Friday, March 12, 2021

new yorking

March 15 issue of The New Yorker has some interesting articles.

1. The Republican Party is dying. I've been reading this argument for years, but it never does. The party has been regularly shedding its left wing, that left wing going ever further to the right, for at least 40 years now. The party survives, I think, mostly because it shifts the Overton window, and because it's able to picture the Democrats as like itself. While it's the creature of Trump, it pretends the Democrats are the creature of, oh, Bernie or AOC, whom it paints in lurid colors, and convinces voters that it itself is the lesser of two weevils. We're experiencing nothing like the demise of the Whigs, which the article thinks is the equivalent: that happened when the slavery issue rose to the fore and cracked both parties down the middle. The list of other US parties that have died are almost all either minor parties or ones that were absorbed into new, stronger coalitions.

2. Mobile-home parks being bought by corporations who fleece the residents, who have nowhere to go. (Since mobile homes are not really very mobile.) Also not new, and in the end just another tale of heartless corporate greed, which is what corporations do. Yet another avenue for affordable housing being closed off.

3. Somebody is firing random shots in a California state park and killing random campers. I didn't know about this, and apparently neither did anybody else, which is why the campers had no idea it was so dangerous out there.

4. Chinese factories, whose owners have never even been to the US, making fortunes by selling products here over Amazon. Written by an American who's taught in China, and is most interesting for revealing that, while 25 years ago at 5'9" he towered over his students, now he's shorter than most of the boys. China these days can afford better nutrition.

5. Musical genres, as defined by the Grammy Awards, are disappearing. I have mixed thoughts about this. Possibly many pop musical genres are defined more by marketing and packaging and separate audiences than by musical content, so yes, those are probably going as online push-marketing grows. But I've long maintained it's false to say "music is just music": different types have different aesthetic principles, and what's good by one doesn't work for another. While it's possible to write classical-jazz fusion, the two genres in isolation are quite antithetical. I also maintain that opera is similarly distinct from classical concert music, even though they're often composed by the same people.

6. Detailed description of the work of Octavia E. Butler, on the occasion of her being taken up by the Library of America. About time. Butler is being recast as the founder of a distinct species of SF, and the first in a line of strong and talented African-American women, of whom N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor are the most obvious. They are SF today. Mentions Butler's MacArthur grant in 1995. I remember that, and how proud we in SF were that an obviously worthy SF writer had won one. Meanwhile, outside the field people were saying the MacArthurs had jumped the shark if they were giving grants to (ugh) sci-fi writers. We've still got a long way to go. But the Library of America helps. It says Butler is the 6th SF writer on their list, and hopes Samuel R. Delany will be the next. I don't know who all the others are: UKL and PKD, yes; and Vonnegut and Lovecraft if they count, I'm not sure they do. Is the fifth Poe? Anyway, the only other genre SF on the LoA list is four volumes of assorted novels from the 1950s and 60s, by many more than 5 hands and chosen by Gary K. Wolfe, and, pay attention now, Delany's Nova is among them, so he's already there.

7. Property rights in purchased electronic, i.e. non-physical, objects. Short version: you don't have any. The sellers can take them back at any time. What they call purchasing is actually rental with no set end point. Article confusingly begins with the only thematically related question of: do you have the right to shoot down a drone that's hovering over your back yard and ogling your sunbathing daughter? The courts said no, but the punishment wasn't severe. That disposed of, this becomes another story of corporate greed.

Skipped the articles on artists I've never heard of and tv shows I've never seen.

No comments:

Post a Comment