Tag - books

Walking up and down in the dark

While not straying too far off the beaten track for this blog, I just had to post a great quote.

It’s from Smoke Blanchard, mountaineer, hiker, traveller, guide, climber, trekker, truck driver, and about a thousand other things in between … and appropriately enough, it’s about life and career choices.

Most choices at the crossroads of life are made under weak starlight with a feeble lantern that illuminates poorly the farther stretches of trail.

I’ve just finished his 1984 memoir, Walking Up and Down in the World: Memories of a Mountain Rambler, and had to mention it here because it rings so true.

[tags] career, books, quote, smoke blanchard, john koetsier [/tags]

New rules of PR: I’m apparently in the book

Well this is too cool …

David Meerman Scott just wrote The New Rules of PR and Marketing and he’s thanking bloggers who helped him. Apparently I’m one of them … although I have only a vague recollection of the fact. In any case, thanks!

It’s a great way to alert people that your book has been published … here’s David’s list of those who helped in one way or another …

Robert Scoble
Adele Revella Buyer Persona Blog
Joe Wikert Publishing 2020 blog
Steve Johnson
David McInnis
Mark Levy
David Hamm
Mike Levin
Colin Delaney epolitics
Steve Goldstein Alacrablog
Todd Van Hoosear
George L Smyth Eclectic Mix
Mark Effinger
Michelle Manafy EContent magazine
Kevin Rose Diggnation
Grub Street Writers
Dave Armon
Britton Manasco
Jordan Behan
Nettie Hartsock
John Havens
John Blossom ContentBlogger
Larry Schwartz Newstex
Steve Smith
Melanie Surplice
Nate Wilcox
Ian Wilker
Cody Baker
Dianna Huff
Brian Carroll
Ken Doctor
Jonathan Kranz
Barry Graubart
Steve O’Keefe
Ted Demopoulos
Debbie Weil
Paul Gillin
Matt Lohman
Seth Godin
Rob O’ Regan
Steve Rubel Micro Persuasion
Paul Gillin
Joan Stewart The Publicity Hound
Glenn Nicholas Small Business Inspiration
Mac MacIntosh The B2B Sales Lead Expert
Jill Konrath Selling to Big Companies
Guy Kawasaki How to Change the World
Court Bovée and John Thill Business Communication Headline News
Grant D. Griffiths Kansas Family Law Blog
Robin Crumby The Melcrum Blog
Jim Peake My Success Gateway
Eli Singer Refreshing the Daily Grind
Duane Brown Imagination+Innovation
Scott Monty The Social Media Marketing Blog
Ian Lamont
Blog Campaigning
Rich at Copywrite Ink
John Lustina SEO Speedwagon
Adam Tinworth OneMan+HisBlog
Scott Clark Finding the Sweet Spot
Amanda Chapel Strumpette
Jennifer Veitenheimer reinventjen
Morty Schiller Wordrider
Matthias Hoffmann the power of news
Erin Caldwell’s PRblog
Ferrell Kramer Talking Communications
Anita Campbell Selling to Small Businesses
Karl Ribas’ Search Engine Marketing Blog
Tony D. Baker Advanced Marketing Techniques
Tom Pick The WebMarketCentral Blog
Tina Lang-Stuart
Bryan Eisenberg Jeffrey Eisenberg Robert Gorell and the rest of the team at Grok Dot Com
Michele Miller WonderBranding
Publicity Ship Blog
The Media Slut
Brad Shorr Word Sell
Sasha Where Business Meets the Web
Ellee Seymour ProActivePR
Chris Kenton The Marketers’ Consortium
Paul Young Product Beautiful
By Ron Miller
Michael Morton
James D. Brausch
Janet Meiners Newspapergrl
Andrew B. Smith The New View From Object Towers
Cristian Mezei SeoPedia
Jim Nail Cymfony’s influence 2.0
Denise Wakeman and Patsi Krakoff The Blog Squad
Forward Blog
Ben Argov
Zane Safrit Duct Tape Marketing—Business Life
Will McInnes Online Marketing Guide
Robbin Steif LunaMetrics
Mike Boss
Marc Gunn Music Promo Blog
Nancy E. Schwartz Getting Attention
Kami Watson Huyse Communications Overtones
Todd Defren PR Squared
Michael Stelzner Writing White Papers
Dee Rambeau Adventures in Business Communications
Glenn Fannick Read Between the Mines
Owen Lystrup Into PR
Morgan McLintic
Mark Batterson Evotional
Jay Coffelt
John Richardson
Robin Good MasterNewMedia
Shel Israel Naked Conversations
Robert J. Ricci Son-of-a-Pitch
Mike Sigers Simplenomics
Dan Greenfield Bernaisesource
Brian Clark copyblogger
Lee Odden TopRank Online Marketing Blog
David Weinberger
Carson McComas
The FutureLab blog
John Bradley Jackson Be First Best or Different
Wired PR Works by Barbara Rozgonyi
Mark Goren Transmission
John Wall Ronin Marketer
MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog
John Koetsier bizhack
Steve Kayser Cincom Smalltalk
Dale Wolf The Perfect Customer Experience
Eric Mattson Marketing Monger
Scott Sehlhorst Tyner Blain
Seeds of Growth blog
Hugo E. Martin
David Phillips leverwealth
Terry Affiliate Marketing Blog
Gavin Heaton Servant of Chaos
Mark White Better Business Blogging
Eric Eggertson Common Sense PR
Michelle Golden Golden Practices
Liz Strauss
Tony Valle Small Business Radio
Chris Heuer’s Idea Engine
David Evans The Progress Bar
Todd Andrlik The Power to Connect
The New PR Wiki
Pelle Braendgaard Stake Ventures
Lisa Banks Search Engine Optimization Eblog
Chris Brown Branding & Marketing
Graeme Thickins Tech-Surf-Blog
Ardath Albee Marketing Interactions
Lauren Vargas Communicators Anonymous
Lori Smart Lemming
Dane Morgan
Jason Leister Computer Super Guy
Bill Trippe
Jason Eiseman Jason the Content Librarian
Reuben Steiger Millions of Us
Taran Rampersad Know Prose
John Richardson Success Begins Today
Valentin Pertsiya Brand Aid
Bill Belew Rising Sun of Nihon
Joe Beaulaurier An Ongoing Press Release
David Koopmans Business of Marketing and Branding
Chris Anderson The Long Tail
Roger C. Parker Design to Sell

Paddle to the Amazon documentary

Chris Forde, a documentary filmmaker, is doing a movie on Paddle to the Amazon … the longest canoe journey ever.

I’m interested in this because I read and reviewed the book Paddle to the Amazon, which is the amazing story of Don Starkell and his son Dana, who paddled from their home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Belém, Brazil … all in an open-top canoe, and Chris commented on that post.

Looking forward to seeing it!

[tags] paddle to the amazon, canoe, chris forde, don starkell, john koetsier, documentary, film, movie [/tags]

Words on pages …

Books that I’ve recently finished …

My Dying Breath, by Ben Reed
Highly recommended fictional retrospective of combat in Vietnam by a veteran.

Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson
Excellent hard sci-fi with real characters.

Heavy Weather, by Bruce Sterling
Also very good … kinda cyber-punk meets survivalist in a dystopic breaking-down world.

[tags] books, john koetsier, ben reed, robert charles wilson, bruce sterling [/tags]

GUST … Timothy Johnson’s at it again

Just opened a package in the mail – it’s Timothy Johnson’s new GUST: the “Tale” Wind of Office Politics.

Where does the guy get the time? It seems like just a few months ago that he came out with Race Through the Forest: a Project Management Fable.

Very cool … I’ll be reading it in the next week or so and post some thoughts. Thanks, Tim!

. . .
. . .

FYI here’s Tim’s blog post announcing the book. And if you’re wondering what GUST stands for, here’s his explanation:

GUST is an acronym to describe a process of approaching office politics:

  • Game – figure out what is being manipulated and the source of friction
  • Understand – determine what is behind the players, the behaviors, and the motivations
  • Strategize – establish an approach that will get you as close to win-win as possible
  • Take Action – get your ducks in a row as you implement your political strategy
[tags] timothy johnson, books, gust, john koetsier, office politics [/tags]


Recently read …

  • Sagittarius Whorl by Julian May
  • The War Mountains, by John Mannock
  • The Great Deluge, by Douglas Brinkley
  • Count Zero, by William Gibson
  • The Bourne Legacy, by Erik van Lustbader (I’ve always wondered if that can really be his actual name?)
  • Warriors, by Max Hastings
  • The System, by Georgi Arbatov

More “on my bookshelf lately”

What I’ve been reading:

  • The Last Mortal Man, by Syne Mitchell: fairly good sci-fi
  • Where the Hell are the Guns, by George G Blackburn: very good personal history
  • The Triangle Run, by James B. Lamb: very good (story of the Canadian navy doing convoy duty in the Atlantic
  • Spartans, by Paul Cartledge
  • A Soldier’s View, by Blake Heathcote: WWII era soldier’s own photography

Naked Conversations: could use a bit more sizzle

Just finished Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s Naked Conversations, about 3-4 months after starting it.

I found the book vaguely flat. Pretty tame and corporate, compared to the excitement and vibrancy of Scoble’s usual writing – his blog writing. Is it Shel that’s the difference? Or is it just the media, the form factor … the fact that this is a book, not a blog?

Maybe it’s just that the book is aging in a fast-paced environment. Or maybe Scoble and Israel felt the need to be extra-professional in a book about a then-and-still wild-west medium.

In any case: good, but a little boring.

The most likely reason: I’m in this social media blogging podcasting screencasting world every day … so it’s just not as new to me. The book is probably just what the doctor ordered for a little more of a newbie-ish audience.

[tags] scoble, shel israel, naked conversations, blogging, social media, john koetsier [/tags]

Books, books, books

Recently read …

  • Cusp, by Robert A Metzger
    Wow. Mind-altering. Awesome. Couldn’t put it down.

  • Belgarath the Sorcerer by David and Leigh Eddings
    Yawn. Shouldn’t have picked it up – Eddings is for 12-year olds – but I have this silly thing about finishing books I start.

  • The Guns of Normandy by George G Blackburn
    Sobering – a personal, real, dirty account of life as a gunner with the Canadian artillery in WWII.

On my bookshelf lately …

Draco by Ian Watson
Wow. Very good can’t-put-it-down sciency fiction. Watson’s language and word-choice is extremely innovative – a succulent read for a lover of books and language.

Capital Offense by Armin Shimerman
Just OK. Ends with a fizzle, as if the author and the protagonist just plain ran out of energy.

Fools Errant by Matthew Hughes
Really super-excellently good – fun, not too serious, not too fluffy. Definitely on the lighter side, but well-worth the time. (And who doesn’t need something a little lighter these days!)

Storm on the Horizon by David J. Morris
Rather tedious, actually. A bit of an inquest into Khafji, one of the early battles of Operation Desert Storm … Gulf War I, if I may say that. I don’t really believe the book’s assertion that this was one of the most critical battles of the entire campaign.

[tags] books, bookshelf, reading, john koetsier [/tags]

Google book search pumping up book sales

As I prognosticated a couple of months ago, Google Book Search is actually increasing publisher’s sales instead of aiding and abetting piracy, as most publishers assumed it would.

The problems with books that aren’t selling isn’t property rights, it’s obscurity. Google Book Search is a means out of that obscurity and a way to digitally filter the long tail of analog printed material.

Google has been enlisting publishers to voluntarily submit their books so that Web searchers can more easily find titles related to their interests, but some fear the project could lead to piracy or exploitation of their copyrighted content.

“Google Book Search has helped us turn searchers into consumers,” said Colleen Scollans, the director of online sales for Oxford University Press.

She declined to provide specific figures, but said that sales growth has been “significant.” Scollans estimated that 1 million customers have viewed 12,000 Oxford titles using the Google program.

Why this is not immediately obvious and apparent to dead tree publishers, I haven’t got a clue. Perhaps it’s because they still think of people who take money out of their wallets and put it into publishers’ as “consumers.” Whenever I see “consumer,” I think “misspelling of customer.”

But maybe that’s just one of my peccadilloes.

[tags] books, search, publishers, john koetsier[/tags] Credit: saw this first on Slashdot.

Recently on my bookshelf …

A list of books I’ve read recently, along with a very short pass/fail recommendation:

  1. Gregory Benford’s In the Ocean of Night
    Pass – not up to his usual standards.

  2. Stephen Baxter’s Exultant
    Baxter is always mind-blowingly amazing.

  3. Beyond Flesh
    A compilation of short science fiction stories – very, very good.

  4. Through Gates of Splendor
    The story of Elisabeth Elliot and 4 missionaries who died in Ecuador. Source for the movie End of the Spear. Very good!

  5. Canadians Behind Enemy Lines by Roy Maclaren
    WWII retrospective of Canadians in German-occupied Europe. Good, a bit draggy.

  6. Voices of a War Remembered by Bill McNeil
    Simple true stories of Canadians in WWII – very good.
[tags] books, john koetsier [/tags]

Race through the forest: project management

I have a major apology to make to Timothy Johnson, author of Race Through the Forest: a Project Management Fable.

We’ve linked to each other’s blogs before – he’s got some great management and business insights – and he sent me a copy of his book about a month and a half ago. Unfortunately, I’ve been too embroiled in some major business process changes at work, and significant career choices in general to read it yet.

I will get to it, and I will review it, Timothy. Sorry! In the meantime, I note that it has some really good reviews at Amazon from some top-notch people. Impressive!

. . .
. . .

[ update ]

Checking Timothy’s blog, it looks like this was Very Good Timing. Wow. That’s cool.

[tags] timothy johnson, books, amazon, race through the forest, project management, john koetsier [/tags]

Free stuff for bloggers

Who doesn’t want free stuff?

The free stuff for bloggers marketing brigade is hitting bizhack. Over the next week or so, I’m going to be getting Build the Life You Want and Still Have Time to Enjoy It by Jim Claitor and Colleen Contreras as well as The Blog Ahead: How Citizen-Generated Media is Tilting the Communications Landscape by Scott Hall.

It’s interesting to be in this position of getting “free stuff” to review … I feel like I’m back writing for Mac online newsmagazines and getting software and hardware goodies from companies who are hoping to get a good review.

All I can say is: I welcome the opportunity, but I’ll be as honest and real as if I had bought the book myself. Also, I’ll always disclose when I received it.

Hopefully, the people who are sending me these books have learned the Joel Spolsky lesson: don’t send crappy stuff to bloggers.

[tags] books, business, reviews, bloggers, marketing, social media, integrity, john koetsier [/tags]

Google library: saving books from themselves

Google Book Search is now releasing full books as downloadable PDFs … in some ways similar to what Project Gutenberg has been doing for years.

To me, Google is saving books from themselves. Not hit books, of course, and not recent books either. But the long tail of books.

Project Connexions … ripping, mixing, and “burning” books:

[tags] google, video, books, connexions, library, gutenberg, john koetsier [/tags]

LOTR, a retrospective: the highlights and lowlights

I recently read the Lord of the Rings books for probably the tenth time in about 20 years. And then I watched the movies for the third time in about five years.

Now, a few years after their release, I think I have a pretty good sense of what the highlights – and lowlights – of the movie version are. All of my comments are based on the extended-version films that came out on two DVDS.

Here are the highlights of the movies:

  • Setting the scene in Hobbiton
    The beginning of the movie wonderfully sets the scene of an idyllic, happy, bucolic, somewhat silly, but very lovable Shire. This sets the stage; this is what is worth protecting; this is what will vanish if the Sauron wins.

  • Arwen’s future, as foreseen by Elrond
    Arwen is persuaded to leave Middle-Earth and her love, Aragorn, by her father’s vision of her future – even if the Dark Lord is defeated. She will linger long past Aragorn’s death, bereft of husband and family. The music and imagery – Aragorn’s funeral stone statue, the falling leaves, Arwen’s dark translucent funeral veil flowing over her face in the wind, Arwen almost drifting through bare wintry trees in long dark robes – are absolute, wonderful, amazing magic.

  • Faramir’s Folly
    Though this was not in the books, the haunting juxtaposition of Pippin’s song, Denethor’s gluttony, and the suicidal charge of the knights of Gondor is just too heart-breaking not to mention it. Beautiful and futile.

  • Charge of the Rohirrim
    The charge of the Rohirrim as they break the siege of Minas Tirith is awe-inspiring. The horses thunder through the army of Orcs like a semi truck smashing through a parade of Smart cars.

  • That still only counts as one!
    Gimli brings some needed humor into the movies along with his characteristically dwarvish pessimism. Along with the “nobody tosses a dwarf” in Moria, and the “you’ll have to toss me” at Helm’s Deep, this moment lightens up the whole series. Gimli and Legolas continue their orc-slaying contest, but when Legolas brings down the immense Mumak single-handedly – a feat Gimli cannot duplicate – he yells “That still only counts as one!” Good for a laugh in a mostly comedy-free series.

  • Frodo deciding to keep the ring
    The cinematography of pentultimate scene right within the caldera of Mount Doom is breathtaking, as the lava-light plays over Frodo’s face, making it at turns sinister and golden. Reminiscent of other scenes in which Peter Jackson tries to show the immense power of the ring to warp minds and passions, such as Bilbo’s refusal to give up the ring in the first movie, Bilbo’s orc-moment of desire in the second, when he sees the ring again, and Boromir’s ongoing uneasy lust for the power of the One Ring. In no other scene, however, is the power and the beauty and the evil and the lust so brilliantly conveyed.

  • Picking up the threads
    The movie has a bit of a slow end, as all the battles are over, the wedding is complete, and the hobbits return to their homes. But the highlights aren’t over. This scene starts in the Green Dragon Inn where Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin come for a drink, and find themselves so changed that their homecoming leaves them with the realization that home is not really home any more. Then – after Sam reintegrates into Shire life – Frodo wanders his empty home, Bag End, wondering how to pick up the threads of a previous life. This sets up his final journey with the Elves to the Havens wonderfully, in addition to being an extremely poignant moment in itself.

With these incredible – and many other really wonderful moments, it seems almost a shame to mention the lowlights. But there were lowlights, for a true Tolkien fan, and these get my vote:

  • Ride out and meet them head on
    Gandalf urges Theoden to ride out and meet Saruman’s army head-on. It’s not in the book, and for good reason: they’d be slaughtered. Helm’s Deep is a strong fortress that will allow a numerically inferior force to defend itself against a stronger invader. It makes perfect military – and plot – sense. After all, if by the time they get to Helm’s Deep they only have 300 fighters, how on earth would it have been better to ride out and meet Saruman’s 10,000 Uruk-Hai head-on? Not smart – and not needed for the story line. My only guess is they put it in so as to make Theoden’s eventual decision to ride to the aid of Gondor a stronger story-line … the defensive king switching to the riskier, offensive strategy.

  • Aragorn falling over the cliff
    In the second movie, Aragorn falls over a cliff while battling a Warg and Orc force attacking the people of Rohan (who are fleeing to Helm’s Deep). The whole attack is not in the books, and for good reason: it’s unnecessary. It seems to be in the movie primarily to make Eowyn’s growing love for Aragorn a stronger plotline. Silly.

  • Gandalf meeting the witch-king
    In the book, Gandalf meets the witch-king of Angmar at the gate of Minas Tirith after Grond has burst through. And he prevails – or at least it’s a draw. Why, then, do they meet higher in the levels of the city, and why does the leader of the evil Nazgul best Gandalf, destroying his staff? My only guess is that this makes the victory of Eowyn, who kills him, even more intense. (Which in itself is annoying, because it’s actually Merry’s blow that kills him in the book – not because it was a fatal blow, but because Merry’s sword is an ancient and powerful weapon created to fight just such demons.) This scene is part of a trend to denigrate Gandalf in favor of Aragorn, who after all is better looking than the old bearded wizard.

  • Aragorn as senior strategist
    Continuing on the same theme, in the movie it is Aragorn, not Gandalf, who counsels that the armies, victorious at Minas Tirith, should take the fight to Sauron’s front door. Now Aragorn is the enemy of Sauron – instead of Gandalf, who has fought him for 300 lives of men? Ummm … no.

  • Faramir taking Frodo to Osgiliath
    Faramir does not take Frodo with him from Ithilien to Osgiliath in the books. His “quality” is demonstrated almost immediately, as soon as he knows the truth of Frodo and Sam’s mission. The Osgiliath detour is unnecessary, diversionary, and annoying.

  • Sappy, sappy “Sam” moments
    Most of these lowlights pale in comparison to this one, the most annoying feature of all the films. And that’s the incredibly sappy and sentimental sotto voce “Sam” moments between Frodo and Same. OK, they’re friends. OK, they’re best friends. OK, they’re very close. Do they need to gaze in each others eyes interminably? Hug for tedious minutes? Does Frodo need to say “Sam” or “Sum” in a quasi-English accent every ten minutes? Irritating. This is the Lord of the Rings, not BrokeBack Mountain.

That’s it – my seven highlights and six (should I try to find one more?) lowlights of the series.

I still love it both in book and film, and nothing great is ever perfect. I’m just thankful that Peter Jackson and company did as great a job as they did, overall.

But noting beats the books.

[tags] LOTR, lord of the rings, tolkien, peter jackson, movies, books, highlights, lowlights, review, john koetsier [/tags]

Mind candy

Amazon delivered some goodies today:

The downside is, the stack of books to be read grows larger. The upside: I’m really looking forward to Robert Scoble’s Naked Conversations, and Debra Weil‘s Corporate Blogging book may be having some immediate personal relevance.

(Yes, that’s a veiled hint, and no, I won’t be specific. For at least another week or two.)

[tags] books, naked conversations, corporate blogging, robert scoble, debra weil, john koetsier [/tags]

Why do people leave their jobs?

This is a little off-topic for bizhack, but I thought it was insightful and important enough to post:

After reviewing extensive research from the Saratoga Institute, Leigh Branham determined that people leave their employers because the employer is not meeting one or more basic human needs. In his book The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, Branham identifies these four needs: the need for trust, the need to have hope, the need to feel a sense of worth, and the need to feel competent.

When employees don’t have the information and resources to do the job right, their sense of competence is compromised, they become discouraged, and ultimately they’re more likely to leave. Having the right tools—that is, the information and resources to do the job right, is fundamental to a sense of competence, which is, in turn, fundamental to retention and productivity.

Check out more of the same on Pig Wisdom … and the book that the blog is promoting, The Wisdom of the Flying Pig.

(What a great book title, by the way!)

Dan Zadra on potential

I recently had the opportunity to spend a couple hours on the phone with Dan Zadra, chairman of Compendium, Inc., on a possible new project that we’re working on.

The initial face-to-face was with Tote Yamada, VP Sales, and Kobi Yamada, the CEO. Everything looked promising, so we followed up with Dan, who’s sort of the resident guru of Compendium. And we had a great one hour teleconference that stretched into two.

After talking with Dan, Tote sent me some of his books. (Dan has written over a hundred books.) This is the dedication in the first one I opened:

I have come to realize that we humans are equipped with a peculiar kind of telescopic vision. Looking out we can clearly see mountains of potential in everyone else around us. Looking, in however, we usually see our own potential by peering through the wrong end of the telescope.

What we see in ourselves is what we’ll get.

This I learned in depth from Bob Moawad and his staff at the EDGE learning institute in Tacoma, WA. More than a million people – young and old, from all walks of life – have attended EDGE programs nationwide over the past decade. I feel fortunate to be one of those people. Thank you Bob, for showing me how to turn the telescope around. What a view.


(The book, by the way, is The Secret of the Slight Edge. And thanks to Peter Field of Agile Media for the introduction.)

[tags] compendium, potential, dan zadra, john koetsier [/tags]

In my Father’s House

Somehow I’ve missed reading Corrie ten Boom’s In My Father’s House until just this past week.

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch woman who, with her father and sister, hid Jews from the Gestapo during the German occupation of Holland in the second world war. For this crime, many members of her family died, and Corrie only barely escaped death.

The book is a sort of a follow-up to The Hiding Place, which tells the story of those war years. In My Father’s House is more a story of Corrie’s young years.

I’m continually amazed as I read through the book: at the joy and love in her poor, poor family. At the faith and love Corrie had from a very young age. And mostly at the amazing way that God crafted her life: from miracle to miracle.

Well worth a read!

. . .
. . .

If you’ve never heard of Corrie ten Boom, take a look at her website. She died in 1983, but the museum foundation that now owns her home maintains the site. Also, you can get a list of her books at Amazon.

Here’s a paragraph from her website:

For their crime of helping Jews, the Ten Boom family was sent to prison. Papa died within ten days of his arrest. He had said it would be a privilege to give his life for the Jews. Willem and his son Christiaan also died due to their imprisonments. Corrie and Betsie spent a total of ten months in three different prisons. The last was Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, located near Berlin, Germany. Betsie died there, but through a clerical error (God’s miracle), Corrie was released. Starting at age 53, she spent the next 33 years sharing what she and Betsie had learned in Ravensbruck. “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still” and “God will enable you to forgive your enemies.â€?

Blurb is out of (private) beta

Blurb is out of private beta … and into public beta.

Blurb is building desktop software that will let ordinary everyday average people (like me) to build and publish books … recipe books, photography books, vacation books, portfolio books, you name it.

I’ve downloaded the software and am building a book. More thoughts later …

(BTW, their site has been updated and still has some hiccups, especially in Safari.)

Dawn, and The Accident, by Elie Wiesel

Recently finished the second and third horsemen of the apocalypse, I mean the second and third novels in the quasi trilogy that follow Elie Wiesel’s Night.

I wonder if Dawn is based on personal experience, or just a short story. It’s the account of a Jewish terrorist who kills an English soldier in cold blood.

The Accident feels like reading John Paul Sartre’s Nausea, only slightly less nauseous.

The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman

Last night I finished Friedman’s The World is Flat.

It’s a fairly wow big idea book; following are some of my notes and thoughts. This is not a review or anything like that; it’s just things I want to remember from the book.

Ten forces that flattened the world:

  1. Berlin Wall coming down, opening the iron curtain and creating the idea of one world market/community
  2. The dot-com bubble, with all the over-building of investment and infrastructure that resulted
  3. Common data languages and computer interoperability standards
  4. Open source software and community projects
  5. Outsourcing of work (kickstarted by Y2K)
  6. Offshoring of production (especially China)
  7. Supply-chaining – the science of coordination
  8. In-sourcing (hiring companies to perform traditionally internal company processes)
  9. In-forming (more and better data freely available for all
  10. “The steroids:” computing technology that is digital, mobile, personal, and virtual

The triple convergence:

  1. global, web-enabled collaboration: sharing of knowledge and work
  2. business process reorganization to take advantage of technologies: flattening of hierarchies, consolidating like functions, virtual companies, etc.
  3. China, India, and Russia joining the world markets at about the same time

On political and economic systems:
“Communism was a great system for making people equally poor. In fact, there was no better system for that than communism. Capitalism made people unequally rich.”

On China:
“China has more than 160 cities with a population of 1 million or more.”

“China is a threat, China is a customer, and China is an opportunity. You have to internalize China to succeed. You cannot ignore it.”

On international job competition:
“When I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, ‘Tom, finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving.’ My advice to you [kids] is: ‘Finish your homework – people in China and India are starving for your jobs.”

On change:
“No institution will go through fundamental change unless it believes it is in deep trouble and needs to do something different to survive.”

On staying competitive in the global job market:
“Average Joe has to become special, specialized, or adaptable Joe.”

On being in trouble:
“One thing that tells me a company is in trouble is when they tell me how good they were in the past. Same with countries … when memories exceed dreams, the end is near.”


Why is Phillip K. Dick so hot in Hollywood?

Well, it’s not because he’s dead. Not just because he was a great writer. And not because he was even weirder than Hollywood.

But Robert Silverberg puts his finger on why Dick, whose stories are the basis for movies such as Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report, is so hot right now.

We live in the twenty-first century. Philip K. Dick helped to invent it.

… and …

And I think we’ll see more and more of Philip K. Dick’s pulp-magazine plot concepts erupting into life all around us as the twenty-first century moves along. Even though his characters would discover, again and again, that the world around them was some sort of cardboard makeshift hiding a deeper level that was likewise unreal, what Dick the writer was actually doing was crying out, Look at all these unscrupulous gadgets: this is what our world really is, and things are only going to get worse. For us moderns it’s Phildickworld all day long. Your computer steals your bank account number and sends it to Nigeria, gaudy advertisements come floating toward us through the air, and now your telephone will flirt with you. It won’t stop there.

Read the whole story …

Imprisoned in Iran, by Dan Baumann

I just finished Imprisoned in Iran, by Dan Baumann.

It’s the autobiographical story of a Christian aid worker and evangelist who was captured, interrogated, imprisoned, and beaten in Iran’s notorious Evin prison in Tehran.

Baumann’s not a hero – he’s an ordinary, everyday guy with fears and worries just like anyone else. And during his imprisonment he became so discouraged and halucinatory he tried to kill himself.

But through the lows of prison, the beatings, the lack of food, and all the mistreatment, he both grew closer to his God, and witnessed first-hand God’s power in protecting him … even to the point of converting at least one of Evin prison’s guards to Christianity.

Love is the first commandment, and that’s what Baumann tried to practice. And that’s what so confused the guards and interrogator. The interesting thing is that Allah is not a merciful or loving God … so the Muslim men had difficulty understanding when Dan told them he had been commanded by God (in the Bible) to “love his enemies.”

It was an attractive message for them – and I hope it continues to be that to as many as read the book.

Tommy Nothing Fancy: Nasdijj Nothing Truthful

I recently picked up a book from the library that completely blew my mind. I was going to start a review of it like this:

Some books are from the literary catch-and-release program: you read ’em, return ’em, and remember them no more.

Others are like great bloody axes crashing through your brain like some cosmic sword of Damocles.

The book is The Blood Runs Like A River Through My Dreams by “Nasdijj,” who purported to be a half-blood Navajo with a mild form of Foetal Alcohol Syndrom (FAS) … for whom it was torture to read and even more painful to write.

It’s about the life and death (mostly the death) of his adopted son, Tommy Nothing Fancy – who had a more pronounced form of FAS – and it is seriously mind-blowing. Just a little too mind-blowing, in the aftermath of the James Frey story Million Little Lies episode. There seemed to be just a little too much pain in the book for any one man’s life, and the details were oddly gapped. For instance, his excruciating recountings of the 6 years of Tommy’s life included nothing – not even the name – of his wife at the time.

So I did some searching, and guess what: it’s another Frey all over again. LA Weekly broke the story just a couple days ago – The Blood Runs Like A River Through My Dreams was published in 1999.

Just a few days after that, “Nasdijj,” who is really a sordid little man named Timothy Patrick Barrus, admitted fabricating the story. If you look at his archived blog posts, Barrus appears to be a misogynistic pedophilic anti-Semite.

He was actually born in 1950, as the book states, but is not Navajo, never adopted a child named Timothy Nothing Fancy, and actually gets multiple details about contempory Navajo life and customs completely, idiotically wrong.

This is just now hitting the blogosphere, with bloggers like Bill Doskoch helping to publicize the “Najahoax.”

“Nasdijj” kept a blog, appropriately enough titled “Deserving Death For Evil Deeds,” but most of the archives have been deleted or unpublished. However, he has some new content up, and if you look at it today, you will get a sense of what an odd, twisted, paranoid mind is behind the farce.

Here’s the saddest part of the whole thing:

The book is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. The fact that it is a lie cannot alter the concurrent fact that it is an absolutely mind-blowing heart-shredding story.

Why, why do these talented writers throw away the truth they have in stupid little lies?

Top 10 Winston Churchill Quotes

What we often forget about good old Winnie is that he wasn’t just a politician, statesman, and leading figure of the 20th Century. He was also a prolific writer with more than 43 books in 72 volumes.

In those books – as well as in his speeches – Churchill has dozens, hundreds, even thousands of pithy, memorable quotes. I ran across them the other day when researching a speech.

Here’s my top 10 favorite Winston Churchill quotes:

10) “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”

9) To a woman who said: “If I was your wife Sir, I’d poison you!” “Madam, if you were my wife, I’d let you!”

8) “Don’t talk to me about naval tradition. It’s nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.”

7) “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

6) “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

5) “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

4) “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”

3) “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

2) “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

1) “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”

And, because I can’t help myself, a bonus quotation:

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

And one more which I hope is not true of this post:

“The length of this document defends it well against the risk of its being read.”

And that’s the end.

. . .
. . .

Thanks to BrainyQuote for the quotes.

Recent books on my shelf

Just finished Charles Sheffield’s Cold as Ice. Really, really, really good modern hard science fiction – highly recommended.

In a similar vein, I finished Planets of Adventure – old, almost antique science fiction by Murray Lienster. Definitely a little long in the tooth here and there, but the stories are pure gold.

Can’t find this book on Amazon.com, so it’s probably out of print. You can probably find or request a copy at your local library.