June 29th, 2006

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Jim Baen (1943-2006)

It's just been reported on SFF Net that science fiction editor and publisher Jim Baen has died.

David Drake has a memorial here; I'm sure there will be others.

I never met him, but I'm grateful for much of what he did. In particular, he was the editor who first published the collections of Spider Robinson's Callahan series, and those stories helped me through a lot.
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Brief Personal Update: 6/29/06

So let's see...what have I been up to that's even remotely interesting?

Tonight gnomi and I are heading down to NYC to spend a few days visiting my Mom. I last saw her around Thanksgiving, and then only briefly. We'll be spending shabbat with batyatoon and sdelmonte, something I've done by myself twice before. It'll be nice finally to have Nomi share the experience.

In preparation for the trip, since we'll be having an open house on Sunday, gnomi finally bought a digital camera. It's a combination two past birthdays/intervening Chanukah present from her parents. Because Nomi is something of an actual photographer -- up until now, she's used a Minolta Z-370 SLR with a 50-mm fixed-focal lens -- she got a Canon PowerShot A530 5MP Digital Camera with 4x Optical Zoom. Whatever that means. What I like is that in Auto mode, I can point and click.

As I did last night, when we had dinner with farwing and suzvoy. This was our first time meeting suzvoy, and she was delightful. We discussed many things, including television and history. Since we were in Brookline, we showed her the JFK birthplace historic site on Beals Street, and the plaque commemorating the Counter Intelligence Center that was on Harvard Street during WW II. And we used the camera to get a few pictures. (We also went to NEC just as they closed, to get a photo of bukket1138 and his wife.)

In other socializing news, we spent a nice few hours with my older brother and his family last Sunday. And I had a nice phone conversation with scarlettina on Monday night. Lots of talk about Doctor Who.

In the writing world, I have a novelette announcement that I'm still waiting to make, because I haven't yet confirmed that I can say anything. I've also submitted an essay to the BenBella Smart Pop book on Spider-Man that they will be publishing next year. I've seen a lot of people refer to this as an untitled anthology, but on Amazon they're already calling it WEBSLINGER. And I'm working on a proposal I can't talk about, plus two stories, and an essay. Gackers!

Finally, I have a letter in today's Brookline TAB. When they post it on-line, I'll link to it and discuss it here.

Copyright © Michael Burstein
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More on Plagiarism From Adam-Troy Castro

Just last month, I began discussing issues of copyright and plagiarism. For those of you who are interested in revisiting those discussions, I've created a new tag: copyright. You may recall that in one of the posts I complained about Lehman High School's unlicensed production of Chicago. A student at the school replied anonymously, and one of the questions he asked was why I should care about what happens at their school.

I gave an answer to his question, but in case he's still reading, someone else has come up with an even better answer.

Friend and writer Adam-Troy Castro recently had to deal with a plagiarist who violated his copyright by posting an excerpt from his powerful story "The Juggler" on a vampire role-playing board, and represented it as his own work. When confronted, the malefactor removed the excerpt and apologized. But a few other people in the RPG complained that this wasn't so big a deal.

So by invitation from one of the other RPG board participants, Adam wrote a response, laying out exactly why this was, in fact, a big deal. He's posted his response on his own newsgroup under the title Plagiarism Note, and I encourage any and all of you to go read it. The gist of it can be summed up in one sentence from the letter: "The fact is that plagiarism is a serious crime with serious consequences." And Adam explains exactly what those consequences can be, and how they not only hurt the victim, but damage the public good as well.

Copyright © Michael Burstein
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Letter in Today's Brookline TAB, With Commentary

My letter in today's Brookline TAB can be found at http://www2.townonline.com/brookline/opinion/view.bg?articleid=527528. For those who don't want to follow the link, I'll quote it here behind the cut and then comment on it.

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Now for the commentary.

The main reason I wrote that letter should be fairly obvious to anyone who reads it. Nomi and I frequently do in fact go to Rubin's for brunch on Sunday, and we do enjoy the food quite a bit.

But there's also the kosher issue.

There is a restaurant in Brookline that I will not refer to by name, and I'd appreciate it if no one else did either. For sake of a label, let's call it NKD for Non-Kosher Deli. Now, NKD promotes itself as a traditional "Jewish" deli, and from what I understand, the food there is actually quite good.

But I've never eaten there, because it's not kosher.

And it bothers me on a few levels that NKD gets a lot of press and publicity, whereas an excellent, revitalized place like Rubin's does not. It bothers me because I've had more than one person shocked and surprised to discover that I can't eat at NKD; they've all assumed that a place that markets itself as Jewish would be kosher. Some of these people had even eaten pastrami and Swiss cheese at NKD, and it never seemed to penetrate their minds that such a combination is a violation of one of the most basic laws of kashrut.

So when I saw last week's TAB list NKD as one of the great places in Brookline for brunch, I knew I had to respond in praise of Rubin's, a deli that to my way of thinking exemplifies Jewish values far more than NKD does. Now I can only hope that perhaps this will drum up a little more business for Rubin's. At the very least, it should remind the population of Brookline what NKD isn't.

Copyright © Michael Burstein