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Thursday News: Bent Objects; Apple destroys secrecy; Questionable free speech issue

Yesterday around 3-4 pm CST, Amazon engaged in some weird pricing shenanigans with several books (who knows how many) getting a 31% off treatment. Initially some on the Amazon boards thought it signaled the end of agency for Simon & Schuster but after investigating, I noticed that several Macmillan books were also 31% off. I’m not sure whether it was a pricing glitch, a signal that S&S books are about to be freed from agency deals or what. But if you are a price watcher, some of your favorites might enjoy a reduction, albeit only briefly.

In other pricing news, I noticed yesterday that Sony has introduced a loyalty program where if you buy 6 books you get 1 from a special selection free. I think this can be directly attributable to the end of agency pricing for at least three of the publishers. I’m hopeful that more retailers will engage in loyalty programs and other buying incentive programs.

One more thing before we get to the news (although the above could definitely be considered news. Yesterday I discovered Bent Objects. The artist, Terry Border, provides high resolution images so you can use the pictures for your computer background so I switched my Lego one to this. He’s got a coupe of coffee table books out and I can see that these are going to make wonderful gifts this holiday.

Image via Bent Objects.

“As with so many other aspects of sexual behavior, the answer may be different for men and women. Gordon Gallup Jr., a psychologist at the State University of New York at Albany who in 2007 examined how kissing was perceived by more than 1,000 undergraduate students, found that the average female sees kissing as essential. Females “wouldn’t dream” of having sex with someone without kissing first and were also much more likely to emphasize kissing during and after sex, says Gallup. It suggests that “females are much more prone to use kissing as a mate assessment device,” he says. And even within an ongoing relationship, they use kissing as a way to update and monitor its status, he says.”US News and World Report


  1. hapax
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 08:21:39

    Gordon Gallup Jr., a psychologist at the State University of New York at Albany who in 2007 examined how kissing was perceived by more than 1,000 undergraduate students

    As usual, I am reminded of the aphorism that most psychological “research” tells us practically nothing about human beings in general, but provides exhaustive data on the inner workings of the minds of twenty-year=old psychology majors.

  2. Gennita Low
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 08:35:09

    It’s hard to rack up sympathy for a young adult who tells sexual jokes over and over about missing five year-old girls on a Facebook page called Sickopedia, or something like that. I tried, but kept thinking his jokes might find the right audience in jail, so yay, he gets the laughs he so badly craved.

  3. Marianne McA
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 08:39:55

    I’m not against criminalising some kinds of speech, though I agree there has to be an attempt at consistent application. And newspaper reports seem to suggest that the DPP is working on guidelines as to when people should face charges.
    However, I think you don’t explain properly why the timing exacerbated the situation: this young girl was a five year old with mild cerebal palsy whose abduction was the main news story at the time, and if he posted his remarks on the 3rd, that was the day when most people would have watched her mother break down during a news conference as she appealed for information. Clearly members of the public did find his remarks ‘grossly offensive’ if a hostile crowd gathered outside his house. And, as he pled guilty to the charge, maybe he thought so too.

  4. DS
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 08:55:30

    Bad taste yes. Probably the first jokes about 9/11 appeared on 9/12 and were promptly dealt with socially. Criminalizing this bothers me. But a lot about what is going on in the UK (and USA for that matter ) bothers me.

  5. jane_l
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 08:59:22

    @Marianne McA: I don’t think the timing matters because his speech while vile and reprehensible was criminalized and that disturbs me. Does it matter if he says it 10 days or 1 day after what has happened. In the US there is a tort called the intentional infliction of emotional distress. One of the elements is to prove that the statement or action “shocked the conscience of the community” and it is for the jury to decide whether the statement or action fits that definition. I can see that this person’s actions fit that definition, but the intentional infliction of emotional distress is not a criminal charge but civil. The loss of liberty is the highest value that we hold (purportedly) in the US. Free speech, the right to say objectionable things without being criminally responsible is held to be one of our most important freedoms because what the community thinks is “unconscionable” is usually by majority rule.

  6. Ridley
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 11:36:49

    @Gennita Low: Nobody was asking you to feel bad for the guy. He’s obviously an epic douchebag.

    But criminal penalties for speech that hurts people’s feelings? You think that’s a good idea, locking people up for being rude? Where would you draw the line, and why?

  7. Gennita Low
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 11:55:00


    Eh, I was just stating my feelings. Lots of people will stand up to fight for this dude’s rights. I just can’t get myself worked up for him. I don’t think it’s a “good” idea to start criminalizing callous people and Jane is right, this should have been a civil case, but I’m not going to lie and say I don’t mind seeing him in trouble. If the parents of those missing girls were standing in front of him, even better. But they have much more important things to do.
    I really do think, though, that many people try to be snarky and end up being entirely something else.

  8. Ann Somerville
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 04:17:44

    @Gennita Low:

    “I’m not going to lie and say I don’t mind seeing him in trouble.”

    I doubt anyone knowing the facts of the case thinks the little shit doesn’t deserve a good kicking, but hard cases make bad law, and the laws currently in force in Britain over abuse on Twitter and Facebook are *very* bad. There was a man jailed recently for posting abusive (really nasty) tweets about an Olympic diver which the police said amounted to death threats – but which were never acted on, and consisted entirely of drunken abuse sent while the man was at a pub.

    He was jailed for six months I believe – for a first offence. That’s insane. People are routinely not jailed in Britain for killing people with a motor vehicle, assault, burglary and other fairly heinous acts. Jailing *anyone* for speech which is clearly not life-threatening, or inciting someone to an actual crime, is utterly ridiculous. As is jailing anyone for being a dickhead.

    Making criticisms of British free speech conventions (which are all they are since there is no written constitution, and free speech is not protected by law) from an American perspective is not logical, since it’s a completely different mindset there and here in Australia. In the UK and here, it’s generally considered by the public there should be limits on speech which causes offence such as racism, anti-semitism and so on. The UK has recent laws which make expressions of racism, homophobia and religious hatred actual crimes – something that comedians like Rowan Atkinson has been extremely critical of on free speech grounds.

    As a society, I believe we should be able to say to someone expressing hateful and extremely offensive things designed to hurt and agitate, that they must stop, and if necessary, take away their ability to keep doing it (taking down Facebook accounts and that kind of thing.) I go back and forth on whether these things should be criminalised or not, but jail is not an appropriate punishment for speech unaccompanied by actions, regardless. For one thing, it makes a criminal out of someone who’s just a twat, ruins their life forever for something that the offended party could avoid simply by not looking (the aforementioned diver was retweeting the dickhead’s comments, when the appropriate response was surely just to block him and get on with his life), and adds a non-violent, essentially non-criminal and unlikely recidivist to a groaning and shockingly harsh prison system. Who wins in that situation? Absolutely no one.

  9. Gennita Low
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 07:51:23

    @Ann Somerville:

    “Making criticisms of British free speech conventions (which are all they are since there is no written constitution, and free speech is not protected by law) from an American perspective is not logical, since it’s a completely different mindset there and here in Australia.”

    Not logical, maybe, but it is done all the time. You strongly criticize, object, make fun, and name-call about the American perspective on behavior (which includes opinions on law) all the time on the Internet when you disagree with it. Like you, I’m expressing my gut reaction to this particular British law being enforced on a British man. Should he have been sentenced to jail? No. But he was. Should I express outrage at this? Maybe so. But like I stated, I couldn’t conjure the sympathy to defend him. Part of me said, “You think writing jokes in public about missing five year-olds being molested or killed is funny? You want to be the center of attention? Here you go.”

    And yes, every country has different laws, some more extreme than the other, about free speech. They are classed “hate” speech, as in Germany, where one can’t say certain things about race or one faces jail time. Whether these laws are right or wrong from that country’s cultural perspective, people all over the world comment about them all the time.

    I’m not against that at all. I was merely being honest by saying I don’t feel sorry for him for getting into trouble in this one instance while knowing this is against the cultural norm of siding with him from the position of free speech. Sure, I could just dismiss it as “young man saying sexual jokes about missing five year old girls on Sickopedia” but what he did wasn’t right, from my American perspective. But maybe that’s from my Chinese perspective; that would bring up cultural topics like honor, saving face, and familial duty. Or maybe it’s from my Malaysian perspective which has a strict culture of punishment for small offenses, like the death penalty if one is caught with drugs.

    There are many injustices in this world. Maybe when I’m less angry or disgusted with what he said, I’ll rise up and defend him. Right now, I want to be as callous to him as he was to those little girls’ parents. Thanks for the conversation.

  10. CourtneyLee
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 11:44:13

    Popehat has a couple of good posts this week about the UK free speech thing. That guy is, as someone said before, an epic douchbag and I hope he is friendless and shunned by society for the rest of his pointless existence, but I still have to defend his right to express himself without fear of jailtime (it is important to note that he most likely would not have been arrested in the US). Then I can express myself by saying that it would make me ten kinds of happy if he were to lose his genitals in an unfortunate smelting accident.

  11. Ann Somerville
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 15:46:50

    @Gennita Low:

    I’m sorry that I’ve offended you with my comment, which was not in any way intended to be a criticism of your remarks or of you. I was expressing my frustration generally both at what are unquestionably bad laws, and the rather black and white approach adopted by people like Popehat. Ken White’s addiction to free speech and above all, clarity regarding application of the law is admirable, but he’s got a bee in his bonnet over UK free speech and he doesn’t seem to realise that not only is the concept of free speech completely different (and utterly without a written legal framework) in the UK, so are the cultural attitudes.

    Of course people can comment and criticise, and I defend your right to do so, although I wasn’t even attempting to comment on your right in my comment. I’ve clearly worded things in a manner offensive to you, and I’m sorry. As I should have made clear, I share your lack of sympathy for this fuckwit’s plight, because he’s put himself in that situation and he’s a vile human being. I just think jail should not have even been in the mix because it’s a stupid way to deal with trolls.

  12. Gennita Low
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 22:13:29

    @Ann Somerville:
    Sorry if I came across as upset with you. I wasn’t offended at all, with you or anyone here. Everything is cool. Jane, as usual, collected good news items for thought and discussion.

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