Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Holiday Wisdom: Pay Attention to Your Family, Friends, Students and Co-Workers

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us,
we had nothing before us, …
— Opening passage of “A Tale of Two Cities”

Charles Dickens’s famous first sentence — “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … " — described the era of the French Revolution. The sentiment also fits perfectly to America’s holiday season, from Thanksgiving through the first days of the new year.

While most of us are filled with joy and gratitude as we unite with our families and friends, this is also the time when many persons experience dark thoughts, depression, and profound loneliness.

If you need help of any kind, do not hesitate to tell someone: a family member, a friend, or a neighbor. You are loved and cared about far more than you imagine.

If you cannot think of anyone who can help you, you can call your local Suicide Prevention and Crisis hotline. In Ithaca, their web page says: “Are you confused, overwhelmed, upset, or need someone to listen? Call the Crisisline at 607-272-1616 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).” They offer free, confidential crisis counseling available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Pay attention to the people around you: your family, friends, students, co-workers. People are skilled at hiding their true feelings. The poem by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, titled “We Wear The Mask”, explains the problem of seeing into other persons.

WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Watching the 1946 film “It’s A Wonderful Life” always fills me with strange and remarkable ideas. The remainder of this message is for those of us who are reasonably happy and are able to provide help.

I was wondering what might happen during these holidays if each one of us reached out to someone — someone who we suspect may need a friend, or need someone to talk with. Suppose we reach out to someone by saying: “Do you need anything?”; or “How can I help you?”; or “Some time soon, let’s sit down with some coffee and let’s talk.”

Ithaca has been ranked as the USA’s best place to live, largely due to economic factors. Yet what matters — more than the quantifiable and measurable — is the invisible and unmeasurable: the happiness and well-being of each one of us.

Some people will argue that there is not very much that one person can do to improve the happiness of another. It is equally true that we can help others by the simple acts of listening sincerely and by giving them words of encouragement.

And it is a remarkable fact of human existence that “No drop of kindness is ever wasted.”

Michael Pastore
Epublishers Weekly
2010 December 08
Ithaca, New York
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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Change The World: Read Books About Utopia

Oscar Wilde, in one of his less cynical moods, wrote:

"A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which humanity is always landing."

Wikipedia is strangely lacking in its page about Utopian novels

Here is a longer list from the blog, Best Colleges Online.net:

Dozens of other captivating works about Utopia could be added, including The Blythedale Romance (by Nathaniel Hawthorne); Watch the North Wind Rise (by Robert Graves); The Adventures of Mr Marigold (by Michael Tobias); and Thoreau Bound: A Utopian Romance in the Isles of Greece (by Michael Pastore).

We can shape our destinies: we can change our personal lives, we can change the direction of our world. What is the value of these utopian works? ... In addition to being a joy to read, these books expand our imaginations, and give us positive models of societies that are designed so that the first priority is the genuine needs of each individual. A healthy culture supports our lifelong growth and development into creative, caring and compassionate human beings.

Michael Pastore, Editorial Director
Epublishers Weekly

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Short Video: Disconnect to Connect

Here is a short "commercial" from Thailand, titled "Disconnect to Connect."

It highlights our collective addition to gadgets, and then points the way to the joy of human-to-human (H2H) genuine interactions and experience.


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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Are The New Gadgets Cutting-Edge Tools or Dangerous Distractions ?

This article from the New York Times highlights the raging battle between the Internet and the Book.
Most young people today are choosing the Internet, and the many gadgets that access the Net.

The great problem of our era is the problem of education and technology:
How can use our advanced communication technology for education, enjoyment, personal growth and a deep connection with others --
instead of burying ourselves in the lonely emptiness of cyberspace ?

The image in this post is from the WikiMedia commons, here:

and reproduced with a CopyLeft license.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

President Obama Speaks in Indonesia

U.S.A. President Barack Obama gives an inspiring speech in Indonesia, on November 9, 2010. Obama's 30-minute talk describes America's partnership with Indonesia, sustainable development, how democracy promotes economic progress, and education for the future in a rapidly-changing world.

You can watch a video of the talk here:

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Free Knowledge from the Best Universities in the World

"Knowledge is power," wrote Will Durant, "but only wisdom is liberty."

Nevertheless, knowledge -- when combined with compassionate intelligence -- is a very good thing.

Many of the world's leading universities are now offering their courses online, in the form of lecture notes, audio recordings, and even videos of the lectures.

An article in yesterday's (November 1, 2010) New York Times describes some of the course offerings, at Harvard, Yale, Stanford and the University of Michigan.


Apple's iTunes University offers many free courses; you can begin exploring the jungle of knowledge here:


Additional links to free online courses can be found on the web page of Zorba's Guide to Free Ebooks, here:


--Michael Pastore, Epublishers Weekly

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

107-Year-Old Woman Plays the Piano Every Day

Alice Herz-Sommer is the world's oldest living survivor of the Holocaust. She plays the piano every day, and fills the world with music and optimism.

See her on YouTube:


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Monday, October 18, 2010

Video: Tim O'Reilly Talks at Publishing Point

O'reilly Media founder Tim O'Reilly gives a talk, on Publishing Point, about publishing, technology and innovation. Watch the first of 7 parts here; the other parts are easily accessed from the right-hand menu.


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Sunday, October 10, 2010

InDesign CS5 Visual QuickStart Guide by Sandee Cohen (Book Review)

InDesign CS5 for Macintosh and Windows: Visual QuickStart Guide
by Sandee Cohen
Peachpit Press, 2010, 552 pages
Book Level: Beginning / Intermediate
Paperback: $ 26.99. Also available as an ebook from the publisher's website:

Last week, in answer to the question, "Why should I learn about ebooks and electronic publishing?", I described for my readers a book that offers 50 significant reasons. This week I have 4 reasons why you should borrow or buy this excellent book by Sandee Cohen, a book that skillfully introduces us to all the essentials of the latest version of InDesign.

1. To learn InDesign efficiently, you need a good book.

There are some new benches in the parks in the Republic of China. To use the bench, you insert a coin. When your time runs out, small sharp spikes — made of steel — emerge from the bottom of the bench. (The goal is to prevent one person from hogging the bench all day.) I wouldn't say it's impossible to sit on these spiked benches, but it would be very uncomfortable.
One could say the same thing about the InDesign software. It's not impossible to learn it by noodling around, clicking on the menu items one by one. But this method would be tedious, inefficient, and time-wasting -- about as comfortable as sitting too long on a park bench in China. InDesign contains too many features, and many that are far from obvious to the untrained hand and eye.

2. This book teaches InDesign expertly.

It's obvious that Sandee Cohen has years of experience teaching InDesign in a classroom setting. If the author is not experienced, then these kinds of books about complex software (and especially complex Adobe software) can never get off the ground, as the author bores the reader with page after page of how to navigate the scores of items on the menu. By the time you read through Cohen's succinct opening chapter, "Getting Started", your 5 o'clock shadow isn't out yet and you aren't bored to death. Instead, you're impressed by InDesign's vast feature set, and enthusiastic about learning how to use it.

3. You don't need a computer to read this book.

Lately, I've been spending so much time in front of the computer, I celebrate any opportunity to do something productive (such as mastering essential tools) that gives me a break from the screen. Like the "Maran Illustrated" books (which appears to have ceased) and O'Reilly's HeadFirst series (which is now going strong), the Visual QuickStart books, in general, are a pleasure to work with. The books contain many illustrations and screen shots; the information is always divided into small and easily-assimilated chunks.

And more: Cohen has a laid-back writing style that never uses jargon, and often adds a dash of humor. I would have laughed out loud at Cohen's anecdote about "Rules" — except that I have done something similar.

4. After you read the book once, you can keep it on your desk as a handy reference.

The book is so well organized that you can use it for two purposes: as an introduction to InDesign, and as a reference book. My copy is already filled with yellow sticky notes.

If you are publishing in today's market that demands not only paperbacks but ebooks, not only ebooks but ebooks in many formats, not only ebooks in many formats but "enhanced ebooks" that sing and dance and sell coffee — then it's likely that you will need to use InDesign. Cohen's clearly-written book takes all the sweat and struggle out the learning process for Adobe's powerful and complex software for design.

== Story Tools ==

For more information about the book, and for an interactive chapter that teaches you how to use InDesign's interactive tools, visit the book's companion website:

To access this site you will need to create an account, but that process is free, fast, and worth the trouble.

—Michael Pastore,Editorial Director
Epublishers Weekly

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Just Published: 50 Benefits of Ebooks (2010 Edition)

50Benefits of Ebooks: A Thinking Person's Guide to the Digital Reading Revolution has just been published in a revised and expanded edition by Zorba Press. The PDF and EPUB editions are available now; in the next weeks Zorba will release the paperback edition and other ebook formats including .AZW (for the Kindle) and an EPUB for the iPad sold at the iTunes iBookstore.

Learn more or buy the book at the Zorba site:

50 Benefits of Ebooks
A Thinking Person’s Guide to The Digital Reading Revolution
Edition: October 2010
by Michael Pastore
Published by Zorba Press, ISBN: 978-0-927379-17-5
Companion blog site: www.EpublishingTimes.com
Paperback, 368 pages, Indexed, $ 20
Ebook versions (PDF, .AZW, and EPUB): $ 3.99

A revised and expanded book about ebooks, published today, is packed with information about how to understand, and enjoy, the digital reading revolution. The book, soon to be released as a 368-page paperback, is first being released in ebook editions — which contain all the same information as the paperback — yet sell for less than four dollars.

50 Benefits of Ebooks is a lively introduction to the brave new worlds of ebooks and electronic publishing. This revised edition (at 66,000 words) is 25% larger than the September 2009 edition, and contains ten new chapters. The ebook is priced at $ 3.99.

Written for a wide audience — from ebook newcomers to ebook experts — in 36 lively chapters, the book explores five essential aspects of ebook reading, writing and publishing:

A. Benefits of Ebooks and Paper Books
B. Reading Ebooks
C. Ebooks for Authors and Publishers
D. The Value of Reading; and
E. The Education of An Ebooklover (resources)

Ebook newcomers will find all the basics here. And ebook experts can debate and debunk the author’s wild predictions for the rosy and thorny future of ebooks, by reading the essay, “Reading the Future: Ten Tremendous Trends in 2011.” Authors will discover tips, tricks and resources for ebook publishing; and library professionals will enjoy the book’s glossary, index, links to leading-edge ebook sites, and sections about how and why ebooks are good for libraries.

A new chapter included in this edition is Pastore's essay The Depths: How Ebooks Can Fix Your Concentration, Increase Your Intelligence and Renew Your Distracted Brain.

“Ebooks are changing everything,” says author Michael Pastore. “We are now at the dawn of a seismic shift in the way that books are published, distributed, read — and even written. And the epublishing industry is changing so quickly and dramatically, even an updated edition of this book, published yearly, can hardly keep up. ”

One of the most significant benefits of ebooks is ecological: Ebooks are good for our environment. Pastore writes:

“How many trees are used to produce one week’s worth of paper in a Sunday New York Times newspaper? … One weekly issue of the New York Times consumes 75,000 trees. … One year of Sunday papers produced by the New York Times is responsible for the destruction and consumption of more than 3,900,000 trees.”

At the book’s companion website, the author urges: “Don’t buy the paperback. The 368-page paperback edition is $ 20, while the ebook version cost 4 dollars, saves trees, and contains all the same content as the paperback — except the paper!”

The ebook editions will be released in three formats: PDF, AZW and EPUB. The PDF format is primarily designed for reading on desktop and laptop computers. The AZW format is for the Amazon Kindle. The new EPUB format is primarily for iPads, iPhones, iPods, and a number of PDAs and many ereading devices. “The EPUB format is the next big thing,” says Pastore. “It’s quickly becoming the industry standard, capable of being read on more and more software programs and hardware devices.”

Pastore is a strong proponent for the new EPUB standard for ebooks; and an equally strong opponent of DRM (Digital Rights Management), which he claims is a disservice to ebook consumers. He writes: “Ebooks were never meant to be hidden like the lost city of Atlantis, buried like the treasures of Monte Cristo, or guarded like the gold in Fort Knox.”

The author loves paper books, and hopes that they are never completely replaced by their electronic progeny. But Pastore is optimistic about the future of ebooks. He writes: “Every day, ebooks are growing in use, in sales, and in significance. After a dozen false starts over the past ten years, the Digital Reading Revolution is here at last.”

To buy the new book or ebook, readers can visit the the Zorba Press website for the book's web page:

Release Schedule:

Available Now: ebook in PDF (from the Publisher's website)

Available Now: ebook in EPUB (from the Publisher's website)

Available Now: ebook in EPUB (for the iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone) from the iTunes iBookStore

October 21: ebook in AZW for the Kindle

November 1: paperback (368 pages; 66,000 words; 6"x9")

About the Author, Michael Pastore

Michael Pastore is the editorial director of Zorba Press. He is the author of more than 20 books: novels and non-fiction works on various themes. His articles and essays have appeared in dozens of publications nationwide. He edits the blogs EpublishersWeekly (.com), and actively supports the causes of reading great books, independent publishing, and Amercia’s transition to a sustainable society. Currently he lives, cycles, reads and writes in Ithaca, New York.

About Zorba Press

A small, independent publisher in Ithaca, New York, Zorba publishes works by Michael Pastore, and a number of other authors including Dorothee Krahn, Rae Foley, Alicia Dattner, Lisette Rimer, Dr. Thanasis Maskaleris, and renowned author and film-maker, Michael Tobias.

For more information, contact Victoria Weise via this email: ebook AT care2.com


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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Head First WordPress (Book Review)

Head First Word Press
by Jeff Siarto
O'Reilly Media, 2010
Paperback (334 pages): $ 34.99
PDF ebook: $ 14.99
Visit the Book's Web page

[Reviewer's Note: WordPress.org is a content management system that lets you create blogs and websites, by first loading the Wordpress software onto your web host. This is different from WordPress.com, which, like Google's Blogger, provides the hosting for you. WordPress.org is more complicated, but offers many more features.]

"You had me at hello," is a famous line from the film, Jerry Maguire. Jerry begins a speech about how he loves Dorothy; and after only the first few words, Dorothy tells him: "Shut up, just shut up. You had me at 'hello'."

It took only a few minutes to realize that Head First Word Press was my perfect WordPress companion. "Had me at page one," I might have said.

First, I was able to read the book without using a computer. Of course, you should use your computer when you read these kinds of books, to follow along with the exercises. But there are so many illustrations, and each concept is so well explained, that I was able to get a much-needed break from the screen and just kick back and read.

Here's the second way the book hooked me: the book's first topic is the most challenging topic faced by every WordPress beginner: setting up WordPress. I have never had the pleasure of WordPress's famous "5-minute install". Installing WordPress has taken me up to eight hours — that was the first time, when I had to download something called "Putty" in order to move the files around. The fastest I've ever installed it was an hour and a half, when I had some tech support. HeadFirst WordPress tells you what is really happening during this installation, and how to manage it quickly and expertly.

The book started strong and it just got better. With the typical "Head First" series clarity, the book covers practical topics that you've probably been too busy to study on your own. You'll learn how WordPress organizes your files. Select the right FTP program and image editor. Design your own WordPress theme. How to make more than a blog — make a website — by using WordPress to create web pages. How to manage a blog with many people involved in the roles of owners, editors, authors, and contributors. How to add videos. And how to promote your blog.

An excellent chapter about WordPress security offers advice about how to prevent hacking, choose and use secure passwords, create a system of automatic backups, and restore your backups whenever needed.

One caution: the book is not written for absolute beginners. If you can answer "Yes" to these two questions, then the book might be for you:

Are you familiar with the concepts of web hosting, file transfer (FTP) and have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS? Do you want to learn how to build not just a blog, but a full-fledged WordPress site?

If you're using WordPress.org, or thinking about using it, putting this book on your desktop will make you a competent and confident user. Your brain will thank you, because all the learning happens without anxiety or confusion: all the learning is always simple and straightforward, and often fun.

—Michael Pastore
Epublishers Weekly

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Sumo Wrestlers Get iPads Possibly With Sumi-eInk Screens

Sumo wrestlers need iPads, too!

Sumo wrestlers in Japan have a problem &mdash but I am not going to be the man to tell them.

When they try to send emails from a mobile phone or a personal computer, then can't do it very well thanks to their fat fingers, which push more than one key at a time.

The Japan Sumo Association (JSA) has purchased 51 iPads to distribute to their wrestlers, thinking that the larger keyboard on the iPads will solve the problem.

I am speculating that a new screen technology might be required: the sumi-eInk screen.

More information about this story is available at:

BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11082125

—Posted by Michael Pastore, EpublishersWeekly

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fun With the Peerless iPad: An Article and A Cartoon from Time

Time Magazine online has two interesting pieces about the iPad. This is Harry McCracken's article (from his blog Technologizer), titled:

Will the First Real iPad Rivals Please Show Up?


For a lighter view of Apple's revolutionary device, Time also offers this this earlier cartoon video

The Apple iPad and You: An Odd Todd Cartoon


Which brings to mind the hilarious work of Ted Avery; it's a pity that Avery's cartoons are not freely available for everyone to enjoy.

—Michael Pastore is a novelist, and the author and/or editor of a number of non-fiction books including The Ithaca Manual of Style, The Zorba Anthology of Love Stories, and 50 Benefits of Ebooks: A Thinking Person's Guide to the Digital Reading Revolution. A new (2010) edition of 50 Benefits of Ebooks will be released on September 8, 2010. He blogs at Epublishers Weekly: http://www.EpublishersWeekly.com.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

No Shelf Required (edited by Sue Polanka) Book Review

Reviewed by Michael Pastore, author of 50 Benefits of Ebooks: A Thinking Person's Guide to the Digital Reading Revolution.

No Shelf Required: E-books in Libraries
Edited by Sue Polanka
ALA Publishing, September 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8389-1054-2
Paperback, 200 pages, $ 65.00 (10% discount to ALA members)
Book's Web page: http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=2902

Archimedes, the Greek DaVinci who enriched Greek culture with dozens of discoveries and inventions, is best known for sitting in his bathtub and shouting "Eureka!" when he instantly grasped how to determine if a king's crown was fake or made of solid gold. I had my "Eureka!" moment, just days ago, when I finished reading this new book edited by Sue Polanka. For two years I had been wondering how I could learn more about this topic, without reading hundreds of articles or getting an MLS. No Shelf Required is the best available source for the latest information about ebooks in libraries.

Why should librarians have a deep knowledge about the world of ebooks? ... An August 5 article in Newsweek magazine, titled "Farewell, Libraries?", hinted that because hardcover books are now selling less than ebooks, shelves of books would be disappearing, causing significant changes in our nation's libraries. The article does not report the other side of the transformation. Ebooks are great for libraries in many ways, including the most important one: how to get more patrons through the doors and using the library's resources. In the year between 2008 and 2009, the Vancouver Public library issued 60,000 new library cards; librarians there credited ebooks as the key factor in this significant surge.

No Shelf Required is indispensable for librarians and publishing professionals; a number of the chapters are also of interest to scholars and to general readers who want to better understand this changing electronic world. The book contains nine chapters, all written clearly, and each chapter covering an essential topic.
—James Galbraith gives us a history and overview of "E-books on the Internet" that is at once exquisitely well written and succinct.
—Jackie Collier and Susan Berg write about "Student Learning and Ebooks", answering questions such as "How can e-books be used to help students learn?".
—Shonda Brisco, in her chapter "E-books in the School Library", discusses how school librarians can overcome a number of practical challenges to bring ebooks to their schools.
—Amy Pawlowski, in "E-books in the Public Library", covers the nitty-gritty about the variegated vendors and producers, formats and delivery methods; and explains the keys to success in implementing an ebooks program.
—Lindsey Schell, in "The Academic Library E-book", explains the key issues and obstacles for academic librarians, such as vendors, licensing, funding, sharing, ADA compliance, and DRM.
—Carolyn Morris and Lisa Sibert, in the book's longest chapter "Acquiring Ebooks", provide a thorough description of the ebook acquisition process, which is far more complex than purchasing printed books.
—Alice Crosetto, in "The Use and Preservation of E-books", explains how to understand various data associated with ebooks, and discusses important preservation initiatives called LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) http://www.clockss.org, and Portico, http://www.portico.org.
—Emilie Delquie and Sue Polanka, in "E-book Standards", tackle the immense problem of lack of standardization, expertly review the existing standards (in EPUB and XML) and discuss other issues such DRM, metadata, SERU, DOI, and more.
—Rolf Janke, in the concluding chapter "The Future of Academic Book Publishing: E-books and Beyond", offers a keen analysis about how academic publishers can make the difficult transition from print publishing to digital.

For its comprehensive coverage about a complicated topic — a theme that is so important it could help every library to survive and thrive — No Shelf Required should be required on every shelf. To keep up with the latest about ebooks in general, and ebooks for libraries, follow Sue Polanka's blog, also called "No Shelf Required", here: http://noshelfrequired.com/.

—Michael Pastore is a novelist, and the author and/or editor of a number of non-fiction books including The Ithaca Manual of Style, The Zorba Anthology of Love Stories, and 50 Benefits of Ebooks: A Thinking Person's Guide to the Digital Reading Revolution. A new (2010) edition of 50 Benefits of Ebooks will be released by Zorba Press on September 15, 2010.

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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Digital Content Consortium is Using My Content Without Crediting the Source

Bums! ... Rascals! ... Scoundrels!

A blog called "The Digital Content Consortium" has been posting some of the Net's finest essays, articles and reviews.

The problem is: All these fine pieces are written by me, and used without any reference to me or to the EPW blog.

The Internet was made for sharing. I am happy to share most of my content. About my writings that are not marked "Copyright" you may reprint them in your electronic publication, but you must link back to me or acknowledge the source. Then everybody is happy.

But don't pretend that you are the authors of the writing that you've posted.

Readers reading the Digital Content Consortium: come on over to Epublishers Weekly, and get the information from the original source.

Take a look and see if they have reprinted this blog post that reveals their nefarious ways:


Every time I post to Epublishers Weekly, the DCC takes all my content, and formats things to look as if they are the authors. Of their 15 most recent posts, 7 were written by me and appeared first here at Epublishers Weekly.

Of course, there is no contact information, so what is to be done? ...
I've added a tagline to the bottom of all my posts.
And I've left a comment on their blog:

Most esteemed gentlemen,
I write to inform you that your blog, the Digital Content Consortium, is using the content from my blog, without permission from the author.
In fact, from your 15 most recent posts, 7 of these have been written by me.
Fortune will smile upon you if you remove my content before the rising of the next moon.
Your friend most sincerely,
Michael Pastore
Epublishers Weekly

My comment is awaiting moderation. The comment will not be posted, and spam in great quantities will be sent to the email address that was required in order to post the comment.

Michael Pastore
Epublishers Weekly

—Michael Pastore is a novelist, and the author and/or editor of a number of non-fiction books including The Zorba Anthology of Love Stories, and 50 Benefits of Ebooks: A Thinking Person's Guide to the Digital Reading Revolution. A new (2010) edition of 50 Benefits of Ebooks will be released by Zorba Press on September 8, 2010.

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ebook Stress Test — How Healthy Is Your Ebook ?

Ebook Stress Test —
How Healthy Is Your Ebook ?

[Author's note: This is an expanded and revised version of an article that I posted in December 2009. &mdashMP]

Not all ebooks are created equal. There is much debate about ebook prices; there should be more discussion about ebook value. A healthy ebook is worth much more than a feature-reduced ebook. Locked by DRM, an ebook in the EPUB format can be read on a device made by one company only (or at most, on a small number of devices). An EPUB ebook with no DRM can be read on almost every device.

Before you buy an ebook, use this simple guide to evaluate the quality of the "ebosystem" — the ebook ecosystem. This includes two essential parts: the ebook (the digital file itself), and the ebook reading system of your choice: iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, iPhone, cell phone, Calibre, WattPad, Adobe Digital Editions (ADE), Google Editions, reading on the web via BookWorm, and many more.

This guide is designed to be customized. You can (and should) add your own questions (and delete mine), based on the ebook's features that are important to you. ("Is the ebook free from geographical restrictions?" is a question that might matter very much to persons living outside the USA.)

You can give different weight to the questions that matter most to you. For example, if "no DRM" is very important to you, give 50 points instead of 10 for ebooks that are DRM-free.

The purpose of this guide is to educate consumers (and, unfortunately, publishers) about good and not-so-good practices in ebook publishing.

For example, the University of Michigan Press recently announced an ebook "rental" program (http://www.press.umich.edu/ebooks/index.jsp). Here are their prices for one of their books, titled "The End of History" (which answers the question of when I would rent an ebook instead of buying one):

—Buy (a Paperback): $ 29.95
—Buy (a PDF ebook with DRM, Adobe Digital Editions): $ 28.95
—Rent for 180 Days (a PDF ebook with DRM, Adobe Digital Editions): $ 22.00
—Rent for 30 Days: (a PDF ebook with DRM, Adobe Digital Editions): $ 12.00

This is what I would call a "not-so-good" publishing practice: the buyer does not get good value. (In addition to the time limit, the rental ebooks have restrictions on printing, whereas the purchased ebooks allow unlimited printing.) I would happily buy this ebook if it were offered as an unencrypted EPUB for $ 9.99 or less.

Early in my philosophy training, I was taught a basic principle: "Can does not imply ought." Because we possess the technological capability to do something, does not necessarily mean that it is good and useful to do it. In theory, it is a clever trick to build a "time bomb" into the ebook that makes it self-destruct (unable to be read) after any time period that you choose; in practice, this is a very foolish idea. The "rental ebook" is nothing more than a euphemism for the "perishable ebook." Healthy ebooks endure.

Take the Stress Test For A Healthy Ebook

In the sample questions below:
Score 10 points for each YES.
Score 0 points for each NO.

If the answer is not a clear "Yes" or "No", then you can assign partial points, from 1 point to 9 points,.

One reason to give more than 0 points for a "NO" answer: if the ebook is not in the EPUB format, but can be easily converted into the EPUB format, then that score might be upgraded from a 0 to a 9.

The higher the point total, the healthier the ebook. Like Lemuel Gulliver bound by the 6-inch-tall Lilliputians, the healthy ebook is not tied down by publishers' restrictions. Therefore the healthy ebook offers more flexibility and more benefits to ebook buyers and readers.

1. Is EPUB the ebook's format ?
10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... 0

2. Does the ebook have no DRM ?
10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... 0

3. Can the ebook be read aloud ?
10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... 0

4. Can the ebook be shared ?
10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... 0

5. Is the ebook's price $ 9.99 or less ?
10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... 0

6. Is it a non-shoppable ebook (a "shoppable ebook" contains links inside that encourage readers to click and buy various items) ? Does the ebook contain advertisements? Is the story filled with "weldons" (paid product placements) ?
10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... 0

7. Is the ebook optimized for study, allowing students to print, highlight text, process text (cut, copy, paste) and add bookmarks and annotations ?
10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... 0

8. Is the ebook available for purchase only, not for rent ? (If purchased, it must not contain an expiration date).

10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... 0

9. Has the ebook been efficiently edited ?
10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... 0

10. Is the ebook well-designed ?
10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... 0

Add your own questions, and create your own criteria for evaluating the health of your ebooks and ebook ecosystems.

Michael Pastore is a novelist, and the author and/or editor of a number of non-fiction books including The Zorba Anthology of Love Stories, and 50 Benefits of Ebooks: A Thinking Person's Guide to the Digital Reading Revolution. A new (2010) edition of 50 Benefits of Ebooks will be released by Zorba Press on September 8, 2010.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Protest Against the Commercialization of Ebooks

Acolorful advertisement at the top of the New York Times (online) today asks us to click to read "The First Shoppable Children's Storybook."

I hope it is also the last.

In an ebook, the marriage of videos and commerce creates a monstrous mutation, not a genuine reading experience that should bring delight and wisdom. Books are one of the last refuges in our world from the constant cry by advertisers to spend money and fill our lives with unnecessary things.

I am not against videos in ebooks (although they should not be called "books"); I am not against commerce, done with balance and integrity. But these two things together, inside a book for kids -- takes us backward into a world obsessed by consumerism and overconsumption, an approach to life that has been the cause of so many of our present troubles and crises.

You can read the ebook online, and then judge for yourself:


Technology can be used to enhance our lives, or to diminish them — here is an example of an ebook that I could happily do without.

— Michael Pastore, author
50 Benefits of Ebooks

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

EPUB Straight to the Point (Book Review of the Paperback)

EPUB Straight to the Point
Creating ebooks for the Apple iPad and other ereaders
by Elizabeth Castro
Peachpit Press, ISBN: 978-0-321-734686
Available Formats:
Paperback, 192 pages
PDF (watermarked with buyer's name)
EPUB (unencrypted, direct from Castro's web site)

Reviewed by Michael Pastore, Epublishers Weekly

We can dance on the moon, probe the depths of space, transplant organs, make maps of the murky mysteries of the deep seas and the 25,000 human genes, communicate instantaneously around the entire Earth, and — in minutes or less — access an unimaginable quantity of the world's accumulated knowledge.

Nevertheless, right now, it is impossible to find, borrow or buy any software that lets you push a few keyboard keys to create a perfectly valid, ready-to-read ebook in the format known as EPUB. Even the latest CS5 version of Adobe's omnipotent InDesign — listing for $ 699 — cannot get the EPUB files quite right.

That is why I am wildly enthusiastic about this new book by Elizabeth Castro: EPUB Straight to the Point. Beginners will learn all the essentials, thanks to the many illustrations (screen shots) and the step-by-step instructions that never fail to be clear. EPUB professionals and experts — and I am one of these — will find dozens of ideas for transforming ordinary-looking ebooks into ones that are beautifully designed.

Ye of little faith can easily see for yourself. Visit Castro's web page about the book, then download either of the two free sample EPUB ebooks (of Thoreau's incomparable classic Walden) created by Castro. Now open this EPUB ebook on your favorite ebook reading system: your iPad, dedicated device, smartphone, or computer desktop. You will see (as in the screen shot above) an example of an EPUB ebook with many eye-catching aesthetic touches along with practical features that improve readability: large colorful titles, the right amount of line spacing, headers, images inside the ebook, and even — in one of these EPUBs — a specially-chosen font.

You don't need to spend megabucks to make ebooks. You can use free text editors and free zipping software; however that no-cost solution works only when you understand a good amount about XHTML and CSS. To allow readers without XHTML-CSS skills to painlessly make the EPUBs, Castro's Chapter 1 describes how to use Microsoft Word for the first steps in the EPUB-making process. Don't worry that MS-Word's export to XHTML adds all kinds of bizarre coding to the file: the book tells you how to meticulously clean and polish the funky Word-export until it shines as a well-formed file of XHTML.

Because so many publishers use InDesign to lay out their paper editions, it makes sense to use InDesign to make the ebooks, and that is the subject of Chapter 2. Castro points out an annoying InDesign bug that corrupts the EPUB links; she writes "hopefully, Adobe will fix this". But until they do, you can use the workaround explained in the book.

The heart of the book is Chapter 3 — Inside an EPUB File — which, in just the right amount of detail — explains all the facets of every EPUB file. Whatever you choose to use to create your EPUBs — MS-Word, any text editor, Adobe's InDesign, or any EPUB-making shareware or freeware — such as Julian Smart's admirably simple eCub, or the superb program by Kovid Goyal named Calibre — you will still need to make many (and I do mean, many) changes and tweaks to get to a finished EPUB that is valid and works. This chapter tells you how to make all the necessary changes. The chapter also contains useful tips (such as how GREP-enabled editors can save tons of time); and a vivid explanation about how to understand and work with the dreaded "content.opf" file — the file, in my experience, that has been by far the most complex and troublesome file to create, fix, and update.

The subtitle of this book is: Creating ebooks for the Apple iPad and other ereaders. A smart approach, in my opinion, because the iPad offers the very best ebook reading experience; and yet the ebooks that you create with this book's guidance will look great on any EPUB-supporting device, and anywhere that EPUBs can be read. Although Amazon's much-hyped Kindle cannot read any EPUB at all, Castro has you covered: in a thoughtful afterthought to Chapter 3, she explains how to convert your EPUB to a format — .MOBI — that Kindles can happily understand.

You have probably heard the joke about the very amateur Shakespearean actor who, while playing Puck in the middle of A Midsummer Night's Dream — was booed and pelted with organic tomatoes. The actor ripped off his mask, stopped performing, turned to audience and then shouted: "Don't blame me, I didn't write this junk!" ... For a while, EPUB ebooks shared the same fate as the Bard: some hasty critics looked at some badly-made EPUB ebooks, and then griped that the EPUB format is a failure because it cannot make nice-looking books. Castro dispels that myth; her Chapter 4 — Advanced Epub Formatting — covers advanced topics including how to prevent ebook reading devices from overriding your CSS; how to choose the fonts in your ebook; how to create drop caps and small caps; how to control spacing and indents (essential when formatting poetry); how to insert images and their captions; and how to enhance (or, as some people might say, increase the distractions in) your EPUB ebooks by adding links, tables and videos.

Publishers, authors, book designers — everyone interested in making EPUB ebooks — can buy Castro's book with complete confidence; the book will teach you to build a better ebook than you've ever built before.

Michael Pastore, editorial Director, Epublishers Weekly
Author of 50 Benefits of Ebooks:
A Thinking Person's Guide to the Digital Reading Revolution

== Story Links ==

The Book on the Publisher's Web site:

Elizabeth Castro's website for the book:

Elizabeth Castro's blog:

Sigil: A WYSIWYG ebook editor, with full EPUB support

PADILICIOUS.COM: Creating Digital Books for the iPad (Mac only)

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Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr (book review)

The Shallows:
What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

by Nicholas Carr
Published by W.W. Norton
Hardcover, 276 pages, June 2010
ISBN: 978-0393072228

It takes great courage, as well as insight, to stand up against prevailing practices, to shout or whisper to the fad-following crowd that the way we are living is unhealthy for us.

More than 50 years ago, Aldous Huxley, interviewed by a cigarette-smoking Mike Wallace, warned:

“We must not be caught by surprise by advances in technology.”

Other eloquent warnings about technology's dangerous side effects have come to us from the works of Lewis Mumford, Erich Fromm, Neil Postman, Sven Birkerts, Mark Slouka, Theodore Roszak, and Bill Joy. A famous debate about this issue, "What Are We Doing Online", (from a 1995 edition of Harper's Magazine), thoughtfully explores the Internet's benefits and harms.

The latest voice speaking against the sacred cow of our technologies comes from Nicholas Carr, in his extraordinary book "The Shallows." Carr is not a Luddite; he uses technology capably, and acknowledges his appreciation of the Net. Carr, however, is concerned that there are losses along with the gains. Thanks to the Internet — the most sophisticated and useful tool for communications ever invented — we are losing our ability to concentrate and to think deeply. Carr cites indisputable evidence to show that the passive activity of using the Internet for short, skimming searches and shallow reading, is creating measurable changes in the structure and development of our brains.

Musing on the classic passage by Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose calm reflections were interrupted by the strident noise from a passing locomotive, Carr writes:
"The problem today is that we're losing our ability to strike a balance between those two very different states of mind. Mentally, we're in perpetual locomotion."

Like Neil Postman in Technopoly, Carr shapes his book not to point to solutions, but to illuminate the problems -- and he has done this work expertly. Despite his confessions that his powers of attention have been diminished by the Net, Carr's book is always thoughtful, and often captivating and profound. He cites Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey, where HAL the computer shows more feelings than the human characters. Carr's concerns, that begin with the loss of our powers of attention and concentration, conclude with worries that too much Internet and too little reflection may lead to a loss of our humanness.

We need computers, we need the Internet, we need quick access to the latest information — but we need it in the right amounts. All told, The Shallows is a superb starting point for the kinds of face-to-face discussions that might help us to break our collective addiction to screens, and to renew our interest in the slower, more personal, and more profound realms of our inner lives.

—Michael Pastore, Epublishers Weekly
Author of
50 Benefits of Ebooks:
A Thinking Person's Guide to the Digital Reading Revolution.

Story Links

Get a sample of Carr's book by reading his essay in the Atlantic:
Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Carr's Blog Rough Type ... http://www.roughtype.com/

What Are We Doing Online?
Ironically, this fascinating and deservedly-famous debate (which first appeared in Harper's Magazine in 1995) is not easily findable online -- the link from Kevin Kelly's website is now broken.

Aldous Huxley interviewed by Mike Wallace in the early 1960s:

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

EPUB Straight to the Point - EPUB Edition

EPUB Straight to the Point
Creating ebooks for the Apple iPad and other ereaders

by Elizabeth Castro
Peachpit Press, ISBN: 978-0321734686
Available in Paperback: August 8, 2010
Available as an ebook (EPUB format): Now.

This is a preview (and a pre-review) of Elizabeth Castro's new book about how to create ebooks in the format called EPUB. (When the paperback is released, I will post a full review.) EPUB has become the industry standard format; a format which can be read on any personal computer, read on the web, or read on almost every ebook reading device.

Despite the growing importance, adoption, and popularity of this format, there has been relatively little written about how to create it. You can comb the Internet and gather information from a few dozen sources; yet to my knowledge this is the first book-length work about how to create ebooks in EPUB.

Simplicity was a key factor in designing the EPUB standards -- EPUB is essentially an HTML file. Nevertheless, there are no one-step, push-button solutions for making EPUB ebooks, and there are no simple and sure-fire ways to convert from other formats into EPUB. Whether you code by hand, use shareware, or work with InDesign, at the end of the process -- even using the best and priciest software -- in order to tweak and validate your EPUB, you will still need to know how the EPUB format works under the hood.

Castro's book fills an immense gap in this field, as an essential guide for publishers, designers and authors who need to produce books in the EPUB format.

I read the EPUB version of this book using the iBooks app on my iPad. The ebook looks gorgeous -- thanks to its nice font, ample line spacing, stylish headers and full-color screen shots. This ebook edition once-and-for-all dispels the foolish myth that EPUB ebooks cannot be (or look) well-designed -- Castro's ebook is beautiful and easy to read. My full review will discuss the content in more detail. For now, you can look at this expertly-designed EPUB edition, by buying a copy direct from Castro's website, for $ 20, at


This EPUB ebook edition of the book -- offered without any encryption -- will let you easily search through the text, create bookmarks, highlight interesting passages, and copy selections of text. For various ways to read EPUB ebooks (in addition to the iPad, the Nook, and other devices), see my FAQ at http://www.zorba.us/?page_id=243.

—Michael Pastore, author
50 Benefits of Ebooks:
A Thinking Person's Guide to the Digital Reading Revolution

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Possibly the World's Safest USB Flash Drive

Watch the video: this flash drive gets run over by a truck, smashed with a hammer, fried in bubbling oil (see photo) ... and it still works.

It's called the LaCie XtremKey; it will be available for sale soon.

Watch the Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAInW-LA_ko
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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Apple Sells 3 Million iPads in 80 Days (article in Macworld)

The article also reports that of the 225,000 apps for sale from the App Store, more than 11,000 apps are specifically designed for the iPad.

The more apps, the more valuable the iPad is; and as the iPad grows in value, more apps will be created -- and more iPads will be sold.


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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

iPad Reader Apps Compared by Jason Perlow of ZDNet

The article describes iBooks (my favorite), Kindle for iPad, the Barnes and Noble eReader, Kobo Reader (from Borders eBooks), the iBis Reader, Stanza, and vBookz.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Can We Survive The Information Explosion ?

Read this article in the New York Times:


and this overview in WikiPedia:

And we will let you know when our forthcoming book is available, The Tao of Information:

cover for The Tao of Information

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Dead at 82: The Experimental Novelist David Markson

David Markson, author of a number of experimental and comic novels, has died at age 82. He published many of his books via small presses.

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The Foreclosure Angel Foundation

Visit the Website of the Foreclosure Angel Foundation

"The Foreclosure Angel Foundation was born when Marilyn Mock saw a need
in November of 2008 to help her neighbor who was about to lose her home.
With no where else to turn but the streets, their home went up on the
auction block. Marilyn bought the home at the auction price and sold it
right back to the owners at the now lower cost."

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Learning iPhone Programming (Book Review)

Learning iPhone Programming
by Alasdair Allan
Paperback, 384 pages, $ 29.99
(ebook editions also available)
ISBN: 978-0-596-80643-9
Published by O'Reilly, March 2010

With two million iPads sold in the first two months, and a new generation of iPhones just announced on Monday, June 7 (2010), it is obvious that the iPad/iPod/iPhone app gold rush has just begun. Two varieties of programmers will emerge: the full-time professionals, and a larger group of part-timers who will program for the pure pleasure of the work. As an enthusiastic member of the second group, I have been looking for a unique book. Learning iPhone Programming is almost exactly what I had been looking for.

The book is comprehensive, but it is not too large. It covers not only the nuts and bolts of the programming, but everything you will need to know before and after you develop your apps. It begins with a solid answer to the question; Why write native applications? Chapter 2 (Becoming a Developer) teaches how to register as an iPhone developer, install Xcode, install the iPhone SDK, and generate and deploy the developer certificates. Here also you will find a handy list of the four essential Apple websites that every developer will use again and again.

Chapter 3 guides you in the creation of your first app for the iPhone and iPod touch. Although the book's back cover recommends that you should have C-language experience before reading, there is a good deal of help for the uninitiated, including a concise introduction to key programming terms for new programmers. For those of us who have programmed in one of the members of the C language family (I have worked with C++), the author explains how the iphone's Objective-C is similar and different.

The heart of the book, the chapters about app development, contain easy-to-follow code and explanations, along with a generous supply of screen shots. Other sections that interested me included one about reasons why your app may be rejected; another about Regular Expressions; an overview of the PhoneGap platform; and a whole chapter about distributing your application after it's done. The final chapter (Going Further) provides a summary of books and resources for extending your education about Cocoa and Objective-C, the iPhone SDK, web applications, core data, push notifications and more.

The great strength of Allan's book is that it gives you a clear view of the big picture about iPhone development, and fills in most of the essential details. I can hardly imagine a better book to begin the great adventure of developing extraordinary apps.

--Michael Pastore

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Ebook Sales Show Enormous Growth in 2010 (first quarter)

Ebooks have arrived.

The sales of ebooks in the U.S.A. for the first quarter of 2010, more than 90 million dollars, predict a record year for ebooks.

I created this chart using data from the IDPF.org, which shows only the sales from the largest publishers.

If you've been reading on the iPad, which is a pure delight, then you can understand why more people will be enjoying reading on the screens.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Dr. Michael Tobias To Speak at TEDx in Munich - 2010 June 7

Author, Film-maker, and Environmentalist Dr. Michael Tobias will be speaking at TEDx conference in Munich, Germany, on June 7, 2010.
Dr. Tobias will talk about "A sustainable society for a global future."

We will post a link to Tobias's talk soon after it becomes available from TEDx.

To visit the event's website, click HERE.


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Monday, May 31, 2010

Raj Patel and His Book: The Value of Nothing

The Value of Nothing
How to reshape market society and redefine democracy

by Raj Patel
Paperback, 240 pages. $ 14
ISBN: 978-0-312-42924-9
Published by Picador, January 2010

In Walden, that incomparable work that connects economics to all aspects of a person's life, Henry David Thoreau writes:

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root ... "

In October 2008, Americans were told by all the experts that our economy had regressed 80 years, and was so weak it could crash and collapse like a bad soufflé. At that time, I had five thoughts:

1. The foundation of our economic system is thoroughly unsound.
2. If we survive this round of catastrophe, the same problems could strike gain.
3. Exploiting our health and our environment cannot be the foundation of economics of the future.
4. If anything is "too big to fail" then it must be made to regulated so that it is just the right size to succeed.
5. The Economy is too complex for any one person to understand.

I am thrilled to discover that I was wrong about the fifth item on my list. In The Value of Nothing, Raj Patel has not only explained the causes of our floundering economy, he has pointed to ways we can transform our floundering, ever-teetering and unjust economic system into a healthy, fair and stable one.

Part One of the book diagnoses our present peril. Patel calls back to that tense October 2008. In a telling moment, Alan Greenspan admitted to a Congressional Committee that his entire theory of laissez-faire capitalism was flawed. Patel then exposes and skewers other villains in the crisis: McDonalds, Monsanto, John Stuart Mill, psychopathic corporations, Goldman Sachs, and especially the misguided manifesto of deadly selfishness, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

There are a handful of heroes in this section, including Karl Polanyi, and his book The Great Transformation, which explains "how the most powerful groups in society tried to turn land and labor into 'fictitious commodities,' into things that were in principle very different from the goods that had previously been exchanged in markets."

In Part Two, Patel describes activities that have successfully challenged the free market system, and improved lives. La Via Campesina now operates in 69 nations and has 150 million members. Another organization, Abahlali baseMjondolo, in Durban, helps to prevent shackowners from being harassed and evicted. In Mexico, a group called the Zapatistas, run their political and monetary affairs using a slow-moving, Athenian-style democracy, where persons who serve in office wear ski masks to protect their identities.

Works such as The Soul of Man Under Socialism (Oscar Wilde), The Poverty of Affluence (Paul L. Wachtel), To Have or To Be (Erich Fromm) and to some extent Affluenza (film and book) argue that people are diminished -- intellectually, culturally, artistically, emotionally -- by lives devoted to acquiring too much money and things. Patel cannot be faulted for skimming past this dimension: there are too many urgent consequences to attend to. He reports that for American children born in the year 2000, one out of three will develop diabetes -- and for children of color, the odds jump to one out of every two.

This essential guide to a sustainable economy might have been called (if Schumacher had not already coined the phrase), "Economics as if people mattered." The Value of Nothing is a revelatory book, filled with indisputable facts and original insights. Most admirable in the author's approach is the balance. Patel sees the need for personal change (we must consume less and consume more wisely); we also need to change the big things, the free trade model of economics that exploits the many to enrich the few.

To complete the great thought of Thoreau:

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve."

--Michael Pastore

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sell Your Book on the iTunes Store, Read it on the iPad

Sell your book as an ebook, readable on the
Apple iPad.
You set the price (it has to end in 99 cents), and keep
70% of the profit. And your book will look gorgeous on the iPad -- if
you format it correctly.

Sell Your eBook on iTunes

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Friday, May 28, 2010

The 12 Greatest Prison Escapes in History

This article lists the 10 greatest prison escapes in history; but forgets about two of the most amazing escapes. Casanova escaped from the Leads; and Papillion escaped from Devil's island.


Casanova: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casanova
Papillon (Henry Charriere) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Charri%C3%A8

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

BookServer, by Brewster Kahle, Could Transform the Publishing Industry

BookServer, developed by Brewster Kahle, will
put all the world's books at your fingertips. And you will buy the books
directly from the publishers: the cost of books will drop, and
publishers' incomes will rise.

CNET Article about BookServer


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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Children are born Good

At last! ... The academic world may be grasping
the important idea that children are born "good".

New York Times article about babies and morality.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Professor Strogatz Articles about Math (New York Times)

This is one in a fascinating series of
articles about mathematics, by a superb Cornell professor.

Chances Are -- Opinionator Blog

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Incredible Parking Ticket

From Australia comes this very funny story about
a parking ticket: read to the end -- the victim's letter, and the
response from the Melbourne police department.

Read the story from the Huffington Post.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

The World's Hottest Hot Pepper !

They call this a hot pepper? ... I will eat ten
of them! ... No, twenty!

Before eating this pepper, read about it in the Christian Science Monitor.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Crimson - Latin Music By Sally Ramirez and Doug Robinson

Crimson is the title of a new CD of Latin music, featuring the enchanting voice of Sally Ramirez, and the extraordinary guitar of Doug Robinson.

Here you'll find an eclectic array of 15 exciting songs: some known favorites with new twists ("It Might as Well Be Spring" and "Guantanamera" and "Caravan"), and a dozen lesser-known gems.

In four words, I can tell you everything you need to know about this CD:

This is great music.

The synergy of these two fine artists makes every song special, filled with passion, surprises and sweet sounds.

Hear for yourself. Visit the CD's web page:


where you can listen to many of the songs for free.

You can buy the CD for only $ 12.00 (plus $ 2.95 shipping). Or get the same sounds as a digital download (MP3 files) for $ 9.99.

For more information about Ramirez and Robinson, visit their web site:


Michael Pastore

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Photos of the Earth in Space

More than 150 years ago, our first Philosopher
Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote:
"As I sat on the bank of ... Drop Pond, I
said to my companion: 'This world is so beautiful I can hardly believe
it exists.' "
Here are some photos of our small, fragile, beautiful

Read more and see more photos on the website of Discovery News:


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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Johnny Russo and His New CD: All Original

Ithaca jazz legend Johnny Russo has released a new CD, titled All Original. The CD contains 16 original compositions by Russo (some co-composed by Doug Robinson), written between 1984 and 2007. Russo is accompanied by the guitarist Robinson, and the East Hill Classic Jazz Group.

I first heard Johnny Russo and Doug Robinson at the Commons in Ithaca, New York, in the summer of 2005, delighting a crowd with their swinging '40s and '50s sounds. The release of their latest and liveliest CD is great news for Russo-Robinson fans, and for music-lovers everywhere. In this CD, as in their previous releases, these two masters of jazz and improv have done something genuinely heartfelt and beautiful, giving us songs and sounds that are unforgettable.

To order the CD, for $ 10 (plus shipping), visit the WaterShed Arts website:

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Support ==Read An Ebook Week== from March 7 through 13

Coming soon: Read An Ebook Week, an exciting annual event, to promote the enjoyment and appreciation of ebooks. This year's (2010) event runs from March 7 through March 13.

For more information, visit the official website of Read an Ebook Week.

Thanks to Steve Jordan for creating the superb images to promote the week. The event is expertly coordinated by the author, Rita Toews.

You can start reading, free, by visiting the Zorba's Guide to Free Ebooks: http://www.zorba.us/?page_id=818

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Monday, February 08, 2010

logo for EcoFont

Ecofont is a font that you can download free, and use on your PC or Mac computer. There are small holes in the letters. When you print pages using EcoFont, since the holes do not consume any toner, you will save ink. EcoFont uses about 20% less ink than the average font.

An ingenious idea!

EcoFont can be used in all your projects, free. It works best when using 9-point and 10-point type. (When using larger type, you might begin to see some of the holes).

Download EcoFont from the EcoFont home page:


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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Monday, February 01, 2010

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan

This article is about Michael Pollan's book
"Food Rules", which explains 64 sensible rules for healthy eating.

NY Times article about Food Rules.

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Ten Rules for Writing Fiction (from the Guardian)

Wrote Somerset Maugham: "There are only three
rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are."

Read this article from The Guardian.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obama Delivers State of the Union Address

President Obama delivered the annual State of the Union address, focusing on the economy, and also touching on the subjects of health care, defense, climate change, human rights, and the crisis in Haiti.

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Apple iPad Reads Ebooks With An App Called iBooks

Steve Jobs demonstates how to read ebooks on Apple's new iPad. The ebook reading software is called iBooks.

Jobs said that when the iPad launches, it will sell ebooks from five of the largest publishers, "and we're going to open up the floodgates for the rest of the world starting this afternoon."

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