Pixel Scroll 7/3/17 Hokey Tickboxes And Ancient Pixels Are No Match For A Good Filer At Your Side, Kid

(1) STAR WARS CARTOONS. In a Yahoo! Movies piece called “New ‘Star Wars’ Cartoon Shorts Debut Online, Bringing Female Heroes in Full Force”, Marcus Errico says that Disney is releasing sixteen three-minute cartoons online featuring female Star Wars heroes,  The first, “Sands of Jakku” is online and has Daisy Ridley in it.

Lucasfilm Animation has produced an initial run of 16 shorts. New shorts will arrive daily at YouTube.com/Disney ahead of their broadcast premiere on the Disney Channel on July 9. Future episodes will center on Princess Leia, Padmé Amidala, Rogue One‘s Jyn Erso, The Clone Wars fan favorite Ahsoka Tano, and Sabine Wren from Star Wars Rebels, with each installment narrated by Maz Kanata and featuring John Williams’s seminal soundtrack.

In addition to Ridley, film stars John Boyega (Finn), Felicity Jones (Jyn) and Lupita Nyong’o (Maz) will reprise their roles, as will key talent from the TV series Clone Wars and Rebels, including Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka), Tiya Sicar (Sabine), and Vanessa Marshall (Hera Syndulla).

“The movies tell these epic heroes’ journeys, big pieces of mythology,” Carrie Beck, VP of Lucasfilm Story and Animation and a producer of Forces of Destiny, told Yahoo Movies earlier this year. “For this, we thought these stories could tell those moments of everyday heroism… the kind of stories that would be appropriate over two to three minutes.”

(2) UNHOLY ROAD TRIP. The LA Times questions “Neil Gaiman on the ‘American Gods’ season finale and what’s on tap for Season 2”.

The first season of Starz’s ambitious “American Gods” ended on the brink of a godly brawl. But Neil Gaiman, an executive producer of the series and author of the book from which it is adapted, teases that his divine road trip across the secret supernatural back roads of the United States is just beginning…

Did you have an emotional reaction to the end of the first season of “American Gods?”

I have all sorts of emotions.…I’m fascinated by how involved people are. How grumpy they are about the fact that, now they got their eight episodes, they have to wait for another season. I love watching the joy of having faces that plug into these characters who were names and descriptions in the book. I’m loving seeing how people argue online. There are people out there who think Laura [Moon, played by Emily Browning] is the best female character that they’ve ever seen on television.And there are people who would pay good money to make sure that she never appears on their screen ever again, but they love the whole series apart from her.

(3) GUESS WHO JOINED GAB. GAB is the new message platform popular with Vox Day, Jon Del Arroz, and others who find Twitter hasn’t always appreciated the way they exercise their freedom of speech.

And, unexpectedly, it now is someplace you can find Brianna Wu:

Why did I join Gab? Well, joining App.net early (another Twitter competitior) was amazing for my career. It was a networking goldmine. The other part is, I’m running for congress in a part of Massachusetts with many conservatives. Listening to the other side helps me be a better candidate.

(4) SOCIETY OF ILLUSTRATORS. Top fantastic illustrators Wayne Barlowe, Donato Giancola, Greg Manchess will demonstrate their skills and techniques in an open forum at the Society of Illustrators in New York on July 8 from Noon to 4 p.m.

Plus! Have your portfolios reviewed by renowned art directors Irene Gallo (Associate Publisher, Tor.com/ Creative Director, Tor Books) and Lauren Panepinto (Creative Director, Orbit Books/ Yen Press). 15 minutes reviews. Reservations required

Admission: $50 Non-members | $40 Members | $20 Students/ seniors (Undergrad with valid ID) Price includes the catalog from The Korshak Collection: Illustrations of Imaginative Literature.

(5) SPACE SALVATION. Sylvia Engdahl revives a philosophical debate in “Space colonization, faith, and Pascal’s Wager” at The Space Review.

In his essay “Escaping Earth: Human Spaceflight as Religion” published in the journal Astropolitics, historian Roger Launius argues that enthusiasm for space can be viewed as a religion. He focuses mainly on comparisons with the outer trappings of religion, many of which are apt, but in one place he reaches the heart of the issue. “Like those espousing the immortality of the human soul among the world’s great religions… statements of humanity’s salvation through spaceflight are fundamentally statements of faith predicated on no knowledge whatsoever.”

I think Launius may be somewhat too pessimistic in his assertion that we have no knowledge whatsoever about our ability to develop technology that will enable humans live in the hostile environment of space, but that is beside the point. It’s true that we have no assurance that the colonization of space will ensure the long-term survival of humankind. “Absent the discovery of an Earthlike habitable exoplanet to which humanity might migrate,” Launius continues, “this salvation ideology seems problematic, a statement of faith rather than knowledge or reason.” And the accessibility of such an exoplanet is questionable, since by current knowledge it will not be possible to cross interstellar space rapidly enough to achieve much migration.

It is indeed faith that underlies the conviction that traveling beyond our home world will prevent the extinction of the human race. But Launius’ presentation of this fact seems to imply that it lessens the significance of such a conviction, as if beliefs supported by mere faith were not to be taken seriously. That is far from the case, as the history of human civilization clearly shows. Most major advances have been made by people who had faith in what they envisioned before they were able to produce evidence; that was what made them keep working toward it. Having faith in the future, whether a personal future or that of one’s successors, has always been what inspires human action.

On what grounds can faith without evidence be justified? This issue was addressed by the 17th century philosopher Blaise Pascal in what is known as Pascal’s Wager, now considered the first formal use of decision theory. Pascal was considering whether is rational to believe in God, but the principle he formulated has been applied to many other questions. In his words, “Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.” If on the other hand, you bet on it being false and it turns out to be true, you lose everything; thus to do so would be stupid if the stakes are high.

(6) NEXT AT KGB. “Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series” hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Karen Neuler and Genevieve Valentine on July 19 at the KGB Bar. The event starts at 7 p.m.

Karen Heuler

Karen Heuler’s stories have appeared in over 100 literary and speculative magazines and anthologies, from Conjunctions to Clarkesworld to Weird Tales, as well as a number of Best Of anthologies. She has received an O. Henry award, been a finalist for the Iowa short fiction award, the Bellwether award, the Shirley Jackson award for short fiction (twice), and a bunch of other near-misses. She has published four novels and three story collections, and this month Aqueduct Press released her novella, In Search of Lost Time, about a woman who can steal time.

Genevieve Valentine

Genevieve Valentine is an author and critic. Her most recent book is the near-future spy novel ICON; her short fiction has appeared in over a dozen Best of the Year anthologies. Her comics work includes Catwoman for DC Comics and the Attack on Titan anthology from Kodansha. Her criticism and reviews have appeared in several venues including the AV Club, the Atlantic, and The New York Times. Please ask her about the new King Arthur movie.

(7) AMBIENT TRIBUTE TO DUNE SERIES. April Larson, a Louisiana ambient/drone/noise musician, has released a tribute album to the original Dune trilogy and the other Dune-related novels on Bandcamp.

It is titled “You Stand in a Valley Between Dunes” and the album features tracks with names such as “The Fall of Ix (Core Instability Mix),” “Lady Jessica,” and “Guild Navigator (Junction).”

April Larson is the representative of a tribe of naga located along the coast of Louisiana. She translates music into sense- data… through a collection of three interlaced brains. She continues her research in oneironautic listening and regularly delivers lectures on relevant tone-clusters to beehives and ghosts.

(8) RYAN OBIT. YouTuber Stevie Ryan (1984-2017): American comedian, actress and writer; found dead by apparent suicide on 3 July, aged 33. She appeared as a version of herself in the experimental thriller John Doe: Diary of a Serial Killer (2015, but apparently never released).


  • July 3, 1985 Back to the Future released, features 1981 DeLorean DMC-12.
  • July 3, 1985 — George Romero’s Day of the Dead is seen for the first time.
  • July 3, 1996 Independence Day was released.

(10) FACE IN A DUFF CROWD. Paul Weimer took this picture on his trip Down Under. I’ve interacted with Ian Mond online but I’ve never seen him before.

(11) SKIFFY AND FANTY POLL. Man, this is a hard one!

(12) BEWARE DOCTOR WHO SPOILER NEWS. You’ve been warned. Tariq Kyle, in “’Doctor Who’ season 10 finale explained: Yes, that is who you think it is” on Hypable, says that the mysterious guy in the end of the Season 10 finale of Doctor Who is in fact William Hartnell (played by David Bradley) and that Hartnell and Peter Capaldi will survive until this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, at which time Capaldi will regenerate.

Doctor Who season 10 just ended with a cliffhanger that none of us saw coming, and if you’re wondering who the mysterious new character is and where they are in the Doctor’s timeline, then check out our explanation!

Obviously, if you haven’t seen the season 10 finale of Doctor Who yet, beware of huge spoilers. If you continue on and you don’t want to be spoiled, then ¯\_(?)_/¯.

(13) CHILL FACTOR. Reason TV has put out a video called “Mark Hamill v. Autographed Memorabilia:  The Revenge of the Dark Side,” which is mostly about Bill Petrocelli of the San Francisco-based chain Book Passage and how his company will be affected by the California autograph law. The impetus for the law was Mark Hamill’s complaining about fake Hamill autographs, which caught the ear of the legislator who had the law introduced.

(14) WHAT AUNT MAY HAS TO SAY. This is not your uncle’s Aunt May: “WATCH: Marisa Tomei on making Aunt May cooler than Peter in Spider-Man: Homecoming”.

What is different is Aunt May herself. Let’s face it, Tiger: May has never been cooler than she is now, as portrayed by Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei. She’s much younger than she’s ever been portrayed in the comics or any of the previous Spider-Man feature films. The fact that the age difference between Peter and May is much less adds a new dynamic to their relationship … but, thankfully, not even a hint of sexual tension. (Hey, the actress brought it up, not me!)

SYFY WIRE talked with Tomei about how her Aunt May still worries about Peter, primarily about the fact that he doesn’t seem to have a social life. We also talked about whether May trusts Tony Stark as Peter’s mentor and what she wants to see in an Aunt May action figure.


(15) WHAT’S MY LINE? Meanwhile, back in the Sunday funnies: “Spider-Man and His Inker: Wrists Still Going Strong a Half-Century Later”. Joe Sinnott in his studio; several photos.

Joe Sinnott says spider webs drive him crazy, even though he has been drawing them for over 50 years for one of the world’s most famous superheroes.

“They’ve got to be so accurate, and they’ve got to be the same all the time,’’ he said. “It takes me about three days to do two pages.”

At 90, Mr. Sinnott still brings to life the action tales spun by Stan Lee, the co-creator of Spider-Man, continuing a collaboration begun in 1950 when Mr. Sinnott first went to work for Mr. Lee at what later became Marvel Comics. “Imagine having the same boss for 67 years,” Mr. Sinnott said. He added that they should be in the Guinness World Records book.

With pen and brush, he keeps Spider-Man flying over New York City, soaring from skyscraper to skyscraper, in a never-ending battle against supervillains. “It just takes time putting all those lines, and the tiny spider on Spider-Man’s chest, in such a small space,” Mr. Sinnott said.

(16) WEB REVIEW. The BBC says the new Spider-Man is “fun”.

The makers of Spider-Man: Homecoming have remembered something that the makers of almost every other recent superhero film have forgotten. They’ve remembered that if you’re going to tell a story about someone in a skin-tight costume who can throw cars around like frisbees, then it should probably be fun for all the family. That’s not to say that superhero movies can’t be used to lecture us on the international arms trade, or to examine why allies fall out and turn against each other. But sometimes they should return to their comic-book roots, and offer snazzy, buoyant entertainment for children as well as for their parents – and that’s what the latest Spider-Man film does.

Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment: “The story complains that the ‘gauche, geekily enthusiastic youngster with a pubescent squeak of a voice’ isn’t true to the comics; does anyone remember what Parker was like in the very early comics, when he was still in high school (as in the movie)?”

(17) SUNK COST. A first-class ticket to see the Titanic: “The ‘merman’ facing a Titanic mission”

Next year he will be taking dozens of paying passengers down about 12,500ft (nearly 2.4 miles or 3.8km) to the wreck of the Titanic, 370 miles south-southeast of Newfoundland.

OceanGate, the US firm behind the dives, says more people have been into space or climbed Mount Everest than have visited the Titanic’s final resting place.

The firm stresses that it is a survey expedition and not a tourist trip.

Over six weeks from next May, David will make repeated dives in a new carbon fibre submersible called Cyclops 2, designed to withstand depths of up to 4,000m.

On each trip to the bottom of the ocean, he will take three “mission specialists” – passengers who are underwriting the expedition – and a “content expert” with a good working knowledge of the wreck

The expedition doesn’t come cheap. Each one of the 54 people who have signed up for the deep dive is paying $105,129 for the privilege.

(18) LINEUP, SIGN UP, AND RE-ENLIST TODAY. The Washington Post’s Steve Hendrix asks “There are already four-hour lines at Walt Disney World’s new ‘Avatar’-themed attraction. Does Pandora live up to the hype?” And he answers that the Avatar-based “Pandora” section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a “trippy, tropical” and “an authentically immersive land that soothes even as it dazzles,” but prepared to wait four hours to get on the two rides in the section.

The Disney iteration, though, takes place generations after the miners have been driven out (hopefully with ample job-retraining for these victims of the War on Unobtanium) and the peacefully gigantic blue Na’vi of Pandora are busy restoring it to space-age splendor. That ingenious conceit allowed planners to combine dystopian ruins (the colossal exo-armor battle suit from the movie’s climax sits rusting outside the gift shop) with lush streambeds and flowering vines.

(19) SUBTRACTION BY DIVISION. Lela E. Buis, in “Does the Hugo really represent fandom?”, totes up the racial and sexual minorities among this year’s Hugo-nominated fiction authors only to find a problem with this diversity. And what is that problem?

So, what are the chances that SFF fandom as a whole would elect this ballot? Remember that taste is never random, but with equal participation I’d expect the SFF readership demographics should roughly match the ballot for a popular award. Assuming that everyone participates, of course.

What does that mean? If the right people were voting for the Hugos the list of winners would look like the Dragon Awards? Is that what this is code for?

(20) APPROPRIATION V. EXCHANGE. K. Tempest Bradford wrote a commentary NPR that declares “Cultural Appropriation Is, In Fact, Indefensible”.

…Cultural appropriation can feel hard to get a handle on, because boiling it down to a two-sentence dictionary definition does no one any favors. Writer Maisha Z. Johnson offers an excellent starting point by describing it not only as the act of an individual, but an individual working within a “power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.”

That’s why appropriation and exchange are two different things, Johnson says — there’s no power imbalance involved in an exchange. And when artists appropriate, they can profit from what they take, while the oppressed group gets nothing.

I teach classes and seminars alongside author and editor Nisi Shawl on Writing the Other, and the foundation of our work is that authors should create characters from many different races, cultures, class backgrounds, physical abilities, and genders, even if — especially if — these don’t match their own. We are not alone in this. You won’t find many people advising authors to only create characters similar to themselves. You will find many who say: Don’t write characters from minority or marginalized identities if you are not going to put in the hard work to do it well and avoid cultural appropriation and other harmful outcomes. These are different messages. But writers often see or hear the latter and imagine that it means the former….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for some of these stories and the fried chicken. Other story thanks goes to Rob Thornton, Dann, Steve Green, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Cat Eldridge. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

128 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/3/17 Hokey Tickboxes And Ancient Pixels Are No Match For A Good Filer At Your Side, Kid

  1. I’m not addressing the Buis nonsense. I still haven’t decided whether she’s needlessly provocative in order to get clicks or just on the other end of the spectrum from intelligent, but I’m almost certain she’s a waste of time.

    As always, I’m impressed by those of you who track your reading. It makes checking your intuition possible in a way that I can’t access. I’m pretty sure I read about 55/45 women to men and have since sometime in the mid-70s, but I have no way to prove it or even to test it, since I routinely get rid of many dead tree books after I’ve read them. I suspect that if I refined it down to books I love, the divide would be pretty close to even, but the split in reading is probably because I’m more willing to take a chance on a woman author than I am a man, because I’m less likely to experience eye rolling, and then I keep on buying work by authors I like.

  2. @Chip But there’s even more irony here, since [patent] trolls are an example of “free” enterprise; does Reason‘s libertarianism consider them such, or think of authentication/licensing/… as unwarranted interference with the market?

    Reason doesn’t have a single libertarianism; it has many writers who have various flavors of the philosophy. But if you search for “patent trolls” on their website, you can see numerous articles and blog posts about them, and you get the impression that the magazine is against them. And in general, libertarians don’t consider payments from one party to another that are compelled by the state to be examples of “free enterprise”.

  3. @Rev. Bob: I wonder what you mean by “good, old-fashioned mid-season shock of a regeneration”? The show has never once had a regeneration in mid-season. The closest it has ever come was First to Second, which took place two serials into the fourth series; but that series had seven more arcs over 35 episodes. Fifth to Sixth took place at the end of that series’ penultimate serial (the sixth of seven), with the last one being Colin Baker instead of Peter Davison; but that was announced well in advance. (I remember reading about it, and I was in the US, not exactly a hotbed of Who news at the time.)

    Other than those two, every single regeneration that has happened in the regular series (rather than some sort of special) has happened at the very end of one series or the very beginning of another.

  4. @ JJ, Doctor Science: Not only that, but in the criteria for Dramatic Presentation it explicitly says “or related topics”. This has come up often enough that it’s hard to understand how anyone could say that HF doesn’t qualify. Was there this kind of ruckus when Apollo 13 was nominated?

    @ Bill: I thought Libertarians were All About The Property Ownership. Does this not extend to intellectual property, then?

  5. @stfg

    My numbers certainly reflect that. It seems to me though, that a lot of the new, innovative, fresh stuff in current SFF is coming from women and POC, and that the voting reflects that.

    Perish the thought!

    Lela is obviously making an attempt at flipping the narrative. Her arguments are always clunky and transparent. It comes from a deliberate misreading of the current trend of giving (non-white-cis-dude) authors a chance.

  6. @Lee — I can’t speak for all of them. My impression is that most would think that some form of protection of intellectual property is appropriate, but that current copyright law extends for far too long, that the DMCA is fatally flawed, that the patent office issues patents for many things that shouldn’t receive them.

    You used the word “property”. There is much more agreement about how that word applies to real property and to tangible/personal property than there is about how it would apply to things generally lumped under “intellectual property”. Those differences show up in libertarian thought just as they do in other political philosophies.

  7. The TV coverage of Apollo 11 won Best Dramatic Presentation, and that wasn’t even fiction!

    @microtherion: Hee! I doubt anyone’s claiming to be trans who isn’t, given the stigma, but that’s REALLY the sort of thing that’s hard to prove without a scrutiny nobody but a doctor could legally do. And who’d want to, given the attractiveness factor of your average SFF author? 😉

    @JJ: You can’t shore up a terrible, disingenuous argument without falsifying your statistics — that’s why she had to count the LGB and T separate and twice. Also I think she’s counting one of the LGBT people as disabled. So that finalist is being counted two, maybe THREE times so she can make up her bullshit statistics.

    I look forward to her counting China Mieville two or three times as a white male. Ditto SWM Neil Gaiman and Tom King. What about WM double finalist Brian K. Vaughan? Does he get to count as four to six people? Has she realized “James SA Corey” is half white and all straight? How’s she counting the Silverberg and Zinos-Amaro team? What about ALL the white men in BDP Short and Long?

    As to who’s disabled, how can you tell by their writing, and what does it matter? Double finalist Lois Bujold is a woman who AFAIK isn’t disabled, yet she wrote a darn good disabled male character.

    And how are we to classify Chuck Tingle? 🙂 You can’t.

  8. @Chip: Re “lecturing”: No, not at all. Its part of the writing style and it copies the style of the childrensbook shes “homaging” (Is this a word?) , i.e. Roald Dahl etc, quite well imho.

    @Niall McAuley : Bravo! (Although the original line “Dont care if it hurts” would fit in the end as well 🙂

  9. @David: (regeneration scheduling)

    I would consider both of your examples to be “midseason regenerations.” They happened during (“in the middle of”) a season rather than to open or close one; focusing on their proximity to the exact midpoint of those seasons misses my point.

    I’m sure my recollection is colored by the twin factors of coming to the show relatively late* and getting a swift education in the mythos to bring me up to speed. The way I encountered the show, each regeneration was a surprise and season boundaries were a much more theoretical concept – I just had this friend who had story after story on a library of VHS tapes and showed ’em to me, with proper context if we skipped around.

    As a result, I got to enjoy a lot more suspense along the way, never knowing when an arc really would be that actor’s final one. Accordingly, the current status quo of knowing months in advance that an actor will be leaving the role at the end of the season just sucks all that suspense away, and I wish it could be like it was before… at least, the way it was for me. I want to be able to watch a midseason episode on the edge of my seat, instead of saying, “oh, it’s only the sixth episode, so he’s safe.”

    I understand the desire to know those casting details, but I don’t really share it. At most, I find it fun to discuss who’d make a good future Doctor – for instance, now that Orphan Black is ending, I’d like to see what Tatiana Maslany could do with the role – but I don’t want to know about a regeneration or who the new actor is until I see the story on my screen.

    And I’m sick of that always happening at Christmas.

    * The first Doctor Who story I ever watched was the PBS “movieized” version of “The Sontaran Experiment.” (That is, they cut out the credits between episodes to run the story unbroken, like a movie.) I’d heard almost nothing about the show other than that it was supposed to be this fantastic thing, and that introduction – that story, at home, by myself, with no context – was seriously underwhelming. It wasn’t until I got to college and met a major fan with a comprehensive collection that I learned to appreciate the show, and that was in the fall of 1988 during McCoy’s tenure. Needless to say, I was never privy to the breathless contemporary news about the show/casting that took place before then. I mean, I knew that the eighteen-month hiatus was A Thing, but it was a historical thing for me.

  10. “oh, it’s only the sixth episode, so he’s safe.”

    You can do this with basically any mainstream show or film, even down to episode timings. It’s a feature, not a bug (ie I have to expend minimal brainpower with DCTV, DW, Elementary, Marvel films…)

  11. It took me a long time to figure out the “patent troll” argument, but when I did, it turned out to be pretty simple: One person thinks up something smart and patents the idea. Another person with power and money wants to use the idea without paying and creates an intellectual argument to justify it. Freedom!

  12. @John A. Arkansawyer–

    It took me a long time to figure out the “patent troll” argument, but when I did, it turned out to be pretty simple: One person thinks up something smart and patents the idea. Another person with power and money wants to use the idea without paying and creates an intellectual argument to justify it. Freedom!

    That happens, and that’s a real problem when it does, but that’s not a patent troll.

    Patent trolls use submarine patents, which have nothing to do with either underwater boats, or long sandwiches.

    The idea/invention is protected from the moment you initially file, but it’s not published the instant you file. It’s harder to do now, because the patent office publishes earlier in the process, but the idea is to invent, or perhaps “invent” something clearly useful and hopefully so.ewhat obvious, file your patent, and then stall the process at a point before the patent office would publish it.

    Then you wait for someone else to “invent” your idea and start using it.

    That’s when you pop up with your patent application, and even though it’s not a granted patent yet, it’s still protected from the moment you initially file.

    The company that started using your idea with no awareness you had that submarine patent application is innocent in intentions, but still you own the idea, and will don’t up paying you something, usually a fair bit, based on what the thing is worth to them, because they need to get on with their business. That there was no guilt on their part (they had no way to know you had that submarine patent application,) but you still own it, and you will get paid.

    This used to be a bigger problem, because patent law changed in the late 90s to make this trick harder to pull, but it’s not gone yet.

  13. Another class of patent trolls is the one that includes Personal Audio, LLC. They had several patents which (they claimed) included podcasting. They would sue podcasters for infringement, and settle for undisclosed amounts. It would have cost the podcaster hundreds of thousands of dollars to carry through the suit process to the point of invalidating their patent claims, so it was always in the defendants’s best interests to settle for much smaller amount rather than fight. The Electronic Frontier Foundation had deep enough pockets, and the desire and mission, to sue them and win and invalidate some of their most egregious claims.

    These sorts of trolls, the ones who sue not with the expectation that a lawsuit will ever go to final resolution, but rather that the defendant will settle rather than fight (and the settlements are the troll’s primary income stream), is what I always understood the classic patent troll to be. And often (usually?) the troll isn’t the original inventor to whom the patent was awarded, but has bought the patent from the inventors for the purpose of establishing a troll business model.

  14. 19 – “Does the Hugo really represent fandom?” That seems like a really easy question. No. The Hugo represents the voting choices of the supporting and attending members of WorldCon. Even then the winner doesn’t represent the voters themselves but the choices of those voters. What influences and available materials that had to choose from and how that compares to the demographics that make up their members might be interesting.

    I’m not a supporting member this year so the it’d be weird if I expected the Hugo to represent me or my choices.

  15. And often (usually?) the troll isn’t the original inventor to whom the patent was awarded, but has bought the patent from the inventors for the purpose of establishing a troll business model.

    Indeed; patent trolls will also very often buy up patents in the hope of striking it big with one, and very rarely ever actually make or truly invent anything themselves. Their entire business model is built around patent licensing. Additionally: patent trolls tend to charge significantly higher rates than would normally be justified (like, sometimes by orders of magnitude). It’s part of what makes them trolls rather than normal patent holders.

  16. And then there are the patent trolls who buy a patent that doesn’t really cover much of anything, claim that it covers a common business practice, like sending a fax to a printer/copier/fax machine which forwards it to a PC, and then start suing small businesses who have bought a product that includes the fax feature for violating their patent instead of suing the manufacturer on the device because the device manufacturers have the deep pockets to kill the patent, and the small business don’t.

  17. The most common use I see of “patent troll” is for what’s also called an “NPO” (non-practicing organization)–a company which doesn’t actually make anything, but whose sole purpose is to buy and hold patents and try to sue people. (Or, more commonly, merely threaten vague lawsuits, as Bill mentioned. That’s a lot cheaper than going to court.)

    Submarine patents (as mentioned by Lis Carey) and overly broad/vague patents (as mentioned by Bruce A) are favorite tools of the patent trolls, but neither one is exclusive to NPOs.

  18. I’m having a hard time understanding why “patent trolls” are any different from any other finance capitalist or venture capitalist. It all sounds like Business As Usual.

  19. @John – They’re typical middlemen, except they add no value at all – the middleman thing is often somewhat parasitic, but they are pure parasites.

  20. They’re not just middlemen; frequently (as noted above) they make unusually debatable (or outright false) claims in the expectation that they’ll get paid to go away. I’ve seen stories of questionable practices but I don’t think this can be called Business As Usual — for one thing, if it were BAU we’d never actually get any products.

  21. Regrettably, pretty much ANY tech company has some pretty outlandish patent claims. Since there don’t seem to be any sanctions for overreach, the percentage play is presumably just to claim whatever you can think of and see what sticks.

    The difference between regular tech companies and non-practicing ones is that between regular tech companies, mutual assured destruction tends to work: Each side could go after the other side’s infringements, so generally they come to some sort of cross licensing agreement (Sometimes by literally printing out their patent portfolios and eyeballing royalties based on the height of the pile, I hear).

    Since non-practicing entities do NOT build products, they don’t infringe any IP, so the MAD doesn’t work. Combine that with egregious venue shopping (especially the Eastern District of Texas), and NPEs become serious pests.

  22. So the BigCo’s get to have business as usual, using their own big piles of patents to create an oligopoly. I’m not really seeing the social good in this. Whereas the patent trolls are taking a chunk out of their revenues and making oligopoly less profitable. That sounds like Good Work to me.

    I understand the days of venue shopping are coming to a whoa, by the way.

  23. Except that the patent trolls don’t usually go after the big guys, who have the money and motivation to defend themselves. They batten on the little guys instead, who are far more likely to settle than try to fight a lengthy, expensive courtroom battle.

  24. Yeah, picking on the little guys sucks. That’s part of why I did a little business with some of the folks that David Boies and SCO successfully shook down over *nix IP. I know a lot of people were pissed at them for giving in, but I felt that was effectively victim-blaming and threw a little of my money their way.

    The stories I see in my newsfeed, though, are most often about one of the Big Five–most often Apple, I think, and seldom Facebook or Amazon–being taken to court.

  25. @John A Arkansawyer: The stories I see in my newsfeed, though, are most often about one of the Big Five–most often Apple, I think, and seldom Facebook or Amazon–being taken to court.

    That’s because those are high-profile court cases; small companies that settle because they can’t afford the litigation costs don’t get publicity (except occasionally in articles about patent trolls, but even those usually focus on ludicrous claims by trolls against major corporations).

  26. @Lenora:

    Bradford mentioned her (and Shawl’s) workshop *once* as a way to silence the “We can’t write about anyone but ourselves according to you snowflakes” nonsense which is often the first argument that pops up on every single article about appropriation.

    She might not be saying that here, no. But the discourse surrounding cultural appropriation is arbitrary and varying from each individual that it’s nearly impossible to nail down what’s acceptable and what isn’t. The ones spurring the stupidity that you are simply not allowed to write in other cultures are thankfully few and far between, but they do exist, and with social media mobs acting as moral arbiters in call out culture, it is understandable that certain people would rather avoid all chance of controversy all together, and not write outside their bubbles out of fear. And when Tempest so generously decides to do the thinking for us and decides what goes on the “you cannot because I say so” chalkboard, it further promotes this fear.

    It should be common sense that you should be aware of stereotypes, do your research, and treat characters as individuals with agency, but as the existence of her article proves, common sense isn’t always common.

  27. The worst part of the patent trolls who settle out of court with the small businesses is that they are almost certainly committing fraud or extortion. They know their patents don’t really cover the application they claim they do, they sue companies using a product instead of the manufacturer of the product, and they do it knowing the small companies will typically pay a small fee to not have lawyers involved. Depending on the sum, it may even be cheaper to get a patent lawyer to write a response saying their patent is not applicable, and see if the troll just drops the request for money.

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