RIP, Forrest J. Ackerman

Science fiction fans do not need to be told who he was. Everyone else should go here. It’s a big loss for science fiction.


The “Bcc:” Field is Your Friend

Since I’ve just received the third such e-mail in as many days, a happy, friendly, not-at-all passive-aggressive suggestion:

When you are sending out an e-mail to a large number of recipients, many of whom do not know each other, won’t you please please please PLEASE GODDAMNIT PLEASE put all those addresses into the “Bcc:” field rather than the “Cc:” field of your e-mail software? Here’s why:

1. Some people actually consider their e-mail addresses somewhat private and don’t want them broadcast to a bunch of people they don’t already know, and/or:

2. Might not want those e-mail address stored onto the computers of strangers who may or may not have viruses on their computers that harvest e-mail address for spamming purposes, and/or:

3. Might not want the inevitable flood of pointless e-mail that follows when someone on the “cc:” list decides to hit “reply all” rather than reply directly to the original e-mailer, up to and including the angry “Damn it will people please stop hitting the ‘reply all’ button!” e-mail sent 10 or 15 messages in, and (of course) sent “reply all.”

Since I have a very public e-mail, points one and two really don’t apply to me personally, but point three really does, which is why my general response to e-mails sent with a large “cc:” field filled with people I don’t know is to immediately mark the e-mail as spam, so I don’t have to see the followup messages. Whether the person who sent the original e-mail actually ever escapes from the spam trap is an interesting question.

Since I expect you don’t actually want to have your correspondence to me instantly ported to the spam hole, I ask again: When sending out e-mails to a large number of recipients, many of whom do not know each other, won’t you please use the “Bcc:” field? I would really appreciate it. Thanks.


The Lil’ Hos Go Down

Knowing my utter loathing for the whorelicious line of dolls known as Bratz, the entire concept of which seems to be to show little girls just how good life will be if only they will turn themselves into vapid pre-teen mall sluts, several people have forwarded me stories of how a judge has ordered Bratz dolls — all of them — off the shelf after the company that made them lost a copyright suit to Mattel, maker of Barbie. Their expectation is that I would be greeting this news with something close to joy.

But actually, I’m somewhat less than enthused about the ruling. In a legal sense, I think the ruling is a bit much; from what I know of the case I think Mattel is probably due some compensation from the Bratz maker, but forcing the entire product line off the shelf seems unduly punitative and tastes to me vaguely like restraint of trade. I haven’t been following the case all that closely, mind you, so I fully acknowledge there may be complexities to the decision I don’t get. Nevertheless, on first blush, yanking the entire line seems excessive to me.

But more to the point to my moral disgust of Bratz dolls, the Bratz going off the market because of a copyright dispute is like Al Capone going to prison for tax evasion. Maybe it achieves the desired result, but it misses the point along the way. I don’t want Bratz to disappear because the purveyor of a separate doll that gives young girls an entirely different suite of body and self-esteem issues has used the legal system to force its primary competitor off the market. I want the Bratz to disappear because parents look at them, decide they’re seriously screwed up, and bar them from their homes.

Which is what we’ve done here. We’re a Bratz-free home because we don’t buy them for Athena, and when one of the line makes an exploratory excursion into the home, it gets “disappeared” as soon as Athena gets distracted by some other toy. This has the side of effect of my daughter taunting me with Bratz commercials when they appear on the televisions, because she knows how much I loathe them, and it amuses her to see me fume. But on the other hand she also knows why I loathe them. I don’t claim to be a perfect parent, but inasmuch as my kid understands why I might not want her to play with inappropriately sexualized noseless dolls wearing more facepaint than an entire clown college, I’m winning that particular war.

In any event, it’s not just that I want the Bratz dolls to die; I want them to die for the right reason. That’s not happening, whether Mattel agrees with me or not.


Various Book Things, 12/5/08

Some book-related notes:

1. I’m going into Jay & Mary’s Book Center to sign books this weekend, so today is a fine time to give them a call and order some books to have me sign and personalize for holiday gifts. I’ll be doing this for at least a couple of more weeks, but as you know, holiday mail being what it is, the sooner y’all get your orders in, the better.

2. Speaking of Jay & Mary’s Book Center, author and Whatever reader Ian Randal Strock will be there on Sunday as part of his Midwest tour supporting his new book, The Presidential Book of Lists — and he’s dropping on other places in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky from today, when he’s at the Wright State University Bookstore, through the 14th of December. Here’s his entire tour itinerary — if he’s near you, why not stop in, say hello, and pick up the book.

3. METAtropolis, the audiobook anthology I wrote with Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake and Karl Schroeder, was selected as one of the Best Audiobooks of 2008 by the folks at iTunes. Go us. You can see this accolade for yourself by clicking into iTunes’ audiobook section. While there, if you’ve not already picked up METAtropolis, you might, you know, think about doing so. Maybe. If you want. No pressure or anything.

4. By the way, be sure to congratulate Toby Buckell, since his latest book The Cole Protocol will be dropping in on the New York Times Trade Paperback Bestseller List at #4. Which is pretty damn nifty.

5. Folks who regularly purchase eBooks through Baen’s WebScriptions program have noted the appearance of two of my books there, so I thought I’d share such information with the rest of you: Both of my Whatever-based books, You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop and Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded are available there, and for very reasonable prices. So if you’ve been looking for a version of these books you can take with you electronically, and to appreciate the delicious recursiveness of electronic versions of print versions of words originally published electronically, now’s your chance. Both are also still available in print, however, if you’d prefer them that way.

6. Finally, remember that if you’re looking for book as gift ideas, there are 100+ suggestions from your fellow Whatever readers right here. You can’t blame us if you can’t think of anything.

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