Now proofreading: Woutertje Pieterse

Met myn zwaard.
Op m’n paard.
En myn helm op het hoofd.
Er op in! En den vyand den schedel gekloofd,
En vooruit!

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More on reviews

I will not always score the works I review.

When I score the works I review, I will give scores from 1 through 9, although these should be interpreted as being scores on scale of 1 to 10. Being risk-averse, I will not give the perfect mark, because something better might come along, and then what?!

I may score works that I have only experienced a tiny portion of; it is not my job to capture my attention, and if the author failed to do so, too bad. Nevertheless, I will not score extremely bad works. As a result, when I give a 1, that does not mean the same thing as when a teacher would. My 1 is a teacher’s 3. My pass mark is a 3, or a 4, or a 5. An author’s success is not contingent on me handing out pass marks (or so I hope for them).

When I give out a 6, that usually means I enjoyed the work. An 8 means I consider a work a classic. 9s are reserved for my favourites.

Yes, this means some reviews are coming up.

See also the earlier On reviews, which deals with why I review books here instead of at Amazon, and why I review movies here instead of at the IMDB.

Everest doesn’t go easy

The Mount Everest expedition that my brother is part of has lost its reason for being; on his summit attempt, 41-year old experienced German climber Thomas Weber died suddenly of an unknown cause. While descending Step 2, he looked at his guide, said “I am dying”, and dropped down.

Step 2 is a rock on the last stage to the Everest’s summit (there are three steps in total). Part of the rock is traversed by ladder, the rest must be climbed.

This year ten people died on the slopes of the Everest. The Sight On Everest team was part of the larger 7 Summits team, which lost another member, and had declared a third, Australian Lincoln Hall, for dead, when climbers of another team discovered he was still alive, after which a successful rescue operation ensued. See the last days of May 2006 at for more information.

Lego gets it, you get it

Chris Anderson has a couple of posts about a Lego product line called Factory; you download the software, you design your whatever-it-is, then you order the bricks. No more buying more bricks than you need; you get exactly what you want. Apparently that was a bit of logistics problem for Lego at first, but they have now found a way to fulfill your order, your whole order and nothing but your order.

(Oh, by the way, the installer is evil. First you must agree that you cannot use the things you design with the software commercially, then the software sends data about your computer to the Lego death camps. Or something like that.)

Sight on Side of Everest

[kids looking at their own film] Harry Kikstra, bossman of the Mount Everest expedition that my brother is part of, has taken some great pictures of the daily life of Taschi Dzom, the village at a mere 4000 meters above sea level that the group has been using the past four days for acclimatization. My brother is the guy waving and carrying the video camera.

The expedition features a climber who loses sight the higher he gets, so he’ll be climbing the last part blind. The goal of the expedition is to raise money for the Himalayan Cataract Project, which aims to provide people with a curable blindness with the operations they need.

Photo: kids looking at themselves in my brother’s viewfinder.

Intelligent comment spam?

Lately I have been getting a lot of spam of the sort that the Blog in Black describes here. Usually it’s terribly easy to spot, because the spamming scum keep their keywords relevant in order to score well with Google, so it no longer freaks me out like it did the first two times. :-)

But today I saw something at the Teleread blog, where I also blog, that could either be serious comments, or spam, and I’ll be damned if I know which is which. Two guys (or rather: two personas) posting adversarial messages, relevant to the blog entry, and the only thing that connects them is an obvious below-average intelligence, and the fact that in their included URLs they both link to similar looking directories — or are they link farms?

The entry was about Australia’s plan to introduce a concept of fair dealing, a concept thus far notably absent from its copyright laws, turning Australians into even bigger criminals than most of the rest of the world.

The first commenter, called “Jack”, wrote:

Bad Idea! Hardly matters even if a law is passed. Piracy is a crime and no rule or law can make it legal. Better not to try it !

Then, after a few messages by others, “Loy” replied:

Everyone has its own rights in so called democratic country, then why not the right to pirate. Piracy is stealing somebody’s work, but that too is an art. Piracy need a tact and so if one is benefitting out of it, why to even think of banning it.

Spammers must die!

The future is indie

George Lucas told the New York Daily News a while ago: “In the future, almost everything that gets shown in theaters will be indie movies. I predict that by 2025 the average movie will cost only $15 million.”

The source is a gossip column, but since Lucasfilm Public Relations refuse to tell me whether Lucas actually said so, I am going to assume he did.

Question: copyrights on interviews

Here’s an easy one for the copyright lawyers; so easy in fact, that I probably could find out by looking it up myself. But: three out of the four questions I asked before remain unanswered, so I figured an easy one might be in order to get the keyboards rattling.

5. Who owns the copyrights to an interview?

Simple, eh? The answer is of course: the interviewer. Why? Dunno. Because.

A while ago I started the Wikipedia article on Copyright on religious works, another sneaky way to get my questions answered.

In it, I wrote about a court case in which a church claimed copyrights on writings that had been dictated to them by their gods. Dictated is perhaps too strong a word; they dreamed that they asked their gods questions: “Maaherra lost the case at this level, on the argument that the members of the receiving group had been given an original direction to the writings by selecting and formulating their questions, thus fulfilling the obligation of creative effort required to gain a copyright under U.S. law. By giving this strange twist to the judgment, the judge avoided having to rule on the existence of the space aliens, but may also have damaged the respect for the secular law as felt by Americans.”

The last sentence was later rightly removed from the article by somebody else, because it is opinion, not fact.

Oddly enough, there was an appeal, in which the “infringer” won: the judgement “was later overturned on the grounds that the Urantia Foundation was not the author, and that the sleeping subject, sometimes highly controversially called a channeler, was legally considered the author, and that the Urantia Foundation thus could not file a valid copyright renewal.”

There are two things that strike me as odd here:

1) That two courts in a row think dreamed texts can be burdened by copyrights.
2) That it is the interviewer who holds the copyright, not the interviewee.

The reason given is apparently that the interviewer makes a selection, which to me sounds dangerously close to a database right, which the US (where these cases took place) supposedly does not have.

Earlier questions:

1. Why does a work published after the death of an author receive a copyright? (answer)
2. How can SNTE (the firm that maintains and exploits the Eiffel tower) claim a copyright on the image of the illuminated Eiffel tower when the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas has had a very similar lighted Eiffel tower since two years before?
3. What rights does Microsoft base it’s licenses for protocols on?
(2+3 as yet unanswered)
4. Is it possible to create a public domain image based on copyrighted sources? (as yet unanswered)

The Buze

(pron. Byooze) George Bush the Little is Stepháne Colbèrt’s muze. I call him The Buze. Did this really happen? The American press is staying silent about it, and they staged the event in the first place. Perhaps they’re busy writing their novels. You know, the ones about intrepid Washington reporters who are not afraid to publish the truth. “You know, fiction.”

(Via BoingBoing.)