Over at Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow gets around to reading Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational, a study of consumer behavior that challenges the “rational consumer” hypothesis. CD also links us to this NPR story on obsolete professions, such as switchboard operator, ice-deliverer, and “lector,” who is the guy hired by all the cigar workers in the factory to sit in the center of the factory floor and loudly read the workers left-wing newspapers and pro-union propaganda, so that everyone can better themselves and become less alienated from their labor. If this job ever makes a comeback, I want to do it! The NPR piece has photos of each profession and audio clips of very, very old people talking about when these things existed and they themselves–young then–did them.
Dennis Cooper is testing your sight recognition skills at a French wax museum. I already failed utterly.
The Rumpus asks: Would you like to write about poetry (for the Rumpus)?
Tell us about the last poem or book of poetry you loved, no length requirements. The best will be published right here in the blog. Send your entries to poetry-at-therumpus-dot-net.
They’re also looking for people interested in reviewing full-length poetry collections. But FYI: Stephen Elliott and I had a long conversation the other night about the problems with book reviews for sites like his (and ours); we are both highly suspicious of the kinds of “reviews” that read like press releases or protracted blurbs, because they don’t tell us anything we can’t glean from a blurb, which is two lines long instead of seven paragraphs. The site-meters prove that these pieces don’t get read or linked the same way that more incisive, interesting books-pieces do, so neither the book nor the review-author nor the site is benefiting. If you’re going to try and review some poetry for The Rumpus–which you absolutely should–be sure and give them some red damn meat to sink their teeth into–something we’ll want to link to after they publish it, something that tells me something about the book I couldn’t glean on my own from its Amazon page. Good luck!
NYTea Time: Lydia Millet loves on the new Lipsyte, and Laura Miller likes the new John Banville, but Allison Glock seems to like Tammy Wynette less after reading Jimmy McDonough’s new biography of the country star.
The life story of the fame/drug-addled brat is nothing new, but McDonough wants more than for us to appreciate Wynette, he wants us to like Wynette. Because he likes Wynette — a little too much at times. He writes a handful of chatty letters to his subject. Page 1 begins: “Dear Tammy . . . Don’t worry, I won’t spill all the beans — I can’t. There’s just too much about you that will never be resolved.” Putting aside the dubious choice to shoot your biography in the foot on the first page, writing mash notes to a dead woman is oddly creepy — and only grows more so as the letters progress, one recounting a dream he had about her in which she wore “a yellow pantsuit and matching headband.” At another point he admits to having had “the hots” for her.
In today’s Observer Business column, John Naughton discusses what a ripoff it is for ebook vendors to “sell” you books with abusive, multi-thousand word “license agreements,” pretending that because you bought your book over the network, it wasn’t a sale, and so you don’t get to own it. These “licenses” aren’t about upholding copyright (if they were, you could replace thousands of words of lawyerese with four simple words: “Don’t violate copyright law”). They’re about overriding copyright — which has all kinds of guarantees for the rights of book-owners — with a private law that gives every advantage to the publisher or retailer, converting you from a noble reader to a wormy, contemptible licensor who doesn’t deserve to own books.