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SciFriday: You Can Support The Writers, Too

While officially, we will write stories that will continue to report on the Writers Guild of America strike as balanced as possible and as accurate as possible, that doesn’t prevent us in commentary mode to take a stand. And yes, this strike — which has practically shut down television productions across the board — is […]

While officially, we will write stories that will continue to report on the Writers Guild of America strike as balanced as possible and as accurate as possible, that doesn’t prevent us in commentary mode to take a stand. And yes, this strike — which has practically shut down television productions across the board — is important enough to where we should take a stand.

I’m just like you. I want new television shows. I want to be entertained. And I want networks to start exploring alternative media like DVDs and the Internet. Obviously, a work stoppage is a real pain in the ass. I’d rather there not be a strike, so if there is going to be one, it better be for some pretty damn good reasons.

But guess what, there are good reasons for this strike. While it might hurt my already rocky relationship with studios, I have to say, I am with the writers on this one.

The networks and studios can go on and on about how they don’t know how well online media will pay, but that’s just crap. The writers aren’t asking for flat fees for all their work, they are asking for residuals, for percentages, which could easily be based on models that fluctuate depending on the future success — or even failure — of alternative media.

The real motivator through all of this is greed, and not the greed of the writers. The writers deserve to be compensated for the work they do, and they should not be asked — like the “Battlestar Galactica” writers were asked to do with Webisodes last year — to not only write without credit, but write for free.

So what can fans do, then, to show their support for writers. There are always the letters to the editor and letters to studios, but one group of fans feel it’s time for a more organized effort.

Fans4Writers.com is a new grassroots effort being launched by fans meant to support the writers of our favorite television shows and movies. They are not affiliated with the WGA “except in spirit,” as they say. And their motto is, “Don’t write until it’s right.”

“As fans, obviously we want to see our shows back on the air as soon as possible,” said Brenda Lawhorn, one of the organizers of Fans4Writers in a release. “But at the same time, we recognize that it’s the writers who make these shows so compelling, and they need to get fair compensation for the work they do.”

This new group wants to directly help writers while they battle with the studios for the compensation they deserve. That includes its “Food for Thought” program where fans bring food and other provisions for those protesting in Hollywood and New York. They also plan to buy ads in major publications to let the industry know that the fans are behind the writers, and that these writers deserve a fair deal.

What’s interesting is that this group started as Joss Whedon fans delivering pizza to striking writers earlier this week. Once again, Whedon fans prove they are absolutely amazing.

When the strike’s all said and done, and the writers do get what they deserve, remaining cash will be turned over to the Writers Guild Foundation to support its charitable and educational activities.

“The studios might not be prepared to value the writers highly enough to offer them a fair deal, but the fans will commit themselves, their time, their energy and their money to show just how highly we value them, for as long as the strike lasts,” said Christopher Frankonis, another one of the organizers, in a release.

I think it’s fitting that this site’s most popular regular feature — SciFriday — which welcomes thousands of readers, celebrates its first anniversary standing for the creative minds behind the shows and movies that draw people to Airlock Alpha. It’s through groups like Fans4Writers and everyone standing behind the Writers Guild of America, that will open the door for more amazing talent to get into the industry and continue making entertainment amazing, chin-dropping and exciting.

SyBits

SyPod, by the way, will return Nov. 30 when I return. Alan Stanley Blair is filling in the next two weeks while I take some time off (I know I said that last week, but I got my dates screwed up, lol).

We have had some requests to revive the audio version of SyPod. Unfortuantely, I don’t have the time to do both a video and an audio version, so instead, I am going to explore making an audio version based on the video, so let’s see how technical I can get by the end of the month.

By the way, do you even like the SyPod casts (the few that are there?) There are a couple of them that went up as a trial. You can find them by clicking here and clicking here. If you like it (or hate it), drop me a line at mhinman@airlockalpha.com and it will help me make them even better when they return on Nov. 30.

In the meantime, let’s read some letters, shall we? OK, just one letter, because I don’t want this to get lost in the crowd (I’ll try to catch up on other letters when I return Nov. 30).

I have to take exception to the manner in which you responded to Melissa’s comments last week. Your sarcastic commentary was not only impolite, it was inaccurate, or at least missed the point.

While homosexuality may or may not be a mental disorder (I have no opinion on that matter), it is a “condition” that is detrimental to the survival of the species (remember Biology 101?). If it was genetic in origin, as some claim, then it would eventually weed itself out of the gene pool, would it not?

I read recently, (sorry, can’t remember precisely where) what while most mammalian species (at least the males thereof) occasionally engage in homosexual behaviors, only humans have it as a permanent behavior, or lifestyle. Political correctness aside, the scientific jury is still out on the subject. I personally was saddened that Ms. Rowling made such a gratuitous and irrelevant comment, that rightly or wrongly, tarnishes the utter charm and originality of her works.

I suggest that next time you receive an e-mail such as Melissa’s that you feel so strongly about, just don’t publish it, or count to 10 before posting such a snarky response. Besides, the topic doesn’t seem to be germane to the main purpose of the site.

— Wes Meador, Warrenton, Va.

Thanks for the words of support, Wes! So, let’s take your note in order. And while I am doing this, I am counting to 10 (I would wait and count to 10, but sheesh, how much time do you think I have in a day?)

(1) Sarcasm is exactly that, sarcasm. It is meant to be impolite, yet humorous. And since sarcasm is not actually stating fact but expressing opinion, then it cannot be incorrect.

(2) I do remember Biology 101, and I seem to remember this bit of discussion known as recessive genes. To say that every genetic characteristic is passed on immediately (or that homosexuals can’t reproduce) is just crazy. That mean that impotence and conditions which inhibit puberty (also needed for reproduction) should no longer be in the gene pool either. (3) Not sure if you noticed, but there are about 6 billion people on this planet, so I don’t think we’re in danger of dying out any time soon.

(4) I write this column to express my opinion and be entertaining. Snarkiness is part of my charm. (5) Last time I checked, the only mammals — hell, even animals — that develop “lifestyles” that involve complexities beyond mere survival were humans. (6) Yes, how gratuitous of J.K. Rowling — after involving so much heterosexuality into her books — would be so graphic and obscene to include the fact that one of her male characters liked men. (7) And how horrible that she would tarnish such a wonderful series with the thought that one of the characters (whispers) is gay.

(8) It’s my site, Wes. I decide what is germane and what is not germane here, as dictated by the readers. They are interested in Harry Potter, and was certainly interested in this story. (9) Damn, I didn’t make it to 10. Sorry, Wes. I guess I failed you again.

Send me a letter, and if you’re lucky (or you suck up enough), it could appear right here! Just e-mail me at mhinman@airlockalpha.com.

Do you like to chat about the SciFriday columns you see here? Then join our message board discussions by clicking here.

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Have a great week, and don’t be a stranger!

Michael Hinman, a 22-time winner of the British lottery and heir to three Nigerian fortunes, is the founder and site coordinator for Airlock Alpha, writing out of Tampa, Fla. He can be reached at mhinman@airlockalpha.com

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