In Ohio, DeWine dithers: time for civil disobedience?

Sic semper tyrannis…

Governor Mike DeWine continues to blithely put entire sectors of the Ohio economy out of business:

Ohio restaurant owners deflated they can’t reopen under DeWine’s plan

Some business owners, however, aren’t waiting for the governor’s approval. They’re taking matters into their own hands.

They’re planning to practice something that we haven’t seen much of since the 1960s: civil disobedience: Continue reading “In Ohio, DeWine dithers: time for civil disobedience?”

‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ (what I’m reading)

Every market seems to be overcrowded nowadays. It doesn’t matter if you’re a science fiction author or a plumber.

But what if you could find ways to create and tap new markets, and thereby make the competition irrelevant?

This is the premise behind the book, Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant. The authors, Renée Mauborgne and W.Chan Kim, developed the ideas in this book while researching and writing a handful of articles over the years. If you compete in a crowded marketplace (and who doesn’t?), Blue Ocean Strategy is very much worth reading. Continue reading “‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ (what I’m reading)”

Boris Johnson’s love child

Please avert your eyes, everyone. Your host is about to wax 20th-century and most unapologetically unhip here for a moment.

Boris Johnson has just become a father, for at least the fifth time. His oldest acknowledged child was born in 1993. (In total, Johnson had four children with his second wife, Marina Wheeler.) Continue reading “Boris Johnson’s love child”

Every news outlet has an agenda (yes, even the conservative ones)

This little tongue-in-cheek infographic from the Babylon Bee actually contains a lot of wisdom:

Historically, news outlets were unabashed about their biases. During America’s colonial period, there were patriot papers and Tory papers. In the early days of the American Republic, we had Federalist and anti-Federalist newspapers. A similar pattern continued through the 1800s. Continue reading “Every news outlet has an agenda (yes, even the conservative ones)”

Mike DeWine dithers while Ohio goes broke

I just finished watching Governor DeWine’s plan for reopening Ohio.

Egads, what a disaster.

While his plan allows some businesses to reopen in May, he has left workers in many sectors—fitness, dining, cosmetology, etc.—indefinitely without incomes. Restaurants, gyms, and salons remain closed in the Buckeyes State, and the governor won’t even hint about when he might allow them to reopen. Continue reading “Mike DeWine dithers while Ohio goes broke”

Hooray for John Van Stry, slayer of pirates

John Van Stry, an independent science fiction and fantasy author, won his lawsuit against a notorious ebook pirate site that was stealing his work. He details much of what happened in a post on his blog

You should read his entire post, if you’re interested in issues of piracy and copyright. But here are a few relevant passages that I’d like to bring to your attention: Continue reading “Hooray for John Van Stry, slayer of pirates”

‘The Atlantic’ beats the drum for Chinese-style censorship

Yes, really:

Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal

In the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong. Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values.

I’m not saying that every journalist is a shill for the Chinese Communist Party, specifically. Or a closet fascist. Not quite. But their motives and their instincts corrupt them.

Continue reading “‘The Atlantic’ beats the drum for Chinese-style censorship”

The Best Short Stories 2019

I like short stories, and so I am a habitual reader of the annual Best Short Stories collections, which are edited by Heidi Pitlor and a guest editor.

This series often leads me to the discovery of new writers whose work I enjoy. It was the 2007 edition (guest-edited by Stephen King) that introduced me to the work of the late William Gay (1941~2012). I went on to read all of of Gay’s published books after that. The 2007 collection  collection also features John Barth’s memorable tale on age and mortality, “Toga Party”. 

But we’re talking about the 2019 collection, guest-edited by Anthony Doerr. I listened to the audio version of the book. (I went through several stories while I was mowing my lawn and my dad’s lawn, in fact.)

This collection is very much a mixed bag. Some of these stories are (in my estimation, at least), pointlessly depressing, navel-gazing stories, while some are actually quite good. 

There are two well-known names in the collection: Jeffry Eugenides and Ursula K. LeGuin. I did not like either of their offerings. No big surprise in either case: I enjoyed Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot; but Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides both left me cold. And Ursula K. LeGuin’s work has never been to my taste.

That said, there are a handful of genuinely good stories in this collection—or stories that held my attention, anyway. These included Weike Wang’s “Omakase,”, Alexis Schaitkin’s “Natural Disasters”, Mona Simpson’s “Wrong Object”, and Saïd Sayrafiezadeh’s “Audition”. 

Don’t let my very mixed assessment of this very mixed collection dissuade you from giving it a try, if short stories are your thing. Any anthology containing work from different authors is going to be, by definition, uneven and punctuated with many ups and downs. While I did not like all the stories in this book, the good ones more than offset the ones that weren’t to my taste.

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View The Best American Short Stories 2019 on Amazon

The end of Lonely Planet?

Here’s one more casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting shutdowns around the world: most (or many) of the titles published by Lonely Planet Publications.

I have many Lonely Planet books in my personal library—most of them purchased during the 1990s, when I was studying various foreign languages and traveling abroad frequently for business.

As the hyperlinked article notes, these are tough times for any business associated with travel or tourism.

**View Lonely Planet Guides on Amazon.

The ETB Online Books Project

Like all of you, in recent weeks I have been more preoccupied than usual with current events. As a result, the content here since mid-March has focused on the daily news.

The name of this site, though, is Edward Trimnell Books. I chose that name for a reason. Commentaries on the news will always have a place here. (I’m rather opinionated, as you may have noticed.) That said, this site isn’t, strictly speaking, a news site.  I primarily write books, many of which you can find on Amazon

This is a business for me. I’m an author, of course; but I’m also a micro-publisher.

Nevertheless, these are tough times for many readers. The COVID-19 shutdown has cut US economic activity by about a third. Unemployment now hovers at an unbelievable 18%. Hopefully the economy will be reopened soon, and the raw numbers will improve. Many people, though, will need time to recover from this unprecedented interruption to normal life.

In light of these highly unusual circumstances, I would like to make all of my books available to readers for free.

This is already the case with most of my existing library, if you’re a member of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program

I realize, though, that Kindle Unlimited won’t be the right option for some of you. And as much as I love Amazon, people were reading online long before anyone ever heard of a Kindle. 

One of the purposes of a website is to provide free online content. Without something for people to read, a website is nothing more than a glorified online brochure.

That’s what all too many websites are. I’ve always wanted this site to provide more to the reading community—especially in times like these.

I initially explored the idea of making more of my existing catalog available here on the site. The problem, though, is that I can’t make content freely available to you here, as well as in the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program. Amazon requires that all Kindle Unlimited titles be exclusive to the Amazon platform (in electronic form). I am bound by the terms of that contract, and I intend to abide by it. 

So I had another idea…

The Edward Trimnell Books Online Books Project

I’ve therefore decided to start making some titles available here on the site exclusively—or in advance of bookstore publication. These will not be serials, technically speaking, but I’ll be posting them a chapter at a time, as I write them. And you’ll be able to read them here for free. 

I have several titles in mind for the first round of online books. These will be a mixture of fiction and nonfiction. The fiction books will span several of the genres that I usually write in (thriller, horror, mystery). I also have some short stories planned.

And for those of you who have enjoyed all the news commentaries over these past few weeks, fear not: At least one of the titles I have in the works concerns politics. But whereas the daily blog posts typically deal with ephemeral headlines, the upcoming book one will dig deeper and involve more theory. 

The plan is to serialize several diverse titles at once, so that at least one of them will be something you’ll be interested in reading. As I say on ETB’s About page , I don’t expect anyone to like everything posted on this site, but everyone should be able to find at least something that they like. That’s one of the advantages of a variety format.

How can you support the Online Books Project?

No, this isn’t a prelude to asking you for money.

Some sites that provide free content immediately turn around and panhandle you at every turn—usually via requests to support them on Patreon. 

I don’t necessarily have a philosophical opposition to Patreon (or similar crowdfunding intermediaries, like Kickstarter). I’ll probably put up a Patreon page eventually, for readers who would like to voluntarily contribute. But if I’m going to make that an upfront requirement, I had might as well just put everything on Amazon first. A Patreon paywall is still a paywall.

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But I still have bills to pay, just like everyone else. Can free content work with paying the bills? In part, yes. 

One of the really cool things about online content is that “free to the reader/viewer” need not mean “unpaid to the creator/publisher”. This principle goes all the way back to the origins of the Internet-as-we-know-it, in the 1990s.

In the beginning, at least, the Online Books Project will be sponsored the old-fashioned way: through the placement of a few unobtrusive ads.

Some of these ads will be for my books on Amazon. If you really like what you read here for free, consider purchasing a book of mine that isn’t part of the Online Books Project. You may also want to purchase an edited, proofread version of a book that appears online first. But that’s totally up to you.

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The Online Books Project will also be sponsored (sparingly) by banner ads and affiliate links to third-party products. I don’t fundamentally have any difficulty with the idea of supporting free content with third-party ads. That’s what newspapers, magazines, and television have done since time immemorial. 

Online ads have (not without some justification) gotten a bad rap in recent years. That’s because some sites have totally overdone the concept.

The online versions of The Independent and USA Today come to mind here. These sites are littered with dropdown full-screen ads, autoplay video ads, and many more extremely intrusive forms of advertising. 

Edward Trimnell Books is old-school all the way. Just like I hate social media (why would anyone want to bother with Snapchat or TikTok?), I’m also allergic to newfangled forms of online advertising. I keep the ads here low-key, like they were up till about 2003. 

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Those are my basic ideas about the Online Books Project.

I’ll be posting new content and new chapters daily, more or less, so check back often!

Watching ‘Bosch’ on Amazon

Different from the novels, but good nonetheless

Tonight I started watching the Amazon original series, Bosch

I’m a little behind on this one, I know. (The series premiered in 2015.) But hey—I got to The Sopranos only a few years ago. I am, however, a very longtime reader of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels, so I knew that I would eventually find my way to the Amazon series, too.

First things first: This isn’t the Harry Bosch of the novels. The Harry Bosch of the novels is now about 70 years old. The onscreen Harry Bosch (played by Titus Welliver) is a old Gen Xer or a young Baby Boomer. (The actor, Welliver, was born in 1962.) Continue reading “Watching ‘Bosch’ on Amazon”

Suing your state government to reopen

There have been numerous protest gatherings in Michigan, Kentucky, and North Carolina (not to mention my home state of Ohio) in recent weeks. You’ve seen the news.

The reason: the government-mandated closures of businesses around the country in response to COVID-19. They’re destroying the national economy and ruining people’s livelihoods.

And so people are protesting. Can you blame them?

Continue reading “Suing your state government to reopen”