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Second mid-level flare from a new sunspot on November 5. Image by NASA/SDO.
In this issue
A snake breeder and a pastry chef in New England liked to spot the elusive, nearly extinct rattlesnakes of this region. When they separately found snakes dying for no good reason, they had to Rattle the Experts to convince them that something was figuratively afoot. They earned respect, but not quite the response they hoped. Madeline Bodin tells us more.
Jamie Frevele is the curator of a unique and very personal collection, which lacks an important piece. In Ghostbusters, Ink, she explains the important place in her heart that the two movies occupied, and her plan to commission a new piece of art.
Them Bones lay in the earth for millions of years, sometimes transmuting and other times leaving a precisely shaped void. When recovered and reconstructed, Theresa Everline finds there’s a very modern dispute over ownership — not of the fossils or lacunae, but whether the work put into making casts from incomplete parts can be protected by copyright.
I’m very excited in our penultimate issue to feature a long essay about the future, Dashing Utopian Yarns, by Eileen Gunn. Eileen interviewed a passel of authors and futurists about utopias, dystopias, and our present reality, including Ursula K. Le Guin and William Gibson. She’s a renowned science-fiction writer herself, a thinker in the field, and a generous supporter across her career for up-and-coming authors. You’ll never think about how we paint the future in words in the same way after reading her essay.
The end approaches
It’s hard not to get a little choked up over endings. I’ve begun to think of The Magazine as a 28-month project that went very well, instead of an open-ended one that didn’t make it farther. This is our penultimate issue — one more, #58, is coming December 18.
There remains the operational issue, for those of you with subscriptions that don’t finish out between December 18 and 31, as to what happens next. My intent is to refund on a prorated basis any outstanding monthly, yearly, or gift subscriptions paid through iTunes, directly on our Web site, or via our Kickstarter campaign in 2013.
If your subscription began July 1, for instance, we will have fulfilled 50 percent of it (completing our two-issue commitment for December in two weeks), and intend to refund half of your original payment.
Because we have four kinds of subscriptions (iTunes, Web, gift, and Kickstarter), I hope you will bear with me as we arrange the details.
Apple doesn’t offer a clear process for app developers on how to proceed, but we will start working after December 18 to disable active subscriptions, which will prevent renewals of monthly and yearly accounts. (You can disable a renewal before then by visiting iTunes, going to the subscription management section, and turning off automatic renewal, if it’s after December 18.)
It may be that I have to figure out how to get portions of the refund to you all directly, and that Apple won’t assist. If that’s the case, I’ll get that sorted out to everyone’s level of happiness, whatever the complexity. I’m hoping Apple has a procedure that will just result in a direct refund to your iTunes account balance, even if we have to also pay out of our pockets the 30 percent of your subscription fee Apple took.
For direct Web subscribers and gift recipients, we will cancel subscriptions and refund to the original payer any prorated balance as of January 1, 2015. Kickstarter backers mostly activated subscriptions that covered all of 2014. Those of you who extended subscriptions I’ll be in touch with. Since I don’t have a direct way to pay you back, I’ll offer a few options.
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Glenn Fleishman is the editor and publisher of The Magazine, and contributes reguarly to the Economist, Boing Boing, TidBITS, and Macworld. The father of two, Glenn won two episodes of Jeopardy! in 2012, and he won't let you forget it.