Screaming Planet

Where old bloggers come to die.

On Worthy Causes

Posted on | November 4, 2009 | No Comments

[flickr]photo:4074151523[/flickr]

Autumn arrived two days ago.

Just as I was polishing off a sexy introduction about how we didn’t have a proper autumn in ages, mostly just caroming straight from the scorching blast of subtropical ultraviolet into knee-deep slush and slippery streets and the sheer poetry of it being announced not by the flip of the calendar or the birds migrating south but a brown maple-leaf getting blown through the baker’s door, a day later all hell breaks loose and now we are in up to our ankles in the gray-brown splash of winter in a big city.

It is increasingly hard to justify leaving the bed in the morning, and the weather sure isn’t helping. One of these days I will just give up and give in, spending the day wrapped in blankets, head full of the taste of home-made chocolate muffins, lounging in our bean-bag with bleary eyes locked on content that had its copyright not just infringed, but dragged out in the street, beaten to a bloody heap of gelatinous gibs and then left to fend for itself in the wild, as the howl of ravenous wolf packs draws inevitably closer.

There are things wherein my being of the piratical disposition really presents absolutely no moral quandaries, as is the case with most musico-cinematic offerings these days. They are either completely and utterly fecal in every imaginable way, completely unavailable through legal means, or simply hopelessly overpriced and lagging for months or years in release time behind the competition, or indeed, behind themselves in different geographical regions. Nagging case in point: the local SciFi channel, trying to woo us with PREMIERES! of shows that actually aired a year or two ago in the US. Neglecting the fact that you would need to be 11 or a virgin or possibly both to truly give a flying copulation about Legend of the Seeker, I have to wonder how deep the fucking hole is wherein TV and movie execs live, or at least bury their heads, ignoring things like, oh, I don’t know, the invention and proliferation of the FUCKING INTERNET.

Yeah, I will not be subscribing to HBO, Cinema Plus or the Hustler Channel, thankyouverymuch, I have broadband access and at least seven different ways to leech (and seed! always seed!) whatever tickles my pickle in a manner of minutes. With movies, you could argue that a quality DVDRip often arrives months after even the belated local cinema premiere, but with TV shows, the time between initial airing and global availability is something measured in the hours it takes to repack what has just been captured. It is good to know, though, that some people (and, by extension, companies) are not completely out of touch and are taking the entire “disrupting your shit” paradigm to the eyeball-bleeding edge (side note: is there a way to buy Google shares from here?)

But I digress, and having ranted on this very issue in the last post, should move on.  The thing is, I don’t pay for entertainment, for various reasons, the most prominent one being convenience. If I can get it fast, easy and free, then why should I make an effort to do it the hard way, for an unreasonable amount of money and laden with shit like DRM and anti-piracy warning clips that cannot be skipped? Why should I pay exorbitant prices with no basis in the market conditions for a belated subpar non-scarce product that discriminates based on accidents of geography and attempts to impose artificial limits on what I can do with the product? Morals? Starving artists? Having analyzed the way the percents divvy up, sane people will steer clear of this grimy, foggy, winding dead-end of an argumental street.

There are two exceptions, though. One is stuff performed live, where I pay for the true, physical time-space scarcity of an item. The other is if a friend did something and I want to support them (though I can’t help nagging them about the need to git with the times – I don’t want to buy your album/DVD/dead-tree-book, but I will buy the artsy T-shirt and pay to hear/see you perform!) This was the case at the book fair this last weekend, which, in retrospect, offered more food for thought than it appeared at first glance.

The cogs really started ticking after I nearly punched the lights out on an antidarwinist fucktard selling distilled hate speech disguised as creationist “books”. The girls considered what he was peddling funny, and wanted to buy a couple of books for our growing collection of “light reading” that sits on the bookshelf we installed in the shitter, but I was adamant that I will not give money to support and encourage religious retardation. A brief discussion ensued wherein the girls did not think with their hormones as I was doing at that moment, still simmering with the suppressed urge to implant my elbow in someones nose. Instead, they suggested we then purchase something to counter the balance and support the good guys. Being an idiot I refused, with the dubiously valid rationale that I do not read translations of books I can read in their original versions and would rather purchase those, though they were entirely absent at the fair.

Not being a complete idiot, I did listen, though of course, being a bit of an idiot, not right away. They had the valid point that the intent in purchasing the book would not be to pay for something to read, but to support an idea, akin to donating to a worthy cause. This is something I already do in the exact same form – purchase newly published SF books by local authors even though I could probably get them for free, what with being great friends and by now, in some way or other, also related to the publisher, and even though I’ve mostly already read what is in there in one form or another. The thing is, while I like having SF novels by local authors on my shelves and I like having books like The Selfish Gene or Gödel, Escher, Bach on my shelves in their original, English-language editions (which, right now, I don’t, hint, hint, birthdaycomingup, hint, wink, hint), I would not want them taking up space in their translated versions that would merely collect dust. Not to mention that I haven’t read a dead-tree version of a book in… ages. I forget what paper and glue smell like.

But, as is always the case (except, perhaps, with the problem of cats chasing shadows and thus ripping gaping holes in walls), someone on the Internet already came up with a solution. Cory Doctorow has a cute little school-library-exchange thingy going on, so I will just blatantly copy it and start buying relevant books as I would if I were to read them, and then donate them to… hell. Libraries? Schools? Just random people on the street? What is a relevant target for a small-scale pop-sci book donation?

Ideas? Certainly more than welcome.