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Showing posts from September, 2011

Dylan Paintings Cause a Storm of Criticisms: Is it Fair?

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When Bob Dylan the Singer became a Painter and had a show in the famed Gagosian gallery, all hell broke loose. Why? Because his paintings are made from photographs that are not even his own! People started throwing insults like "plagiarism!" or suggesting that he wasn't really painting from "real life" (see the numerous articles below).

The New York Times used a more restrained tone, check here. Still, I'm sure that in many people's mind the damage is done.

Is it fair to Dylan? Is he really a great singer and a lousy painter?

Here's the way I see it and you can judge for yourself.

First consider how close his paintings are to photographs. The one reported by the New York Times that is most striking is this one (even the details in the background are the same):

Marcus Yam for The New York Times“Trade” by Bob Dylan. Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum PhotosA Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph from 1948.
Before you run away screaming, let me point out that many f…

More American Adults Read Literature According To New NEA Study

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Image via WikipediaGood News! Read this: More American Adults Read Literature According To New NEA Study

The survey, carried out by the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), a public agency created in 1965, is solid: it covered a big sample (18,000 adults) and was done in partnership with the US Census Bureau.

The NEA Chairman talks of a "dramatic turnaround". And so it is!


This marks a SEA CHANGE in American reading habits in the last 25 years! Every previous survey (in 1982-92 and 1992-2002) had turned up declines in reading rates!

It reports that in 2008 there were 16.6 million new readers of literature (novels, short stories, plays and poems), and most of them young adults, of which the largest group is between the age of 18 and 24, and it's also the one most rapidly increasing: 21%!


Wow! That's mind boggling! It's not old people retiring who are reading more, no,  it's YOUNG PEOPLE! That's truly promising! It means our literary future is not going to…

Euro Crisis: Greece is not the Problem, Germany Is!

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Image by infomatique via Flickr


The Euro crisis is precipitating. European banks have yet to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, markets are in a panic. When the world policy elite met in Washington on Saturday 24 September at the World Bank and the IMF, the Americans insisted, especially with Germany, that something be done. But European leaders hummed and hawed, acknowledging that their July plan (still not applied) was a little weak, that more needed to be done. Two days earlier, the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia India, China, South Africa) had met in New York, playing up the might of their $4 trillion reserve and what they might do with it.

Both meetings had but one topic: the Euro and how to save it.

Both meetings resulted in nothing.

Maybe this week will bring some news from Europe. Maybe not. In Germany, any bailout proposal has to go through parliamentary approval. A vote is scheduled next week, but who knows how it will go now that Merkel's political capital is at i…

Wonky Journalism is Back in Fashion: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

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Glottal Cycle - Image via Wikipedia
One of my all-time favorites! Would you believe Tom Wolfe's irreverent masterpiece has been picked up by Time as one of its 100 Best Nonfiction Books???


I bet Tom Wolfe would have a fit...actually, maybe he's having it? He hated conventional wisdom and conventional style. He broke all the rules and wrote the way he breathed.

Wow, I fell in love with his "voice"! Back in the Sixties when his book came out, we used to talk about a "writing style", not a "voice". I hate that habit of using the term "voice" for the way a writer writes: he's not speaking, damn it, he's writing! So how can you read his voice?

No matter.

I fell in love with his writing style. He'd hit it on the head. Bingo! Smash! Boom!

There's no question that Tom Wolfe started a new era in journalism. Following a celebrity around (in this case Ken Kesey) would never be the same again. It wasn't just following. It was...…

Self-Publishing in the Digital Age: 8 Reasons Why it's Golden, and 2 Reasons Why it's Not

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Image via WikipediaStigma used to be attached to self-publishing. Traditional publishers and literary agents looked down on indie publishers dubbed "vanity presses". Any aspiring writer's dream was to land a contract with one of the Big Six.

The digital revolution has changed that and now all you hear is enthusiastic talk about the dawn of a "golden age of self-publishing".

A golden age... really?

8 Reasons Why This is The Golden Age of Self-Publishing

Joel Friedlander, one of the more respected professionals in the publishing industry, has just posted a video about it (click here) giving 8 reasons for this wonderful new "golden age".

Briefly put, and using Joel's words to the best of my abilities (his presentation is not written - just a video) they are:

1. The "playing field" is leveled: by that Joel means that anyone can afford to publish - you don't need to be a publisher or have access to bookstores: digital books are produced an…

Euro Crisis: Doomsday is Near!

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Image by Alvi Halderman via FlickrEuro collapse is accelerating.

On  7 September, the German Constitutional Court upheld bailouts but put up parliamentary approval as a precondition, effectively tying Chancellor Merkel's hands...as if they needed to be tied! Here's one politician who notoriously hates to take decisions that might alienate supporters.

On 10 September, Mr. Stark, one of the German directors of the European Central Bank resigned, making it clear to all that the German central bank, the Bundesbank, disagreed with the ECB bond buying policy to save Spain and Italy. That makes for additional trouble as the bond buying is carried out by the national central banks participating in the ECB and not by the ECB itself.

On 13 September, Moody's downgraded a couple of French Banks (Crédit Agricole and SocGen), punishing them for holding Greek bonds. On 14 September, Italy barely passed its €54 billion austerity package but while there was a rebound in the market, long …

Is Heredity Destiny? A Matter of Family Ghosts and Genetic Memory...

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Structure of DNA Image via Wikipedia
Heredity haunts us and genetic memory is an intriguing notion: it is based on the idea that fragments of memory could be handed down to us through our DNA. Many of the things we know and think we have learned areactually innate

We are born not only with genetic physical traits, blue eyes and red hair like Grandma, but with specific knowledge and skills. 
We are not a virgin slate on which Education and Life draw our Character. Much of it (if not all) is already there from the start. 
Heredity is Destiny. 
Or is it?
How Much Do We Inherit from our Forebears?
Are we the product of heredity? Are we the prisoners of our genes? Do DNA strands determine how we act, how we feel? That's a highly debatable question. And it gets the proponents of the virgin slate (usually educators) really angry: they are firm believers that what we are is the result of education or experience. 
I lean in another direction. I like to believe in free will. I like the notion tha…

Ten Tips Plus One Step to Achieve Success in Blogging!

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Lacrimae Mundi Image via Wikipedia
If you're starting a blog now, there's super advice around to make a success of it. You're among 50,000 people doing that every day (yes, that many!), so you really need help to stand out! See here for a couple of  the latest and best: 1. Ten Tips for Effective Blogging 2. A beginner's Guide to Blogging: 10 Tips to put into Practice Right Away 

I'm not sure why the tips add up to ten, but in both cases, they make sense! Actually I've attached below an article by someone suggesting 12 tips...but here let me focus on just one essential step, but it's the KEY one! When I started my blog two years ago, I wish I had known…I certainly wasted much time to figure out the gadgets, things like the share button, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and all the rest. Sure, they're important but there's one thing that tops them all. What is it, you say? Simple:  blog in a “niche” !  Be generous with your expertise! Fill your blog with your …

If Greece Defaults, Is It The End of the World?

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Tugboat at workImage via Wikipedia

Greek default = Euro crash = end of the world as we know it.

World trade collapses. China - universally considered as the bulwark against the West's recession -  grinds to a halt. The other BRIC countries (India, Russia, Brazil) too. And America, already on the brink with historically high unemployment, will tip back into recession.

That's what the media will have you believe. That's conventional wisdom.

The Latest Kink in the Bailout Process

Auditors from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund unexpectedly left Greece last Friday, breaking off the fifth quarterly review they were conducting regarding Greece's compliance with the bailout - reviews  are a standard bailout requirement.

By Monday, the markets, jittery as always, came crashing down, losing an average 4% across the globe. Yet all the auditors had was a banal dispute over how the Greek Government intends to meet its deficit targets. It see…