Too Soon, Comic-Con

Earlier this week we were talking about cosplay ideas for when we can finally go back to comic conventions. Literally the next day, I read that LA Comic-Con is planning an in-person convention in December.

OH HELL NO!

I don’t care that they’re limiting attendance, requiring masks and distancing, and keeping it at the cavernous LA Convention Center. Knowing what we know now, December is going to be way too soon.

As much as we’ve learned about how this coronavirus spreads and attacks, and ways to mitigate both, the pandemic is not under control now. It’s not likely to be under control by December. Even if we were doing everything perfectly — and we aren’t, there are too many people in the US especially who think medical advice is for other people — there’d probably still be another wave this fall and winter.

“But what about a vaccine?” Heh. Sure. OK, a vaccine. Even if a Covid vaccine has passed through all the rushed trials by then, and actually works, it still takes time to ramp up production and distribution, and for actual doses to take effect, which means the general population is still going to be vulnerable in December, and this is a perfect super-spreader event. Assuming they don’t need to use the convention center as a field hospital again.

It’s kind of a Hail Mary anyway, since there’s no provision in the state’s reopening plan to re-allow that size of event even in the least-restricted tier based on case rates. They’re basically planning it in hopes that the rules will change by the time December rolls around.

But they’re selling tickets already. Without knowing whether they can hold the event. Which really rubs me the wrong way.

Honestly I’m not surprised that of the various LA-area cons it’s them that wants to jump the gun. They’ve always struck me as kinda snake-oily. The way they kept acting like other cons in the area didn’t exist. (What, Long Beach Comic Con? Please, they’re in Long Beach, not L.A.!) Paying Stan Lee to let them use his name back when it was Comikaze Expo. The worst was the reality show they had on SyFy back in 2013, which was at least a few years ago.

But selling tickets for a convention for winter during a pandemic when there’s no provision for actually holding a convention within public health recommendations? That might be a new low.

Update Oct. 14: The event is officially re-cancelled for the year, with some of the guests already scheduled for 2021. Tickets can optionally be refunded or saved for next year. The more I think about it, the more I think they were hoping to get at least some revenue in this year, even if it ends up being just a super-early pre-sale for next fall.

Wearing is Caring

Free-standing temporary sign on a sidewalk corner proclaiming WEARING IS CARING and showing two cartoon people, one with short hair and the other with long hair, wearing face masks covering their mouths and nose.

Every city around here has its own publicity and enforcement schemes for Covid-19 safety, though the criteria and general requirements are mostly decided at the county or state level. I haven’t gotten out to El Segundo much since the pandemic hit, so I hadn’t seen their “Wearing is Caring” slogan until this weekend.

Tech Giants’ Core Strategies

The Verge makes an interesting point about Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda: for the most part, Microsoft doesn’t care what hardware you run their stuff on, they just want you to buy the software. So it’s less likely to be about trying to gain Xbox exclusives and more likely to be about getting more games for Game Pass.

It reminds me of a blog post I read a few years back comparing the core businesses of various major tech players:

  • Apple sells hardware, and their software and media stores are a way to give you something to do with the hardware.
  • Microsoft sells software, and the hardware is to give you something to run their software on.
  • Google sells ads on services, and their hardware, operating systems, and software (Android, Pixel, Chromebooks, Chrome, etc. ) are there to connect you to their services.
  • Amazon sells stuff, and their hardware is a way to sell you virtual (and sometimes physical) stuff.

That’s why, for instance, you can run Gmail on anything, and Microsoft Office on almost anything, but iTunes, the main Apple program that actually runs on a non-Apple system, is designed primarily to hook you up with an iPhone (previously an iPod). And it’s why you can read Kindle eBooks on a Kindle device, or a Kindle app on an Android or iOS device, and they make it really easy to buy e-books from them, but really inconvenient to import anything from another eBook store.

Facebook is similar to Google in that their core strategy is a service with ads, and their apps and (when they branch out into it with things like Portal) hardware are ways to keep you using their services. Heck, they’re even tying the Oculus headsets to Facebook accounts now.

The post predates the rise of smart speakers and doorbells…but remember how the Echo was originally mostly a way to voice-order things through Amazon? Or Amazon Key, whose primary purpose was to allow delivery services to drop off packages inside your house so you wouldn’t have to worry about porch pirates?

Plus of course everyone wants to sell you subscriptions now!

And yet…it still fits remarkably well.