April 29th, 2010

human interest stories

I don't know that anyone else would consider these human interest stories, but I do.


One of the people running for California Governor this year (assuming I understood this correctly) is named Steve Poizner. He's a Republican, and he has a relatively new book out, _Mount Pleasant_. Ira Glass did a bit on the book in which he apparently (I haven't listened to it) fact checked the book and found it...wanting. The article I've linked to describes a bunch of people receiving unsolicited copies of the memoir during the first week of its release. From Amazon. With themselves listed as the buyer. Investigation revealed the purchase was not the result of stolen credit cards, but rather someone deploying gift cards in a concerted manner, possibly to land the book (successfully) on the NYT hardcover nonfiction bestsellers list (which it then dropped off of very quickly). In addition to, hey, wow, that is a _cheap_ campaign shenanigan, I was stunned by how few books are probably required to land in the lower reaches of the hardcover non fiction list.


You have to listen to the video to understand the problem, because the article does a completely inadequate job. The woman repeats what I heard Ed Schulz going on about today: jobs being taken away from natives by immigrants. In the Gordon Brown bit, of course, the immigrants are presumably legal, and from Eastern Europe. In the Ed Schulz bit, the immigrants are presumed illegal, and from Mexico or points further south. Just as Gordon Brown points out that about as many people were leaving England to work elsewhere as were arriving in England from elsewhere to work, one of Schulz' interviews pointed out that with the end of housing construction in the US, a lot of workers from south of the border -- with or without documents -- have returned to their countries of origin. In both cases, the argument (jobs are being taken from natives by non-natives) is basically wrong. It's wrong factually, and it is morally creepy -- it is bigotry. When you really shut a border hard, you get the same people complaining about someone taking their job, but it'll be a different Other than an immigrant.

Most of the coverage of this incident in the US has been of the, dude, watch it with that open mike sort -- exactly how Joe Biden gaffes are covered here. And that's about right, because a gaffe is when you say what you mean, but you didn't necessarily want that many people to hear you say it.


This is Steve Jobs'/Apple's open letter about Why We Don't Do Flash. He hits a lot of reasonable points, but fails to address one I suspect a fair number of people care about: why can't I play my fb games on your product? You can go blah blah blah all you want, but if that's what people are spending their online time doing, your product will not satisfy them. If they just didn't support flash and sold their products and no one said anything further, I might believe they had some focus group or polling data that showed that the people who were going to buy their products really didn't give a damn one way or the other. But the content of this letter suggest that there might be a bit of a problem, which is to say, a lot of people who want to buy a product and the thing stopping them is the lack of flash, and Apple cares about that. Given that I'm in that category, and I understand every single argument Jobs' makes in that letter and is even quite sympathetic to most of them, I think it might mean something that the letter doesn't convince me at all.

We'll see what happens when the fast 3G ones are available. I may yet buy one, and my habits may yet change. Like Jon Stewart, who simultaneously called Apple names and pointed out that in a totally backwards world (the one we live in) Gates is now saving the world from mosquitos, I, too, continue to really, really like Apple products.

And as near as I can tell, Penguin and Amazon have still not resolved their differences. Here's an interesting solution to the problem:


Someone downloaded the B&N app and then bought the latest JR Ward from them. So the next time you hear Ken Auletta talking about the closed space in which ebooks and their associated hardware exist, I'm upgrading that from a medium sized error to a major error.

what to do, what to do

I've been delaying on making a decision on the latest Jim Butcher, because I really don't want to own it in paper, and I'm too lazy to screw around with my address to buy it from the UK site (if, indeed, that little trick even works -- or still works). However, soon, the pressure will be upped a little, with the release of the latest Sookie Stackhouse book by Charlaine Harris. Other people are feeling even more pressure, because they read JR Ward. I don't, altho I find the reviews over at SBTB highly entertaining.


This blogger says that Penguin has actually been redirecting complaining Real Customers (you know, the people who buy the books to read them, not the bookstores who buy the books to sell them to readers) to B&N. Wow.

Here's why I'm actually pointing to this blog entry, however:

"I bought my Kindle because it's small and I can usually download and read whatever I want, whenever I want. In fact, I could make the argument that since I bought it, I've read way more books in the last few months than I've read in the last *year*. I've taken chances on authors that I might not have tried if I'd just seen them in the bookstore** and found some I really like. Enough to continue buying all their books, even if they aren't necessarily my all-time favorites. And now I'm being forced to purchase a book in a format that I don't want just to have the opportunity to read it. As a reader, I resent this."

Anyone out there in publisher-land who hasn't fully grasped that there are people there who have _fully_ transitioned to reading books electronically should sit up now and pay attention. And all those people who think that a dedicated reader is a dead end? You are _so_ silly.