Ursula K. Le Guin on the State of Publishing

Nov 26 2014 Published by under Literature, Science Fiction

In accepting the National Book Awards 2014 Distinguished Contribution award last week, author Ursula K. Le Guin blew the room away with a stunning and inspiring speech. [Via]

The speech is transcribed here, and the YouTube video embedded below. Short and succinct, yet profound.

What’s wrong with publishing these days? In a nutshell, capitalism. Same thing that’s wrong with everything else. What does one of our greatest future-thinking minds think needs to be done to save publishing?

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Obama Speak With Forked Tongue

Jul 31 2013 Published by under politics

The Audacity of Doublespeak.

Not-My-President Obama’s speech at an Amazon warehouse in Tennessee on Tuesday is the most glaring example in recent memory of a sitting President flaunting a lie, flaunting a crime, and flaunting an agenda, all at the same time. At least Nixon thought enough to attempt to cover up his criminality while in office. Obama feels no such pressure.

Prior to the speech, The White House had said “Tuesday’s speech will focus on manufacturing and high wage jobs for durable economic growth” and that “the President will discuss proposals he has laid out to jump-start private sector job growth and make America more competitive, and will also talk about new ideas to create American jobs.” [Thank you, Shelf Awareness]

Reception to the speech has been negative. Some of the responses, and the White House’s lack of response to the negative responses, are captured here at Publisher’s Weekly. Shelf Awareness details several publishing industry letters to the President here, though negative responses have come from many non-publishing sources.

These are not manufacturing jobs. These are jobs packing boxes with goods manufactured in other countries. When Obama talks about jump-starting private sector growth, he is saying that the American people are going to need to rely on the charity of multinational corporate bullies. That would be a different approach from the public-works and citizen-centric approach President Roosevelt undertook attempting to mitigate the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Obama’s speech is just one glaring example of his disdain for the American middle class.

Once you get past the fact that these are jobs that require no higher education, offer no health benefits, entail long hours of physical labor and substandard salary, as a middle class American you can only say “what the fuck is he talking about?!?”

There is nothing about these retail warehouse jobs that could be construed as beneficial for middle class Americans. And why would Obama advocate for a corporation who has spent billions lobbying state governments for exemption from payment of sales tax? How does corporate tax avoidance help the middle class?

Then you look back at the antitrust case the Department of Justice pursued against the leading book publishers and Apple, led by Stooge General Eric Holder. The DOJ had one of the weakest cases in the history of antitrust cases. The DOJ only triumphed because the publishers folded and settled rather than sink money into exorbitant legal fees. Even though Apple put up a good fight, and witnesses from B&N and Google showed the DOJ had no case, the court found in favor of the DOJ anyway, treating the outcome as a foregone conclusion of the accusation. So what was the motivation behind the DOJ’s case?

The agency-model pricing of the publishing companies was to ensure competition in the retail sphere. Amazon is mounting an aggressive war to destroy all competition for retail book sales, and is striving toward a monopoly. We have not seen such a powerful monopoly as that since the days of Standard Oil, the ‘gold standard’ of monopolies. If Amazon succeeds in creating a monopoly, they will raise prices to any absurdly high level. That is what monopolies do – history, Wall Street, and common sense all tell us this. Amazon has already begun.

It is somewhat tawdry that the publishing industry had to get into bed with Apple in order to fight Amazon, but preventing Amazon from becoming the only book retailer in America would ensure multiple retail sales channels continue to exist for the book-buying public – not just Apple and B&N, but also the thousands of independent booksellers located throughout the country.

The DOJ case handed Amazon the keys to their monopoly. Why would they do that? Shouldn’t they oppose monopolies and all such attempts at stifling competition? And why would Wall Street continue to allow Amazon’s stock to trade at absurdly high prices, despite the fact they are not yet profitable? The answer to both is that these entities want to see Amazon become a monopoly. And not just for books. For all retail.

All this, combined with that infamous no-bid contract for Kindles for the Government that was strangely canceled even though the government somehow felt a DRM-only-walled-garden e-reader was somehow best for public use, seem to point to Obama getting payola from Amazon.

Still another peanut for this pile of hot steaming shit: Obama is giving Amazon an interview for its Kindle Singles line, handing them an interview with a sitting President.

The goal of an Amazon total-monopoly-of-everything would ultimately be to move us to neo-feudalism – Everyone working for one company, purchasing for one company, one company to rule them all – Feudalism with e-ink screens, tablets and always-trackable smartphones. There’s no middle class in feudalism, so ultimately Obama’s speech is one of the most bald-faced examples of publicly disseminated unadulterated bullshit in the history of the United States.

Let me know what you think of White House collusion with Amazon and Wall Street – Comment as you see fit.

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Why Am I Glad I Chose NookColor over Kindle?

Aug 27 2011 Published by under Technology, thoughtarrhea

Because my NookColor will still be readable if the lights go out during Hurricane Irene. Kindle users will be in the dark.

Good luck to all as you hunker down for the weekend.

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Another Reason to Mistrust the Cloud

Apr 21 2011 Published by under Technology

Not that I needed another reason to mistrust the cloud, but Amazon’s outage has me thinking about how stupid storing data in the Cloud is.

Amazon suffered a major outage today. This caused massive outages, and knocked out several popular websites.

I still can’t believe people actually choose to store their data “in the cloud.” In other words, on a server owned by someone else, in a room owned or rented by someone else, connected to the Internet, where, in theory, it could be accessible by everyone else. The concept has always struck me as ludicrous, in terms of security and privacy. This is one techno-bandwagon I’ve avoided like the Plague. So I didn’t need another reason to hate cloud storage, but found one anyway today.

This doesn’t constitute a security breach, but it does make me wonder about the fragility of data stored in the cloud. What if backups fail? It’s possible that with one bad lightning strike or a tornado that wanders too close to a server-farm, all your precious information could be wiped from the earth.

Large capacity USB hard drives are cheap. More than enough to store your music and movies. I don’t have a problem using software to create automatic backups, and to make backups of those. It’s very easy to not think about until one day you realize you’ve lost all your data. It’s even worse when you think you’ve taken the step of storing your data securely, only to learn that the corporate entity you paid to guard your data has suffered a compete failure of their infrastructure. Then what?

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