07 October 2023

Hier Bratwurst!

It appears that the wheels have fallen off the Heffalump clown car in DC. It's worthy of ridicule, but not a good thing for the country (on the other hand, they really don't care about that).

  • I actually sort of agree with The Orange One on something related to immigration, but only sort of — and not in a way he'd like (or that the thing on his head would like). He recently claimed that undocumented immigrants are "poisoning the blood of our country" in a disturbing echo of Der Führer's rhetoric. And in a sense, he's absolutely right: His grandfather was an undocumented/unaccompanied-minor immigrant who would have been deported under The Orange One's own immigration policies — and whether or not Friedrich "poison[ed] the blood" of the US, there's little question about whether Friedrich's descendants have done so (if only those awful, awful ties in The Orange One's "Collection" at Macy's).

    Noch ein weiteres Beispiel dafür, daß der Topf den Kessel schwarz nennt. Oder Orange. (Incorrect colloquialism entirely intentional.)

  • The battles over so-called "AI" — better would be "EE," for "Enhanced Eliza" — are getting more and more fractured, ranging from artists to actors — even aside from the SAG v. AMPTP aspect for the actors.
  • Some good news from Europe on the IP front: The EU General Court (approximately equivalent to US District Court, but with more appellate work and less lawyer grandstanding) held that geoblocking restrictions on downloaded game activation violate EU law. This reinforces that intra-EU territorial restrictions are a dead letter, which is simultaneously confusing and good news for authors. It's confusing because there are a lot of legacy contracts — even for distribution of "indie" material — that purport to restrict identical-good purchases to a subset of the EU; for example, authorizing sale of the French-language edition only in France and Belgium, and not to an expatriate or student in Madrid. Conversely, it will also considerably simplify negotiations with "legacy" publishers for EU editions (translated or otherwise); I'd suggest that it might improve payments/advances, but that's unrealistic (I've met too many European publishers, and they wouldn't increase payments or advances to their own mothers — if they have mothers).
  • And special snowflakes are back in the news in the arts. Helen Mirren dislikes the Authenticity Police, and Ian McEwan dislikes the Sensitivity Police. There are two related issues here. First, the problem with many books is not at all with "who wrote it?" but with "how, and how much, knowledge/research went into the work?" That's the "authenticity" problem in a nutshell: It really would be problematic for, say, a 22-year-old christian caucasian with a freshly-minted degree from Oxbridge to write a novel with an impoverished black teenager from Nairobi as its viewpoint character… unless, perhaps, said author had actually been raised in Nairobi, or waited and earned a PhD in history concentrating on the postcolonial experience in East Africa, or waited and spent half a decade there as a Peace Corps worker. Second, a publisher that hires editors to actually edit shouldn't need to hire separate sensitivity readers… unless, of course, the only people being hired as editors are products of privilege (not unlikely given the pathetic compensation offered on the lower rungs of the editorial ladder).

    Perhaps more damningly, the perceived "authenticity" and "sensitivity" problems reflect a great deal, and very poorly, upon both the intermediaries and the audience — sometimes less so than upon the author, but mostly just them. And that's primarily because too often the intermediaries (with rare exceptions) and audience subsegments who are offended don't do their research or acquire knowledge other than from personal experience, either. Which is not to say that real offense cannot be given… but sometimes it's justified (the latter of which came out from a lower-prestige imprint).

  • Speaking of institutional lack of authenticity and sensitivity, online real-estate "brokerage" Redfin is leaving the National Association of Realtors; it appears that it has company. This is a good thing for reality (as distinct from realty); if there's one economic actor that has been more central to resegregation and labor unrest than real-estate brokering, it's maybe (and only maybe) the insurance industry. It's pretty bad when historically, savings-and-loans (and their dubious successors) are both ethically and substantively better…

    But why blame real-estate brokers for labor unrest? Because they do two things that needlessly suppress worker mobility to where there's actually a shortage of labor, while simultaneously locking workers in to areas where there's a surplus of labor. First, real-estate brokers suppress transactions by adding to transaction costs — not just the actual commissions (around five and a half percent, with incentives for both a seller's agent and a buyer's agent to jack up the price; it's less than one and a half percent in the UK), but in the selectivity of who gets to see what property. More insidiously, those brokers have also applied pressure against more-affordable (non-"owner-occupied") rental properties.

    So: Schade.

  • Speaking of labor unrest: Automobile workers and H'wood screen idols actually have something in common right now. Including problems with outsourcing, but that's for another time.