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For it was a Hobbit hole, and that means Comfort

Dec. 1st, 2010 02:51 pm Harper Collins rocks my world..

In the Summer of 2008, Hill House Publishing was putting together a set of special editions of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Being fond of such things, I ordered one of each.

Unfortunately, before they'd ever sent any to me, Hill House Publishing imploded. So much for the tasty special editions.

However, around about this time last year, word went out that Harper Collins was picking up the ball, and would be finishing up the run. I sent word to them to inquire, and a very nice young woman got back to me, mortified that no one had contacted me before then. Hill House had sent them a bunch of info about customers who had not yet been fulfilled, and apparently they'd neglected to mention me. She went about trying to track down any information about my order in the records they'd been given by Hill House, and was going to get right back to me to get me my books.

I went to Arisia with a warm glow, impressed by HC having their act together...
And promptly forgot about the whole thing entirely.
So I didn't notice when the next step, of actually getting books out to me, never happened.
This morning I was reminded of the whole thing, because my favorite Noir imprint, Hard Case Crime, which went away earlier this year when their underlying publisher went out of business, is coming back to life.

So I sent an inquiry to Harper Collins, wondering what they'd ever found.
And a very apologetic, now slightly older but still with the company, young woman will be sending me some books later this week.

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Sep. 30th, 2010 11:07 am Holy Profitable Bailouts, Batman!

Wonders will officially never cease.
As of early this morning, AIG (remember them? the people who thought it was a good idea to insure every mortgage-backed security in the country, and promised to make good to the MBS investors if the homeowners didn't pay their mortgages? used to be the largest insurer on the planet) has prepared a plan for paying back the Federal Bank of New York and the US Treasury. We had expected that AIG was going to be one of the two remaining sources of losses in the 2008 federal bailout of the US financial system.

We were wrong. Now both Chrysler and AIG are expecting to return profits to the federal treasury, instead of losses. The dickering now going on between the Fed, the Treasury, and AIG, is about how much money the US Gov't will make on having prevented the world bond market from collapsing. Pretty neat.

Although it does present a problem for Tea Party governance - if we're actually making money on the financial system bailout, stopping that spending won't improve the state of the federal treasury. (As a side note, we've also come out ahead on the Chrysler deal, which is actually more surprising than AIG making money - a bunch of economists were reporting at the time of the AIG bailout that the Feds should make money on it, but should and three bucks will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. No one was nearly that optimistic about Chrysler)

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Jul. 29th, 2010 09:02 pm

I can't remember the precise day when I decided that I no longer needed to own every book that O'Reilly published. It was probably about when they published their third book on Oracle databases, and I had to admit that even though the books were quite good, I'd never be able to remember all that information, much less use it.
But I still keep track of when a publisher or an editor is so reliably on that I can recommend that someone buy anything they publish, much like I keep an eye out for artists and authors whose new work I will purchase sight unseen.
It is thus with a heavy heart that I must report that my current favorite intro-to-investing series has jumped the shark. I have always been of the view that Gold investors are basically crazy, since a bet on Gold is a bet that Civilization will Fall, and if Civilization actually does fall, trust me, you have more immediate problems than the state of your investment portfolio. To paraphrase a late 19th century economist, The Means Of Production is Where It's At.
And commodity investors are the next step further around the bend than gold-bugs. So I looked to the most recent installment of the Little Book, Big Profits series with some curiosity. Perhaps they would point out what it is that those Commodities people understand that I don't, that makes them not dangerously insane pessimists?
Sadly, The Little Book of Commodity Investing shows that no, those people really are looped. Whereas most of the Little Books series are very good introductions to a classic investment style, even the one by Ben Stein, Commodity Investing is an unmitigated puff piece, unsullied by resorting to actual arithmetic or, particularly, either logic or analysis. Frankly, the depth of their consideration goes about as far as People Always Want More!, but it doesn't even have the defense of being stoned when they said it. Yes, people do always want more, but that doesn't mean that they're going to give you money because you believe that.
For that matter, 200 pages of saying Commodities are a great investment! doesn't make it true - although, if you believe it does, Julian Simon may be interested in making a bet with you. Little Books Editors, shame on you!

Picoreview: Joe Bob sez Bad Clams, would not eat again

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Jul. 27th, 2010 09:02 pm Late July Link Harvest

A collection of interesting things from the outside world..


As always, good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

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Jul. 11th, 2010 01:19 pm Lyric Game - I Can't Believe The News Today (Final)

There are still three entirely unrecognized songs on the list, but I'm guessing people aren't going to get them, so here's the final list, with scores!

I think next time around, I'll have to grant additional points for songs identified later. People who don't see the post in the first day are being a bit unfairly penalized for not responding early enough.

  1. What You Feel, Buffy Musical soundtrack
    corpsefairy, melissa_actress
    Why'd you run away? Don't you like my style?
  2. One Thing Leads To Another, The Fixx
    vvvexation, hydrolagus, malabar
    The deception with tact, just what are you trying to say?
  3. I Do Both Jay and Jane, Larissa
    tacky_tramp, feyandstrange
    I met a boy, his name was Jay, he was so fine
       I met a girl, her name was Jane, she wants to be mine

  4. Living in the Plastic Age, The Buggles
    hydrolagus, ragani
    Every day my metal friend, shakes my bed at 6am
  5. Sunday Bloody Sunday, U2
    blue_estro, kest, shoutingboy, vvvexation, michiexile, mangosteen, tronpublic, malabar, plymouth, rikibeth
    I can't believe the news today
  6. Waiting on a Friend, The Rolling Stones
    tronpublic, bloodredrosev - This was the least recognized Major Pop Hit on the list.
    Watching girls, passin' by, it ain't the latest thing
       I'm just standin' in a doorway

  7. I'm on Fire, Bruce Springsteen
    shoutingboy, mangosteen, hydrolagus, anthologie, malabar, corpsefairy, jeffpaulsen, zunger, rikibeth
    Hey, little girl, is your daddy home?
  8. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen, was looking for the cover by Frankie Goes To Hollywood
    shoutingboy, 3diff, tronpublic, rikibeth
    In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway american dream
  9. The Waiting, Tom Petty
    shoutingboy
    Oh, Baby, don't it feel like heaven right now
  10. Hell, Squirrel Nut Zippers
    mangosteen, hydrolagus, 3diff, ratontheroad, ragani, anthologie, malabar, corpsefairy, jessicac, zunger, rikibeth
    In the afterlife, you could be headed for the serious strife
  11. Boy in the Bubble, Paul Simon
    shoutingboy, src, hydrolagus, tronpublic, corpsefairy
    It was a slow day, and the sun was beating
  12. Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles, was looking for the Industrial cover by Godhead
    blue_estro, kest, shoutingboy, vvvexation, michiexile, solan_t, src, hydrolagus, 3diff, ragani, anthologie, tronpublic, malabar, corpsefairy, jessicac, zunger, plymouth, rikibeth
    Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
  13. Blinded by the Light, Bruce Springsteen, although I was looking for the Mannfred Mann cover.
    src, tronpublic, jeffpaulsen, rikibeth
    Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
  14. Hold on Tight, ELO. I didn't realize this was originally a Springsteen song when I put it on the disc.
    mangosteen, src, 3diff
    Hold on tight to your dream
  15. Fever, performed by LA artist Devil Doll
    vvvexation, src, malabar. Most people don't realize that Peggy Lee was actually covering an earlier, quite successful, hit.
    Never know how much i love you
  16. Rich Girl, Hall and Oates, was looking for the cover artist Bird and the Bee
    src, tronpublic, malabar, jeffpaulsen. It's really interesting how people misremember the lyrics to this song, too.
    You're a rich girl, and you've gone too far
  17. Rapture, by the artist known as Vaio until Sony threatened to sue her into a neighboring plane of existence, thereafter known as Iio. Because that's not confusing.
    The night I laid my eyes on you
       Felt everything around me move

  18. Dirty Laundry, by Bitter:Sweet
    Tasty, tasty torchy badness
    I've got a bad boy and that's alright with me
       His dirty laundry's nothing that I can't keep clean

  19. Surrender, by Lunascape
    A lovely, lovely breakup song
    The daylight, cried for a cure
       I will wake over you

  20. Pure Imagination, originally performed by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. I was actually looking for a recent techno mix performed by the band Ford
    vvvexation, mangosteen, corpsefairy, jeffpaulsen, rmd, iamradar, blooderedrosev, darthsunshine, noirrosaleen
    Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three
       Come with me, and you'll be, in a world of pure imagination


And in the final scoring, tronpublic picks up one more point to knock shoutingboy out of the lead:
tronpublic - we have a winner!
shoutingboy
mangosteen - dude, you can dj with me any time
6corpsefairy
rikibeth
malabar
5src
5hydrolagus
5vvvexation
43diff
jeffpaulsen
ragani
anthologie
zunger
bloodredrosev
2michiexile
2blue_estro
2kest
2plymouth
jessicac
melissa_actress, but it's a very well-deserved point!
1solan_t
1ratontheroad
1rmd
1iamradar
1noirrosaleen
1feyandstrange
½tacky_tramp
½darthsunshine

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Jul. 10th, 2010 11:09 am Lyric Game - I Can't Believe The News Today (Day II)

One day on, all but six of the songs have been identified. You've identified most of the covers, although you're still missing a couple of the artists. And apparently a lot of people misremember song 15, the old jazz standard Fever. I've added an additional line for each of the songs that no one has scoped out yet, and I'll still award points for identifying the cover artist I'm looking for on other covered songs. I'm really surprised that no one has called song number 6 because it was a huge hit. Of the songs no one's guessed so far, two are covers and another is a remix by the original artist. One of the covers is a performance by a Bay Area local artist, but I know that at least half a dozen of you have heard her perform. Oh, and apparently we really all did learn all the lyrics to the Beatles in the womb, some of you even misidentified one or two songs as being by the Beatles. They should probably should have been called The Featles instead.

Comments are screened, I'll unscreen them after I look at people's answers. Each correctly identified song title is worth half a point. Each correctly identified artist is also worth half a point. In some cases, I'm actually looking for a cover performance instead of the original; correctly identifying that is worth half a point, and correctly identifying the cover performer is worth another half point. Incorrectly identifying something as a cover when it wasn't what I was after is a quarter point penalty. Points will be awarded to everyone who identifies a song or song element in a screened comment; once I've unscreened an identification, further identifications of the same song will not receive points.

  1. What You Feel, Buffy Musical soundtrack
    corpsefairy, melissa_actress
    Why'd you run away? Don't you like my style?
  2. One Thing Leads To Another, The Fixx
    vvvexation, hydrolagus, malabar. Hat tip to kevinelong for first playing this for me twenty-two years ago.
    The deception with tact, just what are you trying to say?
  3. I met a boy, his name was Jay, he was so fine
       I met a girl, her name was Jane, she wants to be mine
  4. Living in the Plastic Age, The Buggles
    hydrolagus, ragani. Possibly more popularly known as 'the song before Video Killed the Radio Star,' for those of us from the age of Album Rock
    Every day my metal friend, shakes my bed at 6am
  5. Sunday Bloody Sunday, U2
    blue_estro, kest, shoutingboy, vvvexation, michiexile, mangosteen, tronpublic, malabar, plymouth, rikibeth. Apparently this is one of the most recognizable songs I've ever included in a Lyric Game.
    I can't believe the news today
  6. Watching girls, passin' by, it ain't the latest thing
       I'm just standin' in a doorway
  7. I'm on Fire, Bruce Springsteen
    shoutingboy, mangosteen, hydrolagus, anthologie, malabar, corpsefairy, jeffpaulsen, zunger, rikibeth
    Hey, little girl, is your daddy home?
  8. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen, looking for a cover artist
    shoutingboy, 3diff, tronpublic, rikibeth
    In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway american dream
  9. The Waiting, Tom Petty
    shoutingboy
    Oh, Baby, don't it feel like heaven right now
  10. Hell, Squirrel Nut Zippers
    mangosteen, hydrolagus, 3diff, ratontheroad, ragani, anthologie, malabar, corpsefairy, jessicac, zunger, rikibeth. shoutingboy got partial credit for answering this one entertainingly incorrectly.
    In the afterlife, you could be headed for the serious strife
  11. Boy in the Bubble, Paul Simon
    shoutingboy, src, hydrolagus, tronpublic, corpsefairy
    It was a slow day, and the sun was beating
  12. Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles, still looking for a cover artist
    blue_estro, kest, shoutingboy, vvvexation, michiexile, solan_t, src, hydrolagus, 3diff, ragani, anthologie, tronpublic, malabar, corpsefairy, jessicac, zunger, plymouth, rikibeth. Seriously, people in the Second World learn these lyrics before they're born, too! Although the title of the song is in the first line, which probably helps.
    Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
  13. Blinded by the Light, Bruce Springsteen, although I was looking for the Mannfred Mann cover.
    src, tronpublic, jeffpaulsen, rikibeth
    Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
  14. Hold on Tight, ELO
    mangosteen, src, 3diff. Another song with the title in the first line, but apparently fewer people remember it than I expected.
    Hold on tight to your dream
  15. Fever, no one has provided the original artist or the cover artist I have in mind yet
    vvvexation, src, malabar. The most misidentified song on the list.
    Never know how much i love you
  16. Rich Girl, Hall and Oates, looking for a cover artist
    src, tronpublic, malabar, jeffpaulsen
    You're a rich girl, and you've gone too far
  17. The night I laid my eyes on you
       Felt everything around me move
  18. I've got a bad boy and that's alright with me
       His dirty laundry's nothing that I can't keep clean
  19. The daylight, cried for a cure
       I will wake over you
  20. Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three
       Come with me, and you'll be, in a world of pure imagination


The scores so far:
shoutingboy - well done!
tronpublic - very good runner up
rikibeth
corpsefairy
malabar
5src
5hydrolagus
5mangosteen
43diff
vvvexation
ragani
jeffpaulsen
anthologie
zunger
2michiexile
2blue_estro
2kest
2plymouth
jessicac
melissa_actress, but it's a very well-deserved point!
1solan_t
1ratontheroad

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Jul. 9th, 2010 01:43 am Lyric Game - I Can't Believe The News Today

Good Evening, Gentlefolk!
It's time for another Lyric Game. For those of you who aren't familiar, this is a game testing of the bounds of your musical memory. I will list a series of the first lines of various songs, and you, dear readers, will attempt to identify them. Using search engines is cheating, although going to your own music collections to listen to the beginning of a track to see if that's actually the one I'm looking for is entirely fair, and even encouraged.

Comments are screened, though I'll unscreen them after I have a chance to look at people's answers. Each correctly identified song title is worth half a point. Each correctly identified artist is also worth half a point. In some cases, I'm actually looking for a cover performance instead of the original; correctly identifying that is worth half a point, and correctly identifying the cover performer is worth another half point. Incorrectly identifying something as a cover when it wasn't what I was after is a quarter point penalty. Points will be awarded to everyone who identifies a song or song element in a screened comment; once I've unscreened an identification, further identifications of the same song will not receive points.

And now, the lyrics. Ready, Steady, Go!

  1. Why'd you run away? Don't you like my style?
  2. The deception with tact, just what are you trying to say?
  3. I met a boy, his name was Jay, he was so fine
  4. Every day my metal friend, shakes my bed at 6am
  5. I can't believe the news today
  6. Watching girls, passin' by, it ain't the latest thing
  7. Hey, little girl, is your daddy home?
  8. In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway american dream
  9. Oh, Baby, don't it feel like heaven right now
  10. In the afterlife, you could be headed for the serious strife
  11. It was a slow day, and the sun was beating
  12. Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
  13. Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
  14. Hold on tight to your dream
  15. Never know how much i love you
  16. You're a rich girl, and you've gone too far
  17. The night I laid my eyes on you
  18. I've got a bad boy and that's alright with me
  19. The daylight, cried for a cure
  20. Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three


And finally, a hat tip to ariyanakylstram for introducing me to tracks 17 and 18. Oh, and an extra full point to anyone who can hand me a good transcription of the intro to track 8 in the performance I have in mind.

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Jun. 14th, 2010 12:05 pm Today in recent history

On this day in 1954 President Eisenhower signed an order adding the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Have a nice Flag Day.

Jun. 10th, 2010 08:12 pm Raise a glass to Novell

Judge Ted Stewart today again affirmed the Jury's decision in SCO v Novell. Since 2003, SCO has been attempting to argue a legal claim against Linux, by a variety of legal theories. They essentially all boil down to one or another arguments relating to SCO's purchase of UnixWare from Novell in the mid-90s. There are still a number of counter-claims outstanding against SCO, brought by IBM, Novell, and Red Hat, and it is conceivably possible that SCO will appeal the Judge's ruling to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.. but SCO is already operating under a court's supervision, and it seems a serious stretch that the court would allow them to continue making a nuisance of themselves to the courts with claims that judges and juries keep rejecting.

This is important because it removes a significant possible source of legal encumbrance of Linux and Unix-like operating systems going into the future, and removes some additional legal uncertainty around Open Source software in general. I'll be raising a glass tonight to the legal teams at Novell and IBM, and to the nice people at Groklaw who've been following this story over the years, who've been fighting to keep SCO from effectively claiming an ownership stake in the entire open source operating system industry.

In late trading, SCOXQ closed at 5 cents/share, down 7 cents/share in late afternoon trading.

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Jun. 1st, 2010 10:11 am Bummer of a Business Model, Redux

I ran over this fascinating graph this morning, from a presentation put together by Hal Varian, Google's Chief Economist.



Newspaper ad revenues is that long blue line at the top that has been falling continually for the last 60 years.
The observation that strikes me is not The Internet is killing Newspapers!
The question that strikes me is What was killing Newspapers for the four decades before the Internet came along? For that matter, why wasn't the newspaper business doing something about it?

The answer to that next-to-last question, by the way, is that advertisers have shifted their spending from newspapers to television continually for the last half century, as people have stopped being readers and started being viewers instead.

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