June 9, 2013

Jim Souhan has drunk the Purple Kool-Aid

Filed under: Football, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:24

In the Twin Cities, Jim Souhan has always been a voice of reason among the sports writers, rarely falling into the trap of optimism about the Minnesota Vikings. His carefully cynical, humourous approach has always set him apart from the herd. Until now

For decades, when you left the Vikings’ Winter Park facility, you needed a long shower. Maybe even a luffa.

You were constantly confronted with the ugly realities of an ugly business, from ownership and management infighting to angry and sometimes felonious players. Paranoia often ruled, and often for good reason. The Vikings had a lot to hide.

These days, the franchise that brought you such great hits as Denny Green’s Basement Tapes, The Love Boat, the Original Whizzinator and “Straight Cash, Homey,” has become the kind of place you wouldn’t mind bringing your children.

Wednesday, while enjoying 100 percent player attendance at an OTA for the first time in memory, the Vikings played host to a bunch of Special Olympic athletes, kids who are competing in Punt, Pass & Kick. While that’s not exactly a new development — Green pushed players to be active in the community — the atmosphere at Winter Park has changed.

It used to be like “Game of Thrones.” Now it’s more “Cheers,” with Jared Allen as Norm.

Winter Park has become a place of genial professionalism. The organization has achieved remarkable stability among key employees on all levels, and the team’s best players also tend to be their most gracious representatives when dealing with the public and media. Leslie Frazier might be the friendliest coach in football, and Adrian Peterson might be the friendliest superstar in sports.

May 30, 2013

A valuable lightning rod – Eric Holder as Attorney General

Filed under: Government, Law, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:27

In the Daily Beast, Nick Gillespie explains why Eric Holder may not be the worst attorney general ever, but he’s doing exactly what an attorney general is expected to do — taking heat off the president:

Eric Holder may not be the worst attorney general in American history, but he is the most recent — which amounts to nearly the same thing.

Despite its exalted status as the nation’s “top cop,” the job is best understood as a dumping ground for intermittently competent bulldogs who take out the president’s trash and act as his public-relations human shield. That was the basic duty of George W. Bush’s troika of torture apologists: John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, and Michael Mukasey. Ashcroft went so far after the 9/11 attacks as to argue that dissent itself verged on the unconstitutional.

[. . .]

There’s no reason to believe that Holder will be sent packing anytime soon or that he’s somehow at cross-purposes with the president. Obama has voiced nothing but support for his attorney general, which means that there’s every reason to keep questioning Holder’s truthfulness. One of his first actions upon taking office was to underscore the Obama administration’s position that federal resources would not be targeted at medical-marijuana users and providers who complied with laws in states where the stuff is legal. The result? A record number of raids against medical-marijuana dispensaries in California and elsewhere in Obama’s “war on weed.” And yet Holder continues to insist, as he did last year before Congress, that “we limit our enforcement efforts to those individuals and organizations that are acting out of conformity with state laws.” So Holder is either out of touch with reality or following a script scribbled together in the Oval Office. Neither prospect is comforting given that Obama’s DOJ has yet to state its position regarding the full legalization of pot in Colorado and Washington state.

It’s daunting to remember that Holder served as a deputy attorney general in Janet Reno’s Justice Department during the Clinton years. What lessons in self-preservation and executive-branch overreach might he have learned under Reno, the second-longest-serving attorney general in American history and surely one of the worst?

Recall that Reno was at best Clinton’s third pick for the position, being selected only after his first two selections were undone by revelations that they had employed illegal aliens as nannies. Reno’s tenure was marked by horrifyingly misguided law-enforcement debacles such as the deadly standoff between federal agents and the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas, and the armed raid to separate 6-year-old Elián González from his American relatives and return him to his father in Cuba. But she held on as a political lightning rod, absorbing political punishment before it could reach her boss.

May 14, 2013

Is this week’s Scandalpalooza actually a “big bath” move?

Filed under: Business, Government, Media, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 13:22

Megan McArdle explains what a “big bath” is and how the current rash of scandals might be a political version of this financial accounting trick:

I confess, when I woke up this morning, I half expected to find that Obama had confessed to being one of our lizard overlords, or made an offhand mention of the time he’d had the CIA price out a drone attack on Mitt Romney’s headquarters. Between Benghazi, the discovery that Kathleen Sebelius has been leaning on insurers to finance their Obamacare PR, uncovery of a freelance political inquisition by the IRS, and last night’s revelation that the Department of Justice had been trolling through the phone records of AP reporters, this has been the most scandalicious week in living memory. I mean, sure, none of it rises to the level of Watergate. But while the gravity may pale in comparison, the volume is breathtaking. So breathtaking that it’s tempting to think that the administration is doing this deliberately.

In finance, there’s an art known as “Big Bath Accounting” which is used to manage earnings expectations. Here’s how it works: if you know you’re going to have a bad quarter, you look around for anything else that might go wrong in the future, and you decide to “recognize” that bad news now. Inventory looking a little stale? Write it down, man! Customers getting a little slow to pay? Now would be a good time to write off their accounts as bad debt. Is there some uncertainty in the projections about depletable assets like oil stores? For heaven’s sake, why not use the low end of the projections rather than the medium or high end? And we should really book some sort of charge to account for the risk that the Yellowstone supervolcano will explode, killing hundreds of thousands and covering the entire western half of the United States in volcanic ash, and in the process severely dampening demand for our premium line of Wyoming-themed memorabilia.

Corporations call this “cleaning up the balance sheet”. Accounting professors call it things I can’t print because this is a family blog.

QotD: Litmus testing political scandals

Filed under: Media, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:27

Dear friends in the media.

Come on.

I mean, come on.

You and I know what’s going with the Benghazi thing. Let me share something that I first put into play during the “was Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account hacked” debate, but that comes from watching the Lewinsky scandal, the where-did–Mark-Sanford-go scandal, the why-is-David-Wu-dressed-in-a-tiger-suit scandal, and a wide variety of wrongdoing committed by politicians:

When there is evidence of scandalous or bizarre behavior on the part of a political figure, and no reasonable explanation is revealed within 24 to 48 hours, then the truth is probably as bad as everyone suspects.

Nobody withholds exculpatory information. Nobody who’s been accused of something wrong waits for “just the right moment” to unveil information that proves the charge baseless. Political figures never choose to deliberately let themselves twist in the wind. It’s not the instinctive psychological reaction to being falsely accused, it’s not what any public communications professional would recommend, and to use one of our president’s favorite justifications, it’s just common sense.

Jim Geraghty, “The Mask Is Ripped Off of ‘Hope and Change'”, National Review, 2013-05-14

April 18, 2013

PVFW heroically takes the fight back to disparaging military bloggers

Filed under: Humour, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:46

You’ve got to admire their willingness to continue their fight against reality:

The Phony Veterans of Foreign Wars, the nation’s leading military fakers’ organization — representing fake members from all service branches — has gone on the offensive in the fight against military bloggers.

PVFW fired back with a public relations offensive, speaking with reporters and establishing a password-protected blog on their website devoted to peer-reviewed development of members’ stories of their superhuman valor and heroism.

“Because of these milbloggers’ relentless assault on our First Amendment-protected right to lie about brief, unglamorous or nonexistent military service,” PVFW chairman Michael Spurwick told reporters, “several of our members have suffered irreparable damage to their reputations, and a few have even had their businesses and careers ruined, after being exposed as frauds. Something had to be done.”

Spurwick, a former Army sergeant, who was promoted to General before retiring as a Captain, has a long and impressive career of made-up military service.

“We lost a lot of good men out there,” Spurwick said. “I don’t really like to talk about it.”

Born in 1965, he’s a veteran of every U.S. military action since his birth, from the Vietnam War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Boasting unearned Special Forces and Ranger tabs, Spurwick served with both Delta Force and the Rangers during Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu, Somalia. He’s participated in every combat parachute jump since 1967, when, at just fifteen months of age, he parachuted into North Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne during Operation Junction City — as well as a top-secret high altitude, high opening jump from the International Space Station during OEF VI and a LANO (low-altitude, no-opening) jump from a B-1 bomber during OIF V.

[Editor’s note: According to Spurwick’s DD214, obtained by The Duffel Blog through a FOIA request, he was discharged from the Army in 1986 during basic training at Fort Sill, Okla., as an E-2.]

I’m sure there is — or soon will be — an anti-bullying law of some stripe that will allow these brave imaginary heroes to launch legal counter-attacks against those who would deny them the ability to wear uniforms, medals, badges, and awards to which they have no actual right.

March 11, 2013

Chris Kluwe on the PR disaster that was the SimCity 5 launch

Filed under: Business, Gaming — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:13

In addition to his “day job” as the punter for the Minnesota Vikings, and his public advocacy role in pushing for same-sex marriage, Chris Kluwe is also a gamer. In this latter persona, he was invited to review the new SimCity 5 release from EA games on behalf of PC Gamer. Business Insider had to bleep out a fair bit of raw Kluwe-ism in the aftermath:

Hi. I’m Chris. I’ve been playing SimCity ever since the Super Nintendo version, and I’ve always been a huge fan of the franchise (SimCity 3000 is my favorite). Thus, when PC Gamer came to me and said “Hey Chris! We want you to play the new SimCity 5 with us in our Celebrity SimCity region,” I wasted no time in responding with a resounding “Hell yeah!”

I mean, what could go wrong?

(Other than the inevitable giant lizards, meteor showers, and poor sewage planning that happen in every SimCity game)

[. . .]

At the time of writing this piece, SimCity 5 has been active for almost 62 hours. Of those 62 hours, I’ve been able to log in for around ten. Of those ten, four consisted of massive latency issues and corrupted games, so (quick calculation here), I’ve had access to the actual game for maybe 10 percent of the time I’ve had it. EA’s servers are, to put it bluntly, utterly bug[redacted], and there’s no option to play the game offline.

Therein lies the heart of my problem. SimCity is, at its heart, a single player game. Having access to other players’ cities is cool, but I want to build MY city, and I don’t want some [redacted], totally unnecessary “always on” DRM to keep me from playing the game (full disclosure: PC Gamer was kind enough to provide me with a download code for the game, so you can only imagine my rage levels if I had actually put money into EA’s pockets for this “experience”).

And now the math:

Sadly, EA seems to have failed to do some very simple math. Let’s look at an example. We’ll assume that for an amazingly successful game like SimCity, about 20,000 people will end up pirating it (those who have the technical knowhow and Internet savvy to find a working crack). I have 160,000 Twitter followers, of whom around 50,000 follow me for gaming. I just told those 50,000 people NOT to buy SimCity because EA cannot handle its s***, and the game is unplayable. We’ll say half those people listen to me and haven’t bought the game already. Soooo, carrying the pi, we see that EA is already out 5,000 more sales than if they had just created a normal, single player offline capable game with multiplayer components.

(Don’t forget, “always on” DRM also screws over people who don’t have access to Internet for large periods of time, like rural areas and travelers. More lost sales!)

In addition to the bad PR of a terrible launch experience, EA is also reportedly refusing to process refunds to purchasers despite having made this an explicit promise in their pre-release information package.

BC’s ruling Liberal party facing very long odds of re-election

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:40

British Columbia’s next provincial election is still a couple of months away, but the pundits are already making plans for what happens after the BC Liberal party is taken out to the knacker’s yard and the NDP takes power (based on recent polls and the amazing ability of the Liberals to generate bad press):

Assuming everyone and their brother hasn’t been lying to pollsters, the election is pretty much in the bag for the BC NDP. Not only is there strong “time for a change” momentum aiding the party, after three terms of the BC Liberals, but recent occasions where the Premier, Christy Clark, and her entourage only opened their mouths to change feet (e.g. “Ethnicgate”) have brought the prospects of a competitive election down sharply.

Clark’s road map for the election has never been good. As reported on Feb. 15 in your Beacon News, before the budget and Ethnicgate erupted, the absolute best case for the BC Liberals was 34 seats — a respectable loss. A roadmap today would see 25 or fewer seats if everything breaks their way.

There are 85 ridings in the province, so 43 seats held by a single party is a majority. In addition to the Liberals and the NDP, there’s also a Conservative party in BC, but it apparently acts as a role model for dysfunctional organizations:

Meanwhile, John Cummins’ BC Conservatives seem equally determined to destroy their party. The party, at the moment, is going into an election without any of its key officers: between purges run by the leader’s coterie and resignations in disgust, the party’s officers are missing in action. Riding associations are walking, as leader Cummins overrides their nominating selections to impose his own choice of candidates.

So, in the best traditions of sauve qui peut, there’s a fair bit of talk about a new party to replace the discredited Liberals and the self-destructing Conservatives:

That’s why individuals affiliated with both the BC Conservatives and the BC Liberals are starting to organize for a new party. The project is nicknamed “Free Enterprise Party 3.0″.

[. . .]

Growing a new party, goes the thinking, puts everyone on an even footing. Those key Liberals who retired rather than run again under Christy Clark’s banner might be enticed to shift over and play a role in building a new party. Riding associations would be built, with no one grandfathered in. The new party, in turn, would dump all the baggage of the past years in one fell swoop.

There’s evidently some interest from the moneyed who normally support the “anything-but-the-NDP” option in the province. They’ll top up the Liberal coffers for the election — but are looking to shift their focus after it if the BC Liberals are crushed.

Of course, while the PR fiascos are real, the polls are only a way marker. Everyone who confidently predicted the outcome of the last Alberta election is now a lot more wary of the opinion polls. Nobody wants to provide the 2013 equivalent of the famous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline.

February 25, 2013

The difference between professional journalists and mere bloggers

Filed under: Law, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 13:03

Ken at Popehat explains “the game”:

Here we have the heart of the matter. “Professional” journalists may, indeed, be brilliant, talented, well-trained, professional, with an abiding appetite for hard-hitting but neutral reporting. Yet professional journalists also depend on relationships. Ms. Caldwell calls that fact out, sending law enforcement’s core message to the press: if you want access, play the game.

The game colors mainstream media coverage of criminal justice. Here’s my overt bias: I’m a criminal defense attorney, a former prosecutor, and a critic of the criminal justice system. In my view, the press is too often deferential to police and prosecutors. They report the state’s claims as fact and the defense’s as nitpicking or flimflam. They accept the state’s spin on police conduct uncritically. They present criminal justice issues from their favored “if it bleeds it leads” perspective rather than from a critical and questioning perspective, happily covering deliberate spectacle rather than calling it out as spectacle. They accept leaks and tips and favors from law enforcement, even when those tips and leaks and favors violate defendants’ rights, and even when the act of giving the tip or leak or favor is itself a story that somebody ought to be investigating. In fact, they cheerfully facilitate obstruction of justice through leaks. They dumb down criminal justice issues to serve their narrative, or because they don’t understand them.

This “professional” press approach to the criminal justice system serves police and prosecutors very well. They favor reporters who hew to it. Of course they don’t want to answer questions from the 800-pound bedridden guy in fuzzy slippers in his mother’s basement. But it’s not because an 800-pound bedridden guy can’t ask pertinent questions. It’s because he’s frankly more likely to ask tough questions, more likely to depart from the mutually accepted narrative about the system, less likely to be “respectful” in order to protect his access. (Of course, he might also be completely nuts, in a way that “mainstream” journalism screens out to some extent.)

February 19, 2013

Orwell updated: how politicians lie in “plain speech”

Filed under: Government, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:25

Ed Smith shows how Orwell’s warning about politicians lying is now out of date because they’ve mastered the art of using “plain language” in aid of untruth:

Orwell season has led me back to his famous essay “Politics and the English Language”, first published in 1946. It is written with enviable clarity. But is it true? Orwell argues that “the great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words.”

I suspect the opposite is now true. When politicians or corporate front men have to bridge a gap between what they are saying and what they know to be true, their preferred technique is to convey authenticity by speaking with misleading simplicity. The ubiquitous injunction “Let’s be clear”, followed by a list of five bogus bullet-points, is a much more common refuge than the Latinate diction and Byzantine sentence structure that Orwell deplored.

We live in a self-consciously plain-spoken political era. But Orwell’s advice, ironically, has not elevated the substance of debate; it has merely helped the political class to avoid the subject more skilfully. The art of spin is not (quite) supplanting truth with lies. It aspires to replace awkward complexities with catchy simplicity. Successful spin does not leave the effect of skilful persuasiveness; it creates the impression of unavoidable common sense. Hence the artifice becomes invisible — just as a truly charming person is considered nice rather than “charming”.

February 17, 2013

Money talks, fading historical memories edition

Filed under: Britain, Middle East, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:42

The British army’s officer training college at Sandhurst (think “West Point” in the American context) has invited a lot of criticism for this decision:

Britain’s top military academy, Sandhurst, has come under fire for renaming a sports hall commemorating a First World War battle after the King of Bahrain.

The Mons Hall — named after the 1914 battle where thousands died — will have its name changed to honour the Bahraini monarch who has given millions in funding to the Army’s officer training college.

The building will now be called King Hamad Hall and will reopen next month after being refurbished thanks to a £3 million donation from the king, who is the patron of the Sandhurst Foundation but is known for brutally repressing demonstrators at home.

Sandhurst has also accepted a £15 million donation from the United Arab Emirates to build a new accommodation block, raising questions about the college’s links with authoritarian Gulf states accused of human rights abuses.

Critics say the Army is betraying the soldiers who gave their lives and that Bahrain and the UAE are trying to avert criticism of their regimes by buying silence with donations.

The 1914 Battle of Mons was the first major battle of the war. Against overwhelming odds, the British Army inflicted 5,000 casualties on the Germans. At least 1,600 British troops were killed.

February 4, 2013

CBS Sports fumbles during SuperBowl blackout

Filed under: Football, Media — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:23

In the New York Daily News, Bob Raissman asks why CBS didn’t bother to do any actual “journalism” about the blackout:

The fans inside the Superdome were not the only ones left in the dark when half the building’s power went out in the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII Sunday night. Viewers were left with unanswered questions as CBS Sports’ sideline reporters, and the rest of the cast, failed to go into a reporting mode.

There was no outrage, no questioning how a thing like this could happen on the NFL’s biggest night of the year.

At a time when they should have been aggressively gathering news, CBS’ crew was satisfied with the crumbs the NFL dropped on them. And they swallowed the scraps gladly. Not once during the 34-minute delay did a representative of the National Football League appear on camera to attempt to explain what caused half the Superdome to lose power. Why should they? No one from CBS put any pressure on them.

[. . .]

Think about it. CBS pays billions for the right to air NFL games. Much of that dough is shelled out to secure rights to the Super Bowl. So, on the big night, there is a major screwup and the NFL won’t put someone on the air — and CBS won’t push the league — to try to explain what’s going on? That’s mind-boggling.

But not quite as wacked as CBS’ laid-back approach to reporting this story, which will go down as one of the more unusual moments in Super Bowl history. All the players were on the field, waiting, stretching. Why not take a camera and microphone on the sidelines for an interview? If they blow you off, fine — at least viewers would have something worth watching.

January 20, 2013

Oxfam and the top 1%

Filed under: Economics, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:43

Oxfam is publicly blaming and shaming the top 1% of income-earners for their evil money-grubbing ways that deprive the worst-off and make poverty worse in developing countries. Simon Cooke explains why they’re wonderfully, gloriously wrong:

    “Concentration of resources in the hands of the top 1% depresses economic activity and makes life harder for everyone else — particularly those at the bottom of the economic ladder.”

And that top 1% isn’t you and me we’re led to believe — it’s those evil billionaire capitalists who are stealing the very bread from the mouths of the starving children. Let’s leave aside the fact that poverty is largely unrelated to inequality — people do not become rich by making others poor, however often Oxfam want to pretend that this is so. Instead let’s remind ourselves who the 1% are in terms of world development and poverty:

    The truth is that the entry level income for the world’s top 1% of earners is:


    That’s it, in real money not a great deal more than £20,000 a year gets you into the 1% club — sits you among the world’s filthy rich, among those to blame for all the sins and evil of the world. Capitalist scum.

Most of you reading this blog are in the top 1% sucking up all those resources — depriving the poor in Africa and elsewhere of the chance to grow, to get out of poverty.

Except you’re not. Sit back, put a smile on you face — punch the air with joy. You and me — capitalists both — have sat getting a little richer for thirteen years while a billion folk have escaped absolute poverty. All the international trade, all those businesses and those business folk filling the posh seats in aeroplanes flitting across the world — they’ve done that, they’ve lifted those people out of poverty.

Oxfam are wrong. Neoliberalism is making all the world richer. Even the UN celebrates that neoliberal success:

    “For the first time since records on poverty began, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen in every developing region, including sub-Saharan Africa. Preliminary estimates indicate that the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 per day fell in 2010 to less than half the 1990 rate…”

This is what capitalism does. Isn’t it wonderful.

September 26, 2012

Unthinking support of “the troops”

Filed under: Media, Military, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:22

If you’ve read the blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m far from anti-military. I was in the Canadian militia (the army reserve) during my teenage years, and still have friends who are serving in the armed forces of Canada, Britain, and the US. Since 2001, Canadians in particular have re-evaluated their views of the military and are now much more likely to demonstrate their support for the army, the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Even so, Canadians are much more low-key in their demonstrations of respect and approval than Americans are.

Some of the more outspoken supporters actually give me the creeps … rather than showing their support for the soldiers, sailors, and airmen, they seem to be showing their support for militarism. That sort of thing enables and encourages military adventurism, armed intervention in other countries, and the militarization of civilian life (look at the military-style gear many police departments now operate, including drones for border surveillance and drug war operations). That’s a line I never want to see Canada cross.

At the Future of Freedom Foundation blog, Jacob Hornberger expresses some of the same concern:

One of the most fascinating phenomena of our time is the extreme reverence that the American people have been taught to have for the military. Wherever you go — airports, sports events, church — there is a god-like worship of the military.

“Let us all stand and express our sincerest thanks to our troops for the wonderful service they perform for our country,” declare the sports broadcasters.

“Let us pray for the troops, especially those in harm’s way,” church ministers exhort their parishioners.

“Let us give a big hand to our troops who are traveling with us today,” exclaim airline officials.

Every time I see this reverence for the military being expressed, I wonder if people ever give any thought to what exactly the troops are doing. No one seems to ask that question. It just doesn’t seem to matter. The assumption is that whatever the troops are doing, they are protecting our “rights and freedoms.” As one sports broadcaster I recently heard put it, “We wouldn’t be here playing this game if it weren’t for the troops.”

There is at least one big problem with this phenomenon, however: The troops are engaged in actions that are harmful to the American people, including most of the people who have a reverential attitude toward them.

September 24, 2012

US Navy works with Chinese Navy ship for anti-piracy exercise

Filed under: Africa, China, Military, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:07

This is an unusual arrangement, but it makes sense in the larger picture:

The U.S. Navy and the Chinese Navy conducted their first joint anti-piracy drill. A Chinese frigate (the 4,000 ton Type 54A Yiyang) and an American destroyer (the 8,200 ton Burke class Churchill) carried out several training operations over five hours. This included joint use of communications as well as boarding and onboard search procedures. This was done in the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia.

While there was some PR angle to this, the crews of the two ships did get a useful look at how the other side operates. More to the point, it was a useful drill in the event that Chinese and American warships found themselves dealing with the same bunch of Somali pirates. Both sides will distribute what was learned throughout their respective fleets.

All this is part of a trend. China is becoming more inclined to work with ships from other nations patrolling the pirate infested waters off Somalia. Earlier this year, for example, China, India, and Japan agreed to have their warships off the Somali coast coordinate operations to more efficiently protect civilian ships in the area. Chinese and Indian warships have been operating independently off Somalia, while Japanese ships have been operating with Task Force 151. Most warships on anti-piracy duty belong to TF 151. Most of the remainder work with EUNFS (European Union Naval Force Somalia). But some nations continue to operate independently, more or less. In these cases there is always some communication, coordination, and sharing of information with TF 151 and EUNFS.

September 10, 2012

The non-romantic reality of a book tour

Filed under: Business, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 07:54

Poor Charles Stross has experienced one-too-many book tours. It’s so not conducive to anything like comfort or a normal life:

A book signing tour sounds romantic, but actually it’s not. It’s like one of those cheap package holidays in which you get to tour South America or Europe in seven days. Each day you have to get out of bed at dawn or earlier and head to the airport for another cavity search and economy-class ticket to a new city. When you arrive, a new guide meets you in, shovels you into their car, and then takes you on a whistle-stop tour of sights of the city. (On a tourist tour, it’s museums or monuments; on a signing tour, it’s bookstores, where you render the stock non-returnable by defacing it with your signature.) You might be allowed to dump your bag in a hotel room if timing permits. The hotel room will be luxurious and expensive and you will spend so little time awake in it that it seems like a cruel joke, because your time will be programmed so tightly you barely have a chance to eat. It is possible that you will be dragged in front of microphones or cameras to answer confused or confusing questions by journalists who haven’t read your book; then, each evening, you will show up at a bookstore where hopefully there will be an audience who will listen to you deliver a canned speech and/or reading and then buy books which you will then sign. And you will have to be nice to everybody, on pain of potentially not getting another tour (which might sound like a blessing in disguise until you work out what’s going to happen to your income thereafter). Finally, your head hits the pillow around 11pm — don’t forget to check in for tomorrow’s exciting anal probe and air-sickness theme-park ride! — for as much as five or six hours’ sleep.

But then, the nightmare thought: a book tour reality TV show

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