Friday, September 28, 2007

October e-Book of the month


Capitalism as if the World Matters
By Jonathon Porritt, with a new foreword by Amory B. Lovins
Earthscan, Revised Edition (September 2007)









When first published in 2005, Capitalism as if the World Matters shocked both a generation of environmentalists and a generation of business people by brushing aside their petty squabbles and artificial battle lines with a powerful argument that the only way to save the world from fuel shortages, climate change and environmental catastrophe is to embrace a new type of capitalism, and to do it quickly.

In this substantially revised and updated edition with a new foreword by Amory B. Lovins, Jonathon Porritt (Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief environmental advisor) tackles the most pressing problems of our time and extends his powerful and controversial argument by suggesting new actions in a tightly argued and highly accessible book. New material includes in-depth coverage of the United States and the politics of climate change, the state of environmental debate and the massive upsurge in religious engagement with climate and the environment.

See it here: http://www.netlibrary.com/

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

LITERATURE ABUSE: AMERICA'S HIDDEN PROBLEM

SELF-TEST FOR LITERATURE ABUSERS

How many of these apply to you?

1. I have read fiction when I was depressed or to cheer myself up.

2. I have gone on reading binges of an entire book or more in a day.

3. I read rapidly, often "gulping" chapters.

4. I have sometimes read early in the morning or before work.

5. I have hidden books in different places to sneak a chapter without being seen.

6. Sometimes I avoid friends or family obligations in order to read novels.

7. Sometimes I rewrite film or television dialog as the characters speak.

8. I am unable to enjoy myself with others unless there is a book nearby.

9. At a party, I will often slip off unnoticed to read.

10. Reading has made me seek haunts and companions that I would otherwise avoid.

11. I have neglected personal hygiene or household chores until I have finished a novel.

12. I have spent money meant for necessities on books instead.

13. I have attempted to check out more library books than permitted.

14. Most of my friends are heavy fiction readers.

15. I have sometimes passed out from a night of heavy reading.

16. I have suffered blackouts or memory loss from a bout of reading.

17. I have wept or become angry or irrational because of something I read.

18. I have sometimes wished I did not read so much.

19. Sometimes I think my reading is out of control.

If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, you may be aliterature abuser. An affirmative response to five or more indicates a serious problem. Once a relatively rare disorder, Literature Abuse, or LA, has risen to new levels due to the accessibility of higher education and increased college enrollment since the end of the Second World War. The number of literature abusers is currently at record levels.

SOCIAL COSTS OF LITERARY ABUSE

Abusers become withdrawn, uninterested in society or normal relationships. They fantasize, creating alternative worlds to occupy, to the neglect of friends and family. In severe cases they develop bad posture from reading in awkward positions or carrying heavy book bags. In the worst instances, they become cranky reference librarians in small towns. Excessive reading during pregnancy is perhaps the number one cause of moral deformity among the children of English professors and teachers of English and creative writing. Known as Fetal Fiction Syndrome, this disease also leaves its victims prone to a lifetime of nearsightedness, daydreaming, and emotional instability.

HEREDITY

Recent Harvard studies have established that heredity plays a considerable role in determining whether a person will become an abuser of literature. Most abusers have at least one parent who abused literature, often beginning at an early age and progressing into adulthood. Many spouses of an abuser become abusers themselves.

OTHER PREDISPOSING FACTORS

Fathers or mothers who are English teachers, professors, or heavy fiction readers; parents who do not encourage children to play games, participate in healthy sports, or watch television in the evening.

PREVENTION

Premarital screening and counseling, referral to adoption agencies in order to break the chain of abuse. English teachers in particular should seek partners active in other fields. Children should be encouraged to seek physical activity and to avoid isolation and morbid introspection.

DECLINE AND FALL: THE ENGLISH MAJOR

Within the sordid world of literature abuse, the lowest circle belongs to those sufferers who have thrown their lives and hopes away to study literature in our colleges. Parents should look for signs that their children are taking the wrong path. Don't expect your teenager to approach you and say, "I can't stop reading Spenser." By the time you visit her dorm room and find the secret stash of the Paris Review, it may already be too late.

What to do if you suspect your child is becoming an English major:

1. Talk to your child in a loving way. Show your concern. Let her know you won't abandon her but that you aren't spending a hundred grand to put her through Stanford so she can clerk at Waldenbooks either. But remember that she may not be able to make a decision without help; perhaps she has just finished Madame Bovary and is dying of arsenic poisoning.

2. Face the issue. Tell her what you know, and how: "I found this book in your purse. How long has this been going on?" Ask the hard question: Who is this Count Vronsky?

3. Show her another way. Move the television set into her room. Introduce her to frat boys.

4. Do what you have to do.-Tear up her library card.-Make her stop signing her letters as "Emma."-Force her to take a math class or minor in Spanish.-Transfer her to a Florida college.

You may be dealing with a life-threatening problem if one or more of the following applies: *

-She can tell you how and when Thomas Chatterton died. *

-She names one or more of her cats after a Romantic poet. *

-Next to her bed is a picture of Lord Byron, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, or any scene from the Lake District.


Most importantly, remember, you are not alone. To seek help for yourself or someone you love, contact the nearest chapter of the American Literature Abuse Society, or look under ALAS in your local phone directory.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Writing Magic

I'm reading a great book -- writers, pay attention! It's called Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly, by Gail Carson Levine, author of award winning Ella Enchanted. She developed this book after running a writing program for children in her area, and while it's clearly marketed to the very young writers among us, I'm finding that it's very inspirational, fun, and full of helpful tips. (Even at my advanced age, har har.)

Levine's Rules:

1. The best way to write better is to write more.

2. The best way to write better is to write more.

3. The best way to write better is to write more.

4. The best way to write more is to write whenever you have five minutes and wherever you find a chair and a pen and paper or your computer.

5. Read! Most likely you don't need this rule. If you enjoy writing, you probably enjoy reading. The payoff for this pleasure is that reading books shows you how to write them.

6. Reread! There's nothing wrong with reading a book you love over and over. When you do, the words get inside you, become part of you, in a way that words in a book you've read only once can't.

7. Save everything you write, even if you don't like it, even if you hate it. Save it for a minimum of fifteen years. I'm serious. At that time, if you want to, you can throw it out, but even then don't discard your writing lightly.

If that's not enough to convince you, there's more information here at her website, http://www.gailcarsonlevinebooks.com/.
Enjoy!

--RichLayers