Pinterest Terms of Service link round-up


After posting recently about Pinterest, I've been involved in a lot of discussion about their Terms of Service.  Here's a quick link primer to some of the discussions I'm involved in and I'm seeing in the science-art blogosphere.

To recap:

Pinterest does a lot of things right: links back to creator's sites, deleted pins get deleted on all subsequent re-pins - these are good things.

Pinterest has some problems: most people pin whatever neato things they find online when the Terms specifically state you must own the image or have permission. So it's built on misuse in many ways. Personally I think more artists should use Creative Commons type attitudes toward this type of sharing. But the point stands that most users violate Pinterest's own Terms of Service.

Pinterest has some Peril: they can "sell" and "otherwise exploit" all content according to their Terms of Service. So if you use it correctly, you're giving away your work which then involves risk assessment.

Read through these links to get the whole picture so far.

Pinterest gets right what Tumblr got wrong - The Flying Trilobite by Glendon Mellow

The Promise and Perils of Pinterest - Symbiartic by Glendon Mellow

-->Discussion on G+
-->Discussion on Scientific American's Facebook Page

Pinterest's Terms of Service, Word by Terrifying Word _Symbiartic by my co-blogger, Kalliopi Monoyios.

ART Evolved is a No-Pin Zone, sadly... -ART Evolved by administrator Craig Dylke. I'm affiliated with ART Evolved but I wasn't involved in this decision beforehand, for the record. Good move though.

*****Edit: It was announced on March 23rd 2012 that Pinterest is indeed dropping the "sell" term in their Terms of Service - as well as making many other changes. Storify below takes place as of time of the original post.

Pinterest updates Terms of Service - drops the "sell" - Symbiartic by Glendon Mellow



For those not on Twitter, after the jump I've included a first attempt at a Storify of some of the comments there.



There's a lot of retweets of some of these, so a lot of people are listening who haven't weighed in.




- - - - - - - -

Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Portfolio
Blog
Print Shop

--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Face the muses

In my university days, science and art seemed to be considered non-overlapping pursuits. So I tilted at windmills and would show up at class with drawings of trilobites and extinct fish. The first time I showed up at class with drawings of trilobites, my prof said, "ooo, I don't want any of those in my soup," and the critique was done.

(note to self: cool idea - trilobites crawling out of soup and menacing a professor)

Science is a muse. But why? I need to explore my fascination. I need to explore so I can understand the weird little niche I'm in right now. There is also the more immediate and exciting reason that I will be attending ScienceOnline'09, and co-moderating a couple of sessions.

One session I will be co-moderating -with the inimitable Jessica Palmer of Bioephemera!- is entitled Art and Science - online and offline. I've posted a few notes at the conference wiki, and Jessica and I will be developing and refining the beats of the group discussion over the next while.

I view the world of art mainly through the eye of a painter. I'm fairly specific in my aims most of the time (Payne's Grey here, Quinacradone Orange here). I like using modern scientific ideas and discoveries as visual symbols for ideas like love and death and whimsy, as religious and mythological symbols once did in the Renaissance. So my thoughts about how science intersects art will be starting from a fairly specific place. How far can I expand my perceptions?

Learning from other bloggers helps. Renaissance Oaf continues his series But Is It Art? and has an astute analysis of the importance of the market, whatever the style of art. Bond's Blog pondered the variations in illustrations of one dinosaur genus, and how to move forward with his own rendition. My incomplete image of Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle wound up on Infectious Greed, an economic blog, illustrating the perils of lousy analysis. Cocktail Party Physics looked at the question But Is It Art? and showcased some fascinating examples.

It can be all too easy to get wrapped up in an image and not stop to ponder why it is exciting to me. It's time to face the muses.


- -

All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.
Please visit my blog, gallery and reproduction store.

Artwork Mondays: referencing, gazing and Mitochondrial Eve

This week, I've been thinking a lot about social-consciousness in art. Y'know, being political and having a message for the public sphere.

There's some reasons for my preoccupation.

Tyler Handley at The Edger wondered how to classify atheist art. Jessica Palmer at Bioephemera shows the tension between illustration/photojournalism and fine art, and how poorly played it can both enhance and upset a career. Coturnix at A Blog Around the Clock has an interesting round-up of articles about art about science; I'm struck by how many are about global warming, but not surprised.

Social activism and controversies are always a part of the fine artists' agenda. It's not surprising. And it's a good thing the global warming crisis is a part of the agenda! I remember in university about 10 years ago, some wag put up a list of "10 images to be an art hack" too high up on a support pillar to take down. On it were things like, "Coca-Cola logo" (to signify evil corporations), "Kate Moss" (to signify male-controlled body image), "fetus" (to signify the abortion debate).

My friends and I used the term, "shake and bake" for this type of art; by putting an image on canvas of say, Kate Moss you were automatically addressing bulimia, women's body image, the perpetuation of the male-gaze in art, heroin chic (Trainspotting was a big movie when I was in Uni) and being "ironic" and "conflicted" by both showing her and "referencing" her. Ooo, edgy, a half-naked painting of a photo of Kate Moss.

Referencing was a big buzz word in Fine Art back then. It meant copying something, or including it in there. It was supposed to be a dialogue, while perhaps being vague on what you were saying.

It meant you didn't have to come up or reveal a new conflict to the viewer, you simply added to the dialogue. Shale and bake. Truly new conflicts were hard to smash through with. In my own small way, I tried. After reading River Out of Eden by Richard Dawkins over and over, I tried numerous pieces about the Mitochondrial Eve concept. It enthralled me that we could figure out things like this bottleneck in our prehistory. But it wasn't new of the day, so it was hard to spread the wonderment. Frustrating.

Here is that painting, Mitochondrial Eve:

Not perhaps my strongest work back then, and I've almost painted over it a few times. This one was painted on an antique wood panel to prevent warping, using traditional materials (rabbit-skin glue....eewwww) so it will likely look at me with it's not-up-to-my-standards look for quite some time.

I had roommates also in the Fine Arts, one majoring in dance, one in theatre. We'd joke a bit that in both their disciplines, collaboration is essential; whereas in visual art, you're expected to stand smoking in the corner saying, "They're all hacks, no one understands my genius. puff".



But back to social messages. Are they all shake and bake? All instantly microwaveable into some sort of painting/sculpture/installation that everyone brings their own political/social/media-savvy background to?

No. There can be something strong enough to break through and galvanise people. But I think the world of visual Fine Art is tough. We are surrounded by astounding images every day, so standing still and letting a painting perform long enough to affect one's mindset as it unravels and wraps up a viewer is a difficult thing. I try it from time to time.

And once, I was so overcome, I simply sat down in the middle of the gallery, on the floor. I stretched my legs out, and just enjoyed the still oil painting on the wall and let it affect me. Security didn't mind this gothy-punk just sitting there; I was causing no harm and others could walk around me. And the painting was marvelous. I consider it now my very favourite. Science and myth thrown together on a canvas. John Atkins Grimshaw's Iris. (The science comes from the part you cannot see in a photo: thin glazes of oil forming a rainbow following the tragic arch of Iris's body).

Try it. Find an image about a current issue like global warming. Perhaps it's a block of ice in a gallery kept at temperatures cool enough to drip only slowly, or tiny plastic polar bears on the floor of the gallery. Perhaps something on the computer screen, something from antiquity, something in your local museum or art gallery or a book.

Ponder it slowly.

Be unafraid to find it shallow.

Be unafraid to say, "that's it?"

Be willing to enjoy the art of the small message for its small message.

And keep moving on, and slowing down to look until one commands your gaze. Let it mesmerise you with its memes and forms. My hope is that it will provide a rallying point for rationality in its beauty.

- - -
All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details. Please visit my blog, gallery and reproduction store.

ScienceOnline'09

Registration for ScienceOnline'09 is open.

Bora Zivkovic, Anton Zuiker, Abel Pharmboy with help from Brian Russell and Paul Jones, are planning the big event in January 2009.

You can visit the conference wiki here, and see a list of registrants here. There's also details about Open Laboratory 2009, and submissions are being taken for what you consider the best science blogging of the year. There's a lot of great writing out there, and no limit to how many submissions you send in.

I've registered for the conference, and I'll be bringing my sketchbook.

- -
All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence.
Please visit my blog, gallery and The Flying Trilobite Reproduction Store.

Darwin kickin' it on the Edge...r

Darwin is my Charlie!

Yesterday, I spotted our energetic and vigorous friend over at The Edger.


Tyler Handley has written a terrific post taking a stab at defining types of atheist art, with his article The Art of New-Atheism. Tyler has included a link to The Flying Trilobite art gallery over at DeviantArt, under the heading, "Art that is made for the purpose of representing a passion for science and its promotion".

Hmm, is that a decent description of what I do?

Later, under the heading, "Art that is made for the purpose of iconically depicting giants of science, skepticism, and atheism", Mr. Darwin and his stairs made an appearance.

I'll quote my comment on the article here for discussion, (and a bit of promotion for The Beagle Project and the support I'm offering from my Reproduction Shop), or please follow the link, and see the rest of the images Tyler has compiled.

Here's my comment:

Thank you for including my Flying Trilobite gallery and Darwin Took Steps piece
in this important post, Tyler.

I hope you don’t mind if I add that proceeds from the sales of
Darwin Took Steps shirts, prints and cards goes to the Beagle Project in support of their noble and educational work.

This is an interesting topic I wrestle with daily. I am sorely tempted to create some overtly atheist art; for me, I find it hard to think of anything other than satire or horror of religion. So instead, I focus on the wonder of science. Do other artists have this problem? (
emphasis added)



It's pretty exciting for me that my Darwin Took Steps was included on the same discussion as Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot photo. It'll sink in eventually.

Even Jesus riding on a dinosaur can't take that feeling away.

- -
All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details. Please visit my

blog, gallery and reproduction store. Support The Beagle Project!

Neighbours, don't make Art into Orphans, eh?

Artwork in the land of my southern neighbours is in danger from the Orphan Works legislation. I'm not in the habit of asking members of another country to vote certain ways, but I'm concerned. I'll certainly give some neighbourly advice and point at something.

The legislation would provide the onus to be on the artists' to prove their work is not an "orphan" piece of art by registering everything. If a large ad firm or company used a piece of art without permission and made millions from the ad campaign, the artist would have to realise, and sue. If the company can be said to have "reasonably" searched for the original copyright holder and is not found guilty of infringing on copyright and merely using an "orphan work" than they would be granted permission. The problem is, the little guy or freelancer or up-and-coming-feisty studio would have a tough time defending every time their work was infringed.

I don't have all the answers, but time is running short. Educate yourself if you are concerned. If you are an artist reading this blog, or just someone who appreciates art, you may want to do some research and possibly sign this petition.




I'd like to quote Britt Griswold, one of the professionals I've learned a lot from in online forums (be sure to check out his Sci-Art Gallery!):

Dear Artists,
The Orphaned Works battle is on. The Illustrators Partnership of America, American Society of Illustrators Partnership, Advertising Photographers, and others, have set up an effective way to inform you on what these bills will do and give you the tools to write and contact you legislators. If you wish to protect your artistic work from theft and future legal costs, it is incumbent on you to speak out now.

Steps:
1. Go to this site:
http://capwiz.com/illustratorspartnership/home/

2. Read the synopsis of the legislation at the bottom of the page; house bill first.

3. Read all the variations of the letters you can send (if you can stand it). They will give you a better understanding of how to address the issues.

4. Get mad

5. You can send one of the pre-written letters by email, but this will be less effective than a customized letter that shows you know and really care about this issue. To customize a response, copy and paste the bits of the various letter that address the way you feel.

6. Compose them into a personalized version in a word processor.

7. Either paste the appropriate wording back into one of the customized letter forms provided, or get the fax numbers of your representatives and fax a full letter to them for maximum impact.

8. Do it now.Go here to find your house representative.
https://forms.house.gov/wyr/welcome.shtml
write them a letter.
Go here to find your Senator contact numbers:
http://www.senate.gov/(there is a senator finder at the top of the page.)

Go to this website to find a link for an email or mailing address contact for House Judiciary Committee members.
http://judiciary.house.gov/fullcommittee.aspx
Find one that is in or near your State. Write them.

Go to this address for members of the Intellectual Property subcommittee.
http://judiciary.house.gov/committeestructure.aspx?committee=3
Find one that is in or near your State. Write them.
- - -
If you read The Flying Trilobite because you love science-inspired artwork, head over to the Science-Art Galleries, and consider a donation after looking at the wonders of the planet recorded by these most talented and informative hominids. (Hat-tip to all the hard-working scientific illustrators trying to stop this legislation. )
- -
All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.

The Boneyard XXI - Art Class

Welcome to the 21st edition of The Boneyard, here today at The Flying Trilobite! Today we will be looking at scientific illustration, cartoons, and paleo-related concept art.

The Field Trip

Has everyone got their willow-charcoal for sketches? Craig, I assume your laptop has batteries? Today we will begin our paleo-art lesson by venturing into the field. This is, after all, where we receive our inspiration. Make sure to wear sunscreen.

You cannot paint before you understand how to draw, and you cannot run before you can walk. Greg Laden tells us about a recently discovered Arabian dinosaur trackway. Make sure to follow the contours of the footprints with your eyes, dragging your charcoal lightly across the paper.

Trackways can teach more than contours. For those of you studying scientific illustration, remember not to let your eyes trick you into seeing what is not there. Brian at Laelaps has a cautionary tale about seeing evidence for giants instead of fossil sloth tracks. Giantologists reading this, please pursue the link immediately. To see a rendition of a species possibly related to the track-maker, be sure to have a look at master paleo-artist Carl Buell's Paramylodon.

Does everyone remember their elementary school readings from CRAM Science? Good.

Let the science teach you to be creative. Ah, excellent work, Microecos. The recent paper on azhdarchid pterosaurs by Witten & Naish has sparked a comparison from Microecos from pterosaur to current technology.

Sometimes it can be important to understand the scale of creatures from the prehistoric past. This life-sized statue of a stegosaurus - Jacqueline! Get down from there!

Now before we begin presentations, use your #2 HB pencils, and have your say at DinoBase's own David Hone's blog, and fill out this survey about "the state of palaeontology today". Introduction here, issues here, introduction to the survey here, and answers appearing here.

The Presentation
(In many cases, you may click on the artwork on the posts below to see the paleoart in a larger size.)

Let's begin the presentations at the end. Marek Eby of eTrilobite has captured the melancholy of the K-T event. Further back in time, the irascible Walcott is worried in Walcott's Quarry: The End is Nigh! And support paleo-art dinosaur news by visiting the eTrilobite store, and pick-up some happenin' threads.

At Bond's Blog, we have a lucid step-by-step presentation by Peter Bond on rendering a megalosaur, the final version seen at right. Thanks to Peter for allowing me to use the image! The image was created, along with a sauropod and medium theropod for Traumador the Tyrannosaur's post on dinosaurs of New Zealand.

The terror of the ancient seas swoops through Prehistoric Insanity. Craig Dylke struts his digital stuff in the latest peek of his Art of the Unspecified Time Interval. A realistic digital anomalocaris is difficult to pull off, but Craig took it many steps further and has placed it in its natural habitat, with some lovely filters to give it that undersea sense of depth. And be sure to check out Craig's spectacular trilobites, rendered with the scrapes and scratches their little carapaces must have had in life. See them here, here, and here.

Triloblog features the works of Laura Passow using Viking artistic techniques to create amazing specimens of the prolific vanguard of evolution by natural selection. The Bug Factory contains many past posts of the artist's impressive sculptures.

What is it about stegosaurs and car jokes? Charley Parker's Dinosaur Cartoons are not to be missed, complete with lessons!

Jacqueline Rae's Indohyus , published in Nature, appears furtive at the edge of the shore. Be sure to check out the rest of this versatile scientific illustrator's gallery.

N. Tamura's latest, a ferocious Paraphysornis is painted in predatory detail.

Zach of When Pigs Fly Returns continues to illustrate Mesozoic marine predators with an economy of line, making clear the bone structure of askeptosaurus and others from the fossil matrix.

Sometimes, I find paleoart so beautiful, I can't pick a favourite. Scientific Illustrator Emily Damstra paints vivid illustrations of the wonders of the natural world. It was tough to pick one -perhaps this smoothly-blended tornoceras ammonoid?-, so go visit her whole invertebrate gallery.

The Boneyard's groundskeeper Brian featured this interview with scientific illustrator Michael Skrepnick. In addition to providing the banner at Laelaps, Michael's artwork has recently been flung far and wide for his evocative image of the newly discovered "frogamander", gerobatrachus, a transitional fossil between modern frogs and salamanders. However, Lim at Fresh Brainz reckons we've seen another creature related to this ancestral-amphibian.

The Critique
I have a final piece to submit for your criticisms, witticisms and tomatoes.

The past while here at The Flying Trilobite, I've been posting a work-in-progress of a puzzle. The painting is in oil on shale. It is inspired by biologist John Burden Sanderson Haldane's infamous quote, when pressed by a creationist about what Haldane thought could falsify the fossil record. Haldane's reply; "Fossil rabbits in the precambrian."

The piece is finished. Below are the two possible configurations for the 9-piece shale puzzle I have entitled, Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle. Apologies for the weird angle: with the oils still wet it was difficult to photo without picking up a lot of glare.

Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle: False Rabbit Configuration

Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle: True Trilobite Configuration

Comments? Have I made it too ambiguous as to which one is true and which false?
- -
A thank-you to the suggestions and posts and brilliant work of the scientists who discover all the wondrous things of the past, and the artists who imbue them with wonder. If you're a palaeontologist working on the next big or feathered thing, perhaps you will consider one of the stellar artists above to illustrate a future paper.

I hope you've enjoyed this artsy edition of The Boneyard.

-Glendon Mellow
- -
All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.

Fake bomb at R.O.M. as art object

An art student from the Ontario College of Art & Design planted a fake bomb sculpture on November 28th outside the Royal Ontario Museum has certainly inflamed passionate opinions on all sides. He sure did inflame mine too. This trilobite almost shed a carapace over this art project.

There is coverage at the National Post
here and here. Some from Toronto Star here. Opinions rage here. A couple of quotes from a student in support of the project can be seen at the end of the Toronto Star article here.

The basics seem to be this: a student, last name Jonsson, made a film for class showing a woman walking into the ROM gift shop, and an apparent bomb going off. This video was subsequently uploaded onto YouTube. Later, he planted a fake bomb outside the museum with a note on it saying "this is not a bomb". He called into someone at the museum and said, "Listen, there is not a bomb outside the museum". The fake bomb was apparently wooden dowels painted to look like metal pipes, bound together with batteries, wire and a motherboard.

An AIDS research fundraiser was disrupted by the hoax, possibly costing them an estimated $100 000 in donations, and traffic was of course tied up while police sent a robot to have a closer look at the not-a-bomb. Jonsson later said he had no idea a fundraiser was going on.

There are some quotes in the media about support from some of the students toward Jonsson's project. Some have said that "art is what makes you think". Or that he had recontextualised (non-explosive) objects in the manner of Duchamps' urinal.

Okay, my thoughts on this. I went to a heavily conceptual university art program too, and I am a passionate lover of the sciences, and of the ROM in particular. So sure, what I say is critical and coming from my particular background.

You want to call it art? Fine. It's art. There. The whole production is art. Kind of been-there done-that derivative shock art, I'd say, but go ahead and say it's art. The definition of art is as ephemeral as the definition of religion, or what constitutes "good" music. To a large extent, in the post-modern realm, art is in the eye of the creator and sometimes the beholder, though the beholder is often increasingly irrelevant in the naval-gazing world of post-modernism.

But I believe this young immature shock-auteur is still responsible for his actions. Two things I learned in university are 1) the value of research, and; 2) to tailor your artistic creations to your audience, and accept their reactions.

The first point is I don't (bloody well frickin') care if he knew there was a fundraiser or not. I read how he says it in the news as though he is trying to absolve himself of being responsible for an event he was unaware of. Well, he should have done his research before picking that day, at that time, and that end of the museum to do his project. He cannot be absolved when he didn't do the research. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and neither was ignorance of what was happening inside the museum.

There is an absurdity to Jonsson's claim that he was unaware of what event was going on. He has made statements about how he was surprised by the police's overreaction to the art event/hoax. But they did not know what was going on with the bomb-shaped object! It is the same as his statement. He cannot claim to be unaware and by implication not responsible of the fundraiser and then disingenuously claim that the police overreacted when they were not aware! Poorly thought-out hypocrisy.

That is the second point. Who was his audience? His classmates and professors? It ended up being the police and emergency services, participants of the CANFAR fundraiser and the rest of the downtown core. He needs to accept the audience's reaction.

I hope in the end he does some growing up, perhaps sentenced to some community service helping roadside bomb survivors from the armed forces. And I hope the ghost of Rene Magritte kicks him in the backside for recontextualizing (ripping off) the "This is not a bomb" statement from Magritte's "C'est ne pas un pipe" Treachery of Images series.

You want to call it art? Fine. You put it out there, now face the rabble and be responsible.

The Golden Compass hullabaloo

The Golden Compass movie coming out on December 7th sure is causing a lot of hullabaloo here in Ontario. (Spoiler alerts!)

I am a fan of this series, called His Dark Materials, written by English author Philip Pullman. Here are some quick points about all this.

The Books
The Golden Compass is the first of the three books. The title was originally Northern Lights when it was first published in England, in 1995. They've won several awards. There is more at Wikipedia, and at Pullman's site. The sequels are The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

The story starts out in a parallel universe, at Oxford. There are many differences with that reality and our own, the most striking that people's souls exist outside their bodies, and are called daemons. (You can view my damon here; there's a little quiz at the movie site to figure out your own. ) The daemons can change animal shapes until a person reaches puberty, and then they stay in one form for the rest of the person's life. They tend to be opposite the gender of their person, (except a few peoples', presumably gay? It is not explained.) The daemons can talk, and it is considered a breach of the highest order of personal space to touch another person's daemon.

The golden compass in question is an alethiometer that the heroine of the story carries. An alethiometer is incredibly difficult to read, and tells a person the truth.

The heroine of the story is a precocious and mouthy girl named Lyra, with her daemon Pantalaimon, who travels to the cold North to rescue her friend who has been kidnapped by a group called The Gobblers. The Gobblers at first sound very much like an old wives tale to keep children near home, and turn out to be very real and despicable.

The controversy in Ontario
Some Catholic school boards are reviewing whether or not to remove the books from the shelves, following complaints, seen in this article in the National Post. All of this is apparently a normal process. For a book that won the Carnegie Medal. For a book that has presumably been sitting in the library for about 10 years. While in review, students have to ask for the book at the desk. And you know how much kids love to ask for stuff from authority figures.

PZ Myers on his Pharyngula blog has brought up the major complaints with the Ontario schools for pulling the books. Namely, why stop there? PZ has his mad on, and takes the issue of censorship on books to task.

My thoughts on the issue
On the face of it, why should a religious school be expected to stock books espousing a different way of living? Easy. They already have the books. I don't know when they got them, but The Golden Compass was published in North America in 1996. It has won awards for children's literature, and the dubious distinction of being singled out by the archbishop of Canterbury as being adequate for teaching about opposing views to Catholicism in religious classes. Why pull them from the stacks now? Because there is a movie and a video game?

Atheism, fantasy and skepticism
It's a strange thing about these books. Are they really atheist in nature? By the end of the series, we do meet the powerful being known as the Authority who tyrannizes the afterlife and started many biblical legends. Is it the all-powerful God? Hard to say. The Authority 'has no clothes' by the end, and very little power above some of the other characters who do his bidding (Metatron) or challenge him (Lord Asriel). Where all these dimensions come from is not discussed in detail.


These books are fantasy. There are plenty of sci-fi elements, like dark matter and multiple dimensions, but also things like witches flying on tree branches and astrology-like predictions from the golden compass itself. It is not as though the books are about Lyra showing the witches that their incantations do nothing without medicinal ingredients, or that she proves that the daemons are just imaginary friends and everyone has gotten carried away. Skepticism and debunking are not present. Attacking authoritative tyranny over life and death are certainly Lord Asriel's goals, but the point of view is Lyra's.

His Dark Materials have magic and adventure, and an unlikely hero triumphing while trying to save what matters most: her friends. Kids should read them if they like, and make up their own minds about talking polar bears, the nature of their conscience, and where the universe came from.

Edit: The National Post, which carried a below-the-fold front page story about all this in the weekend edition, also carried a massive flyer about the upcoming Golden Compass movie. It unfolds into a poster, Chapters/Indigo/Coles will give you movie snack coupons if you spend money in their stores...it's huge. It's great. It flopped out and dominated the other flyers. Nice giant pic of Iorek the polar bear-blacksmith. The Post's story was largely uncritical of the issue, and tried not to come down on either side.