Monday, December 29, 2008
Besides all of which, his book was so poorly written that I could produce a better book by teaching a non-writer how to write. But he fooled the publisher, fooled Oprah, damaged the credibility of addiction recovery programs, and still has the money.
This month it's the Rosenblatts, with their fabricated tales of a Polish girl tossing bread and other goodies over a World War II concentration camp fence to a teenage boy ... the beginning of the perfect romance which goes on to have them meet by chance in New York years later and fall into predestined love. In addition to fooling the same publisher and Oprah once again, this one also damages the credibility of the Holocaust, according to the media.
Both books were exposed--but not before fooling Oprah and getting movie deals. Now I understand why Oprah decided there would be no more Oprah's Book Club. Between those and other recent fakes--among them the fabricated story of a white kid growing up in south-central Los Angeles and a fairy tale about a little girl rescued by wolves (a unified, transsexual Romulus and Remus?)--how can you believe anything you read?
Jimmy, Herm, Roma, Marg, Misha--where're your consciences? Just how many pounds did your respective editors and or ghosts sweat off in laboring to make your manuscripts presentable? And which of you pulled the old trick of getting shills to buy enough copies at bookstores around the country to force your title onto the bestseller lists?
What a bunch of useless clowns! Your trash sucked up money and attention that might have gone to authors of far more interesting--and true--memoirs.
Funny ... in all the uproar, nobody has brought up young Jayson, the New York Times reporter who faked sources and interviews. I imagine he's working on his life story; that should be a whopper!
Friday, December 26, 2008
Practical PC review is particularly interesting in that is the first I've read that emphasizes the international content of the book.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
--Bill Gates (on The Charlie Rose Show, December 22, 2008)
Monday, December 22, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I'm doing a guest blogger spot and so far I've written two postings. The first is about "cloud computing" in the early 1980s with the TRS-80 Model 100. The second, posted today, tells the story of Prodigy, the online service that just didn't get it--a perfect illustrations of why it really isn't a good idea to try to regulate the Internet. This is original material, not taken from On the Way to the Web. Enjoy!
Tired of it all? Here's a thought: Instead of calling help lines buy a book! Or borrow it from your local library.
Imagine! All the answers you need to be an effective Excel user in one place, literally at your right hand. When you get lost trying to set tabs, margins and columns in Word, just flip through a few pages and the answers are there--in minutes rather than hours.
The odds are good that the book will be written by someone for whom English is not a second language. Some are, but that fact is not discernable once a skilled editor finishes with the manuscript. Either way, the books are almost guaranteed to be understandable.
Hm ... perhaps customer service people on the other side of the planet should consult computer books. Just a thought.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The publisher is named Concord Free Press. Located in New England, their "About" page maintains that "... our books don’t generate traditional profits, they create real value." Of course, publishing for profit creates real value, too But this approach allows writers to get their work out without depending on a judgement of whether the market will welcome it. However, some judgment as to quality must be exercised, because the company can publish only so many books.
Concorde cites foreign and film rights and other sub-rights as potential sources of income for writers who donate their books. I can't see this, unless an author can engage a foreign rights or film specialist. (Out of 43 books I've seen 11 foreign-language sales, for which I'm grateful. Plus three foreign pirate editions. Flattery. I think I'm in a minority.)
In any event, Concord Free Press may be a way for new (unpublished) writers to validate their work and encourage themselves. And established writers might want to have a book to give away as a means of publicizing other books.
--Mike On the Way to the Web
A quarter-century ago, the venues were CompuServe and other dialup online services that provided realtime chat services--what people call IMs or IRC today, we called “chat” or “CB” back in 1983. The medium inspired quite a few marriages, the first one that was documented took place in ’83. But, divorces were probably inspired by online sex before that.
It went down in the 80s pretty much the same as today, sans graphics. Either someone got caught, or the typing whizzes decided run off together. The only difference was who would be the first to realize divorce was on the horizon.
Oh, man--think how difficult online sex was back in those days! Uphill both ways, and all you had were typed words on a monochrome screen. Imagination was important. Literacy was vital, although at the penultimate point it was often crippled by fading concentration and the temporary loss of one typing hand.
--Mike, still On the Way to the Web
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
(I still figure that the "biggest" reason for books not being reviewed is the lack of advertising support, as discussed in the preceding post.)
A tactic I use before a new book comes out is to contact everyone who might receive or want a copy for review. It's obvious, but some people don't use it. And, perhaps as evidenced by the preceding post, it doesn't always work--which may be a result of the "too many books" problem. Even though an editor or reviewer knows a book is on the way, she may be deluged by so many books (and accompanying announcements, email, etcetera) that the idea of the book is displaced from her thoughts.
At the same time, those operating in the more popular review venues (say, the New York Times) may rely on a rigid system or may have their review choices dictated to them.
Same-same with On the Way to the Web. I have excellent reviews from readers at booksellers' sites and on blogs. But no magazine or newspaper reviews. It's not that magazine reviewers didn't receive copies; they did--nearly 100 were sent out for one book, and I've sent out more. Come to think of it, while my book Crosley got several print media reviews, I had to work hard to encourage editors to review the book.
What's up? There are always magazines and newspapers who don't notice a book coming in because they get so many of them. A Certain Midestern Daily is bad for that; in fact, one staffer told me they pretty much lose all the books they receive because they're just tossed into a closet, out of the way. Presumably the closet gets cleaned out periodically, and staffers who like to read get bonuses. (Drop me a line if you want to know the name of the paper.)
But that doesn't answer to the majority of instances. I think what's happening is something I've seen occur in the past: magazines and newspapers aren't reviewing books because book reviews don't generate advertising. The attitude appears to be "Forget the readers who might be interested in these books; we're not mentioning a product unless we get paid!"
This is nothing new. Elsewhere in this blog, I've related the story of the magazine editor who pressured me to write a negative review of a product because the advertiser reduced the frequency of his full-page ads. Obvious cause-and-effect. Yeah, "We'll punish them because they are not giving us enough money" sounds childish (or like interntational politics). But it happens all the time.
It happened back in the 1920s and 1930s; newspapers refused to run stories about radio unless radio manufacturers, retailers, or broadcasters bought advertising. When industrialist Powel Crosley, Jr. bought a Lockheed Vega and put WLW and Crosley Radio on the wings, and then hired Ruth Nichols to set records in it, every newspaper in the country covered the big stories. But nearly every one ran tight, cropped shots of the Crosley airplane and did not mention Crosley as the sponsor--because they weren't getting advertising money from Crosley and, besides, radio was the enemy, stealing advertising from honest newspapers--so there!
Granted, print magazines and newspapers are hurting nowadays. Advertising revenue is declining. But there's a good possibility that some quality editorial matter of interest to readers and not tied directly to advertiser topics could attract more readers--and advertisers.
So, much good information do we miss because of various media policies (informal or not) that bar or admit coverage of facts based on whether money is paid for advertising? A lot. Read Crosley or my upcoming biography of Ruth Lyons for some examples. (As the Lyons book will illustrate, some advertisers play the same game. "Say something about a competitor, and we'll cut you off!")
It even makes one wonder how much we can trust the information that magazines, newspapers, and electronic media provide. In additional to personal bias getting in the way of straightforward coverage (and it always does), economic bias both shapes and forces out facts. (If you can review One the Way to the Web or Blogging Heroes for a magazine, drop me a line at bookrevs overat aol dot com.)
(Addenda: I've done a guest editorial for the "Classics Rock" topic at Tech Republic, on the subject of cloud computing. For those of you who have books out or on the way, note that this is a promotional, unpaid contribution to TechRepublic. It's not material from the book, but it is closely related. The posting carries a tagline and link to On the Way to the Web at Amazon.)
Copyright © 2008, Michael A. Banks
Sunday, November 23, 2008
What do they pay? Right now, Analog is at less than 10 cents per word. Which comes to $250 for an average short story. The most I've been paid by the magazine was 15 cents per word, well over a decade ago, when print magazines were still selling well.
Why write for low-paying magazines? Having written for both Analog and Asimov's SF (first story in 1978), and served as assistant editor for Baen's New Destinies in the early 1980s, I can answer that question.
Getting published in Analog, Asimov's, F&SF, the late Galaxy and other "pro" SF/F magazines yields all sorts of benefits beyond the money, if you're a social person. Free drinks and free dinners at cons, maybe romantic companionship at cons if that's what you seek, watching people who ignored you before at cons sidling up to get in on your conversation--and all sorts of other egoboo. (SF fan lingo for "ego boost.")
You'll never get those fringes with literary mags that pay 5 or 10 cents per word. (And if you're an editor--look out! It's a whole new level.)
Besides, where else are you going to get those weird (though professional) stories published? And then there's the fact that published short fiction gets you noticed and can help sell novels.
There's lots of comeradship on tap, too--again, if you're a social person. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA--it was too hard to pronounce with effs) is a grand ol' club of well over 1,000 members that provides newsletter-type publications, selected author services, contact with other writers who can't stop, and venues for endless argument and other entertainment. Check it out!
Oh, yeah: Sometimes you get money for years after a story is published. My second short story in Asimov's was reprinted four times, earning twice as much in reprint as the original sale. And all I had ot do was sign the checks.
--Mike On the Way to the Web
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Meanwhile, the artists aren't consulted and often some potential for just compensation for their work is destroyed.
The specific (or interpreted) limitations on Fair Use weren't intended to stifle free expression. Rather, the intent was to ensure against diluting the value of a book or other work to the point where no one would need or want to consult it.
Postscript: One wonders why Lessig's and McCleod's books even have copyright notices. For that matter, perhaps they ought to be free downloads, or given away by the Concord Free Press, which makes books available to bookstores and other outlets at no cost, to give away.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Copyright © Michael A. Banks, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
I've been wondering whether some new material or form will make books uncopyable. There was a time that the price for copy equipment (and, for that matter) printing equipment discouraged copytheft. The labor that had to go into the effort also dissuaded potential book thieves (imagine standing at a photocopier to copy a 500-page book).
Perhaps a material that degrades over time will be tried in lieu of paper.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
A few years later, re-reading the book inspired me to write to Carl Sagan to query about the possibility of microbiotic life that might live in Mars' upper atmosphere being carried to the planet's surface by the Viking I Mars lander. Sagan wrote back with a term for what I was asking about: "back-contamination." His response to the question was to tell me in effect that nothing could be done to prevent it, so they'd just have to take the chance.
There continues to be speculation about microscopic life forms from elsewhere making it to the Earth's surface. Lots of scenarios are offered--there's even a theory that life on Earth might have evolved from microscopic life forms or the spores thereof that arrived inside meteorites. (Or maybe there was some "back-contamination" from the Earth's upper atmosphere.)
In any event, I was looking forward to what Crichton would write next. I remember reading that he maintained his medical practice in New York, and whenever he worked out an idea for a book he traveled to a condo in Florida and wrote the book in six weeks. I envied that! (He gave up medical practice in the Seventies.)
Crichton’s most recent novel was not well-received. I enjoyed it, though the technique was bothersome. It was a good book, though I believe that some reviewers panned it in knee-jerk fashion; they couldn't get past their feelings that anything that didn't toe the so-called "politically correct' line had to be bad. Some felt obligated to toe the line, themselves. Perhaps Crichton knew that global warming was a reality, in which case he took on the more difficult path in writing Next. (I hope there is at least one more novel waiting in the wings.)
Re-read Next. Suspend your belief in the tenets of global warming, and I think you'll find it an entertaining read.
Copyright © 2008, Michael A. Banks
Monday, November 10, 2008
Lugging a forty-pound electric typewriter wasn’t easy, but technology would soon change that. In the early 1980s I bought a TRS-80 Model 100. It was an excellent companion, lightweight and requiring 80 percent less space than the typewriter. The keyboard was as good any you can find today, and it was easy to adjust to working on a 40-character wide display with 8 lines.
The Model 100 came with built-in firmware applications: text editor, calendar/scheduler with an alarm clock function, BASIC, an address book, and terminal program. It required little in the way of support; four AA cells powered it for about 20 hours. 8 extra batteries would see me through most any trip.
The Model 100’s only shortcoming was storage. Mine had just the basic 8K of memory, which didn't quite hold 12 pages of text. So I needed external storage. A cassette interface made tape storage possible, but it wasn't always perfect. Besides, that would have meant hauling along a tape player that weighed more than the computer. Being me, I would have lost or damaged at least one tape on every trip. A Model 100 disk drive presented the same lug-along problems as the cassette, and it was too expensive anyway.
But I didn't need any kind of portable storage, not with the Model 100's built-in modem and an online service account. I used DELPHI (and later CompuServe) as a virtual hard drive. For all practical purposes it provided an infinite amount of storage space.
Such was cloud computing, circa 1984.
Granted, the programs weren’t on a server, but they were fast, and I needed only minimal hardware on my end. If I shut down the computer while working, the document would be available exactly as I had left it the next time I turned the computer on. It was possible to buy additional apps, such as spreadsheets, and of course email and FAX service waited on DELPHI and CompuServe, along with news, encyclopedias, and other resources.
The combination of the little slab computer with online services wasn’t quite Google Apps. But it offered everything a writer could want. And its minimalist requirements of cheap batteries and a common telephone line made it possible to get to work in seconds no matter where you were.
Copyright © 2008, Michael A. Banks
Sunday, November 09, 2008
These are all covered in On the Way to the Web: The Secret History of the Internet and Its Founders. Along with these are services such as Eunet, Telset Finland, CIX in England, Japan's Junet and NHK, NABU in Canada, T-Net from Deutsch Telekom, and several more. You'll also learn about regional and often obscure online services around the U.S., such as INDAX, Electra, Covidea, California's Gateway, Keycom, and a bunch of others. Check out the book and see everything that was happening online during the Micro Decade.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
"It's a new approach to sell our old computers to small businesses. Your money enables it," Schuyler explained, "leaving ours to power other investments. You will, of course, receive a larger share than otherwise."
"I got a great idea: We can sell the old shit to idiots desperate for computers, and," Schuyler laughed, "we use your money to do it! If we make anything, you get half."
Copyright © 2008, Michael A. Banks
Sunday, November 02, 2008
We frequently see historical and contemporary figures as "the father of" this or that. "The father of our country," "The father of television," "The father of the telephone," and so on.
A few years back, it occurred to me that when anyone or anything is fathered, someone gets screwed.
Definitely a literal truth if it involves business.
Friday, October 31, 2008
One of several interesting quotes from the interview is "I do some of my best thinking on my blog." As you may know, The Long Tail originated as a blog, with Chris trying out ideas and gaining wisdom from those who participated in the blog ...
Chris Anderson has a new book coming out in July. Titled Free: The Past and Future of a Radical Price, it offers some controversial notions.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Corollary: Those who perceive glitches will always believe "the other party" is responsible for and benefiting from them.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I refer you to the TitleZ page because Amazon has no explanation. There was a page that explained sales rank at one time, but it's empty now. TitleZ also offers a service that gives long-term average ranks, which could be of interest to authors who cannot readily get sell-through data from their publishers. (The service is at present still in beta.)
I thought about what makes people distance themselves from a friend or relative. Embarrassment for the other person can do it (you know--when your friend or relative gets two DUIs in a row). So can owing money. And guilt over something the other party doesn't know. Or taking offense at something, intentional or unintentional, the shunned party had done or said.
None of these applied to the people I was thinking about. But it came to me that the three of them did have something in common: I knew certain things about them that no one of their current acquaintance knows. These were things from decades past, and I've never said anything about them to anyone.
Still, I think holding someone's secrets can cause them to edge away from you. Do they have feelings of guilt? Are they embarrassed or angry because you know? Could be any of that, or something else. And so the aphorism sprang suddenly to mind:
Holding someone's secret is worse than owing them money; you can pay back the money.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
In addition, one can learn from certain of Ayn Rand's descriptive techniques--techniques that are best avoided by new writers and, indeed, nearly all contemporary writers.
So, what about Ayn Rand's descriptive writing? First, too many of her images rely on second-hand descriptions of how things (usually buildings) affect people, with few words as to what they actually look like. An example: the reader is left to make up the picture of a life-size sculpture of a nude woman that expresses so much, and offends many at the same time. The reader wonders exactly what it looks like, of course. But the most the author offers us is that the nude's arms are at her sides, palms turned up, and her head is thrown back in triumph. (How was her hair falling? Were her breasts pendulous, nipples erect? Was her stance defying or submissive? Her facial expression--was it blank?) Even though we meet and the character who modeled for the statue, there's no realistic picture in the reader’s mind of either.
A few details, as above, or simple similes and metaphors could have brought the reader so much more into the story, could have made the statue and its inspiration far more real. (“She stood like Sally Rand would liked to have stood, without her fans, proud and defiant and transcending the mere humans around her as she challenged the sky.”)
Houses and other buildings designed by the protagonist, Howard Roark, are similarly disposed of. A structure is occasionally noted as having bricks or dormers or pediments, strange windows, having or not having Doric or Grecian elements, and so forth. Be we never really see the architectural monstrosities, triumphs, and mundania that figure so heavily in the novel. Rand emphasizes the effects of the buildings. She writes of the design of a new department store sending customers fleeing the shopping district that it dominates. She shows us the pure disgust people feel for a universal spiritual temple Roark was commissioned to designed (it housed or displayed on its roof the aforementioned nude). But do they loom? Are they baroque in appearance, or perhaps carry a half-demolished look? Does the department store look like an abandoned prison? Does the temple resemble a Roman bathhouse, or perhaps a pagan alter?
There's a lot to be said for describing a person or object through its effects on an observer, or even on its environment or other objects. However, the author provides few (and sometimes no) clues or cues as to appearance, and as a reader I find this disruptive because I have to stop considering the story unfolding in my mind to create pictures.
Going light on description is not a bad thing. My approach in writing and teaching is exactly that. The reader begins to build an image of a person or thing as soon as your description begins. I give the reader enough to get a solid though general image of "... her blond hair cascaded to her thin shoulders, where it split in twin rivers to obscure her breasts. Below the waves of hair, a long torso and short legs gave her the appearance of
The goal is to give the reader enough to work with and create her own image of the character. Rand usually gives us little beyond orange hair, blond hair, eyes or faces or expressions that have a specified effect, and the reader is left to step outside the story to visualize the face.
Of course, saying that a certain expression or eyes have a certain effect is a time-honored way to make the moment slip by without disruption--but if you use this too frequently, it verges on boring the reader, who reacts with the thought, "Not 'her face made him feel like he was looking at an undercooked pizza' again!"
The point here is that Ayn Rand offers us examples of overdoing my recommendation that you don't use overmuch detail lest you come between the reader and her enjoyment of the story. In other words, her descriptions are often too subtle and indirect.
Back to buildings, we don't get to see double doors, or casement or sash windows, or arched entryways, brick lines and other details that allow us to created the necessary image.
Rand obviously knew something about architecture, and used some of her knowledge for verisimilitude. She need not have written in exacting detail about elements like texture and light, angles and lines. But simple details that anyone could recognize and incorporate into their version of the story would have made a more visual and effective story.
Still ... it worked for Ayn Rand. And I have the feeling she intended to write descriptions exactly as she did for the same reason I recommend going light on details (just don’t overdo that): to draw the reader into the story by involving her in creating it. I just don't believe the technique of describing effects and reactions rather than physical details works well in contemporary fiction.
Copyright 2008, Michael A. Banks
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
I, Libertine's cover depicted an 18th-Century gent hobnobbing with women, one large-busted in a low-front gown. Above the title were the adjectives, "Turbulent! Turgid! Tempestuous!" At the bottom of the cover was a line from the book: "Gadzooks!" quoth I, "but here's a saucy bawd!" The back cover featured a photo of Shepherd as the author. And all for 35 cents. The print run was said to be 25,000. It's a real collectible today.
When I was doing some freelance editing for Baen Books in the 1980s, we talked about doing something similar with a space opera title, but the idea never gelled.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
She finally added a new photo later that year. I saw the photo again in 2000 when I was researching another book. Guess what? She posts the same photo today on dating sites! No kidding, no mistake; the photo was very distinctive. I wonder what she tells guys when they meet her and see that she's a decade older? And how worried is she about aging? Or maybe it's just someone perpetuating a multi-decade prank ...
Saturday, October 04, 2008
The book is Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto, a title designed to both state the political theme and grab attention, as in "Ted, White, and Blue?" What's "Ted?" Of course, his name's almost as big as the title, and the caricature on the cover easily explains who Ted is, even to those who don't recognize the name.
Those who do know Ted will not be surprised that this is a conservative work. It talks about things such as war is the solution to America's problems, trimming big government, and how to change the world for the better "through the power of God, guns, and rock n' roll."
This line of flap copy sums it up nicely: "If you care about America, if you want to preserve, protect, and defend the land of the free and the home of the brave, if you're fed up with lazy, whining, fear-mongering, government-gorging Al Gores, Michael Moores, and Obamaniacs, then you need to read Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto."
It's currently high on the Amazon list of bestselling political books, and is probably headed for other bestseller lists. It appears that conservatives read as much as liberals, given something they're motivated to read--and that not all entertainment people are liberal.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
The source is at Joe Wikert's Publishing 2020 Blog. Joe is a Vice President and Executive Publisher in the Professional/Trade division of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (The company that published my book, Blogging Heroes.) In four posts, Joe answers a lot of questions about book distribution, marketing, sell-through (what's that?), and sales expectations (how do publishers project sales?)
Here are labeled links to each post:
Marketing and PR
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
For example, quite a few singles (more women than men) include the line "People tell me I look younger than I really am" in their descriptions. If you look younger than you really are, your (carefully chosen) photos should show it. Hitting potential suitors over the head with the obvious is hard-sell, and saying it when it's obviously not true makes you a wishful liar. Worse, it leads many to infer that you have this "thing" about aging and turns off anyone near your age. (Hint: let the other person decide how old or young you look for themselves.)
Then there are those who complain about "head games." What in the hell are "head games," as in "If you're into playing head games, just move on?" Near 's I can tell, the phrase came from the song, and while it is a great gut-wrencher to yell out during a hard rock singalong, that's about the sum total of its value. Nobody wants head games, any more than people want to have fingers amputated. That's a given, so why bother waving them off? As my friend MJ on one of the sites says, nobody ever asks for head games, like "You know, I haven't had a good mindfuck in a long time--come play some head games with me!" (Okay, politicians play head games, but that's their job!)
Next are the free spirits. I thought we got over the "free spirit" stuff in the early 1970s. As with "look younger" comment, you see this more with women than men. As I recall, 1960s free spirits were flighty girls who spent most of their time looking for someone to help them get high (i.e., score the dope). Funny that the women who label themselves thus are usually up-tight types; maybe they wish they could be whatever they define free spirits to be, or want to have that as an excuse to win arguements: "I'm a free spirit, so I can't agree with that." Oh, well.
Finally (for this outing) what are all those people who select "Other" in the employment category doing for a living? Are they waiting for their eBay businesses to take off so they won't have to look for a job?
Copyright 2008, Michael A. Banks
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Reviews of On the Way to the Web: The Secret History of the Internet and Its Founders have yet to appear, except at Amazon. The most recent review, by Joe Enos, tells me that I'm reaching those who are newer to the online world. Among other things, Joe says:
"My own personal experience with online services began in the mid 90's, so I missed out on quite a bit of the excitement. I used Prodigy, and had heard of America Online and CompuServe, but really didn't understand the events leading up to the information superhighway. My goal in reading this book was to understand some of the things I missed out on, and to get a better picture of how the web really got started."
Those who were online in the 1980s likewise find the book of interest, as this excerpt from a review by Thomas Duff ("Duffbert") shows:
"It's far too easy to forget exactly what led us up to the place we are today when it comes to instantaneous communication via the web. This was a book I thoroughly enjoyed, and it brought back fond memories of my initial fascination with online activities."
The title of course doesn't tell you that the book includes histories of CompuServe, AOL, Prodigy, GEnie and all the other consumer online services--plus info and email services like Dialog and Dialmail and Telemail. But it's impossible to pack all that info into a title or subtitle, so my hope is that people infer the fact that the book is a complete history of the online world from the title. It includes the consumer and commercial online services because they were, for all practical purposes, they were the Internet in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. If that doesn't make sense, read the book to see what I'm talking about.
Friday, September 26, 2008
But there are three things I've observed that prove women are different. I've never seen these vary:
1. Given the same distasteful job to do (with the same pay) women jump in and get the job done, while men complain, look for a reason the job doesn't need to be done, or try to figure out a way to get someone else to do it before going ahead and doing the job.
2. Put a man and a woman in a room or an automobile and without warning turn on a radio or CD player at far too high a volume. The man will always attempt to adjust the sound; the woman will turn the unit OFF right now.
3. Watch men and women approach the deli in a supermarket. Men will be eyeing the merchandise. Women will look at the "On Sale" signs.
I'm sure there are individual exceptions, but I've never seen any. Interesting to speculate on why these reactions are as they are ... and it doesn't mean they can't be equal.
Copyright © 2008, Michael A. Banks
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I experienced a secondary advantage of the hot-water system storing heat when the six-day power outage hit: we had hot water for showers for five days. Wonderful!
And during the power outage (here's the transition to dialogue) I spent nearly all my time reading, mainly by candlelight. I read two Elizabeth George novels that I highly recommend: With No One as Witness and What Came Before He Shot Her. The books over decent writing, good storytelling, and an interesting relationship. What Came Before He Shot Her is a sequel of sorts to With No One as Witness in that it tells the story behind the murder in With No One As Witness, from the viewpoint of the murderer.
In the preceding message I noted that I had a problem with George's dialogue technique. I also have some difficulty as a reader with her phonetic presentation of dialect. As in "I know what yer talkin' 'bout--dat's not de problem. (As with the preceding message examples, this is not direct from either of the books.) One approach to showing characters speaking in dialect is to use just a few lines of phonetic dialect the first time they show up. After that, the reader "hears" the dialect every time the character is on the stage.
Another approach goes like this. "I'm not the kind of person you're talking about," he said, dropping the g at the end of talking, and saying 'bout rather than about, as was the way of the neighborhood.
To use phonetic dialogue over and over and over and over is beating the reader over the head wid it (excuse me: with it). The technique really wowed Mark Twain's readers, but today having to plod through phonetic spelling really slows down the reader.
Copyright © 2008, Michael A. Banks
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
That's pretty much true--and both writing and prostitution can be creative.
But there is one way in which writing is definitely not like prostitution: Prostitutes don't do it for free!
Copyright © 2008, Michael A. Banks
Saturday, September 06, 2008
If (and that's a big "if") the United States government passed and enforced such a law, Americans would face immense shortages in the short term, but I do not believe that China and other nations can replace the market lost when oil producers are no longer selling to the United States. Hence, oil producers would eventually give in to the lower prices in the long run--and grant them to other markets. Better to take less per unit than sell no units at all.
And they would still be making fortunes daily.
Again, there are several thousand reasons this is impractical--individuals, corporations, and other entities who have an interest in oil prices remaining high. If, however, we could get China to do the same, it might actually succeed.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
You'll come off as more intelligent if you use shorter words; they help readers get at your concepts faster.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008
Writing in the book's Foreword, Orson Scott Card summed it the storyline thus: "This is a thorough, entertaining, informative, useful history of how our world was transformed during my adult life"
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
John Wiley & Sons did this with Blogging Heroes recently. The marketing department created a 50-page mini-book containing inteviews with several of the women bloggers, to give away at the annual BlogHer conference. BlogHer is the community for women who blog, and this year's conference was held July 18-20 in San Franciso. In 2009 Blogher will be held in Philadelphia, Portland, or St. Louis. Check the Blogher Web site for more information.
The mini-book is titled blogher Heroes!, and features superhero comic book-style cover art. Very nice. The interviews are with Gini Trapani of Lifehacker, Auctionbytes' Ina Steiner, Mary Jo Foley of All About Microsoft fame, Editor Rebecca Lieb from Clickz, Deidre Wollard of Luxist, and Mel, who is the force behind Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters.
Mel's interview is one that isn't in the original Blogging Heroes. She was the winner of the "Who's Your BlogHer Hero" contest judged by Chris Brogan, Susan Etlinger, Ina Steiner, Jason Marcuson, Denise Tauton, and Ashley Zurcher. As Mel describes it, SQSPJ is a blog about fertility and pregnancy loss, an exploration of adoption and donor gametes," and more. It is immensely popular as an information source, an emotional outlet, source of support, and, as Mel so colorfuly puts it, "a bitch session about daily life and books."