Antisemitic Murder

Or go here.

According to the media, two Palestinians were shot dead this morning [24 March 2016] after stabbing a soldier in Hebron. The soldier sustained medium-level injuries. Video footage shows one of the attackers lying on the road injured, with none of the soldiers or medics present attending to him. A soldier is then seen shooting him dead from close range. Extrajudicial killings are the direct result of inflammatory remarks by politicians and a public atmosphere of dehumanization. The message is clear: attempting to injure an Israeli means a death sentence. The footage shown above was released by B’Tselem, a nonprofit Israeli organization promoting human rights in the occupied territories and in Israel at large.

What the Market Decides

From 2014, the shooting of Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, or:  “A rudderless bunch of idiots in government”

If video does not play, watch it here.

“Craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA”

If the video does not play, watch it here.

In the 36 years since the election of Ronald Reagan the values of American culture have been reduced to a single factor:  cash.

Everything in our lives is valued and judged only in terms of its quantifiability as money. Our morality is sordid. If a thing cannot be expressed numerically, if it cannot be converted to a number in a cell of the Great Spreadsheet Of Life, it does not exist. God does not exist in America today. Your conscience does not exist in America today. Your soul does not exist in America today.

At least, not to the people who own America.

The results speak eloquently all around us. Item: At one point in 1968, the #1 bestselling book in the United States was a novel by William Styron which received the Pulitzer Prize. Forty-six years later, the #1 fiction bestseller, “print and ebook,” was a Harlequin Romance.

Our National Rifle Association represents gun manufacturers, that is, people who make guns for money. That is all that our NRA represents. It does not represent good old boys in pickup trucks who carry guns, listen to Rush Limbaugh, and vote Republican. These are the people — fundamentally and almost uniformly decent working people — these are the people our NRA exploits.

The issue of the role of guns in America is not about “the security of a free State.” Guns are a “good” business. “Good” means “make a lot of money for the people who manufacture them.” Such is the morality of the owners of the gun “industry,” who are a subset of the 1 percent you’ve heard so much about. Their weapons are so lucrative, then, that for the good of the economy — the only good known in America anymore and the only justification for anything we do — we invest our children — and ourselves.

There is a name for a power that requires the sacrifice of children to its own glorification. That name is Moloch.

Moloch — the NRA and its masters, and their equivalents in the other near-airless upper reaches of the American economy — Moloch values money more than life. Moloch, today, is the foremost expression of America — and Moloch is a perfect spreadsheet creature: without God, without soul, without conscience — a perfect zero, an all-devouring vacuum.

These words accurately describe our NRA; that is to say, they describe the American ruling class.

Christopher Michaels-Martinez died for the good of the economy of the rich.

America is ruled and Americans led by a sparkling, sophisticated, well-dressed, depraved group of people who worship a fiction, originally devised to facilitate the exchange of property, as if it were a god — as if it were the god, the ultimate arbiter of the worth of everything our lives, and the lives of our young.

The NRA, and the wealthy men and women who control it, puts a quite literal price on the life of every child, woman, and man in the United States. And in their overweening pride, selfishness, and vanity they decide, again and again and again, that that price is eminently worth paying. It is paid to them.

But only so long as we pay it.

Perhaps the people behind our NRA — Colt’s Manufacturing, U.S. Repeating Firearms, other makers of guns and ammunition, along with flunkies like Georgia’s Nathan Deal and trained apes like Charles Krauthammer and William Kristol — will see the sense of regulating guns when they and their children begin to be shot to pieces while getting a burger and some fries, with a banana shake on the side. As George W. Bush said of Saddam Hussein, maybe these people simply need “to be taken out.”

Opponents of gun control, such as Georgia’s governor and his fellow Republicans, are monsters of cynicism, cowardice, hypocrisy, and selfishness. Their vile character stinks up our air. They are base. Their immorality is without limit, and they need, and more than deserve, to suffer for that immorality.

And sooner or later they will. History teaches that the longer such a class continues to make money from the murder of the members of the class below them, the more of that class eventually will suffer, and the worse their suffering will be.  What kind of revolution do you suppose Wayne LaPierre would rather have?  The American, the French, or the Russian?  Because one of these — or worse — is on its way, and it’s travelling on a global itinerary.

Another way to look at that is to compare our present governing class with those of colonial America, 18th century France, and the empire of Russia of 1917.  Do you see anybody on the evening news who reminds you of Ben Franklin?  Louis XVI?  How about the prize boob of the 20th century, Nicholas II?  Can’t you really imagine hearing Eric Cantor saying, “Let them eat cake”?

The wholesalers of fear at the Department of Homeland Anxiety and the National Paranoid Agency — who make money peddling the same bogus “security” that was “protecting” New York City on Sept. 11, 2001 —  these guardians of our “freedom” to die for free enterprise and entrepreneurship in a hail of automatic-weapons fire regard the foregoing language as a “terroristic threat.”

It is not.  It is a rational, cold-blooded prediction and a sober warning.  The NRA’s masters have got the guns, but We the People have got the numbers.  A word to the wise is unnecessary.


Sure, Jacqueline Suzanne was on the bestseller list in those days, too.  But some of the money made on that kind of trash fiction also supported the kind of fiction that merits literary prizes.  Now, it only gets spent on more trash fiction, while our supposed “literature” consists of Mighty Fine Artists of finely-wrought words and carefully composed observations that  wouldn’t offend Jack the Ripper, let alone the kind of ghouls of capitalism who make their (tons of) bread selling murder weapons to homicidal lunatics.

This is because the only measures of literary worth in America today are money and snobbery.  We have a culture of Straw Men and Women, all graduates of the University of Oz, equipped with certificates of expertise (aka “advanced degrees”) in an ever-extending list of “disciplines”  from “creative writing” to “international relations.”  And what makes all this stuffed-shirted fakery?  How did we get here?  Money.


Part of what Hamlet meant when he said, “Words, words, words”

A writer’s first published novel used to be referred to as her or his “first novel.”  But we live in what Richard Hofstadter called “the age of bunk,” by which socially acceptable term he meant, in fact, the age of bullshit, and a first novel today is a “debut novel.”

As usual with words, debut has a meaning that runs deep.  It runs deep because it is a meaning.

debut (n.) 1751, from French début “first appearance,” a figurative use from débuter “make the first stroke at billiards,” also “to lead off at bowls” (a game akin to bowling), 16c., from but “mark, goal,” from Old French but “end” (see butt (n.3)). The verb is first attested 1830.

Début can only be pronounced as French, and should not be used by anyone who shrinks from the necessary effort. [Fowler]

butt (n.3) “target of a joke,” 1610s, originally “target for shooting practice” (mid-14c.), from Old French but “aim, goal, end, target (of an arrow, etc.),” 13c., which seems to be a fusion of Old French words for “end” (bout) and “aim, goal” (but), both ultimately from Germanic. The latter is from Frankish *but “stump, stock, block,” or some other Germanic source (compare Old Norse butr “log of wood”), which would connect it with butt (n.1).

butt (n.1) “thick end,” c. 1400, butte, which probably is related to Middle Dutch and Dutch bot, Low German butt “blunt, dull,” Old Norse bauta (see beat (v.)). Or related somehow to Old English buttuc “end, small piece of land,” and Old Norse butr “short.” In sense of “human posterior” it is recorded from mid-15c. Meaning “remainder of a smoked cigarette” first recorded 1847.

(These valuable understandings come to Web.Info from an invaluable online resource, the Online Etymology Dictionary.)

Those who think I am unfair in this posting may want to look up the etymology of first.

Regarding the Current Political Climate of the United States

The weaknesses in human nature appear more clearly in a storm than in the quiet flow of calmer times.  Among the overwhelming majority of people, anxiety, greed, lack of independence, and brutality show themselves to be the mainspring of behavior in the face of unexpected chance and threats.  At such a time the tyrannical despiser of humanity easily makes use of the meanness of the human heart by nourishing it and giving it other names.  Anxiety is called responsibility; greed is called industriousness; lack of independence becomes solidarity; brutality becomes masterfulness.  By this ingratiating treatment of human weaknesses, what is base and mean is generated and increased ever anew.  The basest contempt for humanity carries on its sinister business under the most holy assertions of love for humanity.  The meaner the baseness becomes, the more willing and pliant a tool it is in the hand of the tyrant.  The small number of upright people will be smeared with mud.  Their courage is called revolt, their discipline Pharisaism, their independence arbitrariness, and their masterfulness arrogance.

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Ethics, 85-86

The “tyrannical despiser of humanity” was, at the time of this writing, Adolf Hitler, but Hitler has been by no means alone in history.   Indeed, today he has more companions than ever.

Hating the South (from My Life in Pink)

Forbes knew he would have to borrow the rest of the money. He still had a few “clients,” and he gave one of them a call.

The client’s name was Willie Jay Lee and he published the Georgia Traveler, a digest-size magazine given away at welcome centers and hotels around Atlanta. Forbes’s job consisted of rewriting press releases from all over the Peach State about the interesting and fun things going on — all over the Peach State. Remember local interest?

His favorite feature was one he had written about horse-drawn carriage rides. These were all urban affairs, and his favorite was Colonel Palm’s Carriage Rides in Macon. Colonel Palm was a real person, not just a trademark — the sort of factoid that Willie Jay Lee liked to call An Historic Figure. He had held the largest cotton auction in the antebellum South and been shot dead in a duel. Grateful slaves had carried him to his resting place, because, the owner told Forbes, “Colonel Palm was a good master.”

Forbes loved that line because he knew that, although it was another instance of the things that make “Southern culture” a contradiction in terms, nobody would get the joke but him. Maybe Benny at the Buckhead Loan was right — Forbes really was a nigger, someone had just turned the white side out.

He had met Willie Jay Lee while drawing unemployment, aka The Un. To prove himself deserving of The Un and in conformance with the Poor Laws, he had to apply for three jobs every week, which he did by mailing out one resumé a day, Tuesday through Thursday, to companies listed in the Atlanta Media Guide, a yearly compilation issued by a local public relations firm. When Forbes reached the G’s, Willie Jay Lee liked what he saw.

Forbes had always suspected something dubious in the characters of men who had two first names — Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Michael Anthony — and Willie Jay Lee had three of them, like Lee Harvey Oswald.

“Well, sir, how much would you charge for this sort of thing?” Willie Jay said as they sat in his office in the appropriately named MONY Building, overlooking I-85 and the Masonic Temple on what Willie Jay always called Historic Peachtree Street.

Forbes sat across from Willie Jay’s beat-up old wooden desk in his raw-silk-and-linen jacket and said, “My usual rate is forty dollars an hour.”

Willie Jay smiled and smiled and said, “Well, sir, I dont think I can afford that.”

“Then,” Forbes countered, “how about ten dollars a page?”

Big smiles. “Well, sir, that sounds more like it! Yes sir, that certainly does!”

Willie Jay Lee could not imagine that an experienced prostitute like Forbes could turn six pages of this sort of copy in one hour; and so he wound up paying sixty dollars an hour because he could not afford to pay forty.

Willie Jay was seventy-two, and in his younger days had trod the boards of Atlanta Little Theater playing Rhett Butler in local productions of Gone with the Wind. Like most Southern businessmen Forbes had known, Willie Jay was a combination of the Old South and the New, i.e., twisted racism restrained by greed. He had a razor-keen eye for the dollar, sharpened by years of hard-bargain-driving at estate sales and auctions, where he had accumulated a treasure trove of this and that — an original etching signed by Henri Matisse, the cover sheet of Charles Ives’s 1st Symphony autographed by the composer, an artist’s pallet once owned by Norman Rockwell — all of which he kept in a tiny apartment off Peachtree Street on the way to Midtown.

Willie Jay always got a charge out of explaining how the Traveller worked, as though he had invented trade press publishing all by himself. He was mystified when Forbes asked to see his editorial calendar, and, as Forbes tried to explain the concept of a schedule of issues and their themes, coupled with a projection of planned articles, collectively referred to as The Editorial Calendar and used to inform prospective advertisers of the prime times to place their promotional notices, the realization slowly dawned on him that Willie Jay knew next to nothing about actually-existing magazine publishing. He had figured out the whole chore on his own, from scratch, and what he had not personally invented did not exist.

Willie Jay had an assistant named Pam Bamfurd, an obese Republican hysteric who believed that The Real Uhmerica had lost the Civil War and called Halloween “a Satanic rite.” Pam believed that she alone kept the Traveller on course, when it actually seemed to Forbes to get along, like drunks and the United States, by God’s grace, aka luck. Every time Forbes talked to her, she would say, “Mister Connolly, I am having the worst day of my life!” and he gradually came to understand that Pam truly did comprehend her existence as a procession of steadily worsening days, a trip in babysteps to the eighth circle of Hell, a voyage to the bottom of a bottomless pit. When he tried to explain the editorial calendar to her, she said: “How’s Willie Jay supposed to know what we’re gonna publish six months from now?”

Along with all her Southerner’s ignorance, fear, and superstition, Pam also displayed the same linguistic quirk Forbes had found among so many magazine professionals — she spoke of what we published in our magazine.

Forbes felt he could not afford to think about us.

Willie Jay’s target audience was people who come to Georgia for fun, a trip Forbes never could quite fathom once he had stopped drinking. He himself never went beyond the city’s perimeter highway — that is Erskine Caldwell country out there, Jacques, Hazel Motes territory, Bubba fucking his cousin in Smyrna and dark deeds with chickens in the outhouse, Percy Grimm throwing Joe Christmas’s testicles over his shoulder, teasing nihilistic Southern blondes, Cobb County Republicans feeding on their young, and, presiding over it all, Christ of the Appalachians, a monumental poured-concrete statue of the Son of God near the southern end of the Trail, so tall the FAA required that a flashing red warning light be mounted on His head. “Best seen from the air,” n’est-ce pas?

The Traveller was what Southerners call meaningful work. It meant that all the wars fought by Southerners were, tragically, absolutely necessary. For Forbes, it also had a more personal meaning: as a writer, you are a failure.

And, sitting at his desk staring at the telephone and calculating how much of an advance he might ask of Willie Jay, Forbes acknowledged again that he was indeed a failure. There followed a searing, reassuring flood of self-pity, and he knew, again, that he had not yet gotten past his failure. For, since he had not died from the failure, it had to be a bridge leading on to something else, and he longed to be truly Elsewhere, and he also knew that his self-pity was at least part of the fee to get there. The feeling was “the price to pay,” as Chick of the Many Years would have said, ever ready with a commercial metaphor for Life Itself. But Forbes preferred to think of his self-pity as the defective reaction to the real, the obvious, the true, a feeling he would have to finally transcend in order to experience some more appropriate response — response as in responsible, he thought, as in able to respond.

What form this response might take he did not know yet. (Yet was an important word with Forbes. He always remembered the night, years before, after a meeting at the DADA Club that Chick had asked him, “Do you believe in God?” and he had said, “Not yet, but I’m going to.”) So he knew that, barring death, he would cross his bridge, travel his personal trail of self-pitying tears to an end that was in fact another beginning, because there was always a beginning again, whether he wanted one or not.

He had not wanted to begin again at the beginning, nineteen years before. He had not wanted to stop drinking. Rather, he had wanted the drinking to work: he had wanted to drink and stay sober. But he knew, as all drunks eventually know, that this goal was, in two words, Im Possible, and thus he found himself rolling around on the dirty carpet of Mickie Huston’s living room at three in the morning on a Saturday, crying because he could not drink.

Could not drink”?

Where had that come from?

Years later, the uniqueness of that situation came to him, that he had been in pain to the point of tears without reaching the point of drink. A first in his little life. Aka: sobriety. He had not, while rolling around hysterically on the carpet, noticed. Nor had he wanted such a beginning, a mindless yawp, out of control. Who would?

And now, here, he had failed all over again. He sighed, sitting at his desk, looking at the phone, recalling all the times that he had had to borrow money when he drank. No wonder he was a failure.

But at least he had failed after Herculean effort, in a failure it had taken generations to produce, the distillation of the denial of two Confederate bloodlines, refusing in their hearts of hearts ever to surrender, though beaten objectively, ever to cry mea culpa, though proven full of will and sin, the kind of convoluted reasoning that takes brain cells and twists them in upon themselves, calling forth from areas of ethanol-induced brain damage a phantastic delirium of troublemaking boogie men, night riders and other spooks haunting the Gothic imagination of The South: outside agitators, spy rings, enemy agents, Nigger Jew Communists, unUhmerican activists, Islamofascists, and all other foreigners, all opposed to our heroic death squads, our valiant wet boys, human degenerates subverting law and odor, defying our Confederacy’s voluminous body of little nujolneeding-there’s-a-reason rules, devised with ouija and proven by algebra, cunningly framed to ratiocinate away the vote, the choice, the unpleasant real, the unwanted true, the painful, obvious guilt.

All of which, Forbes thought, was what sent young Quentin Compson screaming from his Harvard dormitory into the iron cold New England dark crying I dont hate the South! I dont! I dont hate it!

But that’s only because he has not seen it lately:

The Sunbelt!
a vast, chillingly airconditioned greengrass mall of well-intentioned atrocity spread across a landful of mutual strangers sent south by The Company to live in happy anxiety in Capitalism’s promised land of Equal Opportunity Free Nigger-Of-All-Races Labor and Ethnicities Productivity, with the right to work and the right to sleep at Mount Vernon, Williamsburg, Jamestown, and endless other moderan “developments” and “complexes” named for the original cradles of the revolution to end all revolution, to replace the stillborn, thundering No! with Mexican-built McHousing on, yes, Bill, postage stamps of soil, with five squillion channels and numenous webinars via fiber optic cable.

But, Forbes reflected as he reached for his phone, we’ve got trouble here in the City of Jefferson, Luster has taken another wrong turn again and thus is our sleep troubled by adolescents in oversexed cars nightly roaming the pill villages to scary African beats, smoking cigarettes, chasing shots of NyQuil with Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, pushing over mailboxes en route to a pool party where they tear to pieces young Robbie Calliope, aka The Kid From The Other Side, first knocking him unconscious and then passing the evening, in the words of our family newspaper, “urinating” on the body. Leave it to Beaver. Robbie had a choice, you know. He could have been murdered at home. Personal responsibility, see?

What? What’s that you say? Can you speak a little louder?



We Need a New New Model for Publishing

What Is a Publisher’s Job?

In a letter dated 18 September 1919 to Maxwell Perkins, editor-in-chief at Charles Scribner’s, F. Scott Fitzgerald asked if it might be possible to publish his new novel, This Side of Paradise, “before Xmas or, say, by February?” As we see in Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins,Perkins replied on 23 September 1919:

Dear Mr. Fitzgerald:

I was very glad to get your letter of the 18th and to know that everything was ready with regard to This Side of Paradise; and we are now making an estimate upon the book preliminary to putting it in hand, which we shall do within a short time if the printers’ strike does not make it impossible to put anything in hand.

It is this way about publishing before Christmas: there are two book seasons in the year and the preparations for each one are begun long before the season opens. The publishers’ travelers go out in July and August over the country with trunks filled with dummies and samples of the Fall books, which are to have their greatest sale in the Christmas season. The Advertising Department and the Circularizing Department get up their material in August and early September to make these books known considerably before publication and at the very time of publication. The advertising that is done from the first of September on is supposed to have its great effect in December, although the book may have appeared in August or September or October and may have sold considerably then. Now, if a book is accepted after all this preliminary work is done and comes out in November, as yours would have to do at the earliest, it must make its own way altogether: it will get no preliminary advertising; it will not be presented to the trade by salesmen on the basis of a dummy; and it will come to the bookseller, who is already nearly mad with the number of new books and had already invested all the money he can in them, as a most unwelcome and troublesome thing and will suffer accordingly. Even if it is a book by an author who has been selling well for years, it will be very considerably injured by this.

The next book publishing season is the Spring season. The moment the Christmas rush is ended the travelers go out once more and see all the booksellers, equipped with samples, etc. The bookseller has made his money out of the previous season and is ready to begin afresh and to stock up on new books. The Advertising and Circularizing departments have prepared their work on it, and their accounts of the author, etc., and have advertised it in the trade magazines to reinforce the salesmen’s selling argument. Then, when the book does appear in February, March, or April, the trade is ready for it and knows about it and it can be competently advertised because the publicity force of the house has become familiar with it.

These are the reasons why there is no question but it would damage your book exceedingly to try to rush it out before Christmas. Whether or not it can be printed in February we cannot yet say, but it certainly can be published in that month or March and we shall remember that you want it to be as early as possible

Sincerely yours,

Maxwell Perkins

What Is a “Direct” Publisher’s Job?

In 2010 764,000 books were “self-published.” The figures in the table below postulate a year in which an independent self-publishing contractor — who possesses the means of production and distribution of the books — has 10 percent of such a market, sells all his titles at $6.99, with each author earning a 70 percent royalty.

spc-earnWhen 4th Estate Ltd, London, published my novel Safe Sex in 1997, I was assigned a copy editor as well as a content editor, and a graphic designer who laid out the book and the cover. The book was reviewed in about a dozen periodicals, including the Times of London, the foremost newspaper in the English-speaking world. I also did two interviews, one online and one in a magazine, via email. My advance came to £4,000, or, at that time, something in the neighborhood of $6,000.

Publishing with our hypothetical “self-publishing” contractor gets each author a choice from among an assortment of “template” covers, each the epitome of the generic, and all copyrighted by the contractor. Each author gets to proof the ebook file, which is created by converting her word processing file to the format of the contractor’s reading device.

There is no design involved in the book, beyond, say, a compulsory table of contents providing a link to every chapter. The word processing file is simply converted to the reader’s format and a cursory overview is made of the result.

Sometimes, the reader file has justified left and right margins. But curiously, no words in the text are hyphenated. This results in a righthand margin that is sometimes oddly ragged. I do not know why this case occurs, but I do know that hyphenation is, compared to a quick-and-dirty file conversion, a considerably more complex piece of programming to implement. That is, hyphenation costs the contractor money. This cost may or may not be the reason for the absence of hyphenation in the converted file, and the consequent rather amateurish job of what used to be call “typesetting.”

Of course, no advances are made against the publisher’s expectation of initial sales, and our 76,400 authors have to contact the Times themselves. Of course, each of these authors gets that generous 70 percent royalty on every copy she sells. Seventy percent sounds pretty impressive compared to the 15 percent that I settled for from 4th Estate.

Odds are that each self-published author will sell at least one copy — to his or her mother, if no one else — which grosses our Contractor just over $160,000 — and nets each author $4.89 apiece.

Should we hit a self-publishing jackpot, i.e., each of our authors sells 10 copies, then the writers earn not quite $49 apiece, and our entrepreneurial Contractor, the capitalist risk-taker and job-creator in this hypothetical business venture, grosses right at $1.6 million.

Job Creation

Blogs and similar marketing advice devoted to self-publishing — media content aimed at aspiring authors — all pretty much agree that The Author will do better in the marketplace if she hires

• a professional editor

• a professional proofreader

• and a professional graphic designer

and, of course, if she hosts her own website and devotes enough time to it — theoretically every day — to create a meaningful (or “professional”) marketing effort.

All of this work is summarized in the business preliminaries Perkins described to Scott Fitzgerald way back in 1919.

To accomplish all this endeavor — as opposed to having 4th Estate or Scribner’s do it — our author receives that additional 55 percent of her royalty. That is, to hire the labor of all these other professionals and pay for the promotion of her work, her generous royalty allows her — indeed, requires her — to spend as much as $4 for every book that she sells. This amount comes out of her $4.89, of course, leaving her a profit of $0.89, that is, 15 percent.

But, just as Scribner’s and 4th Estate had to do, our author must make that $4-per-book investment up frontbefore she sells even a single copy of Raskolnikov in the House of the Dead.

Our Contractor is, of course, not a contractor. He is a capitalist. On the other hand, the “traditional” publisher — also working in a capitalist economy — did contract with our author for her work. Scribner’s end of the contract, like 4th Estate’s, covered things like . . . editing, proofing, graphics, and marketing. And Scribner’s paid its authors something up front for having written the books in the first place — a percentage of what they, as entrepreneurs, gambled that they could make on a press run of, say, 5,000 copies. Our Contractor pays his authors their 70 percent after they have not only written the books, but marketed and sold them as well.

On the Nature of Our Progress

We have a lot of technology that Maxwell Perkins lacked, and it would be good if we had a new model for publishing. We could have such a new model, but the table above does not illustrate it. Our table is not a model for publishing, but, rather, a model for the transfer of capital from the many to the few, in exchange for the not-much — a sterling example of the “new economy.”

The difference between the old economy and the new consists in the very real and meaningful work done by Charles Scribner’s, and by 4th Estate, which went on to be acquired — eaten up — by HarperCollins. The end-result of Scribner’s effort, This Side of Paradise, was a also a cut or so above the average ebook or, for that matter, the hardcovers typically reviewed every day in the Times. What’s new in this model is that the capitalist does much less than he used to do, while grossing roughly the same percentage.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Only things don’t stay the same. Book publishing was once regarded as a profession; now it is an industry. According to the Online Etymological Dictionary, to profess meant “to take a vow,” originally a religious vow. Industry, on the other hand, means “cleverness.”

As Tyler Durden says in Fight Club, “How’s that working out for you? Being clever.”

Clever is working pretty well for our Contractor.  The writers are still getting screwed.