traffic was down -- overall spending was up a little, maybe about the amount of inflation.

Stadiums filled up nicely for political rallies and sports games, but apparently are not filling for Circus shows, or at least not at the prices necessary to put on a good show and move it around.

Or there could be other factors, such as difficulty getting the right talent under contract on the right terms.  For whatever reasons, the Greatest Show On Earth is over, and a huge number of jobs will  be lost.  It isn't just those who travel with the circus (performers, animal handlers, facility managers), or who stay at home-base and do upkeep, or advertising firms and ticketing offices that facilitate the crowds, but also souvenir makers and sellers, plus a lot of ancillary personnel you never hear about.

Great Romances and fabulous classic films have been made with the Circus background.  Memorable episodes of TV Series have been set on Circus lots.  Circus performers have been the subject of many more stories, novels, and films as they live lives outside the Circus.

This is the Reality that you can grab hold of and Build a world from.

Think deep into history -- the Roman Circus.  Think of Europe in the Middle Ages, and traveling troubadours, or Court Jesters, doing physical stunts or displaying animal training skills.

Think of where the traveling tent-show originated.  Think of all the "acts" that have been invented, displayed, turned profitable, turned professional, and died out for lack of interest among audience members.

Analyze everything you love about the circus (or hate).  Now find the essential humanity inside that colorful package.  What happens to the package if you take OUT the humanity and substitute your non-humans?

This blog series is about Alien Romance -- romance between a human and an alien, or between two aliens.  It is Romance with a twist.

But what makes Alien Romance interesting?  What makes the Happily Ever After ending necessary to the Romance into something any reader could understand is realistic, provided you explain it well enough?

What could make the general readership admire and respect the Romance Genre?

That is the question we have been pursuing for a few years here, and we have found many answers, no one of which is sufficient by itself.

The main complaint against Romance is that it is not "realistic."

The main attraction of Romance is that it is not "realistic."

And that is exactly the attitude contrast that science fiction genre faced for decades before Star Trek proved that Hollywood could make money on Science Fiction films and franchises.

Ringling is closing because of money -- (or so they say) -- and science fiction gained status in Hollywood because of money.

Dreams are worth money -- if you dream a popular dream shared by others and can articulate what those others can not quite say for themselves.

And, well, nightmares are also commercially salable.

Many people find "Clowns" scary - nightmarish, threatening.  I never have had that response, and I don't know why.

"Why" is always the question writers have to be asking themselves, proposing answers and writing stories assuming those answers are worthy of reader consideration.

I have been asking myself for decades, "Why are circuses popular?"

Now of course we have the question, "Why is Ringling not popular enough?"

I have thought wide and deep and beyond the ends of imagination about what traits make an "act" -- a circus act, a Vaudeville act, a variety act, a skit, standup comic, -- an ACT?  What is it about an "act" that captures popular imagination?

Of course every would-be stage performer, musician, singer, garage band, has asked that question, and if they hit on a good answer, they go professional.

At the beginning of television, Ed Sullivan presented the nightclub variety acts to the general US TV viewing audience and became the "must watch" show for a very long time.  Elvis Presley made his national debut on Ed Sullivan, as did many other greats.  He also showcased many Radio personalities such as Red Skelton.  They all had "acts."

In fact, Ed Sullivan presented many circus acts -- balancing acts, clowns, gymnasts, and even aerial flying acts.  Getting on Ed Sullivan made you instantly famous.

The Ed Sullivan Show was composed of acts - just like a circus or Vaudeville presentation, or a circus -- or an online magazine with embedded videos, or a YouTube channel!

Maybe YouTube videos (which pretend to be amateur but are actually professionally made, often in studios or with professional actors or gymnasts) are replacing Circus and Ed Sullivan?

Look at some of the YouTube Videos that have "gone viral" (often as a result of professional promotion).  They are "acts."  Unless you are looking at a crime in progress or a real road accident caught on dash-cam, you may be looking at an "act."  In fact, some of the "crimes" we see on YouTube are actually staged, which vitiates the import of the real ones.

I know that many viral YouTube video "acts" are professionally produced because one time I was stuck in a waiting room with a TV on -- and the TV had a documentary about professional studios being built to be rented to people making YouTube videos they wanted to make "go viral."  It is a new business model.

And much of what is being done with YouTube channels (the acts, the very professional editing, the advertising) is hauntingly similar to what Ed Sullivan did with the brand new medium of television as he brought radio talent and nightclub touring acts (and circus) to the general audience that had never seen such things.

So maybe YouTube is putting Circus out of business?  Ed Sullivan didn't make a dent in circus attendance -- in fact, he increased it and Ringling bought up other touring shows and finally fielded two separate shows.

There is a thirst for "acts" and people will pay to see "acts."

But what is an act?

I have long wanted to come up with a brand new circus act, something Aliens might bring to Earth, that would "wow" human audiences -- then tell the tale of the people involved in creating and selling that act to humans.

I haven't got it yet, but many authors have sent human circus acts to the stars.

I still don't exactly know what the essence of an act is.  The news of Ringling closing for lack of profit was a shock.  But I don't think "acts" have lost lustre or popularity, though apparently huge numbers of people aren't taking their children to circuses.

My mother took me to see Ringling when I was about three or four years old (and a few times after that).

I remember the trip, I remember the city.  I remember that during the show, we had seats way up at the top of the auditorium, the nosebleed section.  I remember that a few children were chosen to ride in the circus parade, and I wanted to be one of them in the worst way and had no idea why they got chosen.

Many circuses later, I fell in love with the flying act and wanted very much to be a circus flyer.  My mother told me that I couldn't be a circus performer because only people born in those families could be.  I believed her (for a few years).

Years later, when I had children to raise, and I was still working furiously on an interstellar circus concept that never got written, I did some interviews with small traveling circuses and thus connected with a newsletter subscribed to by circus performers.  And I went to Ringling every time they were in town.  Eventually, I brought my children -- and yes, we sat up in the nosebleed section -- and yes, I wanted ever so much to get my children chosen to ride in the parade.

I learned via circus performer contacts that to be chosen, you had to sit in certain seats right up by the front rail on the floor -- the most expensive seats.  Finally, I knew the secret of being chosen!

So I saved up, scraped, didn't buy certain books I wanted, did without other things, pinched pennies off the food budget, and did all the usual money-save maneuvers everyone does -- and for several years in a row I took my children to the circus to sit in the front rows.  I learned about box-office sales and geography, and tricks about where certain seats were sold (and where you could not buy those seats even if they had not been sold).  So I made a special trip to the arena box office the very day the tickets went on sale and demanded the very specific seats that I had finally figured out were where kids get chosen.

I dressed my kids carefully, and orchestrated the whole thing, being there as early as possible, right when the doors opened.

It took a couple tries, and some very un-ladylike behavior on my part, but I got my kids chosen!  Of COURSE one of them screamed and cried and didn't want to go -- but in the end I got to live that one triumph vicariously.  I never did that to my kids again.

I kept going to Ringling after that - every year - with or without the kids.  One time I bought and learned to use a motion picture camera, (the kind that used film), and sat in the balcony seats level with where the flyers would perform high above everyone else's heads.  The front seats in that section were also very expensive.  Took a few tries, but I finally got film of the flyers -- way too dim for cameras at that time, but I had photos of the MOVES, the gymnastics, in detail.  I finally understood one of the things that fascinated me about "acts."

So I have studied circus and I have studied Ringling's show composition and content to a fair-thee-well.  It's a lifelong obsession started by my mother (who also brought me my first science fiction novel that led to a whole profession!) I've spent hours at Circus Circus in Las Vegas just staring up at the flying rig with or without performers.

I can't express how devastating the idea of closing Ringling is.

I do not remember that first show itself except for one act.  Not the flying act which later captivated me when I was in my teens.  A clown act.

The act that has stayed with me all these decades, that defines what an "act" is to perfection, and that spurs me to want to invent an Alien "act" that could be imported to Earth, is Emmett Kelly as "Weary Willey."  And that character may be why I've never feared clowns.

This is from Wikipedia - an excellent article I think you should look at.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmett_Kelly

----------quote---------
"Weary Willie" was a tragic figure: a clown, who could usually be seen sweeping up the circus rings after the other performers. He tried but failed to sweep up the pool of light of a spotlight. His routine was revolutionary at the time: traditionally, clowns wore white face and performed slapstick stunts intended to make people laugh. Kelly did perform stunts too—one of his most famous acts was trying to crack a peanut with a sledgehammer—but as a tramp, he also appealed to the sympathy of his audience.
---------end quote--------

The sweeping up a pool of light act is the one that symbolizes "clown" for me -- it uses modern technology (the spotlight) to express the ancient myth of Sisyphus

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisyphus

Or as Babylon 5 always put it -- Donald Duck is the god of frustration.

Here is an article that says pursue endeavors outside your comfort zone and the resulting frustration will be associated with longevity.

http://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/want-a-lifetime-of-better-brain-function-science-says-change-this-one-habit-its-.html

Frustration is very central to my lifestyle, and I don't do it very well.  That could be why that clown act with the light circle that could not be permanently swept up just spoke to me on some non-verbal level.  It is symbolism, as we've discussed many times in Why Do We Cry At Weddings:

http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2016/01/theme-symbolism-integration-part-4-how.html

I am also acquainted with much of Emmett Kelly's later film and TV work, but I do know that my first encounter was the spotlight act, live at a Ringling show.

Think back to your very first encounter with an "act" -- something you still remember vividly that bespeaks everything important about life.

Try to figure out what exactly hits you in the gut, and package that in new, modern symbolism for your current (and future) readership.

Emmett Kelly used the spotlight technology, Ed Sullivan used Television, a lot of people are now using YouTube to present "acts."

What can you use?  What "act" can you invent for your Science Fiction Romance novel that can be explained in words, create a picture in the reader's mind, and express something so profound it can not be said in words?

Look hard at the headlines you can rip material from.

An item like this one on Ringling Brothers' Greatest Show On Earth will resonate for generations and perhaps become a myth that will live on among Earth's otherworld colonies.

Perhaps a Lost Colony will be legitimized as a descendant of an Earth Culture because they retain this myth -- or because they recreate Ringling Brothers.

What makes a circus?  Why do people flock to see these "acts?"  Why have people stopped going to see Ringling Brothers?  Because there are elephants?  Or because there are not elephants?  Because people find clowns scary?  Because people think trapeze work is easy?  Or because people think high wire or trapeze work is too dangerous?

There are still many smaller circuses performing, even advertising on Television.

Check out
https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/

And
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/theater/cirque-du-soleils-broadwaybalancingact.html

------quote from NY Times ---------
So now Cirque is trying a high-wire hybrid — a combination of theater and acrobatics, with a splash of old Hollywood, in one $25 million musical called “Paramour.” And, never one to bet small, it is opening the show cold on the world’s most famous stage: Broadway.

The timing is, to put it mildly, challenging. The company, long dominated by its storied founder, the fire-eater-turned-billionaire Guy Laliberté, just last summer was acquired by a group of investors, led by the private equity firm TPG, that is closely watching costs as it seeks revenue growth.

And Broadway, always home to more flops than hits, is particularly competitive this year — there are currently 36 plays and musicals, many with strong reviews and crowd-pleasing titles or stars, vying for attention and audience before “Paramour” begins previews this weekend at the Lyric Theater in anticipation of an official opening on May 25.
-----------end quote------------

There have been deaths by falling at various circuses in recent years.  Is that attracting crowds as it used to, or is that deterring people from bringing children?

The economics of "acts" on stage before live crowds seems to be turning against purveyors of this type of entertainment.

Why is that?  What are people spending their entertainment dollars on?

Circus and PARAMOUR?  Would a music concert do better in this market?

Think about what Earth circus acts your Characters could take on the Interstellar Road, and what acts they might bring back.  Could they make money?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Why You Should Ask Your Congresspersons To Vote "Yes" on H.R. 1695

H.R. 1695 is a Bill to modernize the U.S. Copyright Office.

If you wish to read the Bill that was introduced with bipartisan support on March 23rd, and which was sent to the floor of the House by a 27-1 vote in the Judiciary Committee... look here:

http://copyrightalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/HR-1695.pdf

It appears that the one person who chose not to co-sponsor the Bill was Henry C. Johnson of Georgia

H.R. 1695 would take the office of The Register of Copyrights (the position that Maria Pallante held
until she was demoted by the Librarian of Congress, some say to manage the Library of Congress gift shop) away from the control of the Library of Congress.

If this Bill passes, The Register of Copyrights will be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Register shall be an American citizen, shall have experience in copyright matters, and shall serve for up to ten years at the pleasure of the President.

The copyrightalliance.org and many other organizations are urging individual creators to write personally and individually to their Representatives, to ask their Representative to support H. R. 1695

Here's how to locate your Representative by typing in your own zip code:
http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

More info from the copyrightalliance.org here:
http://copyrightalliance.org/news-events/copyright-news-newsletters/compilation-register-copyrights-accountability/


All the best,
Rowena Cherry