23 January 2012

Public Service Announcements

As a public service announcement and on behalf of limiting the spread of communicable disease, please carefully watch the embedded video for some serious medical instruction.

  • An interesting piece in The Economist discusses the problem (if it is one) of anonymous corporate ownership. This is analogous to the problem of Super-PACs in politics. It is one thing to want one's business to remain private; it is another entirely to exert anonymous, unaccountable power. Unfortunately, in a modern economy distinguishing between the two is virtually impossible.
  • Congratulations to this year's finalists for the National Book Critics' Circle awards. Leaving aside its arrogant disregard of anything that marketing dorks might label "genre" (better called "category," but I've lost that argument to the marketing dorks long ago), it's an interesting list that is simultaneously diverse and narrow.

    Simultaneously, congratulations to the winners of the Newbury and Caldecott medals and honors.

  • If you really need proof that the publishing subindustry is anything but a free and fair market, consider the pot calling the kettle black — publishers calling for antitrust investigation of Amazon. As anyone who has read this blawg at all in the past will understand, I am not defending Amazon here! Consider what publishers do with their monopsony power: They impose startlingly uniform terms on writers, such that there is price competition for less than 1% of accepted works of fiction; they impose electronic book terms based on a H'woodesque "net receipts" calculation; and then they establish a few titles as loss leaders without consulting (and often without notifying) the authors... who are, in turn, stuck accepting the publishers' accounting of what happened.
  • Nick Mamatas offers some potentially useful advice for writers — by noting some advice that should not be given. I'm particularly fond of "show don't tell" as a universal piece of advice from people who don't have the faintest idea of why; it's sort of like taking advice on how to build a bridge from someone who still counts on his/her fingers and thinks "trigonometry" has something to do with how one looses the quarrel from a crossbow (ok, it does, but not in the way that you'd think).

Handball(s)!If the speaker in that video at the top of this entry seems vaguely familiar, it's tough guy Vinnie Jones — a star of recent British action films, and before that the hardest of the "hard men" in football. That's him on the left. Perhaps he should be selling little blue pills or doing a PSA for prostate cancer instead of for heart attacks...

No, the ref didn't see it.