aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Out in the WNBA
I was at a lecture about Southern women in the 19th century last night. One story told was of a man who took his black mistress north to marry her. Those left behind tried to have the man ruled insane and his property confiscated.
A women at the time noted in her diary how odd it was that those pious people were fine with it when he had her as his mistress, but morally outraged by his marriage.
I didn’t even know who Sheryl Swopes was before this, but I’m glad she came out. James Joyner suspects that “her revelation that she wasn’t ‘born gay’ but rather ‘discovered’ it will not sit well with some in the gay activist community.”
I have no problem with it. Both can be true; you can be born gay and discover it late. But to answer James in kind, I suspect some on the Right—like those nineteenth century Southerners—were happier with Sheryl in the closet.
Don’t count on the press
They won’t be poking the corporate giants:
I don’t hate Apple. I don’t even hate Apple-lovers. I do, however, possess deep odium for the legions of Apple polishers in the press corps who salute every shiny gadget the company parades through downtown Cupertino as if they were members of the Supreme Soviet viewing the latest ICBMs at the May Day parade.
At least the techie readers of Engadget, free of the Apple mind-meld, recognize the V-iPod as a deliberately crippled by copy protection, low-res, underpowered video appliance that is merely Apple’s first try in the emerging market of video players.
The inordinate amount of attention paid to Apple’s launches must be, in part, a function of the company’s skill at throwing media events, stoking the rumor mills, and seducing the consuming masses. All this, plus the chatter-inducing creativity of Apple’s ad campaigns, and its practice of putting its machines in pretty boxes make writing about Apple products more interesting than assessing the latest iterations of the ThinkPad or Microsoft Office.
Podcasters are just as susceptible; maybe moreso. I listened to this schlock conversation with Eddy Cue, VP of Apple iTunes. A lesson in brochure-ware pablum. Don’t waste your time.
We’ve got to prod the press to poke.
Corporate giants play nice
Wired has a depressing long feature on how the Motorola ROKR iTunes phone ended up flopping so hard. It comes down to this: Apple didn’t want to cannibalize iPod sales, the carriers don’t want to cannibalize mobile music sales, and the labels want to control everything.
It’s so weird to watch the Stalinist maneuvers among these ostensible giants of the capitalist economy. Since when do innovators give a veto over their products to incumbents? This is like holding back the railroads because the blacksmiths threaten to boycott any steel mill that supplies rails.
My big hope is that a company with some real intestinal fortitude will launch a genuinely competitive device that responds to market demand. Maybe Song, the Chinese mobile phone titan, will take over the global mobile market by just shipping something that out-competes iTunes, the iPod and the stupid carriers, instead of kowtowing to them.
We’ve got to poke those corporations to make them fight.
It won’t last forever
In a free-market economy, bankruptcy laws are written and rewritten as new economic problems bubble to the surface. Today, consumers and small businesses that have been swamped by debt are in the crosshairs. Tomorrow, insurance company failures, a collapse of the mortgage-lending market, or another outrageous story of a Wall Street executive who hung onto a fortune while seeking shelter in bankruptcy may excite Congressional attention.
Even as the new law goes into effect, there are six new bankruptcy bills pending in Congress, three of them responding to the recent hurricanes. Others are sure to follow: Several members of Congress have railed against the airlines’ use of bankruptcy to write off their pension obligations, for example.
The first draft of the new bankruptcy law was written in the mid-1990’s by lobbyists for the credit industry. As they explain, they then “shopped” the bill to friends in Congress who advanced it. “It is rare to find such clear evidence of the effects of money” in Washington politics, Howard Rosenthal, a Princeton economist, and co-author Stephen Nunez wrote in 2002 of the progress of the bankruptcy amendments.
The new bankruptcy laws will surely squeeze some people harder, and they may well improve short-term corporate profits. But those laws won’t solve the underlying problems of unemployment, inadequate health insurance or failing small businesses. They won’t stop hurricanes or floods. And because those problems aren’t going away any time soon, the need to restore common sense to the bankruptcy system will not go away either.
The industry should enjoy its cake and Champagne today. It won’t last forever.
I’m disappointed at how quiet the area of the blogosphere that I read has been on this topic. But then, it took me a week to get around to it. Maybe they’ll come around too.