Academics Need Not Apply

by Henry Farrell on June 23, 2009

“Felix Salmon”: quotes _Economist_ American business editor (and former CT guest-blogger), Matthew Bishop.

This columnist once heard Mr Welch tell a chief executives’ boot-camp that the key was to have the compensation committee chaired by someone older and richer than you, who would not be threatened by the idea of your getting rich too. Under no circumstances, he said (the very thought clearly evoking feelings of disgust), should the committee be chaired by “anyone from the public sector or a professor”.

But it is more or less along the same lines. “Inside Higher Ed reports”:

Elsevier officials said Monday that it was a mistake for the publishing giant’s marketing division to offer $25 Amazon gift cards to anyone who would give a new textbook five stars in a review posted on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. … Here’s what the e-mail — sent to contributors to the textbook — said:

“Congratulations and thank you for your contribution to Clinical Psychology. Now that the book is published, we need your help to get some 5 star reviews posted to both Amazon and Barnes & Noble to help support and promote it. As you know, these online reviews are extremely persuasive when customers are considering a purchase. For your time, we would like to compensate you with a copy of the book under review as well as a $25 Amazon gift card. If you have colleagues or students who would be willing to post positive reviews, please feel free to forward this e-mail to them to participate. We share the common goal of wanting Clinical Psychology to sell and succeed. The tactics defined above have proven to dramatically increase exposure and boost sales. I hope we can work together to make a strong and profitable impact through our online bookselling channels.”

.. Cindy Minor, marketing manager for science and technology at Elsevier … called the request for five star reviews “a poorly written e-mail” by “an overzealous employee.”

Douthat On Digital Barbarism

by John Holbo on June 23, 2009

Matthew Yglesias goes way too easy on Ross Douthat’s book review of Mark Helprin’s Digital Barbarism: A Writer’s Manifesto [amazon].

Let’s start with the book itself. It is, I gather, a grossly metastasized, page-wise, rewrite of his shockingly ignorant (it was widely and correctly noted at the time) NY Times op-ed from a couple years back, “A Great Idea Lives Forever, Shouldn’t Its Copyright?”. And why exactly does it follow that terrible ideas deserve book deals, one might ask? (Here’s the exhaustive wiki-buttal that op-ed inspired.)

Larry Lessig wrote a long review of Barbarism last month, which he followed up here. Having not read Helprin’s book – and I even read Jonah Goldberg’s book, sweet heaven help and forgive me! – I’m not in a position to add anything except that Lessig’s response leaves me in little doubt that Helprin has contrived to learn nothing from that initial op-ed debacle. He still has no idea whatsoever what the other side’s views are, let alone what the grounds for them might be. (I guess there’s something inadvertently apt about the ‘barbarism’ in his title, if it’s true that the term derives from some Proto-Indo-European speaker’s sense that foreigners are just going ‘bar-bar’, not actually saying anything.) [click to continue…]

Coconut Records

by John Holbo on June 23, 2009

I think the new Coconut Records album, Davy, is Beatlesesque (but less utterly brilliant), Elliott Smithish (but less pained), Weezerlike (but less New Wave ironic-astringent) – and several other things I can’t quite put my finger on – power pop jingle-jangly loud-soft goodness and wholesomeness and not excessive smartypantsness. It’s somewhat better than the new Bishop Allen album Grrrr (just for comparison purposes to something obscure in the general vicinity.) Coconut Records is a solo project by Jason “you saw him first in Rushmore” Schwartzman, formerly of the band Phantom Planet. I mention all this because Amazon has <em>Davy</em> on sale for $1.99 for the next several hours or so. [UPDATE: sale’s over. Sorry.] (Here’s the myspace page.)

Davy is assisting me in the performance of various repetitive tasks today, by letting my mind clack happy through the CD racks of memory, trying to pin down all the little influences. And it’s well produced.

I also like the new Bishop Allen album Grrr pretty well. I mention that because I feel they have been unfairly abused by Pitchfork, which has gotta hurt. Grrr definitely deserves better than a pitiful 3.5. I give it a 7. “The Ancient Commonsense Of Things” is damn catchy. (Myspace page here.)