And with that groundhog showing us the way to six more weeks of winter (I never get that -- since Groundhog Day is February 2nd, aren't there always six more weeks 'til Spring Equinox anyway? or is that the point?), I'd better be looking for winter's beauties 'cause the cold's not going away in a hurry. I'm really tempted to keep these legwarmers, made for my daughter Megan, who's away in the deep cold of the Chilcotin where she's cooking at a Heliskiing Lodge. I guess she needs them more than I do, but really, sorely tempted here -- they're so cozy, made in Twilley's Freedom Wool -- a lovely, soft, lofty 100% wool. I'm even more reluctant to gift them since the wool is often advertised as being "great for felting." Keeping in mind what Puttermeister says about knitting for muggles, I'm hoping these can stay away from overly warm water, but suspicious that they may get dumped in the laundry and end up in the -- horrors! -- dryer at some point. My cold is still with me but I'm feeling a bit better, almost ready to tackle the small stack of papers I brought home to mark.
And I did manage to finish Story House. The antagonistic relationship between the brothers (and the triangle with their father, before that) was interesting as were their parallel relationships with their wives. As well, the plot became quite gripping at several points, particularly with a very tense engineering/construction endeavour near the end (trying to avoid spoilers here). Taylor's obviously done his homework, and his references to architecture, engineering, and boxing seem very credible to me, supporting the plot without interfering. What I was perhaps most interested in, though, was the opposition he sets up (and then muddies) between the real and the authentic, the natural and the built, the urban and the wild. I was struck by the light he shone on the world of counterfeit luxury goods, anticipating Dana Thomas's How Luxury Lost Its Luster. One of the brothers, for example, makes a living selling counterfeit goods from antique rugs to expensive watches, and his mentor in criminality explains the economics of retail counterfeiting to him: First, he explains "the luxury retail rule of eights." One-eighth is the cost of the goods sold, the COGS. Another eighth each for shipping and for marketing, so that "The five-eighths remaining are retail markup and every last dollar of that is captured here [Rico points to the logo of the sunglasses he's holding]. And anything where over half the value is captured in a nickel-alloy-stamped thingamajig the size of a booger isn't illegal to copy, it's a moral fucking imperative to copy. This thing is insulting you. It's check raising. It's doping the off-pace horse. It's leading right" (188-189).
Keep in mind that this is a criminal character speaking, not the author who is surely aware that designers, like writers and artists and musicians, deserve to be paid for their ideas. Still, I suspect that the sentiment is shared by many who have no qualms at all about buying copies whenever possible. (I'm not one of them -- hey! I still buy CD's rather than download). What always fascinates me is that those same people who are indignant about the value captured in a mark "the size of a booger" don't boycott that value but instead try to own it deceitfully.
So I've pulled on some legwarmers, settled down with a good book, and I'm looking out at sun shining on snow-capped mountains. How are you managing the groundhog's