Pixel Scroll 5/14/23 Pixelberry Jam On Filer Buttered Scrolls

(1) BAFTA TV AWARDS. The genre cupboard was practically bare when the winners of the BAFTA TV Awards 2023 were revealed tonight. “Memorable Moment” — the only publicly-voted category – proved the exception, won by “’Platinum Jubilee – Party at the Palace’ – Paddington meets Queen Elizabeth II”. 

…Ben Whishaw was a part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Paddington Bear skit – as the voice of Paddington – which won an 2023 BAFTA TV award for most memorable moment, the only prize voted on by the public. The skit beat out Nick and Charlie’s first kiss in “Heartstopper” and the “Running Up That Hill” moment in “Stranger Things,” among other nominees…

(2) CRUISING. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] I took my Masters of the Universe figures out into the garden and posted another photo story: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Adam’s Day Out’”.

“I just love getting out of the palace and enjoying the peace and quiet of the Eternian wilderness in springtime. And the Road Ripper really packs a punch. Too bad it’s only a one-seater, so I can’t take Cringer along. Or Teela…”

“Still, nothing beats racing across the plains of Eternia. No Prince Adam, no royal duties, no He-Man, just me and the unspoiled wilderness and… – Oh, raptor crossing!”

SCREECH!

(3) EUROVISION BOOK CONTEST. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The finalists for the Eurovision Book Contest (like the Eurovision Song Contest, only with books) have been announced and there is at least one genre finalist, the German entry The Perfume by Patrick Süsskind, which won the 1987 World Fantasy Award: “Elena Ferrante and Marian Keyes among authors competing in Eurovision book contest” in the Guardian.

In March, the literary festival asked the public to submit their favourite fiction from any of the 37 countries that take part in the music competition each year. Suggestions could be of any genre and language but they had to have been published in the years since Eurovision began in 1956.

The final selection of one book from each country was chosen by an expert panel, who were aiming to come up with “an ambitious reading list” of books that will “inspire, examine and entertain”.

This also illustrates IMO the issue with that contest. The Perfume was released in 1985, i.e. it’s almost forty years old. The Irish contestant Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes came out in 1998. That Georgian contestant is a novel written in German by a Georgian expat. Two finalists are graphic novels. The selection is just weird.

(4) A CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT. Connie Willis shared her delight in Charles’ coronation with Facebook readers.  

“What is the finest sight in the world? A Coronation. What do people talk most about? A Coronation. What is delightful to have passed? A Coronation.” — Horace Walpole

Saturday I got up early to watch Charles III’s coronation. It was the second one I’d seen. The first was Elizabeth II’s which I watched seventy years ago on someone else’s TV because we didn’t own one yet. It was an impossibly grainy image on a tiny screen of a Cinderella-looking carriage drawn by four horses. I was only seven years old, but I have a vivid memory of it, probably because I was so fascinated by fairy tales and princesses and queens and golden coaches made out of pumpkins.

This time my husband and I watched it in color on a much larger screen while talking on the phone to our daughter in California the whole time as she kept us updated with texts from her friends and comments on Tumblr. Now, seventy years later, I am no longer all that fascinated by princess and carriages, but I am fascinated by history, and in terms of historical events, a coronation simply can’t be beat….

(5) ROBOTIC ROBBERY. Lincoln Michel knows “The Endgame for A.I. Is Clear: Rip Off Everyone”.

…But let’s talk about the more specific ways companies plan to rip off writers with “A.I.” as the excuse.

A strong hint can be found in the current Writers Guild of America strike. A key sticking point is the use of A.I. writing. The writers aren’t asking for Hollywood to ban the use of A.I., rather they are asking that A.I writing not count as “literary material” or “source material.” This is technical Hollywood language related to the realities of how contracts work and how much money writers get. With the hard realities of capitalism and how corporations look to rip off writers.

The concern isn’t that ChatGPT can replace writers, but that studios will get chatbots to produce a crappy script then hire a writer at a lower rate to fix up the script into something usable. Fixing up a mess of ChatGPT vomit could take more work than writing a script from scratch, but cost the corporation less money.

I think this fear is completely justified and one that writers everywhere should take note of. Will websites and magazines start hiring writers or editors to “fix” chatbot outputs for less pay and no credit? Will book publishers decide they can feed an idea into ChatGPT then hire a novelist as a ghostwriter to rewrite it?

Again, the chatbots don’t have to produce good or even usable writing for this to be a threat. The threat is A.I being an excuse to rip off writers. If you hire a screenwriter to rewrite a chatbot script, you can pay them less. If you hire an author to rewrite a chatbot draft, you can avoid royalties. Etc ….

(6) FOUNDATION. GeekTyrant walks viewers through a “Thrilling New Trailer for Apple Adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s FOUNDATION Season 2”.

…Season 2 is set more than a century after the finale of the first season, “tension mounts throughout the galaxy in Foundation season two. As the Cleons unravel, a vengeful queen plots to destroy Empire from within. Hari, Gaal, and Salvor discover a colony of Mentalics with psionic abilities that threaten to alter psychohistory itself. The Foundation has entered its religious phase, promulgating the Church of Seldon throughout the Outer Reach and inciting the Second Crisis: war with Empire. Foundation chronicles the stories of four crucial individuals transcending space and time as they overcome deadly crises, shifting loyalties, and complicated relationships that will ultimately determine the fate of humanity.”…

(7) TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS AND WORKING OVERTIME. New Amazing Stories editor Lloyd Penney has been interviewed by Angelique Fawns for The Horror Tree, a website for horror writers and markets.

AF: What personal projects are you working on? What do you do in your spare time?

LP: Spare time? What is this ‘spare time’ you speak of? These days, I go into a publications office in Toronto’s east end twice a week to do the proofreader/copyeditor thing for one print magazine and two e-magazines. Then, I am the occasional editor for a British author’s long-time series of books, D.J. Holmes and his Empire Rising series of space adventures. And, for the past 40 years, I have been a regular correspondent and writer in the Letters Column for a long series of fannish publications, fanzines. I try my best to juggle all of this, and I hope not to drop anything. I have been an editor/copyeditor/proofreader for most of my working life, and I have always been an SF reader, so this is the first time I’ve been able to combine the two, and I have tried my best to run with it. I was told it should be fun, and it has been.

(8) PRO TIP. “Tim Dowling: my wife is gardening. I’m in my shed writing. It’s a risky situation”. The author is quoted in the Guardian saying —

“A long time ago I read a quotation in a book of advice, which held that the hardest thing about being a writer is convincing your spouse that looking out of the window is part of your job. I have never been able to track down the exact wording or the author of that quotation; when I look online the only source I can find for it is me, because I cite it so regularly. This is perhaps fitting, since my wife thinks I made it up.”

(9) ONE SUMMER TO A CUSTOMER. Jonathan Clarke investigates “Rod Serling’s Enduring Appeal” for City Journal.

…You might have guessed by now that in “Walking Distance,” Serling was telling his own story. He was 35 when the episode appeared, and he had come a long way from a charmed boyhood in Binghamton, New York. Like Martin Sloan, he had good reason to be tired, and good reason, despite his considerable success, to want to go home again. As his success grew, that desire would grow stronger, too.

It’s easy to forget now that television was once regarded as a creative nullity, good only for selling product. In the medium’s early decades, the programming was mostly quiz shows, Westerns, and police procedurals. Corporate sponsors had considerable creative control, and in tone and style, the industry was not unlike Madison Avenue, slick and a bit shameless. At the same time, because the medium was so new, conventions hadn’t yet hardened, and barriers to entry were lower, especially for writers. Serling, with his early work for two important live series, Kraft Television Theatre and Playhouse 90, became one of a handful of creators pushing television forward. Even so, he accepted that it was a second-rate form, inherently inferior to theater and film. Interviewed by Mike Wallace in 1959, shortly before The Twilight Zone debuted, Serling argued that he was writing “serious, adult” scripts, but he didn’t claim the privileges of an artist. “I’m a dramatist for television,” he said, by way of apology. “This is the medium I know.”

By then, Serling was the most recognizable writer in the country. The face he showed to the public was an appealing one, and very much an American face—principled but modest, industrious, courageous. Beneath that there was a different man: vain, self-indulgent, needy. And underneath that there was a sensitive artist, and a traumatized war veteran, and a young man who lost his father too early. The inmost Serling was perhaps ever that eager boy in Binghamton, standing on his tiptoes to be seen. (As an adult, he stood just 5’5”.) As a writer, he sought to integrate these different selves, to find the sense of coherence that evaded him in life. He would never quite feel that he had done so….

(10) GERALD ROSE (1935-2023). Illustrator and teacher Gerald Rose died May 5 at the age of 87 reports the Guardian. He was the youngest winner of the Kate Greenaway medal for children’s book illustration, in 1960.

…As well as the books with [his wife] Elizabeth, Gerald illustrated the work of many other authors, including Ted Hughes’s Nessie the Mannerless Monster (1964), James Joyce’s The Cat and the Devil (1965), Paul Jennings’ The Hopping Basket (1965) and The Great Jelly of London (1967), Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky and Other Poems (1968) and a number of Norman Hunter’s Professor Branestawm titles (1981-83). His own later picturebooks included the award-winning Ahhh! Said Stork (1986) and The Tiger Skin Rug (2011)….

(11) LAST FAREWELL. “RIP John Mansfield”, Kevin Standlee’s tribute to our friend, includes a link to the video of the service.

As most of you who follow me may know, John Mansfield, chair of the 1994 Winnipeg Worldcon and an important figure in Canadian fandom, passed away a few days ago after a long period of decline. His funeral service in Winnipeg was today, and was live streamed and recorded so that people (including me) who could not come to Winnipeg could attend virtually….

(12) MEMORY LANE.

1990[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Charles de Lint’s Drink Down the Moon which is where this Beginning comes from is one of my favorite novels by him. Published by Ace Books in 1990, it is the second novel of his Jack of Kinrowan series, one of his Ottawa set novels. 

I like them because they are tighter, less sprawling than the later Newford novels are. They have a simplicity that sometimes gets lost in those novels.

And here’s our beginning, complete with fey music…

He slipped through the darkness in the 4/ 4 tempo of a slow reel, startled an owl in its perch, and crept through the trees to join the quiet murmur of the Rideau River as it quickened by Carleton University. At length, he came to the ears of a young woman who was sitting on the flat stones on the south bank of the river. 

The fiddle playing that tune had a mute on its bridge, substantially reducing the volume of the music, but it was still loud enough for the woman to lift her head and smile when she heard it. She knew that tune, if not the fiddler, and yet she had a sense of the fiddler as well. There was something–an echo of familiarity–that let her guess who it was, because she knew from whom he’d learned to play. 

Every good fiddler has a distinctive sound. No matter how many play the same tune, each can’t help but play it differently. Some might use an up stroke where another would a down. One might bow a series of quick single notes where another would play them all with one long draw of the bow. Some might play a double stop where others would a single string. If the listener’s ear was good enough, she could tell the difference. But you had to know the tunes, and the players, for the differences were minute.

“There’s still a bit of you plays on, Old Tom,” she whispered to the night as she stood up to follow the music to its source. 

She was a small woman with brown hair cropped short to her scalp and a heart-shaped face. Her build was more wiry than slender; her features striking rather than handsome. She wore faded jeans, frayed at the back of the hems, sneakers, and a dark blue sweatshirt that was a size or so too big for her. Slipping through the trees, she moved so quietly that she found the fiddler and stood watching him for some time before he was aware of her presence. 

She knew him by sight as soon as she saw him, confirming her earlier guess. It was Old Tom’s grandson, Johnny Faw. He was a head taller than her own four foot eleven, the fiddle tucked under his clean-shaven chin, his head bent down over it as he drew the music from its strings. His hair was a darker brown than her own, an unruly thatch that hung over his shirt collar in back and covered his ears to just above his lobes. He wore a light blue shirt, brown corduroys, and black Chinese rubber-soled slippers. The multi-coloured scarf around his neck and the gold loops glinting in each earlobe gave him the air of a Gypsy. His beat-up black fiddle case lay beside him with a brown quilted-cotton jacket lying next to it. 

She waited until the tune was done–”The King of the Fairies” having made way for a Scots reel called “Miss Shepherd’s”–and then stepped out into the little clearing where he sat playing. He looked up, startled at her soft hello and sudden appearance. As she sat down facing him, he took the fiddle from under his chin and held it and the bow on his lap.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 14, 1929 Kay Elliot. The actress who shows up in “I, Mudd” as the android form of Harry Mudd’s wife Stella Mudd. SPOILER ALERT (I promised our OGH I’d put these in. It’s possible someone here hasn’t seen “I, Mudd”.) Need I say she ends getting the upper hand in the end? She also had appearances in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as Miss Prendergast in “The It’s All Greek to Me Affair” episode and multiple roles on Bewitched. That’s it, but she died young. (Died 1982.)
  • Born May 14, 1935 Peter J. Reed. A Vonnegut specialist with a long history starting with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays that he wrote with Marc Leeds, and Kurt Vonnegut: Images and Representations with Leeds again. He also wrote a handful of essays such as “Hurting ’til It Laughs: The Painful-Comic Science Fiction Stories of Kurt Vonnegut” and “Kurt Vonnegut’s Bitter Fool: Kilgore Trout”. (Died 2018.)
  • Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 79. For better and worse I suppose, he created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine. I adore the original Trilogy.) And let’s not forget THX 1138. My fav works that he was involved in? LabyrinthRaiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Willow. Oh, and and The Young Indiana Jones series. 
  • Born May 14, 1945 Francesca Annis, 78. Lady Jessica in David Lynch’s Dune, Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth. I know only two roles, but what a pair of roles they were! She also appeared in Krull as The Widow of The Web but I’ll be damned if I can remember her in that role. 
  • Born May 14, 1947 Edward James, 76. Winner at Interaction of Best Related Non-Fiction Book for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction which he did with Farah Mendlesohn. A companion volume, The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, was also edited with Mendlesohn. He was the editor of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction from 1986 to 2001.
  • Born May 14, 1952 Robert Zemeckis, 71. He’s responsible for some of my favorite films including the Back to the Future trilogy, The Muppet Christmas CarolThe WitchesWho Framed Roger Rabbit and the savagely funny in a twisted sort of way Death Becomes Her. So what’s your favorite films that’s he had a hand in? 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Kathleen Ann Goonan. Her Nanotech Quartet is most excellent, particularly the first novel, Queen City Jazz. Her only Award was given for In War Times which garnered a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. She’s wrote an interesting essay on the relationship between sf and music,  “Science Fiction and All That Jazz”. (Died 2021.)
  • Born May 14, 1955 Rob Tapert, 68. I’d say he’s best known for co-creating Xena: Warrior Princess. He also produced and/or wrote several other television series including Hercules: The Legendary JourneysM.A.N.T.I.S. and American Gothic. Tapert also co-created the prequel series Young Hercules which I loved more than the adult series. He’s married to actress Lucy Lawless. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld says this job is not that easy!

(15) KEEP A SHARP EAR OUT. You’ve still got 18 days to bid on some prime Star Trek: The Original Series collectibles available in “The Comisar Collection Platinum Signature® Auction” at Heritage Auctions.

(16) HUANG’S OUTLAWS. At Nerds of a Feather, Paul Weimer starts with history — “Review: The Water Outlaws by S. L. Huang”.

… In Classic Chinese literature, there are a number of canonical novels, core books that are the backbone of a strand of Chinese history, culture and society….

…The Water Margin is set in the Song Dynasty, the last native Chinese Dynasty before the invasion of the Mongols. The Water Margin is a story that in its 50000 foot level will be familiar to Western readers. A group of diversely outlaws in an inaccessible area, fighting against corrupt officials who are oppressing the people? Yes, in the most broad of senses, The Water Margin is the Chinese parallel to the story of Robin Hood. It’s bigger scale, (108 outlaws in all, much larger than Robin’s band), larger stakes–fighting against full imperial armies, and, sadly, ends in a tragedy, the heroism of the outlaws ending not quite in a happily ever after.

And it is The Water Margin that is the story that S. L. Huang retells in The Water Outlaws.

S. L. Huang puts us in a slightly different China right from the get go by giving it a more feminist approach, starting with genderflipping the main character, Lin Chong. In Huang’s slightly alternate China, women have a significantly better role and place in society, but not so much that sexism and oppression of women are still not huge obstacles. But as a guard captain, Lin Chong is certainly in a position she would have not had in our own history. In this way, The Water Outlaws invites for me, comparisons to Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun, which has a genderflipped protagonist, but she is a character who hides her gender. And her story is at the end of the Yuan dynasty, a century or more after the events of The Water Margin. But the queer, feminist lens of Chinese history and the perspective that it brings is strong in both works.

(17) LUNAR ORDERS. Also at Nerds of a Feather, Alex Wallace’s hook “Murder, Monks, and the Moon! What’s not to like?” gets readers started: “Review: Poor Man’s Sky by Wil McCarthy”.

There’s something about the great black void above us that attracts a wide variety of peculiar people. In our world, we have the likes of Elon Musk (who promises settlements on Mars when not driving Twitter to implosion) and other billionaires with god complexes and more money than sense. This is a theme that runs through Poor Man’s Sky Wil McCarthy’s most recent novel, a sequel to 2021’s Rich Man’s Sky….

(18) TINY DANCERS. The New York Times takes readers “Inside the Big World of Small Objects” — “For over 40 years, Tom Bishop’s dollhouse miniatures show has been the gold standard for serious collectors and hobbyists alike.”

Moments before 10 a.m., a security guard thanked the crowd for being cooperative.

When the clock struck the hour, it became clear why: The doors of the Marriott Chicago O’Hare conference center opened, and hundreds of attendees, a majority of whom were over the age of 60, bee-lined as fast as they could to the booths.

Many had studied the color-coded map ahead of time listing each booth’s location and came prepared with a shopping plan — a scene that could easily be mistaken for a Black Friday sale. Instead, it was the Chicago International Miniatures Show.

Despite the gathering touting itself as “the World’s No. 1 Dollhouse Miniatures Show,” there aren’t many actual dollhouses. Attendees instead sift through thousands of tiny objects that fill these tiny homes: miniature sponges, chocolate fondue fountains, rocking chairs, barbecue sets, Tupperware containers or fly swatters.

“The largest miniature dollhouse convention” may sound like a silly distinction to some, but it is no joking matter for the sellers. For many, the Tom Bishop show is where they hope to make the bulk of their annual sales.

The Tom Bishop show, as many attendees call it, is considered by its founder, Mr. Bishop, to be the largest dollhouse miniatures event in the world. Numbers appear to support that claim. This year, over 250 vendors traveled from 21 countries and 35 states.

More than 3,000 people attended, filling three large conference rooms, with hallway spillover. The weeklong event, from April 24 to April 30, included ticketed workshops with themes like “Lobsterfest” (focused on making miniature lobster boil accouterments); trade shows; and three days of ticketed shopping for the public….

(19) FULL GROWN DANCERS. Boris Karloff narrated “The Peppermint Twist” on Shindig 1965.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cora Buhlert, Steven French, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

54 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/14/23 Pixelberry Jam On Filer Buttered Scrolls

  1. Ah, hell.
    I didn’t know Kathleen Ann Goonan had passed. Her Nanotech Quartet and The Bones of Time were important to me at the time.

  2. (5) If the AI cannot explain how it reached this conclusion clearly, it’s a kludge. If an AI makes up stuff – remember, there’s no actual AI here, they’re actually expert systems – then it was trained to lie. A normal expert system is trained by surprise experts in what it’s supposed to be working in. These were trained by crap on the web.

    And such a surprise that they want to pay the writers less. They want “content”, not “stories with plots”. They’ve already devalued the writers to “hired pencils”.

    (8) Just looked at the For Better or Worse in last week’s Baltimore Sun… and it’s the same (though why he’s got a CRT instead of a flatscreen….)
    (9) “…It’s easy to forget now that television was once regarded as a creative nullity, good only for selling product.” I’m sorry, were you intimating that it’s NOT exactly the same now? When my late wife and I taped B5 off the tv, it was about 48 min long. When my late ex taped shows off the TV around ’03 or ’04, they were – count ’em – 38 min. long. 22 minutes of commercials an hour… while in the sixties, by law and regulation, they had 7 min of commercials and station breaks an hour.
    Birthdays: Lucas – strong disagreement. They screwed the ending of Last Crusade. They should have shot Indy, and his father should have saved him. And after a lifetime looking for the Grail, there is NO WAY he’d leave – he’s say goodbye to Indy, and give reprieve to the Knight. Absolutely yes, though, on the Young Indiana Jones.
    (14) He thinks he’s got troubles? Charlie Stross has been having worse for years, with the Tories in power.

  3. (5) Right now, this is the only thing AI is good for–stealing writers’ and artists’ work without having to pay for it. And if they keep “training” it this way, if it ever finally becomes intelligent, the people who think they own it had better watch out.

    They’d be much better off doing the right thing–paying the writers and not teaching AI that lying is good.

  4. (5) He’s not wrong.

    (13) Kathleen Ann Goonan also wrote some excellent short fiction, collected in Angels and You Dogs. A fine writer gone much too soon.

  5. (8) I think that quote about “looking out the window” is from Fred Pohl’s The Way the Future Was – but I’ll check

  6. (8) Back in the late 1970s, I was living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a city that was a local maximum for excitement and culture. Bordering Ann Arbor was a much more plebeian and dull town named Ypsilanti, which is where one of our local pros, Lloyd Biggle, lived. I asked Lloyd why, since he was a writer and could thus live anywhere, he chose to live in Ypsi. He replied, “Living in Ypsilanti is like living in a room with no windows.” (Which I took to mean as a place with few distractions…)

  7. I remember reading Drink Down the Moon for the first time as a teen in a reprint I found at my local library. It still has all the magic it did then. Thanks for this trip down memory lane, Cat!

  8. (5) I know that many authors don’t want AI’s using their work as input. I suspect, though, that if it implicates copyright, courts will find that if an AI consumes a corpus and spits out “new” fiction, it will be found to be Fair Use.

    I’m having a hard time coming up with a logical proposition that concludes “When an AI uses an author’s fiction as source material and writes new works based on it, that’s bad; when Varley, Scalzi, Haldeman, etc. read Heinlein’s works and write new fiction clearly influenced by it, that’s okay.”

    It’s a hard problem.

  9. bill: While I can’t solve your conundrum, think how many people have tried to be the next Heinlein (in some cases the claim even being made in their book blurbs) and very few have their faces here on your Mount Rushmore. Doing a thing and doing that thing well — those are factors to be considered.

  10. @bill–

    I’m having a hard time coming up with a logical proposition that concludes “When an AI uses an author’s fiction as source material and writes new works based on it, that’s bad; when Varley, Scalzi, Haldeman, etc. read Heinlein’s works and write new fiction clearly influenced by it, that’s okay.”

    It’s a hard problem.

    I think the important point you’re missing is that Varley, Scalzi, Haldeman, and others used Heinlein’s works as inspiration to write new works that said something different–not just things Heinlein didn’t say, but which expressed often nuanced and thoughtful disagreement with those ideas.

    Not just a mashup of the same elements.

    There’s an exchange of viewpoints and ideas going on, that isn’t present when AI chatbots (which still aren’t even close to genuine artificial intelligence) get fed material and remix it.

    Several of my friends have asked an AI chatbot for a short bio of their professional lives, and gotten back something that sounds superficially reasonable–if you don’t know the person they’re about. If you know, for instance, that they didn’t die two years ago, “of unknown causes.” Or that they didn’t win such-and-such award. Other basic, factual errors that a 12yo would know how to check.

    And when corrected on the death thing, they fix that, but don’t double-check any other factual details and fix other errors.

    There’s no mind there. Just a machine mashing up various elements and producing a result that has roughly the right shape. When put to work on fiction, they produce “stories” that mash up elements from whatever writers it was fed, and produces something in which there’s no originality introduced by the machine, and all the elements it’s mashing around are the work of real people who did real original work, and aren’t being paid for this hijacking of their work.

    And the writers can’t even get anything interesting out of reading it, the way (at least in theory) Heinlein, Haldeman, and Scalzi could each get something interesting out of reading each other’s different takes on a similar starting premise.

    Science fiction is a genre very much in conversation with itself, but with an AI chatbot, there’s no one to be in conversation with. It’s not producing original work with original ideas. It’s just an excuse to not pay the writers.

  11. @bill: “I suspect, though, that if it implicates copyright, courts will find that if an AI consumes a corpus and spits out “new” fiction, it will be found to be Fair Use.” I can’t imagine the Walt Disney Corporation taking that lying down.

  12. There is also concern that LLMs can reproduce the content they are fed too closely. There are already lawsuits over images and coding. Maybe writing is less vulnerable but I wouldn’t count on it.

    On top of that current LLMs have severe limits which make them even worse in long forms of writing.

  13. Oh bill, the SF community would be better place off if everyone stopped thinking of any writer has being influenced by Heinlein (or any other writer for the matter) and just accepted their writing on its merit.

    (Lis, I’m not altogether disagreeing with you. Just emphasing that we need to stress that their writing is uniquely their own.)

    And yes, I know the Old Man’s War was riffing off Starship Troopers but this was a deliberate affair by Scalzi, but it does not suggest all of his fiction was influenced by that writer.

  14. 9) I don’t know about peeling the onion of Serling’s personality, but I do, in my dotage, have some anecdotage.

    My senior year in high school, my girlfriend, who worked in a local diner, told me that Rod Serling had stopped in. He was passing through on a friend’s cabin cruiser and staying overnight at the marina a couple blocks away. So early on a Saturday morning, I biked into town and to the marina and (I don’t recall how) managed to get his attention, and he invited me aboard.

    He couldn’t have been nicer to a nerdy, intrusive, inquisitive 17-year-old kid. I asked why he didn’t present more spacey SF on The Twilight Zone, and he explained about the costs of special effects, one of which could blow the budget for an entire episode. On reflection, his patience and good nature were amazing. I mean, the guy was on vacation and probably not in need of an inquisition first thing in the morning. (On the other hand, I was clearly a fan, and my questions were not entirely dumb.)

    Decades later, I discovered that not everyone’s memories of Serling were as nice as mine–Phil Farmer told me that he had been known to adapt stories without permission or (more important) payment.

  15. Cat, I don’t even see that as a disagreement. The writers mentioned are influenced by everything around them, as are we all. Their writing is uniquely their own, their minds doing unique things even with similar basic ideas. Scalzi was intentionally riffing on Starship Troopers. Haldeman wasn’t. And the three books all clearly have some basics in common–and are really different, because they were written by different men, with different experiences, ideas, and influences. Neither The Forever War nor Old Man’s War was a copy with the serial numbers filed off.

    And Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin is a Heinlein juvenile that Heinlein would never have written. It took a very different writer to tell that story.

    Influences, many not direct, many a result of living different lives in the same culture.

    None of them could have written Heinlein’s works. Heinlein couldn’t have written their works. They were/are all complex human beings with unique things to say.

    AI chatbots don’t have anything to say, and it shows.

  16. @Jake: I can’t imagine the Walt Disney Corporation taking that lying down.
    I think it will go the other way: when LLMs have gotten large and sophisticated enough that they can crank out novel-length Heinlein pastiches that are indistinguishable from something Heinlein himself might have written**, whatever Giant Media Corporation holds the rights to the output of Robot A. Heinlein will turn around and sue every writer whose work can even remotely be described as Heinlein-influenced on the grounds of copyright infringement.

    **The mash-up of The Rolling Stones and Stranger in a Strange Land is going to be very… disturbing.

  17. PhilRM:

    **The mash-up of The Rolling Stones and Stranger in a Strange Land is going to be very… disturbing.

    I thought that was To Sail Beyond The Sunset.

  18. 5) Y’know…I’m pretty sympathetic with the writer’s general complaint about using technology to decrease payments to writers. Going from pen/paper to typewriter to word processor may have made it easier for a writer to get their ideas on paper, but it didn’t change where the ideas came from. Adding on any of various AI outputs also doesn’t change the contribution of the writer.

    But…

    With the hard realities of capitalism…

    [sigh]

    Capitalism is an awful thing to live with. The only thing worse is all the other options that humanity has tried and/or imagined.

    Under all of those other options, writers would have fewer options for just compensation. Not more.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Fate pulls you in different directions. – Clint Eastwood

  19. Some years ago I found myself requested to do some ghost writing by one of those people who ‘have an idea, but can’t write.’ We have all met them.

    I had no idea what ghost writers got paid, so I asked a very famous writer who worked in the LA area what the usual arrangement might be.

    He assured me that the writer usually got 90% of the income from such a work, as he or she was not only doing the work but taking time off from his or her own career to do it. He noted that in Hollywood, many celebrities want their name on the cover of a book, have an idea, but are not in need of the comparatively small amount of cash the book will bring in.

    That strategy might be a basis for writers called in to clean up A.I. crap.

    When the person who had approached me about ghost writing his epic heard that, his dreams of any easy fortune from fiction faded fast and he vanished like the likelihood of a politician’s promise.

  20. “Now Buster, get over here and help me with the next episode of The Scourge of the Spaceways – there’s mayhem to plan!”
    “But Grandma Hazel, I want to share water with my new Martian friend, Mike.”
    “That boy isn’t any more a Martian than you are. Now, get over here.”
    “Perhaps I can be of assistance? Jubal Harshaw at your service. We’ll dictate and one of my secretaries will record. Front!”

  21. @ Mike Glyer, Lis Carey — sure, the fiction output of AI is bad. But is that a reason to say “AI can’t use my works as input?” It’s getting better, and will soon be good enough. When that day comes, when a reader sees something new in the mashups that wasn’t there before, these arguments won’t hold. And the question stands — what is the justification for an author to say “people can read my books, but machines can’t”.

    @Cat Eldridge — you are missing (or dodging) my point. Heinlein influencing Varley, Scalzi, and Haldeman is just an example that is so well known as to be, if not a trope, at least recognizable. No one is saying that all of Scalzi’s writing is derivative of RAH (except possibly Scalzi’s owning the fact that he is a commercial fiction writer, a position that RAH would certainly recognize and endorse). Substitute your own influencer and influencee. Yes, Varley etc. are uniquely their own, and say things that Heinlein never said. But AI will do so as well, and soon. (or it will say things that the reader has never seen before — functionally equivalent.)

    @Jake “I can’t imagine the Walt Disney Corporation taking that lying down.”
    I dunno, Oswald the Rabbit is now in the public domain, and Mickey will be there in 231 days.

  22. @bill: The very earliest iterations of Mickey Mouse might be coming out of copyright if nothing changes before January, but there’s been an awful lot of evolution of the character and none of those changes will be public (in the same way Winnie t. Pooh might be out of copyright but some of his familiar signifiers are not).

    And anyway the real moneymakers are still firmly within their grasp: Star Wars, Marvel, various Princesses, and so on.

  23. (8) From “The Way the Future Was” (page 211):

    “Writing is the only job I know that your wife will nag you *out* of. Why wouldn’t she? There you are, sprawled out on the living-room sofa, reading the real-estate section from last Sunday’s *Times* – although it is known that you have no extensive real-estate holdings, and little prospect of acquiring any. Meanwhile, the dishwasher needs fixing. Poor soul! How can she know that if she interrupts you now, you will lose a precarious train of thought that has taken you four hours to construct”

  24. Dann665–

    Capitalism is an awful thing to live with. The only thing worse is all the other options that humanity has tried and/or imagined.

    Capitalism is an awful thing to live with only when it’s largely unregulated. The closer it gets to being completely unregulated, the worse it gets–because the closer to monopoly it gets, and the further from even basic health and safety protection it gets.

    With good regulation, such as we had from the 1950s to the 1970s, it’s a truly excellent thing. Could have stood to have more human rights protection, but overall, pretty good, and not excessive.

    Then in the 1980s, the work of unraveling the worker, safety, health, and enforcement of environmental protections started.

    We’re not back to the 1920s, yet, but the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire didn’t happen because unregulated capitalism is such a brilliant idea.

  25. @bill: what is the justification for an author to say “people can read my books, but machines can’t”.

    Because one of those things is not like the other. A LLM is not reading a book in any meaningful sense of the word; the text is being analyzed mathematically to derive statistical weights for putting tokens together in sentence-like and paragraph-like objects.

  26. An LLM doesn’t know what a hand is. It doesn’t know what a sun is. It definitely doesn’t know what it means to lift your hand to block the sun from your eyes. It is not learning when it is handed a million stories and told to produce output based on them. It is literally regurgitating.

    It is not the same process at all. A writer writing a work inspired by another writer’s book is a person making a meal based on the meals they were taught to cook by other cooks, including on tv, from cookbooks, their family members, etc. An AI is taking all the food put into it and spinning it together in a blender.

  27. @Lis Carey

    Capitalism is an awful thing to live with only when it’s largely unregulated.

    I am pretty sure that we have visited this horse-shaped patch of red mud before. Within the context of the US marketplace, we are not only over-regulated, but the number of regulations (particularly related to health and safety) has grown each and every year of my life. We have more regulations now than we had in the 1970s and way more than in the 1950s.

    The CEI compares the number of pages per decade [I hope this link works as the preview doesn’t show it]:

    https://cei.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Figure-11.png from
    https://cei.org/publication/tens-of-thousands-of-pages-and-rules-in-the-federal-register-2/

    Even Mr. Trump was largely unable to tame the federal regulator leviathan.

    In the 70s & 80s, we did (thankfully) see a reduction in various price controls. The justification was that economists had figured out that the regulated industries were using federal regulations to shield themselves from new competitors.

    A certain level of regulation is not only productive but necessary. What we currently have exceeds both of those criteria by a significant margin.

    Regards,
    Dann
    When I was 14, I thought, ‘How wonderful to be a science fiction writer. I’d like to do that.’ I have never lost touch with that ambitious 14-year-old, and I can’t help chuckling and thinking, ‘You did it, and you did it right.’ – Robert Silverberg

  28. Dann665–You won’t like this, either, but letting corporations kill unionization has eliminated a main way workers were protected, during that hellish period for corporations, the 1950s-1970s. You know, when corporations were thriving, but so were the workers.

    The elimination of defined-benefit retirement plans in favor of defined-contribution plans, e.g. 401(k) plans,has made American workers more dependent on Social Security, which Republicans want to eliminate in favor of turning it over to Wall Street to make it another defined-contribution plan with the only contributions coming from the workers, and Wall Street taking a healthy (for Wall Street) profit out of it.

    We’ve had decades of conservative/right-wing efforts to make the NLRB more employer-friendly than labor-friendly, “Right to Work” laws in many states which greatly weaken the ability of unions to negotiate effectively, and often a lack of interest in prosecuting violations of the legal rights of workers to choose whether or not to unionize.

    We had, for too long, corporations able to deduct on their taxes the cost of moving American jobs overseas, and those same corporations never bringing those profits home to be taxed. We paid them to export jobs.

    Productivity has exploded over these decades, but the workers’ share of the resulting wealth has fallen dramatically, while CEOs take home eye-bleeding “compensation,” much of it not in the form of salary so that it’s taxed at a lower rate

    And the workers contribute far more than the CEOs to making those profits, because without them there are no products and no services.

    The claim that the worker unhappy with their pay and working conditions can simply go elsewhere and find an employer they like better, is simply a lie, when the employer is a large corporation and the worker is a single individual. That’s not free negotiation between equal partners with equal access to the same information and equal ability to walk away. One party has a far stronger hand and is able to dictate terms, and it’s not the worker.

    To pick on a currently much in the news example, Elon Musk contributes nothing to making Tesla successful; is actively bad for Twitter’s business–so bad that it has had blowback effects on Tesla sales; and maybe a little bit to SpaceX, in terms of interacting with governments and large corporations.

    But it’s Musk, who fired whole swaths of essential people at Twitter, fundamentally because he has no idea about how important brand safety is to advertising decisions, and doesn’t like being criticized, who enjoys both the headlines and the wealth. Poster child for the big-ego CEO who only knows “business,” not the work actually being done to make the products and services they get the profits on.

    And at Twitter, there isn’t even a board that might get fed up like with his shenanigans and give him a golden parachute to go away in.

    Here’s a quote you might find interesting. And it’s from a Republican that the party often brags of:
    Lincoln on Labor

    And here’s a other, though it’s further down the page it’s on, so I’ll quote it, and then add the link beneath:

    “And, inasmuch [as] most good things are produced by labour, it follows that [all] such things of right belong to those whose labour has produced them. But it has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have laboured, and others have, without labour, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue. To [secure] to each labourer the whole product of his labour, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government.” The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume I, “Fragments of a Tariff Discussion” (December 1, 1847), p. 412.

    Abraham Lincoln Quotes on Labor and Work

  29. @bill–

    Today’s Wall Street Journal headline: “CEO Pay Packages Fell Sharply in 2022, the First Decline in a Decade“

    Yup. First decline in a decade.

    You probably do understand that I’m talking about a trend of over four decades, not saying there were no lesser, intermittent declines that weren’t great enough, even in total, to reverse that overall trend.

    Also, because of the paywall, which you surely also know about, it’s just a headline, not an article we can read. Headlines, sadly, are often terrible representations of what the articles say. This one, for all I can tell, might discuss that long-term trend, or not.

    It’s for reasons like this that I try (don’t always succeed) to link to sources that anyone who chooses to can read.

  30. @lis carey

    Do you agree that the US has significantly increased overall regulations since the 1950s?

    Are you willing to consider that there are factors beyond government regulations and enforcement efforts that might also influence private-sector unionization? Or is declining private sector union membership ipso facto evidence of government action (or inaction) as the primary (sole?) influence?

    Regards,
    Dann
    I know some who are constantly drunk on books as other men are drunk on whiskey. – H.L. Mencken

  31. Dann665, the government actions and inactions that have helped unionization decline are very well documented, and I don’t have to waste my time trying to convince someone who is so heavily invested in denying it.

    Laws and regulations that restrict monopolistic behavior by corporations still sometimes happen, it’s true. But in fact in a wide range of sectors that would benefit immensely from competition, we have fewer and fewer choices. You know this.

    And unionization is starting to come back, precisely because corporations have come to think that they can get away with anything, including keeping most of the public-facing employees below the number of hours that would get them benefits, combined with dynamic scheduling, which results in truly abusive working and living conditions for those employees.

    Please don’t pretend you don’t know what dynamic scheduling is, and how it hurts workers. If you really don’t know, which I doubt, google it. And don’t look just at “conservative” or “libertarian” sources. Look at sources that include facts about the actual lived experience of low-wage workers subjected to dynamic scheduling.

  32. “the government actions and inactions that have helped unionization decline are very well documented,”

    Do you mean laws like those establishing OSHA, minimum wages, 40-hour work weeks, etc., giving workers by law those things they had to strike for 100 years ago? Unions are not as necessary as they once were; thus lower membership numbers.

    “And unionization is starting to come back, ”

    ???
    Don’t think so . . . .

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_unions_in_the_United_States#/media/File:Union_Membership_in_the_United_States,_1960-2020.svg

  33. bill: I’ve carried several stories in the past two years about unionizing efforts in publishing and bookselling. So we can point to specific people who think unions are necessary.

    Does your chart about the decline of union membership totals in the US come with a related chart about the numbers of jobs in industries like steel or clothing manufacturing that have moved to other countries, industries which once were centers of unionization?

  34. I certainly would not argue that union density has gone down exclusively due to governmental action or inaction. It is an element of the issue, but there are also issues around some of the myopic decisions made by unions themselves in this period. For instance, failing to put money into organizing and losing organizing skills. There is also a need to create campaigns that connect with the public.

    However, those issues have to be seen in a context of a series of administrations that have been fairly hostile to unions and that have at times worked to make it harder to organize unions. We can see a fairly high percentage of people who would like to see a union in their workplaces, but the governing structures around such processes make it pretty hard to accomplish this. Employers can run fairly open intimidation and misinformation campaigns and the consequences for breaking the minimal rules that exist are not terribly meaningful.

    Despite these issues we are seeing a bit of an uptick in activity, though. It still exists in a fairly hostile environment.

  35. @Mike – If a group of workers thinks they need a union, they should have the opportunity to try and form one.

    The chart came from the wikipedia page on Labor Unions in the United States. It mentions the movement of industries offshore, but doesn’t spend much time on it.

  36. @lis carey

    A simple “no” would have sufficed.

    May I recommend The Ferryman by Justin Cronin to you? Fantastic writing. An inventive tale of birepbzvat gur bofgnpyrf gb uheyvat uhznavgl vagb gur pbfzbf ba n gevc gung jvyy gnxr uhaqerqf bs lrnef. This book is so good that I can’t even give you a one sentence blurb without spoiling it! I guarantee that you will not encounter any plot points that will cause you discomfort. Except maybe one…if you overthink it. I overthink things on occasion. I’ll have more on Goodreads.

    More broadly, I am generally supportive of private-sector unions. I figure any employer that gets saddled with one clearly deserves it.

    Regards,
    Dann
    The most cogent reason for restricting the interference of government is the great evil of adding unnecessarily to its power. – John Stuart Mill

  37. @Dann: It’s rather absurd to state that the number of pages of regulation proves that businesses are regulated too much, as if the number of pages actually corresponds to enforcement. Few businesses are actually criminally sanctioned for using undocumented labor, despite the laws that exist:

    https://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/559/

    Dann, since you are so adamantly against ‘too much regulation,” I presume you consider the recent loosening of child labor laws (including one state’s bill legalizing 14 year olds to work till 9 pm during the school year) to be a positive?

  38. @Dann665–

    A simple “no” would have sufficed.

    Yes, I’m sure. A simple “no” without any further substance is much easier to dismiss as mindless support of ever-increasing regulation for its own sake.

    I guarantee that you will not encounter any plot points that will cause you discomfort.

    Ooooo! That puts me in my place! Lol

  39. I’m reminded of what David Brin said about air traffic regulations for private planes:

    Well, I agree that regulation can be the devil’s tool. But so is oversimplification of important issues. So let me tell you a little story about an eye-opening epiphany I once had — way back when I was taking flying lessons.

    There we all sat, in ground school, studying maps covered with shaded blue zones called terminal control areas and a dozen other terms and acronyms. To fly a private plane — even before 9/11 — meant wading through a morass of details. In this kind of zone you have to report into a controller and get specific instructions. In that zone you circle left and report only when descending. The very shapes of these control areas would drive you crazy — “upside-down wedding cakes” with all sorts of slots and holes cut in them. One guy from Europe sneered at the complexity.

    “Back home, we just report our vectors and flight paths all the time. This complexity is tyrannical!” And my fellow Yanks nodded, in reflex agreement. We all muttered: “Damn bureaucrats!”

    Only then it struck me, like a blow. We were looking at the zones of control… not at the holes!

    The TCAs and other zones had been designed by committees, mostly made up of retired private pilots. The zones had all sorts of complex shapes because, during committee meetings, these guys would keep saying — “Y’know, there’s no safety reason to regulate this patch of sky, right here. Carve it out! Let pilots do whatever they want in there.” Hell, for years you could fly right over Los Angeles International Airport, in the VFR Corridor, a notch cut right out of the LAX TCA, without ever reporting in. The result? A whole lot of exceptions that expanded the net total of rules.

    Complexity of rules… as evidence of freedom? Wrap your head around that one.

    TLDR: “Always report exactly what you’re doing” is a shorter rule than “Report under these conditions, but all the rest of the time, you’re fine” – but it’s the first rule that’s more restrictive.

  40. @lis carey

    Yes, I’m sure. A simple “no” without any further substance is much easier to dismiss as mindless support of ever-increasing regulation for its own sake.

    If we cannot agree on basic reality…that we are not living in a time of declining regulations…then I don’t see the point in wasting Mike’s bandwidth. I think there are other aspects of unionization that are interesting and I probably even agree with some of your positions. But it is what it is.

    Ooooo! That puts me in my place! Lol

    Not my intent at all. I completely apologize for inartfully phrasing a recommendation where a truly good…maybe even great…book is involved.

    I was attempting to assure you that I was not trying to set you (or anyone else) up with some sort of subversive recommendation for a stealth libertarian tract that would cause to you experience an alleged Dorothy Parker episode. It’s a pretty good book! Mr. Cronin is a rare talent.

    Regards,
    Dann
    The words of a President have an enormous weight and ought not to be used indiscriminately. – Calvin Coolidge

  41. @jayn

    I think it is equally absurd to think that the number of regulations has no bearing on how businesses operate. Most regulations don’t involve government agents knocking on people’s doors. They do involve filling out forms to get permission for various activities. The administrative state is quite skilled at using paperwork to gum up the works.

    I do have to agree with you about the inadequate use of existing regulations to punish violators. Your example about the use of illegal immigrant labor is decent. I can think of others, but I’m trying not to expand things unnecessarily.

    As far as child labor laws, I drove my kids to work at Wendy’s and eventually McDonald’s because I wanted them to develop a strong work ethic. So long as we aren’t talking about 6-year-olds working 16-hour long shifts in a coal mine (or some comparably nuts arrangement), I’m OK with kids working if they want to work.

    Regards,
    Dann
    * <- After the Hair Club for Tribbles . <- Before hair club

  42. @Dann665–

    As far as child labor laws, I drove my kids to work at Wendy’s and eventually McDonald’s because I wanted them to develop a strong work ethic. So long as we aren’t talking about 6-year-olds working 16-hour long shifts in a coal mine (or some comparably nuts arrangement), I’m OK with kids working if they want to work.

    Dann, I’m reasonably confident you probably didn’t sleep through history class, and therefore know that child labor laws aren’t about limiting teenagers’ ability to work after-school jobs at Wendy’s. Or even McDonald’s.

    The changes Republicans in various states are pushing aren’t about allowing them to work those jobs, either.

    Does this all sound good to you?

    The legislation in Iowa would, for example, allow children as young as 14 to work in meat coolers and industrial laundries. In Ohio, Republican state senators last month approved a bill that would allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work until 9 p.m. during the school year. And in Minnesota, a proposal would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work on construction sites.

    I’ll bet it does. Though I’d argue that the only carve-out there that offers a real career path, working construction sites, requires a physical maturity 16- and 17-year-olds don’t have.

    Elsewhere in the article is mentioned a new Arkansas law eliminating the requirement for children under 16 to have proof of parental permission to work.

    Also:

    The unemployment rate sits at 3.5% – a level last reached in 1969 – and businesses of all types, from factories to restaurants to retail stores, are struggling to find workers.

    These new laws aren’t about helping teenagers. They’re about giving business an escape clause from the law of supply and demand–the unwillingness of adults to work shitty jobs for shitty pay under shitty and/or unsafe conditions. The low unemployment rate gives workers some real bargaining power–potentially. Wage and benefits should be increasing in current conditions. The drive to weaken child labor laws, along with the desperate resistance to the current uptick in unionization efforts, isn’t about letting minors–who face increasing demands for academically relevant extracurricular activities on their high school transcripts to get into good colleges and to get scholarships, take advantage of valuable opportunities to gain work skills in fast food restaurants. It’s about business trying, in the face of a tightened job market, struggling to keep the minimum wage where it is–which is, in real dollars, well below where it was when you and I were teenagers. The real-dollar equivalent would not be the $15 that sparks such outrage in certain quarters, but over $20.

    Republicans push for teenagers as young as 14 to work in restaurants, industrial jobs

  43. @lis carey

    The real-dollar equivalent would not be the $15 that sparks such outrage in certain quarters, but over $20.

    My first hourly gig (Mickey D’s) in 1981 paid the minimum wage of $3.15 per hour. That is equal to $10.51 today. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Almost all the fast food joints in my area (not exactly a high-cost-of-living area) are advertising jobs at $11-14 per hour. The free market in action!

    Legislative actions to reduce workplace safety requirements are generally a bad idea. Letting kids develop real world experience in exchange for money is generally OK in my book. Please read that as favorably as possible.

    FWIW, I worked 20-25 hours per week during my sophomore and junior years in high school. In my senior year, the district failed to pass a millage and retaliated by cutting the school day to 5 hours with no lunch and no buses. So I ended up working 30+ hours per week. It helped that I had almost all of my core classes done in the first three years. Honors Society all four years. We had a college prep curriculum (lots of advanced English, math, history, etc.). I had friends working in industrial farming businesses (including as butchers at a family-owned slaughterhouse/meat market) who graduated with reasonably impressive GPAs.

    Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but what I see you framing as fostering an abusive working condition I regard as reasonably normal.

    the unwillingness of adults to work…

    If you put a period at the end of that statement, then you’d have an accurate assessment of the problem. Too many people cannot produce enough value to cover the wages they expect.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong. – Calvin Coolidge

  44. Since you ignored the same point Lis and I both made twice, Dann, it must be on purpose. I’ll ask once more. You say you were fine with the old laws that allowed you as a minor and your children to work within limits that did not interfere with schooling. So DO you think that changing the laws to allow 14 year olds to work till 9 pm on a school night is an improvement on the rules that you and your kids labored under ? (If you’re going to say you worked as a 14 year old under those circumstances and it was legal and NBD in your day. I’m going to have ask for citations).

  45. @Dann665–You are, as expected, ignoring the increased productivity in the economy.. The minimum wage used to increase along with productivity.
    Forget $15 an Hour — the Minimum Wage Should Be $24

    Also, $7.25, or $10, or $15 an hour, is not a living wage in this economy. Working 40 hours a week doesn’t pay for a one-bedroom apartment in the places where a large percentage of our population lives, and you need food, clothes, transportation.

    Those aren’t optional extras. They’re an essential part of what labor costs. If your workers have to be on SNAP, Section 8 (housing assistance), etc., in order to live and get to work every day, it’s not your workers who are deadbeats sucking at the government teat. It’s your company.

    If you’re employing people because you need them to operate your business, you should be paying them what they actually cost, not whining about people not wanting to work for your below-cost-of-subsistence-living wages.

    Like everything else that goes into making your business run, you should expect to actually pay for it, not be subsidized by the supplier or the taxpayer.

    Oh, and the reason shit employers offering shit wages for shit working conditions (remember “dynamic scheduling,” giving workers no predictable schedules, thus being unable to schedule such silly luxuries as reliable childcare), is that workers, at least many of them, found opportunities that are, at least, less abusive.

    The restaurant industry, especially in its fast food incarnation, still needs those workers, and they’re howling like stuck pigs at the idea of having to pay them what they actually cost. It’s insane, truly. They are saying the workers they need to stay in business aren’t worth their actual cost.

    Reminder: The cost of food, clothing, and shelter aren’t optional extras. Without them, people die, especially in northern latitudes. If they die, they’re not available to work.

    And do spare us the lie that the minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage for adults. It quite literally was.

    Also, I’d appreciate an answer on two points:
    1. Are you okay with minors working till 9pm on school nights?
    2. Are you okay with Arkansas deciding that children under 16 no longer need parental permission to work?

  46. “Are you okay with minors working till 9pm on school nights?”
    Not trying to speak for Dann here, but:

    When I was a minor working in the 1970s in Tennessee, I worked for a small business retail store that closed at 9:00 pm. I regularly worked until closing, which meant that I was serving customers until 9:00, closed the store, and did assorted things until about 9:30 (closed cash register and counted receipts, swept up, etc.) No big deal. A couple of times a month, we’d set up a booth at the local flea market on Friday nights, and I would routinely work until midnight on those occasions. Again, no big deal. (And FWIW, I would love for my son [age 16] to find an similar job to what I had. I learned and grew as much from that experience as I did from any year of high school, I think. Plus made money that came in very handy during college years.)

    Current law in my current home state of Alabama is that 14/15 year olds can work until 7:00 pm when school is in session, and 9:00 pm when it is not; for 16/17 year olds it is 10:00 pm when school is in session, and no restriction when it is not. Checking other states (google [state name] minor labor laws), this is fairly middle-of-the-road. The average teenager is wide awake at 9:00; why should this be an arbitrary time to clock out?

    “If you’re employing people because you need them to operate your business, you should be paying them what they actually cost, ”

    You should pay them for the amount of value they generate. If they don’t generate $15 an hour, why should the get paid that much?

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