I might have found an image to use for The Prime. I think it will work for the cover as well as for all other purposes, such as on this website. Of course I will have to add the title and my name and maybe a bit of subtitle text, but the image lends itself well to that. One nice thing about it is that it is in the public Domain, so there won’t be any restrictions on how I use it. My thanks go out to NASA, which puts its images into the public domain, and to the American taxpayers who put up the money to get the images in the first place.
If you’re reading this, please let me know in the comments what you think of this image for the cover of The Prime.
I think that most of the people who say the Earth is flat are trolling. Unlike T-Rex, I don’t think that all flat-earthers are trolling, just most of them. I think they do it to get noticed. I think they do it to set themselves apart, and to imply that the rest of us are common and boring by comparison. And I think they do it to get a reaction, like other trolls. You’ll be able to tell the trolls from the true believers by how many questions they ask. While true believers will also ask questions in their efforts to make you see the light, the trolls will use almost nothing but questions in their efforts to manipulate you. It’s the earnestness of the true believers that will settle it. Trolls never leave themselves that vulnerable.
Flat-earthers have a lot in common with conspiracy lovers. In fact, part of the flat earth philosophy includes the belief in a round earth conspiracy. Since science and exploration are responsible for much of the evidence against flat and for round, there has to be a conspiracy to hide the flatness of the truth. So that’s another reason why people do it. They are psychologically pre-disposed to believe in an occult truth obscured by a mainstream conspiracy.
Of course, there is also that minority of people who say it because someone told them it was true. The credulous few who will believe whatever they’re told by someone they look up to, and who will fiercely cling to that belief no matter what. Generally, this group is composed of people who aren’t able to think for themselves, and who wouldn’t think of questioning the truth of something they don’t understand.
So, there you have three of the reasons why people say they believe the Earth is flat. They’re trolling. They’re conspiracy lovers. They’re credulous. If you can think of any more reasons, please let me know in the comments.
Here’s a Scientific American article on the subject, to give you the conspiratorial establishment’s spin on the flat earth. And here’s a Youtube video of Bugs Bunny proving that the Earth is globular.
Could the Grateful Dead have been using Creative Commons principles decades ahead of time? This Matthew Helmke article from opensource.com makes the connection.
Although many bands at the time allowed fans to record shows, the Grateful Dead took the idea a step further. Fans who purchased “tapers’ tickets” were given access to a special area located near the soundboard. The band even encouraged tapers to share their recordings, as long as no profits were made on the sale of their tapes.
Creative Commons took inspiration from the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and its GNU General Public License (GNU GPL). Their goal is to find ways to use private rights for public good and to set creative works free, but only for certain uses.
Creative Commons has come up with a set of licenses that keep the power over creative works in the hands of creators while also freeing the content to be used in ways that modern copyright law forbids, much like the Grateful Dead did with their creative ticketing and taping permissions.
In the end, we get a legal means of fulfilling the freedom that the Grateful Dead allowed its fans, without gray areas that could lead to problems such as those that the Internet Archive had with the soundboard recordings of Grateful Dead concerts. This legal murkiness blocked access to those recordings for some time, although they are now available.
So the Grateful Dead has maintained a long and successful career using principles of openness and freedom that didn’t get formalized until much later in the Creative Commons licenses. I think it’s safe to say that the band would have used a CC license if they had been available at the time.
MP3 file structure – CC-BY GFDL – If you want to read this tap for larger
When I started recording readings of these books, I chose to offer them in OGG Vorbis format because it’s a free and open standard. That meant there would be no encumberances on the audio files due to patents or any kind of imaginary property (IP.) That’s important to me. I have licensed my novels with Creative Commons enhancements to their copyright, to ensure their freedom. They are not weighted down with digital restrictions management (DRM) because I want readers and listeners to be able to enjoy my books without having to restrict themselves to any single device or place. I use Free Software to write the books, and to convert them to useful formats, which are also free and open. I use Free Software to produce the audio recordings, and I use open standards to present them. For the audio, that meant OGG Vorbis, the best choice for the lossy compression needed to make the file sizes reasonable for downloading. At the time, the more popular format, MP3, wasn’t free or open. It was locked in a proprietary web of patents. I couldn’t insult my listeners by offering them something like that. It’s possible that this choice has meant fewer downloads of the readings because many people only recognize MP3 and might be unwilling to download something with a strange name like OGG. I was willing to take that risk because freedom and openness are important to me.
Vorbis trademark – Credit xiph.org – CC-BY
Lately the patents on the MP3 format have run out. Well, as far as I can tell. There were a mess of them held by a mess of people and organizations and I don’t have the training or experience to sort that all out myself. I rely on other sources for that, and they’re all saying that, once the patents finally ran out in the US, MP3 became an open standard. They hedged a little on that, apparently unwilling to commit themselves fully in the face of the the, uh, complexities of IP. I was hesitant too, but I decided to take the plunge and accept MP3 as an open standard. This meant that I could finally offer people the readings in a format that they recognized. This is good because, even though all modern operating systems and devices should be able to handle OGG, it sometimes requires the extra step of installing some necessary software to do so. People don’t like extra steps. After paying, sometimes quite a lot, for their operating systems and devices, they shouldn’t have to take extra steps to get them to handle a simple open standard like OGG. That’s annoying, and now I can finally make it a little less annoying for them by offering my audiobooks in MP3 format.
You’ll find them on the downloads page. Along with the direct links to the OGG Vorbis-encoded files hosted at the Internet Archive, there are now links to MP3-encoded versions. Don’t hesitate. Download them now.-)
Don’t touch those wires! Photo credit: NOAA – Public domain
New Word of the Day – Bombogenesis
Today’s new word of the day — a form of neologism* — is bombogenesis. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, bombogenesis is a noun meaning the development and intensification of a major storm. It comes from the recent tendency to describe a major storm as a “snow bomb” or “weather bomb.” Lisa Suhey has written an article for the Christian Science Monitor that explains the term bombogenesis and a few others, including blizzard. The weather service has been using bombogenesis for a while, and they even have specific criteria for it, including “when a storm’s area of lowest surface pressure experiences a rapid drop of more than 24 millibars in 24 hours.” Her article also clarifies what makes a blizzard, and it’s not just a lot of snow. To qualify as a blizzard, in addition to a lot of snow, there must be wind-driven snow that reduces visibility to zero for more than three houfs, with wind greater than 35 MPH (56 KPH.)
*I differentiated “new word” from “neologism” because to get into my New Word of the Day series, the word must be in a dictionary as a new word, while a neologism isn’t necessarily in a dictionary yet. It might have just been invented by a witty punster or a schizophrenic.
Has any of my readers ever lived through a snow bomb?