YEAR ZERO, A NOVEL BY ROB REID – RUMINATING ON THE WEIRDNESS OF REALITY

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 doesn’t 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 truly are.

Born in New York City, raised in Darien, Connecticut, got his undergraduate degree at Stanford University in Arabic and International Relations. Earned an MBA from Harvard. In 1994 he moved to Silicon Valley where he managed Silicon Graphic’s relations with Netscape. In 1999 he became a founding member of IGN Entertainment which went public in 2000. IGN was acquired by News Corp in 2005 for $650 million.

File:RobReid.jpgReid 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, but it totally killed me. No one knows the intricacies of law as it pertains to the music industry better than Rob Reid. Did I mention the footnotes? They are even funnier than the text.

Humans are 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 real law and the idiocy of the situation is the stuff that makes you read and laugh and read, then laugh some more.

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 real facts. The “facts” are so odd, you have to sit there and let your jaw flap a bit.

Taking into consideration the world in which we are living, this book makes more sense than it used to … if anything makes sense at all.

Douglas Adams created the Improbability Drive from his imagination. Rob Reid only has to quote laws that exist which are as crazy as whatever you might imagine. Right now, nothing seems as scary as life. But I digress.

I loved this book. I have read it half a dozen times and I think maybe I’ll read it again. Like, today maybe. I bought the audio book too and listened to it a few times. I’ll probably read that more also. Some books are worth memorizing.

There is no sequel. It’s the only novel Rob Reid has written, though he has written several other non-fiction books including Architects of the Web about Silicon Valley, and Year One about life as a student at Harvard Business School.

This is a great book. 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 … and right now, reading about music seems a great idea to me.

RUMINATING ON THE STRANGENESS OF REALITY | THE DAILY POST

SURVIVING POLITICS: THE LAST HURRAH – GARRY ARMSTRONG

John Ford’s classic, “The Last Hurrah”, celebrated its 60th anniversary last year. It was still very timely and I frequently used a clip from the film during my working years until it was suggested I was riding a dead horse. Considering how things worked out, maybe even more timely than I imagined possible.

I didn’t agree then and don’t agree now.

In the movie, Spencer Tracy, aka Frank Skeffington — in reality, the Honorable James Michael Curley — explains how politics has become a media show — the number one spectator sport in the land.

Garry-With-TipONeill

I knew many of the real life characters from the movie based on the popular novel about Boston politics. “Tip” O’Neill, the late, legendary Speaker of the House, was my friend, confidante, and muse. O’Neill frequently explained how he cut bi-partisan deals while orchestrating “good cop-bad cop” scenarios so no one looked bad on “the hill.”

O’Neill said he used an end-game big picture hand to win big political pots. He knew how to bluff the bully boys who didn’t know when to walk away from the game.


Today, there is chaos on the hill. Madness from the White House. Insanity in the country. Who has the best hand? Some have already folded, walked away, or been pushed out entirely. If we are lucky, more will come. The cards are grimy and I’m pretty sure they need a new deck.

Tip O’Neill urged me to always look and listen beyond the sound and fury. He smiled in recollection of the deals brokered while end-of-days threats filled Congress. Sadly, there are no Tip O’Neills today, but his advice about not yielding remains valid and relevant. I wonder what he would do today?

When the rhetoric abated, it was our job to vote with intelligence and not fold our hand. Doesn’t look to me like we got it right. What do you think?

AN OLD DAM ON THE BLACKSTONE ONE WINTRY DAY

180-waterfalls_20170303_033

I found a dam. I’ve been to that dam before, but it’s hard to see anything of it in summer. The trees and brush around it have really taken over. It’s difficult to shoot anything in the summer.

This is the most water I've seen coming over a dam on the Blackstone in several years. We didn't get as much snow as we usually get, but we did get quite a lot of rain and it has made a difference.
This is the most water I’ve seen coming over a dam on the Blackstone in several years. We didn’t get as much snow as we usually get, but we did get quite a lot of rain and it has made a difference. Will it be enough?

We tried to shoot here last summer and couldn’t get anything worth mentioning. This time, it was just me. Garry opted to stay in the car and after about 10 minutes, I was inclined to agree with him.

The last two weeks have been almost like summer, but it was cold today. I shot quickly and then, we went home to the warm house. Just in time to feed the dogs!

180-waterfalls_20170303_005

I was watching the weather this evening and they were warning that we have no snow run-off this year, so we really need some rain and soon, or all this water won’t be enough. More than 80% of New England is in a moderate to severe drought state and has been for a long time.

I was wondering about that. Let’s do some rain praying around here!

IF IMITATION IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY

Bunch of hypocrites, I say. The other day, Garry commented that Apple is suing Microsoft (again? still?) over copyright infringements. And Apple is suing Samsung (like Samsung doesn’t have enough problems?) for infringing on the copyrights of the iPhone.

imitation-sunset-aldrich-st-210117_06

I told him: “In the computer world, every company is suing every other company for copyright infringement. It keeps the legal profession in business.”

We tell kids — one among the many hypocrisies we spew — that “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.” If Julia copies your hairstyle, buys the same dresses, talks and walks like you, it’s because she admires you and wants to be you. “Now, be nice to Julia. She’s just showing how much she admires you, dear.”

But if Julia had the same rights as a corporation, you’d be suing her ass and taking it to the Supreme Court. Oh the lies we tell!

The actual quote is:


“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”  ― Oscar Wilde

Not quite the same. Interesting how big a difference a few words at the end of a sentence can make in its overall meaning.