01 February 2011

Snowpocalypse Now!

  • It's pretty obvious that the various parts of publishing think of themselves as "special," and not subject to other law. The story at Harper's is good-old-fashioned union busting: The "Publisher" has attempted to fire organizers and refuses to negotiate until after a round of layoffs, even going to the extreme of rejecting donations intended to avoid the layoffs. This is, to put it bluntly, a pure power play, in which the Publisher is attempting to demonstrate — rather like Al Haig — that "I'm in charge."
  • You may well have gotten tired of me harping on the antitrust concerns raised by e-book resale price maintenance agreements, inaccurately aka the "agency model". Too bad: The British authorities have not, and have opened a formal inquiry into whether the "agency model" breaches competition law Over There (just as the Net Books Agreement did before it).
  • Meanwhile, Borders lurches further toward bankruptcy thanks to the management practices (and lack of vision) inherited from its former corporate parent. I remember quite a few worthwhile shopping trips to the Borders on Rockville Pike when I was stationed in DC... but that was two decades ago, under the original management and ownership. Back then, the store made sure that it stocked an extensive backlist, and was crowded with shoppers and usually had (short) lines at multiple registers on Sunday afternoons. A visit to the store in early 1994 disclosed some deterioration, but it was still obviously run by book people. According to a friend who is still in the area, that essentially stopped in the late 1990s when the store went on an efficiency kick... and it's similar here in East Central Redneckistan, with our much smaller store accompanied by a much less diverse selection in a Big Ten university town that does not have a general bookstore on campus.
  • There's a fascinating essay by Professor Pollack at The Reality-Based Community on what Frances Fox Piven actually said that might have set off Glenn Back (this time, anyway) and revealed Beck's own fascist tendencies and methodology. As an exercise in historical comparison, try reading some of the German newspapers in the weeks leading up to Kristallnacht and comparing both the rhetoric and the nature of the evidence offered to what is coming from Fox News and the Mad Tea Party. There are, indeed, differences; the similarities, however, are dominant and far more striking.

    In short, I wish that Professor Pollack had mentioned the word "scapegoat" in his piece. That said, he does point out that Frances Fox Piven is a 78-year-old academic, which should be good enough. Probable next target: Dean Baker (whose point probably has more rhetorical weight than evidence behind it... so far).

  • The best government your money wasn't sufficient to buy: In California's most-recent gubernatorial contest, the loser spent $43 for every vote she received. Yeah, we've got free and fair elections here...
  • Once again, more proof that the internet is for porn. Free porn.

Finally, in honor of the weather rolling through — fortunately, here (a little bit south of Chicago) it will probably be only 40–50cm of snow instead of the 70cm+ they're expecting: