Odds and Ends #3

It's a secret.  Don't ask.

Don’t ask (because they) don’t tell.

[Image seen here.]


Where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off.
Samuel Johnson

What’s up in fractaldom lately? Who knows? It’s a secret.

Let’s do a run through of a few of my ongoing bugaboos.


The Fractal Universe Calendar

Uh-oh. Something has changed. But what exactly? And why will neither the editor nor the publisher make plain what’s transpired?

The main Fractal Universe Calendar (FUC) site has definitely been revised. How? Any mention of a 2011 calendar has been excised. And I didn’t imagine that such notations were still recently there because a Google search of “fractal universe calendar 2011” turns up the following cached strings:

A fractal calendar for the year 2011 is now planned, and [editor] Panny Brawley will…

[…]

…these pages in anticipation of a calendar being published next year for 2011.

[…]

The submission process for the Fractal Universe Calendars is currently CLOSED. We anticipate that it will reopen in early 2009 for the 2011 calendar.

These are all gone now. In fact, both the entire FAQ page and the Submit page have been scrubbed.

The text on the home page now reads:

The annual Fractal Universe ® wall calendar has been published by Avalanche Publishing, based in California, for the last few years as one of its best-selling lines. The calendar has been professionally printed and distributed, and on sale each year to the public via the Avalanche Publishing official webpages and in retail outlets across the United States, Canada and United Kingdom.

A calendar for the year 2010 is currently being published, and the images have now been selected. Thank you to all those who took the time to submit their images, and congratulations to the successful artists!

The submission process for 2010 is therefore now CLOSED.

Later in the year a gallery of images to be included in the 2010 gallery will also be displayed on this website.

See? No mention of a 2011 calendar at all. Is Avalanche Publishing really going to deep-six “one of its best-selling lines”? Or has the selection process now gone underground — to word of mouth, as it were? Is another contest forthcoming for 2011 — or will art be directly solicited by the publisher?

Ssssh. Apparently, it’s a secret.

So, in the interest of OT’s readers, I sent the following “enquiry” via the FUC’s Contact page:

Dear Editor and/or Publisher:

I have a few general inquiries:

1) Will there be a 2011 Fractal Universe Calendar?

2) Will submissions for it be handled as they were in the past using an open call under a competitive framework?

3) Or will submissions be only solicited directly from artists?

4) Will the editor/editors’ work be included in the 2011 calendar?

5) If a competitive format is used, will the names of the “judges” (publishers who make the final selections) be made public?

6) Of the artists included in the 2010 calendar, how many were selected from open submissions and how many were directly solicited?

7) Why have I never received a reply from anyone at either the Fractal Universe Calendar web site or Avalanche Publishing for questions I have submitted previously over several years?

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

Terry Wright

Orbit Trap
http://orbittrap.blogspot.com

Since I’ve never received a reply for any of my previous queries, I won’t hold my breath expecting a response this time.

After all, such matters deserve to be a secret. Don’t they?


The Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest

Good news. The two sites (2006 and 2007) for the Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest (BMFAC) have been restored. I guess Damien M. Jones, co-director of the competitions, has uncorrupted his server, an odd technical malady described in a previous OT post. Jones even gave a long, somewhat arcane, rather woe-is-me-flavored explanation of his server meltdown on the Ultra Fractal Mailing List — including this enigmatic tidbit:

My role as a web site host is no longer required, and I cannot fulfill that role adequately in any case (especially not for those sites that have moved on).

Nothing stays the same forever. Nor should it.

Jones notes that moves for some sites he was hosting on Fractalus, like the Ultra Fractal site, were “on the horizon.” But what this observation means for the UF List or the restored BMFAC repositories is anyone’s guess. And I might consider shopping around for a new virtual home if I was a fractal artist currently squatting on Fractalus.

Since the BMFAC sites are back open, and since Jones seems in a talkative mood, it never hurts to once more ask: Does the site restoration mean that a 2009 contest will be held? Will judges again be UF heavies and given pass keys to the back door of the exhibition? Will anything about the 2007 exhibition ever be mentioned on the 2007 BMFAC site? Because, as we know…

Nothing stays secret forever. Nor should it.


Troll Update

OT’s trolls appear to be giving up or just giving in to apathy lately. They’re just no fun anymore in their semi-retirement.

WelshWench seems content to talk about her blog makeover(s) and world travels. The last time she got irked enough to blast us, nearly a year ago now, all she could muster was a name-calling list. What should we say in return? I know you are but what am I?

And there’s no sport left in Keith Mackay’s idreamincolor forum, where I was banned after one post, and which has given up the ghost. And his wedreamincolor group blog hasn’t seen any action for over two months — all the while keeping Dzeni’s crowing post about her successful vote-spamming phone book cover campaign at the top.

Fortunately, when the chips are down, we can usually rely on our el supremo troll, Ken Childress, to bail us out and lower himself to the occasion. But even he’s been in suspended animation lately after turning his OT sucks blog into a personal photoblog to parade nature shots of his backyard and such. But, shaking off his recent torpor, he’s finally roused himself for a few new across-the-bow shots. And, sure enough, some of his like-minded locals, who’d been keeping mum about all the snow and flower pics, drifted back for some latent grousing. Responding to my previous post, Keith Mackay observes that

Picking a fight with a journal entry that is over a year old would be bizarre for most people, but not for them. It’s good for ratings and they know it. That blog is built on meanness and that’s what people like to see. That’s why the trash on reality TV is so popular. The bigger the fight and the more anger that you see, the more viewers that you get.

I am not just speculating about this. The number of views on my web site has gone up in the last 2 days and I haven’t done anything there to cause that.

Then Mackay comes back unapologetic three days later to add:

Actually, I have to take that back. I figured out why there were more views on my site and it wasn’t because of OT.

To which Toby Marshall helpfully adds:

Still doesn’t change the fact that muckraking sells…

Wait, guys. I’m confused. After all, Rick Spix said in the initial journal entry referenced last post that:

I reckon I can relate with all the Orbit Crap bs. Ya gotta understand that they are a VERY MINOR thing and almost nobody has even heard of them.

See why I’m perplexed? If no one has ever heard of us, then can we really be said to be successfully muckraking? But if we are effectively pandering in reality-TV sleaze for ratings, then aren’t some people actually bothering to read this blog? What a quandary.

And wasn’t I talking about transference last time — that is, the tendency of our adversaries to act out the very behavior they are projecting on us? Weren’t Spix’s remarks fraught with more than a little meanness? And what do Childress & Co. mean by muckraking? Would an example be like when one’s photoblog of nature pics stalls, so you (once more) hit OT up side the head, and, sure enough, the regulars drift back for another round robin of snarky personal comments? Would that be muckraking?

Childress needs new material, too. He returns, again, to his tired complaint that we are authoritarian and delete comments, although the only example he cites is himself. He claims we cut him off because “they could not handle my questions and refutations of their posts.” Close — but no cigar. Actually, we just got tired of refuting his remarks — the same ones — at length — over and over again. That brick wall was getting slick with the blood from our heads. Even so, we’ve left up many of Childress’ novelette-length rehashes. They’re still available for browsing in the archives. And we certainly gave Childress a longer rope than his compatriot Keith Mackay gave to me — a fact Childress consistently chooses to ignore — making Childress’ righteous anger over censorship to be situational.

But wait. Hold the (cell) phone. It seems Childress has revamped the comments policy on his blog to read:

Comments may be deleted if I think they cross the line as to what I find acceptable.

Meaning, I guess, “if I don’t like them.” But that’s okay because Childress can still claim the moral high ground over us since:

I will indicate that a comment has been deleted if I have the need to delete a comment.

Such a disclaimer, of course, absolves Childress of any ethical fuzziness. Why just delete a comment when you can also publicly embarrass the person who made it?

Childress also has political problems with OT:

Oh, and the political comments give you an insight into just how the OT mind works. I know OT is dying to tie fractals with political commentary. But, it just doesn’t work very well. Certainly, OT has never been able to successfully manage it.

Childress neglects to point out that politics only came up because Spix said in his entry that OT put forth “overly spun ala K Rove ‘opinions’ and allegations.” I was only playing off Spix’s allusion to Bush’s former advisor. In truth, I have previously written on OT about fractal art and politics — and anyone can view a (very non-censored) comment by Childress on this issue and my reply to him. I’ll let readers decide which of us argues the topic more convincingly.

Besides, there are more than a few examples of fractal political art. I suggest Childress wander over to Guido Cavalcante’s Fractalmix blog and look at these two powerful images about global warming. In fact, I believe both were even made with Ultra Fractal — the very program Childress serves as an apologist for promotes.

You can check the blurb for yourself to see that last point is no secret.

~/~

Update:

I have received a reply to my inquiries about the status of the Fractal Universe Calendar from Tina Oloyede, who has not been an editor for the venture for several years but currently manages the calendar’s website. Her answers shed considerable light on matters pertaining to the questions I asked above. I have replicated her answers below as a service to OT’s readers because I believe this is a significant development in an issue this blog has been discussing for years. Oloyede’s complete remarks can be found in the comments to this post.

1) Will there be a 2011 Fractal Universe Calendar?

Yes.

2) Will submissions for it be handled as they were in the past using an open call under a competitive framework?

No.

3) Or will submissions be only solicited directly from artists?

Yes.

4) Will the editor/editors’ work be included in the 2011 calendar?

Probably not.

5) If a competitive format is used, will the names of the “judges” (publishers who make the final selections) be made public?

N/A

6) Of the artists included in the 2010 calendar, how many were selected from open submissions and how many were directly solicited?

N/A – the publisher has always made the final decisions in the past as to which images will be included in the calendars.

7) Why have I never received a reply from anyone at either the Fractal Universe Calendar web site or Avalanche Publishing for questions I have submitted previously over several years?

I can’t give you a specific answer, but apologise on behalf of the editing team that this has occurred to you.

This may possibly have been due to technical problems with the website, or perhaps web server spam filtering.

~/~

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2 thoughts on “Odds and Ends #3

  1. Terry – I have not had been an editor for the calendar for a couple of years now, but am currently maintaining the website, and the enquiries are coming through to me for now.

    I have answered your enquiries below.

    Regards, Tina

    >—–Original Message—–
    >Sent: 01 June 2009 19:10
    > (email address omitted)
    >Subject: Fractal Universe Calendars Enquiry Form
    >
    >name: Terry Wright
    > (email address omitted)
    >enquiry: Dear Editor and/or Publisher:
    >
    >I have a few general inquiries:
    >
    >1) Will there be a 2011 Fractal Universe
    >Calendar?

    Yes

    >2) Will submissions for it be handled as they
    >were in the past using an open call under a
    >competitive framework?

    No

    >3) Or will submissions be only solicited
    >directly from artists?

    Yes

    >4) Will the editor/editors' work be included
    >in the 2011 calendar?

    Probably not.

    >5) If a competitive format is used, will the
    >names of the "judges" (publishers who make
    >the final selections) be made public?

    N/A

    >6) Of the artists included in the 2010
    >calendar, how many were selected from open
    >submissions and how many were directly solicited?

    N/A – the publisher has always made the final decisions in the past as to which images will be included in the calendars.

    >7) Why have I never received a reply from
    >anyone at either the Fractal Universe
    >Calendar web site or Avalanche Publishing for
    >questions I have submitted previously over
    >several years?

    I can't give you a specific answer, but apologise on behalf of the editing team that this has occurred to you.

    This may possibly have been due to technical problems with the website, or perhaps web server spam filtering.

    >Thank you for your time, and I look forward
    >to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

    You're welcome.

    Tina

    >Sincerely,
    >
    >Terry Wright
    >
    >Orbit Trap
    >http://orbittrap.blogspot.com
    >
    >

Comments are closed.