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Wednesday, July 14 12:00 AM ET

BBspot Mailbag

Now you too can enjoy my Inbox without the annoying spam. Every week I get some amazing e-mail. Some amazing because of the sheer cluelessness of the sender, some because of the time and energy that went into crafting them and some are just simply amazing.


Believers

This is the first Believer for this story...

From: John
Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2004 6:08 AM
To: briggsb@bbspot.com
Subject: Good Lord!

Alan Dehaan, in his article entitled, "Did Lord of the Rings Rip Off Babylon 5?" (July 17th), insults the intelligence of anyone with a modicum of knowledge regarding LOTR, and gives false knowledge to those that know no better.

Can he truly state with a straight face that LOTR was a rip off of B5? Anybody that can read a copyright date should clearly see that a case can clearly be made that the fact that LOTR was published in the mid 1950's, may have influenced J. Michael Straczynski's creation of the B5 world...

The author states in his article that "Babylon 5's usually outspoken creator, Joe Michael Straczynski, has remained oddly silent on this issue." Ha! Of course he has remained "oddly" silent... JMS knows he ripped off Tolkien... What does the author expect him to say? How ludicrous....

The publication of his article is bad journalism at the best and as the publisher, you should be embarrassed, I cringe when I read such crap...

I replied...

From: Brian Briggs
Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2004 9:04 AM
To: John
Subject: RE: Good Lord!

After researching the article and finding it a complete fabrication, we have fired the author. He won't work at BBspot again.

Then he was worried he cost somebody their job...

From: John
Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2004 3:49 PM
To: Brian Briggs
Subject: Re: Good Lord!

In rereading my email, I find that I was rather harsh and apologize for my tone... that was unnecessary...

I then replied, letting him in on the nature of BBspot, but he figured that out himself...

From: John
Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2004 3:53 PM
To: Brian Briggs
Subject: Re: Good Lord!

ha ha! Very funny!

After reading some other articles on your site, I now realize it's a parody site... Which makes your reply even funnier... Boy, do I feel stupid....

Don't worry it happens to a lot of people.


Kerry's Hair

Looks like John Kerry reads BBspot...

From: Jacob
Sent: Wednesday, July 07, 2004 6:51 PM
To: briggsb@bbspot.com
Subject: Kerry Hair Article

I remember reading a while ago your article on Kerry's "presidential" hair and how it would help win the election. I almost did a double-take when I saw this story on CNN quoting Kerry as saying, "We've got better vision, we've got better ideas, we've got real plans. We've got a better sense of what's happening to America -- and we've got better hair." Thought you'd like to see it.


I, Robot

This should be the last e-mail on the I, Robot trailer...

From: John
Sent: Wednesday, July 07, 2004 2:44 PM
To: briggsb@bbspot.com
Subject: I, Robot (yes, another one of those)

It's not a habit of mine to e-mail webmasters but the "I, Robot" review and the two relevant mails in BBSpot's mailbox hit a nerve.

I used to like Asimov's stories as a teenager. I wouldn't consider myself a fan but I sure enjoyed them, especially the robot stories. I've got to say I agree that the movie looks like it betrays Asimov, but not in the way that was pictured in the review, or in the e-mails you published in BBSpot's mailbox.

First, let's get over with the three laws of robotics:

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders conflict with the first law.

A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second law.

Asimov's robot stories are variations of the same idea: how to stretch the three laws of robotics without actually breaking them. What are the boundaries of these laws in extreme situations. What happens when, action or inaction, a human or another will be killed? The robot has to make a choice: who to save? Save the greatest number of people? save the "best" people? Can a robot kill a murderer to save more people? Also, injuries are not always physical. Won't a robot comply to an order if that may hurt someone's feelings?

According to the movie's director Alex Proya in a featurette this kind of stretch of the laws is what we should expect in the movie. Notice that in the trailer you don't see robots physically harming people, because they can't. They revolt and don't follow orders, which apparently contradicts the second law, but it's because by doing so they obey the first law (or at least they think they do with the information they have).

I predict that there won't be a "we were programmed by some bad guy" revelation, or convenient "nuke 'em all" button. Instead, the hero will simply outsmart the robots, understand why they act the way they do and manipulate them to act another way. Or the robots will "win" but without shedding blood (not too much anyway) and we'll understand it's for the better of mankind because robots may rule the world more efficiently than humans.

The real betrayal to Asimov is that the stories are treated in a much different way than in the books. The book depicts battles of wits between a robopsychologist and seemingly deviant robots. The movie is action-packed and seems to be more about muscle than wits (although I do believe the final victory must be a victory of wit). Proya says they've added to the book, by bringing "fresh takes on the Asimov world". I think that in this case, more turned out to be less.

Well that's my take on it. I'm gonna give the movie a chance anyway. I expect to be disappointed but nowadays in theaters, I usually am.


Nigerian Scammers

From: Gerald
Sent: Wednesday, July 07, 2004 7:51 AM
To: BRIGGSB@BBSPOT.COM
Subject: Arrested . . . .

Hi Brian.

I was interested to read the "Arrested Scammers" link on today's BBspot, and in particular the statement that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, the Nigerian agency dealing with 419 fraud, has ". . . seized property worth more than $US500 million from suspected fraudsters."

I assume it is only a matter of micro-seconds before the next development in this story - e-mails claiming to be from an employee of the EFCC, who needs your help in getting this $US500 million out of the country.


That's all for this week!

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