Friday, July 29, 2011

How to Handle the U.S. Debt Deadline

Enough, already!
The USA has to get the two houses of Congress and the President to agree on measures to avoid a debt default next week. Don't look now, but the NFL Football owners and players managed to solve their lockout fiasco and save the football season. I suggest that the politicians, who obviously don't know how to do the jobs for which they were sent to Washington, should act more like athletes, albeit flabby ones. Let's just get this all over with a tug-of-war between the Fat Cats on one side and the Pompous Pigheads on the other. At this point all we need is a mechanism to get them to stop talking and do something. Just line them all up and let either side drag the other across the line that wins the tug-of-war. The country will survive whatever is decided; just demonstrate the ability to make a decision. I know that the voters will know how to decide that we need two entirely new tug-of-war teams when the next election comes. That's an easy decision.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Authors without Borders

The Borders superscale bookstore chain is being liquidated because of a lack of potential bidders willing to participate in a bankruptcy auction for the company. This will eliminate a major distribution mechanism for highly promoted books from major publishers. It will have little effect on the offerings of small presses and POD publishers, because Borders paid scant attention to them. I once did an experiment where I looked up my books successfully on Borders' online bookstore, and then I went into one of their stores and tried to find my books through an in-store terminal. I was very surprised when I couldn't find them. The two systems must have had separate management. Borders drove a lot of local independent bookstores out of business. They also presented the public with their concept of a bookstore as being more like a cross between a department store and a library, with a cafeteria thrown in for good measure. Gone were the crowded bookshelves and tables where you might stumble across a treasure. Added were music departments and toys and accessories that had little to do with books. The most enthusiastic book buyers I have ever seen patronized the old annual Brandeis Used Book Sales, when that university's alums wisely supported their school in that manner. Used print books are treasures, and they also stimulate the reading habits of those who find old friends and new discoveries among the dense arrays of well-thumbed volumes. Independent bookstores offering unusual books from independent publishers and authors may find more patrons now that one of the giant marketers is gone.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Friends and Enemies

Which of these do you believe?
  • The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
  • The enemy of my friend is my enemy.
  • The friend of my enemy is my enemy unless he/she belongs to my political party.
  • The friend of my friend is my friend unless his/her political party is different from mine.
  • What's good for the country is more important than what's good for my political party.
  • What's good for my political party is by definition good for the country.
  • What's good for me is by definition good for my party and country.
  • Who cares about anyone else? Do what will get me reelected.
  • I love everyone until after the votes have been counted.