Lawn, apiary, pain

Can you spot the bee hive in this picture?

I couldn’t either, and drove a lawn mower right over it. They say you learn something new every day. I learned that I am not allergic to multiple bee stings to the head and legs.

On being the Unoffcial Apple Weblog’s bitch

The Unoffcial Apple Weblog is offering a contest where if you link to ten of their stories, you might win some sort of trendy music player. In spite of the fact that no mention is made of how this contest will be judged, allow me to prostitute my blog for the benefit of their pagerank:

  1. Occasionally, they cover software choices of pundits you’ve never heard of. Reminds me of my own software recommendations.
  2. TUAW questions the voices of prophets from time to time. So do I.
  3. We are also both concerned with noise, though I worry more about indoor silence.
  4. TUAW tries to be humorous. This TUAW story has a lot in common with one of my own blog entries, in that neither of them is funny.
  5. I like when they hail evolution. I do so love evolution.
  6. While their coverage of a nice recipe program was typically fluffy, it made me appreciate having a superior wife than the one mentioned in the story, who lets me do stuff like this.
  7. Some of their unnecessary editorialization and personal sharing I genuinely agree with.
  8. We also have similar taste in radio.
  9. Every once in a while, TUAW offers a pointless contest. So do I.
  10. Obviously their best story because it links back to me. Well, almost. It actually links to Engadget, who link back to me. That TUAW decided to route through a sister site for no reason doubtless tells you all you need to know about their journalistic integrity.

Update: Shockingly, this didn’t win.

Update 11 Oct 2006: Not long after this contest completed, the post announcing the contest vanished. Over the intervening time, I sent some queries to TUAW about this but never got a reply.

Perspective

Fluid Cost per US Fluid Ounce
Unleaded gasoline (87 octane, central Long Island) $0.02
Pepsi® (2 liters, on sale) $0.03
Evian® water (1 liter) $0.05
Starbucks® Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino® (Venti®) $0.18

Flooding in Valhalla

I don’t really have a good story for this, but the title is so brilliant, I had to share it. It would be a great name for a book. Plus, it was overheard from a source I almost never watch: local news. Evidently there was a lot of rain north of Manhattan today.

How to destroy a modern record company

One of the reasons mainstream music has become significantly less interesting in the past decade has been the major label’s embrace of the superstar marketing model. In previous decades, studios expended effort in building “career artists”, bands that would build a fan base who would buy record after record. This has given way to a “pump and dump” strategy, where debut albums are marketed aggressively and milked for a brief period, then the artist is abandoned. Superstar marketing is the pinnacle of this business model, where a single star is massively marketed in every way possible, almost to exclusion of the label’s other acts.

This sells a lot of the superstar’s albums and makes tons of money for the label. For the superstar, there isn’t much evidence that this will lead to strong career. In an analysis of long term successful albums Chris Johnson observes that, in spite of making millions, there is…:

…considerable evidence to suggest that when Britney [Spears] stops being pushed on the market by her record company, sales will fall off a cliff.…There are very few acts post-1990 that can boast platinum certifications more than a year after release.…The promoters will just as happily push Hanson as Bob Dylan, Spice Girls as Aretha Franklin: they are completely agnostic on the quality front.…In effect, the record labels cannot afford to build artist careers anymore. They can only afford to milk the current promotional mechanism.

I think this is fantastic because it suggests a way to hasten the demise of such record companies, which have become relics clinging to outdated methods instead of offering me the products that I want. The strategy to do so lies in the answer to the following question: If, hypothetically, Britney Spears were to vanish in some way (sudden retirement, injury, plane crash, etc.) what would that do to the financials of her label and the company that owns it. If such an event were unexpected, it’s fair to say that Jive Records would need to scramble to survive and would have a fair chance of collapsing. Sony would, unfortunately, fair better, being more diversified, but would take a financial hit as well.

By putting their eggs in one basket, record labels leave themselves open to attacks aimed at destroying the basket that don’t cost very much. All a dedicated group of people would need to is target the major superstars of a label all at once and bring them down with smear campaigns and/or industrial espionage (e.g. stealing and destroying master tracks before they can be published, injecting random signals into a CD production, etc.). Since the media largely no longer check facts, they would be useful accomplices. A clever group could probably do the whole thing without even breaking the law.

Sound of silence

A month ago, I posted a list of song lyrics with a challenge for my readers to identify them. My plan at the time was to post the answers after a month had gone by. In the interim, however, there have been zero responses, which means that some or all of the following are true:

  • I have no readers
  • The list was overly difficult
  • The list was overly long
  • My readers are lazy bastards
  • My readers are apathetic and grumpy

Whatever the reason, I’ve now resolved to never post a solution to the original list, but will leave it up for the intrepid. C’mon, surely you can at least guess one or two! As for the difficulty and length, I also offer the following, alternate list:

  1. I wanna rock and roll all night
  2. I am Iron Man
  3. It’s a small world, after all
  4. Silent night, holy night
  5. Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire