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Maieutics: Or how I came upon MMM LLP's first project

by rg Sat Nov 24th, 2007 at 06:22:09 AM EST

The first (and last?) aggregation

Okay, here is the idea: A book publishing company run through the Milo Minderbinder LLP.

First Thoughts in No Particular Order

We would need to know a minimum print run--my fantasy said that there may be newer (start-up?) printing companies that could run off X copies of a particular book, where X starts in the low hundreds rather than in the low thousands.

We would need a company--the same fantasy involved northern forests (for sustainability and 'clean as' practices)...a printing company, I mean, who would join forces with Milo Minderbender LLP (Internet Sales are "quite good", I'm told, and I have an artist ready to design a cover....!  "That's me!" she says...)

(..."I'm only nine though!"  "That shouldn't be a problem.")

Milo Minderbinder Memorial LLP is not ageist!

...cough cough!  (This is all to hide my evil plan from lazy eyeballs--eye!  EYE!)

Okay, so here's the idea

To create books from ET content.  The titles were leaping at me last night like red pandas.

An Energy Policy in a Time of Peak Oil
Lebanon Redux & Lebanon Redux 2 (sold as one volume)

Ach...I was...they were...well, maybe after all red pandas can't leap...

Or maybe they're just....takin' it easy (the book titles, I mean, there's no rush.)

So...Tell Us The Evil Plan

Okay.  Are you sure no one's listening in?

The plan is to publish the above (and other) books as follows:


Cost of physical production of book (softback, 40-60,000 words to start, slim volumes easily stored--I was thinking of DeAnander's boat, slim volumes for easy storage--maybe heavyweight tomes could run up to 120,000) -- ?X? [This cost is problemo uno, I believe Senor Triloqvist might be able to get hold of a number of two for this--though I could be wrong]

ET LLP running/maintenance costs (physical) of eurotrib.com -- 4-6% of cover price

ET LLP salaries -- 4-6% of cover price (salaries, in the first instance I'm thinking of Colman and someone and Fran...I hope that's claer)

Writer's (Writers') Cut -- 4-6%

Everything else I've forgotten


Here's the Deal

When a person buys a book, not only do they get a book--they get an extra two copies for free!

Therefore the cover price of one book will have to incorporate the above costs x 3.

Why Three Books?

At first I wanted ten, but I decided the economics might be impossible--I don't know how much it costs to print a book, but here's the idea:

You buy a book and get (X number of) other books for free.  These other copies (of the same book or--once the number of books rises--any of the books) can be given away (to libraries, as presents, left in parks...owner's discretion)...or....they can be sold on...for the cover price.

(I'm thinking--as an artistic design--that the price could be quoted in various currencies down the right hand edge of the cover, like a stripe of names and numbers, with all prices being equivalent (to 4-6%) and ...okay...prices to rise by 4-6% a year, once a year (I'm avoiding "unforeseen costs" as I'd like 'em all to be foreseen and written into the various LLP agreements--make Milo happy!--))

So, you buy one, get two free.  Sales can be (evil glint) direct from new (start up?) printing company or printing company off-shoot.  Orders (internet, mail, turn up with cash?) can be placed direct, books printed (in print runs of X-hundred, where I imagine a minimum X might be 200) and sent out, transactions logged (does MMM LLP need a database and who can build such a thing?)...

Cough cough COUGH!

The relationship between eurotrib.com and Milo Minderbinder LLP is as follows:


No words or images will be taken without the explicit consent of the writer/image maker/[others--e.g. video?].

Indeed, the first job is to underwrite everyone's rights (using copyleft) via maybe some text in the ET LLP, which is to be built exclusively to deal with:

Legal Issues
Maintenance Costs

and that's it.  For the rest, ET is ET.

Ah ha!

An example.  Let us say that I (fiendishly, rubbing my hands thinking of loot) propose to DoDo that I would like to publish...his history of The Hungarian Revolution...I'll edit (maybe add a bit of extraneous commentary if necessary--and only with DoDo's permission--the writer(s) get(s) veto, always--

And DoDo says, "No, thanks."

End of project.


But, aha!  I have another idea for a book.  This book will be titled: "LQD"

it will consist of LQDs, with emphasis on the comments...I'll need to ask the permission of any commenter who I'd like to add...hmmm...

"I am thinking of using a thread that contains (starts with) (a) comment(s) by you.  Is that acceptable to you, and if it is would you prefer to participate in all editorial decisions, would you prefer to have a series of (or a single final) veto(es)--cough!--or are you happy for me to continue, knowing that as a co-writer you are entitled to your cut of the 4-6% of every sale that goes to writer(s)--"

[Side issue about how writers can get their 4-6% of "follow on" sales (the free books)--an enlightened policy comes to mind but I can't express it in words just yet.  And, I think "of course" a free .pdf (or equivalent) of every book to be available for download ("save the whales, save the trees, save the bees!")...]

I imagine a sub-clause where individuals are allowed to make a minimum profit (100) before...investors...

...because yes, I can see a role for investors.  The European Train Enthusiasts (international club) would be very interested in investing (and promoting) the series of books (yes!) about rail that could be produced from the ET archive (with pictures!)--how many permissions would that involve?  As many as necessary!

And what would the investors get--and what would they invest?  They'd invest the money for the initial print run, and for that they might get-hmmm....4-6% of the writer(s) profits, once the writer has pocketed (100?  1000?) cash-money...

Why 4-6%?

Tell me if I have the following wrong:

The yearly rise in value of gold is @4%
"Tithing" (or socially responsible equivalent) runs at 10%

So--individual credit (linked to gold) 4-6%
Social credit - 4-6%

Adding to 10% as the "social costs" -- the payment to ET LLP would come to 10% of the cover charge.

4-6%--didn't I read here that this was the natural inflation rate, that it creates the fluidity needed in a system where the work I do now won't come to fruitiion for...a season (I grow strawberries) or two seasons, or even a year...there are different time lengths so 4-6% a year "oil" to keep the mechanisms smooth.

Okay, I am hoping that Mssrs Cook, Triloqvist, and Spencer will set up the LLP--certainly with Pirate involvement of some kind, if possible--

That's the Milo Minderbinder Memorial LLP, btw.

Here's Milo.

Hold on, I've been typing Minderbender, when it should be Minderbinder...

The difference between bending and binding...but there can be no memorial to Minderbender.

LLP Crisis!

Here's Milo.

Whoah, that's Yossarian...would he join MMM LLP?

"Sure, man."


MMM LLP Book Publishing Venture
. A good idea 60%
. You are a demon from the planet Troll 40%

Votes: 5
Results | Other Polls
Hat tip to Migeru for Maieutics

Maieutics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maieutics is a complex procedure of research introduced by Socrates, embracing the Socratic method in its widest sense. It is based on the idea that the truth is latent in the mind of every human being due to his innate reason but has to be "given birth" by answering questions (or problems) intelligently proposed.

If I read Maieutics with a squint I can see "me aiutics"...

(And there is a serious idea in my head--I must have read Migeru's--for the "first book", definitely I think we would need the PR/Advertising directional energy--I'm thinking of Herr Triloqvist again--)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Nov 24th, 2007 at 06:29:34 AM EST

Heh...here's George Carlin.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Nov 24th, 2007 at 06:26:52 PM EST
Or, as Nomad reminded us a while back:

Douglas Adams on Democracy

[An extraterrestrial robot and spaceship has just landed on earth. The robot steps out of the spaceship...]

"I come in peace," it said, adding after a long moment of further grinding, "take me to your Lizard."

Ford Prefect, of course, had an explanation for this, as he sat with Arthur and watched the nonstop frenetic news reports on television, none of which had anything to say other than to record that the thing had done this amount of damage which was valued at that amount of billions of pounds and had killed this totally other number of people, and then say it again, because the robot was doing nothing more than standing there, swaying very slightly, and emitting short incomprehensible error messages.

"It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see..."

"You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"

"No," said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like to straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."

"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."

"I did," said ford. "It is."

"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"

"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."

"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"

"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."

"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"

"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?"


"I said," said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, "have you got any gin?"

"I'll look. Tell me about the lizards."

Ford shrugged again.

"Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them," he said. "They're completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone's got to say it."

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Nov 24th, 2007 at 06:30:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I never know whether to take you seriously or not.

I'm going to propose a specific enterprise later this coming week involving real estate and organized along lines that Chris Cook might approve. So - I probably won't get directly involved in your project, but I certainly support the idea. If you and others get something along this line going, though, I would like to help in some manner.

You mention the Milo brand tangentially - for an umbrella organization? If you - and others - want to get such an LLC in place, I definitely want to be involved in that project.

I guess that the upshot for me is that I cannot be sure that you are serious about your proposal. Are you?

paul spencer

by paul spencer (paulgspencer@gmail.com) on Sun Nov 25th, 2007 at 08:49:35 PM EST
I guess that the upshot for me is that I cannot be sure that you are serious about your proposal. Are you?

I certainly am--or was, but the lack of responses to it makes me think that either:

a) I am not the person to propose it


b) now is not the time


c) this is not (in) ET's interest

I know I took you and Chris's and Sven's names a bit in vain--I sorta wanted to see a £120 (suggested by Chris as the cost for setting up an LLP in the UK) "money where your mouth is" gesture re an LLP.

I particularly like the idea of the Milo Minderbinder Memorial LLP because it would specifically NOT be ET LLP, because it has humour in its essence but also a humour that requires a level of interest, knowledge and critical distance to get...I even like Minderbender but thought maybe that would be an offshoot of the original LLP--for the more crazy projecs.

But...I can't do anything.  I can't set up an LLP (no knowledge), I can't find out about printing costs--well, I could but it would be me phoning a company and I'm sure at least one person here at ET has more "in" to the process than this.

So--I wanted the diary to be humorous (Ker....splunk...heh!), so maybe my attempt killed the idea, or the idea just doesn't interest people here (a think tank that doesn't publish documents?)...I dunno, I think there's a danger (at least for me) that ET becomes a "place to gather and chat" on the net, sorta like a group of friends at the pub--over time, old ones disappear new ones turn up, but...I've got a pub near my house for that.  I was hoping--all those people here I'd like to meet, but jetting around Europe while talking about restructuring its entire economic base (or maybe that of the world)....ach...I thought an "edit-to-see-what-we-get" idea might work...I think it still will, and I expect Migeru will do just so with the Socratic economics series--which is where the idea was born in my head--in italian, hmmm--I mean, maybe I'm the only one that thinks a small book (a slim volume with an elegant cover (I was thinking along the lines of Faber & Faber:

...though I also think the idea of an ET photo as a cover design, with simple text, something like:


...and then I couldn't decide, You'd need the Milo Minderbinder LLP on the spine, and the first page would say (and only this:)

"The following text(s) originally appeared at eurotrib.com, where they can still be found (along with accompanying articles.  The complete text is freely available as a .pdf"

That kinda thing.

But...it's a no go if we can't find out a basic price, which means contacting printers or paper manufacturers, and for some reason I thought Sven might have contacts in those areas, that he could throw out a rough number (I was guessing £20 for a book--with two free copies--would cover it.  I was also guessing that a well-produced book would have, say, 50 guaranteed buyers here at ET, so that's £1,000 start-up money.


I grabbed your name because you came up with the most excellent name of the LLP!  Plus, you are my prefered candidate for president, plus you have run things in the past....etc...so yeah!  I am both serious and unserious (in the way maybe that Sven sees no difference between work and pleasure...so, hmmm).

I really would like Chris to set up the LLP.  I mean, I think until this beast--it lives!

Until it's built I don't think any of us can really give it a good drive around.  So far it's an idea, so if ET LLP Thonk Tink etc. is the idea, fine.  I had a different one, one that I could participate in (I would be interested in editing a book or two--I can see that 4-6% generating me some income in the medium term...)

And no one commented on the 4-6% aspect, so I must have explained it wrong (perceptions, dear boy, sayeth the silent Sven), but I thought just the idea of setting up a members-driven modern-style post-deficit-capital company might be interesting as an exercise if nothing else.

I thought: surely a book of Jerome's essays is a necessary object to produce.

But, I dunno, no recommends, no comments, no readers, so...okay...sorta put me right off I have to say (Readers: "Yes, that is the sensation!")--though I think that's just me thinking "My baby, you are so beautiful!" and showing the photos and....no interest, no one looks at the photos of my baby--our baby!

So, there's no baby, just a photo.  I'd like Chris to create this wee thing and then I would like to get involved in writing (with mucho humour, oh yes) the Milo Minderbinder Memorial LLP articles of Incorporation....heh...I know this is a minority interest but when I realised I was in a minority of two (me and Chris!  And he hasn't said anything of the yay/nay type re: "Actually creating this thing", so that's still up in the air...)

Ach!  Paul!  You dragged this comment out of me, I hope it has in some way shed light on whatever is lurking here.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Nov 26th, 2007 at 04:52:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I've been busy, and still am, at least til tonight, but I will put in my two penn'orth in view of all the effort rg has put into it.

I agree with paul that since rg is something of the "ET court jester" (Tarot card, please rg?) it can sometimes be difficult to give his serious propositions such as this the attention they deserve.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Nov 26th, 2007 at 05:18:13 AM EST

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 26th, 2007 at 05:22:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Nov 26th, 2007 at 05:36:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And it's only £20.00 to set one up, not £120!

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Nov 26th, 2007 at 06:10:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If it takes three, count me in for £6.67.  I would most definitely enjoy having "Founder member of Milo Minderbinder LLP" on my CV.

Seriously, though, Chris, if that's all it takes I'll post you a twenty tonight--if you can get it created.  Then, once it exists, all conversations become more...intriguingly realisable.

If there are only three of us, but nevertheless MMM LLP exists, then I would be motivated to hunt through ET for a potential "first book" project, a slim volume (no more than 100 pages is what I'm thinking). agreed as per the diary above, only with all the complications included...

The high humour I espy (in the HST sense) is that many potential readers (e.g. of Migeru's collaborative book...if he and his collaborators are willing to work with MMM LLP of course...or even become members...and why should they?  [I don't know, of course--but with an "actually existing" MMM LLP...heh...])...yes, many potential buyers of MMM LLP products won't have the first idea who Milo Minderbinder is; and those that do should see that "wry" is the word...

So, I'm in for start up cash--can we find a third party to get bring MMM LLP to life?  (Paul I hope!  But are there others?  If we are five, then starting costs drop to £4; ten and it's £2 each...and then the LLP will exist and its various (strange!) businesses (the new way--future model!  Etc...) can begin.

(For the heavily serious among us, I would imagine investments in Renewable Energy projects of various types would be front-runners for MMM LLP resources)

(and, hey, seeing as how I'm painting the picture instead of you, I was thinking of maybe charging a fee of £6.68, but I'll leave that to you to decide, Chris!  Heh!  Hope you is enjoying...)

(The part I would find most humorous is if/when MMM LLP started generating 4-6% all over the place, building and growing in strange and wonderful ways...  But I would like to see a big discussion about that 4-6% part as that's an area I really know nothing at all about...anyways, ...heh...it's a slow morning at work...I could be hunting up books from the ET archive, but...I need collaboration, I need a workers'...council...co-operative...hmmm...


[The] actual existence [of workers' councils] has as yet been no more than a brief sketch, quickly opposed and defeated by various defensive forces of class society, among which their own false consciousness must often be included. Pannekoek rightly insisted that choosing the power of workers' Councils "poses problems" rather than providing a solution. Yet it is precisely in this power where the problems of the proletarian revolution can find their real solution. This is where the objective conditions of historical consciousness are reunited. This is where direct active communication is realized, where specialization, hierarchy and separation end, where the existing conditions have been transformed "into conditions of unity." Here the proletarian subject can emerge from her or his struggle against con- templation: his or her consciousness is equal to the practical organization which it undertakes because this consciousness is itself inseparable from coherent intervention in history.


Leur existence effective n'a encore été qu'une brève ébauche, aussitôt combattue et vaincue par différentes forces de défense de la société de classes, parmi lesquelles il faut souvent compter leur propre fausse conscience. Pannekock insistait justement sur le fait que le choix d'un pouvoir des Conseils ouvriers «propose des problèmes» plutôt qu'il n'apporte une solution. Mais ce pouvoir est précisément le lieu où les problèmes de la révolution du prolétariat peuvent trouver leur vraie solution. C'est le lieu où les conditions objectives de la conscience historique sont réunies ; la réalisation de la communication directe active, où finissent la spécialisation, la hiérarchie et la séparation, où les conditions existantes ont été transformées «en condition d'unité». Ici le sujet prolétarien peut émerger de sa lutte contre la contemplation : sa conscience est gale à l'organisation pratique qu'elle s'est donnée, car cette conscience même est inséparable de l'intervention cohérente dans l'histoire.


(My emphasis--because maybe I have the soul of a prole)

And (as Workers' Councils figured largely in DoDo's excellent history of The Hungarian Revolution) I see the DoDo book project as most realisable by the LLP, certainly as a wonderful introduction--indeed, "An Introduction To..." could be an over-arching concept for the first set of books....etc...etc... (like I said, it's a slow day at work...)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Nov 26th, 2007 at 07:03:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK. Let's do this thing, even if it's just you and I. I'll buy this round, if you like.

Only one (slight, I hope) hindrance, and that is time. I work, too, though 'retirement' is imminent. A friend of mine, Steve Nieman, is preparing to change his aircraft-ownership "co-op" to an LLC along the lines of Chris' suggestions. I will team up with Steve to do a 'two-fer'. I'll predict that it will take several months to get the MMM LLC part done.

I propose to make it a Washington state corporation as a starting point. If that makes things difficult in any way for potential European participants, we can look into a separate organization there.

The book cover part intrigues me, too - reminds me of the cover art for many of the 'underground' newspapers of the late '60s. In Austin we published The Rag, and a sometimes-ex-pat-in-France named Jim Franklin specialized in an armadillo motif. Great fun.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (paulgspencer@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 26th, 2007 at 11:04:09 AM EST
Okay!  "Underground newspapers" is right where I've been thinking--without quite thinking it.  They interviewed "counter culture" figures who would never have made it to the mainstream mags--and had "counter culture" figures writing for them--think HST at Rolling Stone.  Also the growth of small presses, loads to learn there.

I'll buy this round, if you like.

A basic idea (if I've understood correctly, big IF as always) is that "value" is the starting point, and assuming Chris agrees to becoming a member--do we have to sign documents?  Is it wise to (also) incorporate MMM as an LLP in the UK?  I am so new to all this--I suggest that rather than sending small money orders around (shall we say small = less than about fifty dollars/euros/pounds?), the "missing amounts" can be used as starting credits for the "new credits" part of the system?  I therefore will owe you and Chris (and anyone else who fronts money-cash) X credits (need to tie those credits to something...Chris...this is where I see all the diagrams slowly turning into...decisions...actions...), or rather: you and Chris are crediting me with X credits to, I dunno, create a first book?

Only one (slight, I hope) hindrance, and that is time.

At this point I think I am asking for a large(r) chunk of Chris's time (though I see benefits for him as well...heh...as Mandy Rice Davies said, "Well, he would, wouldn't he?", though the painting I've done must be worth something...)

Maybe I just continue to write strange diaries and that's okay for now?

What you say, senor Cook?  You like my painting?

So Paul: yes!

Or as Fran put it:

Here's another painting (not by me of course.)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Nov 26th, 2007 at 11:59:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, old buddy, you're on. I'll keep you apprised of the bill, as it accrues, so you can decide how much 'credit' you want to take on.

Great drawing.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (paulgspencer@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 26th, 2007 at 09:58:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you just call The Garden of Earthly Delights a "great drawing"?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 2nd, 2007 at 12:05:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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