June 17th, 2011

More Activity on Ethanol, Social Security Scrum and Bipartisanship

Earlier:

http://walkitout.livejournal.com/743526.html

An update:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-17/senate-ethanol-vote-signals-ill-wind-for-other-energy-subsidies.html

Coburn's amendment got killed because he forced a vote; he got punished. Apparently the same amendment passed -- but attached to something that probably won't pass.

Norquist is still part of the story:

"Norquist’s group said that it wouldn’t consider a vote for the ethanol proposal a violation of the pledge provided that lawmakers also support a proposal by Senator Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, that would eliminate the ethanol usage mandate and the estate tax."

I'm sure there are some Republicans out there thinking that in conjunction with the AARP article in the WSJ, this means "WE ARE WINNING! YAY!".

Well, before they get too cocky, they might want to read what the AARP has said in response to the wave of response to the WSJ article:

http://www.aarp.org/about-aarp/press-center/info-06-2011/aarp-has-not-changed-its-position-on-social-security.html

This would indicate that the White House and the AARP are staking out very compatible ground:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-17/carney-says-obama-doesn-t-back-reducing-social-security-benefits.html

Essentially:

(1) You don't get to cut benefits to current or near term beneficiaries
(2) You don't get to completely change the nature of the program (either through big cuts or privatizing).
(3) You can't fix other deficit issues with income to Social Security or use them as an excuse to cut Social Security.
(4) Blanket refusal to discuss revenue adjustments is unhelpful.

I'm sure there will be continued efforts to confuse people.

Alistair Barr Picks Suspect Sources for Article About Kindle Spam

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/16/us-amazon-kindle-spam-idUSTRE75F68620110616

This Reuters piece by Alistair Barr (who, unless there's more than one of them, seems to write for MarketWatch fairly often) has gotten heavy secondary coverage. I've poked fun at the Amazon (Will) Suffer(s) From Spam!!!! meme before; this is probably the most legitimate attention the meme has thus far collected.

Here is the subhead:

"Spam has hit the Kindle, clogging the online bookstore of the top-selling eReader with material that is far from being book worthy and threatening to undermine Amazon.com Inc's publishing foray."

Does the kindle store feel "clogged" to you? With spam? How about the bookstore in general? Does _anyone_ seriously think that the spam issue poses a "threat" to Amazon? Amazon's publishing arm? The kindle platform?

The next few short paragraphs describe how to engage in spammage on the kindle platform, helpfully supplying a product suggestion: "Aspiring spammers can even buy a DVD box set called Autopilot Kindle Cash that claims to teach people how to publish 10 to 20 new Kindle books a day without writing a word." Not unlike writing an article about vandalism and then telling you the brand of the best spray paint; you sort of have to wonder who this article is really aimed at.

[ETA: Ooooh. Apparently an error ridden description of where to buy spray paint.

http://bozonessinc.ca/2011/06/dear-reuters-re-autopilot-kindle-cash/

So if you were thinking this was a really clever case of guerrilla marketing, it's not.]

There is a brief foray into intellectual property theft (specifically, someone republished a novel under a different name, it was detected and a stop was put to it), which strikes me as largely unrelated to the spam issue -- _and_ a much more serious issue, altho trivially addressable in more or less the same ways we put a stop to people taking manhole covers and selling them for scrap when commodity prices are high.

""It's getting to be a more widespread problem," said Susan Daffron, president of Logical Expressions, a book and software publishing company. "Once a few spammers find a new outlet like this, hoards of them follow.""

http://www.logicalexpressions.com/lebooks.htm

Yes, that seems to be a picture of her up in the corner. There's probably a line between the business Susan Daffron engages in and the spamming that the article (and Ms. Daffron) deplore(s). Probably.

More how-to-do-it follows, this time credited to Paul Wolfe, an "internet marketing specialist".

I'm pretty sure this is Paul Wolfe:

http://www.onespoonatatime.com/an-open-letter-to-jeff-bezos-please-stop-the-kindle-spam

Are you noticing a trend here? I'm feeling like these quotes about spam are coming from people with a really solid interest in protecting their Spam Space from New Spam.

Perhaps the most fascinating (hey, it's a looooowwww bar in this article) bits are about Nook and Smashwords not experiencing spam on the same scale as Amazon. Wonder why that is? "but it might just be that the Kindle's huge audience is more attractive to spammers, Forrester's McQuivey said."

Daffron wants Amazon to charge to upload onto DTP. Otherwise, spammers win and Amazon loses. I can't speak to the spammers, altho it seems real clear that Daffron is losing as long as it's that cheap to publish via Amazon.

It's hard to imagine that Barr is silly enough to not realize that his sourcing on this article has such a profoundly self-serving slant. Hard to imagine, but not impossible. Perhaps he's already on vacation.

CBS followup on Reuters

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-20072068-501465.html

Headlined: There's spam on your Kindle! <-- I did not add that exclamation mark. Blame Ysolt Usigan.

The piece has a big screenshot graphic showing a two star The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo wiki content spam (two stars) right below what the person was presumably looking for. The search produced 29 results. The same search in the kindle store now produces 28 results and does not include what is in the screen shot. I'm going to assume that this means Amazon is one the ball (article time stamped June 17, 2011 3:46 PM) NOT that the author created this screenshot in PhotoShop.

Again, while the article is purportedly pointing out a problem to help buyers beware, and to goad Amazon towards some sort of fix, by providing detailed information on a product to help people perpetrate more of this crap (and by explaining the business model which makes it at least marginally rewarding for someone, if only the person selling the product to help people do this), the effect is ambiguous at best.

Apparently, this is what happens when a style editor covers ebooks.

http://www.ysolt-usigan.com/

Welcome to summertime! The journalism just goes downhill from here.

Interview with Shel Kaphan

http://www.geekwire.com/2011/meet-shel-kaphan-amazoncom-employee-1

4 pages at GeekWire. Shel is ... clearly still Shel: somewhat full of himself but basically reality based and, I must grudgingly admit to agreeing with him on the bugging-Bezos-about-government-regulation issue.

Emphasis on grudging. Which has pretty much always been my reaction to Shel.

It would appear that he is more or less happy, and I suppose that's a good thing.

OTOH, the guy is _still_ complaining about too-many-meetings. When I think back on what I went through to try to get _any_ kind of meeting, any kind of information pried out of that skull at all, when our primary goal was to detach him from the day to day enough so he could actually take a day off, I'm surprised I'm not still grinding my teeth.

It was kinda fun, altho I'm still cranky about the 2 digit year code. Not a line of code was written until 1994 and it _still_ had to be fixed for Y2K.

He's absolutely right, however, that in the beginning, no one had any idea how far that little bookstore was going to go. Not even Jeff.