(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘publishing

“Do I rue a life wasted doing crosswords? Yes, but I do know the three-letter word for ‘regret'”*…

F. Gregory Hartswick, an early author of crossword books

Efforts to diversify the crossword puzzle industry might be having the opposite effect. As Matt Hartmann explains, although puzzles are an increasingly important part of The New York Times’ and others’ business strategies, only a handful of people actually make a living from crosswords…

The conspiracy theory writes itself. Start looking, and you’ll notice how many New York Times crossword puzzles are co-constructed (the preferred term for what most people would refer to as co-written) by a professional crossword constructor and someone with a day job—it’s hard not to see all the artists, web developers, professors, and other titles that imply a degree of wealth and elite connections. As the pandemic handed the work-from-home class extra time for their hobbies, the number of first-timers published in the Times has skyrocketed. Obviously, rich people are paying others to get the glory of their name in ink.

But the theory is almost diametrically wrong. It turns out the crossword industry really does consist of earnest wordplay lovers donating their time to unpaid mentorships, generally as part of an industry-wide effort to bring new and underrepresented people into crosswords.

Unfortunately, the end result might be even more exclusive than a pay-to-play scheme. And a game that brings the Times at least one million monthly subscribers—at $1.25 a week or $40 for a year—provides a sustainable living wage for shockingly few people…

Learn why at “Inside the Elite, Underpaid, and Weird World of Crossword Writers,” from @themhartman in @newrepublic.

Robert Breault

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As we fill in the blanks, we might recall that it was on this date in 1977 that South Park premiered on Comedy Central– where it runs to this day. The animated saga of Stan, Kyle, Eric, and Kenny and their exploits in their (titular) Colorado hometown has won five Emmys and a Peabody Award. A theatrical film, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, was released in June, 1999 to commercial and critical success, and scored an Academy Award nomination.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 13, 2022 at 1:00 am

“I suppose illustration tends to live in the streets, rather than in the hermetically sealed atmosphere of the museum, and consequently it has come to be taken less seriously”*…

From “How Punch Magazine Changed Everything,” one of the essays in the collection

From illustrator, writer, and educator Philip Kennedy, 175 stories “illustrating” 175 years of illustration…

Illustration is a fascinating subject and yet its history is rarely told. This project aims to champion the medium and bring some inspiration, insight and knowledge to readers everywhere.

Illustration Chronicles explores a history of illustration through the images, illustrators and events of the past 175 years. Every few months the site picks a topic [e.g., Music, Animals, Satire, History] to explore. These topics inspire the types of work that get selected and once a piece has been chosen, the year it was made gets marked off the project timeline.

To learn more about Illustration Chronicles you can read a more detailed introduction here

Take a look at the fascinating work-in-progress: “Illustration Chronicles,” from @philipkennedy.

* master illustrator Quentin Blake

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As we delight in drawing, we might send carefully-limned birthday greetings to Barbara Cooney; she was born on this date in 1917. An illustrator and writer, primarily of children’s books, she received two Caldecott Medals for her work on Chanticleer and the Fox (1958) and Ox-Cart Man (1979), and a National Book Award for Miss Rumphius (1982). Her books have been translated into 10 languages.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 6, 2022 at 1:00 am

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest”*…

Adventures of a Dog, and a Good Dog Too, 1857

The “children’s book” effectively dates from the mid-18th century (before which children’s reading was generally confined to literature intended for their education and moral edification rather than for their amusement). Since then, there’s been an extraordinary– and illuminating– flowering…

We can learn much about how a historical period viewed the abilities of its children by studying its children’s literature. Occupying a space somewhere between the purely didactic and the nonsensical, most children’s books published in the past few hundred years have attempted to find a line between the two poles, seeking a balance between entertainment and instruction. However, that line seems to move closer to one pole or another depending on the prevailing cultural sentiments of the time. And the very fact that children’s books were hardly published at all before the early 18th century tells us a lot about when and how modern ideas of childhood as a separate category of existence began.

“By the end of the 18th century,” writes Newcastle University professor M.O. Grenby, “children’s literature was a flourishing, separate and secure part of the publishing industry in Britain.” The trend accelerated rapidly and has never ceased—children’s and young adult books now drive sales in publishing (with 80% of YA books bought by grown-ups for themselves)…

More– and a chance to do your own exploration– at “Enter an Archive of 6,000 Historical Children’s Books, All Digitized and Free to Read Online,” from @openculture. Go directly to the 6,000+ titles in the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature here.

And as a bonus, visit the 1,800+ titles in UCLA Children’s Book Collection at the Internet Archive.

* C. S. Lewis

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As we turn the page, we might turn back to “adult” literature and recall that today– and every June 16– is Bloomsday, a commemoration and celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce, during which the events of his novel Ulysses (a modern classic set on this date in 1904) are relived: Leopold Bloom goes about Dublin, James Joyce’s immortalization of his first outing with Nora Barnacle, the woman who would eventually become his wife.

The first Bloomsday was observed on the 50th anniversary of the events in the novel, in 1954, when John Ryan (artist, critic, publican and founder of Envoy magazine) and the novelist Brian O’Nolan organized what was to be a daylong pilgrimage along the Ulysses route. They were joined by Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin, Tom Joyce (a dentist who, as Joyce’s cousin, represented the family interest), and AJ Leventhal (a lecturer in French at Trinity College, Dublin).

 The crew for the first Bloomsday excursion

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 16, 2022 at 1:00 am

“With the greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches”*…

California wildfire [source]

As insurance premiums rise, global warming’s effects are impacting collectors’ bank accounts, especially in disaster-prone states like California and Florida where risky conditions have become the norm…

Art collectors in California, Florida and other states experiencing weather-related disasters aggravated by climate change are finding fine art insurance becoming more expensive, with policies increasingly difficult to obtain (or renew) and containing new restrictions.

Earthquake-prone California, which has faced a series of massive wildfires (often followed by landslides) in recent years, is one epicentre in this struggle to find insurance coverage for homes and the art within them, with the annual cost of homeowners policies rising as much as 40% and the premiums for fine art insurance coverage increasing between 5% and 12%, according to Amee Yunn, assistant vice president of the New York-based Berkley Asset Protection, an insurance company specialising in fine art, jewellery and other high-value, personal and commercial assets. Florida, with its increasingly intense hurricanes and floods, is also a concern for the insurance industry.

“Many wealthy people flocked to Florida due to the pandemic,” Yunn says, “and they took their art with them.” That concentration of wealth assets in areas prone to flooding and hurricane damage creates significant risks to the financial wellbeing of insurance carriers. “We are seeing far more billion-dollar claims now than just 10 years ago,” Yunn says, causing companies like hers to write fewer new policies, increase their prices and add deductibles and exclusions. “The problem is acute.”

These days, insurance carriers track the advance of climate change as much as environmental scientists. “We have a corporate catastrophe team, which tracks the company’s total catastrophe exposure,” Yunn says. The risks from tornadoes in the Great Plains, hurricanes up and down the East Coast and earthquakes on the West Coast are well known, but the increasing intensity of hurricanes and tornadoes, as well as the rising numbers of them, are alarming signals. The tornado that ripped through Kentucky and several other states last year in a 200-mile path during the unlikely month of December was yet another sign of a climate that is becoming less predictable, as were a series of hurricanes, wildfires and freezing temperatures that have struck in Texas since 2017. In February 2021 a combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain paralysed Texas’s power grid for weeks, causing more than 200 deaths and nearly $200bn in damage.

“It would seem that there is nowhere safe from the effects of climate change,” [senior managing director at Risk Strategies Steve] Pincus says, all of which impacts the fine art insurance world, leading to higher prices and less available coverage…

‘The only way to stop the bleeding is to stop writing policies’: climate change is making it more expensive to insure art,” from @TheArtNewspaper.

Via @WaltHickey, in his invaluable Numlock News, who observes “Listen, if ‘boo hoo, it’s getting too expensive to insure my vast art collection’ is the thing that gets rich people to actually care about climate change I’m still gonna take that as a win.”

* Adam Smith

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As we ponder protection, we might recall that it was in this date in 1885 that the first issue of Good Housekeeping was published. A “woman’s magazine” (featuring articles on women’s interests, recipes, diet, and health), it is also known for its product testing service and its the “Good Housekeeping Seal”, a limited warranty program that is popularly known as the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” One of the oldest continuously-published magazines in the U.S., it remains popular in its category.

The first issue of Good Housekeeping

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“With my tongue in one cheek only, I’d suggest that had our palaeolithic ancestors discovered the peer-review dredger, we would be still sitting in caves”*…

As a format, “scholarly” scientific communications are slow, encourage hype, and are difficult to correct. Stuart Ritchie argues that a radical overhaul of publishing could make science better…

… Having been printed on paper since the very first scientific journal was inaugurated in 1665, the overwhelming majority of research is now submitted, reviewed and read online. During the pandemic, it was often devoured on social media, an essential part of the unfolding story of Covid-19. Hard copies of journals are increasingly viewed as curiosities – or not viewed at all.

But although the internet has transformed the way we read it, the overall system for how we publish science remains largely unchanged. We still have scientific papers; we still send them off to peer reviewers; we still have editors who give the ultimate thumbs up or down as to whether a paper is published in their journal.

This system comes with big problems. Chief among them is the issue of publication bias: reviewers and editors are more likely to give a scientific paper a good write-up and publish it in their journal if it reports positive or exciting results. So scientists go to great lengths to hype up their studies, lean on their analyses so they produce “better” results, and sometimes even commit fraud in order to impress those all-important gatekeepers. This drastically distorts our view of what really went on.

There are some possible fixes that change the way journals work. Maybe the decision to publish could be made based only on the methodology of a study, rather than on its results (this is already happening to a modest extent in a few journals). Maybe scientists could just publish all their research by default, and journals would curate, rather than decide, which results get out into the world. But maybe we could go a step further, and get rid of scientific papers altogether…

A bold proposal: “The big idea: should we get rid of the scientific paper?,” from @StuartJRitchie in @guardian.

Apposite (if only in its critical posture): “The Two Paper Rule.” See also “In what sense is the science of science a science?” for context.

Zygmunt Bauman

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As we noodle on knowledge, we might recall that it was on this date in 1964 that AT&T connected the first Picturephone call (between Disneyland in California and the World’s Fair in New York). The device consisted of a telephone handset and a small, matching TV, which allowed telephone users to see each other in fuzzy video images as they carried on a conversation. It was commercially-released shortly thereafter (prices ranged from $16 to $27 for a three-minute call between special booths AT&T set up in New York, Washington, and Chicago), but didn’t catch on.

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