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Cafe Press, the purveyors of
much merchandise via many websites, are making the logical jump into
POD publishing. Read about it in
this posting
. Interestingly enough, they are also doing POD style
“retail ready” CDs, complete with booklets and jewel cases. I think
this kind of stuff is positive. As I’ve written over and over, the
vast majority of music I’ve listened to in the last year or three is
not major label stuff. Much of it has been self-produced by the
musicians or a small musician run label.

There is consensus received wisdom that says that such material
published this way is, of course, crap. Yes, it’s true that
self-publishing produces howlers such as The Pleistocene
Redemption
and such. OK, let’s accept that as fact. Now, does
standard big publishing produce 100% high quality books? Of course
not. I see a lot of unreadable shite coming from the big companies
(some of it sells very well despite being unreadable by me). A lot of
people seem to be very upset by even the notion. There seems to a big
buy-in for the “big machine” style of media, at least for books and
music. In movies, people understand that the economics mean that the
major studios put out a lot of least-common-denominator stuff and the
independent films take a lot of the chances and not coincidentally
have some of the best work. Somehow, though, that seems to be unheard
of in other media.

One of the best books I’ve read in the last few years was Lois
Tilton’s Written in Venom. It came out from Wildside,
a small press. I don’t know the publishing history story behind it,
but it definitely is not from the safe, Robert Jordan/Terry Brooks
style generic medieval fantasy. It is the story of Norse mythology
told from the viewpoint of Loki and it is a fabulous read. It didn’t
sell well, partly because it is out of the mainstream and not safely
the “same old thing (TM)”. I recommend highly that anyone who is at
all a fan of Norse mythology read this book. You can get it at Fictionwise
if you are willing to read it electronically (that’s how I did.) This
is not a “big machine” book, but it is wonderful. If Wildside hadn’t
published it and Lois had published it herself, it would have been
equally wonderful but it would have had the stink of “self-published”
and thus been suspect. Some writers have the sig line something like
“Thanks to the internet everyone can be a slush reader.” I think that
implication is horseshit, that everything that runs through the big
machine is automatically better than everything that doesn’t. I can
tell you that the big machine hasn’t done much for me lately to get me
music I want to listen to, to fill the FM airwaves with things I want
to hear, or give me good books. I’m finding ever more stuff of
relevance to me outside the machine. The vast majority of the
bookshelves I see are filled with stuff I can’t read more than a
paragraph of. I don’t think the machine should go away, but neither
does that mean that being outside the machine is a mark of Cain. Good
is good, and it can come from anywhere. I’m glad their are
alternatives to the machine and I’m taking advantage of the wherever I
can.

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While out walking the dog just now, I saw one of my neighbors had a
“War is not the answer” yard sign. On it was a reference to http://www.fcnl.org, which I see is a
web page for the Friends Committe on National Legislation, ie, the
Quaker lobby. I never thought of myself as Quakerlike, but when I see
their positions I agree
with all of them.

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Here’s an article from HardwareExtreme.com about
the next
group of PalmOS devices
. I’m not an early adopter and am fine with my
current Handspring Prism until it gives out. While I kind of like the
form factor and all the goodies of the Sony Clie, there ain’t no way
I’m paying $700 for a handheld. I think it is smart and good to do the
flipcover with the screen inside the cover, which lets you have the
same small package but with double the working area. I’m more leaning
towards one of the handhelds that run Linux for my next one, which if
I’m lucky will be many years from now.

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I just had a sneezing fit that lasted 5 minutes, I swear. A few days ago
I was marvelling that I had remained so healthy all winter and
wondered if the flu shot had anything to do with that. Today, I feel
snotty and sneezy. Guess that answers my question.

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The news about this club fire in Rhode Island is really
depressing. That 90+ people died, a number of them from trampling, is
bad enough. That they died because they really wanted to see Great
White is just so surreal as to not seem as if it really
happened. That’s like people dying at a Vanilla Ice show. This kind of
makes a point (in the most horrible possible way) what I’ve been
saying about our current obsession with terrorism – you can’t be safe
all the time. All the efforts in the world cannot save you from
stupidity or bad luck or freaky weather or bad genetics or any of the
other things that can end your life prematurely. Even if I could be 100% sure I was
safe from terrorists, that doesn’t protect me from club fires or
asshole Atlantan drivers running me down in the crosswalk. Yes,
terrorism is a real risk and needs to be treated as such, but do we
really need to fundamentally alter our lives? Isn’t that, like, the
aim of terrorists – to make others alter their lives and think of them
all the time?