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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Bill says:
  2. sam says:
  3. CSK says:

    @Bill: By “bra and pants,” do they means “bra and underpants” or “bra and trousers”?

    Just curious.

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  4. Kit says:

    @sam:

    5G Is Going To Screw Up Weather Forecasts, Meteorologists Warn

    I’m going to stick my neck out and predict that life will go on.

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  5. CSK says:

    @Kit: Where I am, the forecasts change all the time anyway. As my late mother used to say, “If you want to know what the weather is, open the window and put your head out.”

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  6. Teve says:

    So glad xmas is over. Speaking as someone with misophonia, every Salvation Army bell-ringer should be beaten and thrown into an active volcano.

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  7. Slugger says:

    @Teve: You have bell ringers? They are declining around here. One of the remaining ones said that donations are way down because no one carries cash; most shopping is online, and meat space shopping is via credit card.

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  8. Jay L Gischer says:

    @sam: I love how Ajit Pai is complaining about “exaggerated and unverified last-minute assertions”. You know, things like the resonant frequency of water molecules. That’s total spitball territory. Those scientists, always dreaming.

    Another reason to put that worm on my “most hated” list. He’s perfect for the Trump Administration, he always strives to lie first and loudest.

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  9. Teve says:

    The 2010s were supposed to bring the ebook revolution. It never quite came. Yet another problem caused by consolidation and not enforcing antitrust laws. Markets don’t work without competition.

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  10. Michael Cain says:

    @sam: In the opposite direction, the announced plans for ~20,000 satellites in orbits of various heights to provide internet access service will have potentially serious impacts on ground-based astronomy. Not to mention increasing the chances for a Kessler cascade. Just watch — commercial use of space will render it largely unusable for science.

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  11. SenyorDave says:

    This past week my wife and I were in New York City and one of the things we did was view the Auschwitz exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. A couple of things struck me about the exhibit that do parallel some things today. There were pictures and film footage of a massive rally in Nuremberg in 1933, called the Rally of Victory (because the Nazi party had come to power). The audio narrative of the exhibit talked about how many people today think of Hitler’s supporters as brainwashed, but the footage shows otherwise. The people are clearly engaged, they are smiling and laughing. These are not like supporters of Charles Manson or some other cult leader. These were people who accepted Hitler and his ideas. Trump’s supporters buy into his ideology, as ridiculous and simplistic as it may be. We may consider them as cultists, but I don’t believe it is accurate.
    The other idea that struck me was the whole idea of scapegoating as a key component of the Nazi philosophy. It almost seems like for nationalism to work you need a scapegoat(s). For the Nazis it was the inferiors, the Jews, the Roma, the disabled, the impure. For Trumpism, it is the non-whites – the Hispanics, the Muslims, etc. Trump’s rallies are becoming true hatefests, with him now ranting endlessly about how undocumented people are responsible for almost all of America’s woes. The coal industry dying – it can’t possibly be because coal is not feasible economically, it must be because of those damn illegals. Then the administration follows up by having policies to dehumanize the scapegoats (the separation policy, with its accompanying concentration camps). It is truly scary when you realize that Stephen Miller is in charge of setting immigration policy for this country.

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  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: There’s a saying from when I was growing up about the weather in the Puget Sound basin: “if you don’t like the weather, check back in 5 minutes.” The funny thing is that weather was only volatile for short periods of the year, mostly it was overcast 4o-hour drizzle storms. Like the T-shirt used to say,

    Seattle Rain Festival–July 1 – June 30

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  13. Teve says:

    @Michael Cain: The people who came up with starlink really did not think about how hard it would be to launch rockets or do astronomy with 20,000 new LEO satellites.

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  14. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I think Mark Twain was supposed to have said the same thing about New England weather. It’s probably a universal sentiment, even in places where the weather is always the same.

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  15. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    I last went to a bookstore in 2012, a Barnes & Noble in Houston. It was great. I had like six hours to kill and nothing to do, nor any menas to move around. I spent roughly 5:30 hours browsing the aisles. The only thing that limited me was how many books I could cram into my laptop bag (fortunately the laptop stayed home).

    Shortly thereafter I got a Nexus 7 tablet, and downloaded the Kindle app and one ebook. It was great buying a book at home and being able to read it right away.

    I bought a few ebooks, both on Amazon and Kobo. But since I have little time to read, I’ve shifted mostly to audio books.

    I do miss weekends when I had little to do, and I could spend literally the whole day reading. I’d start a book on a Saturday at 9 am and finish it by 8 pm, or on Sunday afternoon for a long book. I don’t know about ebook readers, but a phone would need a recharge to keep up with that pace.

    With audible and Kindle you can sync the same edition of audio and ebook, so you can take up reading at home after listening in the car, for example. This sounds great, but I’ve yet to try it. For one thing, you have to pay for both books. I’d rather pay for additional books.

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  16. Michael Cain says:

    @Teve: Of course, the Russians will let you download any of a couple million e-books, fiction and non-fiction, plus a huge range of academic journal articles. For free.

    A friend of mine published a textbook a few years back. Paper only, no e-book formats. Within a few weeks, a copy of the PDF file that had gone from the publisher to the printer showed up at Library Genesis. Every image at full resolution, copies of the proprietary formats the publisher wanted,… the whole shebang.

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  17. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..Mark Twain was supposed to have said the same thing about New England weather.

    My favorite quote that is often misattributed to Mark Twain:
    “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

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  18. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster: It does sound like something he’d say, though.

    My favorite Twain quote was a literary review of his: “The trouble with this book is that its covers are too far apart.”

    Devastating.

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  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy: @Teve:
    A couple of other things. The big shock was that the YA market rejected e-books. We had underestimated the status value of carrying a book. In a world where nerds rule walking around your high school with a fat, 400 page book became a signifier.

    And authors are generally broke or close to it, so a 5k advance in real money looks better than waiting for a self-pubbed e-book to start earning. Then, too, e-books became almost synonymous with self-pubbed crap. E-books became the Dress Barn.

    The big names, who I assumed would jump ship and leverage their fame to sell e-books with larger profit margins, stuck with conventional publishing. I was tempted but self-publishing means a mountain of work over and above the writing. And we’re a lazy bunch. That said, though, we recently had EVERWORLD and REMNANTS revert, which means we own all the rights again. That’s about two dozen books I could put up on Amazon. Which I may do. If I can get past the laziness thing.

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  20. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: It never occurred to me before, but I guess if you are an eighth grader carrying a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, there are potentially many positive social results from that.

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  21. Teve says:

    Are there more anti-Semitic attacks happening right now, or is this like that time years ago when news people went bananas about shark attacks one summer for no real reason?

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  22. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: On the Authors Guild forum now it seems as if most of the commenters are self-published. At any rate, they’re always asking where they can hire a good editor, a good cover designer, a good distributor, a good publicist, a good illustrator, etc. It seems like a huge expense for almost no return.

    I do all the work I need to writing the damn books. Self-publishing is, by and large, vanity publishing. Anyone with the money and time can do it. No talent required.

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  23. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: The iPad and the larger smart phones also changed ebooks — people didn’t want a dedicated reading device, and what/how you read on the tablet is different than on the eReader.

    There are more interruptions, as you get notifications, and more opportunity to stop and play a game. And Facebook is always there. You don’t read as long in one sitting. The screen is smaller if it’s a phone.

    That push of distraction is there at all times in life, but it’s right there at the edges of the book with a tablet.

    Meanwhile, books haven’t changed. They are still as long as they used to be, with chapters of the same length. (YA Lit is being read by adults now, so the book has changed a little.)

    Think about the video that you watch on your phone vs. a tablet vs. your tv. It’s generally different, and there are lots of content creators putting things out for each platform. There’s not a lot of that with ebooks.

    eReaders have their own issues. You don’t have a visceral feeling of how much progress you have made in the book, and how close you are to done. You don’t get to put the completed books into a physical bookcase to display as a trophy, like the head of an animal you hunted and killed. You don’t get to display what you’re reading to everyone on the bus in hopes of finding a smooth, pretty boy who also loves Thomas Pynchon. You cannot loan the book to the smooth, pretty boy since he hasn’t yet found time in his short life to read Mason & Dixon*.

    Paper books have a whole world of gamification that eBooks do not.

    ——
    *: Spoiler: no one has had time to read Mason & Dixon — that book is too long.

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  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    I think we are discovering on multiple fronts that a world without gate keepers is not necessarily a good thing.

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  25. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: i just finished The Golden Compass on this here iPad what I’m presently writing on.

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  26. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Then, too, e-books became almost synonymous with self-pubbed crap. E-books became the Dress Barn.

    I liked Dress Barn. You must mean Ross Dress For Less (which I also like).

    In my day, carrying a book around was not a good idea. reading it was even worse.

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  27. Lynn says:

    @sam:

    I have it on good authority — a guy I chatted with on the train platform — that 5G is going to mean genocide so it won’t matter if weather forecasts are screwed up.

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  28. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: From the article you linked to:

    The people who are actually buying ebooks? Mostly boomers. “Older readers are glued to their e-readers,” says Albanese. “They don’t have to go to the bookstore. They can make the font bigger. It’s convenient.”

    Not a Boomer, but… font size is everything.

    Font size is why my bookcases full of paper books are just useless. There are books I would love to reread (books that I read as a callow youth that are about things a middle aged man might find more appropriate) that are lost to me because I want/need that bigger font. Books that I would love to see available on the kindle, but aren’t.

    And then there’s my Shakespeare collection. You can find Shakespeare on the kindle, but the Arden editions have great footnotes that explain what the 1500s references are about, and the kindle does such a bad job with footnotes.

    I really miss bookstores though.

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  29. Bill says:
  30. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Michael Reynolds: It sounds to me like there’s a business opportunity for “e-publishing as a service”. Maybe roll in some editing for first-timers, at an extra fee. Best would be to do it for a cut, and the businessman’s role is kind of like that of a banker, but you could probably make a fixed fee work for established sellers. I mean, you’d probably pay a few hundred bucks per title, right?

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  31. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: I didn’t even think about Mason & Dixon after giving up on Gravity’s Rainbow multiple times. Vineland was good. That was right before my David Foster Wallace phase.

    (Yes I am familiar with all the problems with DFW. But Shipping Out and The String Theory are both really interesting pieces.)

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  32. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: You could also watch Solaris on your iPhone — not saying it can’t be done, just that the format of the device affects what is easier to consume.

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  33. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I never thought it was.

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  34. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: oh yeah i have little reason to believe Democracy will survive the Lovecraftian monster of Social Media + FoxNews + Breitbart + Foreign Info Warfare.

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  35. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: I love the beginning of Mason & Dixon. I just give up after a few hundred pages. The Learned English Dog (LED) is great.

    To me, the only reason a book should be more than 300 pages is that it is printed with a large font.

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  36. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: i read Station Eleven and Little Fires Everywhere on my Nokia 6.1. But movies need at least my tablet.

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  37. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    There’s a saying from when I was growing up about the weather in the Puget Sound basin: “if you don’t like the weather, check back in 5 minutes.” The funny thing is that weather was only volatile for short periods of the year, mostly it was overcast 4o-hour drizzle storms.

    But, is it 52 degrees with a light drizzle, or 45 and a fine mist? Or 52 with a fine mist?

    Puget Sound weather is very variable if you are very discriminating. (52 with a fine misty drizzle is my favorite)

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  38. Teve says:

    @Lynn: i work in cell phones/fiber/internet and know a fair amount about 3g/4g/5g etc and can’t think of any normal use case for 5G. I’m sure some ad agency, tracker, or data broker will come up with some amazing horrible use for it. Maybe I’m just clueless and in three years everybody will be walking around using 12K augmented reality or something.

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  39. Kathy says:

    Another thing, browsing ebooks is not as pleasant, or easy, as browsing titles in a bookstore.

    Most bookstores arrange the books by genre, and then alphabetically by author. So if you’re looking for Asimov, he’s easy to find. It’s also easy to find a book of his you might want while searching for the one you’re looking for. Plus you won’t find German editions, say, or books where he wrote a foreword, or where he contributed one essay, or the non-fiction mixed with the fiction, or the math with the physics, as you certainly will online.

    Then, too, you may find something interesting while you locate where Asimov begins on the shelves. You never know. Or you may find something interesting while casually browsing this or that section.

    Me, I’ve never visited a bookstore, even a small one, for just a few minutes. I can spend just a few minutes at Amazon or Audible.

    as far as paper vs screen goes, there’s little difference where I’m concerned. I favor content over form, and the content tends to be the same. Ok, some illustrated books might be best on paper, some definitely are. I have three LARGE format books on planes, about twice as tall and twice as wide as a regular hardcover. The two-page illustrations, or even the one-page illustrations, they contain can’t work even on a large PC monitor, much less a tiny phone.

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  40. Bill says:

    @Kathy:

    I liked Dress Barn. You must mean Ross Dress For Less (which I also like).

    Ross is my wife’s store of choice also.

    Previously it was JC Penny’s. The ebooks I have written have a few mentions of shopping at Penny’s but none of Ross.

    How can anyone forget this movie scene regarding JC Penny-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qi8COKSTJ1Q

    In my day, carrying a book around was not a good idea. reading it was even worse.

    2- It is certainly difficult to read Nigel Hamilton’s 3 volume hardcover biography of Field Marshall Montgomery while pedaling on a recumbent. When will McGraw Hill finally make them available as an ebook?

    I own copies of all three volumes. (They are part of my dwindling printed book collection. I moved from a house to an apartment in 2015 and had to jettison a lot of books.) Most of my book reading now is done with my Amazon kindle.

    A long time ago when I was in the Navy, I was reading The New Republic at break time. A co-worker asked me if it was about UFOs.

    I have a well thumbed and slightly falling apart copy of this book- https://www.hpb.com/products/interzonal-chess-tournament-palma-de-mallorca-1970-9780900928376. Right now this book is very hard to find. Even falling apart it may be worth some $$$

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  41. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: In five years time, everyone will be wearing glasses with cameras that upload the faces of everyone they see to some service, which will then analyze and identify, and tell you if that person is available, if you are their type, and whether they are also checking you out, what they read last, their favorite tv shows, etc. It’s the app everyone wants.

    It will fail, though, because the glasses will be ugly and make everyone who wears them look ugly.

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  42. Teve says:

    @Kathy: in college i had a crush on my spanish prof who was from Madrid and looked like she belonged on a telenovela. She was always dressed to the nines, but it wasn’t high fashion stuff, it was just really well put together normal clothing. One day I asked her where she bought clothes for her husband, and she said in America, Ross and TJ Maxx.

    (I wasn’t being sexist, she had just said that in America men don’t know how to dress and she has to buy all of her husband’s clothing for him)

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  43. Kathy says:

    @Bill:

    Ross is my wife’s store of choice also.

    They’re my second stop when I go to Vegas (first stop is a meal). They sell even cheaper than some brands do at their outlet stores.

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  44. sam says:

    @Bill:

    A long time ago when I was in the Navy, I was reading The New Republic at break time. A co-worker asked me if it was about UFOs.

    A long, long time ago when I was in the Marines, we were all standing around talking about our plans for the new year (it was just about this time of year), and a sergeant offered that he was “constipatin’ havin’ a good new year myself”.

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  45. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: Google Glass returns? 🙂

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  46. Gustopher says:

    Paper vs. Tablet: Reading Recall and Comprehension

    Spoiler: both are significantly higher on paper. The content was identical. (One could likely change the content to fit the platform better, and cut, eliminate or reverse the comprehension and recall gap)

    I’m not aware of any published research that shows reading on a tablet changes your reading behaviors, creating a preference for things that are easier to read on the tablet, but I would be very surprised if it didn’t.

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  47. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: The trend in tech has been towards smaller, more portable and more intimate devices — mainframes to PCs on your desk, to laptops you can lug around, to phones that are in ways available, to watches that can vibrate at you at any moment to get your attention…

    An always on, augmented reality is the next step. Google Glass was just too soon with not enough functionality.

    And, yes, it will be used to get laid. And to discriminate against people. “Look at his credit score, so sad.” “Wow, I almost mistook that Mexican for white!” Etc.

    ——
    Added: OneDrop (TM): the hot new app that lets you protect your precious bodily fluids from their less precious bodily fluids. Because you have a right to know.

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  48. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve:

    Are there more anti-Semitic attacks happening right now, or is this like that time years ago when news people went bananas about shark attacks one summer for no real reason?

    I don’t know. What I do know is that there’s a big effort to conflate these attacks with criticism of Israeli government policy. Bret Stevens took a shot at this a couple days ago in NYT, beclowning himself and his editors pretty publicly in the process. It is clearly an attempt to discredit the BDS movement, but I think it’s also to obscure the right wing and Trumpian origins of the actual attacks.

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  49. sam says:

    Anybody using Google Voice? The wife and I bought new phones, Pixels, and my old Moto Droid Ultra had its sim card removed. So I put Google Voice on it. GV is now VOIP, so I can call anywhere in the US and Canada for free on the Droid. The drawback is that GV doesn’t have a native ringtone, so I can’t conveniently get calls on the Droid. I put GV on the Pixel, and my GV number is forwarded to my Pixel number, so GV calls on the Pixel ring with that phone’s ringtone. I can then answer the call on the Droid (I think). PIA. Still, the Droid can function as an emergency phone for calling if need be. Maybe they’ll give it a native ringtone. Looking around the web, that seems to be the most asked-for feature.

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  50. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: I’ve been following VR for about 25 years and at times have been very hot on it. I almost applied to Magic Leap several years ago. But as I remind myself, while some tech will just take a while longer to catch on, some tech will never catch on, for good reasons.

    I don’t think, for example, that we all aren’t riding on Segways yet.

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  51. gVOR08 says:

    I generally only read ebooks anymore. Three reasons. I do a lot of my book reading on an exercise bike, and I already had my phone in my pocket for tunes. I like to highlight and make notes, which somehow feels like defacing a paper book, and would be really awkward on the bike. And, I just moved a few thousand books from Ohio to Florida, many of which may never come out of their boxes. Ebooks take up so much less room. The downside is my whole library may evaporate some day if Amazon feels like it. Anybody have good advice on archiving PDFs?

    On the other hand, we visit B&N regularly. Cheap entertainment, even though my wife always buys a couple of crafting magazines. If I found a book at B&N I used to feel obligated to buy the ebook from them, but I feel like their reader app is falling behind.

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  52. sam says:

    @gVOR08:

    The downside is my whole library may evaporate some day if Amazon feels like it. Anybody have good advice on archiving PDFs?

    Why not just download your Amazon books and burn them into a CD? You can burn the PDFs, too.

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  53. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Next must come the eyePhone. But I don’t think it will take another millennium to be developed.

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  54. Sleeping Dog says:

    In the last day and a half, there as been a knife/machete attack at a NY Hanukkah celebration and a shooting in a Texas church. 5 were injured, none fatally in NY, 2 are dead in Texas. One should wonder about what the toll would have been in NY if the assailant had easy access to a fire arm.

    Thank you NY gun control laws.

    On a mildly related subject, can someone explain to me why the acrimony between between the African American community and the Jewish American community. I know that this is knowledge I once had but it has slipped away.

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  55. Bill says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Then, too, e-books became almost synonymous with self-pubbed crap. E-books became the Dress Barn.

    The subgenre* I write in features either

    1- Non erotica that I have termed repetitive pablum

    or

    2- Erotica that a late author in the same genre called ‘crappy smut’.

    The big names, who I assumed would jump ship and leverage their fame to sell e-books with larger profit margins, stuck with conventional publishing. I was tempted but self-publishing means a mountain of work over and above the writing.

    My ebook writing earns me low medium five figure income yearly and I do most of the work. Yes I have a person at Fiverr who does my covers and two editors who happily help me out and only at the cost of either Starbucks or Walmart gift cards.

    *- A form of LGBT fiction that has a great deal of flexibility if an author has a good imagination. I’ve written stories about- Japanese gangsters, A figure skater training for the Olympics, Espionage, a lone plane crash survivor and their trek back home, A journalist on trial for the murder of their parents, and less serious works involving a cannibal, dung beetles, and a homage to Japanese monster movies. My next ebook starts with a zombie apocalypse…..

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  56. Teve says:

    Weird fact I didn’t know-if you drain and re-charge your smartphone once a day, the electricity will cost you slightly under a dollar per year.

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  57. Stormy Dragon says:

    @sam:

    On the other hand, if the 5G bandwidth is that close to the water vapor band, we may not actually need the satellites because we can get the data from the cell network directly:

    Mobile-phone signals reveal rainfall: wobbles in transmissions help to create weather data

    Probably both methods have advantages and disadvantages, but the source mentioned in the first article, NOAA, does have a non-science related interest in preferring the method that requires them to have enough budget to keep building multi-million dollar satellites.

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  58. Sleeping Dog says:

    For all you dog lovers. Found these articles interesting. When the wife brought home her pest pug puppy, the breeder sent along a bag of one of the FDA flagged brands that boasted that it contained no grains. After finishing off that bag, the pug received Purina, like the other 8 dogs that we’ve had and all but one, lived to ripe old ages.

    And before someone gives me grief about going to a breeder, of those preceding 8, all were either strays or rescue dogs. What can I say, she wanted a pug and all the available rescue pugs were all elderly with (probably) medical conditions.

    ‘It’s not going away’: Vets still seeing cases of dog heart problems linked to grain-free food

    FDA Investigation into Potential Link between Certain Diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy

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  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: In defense of E-books, while you’re right about the Dress Barn metaphor, Dress Barn is a source of passable clothes (from what I understand from my ex-wife) for people with other big ticket items to spend their money on. I find that I can get a good enough book to read from the Kindle Store for about $1.99. My tastes don’t gravitate toward “literature” though. I just finished the book from which the new film “The Good Liar” is based. I gave it 2 stars. Then again, I only paid 99 cents for it, so I’m not very disappointed. Most 99 cent books I read from the Kindle Store get one star. They must be the equivalent of the dresses you were thinking of for the Dress Barn metaphor.

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  60. Stormy Dragon says:

    The thing that kills my interest in bookstores, is that unless you want a new best-seller, they probably don’t have what you want. And yes they can order it, but at that point you might as well just buy it from Amazon and save yourself two trips.

    There was probably a brief period in the 90s where someone like Barnes and Noble could have locked down the rights for some sort of “print on demand” system real cheap and allowed them to compete with online sellers on an inventory basis, but they missed that window and it’s probably too late now.

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  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Funny you should bring that up. Thomas Pynchon is exactly the kind of author I never read. While I was in Grad School, I also stopped reading Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as soon as I realized that 1) I didn’t need to write a paper on it and 2) the other students in the class were so anxious to polish that road apple that the teacher didn’t notice that I almost never participated in class discussions.

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  62. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Now I’m trying to imagine an alternate universe where Thomas Pynchon wrote Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man instead of James Joyce.

    Which oddly sounds like the premise of a Thomas Pynchon novel.

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  63. Teve says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Problem is, from a rough calculation I just put together with an answer from Quora and a calculator, cell coverage is available on approximately 11% of the earths surface. And that’s probably an overestimate.

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  64. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Teve:

    Well, in the remaining 88%, satellite interference isn’t a problem then, is it? 😉

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  65. Bill says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I find that I can get a good enough book to read from the Kindle Store for about $1.99. My tastes don’t gravitate toward “literature” though. I just finished the book from which the new film “The Good Liar” is based. I gave it 2 stars. Then again, I only paid 99 cents for it, so I’m not very disappointed. Most 99 cent books I read from the Kindle Store get one star.

    Of my 26 ebooks, I have two priced at .99 cents. The ones about a cannibal and dung beetles.

    Those were two of my first ebooks. Both are very short. If I published them today, I would have made them part of a short story collection.

    Many if not a majority of the ebooks in my subgenre are priced $2.99 (There is a reason for that. A ebook has to be priced 299-9.99 for an author to get 70% royalty. Otherwise it is 35%) and are under 100 pages in length. Again I’m guilty of doing this but it was my earliest ebooks (The lone plane crash survivor and homage to Japanese monster movies are two) that I published. Since 2016, I haven’t published an ebook shorter than 150 pages in length. Price wise, I only sell one ebook for over 4.99. I price mine 2.99 to 4.99 depending on length. The best selling authors in the subgenre price similarly. My four best sellers go for either 3.99 or 4.99.

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  66. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Never made those kinds of distinctions. 45 and 52 degrees are the same temperature and fine mist doesn’t count at rain.

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  67. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I worked in Barnes and Noble and borders back in my 20s and the entire actual cost of producing and shipping the physical book is less than 1/10th of the sticker price. By far the biggest cost of a book is distribution and retailing.

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  68. Gustopher says:

    @Bill:

    Of my 26 ebooks, I have two priced at .99 cents. The ones about a cannibal and dung beetles.

    Those were two of my first ebooks. Both are very short. If I published them today, I would have made them part of a short story collection.

    I don’t know if you’ve identified your books here, but if this is LGBT erotica about dung beetles and cannibals… I might drop what I am currently reading for that.

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  69. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The thing that kills my interest in bookstores, is that unless you want a new best-seller, they probably don’t have what you want. And yes they can order it, but at that point you might as well just buy it from Amazon and save yourself two trips.

    The joy of a book store isn’t finding the book you want, it’s finding the book near what you were looking for, which had a title that grabbed your attention, and which after reading the first few pages you decide to buy.

    The ideal book store would have all my favorite books that I have read (so I think they have a decent selection of good things), nothing that I am looking for, and a lot of things I am not looking for.

    LGBT erotica about cannibal dung beetles? I had no idea I wanted to read such a thing until moments ago.

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  70. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    My tastes don’t gravitate toward “literature” though. I just finished the book from which the new film “The Good Liar” is based. I gave it 2 stars. Then again, I only paid 99 cents for it, so I’m not very disappointed. Most 99 cent books I read from the Kindle Store get one star.

    Either you are rating books on some scale other than whether you enjoyed them, or you do not value your time, or you simply hate yourself.

    I understand the holidays get people down, but reading terrible books you hate isn’t the answer.

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  71. grumpy realist says:

    @Gustopher: I prefer paper to e-books for the most part, but I also have a habit of trying to find hardback editions from the 1930s simply for the pure pleasure of the book designs. Most of the stuff I have on my Kindle is due to my undergoing a reading binge at 11 pm and the library not being open. Or because I’m reading detective stories from the Victorian period and can’t get my hands on a hardback copy…..

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  72. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    The joy of a book store isn’t finding the book you want, it’s finding the book near what you were looking for, which had a title that grabbed your attention, and which after reading the first few pages you decide to buy.

    And maybe my tastes are just too weird, but I don’t really find those books in bookstores either. Other then best sellers, everything else tends to be rather generic “lowest common denominator” type stuff.

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  73. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @SenyorDave: It’s chilling. On a recent visit to Nuremberg, we visited the rally ground where the Nazi faithful used to gather each September for a Parteitag. Then I remembered what Mark Twain said: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.”

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  74. Michael Reynolds says:

    I actually avoid book stores as an extension of work. They just make me anxious.

    I’m at an odd point in my writing career. From Day One the goal was to make money. First to solve my ‘legal problems,’ then to be able to afford private schools for the kids. Now the kids are out, and while I will need money eventually, I don’t at the moment and my wife is printing the stuff.

    I’m looking for the next act, wavering between projects in a very not-me sort of way. I got fat and lazy always writing with a contract and an advance check in hand. Now I’m back to spec work, IOW, work for which I may or may not ever get paid. It’s a drag. I’m working either to service existing fans (the TV series we’re pitching) or for pure ego, to be able to say I made in Hollywood starting about the same time as Medicare kicked in. That plus there’s not a single other thing I know how to do and I’m not good at doing nothing. That way lies madness.

    @Bill:
    I’m starting to think I should talk to you about the mechanics of getting my backlist (the parts I control) up online as e-books. I don’t think I can use the existing covers, that’s not my copyright, so I’d need to commission those unless Scholastic will release them to me. And since the files are lousy I’d need a careful line editor. The thought of the hassle has me thinking white sand beaches far away.

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  75. Kylopod says:

    @SenyorDave:

    These were people who accepted Hitler and his ideas. Trump’s supporters buy into his ideology, as ridiculous and simplistic as it may be. We may consider them as cultists, but I don’t believe it is accurate.

    It depends who you’re describing. There is definitely a slice of the country with an absolutely cultish devotion to Donald Trump. They parrot everything he says, praise him as the greatest president we’ve ever had, dismiss all negative information about him as fake news, and act like he literally can do no wrong. But not all Trump supporters fall in this category, and if his support in 2016 had been limited to the cult, he’d have lost in a historic landslide. Many people have their own reasons for supporting him. Sometimes it’s just pure partisanship–they’d vote for Attila the Hun if he had an R after his name. Sometimes it’s the tax cuts or judges or whatever. Sometimes it’s “The Dems are worse!”–though to a large degree, that notion comes from the cult, even though not everyone may be cognizant of it.

    The same dynamic existed with Hitler. There were millions of Germans who practically worshiped him as a demigod. But people had all sorts of reasons for following the Nazis, which didn’t always involve full acceptance of their bizarre and intricate racial mythology.

    It’s also important not to give the impression that most people are independent thinkers with careful, well-constructed beliefs. People are influenced by the media they consume, whether they realize it or not, and right-wing media in this country plays an outsize role in not only the promotion of Trump himself, but the reinforcement of Trumpist beliefs. There are many conservatives who don’t even think of themselves as Trumpists, who recognize many of his flaws at least on the surface, and yet who fail to realize how much they have been brainwashed by sources of information designed to bolster Trump. Think how much greater this effect is amplified in a totalitarian state where there’s only one media source.

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  76. Bill says:

    @Gustopher:

    I don’t know if you’ve identified your books here, but if this is LGBT erotica about dung beetles and cannibals… I might drop what I am currently reading for that.

    Neither book is erotica*. My muse is warped but not that crazy. Both are joke stories. The idea for the cannibal one arose from the Michael Rockefeller disappearance.

    *- The subgenre I write in features alot of erotica, but only two of my writings qualify as such and they are erotica lite for sure. One reviewer of my not erotica bestseller wrote- ‘Where’s the sex?’ Because of the subgenre, most of my stories feature a little bit of adult content. Usually one scene or two at most. What is a couple supposed to do on their honeymoon after all, play parcheesi?

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  77. Bill says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m starting to think I should talk to you about the mechanics of getting my backlist (the parts I control) up online as e-books.

    Michael, for obvious reasons I don’t put my contact info out on the board but Doug and James both have mine since I’ve written here at OTB and OTB Sports. Email them if you want to get in contact with me.

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  78. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: If we had a collection of 100 or so comments to help people understand politics, I’d vote for that comment right there.

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  79. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “I’m starting to think I should talk to you about the mechanics of getting my backlist (the parts I control) up online as e-books.”

    You should talk to my former partner Lee Goldberg about this. He had a few books that had gone out of print — got the rights back, self-published with Amazon, he’s been making money ever since. (He’s also gone on to be a NYT best-selling mystery writer…) Contact me and I can give you his info — I am positive he’ll be delighted to share with you.

    Personally I’ve Kindle-published two books on writing the TV pilot. My first book on TV writing was published by Wiley, and it shockingly continues to sell, although it’s embarassingly out of date. (And of course they won’t put out an update unless it’s 60% new, which I won’t do for what they pay…) The first month my first pilot book was out I made more in royalties than I had in ten years on the Wiley book.

    Since then I’ve had friends and colleagues who chose to go with the major publisher of books on writing and movies/TV, and it turns out that they don’t edit, barely copy-edit and expect the author to do all the promotion –in other words, these writers still have to spend the same few hundreds bucks that I do, but then they’re getting 12% or so instead of the 70% I make. That publisher once generously offered to publish and distribute my books (after they’d been in print for years) — I politely declined.

    There are some things self-publishing is really bad for — general fiction probably the worst. But for specialized non-fiction with a specific audience it’s perfect — it’s probably not mainstream enough for a major publisher to make money, but it can make a lot for the writer.

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  80. Gustopher says:

    @Bill:

    Neither book is erotica*. My muse is warped but not that crazy.

    So, you’re saying LGBT cannibal dung beetle erotica is an open field… Interesting.

    I do know next to nothing about writing, dung beetles, cannibals or erotica, and I barely know anything about LGBT despite being a B, so… if this looking for work thing doesn’t pan out, I guess I will have to give it a go. I’m too ignorant to know what a terrible idea it is.

    Of course, there are meetings at jobs, so there would probably be time to write it in those.

    I’m thinking a love triangle that gets resolved through cannibalism, with the two suitors than hooking up. They were after he ball of dung all along.

    I could reverse the genders and make it about praying mantises, and that would fit the species better, but then there wouldn’t be a big ball of dung, and I know nothing about same-sex female relationships.

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  81. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: No, you’re misunderstanding me. I mostly read books that I enjoy and the 99 cent books (about 5 total out of maybe 75 to 1o0 purchases over the past 4 years) are exceptions. My reading is almost exclusively escapist, though I do read some “going to sleep books” that I use at bed time and during the night. A buck ninety-nine is my ideal price point and the 99 cent ones are because I can’t resist a bargain, but are usually better sounding than they turn out. A Good Liar was advertised on a spam, and I was wondering if I wanted to see the movie. Turns out I don’t need to.

    It was a pretty good go to sleep book, though. That’s why it got 2 stars instead of one. 99 centers are generally a mistake was my point, not that I seek out bad books (although I sometimes have done that with movies on TV).

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  82. Teve says:

    John Lewis announced he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Hope he gets to make to see the night of Nov 3rd.

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  83. Andy says:

    I much prefer audiobooks to ebooks. Except nonfiction. Being able to search and reference is just too convenient.

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  84. Mister Bluster says:

    @Teve:…John Lewis announced he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Hope he gets to make to see the night of Nov 3rd.

    It doesn’t look good for extended survival.

    My quadriplegic friend Joe was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer just after New Years 2008.
    He was dead in four weeks.

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  85. Jax says:

    I get that our gracious front-pagers need days off every now and then, but is anybody else just BORED with nothing new to read on OTB, even with a lively Open Forum and plenty of links?! I might have to clean my house or something. 😉

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  86. Bill says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    It doesn’t look good for extended survival.

    I have been malignant melanoma stage IV for 11 years and the median survival rate is about 11 months.

    Think of it, I should have been dead long ago and no one would have gotten to read a LGBT story with a cannibal or dung beetles or two guys turned into six inch tall singing priestesses.

    I still think the story written by my friend Hypatia with a stoned t-rex takes the cake.

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  87. Mister Bluster says:

    @Bill:..I have been malignant melanoma stage IV for 11 years and the median survival rate is about 11 months.

    Congratulations! You have beaten the odds!

    I wish I could say the same for Joe.

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  88. 95 South says:

    @Teve: Nothing matters but politics.

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  89. Michael Cain says:

    If the 5G companies can deliver a couple of gigabits of aggregate bandwidth over small enough cells in residential neighborhoods, they can be competitive with the cable companies for high-speed data. Back in the days when I worked on this stuff, it was clear that there was hybrid fiber-twisted pair, hybrid fiber-coax, and hybrid fiber-wireless for the last mile. Wireless just hasn’t had the bandwidth to compete until (potentially) now.

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  90. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @95 South: Fuck you.

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  91. Mister Bluster says:

    @95south:
    Anyone can be an asshole. It doesn’t take any talent and it’s nothing to be proud of.

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  92. Gustopher says:

    @Bill:

    I have been malignant melanoma stage IV for 11 years and the median survival rate is about 11 months.

    Huh.

    A few years ago I had a massive pulmonary embolism, and it was a little surprising that I survived. But it’s not a constant threat, it was just a one off, plus nibbling on rat poison every day for the rest of my life.

    Anyway, I hope this bonus time has been good to you.

    Think of it, I should have been dead long ago and no one would have gotten to read a LGBT story with a cannibal or dung beetles or two guys turned into six inch tall singing priestesses.

    Ok, I understand that you don’t want to put your real name on your books, or here, and you’re worried about worlds colliding and all, but this is just teasing.

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  93. Gustopher says:

    @95 South: We’re having a nice, friendly, lighthearted discussion about Stage IV Cancer. Why be an ass?

    Why not reply with something like “I hope he survives long enough to see Trump inaugurated again (and then again)” — mix a bit of hope in with the poke. Like a decent human being.

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  94. Kit says:

    Given the surprising number of writers here, hopefully all filled with holiday cheer and goodwill towards men, I’m going to ask for some advice. I have a great little idea for a Christmas film. I sense you are already skeptical. Without even reading another word, you will tell me that ideas are worthless, that you yourself have too many ideas, and that a story is far more than just an idea. Even so, given less than one minute, I repeatedly pitched this idea to skeptical friends and their faces would light up despite themselves. I had somehow stumbled on a blindingly obvious but undiscovered twist to a story that’s been done to death. Only an acceptable screenplay stood between me and the Hollywood dream! Hmm… a screenplay… Recognizing my limitations, I shelved the idea for a decade or more.

    But it nagged at me. Slowly I convince myself that a children’s book was within my abilities and would lead to bigger opportunities. I dive in and wrestle a story back to shore. Feeling rather pleased, I look into the publishing market to see what I caught. Turns out that stories for kids fall into one of three rigid formats, and mine doesn’t have a natural home. I find a developmental editor. She gentle informs me that my story sucks, but she loves the idea, and tells me to write a picture book. Armed with her advice, I burn the original story to the ground and surprise myself with what I build in the strict confines of the new format.

    I go back to the editor and get punched in the gut. My story already tipped the scales 10% over the upper-limit of 1,200 words, but now I’m told that the current market rejects anything over 600 words. Oh, and wouldn’t it be nice to expand one of the parts? Frankly, I doubt I can keep the voice, humor and emotion in half the words. I’m not even sure the premise would come through clearly.

    So now I’m hesitating between three options: 1) trying to shrink the story as advised; 2) finding another editor; 3) self-publishing simply to get my idea out in public and see what happens.

    Any advice?

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  95. Bill says:

    @Gustopher: Huh.

    A few years ago I had a massive pulmonary embolism, and it was a little surprising that I survived. But it’s not a constant threat, it was just a one off, plus nibbling on rat poison every day for the rest of my life.

    I survived a PE in 2005.

    Anyway, I hope this bonus time has been good to you.

    Life is ok now but it has been rough. The wife and I lost our home to foreclosure and had to file bankruptcy. If not for financial assistance from people connected to our church, we may have been homeless and living out of our car.

    Think of it, I should have been dead long ago and no one would have gotten to read a LGBT story with a cannibal or dung beetles or two guys turned into six inch tall singing priestesses.

    Ok, I understand that you don’t want to put your real name on your books, or here, and you’re worried about worlds colliding and all, but this is just teasing.

    I write in a field consisting of lots of crappy smut as another author calls the dreck. So I write under a pseudonym and don’t usually advertise my work except at certain forums. I did mention above to Michael Reynolds how to get hold of me by emailing James or Doug. You’re welcome to do the same.

    In the meantime, here’s a link to the stoned T Rex (Her name is Godiva BTW) story by a favorite author (Hypatia) of mine at a website I used to contribute at. Hypatia says my muse is more twisted than theirs but I say they get the award.

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  96. 95 South says:

    @Gustopher: I don’t want to see Trump inaugurated again. I want to see Teve act like a decent human being and not reduce news about someone’s terminal cancer to a Trump angle. And maybe someone saying Fuck You to the guy who called me an asshole and vice versa.

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  97. Kathy says:

    @Jax:

    Yes, but mostly at work. While were very busy, I still get short and long periods of inactivity while someone else checks my work and finds errors to be corrected (or often invents errors to justify their time). At home at least I can put on Rick and Morty on Netflix and wonder if it’s jumped the shark.

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  98. MarkedMan says:

    Just a musing about symmetry and how here in the internet we have reached a near perfect ecology of social misfits who regularly perform the online version of running into a room naked, shrieking “I hate you all, I hate you all, [insert random political or social cause here], PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEE!!!!” They have a symbiotic relationship with those of us who get a brief moment of satisfaction in pointing out that this behavior is not helping [random political cause]. But if course, that was never their motivation to begin with.

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  99. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: For the last 15 years I’ve moderated a biology discussion board where scientists and science-adjacent people hang out and make fun of the latest things the creationists are up to. I learned a long time ago not to argue with creationist idiots, but at the beginning of the year I decided I’ve been wasting too much time on other idiots and for all of 2019 I wouldn’t argue with any random idiots online. I’ve got two more days, and then I will have made it for the entire year. 😀

    (Sadly, there’s very little discussion at the board these days because after the creationists’ latest scam, ”Intelligent Design”, failed 14 years ago in Dover Pennsylvania, they’ve been at a loss about what to do next.)

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  100. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: I hear you. I first saw a pre-Usenet group descend into chaos around 1980. A moderated group such as this can sometimes survive but unless the Sys admins are willing to use the hammer with some frequency the negative feedback loop can overwhelm and drive everyone interesting away.

    As you learned there are people you can’t have a rational discussion with because their beliefs are simply that: beliefs uninformed by logic or reason or just common sense. For the most part there is little overlap between such people and those of us who value facts and truth and use those to inform our view of the world rather than the other way around. But there is a subspecies that take on the trappings of logic, reason and discussion, managing an odd cargo cult-like simulacrum of more reality based people. This triggers an almost automatic response (I’m not immune by any stretch) but, alas, this response tends to play out like the response of a fish to the simulacrum of a tasty fly…

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  101. Kathy says:

    I worked all day Saturday, between 9 am and 7 pm. Then Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm. I still had to cook for the week, but I figure I will get Jan 1st off, and possibly Dec. 31st as well (*). I figured I’d get some chicken milanesas and bake them. What I really wanted was to make shredded chicken with mole and cornbread. But that was too much work.

    I found ground turkey (it’s rare to find any turkey outside December), so I cooked that with red mole and onions, and I may do the cornbread tomorrow or Wednesday. I also may find time to see Ep. IX again.

    (*) Among several calendar reform initiatives, there’s one with 4 trimesters of 91 days each (two 30-day months and one with 31), with all dates fixed to weekdays forever. This adds up to 364 days, so there’s a month-less day between Dec. 31st and Jan 1st., notionally called World Day, which would be an additional day off.

    One reason calendar reforms don’t advance, is that the current calendar is good enough. The seasons stay in sync, adjustments are required every 4 years only (plus long term every 100 years and 400 years **). But right now I’d kill for an extra day off.

    ** years ending in 00 (every hundred years) are not leap years. That’s the 100 years adjustment. Except when such years are evenly divisible by 400, as the year 2000 was, which is the 400 year adjustment.

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  102. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: For a while we tried to come up with the perfect collection of black and white rules about what to delete and when, but it never worked. Malignant assholes figure out how to disrupt while technically abiding by them. The only thing that worked was just developing a sense of when a troll comment would be harmless or fairly harmless, and when it would disrupt everything and had to go. And if somebody never had anything to contribute, and only tried to provoke, just ban them. If you owned a restaurant, and every day some guy showed up and just walked around poking people and trying to pick a fight, you don’t reason with them, you just have them trespassed.

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  103. Liberal Capitalist says:

    All,

    Just got back from my trip to the other side of the world.

    As there is a lot of talk of Time and Tech in this thread, I thought I would bring to all your attention a show that I watched on the plane: Years and Years

    If you haven’t seen this, you need to. A SciFi based stunning look forward in the next 10 years.

    Here is a link to the short Trailer for the show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY41jhIP_xI

    I was absolutely shocked on how well the show lays out the potential development.

    This extended trailer includes a speech really sets the stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xI_oqv3Eyo

    What a story. Terrifying.

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  104. grumpy realist says:

    @Kylopod: There’s a bunch of interesting documentaries over on YouTube about the Nazi archeology efforts–most in French, I think. (One of my favourite YouTubers did a mini-documentary about the excavations they did at the Pagan Wall in Alsace.) It does look like a sizeable percentage of the individuals involved simply did their standard work but got the cash for the digs from the Nazi government. There were also a few crackpots who eagerly jumped on the Nazi bandwagon and were just as eagerly supported by the government because they provided “proof” of pro-“Aryan”/Germanic theories. Some of what Himmler got into seems to have been the loopiest of loopy theories: the Hollow Earth theory, Atlantis, a hunt for the Grail…..the Glozel relicts…

    I suspect that the main reason we haven’t had an equivalent activity in the US is a) the anti-intellectualism of most Trump supporters, and b) Trump isn’t interested, either. They’re just as happy to just claim that “X is Y” and forget about mucking around looking for proof.

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  105. Teve says:

    @theonion

    Trump Cancels White House Subscription To ‘Highlights’ Over Anti-Goofus Bias trib.al/WWfpihz#OurAnnualYear2019

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  106. Teve says:

    Some QAnon dipshit on Twitter is saying John Lewis has been found guilty of all the crimes and is electing to commit suicide as punishment and this announcement was just to protect his family. In response, historians are saying things to him that would make you put your hands over your dear mother’s ears.

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  107. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: This news has me contemplating a sad but fascinating bit of trivia: as far as I can tell, no current leader of the Republican Party, no Senator, Rep or senior government official, has ever been active in the civil rights movement. Not even the few blacks, Hispanics or out LGBTQ members. (Wait, are there any out LGBTQ senior Republican officials?) This did not used to be true. A number of Republican leaders lent their support in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and even the 70’s and a number of them remained active in government for decades after, although by the time of Reagan they never spoke of it themselves. But they are all gone now and the modern Republican leadership is united in their belief that even if the Civil Rights movement did some good a half century ago, it is now an active evil.

    After Obama won the first time a few party officials started talking about the need to bring in more minorities. All of them said variants of the same thing, “We must do a better job of explaining our policies to these groups.” It’s been over a decade now and I’ve been keeping track. In that time I have never heard a Republican official say, “Hmm, maybe we should shut up and hear what they have to say. Maybe we could be wrong about something.”

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  108. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    You’ll pry my Kindle from my cold, dead fingers. No more lugging a backpack of books on vacations, or carrying one around to appointments to occupy my time (or spending the brainpower to figure out what I might want to read later). Easy access to re-read anything I own, or get new books, from anywhere. Easy font size changes as I age (and my eyes get tired every day and my vision is sharper in the morning compared to evening). E-ink is way easier on my eyes than tablets as well.

    For someone whose main “hobby” is reading, a dedicated e-reader is a godsend.

    There are a couple relatively easy ways to make sure your collection won’t disappear either, no matter what happens to Amazon or what Amazon decides to do (Calibre being my preferred approach).

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  109. senyordave says:

    @MarkedMan: Current Republicans are actually very active in the civil rights movement. Many of them are constantly talking about the most oppressed of all peoples, white males. After all, so many of the Republicans in Congress and even our president know far too well the discrimination they face on a day-to-day basis.
    They have chosen a different path than John Lewis to fight the evils of oppression. Whereas John Lewis had his head busted open during protests, they have taken a slower route, plotting their strategy over scotches at the club after a grueling 18 holes on the links.

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  110. Kurtz says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I suspect that the main reason we haven’t had an equivalent activity in the US is a) the anti-intellectualism of most Trump supporters, and b) Trump isn’t interested, either. They’re just as happy to just claim that “X is Y” and forget about mucking around looking for proof.

    There is a serious lack of critical thinking skills developed during education, so confrimation bias is magnified.

    It seems that people typically form their political and religious beliefs before they learn about the world in any depth. This is especially true in a field like economics. it is hard enough for a Physics researcher to eliminate bias. In economics, where measurement of even basic data is much less precise, it is almost impossible to eliminate bias in such a politicized field.

    Given that context, for the conspiracy set, their information diet looks indistinguishable from rigorous scholarship. I’m reminded of the Good Will Hunting professor telling Will that there are only a few people in the world that can tell the difference between himself and the young genius. If you’re not a well trained thinker, distinguishing between bullshit and a warranted argument is impossible.

    For the more mainstream set, the media diet is hopelessly lightweight from an intellectual perspective. IIRC some mainstream center-left publication called Ben Shapiro “the cool kids philosopher.” if that is what passes for philosophy on the Right, there is zero credibility there.

    The funny thing about that quote is that the only reason that any legitimate media organization even nominally on the Left only says things like that because they think they have to bend over backwards to appear objective. But that just plays into the Right’s hand, because the claim of bias was only about keeping their viewers/constituents siloed.

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  111. CSK says:

    The two most admired men of 2019, according to Gallup, are Barack Obama and…Donald Trump. It was a tie.

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  112. Kurtz says:

    @CSK:

    That says something and some other somethings. But I don’t really know what those somethings are.

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  113. Kathy says:

    @Kurtz:

    I cad think of a few:

    There’s a sucker born every minute(*).
    No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the people.
    A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals.
    I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.

    (*) badly underestimates the numbers of both births and suckers.

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  114. CSK says:

    @Kurtz: @Kathy: Apparently no one’s brought this to Trump’s attention yet, because he’s not crowing about it on Twitter.

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  115. Gustopher says:

    @Bill: I don’t trust myself to not accidentally reveal your secret identity if I knew it — I’m just clumsy and hapless. Some open thread would go on about books, and I would forget and mention that I was reading Bill’s Why must I be a dung-beetle in love?

    I googled that phrase to ensure there isn’t a book named that.

    Once, I was working on a secret project for a big tech company — the type of thing that everyone assumed they were were working on, but which we were supposed to never tell anyone because it hadn’t been announced. So, when friends asked what I worked on, I would just lie. I made up a ridiculous project, which if it followed the company’s standard naming would end up with a ridiculous name. Most people knew it was a lie.

    Most people.

    Someone didn’t. A friend of a friend who posted online about Big Tech Company entering the Dog Grooming space (not the actual thing). This got picked up by a tech news aggregator. And then the press. Big Tech Company panics because they actually are working on that, tries to root out the source of the leak (which, since I had no knowledge of the project never leads back to me), ends up firing someone on that project who used company email to leak something else, people get angry because he was fired for leaking but not the sexual harassment, the mob starts demanding more accountability for sexual harassment, there’s an inevitable backlash, hilarity ensues, etc.

    And now my secret project lie is Digital Dog Grooming. Upload your dog photos, and use AI to see what he/she would look like with different grooming options. I briefly used “it’s like Uber, but for underwear” but decided it was too plausible.

    (How much of your underwear is sitting in the dresser drawer, not earning you any money? Shouldn’t you be getting a return on your underwear….)

    So, if keeping your OTB pseudonym and your writing pseudonym separate is important, I should have no knowledge.

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  116. Tyrell says:

    2020 predictions:

    NASCAR will consider an EV division

    Boston Celtics will win the NBA championship

    NY Times will issue a correction and apologize

    Geneticist will teeth in lab

    King Corbin will be United States champion
    see King Corbin’s interview:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VL-5POgr4tM

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  117. Bill says:

    @Gustopher:

    I don’t trust myself to not accidentally reveal your secret identity if I knew it — I’m just clumsy and hapless. Some open thread would go on about books, and I would forget and mention that I was reading Bill’s Why must I be a dung-beetle in love?

    That’s ok but the offer still stands if you change your mind.

    My annoymity mostly stems from my having a devoutly Roman Catholic wife who works at the church we both attend. 2019 marks 30 years of marriage for us.

    I wrote the first of these stories in 2000. (I published my first ebook at Amazon in 2014) In 2001 I told my wife about it for the first time because I was preparing to write a tale about two peace corps workers in the part of the Philippines she is from. She isn’t crazy about the topics I write about, but she has read two of my ebooks, chose my writing name for Amazon, is my fashion consultant for clothes I describe, and since the $$$ started coming in regularly tells me to keep writing.

    If people ask what I do, I say I write ebooks for sale at Amazon. I vaguely say they are Sci-Fi or Fantasy, which they are in addition to being LGBT.

    Admittedly I emphasized above the silly stuff I have written. But out of 26 ebooks, only 4 completely and one short story collection of mine partly, qualify as such. I write serious or light hearted but mostly serious. I have tackled subjects I knew little about- conversions to Judaism, figure skating, Japanese gangsters, or at the moment writing a story that begins with a zombie apocalypse scene when I have never had the stomach for that type of story or movie.

    BTW Bill is short for William which is my first name.

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  118. Jax says:

    Lost one of my good ranch cats to coyotes last night. She wasn’t a “pet” at all, she did not allow petting, but she was a hell of a mouser and came in to eat during the winter. It’s been at least -20 and closer to -30 every night since Christmas, so we are entering “the time of hunger” as far as coyotes are concerned. They normally stay pretty well out of the ranch yard because of our guns and dogs, but all bets are off during the dying time. I heard them around 11:30, right outside my house, turned my outside lights on and saw my dogs racing out into the dark after them. Did not see the black kitty on the ground, unfortunately, she was lying in a vehicle track in the snow, and the snow is about a foot deep.

    My good doggos kept her body safe, though, and uneaten by coyotes. They stayed by her all night long, judging by the frost on their fur when I found them this morning. Very brave of them, considering they could have easily gone back to their heated doghouse and just let the coyotes eat her.

    I don’t know if ranch cats like these feel loss, but her and one of my other cats, Sir Studmuffin the Second (very large Maine Coon mix), were inseparable. They were quite the adorable couple, Miss Molly and Sir Studmuffin.

    Time to take out some coyotes. 😉

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  119. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Coyotes keep us honest.

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  120. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Honest and aware. Saw video of a big, black wolf 5 miles from my house the other day. Not liking that prospect very much, either.

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  121. An Interested Party says:

    To Protect and To Serve…and of course this happened in Florida…

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  122. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: We have problems with feral pigs (so far none on my place) A couple years ago some ranchers about 10 miles away killed a 600 lb sow chasing their cattle. That’ll get ones attention.

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  123. Kurtz says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Obviously that 70 year old was a danger to the police officers.

    I think I’ve floated this here before, but maybe not. I think that police chiefs/sheriff’s should be be pulled from the civilian population rather than the ranks of the department.

    I realize that sherriffs are elected positions in most jurisdictions, but it seems to me that a civilian who reflects the populace and has a plan would have a decent chance of winning.

    I also wonder if police departments requiring post-secondary eduction to be sworn in would cut down on some of the poor decision making.

    Then again, assholes gonna asshole. Of course policing and the military attract aggressive people at a higher rate than other professions.

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  124. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’ve seen those big hogs! A friend has a place in Texas.

    My Dad’s kinda famous in his time for roping a spike elk that was running around and stabbing cattle. We had a cowboy come ride with us last summer that was telling the story from the back seat, but didn’t know who the cowboy was. Dad turned around after the story and handed him a beer, said “Yeah, that was me and Jack M.”

    The look on the guy’s face was classic!

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  125. MarkedMan says:

    @Jax: There is an absolutely astounding episode of the Reply All podcast that starts off with what the city boy producer assumed was a joke social media post about wild hogs. Hard to describe the episode, but a few takeaways. I think both reasonable conservatives and reasonable liberals could get behind the original poster. And that the wild pig problem is a perfect example of the worst of the good ol’ boy hunter mentality, who are deliberately spreading the problem far and wide. And that a crazy stupid solution to a problem may not seem so crazy and stupid when there is no other solution. No, strike that. The takeaway is that sometimes all anyone can think of is a crazy and stupid solution and that might be better than doing nothing. Or it may be worse. But it can be awfully hard to tell. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and cast judgement.

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  126. Jax says:

    @MarkedMan: Very similar to the wolf issue. None of us (by “us”, I mean those of us in the wolf area) asked for this. And everybody has “ideas”, now that they’re a problem.

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  127. Kathy says:

    Interesting. At least one British official back in the mid 90s suggested offering Russia “associate” membership in NATO.

    I tend to agree the idea as proposed, with no right to invoke Article V, seemed ill-conceived. as the article puts it:

    “We must not repeat, in the Nato context, the position the EU has got itself into in relation to Turkey – of promising the prospect of entry which it has not intention of honouring. This could be profoundly destabilising.”

    It’s hard not to see missed opportunities in the past when one has a bad outcome in the present. We can also bring in the Iraq war, too. The bottom line, though, is that Putin wanted to be president for life and he succeeded. What amount of NATO membership would have curbed his ambitions, or given a leg up to another, better leader?

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