Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Good Friday — bad weather, at least where I am. When I was in second grade, Good Friday included a whomping thunderstorm that rolled over the Northwest Side about 3PM. It got very dark and scary looking, and (after several days of intensive Holy Week preparation in school, especially about Christ’s death on the cross) it was natural for me to think that Good Friday was always dark and stormy, a reflection of what happened in our Bible stories. Alas, the next year Good Friday happened on a beautiful warm spring day. Lesson: Characterization matters more than setting. Don’t get distracted by the special effects.
  • Besides, Friday is, well, Friday. How bad could it get? (Jesus could have died on a Monday.)
  • Finally, if you haven’t seen this, do take a look. (2.4 MB PDF but well worth it.) You may miss some of the humor if you don’t know theology-geek things like who Bart Ehrman is, but overall it’s hilarious, and in a weird way rather touching. “Roman Soldier is considering early retirement.” I’ll bet.
  • Carl Elkin has given the Jewish Haggadah the Facebook treatment as well. I’m sure I miss most of the humor by simply not being Jewish, but I do like God’s comments.
  • This is an old article (2003) but allowing a little for inflation it looks to me like an accurate systematic treatment of the costs inherent in mass-market print book publishing. The takeaway is that print publishers were suffering even eight years ago (they’ve been suffering since midlate 2000, in fact) and that it’s miserable trying to turn a profit on an $8 mass-market paperback.
  • The author of the above piece doesn’t talk much about per-book author earnings, but some quick envelope math indicates that (with some variance by contract terms) MM paperback authors get about 35c – 40c per book sold. (Note that I have never sold a MM paperback myself, nor did my company publish them.) This may explain why indie authors are willing to sell ebook novels for 99c: Authors get about the same amount per sale on a dollar ebook as they do on an $8 print book.
  • Here is a slightly scary but as best I can tell accurate description of the problems confronting print publishers. From the same author come unsettling hints that traditional publishers are botching the ebook business, and botching it badly. Misfeasance or malfeasance? What’s going on here is unclear, but the situation bears watching. (Thanks to Amy Ranger for putting me on to it.)
  • Pointers to this article by Gary Taubes have been coming in from all sides, but Dave Lloyd was the first to send it to me. The question of whether or not sugar should be called “toxic” is far less important than the question of whether sugar makes you fat–and whether some types of sugar (i.e., that ol’ devil fructose) make you fatter faster than others. Sure looks like it from here.
  • I don’t know how well this works, but it’s a brilliant concept: Put a pico projector in an unused laptop optical drive bay. Not cheap. Not now, at least.
  • How well things work? Wow: I haven’t seen a hardware review this negative in a long, long time. A tablet that won’t do anything useful unless it’s tethered to your Blackberry? WTF?
  • Hey guys! Long integers!


  1. Tom Dison says:

    The Playbook – at first I thought, “How could these guys be so clueless?” Then it dawned on me – I’ve worked for kool-aid drinkers. These folks not only blab market-speak, they actually believe it. Yep, some goof-ball with too much power did this. There were probably tons of folks at RIM who just rolled their eyes. The clueless one never even considered that anyone wouldn’t want to use a Blackberry. Why, it’s a feature. Lol! Meanwhile, the yes mean heard his or her loony idea and said … Yes! Oh my, this is too bad. I really like QNX. I’ll never forget downloading their demo floppy that ran the whole OS, and networking stack and a web browser – from a floppy (circa 1998)! Hopefully, they’ll push out a solution rapidly, but they are going to have a hard time overcoming the negative first impression. Doh!

    1. Erbo says:

      Oh, the Playbook is just loaded with FAIL. David Pogue’s reaction was, “RIM has just shipped a BlackBerry product that cannot do e-mail. It must be skating season in hell.” Eric S. Raymond says the best advice for RIM at this point is to “hunt down the genius who planned this and shoot him through the head. That is, if you can still afford the bullets by the time you find him.”

      What’s more, the company executives have resorted to whining about the bad reviews. When that starts happening, a company is back on its heels and ready for the knockout punch.

  2. Aki says:

    “A tablet that won’t do anything useful unless it’s tethered to your Blackberry? WTF?”

    That’s progress! At least it is a lighter version of what we had back in 1988 ie. AN/PRC-77 Portable Transceiver and Sanomalaite M/90 (SANLA). 😉

    1. I almost bought an AN/PRC-77 set back in the mid-90s, up at the Fort Tuthill Hamfest in Flagstaff, Arizona. Guy wanted $200 for it and I thought it was too much. (I do a lot of work on 6M, which that radio does by default.) Now they’re going for $300 and up. I guess I had my chance.

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