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Terrible Things And Also Useful Information

So the USPS has gotten its act together and finally decided that Michigan and New Jersey are not the same place and I have my Inspector Pancakes rewards! The photo today was going to be the FRIEND TO LITTLE DOGS medal with my dog, but when he saw me place the medal on the floor near his paws he freaked the fuck out, gave the panicked yelp you only hear when you trip over a dog in the dark, and snapped in the direction of the medal as if to say I’m not mad at you but get that thing away.

I see two possible explanations for this:

  • Inspector Pancakes author Karla Pacheco’s legendary awfulness is so pervasive, it incorporated itself into the medal and my loyal hound detected it, like how dogs can see the invisible ghost monsters that try to steal your soul and which are only discouraged by random staring and growling at empty air¹.
  • The loyal hound is a retired racing greyhound, who was distressingly good at racing and kept on the track for nearly three years (168 starts). He lacks the scars that most greys have from being in the middle of the pack where collisions with other dogs and the side rails occur, so he was out front a lot. He was almost certainly photographed with medals — shiny, shiny medals — around his neck following his wins (still wearing his loathed racing muzzle).

    If there’s one thing I’m certain is awfuller than Pacheco it’s the dog racing industry, which treats these gentle creatures as a crop to be bred, used until useless, and then disposed of² like yesterday’s garbage. Screw you, greyhound racing industry; my guy got the hell away from you and I’m mortified I inadvertently brought back such traumatic memories in him.

  • Speaking of existential horror as I write this the exhibit hall at the San Diego Convention Center is forming itself into the center of All Things Nerd for the next five days; SDCC Preview Night starts in about six hours, and I encourage you to follow Rich Stevens, Jon Rosenberg, Andy Bell, Chris Yates, and Jon Sung for news on everything happening in the grinder of the showfloor.
  • Let’s leave behind the terrible things and move onto information that may actually be helpful. If you’ve been keeping an eye on proposed copyright policy — as one does — for the past couple of years, a term that’s been popping up with increasing frequency is orphan works. An orphan work is basically a creative work for whom there is no clear copyright holder, and with copyrights basically extending unto the heat death of the universe, this leaves vast swathes of work untouchable — Fair Use isn’t easy to determine, nor licensing for derivative works, nor even simply bringing the damn things back into print/release. As things stand presently, it’s unknown what their status is, and that makes it risky to try to do anything with them.

    From time to time, various remedies have been proposed, and each time somebody gets their metaphorical panties in a knot over whatever is being proposed. Sometimes it’s copyright holders, sometimes it’s remix-friendly technologies, sometimes it’s trade groups, but almost every time, somebody starts screaming that the proposed solution is the worst thing ever. This results in a big stink for a week or so, then orphan works disappear for a period of time until they come back again — kind of like Brigadoon.

    The latest proposed solution to orphan works has caused the latest freakout, this time full of declarations that artists are inevitably going to get screwed — which may or may not be true based on the latest proposals, but which is also likely out of proportion to any probable outcome.

    Enter Katie Lane, lawyer to the creative community and general smart person when it comes to intellectual property issues. She thought that this latest iteration of proposal/freakout/refractory period was odd, so she went and looked at the recently-released report on orphan works from the US Copyright Office; generous soul that she is, she’s shared her interpretation of the situation, the proposal, the likely outcomes, and how much it’s all a cause for concern. You can read the whole thing here.

    It’s worth your time because orphan works are a concern for the creative community, but panicking and overreacting are not the ways to get policy that works in your favor. It’s absolutely an issue that needs a broad and vigorous discussion, but one based on what’s actually being proposed rather than the shadows of the monsters hiding behind the legislative proposals. She’s even done you the favor of pointing out where the most important sections of the report are, but I’m going to make you read her post to find that. You can cheat by reading Lane’s assessment of the report, but only reading my gloss of Lane’s assessment of the actual report is just lazy.

Spam of the day:

Nitrocellulose from Hebei Jinwei Chemical Co., Limited With the combination of durability, compatibility and unsurpassed drying speed.

I don’t think I want any nitrocellulose, especially with a fast drying speed — when that stuff’s dry, it’s an explosive.

¹ Good luck with that, invisible ghost monsters! I sold my soul to Rosenberg for a dollar!

² Thankfully, greyhound adoption is well-established, but there are still tens of thousands of dogs a year that are simply put down. If you’re looking for an awesome dog that will love the crap out of you, look into the greyhound rescue closest to you!

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