Open Letter to Amanda Palmer, The Newly Arrived Member of the Petit Bourgeoisie

Edit: Amand Palmer has now decided to maybe do the right thing, although the details are still sketchy. A new blog post reports that she is now going to pay her "volunteer" musicians, and I'm glad she's decided to do that right thing. That said, I hope she really does learn from this and spends some time thinking about her newfound power as a person capable of raising the kind of capital she finds herself in command of. ANd I hope she's paying her volunteers AFM Scale for their performances.

Note: This began life as a comment on AFP's blog here. It's been expanded and edited a bit below.

Dear Amanda,

First, know that I'm a fan. I like your music. I like what you do. I think you're a very talented performer.

Second, know that I'm a musician, and an accomplished one. I graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2000 and I've been around working musicians my whole adult life. I've been a working recording engineer, record producer, and live sound engineer. I've also worked for no money at friends gigs and I've got lots of friends who have struggled hard on tours trying to make enough gas money to make it to the next town. And I have dozens of friends and acquaintances who to this day make their living as professional musicians.

I want you to know this because I want you to understand where I'm coming from when I tell you that what you're doing is awful and you need to stop.

Why I Hate Cory Doctorow

First, yes I've read his books. Well, some of them. Well, part of one of them. I got fed up and stopped because it was stupid and poorly written. But that's neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is that I hate Cory Doctorow, I hate Boing Boing, and it's time somebody called Doctorow and his cohort of yes-men what they are: a bunch of assholes.

Normally it's not something that I feel like wasting too much time on, the hate of all things Doctorow. I mean, live and let live, right? If people want to waste their time on his weird brand of egomania, that's fine. I'm not going to worry about it. Just like I don't worry about that douchebag from Wired who wrote the Longtail book justifying the hegemony of global capital or nutjob libertarians like Eric S. Raymond advocating for creepy lifestyles dedicated to polyamory, computer programming, and owning guns. By and large the creme de la creme of geek nobility are fairly safely ignored. Although I have written elsewhere of the danger of confusing "geek chic" with "being cool," usually these people are no threat to anyone or anything I care about because the things they care about (file-sharing, Linux, web pornography, SF fandom, memorizing monty python sketches) are not things that I give a damn about one way or another. Occasionally tho, these people cross over into my real world life and I'm reminded that they are out there, festering, and are even occasionally presenting the danger of being taken seriously by real people. That, my friends, is a possibility I find absolutely intolerable and so am setting aside my usual Laissez Faire approach to The Doctorow Problem to outline in detail why it is that I can't fucking stand the the man.

WaLS: The New Literary Disease

There is a certain fragment of the literary world that drives me fucking bonkers. In my mind, it is epitomized by travel writers, freelance copywriters, Neal Pollack, Poets & Writers magazine,, preditors & editors, and Nick Mamatas. This is the subculture within the literary community where the act of writing has become little more than a performative task that functions as a signifier rather than a craft that is merely a means to produce an end. In this subculture what matters is not that one has produced good writing but that one is seen to be writing productively. In this world the legitimacy of one's writing has nothing to do with its style or content or mastery, but rather that one can point to various facts that, separate from one's work, are taken to be markers of personal legitimacy in the claim to writerhood. Far from the true virtue of writing, ie the production of quality literature regardless of recognition or fiduciary recompense, this instead is a world of a different kind. Rather than the world of writing as artform, it is the world of what I have come to think of as writing as lifestyle, populated by a crowd of mental lepers suffering from Writer as Lifestyle Syndrome (WaLS). And I for one am totally sick of it.

Man Conservatives Really Are Twats

Today in the New York Times Paul Krugman points out that the GOP, once the party of ideas, has "become the party of Beavis and Butthead."

I couldn't agree more, but I think they're actually a little more Butthead than Beavis these days. See, apparently some C list pundit on CNBC went off on a tangent about the Boston Tea Party and how apparently he sees some link between The Stimulus Package and the Stamp Act or something, because he has called for Americans who agree with him to re-enact the Boston Tea Party in protest of it.

Apparently, the wealthiest 5% of americans are unhappy with the fact that under the Stimulus act with it's extension of the waiver for the AMT, they're going to save only somewhere in the vicinity of a few grand on their taxes this year vs current law, and really they think that they ought to be getting an even bigger tax break.

And somehow, and the way these scum do this never ceases to astound me, those wealthiest 5 percent have convinced a bunch of other idiots to go out protest with them that they didn't get enough of a tax break.

That's right folks, the conservatives are having themselves a good old fashioned patriotic street protest. Because apparently not happy with putting the economy in a tailspin with their disastrous dogmatic adherence to a bullshit economic theory that most of them don't even know the name of, they would now like to take this opportunity to whine about the fact that while the income by percentage of the population increases exponentially across the populations in the top ten percent of earners in the US, the tax brackets barely increase at all over that range. Meaning that a person who makes 300,000 grand a year pays roughly the same percentage of his income in taxes as somone making in excess of 2 million a year.

Of course, it's no secret that taxation is bordering on regressive in the USA. The Republicans have been trying to make that happen for decades now, and the result is the monstrous increase in deficits and debt that have been happening since Saint Ronnie Ray-Gun had the purse strings in the eighties. And, y'know, I've watched Fox News, so I know that these fucking scumbags are capable of getting their panties all twisted up at the drop of a hat.

But to actually stage a Nation Wide Protest because the aren't getting still MORE money? That's just ghoulish. They've turned into that douchebag who insists on splitting the check evenly at the end of the night even though he had three times as many drinks and the live Maine lobster while everyone else picked at appetizers. Seriously Republicans, we on the left, we know a little something about staging a protest. We've been at it a lot longer than you, and we picked up a few things over the years. One of the most important rules? Surprisingly enough, it's the rule that says you should never protest over an issue that makes you look like a greedy sack of shit. Funny how this one works out, but when you go out in public and make a lot of noise about what a greedy sack of shit you are, you don't win over a lot of new political allies super anxious to be your best friend so that everyone will think that they are greedy sacks of shit too.

But by all means, if you all insist on having your little jamboree, go nuts. But you really should be ashamed of yourselves.

UPDATE: I am sort of annoyed that more people aren't as annoyed by this as I am. Maybe it's just that word hasn't got out enough. Still, even if these things are a raucous success, it's not going to change anything. Obama is still president. Democrats still control the legislature. And conservatives are still too dense to realize how effete and privileged organizing a national day for a tea party makes them.

FOX Wants to Kill Watchmen Movie

On the subject of bad decisions, FOX apparently wants to kill the forthcoming Watchmen movie, claiming legal rights to the material that supersede Warner Bros.

"Surprisingly, Fox said it would rather see the film killed instead of collecting a percentage of the box office."

Why? Beats me too.

Could there be Watchmen curse, placed by self-proclaimed occult magician and Watchmen scribe Alan Moore? In any case, one begins to understand why he wants nothing to do with the film industry anymore.