I wish I had the picture from the hard copy of Thursday’s Los Angeles Times. In the business section, a b&w photo of Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, two self-satisfied middle-aged white billionaires in their look-a-like casual clothes, standing by their cookie-cutter campus bicycles.
It for a story on their first management book, one in a genre that’s a global ocean of deadening conformity. Naturally, there’s is different because they are Google, dammit!
And therefore it is called “How Google Works, ” “a guide to managing what they call ’smart creatives’, according to the newspaper.
Everyone is now well-acquainted with how much smarter everyone there is than the lice-infested masses. And that is why they are all wealthier than Croesus because in America you are compensated in direct proportion to your gargantuan talents. Or lack thereof.
But I have yet to see any hint of recognition that the constant numbing stories of how smart they are, how intellectually superior one must be to just pass an interview in Mountain View, of how everything in the place is encrusted with the wonderfulnesses of soaring IQs and unfettered innovations, just ooze condescension.
If pomposity were a person and it met Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg it would throw itself away.
So let’s hear it again for the “smart creatives:”
Jonathan Rosenberg: Traditional management books don’t address the fact that the balance of power has shifted from companies to consumers. That’s made building superior products the paramount issue for companies today. So the key thing that they need to figure out is how to attract what we in the book call the new breed of employee, the “smart creative.” Those are the people who have mastered the tools of the current age to build superior products. We don’t think anyone has told that story before.
Eric Schmidt: We’re always on the winning side when we’re on the user side…. It works in most countries. There are some countries which you can essentially think of as non-democracies, where they’re just not organized around citizens, they’re organized around other things, and there the issues are much harder.
[I have to step in here because Schmidt, in the interview, really doesn't seem to know how fucked this sounds.]
The interview includes Schmidt and Rosenberg pimping Uber and, then, at the end just slipping in a little bit that Google is heavily invested in the company.
And as stated at the beginning, no Google piece is complete with an assertion about how great it is there because it’s where all the brilliant people are: “[Schmidt]: What attracts people is the ability to work with other brilliant people and to work on really, really big problems.”
Fuck these guys, their driver-less cars and data-delivery dirigibles. They’re not the polio vaccine or the elimination of smallpox in our lifetime.
Instead, their alleged “smart creatives” crowning achievement is the tech lubricant for the winner-take-all economy, one in which nothing exists except that in the top half page of Google search returns.
Others have caught on:
When I ask people why they don’t pay for a music subscription service or (heaven forbid!) purchase physical albums, the most common response is: Why should I? I can get almost any song I want for free on YouTube. I’ve even had people laugh at me for my naïveté in considering any other way of consuming music. And who can blame these freeloaders from taking advantage of a “free” (if sometimes legally dubious) source for almost any song ever recorded? But the highly paid Google execs who run YouTube need to be at the top of any list of the culprits who destroyed the economic conditions for musical artists.
What a strange turnabout! Remember when people did volunteer work to help the poor? Now the poor do it to help the wealthy.
More fresh and hot from the Culture of Lickspittle, via Peter Thiel, who according this blog’s archives can always be counted on for the best in witless bon mots:
You know, we landed on the moon in July of 1969. Woodstock started three weeks later, and with the benefit of hindsight, that’s when progress ended, and the hippies took over the country. Today the counterculture is to believe in science and technology.
And this is, of course, why, every business section in the country is lauding the new and boring business management secrets book by Eric Schmidt and some other guy from Google this week, two middle-aged nerd white guys who stand by their bicycles and look almost exactly alike.
Because, you know, the hippies took over and the billionaires of Google, PayPal and Facebook are the counter-culture. And Peter Thiel was two when that happened.
Peter Thiel — from the archives.
“It’s just very difficult to convince people to buy music.”
Said to the New York Times by Keith Caulfield, exec director of charts at Billboard, in the context of next week’s release of Taylor Swift’s new album, “1989,” expected to be a million-seller.
This, as a feature, because in 2014 the music industry has cratered again with not a single million-selling album in this country. It is, as Iggy Pop observed in London, an exchange of the private rip-off for a public one.
In related matters, today’s Business section of the Los Angeles Times has a piece on Pandora, one of the Internet “radio” streaming services, allegedly giving something to artists on the site, because … like … not paying anyone much of anything has really made people negative.
And what is it that is so swell, this thing Pandora is giving away for free to artists?
Well, since you read this blog, you know that anytime an Internet company talks about wonderful stuff it’s giving away for free, it’s either something worthless or another stab at something in your wallet.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Pandora Media, the king of personalized online radio services, pays recording artists, songwriters, record labels and music publishers close to $300 million a year in royalties. That’s not nearly enough to satisfy the company’s critics in the music industry, who resent how little Pandora pays each time a user plays a track.
On Wednesday, the company plans to start offering artists more than just royalties. It’s opening a new Artists Marketing Platform that provides detailed analytics for bands and their managers about their songs and their fans
Artists “will be able to see the number of thumbs up (the Pandora equivalent of a Facebook ‘like’) each of their tracks has earned from listeners, and some basic demographic information…” reads the newspaper.
Well, that’s just like money in the bank! You’ll know that you received 15 listens and two likes in Manhattan last month with no promotion at all. See how well the Internet and digitization of music so that it’s free or virtually so works for you?
“Consider Pandora AMP a peace offering of sorts to the artists who’ve complained bitterly about the royalties paid by streaming radio services — even as Pandora has pressed Congress to lower them,” continues the newspaper inconveniently.
Then you get a longish recitation, a shaggy dog story really, by Pandora founder Tim Westergren who reveals that he, too, was once in a struggling band before he “threw in the towel” (and started Pandora as an aggregator of music to rip off huge numbers of other strugglers).
One assertion is fabulous Culture of Lickspittle material, or as I also like to put it, more of the pissed-in-bathwater of progress the tech industry likes to pass off as lemonade: “Westergren argued then that Pandora can offer struggling musicians a path into the middle class by making it easier for them to attract, find and connect with fans.”
Or, more elegantly, paraphrasing from All’s Well That Ends Well: “He’s an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise breaker, the owner of no one good quality.”
Such remarkable benefits from being in the digital landfill.
But heck, you can still have a copy of Loud Folk Live, CD or digital. Any price! I guarantee enjoyment. A polemic to stomp your feet and shout along to. Or not.
Or, as written by Rock NYC this week:
[The] album is a joyful leap into Whitemanistan, into the big muddy where nothing matters but the readies.
The first review of Loud Folk Live is in and it’s a nice read. At NYC Rock, written by an old editor of Creem magazine, paradoxically, the latter the place my first record thirty years ago was reviewed.
Some of the nice bits, excerpted:
The more George Smith, who tussles with the media world under the name Dick Destiny, lives, the more disheartened he becomes. George is like the last romantic standing, the last man who cares about the US and the more he bristles at “Whitemanistan,” the more he thinks and studies it, and the more he bristles. It is in the nature of things, of course, but that doesn’t mean Smith shouldn’t be stating his reservations about the Reservation or even singing, dancing, and stomping his feet. Misery loves music loves company, and, as Lennon taught us decades ago, if you wanna have a revolution write a catchy hook.
Which leads us back to the extremely enjoyable and fun Loud Folk Live, if you can’t make people read, make ‘em listen. You wanna rail against the robbing of the poor to give more to the rich, you wanna remind us of Waco, Texas, do it with a splendid lick to carry you and people are gonna like you a whole lot more. “Puta” sounds like Lou Reed circa New York … It is a blast whatever other intentions Destiny might well have. Sure, he’s right, it is “Protest Rock” but the accent is on rock whatever his intentions might be.
On song after song, Destiny and drummer Mark Smollin discover the joy in creating a racket …
Destiny’s album is a joyful leap into Whitemanistan, into the big muddy where nothing matters but the readies. The Fugs would approve. Allen Ginsberg would approve. Peter Stampfel would approve and I approve in America the place where we call home.
Go read all of it. Make the numbers at Rock NYC tick up a bit.
Yes, and it includes links to the teaser tunes here and here.
And you can have a copy, CD or MP3s, just name your price. Or not, no obligation. Just follow the link and page down.
“Impressive.” — Steve, Secrecy News
Related diversionary reading — Iggy Pop of the Stooges, asked to give a speech in England on the 10th anniversary of the death of famous radio DJ John Peel, excerpted from the NME:
The subject of his lecture – which marked ten years since Peel’s death – was “free music in a capitalist society”. Dressed in a barely buttoned black shirt revealing his bare chest and reading glasses, the punk godfather prowled the stage as he told a packed auditorium how digital advances have caused the music industry to become “almost laughably pirate” and that electronic devices “estrange people from their morals and also make it easier to steal music than pay for it.”
He claimed the normalisation of illegal downloading is “bad for everything”. “We are exchanging the corporate rip-off for the public one. Aided by power nerds. Kind of computer Putins. They just wanna get rich and powerful.”
Unemployed, underemployed, or unemployable, when you’re down and almost out, Silicon Valley’s libertarians are there for you with apps to allow you to help others by turning your abode into a hostel.
For a small fee, of course.
The buzzphrase for this has been “the sharing economy.” Except now the word’s getting out and the bloom is off the poison oak.
From the New York Times, on a piece earlier this week on how New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, has lowered the boom on AirBnB, the residence sharing enabler, issuing a report stating that three quarters of the firm’s rentals in NYC were illegal:
Critics say that the start-ups are unsavory efforts to avoid regulation and taxes, and that the very term “sharing economy” is ridiculous.
“We need to move forward … We need to work together on some sensible rules that stop bad actors and protect regular people who simply want to share the home in which they live,” AirBnB spokesman Nick Papas told the newspaper.
“Anyone operating an illegal hotel should be on notice that the state and city will take aggressive enforcement actions in this area … A slick advertising campaign doesn’t change the fact that this is illegal activity,” retorted the attorney general.
Schneiderman’s report, according to the Times, found that 37 percent of the revenue generated through AirBnb came from just six percent of the rentals, specifically from landlords of entire buildings who had used the service to simply convert their apartment high-rise properties into transient hotels.
This was very bad news for AirBnB. So it did what the sharing economy start-ups always do. First, ignore the law. Then send out the call for a libertarian flack to ride to the rescue in the opinion pages of the big newspaper.
In this case, it’s Arthur Brooks of the
Unregulated Business Uber Alles lobby American Enterprise Institute.
The phrase sharing economy now begins to leave a bad taste. This is because it’s not sharing at all. You pay for a cheap service, provided by someone Silicon Valley technology can take advantage of and leverage in the desperation economy.
Or as I put it a year ago:
The sharing economy: American tech industry euphemism for the creation of an economy in which the top 1 percent gets all the share.
So libertarian pundit Arthur Brooks uses a different phrase to describe it: the helping industry.
As in, “Everyone wants to help. Wouldn’t you want to be part of such an industry, helping people with more money than you by cheaply renting your home to them at their convenience?”
WHAT is a “helping industry”?
To hear him tell it, [AirBnB co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk] started the business because it was fascinating and fun. And most of all, he says, because it could help ordinary people who needed an affordable place to stay or had some excess capacity in their homes. That’s right — Nate sees Airbnb as a “helping industry.”
Some will howl at this …
Ordinary people, especially vulnerable people without power and privilege, find Airbnb empowering and useful. It lifts Americans up …
Any of us can work in a helping industry. That includes teachers, nurses, stay-at-home parents … The blessing of our free enterprise system is that any of us can sanctify our work. We just need to ask if what we are doing truly lifts others up.
For his sterling example, Brooks finds a woman who has been disemboweled, as many have been, by the American economy. By subletting her apartment out for a few days monthly and “[bunking with a friend or family member]” she can keep paying the bills on the place.
But what if the “friend” or “family member” decided they wanted to be part of the helping industry and charge for the few nights the guest is staying over? Ah, that ruins everything.
And it exposes Brooks’ argument as risible. AirBnB, the helping application is just leveraging desperate people, in this case making some money off the “friend” or “family member” that puts up its user for free.
And none of it addresses Schneiderman’s report that states most of AirBnb’s revenue generated by it in NYC is illegal, coming from landlords/owners who’ve just used to flip entire apartment buildings to unregulated hostels.
From when I first looked at AirBnB:
At Google images, “sharing economy” returns the Silicon Valley pissed-in [bathwater] of the future. The sharing economy, as defined here, is just a euphemism for installing network technology that atomizes labor costs, unleashes the economy into free-lance downward bidding wars, taking larger pieces of a stagnant economic pie for the owners of the technology. In other words, they always get the share, no matter how much smaller the total economic swag becomes. And, as is always the case with snake-oil sellers, they’re backed up with other fine-sounding euphemisms, in case “sharing economy” just isn’t enough. In this instance, Google offers “collaborative consumption“…
But if you look more closely at AirBnB property, you will see that some of the rooms are also offered as monthly rentals, revealing the desire of the owner to be an apartment manager. Of these, we already have loads in Pasadena — and in your city — and they use Craigslist, too.
Others, when examined, are renting all the rooms in a given house, which may look nice on the outside, turning it into a stealth motel. One must assume that some are illegal. Pasadena and all cities do have various ordnances for apartment complexes, hotels, motels, probably increasing in importance if the rented structures are not built in the business district.
This is the case with granny cottages here.
Most of them are illegal, in one way or another, under strict municipal code enforcement. But they are a staple in southern California where people have converted garages into them in trying to build revenue. And AirBnB makes it easier to rent them out, perhaps not that much easier than Craigslist.
In any case, this puts AirBnB in the role of virtual slumlord, although that may not be the large part of its business.
People make mistakes, they screw up. Ebola is one disease that leaves little room for error with an outcome that’s appalling.
I’m going to assume you know most of the statistics. Two cases among health workers, nurses, in Dallas who tended patient zero, who was once turned away from the hospital while symptomatic. The second nurse traveled, when she should not have been allowed to and returned by airplane.
Americans just can not resist the urge to overstate their abilities. They never shut up and concede it’s a tough situation, one in which likely they’ll suffer setbacks with grim consequences.
But diseases surprise. This variant of Ebola seems more virulent than past strains in that there appears to be a lot more of it fulminating in those who are infected.
And the infection curve is still going up in West Africa.
What happens if, like the WHO says, it reaches 1000 new infections a week by December?
That’s the making of a Biblical calamity in which everyone who can starts running away.
What if Ebola virus escapes into a teeming urban center in India? Or Indonesia? Bangladesh? Lagos in Nigeria? Karachi in Pakistan? Any other place with a lot of poor people and spotty health care and resources for infection control? You can’t quarantine the world.
Can this country handle a few people a month who are infected coming in on airplane flights from the African continent?
I don’t know.
The government health officials continue to say it can’t happen here.
But what happens if someone slips through again into a poor neighborhood or a homeless population during flu season? Do they get discovered and isolated before they infect a few more?
This isn’t Liberia or Sierra Leone. But no one can say yet how it’s going to turn out with total confidence.
In 1977, Peter Piot discovered the Ebola virus. Last week, the Financial Times spoke with him:
The collapsing health systems of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea mean that many cases probably go unrecorded; the real toll could be far higher. Even the least alarming projections suggest there will be more than 20,000 cases by early next month. Looking further ahead, the worst-case scenario from the US Centres for Disease Control foresees 1.4m cases in west Africa by late January. Prof Piot says that while such dire predictions must be treated with caution – “like the ones in the 1990s that had everyone in Britain coming down with the human form of mad cow disease” – he is frightened. “There is a very real danger of a complete breakdown” in parts of west African society, he says.
Piot told the FT he “became very scared” in “late June” upon seeing the escalation of the outbreak.
The paradox here is that the US government only became interested in the Ebola virus and funding research on it after the start of the war on terror over concerns, unfounded and unrealistic, that it could be, ahem, used as a weapon on the homeland.
In the past week, news has been common how slashed funding at the NIH had impeded work on it.
Bioterrorism research funding has also been tapered. Additionally, it has been argued for years that the funding for bioterror research was never going to be effective, that the money would have been better spent in general research on the control of global infectious disease.
It has, and will be pointed out again, that Ebola outbreaks thrive in places of great inequality. That is, where there is no sufficient infrastructure or resources to apply to the poor populations where it takes hold.
And that is certainly the case in West Africa. The US military most likely cannot solve this problem with 4,000 troops and one hundred makeshift tent hospitals.
Mark Zuckerberg’s 25 million won’t do it, either. Ebola virus doesn’t conform to social media or wizards of the Silicon Valley.
I’ve written about the extortion job America’s most beloved classic rock bigot pulls on those who get cold feet after booking him for their family-friendly events. And Nugent’s lawyers are now busy bag men, squeezing decent sums for nothing out of the six venues that canceled on him this summer due to bad publicity over his being … America’s most beloved classic rock bigot.
From the Columbian, a newspaper in Oregon:
Controversial rocker Ted Nugent didn’t play a note at the Clark County Fair, but that didn’t prevent him from collecting a settlement worth $45,000 …
Nugent’s original contract called for him to be paid $61,500 for a show at the Clark County Fair.
The fair announced Nugent would be a performer in late April. Almost immediately, some residents expressed concern that Nugent, known for his right wing views and racy lyrics, was not a good fit for a family-friendly concert. A petition began circulating on the website MoveOn.org to have him taken off the bill.
Shortly after the petition hit the Internet, Fair Manager John Morrison announced Nugent’s gig had been canceled.
Nugent, the newspaper replied, promptly issued a threatening e-mail:
Nugent himself wrote an email to Morrison, in which he groused that people were spreading “hateful lies” and that his shows were the “ultimate PG13 family events.”
“I respectfully recommend you do the right thing to avoid a wasteful & ridiculous long drawn out legal action to finally get to the right thing” …
Nugent’s lawyers quickly filed a breach-of-contract suit.
The Columbian adds Nugent’s litigious history, mentioning he sued the Muskegon (Michigan) Summer Celebration for $80,000 after it dropped him from its bill due to “potentially offensive racist terms.”
A couple of years ago, this blog dealt with that event here.
Earlier this summer, the city of Longview, Texas, had to pay Nugent a $16,000 go-away fee just for backing out of negotiation with him after the townspeople decided they didn’t want him for a a show on the 4th of July.
Going forward, any middling city in the heartland offered a piece of Ted Nugent’s summer tour needs to be very careful in researching his history. Nugent successfully extracts significant cash pay-outs from those who back out of a gig with him after he creates a racist stink with his mouth that rebounds nationally as well as in the community.
Either make sure his contract is rewritten so that he can be dropped if his appearance or utterances in public bring shame, fall below community standards or are offensive to groups living in the area of the show or don’t book him at all.
The guy’s literally da bomb. A business transaction is just that and does not carry with it any guarantee clause for free speech.
Another teaser from Loud Folk Live, a live and crazed “Hooray for the Salvation Army Band!”
Tales of alcoholism, salvation evasion, bum checks expired and a group sing of “Bringing In the Sheaves.” Top that.
MP3s of the entire album, or a CD, can be easily had. It’s a perfect companion for the Culture of Lickspittle.
We lock up the poor for all the rich & we do it right, without no hitch…
I refuse to put it in the digital landfill of iTunes/Spotify/Rhapsody/etc. These services are of virtually no use to any music that isn’t already well-established or promoted by a record label with some resources.
Online music creates the illusion of infinite choice and opportunity that didn’t exist under the old model. History and what actually happened have shown this is just that, an illusion.
The profit in it is virtually only for the owners of the landfills.
So, all you have to do for digital copies is send an e-mail and I can supply them just as easy.
As usual, name your price, or none at all, there is no obligation.
Full size. Listen to The National Anthem.
The first copies of Loud Folk Live will be going out tomorrow and Saturday. So expect them sometime around the middle of next week.
I’m proud of it. It’s a better record than my first, Arrogance, way back in 1985 and that, surprisingly, even made mention in a lot of places including Chuck Eddy’s book on the 500 best hard rock and heavy metal records. Which I didn’t take too seriously, but which was nice to have happen, anyway.
Loud Folk Live is much different. It’s an ideology, a point of view, a mix of electric Americana as well as hard-hitting guitar rock n roll, totally live and straight to two-track. What went down over our recent summer of contempt is exactly what you get.
The performances are tight and explosive. Hooray for the Salvation Army Band’s mix of Purple Haze, lyrics to alcoholism and interjections of singing Bringing in the Sheaves gospel challenges you not to laugh. Alone, it makes the entire thing worth having.
And then it tumbles right in to the sermon to our god of green, morals and how to not get into Heaven, Jesus of America.
If you don’t like rock ‘n’ roll, or my voice, you certainly won’t enjoy it.
Which doesn’t bother me that much. If you contributed after the last post, you’ll get one, anyway.
You can still have one for whatever you name. They’ll be CD-Rs with the above insert, later as a limited run burn in a clam shell case.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is just a diversion next to the blog. It’s not. Loud Folk Live is part of my American experience, as important to me as the last twenty years of writing on the subject with which you’ve become familiar.
No one was going to publish a book. Not possible in this country. (Work through Amazon and the empire of Bezos? C’mon, already did that and got hosed.) So I made music.
If you want a copy, go here, page down, then you know what to do.
With the arrival of one Ebola virus case in Dallas and the sick person’s story so far, we’re about to see if the it-can’t-happen-here talk that’s been prevalent is warranted.
The United States is not exceptional. And it is particularly unexceptional in its health care, especially when the stakes are high. With regards to public health, the poor, the average, anyone not considered entitled and special, have been allowed to fend for themselves, often until it is too late.
Ebola virus infection in American may collide with that reality.
From the New York Times today:
DALLAS — Health officials in Dallas are monitoring at least five schoolchildren in North Texas who came into contact with a man found to have Ebola virus, after he became sick and infectious.
The authorities also said that an early opportunity to put the patient in isolation, limiting the risk of contagion, may have been missed because of a failure to pass along critical information about his travel history.
The story also informs of that the infected man was sent home for two days while he was showing symptoms.
More alarmingly, it makes the case that the sick man contracted the virus from contact with the sick daughter of his Liberian landlord, when he helped carry her. The woman subsequently died and two other people who had come in contact with her were also killed by the virus.
“Mr. Duncan came in contact with at least 12 to 18 people when he was experiencing symptoms,” reads the newspaper. But which is it? Is the number right?
None are showing symptoms, which — in any case — will take a little longer to emerge, reads the newspaper.
There are no hospitals like this singularly unfortunate place in Sierra Leone, where the virus is completely out of control.
But that doesn’t mean American health care can’t screw up royally, as it often has, out of neglect, passivity, indifference and greed, in well-documented ways. Indeed, it is fortunate the American health care system has not heretofore come in contact with a disease like Ebola , where it can’t quite track all of those potentially exposed and know precisely when they became symptomatic and infectious.
These are unknowns. No amount of bravado changes that.
“This is all hands on deck,” said Texas governor, Rick Perry. This alone is almost cause for alarm. And that is only because, if you are a betting man, you would take into account that Perry has a record of always being spectacularly wrong.
“[The information that the infected man had just come from Liberia] was not used in the clinical diagnosis and Mr. Duncan was sent home, with the diagnostic team believing he simply had a low-grade fever from a viral infection,” reads the Times. “He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance two days later, his condition having significantly deteriorated …”
Many in the Fair Oaks community around the hospital in Dallas where the Ebola-infected man is in isolation are “skeptical” of reassurances by the Centers for Disease Control, concluded the newspaper.
What happens when someone who is infected just doesn’t get to the hospital, even once?
Time will tell.
In 2008, an American woman on vacation in Uganda brought what appears, in retrospect, to have been a relatively mild infection due to the Marburg virus back to Colorado. She was committed to a hospital for mild fever, diarrhea and complications of initially, unspecified cause. Possible diagnoses of leptospirosis or viral hepatitis were considered and abandoned.
Marburg virus is a somewhat less lethal relative of Ebola virus.
The CDC account of the case, which she survived, is here.
Marburg virus infection was diagnosed post-convalescence.
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