Sunday, September 05, 2010

3075 More Brain Purge

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"A specification that will not fit on one page of 8.5x11 inch paper cannot be understood."
-- Mark Ardis --


It is reported that the attendance at Glenn Beck's gathering last weekend was about 350 thousand. Some people are considering this a proof of interest and support.

Yeah, but interest in what? If there's an announcement that at 5 pm tomorrow, a train will pass xyz intersection, nobody will show up at the intersection at 5 pm, except for perhaps a few train lovers. But if the announcement is that at 5 pm tomorrow, there will be a train wreck at xyz intersection, I can guarantee thousands in attendance. This does not demonstrate a love of trains.

So how many of the people there were hoping for a wreck? I know if I lived anywhere near the Lincoln Memorial, I might have been there, because if something historic happened, I wouldn't want to miss it.


There was a 10-foot python captured on a porch in Farmington, Ark., last week. It had a lump in its middle from having recently eaten a chicken. The authorities put out a call for the owners to claim him, saying that if it wasn't claimed within three days, it would be released to the wild.

What?! Released to the wild? A 10-foot python? Like they're native to Arkansas? Are they not aware of the rogue snake problems in Florida? Don't they like small pets? Or small children?

Ok. Arkansas is off the list of potential warmer places to retire to.

It has been claimed by the owners, thank goodness, and animal control people had found a safari park willing to take it if it came to that, but my head is still bonging over the "release to the wild" plan.


I buy peaches and nectarines at local farm stands, and I always ask, "Are these cling or freestone?", and the clerks (usually the farm/orchard family members) not only don't know which, they don't know what I mean. I find this very odd.

I ask because I can eat a freestone in the car. Clings are very messy to eat and have to wait until I get home. So far the local peaches are running 50/50.


When I went to Morocco, the guide told us that in the souks, we must never pay the price asked, that we must bargain, that to pay the first price asked is an insult.

The "experts" say you almost never have to pay the listed price for anything, including hotel rooms, as long as you can talk to someone who has the authority to reduce the price, like a manager or the store owner. Almost everything can be bargained down. Yes, even here in the US. In fact, it's not only expected when you buy a house or a car, you'd be considered an idiot if you don't.

I have great difficulty bargaining.

It was especially difficult in Morocco, because almost everything interesting that we looked at in the souk stalls was handmade, and even the requested price was already very low, and after seeing how so many of the people lived, I felt guilty "taking advantage" of their need to sell. But except for a few occasions, I did bargain. I probably still ended up paying more than I had to, evidenced by the fact that most of the stall owners threw in a gift with the purchase, but at least I saved face for both of us.

I'm very proud of my bargaining for Hal, and only a tiny bit guilty. I knew that the dealership was having a tight time, luxury cars just aren't selling these days, but it's difficult to feel responsible for the welfare of a luxury car salesman. Not like a little old half-blind Moroccan woman who spent days embroidering a blouse. It's hard to tell her that her time isn't worth $2 a day.

Otherwise? Bargaining's not easy. I brag that I rarely pay retail for anything significant, almost never for clothing, but that's because I shop auctions, outlets, resale shops, Woots, and sales, where I don't have to worry about taking advantage of anyone. If it ain't on sale, I don't need it.


I read that sales of Kindles and cousins and downloaded books are outstripping sales of paper-based books, and eventually publishers will no longer publish non-electronic books because the publishing costs will not be covered by the sales.

I have two thoughts about that.

First, this means that eventually there will be no new paper books. Duh. But has anyone considered what that means? You have to purchase every book you download. That means that every reading of the book is a new purchase, since you can't exactly lend the book to a friend, or pass it on, or "release it to the wild", or resell it. Not easily or legally, anyway. Paper books can be read hundreds of times on one purchase. I-books have to be purchased by each and every reader.

(The courts have recently ruled that legally downloaded music has not been purchased, by the way. It has been "licensed". This could easily be extended to i-books.)

Second, it means that paper books will become rare collectibles. Maybe I shouldn't get rid of the few thousand books I was planning to liberate. Some of them might be valuable in a decade or so, even if they're not first editions.



Becs said...

The reason why publishing is so hot on this (finally - it took them years to get around to deciding they wanted it) is just that they can keep selling a book and making each purchase a fresh one.

I went to one trade conference where all the head honchos were moaning, "We've made the book too accessible. Once they were precious and people held onto them. Now there are yard sales and library book sales and we aren't getting a cut."

They had also not decided on a pricing structure yet knew people wouldn't pay more for an e-book than one in print.

Now that publishers have seen a way to make e-books profitable, there's a big push on to get rid of paper-based books.

I don't think paper based books will disappear in our lifetime, but ask yourself this: How can you read an e-book when the lights go out? At least with paper books, you can find a candle.

~~Silk said...

"In the dark" - they're making the new readers automatically back-lighted when it senses dark. Like you can use the laptop in the dark.

Anonymous said...

What if the lights are out for a few days?

~~Silk said...

If the lights are out for a few days, you need a generator. If you don't have one you'll be too busy trying to stay warm and save frozen food to be reading, anyway.

the Gypsy said...

I love books. I've never used an e-reader. But I think all textbooks in schools should be replaced by digital textbooks on e-readers. Start at the HS level, get a feel for how many of the e-readers will be damaged/lost/etc. And then move them down into the lower grades. There HAS to be a way to make e-readers more sturdy and less expensive, especially when they are no longer considered a novelty.