Summer Hiatus

Monday, May 25, 2009

As you may have noticed the posts have been less frequent over the last few months. Over that time, I’ve been contemplating a new blog (about which I am undecided).

In any case, for the moment, I’m just going taking a break.

So, I may post a few times over the summer as the mood strikes, but I won’t be posting regularly. Enjoy yourselves and keep an eye on the Obama/Bernanke debt and money-printing roll of the dice.

And prepare yourself for harder days ahead.

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Read Zero Hedge

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I’ve been reading this blog a lot lately. Sometimes it’s a little over my head, but most of it isn’t and, in general, you get the point even if you don’t speak quant (ex. Quantology Revisited: The Negative Convexity Implications Of Delta-Hedging – yeah…I skipped that one.).

Here is a recent good one. This one, too, which both analyzes the unsustainability (?) of the current market rally and dissects Goldman Sachs’s recent, alleged market manipulation in advance of their stock offering.


There is No Shame is Self-Publishing

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A little article today in the New York Times about the still growing business of self-publishing.

It has become increasingly common and is, like online dating, no longer something to be ashamed of. The traditional publishing industry is crumbling in large measure for the same reason that newspapers continue to do so. They are victims of the democratization of media.

You are now the gatekeeper. Writers should utilize all the tools at their disposal to reach their audience without the stifling interference and failing business model of big publishing.

In a tangentially related editorial, David Swensen and Michale Schmidt, write about newspapers seeking endowments and not-for-profit status to survive. A brilliant idea this commentator has been suggesting for a couple of years.


The Writer’s Lament

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Timothy Egan put the lament of all but the most successful writers into his column on Sunday in the New York Times. His complaint?

A plaintive why.

Why do publishers shovel out so much crap (witness Joe the Plumber’s book deal)? Why do people who can barely string together a sentence – like Sarah Palin – get $7 million advances? Why do so many people think they can write? And why does celebrity crowd out real writers in the marketplace?

As someone who has experienced publishing rejection firsthand, I feel his pain. But everything is relative, a matter of degrees. I have been told by my agent that if I was Bob Woodward or Thomas Friedman, my book (which I now intend to self-publish) would have been published. (A palliative explanation perhaps, but not impossible to imagine).

Those two, as examples, are celebrity writers crowding out a young unknown. Why shouldn’t I feel resentment for them? Why shouldn’t I feel resentment for Tim Egan? I wouldn’t mind writing a column for the New York Times.

Furthermore, who is to judge who is a writer? True, writers must demonstrate command of the language, but otherwise the barriers to entry are ridiculously low. A pen and a piece of paper. Who is to judge whether or not someone is a worthy writer?

Right now, it is simply the gatekeepers of America’s literary and journalistic brands. And, in this world, they are increasingly pressured to sell. What sells? Celebrity, name recognition, and really lousy fiction. (And, by-the-way, it doesn’t hurt if you roomed with that future editor back at Vassar.) Once in a while, something new, original, and previously unknown squeaks through by virtue of mere talent alone. But that is indeed rare.

So what is to be done?

Storm the ramparts. Blog, self-publish, start your own journal or imprint. Thousands (if not millions) of writers are already doing these things, and by doing so, they are shaking the foundations of the literary and journalistic establishments. Yes, they’re largely unpaid, and that is painful to writers who seek to make a living from the word. But don’t blame a writer for writing. Real writers are going to write whether they are paid or not.

And don’t blame the business of publishing for shoveling out crap that sells more than the hidden gems. If you want to make a living writing, then you’ve got to respect the marketplace. As a voracious reader of fiction and non-fiction, I can tell you that even among the “respectable” work by “real” writers, there is a hell of a lot of crap.

So do not lament a dying business and standards that protect a lucky few. Sure, Hemingway and Joan Didion deserve(d) their places and fees, and yes, Sarah Palin is an ignorant disgrace, but, ultimately, the market will decide who makes their coin as a writer.

Your best option is to put yourself in the role of gatekeeper. This is a time of empowerment for writers. Seize your moment and reach out to the marketplace directly.

Save your lament for the poor fools who actually put down their hard earned money only to find the Sarah Palin story doesn’t include nude photos.


Apologies

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I have a work obligation that is absorbing all of my time this week so I haven’t been able to post with regularity. I’ll be back on a routine schedule next week.


Pre-Powell Endorsement Smear

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Drudge Report, a sleazy website that has officially jumped the shark this campaign season (by relentless posting often spurious pro-McCain, anti-Obama links and/or omitting links to pro-Obama news), started what will be a relentless smear job against Colin Powell if, and I stress if, he endorses Obama on Meet the Press tomorrow.

The picture I’m referring to is down now, perhaps because Drudge realized no one knows what Powell will do and thought he might find it offensive. The picture in question showed Powell dancing with a couple of black singers or rappers. The implication?

The endorsement, if it comes, is racial.

And Colin Powell, the respected general and former Secretary of State is, just another n****r.

Too harsh?

Not for that sleaze ball. Matt Drudge is a partisan hack of vicious and evil intent no better than Karl Rove. No one is willing to cross him and many pander, but his site, surging traffic aside, is a dying animal. It is merely a propaganda organ for a soon to be discredited niche party called the GOP.

As a symbolic act of protest, I am removing Drudge permanently from my blogroll. I encourage everyone with a conscience to do the same. This kind of brutish extremism must be marginalized.


Krugman Win Nobel Prize

Monday, October 13, 2008

I have only one beef with Paul Krugman and that was his principled, though insanely misguided, support for John Edwards(!) in the primaries (because of his health care plan and populist platform).

Otherwise, Krugman rules. I don’t know anything about this economic theory, but his writing on economics is always accessible and clarifying and he has been a beacon throughout this crisis period. He was also, inarguably, the most consistent and convincing New York Times columnist throughout the Bush presidency. I am sure this is well deserved.

Congratulations to Paul Krugman!