03 June 2008

A June Moonshot

Life interferes again. The eldest remora has now graduated from high school, and is busy being a surly teenager in his room all day now. Not, however, without homework: As his school did not teach him proper documentation practices for writing papers, I've given him a homework assignment comparing and contrasting this classic with this contemporary retelling... using proper MLA format. He'll get a lesson in CMS style later this summer.

Of course I'm of the devil's party myself. Did you really need to ask? In any event, on to the miscellany.

  • We'll start off with the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards. I'll freely admit that I'm an "elitist"... for some values of "elitist," usually those that emphasize reading and thinking for one's own self over any kind of inherited culture, money, or lifestyle.1 And if you're reading this blawg, you've probably got a little bit of elitist in you, too.
  • It's still primary season. Bloody idiots. I suppose it beats what passes for democracy in China, but this kind of extended-in-time-but-not-in-depth primary season just leads to more gubernatorial activism, and ignorance of the implications of GITMO in foreign relations (auf Deutsch).
  • I suppose we could all stand to put a little science in our lives. The real problem is that just because the humanities and the so-called social sciences don't involve nearly as much replicable math, neither side of that divide speaks to the other. And although the worst jobs one gets with a humanities degree usually involve asking customers about fries, some science jobs suck, too.
  • As usual, there's lots of interesting material to be found about the entertainment industry. However, since it's the beginning of summer, it is also (as usual) buried inside of other items. We've got the lack of revenue for "Web 2.0" advocates, contrasted with "flat" results in publicly held publishing companies. Then we find that S&S has dumped 5000 more books into Kindle, although I have reason to believe (based on at least a few of the titles) that S&S did not have the contractual right to do so for all of those titles. And, in the meantime, there has been a "surge" in POD titles... but not necessarily in sales of those titles. This phenomenon — more disintermediated titles available, with less ability to ascertain "sales" or "viewership" or any other measure of actual distribution — is not limited to publishing by any means.
  • Cultural artifacts can be rather illuminating, no matter where they're found: in museums (or not), or among sadly failed athletes. Then again, what constitutes an "artifact" in the judgment of the acquiring society may be even more important than the artifact was to the source... such as the possible existence of a meta-Bond or postmillenial thinking.
  • Last for the moment — and I really, really do intend to post more regularly again, now that the end-of-school-year shenanigans are over — we're getting into the most dangerous month in the legal calendar: June. This month, the Supreme Court will issue a number of opinions, which will constitute "positive events." Just as with sculpture and music (and arguably literature), though, many negative events — primarily denials of writs of certiorari — will ultimately turn out to be significant. I've already linked to one of these negative events above (the item on fantasy baseball in the preceding bullet point); this week has also seen negative events on Perfect10 (denying an attempt to have the Ninth Circuit's most-recent tortured decision reviewed) and states' authority to force disclosure of financing for political ads, particularly by so-called 527 "issue groups." The Court has yet to consider quite a few petitions for certiorari, too; I'm watching several cases that implicate IP rights (and the usual collection of civil-procedure-geek ones, too).

    But hanging over all of this is the sixteen-ton-weight of Boumediene, the GITMO/military commission case. As Phil Carter remarks,

    And the [Military Commissions] look even more foolish for attempting to blame the Army personnel system. More to the point — does anyone in the Pentagon really believe this is justice? Or that these tribunals' outcomes will contain any sort of strategic value, given the near-total lack of fairness, legitimacy or transparency?

  1. This is one of the reasons that I dislike both the false nostalgia for agrarianism and industrialism (e.g., Springsteen and Mellencamp) and the old-money-influenced "civilization ends at the Hudson" paradigms. On the one hand, things were not always better in the past, or through the purported simple virtues of simple hard work; Salem comes from that attitude. On the other hand, Salem also points out that civilization might well end at the Hudson... just the opposite direction from that usual attitude.