(Why I am responding to an AC, I cannot fathom but...)
Nothing you have said actually contradicts anything that I said or is in any way relevant to the point that I made. The more expensive ebooks are priced as such because some people (not you, obviously) are willing to pay a premium for early access when the alternative to an ebook is a hardcover volume.
First off, the higher priced ebooks are not meant to be competitive with paperbacks, but with hardcover releases. Generally, the hardcover and the ebook will come out at about the same time with the ebook being cheaper. I would also note (anecdotally) that most ebooks seem to come down in price in sync with the release of a paperback edition.
Second, according to a commenter on Scalzi's website who claims to have experience in the industry (going by the nym --E), it costs about one to two bucks to print and ship a paperback. Given that mass market paperbacks tend to run about $6-10, a price point of $4-9 would be in keeping with the notion of not paying the cost of printing and shipping a physical book. Oddly enough, a lot of ebooks seem to get sold in that range of prices. If your entire justification for not buying an ebook for more than $2 is that this represents the cost of a paperback minus the cost of paper, then you might want to reassess what you are willing to pay for an ebook.
Then by your definitions, the current federal hiring practices are discriminatory.
First, those are not my definitions. Those are the definitions in law, as per executive orders 10925 and 11246 (the orders establishing affirmative action). It is a clever rhetorical trick to imply that the person to whom you are responding is using some wacky definition out of left-field, but it is kind of dishonest.
Second, I did not claim that federal hiring practices were non-discriminatory. What I claimed is that affirmative action is non-discriminatory, as it specifically claims to be about ending discrimination, in large part through the collection of data about hiring practices.
Finally, can you prove (or even provide solid evidence) of your claim that federal hiring practices are discriminatory? I don't claim to be an expert, and I would be willing to believe that such discrimination exists were you (or someone else) to provide evidence of such. That being said, your evidence would have to run counter both to my own experience and the stated policies of the federal government.
For my own experience, I did seasonal work for the BLM and Forest Service a decade ago, and the stated hiring policy was not to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, etc. In fact, USAJobs doesn't necessarily collect demographic information aside from status as a veteran and some information about disabilities. I can't speak from personal experience regarding the practices of contractors, but they are supposed to be held to the same standard.
Beyond my own anecdotes, the Department of Labor states that their policy is not to discriminate except to give veterans preference and to "... take affirmative steps to employ qualified individuals with disabilities." (, emphasis mine). Other relevant laws and regulations can be found on the Department of Labor's website, including the following which relate to equal opportunity employment:  and  (relating to executive order 11246, the current law-of-the-land regarding affirmative action), and  (relating to the preference given to veterans).
So would you argue that affirmative action and hiring/acceptance quotas are discrimination...
No and yes (in that order).
The executive orders that comprise the basis of affirmative action order government agencies and contractors (1) not discriminate in hiring on the basis of race, religion, national origin, or sex and (2) to collect data in order to understand if their hiring practices are leading to over- or under-representation of certain groups, determine why that discrimination exists, and fix the problem if possible. The whole point of affirmative action is to take steps to *stop* discrimination on the basis on the basis of certain criteria that should be irrelevant (such as, again, race, religion, national origin, or sex) not to intentionally discriminate on these bases in order to rectify some historic inequality.
Quotas are inherently discriminatory.
People who are not passionate tend to be mediocre or worse.
Bullshit. People who do well regardless of their passions are called professionals. I had a LOT of passion about programming and tech but the industry killed it. The last nail in the coffin was when I trained a "more qualified" H1-b about "what those asterisks mean in C programming".
This doesn't negate the OP's point. He was talking about tendencies (as in statistical trends), not specifics. Neither you nor he provided any data at all, but it is certainly plausible that people who aren't passionate about something will, on average, perform less well than people who are passionate. Your anecdote neither convinces me that you are better than mediocre (you may very well be amazing; or maybe you were at some point but now suffer from burnout; or maybe you are mediocre and always have been---I have no clue), nor convinces me that passion and skill are entirely uncorrelated (though the causal relation could go either way---I could easily be convinced that people are passionate about the things they are good at, rather than the other way around).
There are earthworm species that are native to North America (see, for instance, Hendrix's Earthworm Ecology and Biogeography in North America). There are also exotic / invasive species. These species (as well as one or two native species with expanding ranges) are definitely a problem, but that is a different statement from "earthworms are not native to America."
You think you get a degree in Mathematics and then go to the mathematics factory and churn out maths?
That was totally my plan. Unfortunately, it turns out that the mathematics factories aren't hiring.