Archive for January, 2004

This is news?

You’re kidding me. The kids at UW are just figuring out that their textbooks are overpriced?

WASHPIRG accuses publishers of cranking out new editions just to make the old ones obsolete.

In a $120 calculus book, students say they found only minor changes from the old edition.

“So essentially we are just paying $40 more dollars for different numbers on the math problems and exercises,” said UW student Jay Holcomb.

Thankfully as an English and Theatre Arts major, the majority of my textbooks were actually mass-market paperbacks. That coupled with the fact that Shakespeare doesn’t really change between editions of the Riverside helped keep me in a lower bracket of textbook budgets. So pick up on a tip, prospective college students – go Theatre Arts.

Of course, there were those rare, out-of-major courses that required their specific texts. I spent $199 on a book for a psychology class. When I dropped the course and returned the unopened book, I got back fully half of what I had paid for textbooks.

My favorite, however, was the summer I took a Criminology class. The textbook – a beautiful hard-bound book – cost about $95. The professor told us that it was expensive for a summer course, but that we could generally get $65 when we sold our books back at the end of the semester.

When I went into the bookstore to sell it back, I was told, “Sorry, but the publisher just announced a new edition is coming out next year. If you want to sell it back, we can give you two bucks.”

Hell. I’m not going to sell my massive $95 reference book for two bucks. I still have the book. The real bitch of it, though, was that I checked the new edition that came out a year later and found only two new tables to it. It was priced at $105.

And used copies of my edition (the one they wanted to buy for two bucks) were sitting in the Used Book section and selling for $70.

What about this says “scam” to you, exactly?

Friday, January 30th, 2004

With Apologies to Run DMC

His name is Jay
To see him play
Will make you say,
“Goddamn! that DJ made my day – by ripping off the RIAA and bankrupting artists. Somebody call a cop.”

Showing their usual knack for public relations and their astounding respect for the artists, the RIAA has started confiscating DJ mixtapes from indie music stores.

The Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) has launched a new campaign against DJs in an attempt to control copyright infringement.

They have already confiscated $100,000�s worth of mix CDs from independent record stores across the US.

DJ mix CDs, sold in almost every independent record store are on the whole unlicensed and technically illegal to distribute. However, DJs and producers alike often rely upon these illegal mixes in order to gain credibility, and to promote themselves to the general public.

Not to mention promoting themselves to the major record labels – who have, in fact, picked up a few of their more popular acts and gotten some kickass producers from listing to mix CD’s. And, as reporter Terry Church points out, confiscating DJ mixes is hypocritical in the face of the RIAA’s statement that they’re fighting these battles “for the artists.” These mixes don’t usually get anywhere near the wide distribution that even the paltriest bootlegger can manage, and are more about promotion of the DJ’s and producers as artists than they are about profit.

But in all fairness, most DJ’s – and the indie music stores that carried their tapes and CD’s – had to know that what they were doing was at best grey market. With the RIAA growing increasingly paranoid and jumping at the chance to declare anybody to be a thief, it was only a matter of time before they turned their eyes on the club DJ’s of America.

Friday, January 30th, 2004

So tired…

Why, yes – there is a new article at OSPolitics: USA today. Thank you for asking.

Thursday, January 29th, 2004

What I Can Destroy With a Hammer

I used to work the night shift at a grocery store – first stocking shelves, and then working the cash register. I worked a full shift and was on my feet all night. If I was stocking shelves, I had to bring up boxes from the back stockroom, unpack the stuff, and put it in the right spot. If I was working the register, I had to ring up purchases, answer the phone, bring in the shopping carts, log all of the film that had been dropped off to develop, and clean all of the registers. Generally, I would come to work directly from two- to four-hour rehearsals. I finished most of my shifts exhausted.

I have learned recently that finishing a major writing project takes a little bit more out of me than a shift at the grocery store did. I’ve finished two big writing projects in the past three days and started work on a third. It makes me glad I learned touch-typing long ago – because I don’t think I have the energy for hunting-and-pecking right now.

Wednesday, January 28th, 2004

We’re all doin’ what we can

I’ve been meaning to announce this for a while, now – it’s been mentioned over at the Dry Goods Store, but I never put it up on this page. And with the New Hampshire primary over, now seems like a pretty good time.

Those of you familiar with the Dry Goods Store (and if you’re not familiar, why aren’t you?) will remember the section of the store entitled “The Lost Liberty Blues.” That section has a new line in the description.

Currently, this section of the Dry Goods Floor is collecting funds for the campaign to remove Bush from office. 50% of the profits from items in this section will be set aside to as a donation to the Democratic nominee . Thank you for your support.

It started out with the Civil Flag design, then later added the George W. Bush AWOL Force design. And now it’s added a new design called “Boot Bush!” I know. Subtle like a sledgehammer. Just like everything else I do.

The profits don’t add up quickly, but they’re there – and if the Dean campaign’s fundraising has taught us anything, it’s that every little bit counts. Check it out, see if anything tickles your fancy, then pass on the information.

Hey – help boot Dubya and get a nifty T-shirt, too. Sounds like a plan.

Tuesday, January 27th, 2004

On The Care and Feeding of your Weeds

I know that I have a tendency to run just a little bit behind the curve when it comes to new movements in the industry – this despite the fact that I was a beta tester for BitPass and I am (as far as I know) the first playwright to attempt a BitPass-driven licensing technique for my plays. The fact is that once I’ve discovered something, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s already been discovered and accepted or dismissed by the general population.

Of course, it’s not my fault all of the time – Napster, for instance, didn’t come out on the Macintosh until the RIAA was already sharpening its knives.

But my latest discovery – which you may or may not have hea