June 16th, 2009


More Funds for Officer Stephen T. Johns

The Washington Post reports on three funds that have been set up for the family of Officer Johns, who was killed at the US Holocaust Museum last week:

-- Checks payable to USHMM Officer Johns Family Fund may be mailed to USHMM, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl. SW, Washington D.C. 20024. Contributions can also be made by calling 877-91USHMM (877-918-7466) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or going to the museum's Web site.

-- Wackenhut, Johns's employer, asks that contributions be made by check or money order payable to Zakia Christina Johns in care of WSI Wachovia, 4440 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. 33410.

-- Checks payable to the American Jewish Committee, with "Holocaust Museum Memorial Fund" on the memo line, should be mailed to: American Jewish Committee Washington Chapter in care of Melanie Maron Pell, 1156 15th St. NW, Suite 1201, Washington D.C. 20005. Donations will also be accepted at the AJC Web site.

All this came from the Post's notice at Memorial Funds Established for Family of Slain Holocaust Museum Guard.

One of those funds was set up by the Museum, and from their In Memoriam page for Officer Johns you can follow a link to donate online.

The Value of Our Work, Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about getting paid for creative work, and sifting through the comments I realize that there is a point I'd like to make clearer or address better.

To start with, I want to emphasize that my main point was not that doing creative work for free or for exposure is wrong. As I said yesterday, I've done some creative work for free myself, and I even have a friend who is doing pro bono creative work for me (although I did offer payment for it, and would be willing to pay, if she wanted).

My main point can best be illustrated by the following story.

In his autobiography, Isaac Asimov told of the time a woman of his acquaintance asked him if he would take on some volunteer project for the community. From what I remember, Asimov said he would have been fine doing the project, but then the acquaintance went on to say that she would have asked Dr. So-and-so, but Dr. So-and-so was a very busy man.

And that statement stopped Isaac Asimov cold. He was incensed that just because he was a writer, this acquaintance assumed that he wasn't busy and had plenty of time. What bothered him was her unwarranted assumption about his life as a freelance writer.

And that's what bothers me about Google's approach to the artists mentioned in the article. It's the assumption that of course an artist would be happy with exposure as payment. Because it's not Google who gets to make that decision – it's the artists.

In the end, I'd go back to Google and anyone else offering naught but exposure, and ask them this – who exactly do they think is going to pick up the slack and pay artists if word gets around that they'll work for exposure? At what point would Google consider an artist's work to be of value? (As sethg_prime noted in the comments, Google surely paid Scott McCloud to create the online 39-page comic book introducing Chrome to the world. If McCloud's art is worth paying for, why isn't everyone else's?)

Expectations need to be set accordingly.

(As an aside, there's a fascinating chapter in the book Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely about social norms, and how we keep them separate from market norms. Ariely has placed an excerpt from that chapter here, and I encourage everyone to take a look.)

Nice Review: Lifeblood

And in other news...

In August, Nightshade Books will be publishing the collection of vampire stories By Blood We Live edited by John Joseph Adams. Jennifer Brozek has reviewed the book, and had this to say about my contribution, a reprint of my story "Lifeblood":

For me, there are three outstanding stories in this collection that shine above the rest. It is their writing, perspective, and originality that made these stories stick in my head long after I finished reading them...

“Lifeblood” by Michael A. Burstein – This story tells the tale of combating a vampire with faith – Jewish faith rather than the traditional Christian faith. The use of song and prayer within the song is a brilliant reinterpretation of brandishing the crucifix.

It's very high praise to have a reviewer cite my story as one of the three outstanding ones in the book, even more so when the name writers in the book include Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice, and Stephen King.

The review can be found here: Review of By Blood We Live. It's also on her blog at jennifer_brozek.

Maybe I should start writing my own vampire trilogy...