New Year's Links: Elliott Bay Books, Amanda Knox, Netherland, eBooks, and more

* Nobody Told Me It’s Impossible, So I Did It.

* Why does it take so long to publish a book? As the article says:

“It’s not the technology that’s the problem; it’s the humans that are the problem,” said Jonathan Karp, the publisher of Twelve, which releases one title a month.

* Elliott Bay Books is moving from its home in Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill, about three blocks from where I used to live in Seattle. I visited the soon-to-be-old place two weeks ago:

* Netherland for great-novel status:

No novel better captures the background dread of everyday life these days — terrorism jitters, credit-default swaps, mutant flu strains — than Joseph O’Neill’s “Netherland”. Like “The Great Gatsby” — to which it bears obvious resemblance — “Netherland” compresses the American experience into a critical mass, and then proceeds to pick it apart. Like Fitzgerald, O’Neill works principally with two characters: Hans van den Broek, a Dutch banker living in New York whose wife has returned to London following 9/11, and Chuck Ramkissoon, a Trinidadian immigrant with countless moneymaking schemes, the grandest of which is the New York Cricket League.


* Is handwriting a hindrance to thinking?

* E-books spark battle inside the publishing industry.

* It’s an ominous sign when even the New York Times is publishing editorials like “There’s Only One Way to Stop Iran,” that one way being military attack. What’s more frightening too is that the editorial’s logic, according to my limited understanding of the situation and of geopolitics, seems correct.

* Charities Rise, Costing U.S. Billions in Tax Breaks, according to the New York Times. If we can just work for 1% of those nonprofits, we’ll consider ourselves successful.

* Terry Teachout on “Technology and the End of Trend: A Critic Looks in Vain for Sweeping Movements: Now Artists Feed an Audience of Instantly Gratified Individualists.”

Our culture was always more diverse than the media let on, and now that anyone with a laptop has near-instant access to a near-infinite array of art objects, it’s becoming harder for anyone to sculpt the tastes of millions of people into anything remotely resembling a lemming-like consensus. America is well on the way to becoming a country of cultural individualists who want what they want when they want it.

* How China wrecked the Copenhagen talks.

* Ask an Academic: Why Women Have Sex talks to Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss, who you might recognize from my mostly negative review of their book, “Why Women Have Sex.”

* Andrew Sullivan’s book The View From Your Window is attractive.

* Arizona’s completely bizarre criminal justice system, or lack thereof, has devolved into some kind of surreal play just this side of Kafka, as The Phoenix New Times describes. I’d excerpt a piece of the post, but it’s so strange as to resist summarization because of the bizarre accusations between levels of local government and law enforcement. The last line, however, is money:

By the time we reached the end of this press conference and read through the convoluted paperwork proffered by Thomas’ prosecutors, we only had one question: Where are the feds?

Another way of saying this is, “Where are the grownups?”

* Sprint fed customer GPS data to cops over 8 million times. Civil libertarians and patriots, sharpen your pitchforks and light your torches.

* Along those lines: Days of government regulation, from Philip Greenspun.

E-Readers: They’re Hot Now, But the Story Isn’t Over:

But e-reader buyers may be sinking cash into a technology that could become obsolete. While the shiny glass-and-metal reading gadgets offer some whiz-bang features like wirelessly downloading thousands of books, many also restrict the book-reading experience in ways that trusty paperbacks haven’t, such as limiting lending to a friend. E-reader technology is changing fast, and manufacturers are aiming to address the devices’ drawbacks.

“If you have the disposable income and love technology—not books—you should get a dedicated e-reader,” says Bob LiVolsi, the founder of BooksOnBoard, the largest independent e-book store. But other people might be better-off repurposing an old laptop or spending $300 on a cheap laptop known as a netbook to use for reading. “It will give you a lot more functionality, and better leverages the family income,” he says.

* The Amanda Knox case and gender politics.

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