20 October 2011

Dead Duck Link Sausages

Q'daffi Duck, that is...

  • One of the more odious dictators in recent years — and that's up against some pretty stiff competition — has been "confirmed dead" with cellphone pictures published in close to real time at the Grauniad. Good riddance to Q'daffi Duck; I can now cancel my vacation plans for El Dorado Canyon. And, hopefully, we can put the Pan Am 103 "prosecution" to rest, too; if there's one thing that is certain, it's that we can't be certain.
  • Meanwhile, some sore losers across the Pond continue to argue that the American Declaration of Independence was unlawful — ignoring both that history (and therefore legitimacy) is written by the winners, and that the British hegemony in North America was primarily a result of conquest (not just of the natives, but of Britain's erstwhile "allies" in the Netherlands). Too, there's that whole "taxation without representation" issue that masks the relationship among nepotistic political succession, dictatorship, and tyranny...
  • ... but it sure beats arguing about Ireland. And potatoes.

    If there's a problem with potatoes — and, in particular, with potatoes in school lunches — it's with how they're prepared. Given enough stale hydrogenated oils and salt, anyone can turn a nice piece of fish or head of broccoli into a nutritional nightmare. I'll take dum aloo any time — in just about any variation — in preference to oversalted freedom fries.

  • I have two responses to the dubious announcement by S&S that authors will have direct access to their sales figures.

    • The short one: GIGO.
    • The long one: In the past decade-plus, I have either directly handled or consulted on a number of S&S-based royalty reporting disputes, which are based (purportedly) on those very same sales figures — a population sample sufficient to support statistics-based inferences, whether measuring by individual works or by authors, and not confined to any single imprint of the S&S empire. In every single instance, I determined to my satisfaction that the royalty statements were misreporting sales to the author's substantial disadvantage... and this conclusion was eventually conceded by S&S in a significant minority of those instances, and implicitly conceded in another significant minority of those instances by changes in the course of dealing. The inference that I would invite is that it will do authors little good to have direct access to such flawed data — except, perhaps, as a floor of what the conglomerate is conceding.

    Authors deserve — and should demand — more R-E-S-P-E-C-T than this. (We'll leave aside that it's arguable — under the correct legal framework, treating a publisher-author transaction as a license and not a sale — that authors are already entitled to better under the most conservative interpretation of contract law.)

  • I'm going to mildly object that the so-called Mississippi "Personhood Amendment" provides greater rights to fetuses than its proponents would — and in fact do — provide to

    • "illegal" immigrants (compare to the second link sausage on this platter, if you dare);
    • non-christians in general, and non-protestants in particular;
    • women, or in any event female fetuses;
    • the melaninically-enhanced; and
    • victims of sexual misconduct that result in pregnancy,

    although its proponents will no doubt claim that I'm distorting things. I also mildly object that the "personhood amendment" movement is entirely inconsistent with supporting capital punishment by an inherently flawed system, but I think that objection won't get much more attention.