02 November 2006

The Apocalypse Is Here

Sure signs that the apocalypse isn't just coming—it's here:

  • The Artist Formerly Known as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" is now Vegas nightclub act. Unfortunately, ad makeup is going to be a bitch, because that symbol is not in any of the standard font character sets.
  • Madonna's production company claims that another production company stole an idea. The real news is that Madonna's production company thinks it had an idea. Or, anyway, one not involving dubious publicity-mongering for unoriginal behavior.
  • William Styron died. This isn't apocalpytic in itself; neither is the overly respectful news coverage that neglects the Grand Canyonesque rifts in critical and academic evaluations of Styron's writing (such as the inversion between popularity of individual works and thematic integration in those works). No, the apocalyptic material is buried late in the stories: A "celebrity figure" whose mental health problems were not entirely blamed on either substance abuse or childhood trauma.
  • The world of bookselling is far from exempt from signs of the end of times. We've got a monopolistic (ok, technically oligopolistic) bookseller/distributor joining the parade of companies in the backdated-options scandal. We've got the CEO of Penguin denying that the Penguin segment of Pearson—sales growth of 2% in the last reported quarter—is a drag on Pearson's earnings growth, since Pearson Education had sales growth of 6% in the same quarter (sorry, I don't have a working link to a non-paywall-shielded article). We've got <SARCASM> some truly late-breaking news </SARCASM> on book reviews: Publishers try to tell the reviewers what to say in their reviews, hoping only to boost sales. That is, when the sales even take place in bookstores—and not the local butcher shop. Assuming, of course, that there is a butcher shop anywhere near you (except, perhaps, for one devoted to dealing with the fruits of hunting)... or that anyone who reads this blawg can afford to shop there.

And, perhaps most horrible of all: It's trivially easy to hack electronic voting machines. (Like it's not trivially easty to hack any voting system, especially this close to Chicago.) Of course, the choice of programming language illuminated in a review of an HBO presentation on the subject goes a long way toward explaining why!