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RANDOM LINKS FOR 7/16/13
Jul 15th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • I’ll have my own comments about the big Sub Pop anniversary shindig in a bit. But here’s Charles Peterson’s definitive pic of the event.
  • The next local funky institution to fall victim to overdevelopment: the venerable downtown music club Noc Noc.
  • We already told you of the development scheme that would erase Wallingford’s beloved Chinese restaurant and dive bar Moon Temple. Now it turns out CVS, a pharmacy chain with little presence in this region heretofore, is anchoring the project. A petition has been started.
  • One of those Forbes.com “contributors” describes today’s Pearl Jam as a “mature lifestyle business.”
  • How do artists make it fiscally in today’s Seattle? With great difficulty.
  • The Pike Place Market’s “gum wall” is bigger than it’s supposed to be.
  • At Microsoft today, “radical” reorganizations are almost as frequent as they used to be at Apple. (By the way, here’s what Jean-Louis Gassée, who led Apple during some of that firm’s reorgs, had to say last year about MS’s callous way of picking people to fire.)
  • UW students are planting anti-human-trafficking messages with feminine napkins. The story doesn’t say how the students plan to get the products to the intended recipients.
  • Alaska Airlines doesn’t want the City of SeaTac to impose “living wage” requirements on airport-based workers.
  • Still need a tourist destination for the rest of this summer? Check out Pocatello ID’s “Museum of Clean.”
  • Some extremist nutjob tried to pass off footage of the 2011 Vancouver Canucks fan riot as if it were Miamians protesting the Zimmerman verdict, instead of depicting the peaceful, anti-violence protests here and elsewhere.
  • Mark Sumner at Daily Kos ponders whether humankind’s strive toward a greater future could just putter out.
  • Bob Moser at The American Prospect sees the south turning solidly progressive, but perhaps not for another decade.
  • Some YouTuber has edited all of Terry Gilliam’s animations from Monty Python’s Flying Circus together into four complilations.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/29/13
May 29th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

via theatlantic.com

  • The Atlantic has unearthed a 1999 Microsoft ad, touting the e-book future that was supposed to be jump started by the soon-to-be-released Microsoft Reader software package. It’s taken a bit longer than that for events in this “Future of Reading” timeline to come about. But one thing has happened already: the luddites who’ve long dominated the book community are loudly touting the benefits of “Real Books From Real Trees for Real People.”
  • Once again, I insist that Windows 8 is not the cause of the PC sales slump. Rather, it’s the fact that everybody’s agog about phones and tablets instead. And the fact that so much PC functionality these days is based on online and “cloud”-based activity, so home users feel no need to buy new hardware.
  • Traffic on Wash. state roadways is at a 10-year low. Yet Republicans keep pushing a cars-only transportation budget.
  • Meanwhile, Knute Berger remembers the people who fought the R.H. Thompson Expressway, a freeway which would have eradicated the Central Area and ruined the Arboretum.
  • David Schoenfeld at ESPN.com says it’s time to sacrifice M’s manager Eric Wedge.
  • There’s a public school tucked away in Seattle’s residential north end. In recent years, the Indian Heritage School program was housed there. More recently, the school district’s talked about replacing the buildings on the site. That would mean destroying murals depicting local indigenous heroes. Activists have fought to keep the murals. They may succeed.
  • A cold-calling “charity” campaign, which recently phone-bombed Seattle households, may be a pure scam with little or no proceeds going to its stated cause.
  • Collector speculation pricing in music has affected the price of new vinyl editions.
  • Mothers Now Top Breadwinners in 4 of 10 U.S. Homes.”
  • Today in what you never hear about in the right-wing media, the Bush-era IRS gleefully persecuted liberal groups.
  • The Russian-owned news/opinion channel RT has hired Larry King.
  • Facebook vows to crack down on user-posted rape “jokes.”
  • Philip G. Ryken at the Gospel Coalition site has a snarky list of “How to Discourage Artists in the Church.” Some of its bullet points also apply to discouraging creative work in the larger world, such as “Treat the arts as a window dressing for the truth rather than a window into reality.”
  • PolitiFact rates at least half the things Republicans say as “false,” and employs exaggeration tricks to find at least some Democrats lying.
  • Tired of folks my age griping about how things used to be? Make up your own “meme” slogan for the face of “Old Economy Steven”!

quickmeme.com

IT WAS TWENTY YEARS AGO, ER, LAST MONTH
May 28th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

ap via nbc news

While I’ve been busy doing whatever (looking for a new home, etc.), I missed a few big birthdays here in online-land.

Tim Berners-Lee opened the first public World Wide Web site on 4/30/93 at the CERN particle-physics lab in Switzerland. For the occasion, that site has been put back up at its original URL.

Berners-Lee was, and still is, an idealist. In the original CERN site’s documents, he described the WWW as something that could open up information to the masses.

Instead of “walled garden” online networks such as CompuServe, Prodigy, and the original AOL, the Web would be open to all comers and contributors. Anybody could put anything on, or receive anything from, it.

This ultimate “disruptive technology,” creator of LOLcat memes and destroyer of newspapers, record labels, and middle-class livelihoods, got its start with the most noble of intentions.

(Just like many a mad-scientist-movie experiment.)

By pure coincidence, the first issue of Wired magazine was out that same month.

From the start, it was intended to be a lot more important than a mere buying guide to PC gear. It was to chronicle tech as the biggest economic, societal, and even ideological movement of our time.

It posited loudmouth, alpha-male San Franciscan Libertarians as the Voice of the Future. It sneered at governments, residents of “Tired” locales (France, Manhattan, Seattle), and people who dared to think about the well-being of others as backward-thinking parasites.

In the world according to the early Wired, CEOs were the new rock stars, even the new royalty. No social or environmental issue could be discussed in its pages, unless there was a potential solution that would also enrich (or at least never inconvenience) big business.

In the end, the bosses and bosses’ lackeys Wired worshipped got most of their way.

And as cyber-critic Jason Lanier notes, the 99 Percent are still trying to pick up the pieces.

That same week 10 years later, Apple launched the first version of the iTunes Store.

The iTunes application had been around since 2001, when Apple bought and revamped a third-party program called SoundJam MP.

Steve Jobs had identified music (and eventually general media) playback as a technology in which Apple had to lead, for the sake of the company’s survival. Otherwise, Windows-only applications and file formats (remember WinAmp?) would shut out Mac users, threatening Apple’s presence in home environments. By making iTunes, and making a Windows version of it, Jobs and co. stayed in the home-computer game.

Two years later, Windows Media-only file protection schemes were threatening to put a lock on “legal” (commercial) music downloads. Again, the Mac and its users would be shut out. Apple’s response not only had to be Windows-compatible, it had to dominate the market on both platforms.

The iTunes Store did that, and more.

Its stand-alone hardware adjuct, the iPod, quickly dominated the new market of portable digital music machines.

And along the way, iTunes allegedly “killed the old music industry.”

(Of course, many of us felt the old music industry had deserved to die, but that’s not the point here.)

But now, the notion of music downloads seems as archaic as the notion of buying music on little compact discs.

The big hype these days is for streaming music subscriptions, a field which Apple has yet to enter.

Yet through all these industry changes, one thing remains constant.

Most recording artists themselves still get the fiscal shaft.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/18/13
May 18th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Happy Mt. St. Helens Day!
  • Nordstrom was caught capturing and tracking the smartphone data of users who wandered through its (real-world) stores. Once the story broke out, the retail said it wasn’t doing it anymore.
  • A UW prof’s using meditation to teach students to conquer online distractions.
  • I’m still trying to determine if the Milwaukee slam poet Matt Cook, publicized in the hereby-linked page, is the same guy who was the Stranger’s first editor (and an unsung co-creator of that publication’s informal-snarkiness aesthetic).
  • Just as there are with vinyl records (and even 8-track tapes), there are people who staunchly defend VHS videocassettes and the culture they engendered. (Before VHS’s 30-year run as an active medium, the idea of “owning” your favorite movies was little more than a fantasy.) These analog nostalgists now have a documentary about them, taped in part at Seattle’s Scarecrow Video.
  • Carl Gibson at the political blog Nation of Change believes we should “move beyond ‘left vs. right,’” just before he iterates what is basically a center-left political platform.
  • Frank Zappa, as you all know, loathed drugs but loved him some hot groupie sex. His personal secretary, however, was allowed to turn him down.
  • Abstinence-only education, and the growing evidence that it’s really harmful, has proven to be one of the (many) topics that bring web comment trolls into full rabid-bigoted rage.
  • The UK’s Daily Telegraph refers to the Fast & Furious action-film series as Hollywood’s first “bisexual blockbuster.”
  • Does the still relatively little-used Google Plus have an alluring “tragic beauty” to it?
  • From all the hype you can hear about it these days, 3-D printing is either the best thing since sliced bread or the best thing since “industrial hemp.”
  • After just three weeks, the online revivals of All My Children and One Life to Live are each cutting back from four half-hour episodes a week to two.
  • Here’s a cool public art piece in Australia. It’s a hugeass hot air balloon in the form of a fantasy whale with human breast shapes stuck on, apparently just for fun.

junkee.com

RANDOM LINKS FOR 3/30/13
Mar 29th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

washington dept. of natural resources via kxly-tv spokane

  • Here’s the big Whidbey Island landslide from Wednesday.
  • Apartments are expensive, hard to find in Seattle area.” Damn. I need one and soon.
  • Update #1: The Elvis statue that got stolen from Mama’s Mexican Kitchen in Belltown was found and returned.
  • Update #2: Canterbury Ale & Eats, the legendary Capitol Hill dive bar, is still scheduled to close later this year. But its landlord, the nonprofit Capitol Hill Housing, wants to replace it with another “affordable” eatery-drinkery.
  • Update #3: The sudden controversy over artist Charles Krafft’s longstanding ultra-right-wing beliefs has made the New Yorker.
  • My ol’ acquaintance, painter Billy King, would like a “1 percent for the arts” program for commercial real-estate developments, particularly the ever-enlarging Amazon campus.
  • And local sci-fi legend Neal Stephenson would like his fellow fantasists to get back to the old SF game of imagining practical, possible utopias, instead of the escapist cyberspaces and grim nightmare futures they’re mostly imagining these days.
  • Michelle Shocked shows up at clubs that canceled her gigs after her anti-gay rant, claiming to be a free-speech martyr.
  • “Shoppers tired of Walmart’s empty shelves and long lines are bolting to Costco and Target.” The empty-shelves part is only partly due to Walmart’s notoriously lousy labor policies that drive potential workers away. It’s also due to suppliers getting sick n’ tired of Walmart’s notorious “my way or the highway” stance toward them.
  • Salon asks, “Is there anything 3-D printing can’t do?” Actually, there’s a heckuva lot it can’t do. Yet.
  • Many (white female) porn stars still refuse to perform interracial sex scenes on camera. Comment #1: Yes, women (including sex workers) should be able to turn down anything they want to turn down. Comment #2: It’s still a sad sign that some performers (and, presumably, viewers), in a genre once thought to be the cutting edge of “free speech” progress, can’t get beyond one of society’s most tired old prejudices.
  • Micheal Schuman at Time sees a new relevance for that ol’ policy nerd Karl Marx, as the global one-percenters wage “class struggle” against all the rest of us. But Schuman doesn’t see, or recommend, any serious counter response.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 2/22/13
Feb 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Seattle artist Ellen Ziegler’s mom was a ballet dancer—and a onetime girlfriend of the great Mexican comic actor Cantinflas. Ziegler’s turning this story into a very-limited-edition art book.
  • In other news about local women and art and books and images of hotness, Charlotte Austin and Ciolo Thompson have created The Better Bombshell. In it, a variety of writers and artists of both genders contemplate that age-old issue of female role models and what they should be now.
  • Online “cyber-bullying” isn’t just for teens anymore. The disgraced now-former Snohomish County executive did it too.
  • The Oatmeal explains why “How to Suck at Your Religion.” (Essentially: if you preach brotherhood but practice bigotry, etc….)
  • The drive to preserve the Bauhaus coffeehouse’s building, by getting it named an official historic landmark: rejected.
  • The lawsuit challenging the Sonics arena scheme: rejected.
  • Even Republicans believe Tim Eyman’s “lying whore” comment against Gov. Inslee went too far.
  • PONCHO, granddaddy of Seattle arts fundraising groups (and inventor of the “charity auction”), is no more.
  • Can private tech colleges, charging $30,000 or more for degree programs, really solve Wash. state’s learning gap?
  • Eastern Washington, now with more radioactive sludge.
  • Life imitates Portlandia, at least 30 times.
  • Chuck Thompson at the New Republic derides microbrews, and the brewpubs who sell them, as icons of silly urban gentrificaiton. But they’re really, really tasty icons of silly urban gentrification.)
  • The sad tale of the “food critic on Food Stamps” finally has a happy ending. Ex-Tacoma News Tribune restaurant reviewer Ed Murrieta finally found a job, after spending years among the long-term unemployed. He now writes blurbs for Sacramento’s tourism board.
  • In Virginia, a white mom wants white kids not to have to read books about past racial violence.
  • I know I’m not the only one who still remembers LaserDiscs, those 12-inch analog video discs that were the best way to see movies at home in their day.
  • Here’s an artistic vision of a future car-free Manhattan, funded by (who else?) a car company.

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 8/2/12
Aug 2nd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

perfect sound forever, via furious.com

  • It was my first real lesson in how to make a print periodical that was neither a corporate “slick” nor an amateur “zine.” It was my entree into several musical worlds, most importantly that of U.S. indie pop/rock. Let us remember the brief, glorious life of New York Rocker.
  • Can Washington’s state parks really survive if they have to become self supporting?
  • Correction of the day (NY Times):

An earlier version misstated the term Mr. Vidal called William F. Buckley Jr. in a debate. It was crypto-Nazi, not crypto-fascist.

  • In the Matrix movies, identity is easily transmutable and fluid. Think about that when you learn that director Larry Wachowski now wants to be known as Lana.
  • How do all those “rugged individualist,” “rebel” Tea Party operatives act and sound so much alike? They get special training in exactly what to say, do, and believe.
  • Meanwhile, “Conservative Movement” operatives are finally starting to turn against one another, using the same tactics of loud lies they’ve always used against progressives and centrists.
  • The latest winner of one of those dumb magazine declarations about “America’s coolest city”? Houston.
  • If a Waterworld dystopia ever comes to be, expect the One Percenters to hole themselves up in fancy-as-all-heck “floating cities of the future.”
  • Human waste off the Northwest coast, now with extra caffeine.
  • The anti-”social media” backlash is fully underway. One disgruntled Facebook advertiser says it was charged for “clicks” on its ads that turned out to have been mostly generated by “bot” programs. And Ewan Morrison at the Guardian implores self-publishing authors to spend less time incessantly hawking their “brands” on Twitter, Facebook, et al., and more time actually, you know, writing.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 6/18/12
Jun 17th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

ford 'seattle-ite xxi' car display at the world's fair; uw special collections via edmonds beacon

  • In the revived Baffler, self described “anthropologist and anarchist” David Graeber has a long “salvo” of an essay that starts out by asking some of the questions a lot of folks have asked during the World’s Fair semicentennial: Where the heck are the flying cars, missions to Mars, or other techno-wonders we were promised back then? Graeber smoothly segues from that into a more general modern malaise, in which nothing seems to be getting better except info-tech—and that’s turned us all into serfs to bureaucracy, even in our private lives. His answer: a more egalitarian economy. (I know, easier to say than to make.)
  • Online Media Shrinkage Watch: The combo of Crosscut and Publicola turned out to be more of a springtime fling than a marriage. Crosscut’s cutting back. Not just on its new hires (Publicola founders and city hall insider reporters Josh Feit and Erica Barnett), but the site’s existing staff and freelance budgets. Three big funding sources are expiring around the same time. Crosscut founder David Brewster says a new funding scheme (and a reorganization, with Brewster stepping back from full hands-on management of the site) is on the way. And Feit’s talking about restarting Publicola with his own new reorg. Weezell see….
  • As Wash. state’s privatized booze biz rolls on, could people actually start drinking less?
  • Attendance at Occupy Seattle’s “general assembly” meetings has plummeted. Is the organization fading away? If it does, its range of causes has not and will not go away. Tactics change. Goals remain. Eyes on the Prize and all that.
  • While the alpha-male hustlers running most all of America’s tech companies (and the equally estrogen-lacking tech journalists and bloggers) weren’t noticing, Internet usage has become majority female. So are the usages of GPS, e-book readers, Skype, text messaging, mobile-phone voice usage, and more.
  • The Waterfront Streetcar might or might not run again. If it does, it won’t be for at least seven years.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/1/12
Apr 30th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

  • “Black Sun,” Isamu Noguchi’s donut shaped sculpture at Volunteer Park, hasn’t just inspired a Soundgarden song. Now it’s also getting its own postage stamp! (UPDATE: Turns out the stamp was issued way back in ’05. I’m even less astute about philately than I am about other topics.)
  • Funhouse update: Yes, the defiantly un-cleaned-up punk club in Lower Queen Anne will be evicted, and the building razed for redevelopment, effective this Halloween. Th Funhouse owners are looking for a new location.
  • When last we looked, Microsoft was suing Barnes & Noble, claiming its Nook e-book machine violated MS-owned patents. Now, MS is buying a piece of the Nook operation.
  • What’s harder to find around these parts than a Thunders fan? A non-geezer-age Republican who liked Romney more than Ron Paul during this primary/caucus season.
  • The rainy winter = plenty of hydro power in the coming months.
  • As we remember the Seattle World’s Fair and its vision for a World of Tomorrow, a real-life “City of the Future” is being built from scratch in Portugal. Intended to house 150,000 residents, it’s planned to be a “techno-paradise of energy conservation.” Thousands of sensors will monitor and regulate everything from traffic on the streets to faults in the water supply.
  • Courtney Love can’t get “completion insurance” for film roles, and the music business is in freefall. With only fashion modeling left to actively maintain her celebrity presence, she’s added a new line, that of visual artist. Samples of her debut exhibition could invite comparisons to the crayon drawings of a child-psychiatry patient.
  • Delta Airlines hopes to cushion itself against high fuel prices by buying its own oil refinery.
  • Last month was the 60th anniversary of the first toy ad on U.S. television. It was for the original version of Mr. Potato Head (kids had to supply their own potatoes).
  • The latest print mag in fiscal rough seas: The American Prospect, for two decades one of progressive America’s top sources of news n’ analysis.
  • Anti-dumping tariffs work. They’re causing Chinese companies to open factories in the U.S.
  • A London department store’s offering a “luxury champagne lollipop” covered with real gold flakes. Of all the one-percenty things in the world, could this be the one-percentiest?
  • Amazingly, I still have to explain to people that I hate existing in freelance-writing hell and I want to get out of it by any means necessary. Perhaps this item, by a guy who got out of the racket, will help these folks get it.
WHY CARE ABOUT THE FAIR?
Apr 24th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

painting the needle for its big b-day party

Keith Seinfeld at KPLU recently asked, “Why does Seattle still care about the world’s fair?

That’s an excellent question.

As international expos go, Seattle’s was relatively small.

And it took place a full half century ago.

Until Mad Men came along, that era was widely considered to have been a dullsville time, a time wtih nothing much worth remembering.

The “Space Age” predicted at the fair would seem would seem ridiculous just a few years later. It predicted domed cities and cheap nuclear power. It predicted computers in the home (in the form of fridge-sized consoles) and video conferencing (with a special “picturephone”), but it didn’t predict the Internet.

It sure didn’t predict the racial, sexual, musical, and social upheavals collectively known as “The Sixties.”

And a lot of the fair’s attractions were so utterly corny, you can wonder why they were taken seriously even then. Attractions such as the world’s largest fruitcake. Or the Bubbleator (essentially just a domed platform on a hydraulic lift). Or the adults-only risqué puppet show (by the future producers of H.R. Pufnstuf).

Yet a lot of us do care about all that. And not just us old-timers either.

And not just for the physical structures the fair left behind (the Space Needle, the Science Center, etc.).

The fair was the single most important thing that happened in Seattle between World War II and the rise of Microsoft. (The launch of the Boeing 707 was the next most important.)

The fair revved up the whole Northwest tourism industry, just as jet aircraft and Interstate highways were getting more Americans to explore other parts of their nation. This once-remote corner of the country became a top destination.

The fair was a coming-out party for a new Seattle.

A Seattle dominated not by timber and fishing but by tech. Specifically, by aerospace.  Boeing had only a secondary role in equipping the U.S. space program, but its planes were already making Earth a seemingly smaller place.

The fair didn’t start the Seattle arts and performance scenes, but it gave them a new oomph.

Seattle Opera and the Seattle Repertory Theatre were immediately established in the fair’s wake.

ACT Theatre came soon after. Visual art here was already becoming famous, thanks to the “Northwest School” painters; the fair’s legacy led to increased local exposure to both local and national artists.

The fair established a foothold for modern architecture here.

Before the fair, there hadn’t been a major change to Seattle’s skyline since the Smith Tower in 1914. (The few new downtown buildings were relatively short, such as the 19-story Norton Building.)

The Space Needle became the city’s defining icon, instantly and forever.

The U.S. Science Pavilion (now Pacific Science Center) established the career of Seattle-born architect Minoru Uamasaki, who later designed the former World Trade Center.

Speaking of tragedy and turmoil, some commentators have described the fair’s era as “a simpler time.”

It wasn’t.

The Cuban missile crisis, revealed just after the fair ended, threatened to turn the cold war hot.

The whole Vietnam debacle was getting underway.

The civil rights and black power movements were quickly gaining traction.

The birth control pill was just entering widespread use.

Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, which helped launch the U.S. environmental movement, came out while the fair was on.

So yes, there were big issues and conflicts in 1962.

But there was also something else.

There was optimism.

In every exhibit and display at the fair, there was the notion that humans could work together to solve things.

And, at least at the fair, most everything was considered solveable.

I wrote in 1997, at the fair’s 35th anniversary, that its creators sincerely felt Americas would strive “to ensure mass prosperity (without socialism), strengthen science, popularize education, advance minority rights, and promote artistic excellence.”

It’s that forward-looking confidence that got lost along the road from the Century 21 Exposition to the 21st century.

It’s something many of us would like to see more of these days.

And that, more than Belgian waffles or an Elvis movie, is why Seattle still cares about the World’s Fair.

And why you should too.

(Cross posted with City Living.)

souvenir display at the world's fair anniversary exhibition

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 1-16-12
Jan 15th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

revel body, via geekwire.com

  • Seattle’s really got some high-tech hardware geniuses. Among them: the folks who’ve taken the same principles behind the Sonicare toothbrush and applied them to create advanced 21st century vibrators! (Really.)
  • We’ve previously mentioned the strong presence of women’s erotica among Amazon’s e-book sales. Now come charges that some of the self-published smut books are stolen from stories posted for free viewing on erotica websites. (These allegations are against the small-time publishers, not Amazon.)
  • Crazy Wall St. idea of the week (thus far): A local corporate-buyout analyst showed up on CNBC and said Microsoft should buy Barnes & Noble.
  • Here’s one way to make money off of the walking renaissance. Make a big venture-funded software thing to help folks find homes to buy in walkable neighborhoods.
  • Our ol’ pal Geov Parrish believes the state budget mega-crisis might, just might mind you, lead to talk, or even actual action, toward reforming Washington’s mighty regressive tax system—by far the principal failing of a local “progressive” politic that never dares challenge big business.
  • On a related matter, state House Speaker Frank Chopp is floating the idea of Wash. State running its own bank, just like North Dakota. Or something as close to a bank as the state constitution now permits.
  • The Mariners lose one really good pitcher, gain one maybe decent-hitting position player. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Who knew the original Ladies’ Home Journal was so prescient? A 1911 list of “What Might Happen in the Next Hundred Years” predicts “telephones around the world,” airplanes used as “aerial war-ships,” automobiles “cheaper than horses,” “trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour,” grand opera “telephoned to private homes,” photographs “telegraphed to any distance,” “cameras electrically connected with screens at opposite ends of circuits,” ready-to-eat meals in stores, genetically modified foods, and even global warming. Writer John Elfreth Watkins Jr. did get a few things wrong, such as “hot and cold air from spigots,” the deliberate extinction of mosquitos, and the removal of C, Q, and X from the alphabet. Watkins also didn’t predict that his magazine would still be in business today, after many of its compatriots went to the great newsstand in the sky.
  • Clever videomakers in Montana have released a thoroughly obliterating parody of a particularly dumb “rebel lifestyle” pickup truck commercial.
  • And a great big thank you for those who attended the Seattle Invitationals Sat. nite, at which I performed what I hope was a respectful, straightforward rendition of the Presley classic “You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care).” Since this is the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair, I’d wanted to perform the best song from It Happened at the World’s Fair. But the live band didn’t know it. So here it is for all of you, in the original rendition.
FROM THE INSIDE OUT, AND BACK AGAIN
Jan 7th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

A few days late but always a welcome sight, it’s the yummy return of the annual MISCmedia In/Out List.

As always, this listing denotes what will become hot or not-so-hot during the next year, not necessarily what’s hot or not-so-hot now. If you believe everything big now will just keep getting bigger, I can score you a cheap subscription to News of the World.

INSVILLE OUTSKI
Reclaiming Occupying
Leaving Afghanistan Invading Iran
Chrome OS Windows 8
The Young Turks Piers Morgan Tonight
Ice cream Pie
Bringing back the P-I (or something like it) Bringing back the Sonics (this year)
Community Work It
Obama landslide “Conservatalk” TV/radio (at last)
Microdistilleries Store-brand liquor
Fiat Lexus
World’s Fair 50th anniversary Beatles 50th anniversary
TED.com FunnyOrDie.com
Detroit Brooklyn
State income tax (at last) All-cuts budgets
Civilian space flight Drones
Tubas Auto-Tune (still)
Home fetish dungeons “Man caves”
Tinto Brass Mario Bava
Greek style yogurt Smoothies
Card games Kardashians
Anoraks “Shorts suits”
Electric Crimson Tangerine Tango
Michael Hazanavicius (The Artist) Guy Ritchie
Stories about the minority struggle Stories about noble white people on the sidelines of the minority struggle
(actual) Revolutions The Revolution (ABC self-help talk show)
Kristen Wiig Kristen Stewart
“Well and truly got” “Pwned”
Glow-in-the-dark bicycles (seen in a BlackBerry ad) BlackBerry
Color print-on-demand books Printing in China
Ye-ye revival Folk revival
Interdependence Individualism
Hedgehogs Hedge funds
Erotic e-books Gonzo porn
Michael Fassbender Seth Rogan
Sofia Vergara Megan Fox
3D printing 3D movies (still)
Sex “Platonic sex”
Love “Success”
“What the what?” “Put a bird on it”
RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/4 (GOOD BUDDY!) /11
Oct 3rd, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

satirical ad by leah l. burton, godsownparty.com

  • To CNN, it’s apparently news that conservative preachers denounce gay marriage and birth control, but can’t get themselves to preach against greed.
  • Filmmakers are getting ideas from the oddest sources these days. A feature’s being shot in Seattle, based on a classified ad. (A joke classified ad, to be more precise.)
  • A bigger North Cascades National Park: why not?
  • Highway 520 construction crews have taken down the trees that let wealthy Eastside households imagine they were in “the country,” not next to the freeway they were actually next to.
  • Whatever happened to Seattle’s neighborhood activists?
  • Seattle, now with one-third more transit users per capita than Portland.
  • Local scifi author Neal Stephenson asks whatever happened to America’s (and Seattle’s) hope for the future. His answer: an obsession with “certainty” at the expense of daring.
  • In the online music world, Seattle-based Rhapsody has bought the subscription rosters and other assets of Napster. In other news, Napster still existed as of last week.
  • It’s official. The Kress Building on Third Avenue will hold a J.C. Penney store. But they’d better let the Kress IGA supermarket stay on the lower level.
  • Our ol’ pal Ronald Holden sings the praises of a better industrial food thickener.
  • The head of the U.N.’s World Intellectual Property Organization predicts print newspapers will disappear in the U.S. by 2017. In other lands, they could last as long as 2040. Believe it or don’t.
  • One mainstream media outlet has finally found a way to cover Occupy Wall Street—as “New York’s newest tourist attraction.”
  • The Koch Brothers are secretive, wealthy backers of all sorts of anti-democracy and anti-middle class projects on the federal and state levels. Now we learn they’ve made part of their fortune through illegal, secret chemical sales to Iran. Whooda thunkit?
  • And, though I’ve not been following this at all, there apparently was a verdict in a legal appeal out in Europe somewhere.
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