Saturday, February 11, 2017

THE TELEPHONE NUMBER - Happy Valentine's Day!



MIKE frantically fingers the contents of his wallet.

Where is that business card?

He holds his wallet upside down, watching the waterfall of its contents cascade to his unmade bed.

It was blue.

For the next half hour he inspects each item, discarding the unnecessary. Still, no blue business card. Despondent, he falls onto his bed; the loss of the card summing up his chaotic life.

Think, Mike. Think.

He closes his eyes and concentrates. The first three numbers lept before him as he'd studied her telephone number countless times. But the last a child repeats the alphabet to reach an elusive letter, so he tried with numbers.

One, two, three... Three!

Scrambling for a notepad, he proceeds until seven digits stared back at him; the telephone number he could swear he'd had all along. His digital clock blares eleven o'clock.

It's pretty late.
(pumping himself)
It's now or never!

As he dials, he visualizes the tall, slender blonde in her slinky, red dress, flirting over a martini.

But I'm not in her league.

While the phone rings, he reminds himself that he wasn't half bad looking, and women even commented on how his glasses made him look just as adorable as Clark Kent.

Just as clumsy, too.

A woman answers the phone.


Hello? Danielle?


Um. This is Mike. You may not remember...

I didn't think you'd ever call, Mike.

(spirits soaring)
Would you like to go out for dinner?
You would? I mean, Saturday? Seven thirty?
Sure, I know where it is. Terrific! See you
then. Good night, Danielle.

He dances victoriously around the bedroom, then collapses onto his bed, soon falling asleep.


Mike rushes haphazardly, changing his Hanes underwear at least a dozen times. He would be late if he didn't step up his already frenetic pace.


Mike follows the maitre d' who escorts him to a cozy table in the dimly lit corner at which sits a lovely, bespectacled young woman.

(adjusting her glasses)

(mimics her)

While the excitement and anticipation hisses from his ego, Danielle grins.

Seems there's been a little mistake.

Her embracing smile emphasizes her gentleness and sweet face.

It doesn't mean we can't make the best of it.
What do you think?

(grins sheepishly)

After ordering, then pouring the wine, he slowly shares what had happened. Danielle's LAUGHTER, both comforting and lilting, eases his self-consciousness. The hours fly by. When they realize they're the last couple in the restaurant, they exchange warm glances.

I'd love to see you again.

I would too, Mike, but under one condition.

What's that?

(holding his hands)
You give me your telephone number.



As they walk into the crisp spring night, DANIELLE's tresses bounce in sync with Mike's newfound spring in his step.

(to himself, glancing at the stars)
Am I glad I lost that business card!


**written by petra michelle (2/16/08)**

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

5 Things That Can't Be Copyrighted

Modern copyright law can feel extremely broad at times. Every creative work made, whether it is a doodle on a napkin, a photograph or a poem, once it is fixed into a tangible medium of expression, the creator holds the copyright to it. No notice nor any further action is required (though registration with the U.S. Copyright Office has many added benefits).
Still, there are many things that can not be copyrighted. They either don’t fall under the jurisdiction of copyright or don’t qualify for its protection. There are also exemptions and that place some content immediately into the public domain.
So if you’ve ever wondered about the things you can’t copyright, here is a short list of five of the more important ones.

1. Titles and Names

Copyright protection does not extend to titles, names, slogans or short phrases, the Copyright Office has made that much very clear. You can not copyright your name, the title of your post or any short phrase that you use to identify a work.
The reason is that copyright is designed to protect works of creative authorship, it is not designed to protect how that work is identified in the marketplace, the same goes for people and places. Furthermore, such short phrases rarely meet the requisite level of creativity to be considered for copyright protection.
Caveat: Titles may not be copyrighted, but if they are used to identify a business, good or service in the marketplace, they can be given trademark protection. If you use a title in a way that might cause confusion in the marketplace, there could be trademark issues. However, if you want to make a post entitled “5 Things That Can’t Be Copyrighted”, you are free to do so.

2. Ideas

Ideas can not be copyrighted because they are not fixed into a tangible medium of expression. For a work to be copyrighted, it has to be written down, saved to a hard drive or somehow otherwise fixed.
For example, if you give a speech but fail to write it down first and it isn’t recorded, there is no copyright protection. Likewise, if you tell an idea to a friend, you don’t receive copyright protection if they run with it and use it for themselves, that is, unless you write it down.
However, even ideas that are fixed do not receive protection in and of themselves. Rather, it is the expression of the idea that is protected. My “5 Things That Can’t Be Copyrighted” post is fixed, but you can certainly write your own post with the same title and idea. However, you can not use my exact words, unless, of course, you follow my CC license.
Caveat: When it comes to derivative works, there can be a lot of gray area between an uncopyrightable idea and an infringing derivative. You can, for example, write your own book about a boy wizard and a wizard school, but you can’t use any of the characters from Harry Potter. Where the line is drawn is often murky and usually decided on a case-by-case basis. Also, in many cases ideas can be patented, such as inventions, but that enters into another area of intellectual property.

3. Works By the U.S. Federal Government

Works by the U.S. Government are placed directly into the public domain as the Federal government is barred from holding copyright in its work. This is why NASA’s images, which are very popular on the Web, can be freely copied and shared and also why laws and statutes can be posted anywhere online.
There are many reasons for this, the first being that taxpayer money is spent on creating the works so it is fair they should be given back to the populace. Also, it’s a freedom of speech issue as the government can not use copyright to stifle criticism.
Caveat: This is not true in all countries. Australia, Canada and the UK all have crown copyright, that enables the government to hold copyright protection to certain works. Also, the U.S. government can hold copyrights in works if they transferred to it, for example by contractors. Also, the government has other laws, such as state secrecy laws, to prevent the distribution of information.

4. Works Without Authorship/Facts

Though the photos that come with your calendar are probably copyright-protected, the calendar itself is not. Likewise, you can’t copyright the lines on a notebook-ruled paper or, sadly for the phone companies, even telephone directories are not protected.
The reason is that a work has to have a requisite level of creativity in order to qualify for copyright protection and if a work is just a repetition of facts without any creativity, it isn’t protected. This is true even if a great deal of effort went into making the product, as with a phone book.
Likewise, facts and information can’t be copyrighted though the expression of those facts often can be.
Caveat: The level of requisite creativity is actually fairly low. A phone book may not be copyright protected, but a top ten list of the funniest names in the phone book might be. Also, other countries, including the UK and Australia, follow a “sweat of the brow” doctrine that says a collection of facts can be copyrighted if the collector underwent a great deal of effort to compile them (and didn’t merely copy from another source).

5. Fashion

This may surprise many, but fashion designers, currently, enjoy no copyright protection in their work. Their designs are not covered under the current code even though architectural and even vessel hulls are protected.
The reason is because fahion pieces are considered useful articles and, as such, only enjoy copyright protection for certain elements and “only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.”
In short, a pattern on a shirt might be copyrightable, but the shirt itself is not. Likewise, an intricate belt buckle design might qualify for protection but not the belt itself.
However, the overall cut, colors and style do not enjoy any protection at all.
Caveat: Fashion designers can, if they wish to go through the time and expense, paten their designs. Also, as mentioned above, elements of a useful article may qualify for copyright protection separate from the work itself. Finally, this is not universally true and legislation is almost constantly being circulated to weigh the possibility of expanding copyright protection to cover fashion. Finally, do note that trademark still protects the names of the companies that make and distribute the clothing.

Bottom Line

Copyright is everywhere. Every video, every picture, every written piece, every audio file, every sculpture, every building design created this year will be copyright protected, at least initially and at least to some degree.
However, there are places that copyright’s protection does not reach and those places are worth noting just as strongly as what it does protect.
Regardless, the next time someone says that everything is copyrighted these days, here are five examples of things that aren’t and, in most cases, likely never will be.
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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sharing Popcorn with God -- Dedicated to Paul Newman

   (January 26, 1925 – September 26, 2008)



GOD and a male ANGEL are relaxing and sharing a bowl of popcorn; enjoying film images on a row of small clouds before them.

This is my favorite part.

INSERT IMAGE: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are on their horses jumping off the cliff into a river.

My favorite too.
(reads the cloud guide)
Looks like there's a marathon today.

What's next?

The Sting.

Engrossed, CRUNCHING popcorn and gun SHOTS break the silence.

They had a full-proof code which helped them get away with the heist.


A sublime sunset engulfs them; they, too absorbed to notice it and the time.

You've seen it all, haven't you?

Not Hombre.

The Angel smiles.

The hypocricies and prejudices!

A fair protrait.

As they begin to reveal themselves, the Angel savors the stars' brilliance, then returns to the guide.

There's a few more in the marathon?
Do you have the time?

I sure could use the day off.
Elizabeth Taylor.

A Cat on the Hot Tin Roof.
(turns to God)
Are you sure you should be watching these?

Are you suggesting I watch PG-13?

No, of course not.
(returns to images)
The Verdict!

I haven't seen it.

It's about a heavy drinking, down-on-his luck lawyer who makes a come back.

Good for him.
(glancing at the next cloud)

The man with the barbed wire soul.

I see we're out of popcorn. I'll make dinner.

The Angel watches the serene figure admiringly as He carefully prepares their meal. Upon His return,

God, thanks for having given me a such a blessed life.

I'd say it was the other way around, Paul.
What's next?

Absence of Malice.


Originally published 10/03/08

**written by petra michelle**


Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Pocket Full Of Miracles

from my e-book "Whose Role Is It Anyway?"


On a brisk December day, hurrying holiday SHOPPERS rush in and out of Macy's. Near its entrance stands a MAN CALLING OUT to anyone who will listen.

A pocket full of miracles! Get your miracle here!

PASSERSBY look upon him queerly as he continues to chant.

A pocket full of miracles! Get your miracle here!

Adjusting his iPod, a TEENAGER stops in curiosity.

How much?

It's free.

Nothing's free.

Then walks away. Untethered,

A pocket full of miracles! Get your miracle!

A young COUPLE stops and exchanges glances.

What kind of miracles?

You name it.

My boyfriend and I want to get married but
we can't afford a ring.

As her boyfriend tugs at her arm, the man searches for and pulls from his pocket a brilliant engagement ring. He hands it to the woman who excitedly shows it to her boyfriend.

How much does it cost?


It's a fake. Let's go.

As they walk away, the woman gleans the ring then smiles at the man appreciatively.

A hunched OLD MAN steps out of the crowds and faces the miracle man.

I bet you don't have anything in your pocket for me.

Try me.

I remember when I was twenty. I was as strong
as Hercules. Played lots of sports.

The miracle man listens patiently.

My wife was my biggest fan. We were high school

Not saying a word, the man begins walking; the old man in step beside him.

We were married over fifty years.
She died last year.

I'm very sorry.

As they continue to walk together,

I live around the corner. Would you join me
for dinner?

I'd be honored.

written by "petra michelle"

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Nobel Prize Winner Bob Dylan Opens New Art Exhibit in London Associated Press

Bettmann/Getty Images
Bob Dylan
The timing couldn't be better for Saturday's opening of "The Beaten Path," a major exhibit of Bob Dylan's artworks at the Halcyon Gallery on London's pricey New Bond Street.
Worldwide interest in the veteran American troubadour has soared after his surprising choice as this year's winner of the Nobel Prize in literature and the show is one of the most extensive displays ever mounted of his drawings, watercolors, acrylics and ironworks.

The 75-year-old singer has said he will accept the Nobel in person in Stockholm if he can fit it into his demanding tour schedule -- and the gallery hopes he will stop off in London to visit the show.
"He obviously comes whenever he decides," said gallery president Paul Green, who knows it would be fruitless to press the elusive Dylan for a certain date. "We don't know whether he will come. We hope he will. He's been deeply involved in every aspect of this exhibition."
The extensive exhibit reflects growing appreciation for Dylan's art, which has been featured in gallery and museum shows in a number of countries in recent years.
The paintings at the London gallery reflect Dylan's nearly constant travels throughout the United States on the "never ending tour" that has consumed the last two decades of his life. The choice of subject matter reflects a deep affinity for the American scene, an abiding affection for its curious roadside attractions and respect for its industrial might.
Railways, skyscrapers, and suspension bridges vie with deserted side streets and overgrown motels for his attention. This is an America of fairgrounds and circuses, forgotten crossroads and neglected cityscapes. The streets are filled with the bulky behemoths that were late 1950s automobiles — including a depiction of the Ford Edsel, a famous automotive failure.

Dylan writes in a preface that he chose to ignore corporate America: "The common theme of these works having something to do with the American landscape — how you see it while crisscrossing the land and seeing it for what it's worth. Staying out of the mainstream and traveling the back roads, free born style."
Dylan paints the Wigwam Motel in Arizona -- guests can sleep in purported native-American style lodging -- the Brooklyn Ice Cream factory at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City and the "Harem Slave" carnival sideshow in Alabama. There is a painting of the Paradise Motel looking anything but, its grounds in Florida overgrown and its buildings neglected.
It's a panoramic view of America similar to the one described in his kaleidoscopic 1975 song "Tangled Up in Blue." The sense is of Dylan as a solitary figure with a sketchbook, looking at the country from odd angles.
"Dylan was born in small town America," said Green. "He's done hundreds of tour dates for many, many years, and often played in the small towns. He takes the hot dog stand, or the motel, whether it's open or closed. It's his view of America. It harks back to the '50s and '60s -- Jack Kerouac, the road -- and how important the road is for all Americans. It shows really his love for America and all things American."

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What is to come of us? Am earnestly trying to understand the nature of war which is a constant in our everyday lives. Why?

...war continues as a common extension of political disputes in modern times and, as human beings never radically change in disposition, will continue to be employed in the future as it has been in the past; fueled and justified by the ages-old tribe mentality.


published on 02 September 2009
Destruction of Susa (Zereshk)
The word 'war' comes to English by the old High German language word 'Werran’ (to confuse or to cause confusion) through the Old English 'Werre' (meaning the same), and is a state of open and usually declared armed conflict between political entities such as sovereign states or between rival political or social factions within the same state. The Prussian military analyst Carl Von Clausewitz, in his book On War, calls it, “continuation of politics carried on by other means.” War is waged by political entities, nations or, earlier, city states in order to resolve political or territorial disputes and are carried out on the battlefield by armies comprised of soldiers of the contending nations or by mercenaries paid by a government to wage battle.

War & the Rise of Nations

Throughout history, individuals, states, or political factions have gained sovereignty over regions through the use of war. The history of one of the earliest civilizations in the world, that of Mesopotamia, is a chronicle of nearly constant strife. Even after Sargon the Great of Akkad (2334-2279 BCE) unified the region under the Akkadian Empire, war was still waged in putting down rebellions or fending off invaders. The Early Dynastic Period of Egypt (3150-2686 BCE) is thought to have risen from war when the Pharaoh Manes (or Menes) of the south conquered the region of northern Egypt (though this claim is disputed). In China, the Zhou Dynasty gained ascendancy through battle in 1046 BCE and the conflict of the Warring States Period ((476-221 BCE) was resolved when the State of Qin defeated the other contending states in battle and unified China under the rule of emperor Shi Huangti. This same pattern holds for other nations throughout time whether one cites the success of Scipio Africanus (236-183 BCE) in the defeat of Carthage (and so the ascendancy of Rome) or that of Philip II of Macedon (382-336 BCE) in uniting the city-states of Greece. Contending armies of opposing nations have historically settled political disputes on the battlefield even though, in time, these armies changed in formation and size.

Boeotian Cavalryman Figurine

Armies & Their Development

Armies contained two types of infantry: Shock Troops, whose purpose was to close with the opposing forces and try to break their lines, and Peltasts who were more mobile and moved in a looser formation in order to fire long-range weapons at the enemy. According to the historian Simon Anglim,, "Infantry is the backbone of any army, being the one unit that can attack or defend equally effectively. The majority of battles have turned on the infantry's ability to close with the enemy and kill him" (7) and this holds true, in most cases, even after the introduction of cavalry units and the war chariot. The earliest armies were relatively small corps of shock troops until the introduction of peltast units. At the Battle of Megiddo in 1479 BCE the Egyptian army numbered 20,000; by the time Shalmaneser III ruled over the Assyrian Empire in 845 BCE armies had grown in mass and size. Shalmaneser's forces in his campaigns numbered over 120,000. The Assyrians required large armies owing to their policy of territorial expansion and ruthless suppression of revolt against central rule and, in this, they epitomize the underlying cause of war: the tribe mentality.

The Tribe Mentality & War

War grows naturally out of the tribe mentality. Anglim,, notes: "A tribe is a society tracing its origin back to a single ancestor, who may be a real person, a mythical hero, or even a god: they usually view outsiders as dangerous and conflict against them as normal. The possession of permanent territories to defend or conquer brought the need for large-scale battle in which the losing army would be destroyed, the better to secure the disputed territory. The coming of `civilization' therefore brought the need for organized bodies of shock troops" (8). The tribe mentality always results in a dichotomy of an `us' vs. a `them' and engenders a latent fear of the `other' whose culture is at odds with, or at least different from, one's own. This fear, coupled with a desire to expand, or protect, necessary resources, often results in war.
The first war in recorded history took place in Mesopotamia in 2700 BCE between Sumer and Elam. The Sumerians, under command of the King of Kish, Enembaragesi, defeated the Elamites in this war and, it is recorded, “carried away as spoils the weapons of Elam.” At approximately the same time as this campaign, King Gilgamesh of Uruk marched on his neighbors in order to procure cedar for construction of a temple. While it has been argued that Gilgamesh is a mythological character, the archaeological evidence of a historical King Enembaragesi, who is mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh, lends weight to the claim that the latter was also a real historical figure. The region of Sumer traditionally looked upon Elam as `the other' to the point where, in the Ur III Period of Sumer's history (2047-1750 BCE) King Shulgi of Ur constructed a great wall to keep the Elamites and Amorites at bay.

Ramesses II at The Battle of Kadesh

Early Warfare & Military Tactics 

Warfare certainly did not begin in 2700 BCE, however. The earliest pictographs of armies at war come from the kingdom of Kish, dated to about 3500 BCE. Jericho, which, along with Uruk, has a claim to the title of the world’s oldest city, has provided archaeologists with solid evidence that a fortified city stood on the site before 7000 BCE. The walls of the fortress were 10 feet (3 metres) thick and 13 feet (3.9 metres) high surrounded by a moat 30 feet (9.1 metres) wide and 10 feet (3 metres) deep. The simple bow was in use in Mesopotamia as early as 10,000 BCE and cemeteries from northern Mesopotamia to Egypt attest to early warfare on a fairly significant scale. Evidence from a conflict which took place at Jebel Sahaba, Egypt, at the so-called Site 117,  59 skeletons were uncovered, all of whom show clear evidence of violent death at about the same time. War in ancient Mesopotamia was waged by infantry shock troops until the introduction of the composite bow from Egypt.

By 1720 BCE, Egypt had been conquered by the Hyksos, a Semitic people of unknown origin, who introduced superior technological advances into Egypt. Along with the war chariot, bronze weapons, and new tactics, the Hyksos brought the advance of the composite bow. Prior to the coming of the Hyksos, the Egyptian army had used "simple bows of wood or cane with a range of around 33 feet (100 metres) while the composite bow was "capable of delivering a mighty blow out to 656 feet (200 metres)" (Anglim, 10). The development of the composite bow would change the way in which war was waged in that shock troops who were massed closely together made easy targets for archers while looser formations invited decimation by opposing shock troops. This led to changes in battle formations generally and the development of military tactics.

Roman Artillery Attack
Military Formations & Technology

The earliest formation was the phalanx which was first employed in Sumer c. 3000 BCE and would become the standard for infantry formations for thousands of years. It was made famous at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE when the Greeks employed it effectively to rout the Persians, was perfected by Alexander the Great c. 332 BCE on his campaigns, and was made more formidable by the armies of Rome. The phalanx was employed, in one form or another, by most of the fighting forces in the ancient world. The Greeks employed cavalry to protect the flanks and the Thebans used a combination of cavalry, infantry, and peltasts. The introduction of the war chariot and, later, the use of elephants in battle, supplemented the role of the infantry but never diminished their importance.

War has been an important factor in creating states and empires throughout history and, equally so, in destroying them. Major advances in
science, technology, and engineering have been brought about through necessity during times of war. It is written that the army of King Croesus of Lydia (ruled 560-547 BCE) was once stopped in their advance by the Halys River which seemed impossible to cross. The philosopher Thales of Miletus, a member of Croesus’ army, had a crew of engineers dig a channel upstream, giving it a crescent shape, “so that it should flow round the back of where the army was encamped, being diverted in this way from its old course and passing the camp, should flow into its old course once more" (Kaufmann, 9). Once the river was made shallow in both channels it was, of course, easy to cross. Stories such as this provide examples of the importance of engineers in the practice of war. The increaseing development of military tactics or, in this case, geographical obstacles, necessitated a corps of engineers as a regular part of any army. The armies of Alexander the Great and of Rome are well known for their use of engineers in warfare most notably by Alexander at the Siege of Tyre (332 BCE) and by Julius Caesar at the Siege of Alesia (52 BCE). Both of these generals took full advantage of every resource at their disposal to crush their enemy and advance their cause and engineers, along with technological advances such as the siege tower, became a particularly important means to achieving those ends.


With advancements in technology, war has increasingly wreaked chaos and destruction upon the lives and cities of combatants and non-combatants and, true to the origins of the name, has sown confusion throughout time. The first armed conflict in history recorded by eyewitnesses was the Battle of Megiddo in 1479 BCE between Thutmose III of Egypt and an alliance of former Egyptian territories under the leadership of the King of Kadesh. The Hebrew name for Megiddo is `Armageddon' well known from the biblical Book of Revelation as the site of the final battle between good and evil and has come to be used as a general term for a dramatic situation involving the end of the world. If one regards the predictions of Revelation as trustworthy then, as the historian Davis notes, "The foundation for one of the great ironies of history is thus foretold: the beginning and the end of military history occur at the same site" (5). However that may be, war continues as a common extension of political disputes in modern times and, as human beings never radically change in disposition, will continue be employed in the future as it has been in the past; fueled and justified by the ages-old tribe mentality.


About the Author

Joshua J. Mark
A freelance writer and part-time Professor of Philosophy at Marist College, New York, Joshua J. Mark has lived in Greece and Germany and traveled through Egypt. He teaches ancient history, writing, literature, and philosophy.
p.s. I'm trying to understand the fate of the human race. If we continue on the path we're on, it definitely looks bleak if we don't embrace our higher spirituality and intellect to overcome our hatred which is become the norm under our current political climate.