Trouble at Tate: Could It be the End of Days for America’s Most Prolific Vanity Publisher?

10 December 2016

From Writer Beware:

It’s hard times lately for “America’s Top Publisher,” a.k.a. Tate Publishing & Enterprises, a.k.a. one of America’s most prolific vanity publishers.

Tate has been on Writer Beware’s Thumbs Down Publishers List since the list was created. Not just because it charges enormous fees (an initial $3,990, with the option of paying hundreds or even thousands more for extras such as video trailers, custom websites, self-ordered books, and the like), but because it presents itself as a “mainline publishing organization” and doesn’t reveal its fees anywhere on its website or in its promotional videos.

In fact, Tate’s website specifically promises that authors do not have to pay to publish: “Tate Publishing does not charge a fee for publishing and absorbs all the cost of production and distribution of a book.” But this is classic vanity publisher doublespeak. Deeper into the submission process, when Tate finally gets around to asking authors to pull out their credit cards, they are told that the money is for a publicist.

. . . .

We’ve also heard from many Tate authors who don’t feel their money was well spent–and we aren’t alone. In 2015, Tate was the second most complained-about company to the Oklahoma attorney general. Many more complaints–not just about Tate Publishing, but about its vanity recording subsidiary, Tate Music Group–can be found online. They make for terrifying reading–bad editing, shoddy production, constant staff turnover, books ordered and paid for but never received, delayed pub dates, non-payment of royalties, “marketing” that mostly consists of urging writers to buy their own books…the list goes on

The Better Business Bureau, which as of this writing has logged 134 complaints over the past three years, yanked Tate’s accreditation earlier this year.

That’s a lot of chickens, and they are now coming home to roost. This past May, Xerox Corporation filed a $1.7 million lawsuit (since increased to $1.89 million) against Tate, alleging defaults on service agreements and promissory note payments, and seeking re-possession of $450,000 in leased equipment. Tate has not had good luck with its attorneys in the case; the first withdrew in September, saying he was retiring, and the second is also seeking to withdraw, in part, apparently, because Tate hasn’t paid him.

Link to the rest at Writer Beware and thanks to Deb for the tip.

You build on failure

10 December 2016

You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.

Johnny Cash

2 Exercises to Maximize Your Creativity First Thing in the Morning

10 December 2016

From CNBC:

This is not going to be a typical morning post. But then again, there are not many “typical” things about my morning.

I realize the benefits of your traditional morning routine staples — journaling, meditation, running. Surely they have helped thousands of people over the years. Adding all of these to my morning routine might make me a more fit and mindful person.

There’s just one problem.

They all make me want to vomit.

As a writer, I realize that I am supposed to love journaling. It’s reflective, after all. It helps you process your feeeeelings. It helps you learn from your life.

Blah, blah, blah.

I never got into it.

Meditation is just as bad. Maybe I just have trouble with being stillness, but in the morning, I’m ready to GO. I don’t want to sit and think about anything.

. . . .

Besides, I don’t use my mornings to reflect, I use them to progress.

Link to the rest at CNBC

A Clear Case of Anxiety in Motion

10 December 2016

From Medium:

I was in the middle of finishing up my newsletter for the social network of overthinkers, Alone and taking care of my 6-year-old daughter, a work issue suddenly popped up. Though I was distracted and I hadn’t completely finished my process of nailing down what I wanted to say in the newsletter, I hit send. I wanted the dopamine hit. I wanted to move on.

. . . .

People don’t usually unsubscribe from the bevoya newsletter. But after rushing and sending this one out, 2 people unsubscribed pretty quickly. I was upset and disturbed. Not because people had decided what I was creating wasn’t for them. I was upset because I hadn’t given myself the space to finish my work and send it when it was ready to go. My anxiety to finish and feel done had pushed me to hit send before I was really ready to. I needed more space.

. . . .

I keep pondering this idea of space. The best way I can describe it is: the space to create. Focused relaxation.

If I were to do it over, I would have forced myself to wait to send that newsletter. I would have rewritten it when I had time. I would have achieved the completion of my thought and felt my conclusion click, nailing the ending (a very different feeling than the dopamine-send hit).

Link to the rest at Medium

US Congress seeks small claims track for copyright claims

10 December 2016

From The Register:

The US Congress has published plans backed by both main US parties to reform the Copyright Office – and it wants your views. Amongst the proposals is a small claims track to make fighting The Man easier.

Technology has allowed millions more people to share their craft, but most independent creators can ill afford lawyers. The giant internet platforms have amassed their wealth largely through ensuring people don’t assert their property rights. So cheaper access to justice is a long overdue reform that should keep everyone happy. The House’s Judiciary Committee recommends that the Office should:

“Host a small claims system consistent with the report on the issue released by the Copyright Office. The small claims system should handle low value infringement cases as well as bad faith Section 512 notices. The Register [that’s the Copyright Register, not us] should be given the authority to promulgate regulations to ensure that the system works efficiently.”
Better tools for identifying material would remove much if not all of the problem of bogus 512 DMCA notifications – but The Circle Google maintains this would break the internets. The House notes that a database of ownership information and metadata are practical ideas the would help.

. . . .

The House also wants the copyright administrator to beef up its economic know how, by hiring a chief economist, and have its own independent IT functionality. This is prudent, given the conflicts of interest that might arise from outsourcing IT at America’s copyright agency to a cloud company that exploits loopholes in copyright law.

Link to the rest at The Register and thanks to Ryan for the tip.

Libraries Become Unexpected Sites of Hate Crimes

9 December 2016

From The New York Times:

A librarian at the public library in Evanston, Ill., was recently preparing for a program titled “The Quran: Is It a ‘Good Book’?”

She gathered books to display for attendees and discovered that inside the cover of one, “The Koran for Dummies,” someone had written “lies cover to cover,” drawn a swastika and made a disparaging remark about the Prophet Muhammad.

She discovered six more books about Islam and the Quran that had been similarly defaced with racist language and imagery, officials said. The vandalism was a first for the library, Karen Danczak Lyons, its director, said in an interview.

The authorities say there has been a spate of hate crimes targeting libraries, their books or patrons — offenses officials said they had rarely seen before. These crimes coincide with a recent report by the F.B.I. that attacks against American Muslims surged last year.

Ms. Danczak Lyons called the episode “troubling,” noting that libraries, which promote education, research and discussions, had unexpectedly become sites for acts of divisiveness.

The library filed a police report, but there have been no arrests. Some of the books had not been checked out in a couple of years, and others had been taken out over the summer. Any damage would have been noted on their return, meaning the vandalism was probably recent, Ms. Danczak Lyons said. The library has cameras, but not in every aisle, and surveillance footage offered no clues about the vandalism.

. . . .

“In the last year, we have had startling increases in the number of hate crimes,” Julie Todaro, president of the American Library Association, said in an interview last week.

“I am stunned that I have seven or eight examples, because we have never had these kinds of crimes before in libraries,” she said. “We are in an increasingly difficult situation, because the communities are as divided as they have ever been.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Why do Dwarves Sound Scottish and Elves Sound Like Royalty?

9 December 2016

From Atlas Obscura:

In the game Hearthstone, when the dwarven Innkeeper greets players with a hearty, “WELCOME to the Inn!” he sounds like he’s channeling some cartoonish ideal of the Scottish accent. And he’s not alone. Standard fantasy dwarves speak with a Scottish or generally Northern European brogue, but how can that be true when such a race never really existed? The same can be said for the lofty English tone of the elves, or the working-class Cockney of many orcs and trolls.

While slight variations on these themes exist, fantasy races seem to have as much of a stereotypical sound as any real-world dialect. And they tell us more about the characters than you probably realize.

Long before elves, orcs, and dwarves populated the pages of Dungeons & Dragons sourcebooks, Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth film adaptations, and video games like World of Warcraft, they developed out of mythology, fan imagination, and more than anywhere else, the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. And even though his works were purely textual, the ways that common fantasy races sound today have their roots in his vivid fantasy world.

. . . .

“Elves wouldn’t even really be a thing, at least not in the way they currently are, if it weren’t for Tolkien,” says Corey Olsen, noted Tolkien scholar and creator of The Tolkien Professor podcast. “Dwarves are another thing. A lot of the things that we associate with dwarves, we owe a lot of that to Tolkien.”

Throughout The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the reams of related histories Tolkien wrote about Middle Earth, he established whole societies, histories, and languages for a handful of races that still inform how they are depicted today. Elves are ancient, beautiful, and have pointy ears; dwarves are short, tough, and love to use axes; orcs are filthy brutes who live for destruction.

Of course the original readers couldn’t hear what Tolkien’s creatures sounded like, but the intense focus he placed on developing their languages gave people a pretty good idea. “Tolkien was a philologist,” says Olsen.“This is what he did. He studied language and the history of language and the changing of language over time.”

Tolkien would create languages first, then write cultures and histories to speak them, often taking inspiration from the sound of an existing language.

Link to the rest at Atlas Obscura and thanks to Matthew for the tip.

Adventures in Computerland

9 December 2016

PG popped up this morning ready to go to work and was confronted with a dead computer at TPV Mission Command.

He screwed around trying to fix it for too long before delivering it to someone who actually understands how to fix computers.

PG’s sick computer was a real rocket while the temporary replacement computer is old and slow. Plus it won’t work with PG’s nice big monitor, so things are a bit fuzzy (although that might not be entirely the monitor’s fault).

PG will catch up with a few posts today and hopefully be back to full speed tomorrow.

Amazon Go

8 December 2016

Thanks to James and others for the tip.

How the internet unleashed a burst of cartooning creativity

8 December 2016

From Medium:

In 1989 Bill Watterson, the writer of “Calvin and Hobbes”, a brilliant comic strip about a six-year-old child and his stuffed tiger, denounced his industry. In a searing lecture, he attacked bland, predictable comics, churned out by profit-driven syndicates. Cartooning, said Mr Watterson, “will never be more than a cheap, brainless commodity until it is published differently.”

In 2012 he is finally getting his way. As the newspaper industry continues its decline, the funnies pages have decoupled from print. Instead of working for huge syndicates, or for censored newspapers with touchy editors, cartoonists are now free to create whatever they want. Whether it is cutting satire about Chinese politics, or a simple joke about being a dog, everything can win an audience on the internet.

This burst of new life comes as cartoons seemed to be in terminal decline. Punch, once a fierce political satire magazine whose cartoons feature in almost every British history textbook, finally closed its doors in 2002. The edgier Viz magazine, which sold a million copies an issue in the early 1990s, now sells 65,000. In the United States, of the sprawling EC Comics stable, only Mad magazine remains, its circulation down from 2.1m in 1974 to 180,000. Meanwhile, the American newspaper industry, home of the cartoon strip, now makes less in advertising revenue than at any time since the 1950s.

. . . .

During the second world war, paper rationing forced comic strips to shrink on both sides of the Atlantic. Afterwards, the rise of television news culled the number of dailies and all but wiped out evening papers. With less competition, newspapers relied less on cartoons to sell copies. Comic books filled some of the gap, but unlike the newspapers, these were mostly for children. By the 1980s most newspaper cartoon strips were controlled by a small group of syndicates whose executives saw them primarily as devices to sell licensed merchandise. Childish cartoons with weak, universal jokes thrived — think “Garfield” — while more interesting artists struggled to find an outlet for their work. When authors retired, successful strips were handed down to new artists like real estate to avoid jeopardising merchandise revenues. “Mutt and Jeff” — tired by the 1950s — continued until 1982.

. . . .

The decline of newspapers and the rise of the internet have broken that system. Newspapers no longer have the money to pay big bucks to cartoonists, and the web means anybody can get published. Cartoonists who want to make their name no longer send sketches to syndicates or approach newspapers: they simply set up websites and spread the word on Twitter and Facebook. Randall Munroe, the creator of “XKCD”, left a job at NASA to write his stick men strip, full of science and technology jokes (see above and below). Kate Beaton, a Canadian artist who draws “Hark, A Vagrant”, sketched her cartoons between shifts while working in a museum. Matthew Inman created his comic “The Oatmeal” by accident while trying to promote a dating website he built to escape his job as a computer coder.

Link to the rest at Medium

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