Friday, February 21, 2014

What I’m reading #113

Hugh Howey, Wool author, has been spectacularly successful and is a big advocate for self-publishing. This promises to be a lengthy debate, as not everyone in the industry agrees. Well, they would say that at Publishing Perspectives, wouldn’t they. Links there galore. Quote unquote:
Nevertheless, as eyes glaze over and pie-charts turn into metric meringue, it’s possible to wonder whether a debate so heavily focused on unavailable numbers (sales data held secret by the major retailers) is leading us toward author advocacy or into ever deeper arguments about competing suppositions. Sometimes it sounds like this: He said: You’re misinterpreting the estimates! She said: No, you’re mis-estimating the interpretation!
Toby Young proposes a luvvie tax. Well, it makes as much as sense as a Tobin tax. Quote unquote:
I’ve never understood why showbusiness types think their political views should be taken seriously simply by virtue of their fame and fortune. What insight do members of the entertainment industry possess that members of the financial services industry lack? What’s the chain of reasoning here? I’m on telly a lot, therefore I’m wise? You may disagree with the Chancellor’s views about the Financial Transaction Tax, but at least he’s a member of the elected government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Who elected Bill Nighy to speak for the people of Britain? I mean, apart from Richard Curtis?
Matt Nolan on the Great Supermarket Controversy, initiated by Shane Jones – most relevant Labour MP of the month? – and picked up by the Commerce Commission. Good to hear from an economist on this issue, especially as politicians and journalists never talk about trade-offs. Matt does. Quote unquote:
We feel bad for the wholesaler being bullied by these big companies – understandably! However, if we look at the issue more broadly, their bullying activity may well be reducing the price of some goods and services for the consumer. If we force them to give up their bullying, the consumer then pays a higher price. There are always trade-offs, let’s at least make a slight attempt to remember that – instead of pretending that government ownership will somehow come in and make everything magically better.
Cognitive dissonance alert: I wonder how many people who object to Countdown in Australia giving preference to Australian ingredients and so we should boycott Countdown in New Zealanders (which employs New Zealanders) also argue that in New Zealand we should buy local.

An author interviews his copy-editor. Quote unquote:
Creating style sheets is the secret to catching small errors. I am obsessed with my style sheets. I keep a word list, a character list, a list of places (fictional and real), a chronology, a general style sheet, a list of hyphenated modifiers, and any other list that helps me keep track of everything. I usually fact check as I go, although when I’m pressed for time I make a list of items to look up later, sometimes after I’ve returned the manuscript to the publisher. In those cases, I send a list of corrections that can be added by the production editor to the first pass. (Ha-ha, if someone else wrote this paragraph, I’d query the repeat of “list” — I used it seven times in five sentences.)
Vincent O’Sullivan, Poet Laureate, blogs again. Quote unquote:
One of the luxuries of living in a decent democracy is the liberty to be embarrassed by most contemporary political poetry. […] Mohammed-al-Ajani, a thirty-eight year old Qatari, the father of four children, did not respect the regime that governed him, and that he had no part in choosing. He said so in a poem, a straightforward statement that had none of the subtlety say of Mandelstam's famous poem on Stalin that took him to the camps. In one sense it was the broadest kind of ‘banner poetry’. But he read it aloud, and was sentenced to fifteen years solitary confinement, for conspiring against the state.
Ashleigh Young on the inner voice. Quite unquote:
One of Vygotsky’s theories took shape when he observed children talking to themselves while playing (and I watched my four-year-old niece doing this too, talking to herself with two voices that sounded a lot like Gollum/Smeagol; this was actually quite frightening). Vygotsky proposed that this ‘private speech’ branches out of the dialogue that children have with their parents and caregivers and other kids – but over time, that private speech goes deeper, becomes internalised, to form an inner voice. The outward mutterings turn inwards. As they do so, they become abbreviated, condensed, fragmented. They may not even resemble language at all.
My mother, who will be 89 in a few weeks, says that getting old isn’t for the faint-hearted but the alternative is worse. In the New Yorker, Roger Angell, 93, says:
 “Most of the people my age is dead. You could look it up” was the way Casey Stengel put it. He was seventy-five at the time, and contemporary social scientists might prefer Casey’s line delivered at eighty-five now, for accuracy, but the point remains. We geezers carry about a bulging directory of dead husbands or wives, children, parents, lovers, brothers and sisters, dentists and shrinks, office sidekicks, summer neighbors, classmates, and bosses, all once entirely familiar to us and seen as part of the safe landscape of the day. It’s no wonder we’re a bit bent. The surprise, for me, is that the accruing weight of these departures doesn’t bury us, and that even the pain of an almost unbearable loss gives way quite quickly to something more distant but still stubbornly gleaming. The dead have departed, but gestures and glances and tones of voice of theirs, even scraps of clothing—that pale-yellow Saks scarf—reappear unexpectedly, along with accompanying touches of sweetness or irritation.
On the after-school run earlier this week I stopped at the pedestrian crossing outside the optician's. Miss Nine glanced left and said to Miss Eleven, “See that poster? I would NOT wear THAT lipstick with THOSE glasses.” Fair to say that she doesn’t get her sense of style from her father.

So here are Postmodern Jukebox with Miche Braden on vocals performing Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine”, New Orleans style:


Anne Else said...

Thank you for the Angell quote. Exactly.

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