Goal reached!!!!

The goal for Tomorrow’s Songs Today has been reached!! There will be a book!!!

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Tomorrow’s Songs Today: New stretch goals

The campaign for Tomorrow’s Songs Today is within a hair’s breadth of its goal, but the stretch goal of $3500 for full editing is a big reach, so I’ve added some intermediate stretch goals to fill the gap.

As long as the campaign reaches its basic goal, I’ll donate one signed and numbered print copy to Interfilk. At $2600, I’ll donate a copy to the Cushing Library at Texas A&M, which has an active filk collection. At $2700, I’ll make it two copies to Interfilk, and at $3000, three copies (plus the copy to Cushing in both cases). More than that would flood the auction market. All signed and numbered books, including perks, will be in “perfect” (paperback) binding with a color cover. Update: Sorry, but the quote for perfect binding was much higher than I expected. Watch for an update soon; at this point spiral binding is the most likely.

As always, thank you all, and keep spreading the word. There’s still a chance of piling more work on Terri!

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The print version of Tomorrow’s Songs Today

Yesterday I went to AlphaGraphics to get a quote on the printed edition of Tomorrow’s Songs Today. I owe signed and numbered copies to ten people who have contributed $100 or more, and hopefully there will be more by the end of Thursday. In addition, I’ll donate one or two copies to Interfilk and keep some number for other purposes. The lowest numbered ones will go to crowdfunding supporters.

I’m still waiting for the quote, but assuming it’s reasonable, the book will have perfect binding, like a paperback book, and a color cover.

The campaign is at exactly 75% of the goal of $2,500 as I’m writing this. Just $625 to go!

If you’ve already supported and are looking for something else to support, consider Kari Maaren’s West of Bathurst Kickstarter project.

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Tomorrow’s Songs Today: The final 7 days

The IndieGoGo campaign to fund Tomorrow’s Songs Today is coming down to its last seven days. If you’re planning to support it but have been procrastinating, time is running out. If you’ve already made a contribution, thank you, and this would be a good time to remind people of the campaign so it can meet its goal and be as good a book as it should be.

The book will happen no matter what. I’ve committed to that. But with a thousand dollars to go, it’s necessary to talk about “shrink” goals as well as “stretch” ones. If the campaign doesn’t reach its goal, IndieGoGo withholds 9% instead of 4%, so it’s a loss to all of us. In the worst case, if no more money comes in, the book will have no paid assistance. This means I’ll be relying on volunteer proofreaders, and the cover art will be whatever I can come up with by myself or with free help. I can’t draw, so this might mean just a colorful version of the title.

If the campaign hits $2,000 but less than $2,500, I’ll pay Terri Wells for copy editing but have to give up paying Matt Leger for cover art.

The perks will still happen. The tote bags won’t look as impressive if the goal isn’t reached, but you’ll get them. No one’s opted for the wall clock; people like the hard copy book better. Today I’m planning to ask a local printer about options, and I’ll post shortly about what I expect the paper book to be like.

Really, though, it’s not that far to make it happen right. Small and large contributions are both good. Even if it’s just worth $5 to you to see the history of filk made available as a free e-book, that $5 will help.

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Bland Books Week

Once a year, people spend a week courageously defending books that were controversial fifty or a hundred years ago. Open Culture comes to the defense of such books as The Great Gatsby, The Call of the Wild, and 1984 against the massed forces trying to deny people’s access to them. The first was “challenged” at Baptist College in 1987, the second was burned by Nazis in 1933, and the third “challenged” in Florida in 1981. “Challenged” can mean that just one person went to a librarian or judge.

It’s actually a good sign if these people have nothing better to do; real book-banning by governments in the United States is practically non-existent today. The First Amendment and the courts’ consistently upholding it have seen to that. This could change; the pendulum is swinging back against free speech, and there’s a sizeable body of people who say the First Amendment shouldn’t apply to corporations (including most major book publishers) or protect spending money on speech.

Some banned-book lists include books that would-be censors have recently targeted, such as The Anarchist Cookbook. In a 2010 post, Open Culture mentions Mein Kampf. Attempts to censor it in the US haven’t gotten any traction, but it’s heavily restricted in much of Europe. This hasn’t prevented Europe from having a much bigger neo-Nazi problem than the US; it’s only given Hitler’s rant a mark of distinction. (Today I came across an article on a US campus newspaper’s website that argues it should be banned not for anything it advocates but because — the writer concludes from an English translation — it’s badly written.)

It’s easy to champion books against yesterday’s censors when no one disagrees with you. Defending unpopular books takes more courage, and defending the freedom to print books you despise takes commitment to principle and willingness to take heat.


I’m calling this past weekend FilkHistoricon. On Saturday I went to Cambridge for the MASSFILC annual meeting. Somehow I’ve developed a tendency to deliver oral footnotes after people sing old songs. I interviewed Beth Runnerwolf and got some nice background on the Conflikt filk convention.

On Sunday I went to a housefilk in Queens. Most of the core New York filk crowd was there. Harold Stein gave me a thumb drive with lots of scanned zines. They’ll be a huge help in my research. I had lunch with Aya Hayashi, who’s doing her graduate thesis on filk and other fannish music, and we had lots to talk about. Our projects complement each other. She’s writing for an academic audience and I’m writing for fans. She’s covering all forms of fan music, including wizard rock and types I hadn’t even heard of, while I’m focusing on filk in its traditional sense.

The trip got me another $100 toward the goal, and right now I’m feeling almost overwhelmed with all the new material I have to work with.

We’re down to a week and a half. Thank you all for your support, and please don’t forget to look for opportunities to spread the word. Progress is good, but there’s still a way to go, and I’d really like to hit the $3,500 stretch goal and get the full editing support.

Here’s the link for Tomorrow’s Songs Today as usual.

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Thumbtack, a security disaster

Thumbtack.com is a website where people can post requests for bids on jobs. I signed up for it last week, hoping to pick up some website creation jobs, but I’ve just deleted my account after discovering it has a horrendous security hole. Fortunately, I hadn’t given any sensitive information such as a credit card.

I discovered Thumbtack’s security disaster this morning, when I received my first email requesting bids. I clicked on the link — sent in cleartext — and found myself logged in to Thumbtack. I can assure you I was not logged in before. My browser settings delete all cookies when I quit. I verified this with a second browser. With that click, I had access to all my settings.

Bear in mind that cleartext email goes through any number of servers, with no security. Anyone with access to the server on any relay point, or to the traffic between them, could run a filter for thumbtack.com and harvest accounts. Someone probably is doing it; I doubt that I’m the first person in the world to notice. On top of that, the link is http, not https, so it’s also vulnerable to interception.

I immediately tried to delete my account; it took about four tries, which isn’t a good sign either, but I finally got rid of it. I think. Let’s try that link again … Oh, good. I’m now getting “Account deactivated.”

I feel as if I’m walking rather dizzily back from a precipice. AVOID THUMBTACK.

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Typefaces in Tomorrow’s Songs Today

Normally I don’t think much about typefaces, unless something egregious like inappropriate use of Comic Sans is involved. When I sent out the latest chapter draft of Tomorrow’s Songs Today, though, I got some feedback that forced me to consider my choice of font. I’d been using Open Office’s default of Times New Roman, but it turns out to be a poor choice of fonts for a book about filk.

Why should subject matter affect the choice of fonts? Well, the character sequence “fi” occurs a lot in this book, and when it’s italicized in Times New Roman, it doesn’t look that great. The “f” and the dot of the “i” collide in an unsatisfying way.

'Westerfilk' in Times New Roman italic

When the Golds pointed this out to me, I tried some other fonts and found that Baskerville handles that combination better. The top curl of the “f” replaces the dot of the “i.”

'Westerfilk' in Baskerville italic

Barry suggested trying Georgia. Its letter shapes are similar to Baskerville, but it’s more readable. This is partly because it’s larger for the same nominal point size, but also because it’s wider with thicker strokes. The “fi” combination keeps a separate dot for the “i,” without a collision.

'Westerfilk' in Georgia

The typeface will definitely change, though whether I’ll use the font of the Baskervilles or go down to Georgia isn’t something I’ve decided yet. I’ve got more of an appreciation than before of how typefaces matter.

Please support my IndieGoGo campaign, so the book will have the editorial support to make it the best history I can produce.

New article: Dawn of the Surveillance State

My article, “The Dawn of the Surveillance State,” is featured today on the Foundation for Economic Education’s website. It’s about the US government’s spying on its citizens during World War I. Opposing the war or just speaking German could get you into serious trouble.

The more views the article gets, the better my chance of future sales, so please take a look if it sounds at all interesting to you.

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Removing the Apple-U2 spam

In the face of widespread anger, Apple has provided a way to remove the “Songs of Innocence” spam from your iOS device. Previously, the best you could do was hide it. However, its description of the procedure is incomplete.

The removal procedure is given on Apple’s support site. When I first tried it, the only response I got was “The item you are looking for cannot be found.” What Apple doesn’t mention is that you have to be signed in to the iTunes store before clicking the link given in step 1 on that page. You then have to give your Apple ID and password again after clicking the link.

This in fact worked for me, but I notice there still isn’t the slightest hint of an apology from Apple.

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