11 May 2015

Inspired, I Think Not

Just haven't been inspired of late... between busyness and Life.

  • Trader Joe's has totally destroyed reality. Not only is a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck now $2.50, but the marketing dorks are really trying too hard to be cute. "Low-fat shrimp" (umm, that's inherent; any significant amount of fat in a shrimp dish is added to it in cooking); "Henry Hotspur's Cider" (Henry Percy or Harry Hotspur — read your bloody Shakespeare, guys); I won't go on. At least it's cleaner, better stocked, better quality, and lower priced than Unsafeatanyspeedway...
  • It's been fascinating watching the post-election attempts to explain everything both predictable and unpredictable/unpredicted about the recent UK elections. The one thing that it really reveals, more than anything else, is that modern representative democracy isn't about the merits of individual candidates — it's about the merits of the friends and associates of individual candidates. And this is true regardless of selection method (proportional representation, first-past-the-post, limited-plurality-in-multiseat-constituencies, whatever): If a Gandhi (or choose your own idea of an effective, ethical politician) doesn't have enough frieeeeeends to be in the majority — or, at minimum, force actual or de facto coalition governance — he or she will be submerged in a toxic sea of bad press, frustration, and effective impotence.

    It's also been more than a bit unsettling to see the entire area around my first station in the UK turn solidly Tory, considering that it was so Red/Labour when I lived there that Tories weren't just shy — they were endangered.

  • The purported "battle" over songwriter payment under changing delivery systems isn't exactly a new problem. Leaving aside last week's Second Circuit decision in the Pandora-ASCAP dispute (pdf) — which was ultimately about antitrust law, not copyright law (let alone anything approaching fairness) — the real problem is that virtually all of the commercial entities involved are demanding that there be a single, uniform system. Of course, each entity or entity group has its own idea of what that system will be... and not one of the proposals is fair to anyone except those who would administer the system.

    I don't claim that there's an easy solution. I claim the opposite: That there is neither an easy nor a single solution. Administrative convenience plays far too large a role in the distribution-of-copies end of copyright, let alone in fair use, as it is. Any single, binding solution is guaranteed to (a) become rapidly outdated as technology and business models change, (b) be utterly unfair to significant segments of the songwriter, the performer, the distributor, and the audience segments, and (c) encourage evasion as some outside investor group sees an opportunity á la iTunes to engage in some kind of tying practice (whether lawful or, as I suspect, unlawful).