Saturday, July 25, 2009

Big Brother named Jeff?

"What's dangerous is not to evolve." ~Jeff Bezos, Founder, CEO

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard (HP) office, Palo Alto, CA, 1939,
CA State Historic Landmark and the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley."

For some it felt like a home invasion when removed paid for copies of George Orville’s 1984 and Animal Farm from their Kindle Readers the other day. Amazon also had removed the books from the Kindle store and in emails told customers that the books were illegal copies given to by a publisher. Many customers were shocked and outraged by Amazon’s invasive action. Of courses they refunded customers the previous charges for the books.

Not long ago at Amazon a number of gay and lesbian books had sales ranking information removed from the online catalog that also caused a bit of uproar. Amazon said it was a “glitch,” and quickly corrected it.

Here is what Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO has posted at his Amazon Kindle Store:

“This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our "solution" to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.”

“With deep apology to our customers,

Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO”

But hey, I buy most all my books (and other things) at Amazon and have for many years now even though some of Amazon’s actions have not always made authors happy. But I like Jeff Bezos. I love his humor. He always makes me laugh when I see him interviewed, and I really do admire what he has done with his company. He is such a visionary. He proved you didn’t need bricks and mortar to build a gigantic bookstore. It’s amazing what people can do starting out in their bedrooms or their garages.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Women's Rights, Yesterday and Today

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)

“A journey of a thousand steps must begin with a single step.”
~ Lao-Tzu (c. 604-531 B.C.)

The first Women’s Rights Convention was held July 19 and 20, 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York for the purpose of discussing the civil, social, and religious conditions and rights of woman. It was the beginning of the women’s rights movement in the United States.

On July 9, 1848 several women, Jane Hunt, Mary Ann M’Clintock, Martha Wright, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton met in Waterloo, New York and discussed the social position of women and then decided to hold the First Women’s Rights Convention in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York. They were joined by abolitionists Frederick Douglass, Amy Post, and James Mott, husband of Lucretia Mott. Mary Ann M’Clintock and Jane Hunt were also involved with the Underground Railroad.

Many at the Convention were progressive Quakers (Society of Friends) who believed that men and women were equal in the eyes of God and should listen to their "inner light" or conscience to guide their spiritual connection with God and the Bible.

Many Quakers believed that they were to follow four main tenets: Simplicity, Truth, Equality, and Community. Their dedication and commitment to equality and community led many Quakers to become social activists.

On July 20th they presented a Declaration of Sentiments and it was signed by 68 women and endorsed by 32 men who were present and in favor of the new movement.

In the 1830s Quaker, Lucretia Mott advocated the radical idea that slavery was sinful and must be abolished. She was one of several American delegates to the 1840 World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London. American delegates Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, like the British women at the World Anti-Slavery Convention, were refused permission to speak at the meeting. Stanton later recalled: "We resolved to hold a convention as soon as we returned home, and form a society to advocate the rights of women."

“Never will the nations of the earth be well governed until both sexes, as well as all parties, are fully represented, and have an influence, a voice, and a hand in the enactment and administration of the laws.” ~Anne Knight (1786-1862) English social reformer, Quaker. From Anne Knight’s women's suffrage leaflet published in 1847

These were the women, and the men, who led the way not only to property rights for women, divorce laws and years later, the right for women to vote, and in more recent time, the fight for equal pay. Although we as women have gained equality in some areas, it is still not a perfect country here in the United States (and I don’t even want to think about situations in some foreign countries).

Here is an example of inequality that came to my attention this past week. Publishers Weekly Magazine, July 13, 2009 issue, did a survey of the publishing industry and guess what? There is a gender gap in pay between men and women, although they both received about the same raise last year. The median salary gap of $30,600 was somewhat smaller than the gap of $39,080 in 2007 but a women’s average pay was $66,000 while men’s average pay was $96,000 a year!

So although the fight for equality began more than one hundred sixty years ago, we ain’t made it yet baby!

Will it take generations, when maybe our own great-great granddaughters will be equal to the opposite sex, or will it ever happen?


Thursday, July 16, 2009

World's Oldest Publisher

Although King Henry VIII of England was a controversial figure of the 16th Century with his six wives, numerous mistresses, beheadings, during his 55 years one good thing he did was granting a royal charter to Cambridge University Press in 1534 to print “all manner of books.”

This month Cambridge University Press, the oldest publisher in the world, celebrates 425 years of printing and publishing.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hummingbirds and Pineapple

I was watching Iron Chef tonight on Food Network and the food for the challenge was fresh pineapples. The host, Alton Brown mentioned that hummingbirds are not allowed in Hawaii because with the growing of pineapple, pollination is not wanted. If the flower pollinates then seeds will develop and that is not desirable in fruit for the market. So there is a Hawaiian State law that hummingbirds cannot be brought into Hawaii.

And apparently hummingbirds (Family Trochilidae) do not migrate to the Islands from the Americas. I was surprised to learn this. I’ve not been to Hawaii but I would have thought the hummingbird would have such a ball there with all the tropical flowers.

These are recent
photos by Ted Grussing of a hummingbird nest near his home in Sedona Arizona. The nest started out with two eggs, two babies, but one was apparently kicked out of the nest or left the nest early. There is hardly room for two birds in the tiny nest. A few days ago the second one left the nest.

Hummingbirds are so much fun to watch in the yard or at a feeder.
If you like bird photographs check out Abe Lincoln's Bird Blog. Abe has some great photographs of various birds and a few animals.
And for more of Ted Grussing's Photography visit his website.

Photographs © Copyright 2009 by Ted Grussing. Used with permission.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bill Moyers and Insurance Industry...Michael Moore and Sicko

"I thought that he hit the nail on the head with his movie." – Wendell Potter, former Head of Corporate Communications at CIGNA referring to Michael Moore and his documentary, SICKO

Bill Moyers (Friday, June 10th, PBS) interviews former health insurance industry executive Wendell Potter, who left his position at Cigna Insurance after almost 20 years in the industry to become a health reform advocate.

Potter admits that Michael Moore was right on with his documentary SICKO and the industry went to great lengths to discredit Moore and insurance lobbyist used their skills to intimidate Congress. They had done the same thing to kill the Clinton plan in the early 1990s.

How well I identify with Cigna as they insured me for nearly five years under a group plan through the Authors Guild at the cost of nearly $15,000 a year (one person) and then I was constantly battling with them over minor coverage.

Luckily, I went on Medicare and AARP supplemental in 2007, one month before I had serious medical problems, two serious surgeries, skilled nursing facility for three months and 14 months of paid physical therapy and it cost me $185 dollars. Yes, that is all (other than the Medicare premium and AARP premium which was nothing compared to private insurance premiums). I was told I would not have had the good care: 100 days of skilled nursing facility, 6 days a week of physical therapy, usually 3-4 hours, and then out patient therapy (2 or 3 times a week) for another 11 months. I also did not have an HMO so I had my choice of doctors and I found a top surgeon.

Listen to what Wendell Potter has to say....

And if you’ve not seen SICKO you might want to consider doing so. It is well done, and should be an eye-opener for everyone as we face this ongoing medical insurance crisis.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Bookstore Event

I attended a Cheese-Wine Reception at a used/new bookstore for the Two Year Anniversary celebration today from 5 to 8, with a few other local authors. It was enjoyable talking with the other authors and sharing ideas, and speaking with people who wanted to know more about writing and publishing, or who are in the process of writing books themselves. My friend Anne went with me and spent an hour or so there, which was nice, as bookstore signings can be a little uncomfortable if no one shows up. LOL

Some of the people were interested in self-publishing, Print on Demand, E-books and the Kindle was mentioned.

My friend Michele has a Kindle and she loves it. She finds it handy while traveling or even all the time and does not have to worry about filled bookshelves. Maybe she has a point. Those of us who love books around, whether we read them or not, can have overflowing bookshelves and it can be hard to clear out books. I had to do that when I moved, and some books are hard to let go.

I read earlier today that has come out with the new Kindle: Amazon's 6" Wireless Reading Device for $299.00. It holds 1500 books, and with a selection of over 300,000 books and magazines and newspapers to buy and download in less than a minute.

Maybe one of these days I will get one.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Michael Jackson

“Michael saw everything with his heart.” ~Brooke Shields

In watching the Michael Jackson Tribute today I was most moved by his friend Brooke Shields and all she said about Michael. It brought tears.

I thought the tribute was very nice and I was amazed that it was put together so quickly.

Charlie Chaplin, Smile


Monday, July 6, 2009

Meatloaf, Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

AI Steak Sauce

I was writing my novel most of the day and I had the Food Network on TV. Several times I would hear Meatloaf. Not the food, but Meatloaf the singer, actor. He is doing a commercial for AI Steak Sauce. Every time I heard him sing on the commercial I was reminded of a song he sang that I really liked.

The song, “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad,” was written by Jim Steinman, who also wrote Meatloaf’s “Bat Out of Hell,” and “I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)," among others.

Brace yourself for this one! This is with Patty Russo. They are amazing on this one.
“Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself.” Written by James Michael and Nikki Sixx.

Meatloaf really entertains, puts his all into his songs!


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Last Chance Harvey, Dustin Hoffman

I watched the movie, Last Chance Harvey few days ago and I loved it. Dustin Hoffman happens to be one of my very favorite actors. I find him so attractive, sexy, and he has always had a special charisma. And he still has all that at 71 years of age. He’s so talented and his movies and numerous acting awards over the years have shown us that. The Graduate is at the top of my list of favorite movies. His humor always makes me smile and laugh. And that is what I did throughout this movie. I really enjoyed the interaction between Dustin and Emma Thompson. It is a good screenplay written by Joel Hopkins. It was perfect.

I felt so good after it was over, and even now thinking about some of the scenes in it makes me smile. Heck, I’m just a romantic. Give me a good love story with great actors and I’m happy.

The movie was really about going on with your life, finding joy, taking risks. Something I suppose we all need to do—lighten up, laugh a lot, and have fun.

Do you have a favorite Dustin Hoffman movie?