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Lileks @ Lunch

James Lileks writes about everything - except sports and gardening

Yours Truly, Sarah Pilin

Apple Music is due for improvement:

Apple Inc. is planning sweeping changes to its year-old music streaming service after the first iteration of the product was met with tepid reviews and several executives brought in to revive the company's music strategy departed. Apple is altering the user interface of Apple Music to make it more intuitive to use, according to people familiar with the product who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. Apple also plans to better integrate its streaming and download businesses and expand its online radio service, the people said.

Good, because it's horrible. Key quote: “When it comes to software, Apple performs with less elegance than it does when it comes to hardware,” said Colin Gillis, a New York-based BGC Partners analyst.

Then there's the little problem of deleting all your music.

“The software is functioning as intended,” said Amber. “Wait,” I asked, “so it’s supposed to delete my personal files from my internal hard drive without asking my permission?” “Yes,” she replied.

The minute I learned Apple scanned your iTunes library then provided versions from its own scanners for online streaming, I thought: nope. Here's the thing:

If Apple Music saw a file it didn’t recognize—which came up often, since I’m a freelance composer and have many music files that I created myself—it would then download it to Apple’s database, delete it from my hard drive, and serve it back to me when I wanted to listen.

It's that last part I don't understand. I mean, I do, but why? Why take it off my computer? I know we're moving into a wonderful world where it doesn't matter where your data is, only how quickly you can access it, but for some of us belt / suspenders types reliance on the Cloud, on letting someone else handle it for you, is a lousy idea.

In related lousy ideas, this was my favorite phishing attempting this week . . .

Do the needful! Anyway, that was my favorite, until this one. 

They're not even trying anymore.

How to be angry about other people's vacations

When it comes to travel writing, no subject stirs more bile than cruise ships. It is very, veryimportant for some people to let everyone know that they do not like cruise ships. Presumably, we're supposed to care; presumably, we're supposed to think "my experiences must be invalidated in light of this person's stern critique," or "it seems odd that the person who has never done this thing speaks with such authority about a thing I have done many times. He must be blessed with preternatural perception. No more cruises for me, then!"

If you want to sample this delicious, bitter broth, the comments on this New York Times story will give you a fair taste. Headline: "In an Age of Privilege, Not Everyone Is in the Same Boat." Yes, this is the age of privilege, as opposed to the millennia of egalitarianism that preceded the 21st century. If the people aren't mad about the existence of ocean-going pleasure craft, they're mad about the story's angle: cruise lines are adding first-class perks.

Has that sunk in yet? For more money, you can get a better experience. I know, I know - it's so brazen it's like they're not even pretending any more. But it's true! The writer even uncovered the name of the special class: Haven. As if it's some special protected retreat, far away from the great pullulating hoi polloi.

Which it is! And this is a novel concept? This is a curious complaint, coming from a publication whose glossy magazine fashion ads are aimed square at the Manhattanites who would make their cleaning staff wear cloaks of invisibility if such things existed. Even then, they'd complain.

The ships described in the article are the big vessels run by the big lines, and they have all manner of accommodations, depending on how much you spend. The end result - a hierarchy of comfort and amenities ordered by expenditure - is something whose symbolism appalls some folk, because if something doesn't present sufficient opportunities to be appalled, you have to concern yourself with its symbolic offense. You'd think they would focus their ire on the lines that only cater to the upper classes. Surely they're worse somehow. Sink them! Sink them all!

If you read all the comments, because life has lost all meaning and there are no good ways to fill the empty hours, you'll find a few complaining about cruise lines in general, because they promote a false sense of travel. If you take a shore excursion, you really haven't been there. Apparently there's a time threshold. If you walk around Florence for a day, you really haven't been there. You didn't really see anything. Don't say you've been to Florence. These are generally the same people who say Americans are woefully ignorant of other countries, and if you say "well, I took a cruise that visited six Balkan cities," you'll be told it doesn't count. But isn't it better than nothing? I mean, at least I know what it looks like, how the people dress, what the public squares look like. No. It doesn't count. It's a false experience. Okay. The author of that particular letter reserved special ire for cruise excursions that take people to swim with dolphins, which does not reflect the culture and history of the nation to which the island offering the dolphins is attached.

There are people who have strong opinions about complete strangers swimming with dolphins somewhere.

Here's a quote:

It represents a degree of economic and social stratification unseen in America since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, J. P. Morgan and the rigidly separated classes on the Titanic a century ago.

Hmm. Well. No. It ignores something that's a staple of every cruise ship: on most ships without a Haven section, whether you've bought the smallest cabin or the biggest, you have the same food. You can spend more for the specialty dining, of course, but everyone gets the same buffet and the same dinner in the elegant dining room. Third-class in the Titanic did not sup from this menu:

Frankly, I don't know why they would. Sounds horrible.