Keiretsu update, with news on the side

A quick sweep of the blogosphere and a ton of interesting stuff this morning:

  • Matt Kirschenbaum (a fellow Hooblogger) writes about the convergence of anti-spam technologies and the humanities in a pointer to an email list discussion article by the editor of the venerable Humanist Discussion Group.
  • Jenny the Shifted Librarian points to the approval of the CD antitrust deal, indicating that I’ll be getting my check soon for $12.63 (not the $20 max). Which will pay for a month of eMusic, with enough left over for an Americano…
  • Esta writes about the family reunion picnic this past weekend. Best line: “…my DNA realigns to become ‘Dutch Hillbilly’ rather than the usual ‘Hillbilly Dutch.’” Um, shouldn’t that be Hillbilly Deutsch? Second best line: “A dinner party on Saturday with my parents, aunt, two first-cousins-once-removed, a first-cousin-once-removed-in-law, and most of the over-40 gay population of Lancaster County. And no air conditioning. We were stuck together like highly conversant and well-fed things that stick together.”
  • Greg did a rib feast for Father’s Day that sounds like it was even more lip-smackin’ than our grilled chicken. And in another post comes up with one of the great one-liners of the Bush presidency: “Bush gives more lip service than a cosmetician.
  • In local news, in a story about Medicaid the King County Journal points out that the clinic that has my current primary care physician decided not to accept any more new Medicaid or Medicare patients. Actually, I should say had my current PCP. That little revelation is the last straw and I’m officially changing as of today.
  • My mother in law is moving her mail out of Netscape 6. The Mac Classic versions of Outlook Express and Entourage don’t appear to support importing mail from Netscape 6. Suggestions?
  • Rand Beers, former National Security Committee member and presidential antiterrorism advisor to George W., resigned his post over concerns that the Bush Administration’s antiterrorism policies were making America less secure. And now he’s working for John Kerry’s
    . Why? “The way he wants to make a difference in the world is to get his former boss out of office.” The article is amazing, quoting a series of interviews with Beers in a list of critiques of the administrations fumbles on terror—the administration is “not into teamwork” in a war on terror that requires it; the Iraq war shortchanged domestic priorities including security, ran the risk of breaking our alliances, and could breed more al-Qaeda recruits; Afghanistan was begun, then abandoned leaving it an unstable mess—that sound like they could have come straight from the Green[e]house.

  • People continue to speculate about new product announcements at next week’s MacWorld. Since Steve Jobs isn’t giving the keynote, I’d rate any significant product announcements about as likely as the Justice Department embracing FOIA.

iTunes Music Store: unanticipated side effect

A confession: I wasn’t an online music buyer until Apple’s iTunes Music Store came along. Too many of the stores seemed to offer music in proprietary formats which only proprietary clients could play. All seemed to have a crawlingly limited selection.

Of course, I realized after a week or so happily downloading stuff from the ’Store, the same is true of Apple’s offering. Proprietary format? Close—AAC appears to be supported by a very small constellation of players (fortunately including both iTunes and the iPod). And limited selection? Well, no Radiohead, Sigur Ros, or Beatles, and (at least for now) no indie labels. But, I decided, I was still having a good time with the service.

But what to do about all the indie music? As a loyal KEXP listener, I yearned for something beyond the major labels. Then Scott Rosenberg wrote about eMusic: “If your musical taste runs to obscurities anyway, this is one of the best bargains on the Net.” Encouraged, I gave it a try. And Scott was right: eMusic rocks. MP3 downloads, lots of indie labels, and (bonus) enormous swaths of the Fantasy back catalog, including Prestige and Riverside recordings (think Monk, 50s era Miles and Trane, and hundreds of other key jazz records). Over the last week (during my trial membership) I’ve downloaded the Pernice Brothers, Yo La Tengo, Kristin Hersh, Daniel Lanois’ latest (oh well, always at least one clinker), an EP of My Morning Jacket, and some oddities to round out old reconstructed mix tapes, like Peter Murphy. Plus the cover of “You and Your Sister” by This Mortal Coil with Kim and Kelley Deal on vocals.

So that unanticipated side effect? All of a sudden, after Apple’s breakthrough, buying music on line seems like the most natural thing in the world—regardless of who’s selling. I wouldn’t be surprised if eMusic and other online stores get a big lift over the next few months.