Notes from all over

Some random topics that are too long for Twitter, but not developed enough for a regular blog post:

  • Has the Los Angeles Times lost its freaking mind? Today they sold a big chunk of the front page to NBC for a promotion, and Sunday they're going to do something similar with the Calendar section—only this time, it's going to include a Q&A with Times columnist Steve Lopez, just to blur the lines of journalism and advertising even more thoroughly. Nice to know that when the going gets tough, there's nothing the Times won't sell and no principle of journalistic integrity they won't betray. Hope they enjoy those thirty pieces of silver.

  • In a surprising new Rasmussen poll, only about half of all Americans believe capitalism is better than socialism. Of course, you can slice and dice the wording of the poll however you want, but it would seem that more than a few Americans are prepared to start questioning the most basic of assumptions about our economic system. It's hard to blame them. In a world where the government is pumping billlions of dollars into failed companies, while ordinary Americans lose their homes and unemployment climbs into the double digits, our current system looks less and less appealing. Or maybe they just figure that since we've effectively started to nationalize companies anyway, we might as well go whole hog.

  • What's up with GM's styling department when it comes to Buicks? The Lucerne looks like someone grafted portholes and a Buick grille onto a VW Passat (the side and rear views are especially Passat-esque), and the LaCrosse looks like a previous-generation Ford Taurus with slightly better detailing. Where's Harley Earl when you need him?

  • Speaking of GM, it seems to me that the troubles of the automotive industry have a lot in common with the problems faced by the music industry and our rapidly sinking newspapers (see above remarks vis-a-vis the LA Times). In each case, you've got entrenched bureaucracies that have gotten used to having their way, coupled with an old-world view that refuses to die. Recent moves notwithstanding, GM is still behaving as if it had 70% market share (and Chrysler as if it still had a chance of surviving), the music business acts as if people still go to record stores to buy CDs (and as if artists still need them to distribute their music), and the newspapers still think that they're the ones to decide what is and isn't news. All of them are basically dead men walking. They just don't know it yet. And it is worth remembering that there will still be cars built in America if GM and Chrysler go under, there will still be music if the record industry collapses, and there will still be vibrant journalism if newspapers die. We may be reading RSS feeds on iPhones or Kindles while listening to MP3 files in our Teslas instead of reading the New York Times on paper while listening to FM radio in our Pontiacs, but then again we're also not reading papyrus scrolls while listening to wax cylinders in our Studebakers. Life goes on, you know?