Author Charles Stross: Is Amazon a Malignant Monopoly, Or Just Plain Evil?
So it sits there. Unpublished by anyone. I'll never know if nobody likes it until I hit the go button. But I'm also scared to learn that I suck at something I enjoy doing.
I went through a similar process to yours, with agents liking (but not taking) my novel. My wife has won literary awards for works agents wouldn't take because they couldn't see her stories becoming best sellers. Not just doing well (which they admitted they would do), but becoming best sellers! The entire publisher/agent thing is a bad joke on creative talent. These self appointed gatekeepers of our culture often miss the next big thing and are rarely looking for a new, different voice despite what they claim, but rather the next celebrity ghostwritten tripe where they can make a quick buck.
I can relate to your fear of rejection...I share it...but I'd encourage you to go for it. Make sure your book is professionally edited and proofread (this is absolutely critical, and far too many self-published authors don't do this). While you're doing that, figure out a promotional strategy. For example, line up bookstores in your area for signings, create a presence on goodreads, participate in book fairs, lit fests, and conventions applicable to your genre, etc.
Don't be too disappointed if you don't sell a ton of copies (it is very hard to get noticed), and don't measure yourself on that...measure yourself on how well people enjoy your work. That is the real metric on how well you write, and how good your work is. My novel Autonomy received all kinds of good reviews (from people I've never met!), but it's still not a "best seller." Just put your edited, polished work out there and if those who read it love it, then you don't "suck at something" you enjoy. Quite the opposite.
Australia May 'Pause' Trades To Tackle High-Frequency Trading
High frequency trading isn't the issue. The banks are the real "insiders", and are pointing fingers at small, high frequency prop shops to deflect attention from themselves, and to get back to the bad old days when they could really gouge their customers with wide spreads.
High frequency traders make their money by having better pricing models, narrowing spreads in the market, and being able to execute and then get out of a position quickly to lock in their profits and eliminate risk. The banks like to be the middleman, with wide spreads, so that they can pocket the difference.
The net result of high frequency traders is that the rest of us can get a stock much closer to their actual value (due to narrow spreads). Yes, the high freqency traders make good money by selling the stock $0.005 off the "real" value to me and then immediately getting out of the position by reselling it a millisecond later and locking in that $0.005 profit, but I have only paid a premium of $0.005 instad of the $0.35 or worse the banks would love to gouge me for (and used to, a few short years ago).
We get rid of high freqency trading and we'll be back to the bad old days, when the real insiders really did gouge us, and we all paid far too much for our investments, and were able to sell at far too little, with the likes of Goldman Sachs pocketing the enormous difference.
As for the front-running nonsense on 60 Minutes, that's always been illegal (contrary to what we're being told), and it is not at all how high frequency trading works. If someone was in fact doing that, then they're in a whole world of hurt with the SEC (and rightly so), but this entire exercise appears much more like a distraction: blame small outsider firms who've made the marketplace more effecient and tightened spreads for problems created by corruption within the big banks, and hope no one notices...at least until the next bank-induced crash.
Elon Musk Addresses New Jersey's Tesla Store Ban
If you want to register a vehicle that you've purchased out of state in NJ, you have to pay sales tax on it, unless it was previously registered at your former address in the state where it was purchased. So basically, if you live in NJ and want a Tesla, you have to pay sales tax (and possibly registration fees) in the state you purchase it, and then pay sales tax AGAIN in order to register it in NJ.
That's true in most states. I got lucky in that I'd bought my car ~7 months before moving from New York City to Chicago...had I bought it 2 months later, I would have been stuck with sales tax in both states.
That said, as egregious as this is, it is nothing compared to the bullshit New York City and New York State inflict upon their residents. When I moved out of the state, I had to pay a punitive tax for having the audacity of leaving New York state. I kid you not. At around $3k, it's enough to hurt, but just under the amount that would make a lawsuit overturning this doubtlessly unconsitituional tax financially worthwile. That said, after this experience I will never willingly live in New York state again.
NSA and GHCQ Employing Shills To Poison Web Forum Discourse
So: can anyone come up with a cost/benefit analysis, please ?
For the NSA/CIA, the Koch-brother sponsored right wing zealot groups, etc. the cost benefit analysis is quite simple.
Does it benefit the NSA/CIA/Koch Bro groups and their agendas, directly or indirectly, even a little? If so, do it. If not, don't. There is undoubtably a risk analysis component (how likely are we to get caught?) but the general pattern seems to be to do what they like and rely on their ability to destory the reputation of any people of good conscience who stand up against them, much less report their malfeasance.
What is particularly disturbing about this is the lengths to which they are willing to go, the degree of negative-sum activities they are willing to engage in (they don't mind engaging in massively destructive activities against others for very modest, even minor gains, where the negative impact to their oponents, society or the world dwarfs their own miniscule gains), and the degree of silence from otherwise "good persons" who nearly always opt to do (and say) nothing. It reminds me of the old post-WW II adage which concludes "and when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out" (paraphrased).
Intel Puts a PC Into an SD Card-Sized Casing
These particular devices are not meant for human interfacing or running a UI, but for the Internet of Things(really hate that name) and ubiquitous computing.
I share your loathing for that name. The fact is, these are intended for ubiquitious governance, where everything from a baby rattle to your keychain is a governance device designed to monitor, track, and someday soon record your every action and movement.
The price at which we'll all be willing to sell out to this level of surveillance and control? The convinience of being able to find our car keys whenever we lose them, and monitor our babies without a baby monitor. Do it for the children, and to protect yourself from terrorists! Welcome to the future, where we are all chattel of the state, and there is no getting away.
Is the World Ready For Facial Recognition On Google Glass?
I was a teen sereval teen-cycles ago, and the 1st idiot wearing Glass that I meet will need a good medical team, no discussion, period.
Tech is great, but in the current climate of mistrust this is a bad, bad idea and technology.
Do it to me, and your wages will be garnished for life. You'll be buying me a new airplane if you so much as touch me. It's a public place, they're free photons buddy, and I'm not the government. Get over it.
You want to go after someone, go after the NSA, or the credit bureaus, or the many, many assholes already selling every aspect of your life you think is secret. Don't go after your fellow citizens who now, at long last, are starting to get the technology that levels the playing field and allows them to in turn start watching the watchers.
Supreme Court Declines Case On Making Online Retailers Collect Sales Taxes
Well, that is the current dream of many.. find ways to have all the benefits of operating in the US without paying for it. Taxes are something that it is in one's best interest to have other people paying.
I don't mind paying taxes, and wouldn't mind paying a standard VAT to sell anywhere in the US. But the local US sales tax laws are a complete clusterfuck. When I'm selling books in various locations, I have to dig up the tax rate for that location It's a hassle, but doable, but some states are really fucked up.
New York is one of them.
Sales tax varies depending on which county, in some cases which city or which part of the city you're in. Tax rates coded to zip codes don't work...some zipcodes span localities with wildly varying sales tax rates. I'lliinois is better, but still, rates vary depending on whether you're in Chicago proper, one of the suburbs, or one of the localities downstate.
Multiply this complexity by 50 states and you begin to realize what a complete clusterfuck it is for any small online buisiness to try and cope with. Shipping a package to Bumblefuck, Nebraska? What's the sales tax? How about Buttfuck, New York? Good luck.
Impose a national VAT of x percent, and kick back some or all of it to the states, and ban local sales taxes of any kind. This needs to be vastly simplified. Even if it were 50 states and 50 different sales tax rates that would be doable, but with many dozens of different sales tax venues with varying rates in New York alone, and plenty of states like Illiinois with a few cities that impose their own surtax to the state rate, figuring this crap out is a nightmare on the best of days. If every state is allowed to impose its taxes on all online folks, only the big players like Amazon will be able to cope. The rest of us, and most new startups, will crumble under the burden.
Unpublished J. D. Salinger Stories Leaked On Bittorrent Site
We need somebody famous but with no pretensions (someone like
a Letterman or a Foxworthy) to speak out in a voice that will be
heard and tell everyone the obvious: the emperor is butt nekkid.
Updike did just that in A Month of Sundays. Hilariously written, exposes the hypocracy and doublethink that is so rampant in American society, and in particular the right-wing clergy of this country, and very well written. People either love it or hate it ... the latter generally fall into the religious category, as the story deals with a pastor who sleeps with just about everyone's wife, and justifies his actions through selective quotation of the bible ("amen!").
There are American works that deserve that level of praise (Updike's work being one of them imho), but good luck getting it past the numerous gatekeepers who decide what is 'great' and what itsn't (and I'm not just talking about the dinasaur publishers or withering literary agents, I'm also including the left and particularly right-wing pressure groups, and worst of all, the religious pressure groups).
Cable Lobbyist Tom Wheeler Confirmed As New FCC Chief
This is why a lot of people say it's better to do government operations as close to the people as possible. That is, if it can be done at a city level, do it at a city level. If it can be done at a state level, do it at a state level. Only a few things should be done at the national level.
The farther things get from the people, the easier it is for them to be corrupted (or rather, if some town gets corrupted, it doesn't affect people outside that town).
That's great in theory, but in practice it often doesn't work that way. Local and state governments are often far more corrupt than the federal government. Illiinois has had several of its former governors go to jail, and I don't really need to comment on the corruption Chicago is known for. What is less well known is the rampant corruption in places like Normal, IL, East St. Louis, IL, etc. Other states have similar issues, some far worse than Illinois and Chicago, and many if not most far worse than the corruption we see at the federal level (though I admint, with the NSA surveillance state, FCC corporatist revolving door, and a supreme court acting as a wholly owned subsidiary of our corporate masters, this may be changing).
How Safe Is Cycling?
I agree completely. I do precisely the same thing. I generally assumed that most motorists are criminally incompetent idiots. I know this is incorrect, and that the vast majority of motorists are good, law-abiding citizens and competent drivers who are aware of their surroundings. But when you're sharing the road with someone driving a 5 ton metal box at 3-4x your speed, assuming they're a moron can save your life.
Not to defend idiot drivers, because there are plenty of them around, but cyclists can be difficult to see in numerous situations even under ideal weather/visibility condidtions. This is made worse when they're where they don't belong (weaving between cars, zipping into crosswalks and using them as a left-turn lane in states which allow right-on-red (NYC doesn't, much of NY does, and IL does, including Chicago except where marked), riding against traffic, moving erratically from using the sidewalk as a bike highway to cutting into traffic, often from in front of a parked truck or SUV that effectively hides there existence, etc. etc. etc.
If cyclists were required to hold a valid drivers license, obey the rules of the road, and it were enforced at least as well as it is against cars, with the same consequences (such as points on your license for running red lights, etc.), then a whole lot less cyclists would die, irrespective of whether the accident "blame" is placed on the automobile driver for not having x-ray vision and going 5 miles over the 30MPH limit, or on the cyclist for driving like an idiot.
I cycle around the city plenty, and it can get dicey, and there are drivers that need several hard whacks with a clue-bat, but they are dwarfed by the idiocy of other cyclists I observe every day...as often as not against other cyclists.
How Safe Is Cycling?
The best way to make cycling in major cities safer would be to
1) require a drivers license to cycle on city streets
2) require cyclists to obey all traffic laws (this is already true in many jurisdictions)
3) disallow cyclists (and motorcycles) from weaving between lanes to move ahead in traffic. Require them to use lanes in the same manner as other vehicles (you don't see 2 smart cars trying to share one lane of traffic)
4) enforce #1, #2 and #3 as aggressivley with cyclists as with automobiles, with the same penalties
I have seen more pedestrians run down (or nearly run down) by cyclists running red lights, weaving in and out of slow moving traffic, transitioning from using the streets to using pedestrian crosswalks to thwart lights or make lefts from a right hand lane across traffic. I cannot count the number of times I've seen aggressive cyclists in New York and Chicago weave through cars, use the wrong side of the road (!!!), etc. and then get upset when someone nearly knocks them over because they weren't seen being where they didn't belong.
If you require a level of competence (driver's license), require all vehicles using the roads to abide by the same laws (and enforce equally, with equal consequences), you'd go a long way toward improving cycling safety.
Why Julian Assange Should Embrace 'The Fifth Estate'
It's a movie, it's made for entertainment purposes.
It's not meant to be taken seriously, so as long as the party being fun of doesn't, neither will the audience.
History would indicate otherwise. The move "The Patriot" with Mel Gibson took terrible liberties with history, painting the British to be far worse than they ever were. One example, the movie contains a scene where locals were rounded up, herded into a church, and burned alive (with the church). This happened...in France, during world war II. So Mel Gibson and his writers took a Nazi atrocity perpetrated in France, and portrayed it as an atrocity committed by the British against Americans, when no such thing ever happened.
Similiar falsehoods were spread in another Mel Gibson movie, Braveheart, regarding the Scottish rising up against the English (true) in reaction to various English atrocities against the Scots portrayed in the movie that were demonstrably false and never happened.
The result in both cases: acts of intimidation, threats, and in some cases violence against the English by Americans (in the case of "The Patriot") and the Scots (in the case of "Braveheart"). These type of historical falsehoods are not rejected by audiences, and are in some cases taken very seriously. If similar falsehoods are being spread about Wikileaks and Julian Assange, then he is right to be pissed off, and right to push back.
Saudi Justice: 10 Years and 2,000 Lashes For Internet Video of Naked Dancing
Oh for fucks sake please stop engaging in such false equivalencies. I know you appended the smiley in an effort to make a joke of this, and this isn't aimed at you personally. Far too many people really think it isn't that bad, and we shouldn't say anything because we're not perfect either, and your post (meant in jest or not) feeds into that notion.
The United States may have put an inexperienced African-American in office ahead of a vastly more qualified female, but our gender (and other issues) are miniscule compared to how women are treated in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and other places.
* Women are routinely murdered for stepping out of line, in despicable, dishonorable acts referred to by their perpetrators as "honor killings."
* Women who offend the sensibilities of the men of their family are often locked up for life in a room with no light, no sound, and no outside contact beyond a tray of food being shoved under a door, a practice that makes solitary confinement in the US and other western states look like a picnic in comparison. The result is almost universal madness on the part of the victim, usually within a relatively short time. This practice is so common and entrenched that there is a term for this facility, the "woman's room" (not to be confused with a restroom or loo)
* victims of rape are routinely charged and convicted of fornication, adultery, etc. for having the audacity of being a victim, and imprisoned or worse (see above). Worse, they are convicted merely on the word of a few men, while female testimony is dismissed (by law) and not considered as a counterweight. In many places, they are stoned to death.
* Even women who manage to escape all of this and are considered "upstanding" by the psychotic standards of the culture can, at best, expect to be buried in the desert with no record of their passing (no marker, no death record, nothing). This after a life in servitude and bondage.
* Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to leave the house without the company of a man, even if the man is a boy-child.
* Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive, on pain of severe punushment.
and the list goes on. Women drowned in front of their entire families in the family swimming pool. Women disfigured by acid for refusing the advances of a suiter, and so on and so on, ad nauseum.
People should read the book "Princess" by Jean Sasson, about the nightmare of being a Saudi Princess, arguably the most privileged and sheltered position a woman can occupy in that society. There are also several excellent, Iranian-made movies that depict, describe, and criticize the epidemic of female-stonings in that society, often with little or no evidence beyond the word of a husband keen to ditch his wife for a prettier woman, e.g. The Stoning of Soraya M.
It's appalling, and we in the west have betrayed everything we purport to stand for, year after year and decade after decade, by cozying up to such regimes and abusive societies.
Time Reporter "Can't Wait" To Justify Drone Strike On Julian Assange
If anyone else were advocating the violent death of another, it would be a crime; perhaps it's time for some standards to be applied to all - right, left, far left (journalists), far right (faux journalists at fox, etc.).
The media in the US is by and large very conservative. The "liberal" media is a myth, the US media is anything but liberal, particularly the news media.
Aging Is a Disease; Treat It Like One
That's nice, but he isn't speaking German, he's speaking English and in English it doesn't mean poison.
Ah, but English is a Germanic language. Aging beyond young adulthood is deadly. If it is a gift, then it is a poisonous one, so the interlingual play on words is quite apropos.
New Treatment From Australia For All Cancers
if we have a global nuclear war, does that mean science won?
No. In all liklihood, it will mean religious fanatics in either America, some other region, or both, got their hands on nukes and decided to usher in whatever their version of post-apacalyptic "our religion now rules on Earth as it does in Heaven" millennium. By the time they realize what fools they were, we as a species have joined the other 99% of species in extinction.
Regardless, it will mean the baser side of human nature won, and happened to use a scientificly derived tool as it defeated our better natures, and our species.
Transport Expert Insists 'Don't Dismiss Wacky Hyperloop'
Take I-80 coast to coast. The big challenge is staying awake through 1000 miles of corn, but you'll start to appreciate just how much of it we grow.
That's the beauty of 800mph travel. You only have to look at the corn for an hour and fifteen minutes, then you get a change of scenery. New York-Cleaveland-Chicago-KC-Denver would be a nice route to have, with maybe a southern spur St Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, along with a second western route from New Orleans through Houston, San Antonio, Touscon, Pheonix, to LA. Add a northern routhe Chicago-Minneapolis-Bismarck-Billings-Misoula-Spokane-Portland, hooking up to a west coast link from Vancouver to San Diego and you have a pretty well connected country. Obviously speeds would have to be slower in the rockies, barring expensive tunneling projects, but it would still beat air travel between most of those cities.
Could Humanity Really Build 'Elysium'?
There would be far less complexity if the Ultra Rich decided to purchase something like Australia as well as all the drones that you could stick a shake at to attack anything that came within 500 miles, and then for sport lob a few high yield explosives into population centers that appear to be getting a little too uppity.
Dear would-be Rich Overlord:
I'll see your drones, and raise you one toxic airborn virus (vaccine not included), released as part of a dusting upwind of Australia along one of the prevailing jetstreams.
--(signed) One Uppity Human
Would be Overlord (between hacking coughs, spewing phlem laced with the remnants of his decaying internal organs): the space station idea might have been worth the cost...(more hacking coughs, followed by his final expiry)
Jimmy Carter Calls Snowden Leak Ultimately "Beneficial"
+1 for this one. Reagan was the opposite of Carter, a full time political player with no interest in academical solutions
And then we reached our true nadir with George Dubya, who proudly and vehemently proclaimed "I am not an intellectual!" It showed, too...we'll be digging out of the hole he put us in for the next 15 years, assuming we're lucky^H^H^H^H^H smart enough not to elect another one just like him...
Describe Any Location On Earth In 3 Words
I'll describe the entire Earth in only 2:
I'll describe it in one: