the week in review 

Jul 20-Jul 24, 2020 


a look back at this week’s essays… 


Hydroxychloroquine and the Politics of the Corona Crisis 


“Trump is not a doctor!” [the LLP&M] pointed out. “He’s an arrogant, ignorant businessman. How dare he promote an unproven medication!”


How dare he, indeed?


There could be only one answer. The RLP&M had to find evidence that HCQ is effective – i.e., that Trump was right.


And thus began a soap opera of misinformation that has continued non-stop.


Let’s look at some of the highlights:


Click here to read more.



Injustice in the Oldest Sport in America:

“Systemic Breedism” Exposed in the Westminster Dog Show 


What is not generally known is that since 1907, when Westminster held its first competition, 30% of the winners of Best in Show have been White Fox Terriers. And there has never been a single win for a Golden Retriever.


“This is a scandal that has been kept under the kennel floor for too long,” argued an editorial in The New York Pravda earlier this year.


Click here to read more.



Update on My Investment Portfolio:

Why I’ve Just Sold Most of My Stocks 


I’ve just sold about 75% of my stock portfolio. I’ll tell you why…


Click here to read more.




what I’m reading 


Little, Big by John Crowley 


I’ve never read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Nor have I read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. But Little, Big seems like what would happen if those two books had a baby.


The genre is half fairy tale, half fantasy. But it is not limited by conventional genre standards. It has philosophical depth, the elevated language of literary fiction, and the psychological range of anthropology,


It’s the story of Smoky Barnable, a young man who walks from some unidentified City to an un-locatable place called Edgewood to marry a young woman, Daily Alice Drinkwater. She is part of a large family that are all somehow connected to some more spiritual world, and Smoky tries to figure out how he fits into it.


The author, John Crowley, has set a high bar for himself. For many readers, he has achieved it. Some consider Little, Bigto be a Great American Novel, and one of the best works of fiction written in recent memory. It doesn’t feel that way to me, but it could be that I’m just not a fan of this kind of book.


I will say this: Because of Crowley’s diction, characters, and plotting, this rather large book was quick and fun to read.


Some reviews:

“A book that all by itself calls for a redefinition of fantasy.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

“Crowley is generous, obsessed, fascinating, gripping. Really, I think Crowley is so good that he has left everybody else in the dust.” – Peter Straub

“Ambitious, dazzling, strangely moving, a marvelous magic-realist family chronicle.” – The Washington Post

“John Crowley writes sentences of such coruscating magnificence that the rest of the English language has fallen in love with them. I once knew an adverbial clause who was so infatuated with the linguistic beauty of Little, Big that the poor creature pined away into a comma.” – James Morrow




recommended links from this week’s blog 


* Guess who’s coming to dinner… Here


* “How to Automate a Habit and Never Think About It Again”Read this on


* I’m sure it’s my age, but this rendition of The Weight wrecked me… in a good way. Here


* “If We Lose John Locke, We Lose America” John Locke has been a writer on my must-read list since I became interested in history (for the first time) just 20 years ago. This video made me push him up to the top of the list. Here


* A great, unique, and disturbing version of “The Sound of Silence” by Disturbed…here.






Your Question: 


I’ve spent my career in the wine business, as a sommelier, a consultant, and a distributor. I’ve just finished writing a book about wine for the average consumer. I  know nothing about agents, distribution, advertising, social media, etc. How can I get published?




My Answer: 


Congrats on finishing the book. Books are way harder to write (and finish) than most people realize.


I’m not going to tell you what to do. I’m going to tell you about my experience…


I’ve written and published more than two dozen books. The first six or eight were published by a major house (John Wiley & Sons). The rest were published by companies that I consult with or, in some cases, own.


More than half of all the books I wrote were “Amazon Best Sellers.” But that just means that for several days I sold several hundred copies on Amazon. Three of my books made it to The Wall Street Journal best seller list. One made it to the #10 spot on The New York Times list. (That is rare. Only one of 60,000 to 100,000 books that are published each year get on that list.)


That was enough to get me an introduction to the publisher of John Wiley at the time. But it didn’t result in a big paycheck. If you understand how conventional publishing works, you will not be surprised to hear that. Let’s say they sold 300,000 copies of my books at $20 apiece for a total of $6 million. My cut of that was less than 2%.


How can that be? I’ll give you one fact that will explain it: 95% of all books published in the US sell fewer than… are you ready? Fewer than 100 copies!


What that means is that the major publishing houses lose money on 95% of their sales. With an author like me, they can occasionally make a good return. But the real money is made by those that get up on that NYT list, stay there for weeks or months, and then come back with their next book and do it again.


Getting published by a major house is a great accomplishment and a deserved boost to one’s ego. But unless you are that one in a million that reaches the highest status (the 1/100th of 1%), you aren’t going to make a lot of money.


You will do better if you can get one of the wine companies you’ve worked with to publish your book. They would publish it to promote their brand, so they would likely be willing to give you more than 5% of sales. (Ask for 25% and negotiate from there.)


Another possibility that I’d recommend over conventional publishers is to contact the various magazines on wine and even cooking and see if they might want to publish your book.


If those options don’t pan out, you might want to consider publishing the book yourself and selling it on Amazon. It’s easy to get your book listed on Amazon, and there are dozens of books out there that will tell you how to market it.


So ask yourself: What is my primary objective? To become a household name? To promote myself within the wine industry? To make some extra money?


The first goal is the least likely. The second the most promising. The third the most certain. It’s up to you.


Good luck!




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For a look back at the stock market, click here