ORDINARILY I TRY TO STAY away from pissing matches, because — check it out — it keeps piss off your shoes. But still — again, check it out — someone is WRONG on the Internet.
Michael Z. Williamson engages in serial fallacy and that is some shit with which we cannot up put.
If a town uses public money (taxpayers) to put a religious display up at the holidays, it violates the First Amendment. The Courts have repeatedly said so, so no cry of, “Well, that’s YOUR opinion!” enters into it. I don’t want my tax money being used for any religious purpose, and I’m quite sure many religious people don’t want to endorse other religions thereby. You could argue that as long as EVERYONE in town agrees, it’s okay, but what happens to the one person who isn’t happy? Of course, no one would single them out for harassment, right?
No. No. And No. Read the text.
First off, the First Amendment is a limit placed on Congress, and no other entity. It is the only one of the Amendments making up the Bill of Rights that does so. All of the others assert absolute and universal proscriptions on behavior that limits or infringes individual rights. Universal. No actor may infringe — public or private. A property owner may deny you access, but if he does so because you choose to go armed, he is violating your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and — as the actual text says — the right “shall not be infringed.” Not by Congress, or the States, or your city government, or your neighbor.
But the First Amendment starts out — STARTS OUT — “Congress shall make no law…” How stupid do you have to be to miss that part?
And, as I like to say, nowhere in there is the phrase “separation of church and state”. However, there is a phrase, “…or free exercise thereof.” Congress, being the sole legislative authority at the Federal level is enjoined from limiting the free exercise of religion. Funny how people keep missing that.
And, bitch, please: DO NOT try this “The courts have said so, thus it is engraven in stone.” That’s so stupid as to be the dictionary illustration of risible. Case law cannot trump the actual text of the law. If a law is wrong, it goes back to the legislature (elected by popular vote). Appointed jurists do not get to legislate. Says so right here on the side of the box. And, if you don’t think courts can be wrong, I have two words for you: Dredd Scott.
IT DOESN’T SEEM TO MATTER whether the speaker is a self-identified libertarian, conservative, moderate, or liberal, they all argue the question of nationalized or socialized medical financing (red herring term: health care insurance) from false premises. In an article currently making the rounds, Prof. Paul Rahe tries mightily to argue that this way or that way of making sure that free riders don’t ride for free, pretending that is the central question in the debate, when it’s not by a brazilian miles.
The point here is not who else (besides you) pays for your medical care, or whether or why somebody should be able to freeload, thus passing the cost to you. The point here is that the government has no place in the matter whatsoever.
If people are freeloading a system mandated by the government, that is not a bug in the specific program or policy. It is a fundamental flaw in the basic concept of public financing of anything from prostitution to recreational intoxicants to medical care to education. The two systems are separate and should be kept segregated for very good reason — they corrupt one another.”You got government in my commerce/you got commerce in my government” is not the “AHA” moment for a new candy bar, it’s a recipe for civilizational disaster.
The principle here is that Congress does not have a mandate to legislate on the matter. It is therefor forbidden to speak and should Shut The Fuck Up and leave the people alone each to mind his own business by his own lights, needs, wants, and desires.
Freedom consists of the ability to tell Mrs Grundy to go piss up a rope. At the moment, the statists are playing the part of Mrs. Grundy. And micturate contra-gravitationally on the sisal cord is exactly the appropriate instruction they should be given by We the People.
THE OTHER DAY on It’s Dolly’s Birthday — what was it? Monday? I lay down for a nap thinking, “I need to come up with 20 more scenes to fill out this plot and sub-plots.” I woke up with an idea. I rushed to Scrivener and quickly roughed it all out.I ended up with 35 new scenes, a dynamite climax, and ties between and among a round half-dozen plot threads. Since then, I’ve been working to bring order back to my manuscript so I can see what I’m doing. When all was said and done, I’d added 5,000 new words of mostly notes to what had been 42,000 when I started. I then went through the story in Scrivener and moved scenes around so I had 27 chapters, each of 4-5 scenes, and everything was in an order that at least seemed to make sense. I’ve since determined that some of that order needs to change. I’ve also eliminated an entire subplot from the original Apocryphal story as being rather juvenile and not making a lot of sense. There may be a couple more of those. With that in mind, I’ve gone back over earlier scenes and firmed things up, such as the first gunfight between Drummond and Cally on the one side and the Elves on the other. I’m filling in exposition where it seems missing and cutting it when it seems to info-dumpy.
I doubt I’ll ever be done moving scenes around. I know for sure I’m majorly unhappy with the pacing of the two main subplots — Drummond’s and Dolly’s — as they seem to progress at varying rates of speed, and I want to try to even that out a bit, if I can. And there are some other threads that have just been plunked down wherever and whose placement will have to be a matter for deeper consideration as we go along.
I still have hope that I might finish this before I have to go back to the day job next Tuesday, but I’m not enitrely sanguine about it. We’ll just have to see.
Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment made when Quirnius was governor of Syria. And all went to enroll themselves, every one to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to enroll himself with Mary, who was betrothed to him, being great with child. And it came to pass while they were there, the days were fulfilled that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds in the same country, abiding in the field and keeping watch by night over their flocks. And an angel of the Lord stood by them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of joy which shall be to all the people; for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign unto you; you shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest. And on earth, peace among men in whom he is well pleased.”
Merry Christmas to All Worldwide
from All of Us Here at Casa d’Alger
Mark & Toni,
Belle, Loki, Oliver,
Aqua, Sky, Jazz,
Chester, Earnie, & Jane
Dolly & Drummond and the
Whole Cast of the Baby Troll Chronicles.
Being as the Federal Constitution has the supremacy clause and all that, and the Federal Constitution guarantees an individual R2KBA, mayors of cities, towns, and hamlets have — really — nothing to say in the matter unless and until weapons are used to harm citizens — in the commission of a crime. Otherwise, their actions amount to a civil rights violation, in prior restraint, and — as such — should net them jail time and ejection from office, not necessarily in that order.
HAS BACKED OFF its support for the execrable SOPA/Protect IP bills wending their ways through the House and Senate respectively. (Announcement here.) My domains are registered with GoDaddy and the cost and time-sink of having to transfer them to another registrar (after first having had to FIND another registrar that is both A) cheap and 2) anti-SOPA) is daunting. I’m glad to not have to face that.
It’s a testament to the small-d democratic nature of the ‘Net that such a movement can form, coalesce, and have its effect so quickly. Not sure if it’s a shame or a blessing that Congress can’t be moved so easily.
BTW, Reddit’s chest-thumping is understandable, but not really on-point. Any large participatory site (e.g., SlashDot) could have had a similar effect. This one accrues to Reddit’s good name on the ledger, but they shouldn’t get up themselves too much. The whole power of the Net rests in its distributed and atomized nature. It’s everybody, each acting individually in his own informed self-interest that makes the ‘Net both so powerful and so unwieldy — thus an unhandy tool for tyrants: something to be kept in mind.
Consider the above, then ask yourself this: “Why?”
Why do we want to reduce energy consumption? There surely is no shortage. “Eat all you want; we’ll make more.” Betting now that what we do today will run us out tomorrow is like betting on whale oil in 1840. We will have energy available to us until the heat death of the sun. If we don’t, we deserve to die.
What’s with air pollution? Any stats on petroleum consumption 1970 to today? Is our air cleaner over that period? Is it proven necessary to reduce the use of something in order to lessen its impact on the world? No. May we therefore taken it as a given that any proposals which seek to starve our economy for the sake of reduction of air pollution are, ab initio, made in bad faith, and suspicions of ulterior motives stipulated as probable?
And, finally, since global warming — or, more correctly, catastrophic anthropogenic global warming — has been most thoroughly falsisfied and debunked, may we again take it as given that any public policy proposals which use “global warming” as their casus belli do so in bad faith? And may, therefor, be dismissed out of hand?
YESTERDAY I WANTED TO get some work done on It’s Dolly’s Birthday. And I did, only not the kind I meant. Once I resigned myself to the loss of the day, I decided to format and upload the current official version of the Apocrypha story. It is now up and complete at the Apocrypha site. It’s Dolly’s Birthday.
This is — except for a brief round of name and other changes to protect the innocent — the original draft of the story, written serial fashion as posts to a Xena: Warrior Princess fan mailing list called The Center for Xena Studies. (Which is still active all these years later.) As I have edited the apologia on the Apocrypha pages to read, I am now thinking of these as merely the first drafts of the stories, rather than their being complete trunk stories, never to go any further.
But enough of the cat waxing (no matter how much the cats disagree), EARNIE GET OFF THE DAMNED KEYBOARD! (THAT’S RIGHT, GO HUMP KARMA). Friday I promise I will settle down and get some serious writing done.
PEOPLE ARE FOREVER proposing constitutional amendments for stuff that really doesn’t belong in the Constitution. That happens a lot here in Ohio, because we have an initiative process that makes it easier for the people to amend the state Constitution than to get a regular statute passed. And then there’s that stupid Defense of Marriage Amendment. Ain’t gonna happen. Doesn’t matter wrong or right, it’s just not, and it’s none of the government’s frigging business one way or another anyway. So just. Stop.
But here lately, there’s been an awful lot of oath-breakin’ goin’ on out dair </senfoghornleghorn>. Take SOPA or the Protect IP act. As Mythbuster Adam Savage avers, avows, and asserts in Popular Mechanics, these bills aren’t just unconstitutional, they are anticonstitutional.
And I’m thinking that, if there ever were a crying need for a constitutional amendment, this would be it: legislators who even propose, let alone pass bills that are unconstitutional ::coughmccainfeingold::cough:: and executives who sign them should face charges of treason. After all, such behavior is — Deliberate or stupid, it doesn’t matter, ignorance of the law is no excuse, right? — tantamount to making war on the Constitution and thus on the People of the United States. Not cricket.
And they’ve been getting away with it for far too long because, at the end of the day, they’ve been allowed to forget who their bosses are.
IN YEARS PAST I have serialized right here on BabyTrollBlog the entire Apocrypha story, A Very Dolly XMas, a light bit of fluff which, despite that, may be closest of the Apocrypha stories to the spirit in which they all were written, now 12 years ago.
These days, that may appear a bit overwrought.
However, the story is up at the Apocrypha site. And, as I also do every year at this time, I will reiterate my intent to get all 14 of the Apocrypha stories up there, as well as available for download in eBook format. As the old Zionist saying used to go, “Next Year in Jerusalem.” Maybe 2012 will be the year when the whole Apocrypha will, once again, be hosted online on its very own, purpose-built web site.
Meantime, you can go and read this particular story of which I speaketh, right now. Ladies and germs, I give you: A Very Dolly XMas.
AT LUNCH TODAY the membership count was up to 155. At midnight, it was at 120. A lot of “Pending” members looked like they were gone — as though those folk had signed up and then not responded to the confirmation email.
My purpose for this was two-fold. First, I wanted to expand the regular readership AND commentership of the blog. Of course, it would make a lot more sense for me to provide more content, more reliably, and of a higher quality as a means of boosting readership. And that’s always my intent, but the spirit may be willing, though the flesh be weak. As I write this, I’m nodding and desperately need to get off to bed. The kittens are chaffering around the office. Earnie is jumping up on my lap, demanding cuddles and attention. I had a post earlier and might yet recover it. (It’s on a topic about which I obsess somewhat, so is unlikely something I’ll forget.) It’s just that I’m too tired right now, when I’ve got a minute to blog.
But the second was to try to attract individuals who might be interested in reading a Dolly story — maybe even people who haven’t read one before. In that, it seems, I have succeeded. Now all I have to do is finish the story. With hope and a little bit of luck, I should have the draft finished before the New Year and off to my alpha(s). And to the betas shortly thereafter. Maybe New Year’s weekend, I’ll have a chance to sit down and draw up a cover. I have ideas, but none of them have gelled, yet.
So this is by way of thanking everyone who signed up. Please be patient. This will happen. Just your being there, lurking, waiting, is a powerful motivator to me to finish. Thank you.
I like the way all these prominent class warriors neatly elide the fact that they are “them”. You know, in the “us vs them” equation that Ol’ Rev. Al uses in the Lean Forward (only 95% fat) commercials, Al is firmly amongst the “them”, and would be one of the leaders in the Great Tumbril Parade.
ON PRICES They have an app or something that let’s you scan a bar code with your smart phone and get an instant price check — from Amazon — and while you’re in a different store.
And, of course, the people whose stores are being thus used are going batshit. Accusing Amazon of all manner of bastardy, the executive’s parents of bestiality, and the like.
Which is, of course, entirely to be expected. Nobody likes change. Nobody likes to be forced to work harder for their daily bread. Businessmen, for the most part, hate competition. Capitalists hate capitalism. They would far prefer some sort of crony-ist command economy where senior players get preferential treatment, or that a business, once established, should be protected from newcomers or other types of competitors in “their” market segment. I know. I work for a company that was once king of the world and has had to accept competitors into a niche that it formerly not only owned, but actually invented. Hard cheese, indeed.
Of course, instead of whingeing about how hard life is, we’ve pulled up our big boy pants and gone to work to improve our product line, our offerings to our customers in the realm of service, and to improve our performance in all areas. In short, we’ve competed right back at the bastards.
So, in the case of those stores whose premises have been used as an Amazon price check shelf, what’s their problem? Competing with Amazon on price cuts their margins? You’ll notice that, in my list of things my company has done to compete, nowhere is price mentioned. Competing with a lowballer on price is a chump’s game. You have to differentiate yourself in other ways. And you have to be prepared to deal with potential customers who ONLY shop on price. And be prepared to send them away unsatisfied when your offerings won’t do.
But, first and foremost, you have to remember that the market exists for the benefit of the buyer. If the buyer cannot benefit from your offerings, then it is you who’s drawn the short straw, and it’s you who will go out of business.
THEY SAY THAT LUCK comes at that cusp where preparation meets opportunity. I heard on the Fox Radio News Thursday morning that, whereas Amazon in past years sold eBooks for $9.99, some bestsellers [Read: from trad-pubbers. --Ed.] are going to over $18, and therefore, newly-minted owners are in for some sticker shock.
Which just shows to go ya: don’t believe all you read in the papers — or, as in this case, what you hear on the radd-yo.
And, indpendent authors who have their ebooks ready to go can wow ‘em with prices in about approximately half the “old” price and a quarter of the “new” one.
Ladies A-a-a-ND gennlemeennnn: START your keyboards!
ALWAYS THOUGHT THIS SONG was — or could be — about Newt Gingrich. At the time it first came out, Elton had recently moved to the Atlanta area.
Tonight it’s hot down here
I can almost smell the rain
And I can almost taste the fear
Behind your name
Fans turning on the ceiling
I feel sticky as a chili dog
White boys howling in the evening
On that hollow log
Tall tales down the river
Say we aim to bury the truth
But the right hand just delivered
The devil in a suit
And he talks big in Whitewash County
Talks sweet as sugar cane
Got a past that’s filled with lightning
Got a future filled with rain
Bug buzzing in an empty glass
Fiddle scratching some lazy tune
We’re just some place that history passed
New dust, new broom
And it’s a high hot buttered moon
He’s got a shiny new wax face
Swears the South’s gonna rise again soon
All over the place
Rain down on Whitewash County
Smell the air coming up the line
Well you’ve changed your face so often But you never change your mind
–lyrics: Bernie Taupin
And, of course, I had to check and make sure the embed played right. So I’m sitting in the halflight of the study at a quarter past midnight, rocking out under the headphones along with Davey Johnstone and Dee Murray and the rest of the EJ Band, and Karma’s sitting in front of me on the cat tree looking at me like I’d just grown a third head. Heh. Cats will never understand us. We’re too complicated.
BARBARA BOXER is stupid. I also know that, by her words and deeds, she is a despicable — yes — even an evil person.
So we don’t need to ask, “Is she stupid or evil?” The answer is, “Yes!” The real question is why people who think even mentioning Newt Gingrich or Glenn Beck will give them stupid cooties think the sun shines out of this harridan’s ass.
AN OXYMORON. Government may be a necessary evil (though most of what people call necessity, I see as luxury at best), but it is evil.
Make no mistake about it. So when someone tries to sell you — scorn quotes — “good government”, run away.
Local Patriotic Hero of Liberty, Brian Thomas, had Catherine Crier on his Morning Show (550 AM, 5-9AM M-F) on Tuesday. Those whose memory extends back twenty or so years will recall Crier was put forth by the Northeast Liberal Media Establishment as a conservative-to-moderate former judge. One presumes she was supposed to draw We In the Right to the Approved Media Outlets, but matters didn’t shake out that way and the numbers continued to decline.
And then came Fox.
Crier might also perhaps be remembered as the embodiment of everything that’s wrong with the moderate, center-left establishment. Which might actually speak more to her failure to have an impact on the national conversation than anything about venues.
But that’s all water under the dam. That train has sailed and the ship has left the station.
Tuesday, Crier was out on a virtual book tour (which we indie authors understand does little to nothing for sales of — you know — actual books), an exercise in futility in which the author phones a radio station and attempts to wow the host and his listeners.
One topic of discussion was Health Care (Capital “H”, capital “C”.) You know when they do the capital initials, they’re not talking about real health care — better cast as medical care — but the so-called “insurance” racket, wherein the tax code has been jiggered to favor the “insurance” lobby. And Crier kept squeezing the old wheeze that, if you don’t have insurance, you’ll end up as a ward of the state.
The only reason that is even close to likely to happen is that medical providers are required — required — to provide medical services free of charge by the government. And so, those costs are spread to the rest of us, who do pay. (And, it should be noted, that doctors cannot — to the best of my knowledge — write off charitable care donations.) But there’s no reason matters should stand thus, and plenty of reasons they shouldn’t.
(And, one should by all means wonder, why should the government make that requirement — thus privileging, as we note below, medical trade above all manner of other private commercial transactions? It couldn’t, we ask, be driven by the corrupt influence of an invidious political ideology which uses “health care insurance” as a stalking horse for a darker agenda — one which eventuates in the enslavement of the populace, yoking it to the government wheel?)
Of course, the statists — betraying an abysmal lack of imagination or a perfidious nature, one — will cavil, “Well, then what happens to people who — through no fault of their own — cannot pay? Do we just leave them to die?”
Well, no. They become charity cases. And those private organizations voluntarily consituted for these purposes will ensure their care at a level according to those organizations’ resources.
But, before we even get there, let’s deal with that core question. What’s wrong with requiring that someone pay for his own care — or die? It’s a hell of an incentive, isn’t it? And, as a matter of fact, isn’t that exactly the incentive that all of us face in all of our life’s choices? Make arrangements for your clothing and shelter or you will die. Make arrangements for food and drink or you will die. Make arrangements for your transportation, or you will not be able to get to your place of employment, you will lose your job, not be able to make arrangements for your food, clothing, and shelter … and you will die.
Why should medicine be privileged above all those other areas of commerce? That it is a matter of life and death? Is not food also a matter of life and death? After all, I can go a long time ignoring a medical condition, but if I do not eat today, I will be hungry tomorrow.
Add all that to the fact — fact, people — that the biggest reason medical costs are so high is that the government is meddling in the market, starting in WWII, with the (progressive-socialist) notion of including health — scorn quotes “insurance” in a worker’s compensation package because the government, in a despicable, progressive-socialist move, has frozen wages.
Crier and her ilk argue that we need government regulation in these cases. Some will even go so far as to claim (falsely) that this is because “the market has failed.”
The market was broken when the government, gratuitously intermeddling where it has no business, perverted the price-signalling mechanism of that market. “Regulation” of a thing that is self-regulating is a fool’s game, and it’s time we stopped countenancing it. At all. Not even in the name of comity and civility. People who urge it do not have your best interests at heart. Whether they admit it or not — even to themselves — they are of ill intent. They might as well have as their goal the destruction of America, because that’s the end result of their programs.
All of this is encapsulated in the notion that there can be such a thing as “good government.” There is not. And, if you don’t have the time to marshall the entire argument, when someone tries to sell you “good government,” remember — “‘Good Government’ is an oxymoron.”
It’s a terrible bill. Simply by introducing it, the sponsors — including Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) have violated their oaths of office. In a moral society, they would immediately resign and commit honorable suicide. Since this isn’t such, we must hound them and humiliate them as best we can. They’ll probably try to make that illegal next.
Problem is that such violations of the Constitution have become SOP in DC. And, maybe — just maybe — some lamp-post decorating might be in order. Leahy in particular would seem an excellent candidate.
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, sir, but it doesn’t matter what you accuse someone of — a terroristic act or jaywalking — a crime committed in America MUST be adjudicated under the Constitution, with rights protected and all due process. The military must not, may not, and shall not be used as a law-enforcement tool against the American people. It should follow as the night does the day that the police must not be militarized. (Yes, I realize that train has sailed, that ship has left the station. We recall it.)
You do not get to waive my rights, and I view your attempt to do so as treason and a breach of your oath of office.
I FOUND THIS, BUT this guy makes a VERY persuasive case for Mr. Newt. Not entirely sold, but less anti- than before. Still don’t get why Newt insists that medicine needs to be privileged above other realms of life in his desire to require that Americans demonstrate the ability to pay in advance for medical care but not for housing, groceries, or a schooling. Or why it’s any of the government’s business in the first place. Elsewhere, Newt has said that his primary objection to immediate full stop to all unconstitutional actions of the federal government is not a matter of principle, but one of pragmatism — the Left’s resistance to such a maneuver would likely stop it in its tracks, no matter how outsized a majority of Americans may support it, and the fight would fairly define the word internecine. I can understand that, no matter how little I like it. But this series of video clips is heartening.
SINCE THE LAST POST there has arisen a sort of detente between our double-wide terrorists (seen below as kittens in 2009) and Karma (right), seen a year ago. It’s hard to say why, but the most apparent sign and portent is that Karma Chameleon is more playful — a lighter presence in the house — and participates in the reindeer games of the three youngest kittens, Chester (“Chazter”), Earnie (“Oinie”), and Jane (“Jane Get Off the Counter!”). Of course, since I’m not as well off as Aston Kucher, I don’t have that new fast Nikon, so I can’t get pictures of them rambuncting at light speed around the house in low light. (Light speed in low light. A name for something, but what?)
Meanwhile, the afforementioned kitteh terrorists seem to have agreed to lighten up on Karma. Some. They — mostly Jazz — still stalk her and ambush her. Just not as much as before. Almost as if, having joined the kittens’ “gang,” she now shelters under their umbrella of protection and finds safety in numbers. Of course, Aqua outweighs Jane, like, 10:1… OK. 3:1, but still..
They are Siamese if you DON’T please. The triplets gambol on the study front windowsill. Nowadays, the three of them barely fit in this space. (Clockwise from UL: Jazz, Aqua, Sky.)
Earnie, meanwhile, is trying for the Bill Gates World Jumping Record. (Story about Gates who, when he was a kid, made a “thing” out of an ability to jump into or out of a big garbage can.) Earnie, for his part, leaps from the kitchen floor onto the counter with startling suddenness and skids to a sideways stop, as though to show he has more than enough stuff to float like a butterfly.
Maybe by this time next week, Karma will be catpiling with the Triplets. Wouldn’t THAT be nice?
Some may find Glenn’s words intemperate. Sorry to disagree but if more politicians took the possibility of hanging from a lamp-post seriously, and if over-much effort hadn’t been spent over the decades on shielding them from the consequences of their misbegotten abuses of office, perhaps the country would be in a happier condition today.
No. I’m afraid it is the restraint, rather than the intemperate reminder, which has gotten us into this mess. And, as always, more of the same will surely not get us out.
POLITICAL THEATER”, referring to the Gunwalker hearings in Congress. With the track record that claim has, I would say it’s political kabuki. Republicans raise substantive charges of corruption against Democrats. (cha-cha-cha) Democrats claim the charges are “old news | political theater | motivated by personal animus | a private matter”. (two-and-three-and) The stall works and the thing dies of its own inertia, or the Democrat gets away with a slap on the wrist, or a Democrat executive pardons the miscreant, but the bottom line is the crime goes unpunished. (five-six-seven-eight) And, years later, on a late night talk show, the miscreant admits, “Yeah. We did that. And we got away with it. Ha-ha-ha.”
The lesson? Being a Democrat is prima facie evidence of bad faith. Don’t trust Democrats without three independent, corroborating sources. And never — EVER — fall for their delaying tactics.
The main thrust of the piece(s) is to list and explicate the difficulties faced by would-be competitors to Amazon. And those are myriad.
What Amazon has done over the past 15 years or so has been to build a sort-of covered market within the wider, woolier “city” of Cyberspace. Under that roof, and within those walls, shoppers can trust that certain facts will obtain — ease, trust, selection, assurance of quality (or warranty), and serendipity. If you’ve ever shopped Amazon, you know what I mean. If you’ve never, you don’t know what you’re missing. My reaction all along has been my same reaction to laptop computers — this the way everything should be. Amazon is the way shopping should be, both online and off.
Yes, I have complained about their shelving policy. But, as I have become more familiar with the “layout” of the store, I find that less objectionable than before. I would still like to have the online equivalent of a twenty-foot shelf of mass market paperback spines, chock-a-block, fraught with promise and more than a little mystery and intrigue. But I’m becoming better adjusted to the somewhat less-dense (to my way of thinking) display of so-many face-out covers per page, and that it takes quite a bit longer to click through to the item page than it does to pull a book off a physical shelf and look it over.
But I also miss the smell of a bookstore. I deal.
What Amazon has done right — and the reason they succeeded and continue to succeed — is that they have always remembered that markets exist for the benefit of the buyer. Let me say that again:
Markets exist for the benefit of the buyer.
Businesses which forget that, and focus relentlessly on the bottom line without keeping that uppermost in their corporate minds, will eventually fail. And their failure will be ugly. But businesses which champion their product quality before all else, their customer service, their integrity, their SERVICE to the customer, those businesses will prosper, as inevitably as the day is long.
And, where PG and Shatzkin list ways in which businesses can succeed in competition with Amazon, THAT is the primary method. Make your customer king, and make that drive your business in all things, and you can win in competition with Amazon. Or, more accurately, in the same marketplace with Amazon. As thousands of chain franchisees can attest, the market is not a zero-sum game. Stores of competing chains sited near one another thrive, while others fail in splendid isolation. You don’t need to tear Amazon down in order to win competing with them.
What does this mean to a writer? As an independently-published author, you are a businessman. A manufacturer, a wholesaler, and a retailer all at once. If you remember that your readers are your customers, and treat them as the raison e’etre of your business, you will prosper. If you forget that and chase after the almighty dollar first and last, you will fail.
THE OFFER OF a free ebook for newly-registered members requires that one remain a member in good standing at publication time. If that wasn’t clear as implied in the original statement, I’m making it so now.
::darthvader:: I have altered the terms of the deal. Pray I do not alter it further. ::/darthvader::
Very funny, Dolly.
But to the point: I operate this blog for my purposes. For the most part, those purposes are benign and pretty relaxed.
But one thing should be clear, it is a part of a commercial enterprise. And the turning of the comments pages into advertisements or link fishing posts is contrary to my purposes and amounts to theft. I will not stand for it.
PEOPLE IN DENIAL — YES, “DENIERS” who refuse to accept that Obama is an enemy to the United States and means to destroy the country are no longer to be given the benefit of the doubt. They are not fools. They are not ignorant. They are not dupes or tools or useful idiots.
AN ITEM IN THE GUARDIAN UK (thus the title of this post) sounds a lot like panic-mongering and Left wing lies.
And I would counter that anyone who opposes positive voter identification is bent on electoral mischief and should by that very fact alone be given short shrift and no consideration as a serious speaker.
My first project took me so long partially because I was writing for an industry that was so erratically selectively as to be Byzantine in its criteria. There was no way I knew for sure that my book would be accepted by a publisher, ever, at the time. And that mattered.
JOE KONRATH POSTS a guest article from Elle Lothlorien. (Great pen name, that.) In it, the author affirms something I’ve thought all along — a price is a signal with a great deal of metadata attached. One datum in that package is the perception of the value the author and/or publisher places on the work.
Keep in mind that by December I was charging $5.99 per book and keeping $4.19 per book. In January my royalties on Amazon alone were close to $3,500. Now, these aren’t New York Times best-seller numbers, but they’re comfortable, mid-list bestseller numbers.
Here’s what else they are: Day Job Quitting Numbers. I made $3,200 a month after taxes as a clinical research administrator. By January, my book royalties from Amazon began to approach the net monthly salary from my Day Job (but keep in mind that you have to pay royalty taxes on book royalties). And those totals do not include sales on Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, or any of the other digital reader platforms, nor do they include paperback sales through CreateSpace.
Here’s what I suspect was happening: At $5.99 you just bought the literary equivalent of a cup of Starbuck’s coffee. Your customer wants to like it. After all, they’ve read the reviews and it looks like everyone else liked it, right? If they get through the first few chapters and begin to suspect that the book just isn’t for them, they’re very likely to return it for a refund. Hey, six dollars is six dollars. And if they do like it, they want to jump on the review bandwagon and let everyone else know just how much they liked it.
At $0.99, the reader isn’t as heavily “invested” in your novel. If they didn’t like it, they may not bother to return it to get their dollar back. Instead they’ll find their way to your review page and let you have it by way of a negative review.
For authors with one book, it’s worth considering creating “imputed value” first with higher pricing. With a decent novel, this will “prime the pump” with positive reviews from readers who are invested and who want to like your book. This in turn will lead to more sales.
Note that going this route is going to require a professional cover and hopefully, a top-notch, expertly proofed book underneath. If you’re going to assert your quality through pricing, you have to be just as attractive as the known quality leaders in the market.
EL RUSHBO RANTED on his show Tuesday on the subject of Republican perfidy — how party “leaders” urge candidates and GOP surrogates to eschew attacking Obama which simultaneously dirtying up our own (leading conservative) candidates.
And, yet, Rush is the first one to argue that third parties are self-defeating.
One of the reasons the publishing business is such a fat target for disruptive change is because it does such a terrible job running its business. If the big publishers hadn’t consolidated into a quasi-cartel with a paid-for monopoly on prime shelf space in most bookstores, they would have been defeated by smarter competitors a long time ago.
OVER THE THREE-DAY weekend (No, you didn’t miss a holiday, I’m burning vacation days before the end of the year — use ‘em or lose ‘em (Can you tell I work for a private sector company?).), I got 5,000 new words troweled on to the current WIP (a re-working of the Apocrypha story, It’s Dolly’s Birthday. Good progress, if slighter than I’d hoped.
I need to work out some kind of a new-books budget. It’s been years since I had one and I’m going stir crazy, even with all manner of old books around, plus free Kindle content. Too much new stuff out by friends and favorites to ignore.
Karma’s been playing with the kittens today. Good to see. Prefer it to her slinking around, trying to avoid Jazz and Aqua. Maybe if she’s got more-apparent numbers around her, the triplets will be less likely to pounce on her.