Holiday thoughts

December 1, 2010

Johnson’s World by Steve Johnson

If you are looking for a last-minute or belated Christmas gift for a young person, you can't go wrong with comic books.

I began reading comic books at the barbershop when I was a wee lad, and I still have my subscription to Batman and Detective Comics.

That illustrious comic book publishing house, the United States Government Printing Office, has released a new title. “Squeaks Discovers Type,” subtitled, “How Print Has Expanded Our Universe,” is 24 pages of swashbuckling adventure. Squeak, a video game character come to life, zooms through 5,000+ years of written communication as he convinces Jake, an elementary school student, of the importance of print.

The comic book is available from the GPO Bookstore for only $5.00 per copy, because your tax dollars have already covered most of the publishing costs.

Happy holidays!

412.4 years is the length of time someone calculated that it would take to view every video on YouTube. I picked up that number in 2009; frankly, it sounds low. By my math, that converts to 3,615,98 1/2 hours, so given YouTube's maximum time limit of 10 minutes per video, that means a likely minimum of 22 million videos. That's a lot of stupid pet tricks.

According to the Governor's National Highway Safety Assn., 27 states prohibit texting while driving. Yet 25 of these states offer traffic updates via Twitter.

A duck cannot walk without bobbing its head. Come to think of it, neither can I.

A duck's quack does not echo.

The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. Come to think of it, neither does a duck. I wonder if the Mona Lisa had an echo? I wonder if she bobbed her head?

Hats off to Stuart Margolis, whose direct mail solicitation letter had my name, title, company and address correct. This is no small feat.

The typeface was appropriate and the letterhead was preprinted in color, of good quality, sent First Class in a matching envelope. The paper was well chosen, and the signature was either real or so well printed that it fooled me.

Will all of this win Margolis my business? Not automatically; there are no prizes just for doing things right. What I did do was open and read the letter, instead of throwing it away unread.

I am a printer, knowledgeable about digital and variable printing, so I tolerate neither bad printing nor bad data. I am a published writer, so I expect professional typography, professional layout and professionally written content.

If Margolis, whose name has been affiliated with Printing Industries of America literally since he was born, couldn't get his printing right, I certainly wouldn't consider his consulting services.

Some say bad marketing is better than no marketing. Use this generalization with great care. Good marketing and good printing go hand in hand.

“People have one thing in common: They are all different.” — Thomas Dolan

Mark Twain's last literary project was his own autobiography, of which he completed 5,000 pages (yes, that's five thousand pages) before his death in 1910. He also left behind instructions that his memoirs not be published for at least 100 years after his death.

That would be now. Volume one arrived in bookstores in time for Christmas.

Why wait a century to publish? No one seems to know the author's motives for certain, but this much can be said: Mark Twain certainly knew how to build up hype for his book.

The United States has never lost a war in which mules were used.

Counterfeiter Catherine Murphy had the unfortunate honor of being the last woman to be executed by burning alive at the stake. The rest of the counterfeiting ring was hanged, but British law at the time (1789) called for women to be burnt.

The law was abolished the next year. It should be noted that Catherine and her band were coiners. Perhaps her grisly end helped persuade future counterfeiters to adopt more modern methods — namely, printing and engraving.

Nowadays such dastardly pursuits aren't called counterfeiting. The new term is “quantitative easing.” Think about it.