Tag: Amazon

Brainiac On Banjo: It’s Good News Week!

Brainiac On Banjo: It’s Good News Week!

The American bookstore landscape is rebounding with a significant increase in bookstores, including the expansion of Barnes & Noble, which plans to open fifty new stores in 2024. This revival is not expected to harm well-managed independent bookstores. An old bank in Chicago’s Wicker Park is being transformed into one such Barnes & Noble, indicating a trend towards creating more intimate, theme-focused bookstores and promoting the fundamental act of reading.

Brainiac On Banjo: A.I’s Just A Photocopier.

Brainiac On Banjo: A.I’s Just A Photocopier.

I’m all alone, so are we all. We destroyed the government. We’re destroying time. No more problems on the way — Clones (We’re All), written by Alice Cooper.

According to last Friday’s Hollywood Reporter, “A federal judge on Friday upheld a finding from the U.S. Copyright Office that a piece of art created by AI [artificial intelligence] is not open to protection. The ruling was delivered in an order turning down Stephen Thaler’s bid challenging the government’s position refusing to register works made by AI. Copyright law has “never stretched so far” to “protect works generated by new forms of technology operating absent any guiding human hand,” U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell found.”

That certainly is good news to creators of all sorts — not just artists, but writers and other producers of copyrightable or patentable products. However, I suspect the majority of such gifted people will not waste carbon dioxide emitting a deep sigh of relief. Damn near all of them have been to this rodeo dozens of times; more likely hundreds. The longer you stay in the business, the more you slip on corporate dogshit.

Do not think the producers and corporate princes reading about this ruling will say “well, jeez, maybe we should start acting in a morally acceptable manner.” Hell, no. The vast majority of media moguls who possess an “annual compensation package” in excess of ten million dollars per annum confuse having their package reduced by as a direct kick to their… package. Whereas that seems fair to me, my WGA and AFTRA memberships expired a while ago. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: A.I’s Just A Photocopier.”

Brainiac On Banjo: The ComiXology Kamikaze

Brainiac On Banjo: The ComiXology Kamikaze

When I look over my shoulder, what do you think I see? Some other cat looking over his shoulder at me. And he’s strange, sure is strange. – Donovan Leitch, “Season of the Witch.”

When it comes to the digital world, sometimes all those zeroes and ones just don’t add up. Let’s look at ComiXology, what I once considered to be a genuine revolutionary force in the medium.

In the history of paper publishing going all the way back to papyrus, it’s often been a crappy way to make a living. Oh, sure, some folks have been enormously successful, but on the same hand some folks win the lottery. Expenses are high and nobody knows what the market wants. Paper is getting hard to find (soon we will have to make a choice between having paper and having oxygen and trees), and places to buy the finished product have run thin. “Book browsing” and impulse purchases have become 21st Century rotary dial telephones.

We needed an alternative way to get comics. In 1981, Marvel Comics published Dazzler #1 and made it available only to the then-growing number of dedicated comic book stores, and that showed us there just might be life after the newsstands and candy shops. To make a long story short, around that same time I turned to theatrical producer Rick Obadiah and said “hey, you know, we could do this.” And that’s the shortest origin story for First Comics ever told.

Things went pretty well until the overwhelming number of distributors bellied up after exclusive distribution deals kicked in. As those distributors were coughing up blood, the “smaller publishers” (meaning just about everybody except Marvel and DC) started getting paid late, if at all. Again, I’m making a very long story short. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: The ComiXology Kamikaze”

Brainiac On Banjo #068: Award-Winning Awards

Brainiac On Banjo #068: Award-Winning Awards

I can’t say I’m a fan of teevee awards shows. Overlooking their propensity for vapidity and fecklessness while acknowledging their complete commitment to style over substance, I agree with those who say that it is truly stupid to pit masterpieces against each other strictly because they were released within the same period of time.

Case in point: the nominees for Best Picture of 1939 – I’m talking the Academy Awards here – were Gone With The Wind, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The Wizard of Oz, Of Mice and Men, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Wuthering Heights, Ninotchka, Dark Victory and Love Affair. One’s own personal predilections aside, it’s hard to parse out a qualitative analysis of these films in order to determine a clear “best.” At least eight of these movies are among the very best Hollywood has had to offer, and the other two are no slouches.

(For the record, I would have voted for Stagecoach – and then shot myself for passing over Ninotchka and Of Mice and Men.)

However, I do enjoy a fun live teevee show. I enjoy watching the Oscars with my daughter because she keeps me in stitches with her faux-catty commentary. I love watching the Golden Globes because it’s more relaxed, it is largely bereft of stupid song-and-dance routines, it is comparatively un-overproduced… but, mostly, because Ricky Gervais may be the most honest and one of the most fearless comedians to ever walk the red carpet on the way to work. If I’m watching an awards show and the only person I’m cheering on is the host, I’m still having a good time. Gervais did not disappoint. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #068: Award-Winning Awards”

With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season

With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season

Forget Rudolph, the Grinch and Frosty. I’m not here to talk about it It’s A Wonderful Life  or Hallmark Channel movies (even though my daughter-in-law loves them). Today I want to focus on Christmas Commercials.

It’s been a good yuletide season for ads. Although I’ve yet to see the famous Santa-on-a-Norelco-shaver spot (one of my all-time favorites), there’s been some engaging TV spots. Oh sure, they are all  promoting crass commercialism when we’re all really supposed to be thinking about peace, brotherhood and one very important baby born in a barn, but let’s focus on creativity, entrepreneurism and providing more than a few jobs. 

The Peloton TV spot got all the buzz for all the wrong reasons. This year they stepped in it with an ad that suggesting a rich guy demands his perfectly beautiful wife to continuously workout to maintain her perfectly physique. The stock stumbled for a bit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Peloton has fantastic end of year sales.

Or was it all a sneaky plot? At the end of the day, Peloton is a brand that found a way to successfully sell a piece of fitness equipment  at a super-expensive price – despite the fact that this particular piece of fitness equipment exists in abundance on Planet Earth.   Continue reading “With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #029: Is Bigger Worser?

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #029: Is Bigger Worser?

Last Friday Senator Elizabeth Warren called for the breaking up of the larger tech/innovation companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. She made this argument at the South by Southwest (SXSW) technology conference, citing anti-trust as her major concern.

It’s amusing to see Sen. Warren side with Donald Trump on anything. You may recall that Trump wanted to kill the AT&T / Time Warner merger. The standard reason of “limiting competition” was offered, and I agree with her in concept: limiting competition is bad, and monopolies suck. Ask anybody who subscribes to cable television.

A couple years ago Warren promised to break up the big banks. These few institutions are quite rich, extremely powerful, are paying their top executives in eight or nine and are doing much, much better now than they did before they forced us into our worst recession since the Great Depression. At that time, the government said they could not break up these institutions who had put a death grip on our economy, cost millions of mom-and-pop investors much of their life savings, and allowed them to gobble up hundreds of smaller, local banks. They were, as we were told, “too big to fail.” Which is the same as “too big to follow the law.”

Warren cried bullshit onto that, and she was right. But if she did anything meaningful about it except bray, she’s succeeded in keeping that to herself. So, instead, she’s shifted her attention to much lower-hanging fruit. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #029: Is Bigger Worser?”