01 February 2010

Inherited Sausage Platter

An AmazonFail sausage platter would probably consist only of sulky 5-year-old whingeing and quite a bit more fail. Wait a minute...

  • After AmazonFail 3.21 this past weekend, I can't resist yet another update. There has been some misunderstanding of "reseller" and "consignment" floating around the net; one of the more-rational examples occurs in the comments following a post on Charlie Stross's blog. The problem is that Amazon is not a reseller of dead-tree books in the first place: That requires that Amazon has full legal title to the books, and since they're returnable Amazon does not (by definition) have full legal title to its stock. You want some proof? Look at the fiascos resulting from the iBooks bankruptcy followed by the PGW bankruptcy!

    There is one business model in which the consignee sets both the commission rate and the basis for the commission (with full authority to discount that basis in individual transactions), which is what Amazon has functionally asserted for the Kindle program: The bugfuck-crazy world of art galleries. There's just one tiny little distinction between fine art and dead-tree books, let alone e-books, that makes the comparison even more bugfuck crazy: Pieces of art available through a gallery are individual, unique items; although book titles also fit that rubric, book copies do not. Then, too, there's the thriving individually commissioned work of art market existing right alongside the galleries...

  • Sometimes some of the best legal analysis comes from non-legal sources. Sometimes some of the best news reporting comes from satire. And sometimes we've got both at once. Thanks, Stephen: I needed that.
  • When I saw the Trib proclaim that it "will become a little narrower starting Feb. 8", I wondered how its viewpoint could get any narrower than it already is... and then realized that they're just going metric. That's right: Even though you don't see any acknowledgement of it anywhere in the article, the "real" cause is that paper suppliers and printer manufacturers have — for years! — been going metric. As our paper supplies are increasingly coming from Canada, which managed a conversion to metric for most purposes (specifically including paper sizes) long ago, someone realized that adopting instead of fighting the standard just might save some cash... but far be it from that right-wing piece of crap to acknowledge that them damned furriners made them do it.
  • New math at the NYT: A new column in the Opinions section will try to teach math to the math-averse adult. Fortunately, the NYT gets delivered to just about every Congresscreature's office; unfortunately, there's just not a lot we can do to make them actually read it... presuming that, after growing up the American education system, they can read it. As long as "nerds" are culturally treated as inferior to "jocks" (and even the Yearbook staff) by both the students and the faculty/administration in high schools, nothing that top-down education "reform" tries is going to work.
  • The enthusiastically innumerate Chris Anderson, though, continues to act like an AIG or Enron executive (circa 2001) with his ridiculous claim that the so-called "long tail" shows how manufacturing can succeed. There's just one problem with this meme: By definition, the "long tail" at the top end — the Pollyannish part extolled by Anderson and his ignorant horde — consists of around (100 – 95.45)/2 = 2.28%... and is balanced by a corresponding 2.28% at the bottom. It's one thing to point to the top end of the long tail for examples of practices; it's another thing to expect successful adoption of those practices by the rest of the dog, and particularly that cold wet nose at the other end of the creature. That's not quite as irrational as using the lottery as a retirement savings plan, or relying on "best-seller" status without attaching any numbers, but it's close (mathematically, too).
  • Jay Lake all too accurately notes "Wow, I sure wanted a trillion dollar Iraq War more a whole lot more than I wanted a moon shot" in response to Obama's rumored (and essentially forced by what he inherited) intent to eliminate the manned return-to-the-moon program.