Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Friday, December 02, 2005

Sandra Scoppettone and Editors

Author Sandra Scoppettone recently blogged about her Ballantine editor Joe Blades exiting from publishing, leaving her in a quandry about what kind of new editor she will soon be dealing with. That, and her responses to two anonymous comments have set off the usual tempest in a thimble within the echo chamber that is the litblog community. Lee Goldberg has several links here if you want to pursue this.

I was reading Jack Woodford's splenetic screed against publishers, The Loud Literary Lamas of New York (New York: Vantage Press, 1950) and found what he had to say amazingly congruent with Scoppettone's post.

Scoppettone wrote, "Not to insult anyone, but this editor is the last of a certain breed… a gentleman and a man of experience. I don’t know for sure, but I’d say he’s in his early fifties. He mentioned the possiblitity of one editor and I asked how old the person was. Twenty-nine.

I know any editor is probably going to be younger than I, but twenty-nine? He/she could be even younger, not only at this publishing house but almost everywhere. I’m not saying an editor of that age has to be horrible, in fact I know that someone so young could be the best editor I’ve ever had. Still, it gives me pause."

And back in 1950, Woodford had this to say: "No matter what kind of writer you are now, the lowest young moronic displaced person from Minsk who can wangle himself a job in an editorial department will treat you like an apprentice writer even if you-like me-never had a book published in your whole writing career that failed to make a pile of money.

With one exception all the editors I have now in the various publishing houses that publish me are about half my age. They all tell me how to write as though I were the veriest of tyros. I ignore them and do it my own way. If I paid any attention to them the suff wouldn't sell after they published it, and the stinkers would lose their jobs."

Another Part of Bush's Plan For Victory

The Los Angeles Times reports:

U.S. Military Covertly Pays to Run Stories in Iraqi Press

Troops write articles presented as news reports. Some officers object to the practice.

By Mark Mazzetti and Borzou Daragahi, Times Staff Writers

"WASHINGTON — As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military 'information operations' troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

Though the articles are basically factual, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles, with headlines such as 'Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism,' since the effort began this year."

If things are so good on the ground in Iraq, why do we have to lie to the Iraqis? The question is merely rhetorical. As Chris Matthews pointed out on Hardball yesterday, if this deception had worked, then copies of those fake stories in the Iraqi press would soon be touted as evidence of how well the Iraqis thought of our occupation. Bulsh lies to us and the Iraqis, but when your country is going up in flames around you, it may make you, well, kind of skeptical. Are they going to believe us or their eyes?

It Can Happen Here


(ls´´ fâr´) (KEY) [Fr.,=leave alone], in economics and politics, doctrine that an economic system functions best when there is no interference by government. It is based on the belief that the natural economic order tends, when undisturbed by artificial stimulus or regulation, to secure the maximum well-being for the individual and therefore for the community as a whole.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05

"License to spill

China's lack of environmental protections means disasters like last week's Songhua River spill will keep happening -- and keep being covered up.

By Andreas Lorenz

The water emergency in Harbin, an industrial city of 3.8 million, comes on the heels of an environmental catastrophe with as yet unforeseeable consequences. About 100 tons of toxic chemicals have been floating down the Songhua River ever since an explosion in Jilin, located 400 kilometers (248 miles) upstream from Harbin, released highly toxic benzene compounds. At least five people were killed and dozens injured in the Nov. 13 accident in Chemical Factory 101, and the slick, slowly traveling downriver toward Russia, threatens the drinking-water supply for more than 10 million people between the northeast Chinese city of Harbin and Khabarovsk in Siberia.

China's laissez-faire brand of socialism doesn't prevent executives from spending their money on cars and villas instead of investing it in worker safety and environmental protection. Although the government is constantly vowing to monitor manufacturers more closely, local officials and party leaders are often in bed with the captains of industry in China."

The rest of this Salon article details what an environmental debacle China has become due to unregulated growth and massive burning of coal and other fossil fuels.

This is what will result if the Republican and libertarian disdain for environmental regulation is given free reign.

Don't Install Firefox 1.5

I installed Firefox 1.5 and it won't display the background images on my blog and all the other Blogger blogs. In fact, it isn't displaying background images on commercial sites like Salon or Slate, either.

I don't see any obvious functional advantages to F 1.5 and my favorite theme (Modern Pinball) isn't compatible. I will no longer dutifully upgrade software until there is a consensus that it's really beneficial.

This experience has convinced me that incremental upgrades of popular programs are just a marketing ploy.

Murtha Keeps Making Sense

“We’re caught in the middle of a civil war right now.”

Rep. John Murtha (D)

One of the arguments the Bush administration makes for staying in Iraq is that premature withdrawal will lead to civil war. In this NPR story, Murtha shows how specious that rationale is and compares Bush's current pr campaign to Robert McNamara's prediction in 1963 that we would be victorious in Vietnam in two years.

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