Music Modernization Bill Sounds Good.

I am generally distrustful of bipartisan legislation, especially when the CEO of RIAA is this enthusiastic, but this doesn’t look too bad on its face:

A key provision of the bill is for Congress to establish the equivalent of a SoundExchange for songwriters to track credits and distribute royalties when digital services use their work. The switch to a market-based rate standard for artists and writers, closing the pre-1972 loophole that denied digital compensation to legacy artists and the addition of copyright royalties for producers and engineers are other changes widely hailed as improvements by a wide range of industry organizations, from the Recording Academy and the RIAA to ASCAP, BMI, the American Association of Independent Music and the American Federation of Musicians.

Sounds like a good compromise on the needs of artists and distributors. Establishing the means to accurately enforce contracts is what we have a govenrment for.

via Music Modernization Act Approved by House Judiciary Committee — Variety

Kevin Smith is Still Alive. Huzzah.

The last Kevin Smith film I saw was Clerks 2. It was pretty good, by the standards of an unnecessary sequel made years after the movement of relevance, which is to say I was pleasantly surprised by it. The last Kevin Smith film I was excited to see was Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which was a big silly profit-taking enterprise that knowingly exploited the title characters. Since then he’s been making weird horror movies that tend to get bad RottenTomatoes scores, which may or may not have anything to do with their quality. I’d have to rewatch his earlier films to decide where he “peaked” in my eyes, and right now that seems like a giant waste of time.

I haven’t cared a damn about his Ubergeek/Comic Book Man persona, because the commodification of comic book/”nerd” culture is tiresome as hell. I don’t know who wants to watch grown men in hockey jerseys share their opinions about comic books, but it isn’t me.

But this also seems like a big waste of time right now.

Kevin Smith is 47 years old. I’m 41. That means that Kevin Smith is not much older than me, and he’s made a slew of feature films and built himself an empire. That means what I think of his work and life is utterly and completely irrelevant. By any standard, commercial or artistic, he wins.

Because he’s created. Because Clerks caught the zeitgeist like a bottle rocket, because Chasing Amy was a sincere meditation on love, because Dogma, for all its twitting of the institutional Church, was far less an attack on the value of faith and the goodness of God than Silence was. And because Mallrats and the aforementioned Jay and Silent Bob are great ways to waste an afternoon.

Godspeed, Kevin Smith. Make a bunch more movies, or podcasts, or whatever the hell you want. Haters gonna hate.

Welcome to the New Weimar Republic

German Neo-Nazis putting the boot to migrants.

It’s not surprising that this happened. Nazis, neo- or otherwise, don’t like immigrants. That’s their thing.

What’s surprising is this:

But police said the asylum seekers started the confrontation – and later hurled bottles at the police trying to save them from a beating.

The migrants picked the fight, according to the police. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, but the police said so. Which tells us something about the police – they were prepared to spin fact against the migrants, or they were prepared to tell the truth about them, rather than waffling and saying “oh, both sides were reponsible” (Granted, this is a british journalist’s interpretation of the event).

Remember, these are Nazis we’re talking about. Germany has extended a significant degree of psychological effort to expunge Nazism from their consciousness. Der Polizei, as agents of the state, could be expected to have a bias against the Nazis, to assume that they started the fight. They’re Nazis. Nazis start fights. That was their thing in the Sturmarbeiten, Horst Wessel Weimar days before the Little Moustache took power.

But no, the cops say that 20 migrants picked a fight with 100 Nazis.

That means something. I don’t know what it means, but it means something.

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Italian Robbers Kindly Reassure They’re Victims “We Are Not Isis”

According to La Stampa, as reported in Yahoo News.

On a lighter note, the La Stampa daily reported that a gang of masked robbers had stormed into a bank shouting: “Relax, we are not Isis. It is only a hold-up.”

This fascinates. Why would the robbers do this? Fear of bodily harm is, one surmises, among the most useful elements of a successful robbery. Yet, fear of being suddenly and pitilessly butchered for no purpose must provoke a different reaction than fear of being relieved of one’s wallet. So this must be a necessary warning to prevent people from just running from the exits, devil-take-the-hindmost.

Or, the robbers in question were of Arabic extraction, and did not care to be stereotyped.

Or, one of them thought it was cheekily funny.

Charles Manson, Star Wars, and the Joy of Hate

Kevin Williamson opines on how monsters make the ladies swoon.

The phenomenon of young women falling in love with death-row inmates, particularly with serial killers, is not new: Women flocked to Ted Bundy’s trial — his trial for raping, torturing, and murdering young women as a prelude to acts of necrophilia — and he received stacks of love letters and marriage proposals. Jeffrey Dahmer and Richard Ramirez got the same treatment, and Anders Behring Breivik might as well be the Beatles during their heyday. An investment banker may have a Ferrari, but the serial killer, the terrorist, and the mass murderer are at the top of the food chain. On the subject of Nazis, P. J. O’Rourke famously joked that “no one has ever had a fantasy about being tied to a bed and sexually ravished by someone dressed as a liberal.” Like all good jokes, that is fundamentally true — even if the truth behind it horrifies the nice people at National Public Radio, who remain “bumfuzzled” that a rich and powerful woman would allow herself to be beaten bloody by a psychopathic meathead, repeatedly.

That all sounds thoughtful and probably true. Meanwhile, in nerd-world:

I cannot quite express it, but I feel as though there’s a similar dynamic at work. We Warsies (thanks Trekkies) could not stop complaining about Phantom Menace back in the day, any more than we could stop paying money to go see it. It was almost as though we enjoyed the abuse.

New Content: Demon-Killing and Caliphates

I have long been fascinated by the Crusades, the Crusader states, and the military orders. Piers Paul Read’s The Templars is a magisterial book that fits in well with the newer generation of Crusade historians (good-bye, “ambitious younger sons”, hello “pious armed pilgrims”). The Templars, of course, met their brutal end before the Middle Ages were over, but the Knights Hospitaller survived, first on Rhodes, then on Malta, where they became the great anti-Turk sea-lords of the Mediterranean. They survive today as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a charitable organization with knightly flavor.

That history and a few viewings of Hellboy has inspired a piece of fiction, perhaps the stepping stone of a larger work:

View at Medium.com

On a related note, the claim of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to the Caliphate of all Islam let me down the rabbit hole to learn one or two things about what went down in the Mid-East in the 20th Century. Most interestingly, I learned that the House of Saud has been ruling in the Arabian Penninsula for a long time. Check out the rest at my new svbtle.com blog, Histeria. A relevant quote:

The Caliphate is imperial by nature: it’s godly goal is to expand the ummah. Every Caliphate has stagnated and collapsed when it hit its military limits. That was true of the Umayyad Caliphate, the Abassid Caliphate, and the Ottoman Empire; it will be true of ISIL.

Where exactly those limits are is the question of the hour.

from “Monarchy, Legitimacy, and the ISIL Caliphate

And of course, there’s my music tumblr, Every. Damn. CD. I just finished up with Led Zeppelin. Rockabilly to follow.

awesomeness_poster_by_sillada