09 July 2015

Near the Molehills of Madness

Just a couple of miscellaneous notes in the midst of insanity (like you'd be able to tell, right?)...

  • A descendant of Jefferson Davis helped convince South Carolina's legislature to take a symbol of hatred and treason off the state Capitol grounds. The most unintentionally amusing (but also ironically accurate) element of the article may well be the reporter's bio slug:

    Michael E. Miller is a foreign affairs reporter for The Washington Post. He writes for the Morning Mix news blog.

    Sending a foreign affairs reporter to South Carolina to report on this issue may prove to have been a bit more prescient than anyone should feel comfortable with.

  • I'm shocked — shocked, I say — to hear that Exxon knew of climate change issues in the early 1980s and financed denialists thereafter. I do have one quibble with the article, though: It wasn't just a few isolated scientists who knew about climate change in 1981. In the 1970s, one high-school debate topic (on energy policy) resulted in high school students debating possibilities of climate change about every other round. The misuse of short quotations as soundbites is behind my longstanding aversion to, well, soundbites... as evidence of intellectual dishonesty and failure to understand.

    Perhaps the less said about the comparison of energy companies to tobacco companies, the better. At least when one lights up some oil one gets some useful energy out of it.

  • In one of the most remarkably dunderheaded pieces that has appeared in a remarkably dunderheaded publication in some time, a reporter claims that e-readers that report actual reading habits back to the vendors are privacy protection. If you don't want fellow subway riders to know what you're reading, make a book cover out of a paper grocery bag... like we used to do in middle school in the 1970s. Or, if you want to be a little more flamboyant, use leftover wrapping paper from that "adult entertainment emporium." But don't revel in your newfound privacy: There's a pretty good chance that someone else on that subway car works for a company that relies on personal data on your reading habits snatched from your Kindle or Nook or iPad.
  • At least some commentators are starting to admit that — just as for printed books — library e-books won't significantly cut into sales of e-books. Leaving aside that libraries are actually the single biggest (and cheapest) targeted display for books possible, the frustrations caused to readers by the way that publishers are treating libraries concerning e-books will eliminate any problem with sales rather rapidly (and ponder the preceding sausage...).
  • Loathe as I am to cite to anything from PW as factual, the list of the largest publishers in the world last year bears consideration for three points.
    • As a rather considered smack at those who think popular fiction represents "the publishing industry," seven of the top ten on the list are nonfiction-dominant. Seven of the top ten English-language-based publishers on the list don't even have a trade fiction imprint... and one of the exceptions is Scholastic, which doesn't do fiction marketed to those old enough to vote.
    • The body of the piece admits blatantly that (a) it is strongly affected by currency fluctuations and (b) continuing merger activity will be by far the most significant cause of any changes in the near future.
    • Comparison is difficult because accounts are not on the same calendars... or same basis. Which, one might add, also presumes the accuracy of material used to create post hoc rationalizations for royalty statements.

    Yet again, the story is between the lines. Which, when one thinks about it at all, is rather shameful for a publication that purports to cover fact-based issues relating to the publishing industry.

  • It's not quite Rosebud.