03 August 2015

The Blawgs of August

Leaving aside, for the moment, reality... and the seventieth anniversary of nuclear warfare...

  • From the Department of Unintended Ironies: Psychology Today published an article that opens:

    There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility.

    Consider the source. Consider even the purported "focus" of the source — an unscientific field of "study" that considers almost all deviation from the "mean" (usually established by hereditarily upper-middle-class white men) to be disorderly and probably dysfunctional at best. That's a bit much to spot on Monday morning, in the heavily antiintellectual Bay Area (where if one uses one's brain outside of work hours on tasks other than work, one is... ostracized at best).

    Thanks for spewing my coffee, you arrogant unselfaware gits.

  • David Byrne asks this morning's version of qui bono musica, pointing out that those who make recorded music are pretty uniformly not benefitting from its new distribution models. Neither are those who actually select and discover and curate the music. Unfortunately, the article doesn't reveal that the problem has little to do with technology, and everything to do with financial returns on financial capital being required to be "above market average" (cue the theme from A Prairie Home Companion, where all the children are above average and the royalties and fees paid performers are below average).

    Applying this to authors is left as an exercise for the student. The utterly insane student, that is, because a sane student already knows the answer.

  • A highly significant copyright decision last week truly exposes justice as blind. The Ray Charles Foundation's standing to object to (assertedly) dubious terminations of copyright was upheld by the Ninth Circuit (PDF). This is not a direct win for the Foundation (against Charles's disinherited children), but merely confirmation that it has the right to object that the termination notices were improper because the terminations — if allowed — would reduce its own income.

    This was a foregone conclusion under federal civil procedure law and the constitutional law of standing. Contrary to the bullshit put forth by stiffs-and-gifts mavens, estate planning is not all about minimizing taxes and following state law in state courts — especially when intellectual property is involved in the estate. Sadly, this is a particular problem in Tennessee (the purported "center" these days of music publishing and the music industry); those with long memories, or even just decent search skills, may recall the Andre Norton fiasco (which is still not entirely resolved). It's also a particular problem in both California and New York: The probate law in all three states refuses to defer to, or even reference, controlling federal law on transfer of intellectual property interests. Instead, it is mired in seventeenth-century estates in land, with grudging acquiescence that women can now own property and that sometimes (but only sometimes) children are actually adopted.

  • Meanwhile, across The Pond, Occupy Bibliothéque Nationale may be a more realistic objective now that there's a formal challenge in front of the European courts. Even if this program is rejected, though, don't expect the cultural imperialists in Paris to stop; they'll try to find another loophole/rationale — for the same reason that the US requires "deposit copies" to add (for free!) to the collection at the Library of Congress.
  • At the opposite end of antiintellectual, Ursula Le Guin ponders the meaning of Harper Lee's "other book" — the recently-published one — and accepts it as worthwhile. I've not read the recent book yet, but I had already anticipated something of this nature for a specific reason: Most people who are reacting to Go Set a Watchman haven't read To Kill a Mockingbird, or at least not since high school; they react, instead, to the mythology established around (not by) the film based upon the book, which for all its merits fails utterly at making clear that it is a story through a child's eyes in a child's simplistic, mythological, black-and-white (literally)/dualistic perspective... which is part of the point of the book. Comparison between "myth" and "novel" seldom works well; but that's the highly intellectual analysis.