22 January 2008

Snide Asides

Miscellaneous annoyances and snide asides...

  • After having barely avoided three collisions in the space of 400m earlier this evening, I can conclude only one thing: The streets in this town were designed to justify State Farm's rate increases. The truly urban drivers from Chicago and its suburbs, and elsewhere, can't handle streets and intersections that are primarily controlled with two-way stops and sightlined as if everyone is driving a farm pickup. Conversely, the locals can't handle urban traffic, and in particular don't know how to deal with pedestrians. Throw in parking that's as expensive as Chicago's (and, thus, leads to the same kind of spot-poaching behavior) and pedestrians from a variety of other nations and you've got... Chambanana's "downtown."
  • Lots of stuff from the music "business" today; you decide whether the following are annoyances, snide asides, or both. First, there's the obligatory "file-sharing isn't really that bad" column from someone who has no idea whatsoever of what goes into the retail price of a CD... or, for that matter, into an artist's pocket afterward. The obvious response is the following four words that you can't say on the radio: FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978). This is not to say that the music industry as we know it is in good shape (nor that it deserves to be in good shape).
  • None of which is to say that the business side of the publishing industry is really any better. We've got one of the major long-run printers declaring bankruptcy, just in time to disrupt the production of the first wave of beach books this year (for things are far more dire than the public statements make them seem). Meanwhile, more universities are caving to the particular, author-unfriendly demands of the AAP regarding digital editions. There's also the question of what is being published — more dreck, or documents critical to understanding this nation (hint: which one is less likely to be returned when placed on consignment?).
  • Since it's awards season in Hollyweed, the publishing industry can't be far behind in trying to wrest back some attention (rather like a couple of particularly ill-behaved three-year-olds struggling over a dirty old rag doll). It's never out of season to question the independence of reviewers — even at Amazon (hint: they aren't). Or, for that matter, whether we even need book prizes (although the article never manages to get around to that question after asking it).
  • Or one can just throw up one's hands and wish for selective anonymity... very much like any rational family member of any of the remaining presidential candidates should be doing right about now.
  • That leads into my last annoyance. I spent Monday afternoon rewatching the last four episodes of the sixth season of The West Wing. I was simultaneously depressed and angered that fiction was so much closer to what this nation needs, and aspires to, than reality (an inversion of the usual Hollyweed treatments); and impressed that the writers managed to anticipate a disturbingly likely scenario for this summer's Democratic (and, for that matter, Republican) National Convention.