July 4th, 2010

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Murder Through Starvation

Speculating on staple foods causes poor people to starve.  Remember that it is murder when one person knowingly causes the death of others.  Being rich and powerful does not make it other than murder, other than evil.  Also note that a majority of the perpetrators are white; a majority of the victims are people of color.  That's not an accident either.

Perhaps the perpetrators will be reincarnated as pearlfish.
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Protecting Workers

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.  This bill, intended to protect people from being classified incorrectly as independent contractors, may harm people who are independent contractors.  I'm really not sure which way to push on this one -- I've seen serious damage done by both sides -- so I'm waiting to see if more information emerges.  It's true that many employers are doing everything they can to shirk their responsibilities to their employees, which needs to be curbed; but it's also true that small business has been the cornerstone of America and we would probably be much better off if it had stayed that way.
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Happy Fourth of July!

Here is what we're celebrating with all the fireworks and picnics:
"The Constitution of the United States of America"
"American Revolution"

The American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation.  ~Woodrow Wilson

America is much more than a geographical fact.  It is a political and moral fact - the first community in which men set out in principle to institutionalize freedom, responsible government, and human equality.  ~Adlai Stevenson

Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance.  It is also owed to justice and to humanity.  Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.  ~James Bryce

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.  ~Abraham Lincoln

He loves his country best who strives to make it best.  ~Robert G. Ingersoll

Liberty is the right to choose. Freedom is the result of the right choice.” ~Author Unknown

I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery.  ~Author Unknown

Liberty means responsibility.  That is why most men dread it.  ~George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, "Maxims: Liberty and Equality," 1905

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.  ~Thomas Paine

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.  ~Thomas Paine

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.  ~William Faulkner

It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you.  ~Author unknown, sometimes attributed to M. Grundler

We are free, truly free, when we don't need to rent our arms to anybody in order to be able to lift a piece of bread to our mouths.  ~Ricardo Flores Magon, speech, 31 May 1914

What is the essence of America?  Finding and maintaining that perfect, delicate balance between freedom "to" and freedom "from."  ~Marilyn vos Savant, inParade

This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.  ~Theodore Roosevelt

Our country, right or wrong:  If right, to be KEPT right; if wrong, to be MADE right.  ~Carl Schurz

There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.  ~William J. Clinton
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Authonomy, Take 2

Today I found time to visit Authonomy again.  The first time, I concentrated on the latest books; this time, I skimmed the weekly book charts for the more popular titles.  I looked at the top five from several categories, and also pulled up a few from the "latest" list again that looked promising.  I didn't bother opening pitches for books whose thumbnail sounded outside my areas of interest, just the ones that intrigued me.  I didn't comment on ones that I opened but didn't like enough to read the whole pitch, but I still left a fair number.  I think I paid significant attention to about 25 titles this time.

The quality of the popular books was somewhat better.  While I didn't find anything breathtaking, I did find two that were good enough to put on my Bookshelf (a list of top 5 favorites) and there are now three on my watchlist (which, alas, is hidden).  The Bookshelf is what Authonomy uses to gauge someone's ability to spot good books: if you shelve a book early on, you get more credit as other people realize it is worth reading.  The watchlist is just a personal memory feature, which is a pity, because I'd be interested in seeing what other people like beyond their top 5. 

Currently on my bookshelf:
* They Healed Us to Death by Michelle Thuis.  Well, of course that title hooked me; it's probably the best I've seen so far.  The story is fresh and complicated -- a blend of science fiction, espionage, adventure, and dystopian warning.  This is the one I'm actually still reading.  The manuscript could use work, but it has real potential.
* Never Play Chicken with a Mother Hen: Leadership Lessons Learned on the Farm by Ronnie Johnson.  The principles are pretty basic and obvious, but they are well described, and the anecdotes are kind of nifty.  If you like business advice, this one is worth a look.  I'll probably bump it for something else, if I find more engrossing titles; but for now it can sit there and maybe gain me a few points.

Currently on my watchlist:
* Sense Stealer by Joel Juedes.  Second in a series I'm not reading -- the concept outweighs the execution -- but I decided that the author was worth keeping an eye on.
* The Compendium of Terror by Robert Maslow Drake.  I don't remember why I saved this one.
* Accidental Encounter by Noel Carrol.  Science fiction about someone who wanders through a gate to another planet.  Some good contact scenes, but needs a lot of work; the human interaction falls flat.

So, I'm about 2/3 of the way toward a solid sample of 100.  I've found two books with promise, a few others with a glimmer, and one author that I'd like to see what else he can do.  I've seen better slushpiles; I've seen worse.  I continue to believe this one is heavily weighted toward the average for some reason: while I appreciate not having to read manuscripts that look like the cat ran across the keyboard, I'm not having as much luck pearl-diving as I usually do.  Most of the time, even if a slushpile is pretty wretched, I can tear through the slush and come up with some really fine pearls after a reasonable amount of time.  Eh, we'll see how this looks after I'm in the vicinity of 100.