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Apr 202013
 
Fan favorite George Takei as Captain Sulu
It’s George Takei Day on Krypton Radio! All day long we’re playing your favorite music Star Trek movies and fandom! Happy Birthday, George!

By Laura Davis

George Takei may have come to our attention in the role of Mr. Sulu, but he continues on in our affection by being just plain awesome. Today marks Takei’s 76th birthday, and we’d like to take this opportunity to wish him a happy birthday and many more years to come.

You’d think at age 76, George Takei would be slowing down some, but in truth, he’s got so many irons in the fire, it’s hard to keep track of them all. At a time in life when many of his contemporaries can’t even figure out social media, Takei not only figured it out, but took the Internet by storm. In his recent book, Oh, Myyy!, he explains in great detail (and with great humor) how he came to host a Facebook page that boasts nearly four million followers and an extremely popular Twitter account, as well. Part of the equation is PR skills, but the bottom line is Takei himself. His wonderfully warped sense of humor, passion for the causes he embraces, and eloquent way of addressing more serious matters add up to a man whom people appreciate as more than just a pop culture icon.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, young Takei was interned by the U.S. government, along with his family and so many other Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants. Despite the disgraceful treatment his family received at the hands of their own government, Takei shows no sign of holding a grudge. In Oh, Myyy!, he writes, “When I was a teenager I wanted to understand our incarceration. And I had long discussions with my father on the internment, and despite the fact that my father lost everything — his businesses, his home, his freedom — he maintained his belief in the basic principle of the democratic system. He sort of very gently guided me into being an activist.”

Takei explains, “My life mission has been to raise the awareness in America of a World War II chapter of our history when innocent American citizens, simply because they looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor, were incarcerated.” Talking about the musical production, Allegiance, which he produced and acted in, he asks, “How do you sell a musical on a very dark and shameful chapter that people know little about and understand even less? … the way to do it is the communication medium of the 21st century, social media.”

In 2005, Takei came out publicly, and in 2008, he and Brad Altman became one of the few gay couples to be legally married during California’s brief window of opportunity. Takei has been a beacon for gay rights, including marriage equality, for many years and in many ways. In 2011, when the state of Tennessee was considering legislation which would have banned the use of the word “gay” in public schools, Takei offered the use of his name as a replacement: it’s ok to be Takei.

For all the weighty issues Takei takes on with gusto, he keeps a positive attitude and an ability to laugh: at trolls, at himself, at corny memes, and at pictures of cats with goofy captions. When you’ve lived 76 years and seen hard times, you probably start to realize that you may as well laugh, because stressing out doesn’t keep life from happening. Takei credits some of his youthful attitude to husband Brad, and some to his Buddhist faith. Whatever the formula, it’s obviously working well. Thanks for all that you do, Mr. Takei, and here’s wishing you many more years of laughter!

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Bonus: If you’re interested in watching as much of George Takei as possible on his birthday, then check out this!


George Takei image licensed under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license. | hulu | YouTube | Schedule information via Direct2TV

Feb 082013
 
Pulp-O-Mizer_Cover_Image

Editorial by Gene Turnbow

Pulp-O-Mizer_Cover_ImageThere are some pretty wonderful things out there that we geeks geek out over.  There are novels, movies, games of both the electronic and non-electronic variety, cosplay, music and video blogs and all manner of great things produced for – and sometimes by – the world of fandom.

We often don’t think about where these things come from, or when we do it’s to applaud the people who make them.  Every now and then, though, it becomes apparent that the people who promote and manage the stuff don’t have the same spirit of sharing that the people who create it do.  What do you do when you earn your living on creative works of others, but can’t actually create anything yourself and don’t have a sense of ethics or responsibility?

You squabble over it and try to take things that don’t belong to you – and you do the calculus on how much ill will you’ll generate if you proceed, and you do it anyway.

Games Workshop is the creator of the Warhammer series of tabletop miniatures games.  Back in December they had Amazon pull M.C.A. Hogarth’s Spot the Space Marine novels, claiming that they had a trademark on the term “Space Marine” – a term which dates to the 1930′s and has been used by authors like Robert Heinlein and many others.   Amazon complied, even though there is no rule of law compelling them to do so, and Games Workshop could not provide them with proof of their registered trademark.  Here’s the really jaw-dropping part: there is no registered trademark, and Games Workshop never actually asserted that they had one.

What they’re trying to assert is that they have an exclusive trademark on the term “Space Marines”, because they’ve now begun publishing electronic books and they think that gives them a common-law trademark.  A common law trademark.  That means they think that we the public, when we hear the term “Space Marines”, we think of Games Workshop’s Warhammer games and nothing else.  Believing this and actually going to court over it takes some serious pot metal hand-painted miniature clangers.

M.C.A. Hogarth has no choice but to comply, as he can find many lawyers who would take the case, but so far none that will do it pro bono (“payment deferred and conditional on actually winning the case”).  Yet if this goes unchallenged, they’ll keep going and start attacking other people with these specious arguments and winning.

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Jan 262013
 
Aaron_Swartz_wmc_img
Editorial By Vagabond 'Tony' Carter

Users of the Anonymous meme are at it again it seems, targeting the U.S. Sentencing Commission website in a show of support and outrage over the trial and subsequent suicide of computer scientist and hacktivist Aaron Swartz.

Commission Website1

 

The defacement claims that with Aaron’s death “a line was crossed.”,  and that they’ve infiltrated several government computer systems and copied secret information that they now threaten to make public. The Department of Justice has yet, as of this writing, to issue a statement (as of this moment the site appears also to be down).

This leads me to wonder a few things, much of which is the same thing that runs through my mind every time someone puts on a virtual anonymous mask and commits a crime of this nature, and yes, this was a criminal act.

Do you honestly think this somehow helps?

While I agree that Aaron’s being charged as a criminal for a violation of a company’s Terms of Service was a travesty of justice and that his death was and is an absolute tragedy. How does actually breaking the law in any way help the cause of an innocent man, whose trial was never completed and who may have even been acquitted had he lived?

As I’ve said many times before: I agree with the sentiment, but not the method. Acts like this do nothing to aide the cause and only drag the names of the true victims, in this case Aaron Swartz, in the mud. A line was crossed alright – by the Anonymous meme user or users responsible for this act of vandalism.

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Jan 192013
 
Internet Law

Editorial by Vagabond ‘Tony’ Carter

 

Internet LawWith the suicide of RSS creator, Reddit Co-founder, and internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz making headlines, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren(D.) has introduced a draft bill to return contract law to its civil home. Her bill which would amend 18 USC § 1030 with what she calls “Aaron’s Law,” and would limit the scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and exclude terms of service violations, which are nothing more than a breach of contract.

Lofgren who is a dedicated user of the Reddit social media site, reached out to fellow users on January 15, 2013 to ask for public support of her bill. The proposed amendments however do not take away from the stiff criminal penalties for those who forcibly gain access and under false pretense, or who share/leak data for malicious purposes.

In the case of Aaron Swartz, he had full and legal access to JSTOR files, but used a program to rapidly download a large number of academic articles to his laptop. This may have been a violation of JSTORs EULA/TOS, but that’s all he did. Swartz who had been accused of hacking the JSTOR system by prosecutors, was alleged to have downloaded the files with intent to illegally distribute copyrighted material.

Although no files ever made it out to the public, nor was there proof he intended to do anything more than have a local backup for personal use. Yet under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, (originally written in 1984 and updated over the years)  Swartz was being tried in a criminal case on felony charges, which could have carried a lengthy prison term and massive financial penalties, if convicted.

The stress of this led to his eventual suicide on January 11, 2013.
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