The Null Device
Also via The Fix, an online poll for the top 10 albums of all time. It appears to be mostly voted for by angsty teenagers, judging by the selection of alternative there is there, and the fact that The Cure are seriously overrepresented in the top 100. Anyway, of my votes, only 1 got in the top 100 (The Smiths' The Queen Is Dead), or indeed the top 1000 (though Lush's Split and New Order's Power, Corruption and Lies are just under the top 1000. (My #1 choice, The Field Mice's Where'd You Learn To Kiss That Way? is in the 1,690th place.)
Salon Premium (which cheapskates can access for the cost of viewing a 4-page Flash ad) has an interesting case of six worst-case scenarios for Bush-era America; from Handmaid's Tale-style erosion of reproductive rights and grinding poverty for the least well off to environmental catastrophes and, of course, catastrophic blowback over the Middle East over Iraq and Bush's backing of Ariel Sharon.
"By insuring the health of the fetus over that of the woman, the goal is to give the fetus a higher legal status than the woman," Feldt says. "Again, it's women as vessels."
Six weeks later, an Indonesian Muslim living in Chicago, a quiet, industrious father of five enraged by the Palestinian expulsion and by images of Iraqi children killed by U.S. bombs in Baghdad shown again and again on Al-Jazeera TV, drives a rented truck filled with 2,000 pounds of fertilizer into the busiest downtown intersection at lunch hour and detonates it. At least 534 people are killed when a seven-story building collapses on top of an audience attending an outdoor concert.
(via The Fix)
Proof that "punk" has lost whatever meaning it may have once had: the "pro-life" hardcore punk movement; that's right, pierced, blue-haired people moshing and militating for reimposition of traditional sex roles and moral values. The signifiers of punk have been completely disconnected from the radical social causes they signified.
JUST ANOTHER Sunday night punk rock concert. But these kids are wearing bright red sweat shirts inscribed with the words I Survived on the front and Over 1/3 Of Our Generation Has Been Wiped Out on the back.
If this WIRED Magazine article is right, the recording industry as we know it will be dead much sooner than we expect, and it's not just the Napatistas nickel-and-diming them to death with their MP3 sharing programs: new technology is democratising music production and distribution and making it easier for artists to be independent of major labels, while the labels are still stuck in a business model which assumes that they have the whip hand, the major labels are owned by a handful of gigantic corporations and dominated by conservative bean-counters concerned with short-term risk minimisation, and even if they got their choice of draconian new copyright laws with severe penalties for violation from the government (most of whom don't particularly like the degenerate hot-tubbing filthmongers in the recording industry anyway), it'd be too late.
If the majors collapse, or are reduced to a shadow of their former selves, that could be good. It could mean less homogeneity, clearing the deadwood and allowing a new diversity to flourish. Then again, that's sort of what happened with the rise of grunge in the early 90s, or so The Sell-In suggests, and it ultimately got assimilated into the system. Chances are, the cycle would repeat itself; though hopefully, the next time around, with artists having more autonomy, the system would look more like book publishing (where authors retain their copyrights and have more control) rather than the pimplike racket of the recording industry (where the legal "author" of a piece of music is the multinational corporation who lent (that's right, lent; it all comes out of the artist's share of royalties) the artist the money to get it recorded, and contracts give companies draconian levels of control over the artists' careers). The present system is riddled with scams and systemic corruption (a throwback to the days when the nascent recording industry was dominated by organised crime), and it's about time for a change.
Ding dong, the witch is dead! Hilary Rosen, the much maligned head of the RIAA who spearheaded several aggressive crackdowns on file-sharing and other such crimes, is resigning from the post at the end of the year. It is not clear what, if any, the political outcome of her resignation will be.
Meanwhile, a judge has ruled that a US ISP must reveal the identity of a serial MP3 downloader to the RIAA. Are the days of BSA-style "copyright audits" on private MP3 collections coming? Soon it may be prudent for anybody who has downloaded MP3s from the Internet to destroy their hard disks beyond forensic recoverability, avoiding expensive prosecution and/or lengthy prison terms. (Or, when they come for you, claim you were "just doing research" on music piracy.)