Archive for July, 2009

Longevity

Here’s one to make you smile – a lesbian couple who are celebrating their 70 year anniversary this year. All say, Awww!

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July 29, 2009 at 10:53 am Leave a comment

Kindle viral anti-marketing

Is there a thing as viral anti-marketing? As long something gets talked about, it’s still marketing. As they say in the biz, bad publicity is better than no publicity.

Amazon is copping a load of bad press these days – more than usual and especially since its backdoor sneak to delete Kindle owners’  e-copies of two George Orwell books without notice (that the e-books were not authorised and a refund was given seems not to make a whit of difference to outraged owners, as it shouldn’t). The latest noisome article about Amazon’s reading hardware, aka the Kindle, in this case the Kindle 2, is from the New Yorker.  Nicholson Baker reviews the user-friendliness of the device and the origins of its screen technology.

Through most of the article, Baker doesn’t seem to like the Kindle 2. He gave a good breakdown of mainly the cons of the device. But in the last paragraph, he seems to redeem it, if only because the first full novel he read on his Kindle was stunningly well written.

Somehow, after reading the whole article, I got the feeling that the editors sat on the piece till after the Orwellian debacle, then heavily edited its second half by snapping off paragraphs. I don’t know what to make of the final judgment of the Kindle 2 from this writer, but I’m not likely to ever get one so I don’t care, but I hope anti e-bookers don’t use this as more ammunition against e-books. I’ll write more about my thoughts on hardcopy v e-books later.

ETA:  Report that the case brought by two customers who objected to Amazon’s remote deletion tactic settled in September.

July 28, 2009 at 3:48 pm 1 comment

For the lust of food

What do you do during lunchbreak? Assuming you work regular office hours and mostly desk-lunched.

I’m in a high capacity phase and I’m bored. I’m PMS-ing and I’m anxious and I’m starting to feel bloaty and brittle. My concentration is scattered and I’m relishing brain-dead repetitive work. Things could be worse. I mean, I’m going on holiday, chores are done, my back has stopped aching from a bend maneuver during sports (thank you, pain meds) and on occasion, I feel quite smug about something or other.

Anyway, back to the question above. My answers are that cheezburger site (you know the one) and food blogs–my latest addiction. So I’m surfing the net, checking out blogs and bloggers. It Is Overwhelming. There are a gazillion million sites and more threads than I care about. Do these people have lives other than cooking and eating. OMG, did I just say that? Moi, who, on other than lesbians, thinks and talks only about food? (see PMS clue above).

The Times Online has an article listing the current best 50 food sites. I’m exhausted by page 3 of 5. This is the second Best of site I’ve visited this week, with more links than I could check.

I think a big clue to my drowned look has to be the design concepts of each site—I’ve broken them down to these areas:

  • Cuisine (by ethnicity)
  • Local cuisine (including think/buy local, slow food, be politically green, vegetarianism and other food cultures)
  • Location (eg New York and Sydney have peculiar and strong foodie styles)
  • Food photography and design
  • Inside the F&B industry
  • Accessories (including utensils, cookbooks, gardening, husbandry and so on)
  • And, of course, recipes.

So what’s wrong with them? Nothing. But because I’m here already let me recount why I hop sites:

  • I am not a “one cuisine” eater
  • Being a ‘green’ foodie takes time to develop. Can’t blog about it for years, and I live in an apartment. I don’t have a garden, although our planter boxes are doing well, thank you. In Australia, farmers tend to export their best stuff and charge high prices locally. Crazy, I know.
  • Location specific food cultures – Great! If I lived in all those places. I’ll give you an example. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s summer. Food blogs located therein are all talking about the same produce. I’m in the south, it’s winter. Huge disconnect here. It’s a lot like fashion, innit?
  • Accesorising my food, Hello? I cook at home, for two people. Who has the time. Besides, my gf is a chef. She gives me all the advice I want.
  • Recipes. My latest effort at internet recipe searching for lime pickle gave me over 30 recipes. In the end I hybrid three of them to make a pickle I can’t check for two weeks. What if I had searched for Roast Chicken? Gazoinks!

Yet, despite these criticisms, I love the anecdotes, wee research papers disquised as blog posts, the prizes and the rare glimpse of something really useful I can use in my kitchen. Oh yes, and the pretty pics. Food art is so stylish.

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July 27, 2009 at 3:46 pm Leave a comment

A bigger marketplace for ebooks, yay!

Barnes & Noble, two steps away from considering voluntary administration, has flung up a new marketing plan that could turn the company around, though maybe not all their brick and mortar outlets.

As noted earlier, B&N bought Fictionwise, an already thriving ebookstore that had used the e-Reader application. Their latest press release announces a partnership with Plastic Logic – makers of tablet e-readers – and also applications for other portable devices as well as a new ebookstore. Dymocks in Australia has had a similar concept instore since 2008 with the iLiad reader except that its premise is limited and the device is horrendously expensive. Unfortunately, B&N are barring Kindles and Sony Readers from using their site. WTF.

B&N haven’t mentioned it but I assume free wi-fi and e-browsing will be available in their stores, and they won’t pull an Amazon control-freak grabback if something goes wrong with your ebook purchase. I also hope purchases won’t be limited to the US and Canada. In other words, they would and should treat ebook purchases as transactions with no strings attached.

Also Plastic Logic has been teasing us with their new tablet technology potential for ages. By the time they actually produce it for the market, I think the cost will be a tad high, and the screen still only in black and white. They better move faster.

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July 21, 2009 at 12:26 pm Leave a comment

Name the kitty, win an e-book

To celebrate the launch of RTL on Facebook, we’re giving away an e-book of Year’s Best Lesbian Fiction 2008.

To win a copy, we’re looking for a name for this little fellow. Send in your suggestions (one entry per person) to info@readtheselips.com by midnight 2 August, to be in the running. The winner will be notified by email.

newby1 poor_flea newby2

Some names already in the hat are:

Coal

Elvis

InkSpot

Rukus

Rocky

Sammy

Pyewacket

Gargamel

Creeper

Whitey

Zorro

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July 19, 2009 at 1:14 am 2 comments

Another blow to local publishers and writers

Late last year, the Productivity Commission sent out a hurried consultation for submissions into its review of parallel importation restrictions on books (PIRs). The PIRs delay the introduction of books printed overseas if the equivalent books are published in Australia within a month of release. PIRs were intended to protect the local printing industry. What’s happened in the years since they were first introduced  is that the protection unwittingly helped to foster an Australian literary culture, nurtured the development of editor/writer relationships and still allowed  independent AND big chain bookstores to stay in business.

Well, pushed by the big chains brandishing dodgy comparison pricing (led by ex-NSW Premier, Bob Carr, the guy who led our state infrastructure into a mess by signing bad deals) the Production Commission released its report recently, and the news isn’t good. The report recommends the abolition of the PIRs within three years, urges the government to subsidise the literary arts (Yeah right!) and a bunch of other stuff.  The report does not even support the the finding that removing the PIRs will get us cheaper books (the purpose of the review). Worse still, it doesn’t see the value of Australian writing as culturally significant!

I haven’t read the full report yet but already the dreaded sinking feeling is there. As we wait for the view of  the Competition Minister, we hope the debate is kept alive.

Final report here. ABC opinion piece here. Review of  report here.

Updated 22/7/09

The PC asked the Office of International Law in the A-G’s Department on five questions about whether Australia author’s books released in Australia could hold at bay international versions of the same book, or international versions allowed in only when the book is not published here first.

The advice from the OiL indicates that to discriminate in favour of Australian writers might be inconsistent with Australia’s international obligations under a couple of trade agreements and the Berne Convention because this would deny the Australia writer opportunity to have their books distributed as widely as possible. Why doesn’t Australia place as much weight on the fact that other countries, namely USA and UK, have their own competition barriers that protect their own publishing industries.

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July 17, 2009 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment

Leek and Potato soup

I know there are hundreds of recipes for leek and potato soup but C made this last night and it was soo satisfying. This is her recipe. Makes 2 large bowls.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-large potatoes – skinned and diced
  • 2-3 rashers of bacon – diced
  • 1 large leek –  sliced
  • Chopped garlic (as much or as little as you like)
  • Butter / oil
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped parsley or spring onions (optional)
  • Half a cup of milk or cream

How:

Start by sautéing the bacon in butter and oil, then add the potatoes, then the leeks, stirring for a few minutes in between each. Add the garlic. Once you have a good mix, pour in water until it covers everything with an extra inch of liquid. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are soft.

Stir in the milk or cream, and parsley. Add salt to taste. Take the soup off the heat. Blitz the soup to preferred consistency (I like it rough) then ladle into bowls. Sprinkle on top the spring onions, fresh pepper and a dash of cream or olive oil. Serve soup warm, with bread.

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July 16, 2009 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

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Evecho’s newsy bits

News, updates and links from the lesbian and publishing ‘verse that interest me, my current projects, keeping up with authors and sharing musings on middle-class life, gourmet adventures and comparisons between East/West perspectives. My opinions will likely be linearly logical and gayly bent, as they tend to be.