November 4th, 2010


An Editor's Epic Fail

This Has Been Roiling Around The Internet For A Day

This isn't about SF publishing, but it is a cautionary tale about publishing and the Internet.

Nick Mamatas started the ball rolling when he alerted his minions that something was afoul with Cook's Source -- a freebie print magazine which makes its money on advertising and apparently doesn't think it needs to spend money on content. Certainly not content they found on the Internet. Here's a link to the original author and a truly pathetic reply by a clueless editor:
"Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was "my bad" indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.
But honestly Monica, the web is considered "public domain" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me... ALWAYS for free!"

Bet you didn't know that everything on the Internet was public domain, did you? Yeah -- I didn't know that either.

Oh, and about all that editing? Apparently the original article had archaic words in Old or Middle English, or something, which the editor "helpfully" corrected. Clue. Less. Fail.

Well, Nick updated this morning as to the Internet shitstorm which has fired up. Among others, John Scalzi had posted "The Stupidest Thing an Editor With Three Decades of Experience Has Said About the Web Today".

This free publicity managed to send people to write comments on the Cooks Source Facebook page and they even started a Discussion Topic on The Cooks Source Editor's complete ignorance of copyright laws.

Behold the power of the Internet -- All shall tremble before me and fear!

Really -- People Can Be This Clueless

One of the things that keeps many new SF/F/H writers from publishing their works is the fear that if they submit a story to an editor, that rather than buying the work someone might steal it for their own. This rarely happens because people eventually figure it out. Same with cowards who simply plagiarize someone's work and submit it as their own -- the truth will eventually come out.

This is more of a warning to anyone who thinks they can start a website or e-zine and stuff it full of other people's good stuff. This is a case of someone whose business plan may actually be based on criminal plagiarism of copyrighted material. Bad, bad behavior -- No cookie for you and you've left yourself open to a whole lotta legal troubles. Because as one of the commenters observed, this can hardly be the first time they've done this is the editor -- with three decades of experience -- assumes the Internet is all public domain. (It isn't.)

Dr. Phil

More Clueless People

An Oh Too Familiar Refrain

I get to the office about 8:40am for my 9am class. The message light on my phone is lit. There is just enough time to check to see what Important Message is in my voice mail box.

Alas & Sigh. The caller wanted to let Dr. Phil know that regarding the twins on heroin, that the mother should lose custody of those children.

Right. We'll get right on that. As soon as I lose my sanity and start hosting a psychology self-help television show. And do a piece on twins on heroin.

Where do these people get this telephone number from? Any place on my university website where I have the number, there's a link about that Other Dr. Phil fellow. You know, the one who knows Oprah and is rich and has a television show where they just did a piece about twins on heroin and their worthless mother?

Anyway, I'm not that guy. Don't call me and leave me a message about the TV show on my Physics Dept. phone voice mail.

And don't be one of those hit-and-run cowards who goes to all the trouble to dig through the Internet to find The Secret Actual Phone Number for Dr. Phil, expresses Extreme Disapproval -- and then doesn't bother to give a name. (evil grin)

Dr. Phil

I Can Haz Pony Now?

So There I Was, Minding My Own Business

I'd planned on leaving the office around 2pm, but it really became more like 5pm. Amazingly, the rain had stopped and I didn't get wet getting out to the Blazer -- and the 5pm traffic leaving campus and hitting West Main was surprisingly light.

Dark clouds above and to the north, south and east -- bright sun and white clouds off to the west. I stopped by Burger King to grab a small Coke (formerly the medium Coke, which was formerly the large Coke), when looking to the north I spotted quite a bright rainbow. I pointed it out to the girl at the drive-through, figuring that the workers need to spot nice things from time to time, and she was amazed to see that it was a double rainbow -- and quite bright.

So I pulled forward and parked. Grabbed the Sony out of my technology bag and dialed up the mountain icon to force it to focus at a distance despite looking through a windshield:

To the right I could see the double rainbows' other ends -- rolled down the window and shot that side:

The sun had brightened, but as I got out the rain started up again, so I held my hat over the camera as I shot over the roof -- you can never find the end of the rainbow, so naturally it was back over on campus, where I'd just been. (grin)

Or maybe just beyond the mall across M-43/West Main to the north -- such modern age symbolism, methinks. See all those cars? Not a single driver was looking to the side and seeing the wonders of nature. (double-rainbow-grin)

Alas, I'm not about to lug my new Kodak/Nikon digital SLR around with me to work all the time, so I didn't have access to the big lenses -- or the wide angles which could've showed the whole double arch overhead. But I was quite happy to have had any camera with me and confirmation from the little LCD panel that I'd captured the lovely bright true colors of the rainbow spectrum.

And Then The Magic Happened

By the time I got onto US-131 northbound, the rain had started up again -- but there on the entrance ramp, there was my rainbow again. And weirdly I was up high and looking down on the rainbow, which meant I could see the end of the rainbow!

Now I can't tell you what's going on with rainbows -- I mean I can quote the Physics and all but I'm not talking about that -- but I can tell you with some certainty that the end of the rainbow comes from an electrical service box below a high tension power line tower. Well that makes sense!

As I turned off the 4-way flashers and began to signal to leave the shoulder and merge back onto the entrance ramp, I noticed that there was another vehicle pulled over ahead of me. Nicely done, Dr. Phil, got another person to look out their damned windows and appreciate the wonders of nature.

But it didn't end there. My Little Rainbow ended up following me, and though it was raining heavily on top of me right there, the sun was still bright in the west and the rainbow was at first coming out of the drainage ditch past the shoulder, but later it seemed closer and looked almost as if it was coming out of the right side of the hood -- which would be where the alternator was.

Thus convincing proof that rainbows are electrically generated phenomena. Who knew those leprechauns were such electrical engineers?

And To Think...

If I'd left work at 2pm... if a former student hadn't stopped by and told me about his adventures in the last seven years... if my grader hadn't left the Exam 2s in my mailbox downstairs without telling me instead of dropping them off to me directly... if this week wasn't still daylight saving time because of that stupid DST2007 change...

... I'd have missed my rainbow. Go figure.

Dr. Phil