Link Dump

Link Dump

I’m a little brain dead right now, so here are a few things that have caught my eye recently:

  • SFWA’s Awesome T-Shirt: Was this funnier when I didn’t know the origins of the t-shirt? Maybe, but it’s awesome anyway. (Via Scalzi)
  • The High Frontier, Redux by Charlie Stross: A total buzzkill, but worthwhile reading on the likelihood (well, unlikelihood) of colonizing space. Needless to say, we won’t be sending out the colony ships anytime soon. It’s detailed and interesting, and there are a ton of comments.
  • How Many HTML Elements Can You Name in 5 Minutes?: I got 48 out of 91 on my first try. I kicked myself for not remembering most of the remaining ones.
  • Retro-Future: To The Stars!: Classic scifi illustrations from the 1930s to 1970s, many from former Soviet countries.
  • Air Traffic Video: John Robb points to an awesome video that shows all air transportation flows over the US. It’s mesmerizing.
  • Infringement Nation (.pdf): Interesting article on how everyone regularly commits copyright infringement without even knowing it (i.e. this is without even taking into account p2p downloads, etc…):

    To illustrate the unwitting infringement that has become quotidian for the

    average American, take an ordinary day in the life of a hypothetical law professor

    named John. For the purposes of this Gedankenexperiment, we assume the worstcase

    scenario of full enforcement of rights by copyright holders and an

    uncharitable, though perfectly plausible, reading of existing case law and the fair

    use doctrine. Fair use is, after all, notoriously fickle and the defense offers little ex

    ante refuge to users of copyrighted works.

    In the morning, John checks his email, and, in so doing, begins to tally up the

    liability. Following common practice, he has set his mail browser to automatically

    reproduce the text to which he is responding in any email he drafts. Each

    unauthorized reproduction of someone else’s copyrighted text-their email-

    represents a separate act of brazen infringement, as does each instance of email

    forwarding. Within an hour, the twenty reply and forward emails sent by John

    have exposed him to $3 million in statutory damages.

    And it goes on from their, until we reach this conclusion:

    By the end of the day, John has infringed the copyrights of twenty emails, three legal articles, an architectural rendering, a poem, five photographs, an animated character, a musical composition, a painting, and fifty notes and drawings. All told, he has committed at least eighty-three acts of infringement and faces liability in the amount of $12.45 million (to say nothing of potential criminal charges). There is nothing particularly extraordinary about John’s activities. Yet if copyright holders were inclined to enforce their rights to the maximum extent allowed by law, he would be indisputably liable for a mind-boggling $4.544 billion in potential damages each year. And, surprisingly, he has not even committed a single act of infringement through P2P file sharing. Such an outcome flies in the face of our basic sense of justice. Indeed, one must either irrationally conclude that John is a criminal infringer — a veritable grand larcenist — or blithely surmise that copyright law must not mean what it appears to say. Something is clearly amiss. Moreover, the troublesome gap between copyright law and norms has grown only wider in recent years.

    I wonder how much I’ve tallied up as a result of quoting his article on this blog entry? In any case, it sounds like we’re in need of some copyright law revisions.

  • The 40 Worst Rob Liefeld Drawings: I recognize the name, but I’ve never read any of the comics he’s illustrated. Nevertheless, you don’t need to read comic books to enjoy this smackdown. (via Galley Slaves)

Link Dump

Some interesting stuff going on recently:

  • Chainmail Bikini – The highly anticipated new webcomic from Shamus (who did the brilliant DM of the Rings comic) and “recovering goth” Shawn Gaston. The first comic is up, and it’s great. If you liked DM of the RIngs, you’ll like this too…
  • Unusual Weapons Collection: My favorite is the second one.
  • Perceptions of Risk: Bruce Schneier’s post illustrates yet another failure in risk perception when it comes to bird flu (which hasn’t killed anyone in North America, while the boring regular flu kills tens of thousands), similar to an old post of mine (which was inspired by Schneier’s book).
  • Why scary games are better than horror movies: Clive Thompson’s recent Wired article taps into something that I think is really true: it’s much easier to get tensed up and paranoid while playing a game than it is while watching a movie.

    For several years now, I’ve found that my favorite horror experiences aren’t coming from movies any more. They’re coming from games.

    Why? Partly it’s because films have become much less artistically interesting. With a choice few exceptions — like the superb The Ring — I’ve found that modern horror movies have been offering less and less suspense, and more and more gore. Maybe it’s due to the rampaging success of Saw, which gave birth to the current trend toward torture-chic and metric tonnage of blood in scary movies.

    In contrast, the best scary-game designers have quietly perfected the interplay of tension and release that makes for a truly cardiac horror experience. They have, in a sense, become even more faithful interpreters of the horror tradition movies than Hollywood directors.

    In some cases, it’s because the atmosphere is scary, in others it’s just because you feel that your character is an extension of yourself (this is apparently much easier to achieve with video games because you are actually controlling your character – it’s much more difficult to do this in movies, which are more passive). In particular, I remember thinking this while playing Aliens vs. Predator 2 a few years ago. That game absolutely freaked me out, every time I played it. Of course, that game plays on the tension established in the movies (especially the nerve wracking motion detector from Aliens), but they did a really good job of establishing a creepy (and yet familiar) atmosphere. It doesn’t help that Aliens are absurdly fast and come from surprising directions. I might just have to reinstall that game…

  • I Feel So Special: James Grimmelmann had a paper break into the top 10 downloaded papers at a legal website. It was downloade 12 times. “To put that in perspective, this video of a hamster eating Cheerios was viewed ten thousand times in an hour yesterday.” Hehe.

That’s all for now…

Link Dump

As has been fashionable lately, time is short this week, so just a few links:

That’s all for now.