Rocket Bomber - snark

Book Farms

filed under , 19 July 2013, 20:25 by

I do love me a good metaphor. This one is truer than most:

books = food

Bookstores = farmer’s markets

film, tv = processed foods, that require a steady stream of books to keep the factories churning

ebooks = hot pockets.



A Different Analogy.

filed under , 17 July 2013, 10:02 by

note from MB: this extended aside was written as part of a longer post on the Business of Bookselling – the idea was compelling (to me) but not a good fit for the larger argument I was trying to make. Not one to be wasteful, I decided to pull it out for its own post. There isn’t an argument here (at least not a complete argument) (or a firm conclusion), but I feel the analogy might give some folks a new perspective on just how tough it is to sell books these days.

##

The Pie’s the Thing.

Let’s say I save my nickles and pennies and decide to open up a restaurant. I notice folks like pizza, so I decide to make it a pizza restaurant.

To keep things easy (on me and my staff) even before I open, I also decide it’s going to be a pizza buffet – one of those all-you-can-eat types — we pick the top 20 favorite pizza-topping-combinations, we arrange to have at least 10 of those 20 coming out hot and ready to eat multiple times throughout the lunch and dinner service, on a easily-browsed buffet line where you can see what we have and grab it. Cashier is to your left.

We’ll cycle through recipes to keep things interesting, so the next time you come in, you might not see an old favorite, but it’ll be back soon. With the recipes, a small staff, and a plan: we’re good to go. We advertise the pizza buffet, we open for business…

And our customers aren’t having any of it.

Instead of grabbing a plate and taking pizza off the buffet service line, everyone who comes in just grabs a table and waits. They demand someone comes to the table to take their order, even though (from the sign outside, to the service line inside, right down to how the tables are arranged and the whole restaurant is set up) it should be obvious this is a take-what-you-want buffet-style dinner service.

“You sell pizza here, don’t you? As soon as you send a waitress to my table, I’ll order.”

…but sir…

“What kind of restaurant are you running here? No one has been by to take my order and it’s been 5 minutes!”

…but sir, this is a buffet, you can just help yourself…

NONSENSE. If you sell pizza, you have to be a full-service restaurant. That’s obvious. That’s the only way to sell pizza. Are you sure you know what you’re doing? … I’m Still Waiting…

##

This is the Booksellers Conundrum — we do everything we can, to make the books easy to find, and all day long the customers ignore signs, refuse to walk more than 20 feet, and generally flop around the main aisle,

“Oh your store is *So Big*! How does one find anything?”

On top of that, no one can run a bookstore unless we also provide the equivalent of a research librarian with a graduate degree. “I need a book comparing the economic impacts of solar and other ‘green’ alternative energy sources vs the so-called cost savings we enjoy because fossil fuels are an established industry where historic investments and other sunk costs have already been repaid.”

come again? Of course that wasn’t a real question: the customer asked “Where are the books on solar energy?” — I didn’t get to what the customer *really* needed (the chunka-text above) until we’d been looking through the bookstore for a good 15 minutes. Pro-tip: if you’re writing a graduate paper on it, there likely isn’t a book about that specific topic yet.

“Yeah, I don’t have a title or author, but I need anything you might have on the import-export business, logistics, and agile business management.” “Yeah, I just heard an interview on the radio but I didn’t catch the author’s name but the book sounded really interesting, do you have it?” “This is great, but do you have any books on organic ostrich farming?”

##

[bored]hi my name is matt i am your waiter how can i serve you today.[/bored]

“Great! So it turns out everyone at the table wants something different but we’re not sure exactly what; say, instead of this menu can we see the pizzas? and you do sell by the slice, right?”

*facepalm*

So. um. We’ve set up a beautiful buffet, and instead of looking at it [browsing the bookshelves] you want someone to tell you what’s on there, then bring the options to you so you can then critique our selections and tell us how bad we are at our jobs?

Oh, I’m not done with the pizza metaphor yet. Two weeks into running our buffet/sudden-full-service-pizzaria, the phone starts ringing.

“Hello, yes, I need 2 lbs. of buffalo mozzarella”

what?

“yes 2 lbs. of buffalo mozzarella, can I pick it up this afternoon?”

um, what?

“Surely this can’t be the first time you’ve been asked; you do sell pizza, right? I just need 2 lbs of buffalo mozzarella and I’d like to pick it up today.”

We do sell pizza, but, um, you want us to just sell you the ingredients?

YES. Man you’re slow.”

But sir, we’re not really set up for…

AHEM. So. You sell Pizza, yes?”

…yes…

“And you use mozzarella, yes?”

…yes…

“And so you have mozzarella for sale, yes? …yes?”

…um, when you put it that way…

“So I’ll be by in 2 hours – ah no wait, I’ll be busy – I’ll send someone by in 2 hours, just have my cheese ready for them to pick up.”

What? Ah, sir we sell pizzas…

“Well you certainly won’t be selling them very long if this is your attitude toward customer service. Hmf!”

##

The bookstore is set up for discovery. You come in, you browse, you read the jacket copy, maybe a chapter or two, and eventually: you buy. The bookstore is an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Our customers no longer treat us as such. Customers come in, cruise right up to the information desk, and they demand books (and get pissy when we’re sold out of, say, The Cuckoo’s Calling) or they get on the phone and treat us like a pizza place: “I need 12 copies of Maxwell’s Failing Forward and Bob the unpaid intern will be there by 2pm to pick them up. Oh, even better: can I give you my credit card over the phone? You don’t deliver, by the way, do you?”

Oddly enough: we weren’t set up for that.

Before you say, “Well that’s your job, isn’t it?” — How many retailers have 4 separate phone lines to handle the daily customer call volume? And please tell me which other retailers have an information desk? No, not a customer service desk, but an honest-to-god information desk where a part-timer making minimum wage is expected to routinely make recommendations based on their personal comprehensive knowledge of Literature, History, Philosophy, Religion, Sociology, Psychology, Technology, Foreign Languages, Pop Culture, what the kids are reading, what Oprah is reading — oh, and of course, at least some familiarity with the sentimental poetry of Alphonse de Lamartine.

The question at a retailer is, “which aisle has Peanut Butter?”

I don’t know what bookselling is anymore, but it ain’t retail. Retail is the income producing activity that funds the rest, but our job is not retail.

We will try to accommodate you as much as we can, but you’re treating an all-you-can-eat, $4.99 pizza lunch buffet like a personal caterer and specialty grocery store. Instead of enjoying the local neighborhood bookstore for what it is, and relishing that, *reveling* in it: everyone wants their local bookstore to also be the internet.

Yes, your local bookstore can and does do special orders. Why is this the obligation of bookstores, though? Say you heard of a trendy lipstick, one not carried locally — do you demand your local CVS special order it for you, have a clerk call you when it gets in, hold it for 2 weeks so you have plenty of time to pick it up — and not charge you anything if you change your mind, or forget and never pick it up, or find it cheaper online somewhere so there’s no need to buy it?

[back to food analogies]

Sizzle vs. Steak

One can order certain cuts of beef online, frozen, [I hate to advertise for a specific company; a search will pull up multiple vendors, or at least the one very large vendor] and for as little as $4 a meal, you can get steaks and burgers delivered to your home (packed in dry ice) ready for skillet or grill. Going to a warehouse-style store (CostCo or similar) you can likely get the same cuts at a discount, as little as $2 a pound, if you are willing to do a little work yourself in re-portioning and re-packaging and freezing.

Even at the local supermarket, by watching sales, I can manage $6-a-steak for a large hunk-of-entree (boneless rib-eyes are a personal fav) that can be cooked at home with minimal fuss.

And of course: That same hunk of meat will cost you $16 minimum, and maybe $20 or $25 at a fine dining establishment.

Same cow. Same meat. Same cut. $25. “But it costs me $6 at the grocery store! and hell, I bet I could go on the internet and mail-order that same steak for $2!”

One could argue that at the steak house, you’re paying for the sizzle, not the steak. The presentation, the expert preparation, the ideal sides, the experience. One certainly can order a steak online, sitting at home, and with some work, yes, indeed, it’s the same steak. But that $25 buys you more, a lot more (subjectively), when you get the same steak at a steak house.

What does this have to do with books?
[besides an obvious parallel price point, he asked, knowingly]

When you buy a hardcover book, in its first week of release, even discounted [as they inevitably are these days] you’re still paying $20 for what-is-eventually-going-to-be-a-$7-book for what, exactly?

Well, obviously, it’s a physical book and you get to read it. As a physical book, others see you reading it. You can lend it out when you’re done, or leave it on the coffee table so your guests can see what you’re reading. When you put it on your shelf at home, visitors to your home can see that you didn’t wait for the paperback: you like this author enough to buy it in hardcover.

You spent $20 for the sizzle, not the steak.

In an age where the ebook releases simultaneously with the hardcover and immediately undercuts it on price (whether we’re talking $16 or $14 or $9.99) — the portion of the market that buys New-York-Times-Bestselling-Author hardcovers on the day of release is still the same. By analogy: the market for $25 steaks is not the same as the market for raw meat. There will always be a opening in whatever market for the “sizzle”.

And all other things being equal, why would someone buy a book at a bookstore when there is an e-book version available for less? That’s a philosophical question.

Why would someone buy a CD for $12.99 when the same music is available from iTunes for $8.99? Do they not use iTunes? Do they not like iTunes? Do they just want a physical copy that they own without the digital nonsense?

Maybe they like the flexibility of a book, not tied to a device. Maybe they’re my grandma, and they don’t have the requisite device.

Maybe they come to the bookstore because we stock books — a great big beautiful book buffet — and the fact that such a place exists in their neighborhood is reason enough to go there, and shop there, and yes, buy the so-called “overpriced” version.

##

There are a whole lot of folks (up to and including all of Wall Street) willing to conflate mail-order with retail – to the detriment of both. Analysts and journalists who aren’t really readers themselves (I can tell) are more than willing to dump all over book retail, present their own opinions as market realities, and declare the bookstore dead before they themselves even bother to walk into one.



The Wake

filed under , 2 July 2013, 02:14 by

A Wake for Google Reader
alt. title: In the wake of Google Reader

I’m still working on the next huge draft — a post on bookselling, oddly enough (yeah, yeah, I know) — but given that today is July 2nd and we are all waking to a Google-Reader-Free world, I thought I’d take a moment to celebrate that, or commiserate, or whatever.

So. Now what.

Simple, for most: http://www.purplegene.com/reader

…ok, so I’m pulling your leg. Yes, most of us are on Feedly and the transition is relatively painless. (Though go check out Purple Gene – it’s rough and tumble, but it might rub you in the right ways.)

For me, the past few months have been an opportunity to examine and re-examine my whole data diet: what I read, how I read it, why I read certain things, and why some people/sites/corporations insist on making it way more difficult than it should be. After all of that, and after months of navel gazing (here, read a ‘progress’ post from three months ago) I actually ended up unfollowing about 100 people on twitter, removed about a third of my RSS feeds, pushed another third into a new folder named “skippable” (guess why) and then conscientiously built a new data diet, adding a bunch of new feeds and sources until I’m back up to ~150 RSS Feeds in my ‘daily’.

[see also, re: information diet – http://www.informationdiet.com/ and the Clay Johnson book, isbn 9781449304683]

Some take-away thoughts:

  • There really is a 9-5, Monday-to-Friday internet: a lot of news sites and even many blogs post, yes, during the day and also mostly during the week. On the weekends my collective feeds drop from 500+ articles daily down to about 100. It works, especially as several sites I like to follow do link-roundups or “Sunday Long Reads” — but this was an interesting reveal.
  • Following a tumblr via RSS is so much better than trying to keep up with everything from the dash. The real gems of tumblr I follow via reader – a lot of the rest is still great, for what it is [tumblr] but I only read them (Ha! ‘reading’ tumblr; it’s an image browser) when I run out of RSS-fed articles.
  • Prismatic, op. cit., is also an excellent 2nd source — a way to extend your reading day after you run to the end of your RSS feeds. – bonus: Prismatic occasionally turns up blogs you’d never find otherwise, which you can then subscribe to via RSS
  • The “Death of Google Reader” is a like, top-5-all-time, Nerd World Problem. We just wouldn’t shut up about it, but in the end: it is all fizzle no bang.

More:

http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2013/03/14/four-google-reader-alternatives-for-the-hard-core-user/
http://mashable.com/2013/06/19/feedly-google-reader/
http://blog.feedly.com/2013/06/19/feedly-cloud/
http://gizmodo.com/its-now-super-easy-to-jump-from-google-reader-to-the-b-514258503
http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/22/rss-readersplosion-shows-a-lot-of-skating-to-where-the-puck-has-been/
http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/24/there-is-no-google-reader-replacement-only-alternatives/
http://www.theverge.com/2013/6/24/4460502/just-over-a-week-until-rss-apocalypse-where-are-you-moving
http://gigaom.com/2013/06/24/why-does-everyone-except-google-want-to-build-a-reader/
http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/06/where-to-take-your-google-reader-subscriptions-and-how/
http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/29/you-cant-quit-google-reader-because-i-already-fired-you/
http://daltoncaldwell.com/where-will-google-reader-traffic-go
http://makezine.com/2013/07/01/survey-says-google-reader-users-headed-to-feedly/
http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/06/30/195875609/q-a-on-the-death-of-google-reader-and-the-future-of-reading
http://readwrite.com/2013/07/01/how-to-make-news-readers-work-for-you
http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/01/we-were-the-1000-goodbye-google-reader/
http://just-ask-kim.com/google-graveyard-infographic/
http://alternativeto.net/software/google-reader/

…and now I promise to shut up about this particular topic on twitter. Promise.
…Oh, after I tweet this post. And maybe 1 RT in the morning. ;)



Org Chart

filed under , 6 March 2013, 13:48 by

Chairwoman/Founder
Yeah, she owns this shit.

CEO Chief Executive Officer
This is your boss.

COO Chief Operational Officer
This is also your boss, and the one who knows how the logistics chain works.

CCO Chief Creative Officer
The CCO is your boss, but only if you use a Mac, know photoshop, and don’t have to wear a tie to work.

CTO Chief Technology Officer
The CTO is not your boss, but you wish she was. They get to play with all the cool stuff down there – well, until it breaks, and then it’s hell-on-18-wheels for 60 straight hours until you finally get it fixed.

CFO Chief Financial Officer
From the day you are first hired your goal is to get some kind of dirt on the CFO so you can claim Hawaiian vacations and Vegas junkets as fully-refundable “vitally important conferences on the future viability of our industry”. Also: the CFO is probably the only one who knows which side to bet on in the eventual IPO or sale of the company. *Do Not Cross*

General Counsel or CLO Chief Legal Officer
weasel.

Senior Vice Presidents
Used to be your boss, but they got a new title and a pay raise and now they seemingly don’t do squat anymore except drop into your department twice a year, are present at endless meetings at corporate, and [if you’re lucky and blackmailing your CFO] you’ll run into them at those Hawaii and Vegas conferences.

VP of [insert geographic region, business segment, core operational function, or Special Strategic Project]
Your Boss. It’s not that work gets done at this level, but this is where the reports are generated that describe the work that is being done. *note: the reports are actually researched and written by plebes much further down, but the VP’s office is where they are ‘generated’

Junior Vice President
ignorable. That said: if they offer you this job, step over the rapidly-cooling corpses of your peers to take it, as it’s a nice paycheck, cushy office, little responsibility, and easily delegatable duties and assignments. Just remember: when the stock takes a nosedive and corporate is looking at layoffs, yours is the only name on the list.

Spokesman, Media Liason, Corporate Communications Director, SVP for Communications and Public Affairs, et al.
The job title varies depending on how long one stays in the role and how good you’ve been at it, but it’s all the same: Mouthpiece. Damage Control. Shaping and Spinning the Message. Often this is just some JVP who has to write boring (intentionally boring, bonus if it can also be misleading and obfuscatory) press releases, but this one junior flack often has more influence on the daily stock price than anyone except the Chairman/Founder/CEO.

Regional Directors, District Offices, “Field” Management, Corporate Trainers & “Regional Training Managers”
oh god. For those of you working in corporations that have this many levels of management hanging over your head: oh god, I’m so sorry you poor, dumb bastard.

Branch Management & Store Managers
Well, this is where the work gets done and the money is actually made: Responsible for everything – but unable to change anything.

Department Manager [store level]
enjoy that extra $1 an hour.

employee

SO: all this corporate baggage and “strategery” and “long term” and reports and graphs and power point presentations mean exactly jack.

No matter how much you think SVPs and VPs and JVPs and RMs and DMs and corporate initiatives and “sales focus” and contests and merchandising updates and stock re-lays and new products and ALL THAT CRAP matters

…it comes down to your lowest-level smallest-cog front-line employee.

Is this person a full-time employee with appropriate product knowledge, a generally engaging demeanor, and both the experience and training to handle your day-to-day business — or, just-kind-of-imagining-a-worst-case-scenario here — has the company’s endless quest to “control costs” meant that your primary customer interface is now a student working part time (with no hope of promotion, or of ever going full-time with benefits) who just wants to get through the damn 6pm-11pm shift and go home so they can [study/get drunk/get laid/sleep/get back to coding that app that’s going to be a 7-figure IPO/blog/do laundry/pick-any-three]?

*special shout-out and congrats to those of you who parsed that last sentence: you’re my peeps.

Please remember, corporate America: To the vast majority of the public you are nothing – the corporation is often invisible unless it happens to share a name with the brand. Your Whole Company is in the hands of a part-timer earning minimum wage – and this poor sod is as invested in your success as you are invested in them.

That is to say: the outlook isn’t good. Much of corporate America is so very, very fucking lucky Unions are out-of-vogue and largely impotent, because there hasn’t been this strong of a catalyst for unions since 1880.



Everything old is new again, if you wait long enough, and we're talking about dance videos.

filed under , 2 March 2013, 20:23 by

So the Simpsons are showing up late to a trend, attempting to seem still-culturally-relevant in an age of viral video, near-simultaneous reblogging and linkbait, and a perpetually hip weberatti that’s much too hip to keep up with a show that’s only on broadcast television and only updates once a week:

Seen in that light, this could be called lame (has been called out as such in many corners online)

Ah.

But note Bart.

In his Bart-Man costume.
Doing the Bart-Man.

Viral video. Dance crazes. Taking over the broadcast platform.

Oh my yes, the “Homer Shake” is a blatant ripoff in a play for continued cultural relevancy — but who, exactly, is ripping off whom?



So here's what I think about a proposed minimum wage increase

filed under , 13 February 2013, 14:07 by

So this graph shows up on Reddit:

…from some smarty-pants who took Econ 101 and thinks the minimum wage is a bad idea. Nothing wrong with the math, or the graph, or the economics (necessarily) – but it posits that any proposed minimum wage increase (or any minimum wage at all) is necessarily going to be above the actual market price for labor.

Here, let me fix that for you:

IF wages were, I don’t know, being artificially suppressed by evil corporations attempting to maximize profits (a practice they engage in while Also keeping current wages stagnant and simultaneously demanding even more productivity ‘gains’ from already overworked employees) then, surprise, we would still be seeing artificially-induced unemployment.

The redditor used this for his post headline, “Dear Mr. President: price floors create surpluses. Raising the minimum wage = raising the cost of employment = you’re killing jobs. I know you don’t think laws apply to you, but—like gravity—the laws of economics are true whether you believe in them or not.”

Dear redditor & folks who agree with him: Employers unwilling to pay market rates for labor = people who need work but won’t work a crap job for a crap wage = jobs that go begging.

Take the agricultural industry: The only way they can fill the job for the wage they’re willing to pay is to take advantage of the most desperate, i.e. illegal immigrants, who will live in poverty and even put up with abuse for a few dollars they can send home to their families. If picking crops paid $15 an hour, college students who needed the money would spend their time off of school in the fields. Heck, some might skip class for a week to pick, given that harvest seasons are (necessarily) short.

Food would be more expensive, you say? I thought we believed in letting market forces determine prices, not in using policy decisions (a workforce of illegal immigrants is a government policy choice, one that is being debated now) to artificially manipulate markets?

The ‘Price Ceiling’ in this case is not an absolute requirement imposed upon the entire economy by the government, it has become a tenet taught in business schools and uniformly adopted by every employer. Because they can. Because they’re bastards, and money matters more than people.


[chart source]

I think a minimum wage increase is overdue. Yeah, so prices for some goods and services would go up. Fine. Let them go up. I’ll pay an extra buck for that unhealthy fast food hamburger, and I’d also be fine if there wasn’t a dramatic price difference between food grown on massive industrial farms and fruits and vegetables that are grown locally and sustainably. And why would aggregate food prices have to go up when there is plenty of money and corporate profits could come down?

Agriculture is only one industry, but the one most reliant on the cheapest unskilled labor. Say what you want about burger-flippers, fry cooks, cashiers, shelf stockers, and warehouse workers – the skills involved are not valued, but they are still skills. Look down on your janitor all you want, but he knows how to do his job. The guy working the line at the neighborhood bar and grill likely has a more technical (and more impressive) skill set than the bozos who sit in offices and bet on stocks all day.

I think a minimum wage increase is overdue, because I also think wages have been artificially kept low for at least two decades for no other reason than corporate greed, the pursuit of profits, and the need for some at the top to make the rest of us miserable. I don’t know, maybe it is only possible to enjoy millions of dollars of personal wealth if you can live in the high castle and look down on the pain and suffering of those less fortunate?



Internet Anchorites

filed under , 30 January 2013, 20:27 by

On the full scale that encompasses “hikkikomori”, “hermit”, “introvert”, “normal” and social butterfly, let me introduce one more complication:

Internet Anchorite.

Can one seal oneself off from the world, and only interact through a small window?

Damn right.

That window these days is a browser. The whole world, in a sense.
Does that make the desperate need to withdraw any less?

Why would someone seal themselves off from normal human contact and only treat with the world at arms-length (or the much greater length of an internet connection)?

Do the walls, actual or figurative, make the anchorite feel more secure? Does the separation make the contacts that are permitted or ‘allowed’ somehow more precious, even as they are necessarily limited by what the anchorite allows?



Rocket Bomber Special: 2012 Holiday Gift Guide!

filed under , 17 December 2012, 13:11 by

PLEASE do me a favor: DON'T pick out any gifts for your loved ones. Don't buy the book you know they'll love, DON'T get that one gadget you know they've been droping hints about for the last six months, DON'T even bother with gift cards.

You’re going to pick wrong.

I absolutely guarantee you’re going to pick wrong — just like you did last year, just like you’ve done for many, many years. Everyone has just been too polite to say anything.

And then I have to spend days of my life, after the holidays, doing nothing but processing returns. At least once an hour I’ll be asked, “Can’t I just get cash back?”

And sadly, the answer is no.

So let’s all agree: The Perfect Gift Is an Envelope Full of Cash.

I’d love to get cash. Anyone aged 14-28 would definitely prefer cash. Do a gut check: what do you want? Sure, that surprise gift, the exact right thing is great when it comes from the one person in your life (spouse, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend) but for everyone else?

I say: If you’re not sleeping with them, they just get cash.


[If you are sleeping with them, this seems appropriate]

Imagine the time you’ll save. Imagine the lack of stress. If you think cash is too impersonal, put the cash envelope inside of a tin of home-made cookies. That would be fantastic because, c’mon, *cookies* AND *cash*! That would be a holiday gift I’d be talking about for decades. The folks in the retirement home will be sick of hearing about it.


[cash is even traditional in some cultures]

So do yourself a favor. Do your loved ones a favor. Most Importantly, take the pressure and the hassle away from the poor retail clerks who have to process all those damn returns for clothes and other crap gifts: Just give cash this holiday.

Thank you for you time and polite consideration. And I’ll be back in 2013 to repeat this message in RocketBomber’s next Holiday Gift Guide!

##

image credits:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/beglen/157929769/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ashevillein/2421648773/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/10899777@N02/1250836095/



Mind the Gap

filed under , 12 October 2012, 22:50 by

Mind the Gap: The Generation that Came of Age between 9 November 1989 and 11 September 2001. The Promise of Peace, Wealth, Cooperation, and Understanding that was Tossed Aside by Cold Warriors Desperate for a New War, the World the Old Generation Re-Made, and the Full Appreciation of What Our Nascent Global Community Lost in the Months Following 9-11.”

I don’t have time to write the book with that title now. But there was an excellent discussion at the bar this evening, when one patron came in having recently watched Argo, and attempted to explain/describe the historical setting to another patron whose father just so happened to emigrate from Iran to the United States in 1979. It was all friendly; we’re good souls down at the pub. But in attempting to integrate the feelings and opinions of my fellows at the bar, placing it in historical context, while simultaneously taking into full consideration how our perception of events in Iran in 1979-80 have been fully transformed by the recent shenanigans in Iraq and Afghanistan, it occurred to me that my own personal viewpoint was uniquely informed.

While I was in high school and at university, my worldview had to take in the end of the cold war and a cessation of hostilities: Peace — if not actual, than palpable and almost within out collective grasp.

I entered college with a sense of hope, an international mindset, an open mind and heart when it came to global entities, and a hunger to cash in on new global opportunities. We all learned a second language. The EU was proving that even Germany and France could get along in this new world, and the Russians were the biggest capitalists of them all. [Ayn Rand would have absolutely loved 21st century Russia]

And then some asshole had to go and ruin the new dream, before it could really gain traction. No, not the asshole you’re thinking of: one madman destroyed a couple of buildings in New York. A Crime, a Heinous Crime — and perhaps deserving of the end he met. No, instead that tragedy was used as an excuse to start a ill-conceived ‘war’ — a war, that as defined, will in fact be never-ending. Until all discontent on the planet is abolished, there will always be a “war on terror”, but every military effort taken to quell discontent only breeds more tragedy, more extremists, and more events like 9-11.

This is the perfect outcome for some: a war that cannot be ended with something as simple as the collapse of a superpower.

My Cohorts and I, who once glimpsed the promise of world peace, world cooperation, and global opportunity [capitalist opportunities!] in the 1990s will eventually grow and come to positions of power as older generations die off. I hope we will not be too jaded in our old age, or that we forget the promise of our youth (or willingly abandon it).

There was an asshole, backed by powerful corporate interests and at least one major political party, who took every positive thing that came with the end of the cold war, and wiped his ass with it

— to please his military-industrial base, to mask the continuing problems at home by getting everyone — domestic supporters and foreign allies alike — to “rally behind the flag” and basically making a shit-sandwich of world affairs and forcing everyone to take a big bite.

##

The Promise was squandered. Reagan railed in Berlin, “Tear Down This Wall!”

And we did.

And it might have been great.

Mind the Gap.



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Yes, all the links are broken.

On June 1, 2015 (after 6 years and 11 months) I needed to relaunch/restart this blog, or at least rekindle my interest in maintaining and updating it.

Rather than delete and discard the whole thing, I instead moved the blog -- database, cms, files, archives, and all -- to this subdomain. When you encounter broken links (and you will encounter broken links) just change the URL in the address bar from www.rocketbomber.com to archive.rocketbomber.com.

I know this is inconvenient, and for that I apologise. In addition to breaking tens of thousands of links, this also adversely affects the blog visibility on search engines -- but that, I'm willing to live with. Between the Wayback Machine at Archive.org and my own half-hearted preservation efforts (which you are currently reading) I feel nothing has been lost, though you may have to dig a bit harder for it.

As always, thank you for reading. Writing version 1.0 of Rocket Bomber was a blast. For those that would like to follow me on the 2.0 - I'll see you back on the main site.

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