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RANDOM LINKS FOR 9/27/12
Sep 27th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

from the book 'mail order mysteries' via laughingsquid.com

  • Oh we so wanted to believe the miracle products advertised in comic books really worked as advertised (or at least were as cool as the ads claimed).
  • I might be in the minority even among local fans, but I believe the replacement refs made the right call in awarding Monday night’s final play (and hence the game) to the Seahawks.
  • No, the Edmonton Oilers hockey team isn’t ever going to move to Seattle. The local visit by Oilers execs is only an exercise in “arena blackmail” toward Edmonton politicos.
  • David Goldstein puts the blame for Washington’s regressive tax structure on a state Supreme Court ruling back in 1933.
  • Pundits look at Washington state’s political “Cascade curtain.” Micah Cohen at the NYT‘s FiveThirtyEight sees the west/east divide in terms of women’s rights issues
  • …while Eli Sanders dissects how, in the last State Supreme Court race, an unqualified white candidate beat a highly qualified Hispanic candidate in Eastern Washington, even in 40-percent-Hispanic areas.
  • Speaking of Eastern Washington, those bigass, electricity-hungry “server farm” computer installations there might not employ very many people once they’re built, but they still demand political clout.
  • A judge refused to throw out a class-action suit by female Costco employees, alleging discrimination in promotions.
  • TV ads for the gay marriage referendum don’t show any actual gay people. I’m reminded of the 1998 initiative to end affirmative action in the state. The anti-initiative ads showed, as their examples of affirmative action’s needy beneficiaries, only white little girls. The tactic didn’t work.
  • The good folks at Seattle Indian Health Services claim the city, led by councilmember Nick Licata, is trying to take over their agency so it can sell the land on which their offices sit to a private developer.
  • A national church mag calls Seattle’s own Mars Hill Church (home of “hip” misogyny/homophobia) America’s third fastest-growing church.
  • The Northwest’s oil refining capital could also host the nation’s biggest bottled-water plant. What could possibly go wrong?
  • The airline now calling itself United (a shotgun marriage of the original UAL with Continental) has posted a nice time lapse video of a Boeing 787 being put together. It’s enough to warm this Snohomish County guy’s heart.
  • Andy Williams, 1928-2012: The seemingly ageless singer/TV host began as a child in a singing-brothers act, then jump-started the career of a similar act (the Osmonds). He was a quintessential icon of the square side of the 1960s, smooth and slick and pleasant and never ruffled. He was one of those personalities who seemed to inhabit a world of serenity that flowed all around him; which made his latter-day emergence as a right wingnut even stranger.
  • Ben Adler at the Nation says the truly crazy wingnut conspiracy theories and insult “jokes” don’t start on radio or Fox “News”, but at obscure blogs and e-mail lists.
  • Today’s Romney/Ryan bashings: Richard Eskow believes Ryan still believes his former Ayn Randian denunciations of Medicare and Social Security. Florida Republicans are up to their old voter-suppression tricks. Greg Palast claims Karl Rove’s ol’ election-stealing dirty tricks operations are still up and running. And Jonathan Chiat visits some extremely rich people who imagine themselves to be America’s most “persecuted” and overtaxed sector.
  • Economic philosopher Angus Sibley has a highly lucid, step-by-step breakdown of what’s wrong with libertarian economics.
  • If outsource manufacturers like Foxconn in China keep up their reputation for workplace horridness, western tech-hardware companies just might have to return production in-house just to avoid the bad PR.
  • Victoria’s Secret has quietly discontinued its “Sexy Little Geisha” ensemble. Anti-racist bloggers claim credit.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 9/21/12
Sep 20th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

chris lehman, npr via kplu

  • In my onetime stompin’ grounds of Corvallis OR, an Asian American businessman sponsored a downtown mural depicting tranquil nature scenes in Taiwan contrasted with police brutalizing protesters in Tibet. China’s government would like the mural gone.
  • On the 20th anniversary of the film Singles, Spin imagines the film with a modern-day soundtrack (available as a Spotify playlist). No current Seattle acts are on it (though ex-local Mark Lanegan is).
  • Most of the hereby-linked article is behind a paywall, but the gist is this: ESPN blogger Craig Custance believes Seattle’s got a great shot at a National Hockey League team, but as an expansion rather than a moved franchise. Custance agrees with similar remarks earlier this year by CBC hockey commentator Elliotte Friedman. (Nobody might have NHL hockey for perhaps a whole year, if the league continues to lock out its players.)
  • My ol’ pal James Winchell has a neat piece in the Jewish mag Tablet (no relation to the defunct local hipster rag of the same name), philosophizing on the Hebrew roots and symbolism in the works of Franz Kafka.
  • How artificial intelligence is turning out: expect more stuff like Siri, but no human-esque robots any time soon.
  • As big chain retailers abandon more and more sites around the country, some of those sites are being taken over by big chain restaurants.
  • Danny Westneat asks if Romney’s so down on those who don’t pay taxes, when’s he gonna go after the likes of Boeing? (Or, for that matter, Microsoft?)
  • Poll-analyst extraordinaire Nate Silver sees Obama doing better in polls that include real-live pollsters (instead of robocalls) and that include cell-phone-only households.
  • Today’s scathinger-than-scathing Romney rants come to you courtesy of Nicholas Kristof and Lawrence O’Donnell
  • …while Jon Stewart tears yet another righteous hole in the blatantly hypocritical Faux News partisans.
  • As for me, for now, I’ll just say Romney’s appearance on Univision should have been accompanied by one of that channel’s biggest personalities. I speak, of course, of “El Chacal de la Trompeta,” the masked trumpeter from the Gong Show-like talent segment of Sabado Gigante.

watch el chacal de la trompeta, via youtube

RANDOM LINKS FOR 9/14/12
Sep 14th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

andraste.com via the smoking gun

  • A Seattle fetish photographer puts up some shots taken inside a cemetery. Legal rancor ensues. Trust me on this: The dead people don’t give a darn.
  • Heather Artena Hughes, 1967-2012: The longtime local actress/singer/dancer/comedienne did everything from torch songs and burlesque bits to parody wrestling matches. She was a regular in the Match Game Belltown shows. Everyone who knew and/or worked with her called her a near-goddess of skill and verve.
  • Nordstrom is expanding into Canada. (No “designer toque” jokes from this corner.)
  • Why do the Mariners brass still oppose the Sonics arena scheme? Could it be because the M’s could conceivably want their own cable channel, and any neo-Sonics team could conceivably compete with that?
  • The city of Auburn has a “wall of shame,” decrying banks that hold on to foreclosed homes and leave them to decay.
  • A JPMorganChase analyst claims the iPhone 5 (just announced this week) “could prop up the entire U.S. economy.” Douglas Rushkoff at CNN is more than a little skeptical about this claim.
  • AT&T wants the legal right to abandon the landline-phone biz, and with it all demands for “network neutrality” that keep it from manipulating what websites its customers get to see.
  • The broadcast/cable/satellite TV industries, and their attorneys, continue to make the online streaming of “free” TV a near-impossibility.
  • It’s a little too late for the chain’s Washington locations (the regional franchisee went under a year or two back), but Hooters is trying to be more female-friendly.
  • It’s not much of a comic (just dialogue scenes), but there’s still novelty value to a lawyer making a five-page strip as a legal brief in the Apple/Amazon ebook pricing suit.
  • USA Today just brought out a massive print/online redesign. Nice to see a print paper fighting for continued relevance, instead of just fading away.
  • Amanda Palmer raised over a million bucks on Kickstarter for a new album. Not getting a slice of that: local pickup musicians on her tour stops.
  • The Pussy Riot protesters might get out of jail next month. Just might.
  • “Did the Republicans deliberately crash the U.S. economy?” Or was that merely collateral damage in the game of supplying as many favors as possible to its billionaire campaign donors?
  • How do you get and keep more women in the tech industries? One way is to not require programming experience in filling non-programming jobs (such as middle management).
  • What will it take to get more black ballet dancers?
RANDOM LINKS FOR 8/17/12
Aug 17th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

craig hill, tacoma news tribune

  • A Tacoma News Tribune writer finds a retreating glacier on Mt. Rainier looking, from one angle, like the Nike logo. Snark ensues.
  • The new Blue Scholars music video combines Sonics nostalgia with good ol’ Seattle diversity, visually expressed in the form of working-class food joints.
  • Shell’s building an oil-containment barge in Bellingham. But the thing’s leaking oil. (This is the kind of “oops!” moment anti-corporate performance artists can’t fake.)
  • The University Bridge has to be closed to cars and sprayed with water once an hour when it gets this hot.
  • Remember, boats shouldn’t get too close to whales.
  • Apple has finally responded to the federal lawsuit claiming it and five of the top six U.S. book publishers conspired to fix e-book prices. Apple alleges Amazon was the real “driving force” behind the suit, not any government concern for the book buying public.
  • Heidi Kelly at Crosscut believes “suburban women” will go for Romney/Ryan, or at least the “Generation X” women of the “Seinfeld generation” will, for reasoning I am unable to interpret/comprehend.
  • Paul Ryan loves Rage Against the Machine. The bands’ members see Ryan as embodying the machine they’re raging against.
  • Joshua D. Foster and Ilan Shrira at Psychology Today try to explain why people can be so easily seduced by conspiracy theories, no matter how far fetched those theories can be.
  • An Oregon couple is charged with a multi-state murder and crime spree, done with the intention of racially “purifying” America.
  • Meanwhile, Juan Cole insists that terrorists are terrorists even when they’re white.
  • Mississippi’s scheme to outlaw abortion turns out to be remarkably similar to tactics the state used to use to prevent blacks from voting.
  • Lost in the “vinyl revival”: nostalgia for the first mass-market recorded sound medium, the Edison cylinder.
  • ESPN’s sports talk show Pardon the Interruption posted this mashup illo of Felix Hernandez’s perfect-game victory dance. (Wild Thing, I think I love you….)

RANDOM LINKS FOR 8/3/12
Aug 2nd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

google earth via rhizome.org

  • Clement Valla at Rhizome.org finds beauty and “the universal texture” within the mistakes of Google Earth’s 3D geographical simulations.
  • The musicians’ union would like to create “sustainable” opportunities for local club bands (i.e., gigs with decent pay). Considering how fiscally precarious so many bars and clubs are, this may be a challenge.
  • Amy Rolph at SeattlePI.com, trolling for weird items on Amazon to laff at, found a CD of “lullaby renditions of Nirvana songs.” Rolph calls the electronically-rendered music “creepy.” I call it more like a failed attempt to update the shtick of Raymond Scott’s old Soothing Sounds for Baby LPs.
  • It’s not that “oldies” music is selling more these days. It’s that present-day music is selling less.
  • When classic films meet know-nothing online reviewers, magic happens.
  • Apple has again become the world’s #1 personal-computer maker, if you count iPads as computers.
  • At last, a new job in this town that doesn’t require programming experience. It’s the making of fake poop, to demonstrate new third-world toilet designs for the Gates Foundation.
  • Steven Rosenfeld at AlterNet believes today’s Republicans are “a truly toxic aberration,” an outfit that can only win elections by voter-suppression and other dirty tricks.
  • The “future of news” gurus have long claimed that media companies only needed to hustle for all the web hits they could get, and ad revenue would naturally follow. That’s turning out to not be the case; especially with tablet and smartphone users.
  • Here’s one Russian guy’s idea of how humans could live forever, for just $50 billion in startup costs:
  1. First, invent remote-controlled, humanoid robots.
  2. The next generation of the robots would contain transplanted human brains.
  3. By the year 2045, people’s memories and personalities would be transferred as software into robotic brains. (As we always say with stories like this, “Nothing can possibly go wrong….”)
RANDOM LINKS FOR 7/10/12
Jul 10th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

makela steward via rainiervalley.komo.com

Welcome to all our kind readers who still have Internet connections after “Malware Monday.” In today’s randomosity:

  • Let’s congratulate the Seattle woman who just became Ms. Plus Size America.
  • The Tacoma Art Museum is getting a big collection of “western American art,” and a big new building addition to put it in.
  • Wash. state’s wine biz has become big enough for the Gallo empire to move in on it, buying up Covey Run and Columbia Winery. I remember, of course, the late ’70s days when Gallo was radical America’s favorite brand-to-hate, a status later taken by Nike and later still by Wal-Mart.
  • Another sometimes-radical-hated company, Apple, said it will stop submitting its products for “green electronics certification.”
  • Ex-Posie Ken Stringfellow has done a lot since his last solo CD in 2004, including abandoning the States to become a free man in Paris. Now he’s finally getting another set of music out, incluidng a duet with comedian Margaret Cho. Title: Danzig in the Moonlight.
  • One fifth of all “adult fiction” physical books sold in the U.S. this past spring were Fifty Shades of Grey (the submission-porn story set in Seattle by a British author) or one of its sequels.
  • Underwater oil-exploration teams have found the lost city of Atlantis in the North Sea, if you believe the U.K. tabloid Daily Mail (which you really shouldn’t).
  • As banking-behemoth blunders spread to the Brits, one analyst notes that, within the industry, “it had become acceptable or perhaps even encouraged to provide false information.”
  • David Carr summarizes recent developments in the newspaper biz, and, as you might expect, sees a biz whose troubles just keep getting worse.
  • Romney (hearts) the Koch Bros., those campaign-funny-money far-right oil/chemical/paper-towel barons who occasionally claim to be “libertarian” (as in, you know, protecting the “freedom” of mega-corps to control everything and ruin the planet).
  • Extreme heat, like they’ve had everywhere in the contiguous states except here, is lousy for the fish.
  • And finally, local-politics site extraordinaire PubliCola is back! Yaaaayy!
RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/28/12
May 27th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

  • Five days and counting until Wash. state’s booze biz goes all private. Expecting greater competition to lower the price of getting besotted? Guess again, my fun-loving friends.
  • Social media: a great way to organize group bullying episodes.
  • David Lowery has a long, detailed, snark-filled rant about how today’s music-download biz is often worse for indie musicians than the old record biz had been. It’s also got relevance for our ongoing “future of news” topic, because part of Lowery’s shtick is to dismantle the “web gurus” and their evangelical pronouncements for/defenses of today’s online content business-as-usual.
  • Yes, the Twilight series makes Emily Temple’s list of “epidemically overrated books.” But so do The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, and even Finnegans Wake.
  • Arun Gupta at AlterNet ponders whether the Feds are planting violent agitators among Occupy activists in order to discredit the whole movement.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was quoted as saying that it’s harder to get a minimum-wage increase past his Legislature than gay marriage. To me that’s perfectly understandable, if the politics of gay rights are anything there like they are here (i.e., as a nice, clean, upscale, white “minority” movement).
RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/30/12
Apr 30th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

irwin allen's 'the time tunnel' (1966), via scaryfilm.blogspot.com

  • If a Seattle attorney was really involved in government time travel experiments when he was a boy, like he claims, why couldn’t he have brought back the lost episodes of the original Doctor Who?
  • Zillow.com predicts local housing prices will continue to fall for another year before they “hit bottom.”
  • The Seattle Times has a where-are-they-now piece about the former 619 Western studio artists.
  • Spokane would really like to keep its biggest employer, Fairchild AFB.
  • Marketing-trends analyst Faith Popcorn insists the economy would be a lot better off today if the big Wall Street firms had more women in power roles.
  • Koo Stark update: Prince Andrew’s actress ex-girlfriend is using the Rupert Murdoch organization in a U.S. court over phone tapping. (Her complaint is still about Murdoch’s U.K. papers, not his stateside operations.)
  • Kashi cereal eaters were shocked to learn (1) the soy in Kashi’s products uses Monsanto seeds, and (2) Kashi’s really owned by Kellogg’s.
  • The Great Vinyl Comeback isn’t just for indie pop anymore. Classical artists are now getting in on it.
  • Nick Harkaway at the Guardian sees Amazon and the other big e-book sellers as “the new gatekeepers,” steering consumers toward select choices rising from the “rabble.”
  • In terms of paying as little in taxes as legally possible, Apple turns out to be just like any other big company.
  • Longtime online analyst Dave Winer suggests there’s another Internet bubble going on, involving social-media and content-based sites. Winer says those sites’ funders are…

…building businesses whose only way of making money will be through advertising. Are there as many different ways to slice things as all the startups, collectively, would have you believe? And when they’re done, what will happen to them?

  • Lindy West’s recent putdown of “hipster racism” reminded Channing Kennedy at the Colorlines site of a similar rant, given in 1979 by the late great rock critic Lester Bangs.
  • Alas, we’re not really going to be rid of Newt Gingrich; only of his Presidential campaign.
  • Noted author E.L. Doctorow traces how 12 years of right-wing power grabbing has left America an “unexceptional” nation.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/28/12
Apr 28th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

joybra.com, via seattlepi.com

  • Dept. of Things You Never Knew You Needed: UW business students have designed a bra with a pocket for an iPhone.
  • Seattle’s (the nation’s? the world’s?) longest running serialized stage play, the Asian American-centric Sex in Seattle series, ends after 12 years with episode 20, opening this weekend.
  • Amazon’s quarterly profits are 35 percent lower than a year ago. To Wall Street, that’s seen as good news somehow.
  • The Sacramento Kings’ arena deal is apparently dead. The team might or might not be put up for sale any week now. Seattle has a wannabe majority owner, a perfectly functional arena, and the land and initial plans for a new arena.
  • Vancouver punk legend Joey “Shithead” Kiethley sez he’ll run next year for a seat in B.C.’s provincial legislature. He’s done this twice before, on Green Party tickets. But this time he’ll run on the ticket of the New Democrats (Canada’s official national “opposition” party). He’s putting into practice his old motto, “Talk – Action = Zero.”
  • Gay Divorcee Dept.: A B.C. judge has ruled that a split-up lesbian couple has to split their jointly owned sperm-bank deposit.
  • Are outspoken homophobes really gay but suppressing it? All I know is for me, other men’s bodies are like eggplant casseroles. I don’t wanna eat ’em but I don’t mind if you do.
  • Will the Arab world need a full-scale “cultural revolution” before women have rights there?
  • Nutella: not as “healthy” as some consumers apparently thought.
  • The story about Egypt legalizing sex between widowers and their dead wives? A complete hoax.
  • In an interview promoting her new film Hysteria (about the first electric sex tools for women and the “medical” excuses advertised for them), Maggie Gyllenhaal talks about why there are so few emotionally powerful sex scenes in U.S. movies. My theory: Most sex scenes in mainstream films are escapist in nature. Many serve as breaks from the plot, like the songs in many musicals. These include scenes choreographed to emphasize the woman’s responses. To use such a scene to reveal a character’s personality, emotions, and vulnerabilities, to show a female character with her sense of public decorum stripped away, is a rare feat.
  • Did Romney only tell 10 major lies last week?
RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/23/12
Apr 22nd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

will deluxe junk's giant plastic hot dog become homeless?

  • On the heels of the development threat against the Bauhaus block on Capitol Hill, now comes another funky institution in danger. Deluxe Junk, a second hand furnishings and curios store, is the heart n’ soul of the Fremont district. It was just given an eviction notice by its landlords of 34 years, the Doric Masonic lodge upstairs from it.
  • Is it the name? The phallic symbolism? Or just the taste? Whatever the reason, China (heart)s our geoducks!
  • Seth Kolloen at The SunBreak analyzes local sports marketing: “The Sounders are a Mac, the Mariners are a PC.”
  • C’mon guys! Somebody’s gotta want Beacon Hill’s PacMed building!
  • What could be Puget Sound’s third major “economic cluster“? How about novelty gifts? Fringe theatre? Heck, let’s take over the music and film industries from their respective obsolete old guards?
  • Today we might learn who won the auctions for the state liquor stores.
  • One of the last remnants of Regrade Park’s pre-dog-park incarnation, the “Gyro Jack” sculpture, is under attack by some park users.
  • While the media weren’t looking (or were obsessed with their own declines), arts employment in the U.S. has taken a severe nosedive.
  • Update #1: The U.S. nuns whom the Vatican wants to censure or even disband because they spend their time caring about poor people instead of hating gays? They refuse to be shut up.
  • Update #2: A few days ago we discussed the studio-imposed need for all movie theaters to acquire costly digital projection gear, and the trouble smaller operators might have affording it. Here’s one way they could. Fans of one mom-and-pop theater in little Harmony, Minn. organized a big $75,000 fund drive so their beloved local cinema could go digital. (The author of the above piece also has a long background article about the rise of digital cinema after almost two decades of hype.)
RANDOM LINKS FOR THE TWENTIETH DAY OF APRIL 2012
Apr 19th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

one of rob vasquez's many out-of-print 45s, via aarongilbreath.wordpress. com

(No snickering jokes from this corner about a certain three-digit number.)

  • A pair of my ol’ punk era acquaintances have nice write ups. You may have already seen the Seattle Times profile of former Showbox impresario and current ACT Theatre honcho (and all around nice guy) Carlo Scandiuzzi. You may not have seen Aaron Gilbreath’s loving tribute to one of the scene’s greatest unsung guitarists, Rob Vasquez.
  • And here’s one of Seattle’s smartest writers, Neal Stephenson, on the need for science fiction to relate to readers’ present-day real lives. (Update: Link now fixed.)
  • For such a small, efficiently laid out building, could the legendary 5 Point bar/cafe really have a heretofore undiscovered secret room?
  • There are several other lying memoirists out there. What makes Greg (Three Cups of Tea) Mortenson different? He used his allegedly partly-made-up book to raise $62 million for his own charity, money he’s accused of mismanaging and misspending.
  • Starbucks is removing crushed-bug-based red dye from its strawberry-flavored cold drinks. (But that contributed half the nutritional value!)
  • John Urquhart, who’s running for King County Sheriff, used to be the department’s PR guy. As such, he issued several interesting press releases.
  • The city’s apparently afraid of another Occupy situation. It won’t let Real Change put up tents in Westlake Park to protest insufficient help for the homeless. Not even unoccupied “prop” tents.
  • Greenpeace has a point about Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple opening server farms fed by coal and nuclear power. This “clean tech” takes an awful lot of electricity.
TODAY IN MATTERS ONLY TANGENTALLY RELATED TO THE EBOOK LAWSUIT
Apr 17th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

goodreads.com

  • Science fiction author John Scalzi would like to remind you that none of the players in the big e-book pricing battle are really on “your side” as book readers/consumers. Not Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, or the Big Six publishers. They’re all after their own respective bottom lines:

Amazon wants you to stay in their electronic ecosystem for buying ebooks (and music, and movies, and apps and games). So does Apple, Barnes & Noble and Google. None of them are interested in sharing you with anyone else, ever. Publishers, alternately, are interested in having as many online retailers as possible, each doing business with them on terms as advantageous to the publishers as possible.

  • Tech blogger Baldur Bjarnason says “I like Amazon,” then goes on to explain how it “could be beaten” in the e-book sphere by some competitor(s)—but not by Barnes & Noble or Kobo (“I think they’re toast”).
  • And Amazon’s nascent publishing arm is taking over U.S. print and e-book rights to all of Ian Fleming’s original James Bond novels.
THE NEXT PAGE
Apr 12th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

Some recent developments in the Apple/Amazon/big book publishers/Justice Dept. rumble:

  • Carl Franzen at TMP believes Apple and the two remaining publishers in the suit still have a chance of prevailing, and preserving their “agency model” e-book pricing system.
  • PaidContent.org has a debate on the issue with two of the site’s staffers. Mathew Ingram supports Amazon’s price discounting as good for the reading public, and believes the publishers’ legal arguments are untenable. Laura Hazard Owen defends the publishers as standing to preserve competition.
  • Matthew Yglesias at Slate begins by defending the publishers’ stance, but then goes on to say they’ll still have to start adapting to the new market conditions and soon.
  • At the same site, Farhad Manjoo offers a brash statement some of you may liken to denouncing mom and apple pie. Manjoo trashes independent bookstores! He calls them “some of the least efficient, least user-friendly, and most mistakenly mythologized local establishments you can find” and “cultish, moldering institutions.” Yep, the piece has gotten a lot of comments (over 1,500 last I looked).
RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/12/12
Apr 11th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

gjenvick-gjonvik archives

Three of the Big Six book publishers (Hachette, News Corp.’s HarperCollins, and CBS’s Simon & Schuster) have settled with the U.S. Justice Dept. in the dispute over alleged e-book price fixing.

The publishers still insist they’re innocent; but they agreed in the settlement to not interfere with, or retaliate against, discounted e-book retail prices.

Apple, Pearson’s Penguin, and Holtzbrinck’s Macmillan have not yet settled; they also insist they did not collude to keep e-book prices up. Bertlesmann’s Random House was not sued.

This is, of course, all really about Amazon, and its ongoing drives to keep e-book retail prices down and its share of those revenues up. The big publishers, and some smaller ones too, claim that’s bad for them and for the book biz as a whole.

In other randomosity:

  • Thanks in no part whatsoever to regressive cuts-only Republicans and their pseudo-Democrat enablers, Wash. state has a budget, and not nearly as horrid a one as we could have had. The real issue, fixing the state’s ultra-regressive revenue system, was again kicked down the road.
  • The Legislature also failed to approve new means to pay for transit. However, it turns out Seattle still has the transit-funding mechanism approved a decade ago for the scuttled monorail campaign. That’s what the group called “Seattle Subway” hopes to use to fund more in-city rail miles (which, despite the group’s name, wouldn’t necessarily be below ground).
  • Emily Pothast has unkind, not-nice, really un-positive things to say about the Kirkland developers who want to gut Pike/Pine’s anchor block.
  • At the formerly Microsoft-owned Slate, Tom Scocca explains, in detail, just why today’s iteration of Microsoft Word so greatly sucks.
  • Matt Groening reveals, 22 years later, that yes, The Simpsons‘ Springfield is based on Springfield, Ore. (also known as Eugene’s evil twin).
  • Another crack in the edifice of Homophobia Inc.: The guy who first promoted the idea of “curing” gay people through “therapy” says he now believes it’s a crock of shit.
  • Meanwhile in the world of Incarceration Inc., two Penna. judges admitted they took bribes from a private prison operator to sentence juvenile suspects to terms at said private prisons.
  • A 25-year-old bride got herself a lavish wedding for free by pretending to have terminal cancer. The marriage has already crumbled; jail might be next.
  • Someone’s posted to Facebook a cartoon chart-graphic about “How to Focus in the Age of Distraction.” Rule #1: Get the heck off of Facebook.
  • Sometime in the mid 1990s I made a throwaway music-scene prediction, as part of a larger rant that the future is seldom linear. I said, “There could be a big hammered dulcimer revival in the 2010s, causing teens in the 2020s to yearn for the good old days of techno.” Speed up the timeline, substitute the recent “beard bands” for the dulcimers, and we seem to have gotten there.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/4/12
Apr 3rd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

artist's rendering; via kiro-tv

  • Millions in the making, the big Seattle waterfront roller coaster is finally on the way! Estimated opening: July 4th.
  • You all need to read Judy Lightfoot’s piece at Crosscut about people forced to live in their vehicles at highway rest stops—even people with full time jobs.
  • On a related note, the state’s (official) jobless rate has dropped just enough to disqualify the state’s unemployed from 26 weeks’ worth of extended benefits.
  • The state’s finances, services, and basic sense of humanity are swirling down the drain. Tim Eyman, of course, doesn’t give a shit.
  • Dept. of Correction: It turns out public breastfeeding is already legal in Wash. state. Yesterday’s “Random Links” piece implied otherwise.
  • Queen Anne Books has got itself a lucky new owner.
  • It’s official: there’s a whooping cough epidemic in our state.
  • Seattle Center asked the public for input on new public-space designs for the place. Only they announced it on Tuesday with a deadline of Wednesday. And we’re asked to choose between three plans, all designed by out-of-state firms, and all reeking of “world class” emotional coldness.
  • Three deserving local theatre troupes will get to share the performance space at the bottom of a new mixed-use development on Capitol Hill.
  • Who doesn’t look at a bizarre press release issued on April 1 with at least a little skepticism? The Puget Sound Business Journal, that’s who. (The hoax was from Ivar’s, announcing a 100-flavor chowder dispenser to rival the Coca-Cola Freestyle pop machine.)
  • The Mariners are acting all NIMBY-y about getting a basketball/hockey arena next door.
  • As the Seattle Times finishes up its recounting of every complaint anyone’s got against Amazon (including some pretty serious allegations), labor advocacy group Working Washington is inviting people to register their own snark on the etailer’s sales page for a “Fair Share Pie Cutter.”
  • Despite the plethora of comic book-based movies and related merch, actual comic book sales have collapsed in recent years (even more than newspapers). But one reviewer sees a ray of hope emerging amidst the pall of gloom. It’s the new higher-res iPad.
  • Just declassified and in hot demand, it’s all the data from the 1940 Census.
  • Celebrity-snark writer Dustin Rowles depicts sitcom has-been Kirk Cameron as a complete douchebag, albeit one of the pseudo-Christian rather than the regular Hollywood variety.
  • Morley Safer snarks at the bigtime art world. New York mag’s Jerry Saltz snarks back.
  • Your daily dose of political outrage: Paul Buchheit at Buzzflash lists some “preposterous but persistent conservative myths;” Stephen D. Foster Jr. at Addicting Info lists 40 particularly disgusting quotes by GOP politicos demonstrating the “values Republicans want to destroy America with;” and Laura Clawson at Daily Kos recounts the utter failure of a particularly dorky would be right-wing sting operation against a commuity organizing group.
  • And let’s all get ready for Easter with (direct from the Betty Crocker Kitchens) the original “Bunny Butt Cake.”

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