26 September 2014

[Insert Witty Title Here]

This week has been spent largely behind the scenes, so these link sausages are a bit distorted. More than usual, that is.

  • As it's Banned Books Week, I suppose I have to link to at least one item on the idiocy of censorship. On one hand, as a (relatively recent) parent myself, I understand the concept of "just wanting to keep my own children from being exposed to damaging, inimical things they're not emotionally or intellectually ready to process." On the other, consider the actual messages — and selfish, self-aggrandizing subtexts — of the We5tboro Bapti5t Church, or 4ch4n (irony of the extra measure of leetspeak fully intended), or the still-clogging-the-courts "birther" controversy with its unacknowledged-but-archly-omnipresent focus on race (PDF). And so, in that spirit, I refer to a surreal list of banned books from this century.
  • Scott Timburg stops his inquiry into "What Broke Hollywood?" a few steps short of reaching a defensible position. Leaving aside that there isn't a single answer, the largest factor probably has little or nothing to do with intent. I can make a good argument that the actual cause is a combination of the shareholder wealth-maximization meme (which, one might recall, is not found in any US corporate statute, but is instead a judicially created and imposed parallel to fiduciary duty imposed to prevent perceived abuse of minority shareholders) and the quarterly reporting requirements descended from the Depression-era Securities Act and Securities Exchange Act, which in turn were ideological responses to certain kinds of manipulation that were wrongly blamed as the cause of the stock-market crashes at the end of the 1920s (which is not a defense of that manipulation, just a dethronement). On the other hand, it might be as simple as asking "who makes creative judgments in H'wood?" and remembering just how creative people from those backgrounds — more to the point, how sensitive to narrative quality and values — tend to be (whether by training, education, experience, or inclination)... or not.

    Applying the preceding thought process to the current problems in publishing is left as an exercise for the student. Which, I suppose, gives away a substantial part of my training, education, experience, and inclination.

  • So, the meme that New York City used to have a lot of crime and has less now, thereby justifying its insane prices (he says living near San Francisco with tongue firmly planted in cheek and full awareness of irony), isn't really true? I'm shocked. I'm so shocked that I'll pretend that the increasing prevalence of nonviolent, white-collar crime in New York City-based commerce — ranging from the obvious, like securities fraud, to the less-obvious, like Ford-Pintoesque calculations of profit, loss, and the cost-of-maimingdoing-business in the garment/fashion industry — hasn't merely moved the crime off the stoops and into the highrises, where the cops have neither expertise nor awareness. Nor, for that matter, jurisdiction.

Back to the salt mines, looking for tasty salt varieties for the next batch of link sausages...