Thursday, December 31, 2009
During my brief time working in "middle management", I was required to do "SWOT Analysis". SWOT stands for "Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats". As a planning exercise, it was quite useful, but it became comical when used as a management tool. Everyone understood the fake Chinese crisis wisdom, and we all made sure that our threats were the same as our opportunities, and our weaknesses were also our strengths.
On this last day of the "0"s, I've been reading a lot of prognostication about the next ten years. It's very relevant to this blog, as I've been using it to help me think about what to do next. Some things are not too hard to imagine: the current newspaper industry will shrink to maybe 10% its current size; the book publishing will reshuffle during the transition to e-books; Google will become middle-aged. The SWOT analysis for these will be easy.
The SWOT analysis that I have trouble with is the one for libraries. What threats to libraries will arise? Will Libraries as we know them even exist in 10 years?
I've heard publishers say they believe that there will be no role at all for libraries in the developing e-book ecosystem. If that's not a threat, I don't know what is! On the other hand, there's the example of the Barnes and Noble e-book reader, the Nook, that has the intriguing feature of being able to read books without buying them while you're in the bookstore! If there's a role for brick and mortar bookstores in the e-book ecosystem, then surely there's a role for libraries.
In thinking about what roles libraries will play when all books are e-books, I keep coming back to a conclusion that sounds odd at first: the prospective role of libraries will be entwined with that of piracy in the e-book ecosystem.
While there are fundamental differences between e-book libraries and e-book pirates, there are important similarities. As I noted in my article on copyright enforcement for e-books, libraries have traditionally played an important role in providing free access to print books; e-book pirates have as their mission the provision of free access to e-books. For this reason, libraries and pirates would occupy the same "market space" in an e-book ecosystem. This is not to say that libraries and pirates would be direct competitors; it's hard to imagine pirate sites appealing to many of the people who patronize libraries.
So where is the "threat" to libraries? Think about how book publishers will need to respond to the threat of e-book piracy. I've argued that publishers should do everything they can to reward e-book purchases, but that addresses only the high price segment of the market. Public libraries address the low-price segment of the market, providing books to people with a low willingness or ability to pay for access, while still providing a revenue stream for the publishers. To keep pirates from capturing this market in the e-book economy, publishers will need to facilitate the creation of services targeted at this market.
An analogy from the video business is appropriate here. DVDs can only satisfy part of the digital video market. Though it's taken a while for the studios to realize it, in order to effectively compete with video pirates, the movie studios need to have digital offerings like hulu.com that offer movies for free.
What will the free e-book services look like? Perhaps they'll be advertising sponsored services like Google Books. Perhaps they'll be publisher- or genre-specific subscription services that provide people a "free book" experience at a fixed monthly price. Unfortunately, it seems a bit unnatural that publishers would turn to libraries to create the sort of services that could replicate the role of the library in the e-book ecosystem- libraries just aren't entrepreneurial in that way.
Somehow I don't think that book publishers will warm to a "Napster for e-Books", even if it was labeled "e-Book Inter-Library Loan".
Still, I'm optimistic. Some horrific mashup of Open Library, Google Books, LibraryThing, WorldCat, BookShare, Facebook, Freebase, RapidShare and the Mechanical Turk is going to just the thing to save both libraries and publishers. You heard it here first. And if you find it scary- don't forget that you can't spell e-Book without BOO!
Article any source
1. Dave Barry's Year in Review: 2009 - Miami Herald.
2. Dud of a Decade - Chart of the Day via Bear Mountain Bull.
3. A Hell of a Decade - Peter Schiff at Campaign for Liberty.
4. Marc Faber shares his 2010 outlook on CNBC - Investment Postcards.
5. Ultimate Guide to 2010 Investment Outlooks - PragCap.
6. James Howard Kunstler: Forecast 2010 - Kunstler.com
7. Decade of Disruption: 4 part series - FT.com
8. Reflection and Introspection: Quotes - Financial Philosopher.
9. My Decade...Economically Speaking - Howard Lindzon.
Enjoy these links and we'll see you in 2010. Have a happy and healthy New Year.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Según los datos facilitados hoy a Europa Press por Meteogalicia, dependiente de la Consellería de Medio Ambiente, las zonas de montaña obtuvieron en la madrugada de hoy los registros mayores, con ráfagas de viento superiores a 100 kilómetros por hora, llegando a 103 en Cabeza de Manzaneda (Ourense).
Además, también de madrugada se alcanzaron los 83 kilómetros por hora en las Illas Ons (Pontevedra); 90 en Lousame (A Coruña) y los 79 en Punta Candieira, en Cedeira.
En la jornada de ayer, según los registros de Meteogalicia, fueron Cedeira, con 122 kilómetros por hora, y Cabeza de Manzaneda, con 115, los municipios con las ráfagas de viento de intensidad mayor.
Las previsiones apuntan, según Meteogalicia, a que la intensidad del viento remite en la jornada de hoy, pero volverá a aumentar mañana en el litoral de A Coruña y Pontevedra, para descender de nuevo y subir otra vez en la jornada del día 31.
Esto se debe, según las mismas fuentes, a que Galicia seguirá las próximas 72 horas bajo la influencia de una borrasca, con 'mejorías transitorias'. Así, la alerta se mantiene únicamente en el mar, por viento y mar de fondo, con olas superiores a los cuatro metros, mientras que en el resto de la comunidad no se prevé superar los 100 kilómetros por hora.
Fuente: La Region
Is China's economy sailing along thanks to a skillful implementation of government-directed "stimulus", or is the country's current prosperity and stated economic output merely a mirage?
Jim Chanos is on record saying that China is "Dubai times 1000" and that the government-directed economy is being propped up with phony GDP statistics. His firm, Kynikos Associates, has also been influenced by a report on China's economy from Pivot Capital Management:
"The Pivot Capital report was extremely popular in Chanos’s office and concluded, “We believe the coming slowdown in China has the potential to be a similar watershed event for world markets as the reversal of the U.S. subprime and housing boom.” "
I thought it would be insightful to follow-up Monday's post with a look at this research, so I'm currently reading Pivot Capital's report, "China's Investment Boom: the Great Leap into the Unknown" (pdf).
If you're inclined to read along and share your thoughts on China's economy with us, we'd appreciate it.
La scelta della Presidenza delle Repubblica di usare YouTube come ulteriore canale di comunicazione è un importante segno di apertura e dialogo verso il popolo della rete. Dopo il canale della Camera dei Deputati, del Ministro Gelmini e del Vaticano, anche la principale Istituzione della Repubblica sente il bisogno di utilizzare Internet per comunicare in modo più diretto con i cittadini.
Altri esempi di importanti Istituzioni che popolano la nostra community sono il governo britannico e la Famiglia Reale inglese, la Regina Rania di Giordania, l'Unione Europea, la Casa Bianca, il Governo Iracheno e la Presidenza di Israele.
Il web sta cambiando il modo di relazionarci con i nostri leader mondiali, oggi sempre più vicini a noi cittadini. Questa è un'opportunità, per chiunque voglia coglierla, ed un segnale forte di apertura e trasparenza.
Scritto da: Marco Pancini, European Policy Counsel
Temperaturas previstas y probabilidad de lluvia:
Orihuela “Ciudad/23 mts”... Máx: 19ºC / Mín: 10ºC / Ll: 35%
Cabo Roig “Pedanía costera/7 mts”.... Máx: 19ºC / Mín: 11ºC / Ll: 30%
Torremendo “Pedanía/42 mts”... Máx: 18ºC / Mín: 9ºC / Ll: 35%
La Murada “Pedanía/54 mts”.. Máx: 18ºC / Mín: 9ºC / Ll: 40%
Ciudades cercanas importantes:
Murcia “Ciudad/39 mts”.... Máx: 19ºC / Mín: 10ºC / Ll: 40%
Alicante “Ciudad/8 mts”... Máx: 18ºC / Mín: 11ºC / Ll: 25%
Elche “Ciudad/86 mts”.. Máx: 18ºC / Mín: 9ºC / Ll: 35%
Temperaturas previstas y probabilidad de lluvia:
Orihuela “Ciudad/23 mts”... Máx: 17ºC / Mín: 9ºC / Ll: 10%
Cabo Roig “Pedanía costera/7 mts”.... Máx: 18ºC / Mín: 11ºC / Ll: 5%
Torremendo “Pedanía/42 mts”... Máx: 16ºC / Mín: 8ºC / Ll: 10%
La Murada “Pedanía/54 mts”.. Máx: 16ºC / Mín: 9ºC / Ll: 10%
Ciudades cercanas importantes:
Murcia “Ciudad/39 mts”.... Máx: 17ºC / Mín: 10ºC / Ll: 10%
Alicante “Ciudad/8 mts”... Máx: 17ºC / Mín: 11ºC / Ll: 10%
Elche “Ciudad/86 mts”.. Máx: 17ºC / Mín: 9ºC / Ll: 10%
Meteo Orihuela (Pedro José Gómez Cascales) les desea un FELIZ AÑO 2010.Any source
The information relevant to Ireland's tax investigation issues in most cases would concern the bank accounts or the beneficial ownership of companies or trusts.
Another TIEA was concluded between the BVI and China, signed by BVI Premier and Minister of Finance, Ralph O’Neal and Chinese Deputy Commissioner of the State Administration of Taxation, Qian Guanlin.
In his statement after signing the agreements, O'Neal remarked that they were a significant milestone in relations between the Governments of the British Virgin Islands, China and Ireland, and expressed the commitment to examine other areas of mutual co-operation and benefit.
Previous TIEA was concluded by the BVI with the Kingdom of Netherlands in September 2009. With signing of these two agreements, total number of tax exchange agreements signed by the BVI Territory reached 17.
Article any source
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Véase el mapa Isobárico actual. Bajas presiones (cuyo centro es de 978 mb), situadas al Sur de Irlanda, enviando frentes sin cesar rumbo a la Península Ibérica.
Los sucesivos frentes entran sobre todo por el Golfo de Cádiz, pero alguno también por Galicia, dejando intensas y persistentes precipitaciones en las zonas próximas a dichas localizaciones. Aquí, en el Sureste, evidentemente no nos enteramos de los Frentes de la forma que lo notan los andaluces o los gallegos entre otros. A esta zona las nubes llegan sin apenas humedad y el viento del Suroeste es un viento muy cálido, que tras recorrer muchos kilómetros, llega a Orihuela recalentado, de ahí la subida de temperaturas que hemos tenido hoy.
Vamos a ver algunos de los valores térmicos máximos que se han dado hoy en el Sureste peninsular:
Albox (Almería): 27,3ºC
Llaurí (Valencia): 26,7ºC
Cuevas del Almanzora (Almería): 26,7ºC
Xátiva (Valencia): 26,3ºC
Beneixida (Valencia): 26,2ºC
Alzira (Valencia): 26,2ºC
Orihuela (Alicante): 26,2ºC
Murcia (Murcia): 26,1ºC
Dénia (Alicante): 25,8ºC
Llano de Brujas (Murcia): 25,5ºC
La Pobla del Duc (Valencia): 25,2ºC
Benifaió (Valencia): 25,1ºC
Santomera (Murcia): 25,1ºC
Molina de Segura (Murcia): 25,0ºC
Pedreguer (Alicante): 24,8ºC
Foios (Valencia): 23,9ºC
Elche (Alicante): 23,9ºC
Novelda (Alicante): 23,2ºC
Elda (Alicante): 22,5ºC
Cehegín (Murcia): 22,4ºC
Alicante (Alicante): 22,2ºC
Jumilla (Murcia): 22,2ºC
Alcoy (Alicante): 21,9ºC
Yecla (Murcia): 21,7ºC
Totana (Murcia): 21,6ºC
Caravaca (Murcia): 21,4ºC
Como pueden apreciar... temperaturas totalmente insólitas para estas fechas en las que nos encontramos.Any source
Buonasera a tutti!!
Mi scuso per i pochi aggiornamenti al meteo&surf di questi ultimi giorni, ma il tutto non dipende da me (sono senza connessione momentaneamente). Ringrazio Felix per il contributo fotografico del Sasso della mattina di Natale! grazie a te ho rosicato ancora di più per la mancata session... ;-)
La situazione sul Mediterraneo è in fase Atlantica a pieno regime, con correnti tese mediamente occidentali previste in forte rinforzo a cavallo tra il vecchio e nuovo anno. Per il nuovo anno le temperature tenderanno gradualmente a calare, con prospettive nevose soprattutto per il nord Italia ancora tutte da valutare.
Mercoledì 30 e giovedì 31 dicembre: due perturbazioni in transito sull'Italia centro-settentrionale, la prima debole nelle prime ore di mercoledì con piovaschi e qualche nevicata sulle Alpi oltre i 600-900m ma con quota neve in graduale rialzo, la seconda giovedì pomeriggio con fenomeni localmente intensi tra Levante ligure e Toscana, neve oltre i 1500m sulle Alpi. Al sud fenomeni limitati alla sola Campania e ancora clima molto mite per la stagione.
Capodanno 1° gennaio: un ultimo impulso perturbato a carattere freddo transiterà al mattino tra nord e regioni tirreniche, portando rovesci anche temporaleschi in movimento da ovest verso est e il ritorno della neve lungo la dorsale appenninica sin verso i 1000m, quota neve in calo anche sulle Alpi sino a 1200m, in giornata migliora al nord-ovest, poi sulla Sardegna, con ingresso del Maestrale.
Mar Ligure: Mercoledì 30: onde in aumento ovunque da SW, piccole sotto il metro al mattino, 1-1,5 m il pomeriggio in crescita. Giovedì 31: al mattino onde di 2 m con vento debole e momentaneo calo (soprattutto a levante), poi nuova ripresa dalle ore centrali con vento e mare attivo, sempre da libeccio. Nel frattempo un impulso da libeccio proveniente da lontano si fa avanti nella notte su Venerdì, swell dalle caratteristiche di dimensione, periodo e fetch oceanici. Venerdì 1: swell da 2,5-3 m ottima a ponente (vento assente tendente a girare da terra), molto attiva a levante, soprattutto dalla tarda mattinata, quando le onde tenderanno a girare da libeccio a ponente.
Isole maggiori: Mercoledì 30: mareggiata da libeccio di media misura (1,5 m) tendente ad aumentare su Sardegna, di misura maggiore salendo verso il NW dell'Isola. 0,8-1 m da Sw su W Sicilia. Giovedì 31: 1,5 m da SW su W Sardegna in continua crescita con onde oltre i 2 m in crescita sul far buio; 1-1,2 m su Sicilia SW da libeccio. In entrambi i casi venti moderati anche sottocosta. Venerdì 1: mareggiata molto attiva in rotazione da libeccio a ponente su Sardegna occidentale, enorme per tutto il giorno con onde anche sopra i 4 m! In Sicilia ingresso della stessa con qualche ora di ritardo, e misura di solo 3 m nel pomeriggio. Venti attivi ovunque.
Mar Tirreno: Mercoledì 30: 0,5-1 m al mattino da libeccio in aumento a 1,2-1,5 m al pomeriggio su medio e alto tirreno; piccole onde sul basso tirreno. Vento moderato. Giovedì 31: 0,5 m sul basso tirreno e 0,8- 1 m più a nord, con vento da S-SW moderato al pomeriggio (debole la mattina). Venerdì 1: mareggiata da O-SW ovunque con vento attivo, misura sui 2-2,5 m al mattino, ed oltre i 3 m il pomeriggio.
Mar Ionio: Mercoledì 30: mezzo metro da libeccio nel pomeriggio con vento moderato. Giovedì 31: 1m in aumento a 1,5 m il pomeriggio da libeccio, con venti moderati. Venerdì 1: in mattinata scaduta da 1 m da SW, poi venti forti da terra che appiattiscono il tutto a sud, mentre su Puglia Jonica mare in rapida crescita da W-SW per venti molto forti, con onde corte in crescita fino a 2 m la sera.
Mar Adriatico: Mercoledì 30: venti moderati da Sud al largo con mari poco mossi sotto-costa, poche speranze di surf se non un mezzo-metrello a sud di Ancona dopo pranzo. Giovedì 31: mare poco mosso o calmo per venti da garbino. Venerdì 1: ancora garbino tendente a girare a ponente (W-NW) il pomeriggio, e nessuna speranza di surf.
Al prossimo aggiornamento!!
Ecco due immagini: la prima ritrae la situazione per le ore centrali del primo dell'anno, con la mareggiata da ponente in tutto il suo splendore che avvolge coi suoi venti molto forti tutto il Mediterraneo.
La seconda ci mostra il regalo che Babbo Natale ha voluto portare anche ai surfer adriatici, con uno spot "caldo" (non solo per i 23°C e il sole della giornata) stupendamente non affollato, che ha deliziato i pochi che ne hanno approfittato in mattinata. Fonte : Felix
Monday, December 28, 2009
OCDE: Le prochain G20 pourrait exiger 50 à 60 accords d'échanges d'informations par état! Par Didier REMER
Photographie: Tous droits réservés
FINANCE OFFSHORE ©2010 - Sans mention du site et de l'auteur, la reproduction de cet article est strictement interdite, par tous moyens connus ou à découvrir, quel qu'en soit l'usage.
If the subject of the life story is deceased, much of the rationale for buying these rights disappears, since defamation and invasion of privacy actions protect personal rights that do not descend to the estate. In other words, people can spread lies and falsehoods about the dead, reveal their innermost secrets, and their heirs cannot sue for defamation or invasion of privacy on behalf of the deceased person. A writer could publish a revisionist history of George Washington, portraying our first President as a child molester and a thief, and his heirs would have no remedy. So when a subject is deceased, a producer has less need for a depiction release. The right of publicity may or may not descend to one’s heirs, depending on state law.
It is also important to consider whether the subject of your film is a private individual or a public official or public figure. Public officials and figures have opened more of their lives to public scrutiny, and consequently more of their lives can be portrayed without invading their privacy. Moreover, public officials and figures must meet a much higher burden of proof in order to establish defamation or invasion of privacy. They must prove that a defamer intentionally spread a falsehood or acted with reckless disregard of the truth.
One should also consider the possibility of fictionalizing a true story. If you change the names of the individuals involved, change the location and make other alterations so that the real-life people are not recognizable to the public, you could avoid the necessity of a depiction release.
Keep in mind, however, that the story’s appeal may be predicated on the fact that it is a true story. In such a case, fictionalization is not a good alternative. Suppose you wanted to do the Jessica McClure story, describing how a Texas community rallied to the rescue of a young girl who fell down a well-hole. Here you would want to bill the movie as The Jessica McClure Story. That is why viewers would tune in.
Terms of the Agreement
In negotiating for life-story rights, there are a number of important issues that need to be resolved. At the outset, the parties must determine the extent of the rights granted. Does the grant include remakes, sequels, television series, merchandising, novelization, live-stage rights and radio rights? Are the rights worldwide? Buyers will usually want as broad a grant as possible. The seller may insist on retaining certain rights.
The buyer must also consider other releases that may be needed. What about the subject’s spouse, children, friends and relatives? Will these people consent to be portrayed? Will the subject ask his friends and relatives to cooperate? Can these secondary characters be fictionalized? If the producer is planning an ensemble piece about a basketball team, it makes no sense to sign up players one by one, hoping to get them all. A smart producer will gather the team in a room and purchase all of the rights or none.
Another issue is whether the rights can be assigned to a studio or production company. If the buyer is a producer, she will often need to assign such rights to a studio or network later as part of a financing/distribution agreement.
The purchase of life-story rights can be structured as either an option/purchase deal or as an outright sale, often with a reversion clause. A reversion clause provides that in the event the rights are not exploited within a certain number of years (i.e., the movie is not made), then all rights would revert to the subject. This provision protects the subject if he has sold rights to his life story to a producer who never uses them, and some time later another producer is interested in making such a film.
The agreement should recite the consideration exchanged. Consideration is a legal term of art. Consideration is that which is given in exchange for a benefit received. It is a necessary element for the existence of a contract. A contract is only binding with consideration. It is what distinguishes a contract from a gift, which may be revocable.
Consideration is usually money, but it can be anything of value. As a general principle, courts do not review the adequacy of consideration. In other words, should you be foolish enough to agree to sell your brand-new car, worth $15,000, for only $5,000, don’t expect a judge to rescue you from the results of your poor judgment. Unless there was some sort of fraud or duress involved, the contract will be enforced, although it may be unfair to one party.
To ensure that a contract is binding, agreements often recite: “For ten dollars and other valuable consideration.” This clause establishes that there has been an exchange of value, even if it is nominal consideration. Make sure the consideration is actually paid. It is wise to pay by check so that you will have the cancelled check as proof of payment.
Mutually exchanged promises can be adequate consideration. For example, a producer’s efforts to develop a project could be deemed adequate consideration for an option. But to be sure their contracts are enforceable; producers may want to pay some money for the option. There are some exceptional circumstances when courts will throw out a contract if the terms of the contract are unconscionable.
There are other ways to compensate a subject of a life story besides a flat fixed fee. You could give the subject points (percentage of net profits), consulting fees and/or bonuses to be paid when the film is exploited in ancillary markets.
An important part of any depiction agreement is the “Warranties and Representations” clause. A warranty is a promise. The buyer will want the seller to promise never to sue for an invasion of his rights of publicity and privacy, or for defamation, even if the buyer takes some creative liberties in telling the story. The warranties must cover all conceivable situations. No one wants to buy a lawsuit.
There will also be a provision that gives the buyer the right to embellish, fictionalize, dramatize and adapt the life story in any way he chooses. This is a frequent sticking point in negotiations. The subject is delighted to be asked to have her story told on the silver screen, but when you present her with a depiction release, she becomes concerned. She asks, “This document says you can change my story any way you like and I can’t sue for defamation. How do I know you won’t portray me as a monster?”
A producer may reply: “Trust me, trust me.” Sometimes that will work. But the subject may respond: “I have no intention of trusting any of you charming Hollywood types. I want script approval. Write your script, and if I like it, I’ll sign the release.”
Can a producer give a subject script approval? No sane producer would. No producer is going to expend a lot of time and money developing a script only to find that the subject has changed her mind or is unreasonably withholding approval.
If the subject refuses to give the producer carte blanche, are any compromises possible? Yes. The subject could have approval over the treatment or selection of the writer. Perhaps the subject will figure that if she approves only a classy writer, her portrayal will be acceptable.
Alternatively, the producer could offer to make the subject a creative or technical consultant to the production. “You’ll be right there by the director’s side,” says the producer, “giving him advice and suggestions to ensure that everything is authentic.” The producer may not mention that the director doesn’t want the subject on the set and is not required to accept her suggestions.
Another possible compromise could limit the subject matter and period portrayed. Perhaps the subject is primarily concerned that an embarrassing incident in her life not be re-enacted in Panavision. The release could say that certain incidents (e.g., a divorce) are not included in the release. Or the release could cover limited periods of the subject’s life (e.g., only those incidents that occurred before 1947).
Finally, the subject might have the right to determine screen notice. She could decide if the film will be billed as a true story or a dramatized account. Alternatively, she could decide whether real names are used for the characters.
Excerpt from Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry, 3rd Edition, by Mark Litwak.Any source
John Kay earlier wrote very clearly and helpfully for the ordinary reader about a basic fact of economics, in the FT on 10 November 2009 LINK:
Clearly John Kay has humanity enough to expose the inadequate core of Scroogenomics, but will he expose the inadequate philosophical base of modern banking? As Prof. Richard Werner says in New Paradigm in Macroeconomics (p.170) about the goldsmiths who became the first modern bankers:
"I am trying to remember now where it was, and when it was, that it hit me. Was it during my first walk along the Bund in Shanghai in 2005? Was it amid the smog and dust of Chonqing, listening to a local Communist party official describe a vast mound of rubble as the future financial centre of south-west China?
That was last year, and somehow it impressed me more than all the synchronised razzamatazz of the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing. Or was it at Carnegie Hall only last month, as I sat mesmerised by the music of Angel Lam, the dazzlingly gifted young Chinese composer who personifies the Orientalisation of classical music?
I think maybe it was only then that I really got the point about this decade, just as it was drawing to a close: that we are living through the end of 500 years of western ascendancy."
Ferguson has been thinking and writing about the rise of China and the shaky state of the US' undeclared empire quite a bit lately. He now points out, citing economic research from Goldman Sachs, that China could surpass the US economy in terms of GDP by 2027.
The long-term trends of rapid industrialization in developing nations and the gradual transfer of wealth and economic influence towards Asia are undeniable. However, one has to wonder if the current strength of the Chinese economy and the effectiveness of its stimulus efforts are as solid as Ferguson seems to believe. On these points, he and hedge fund manager, Jim Chanos may disagree.
The glögg in our house was particularly good this year (used Cooks Illustrated recipe), so Jul Tomten stayed a bit longer than usual. I had a chance to ask him some questions.
"You're looking pretty relaxed this year, what's up?" I asked.
"It's this internet, you know. What with all the downloaded games, and music and e-books, my sleigh route takes only half the time it used to!"
"Really, that's amazing! I've read about the popularity of Kindle e-books, but I never imagined it might affect you! Are you worried that the sleigh and goat distribution channel will survive?"
"Oh not at all, Eric, remember, Christmas isn't about the goats, it's about the spirit! And even if all the presents could be distributed digitally, someone's got to go and drink the glögg, don't you think?"
"One thing I've been wondering, that list of yours, you know, the naughty and nice list... It must be very different now- do you look at people's Facebook profiles?"
"Ho ho ho ho. At the North Pole, your privacy is important to us, as the saying goes. Well, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. 'Naughty and Nice' is a bit of a misnomer. We never put coal in anyone's stocking. The way we look at it, there's goodness in each and every person."
"I guess I never thought of it that way."
"Just imagine how a child would feel if they woke up Christmas morning to find a lump of coal in their stocking! Even if the child was very naughty, do you a holiday disappointment would suddenly turn the child nice?"
"Besides, if we really wanted to put something useless in a stocking these days, it would be a VCR tape or an encyclopedia volume, not coal."
I've had a chance to reflect a bit on my chat with Santa, particularly about putting coal in naughty people's stockings. I've recently been studying how piracy might effect the emerging e-book market, and I've made suggestions about how to reinforce the practice of paying for e-books. But one respected book industry consultant and visionary, Mike Shatzkin, has made a suggestion that the book industry should take the coal-in-the-stocking approach to pirated e-books.
In an article entitled Fighting piracy: our 3-point program, Shatzkin proposes as point #1:
Flood the sources of pirate ebooks with “frustrating” files. Publishers can use all sorts of sophisticated tricks to find pirated ebooks, like searching for particular strings of words in the text. (You’d be shocked at how few words it takes to uniquely identify a file!) But people looking for a file to read will probably search by title and author. So publishers can find the sources of pirated files most likely to be used by searching the same way, the simple way.Points 2 and 3 of Shatzkin's "program" are reasonably good ideas. But this point 1 is a real clunker.
But, then, when publishers find those illicit files, instead of take-down notices, which is the antidote du jour, we’d suggest uploading 10 or 20 or 50 files for every one you find, except each of them should be deficient in a way that will be obvious if you try to read them but not if you just take a quick look. Repeat Chapter One four times before you go directly to Chapter Six. Give us a chapter or two with the words in alphabetical order. Just keep the file size the same as the “real” ebook would be.
I'll admit, when I first read Shatzkin's proposal for publishers to put "sludge" on file sharing sites, I thought it an idea worth considering. After having studied the issue, however, I think that acting on the idea would be a foolish and shameful.
First of all, the idea is not original. The tactic of spoofing media files was deployed by the music industry in its battle against the file sharing networks that became popular after the demise of Napster. This tactic was promoted by MediaDefender, a company that also used questionable tactics such as denial of service attacks to shut down suspected pirate sites. Although the tactic was at first a somewhat effective nuisance for file sharers, the file sharing networks developed sophisticated defenses against this sort of attack. They adopted peer-review and reputation-rating systems so that deficient files and disreputable sharers could easily be discriminated. They instituted social peering networks so that untrusted file sharers could be excluded from the network of sharers. The culture of "may the downloader beware" has carried over for e-books. On one site I noted quite a bit of discussion of the true "last word" of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows along with chatter about file quality and the like. After seeing all this, Shatztkin's suggested point 1 seems quaint, to put it kindly.
The e-book-coal-in-the-stocking idea could also be dangerous if acted on. The tactic of disguising unwanted matter as attractive content has been widely adopted by attackers going back millennia to the builders of the Trojan Horse. The sludge could be as innocuous as a Amazon "buy-me" link with an embedded affiliate code, or it could be as malicious as a virus that lets a botnet take control of your computer if you open the file. When this really happened happened for video files, it was widely asserted, without any substantiation that the viruses were planted by the film industry operatives themselves. Thus, what began as a modest attempt to harass Napster file sharers ended up resulting in a smeared reputation for the film industry.
Obviously, Shatzkin is not advocating spoofing e-book files with harmful content on file sharing sites. But publishers who are tempted to follow his point #1 should consider the possibility that emitting large amounts of e-book sludge could provide ideal cover for scammers, spammers, phishers, and other cybercriminals. Then they should talk to their lawyers about "attractive nuisances" and "joint and several liability".
Go ahead and accuse me of believing in Santa Claus. I firmly believe that no matter what business you're in, not everybody gets corrupted. You have to have a little faith in people.
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In ancient Rome — back when transnational finance capital was nothing more than a busted dream in her mommy's loveless eye — the Barrack Room Emperors took great delight in slicing the perineum off inept economic advisers. Suddenly the difference between a courageous set of cajones and an asshole was negligible.
Wikipedia tells me Bush the Elder presented the US Presidential Medal of Freedom to Friedrick von Hayek in 1991. In 1947 — long before deregulation completely disemboweled post-Depression welfare states in the developed world — a bold gaggle of intellectual gun thugs and neoliberal economists on the run from Keynesian practices organized around Baron von Hayek to form the Mont Pelerin Society. Not surprisingly, the group included a young and ambitious Milton Friedman and insisted in its founding statement on the necessity of "private property and a competitive market" to restoring "the essential conditions of human dignity and freedom." Nearly three decades later at a February 1975 meeting organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs, a hyperconservative British think tank, Margaret Thatcher famously yanked a copy of Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty from her briefcase and slammed it on the table, bellowing as only Thatcher could, "This is what we believe."
Copenhagen was a gas and the US troop surge in Afghanistan tells us Obama was not merely the leading candidate but in fact the only true candidate for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. This is what we believe. Fuck all y'all. This is how it's done.
Or as Larry the Cable Guy says, Git 'er done. Her. Eddie Izzard said the same in The Riches. To do and be done with her. Poetry, on the other hand, does nothing. As Jeremy Prynne says in his 2007 review of Keston Sutherland's Hot White Andy, poetry's fucking retarded:
It is well known and widely if tacitly acknowledged that poetry is a retarded practice: it surely does make nothing happen. Really we know this, outside the hot-house, because by now we are grown up past the fancy that language could ever tell us more than we already recognize from daytime TV.
But this doesn't dismiss poetry from the obligation of determining, as Prynne insists Hot White Andy does, "whether it can be that poetry is not after all now only retarded and fatuous." Put differently, the work of poetry seems to involve naming the violent distance in the cultural imaginary that separates a swinging set of trucker balls (a factory-farmed bushel of plenty) from a rank skidmarked asshole (the abyss). Nasty work. Like giving ole Grandad a sponge bath.
Without the privilege of leaning on rigorously trained eyes (without the disadvantage of leaning on trained but compromised eyes shaped by a prior moment) it's hard to identify work that registers and responds to this particular historical conjuncture in productive and meaningful ways. CA Conrad's Book of Frank got a lot of play this year. Deservedly so. A long time coming for Conrad. Selected for the Gil Ott Award by, among others, Myung Mi Kim (whose Penury was released earlier this year to a surprising hush). Conrad came through town recently, reading with Simon Pettet under the mantle of the Big Night series curated by Aaron Lowinger and Mike Kelleher. (Pettet's Hearth another sleeper; someone set the bomb for snooze).
But far and away the book most on my mind is Rob Halpern's Disaster Suites. In "Post-Disaster," an afterword of sorts, Halpern remarks:
I hope these poems don't persist. Or rather, I hope the conditions that make them readable do not.
According to the afterword Halpern began writing the poems October, 2005, "in the long shadow of Hurricane Katrina" and completed the poem in the weeks following the death of kari edwards. Stitched to one another within the frame of the book, the suites as a whole are a sort of intermezzo or point of articulation connecting his earlier Krupskaya volume Rumored Place with Music for Porn, a project he was working on before throwing himself into the suites. The suites have a sort of bounding pulse threaded with a desire to adequately register and survive the disaster (without diminishing, identifying with or erasing the singularity of those struggling to survive in real-time rubble and rising tides):
Ground cleaves to what the new sun hews my
Real relations having flown to where there's
No work proves a boon & open forms absorb
This shit in my mouth we're a living effect of
Waste these synchronies of organization
And command (see I'm finally opening up
To you alone at the time of sentencing this
Not being ours with a wage you can live on
Value for time is in the hedge fund as I am
In love tonight mean's we're self-grounded in-
Dependent semantics call it a monetary circuit
Breaching spans of life whose measures can be
The poem concludes: "— traded." I recall trading (or swapping, the two possibly not the same) action figures with friends as a child, the gesture partly symbolic, something to do with friendship and trust. The exchange a risk built on the promise of an even shake. (And I'm reminded of Kevin Killian's Action Kylie, the child is there).
I believe Andrew Rippeon has a far more responsible investment in the work, that an exchange between he and the work will produce more than I might be capable of (i.e. we don't begin, as Marx insisted, with the production of life itself but perhaps with a moment of commerce in the space of exchange, the work of conception prior to production).
In the latest number of P-Queue Rippeon frames his introductory editorial in relation to unrest in Iran, homing in on the legibility (or illegibility) of signs held by protesters, considering how the legibility of the gesture the journal itself makes might read through street-level signs of protest situated at a marked distance:
This doesn't hope to be a step from "placard" to "signifier," but rather to suggest a radical continuum extending between the crowd and aesthetic practice. By rights we own a one of vote, and are gauged and gauge by that one. But with a swollen city square, the claim is no longer to or through the one, but by and upon the uncountable many. That many refuses an other even as it marches against a one, and such refusal is, in its deepest core, aesthetic ...
The statement is bold and after a few months with it I still find myself thinking through its terms, but if it's legible to me at all I think it's a statement that, like Halpern's lyric encounter with disaster, aspires toward a clear disavowal of the logic that aligns the call of a single individual (the man with no name) with a rigidly defined, economically oriented order of cultural freedom (a carefully legislated lawlessness).
Iran. Reporters funded by Allah knows who speculate the US is funneling support to Marxist Kurds along the border in northern Iraq in order to further destabilize Ahmadinejad. During a brief romp through Buffalo Luke Roberts mentioned that Marianne Morris recently returned from some months in Iran on a Cambridge fellowship (that such a thing could even be imagined in these free states). Her visa application was denied during the moment of unrest, but later approved on the condition she study nothing during her stay. It's reasonable to expect a book full of sweet Persian nothings to follow.
And here, beside me by way of a friend, the Bertram Rota edition of Bunting's translation of Obaid-e Zakani's fourteenth century Pious Cat. A game of cat and mouse:
Once on a time that ravenous ratter ate
his daily mouse at a steady flat rate,
but since he took to prayers and pieties
he bolts us down by whole societies.
The book is inset with an illustrated chaplet of the story in Farsi. The language is utterly other to me. I'm left to trust Bunting: "like muck spread thick on winter stubble."
Like muck. A sort of moral majority lurks in the wings and stands in for the whole, viz. Falwellian rhymes exceptionally well with Orwellian. Cf. the ghost of the Stupak amendment in the draft of the healthcare bill passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve. But if there are Anglophone poetries that angle to resist the residual traces of Falwell's spirit and reimagine a sense of the spiritual that opposes the reified theological tendencies clogging liminal arteries of exchange — if there are poetries grounded in careful theorizations of community and friendship — I see them in small, quietly circulated and largely unannounced ephemeral publications.
The Vigilance Society books have been especially important to me in this way. An early installment of Halpern's Disaster Suites. Michael Cross' Cede. More recently Thom Donovan's Our Insalvageable and Andrew Rippeon's Priest.
The scale of the books subtly understate the work contained in them, as though the poems cradled within the modest frame of each book sustain an almost unbearable tension and register an excess produced through concrete limits. The books are commensurate with (and as easily misplaced as) a sixteen gig memory card. No digital storage device can be scrubbed so thoroughly that previous files are completely erased. A remainder, however useless or illegible, is left behind. Memory is built into most forms of inscription. Rippeon reminds us bruises are a species of memory that stands as the remark of what has been made:
This fit for bruise, and
that for blood wedge die
stamps this what is invented priest
once meant club and what was
But to save is not what it means to be saved. What is in fact insalvageable. Thom Donovan's Insalvageable "Nail House":
It was a house in a ditch
Like our sex third fourth fifth
It treated the air
Around it like it was privileged dirt
This was called history
But nothing will be saved
Other small, willfully unobtrusive publications easily misplaced among bills, catalogs and supermarket circulars carefully undermine the conditions of their own call to being. Aaron Lowinger's Guide to Weeds illustrated by Becky Moda (House Press). "Butter and EGGS (Linaria Vulgaris)" —
Letters from the department
cease desist enter 'regeneration areas'
in warm cracks between sidewalk and brick
[william st, btw elm & michigan, 14203]
prepare to annihilate occlusions
along ways out four continents
made this grey technicolor sky
but they simply don't exist
there is clear passage for roots on Mars too
(with a pattern not so much symmetrical as borrowed)
Kim Dorman's monthly "gleanings" and "fragments" circulated slow post (10430 Morado Circle #1824, Austin TX 78759). The ongoing installments of Kenneth Warren's critical investigation of Olson, The Emperor's New Code, in his House Organ (PO Box 466 Youngstown NY 14174). Buck Down's postcard poems (1813 Burke St SE Washington DC 20003).
"Black-Crowned Night Heron" from Lisa Forrest's exquisitely designed Bird-Lore:
This left behind begins
back as front
scapulars glossy streaked
slender to touch to reach
That a left behind can begin anterior to itself. The concerns of the end user come first.
In his talk on Jameson's reading of Bob Perelman's China, Rob Halpern addresses the locally oriented but internally differentiated "publishing ecology" of the 1970s Bay Area. And here, today, I wonder about the extent to which contemporary small press microecologies have been further decentralized. Poetry and publishing communities are far more easily mapped these days through shared concerns than the physical real-time landscape. A cultural landscape no less natural.
Austin forms its own nucleic center of poetry and publishing activity. The triple relocation of Kyle Schlesinger's Cuneiform Press from Buffalo to Brooklyn to Austin. Dale Smith and Hoa Nguyen's Skanky Possum (the list of publications at the website only offers a fraction of their publishing history). CJ Martin and Julia Drescher's Dos Press. Scott Pierce's Effing. Micah Robbins' Interbirth nearby in Dallas. The relocation of David Hadbawnik's Habenicht Press and magazine Kadar Koli from the Austin area to our neighborhood here in Buffalo. Overlapping and intersecting coordinates. A complex gossamer web of ghostly traces marks rapidly shifting routes of cultural and intellectual exchange.
Ted Berrigan. Collaborative work between Bill Berkson and George Schneeman. Berkson writes in a note: "Ted Berrigan, the book of nine black and white ink-drawing spreads George and I did in 2006-08, was prompted by my finding a few pages in a notebook devoted to thoughts of Ted Berrigan." Like Berrigan the scale of the book is large, over a foot in length with bold interior images spread across the gutter from end to end, the images contained in the book sprawl, expand, dart and circulate like meteorological phenomena, like turbulent weather fronts. Schlesinger in his publisher's note:
The last time we dropped in at George's place together, the idea was that Bill and George would create a title page for the book as well as a final spread to accommodate Bill's line (borrowed from Ted, if I remember correctly): "Poetry should be something real -- not just an interesting lie to tell your mother." Bill suggested that George paint a Madonna and Child to accompany the quote. George thought it over for a minute and said: How about a bow and arrow instead?
Dale Smith wears Ed Dorn's old hat. Literally. No bullshit. Black beaver felt. Fuck filling the shoes; they leave footprints (Smith knows used footwear never fits right): "When I go to bed my mother leaves the door to my bedroom open."
(A Man walking up the street yells into a cellphone: I worked 49 hours this week! Instead of paying me overtime they're gonna roll my hours over to next week. Yeah. I know.)
CJ Martin's WIW?3: published by Delete Press in Fort Collins, Colorado. Dislocated points of articulation. To allow for circulation. To account for forms of circulation inhibiting blood flow, shutting down movement, "fenestration," or an order of movement that discloses (carves out the shape of) the settled weight of capital flows:
Tremendous rot rout
out — Perhaps have pattern
Out-wrought / vertical change.
Likewise Michael Cross' Pax. Six panel broadside. Printed in Seattle. Or Oakland. Or elsewhere. Made in. An epigraph on panel 3 by Snorri Sturluson: "let some one put his hand in my mouth as a pledge that this is done in good faith." Skaldic. What scalds the mouth insists the mouth carve (and the poem by Cross above Iceland MP Sturluson's epigraph):
we lose, mostly, took this one and fastened the share
and coulter to a plough, shaved the tops into honzon
pulled living from the well and fixed our minds on wood
Schlesinger preparing to publish Cross' Haeccities through Cuneiform. The quiet hush that surrounds the difficulties of Cross' In Felt Treeling (Chax 2008). Structures of treeling in felt and, outwardly, rebuilt into the landscape.
Thinking across Cross' insistence on haeccity — this-ness, or, in Cross' words, a thing's individuating principle — toward the khthonic Hecate (present to us) in Hoa Nguyen's Hecate Lochia:
The Starbucks mermaid logo
has lost her nipples
Nguyen pulls no punches:
Hecate doesn't fucking
need you or your loving
Lochia an excess after birth; the social that refuses (and is refused by) society: "My heart outside my body." But for the body. No less, and perhaps more, khthonic. These poems report unclaimed income willfully unacknowledged by auditors. These dollars have no market value. Hecate (deity and haeccity) nurses the young (the logo has no nipples). So Hesiod says. Nguyen insistently mis-takes "child bird" for "child birth." Far shooting. Fair shooting.
In the morning everything is new or left behind. Or, hungover, recollections of the night before are slow to come into focus. Lipstick on your collar or piss stains on your shoe. In any case. The title poem from The Morning by Roger Snell (Bootstrap Press 2009):
Still the ground shifts, I'd read the day was gone
the room black, such enclosure to stay in,
inhabit act, destroy all instances
An event cuts across disparate moments and demands continuity, something to stretch across the lost but nonetheless formative (determining) instances. There are any number of used arrowheads and discharged led slugs in the dirt beneath my feet. And below my feet, in the dirt, what might have once been rafters supporting a roof above the head. Hugo García Manríquez's Los materiales (Tierra Adentro 2008):
Los materiales contienen la figura humana
y ella, en su historia, los contiene a todos.
There is a presence embedded in the materiality of these print objects I find difficult to account for but nonetheless affirming. Despite the hush that envelops them, they resist complete refusal.
Democracy tolerates nothing beyond itself. A violent Narcissus with easy-access six-shooters and no rearview mirror. Badiou's "Speculative Disquisition":
In fact, the word 'democracy' concerns what I shall call authoritarian opinion. It is forbidden, as it were, not to be a democrat. More precisely, it stands to reason that humanity aspires to democracy, and any subjectivity suspected of not being democratic is regarded as pathological. At best it refers to a patient re-education, at worst to the right of military intervention by democratic paratroopers.
What western democracies so masterfully performed in the last century was the total conflation in the cultural imaginary of the political and the economic so that democracy is less the freedom to participate than it is the freedom to purchase from a confusingly wide range of products. And even here the wide selection is largely illusory. We all wear gray or risk having gum rubbed in our hair.
There's a kind of hush. The loudest work resides at the center of the hush. More often than not the squeaky wheel has a monstrous set of balls. Both swing in close proximity to an asshole. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.
At the center of the inaugural issue of Josh Stanley's Hot Gun! (now published out of Brighton, UK) is Justin Katko's intensive translation of Guy Debord's 1952 film Hurlements En Faveur De Sade (Unrealized Version). Translated with the assistance of Camille Paloque-Berges and heavily annotated, we see Katko's Hurlements split into two columns, one given to a transcription of sound in the film and another given to a transcription of visual action. At one point in the film, after a number of riot scenes we see a closeup of Isadore Isou smiling. The following phrase is repeated three times: "A world of screams has been lost."