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Friday, December 30, 2011

The Economics of Ebooks

I'm a noted skeptic of the ebook revolution, but I have to say that since I joined it with my Kindle Fire, I'm a dedicated convert. I still wish ebook prices were a bit lower...but I think that will eventually normal out. As a lover of books, I hope it will, at any rate.

Example. Richard Stark's Parker novels. They're all available in ebook format. Until a couple years ago (when they were reprinted in nice trade editions), the Parker novels were hard to find, especially the older ones. Now they can all be had at the click of a button. But the pricing is weird.

The Kindle edition of the first book in the series, The Hunter, is $2.66, spare change really. It's slightly more than bus fare, but cheaper than a latte.

But I'm an obsessive. I don't just want The Hunter. I want all of them. The Man With the Getaway Face. The Score. The Mourner. They're all $2.66? Bam, bam, and bam. But wait, The Sour Lemon Score is $9.99?

At that price, I don't even have to think of it. It goes directly on my "Might Buy Someday But Not Really Gonna Sweat It If I Never Do" list. At $2.66, it goes on my "Add to Cart" list and money then flies out of my wallet and into someone else's.

Besides, perusing the Kindle store quickly disabused me of the notion that I might download some books I already have (and I have a lot of books). Every single Tony Hillerman book is $9.99, which is ridiculous. The guy is dead now and I'm pretty sure everything he's written has made it to paperback, little mass market paperbacks that cost $7.99 retail. And not only that, but they printed so many Tony Hillerman books over the years that in nearly any stack of used books for sale anywhere, chances are good that it will contain a Hillerman.

Even if I had Mitt Romney money, I'm not sure I would be willing to drop $9.99 for an ebook version of a book I already have on the shelf. That just seems...well, dumb.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Okay...Now I'm Just Piling On

I found this account of Ron Paul eating breakfast alone in Des Moines:
Asked if he's concerned that if he doesn't win his followers will not rally behind the GOP nominee, he looks up from his plate of cantaloupe, honeydew, eggs, sausage and biscuit and says brusquely, "Right now, the only thing that bothers me is people who don't respect my privacy enough to leave me alone for five minutes when I'm eating breakfast." And then he goes back to reading his USA Today.
Very presidential...
A few minutes later, he tries to get the waitress's attention and fails. Oh bother, he shrugs. And that's exactly why the people who love the Texas congressman/tea party icon/libertarian standard-bearer love him so intensely. He's just a cranky old man who wants to eat his eggs in peace before he sets out to save the world.
Save the world? He can't even get the waitress's attention!

Duped

Not to pile on...but Andrew Sullivan is being a dumbass.

His "Quote of the Day:"
I voted for Obama in 2008 but we need a change. Dr Paul is consistent and honest, which is very hard to find. He is not just telling us what we have heard before."
Honest???? Fucking honest??

Paul still hasn't admitted who wrote his racist/homophobic newsletters and worse, continues to maintain that someone else wrote it. Those incendiary fundraising letters signed Ron Paul? "I didn't do it."

Honest?

Does an honest man do something like this?

Honest?

Look, there are a lot of words I would use to describe Ron Paul. Honest is not one of them.

More Ron Paul Nonsense

Sometimes I wonder about Andrew Sullivan. He got bit by the Ron Paul bug hard, which is weird. He was an Obama supporter until he started buying the hype.

Take this:
The mindset that the world is our plaything remains entrenched. Only Paul has moved beyond that. If you ask me, that's the core of his appeal to the young.
I submit that the "core of [Paul's] appeal to the young is ignorance.

Exhibit A.

I love it...
"I have never heard that he's a racist?"
That's because, my dear, you haven't been paying attention. Not really. You're hearing the stuff about bringing the troops home and reducing the size of the government, but you're totally ignoring that he wants to take us back to the gold standard, doesn't believe in the Civil Rights Act, and --oh yeah-- spent the 90s publishing newsletters with racist and homophobic conspiracy theories.

Sadly, I can forgive Kelly Clarkson. She's just a singer. Andrew Sullivan, on the other hand, should know better...

Note to Self

Pick up a Nene jersey.

Through a quirk of scheduling, I managed to catch both of the Nuggets's regular season games, beating the Mavs a few days ago and beating the Jazz in the home opener last night.

Impressive, very impressive. Lots of passing and alley oops, steals and rebounds. Who needs a big shot when you have a team?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Die Hard and Professionalism

You can't say Die Hard is a bad film because it spawned a catalog of lesser imitations, some of them with Die Hard in the title even. It holds up to this day. Part of that is due to Bruce Willis's performance, some to the humor, Alan Rickman made an impression, too, didn't he?

But I think what holds it all together is the subtext. Even though you think you're watching just another action movie with big explosions and gunshots, it contains multitudes. Yes, we know it talks about greed and heart, but it's also a hefty meditation on professionalism.

The terrorists, who aren't terrorists at all, take the Nakatomi plaza with a professional efficiency. They are not like this crew at all.

They have a plan, man. Not only are they going to break into a company's headquarters, they're going to break into the vault, stage it as a terrorist attack, then escape in an ambulance as the building blows up and destroys all the evidence.

And it would have worked, too...

Consider how they storm the building. They know every twist and turn, the exact route to the phone closet, exactly which wires to cut. They've done their homework. Their computer guy, Theo, knows their computer system, if only Takagi had given him the code key. But since he didn't, Theo's going to drill into the vault, and hey, if you need him to monitor the security cameras when the SWAT team comes in, he can do that too. He's a pro.

And when the SWAT team comes in, watch how they set-up the missile launcher. Pros!

Karl, using hand signals to coordinate trapping McClane on the roof? A pro!

John McClane? He's just an off-duty cop, barefoot even. But a pro.

Al Powell? Pro.

The prick journalist? A slimeball, but a pro.

The unfortunate FBI guys? You can tell they're pros from the way he turns his hat backwards on the helicopter. After all, one of them says, "Just like fucking Saigon." In 1988. A pro.

The captain who gets buttfucked on national TV? Okay, so he's a schmoe...