Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Two-time runner-up in obscure contest!

In which I trumpet my achievements to the world. Well, the dozen therein who read my blog.
You will recall, faithful reader, that over the Labour Day weekend I participated in the International 3-Day Novel Contest, to the tune of not-quite 20k words.
Hi Barbara,
Congratulations on making the shortlist once again! The
judges were very impressed with your submission. If you
haven't seen them yet, the results are up at
www.3daynovel.com. In a few days, I'll mail out your
Honourable Mention certificate and token, and a copy of
the winner release.

Until then, have a great week! I hope 2010 has been
treating you well so far.

Melissa for 3-Day

The results are posted here. I'm one of 15 honourable mentions, and I am no end pleased about it. Here's the full list:

Snowmen by Mark Sedore of Toronto, Ontario
The winning entry to the latest 3-Day Novel Contest is the story of a man who struggles to complete a record-setting trip across the Arctic Circle while his unstable and resentful brother plays a deadly game of sabotage. Snowmen will be released by 3-Day Books in August 2010.

McKinley M. Hellenes of Mission, British Columbia, for Everything Will Be OK
Winning $500

Victoria Dunn of Ottawa, Ontario, for Alice’s Adventures with Welsh Zombies
Winning $100


Miguel Burr (Vancouver, BC) for Flourescence
Keith Chittleborough (Glen Waverley, Australia) for Sheepless in Puckapunyal
Karen Cressman (Brampton, ON) for Breaking the Girl
Kimberly Davidson (Vancouver, BC) for Jabula
Alice Egoyan and Devon Motola (Fresno, CA) for 77
David Gibson (Hamilton, ON) for Cold Heaven Blonde
Barbara Gordon (Victoria, BC) for Culture Heroes
Meredith Kennedy (Palo Alto, CA) for Strange Alchemy
Edward Lineberry (Dallas, TX) for Forged Prophet
J.C. Locke (Carrboro, NC) for Big Crunch
Gavin McLachlan (Toronto, ON) for Give Up Your Self
Greg Morrison (Woodstock, VA) for The Goetist
Erica Naone (Allston MA) for Needle and Fang
Marion Stein (New York, NY) for Hungry Ghosts
T.R. White (Brampton, ON) for Billy Blue Bear

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Google street view

Makes my bum look big.
The street view cars went through Victoria this past summer, and I saw them while biking home. The other night I got around to looking for myself (the views went up in December), by slowly panning along Henderson.
There's a front view, with face blurred, and a back view, which sadly needs some bum-blurring technology.

Every now and then I try to educate myself about the Google book settlement, but it never works. Today's article in the Times Colonist (yes, the Victoria newspaper really is called The Colonist) once again rebuffed me. I was sent reeling off, muttering "Agh, bad bad metaphors, agh, you are writers dammit, an analogy is not an argument, agh...."
I wasn't able to read past the second column, where making a book available digitally is likened to stealing a book from a bookshop.
Except not.
There's a difference, okay, between the content of a book (text) and the physical object of a book (paper & glue), which makes this even more complicated. A book-object, unlike jewelry or old coins, has no intrinsic value.
It can have heaps and heaps of extrinsic / assigned value. I see this on the Booksleuth forum, where someone desperately wants the edition of something that they read as a child, as close as possible to that copy they handled, with their jammy thumb-prints on it, ideally. Other readers just want the text, and would be happy to read it on Project Gutenberg.

My for-real job that pays the bills is finding and ordering out-of-print books online. Out of print means that they're often used books, and in no case is the author getting a penny for that sale. Booksellers get something, and that's good, because bookselling is good just as libraries are good, and more people having access to more books is good...
Which seems to lead me to Google books being good. Although it is clearly vastly more complex than that. Possibly more complex than I can understand. Though at least I've heard of the used book market and of interlibrary loan, which puts me ahead of Sergey Brin, who doesn't know about ILLO, as noted by the Avocado back in October.
Brin's on-record cluelessness about real-world availability of OOP books doesn't make me trust that Google knows what it's doing, and the argument-by-bad-metaphor and similar ignoring of the used book market by writers doesn't make me trust that they have a better grasp of what the realistic problems may be.
A writer 'and former lawyer' is quoted at the end of the TC article with what I in my ignorance would call a classic slippery-slope argument:
If they're allowed to get away with this, what else is any huge multinational corporation going to be allowed to get away with?
From Bhopal to books online, what will corporations descend to next?< / sarcasm >
Okay, I'm sorry, that was unfair of me, but the suggestion that corporations haven't been getting away with abuses until now (ie, when they touch on that speaker's rights) kinda reeks of privilege.

Maybe I'll try again to understand the issues, in six months or so. I can make it a regular checkup. But I'm doubting that there will be any real coming to terms. It's sort of like the fanfiction issue, only with the possibility of someone making money.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A new year full of outrage, already

Tell me again why I should support the Olympics?

Besides the city of Whistler being made over into a venue rather than a community, it appears that Whistler's one public library will be closed to the public for the duration of the Games.
So that politicians, bureaucrats and Olympic committee members (and hey, maybe even a few elite athletes?) can have a private bar.

I keep trying to comment on that, and there's just nothing sarcastic enough to match the bare facts.
What else? Oh, Whistler library staff won't be out of work--they'll be seconded to VANOC and given vital Olympic duties like greeting tourist busses.

Reportedly the Olympic committee tried this in Vancouver--some of us see a library and think of reading, but VANOC members think of drinking behind locked doors--but was told no.
I wonder who told them no? I can bet it wasn't Jean Kavanagh, Vancouver Public Library's manager of marketing and communications.
She's such an enthusiastic booster (or do I mean enforcer?) of the Olympics that in October she sent a memo around warning staff that only the logos of official Olympic sponsors may be seen during public events. If a branch's AV equipment isn't made by sponsor Panasonic, then, well,
"I would get some tape and put it over the 'Sony,'" Kavanagh said. "Just a little piece of tape."
This doesn't just extend to inanimate objects, but to people:
“If you have a speaker/guest who happens to work for Telus, ensure he/she is not wearing their Telus jacket, as Bell is the official sponsor.”
No word on whether this will be extended to patrons who happen to be wearing brand-name shirts or hats.
I am somewhat comforted by the union stance (yay CUPE! my union!) as quoted on Quill & Quire:
"Our job as library staff is to not ever censor any information.”

To be fair, VANOC didn't ask Kavanagh to establish this policy. She did it on her own go, perhaps taking her cue from previous VANOC excesses like demanding that the Olympia restaurant (named after the mountain range) change its name before the Games.