05 February 2009

Handmade Sausages

Technical difficulties abound here: The cordless phone's battery is almost dead, and the motherboard on the main machine (the file server) is just about dead... to the point that it won't recognize either the mouse or the keyboard. Thus, this set of sausage links is virtually handmade, using a laptop that was initially certified for Windows98SE (and is still more powerful than the entire Apollo Program data processing system).

  • Kyooooooot! University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyFirst, cuteness and vulture power. It shouldn't surprise anyone that the best exhibit at the Oklahoma City Zoo, back when I was assigned there, was the vulture cage... because I was assigned to Tinker AFB right after the Penn Square Bank collapse. Besides, I sort of like (and resemble) a vulture's hairline.
  • It's not just the automobile and financial industries that have excessive executive pay problems. Meanwhile, artists starve in Canada and the AP demonstrates — yet again — that it doesn't understand either the difference between "art" and "news" or the concept of transformative use... which is completely consistent with the AP's other demonstrated feelings of "entitlement" and excessive ownership.
  • Here's an idea for a horror film: It Came From the Slush Pile... but nobody edited it. Of late, I've been wondering whether any of the "acquiring editors" at A Certain Media Conglomerate actually do any editing at all, so maybe this horror has gone mainstream.
  • As the whole publishing world knows by now, Sara Nelson — the longtime EIC of PW — was "laid off" recently. The NY Observer — a former employer — pretended to do an "exit interview" with her, but it was rather unintentionally revealing.

    Ms. Nelson bristled Friday at the notion that her optimism in recent months was insincere. "I mean, how do I say this? It is sort of my way — it's sort of true to my personality to be that way," she said. "So it’s not like I was really going around growling, and then writing these kind of sunny things. First of all, I don't think they were so sunny, really, but it is true to my personality to make a joke or try to figure out where the good news is in the story. I think [my columns] were true to what I was feeling, but I’m a little bit that way." If Ms. Nelson is sensitive on this point, it’s probably because for all the cheerleading she has done from her perch atop PW, she retains the guts and inclinations of a reporter who, before taking over the industry bible, spent five years — first at [now-defunct] Inside.com, then the New York Observer and, finally, the New York Posthunting from the outside for insider gossip, million-dollar book deals and dramatic job moves.

    (typography corrected; emphasis added; fake paragraphing removed for clarity) So that's what passes for journalism these days... and explains far, far too much about the shallowness of those "business features" that PW ran during her tenure.

  • In contrast, consider what Stephen King has to say about a number of popular contemporary "novelists":

    Both [J.K.] Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people... The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.

    On the other hand, Mr King isn't very good, either. He's not a worthless Dan Brown or "James Patterson" (although, given that Patterson doesn't actually write the books that come out under his name, that's not very fair, is it?) or John Grisham or replaceable-fake-romance-novelisté-of-the-week hack, but neither is he a good popular novelist... let alone artist. (He seems to have "celebrity author" down pretty damned well, I must admit.)

  • Last, a sad note: the best bookstore in Chambanana has closed. That leaves this college community of well over 150,000 — it's hard to say exactly how many actually live here, since counting of students is extremely inconsistent (even among the three towns here, which can't even agree on rules for doing so!) — with exactly two trade bookstores: a small Barnes & Noble and a Borders... neither of which is accessible to most of the poorer parts of town without a long bus ride and at least one transfer.