Good day bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

First of all, I know it’s been a while since the last entry. Apologies, but all of those pesky realities of life are still leeching away at my time. I’m dancing as fast as I can!

*** Government, again. We seem to be entering an era where governments of all kinds feel it their inherent duty to throw as many obstacles as possible into the life of those who make a living through ecommerce. First the lunacy of the ink-in-lead issue, which appears to have gone sadly un-protested by the sheeple, and now the state government of Kentucky. That’s right, a new law in Kentucky may force those trying to sell a used microwave on Craigslist to buy some groceries to have an auctioneers’ license.

We’ve seen this sort of thing before, by the way. Usually the bots in the legislature in question have the good sense not to knuckle under to the auctioneer lobby and vote for something that would likely get them booted out of office. But not always. The requisites for holding public office these days seems to be that you A) always vote to expand government power to encroach on people’s lives, and B) be too stupid to know or care about how your actions affect your constituents. Of course, those in favor of this bill say it would have no effect on online activities. And, if you choose to believe them, that’s your business. But given the track record of government actions on small business people, I wouldn’t bet my livelihood on them being right, and that’s exactly what you would be doing.

So, all you Kentucky Bonanzlers and Ebayers, got a spare thou for that auctioneer’s license laying around?

Kentucky wants blood

*** Had I been around during WW2 and destined to fight, I think the most frightening job would have been as a merchant mariner. Swabbing the deck on a tramp freighter might not seem like something dangerous, boring, maybe, but not dangerous, but it was. Lurking out there were submarines waiting to sink you. Ships in the Pacific weren’t in so much danger. Japanese official policy was for submarines to seek out US warships, not attack the US supply lines. Few allied ships were sunk by Japanese submarines.

German U-Boats, however, were a different story. If your ship went down in the Atlantic you might have a long wait until rescue. Even as part of a convoy, torpedoed ships could not be guarded, they had to be left behind at the mercy of the submarines. Sometimes, the U-Boat captain would give them food and coordinates, sometimes the sub would machine gun the survivors, but mostly they would just sail off and leave them to the mercy of the Atlantic.

A new book Merchant Mariners at War: An Oral History of World War II by George Billy, gives the men who manned these most vital ships a chance to tell their story.

All hail the Merchant Marine

*** Ebay. Seriously, I don’t think I could make this up if I tried. After a year of John Donohoe’s inane ‘disuptive innovation’, of screwing up anything and everything that was ever good about the site, of alienating and insulting every honest seller the site ever had, ebay has decided that it’s future market is to be…the ebay of old. That’s right, abandoning their quest to become an Amazon clone, ebay has decided that it needs to be ebay.

I’m not kidding.

A year ago their stock was around $34. Today, it’s around $12, and flirted with $10 for a few days. It might do so again. And for this the moron heading the company is being paid millions and millions. Which just goes to show that it’s not what you know, it’s not who you know, it’s not even whether you are competent or not. No. It goes to show that PT Barnum was right, there’s a sucker born every minute, and some of them comprise the ebay board of directors who hired this clown.

ebay: everything bad is good again

*** There was a time when books were special. You just didn’t see them every day, they were expensive objects of art, cherished and handed down as heirlooms. And some few of the most special eventually wind up in museums, where they may be enjoyed by any and all.

A grand home for a rare treasure

*** In the never ending pantheon of books concerning the Nazis and World War II comes yet another in the newest sub-genre, which I have dubbed ‘German Angst.’ Nuremberg was and is not one of Germany’s biggest cities, but where the Nazis are concerned it may be the most recognizable. So how, after the war, did those Nurembergers deal with the sudden juxtaposition of their status, from favored city of the Nazis to outcast by the Allies? A new books seeks to explain that very question. Haunted City: Nuremberg and the Nazi Past by Neil Gregory Yale does a seemingly fine job of looking at how a people and a city dealt with a history that befriended and gave succor to evil.

Nuremberg and the Nazis