Saturday, February 13, 2010

Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman

Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman are nuts, but in very different ways. I have much respect for him for hooking up with a girl who seems to be like Courtney Love, except respected and prettier. And for her for hooking up with somebody who many rockers would surely see as very "establishment". But she was probably a fan of his writing.

Here's an article where they are being interviewed in a bubble bath and talking about her death-photo hobby.

And here's an article which includes Amanda giving an interesting speech about record labels. She mentions how, when her band Dresden Dolls signed up with a big label, there would be people in meetings who would talk about how maybe there was something about this Internet thing... and this was in 2003!

Gaiman says. “It’s the ultimate coffee table book for people who don’t have coffee table books. Or coffee tables.”

[the comic book] “Sandman,” Gaiman says, is sexually transmitted. “Guys who wanted their girlfriends to read comics would give them ‘Sandman.’ They’d break up, and the girl would take the ‘Sandman’s and infect the next guy. It grew on a vector.” According to Berger, it was the first modern comic to attract a large female readership. “Young women dressed in black and black eyeliner would walk into the comic store and pick up ‘Sandman’ and just walk out,” she said. “You look around a room where Neil is, and half of the fans are women, if not more.”

There are so many weird tidbits in the New Yorker article. (His odd gothic house... it must be exhausting.)
A few years ago, he was at a convention with Angelina Jolie, who played Grendel’s mother in the movie “Beowulf,” for which Gaiman co-wrote the screenplay. “When I try to explain that I attracted more attention than she did, people say, ‘Oh, ho, he’s being funny.’ I’m not.” [...]
Gaiman was scheduled to attend a “sushi party” one evening in the teen lounge, a duplex suite on a high floor of the convention hotel. On the door was a sign that read “Under 30, Over 12.” He climbed the stairs to a loft, where a dozen young people sat around a table beside a buffet of eel-and-avocado rolls and a thermos of miso soup. They cheered when they saw him.
“Do you lot have names?” he said brightly.
“Nooooooo!” they called, in unison.
“How many coats like that do you have?” a small girl with blue and green streaks in her hair asked.
“I’m pretty much always wearing something black or coaty or jackety,” Gaiman said. She beamed.

[...] The readings were videotaped, and Gaiman posted them to his blog. Every time the book dipped on the best-seller list, he tweeted a reminder to his followers that they could hear him read “The Graveyard Book” for free online, and, he says, sales of the print edition spiked.

Mo' money tawk

My personal money article has been updated.

A few years ago, TTL pointed me to Harry Browne, mentioned in that article. And today he mentioned Jim Rogers. I've only taken a quick look, but it looks interesting.


[Thanks Carter]
I'm not sure I get exactly what the joke is here. Is that she is too-obviously a hooker, or is it more subtle? (If the former, I'd say that's prejudiced. I have friends who dress like that who are not hookers.)
Anyway, it reminds me of an old idea I've had on and off: to make cartoons, perhaps one-panel, for the web. This drawing is quite artful, which makes me interested. If I could combine art with funny, and perhaps sexy, then we might have something which could work.

Work-a-day world

[Thanks Jim]
A young family moved into a house, next to a vacant lot. One day, a construction crew turned up to start building a house on the empty lot. The young family's 4-year-old daughter naturally took an interest in all the activity going on next door and spent much of each day observing the workers.

Eventually the construction crew, all of them "gems-in-the-rough," more or less, adopted her as a kind of project mascot. They chatted with her, let her sit with them while they had coffee and lunch breaks, and gave her little jobs to do here and there to make her feel important.

At the end of the first week, they even presented her with a pay envelope containing ten dollars. The little girl took this home to her mother who suggested that she take her ten dollars "pay" she'd received to the bank the next day to start a savings account.
When the girl and her mom got to the bank, the teller was equally impressed and asked the little girl how she had come by her very own pay check at such a young age. The little girl proudly replied, "I worked last week with real builders building the new house next door to us."

"Oh my goodness gracious," said the teller, "and will you be working on the house again this week, too?"

The little girl replied, "I will, if those assholes at Home Depot ever deliver the sheet rock."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Complete New Yorker (DVD)

Complete New Yorker (DVD).
(Also from Amazon (even cheaper).)

Being European, I'm not really familiar with The New Yorker. It seems to have a very vague definition, it's not clear what it's about. But it may be good.

In any case, it's an interesting comment on pricing: I've seen 80-page ebooks sold for $49. And here you can get fifty years of publishing, 4,000 issues, on eight DVDs, for twenty dollars!! Holy crap. A whole summer's reading (at least) for twenny bucks, dang.
(If it were me, I'd have priced this at $49, but that's another matter.)

(It's even Mac compatible. You can't say that about the Doonesbury DVD which came with a collection years ago. I wrote about it to Trudeau, and he said he's lost the battle about that with the publisher, despite him having eight Macs in the house and being the author.)

I imagine it's only pure scans of the pages, as graphic files (JPG for example), not converted to actual text PDFs, because that's a very big job. And so I hope the resolution of the images is high enough for them to be easily readable.
(You can get the collection on a hard drive too, a good idea, although it's much more expensive at $179.)

Oh, has anybody tried this? Do you know if it will work if you copy it to disk (it may not, due to copyright protection)? My MacBook Air would be the logical way to read this, but it does not have an internal DVD drive.

Update: typically, it seems copyright fears once again cripple a good product. An Amazon reader writes: "I've been a New Yorker fan for a while (I usually read my parents' old copies when they're done) so I thought it would be interesting to own the set for myself. I understand that the Complete New Yorker is available on an external hard drive, and this might be a good option, but I purchased the 8 DVD package, and found it to be pretty hopeless in its design and execution. For starters, the DVDs do not use a standard reader (like Adobe, say) and come with one of their own. The installation process is unwieldy and ridiculous, and the reader itself is riddled with bugs (I haven't yet been able to access any of the content). In addition to this, under the terms and conditions, the user must agree to a spyware-like program, giving permission for web browsing information to be logged, and personal information sold on to third parties. The Complete New Yorker is a good idea, for sure, but this set is pathetic."

I can believe it. Every time I have acquired something with a proprietary reader/viewer app, it has always stunk on ice. It's very difficult, it seems, to make good software like that.
While it has positive reviews for the content, many complain about the software:
"Others have complained about the search feature, which honestly I might have done without for my purposes. But that I am unable even to read the magazine in a lot of cases because of inept software development is a huge disappointment.
And let's not forget that the program uses spyware to collect personal information and share it with third parties.
Wow. What a terrible product. I implore you not to buy."

What a pity!
Anyway, I'm now finding evidence that the original price was much higher. Perhaps the twenty dollars is a special dumping price because it got all those bad reviews? Or even that they are preparing a new and hopefully better edition? (I'm sure it's too much to ask for that it will be simple PDF pages or such. Oh, the fears about copyright.)

John McPhee

Here's an interesting addition to the discussion about what is art.

There are some insightful comments under it, as is common on tOP, for example Janne's and Ctein's, both of which point to the change of the perciever's way of looking, and its influence on the experience of aesthetics.

And also Damon who says:
"I do take issue, though, with equating "art" and "successful art." It really does seem needlessly elitist to me to put down unsuccessful art as being something other than what it was intended as. But what is it then? If Van Gogh's early work isn't art, what is it? Craft? Likely not accomplished enough to qualify as craft. No, sorry, it's art. You may not like it; it may not work for you as art. It may work better as a wrapper of fish and liner of birdcages, but it's still art."

And David says:
"Lots of people hate cubism in general. Does this make all cubist art suddenly 'not art'?"

Just so. The problem is that there should be a pretty objective definition to aid communication about art, and the quality of experience is totally subjective. How many people have to agree that it's art for it to be art? How do we decide who is right? Is it a matter of education? Or innate sensibility?

Testing, testing...

[Thanks Charles]

Karen Bjornson unretouched (updated)

[Thanks tOP]
Karen Bjornson, Portrait by (c)Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
article, pictures.
I think these photos and women are gorgeous. And it's great to get some high-profile exhibition, fashion-related, which shies away from the super-hyper-anti-reality mind-set of the glossy magazine world.

(Man, what a woman!)

I should be clear: what I personally object to about over-photoshopping is not the "message it sends to women", it is a bit broader: the disconnection from reality. The implied lack of ability to see beauty not just in women, but in anything, unless it has been retouched to within an inch of its digital life, every little tiny perceived flaw removed.

TTL said:
I agree, Karen Bjornson looks so charismatic and beautiful here.

Thank you for this. I have tattooed the URL of your blog on my arm, under the anchor.


In fact, Karen Bjornson ('Björnson'? I wonder) reminds me of a woman of about the same age and beauty, I met in the neighborhood once, asking me for directions. Afterwards I kicked myself for having been too stunned to think of giving her a compliment.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

True Stories, a film

True Stories, a film by David Byrne.
Just a quick mention, wonderful, quirky movie, very funny too. Oh, and some great music, performed by others than Talking Heads, but sometimes better. For example Dream Operator which I couldn't find anywhere in this version, so I recorded it from the DVD. Of course you have to see it in the film to get the ironic juxtapositions and the wild fashion show going on while she sings, but anyway I love her voice.

... Damn, I can't believe somebody put it on youboob three years ago! Is it really over three years ago I did this?

BTW, normally the whitebread "Nancy Reagan" conservative housewife with the big hair doesn't do it for me, but this one is hot!

Oh, and here is the Talking Heads version:

Why Is It (Not) Art?

Why Is It (Not) Art?, article.
Ctein touches on a subject with which I've conflicted with many readers before: what makes something art or not.
If you recall, I claim that if something is clearly and sincerely intended as art, it is art by definition, and saying that it is not art is a value judgment and not a category judgment. It might be great art or lousy art of insignificant art, but my viewpoint is that categories are important in thinking and communicating about things, and using categories-redefinitions as invalidation is confusing and unnecessary.

I think the argument hinges on the widespread perception/belief that calling something Art is implying that it's valuable, and this is what people might want to knock down in specific cases. I say that calling it art does not imply that it's good or bad, just what it is, as opposed to, say, food or a house or a car or a cloud or an insect.

It's similar to the pornography discussion recently. I think it would clarify communication if people would stick to the category definition (text or pictures intended as sexual stimulant) rather than the value definition (worthless smut).

I'll admit though that the whole discussion is confused (as Ctein touches on) by the actual definition of "art" being very much up in the air. Many people feel that it perforce has to involve some display of skill, while others, like Marcel Duchamp, feel that just declaring a urinal to be art makes it art, that it's the intention which counts.

On tOP, John Camp wrote:
"Duchamp's 'Fountain' and some of his other 'readymades' were jokes. In fact, Duchamp's most salient personal characteristic, present throughout his career, was his sense of humor. He had nothing but disdain for people who took some of his pronouncements seriously. He was, at times, an artist, but most often used his art to ridicule the foolishness of his day. Arrant nonsense was just as prevalent then as it is now.

Well, that makes sense. A lot of sense. However I still feel we should not out-of-hand dismiss the Intention theory of art. There are lots of grey areas. For example, take an old wall with patches of different kinds of bricks, remnants of old posters, etc. Most people will just walk past it. But a perceptive person can walk past and get an aesthetic experience from it. If he's a snapshooter, he may transfer that experience to another person, but it's unlikely. But if he's an artist, he could do it, and it's art. Even if it's seemingly just a straight record of the wall.
Or he could tear the wall down and re-erect it in a gallery. Is that art? Would it be art if he had built a new wall in the gallery, but it looked exactly like the old wall?

Interface flaw

Amazon UK has changed their home page to a slightly different popup menu displaying departments. It's different visually, I'm not sure how it's different technically, maybe it's flash instead of HTML. But what it means for me in practice is that instead of reaching the Search field in two hits of the tab key, I now have to slog through the whole menu, or reach for my mouse. As the kids say these days: FAIL! (The olders say "it's broken".)



Ebook price war

The ebook pricing wars are heating up.

Scary alterations

When multi-millionaire stars can't pay enough to look good after surgery, maybe the rest of us should be satisfied with what we have?
(Gawd, Rourke is scary. And this is the guy who have always hung out with biker criminals because Hollywood people are so fake??)


Rock blog

Our reader María Magnética post mostly about rock, it seems. Kewl.
A recent post contrasts (with youtube help) various versions of Bohemian Rhapsody, including the classic one by the Muppet Chickens. Good taste.

Nekkid gal puzzle

What do you think of a Domai girl puzzle?

The Power of Make-Up

The Power of Make-Up, picture post. Don't go there if you don't want your illusions broken! I could hardly even believe the Before Picture was a girl.

Man Gives Away £3 Million

Money Can't Buy Happiness, So Man Gives Away Every Penny of His £3 Million Fortune, article.
The man says:
"Money is counterproductive – it prevents happiness to come."

If that is so, isn't it a nasty thing to do to others to give them money?

It's a complex thing. The best answer I've found so far is that if your inner hurt makes you addicted to material things, you will be unhappy whether you have them or not. And if you have healed that inner hurt, you will be happy, whether you have things or not.
Giving away your money handles a symptom, not the cause. It might help you deal with the cause, but you can deal with the cause without dealing with symptoms.

Laurel and Hardy Way out West Dance

A great moment in film history.

Women and their own beauty, and looking

This letter just came in, it's mainly a Domai issue, but has broader application, so I'll post it here also, I feel it's quite important.

Daniel wrote:

It's encouraging to know that there are some women out there who understand their gift of beauty. Her flip side of the Domai pledge is as priceless as her beauty, for what good is beauty hidden away?

Every woman I've been lucky enough to be naked with so far has had a hard time believing that I find her beautiful. My current lover tried to hide her tummy because she (barely) has some surgery scars. The one before that couldn't believe I could be attracted to her at all because she's curvy, not skinny. The one before that knows that she has an awesome body, but can't understand why men look at her. She would tell me, "That guy just looked me up and down! Why do men DO that?"

Each one would notice me looking at them and say, "What?" as if she thought that I'd noticed some flaw or blemish. I'd say, "I just like looking at you." Then I'd point out her best features while she'd give me skeptical looks.
With patience and time, a wonderful thing happened. Each woman finally accepted my insistence that she was beautiful. Each one eventually relaxed and even posed for me.

Some of my most cherished memories are of seeing these women blossom before my eyes. It's more than just being comfortable in their own skin, it's a kind of confidence that they are acceptable, valuable, desirable; that it's normal for a man to enjoy looking at them. The more they believed in their own beauty, the more beautiful they became, for my benefit and others, but mostly for their own.

It taught me the importance of acknowledging a woman's beauty for her sake.

Today, in a hardware store, I noticed a stunning brunette walking towards me. She noticed me and closed her coat, looked away, and kind of turned away as she walked past. I was shocked at the volume of her body language, "Don't look at me!" As I recovered from this non-verbal slam, another pretty brunette turned down the aisle. She saw me looking and smiled. She walked a little more upright, put some spring in her step, and caught my eye. I returned her smile and looked her up and down. Returning my gaze to her eyes, her unmistakable unspoken look said, "You're welcome."

Both these women wore wedding rings. I could only wonder what made the difference. I think at some point some man convinced the second one of the value of her beauty. The first obviously didn't have that experience, even from her husband. I felt a little sad for her.

Not only do men need to look, women need to believe they are lookable.



Back to Eolake:
I'm curious about the "That guy just looked me up and down! Why do men DO that?" part. This is not unusual. Doesn't she enjoy looking at a nice hunk herself? And if she does, does she hide it, and why?
I guess the belief is that somehow you're hurting a person by looking at them?

The Innocence Mission - Bright As Yellow

[Thanks to Julie and Laurie]
Talking about yellow...

It's a bold choice to make that music video, and do it without a drop of yellow in it. I doubt I could manage to do that.

I hadn't heard of this band before, but it's looking like this one is Their Good Song.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sheramy Bundrick

I found this author by accident in an image search, I think she's gorgeous. But then I got interested in her novel Sunflowers about van Gogh. I'll try it out. (Author interview.)

It interests me that I'm actually willing to pay four dollars more for the Kindle edition, just for the speed and convenience. Despite the fact that I think it's just wrong to charge more for a product with far less overhead expenses.

I was impressed with the delivery speed of the Kindle sample. I woke up my iPod Touch, started the Kindle app, went to the home page, and it was already there!

Making an iPhone app

Can anybody tell me how to learn how to make and publish an iPhone app? I an not a programmer and I don't want to become one, but it just needs to be a very simple app, based on a short e-book. It consists of super-short (half-page) inspirational-type chapters. It could just be an ebook and it will be that, but I think I can get a bigger market for it by adding a little bit of sizzle and interactivity and publishing it as an iPhone app also.

New: Canon T2i (updated)

New: Canon T2i. Amazon link.
If you like megapixels, this is the ticket. Eighteen MP in an "entry-level" camera!
Even if one thinks this is overdoing it, as I tend to, I have learned that mucho megapixels, while not always the great advantage some think they are (very demanding of lenses for example), are not really a downside at least, and can be useful. In any case this is a hot camera for eight hundred bucks, that's for dang sure.

Update: it has full HD, and more importantly, takes an external microphone!

Weird pics

[Thanks Anna]

It seems Hannah Montana is keen to shake her sexualized image!

They say this crab is real! I'm in doubt though. (Update: Mike points here.) I'm amazed to learn that there are crabs which live on land, breathe with lungs, and can climb trees!

Airports are conscientious.

Koooool cloud. (Dave points here.)

Pics are from here.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A super-macho camera

Tingling update

Apart from going back to my Rollermouse, I'm also now trying some software called StretchWare. As you can imagine, it's simple various stretch exercises with a timed reminder to do them. The interface is a little out of date, but that matters less, it feels good to do the stretches, and I'm looking forward to seeing the long term effects.

Duffy photographer

Another nice tOP pick: a long video docu about classic English 60's photographer Brian Duffy.
It's claimed that back then, the photographers were the stars, particularly three of them.
If it tempts you, Joanna Lumley is there, both in present version and a very young one in 1967.

This is too funny: in the second half they talk about the creation of the cover for Bowie's Aladdin Sane. The specific purpose for everything they did was that it should be as expensive as possible, to get the record company on their toes!

He is a bit of a dick though.

Ron Mueck – Hyper Realist Sculptor

[Thanks Joe]
Ron Mueck – Hyper Realist Sculptor, article.
Some of them I find unsettling, some of them I like.
They are surely skillfully done, and impactful.
Wiki article.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Too Much Sex Can Cause Wrist Pain

Too Much Sex Can Cause Wrist Pain, article.
"The missionary position puts a lot of pressure on the wrists of the individual on top. That can result in an over-straining and stretching and even tearing of tissue, which could contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome." Increases in the number of sufferers coincided with the launch of new drugs such as Viagra, according to the research.

I knew there had to be a reason I never got carpal, despite heavy computer use.

Thanks to Jan. He pointed to the article as a joke, but he reminded me that a couple of months ago, I changed away from the Rollermouse, and this may have been causing my neck/arm problems! Since I couldn't feel any strain when using a mouse, I could not imagine it could cause any damage. But maybe I better start imagining! I don't want to get into the crippled condition I was in two years ago, posts here, here, here, here. I first got the Rollermouse after that disaster.

Jimmy Hendrix, go take a nap

[Thanks Tommy]

Defining "pornography"

Alan Moore has called his work Lost Girls pornography.
Lost girls is clearly a work of art, but it also very sexually explicit.
Other people feel that "pornography" means something debased, dirty, bereft of any decent or artistic quality.

This makes discussion difficult. For example the young women who moved in last year close by, asked me suddenly: "do you have a porn site?" Some neighbors had "alerted" them...
Well, I showed them Domai, and they still think of it as porn. And they like it. (Several of their friends have actually enthusiastically offered to model for me!)

The problem comes from two incompatible definitions:

1: por·nog·ra·phy (pôr-nŏg'rə-fē) obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, esp. those having little or no artistic merit.
Origin: 1840–50; < Gk pornográph(os) writing about harlots

2: por·nog·ra·phy
n. Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.

See? The second one is merely a mechanical definition, clear and simple. The first one is full of judgment and evaluation.
The problem of course does not come from the dictionary, but from how people feel about it. Those people who hate porn gravitate to the first definition.

For some, Domai fits in the second definition. For me, as sexuality is only a sub-purpose, it fits in neither. And I'm sure there are many people on Earth for whom it fits in the first definition, merely by having nudity.

Now GoddessNudes, that took a bit of courage to put forth, because it clearly is pornography by the second definition. Sexuality is at the forefront. The main purpose is sexual arousal. I can live with that, because to me it clearly has artistic and cultural merit also. But when people call me a pornographer, it's no longer so easy to wave them off.

Reading on iPod (and computer bike)

I just tried out my Kindle-for-iPhone (and iPod Touch) application. And I find that my ingratious bitching about the low contrast of the Kindle screen was not all that off the mark. In short I find it easier to read on the iPod as on the Kindle, and this is despite the Kindle's screen being almost 2.5 times bigger. (It may be different in bright light, but when am I ever in bright light?)
Also, to be frank, after using it for a while, I'm a bit tired of the Kindle's sluggish speed and basic interface. It's just clumsy to use and navigate.
Update: to equally frank, I don't think I could use an iPhone/iPod-Touch for long, for reading, it's especially the navigation and any action that bugs me, the small screen just irritates me, like wearing too-small shoes. I sincerely don't get how so many people use it so much, if I had been the focus group, it would never have been launched! :-)

By the way, the Kindle application on the iPod has a nice feature: when you rotate the screen by rotating the iPod, there briefly appear a little padlock in the corner, and when you click it, the screen rotation locks. This is good, for instance if you're reading or viewing in bed and lying on your side. I don't see this feature in Safari on the iPod, but I hope it will come on the iPad.

(Does anybody know if it's possible to use an iPod Touch as a hard disk? The option is missing in iTunes.) (Please don't tell me the theory if you don't have a Touch. :-)
(Update: not important. I found out I could get ebooks onto the Touch if I installed the ebook reader Stanza.)

PS: if the text on the picture made you curious, read here about the computerized bicycle by my friend Stephen. Scroll down for a video.
Stephen typed on the handlebar while pedaling... in binary! 35 words a minute!

TTL said:
Well, he is not really typing in binary. What he is using is known as a chorded keyboard. It just happens that his is inbuilt into the handlebars. In fact, using eight finger chords it would be more correct to say that he is typing in octal.

Chorded keyboards are cool. Especially single handed ones, which don't require a table to rest on. I.e. you just hold it in your hand. It is very ergonomic as there is no strain on your wrist. You can keep your hand in any position you like. And once you learn it, you can type (chord) very fast.

I've toyed with the idea of switching entirely to a chorded keyboard, but to get the benefits of it, you need a portable computer to go with it.

Using a telegraph key is “typing” in binary.

Being at service (updated)

My friend Charles pointed to this article and commented:
"Sounds like a country ready for new businesses to provide service--at a premium rate. Though training local talent might be hard, Paris i full of Mideastern immigrants who don't share the culture of obnoxiousness....
Equality seems to be defined differently there... providing friendly service for money certainly doesn't make you inferior!"

Totally right. We might hear from people (Pascal?) who disagree about this viewpoint about the tone of service in Paris, I hope so. But nevertheless, there are people around the world who mistake pleasant service with being "under the boot", and I think it's odd. I was a receptionist for a few years back in the day, and I loved the job, and I loved being very polite and helpful to the staff and to the visitors. (Once at a company convention, I got a great round of applause when I stood up to give a little speech. I enjoyed it, so I said: "that was cool, I wanna try it again", sat down and stood up, and a second round at least as big.)

One of my friends is so much against any kind of hierarchy that she couldn't imagine working for anybody. But while I do love being my own boss these days because of the free schedule, I did not mind at all having one. I actually sometimes enjoyed calling him "boss", even though this is rarely done in Denmark, it being a very flat country both geographically and culturally. I did not find that being subservient in the workplace implied any kind of inequality between us as persons, it was just something we "played" for fun and because it makes the workplace function well, because I respected him, and because he paid me!

And he paid me well too, I rapidly got raises, simply because I was eager and able to do a good job. Those who strain with all their might to do as little as possible are missing a good trick for earning money!

Pascal said, amongst other things:
This is not an article, this is a poor stererotype-based pamphlet.
Otherwise, how come France remains the world's #1 travel destination for tourists?
Maybe if the Brits allowed the tourists to take photos without getting arrested, they'd feel less inclined to jealous editorials disguised as news articles?.

White Trash Cooking

This cover is too funny.
It's a real cookbook. One reader says: "I assumed it was written to mock rural whites, a people I know to be hardworking, self-reliant, and decent. I was wrong about this one. This book actually celebrates these people and their cuisine, and is one of the very best traditional American cookbooks in print."

Sunday, February 07, 2010

PanelFly iPad

PanelFly now has a page about their upcoming iPad version of their comic-reader app. Looks lovely.

Short-form art

Something that's a little scary to me: it seems that an artist who wants to earn money on his art may have to learn new media and communication forms to do so.
I never thought that comics and novels and paintings might go out of vogue. And probably they will never disappear totally, but it seems that what the new generations spend money on is not that, but... well, videos, video games, and ringtones!

I've been chastised about being always surprised at the march of times and technology, and there's something to that, I guess I have a less flexible mind that I thought.
But at least I'm willing to look at the new forms and maybe even to try to work in them. Many people just shut it out, for example comics creator Dave Sim, I don't think he even owns a computer.

Actually ten years ago Dave Sim wrote about how you could never view art on the web, because it was "postage-sized" pictures. I wrote to him then that it was just a matter of time and resolution (both kinds). And it was. I'd like him to see photos and paintings displayed on my fabulous 30-inch monitors, and then compare it to his tiny black/white comic book pages.
Of course it would not change his mind, because he was not giving the actual reason for his dislike of the new technology, nobody ever does, even if they think they do. Perhaps it's just fear, who knows, but he just can't approach it, is the bottom line.


Recently I've had a tingling/buzzing in my left arm, and that shoulder is not comfortable to sleep on, a lot of the time. Slight stiffness in the neck too.

It is probably a pinched nerve in the neck, and my physiotherapist has given me an exercise* to stretch the nerve down the arm so it's pulled out of the pinched place a little, and that helps. But it comes back, and the treatments my physio has given me in the past seem to be limited.

I want to avoid the very painful condition I got into two years ago with the other arm. Does anybody have any tips for this kind of thing? I have a high quality traction device (used gently), but there may be other things.


* The exercise is good: I stand with my left side towards a wall, at arm's length. Then stretch out my arm, put the hand flat on the wall, fingers pointing up. Then I turn my head towards the right, slowly. A strong feeling of stretching is felt on the inside of my left arm. Hold it for a few moments. I do this gently, several times a day.


How come mini-skirts and see-through blouses occurred when I was too young to notice, and haven't shown up again since? It's so unfair.

Endless Cycle of Life

[Thanks to Carter]
Blogger doesn't like GIFs for some reason, so you'll have to go here. I'm not sure who the artist is.
(Odd, in Safari it takes a long while for the GIF to start animating.)

The ebook market

Here's another good Stross article about the ebook market.
In the pre-internet dark age, there was a subculture of folks who would get their hands on books and pass them around and encourage people to read them for free, rather than buying their own copies. Much like today's ebook pirates, in terms of the what they did (with one or two minor differences). There was a closely-related subculture who would actually sell copies of books without paying the authors a penny in royalties, too.
We have a technical term for such people: we call them "librarians" and "second-hand bookstore owners".

He echos some of those things which I've been saying, to wit that $20 for an ebook is nuts, and it's one of the hindrances for the ebook market to take off. (Meanwhile the publishers are fighting Amazon's $10 ebooks tooth and claw.)
Only I wouldn't go so far as saying it's the main hindrance. I think sheer force of habit, and lacking technology is more important. We need something as comfortable as a book and more flexible, and easy buying.
And despite what he says, that the screen issue is clearly no problem, since we spend hours daily using screens, I think it is. Yes we do, but it's under protest. Me, I am strangely compelled to read a lot on the web, it's addictive... but when we arrive at lengths over a few screen heights, I get uncomfortable, partly the screen and partly the chair, meant for work not reading.
I guess it's a one-word argument really: "iTunes". I think they are the world's biggest music retailer now. And obviously the iBookstore part of the iPad experience is Apple's attempt at making this happen with ebooks. I think it has a shot of working, especially if Stevie can strong-arm/sweet-talk the publishers like he did with the music biz.
Doctorow gets it better, screen reading tends to be scattered. (Recommended article.)

Stross makes an error though:
[...] the typical dead-tree book has, over its life cycle, an average of four readers. Moreover, sell-through in paper is around 50-60%; that is, for every book sold to a customer, 0.8 to 1.0 other books end up being returned or pulped. So the real figure is more like ten readers per book actually printed by the publisher.

He means "two readers", not ten, if we follow his math. They print 100 books, sell 50, and each of those has 4 readers, that's 200 readers per 100 printed books.

Also I don't see why he thinks that we need a $20 ebook reader for that market to take off. Nobody ever made a $50 PC, and last I heard, that market has been pretty profitable overall.

I do however agree with his general drift, as in:
Historically, only 25% of readers paid into the authors revenue stream. A 75% piracy rate may therefore be seen as a continuation of business as usual.


Unfortunately neither is my favorite version of the song, but they give an impression, I guess.