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December 01, 2006

Oh, Dear

You know, I can't tell whether this guy thinks these things actually happened. Read down to the bottom of his column and tell me whether it seems like he's reporting the particular one he notes as a factual event.

Update, 10:15am: Oh, and for added chuckles, someone introduced the "Ayn Rand's A Selfish Christmas" to the folks at the humanities.philosophy.objectivism newsgroup. This should be fun.

Posted by john at December 1, 2006 08:35 AM

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Comments

Steve Buchheit | December 1, 2006 08:48 AM

Does that mean there actually is a Talking Ann Coulter doll? Might mix that up with the Voodoo kit and see what happens.

Considering he ripped that text from you, I hope you got a nice thank you letter at least.

Mary | December 1, 2006 08:54 AM

I think hasty writing and sloppy editing (and layout) may be the culprit here. Maybe he set up the context for your excerpt more clearly, but some editor cut it for space.

No doubt, this could confuse some readers, but if the writer read your whole piece (which still makes me snort out loud), I think the penny would have dropped for him. I hope.

So why don't you email him and ask?

Mia | December 1, 2006 08:55 AM

Considering a lot of the things he lists as gifts do exist (including the talking Ann Coulter doll), I'm afraid he probably does believe the Christmas specials were also real.

Dr. Thingo | December 1, 2006 09:10 AM

It is now incumbent upon you to write a script for 3-5 minutes of the alleged special broadcast, hire voice actors to play the roles of late 1930s reporters (and Orson Welles, of course), record the piece and process it for a compressed, crackling 1930s radio sound, and post an MP3 to your web page. Just in time for the holidays, too.

Nice bit of plagiarism reporting too.

Steve Buchheit | December 1, 2006 09:11 AM

Oh Jeez, Mia. There really is one? Yet another sign the End Times are upon us all. Okay, I had to google it. I like the doll better than the real one, nicer hair. And that's a really short skirt she's got there. Nice gams too. Say, why did they create GI Joe again?

Liz Jones | December 1, 2006 09:22 AM

Ah-- the irony!!!
After all, Welles' War of the Worlds listeners believed *that* was real...

This is almost too good to be true!

John Scalzi | December 1, 2006 09:26 AM

Steve Buchheit:

"Considering he ripped that text from you, I hope you got a nice thank you letter at least."

Well, I think that falls under fair use, actually. Also, he credited to me and named the piece from which he got it. He's perfectly fine as far as usage and attribution go.

Charissa | December 1, 2006 09:54 AM

Though, you know, a link would've been appropriate.

KevinQ | December 1, 2006 09:58 AM

I've got a vote for "thinks it was real," here. He says:
"Consider this example [of entertainment industry tackiness] from writer John Scalzi who recounts it in a piece..."

Recounts sounds too much like reports on it. I think the man might lack a sense of humor.

K

John Scalzi | December 1, 2006 10:04 AM

Well, to be fair, if he was taken in, he wouldn't be the first. When I first posted this a couple years ago, I remember reading people commenting on the piece saying they remember watching some of the specials. Which is a neat trick.

Steve Buchheit | December 1, 2006 10:08 AM

Scalzi, I forgot to congratulate you on being ushered into that unique club populated mostly by The Onion (satire reported/mistaken as actual news).

It's your copyright, so whatever you do with it is your own thing, but I'm interested on how this would be fair use? The reporting clause is one thing, but he really plagerized your article. When you did it for Reading is Fundamental or sold it to National Lampoon, did you give up those rights (and then NL would have to fight for it)? I'm just curious.

Nathan | December 1, 2006 10:13 AM

I'm gonna go out on a limb here, but here's what I think happened.


Robert Rector to Intern who is kneeling on the floor giving him a pedicure: "You know, you were late this morning and you picked up the wrong size tube of Preparation H for me. I like the economy size.

Intern: "Sorry sir, it won't happen again".

Robert Rector: "You'll never get ahead in this business if you don't pay attention to detail. You've gotta track down and confirm every little fact. Hey, easy on the cuticles."

Intern: "Sorry sir, it won't happen again".

Robert Rector: "When we're done here, I need you to track down some examples of tacky holiday entertainment for a piece I'm writing"

Intern: (with evil gleam in eye) "You got it, Sir! I'll get right on that!"

John Scalzi | December 1, 2006 10:15 AM

Steve Buchheit:

"The reporting clause is one thing, but he really plagerized your article."

No. It would be plagiarism if he represented himself as having written it, which he clearly does not -- he cites me by name and cites the piece from which he excerpted. He does excerpt the whole chunk of text from the "Assassination of Saint Nicolas" entry in the article, but that entry itself is only a small part of the larger piece, so again, I think there's a very reasonable argument for fair use.

I think some of the confusion may come from the fact that the guy's article, as presented online, looks to be poorly formatted, which makes it look a little like he's appropriating my words. I would expect that the actual printed article is probably formatted so that its excerpted nature is more clear.

In any event, I'm not upset at the use of the excerpt (it's funnier this way), so that's pretty much that.

John H | December 1, 2006 10:18 AM

Steve, the article explicitly mentions the piece that John wrote and then gave an excerpt. That is fair usage.

Steve Buchheit | December 1, 2006 10:22 AM

Okay, after re-reading his article for the third time I see that he is setting up those paragraphs as a quote from your site. I get it now. Sorry. I didn't get that hand off to him quoting you the first two times reading it. (Hint to Pasadena Star, there's this HTML tag called BLOCKQUOTE, or something close to that).

Captain Button | December 1, 2006 10:38 AM

JS wrote: "When I first posted this a couple years ago, I remember reading people commenting on the piece saying they remember watching some of the specials. Which is a neat trick."

I think this means you are the reincarnation of Phillip K. Dick.

Chang, who gets nothing done without BRAINZ | December 1, 2006 11:43 AM

Hey, see if he reallly believes in the ZPH!

Steve Brady | December 1, 2006 11:44 AM

Plagiarism /= copyright infringment.

I can claim that I wrote Hamlet, which is in the public domain. No one will believe me, and I'll look silly, but still.

I can also say "I got a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it" without attribution even though it's part of a still-copyrighted work.

Chang, who gets nothing done without BRAINZ | December 1, 2006 11:50 AM

Update, 10:15am

Oh, that's already gotten wicked funnny. Hilarious! I love people's rigid sense of self-righteousness.

Except for my own. Mine is very important and shouldn't be molested by satire or humor.

Ron Hogan | December 1, 2006 12:35 PM

You know, if all I'd read of that article was the Algonquin Round Table and Orson Welles segments, and wasn't the fan of that era that I am, I *might* be persuaded into believing that they actually happened.

Then again, I believe everything I ever read about the Wold Newton family being real, so I might not be your best test case.

NicoleW | December 1, 2006 01:04 PM

Here's another vote for "It sure sounds like the guy thinks that really happened." Hee!

Dwight Brown | December 1, 2006 01:42 PM

Not only is there actually a talking Ann Coulter action figure, but I have actually given one to a friend as a gift (though I do not recall right now if it was a Christmas or birthday gift).
This particular friend has it in a place of honor on his fireplace mantle.
(He also retaliated by giving me a talking Dennis Miller action figure.)

Mary Robinette Kowal | December 1, 2006 02:13 PM

Well, his byline does say that he is a former editor.

Dr. Thingo wrote:
"It is now incumbent upon you to write a script for 3-5 minutes of the alleged special broadcast, hire voice actors to play the roles of late 1930s reporters (and Orson Welles, of course), record the piece and process it for a compressed, crackling 1930s radio sound, and post an MP3 to your web page. Just in time for the holidays, too."

You know, the Artistic Director of the radio theater group I work with is an Orson Welles sound-alike...

Eddie | December 1, 2006 04:40 PM

Not real? No,John. Say it ain't so.

I WANT to believe in the lost StarTrek Christmas Special.

And for Christmas I want Santa to bring me a life size Anne Coulter inflatable party doll that I can smack around every time she opens her mouth.

Take that you evil bitch!SMACK!

Eddie | December 1, 2006 04:41 PM

Not real? No,John. Say it ain't so.

I WANT to believe in the lost StarTrek Christmas Special.

And for Christmas I want Santa to bring me a life size Anne Coulter inflatable party doll that I can smack around every time she opens her mouth.

Take that you evil bitch!SMACK!

Eddie | December 1, 2006 04:44 PM

Oops.Sorry *ahem* Guess I got a little ah,worked up.

Anonymous | December 1, 2006 04:48 PM

Rector's mistake would be funny if it wasn't for the fact that this type of mental sloppiness is becoming more and more common in the fields of information management and dissemination. It's amusing when some pompous ass in the media industry does it, not so funny when the intelligence community does - the consequences of which might lead you to war based on weapons of mass destruction that are just about as real as the reported Orson Wells broadcast. Rector seems to be suffering from Pierre Salinger Syndrome, either that or his sense of humor is so firmly tongue in cheek that I missed it. But I don't think so.

On a side note, John, I hope Athena has recovered from her head trauma without any lasting effects.

Jim Wright | December 1, 2006 04:50 PM

Arrgh! That last comment was from me, sorry. I hate anonymous posts. //Jim

Jon | December 1, 2006 04:52 PM

A great example of how urban legends get started.

Steve Buchheit | December 1, 2006 05:48 PM

Jon, "A great example of how urban legends get started."

I remember that Orson Wells radio show from a college radio rebroadcast. The sets were fantastic!

And Spock, with the pointed ears fit in that elf costume so well.

Gotta get those things rolling right along.

Mitch Wagner | December 1, 2006 06:23 PM

The comments on the Objectivism newsgroup are off to a great start. Comment #2 says:

"It's a moronic distortion and caricature of Ayn Rand's view of Xmas - a view btw she clearly stated, so that smears of this type are even more
inexcusable. "

That'll tell you, buster!

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