May 8, 2007

Have faith in wordless knowledge


Victor Vasarely, KEIHO-C2, 1963, casein on Masonite mounted on panel

* Postal rate increases unfair to independant magazines and journals.

"Postal rate increases are an unwelcome fact of life for every magazine publisher. But it seems the steep new increases for periodicals, scheduled to begin on July 15, will inflict undue hardship on small independent magazines that do much to inform the national discourse on politics and culture. They will be required to pay a much higher percentage increase than some of the largest magazines.

"A skimpily funded coalition of small journals of opinions and ideas — running the ideological gamut from The National Review on the right to The Nation on the left — is struggling to get Washington to focus on the issue. The group’s request that the rate increase be reversed, or at least done in stages to mitigate its crippling impact, warrants the immediate attention of the House and Senate committees that oversee postal operations.

"Among other things, those committees need to review the flawed process behind the new rate structure. The United States Postal Service first proposed a large but manageable across-the-board increase of about 12 percent. The rate-setting commission quietly abandoned that proposal and instead approved a new plan resembling one proposed by Time Warner, which publishes two of the nation’s largest-circulation magazines, Time and People.

"The magazine industry was given a comment period of just eight working days to respond to the complex changes, which were unveiled without any definitive computer model to help less well-heeled publications assess the impact.

"The approved plan is another step away from the traditional method of determining rates based primarily on the number of pieces being sent out and their total weight. The new formula sharply increases discounts to big mailers, which are able to save the Postal Service work, for example by trucking their mail to different states. According to an analysis by McGraw-Hill, many small- or medium-circulation magazines will incur rate increases exceeding 20 percent, some in excess of 30 percent.

"Of course, the Postal Service needs revenue, and popular magazines published by Time Warner and others may deserve some discount for mailing efficiencies. But rates must be structured to avoid impeding the easy dissemination of information, which the founding fathers sought to protect by creating a national postal system."

* Backwoods Golden Gigantic:

New work by Eric Amling (Raleigh), Matt Lafleur (Brooklyn), and Beth
Tacular (Chatham County, NC. Strange inventions, homages to ancestors, and alienated and tiny means of transportation. Opens Friday May 11, 6pm-midnight at Wootini Gallery in Chapel Hill, NC.

* Challenge of the SuperDuperFriends.

* "Existence is a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece." -- Vladimir Nabokov

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