01 March 2010

Post-Olympic Letdown Internet Sausage Rolls

OK, so some of the skating didn't involve fashion rejects from Milan. Too bad NBC — which, ironically enough, also carries NHL hockey on occasion — couldn't be bothered to notice...

  • Here's a step in the right direction. Maybe. Or at least a potential step in the right direction. The Sunday WaPo included an article that promised a great deal more than it delivered (but still delivered munitions on target) regarding how the USAF treats drone pilots. The next step involves one of the other two caste distinctions in the military: academy grad v. real education, and — as implied (but not actually discussed) in the article — distinctions among services. I always was a purple-suiter with a real education, which didn't help things enough with then-Lt Col Schwartz (a Zoomie).
  • Also from the Department of AviationFail: How long does it take a stalled aircraft to fall from 11,000m to the ocean? About four minutes. As interesting and well-written as that article is — and it's originally auf Deutsch — it concentrates too much on the technology and not enough on the management error before the flight: The pressure on the lead pilot to both take on ten tons of cargo, on a passenger flight, and to fly too high to a destination short of his actual destination so he could evade minimum fuel reserve requirements. (I know more than a little bit about this from my time with AWACS.) Now add in that it was an Airbus, and the table is set for disaster. And, curiously, there's not a word in that long article on why he wasn't vectored away from a storm system visible by satellite... unless, that is, Air France was too cheap to equip its aircraft with a satellite weather feed.
  • Over in the UK, The Observer is gingerly, and vaguely, pointing out that celebrity "novels" aren't even good for the celebrities or publishers on their own, let alone when they are the force behind Grisham's Law.1
  • Corollary: "Britain might not make steel anymore, or cars, or pop music worth listening to, but, boy, are we world-beaters when it comes to tyranny." Coming soon to a mall near you. Although maybe part of the problem is just that Mozart isn't as objectively good as he's cracked up to be...
  • Let's see whether the sale of PW by the second-most-evil media conglomerate in the English-speaking world results in any improvement in that long-moribund insult to dead trees under new top management for the magazine. Until PW is willing to call bullshit on bullshit — or even just cowpatties on bullshit, which would be a vast improvement — nobody can really trust the (relentless) positive things it has to say about the top advertisers in print publishing. Maybe not even then; but it would be a start. Perhaps, too, they'll begin consulting a lawyer on occasion when writing about the convoluted legal issues that affect publishing.
  • Meanwhile, the RWA looks like it's trying to be the Authors['] Guild: Knuckling under to publishers' interests shortly after the first sign of controversy, all the while giving lip service to being an advocacy organization for writers. (HT: shamefully late to Lee Goldberg, who displays more savvy on the border between writing and Hollywood than any of the commercial publications devoted to that topic)
  • My UK-based colleague Jeremy Phillips gives a restrained peroration against kewl business concept; shame about the bad lawyering that should bloody well be required reading at Google and at Amazon... and that's just two out of several obvious examples in publishing from the past thirty days.
  • Finally, consider your lobbying dollars at work: The International Intellectual Property Alliance is railing against some nations that encourage adoption of open-source software... and essentially demanding that the U.S. Trade Representative take steps toward eventual trade sanctions against those nations.

  1. In economics, Gresham's Law describes — nonquantitatively — how people who know that their coinage is being debased will hoard coins believed to bear full value and spend only those believed to be debased. Why I call the publishing corollary of this Grisham's Law is left as an exercise for the student... an exercise perhaps best engaged in after comparing this novel to the corresponding screenplay, and noting that it's the rare Hollywood effort indeed in which the screenplay is substantially better as literature than its previously published source material. You'll then understand all too well why "debased" is too generous a term.