Archive for October 2009
Yesterday I blogged about Ubuntu Release Party Day. It seemed appropriate to publish in my other blog since I covered net neutrality, “throttling” and The Pirate Bay.
Ubuntu is the Open Source operating system software I use to run my writing computer. When I was starting out I loved writing in WordPerfect, and I’d be using it still except my version stopped being supported. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t get printer drivers. Which is why WordPerfect lost my business to Open Office. (Microsoft Windows being the most widely known non-open source operating system. ) New releases of Ubuntu are distributed twice a year, in April and October. Each release is named for an interesting animal, in alphabetical order like hurricanes. The last distribution was Jaunty Jackalope, and the new distribution is called the Karmic Koala.
[Aside: Just did a quick google to find the Windows link and I accidentally clicked the wrong thing, landing on an old Windows updates page that illustrates exactly why I prefer Open Source... My thinking is that since >I< bought my computer, >I< get to decide what software goes on it. This accidental click sent me to an old Windows update page: Thank you for your interest in obtaining updates from our site The page informs the unfortunate Windows user what browser I must use (Internet Explorer 5 or higher) in order to be able to access Microsoft updates.
Or if I really have to use some other company's browser (you can just hear the condescension) Windows will grudgingly allow me to download updates so that this other browser will work on the Windows website updating the program that >I< purchased from them.
But clearly what they really want me to do is authorize automatic updates. Boy, that was a long time ago. Nowadays you have no choice if you've been forced by circumstance to have Windows VISTA on your box. Vista removed all choice about automatic updates, you just get them whether you want them or not. And of course nowadays the only way to keep VISTA from "phoning home" would involve never going online.]
Ubuntu Release Parties
The very first Ubuntu release party I ever attended was at Toronto’s excellent Linux Caffe.
Unfortunately there was a fairly substantial technical difficulty: the people who were putting on the party couldn’t actually attend due to a Toronto Transit strike, so I never did get “Hardy Heron” installed that day. However, it was my introduction to the Linux Caffe. What a great place to go in and plug in while sipping cappuccino or scarfing back gelato.
This year I made it to the Kwartzlab Ubuntu release party in Kitchener, Ontario. Although a “hacklab” that’s just getting started, they have already begun establishing themselves in the community. Recently Kwartzlab members shared their expertise with a local high school who were building an electric car.
One of the Kwartzlab members created laser etched limited edition picture disks to commemorate the Kwartzlab Karmic Koala release party.
Everyone was friendly as always, because the great thing about GNU Linux Open Source software is that it is really about community. That’s why it works. People with greater expertise assist people with less to get the software up and running.
I used my cel phone to take these photos at the beginning of the evening before it got really busy. When it really got going there were at least thirty people there, many of whom I recognized from Ontario GNU Linuxfest. Because my antique laptop’s battery is long gone I stuck close to my wall plug during the busiest time.
There were a few demonstrations to the whole room, but for the most part it was one-on-one as Ubuntu users helped Ubuntu users while munching pizza, deviled eggs and later the Ubuntu Cake. We’re talking about a class act here: the actually had brand name soft drinks on tap and they recycle. We’ll have to make do with a few photos of the Ubuntu Circle of Friends logo being consumed since in my unfamiliarity with my cel phone camera I seem to have neglected to save the photos I took of the entire Ubuntu cake. All is not lost, as there were several others snapping photos so I’m sure you’ll find a shot of the cake on the Kwartzlab site.!
A good time was had by all. Great job Kwartzlab!
I have been a writer all my life, but sometimes the writing hasn’t had the opportunity to find its way outside my head. For a brief heady time I made a living as a writer, learning a great deal from the old pros I worked with back when I was a young pup. (Funny, I’m now substantially older than the old pros were then.)
I’ve enjoyed my childrearing hiatus which has of course produced the most amazing kid in the world. Since he’s now in high school, I’ve been dusting off my skills and doing a fair bit of thinking. Over the years I’ve accumulated a reasonable amount of life experience, and rather a lot of story ideas. Best of all, I also have a dedicated laptop, which is the place I’ve set aside to bring my writing to life.
Computer Stuff Digression
My “new” laptop has very little in the way of bells and whistles. It’s primary feature was that it was dirt cheap. We’re talking a rugged little IBM machine that would probably survive a fall from a cliff or being run over by a car, but is also so old the hard drive has less capacity than a writable DVD. Since the antique Windows 98 it came with is unsupported, I’m running Ubuntu (one of the more popular versions of Gnu-Linux) on it, since the hard drive is much too small for the current versions of Windows. So I finally have my open source desktop, and am loving being windows free on this machine, let me tell you. Open source software is awesome.
I’m actually gearing up to a changeover on my “real” computer; I attended my first Ontario GNU Linuxfest yesterday, I learned a lot, got some great advice as well as several different versions of linux to try out at home to decide which is best. There’s this great new technology where you can run a “virtual boz” on your computer, so you can have several different operating systems running on your one computer. The advantage to this is that you don’t have to commit to any specific home version of linus, you can try them out at your leisure. When you’re ready just go ahead and install it. (Until yesterday I had this crazy idea that there was only one home version, Ubuntu, the one on the laptop. I now have disks for fedora 11, Free BSD, opensolaris and opensuse As well, there will be a new release of Ubuntu in a few days which will apparently be able to use Photoshop (which has been my sticking point). And if that still isn’t good enough there’s an Irish version called Mint that is supposed to run video nicely “out of the box”.
I really enjoyed the talks although much of it was way over my head. Which is probably why Marcel Gagné was my favorite presenter in his talk “Linux Without Fear”. Although aimed at giving pointers to Linux users on spreading linux software in the wider community, he was both entertaining and understandable to neophytes like myself. My other two favorite presentations were Emma Jane Hogbin‘s lively talk on “Writing Effective Self-Help Guides for World Domination” and engineer Neil Bunn’s awesome discussion of designing and building “SciNet the largest Linux System in Canada”.
back on track
Part of the reason for having a separate writing computer is to keep the writing focused. I am in fact writing this blog post on the laptop, because it can go online (just). Because online is so slooooow the temptation to internet distraction will be much less.
Being old and slow myself, I can write at my own speed which isn’t too fast or too much for Open Office on this machine. If I need to do a quick & dirty bit of research it does the job. Serious research, blog posts, photo stuff, email and the like take too long. But for writing, it’s lovely. The keys are comfortable, they have a good solid feel.
It’s time I returned to the novel form. My first attempt at writing a novel in grade nine convinced me that I was not a writer. At the time it seemed clear that writing wasn’t a viable career path for me. So. After mourning the loss of what I thought would be my life’s work I headed off to college where I instead studied media arts (since i love movies and TV almost as much as i love books). As it turned out I became a writer anyway.
Maturity and experience have taught me the problems with my first novel were a combination of writing derivatively and not having the maturity to realize that an outline is a necessary foundation to writing fiction. Essential.
An outline shouldn’t be written in stone since your characters may have other ideas as they come to life. But even if you throw it out in part or in whole along the way due to changing circumstances, you must keep re-writing the outline, so that you the writer knows where you are heading. I have yet to meet a fiction writer who would rather outline than undergo root canal surgery, but it is a necessary evil. The outline remains as essential to writing good fiction as language is.
My talented sister-in-law has helped to keep my dreams alive over the years with her blog The Writing Life. Nienke offers ideas and writing outlets and avenues to follow. Sometimes it’s just a funny story or an interesting anecdote, but I’ve always found what she writes to be of use. Because even when I didn’t make the time for writing, writing has always been a part of who I am. In the back forty of my brain notes are always being taken.
It was through Nienke that I first heard of NaNoWriMo. The idea of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is to write a 50,000 word first draft during the month of November. Yikes. Yet some of us work well to deadlines.
In the past I’ve never been in the right place in my life to be able to get it together to try something like this, but for me this year everything is right. Maybe because I’m old enough to know if you want to do something, you must commit to making time for it. I do believe that I’ll do it for the same reason I was finally able to quit smoking two years ago: I think it’s the right time for me.
Probably this blog will suffer a bit of neglect during the month of November. I may pop by here from time to time with status reports, or with more musings on copyright consultation submissions. I’ve found reading them to have a restorative effect on my soul, and I know going in that writing anything definitely has moments when a restorative is called for. Of course when immersed in intense writing going for a walk in the woods may well prove to be a more effective break. Being November hopefully there won’t even be pesticide out there!
So just in case I don’t manage to get back here at all during the process, rest assured that I will return after NaNoWriMo is all over. Whether or not the novel flies, I am having too much fun within the wind. Maybe someday I’ll wind it down, but not anytime soon.
You know what? I haven’t started the novel yet, but I’m having fun already.
[OK, I confess... I just used my "real" computer to make a couple of corrections and added a few links I missed on the laptop. Ye olde laptop is definitely not for blogging. Let's put it this way... it was faster to refer to the paper program from yesterday than to open up new web pages... ---llr]
More strolling through the Canadian Copyright Consultation Submissions…
I keep coming back to this magnificent outpouring of ideas about Canadian copyright law and all that goes with it, and I am so very impressed.
Chen Shen wrote a great one. Here are a couple of my favorite bits:
“the purpose behind copyright should be reevaluated, and reforms should achieve a truly balanced approach to protecting the interests of both content publishers and content consumers, which is based in reality as opposed to the fantasies of media conglomerates clinging onto an ancient media landscape.”
– Chen Shen, copyright consultation submission
Beautiful use of language. And this part is so simple, yet so sensible.
“Generally speaking, restrictive protections should expire soon after content ceases to generate significant revenue.”
– Chen Shen, copyright consultation submission
Google found me the blog. This tiny excerpt says SO much:
“The government’s message is clear: lying on the sex offenders registry is less harmful than sharing your favourite songs on the internet watching DVDs on Linux.”
– cshen.ca blog
Jeff Cliff programming student/composer has a lot of very interesting stuff to say, interweaving philosophical ideas with everyday practicalities.
“Digitally locking the hood of a car so that only the dealer can maintain it restricts who can learn to fix it — this is not how things happen in the future Canada that I want.”
– Jeff Cliff, copyright consultation submission
If this is a typical Canadian student, Canada could have such a bright future.
“Let your children, at least, be free”
– Jeff Cliff, copyright consultation submission
Dusty Phillips, freelance software developer/member of the Pirate Party of Canada
“The distribution channels are irrelevant; they know this and are lobbying for laws to make it harder and/or illegal to access content without paying them. This is like trying to pass laws that we all use typewriters instead of e-mail because typewriters and the postal system are no longer relevant. It serves a set of industries already well-known for misusing artists and consumers alike.”
– Dusty Phillips, copyright consultation submission
This submission brings up an interesting ramification that I hadn’t thought of: the privacy issue
“The privacy problem is that policing such laws would require knowing every movie I watch, every book I read, and every packet I transfer across the Internet. The authorities would have to read every e-mail to ensure I haven’t attached an “illegal” file to it. This is clearly a drastic invasion of privacy.”
– Dusty Phillips, copyright consultation submission
Which of course could be the strongest motivation for efforts to alter Bill C-27 to grant such draconian abilities to the telecom providers.
Another aspect Dusty Phillips discusses is the Canadian “desire to create”. The world of repressed Canadian culture Dusty describes here is actually the dark ages of music and art that the internet is in the process of freeing Canadian culture from.
Of course, the old guard keeps trying to claw us back into the pit because they were much happier when they controlled everything. What they are missing is absurd. If artists are allowed the freedom to find their own audiences, when they are established they will still prefer to affiliate with a distribution network. Because artists want to create, not sell.
The biggest difference in the new model would be that the artists and the distributors would be entering into a more equitable arrangement.
The deal is no longer that the artist has to sell their soul to a company that will try to make them a star. At first blush Big Media doesn’t want that shift of power. I suspect long term it would work out better for them too. But they must have the flexibility to adapt. Instead of trying, they are trying to legislate turning back the hands of time. Not gonna happen, folks. What will happen is the little guys doing the distribution now will end up replacing the big guys who are too rigid to adapt.
During my growing up years the wailing and gnashing of teeth by Canadian politicians of all stripes was: “Canada needs an identity.” or “We don’t have a national identity.”
Even as a kid my take on it was that the Canadian identity is that we were NOT American.
So what is happening in the here and now? The digital age that has arrived has already gone so very far in allowing Canadian culture to grow freely. In the last decade, Canadians have been growing a culture by making use of these technologies. Not just to produce their art but to distribute it.
This is awesome. If allowed to flourish in the fullness of time… perhaps even already… there would no longer need to be any Canadian Content law. Canadian art and music and movies would be allowed to grow and find audiences on their merit and appeal to audience.
In my day, many really talented Canadians had to leave Canada to “make it big”.
Lets just for one moment look at a few Americon iconic characters brought to life by Canadians who couldn’t make a living at home:
Elwood Blues: Dan Ackroyd
The original ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce Donald Sutherland
Captain Kirk: William Shatner (yes, sadly he’s one of ours)
Scotty: James Doohan
King Kong’s original true love: Fay Wray
Pa Cartright: Lorne Greene
Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones: Kim Cattral
Perry Mason: Raymond Burr
Nero Wolfe: Maury Chaykin
Lois Lane: Margot Kidder
Tonto: Jay Silverheels
Which is why Canada Post keeps honoring “Canadians In Hollywood”. So many of our best and brightest have had to go below the border:
Just a few Canadians who had to leave home to develop intellectual property:
James Cameron (Titanic)
Norman Jewison (Fiddler and the Roof)
Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters)
Lorne Michaels (Saturday Night Live)
And of course some of Hollywood’s brightest stars were Christopher Plummer, Dorothy Pickford, Leslie Nielson, Lorne Greene, Michael J. Fox, Jim Carrey, Glen Ford, Robert Goulet, Raymond Massey,Meg and Jennifer Tilley, Norma Shearer, Martin Short, Kate Nelligan…. the list goes on and on and on.
Maybe if Canada were to embrace the new model, as so many of the copyright consultation submissions suggest, things will continue to change and more of our brightest stars will be able to stay home.
Well, my copycon submission hasn’t been posted on the big board yet. But every now and again I check back, and while I’m there I read submissions. I’m expecting them to stay posted for a good long while, just because it’s going to take me a long time to read them all. And the more I read, the more I want to read them all. As a reader I’m enjoying reading the submissions. As a citizen, I am impressed with what I’m reading.
Certainly there are a lot of one-liners, which can be pretty much summed up as “if you want me to write, pay me”. I have to wonder why these folks didn’t bother to take this incredible opportunity to actually write about the issue. Because no one in all of this has said anything anywhere (although I am not done reading yet!) about not paying writers or any other creators of intellectual property. Its too bad that these people didn’t take the time to explain their take on the subject a little better so people would understand where they’re coming from. Is it because they assumed no one would listen? Or that they lacked faith in the process?
In a way these submissions are serving me rather like a catalogue. I’m just as likely to google the creator to try to find out a bit more about them.
Take William Gough for example. Clearly he had no interest at all in answering any of the questions posed, but at the same time as one of the later submissions he certainly aware that this website was being read. So he had his agenda, and took this opportunity to speak his piece. I found what he said interesting:
“Thanks to the Internet we now need no middleman.”
–William Gough, copyright consultation submission
So I did a bit of googling, thinking there may be a blog, but not. Too bad, its certainly a good way to help people find you. However, I did find his lulu storefront shop His books sound worth a look.
Deborah Hodge is a children’s book writer whose copycon submission didn’t really say anything new, she seems happy with the status quo and mostly wants to “ensure fair compensation”. But when I took a peek at her website, it looks like her books might be pretty interesting for kids. I’ll keep her in mind for my niece’s next gift.
But there are also many that are saying things I hadn’t thought of before. I know I surprised myself when I started writing mine, because until I started writing, I had no idea I held such strong ideas on the subject. I guess that happens, as life goes on, living informs our opinions. It seems clear that there has been a lot of thought expended for this.
I rather liked the elegance of Tomas Szeredi’s discussion of divorcing format from Intellectual Property. Of course, agreeing with my point of view gets him brownie points, but his Pandora story really hit home with me. I too have a tough time finding new music to listen to, having given up on radio decades ago. Sure makes finding new music that I like something of a challenge.
Even though I’m not a musician myself, I grew up around musicians, and I have to say the old way (record studio/radio) didn’t seem to work very well. In Canada a rare few made it big. Quite frankly, I don’t even think the best always made it big… mediocre talent that doesn’t offend anyone was probably as important to getting radio play as talent. Fitting in a box probably helped too. Once the handful of “talent” needed to fill the Canadian Content regs was available, the big media concerns stopped looking. Canadians got a lot of bland radio music, and a lot of talented people gave it all up for day jobs. Others left the country, because there was opportunities elsewhere. With internet capability, I believe there is so much more opportunity for artists to find an audience.
My current favorite band is hands down the Arrogant Worms. You can buy their CDs, or you can download them album by album or a buck a song. Best yet, you can listen to their songs online and decide if you like them. If you want to buy their music you do it through MapleMusic their online distributor. (Maple handles a lot of other acts as well.) My other big fave right now is Michael Kaeshammerwho I discovered through a Jazz Festival. Because his website plays the music online I was a fan from listening before going to the festival. (Where I bought his music, direct from him.)
Warren Layton’s submission again gave the perspective a bit of a turn. For all the time I’ve spent in libraries, and even having my own personal library, its still different hearing about the needs of a professional librarian. He had some chilling accounts of abuses caused by the American law, but he also made me realize just how debilitating the format shift problem is for libraries. After all, libraries are rarely rich, and they too have a delicate balancing act to keep current. Having a huge proportion of their media materials suddenly become obsolete is sobering. But the thing that got me was the access problem.
“There should also be no ban on any technologies that can circumvent a TPM. As a librarian, I see the need for such technologies when providing access to works to the visually impaired (to give just one example). ”
–Warren Layton, copyright consultation submission
Computer programmer Tom Low-Shang‘s submission clearly points out the futility of TPM and DRM and discusses how much of a waste it is, when Canadian programmers could be pursuing far more worthwhile efforts.
I especially liked this idea:
“In order to direct and facilitate the digitization of Canadian heritage, a clear commitment needs to be made in order to preserve the current term of copyright. A pre-determined and generally accepted public domain date must be established for the good of all Canadians and the preservation of the heritage we so proudly maintain.”
–Tom Low-Shang, copyright consultation submission
I think that’s all for now.
Just a thought. If you regret not having done a copycon submission, you still can. Doesn’t have to go on their website: make yourself a blog. It’s a great way to let off steam. I’d certainly recommend wordpress of you’re thinking of blogging. I’ve got the links Links in my sidebar. The difference between the two is that .org is for hosting your blog on your own website, .com is for hosting it here on wordpress. (Thought it was time I gave them a plug.)
[Note: this is the short version of Anti-Spam Bill morphs into Secret Spyware Bill the Stop Usage Based Billing post I put together in response to warnings issued by Cory Doctorow & Michael Geist on Friday]
Cory Doctorow on boingboing:
The opposition Liberals have proposed amendments which appear to have been drafted by copyright and telecom lobbyists. They would allow for surreptitious installation of computer programs and – even more outrageously – would allow copyright owners to secretly access information on users’ computers.
Turns out Bill C-27: The Electronic Commerce Protection Act covers more than just anti-spam.
It was written to include a requirement that software cannot be installed on a user’s computer without consent, as an anti-spyware provision.
What a good idea.
Because no one should have the right to put software on my computer without MY permission.
Just as no one should have the right to put software on YOUR computer without YOUR permission. It is, after all, YOUR computer. You bought it to do what you wanted or needed it to do. Why should anyone have the right to put things on your computer? It isn’t THEIR computer.
last minute amendments
Michael Geist’s news is that the copyright lobby wants to ensure their software will be able to trespass on our equipment and through our files so they can target “violation of a user agreement or alleged copyright infringement.” The copyright lobby is concerned that this legislation will block attempts to track possible copyright infringement through surreptitious electronic means. They want our government to give them the right to invade the privacy of all Canadians just in case there is a copyright violation.
The copyright lobby is concerned that C-27 will “block investigations that involve capturing user information on computers without knowledge or consent.”
C-27 was making the copyright lobby unhappy so…
“…the Liberals have tabled a motion that would exclude Section 7(1)(b) from C-27 – effectively restoring the exception in these circumstances.”
“On top of these provisions, sources say the Liberals have also tabled motions to extend the exemptions for telecom providers. “
Using the Internet = Privacy Invasion
If this law is passed, the internet carriers (Bell/Telus/Rogers/Shaw/Sasktel) will have the right to remove things from our computers or add things to our computers. This law will go much farther than the CRTC decision to allow Bell Canada to use Deep Packet Inspection, and is an even greater risk to our personal security.
There is a proposed motion that would also create an exception for telecom providers to the requirement to obtain express consent. It states that the section does not apply to telecom providers providing a telecom service, which is defined to include:
“providing computer security, user account management, routing and transmission of messages, diagnostics, technical support, repair, network management, network maintenance, authorized updates of software or system firmware, authorized remote system management, and detection or prevention of the unauthorized, fraudulent or illegal use of a network, service, or computer software, including scanning for and removing computer programs”
Canadian Computer Rights
I don’t know if anyone else has written anything like this but here goes:
The Rights of A Canadian Computer User
No one has the right to put anything on my computer without my permission.
Just as no one has the right to put a bug in my bedroom.
No one has the right to take anything from my computer without my permission.
Just as no one has the right to take anything from my home without my permission.
No one has the right to read my email without my permission.
Just as no one has the right to open my snail mail without my permission.
No one has the right to go through my document folders without my permission.
Just as no one has the right to go through my file cabinet without my permission.
If any corporation feels that they should be entitled to trample on any of these rights by virtue of the fact that I purchased a piece of equipment, software, CD or DVD, just inform me you plan on doing these things BEFORE I purchase the item from you. That way, I can decide if it is worth it to me to put my privacy at risk.
Canada HAS laws. It has one of which I’m particularly fond:
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canada even has law enforcement agencies. If the forces of law believe that I am infringing copyright, let them follow the rules of Canadian Law and do an investigation. If searches are deemed necessary, let there be search warrants. Remember that Canadian Law I mentioned? It has a bit that promises Canadians:
Search or seizure
8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
The changes to Bill C-27 being contemplated by the committee would actually grant powers of unreasonable search and seizure to corporations.
This is NOT acceptable.
Anyone who has read my blogs is aware that brevity is not my strong suit.
But that is clearly what is called for here. We need to tell all of these people in no uncertain terms that this is NOT acceptable. So this is the letter I am about to send to all of them:
Re: Bill C-27: The Electronic Commerce Protection Act
I am deeply concerned that the committee working on Bill C-27 is considering last minute amendments to this law (or possibly introducing modifying legislation later) that would make it legal for third parties to surreptitiously add to or remove anything from my computer without my express consent.
Corporations and Internet carriers should not be allowed to invade my privacy because I’ve purchased their movie or used the internet. Allowing corporations and telecommunications carriers to surreptitiously invade the privacy of Canadians flies in the face of provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Privacy Act as well as being contrary to advice offered by Public Safety Canada.
Don’t be pressured into making last minute ill advised changes without time for serious thought and investigation. Doing this would certainly not be in the public good. Canada deserves good laws.
My computer belongs to me. No one else has the right to put anything on it or take anything off it without my permission.
Laurel L. Russwurm
Because that’s what we need to do. We need to tell them NO.
This is the committee who are putting this law together
(links direct to email addresses)
The Honourable Tony Clement, P.C., B.A., LL.B., Minister of Industry (Conservative)
Hon. Michael Chong, Chairman of the Committee
Anthony Rota, Vice Chairman (Liberal)
Robert Bouchard (Bloc Québécois)
Gordon Brown (Conservative)
Siobhan Coady (Liberal)
Marc Garneau (Liberal)
Mike Lake (Conservative)
Brian Masse (New Democratic Party)
Dave Van Kesteren (Conservative)
Robert Vincent (Bloc Québécois)
Mike Wallace (Conservative)
Chris Warkentin (Conservative)
Along with a lovely link that will help you find your own MP in the event you don’t know who it is.
Find your Member of Parliament
I would think that the Minister of Public Safety would also have a definite interest in these changes to this proposed legislation, since the tabled loopholes will certainly make it more difficult for the forces of Canadian law and order to successfully prosecute perpetrators of electronic crimes (such as con artists, identity thieves etc.)
The Honourable Peter Van Loan, P.C., B.A., LL.B., M.A., M.Sc.Pl., Minister of Public Safety (Conservative)
I’m pretty sure that the politicians being pressured by the big guns of the copyright lobby haven’t thought about the ramifications of this. That’s one of the reasons for pressing for a last-minute addition, it can’t be scrutinized as closely because there isn’t time.
[The long version may be found at Anti-Spam Bill morphs into Secret Spyware Bill
My first awareness of Oscar Wilde was when I first saw the beautiful Canadian animated film of “The Selfish Giant” on television when I was in elementary school. It struck the most wonderful balance between beauty and sadness.
That was before I’d begun reading credits, so I didn’t know at first that this was based on an Oscar Wilde short story. At that time I had no idea who Oscar Wilde was.
My next encounter with Oscar Wilde was when I read The Picture of Dorian Gray in high school. I don’t think anyone was brave enough to include Wilde in the curriculum in those days, certainly not in my rural school. But it was in there in the library, and I was a long time fan of historical novels by then. What beautiful language.
Although I was probably still too young to really get it, I was captivated all the same. But that was the only Wilde in the school library.
During my college years I was a camp counsellor one summer, and the camp rented films to project out doors for a Movie Night. When I saw “The Selfish Giant” again, and I made a point to remember it.
When I was in college I was charmed by an amateur production of “The Importance of Being Earnest”, but I still didn’t realize that the same man wrote this extremely varied body of work.
When I was a new mother I discovered a beautifully illustrated version of “The Nightingale and the Rose” in the children’s section of a large book store. It made me weep, but I bought it just the same.
What an incredibly sad book to read to a child. What an incredibly sad story for anyone. Perhaps reading this and The Happy Prince to my child when young has something to do with the fact that he has empathy.
Of course the world is a different place today, so my son studied The Picture of Dorian Gray in high school English class.
From the children’s books my sister said about Oscar, “You can tell he’s suffered.”
I have a nephew named for Dorian Gray.
The more I found out about Oscar Wilde, the more impressed I became. When I was given “The collected Works” a few years back, I read it cover to cover.
He came from an eccentrically brilliant family and he had absolute self confidence. Or if he didn’t he faked it awfully well.
What an amazing man. He had style. He pretty much invented celebrity. But when he began to be published it was clear he wasn’t just another pretty face. He was a genious.
On his tour of North America Oscar was famously photographed by the Canadian photographer Napoleon Sarony. Having these photographs in existance today adds to the Wilde mystique, back then, they helped build the legend.
Interesting copyright aside: An advertiser used one of Sarony’s photographs of Wilde in an advertisement without permission. Sarony sued, which resulted in the addition of photography to the protection of copyright law.
The plays Oscar wrote were brilliant dissections of “society” which was so overwhelmingly important in the time.
The Importance of Being Earnest.
Lady Windermere’s Fan.
An Ideal Husband.
Delicious, all. He was adored and lionized for his pronouncements, style, and wit. Conveniently he was blessed with a prodigious talent.
He married and had children because that was what you did, but Oscar Wilde committed a terrible crime. He made the mistake of being born gay. He separated from his wife, and came out of the closet. And he was still accepted and respected.
Until the father of his true love threatened Oscar with the full force of the law.
Because Oscar was so supremely self confident, because he was so terribly famous, because the glitterati sought his advice and hung on his every word, and because he believed he lived in an enlightened age, he felt he could withstand the justice system.
Unfortunately he was wrong. He was jailed for the crime of being gay. He lost everything. Oscar did not thrive in jail. When he emerged from jail he had an epic poem, but he was truly a broken man. His health was a memory. He died quite young in France.
Oscar Wilde brought so much joy, so much joie de vivre, so much beauty into the world.
I think that the most important thing for Oscar Wild was being famous and having his words read or performed. Because he was an artist. In his lifetime he went from being seriously famous and terribly in style to being a pariah cast out of the society he loved. Because of his infamy, his works were not reprinted.
For years Oscar’s fame was kept alive quietly, but for the most part society was frightened to read his words. Because Oscar Wilde wasn’t just gay, he was seriously out of the closet. But because he died young, his works entered the public domain far earlier than they should have if he’d kept his health.
There are always publishers wanting to reprint material that they don’t have to pay for. And Oscar Wilde’s work was gorgeous.
So slowly Oscar’s works crept back into society. His words are as fresh today as they were then, his wit as razor sharp. The depth of love he imbued in the nightingale is just as powerful now as ever. Maybe even more so. Am I weeping as I type because of Oscar’s breathtaking prose, or are my tears for Oscar?
In 2009 Brian Bedford told Oscar’s story in “Ever Yours, Oscar” a one man show at the Ontario Stratford Festival. Oscar’s words are immortalized in books, posters, T shirts. His plays are performed live and recorded on DVD. There are probably more of Oscar Wilde’s quotations online than anyone else’s. Because above all else, Oscar Wilde was funny. Today, the only thing that matters is that Oscar’s words live on.
I think Oscar would get such a kick out of getting the last laugh.
[This began as a comment on the Globe & Mail story Canada snubbed as Kindle goes global but it got a little out of hand...]
The very first time I encountered the e-book concept was in the 1970′s… within the pages of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy.
My son’s high school library (where I first discovered Foundation) doesn’t stock the book any longer. And sadly our local public library doesn’t provide shelf space for any of Asimov’s fiction.
Fortunately for me I am happy to say that quite a few of those old fashioned rectangular things with Asimov’s name emblazoned on the cover reside in my own home library, which in itself is made up of those old fashioned rectangular things we call books.
Because of this, I was able to lend my kid Foundation, which he wanted to read for a comparative lit assignment.
If I had Foundation on a Kindle, would I be legally able to lend it to my kid? Or would that constitute a copyright infringement?
If I was allowed to lend it to him, and he put it in his backpack and took it to school, how easily it might be damaged. Or lost. Or even stolen.
When I was in high school myself I borrowed my brother’s single volume trade paperback version of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Awesome book.
The paper was as thin as bible paper but denser. I couldn’t put it down. So I dragged it around with me at school, to be prepared if an opportunity to read it presented itself.
I was only a little way into The Two Towers on the day I accidentally forgot it in the cafeteria. Naturally it was gone when I came back for it.
It was a pretty devastating loss since I had to save enough money to replace my brother’s copy, and then save enough money to get my own since he wouldn’t lend it a second time. Those were the days when the cost of an ordinary paperback was measured in “cents” not dollars. But this copy of Lord of the Rings was priced at well over twenty dollars.
So, the new economical Kindle reader only costs $259.00. That’s a pretty good investment right there. So if its lost or stolen or broken… certainly it would be a hit. But then lets look at one of the selling points: you can store your whole library on the reader. At $10.00 a book, with a 1500 book capacity, the replacement value is now up to $15,259.00.
This is a substantial replacement cost for a high school student to shoulder. We’re looking at a sum of money roughly equivalent what it costs to attend the University of Waterloo for maybe a half year. Perhaps a full year if you’re careful.
In these days of “climate change”, the weather we have is increasingly unpredictable. Twice this year I’ve been caught in a torrential downpour with my digital camera.
The first and worst time it was so beautiful when we headed out for a walk that I didn’t take my camera bag. I was soaked and my camera was drenched in gallons of water before I could deploy the plastic bag I had for the dog.
I was sure the camera was destroyed forever.
Fortunately it wasn’t… but it took weeks to dry out. And there’s still a few things that don’t work quite right. But I’m lucky that the hundreds of dollars invested in my camera weren’t lost.
But what if it had been a Kindle?
Getting drenched in a downpour could wipe out a much larger investment in the blink of an eye. From where I sit, that makes the Kindle a lot less portable.
Oh sure, Gutenberg’s contribution to the world was important, no question, but the REAL revolution was the introduction of the “dime novel” Portability was key. Certainly the price made books affordable to common people for the first time, and that is also why people would carry them around in their pockets.
Because they only cost a dime you wouldn’t end up in the poor house if you lost one. And when prices rose, as prices do, dime novels became more commonly known as pocket books.
And how many parents would allow their kids to take something so expensive outside to read in a tree? A great deal of my childhood was spent reading out of doors. By the creek, on a beach, in a tent or up a tree.
But the money invested in a Kindle would make the risk far too great. I’d be more inclined NOT to bring it with me.
I love books. I grew up in a reading environment. My family didn’t have a lot of money for books, but we had books anyway.
In those days, if a family wanted to provide a good educational environment for their children, the parents would buy an encyclopedia set.
It might take years to pay off, but many people considered it worth it. (Of course the sales pitch was 40% future success for your kids combined with 60% guilt at how much they’ll suffer if you didn’t buy them.) Of course the families who shelled out hundreds of dollars when the child was in kindergarten were left with a rather obsolete version by the time the children were actually old enough to make use of the things in high school or college.
Instead of buying a set of encyclopedias he couldn’t afford, my Dad taught us the value of reading, first by reading himself and then by reading to us. Probably why we grew up to be readers. Better still, he took us to the library. We learned to find what we needed in those public spaces. And in those days Ontario public schools could actually afford librarians, so students learned how to find what we needed or wanted.
Books are as important to me as food. I borrow books, and lend books. I’ve bought additional copies of good books to donate to schools or as gifts. One reason I can afford to buy new hardcover books (and help support the writers I read) is because I also buy lots of books at used book stores or book sales. Like most of these sales, The Elora Used Book Sale is a fundraiser, and they accept donations all year long. Because volunteers price the books, and what doesn’t sell this year will be back on sale next year, the pricing is erratic and entertaining, ranging from about five dollars for hardcover fiction to a paperback mystery I paid a dime for. Is that Irony or what?
Used book sales allow me to economically replace books I’ve loaned out and not gotten back. They help me fill the holes in my collection. Sometimes I’ll buy a “lending” copy of a favorite in paperback, so I don’t have to risk losing my hardcover copy of The Nature of the Beast or Shibumi. A lot of the books I love are long out of print and very hard to find. I’m getting close to having all the Nero Wolfe books, but most are only available in paperback.
Thanks to the absurd length of American copyright term, most of these books written before I was born will only enter the public domain after I’m gone, so they aren’t likely to be reprinted or end up on a Kindle. Many of these are likely to be lost entirely to future generations. But not to my family. We’ll still have books.
Probably the most compelling reason to not trust all my books to an electronic device like a Kindle is the fact that I don’t trust Amazon to support the Kindle forever. The only way you can be sure that your electronic data won’t evaporate or decay is to back everything up. I’m pretty sure that the only way to back up a Kindle is to have two of them. Having heard horror stories about a legal challenge resulting in a released e-book being sucked off the e-book reader, well … if I was halfway through reading a book and they pulled it…. I can’t even THINK about that one.
I’m tired of having to buy the same things over and over again (Betamax… vhs… DVD… hddvd… 78… LP… 8 track… cassette… CD… MS DOS and then too many versions of windows to count and living in fear of the day when my now unsupported XP won’t run and I have to switch to VISTA…)
So I am not willing to pay even a few hundred dollars to buy an electronic reader that may or may not work next year, or that may or may not remove the book I’m reading on it due to a legal challenge, and that may or may not result in the Canadian Copyright Police breaking down my door if I lend a book (and therefore the kindle) to my friend to read.
There are so many reasons why I would never get a Kindle… and yet.
Just because I don’t want one doesn’t mean that everyone else feels the same way. Canadians deserve a choice. There has been a lot of speculation as to why Amazon is willing to market the Kindle in the Congo, but not in Canada.
A Kindle is nothing by itself, like a DVD player with no DVDs. The kindle must be able to access the Amazon collection in order to download content. Kindles need internet access. Since the carriers have a virtual monopoly (Bell/Telus/Rogers control the wire) and since our regulatory body is allowing the carriers to control the content, my best guess is that Big 3 want a piece of the action that Amazon believes is too high.
So the Canadians who want the Kindle can’t get it. This is just a small indication of what can happen when the carrier is allowed to control the content.
I don’t believe that Amazon has snubbed Canada, I think it is much more likely that Canada has snubbed Amazon.
P.S. The Kindle is now available in Canada. Complete with DRM. So sad.