09 May 2011

Link Sausages From the Gloomy Place

I've been warned about thinkin' too much, but I haven't had enough caffeine (or thistles) yet today to pay heed to such warnings.

  • An interesting story on the recorded music industry presages nothing less than the return of the Duke of Milan... as an untitled commoner: In short, a return to the patronage model rejected in the Statute of Anne (1709), the first modern copyright statute. The most-telling comment is this one:

    [W]hen Cohen justified 360 deals—the new contract standard in which labels take a cut of touring and merchandising revenue in addition to recordings—as, essentially, a replacement for lost recording revenue, necessary to maintain executive salaries, then admitted that, even in such partnerships, the label still maintained sole ownership of master recordings, one could only marvel that even a digitally-diluted siren song of fame remained a strong enough to keep such models going.

    (emphasis added) It wasn't that the "replacement for lost [] revenue" was necessary to maintain corporate profits; the replacement was, instead, necessary to keep the younger sons of the Duke in the lifestyles to which they had become accustomed. The executive salaries are seen not as a reward for hard and successful work, but a continuing property right that is the rightful possession of anyone who weasels his/her way into the class of persons whose original position includes that property right in the first place. For those of you with a more-than-trivial background in political economy, this is indeed a rent-seeking behavior.

    Ultimately, that's the real problem with patronage as the default alternative to individual market-based compensation of creators (which is far from perfect itself): The self-perpetuating nature of the patron class, including its narrow worldview. It's bad enough when the sins of the parents are visited on their children... but not enough people are looking at the Crusades and the First Thirty Years' War and the Three Kingdoms eras and questioning whether presuming that the virtues of the parents being visited on their children is, on balance, a good thing — let alone the narrower question of visiting the virtues of the past upon one's own future, particularly in anything related to "expression," "creativity," and the arts.

  • Ursula Le Guin is wise (as usual; I don't think she can help it) on the difference between "slumming literati" and "writers of science fiction" (emphasis in original):

    Some authors fill a novel with futuristic scenery and jargon and then strenuously, even stertorously, deny that it's science fiction. No, no, they don't write that nasty stuff, never touch it. They write literature. Though curiously familiar with the tropes and conventions of the despised genre, they so blithely ignore the meaning of terms, they reinvent the wheel with such cries of self-admiration, that their endeavours seem a doomed effort to prove that one can write a novel without learning how.

    That means you, M___ A___ and M___ A___ (among many, many others): No matter how hard you try, the tentacles of your talking space-squids have their suckers all over your books... which could have been vastly better as literature if you'd had any idea of either the ontogeny or phylogeny of tentacles.

  • Well, of course radium'll kill ya.

    xkcd #896

    That's right, validation-seekers and attention-whores and lazy-ass-parents-looking-for-easy-parenting-memes: Acclaim is a consequence of what you do, not the objective itself — and ya'll might want to be a little bit more discerning on who you choose as a role model. After all, Marie Curie was French...