Archives for November 2012

Nadia Lee: Why Simon & Schuster’s Archway Publishing Is Bad for Authors

From Nadia Lee, a response to the latest publishing news, and a handy comparison chart, reproduced below.

A few months ago, Penguin Books, realizing that their vanity-press venture was selling like coldcakes, bought the world’s leading experts on vanity press scams: Author Solutions, Inc. Now Simon & Schuster has announced a ‘premium’ vanity imprint, to be called Archway, run in ‘partnership’ with Author Solutions: which means that S&S will funnel slush writers to Archway, and AS will do the grunt work of separating them from their money. The so-called service is ‘premium’ because the ripoff is steeper than with most vanity presses: it starts with $1,599 for a simple children’s book and ranges up to $25,000 for the full-service screwing.

Withal, here is Ms. Lee’s comparison chart, so you can judge for yourself: [Read more…]

‘Cold Iron’, by Rudyard Kipling

‘Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid —
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.’
‘Good!’ said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
‘But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.’

So he made rebellion ’gainst the King his liege,
Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege.
‘Nay!’ said the cannoneer on the castle wall,
‘But Iron — Cold Iron — shall be master of you all!’ [Read more…]

Conservatives, progressives, and educational methods

First the text, from the immortal Chesterton:

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types — the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine.

And now the sermon. This is from ‘docargent’, a commenter on Sarah A. Hoyt’s blog. I offer it with the caveat that the teacher cited cannot be reached to confirm the story:

I worked as support staff in a middle school once and, having been left almost innumerate due to the New Math, asked a teacher nearing retirement if anything done since the New Math had worked as well as the methods used before it. When she said no, I asked why public schools never went back to the pre- New Math method.

“There’s no money in it,” she said.

According to her, school districts receive federal grants to use new and experimental teaching plans. If these fail, and they usually do, no effort is made to correct the damage done to the education of the students used as guinea pigs; they’ll have to pick the subject up themselves later on. The school districts need the grants to pay for various unfunded mandates.

I thought this over and asked her if this meant that if an experimental teaching method did actually work, the district would still abandon it in a few years for something totally untried in order to get a new grant.

“Yes,” she said.

T. S. Eliot on the motivation of evil

Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm — but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.

—T. S. Eliot, ‘The Cocktail Party’

Adam Smith: Men vs. chessmen

The man of system . . . seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board; he does not consider that the pieces put upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it.

—Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments