14 May 2023

Surrealistic Recliner

It's record heat for mid-May here in the Pacific Northwet; there is a heat advisory out for our 31°C heat wave. So, naturally, the air conditioning broke (this is a large enough building with enough electronics in it that it's not really a luxury). Yeah, tell me there's no global warming when seven of the top ten May temperatures recorded since 1889 have come in the last eight years… and this after an unusually cool April so the colder Pacific and Puget Sound waters are probably reducing that by 2.5-3°C… At least it isn't Riyadh.

  • WGA Strike, Day Five: There's still no hope. We're adrift at +38.9, -77.003611; although I can see Union Station across the street, there's no way out of here. There's a multihyphenate passed out in the back of the lifeboat; I hope he'll be the first one to go, because rations are already short…

    Yes, the WGA strike is surreal (almost as surreal as relentlessly relying on BritComs as source material Over Here). What's most disturbing is how surreal, how positively inept, the coverage and public statements are. The problem is quite simple: The economic pressures suppressing writer compensation are not at all similar to or even related to equivalent pressures at, say, Verizon or General Motors or even McDonald's (let alone at any true "small business"). That's because ownership and control in the film industry (including traditional "film," television, streaming, animation, whatever) is disproportionately concentrated in a way that one doesn't find in publicly traded companies — even among those media conglomerates that are purportedly publicly traded. Multiclass stock where one class (that is in practice closely held) has almost total control is the norm — when the conglomerate isn't itself controlled by some one/entity. And, in turn, consider that the industry is crying all the way to the bank with its executive compensation (and the parasitism extends well below the C-suite).

    And meanwhile, it's any ambition to produce art, to focus on quality, to engage in actual introspection that will suffer. More, that is, than normally. Meaning that I will suffer (more, that is, than normally). OK, maybe I have expectations that are too high for an "industry" that builds itself around purported "tent-pole blockbusters" — but on occasion my (minimum) expectations are met. And every single one of these started with an outstanding script that simultaneously dove into the essence of and improved upon its "source material" (which for a couple of those productions is itself an achievement).

  • Then there are side issues. So, so many of them. Jane Austen always seems ripe for (another) adaptation, whether on screen or otherwise. (I'm not overly optimistic about this one if only because too many adapters forget that Austen is to be studied, not slavishly emulated.) So, too, is unfamiliar music… all too often by people we shouldn't be emulating (whose behavior was all too often dubious even if "of their time").
  • The surrealism is getting just a bit too close to my misspent youth, though, when computers made from 'shrooms are taken as a serious advance. Far out, man. Do the graphics, like, rival that near-the-end sequence in 2001? Or maybe science should just stick to being ignored in health policy.
  • So, over in bigotry corner, we've got deep-South senators carelessly supporting white nationalists for no change at all. I'm sure there's some rationalization to the effect that "I wuz just sayin' there aren't any," but remember: This is a bloody football coach from a historically segregated university who developed a rabid fan base and got hisself elected. (Yes, in fact I am intentionally making fun of the dialect in question… having been accused of sounding like "a Yankee" too many times when I was Down There.)

    Or one could just be an ignoramus like Marco Rubio and silently link food stamps to a middle-class lifestyle. One of the reasons that junk food and soda get purchased by SNAP recipients is that they're ready to eat and require no special storage or equipment; another is that when one is hungry, one makes different decisions about food purchases. I suggest that Senator Rubio — or, perhaps, one of his interns? — should take a month away, live in a tent city with no other resources, and see what is impulsively purchased on that just-issued SNAP account when there's no prospect of getting back to one's DC apartment for a few more weeks. (And the less said about the prohibition on hot food that isn't junk food, especially in, say, Minneapolis in February, the better; the prohibition rather assumes availability of and skill at using cooking facilities — even access to a microwave and, like, dishes and utensils.) tl;dr Go ahead and suggest improvements to a program, but make sure that the improvements are achievable to those who are supposed to use them first.