September 2005
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Day September 16, 2005


I was going to update the Current Listening section below, but I realized that much of the new music I’ve been listening to lately has come from Magnatune, and I’d like to give them a plug. Magnatune is an online, “non-evil” record label which publishes “open source” music. Their business model is that artists provide albums and songs in a variety of formats and quality levels, and you can listen for free in streaming mode. Downloading requires payment, but here’s the difference: you decide how much to pay.

Yup. Magnatune allows you to decide how much to pay for an album, on a scale between $5.00 and $18, via Paypal. This lets the artist and Magnatune get feedback on how much customers really think the music is worth, and allows customers to feel control over the value they’re receiving. The CEO of Magnatune reports that the average sale price is above the recommended $8.00. The label splits the profits equitably with the artists, so they get a large cut of an $8.00 sale.

It’s a cool model, and seems to be working at the moment. Support them if you agree. I’m personally enjoying Human Response and Indigneus under electronica, and some of the classical is excellent as well. Can’t vouch for other genres, but check ’em out if it’s your thing.

Book #48, Neal Stephenson’s The Confusion

I finished “The Confusion (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 2)” yesterday, and forged immediately onward into volume 3, The System of the World. Somewhere about nine hundred pages from now, I’ll be done with the cycle. Volume two was excellent, but much more focused on global politics and finance, and thus was slightly less interesting than the first (from my perspective). That didn’t keep me from burning through it fairly quickly, and it was a terrifically enjoyable read, but there was less focus on the origins of science (or “Natural Philosophy”) than was the case with volume one. I start volume three fascinated to see how the controversy between Newton and Leibniz is going to develop.

Of course, after this, I need to re-read Cryptonomicon so that I refresh my memory on the all the connections. Already I’ve noticed Queena-Koota will develop into the island principality of Kinakuta, and the Hacklheber family will return, and re-reading the Enoch Root sections will be fascinating.

Otherwise, I’m finishing off Kunstler’s “The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of the Oil Age, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century” which is fascinating and important. After that, I’m likely to bypass Philip Pettit for the moment, and start on Polanyi and James Scott’s “Seeing Like a State : How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (The Institution for Social and Policy St)”, which I’ve meant to read since seeing the reference in Jacob Levy’s terrific article Liberalism’s Divide After Socialism and Before (I recommend the latter highly).