I often think I’m unpluggable. Reality is unpleasant so I separate from it by being busy, busy, busy, always doing something, always plugged in, writing, editing, reading, thinking. Listening to a book, reviewing. Watching a movie, a show. Afraid to let go lest the night demons get me.
But even I sometimes must retreat. Finally my body screams for rest. My brain begs for silence, however brief. Nothing will do except my bed.
In my shadowy room. Soft sheets, gentle dolls around me. Ganeesh, Lakshmi and Buddha watch over me and there, I rest. Even if just for an hour, I retreat and am refreshed. Glad there’s a place — one last place — to which I can run and hide.
Truly one of the funniest, smartest pieces of science fiction in many years. I don’t merely like this book. I really LOVE it!
When in 2012, Rob Reid wrote Year Zero, a science fiction novel about the music business and its impact on the universe, many people sat up and took notice. Who better to write about the Byzantine complexities of the music business than Rob Reid?
The author of Year Zero, Rob Reid does not have the kind of bio one would expect of a science fiction author. In fact, he was and is an entrepreneur and multi-millionaire, the kind of self-made multi millionaire who makes many of us realize what failures we are.
Reid was the sole founder of Listen.com for which he served as CEO and Executive Chairman. Listen.com launched Rhapsody, a music streaming service, the first legal service of its kind. Rhapsody was bought by RealNetworks in 2003 and Reid continued to serve as one of its vice president until MTV purchased it for $230 million.
Year Zero is one of the funniest, scariest, weirdest science fiction novels I’ve ever read — up there with Jasper Fforde and the great Douglas Adams and certainly the only book of its kind that includes footnotes. They are hilarious too.
The scary part of the novel is not the story but how it mirrors the realities of the music business. The music business is scary.
It turns out that Earth is the only planet in the universe that can create music worth listening to. It is not merely the best music in the universe. For all practical purpose, it is the only music. Other worlds have made something that had been called music … until the discovery of Earth’s music. From the moment our music was heard by the highly advanced sentient cosmos, there was no turning back. The year of the discovery of Earth’s music was Year Zero, the dawn of a new era for every planet in every galaxy everywhere. It also signaled the likely end of life on Earth unless some legal loophole could be found in our insanely punitive copyright laws.
If not, the combined amount of money owed to Earth’s music corporations would be so monumental it would bankrupt the entire universe. Unable to pay the bill yet obligated by inter-galactic law to pay it, the easier choice would be to destroy Earth, eliminating the problem and de facto, canceling the debt.
Whether or not you will find the book as fascinating and funny as I did is probably a matter of what you find funny. No one knows the intricacies of law as it pertains to the music industry better than Rob Reid.
The humans are funny and oddly heroic, each in his or her own way. People rise to the occasion. The aliens are deliciously bizarre and some of them also rise … or fall … to the occasion. The combination of law and the ridiculousness of the situation is hilarious.
Although Year Zero is every bit as weird as any of Douglas Adams’ books to which it has been compared, the strangeness of the story is based on facts of law. Douglas Adams created the Improbability Drive from his own imagination. Rob Reid only has to quote the actual laws — every bit as bizarre as anything you could imagine. That’s scary.
I loved this book. I read it, read it again. Then I bought the audio book and listened to it twice more. I’ll probably read it several more times.
There is no sequel. It’s the only novel Rob Reid has written. Otherwise, he is the author of two non-fiction books: Architects of the Web about Silicon Valley, and Year One about life as a student at Harvard Business School.
This is a great book and I bet you’ll love it too. Give it a read. If nothing else, you’ll learn everything you never wanted to know about the music business!
It was raining this morning, though for a couple of minutes, the sun appeared then ducked back behind the gray cloud cover. I think the sun was slightly embarrassed to show up unannounced during our annual week of rain, guaranteed to ruin the colors of the trees.
I could hardly disagree with the sun on that score. He had been bright and beautiful all through September and into the beginning of October. Then, he had vanished and let the rain take over, exactly when we most needed his shining face. If I were he, I too would be embarrassed. Bad sun, ruining our autumn.
I took my camera and shot a lot of pictures, dancing between the raindrops. Pretty pictures, though you can already see how much duller the colors are than they were just a few days ago, before the rain began. Of almost 400 frames, 350 of them are so similar no one but me (I’m not even sure of me) could tell them apart. But they exist, so when I need an autumn fix, I can dip into the files and find new stuff to mess around with. It helps when winter is hard on us, the world is cold, white and monochromatic.
Back on Facebook, the site I love to hate. Someone who ought to know better is saying “Here’s a suggestion: To solve this government shutdown, call a general election and let the people decide what should be done. Should we continue with the shutdown or go back to running the government? Sounds simple to me!”
And getting the response: “What’s simple to us is hard for our elected officials!”
It’s not hard for our elected officials. It’s impossible and illegal for our officials — elected and otherwise.
Not only that, but we do not have any mechanism that allows a plebiscite wherein everyone gets to voice his or her opinion and The Government has to Abide by Our Vote. How would that work, exactly? To which part of our legal system does that belong? Judicial? Legislative? Executive?
I’m pretty sure we have to pass laws via the legislature. To change laws, we have to get rid of old laws via the judicial branch and/or enact new laws. Which brings us back to the legislative branch. Or to put it another way — congress. If you don’t like the bozos in congress, don’t vote for them. What? You didn’t vote? Well then. I guess you got what you deserve.
The executive branch (aka The President) can’t enact laws. He can use his influence to try to get congress to create laws he likes. He can veto laws he dislikes although presidents do not use their veto much. It’s a thing. Oh, and congress can overturn a veto if enough members of congress agree. Like that’s going to happen.
So — after we have this entirely illegal “public opinion election,” who will enforce “the will of the people”? To the best of my knowledge, there is no force of law to public opinion. There never has been.
Returning to Facebook, I post a little something. Because I love it when I absolutely, positively know no one is going to pay any attention to me. I say: “You can’t just ‘call an election’ in the U.S. This isn’t Great Britain where members of parliament vote “no confidence’ to jumpstart a new election. The U.S. has scheduled elections. Beginning and end of story. The Constitution specifies how and when elections will be held. You can vote down a government in England. You cannot do it here.”
Everyone ignores me. Probably because I’m so smart.
So what can you do about all the stuff you don’t like? Between scheduled elections, you are free to gripe, whine, wail, argue, rant, piss and moan … but you can’t vote until the next scheduled election.
It’s one of several fundamental differences between our government and parliamentary governments (like England, France etc.). Americans are always saying how superior our government is, yet they don’t seem to know how it works. Hmm.
So I love it when folks call for an election to change something they don’t like. As if the United States has ever or could ever “just call an election” and “let the people decide.” Even in a parliamentary government — which is nominally more responsive to public opinion — you can’t just “call an election” anytime citizens are displeased with what’s going on.
Somewhere in every government throughout history a lot of citizens are/were/will be unhappy with whatever the government is or isn’t doing. If you had an election every time a bunch of people were mad at the government, we’d always be in the middle of an election.
Wouldn’t that be fun!
You are not required to like what’s going on, but if you want to participate, you need a fundamental grasp of how your government works. The boring stuff you ignored learned in grammar school. Today, you’re all grown up and your government is boring. I know. It’s not fair.
Feel free to ignore me. I should never read anything on Facebook. It just pisses me off.
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