Archive for July 2009

Kindle! Newton! Together at Last.

July 27, 2009

The Kindle editon of Newton and the Counterfeiter is now available for purchase/download.

Better late than never.

Not all is perfection, yet.  The dead tree page for Newton at Amazon still shows the Kindle edition as unavailable, and the Kindle page has no cover image nor any of the other apparatus from the main page:  no editorial reviews, no video, no reader reviews.  Ah well.

Still:  at least, if you have a Kindle, you can now get the damned book.  And please do.  (In that context I’ll reveal a little secret, implied in this post:  because of the peculiar economics of this birthing stage of the eb00k transition, my royalty (still paying off my advance, not yet hitting my pocket) is greater for Kindle editions than it is on physical copies.  As royalty clauses for electronic books are still something of the wild west, this is true for many, but not all authors.)

Image:  Rembrandt von Rijn, “Portrait of Titus van Rijn,” 1655.

Best Health Care Note of the Day

July 25, 2009

From Sadly No:

PS DID YOU KNOW – if you averaged eight hours of sleep over your lifetime, but I average seven, I haved live an average of 13.6 years longer conscious life than you, but you were better rested.

What happens if, like me, you get 6-7 hours of sleep and spend most days in a semi-coma?

Peter Paul Rubens, “Two Sleeping Children,” 1612-1613

Friday Fun: Nudity, Sex, Beaches (SFW)

July 24, 2009

I actually found this clip because of an actual professional interest. (yeah: and you get magazine X for the articles, right? — ed.) Several higher end still cameras are turning themselves into HD video cameras, and generally with much better optics than the basic consumer camcorders. With an interest in low-budget and more importantly, low profile documentary production, the quality of this video shot on a sub-$3,000 body and a seriously wonderful long lens impressed the hell out of me. Plus it gave me the opportunity for a classic headline bait-and-switch. Heh.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Friday Fun: Live, Nude, Chicks (SFW)“, posted with vodpod

Video of least terns mating at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, California. Taken with Canon 5D Mark II with Leica 800/5.6 lens mounted on it. It was quite windy on that day, as it commonly is over there, and you can hear the wind.

And What the Hell

July 23, 2009

Trolling through the related offerings on the video of Tom Waits’ “Singapore” posted earlier today led me to this comic gem.  It would be cruel to conceal it.  Enjoy:

Diary of Trade Book (Newton and the Counterfeiter) 12.0: Publicity in the post MSM era

July 23, 2009

(Editor’s note:  Go here for the last entry in this diary, and search “diary” in the box at right for the whole shooting match)

The most horrible words I know in publishing … well there’s a lot of competition for horror in the London/1665 plague pit that is contemporary publishing, so perhaps I should say that, among the most dispiriting phrases I’ve heard in my writing career is this:

“Your book is going to sell by word of mouth.”

Translation? We’re not going to do much/we don’t know what to do/we ain’t got the cash or the faith or the tactical cleverness to sell this book actively.  So we hope folks notice somehow…and if it does we’ll do what we can.

(And yes, I know that recently in this blog I gave Ron Fournier grief for his psychic translations of the Sotomayor questioning.  But I’m telling you what I hear when those words are said to me. And its my blog.  Plus I’m right.    So there.)

Now it is a truth universally acknowledged that any single author in possession of insufficient sales/celebrity* must be in want of someone to blame.  And the handiest scapegoats, after the gods, the times and the essential unworthiness of the world to receive mine or anyone else’s pearls of insight and artful prose, are, of course, each author’s publisher.

And so it is with me:  I am convinced that my publisher is not doing all that it could/should do to help Newton and the Counterfeiter (Amazon, Powells, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound) reach the audience that would prize the book if only they knew about it.  In particular, I see two choices that went the wrong way that I wish I had paid more attention to at the time.

For one, I think the decision not to pursue as many readings/talks/events around book publication was a mistake, and though we are now trying to rectify that, I see a big missed opportunity here.

The reasoning offered at the time, earnestly and I’m sure sincerely, is that book store events and other talks don’t sell that many books — and its true.  The one event I’ve done so far (several more on the schedule, at last, starting this Saturday — and if you are in middle-western Massachusetts, you could check it out) was a home-town event at Harvard Bookstore.   It was packed, SRO (literally), with an audience of about 90 — double what I was told to expect as the best plausible total.  The talk went well, and the store sold about two dozen books.  That was good.

(more…)

To Occupy the Weary Hours Until the Next Post Shows Up

July 23, 2009

Nice, weird animation to accompany one of the finest bits of upbeat alienation from a master of the form.  Enjoy:

Further to the Gates fiasco

July 22, 2009

My post on Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. arrest and the “post-racial” willed ignorance of those whose bread and butter depends on their never knowing certain facts of life is here.

But you know who did it better, briefer, and to much greater effect?

That skinny guy with big ears you’ve heard a bit about:

Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little bias ed here. I don’t know all the facts. What’s been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys. He jimmied his way to get into the house. There was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place. so far so good. Right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger in — well, I guess this is my house now so it probably wouldn’t happen. Let’s say my old house in Chicago. here I’d get shot. But so far so good. They’re reporting, the police are doing what they should. There’s a call. They go investigate what happens. My understanding is at that point Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I’m sure there’s some exchange of words but my understanding is that Professor Gates then shows his I.D. to show that this is his house. And at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped. Now, I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts what role race played in that, but I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry. Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. And that’s just a fact.


As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in this society. That doesn’t lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that’s been made. And yet, the fact of the matter is that, you know, this still haunts us. And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and hispanics are picked up more frequently and often time for no cause cast suspicion even when there is good cause, and that’s why I think the more that we’re working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we’re eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody’s going to be.

I have a young son.  He heard my wife and me talking about this arrest over the last couple of days, and we told him the nine year old version of the story, as best we could.  And as for what I hope I got across…and what I may try to express again tomorrow by using the elegant formulation President Obama has given me — this is it:

I want race to be over in this country.  I want world peace, too, and I want my left-handed kid to develop a nasty curve, for then he’ll never be out of work; I want….I want all kinds of things.  But one of the things I hate most about being some kind of a grown up is being forced to recognize the difference between  aspiration and the reality through which we still slog to get to any goal worth seeking.

As President Obama said:  we’ve come some considerable distance.  But not all the way, not nearly….which is what I will tell my son.

James Montgomery Flagg, First World War US propaganda poster, 1917.