Archive for November 10, 2008

Sony Reader: 505 Versus 700 Screen

November 10, 2008

Over at MobileRead, people are getting the Sony Reader PRS-700 they’ve ordered.

There are some pictures up.

Look at this one.

You decide.

Update: Another picture, very close.

Writers: Would You Call A Doctor Or A Healer?

November 10, 2008

self-publishing: always, always call in the professionals

8. What advice do you have for newcomers to book publishing?

Always, always, employ professionals to print, design interiors and covers, and edit and proof books. The dividing line between amateurs and professionals is not a line at all: they are separated by entire universes.

Oh yes yes yes they are!

Listen, I started out like many other writers of my time: reading Writer’s Digest magazine. It was an education. Not a complete education, but enough to:

1) Show me how to compose a query letter
2) Show me how to get an agent
3) Show me how to format a typed manuscript
4) Show me what proofreading symbols were
5) Tell me how other writers did things
6) Stop me from putting a stupid cover design on a manuscript submission*
(*manuscripts do not have designed covers!)

I used to do fanzines. I learned how to use a typewriter (not type formally, for god forbid males should have been allowed typing courses back then!). I learned how to do paste-ups (a foreign concept and skill today!). And goddam, Presstype too!

In high school, I learned about using a T-square and triangle. Rapidographs. India Ink washes. Perspective drawing and 3D mock-up design.

In college, I learned about using rubber cement for paste-ups instead of Scotch double-stick tape(!). I learned about typesetting. I learned composition and design (well, more of it). I learned how the world of illustration and publishing worked.

What high school and college and Writer’s Digest all taught me was this: Hire professionals!

Look at this blog, for example. The only bits I create are the text and the header and the occasional rescaled or cropped photo or screensnap. (And yes, the header could be better. But all I’ve got is MS Paint, for crap’s sake!)

If I had to come up with the server, the software, the bandwidth allocation, the template and every little thing that goes into it, there wouldn’t be a blog. (Stop cheering!)

I leave all of that — and getting my posts into search engines — to the professionals at WordPress.

I know enough to know what I don’t know. I know enough to know that there are people who know more. I know enough to recognize expertise.

I’d hire an editor to go over my fiction before publishing. Hell, I might even do two editors, in order to find one who not simply has the skills, but is also simpatico with what I am writing. (I wouldn’t, for example, want someone who is very religious handling my work!)

When it comes to a cover, the most I’d try is a rough, in order to hand off to a real artist an idea of what I was looking for. The odds there is that a real pro would just trash my rough and create something wholly different and better.

As for the file creation of the eBook itself, I’m hoping that by then it will all be blog-easy. If it’s going to stay as hairy as having to use an expensive tool such as Adobe InDesign, then that will have to be handed off to yet another professional. (This despite the fact I used to earn money — ages ago — with PageMaker and Quark XPress.)

And then, finally, there’s making it available for sale. I don’t know what that will entail yet. Will Sony live up to its implied promise to open its eBook Store to direct publishing? Will WordPress recognize an untapped market and offer a new level of VIP account for writers who direct publish? There’s also Apple and its App Store still to reckon with.

I hope that by now anyone reading this can see the one thing a writer should stick to is writing.

All else should be handed off to others who can do the job with expertise, with talent, with experience, and when the need arises, even speed (for those odd quick opportunities that eBooks can capitalize on faster than print publishing).

Think of it this way: You’re suddenly ill. Do you want a doctor or a “healer”?

Note To Self: Must Read This Book

November 10, 2008


Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?: Insanely Annoying Modern Things by Steve Lowe, Alan McArthur

An encyclopedic attack on modern culture so hilariously bitter that it actually becomes uplifting. Based on two runaway UK bestsellers, this new American edition has been ingeniously adapted and features exclusive new material for US audiences by Brendan Hay, a former Daily Show headline producer and contributing writer to America: The Book.

If you hate chick lit, Che Guevara merchandise, pop Kabbalah, cosmetic-surgery-gone-wrong-as-tv-programming, DVDs with ads you can’t skip, or any of a few hundred other insanely annoying modern things, then this book will finally lend creedence to your frustrations.

Say NO to the awful ideas, terrible people, useless products, and infuriating doublespeak that increasingly dominates our lives. Never before has there been a book so completely full of shit.

Clearly, it isn’t just you…

Discussion About Book Reviews

November 10, 2008

Over at Char’s Book Reviews and Writing News is: Review: The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, which is a review of a book about book reviewing as well as part of a Blog Book Tour for the book.

I assert that book reviews (and music reviews) are irrelevant these days.

I also added to that thinking in a Comment (which I must quote in full since I can’t find a way to link directly to it):

See, the thing is, before the Net, you’d read a review in paper. Then you’d have to make a real effort to order the book or buy it at a bookstore or go to the library.

These days, you can quickly sample a book via the Net.

Thus, there’s less need for the kind of reviewing that was done in the past. Instead of a “bullhorn” review touting something, a gentle tap on the shoulder to make someone aware of something is all the effort needed today, I think.

Go there and join in the discussion.

Debra Hamel Q&A

November 10, 2008

Debra Hamel

[T]here is enjoyment in seeing words strung together well across a page. It doesn’t happen very often, but I refer to the sort of poetic expression that makes you pause and reread a sentence just for the joy of hearing it again in your head.

I know that lovely sensation!

Among other things, Debra does TwitterLit, which made me aware of this book.

Reference: iTweet.Net

November 10, 2008

Sleek auto-updating interface to Twitter:

— via Twitter from wmacphail

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #381: GM $0.00

November 10, 2008

GM shares down 30 percent after broker downgrades

General Motors Corp (NYSE:GM – News) will likely fall below its minimum cash needs of $11 billion to $14 billion in the first quarter of 2009 if the troubled automaker does not receive additional funding, said an analyst at Barclays Capital, and GM shares fell as much as 31 percent in morning trade.

Barclays’ analyst Brian Johnson downgraded GM to “underweight” from “equal weight.” Deutsche Bank also cut GM to “sell” from “hold,” and saw an equity value of $0 for the stock, according to a report on Reuters could not immediately verify the report.

“While further government assistance would decrease the likelihood of a GM bankruptcy, we believe any government assistance would likely significantly dilute GM’s equity,” Barclays’ Johnson wrote in a note to clients.

Johnson cut his price target on the stock to $1 from $4.

“Of the four broad options for government assistance for GM, we believe that political pressure to protect taxpayers may lead to a solution similar to the 1979 Chrysler bailout, which was accompanied by concessions from debt holders, labor, suppliers and management,” Johnson said.

“In any scenario, we see little value for current equity,” he added.

Emphasis added by me.

Do you want to know how to save General Motors?

Fire every single person who wears a suit and tie. All of them: GO!

They have had since the 1970s — over thirty five years — to get their shit together.

Go read The Reckoning by David Halberstam. It’s a document of how Ford fucked-up against the Japanese. (With bonus points about how we would fuck-up Vietnam by seeing Robert McNamara fuck up in his pre-Government civilian employment at Ford!)

As for General Motors, aside from trying to crush Ralph Nader, they treated their assembly workers as if they were mentally retarded children:

Case in point: the management at the Truck Plant decided what the Quality concept really needed was a mascot. Conceived in a moment of sheer visionary enlightenment, the plan was to dress up the mascot as a large cat. Fittingly, this rat-in-cat’s clothing was to be called the Quality Cat. Somewhere along the line, an even more brilliant mind upstairs decided that quality cat was sort of a dull title. Therefore, a contest was organized in an attempt to give the Quality Cat a more vital name. Hundreds of crafty welders, screw jockeys and assorted shoprats immediately began clunking their heads in an effort to christen the hallowed cat. Management announce that they would reward the most creative of these entries with a week’s use of a company truck. Hot damn! The eventual winner of the contest was a worker who stumbled upon the inspired moniker Howie Makem. Sadly, my intriguing entry, Wanda Kwit, finished way the hell down the list somewhere right between Roger’s Pussy and Tuna Meowt.

Howie Makem was to become the messianic embodiment of the Company’s new Quality drive. A livin’, breathin’ propaganda vessel assigned to spur on the troops. Go ahead and laugh, I know I did. Just for a moment, imagine the probing skull session that took place in some high-level think tank the day Howie was first brought to mention.

“You know, slogans on coffee cups just ain’t gettin’ it, Bill.”

” You’re absolutely right, Ted. We need something more dynamic. More upbeat.”

“Hey, why don’t we give the men their own kitty cat!”

“Kitty cat? Hmmm, I like it! A large kitty cat! Ted, you’re a genius!”

Howie Makem stood five feet nine. He had light brown fur, long synthetic whiskers and a head the size of a Datsun. He wore a long red cape emblazoned with the letter Q for Quality. A very magical cat, Howie walked everywhere on his hind paws. Cruelly, Howie was not entrusted with a dick.

Howie would make the rounds poking his floppy whiskers in and out of each department. A “Howie sighting” was always cause for great fanfare. The workers would scream and holler and jump up and down on their workbenches whenever Howie drifted by. Howie Makem may have begun as just another Company ploy to prod the tired legions, but most of us ran with the joke and soon Howie evolved into a crazy phenomenon.

Emphasis added by me.

Can you believe it? One set of adults setting loose upon another set of adults an adult dressed in a fucking cat costume!

Take all the Suits and fire them. They wasted the company, not the assembly-line workers.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #380: $1.4T So Far

November 10, 2008

Global losses from crisis to reach $1.4 trillion: Goldman

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Worldwide losses from the credit crisis will total $1.4 trillion, of which only $800 billion have been realized so far, Goldman Sachs U.S. chief economist Jan Hatzis said on Monday.

This means further pain ahead for both the banking sector and the economy as a whole, Hatzius said, adding that further fiscal stimulus will be needed to prevent an even deeper downturn.

“This calls for a large amount of economic stimulus,” Hatzius told a financial industry conference.

Emphasis added by me.

If you have Goldman stock, dump it. It’s obviously staffed by fucking idiots.

We are well past $1.4T of losses. Do they really think we’ll recover the trillions poured into propping up should-be-dead companies and banks around the world? If they do really think that, they’re not just eejits, they’re outright retards!

And Goldman, why not read around on the Internet? Find out the true figure of a quadrillion.

Remember: Warren Buffett sunk $5B into this place. Wasted!

Reference: Rivaroxaban

November 10, 2008

J&J’s High-Wire Heart Drug

Peter DiBattiste spent years as an interventional cardiologist clearing out heart patients’ arteries. The depressing reality: All too often the patients would be back in the hospital just a few months later with another heart attack or stroke.

Now DiBattiste finally has a chance to do something about it. As head of cardiovascular drugs at Johnson & Johnson, he is helping lead the testing of a powerful new blood thinner in late-stage tests in heart patients at J&J and Bayer. J&J hopes the drug will one day be a huge best seller, reviving its slumping drug unit.

Getting there will be tricky. Results from a mid-stage study presented at a meeting of cardiologists showed the drug, rivaroxaban, slashed heart attacks and strokes by 31% when taken with aspirin and also, in some patients, Plavix, an anti-clotting drug from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis. But the results also showed significantly higher rates of bleeding in patients who took the drug. Very dangerous bleeding episodes took place in 1.2% of the patients studied.

Interesting. But then we are all given a glimpse into the complexity of our bodies:

There are two different ways the blood clots. Cell fragments called platelets clump together; Plavix and prasugrel block these. But there are also fibers in the blood called thrombin and fibrin that stitch the clot together. Rivaroxaban and apixiban block the formation of these by inhibiting an enzyme called factor Xa. Schering’s drug, called a thrombin receptor antagonist (TRA), blocks communication between the two systems — potentially working late in the clotting cascade and not thinning the blood as much.

Of course the, ahem, holy grail of healing is to answer this question: How did Jesus heal?

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #379: A.I.G. #2

November 10, 2008

By this point, I have just two words for A.I.G.: Fuck You.

AIG Gets Expanded Bailout, Posts $24.5 Billion Loss (Update4)

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) — American International Group Inc. got a $150 billion government rescue package, almost doubling the initial bailout of less than two months ago as the insurer burns through cash at a record rate.

AIG will get lower interest rates and $40 billion of new capital from the government to help ease the impact of four straight quarterly deficits, including a $24.5 billion third- quarter loss posted today by the New York-based company.

Taxpayers will take on the extra risk to give Chief Executive Officer Edward Liddy more time to salvage AIG. The insurer, which needed U.S. help to escape bankruptcy in September, has posted about $43 billion in quarterly losses tied to home mortgages. Liddy’s plan to repay the original $85 billion loan by selling units stalled as plunging financial markets cut into their value and hobbled potential buyers.

“It was obvious to me from Day One that the terms of that arrangement were really quite punitive in terms of the interest rate and the commitment fee and the shortness of it,” Liddy said today in a Bloomberg Television interview. “I started really about a week after I got here trying to renegotiate.”

Emphasis added by me.

Then why the fuck did you agree to it, asshole?

Don’t come crying to me when I’ve had contracts shoved in my face with Fuck You Take It Or Go Fuck Yourself Terms.

If you don’t like it, do what you’re supposed to do under your ruling Dollar Uber Alles philosophy: Drop Fucking Dead.

All you’re doing right now is pretend living. I’d pull the fucking plug on you.

On all of you.

It’s time to let it all crash and start again.