Monthly Archives: April 2013

Quote of the Day

See? I told you so.

–Rush Limbaugh

— Oh, and me, too

Check out this article on the internet sales tax and how it’s illegal. I made that.

Really? You wrote it into the Constitution?

Well, no. But I was on the Article 1, Section 9 thing a couple of years ago and was beginning to despair of it’s ever getting any traction, despite the fact that it ought to be a dispositive slam-dunk.

(Hat tip: Everett Mickey on Facebook.)

How Much of What Science Might Know

RESTS UNEXAMINED IN university or museum store rooms?

I’m a Fan of the ABC Show Castle

ON WHICH, FROM TIME-TO-TIME James Patterson appears in a cameo as one of a gang of writers who play poker at Castle’s (Nathan Fillion) swanky Tribeca apartment. Patterson and Stephen J. Cannell and others are seen giving plot advice to Castle.

I’m sure that Patterson doesn’t really care, but part of the credibility his character has is that its attached to a real, successful writer. And that credibility fades away like Jimmy Webbs MacArthur Park cake in the rain when I read of stunts such as ol’ Jimmy pulled the other day.

Joe Konrath eviscerates the idiocy so I don’t have to. RTWT.

I Bet That Saudi Guy

THAT THE FEDS SPIRITED out of the country, and about whom Glenn Beck is so wound around the axle, was an intelligence agent of the Saudi royal government aiding us in anti-terrorism operations.

I mean, if I were writing this story, that’s how it would go.

Of COURSE Democrats Hate School Vouchers

MOSTLY BECAUSE, they claim, it takes money away from public schools. Sure, the money follows the student, and gets a child educated, so why should it matter? And, still and all, when all’s said and done, if the reason a parent wants to send a child to private school is that the local public school is failing him, shouldn’t the public school lose the money?

OH! NO! Have to defend the system at all costs. Even or especially if the system is failing so badly as to be actually causing massive harm.

But also, possibly most important, the real reason rich and privileged people send their kids to private schools is to keep them away from all that lower class riff-raff. Can’t have them sullying our hallowed halls!

Did You Know There Was

A LIST OF eponymous laws? There is.

Quote of the Day: “Look in the Mirror Ye Libs” Dept.

…[S]o we’re to believe that the more you advocate freedom, the more you support the American founding principles of liberty, the more you support the concept of minimum government and maximum individual responsibility, the closer you get to Nazis and Islamofascists. Stupid as that is, there are those who believe it. And so they keep beating that drum.

Lyle, at Joe’s Place

Speaking of Commonplace Book Themes

OK, ACCORDING TO THE formal definition of “commonplace,” this doesn’t fit because it’s not on a specific topic. But, since I decide the topic, it fits. This is a collection of Yogi Berra quotes. I doubt it’s dispositive, but it seems fairly comprehensive. I love these because they strike me as being at least half-playful, as in wordplay being the sign of a high intelligence at play. Or… you know. Reminds me of a similar trait in Dolly.

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

–Yogi Berra

Amend It or No Tax!

ARTICLE 1 SECTION 9 of the Constitution forbids the taxation of interstate commerce.

No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.

Congress does not have the authority to permit the states to collect sales taxes on goods traveling between states. Note that the actual text of the Constitution refers solely to the goods themselves and make no mention of the location of the businesses or individuals shipping or receiving. Only that the goods be carried out (that’s what “export” means — to carry out) of one state.

It may be argued that “export” refers only to the transporting of goods between countries or nations. To which the response is that, in the original conception, the states of the United States were sovereign nations. And nothing has been done to amend the Constitution to change that. No, not even the vaunted 14th Amendment. (As a close reading of that Amendment shall reveal.)

It might be argued that states may collect taxes on goods imported to the several states, except that only Congress has that power, and may not delegate it, and, at least for commerce within the United States, any good imported to one state must first be exported from another, and the taxation of that transaction is forbidden by the above provision.

It most certainly will be argued that states will suffer reduced revenue from this. The response is that that is not a bug, but a feature. It is not a detriment, but a desideratum. All governments in this day and age spend profligately. Worse, they ignore or abdicate their primary fiduciary duties and hare off after the pet projects of corrupt officials. And, when the citizenry dares to object, officialdom threatens to cut back on the fiduciary responsibilities, but will never cut the pet, pork-barrel projects. The people have little or no prospect of relief from excessive taxation save to forbid taxation altogether whenever the opportunity to do so presents itself.

And it will be complained that all scofflaw tax evaders will have to do to dodge these new taxes is to move goods across state lines. My answer to that plaint is, “Good. Do without for awhile and maybe you’ll mend your ways.” Well, not that I believe they will or would, but the point needs to be made and keep being made until it can no longer be brushed aside.

Amend it or No tax


Quote of the Day: I-Me-Me-Mine Dept

I KEEP POUNDING these points. Some day they’ll enter the mindstream:

The purpose of government — says so right there on the box — is to preserve the rights of the people — of individual people.

There is no such thing as a collective. Anything. Individuals are all.

There can be no compelling public interest which overrides the rights of individuals, Sandra Day O’Connor notwithstanding. The very notion is a contradiction in terms.

The public interest is (see above) the preservation of individual rights. Period. Full stop.

There is no such thing as “The Greater Good.” The so-called greater good always comprises a greater evil. Otherwise, it’s merely good.

–Me, over at Gerard’s

Staircase wit: I’m sorry, but I don’t see an “exigent circumstances” clause in this:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

(Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution)

So, if you want to add one, you need to amend the thing. Without it, shut the front door. Come back with a warrant.

I really hope those statist fucks in Boston get their asses sued to Kingdom Come. None of them are worthy to serve in my country’s birthplace.

A Commonplace Book

BEFORE I BEGIN a post about distractions, I have this: if other people’s minds work remotely like mine, it is freakin’ amazing that anybody has a long enough attention span to get ANYthing done. My morning commute to the Patch Factory is about 19 minutes, if traffic is good. (It usually is.
I’m going the other way compared to the majority.) Tuesday morning, I wrote three new chapters for Report from New Xenaland (New working title:
The High T Affair.), had about fifteen great ideas for various projects at work, and had a closely-reasoned argument (about 15,000 words) with myself on the topic of abortion which, if I could ever capture it, would make a great series of blog posts. But, of course, were I to try, I’d get about fifty words into it and… SQUIRREL!.

But you degrease.

But I degrease.

I have long had the intent of using this blog as a sort of commonplace book, dragging home all the neat stuff I find and posting it — or posting about it — here for the delectation of all. Sort of my version of Good Shit. For example, as Erin noted on Facebook the other day, (well, tangentially, anyway), we could really have a Nice Tits department. They say that looking at boobs is good for your blood pressure or something. It would be a kind of a public service. A win-win. (Get it? “Win-win.” Two… Oh, never mind.) But it would mean I’d have to spend maybe as many as hours a day combing through porn and cheesecake sites for acceptable shots.

May the Lord smite you with it!

Dolly? Stifle.

But that’s actually beside the point. ‘Cause most of the time, the really neat stuff I find is research for whatever I’m writing and I’m in the heat of the auctorial moment and need to get back to writing and don’t have time to write a blog post right then and by the time I get back around to it I’ve forgotten about it so I never really get back to it and I forget all about it so it never gets posted and…

Gotta run.

Quote of the Day: Intergalactically Dumb Department*

This is stupidity on a governmental scale.

C.G. Hill

An excellent description of, not just stupidity, but more generalize FAIL.

*Teri Hatcher, as Lois Lane from Lois and Clark on discovering that Clark Kent was Superman all along.

You Heard it Before?

YEAH? Well… You’re gonna hear it again. Hit “Play”!

He Calls it Retirement

BUT I CALL IT fleeing the scene of the crime. Max Baucus’s hasty departure from the Senate, after having thrust this “train wreck” of a law on us (Obamacare).

We so rarely get to express our feelings toward a politician who is instrumental in passing an epochal law. They usually die before the FAIL becomes so obviously manifest to those who didn’t see it coming in the first place. We should take advantage of this one.

As the puppy-blender has been known to put it: tar, feathers: some assembly required.

Borepatch Finds the Neatest Blogs

erin_palette_avatarSO I’VE BEEN SEEING this commenter on Facebook and blogs, Erin Palette. Her avatar reminded me a bit of Yulia Nova. (Don’t ask.) But it caught my attention. As did, in short order, her words. Wonderful. This woman has her head on straight and her heart in the right place.

Then, yesterday, BP points to a brilliant post — a polemic addressed to the victim-disarmament crowd and their moral failings. The pull quote is tasty enough, but, when BP advise RTWT, I’ve learned it’s sage advice. So I went. And R’d TWT. Lemme tell you, the pull quote was only a taste. The whole thing was at the very least an excellent entree, if not a whole meal. (That would be the rest of the blog.

From the title “My So-Called Rights” to the takeaway nut quote, “Because ‘Fuck you.’ That’s why,” the post is just perfect. To quote BP, RTWT.

Then I scrolled down and started reading the comments. And there was Erin Palette! A familiar face! Kewl, I thought, and read her comments first.

I say of myself that, like Barleyman Butterbur, the proprietor of the Prancing Pony in Bree, (as described by Gandalf in Fellowship of the Ring), I am slow, but I can see through a brick wall, given time.

And then, as they say, the penny dropped. This is Erin Palette’s blog! Way cool. It’s called Lurking Rhythmically (which my punning mind will inevitably twist to Writhing Lyrically, with all attendant follow-on puns, such as the reeling and writhing under the sea line from Alice, so we might as well get it out), and, based on that one post, I feel safe in recommending you follow it.

OK, so I’m seconding BP’s recommendation. Like I said. Slow. Brick wall.Time.

I Sometimes Wonder

anouk_who's-your-mommaHOW I CAN BE — in the words of one acquaintance, “The most connected man in Rock ‘n’ Roll” and not hear of artists for fifteen or twenty years, but then be bowled over by them when I finally do.

Case in point, Dutch singer Anouk Teeuwe, who I sort of tripped over on Spotify when I started a radio station based on Melissa Etheridge.

And — bonus points — this picture (album cover) reminds me of Dolly in my head a little. It’s the gun.

The Shot Heard Round the World


By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Commemorating the Battle of Concord, April 19, 1775
Considered to be the opening battle of
the American Revolutionary War

Nice Tits Department


APPARENTLY, EMMA WATSON stripped down — or, at least, wore an off-the-shoulder something and stood under a glycerin shower for a photo shoot celebrating…

Lenin’s birthday!

Well, she claimed it was for Earth Day. Which shows the extent of her knowledge on the subject.

And, since we here at BTB love to celebrate ignorance on any subject, wherever we may encounter it, a hearty salute:

Hey, Emma! Nice tits!

He Should Be Thanking Us

WE CAN’T LET THIS STOP US! We have to enslave the whole country, deny its fundamental rights! We can’t let a silly little thing like the founding principles of the Republic get in our way! (–The President)


Why he is not up on charges…

On the gripping hand, it’s possible he wanted this defeat, in order to use it as a club to beat Republicans next election.

In which case, he should be thanking us.

Do you really think he’s that clever?

No. I really think Republicans are that hapless that what should be a slam-dunk, in-your-face, broke-the-backboard victory will be turned into them stepping on their cranks.

Tonight in History


YEAH, YEAH, YEAH. I had chapter and verse how historically inaccurate this is in school. Shut up. It’s still an American legend. And people who hate America and the sources of American patriotism will never be satisfied until all the heroes of America are torn down, their feet of clay shattered on broken pedestals like Ozymandias in the desert sand. Those people are sick and you shouldn’t let them define the limits of your life. Might as well say The Lord of the Rings is historically and scientifically inaccurate and not even good Christian theology — and for about the same reasons.

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, – “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light, –
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said good-night, and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somersett, British man-of-war:
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon, like a prison-bar,
And a huge, black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street
Wanders and watches with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack-door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed to the tower of the church,
Up the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade, –
Up the light ladder, slender and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still,
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay, –
A line of black, that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride,
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now gazed on the landscape far and near,
Then impetuous stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle-girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry-tower of the old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely, and spectral, and sombre, and still.

And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height,
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village-street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed that flies fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

It was twelve by the village-clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river-fog,
That rises when the sun goes down.
It was one by the village-clock,

When he rode into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon

It was two by the village-clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning-breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British regulars fired and fled, –
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard-wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, –
A cry of defiance, and not of fear, –
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beat of that steed,
And the midnight-message of Paul Revere.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Long-winded bastard. You should read his Hiawatha.

As I noted yesterday, I was baptized in the Old North Church, so this has always had a special resonance for me.

I Am So Saddened

THAT SENATOR SCHUMER (Fuckface of New York) finds it “a struggle” to INFRINGE ON CIVIL RIGHTS!


And then the President throws a tantrum. Poo’ Bebbeh! Somebody call the bitch a wa-a-ahmbulance. Bitches love wa-a-ahmbulances.

Keep tellin’ ’em. If they want to infringe on the rights of the people, they have to amend the Constitution. But do they listen? Noo-o-o-o!

That, Baby Doll, is a bug, not a feature. To them. It’s one of the reasons I say they start out operating with bad faith intent.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. WHAT. Everrr.

I Was Born in Boston

BAPTISED IN THE Old North Church. My father’s family is a Mayflower family on his Mother’s side. (Not that rare in Boston.)

Next person who tries to blame ANYbody for the atrocity — not tragedy, atrocity — at the Boston Marathon in advance of hard facts gets a kick in the nads. Are we clear?

Resolved: Collectivism is Objectively Evil

IN FACT, BASED ON the Twentieth Century body count alone (100-200 million citizens killed by their governments NOT in war time), collectivism is the greatest evil ever encompassed by the mind of Man.

‘S truth. Not “my” truth or “your” truth, but Capital “T” Truth. Carved in stone on a pillar Truth.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. The facts are there, the reasoning laid out for you to follow or investigate to your own satisfaction.

For example, take the contention that individuals belong to the collective, as infamously advanced by MSNBC host-ette Melissa Harris-Perry (Hyphenated surnames used to be an indicator of bastardy; has that really changed all that much since the practice became a parlor-pink fashion accessory?). The question may be couched as: do they? And the answer is obviously: No. (Or, if you prefer, Oh, HELL no!) And further, the contention is evil and ought to be met with infinite opprobrium.

However, there are those who are willing to put forth greater effort of dispositively stomping out the notion. Such as Brandon Smith of Alt-Market blog, guest posting at Zerohedge.

They promise community, and they give you isolation. They promise prosperity, and they give you servitude. They promise safety, and they give you a land of perpetual terror. They promise purpose, and give you insignificance. They promise peace, and they foment war after war after war, reaping turmoil all around us, as well as within us.


Glenn Beck is Aghast

THAT THE SCHOOLS are indoctrinating children to state, “I am willing to give up some of my constitutional rights if I can be safer.”

As well he should be.

But that misses the point. Rather, as I say to my congresscritters all the time (in my fantasies and emails, ’cause I never really get to talk to them), YOU don’t get to waive MY rights. That is, as a matter of fact, a violation of THE fundamental principle — the principal principle, if you will — of America. In fact, it is the equivalent of original sin in this place.

And THAT, Gentle Reader, is what is REALLY happening. You are not giving up your rights, they are being taken away.


Considering How Obama

BEAT JACK RYAN, and how Sherrod Brown beat Josh Mandel, and how both Gore and Kerry tried to beat Dubya, Democrats have absolutely no room to talk about Mitch McConnell. But, of course, they’ll whinge about it if they think they can gain some advantage to it. But it wasn’t a Republican who coined the phrase, “Politics ain’t beanbag.”

Quote of the Day: April 10, 2013

AS THEY SAY, you cannot make this shit up.

We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children: Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility, and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.

— Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC anchor.

Words cannot convey just exactly how terribly despicable this is.

Not only that, but the really steep decline in American public education began almost exactly when the per-pupil expenditures began to balloon.

HERE’S YOUR TAKEAWAY FROM THAT ::SPIT:: DESPICABLE statist nanny wannabe who started out saying, “We never have invested enough in education…” and went on to claim ownership of children for the state.

First off, fuck her with a chain saw. She is despicable. Worse, she’s dangerous. And, frankly, hanging’s too good for her sort.

First principle: in a free country nobody owns anybody. All individuals own themselves. And good free people recognize that and respect the sovereignty of the individual.

Children are a special case. They must be civilized and made fit for society. They need to be educated to certain minimum standards. And, within very narrow moral strictures, they must be protected from the dire results of their own innocence.

That’s it. And, once a child is capable of making decisions for himself — and thus capable of making and absorbing the consequences of hard decisions, (and it’s generally earlier than parents like to admit), the only proper strictures a parent may or should lay on him are those which fall under the rubric of “house rules” — limits which protect the safety of parental property and those other people living in the house, and those things which might bring unearned consequences down on the owners of the house — such as drug trafficking or other illegal activities. Not that such things are necessarily approved or disapproved of, but that they put the owner (parent) unwilling at risk.

From birth, up to that point, children are the responsibility — not the property — of their parents, and it is despicable, reprehensible, and downright evil for any other person or group or the state to meddle in or interfere with that primary, fiduciary duty.

And if the children end up fucked up, all the state can or should do is shrug and remember that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children. And those sins are myriad and manifold and extend far, far beyond the proper brief of the state.

I would add that those who would vitiate liberty using children as a stalking horse are a clear and present danger to public safety and should be — not opposed, but destroyed. As you would destroy a rabid dog, with as much dispatch and as dispassionately. And for the same reasons.

Senator McCain is Sure

HE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND why those wacko birds in the tea party gang are threatening to filibuster threats to the Second Amendment.

I’m sure I don’t, either, but probably not for the same reason.

You see, McCain is a statist. (And, as I have long urged, statism should be a dirtier word than racism, on the comparative body counts alone.) So he doesn’t quite get why a notionally free people should resist the importunings of a government grown too big for its britches.

Me, I’m more liberty oriented. I find it surpassing strange that there’s even a need for said filibuster. Why should the Senate even consider such a bill, let alone need to filibuster it? Why are not those proposing it summarily drummed out of the Senate?

Publisher Beware

WHENEVER REVOLUTIONARY change threatens, (which is — like — all the time ), the Old Guard whistles in the dark past the graveyard. And, for a time, their self-deception seems to be borne out. The scorn with which members of the ancien regime deride the new seems fair to blister the finish on the hardest of power coatings. To little avail. Change is not necessarily a human choice, but a natural phenomenon, and admits to control by no one.

The metaphor I like to use is a comparison to the advent of steamships in intercontinental trade.

It was not until 1869 that steam power was finally established as the queen of the seas. But prior to that, there had to have been warning signs. After all, American shipyards stopped building clipper ships in the late 1850s. From the advent of the clipper in the years before the American Revolution (and contemporary to the development of steam) to the time of the American Civil War or shortly thereafter, there was a competition between the two in long-distance trade, with steam eventually winning out upon the opening of the Suez canal in 1869. Even today, the China clipper remains the pinnacle of beauty and function in wind-powered vessels of its size.

But we no longer power our civilization with fitful, unreliable, inefficient wind (except in the fevered backwaters of lefty brain fart pipe dreams). All during that time, there had to have been proponents of steam proudly proclaiming that “wind power is dead!” and those in favor of wind “you’ll never make China in x weeks with steam!” Both were eventually proven to be wrong. Today, only nuclear ships run on steam, and wind probably powers more recreational vessels than it ever did working cargo ships. But nobody back then could have ever predicted either, and more the fools they for trying.

But Alger, (she says, playing the good little shill like a cute and sexy doll should), you’re the one writing science fiction, which is all about predicting the future!

Well, no, Dolly. Actually, it’s not. Science fiction is about playing with ideas. Throwing the setting into the future is seen as potentially liberating, but not absolutely necessary. And, I might remind you, that the stories about you are set, now, fourteen years in the past. So your point is…?




Well, see, there you go again. If you don’t have boots doesn’t mean you’re unshod. It just means you’re… Well. Bootless.

ANY way…

Anyway. Nobody back in the early 1800s could have predicted the way things worked out between steam and sail — not even Jules Verne — and their efforts to do so might have… You know when you were a kid, first learning to play baseball, and you kept fouling out down the first base line, and they told you, “If you can just straighten that out, you’ll have a home run”?

Well… No.

Oh. Was that just me? I never knew. The point is that I wasted a lot of time and energy hitting those long balls out-of-bounds. Well, as it turned out, the effort spent learning baseball was pretty much wasted anyway, but that’s another story. Which makes the point that, if all that effort that went into predicting how things would turn out in the competition between steam and sail were converted to, you know, developing new inventions or new businesses instead…

It probably wouldn’t have changed things much.

Well, there is that.

ANY way… I tell you that to tell you this: Today, the powers that think they be (TPTTTB) in the publishing world are whistling in the dark past the graveyard of independent publishing. They want to persuade themselves that they can control it, that they can survive the change it presages, that it’s a short-lived phenomenon — a fad — and all the similar wheezes you’ve heard and read in recent years. Must feel about like the carriage trade did when the wits on the sidewalk were snarking at the fools puttering by in Model-Ts, shouting, “Get a horse!” Warmed the cockles of their hearts, it must have, to hear their chosen mode of transport thus defended and even praised.

Yeah. Right. People have always been so capable of self-deception. And always will be.

But, me, I’ve seen this happen before — in my own lifetime — and I’m here to tell you, don’t nobody know nuffin’ about what’s to come. About all that can be accurately said is that things will never be the same again. But then, they never are. Or, as Dolly put it…

See, she was heading through a perilous, strait and narrow place, and a grizzled old gaffer of a Lesser Elf was sunning himself on a rock by the side of the road and tried to warn her off. “Dinna gang in there, lass. Folk wit gang in there dinna coom oot th’ same.” (All my elves are from Glasgow — not.)

And Dolly barely paused in her headlong progress, and says…

“Oh, that’s alright. I haven’t been the same for years.”

… and plunges on.

When I started out as a young tad, knee high to a very tall grasshopper, one of my mentors said to me — this would have been in 1981 or so — to watch out for ink jet technology. Because, as he said, “In ten years, you’ll be able to walk into Kmart and there’ll be a kiosk where you can get anything printed on the spot, using an ink jet printer. It’s going to put us (commercial offset printers) out of business.”

Now, at that time, Kinko’s was an established brand, and so-called “quick prints” were mushrooming everywhere, so the wary, sleeping-with-one-eye-open, reliant-on-big-iron printers of an earlier age (offset printing dates back to the 1870s) might be excused for feeling a bit nervous in the service.

But, what very few people saw coming, even at that late date, was microcomputers and what desktop publishing would eventually wreak on the graphic arts industries. The Mac was introduced in 1984 and PageMaker in 1985. But, in 1981, it looked as though minicomputers would rule the day, still calling for investments of big capital, yes, but different kinds of big capital, and probably in addition to the millions of dollars in press and bindery equipment a typical small job shop would have.

In those days, there were all manner of service specialties that surrounded printers.

There were color houses, which specialized in making color separations and laying up platemaking film for complex jobs. There were type houses, which had massive libraries of very expensive type faces and the ability to set type in any form or format from one-word headlines to the galleys for book printing — and could provide you with hot metal, cold metal, negatives, or veloxes. There were specialty platemakers and engravers who provided the dies and plates for letterpress operations — diecutting, dry embossing, hot foil stamping, or just plain ink-to-paper. There were binderies, which could perform all manner of post-press operations from die-cutting, scoring, perforating, folding, and padding to case-bound books and beyond. And there were various types and specialties of trade print shops, large press, web, flexo, silkscreen — each serving a particular niche and the jobs appropriate to it.

Fast forward, eight years, to 1989, and people were beginning to see the tsunami of change far out to sea and starting to scurry — either for the exits or for a new position, to be assumed in hopes of surviving. Two more years and it was done. Fait accompli. Stick a fork in it. Whole swathes of the graphic arts were gone — to dust, like the buggy whip manufacturers of another age.

People took early retirement or went into tending bar. Driving taxis. Some of the change is still shaking out. We at the Patch Factory sold off our last big iron offset press only a year or two ago. We were fortunate in having managers with the foresight to understand the absolute necessity of riding the tsunami, (not attempting to withstand it or get out of its way), and the willingness to capitalize the changes required. We were at the forefront of the change in our area, and ran, for the time that it mattered, the most cutting edge shop in town.

(We’ve outgrown that need, now. It’s no longer that the best available is barely adequate to our task. Commodities will do for us, and the bleeding edge is elsewhere. The wave has come in and receded in our immediate neighborhood and we have a breathing space — though not for long, I’m sure.)

The experience has both tired us and taught us to be wary of complacency. We understand that we must stay abreast of developments in a wider variety of fields than ever. We need to be out there actively looking for tools and opportunities both, or somebody younger, more nimble, or just better at what we do than we will eat our lunch. And I’m too old to go hungry ’til dinner. So I step lively.

Now, the literature industry…

::wobbita:: What’s that? “The literature industry…”?

It’s more than publishing but less than printing? Just acquiring and putting out books used to be the business model. And the powers that think they be (TPTTTB) are trying mightily to force the entire business of producing and selling letters (which is what “literature” means) into that mold. But it’s already broken out of it and the toothpaste just will not go back in the tube. And trying to get it to is a chump’s game. The energy would be much better spent on figuring out how to better provide “value-added” to independent authors. Because, while I can’t predict the shape of the business in the future (but neither can TPTTTB).

But what I can tell you for sure is that, once an author experiences a 70% royalty per copy on an e-book, or receiving the publisher’s cut AND the author’s cut on a trade paperback, he or she is NOT going to go back to 5% hardback or 7% paperback or whatever it is that “traditional” publishers dangle in front of needy, desperate-for-publication authors. And, if the publishers Amanda Green is calling “legacy” publishers want to stay viable, they’d better have a solution that — for a significantly lower percentage of the take and no control over accounting — provides services such as mass market printing and rack jobbing on books that are, essentially, print-ready packages, including covers, typesetting, page design, and the lot from the author on the front end.

Because, if they don’t, somebody smaller, younger, hungrier, smart, faster, and nimbler will come along and eat their lunch.

And, I suspect, they’re too old and fat and lazy to go hungry until dinner.