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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.
DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE
Sep 1st, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

illo to hugo gernsback's story 'ralph 124C41+,' from davidszondy.com

As we approach the Century 21 Exposition’s 50th anniversary, Seattle magazine asked a bunch of local movers, shakers, and thinkers what one thing they’d like to see this city build, create, or establish. Contributors could propose anything at any cost, as long they described one thing in one paragraph.

This, of course, is in the time honored local tradition of moaning about “what this town needs.”

In my experience, guys who start that sentence almost always finish it by desiring an exact copy of something from San Francisco or maybe New York (a restaurant, a nightspot, a civic organization, a public-works project, a sex club, etc.).

But this article’s gaggle of imaginers doesn’t settle for such simplistic imitation.

They go for site specific, just-for-here concepts.

Some of the pipe dreams are basic and obvious:

  • Grist.org’s Chip Giller and the Seattle Channel’s Nancy Guppy want more, and more convenient, public transit.
  • Former state Republican leader Chris Vance wants the Sonics back, and in Seattle Center not the suburbs, in an NHL-capable arena (I heartily agree).
  • My ol’ acquaintance and ACT Theatre boss Carlo Scandiuzzi wants more treatment centers for the mentally ill.
  • Greg Lundgren used his allotted paragraph to plug Walden Three, the comprehensive arts center he wants to build in the building where the Lusty Lady used to be (and which this web-space mentioned a couple of days ago).

Other dreamers dream bigger:

  • Chris Curtis wants more farmers’ markets, at permanent locations, with community centers attached to them.
  • Tom Douglas wants a new, efficient distribution system to get surplus food to feeding programs.
  • Kraig Baker wants an “incubation fund” that would allow workers of all ages to take a “gap year” and explore their selves and their futures.
  • Seattle magazine and Crosscut.com writer Knute Berger wants computer-graphic projections of how today’s Seattle might have looked if, say, the Denny Regrade had never been dug.
  • Geekwire.com’s John Cook wants a privately funded “Billionaire University” to train the next generation of tech geniuses. (Compare this idea to that of Jordan Royer, who wants more voc-tech training.)
  • Citytank.org’s John Bertolet wants a giant sci-fi weather machine to make it nice outside all the time.
  • Publicola.net’s Josh Feit wants a “tax on the Seattle Process,” sending money out of politicians’ campaign funds for every piece of long-term-stalled legislation they propose. (The money would go to Chicago!)

As for me, I could be snarky and say that what this town needs is fewer people sitting around talking about what this town needs.

But I won’t.

Instead, I’ll propose turning the post-viaduct waterfront into a site for active entertainment.

We’ve already got Myrtle Edwards Park and the Olympic Sculpture Park for passive, meditative sea-gazing and quiet socializing.

The central waterfront should be more high-energy.

Specifically, it should be a series of lively promenades and “amusement piers.”

Think the old Fun Forest, bigger and better.

Think pre-Trump Atlantic City.

Think England’s Blackpool beach.

Heck, even think Coney Island.

A bigass Ferris wheel. A monster roller coaster. Carny booths and fortune tellers. Outdoor performance stages and strolling buskers. Corn dogs and elephant ears. People walking and laughing and falling in love. Some attractions would be seasonal; others would be year-round. Nothing “world class” (i.e., monumentally boring). Nothing with “good taste.” Everything that tastes good.

atlantic city steel pier, from bassriverhistory.blogspot.com

SIDEBAR: By the way, when I looked for an online image to use as a retro illustration to this piece, I made a Google image search for “future Seattle.” Aside from specific real-estate projects, all the images were of gruesome dystopian fantasies. I’ll talk about the current craze for negative futurism some time later.

P.J. O'ROURKE VISITS…
Jan 4th, 2009 by Clark Humphrey

…Disneyland’s Tomorrowland-of-yesterday for The Atlantic and asks whatever happened to the human imagination.

That’s close to something I’ve been asking for a long time: Whatever happened to the future?

The two are highly intertwined, as O’Rourke’s essay implies. Without a working imagination, an individual or a society can’t foresee a compelling vision of tomorrow, let alone implement it.

This situation goes far beyond mere theme-park attractions, beyond the unending post-apocalyptic cliches in novels and movies.

You could see this utopia-deficiency among those liberals and radicals who spent the 27 years prior to this past year conveniently moping that everything was going to hell and nothing could really be done about it so why bother.

You could see it among those conservatives and business hustlers who spent the same years propagating a social zeitgeist of I-got-mine-screw-you.

And it ties in with a current project of mine.

I’m in the process of writing a futuristic story, in the form of a graphic-novel script. It’s a simple story, but it’s set in a complex world. Its setting is a future America that’s neither utopia nor dystopia, in which machines have progressed and the environment’s been “saved” and many other things have happened, but in which individual humans are just as fallible and their social structures just as imperfect as ever (albeit “different” in many intriguing ways).

When I’ve told people about it, I’ve had to repeatedly explain to them that my particular story’s “back story” includes no apocalyptic event between our “now” and the characters’ “now.” No nuclear wars, no eco-catastrophes, no corporate-military coups, no alien invasions, no mass genetic mutations.

It’s as if we’d lost the very ability to imagine an Earth on which things just happen, at their own various paces, with various results, with which people learn to live.

ALL WILL BE FINE IN TWENTY-OUGHT-NINE!
Jan 1st, 2009 by Clark Humphrey

As usual, this annual list (the most reliable of its type published anywhere) reports the people, places, and things that will become hot or hot-hot during the following year, not necessarily what’s hot or not-hot now. If you think everything that’s big just keeps getting bigger, you probably bought WaMu stock in ’06.


INSVILLE

OUTSKI

Facebook

MySpace (still)


Cinnamon

Teal

Saving Detroit (the place)

Saving the Big Three

Light rail (at last!)


Replacing SR 520

Fleet Foxes

Vampire Weekend

Sounders FC


Seahawks

Doers

Hustlers

Compassion

Consumption

Walking


Pilates

iPod Touch (still)

Zune (but you knew that)

Twitter

Texting

Demise of the neocons

Demise of analog TV

Rock Band 2

Autotune

Inclusionism

PC purity


WorldChanging.org

Hip cynicism

The Daily Beast

The Drudge Report

Ultra-local banks

“Too big to fail” banks


Drum-and-bass revival

Hair-metal revival

Amateur porn

Corporate porn

Decline of daytime soaps

Decline of daily newspapers

Renton

Issaquah

Extreme ballroom dancing

Drum circles

Neuroscience


Big Pharma

Luke and Noah (As the World Turns)

Luke and Laura

Netbooks

Blackberry

New silent movies


Mumblecore movies

“Obama’s too conservative”

“Obama’s too liberal”

Kress IGA

Whole Foods

Skyway

South Park

Jimmy Fallon

Leno in prime time

Naps

Smoke breaks


Etsy.com

Forever 21

Abby Elliott

Andy Samberg

Dim sum

Pho

K Street (Tacoma)

K Street (DC)


Lust

Avarice


Bridge

World of Warcraft
JUST ABOUT ANY…
Jul 31st, 2008 by Clark Humphrey

…pre-existing story property can now become the basis of “fan fiction,” erotic or otherwise. Even 1984.

HAPPY 46TH BIRTHDAY…
Apr 21st, 2008 by Clark Humphrey

…to the Century 21 Exposition, better known as the 1961 Seattle World’s Fair. So much has been written, some of it at this site, about the fair as the city’s official coming-out party, the event that put the town on the proverbial map and kick-started its fine-arts scene, whilst leaving a “permanent legacy” in the Seattle Center complex.

Less frequently mentioned is the fair’s most important and most forgotten legacy, its utopian attitude.

The fair occurred in the days before the ’60s assassinations, during the . The Vietnam war was still a small-scale police action. The civil rights movement had started to make waves. The new science of contraception promised to eradicate overpopulation and associated sufferings. Western Europe had finally recovered from WWII’s aftermath. America had two spankin’-new states to welcome into its civic bosom. Peace and prosperity seemed like true possibilities at the peak of JFK’s “Camelot” era.

More important locally, it was the dawn of jet travel. The world had grown hours or even days closer. Beyond that, the whole of outer space awaited our exploration.

In this milieu of memes, the fair’s buildings and exhibitors promised a great big beautiful tomorrow.

It doesn’t matter that the fair’s specific predictions about lifestyles and technologies didn’t come to pass. (Domed cities, nuclear-powered everything, etc.) For that matter, they didn’t predict women in corporate management or the Internet.

What matters is that, eight years into the century prophesied at the fair, we’ve lost that confident progressive spirit.

Now, some of us are trying to bring back that forward-looking spirit. This group includes those who’ve coalesced around a guy who was still in diapers when the fair opened.

EVERYTHING'S GREAT IN TWENTY-OUGHT-EIGHT!
Jan 5th, 2008 by Clark Humphrey

As always, this, the most accurate In/Out list published anywhere, compiles what will become hot and less-hot in the upcoming year, not necessarily what’s hot and less-hot at this current point in time. If you believe everything that’s hot now will just keep getting hotter in the future, we’ve got some subprime mortgage hedge funds to sell you.


INSVILLE

OUTSKI

Aqua Dots

Meth


Judgment

Blind faith

Micro-cars

Mega-churches

Movies based on musicals


Musicals based on movies

Quiet intelligence

Loud stupidity

Living wages


Mega Millions

Building affordable housing

Saving the mortgage industry

Interdependence

Co-dependence

Blood Orange


Iris Blue

John C. Reilly

Dane Cook

Saving the Crocodile

Saving the Fun Forest (alas)

Public sex

Private armies

The Week

Wired

Keith Olbermann

Lou Dobbs


Erin Brown

Keira Knightley

Paula Deen

Rachael Ray

Dr. Oz

Judge Judy


iPhone (still)

Amazon Kindle

Strong women

Train-wreck divas

Carbon footprints

Airport fingerprints

DiSo

MySpace

News

Fake news

“Mumblecore”


“Threequels”

Recycling electronics

Separating food waste

Lust

Luxury

Loonies


Greenbacks

Uglies

High School Musical

Wii

Zune

Hoarding regular light bulbs

Collecting Presidential dollars

Abigail Breslin

Miley Cyrus

Smart car (at last)

Dumb politicians


Leopard

Vista

Band of Horses

MercyMe

Sara Gruen

James Patterson

Viral video

Bird flu


Blu-ray

HD-DVD


Vancouver Olympics

Beijing Olympics


Buenos Aires

Havana


Talking Rain

Vitamin Water


Honeybee Hop

Dance Dance Revolution


Real life

Second Life


Quebec City

Oklahoma City
CREATIVE CLASS WAR
Aug 13th, 2007 by Clark Humphrey

David Thornburg warns that “The real challenge to the US is not our loss of high-skilled repetitive jobs to India, but the fact that we are losing our creative edge to other countries more than happy to invent the future without us.”

I SWEAR, I DON'T FEEL A DAY OLDER THAN 49
Jun 12th, 2007 by Clark Humphrey

Thanks to the 50-plus people who partied with me last Friday as I became 50-plus. (No, I don’t have any pix. I’m not that self-centered.)

I don’t think of myself as an oldster. Some generous people have said I don’t look like one, either. Except for a strange craving for afternoon naps I started having last year, I still see myself as the frustrated ex-college student trying to get his life started already. (I was going to write that I still feel like a 25-year-old, but that didn’t mean I was going to get one.)

It turns out there’s one celebrity born on my day in my year: Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams. He even made a circuitous reference to his birthday in the strip published that day.

Other folks sharing the great six/eight include Frank Lloyd Wright, Jerry Stiller, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Kanye West, Nancy Sinatra, Sonia Braga (herself still fabulous), Griffin Dunne, Supreme Court Justice Byron White, Joan Rivers, Mariner Kenji Johjima, Picket Fences costar Kathy Baker, James Darren, Bernie Casey, Colin Baker, DNA researcher Francis Crick, and some obscure Brit named Tim Berners-Lee who thought up something called the World Wide Web.

(Alas, I also share my special day with My Lai killer William Calley and Satan-spawner Barbara Bush.)

A birthday, especially one that’s a nice round number, traditionally represents a good time to look back at things.

I remember a few things about my early years–watching that primitive, five-channel television (one of my lifelong loves); teaching myself to read newspapers at around age three-and-a-half (another of my lifelong loves); getting bullied by the older kids; leaving the bucolic outskirts of Olympia (long before That College was ever built) for the comparatively sterile foothills east of Marysville (long before its casino- and sprawl-driven boom); being bored to tears by school and household chores; repeatedly discovering that a jock town held no particular fondness for smart but un-athletic boys; finding little to no interest in most bad-boy style recreations (drinking, smoking, drugging, cussing, driving, fighting); feeling imprisoned out in the (then) countryside; wishing as hell that I was among real streets and sidewalks; sitting and squirming in the back seat of a ’57 Chevy station wagon (we eventually became a “Ford family”); finding and losing religion; seeing my first live rock concert (a promo gig at the opening of a new housing development with The New Yorkers, later known as the Hudson Brothers); and discovering sex at the exact same time that the mass media did (hence failing to learn the valuable lesson that my culture had been lying to me all this time).

And I remember the day we all went to the Seattle World’s Fair. I basked in a real city experience. I stared in awe at the attractions. I calculated I’d be in my forties when all these wonderful techno-utopian predictions would come to pass. (I don’t miss not having a flying car; but the peace, prosperity, and progress they promised would still be nice.)

I might have more on this later, but I don’t guarantee it.

FROM HIS STANDPOINT…
Aug 22nd, 2005 by Clark Humphrey

…in the once-hoppin’ town of Kansas City, our favorite TV critic Aaron Barnhart thinks Wired magazine’s “TV of Tomorrow” issue doesn’t go far enough. Barnhart foresees a TV that’s not just from NY/LA/SF anymore: “…It’s not a stretch to imagine high-quality drama and comedy shows someday originating from St. Paul or Cleveland or Dallas or … or … Kansas City.”

OUR MAIN MAN HOWARD ZINN…
Dec 6th, 2004 by Clark Humphrey

…insists on “The Optimism of Uncertainty:” “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives.”

I STILL BELIEVE IN THE FUTURE,…
Jul 28th, 2004 by Clark Humphrey

…dammit, so I still want to see in real life some of the proposals depicted at Transportation Futuristics. Yes, that includes the Monorail.

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