August 10th, 2010


ebooks & book-promotion poll results

In case you missed my book-research poll last week, here are the results.

Interesting and useful information for writers, though not entirely surprising. Looks like most people (from my LJ-friends survey pool) still much prefer print books, and recommendations from friends (and others, per Amazon's method) are still how we usually find new books and authors.

The most interesting observation I made (to be borne out by experiment, of course) is that giving away books with a means to get donations from downloaders might well bring in more revenue than selling ebooks. Ponder that for a bit.

Thanks to all who contributed!

just Chris

The Taliban: Our Future Allies

What, another post from McKitterick? Can you tell the CSSF Workshops and Intensive Institute are done, and that my Dad is on his way back to Minneapolis? Great visit, by the way.

Fred Pohl nails it in his most-recent blog post about US efforts to work with (read: "bribe") the Taliban in order to stop their attacks. Re: this month's cover of TIME about an "18-year-old Afghani woman whose husband’s family were so abusive that she ran away," Fred says, "the Taliban does not grant this kind of freedom of choice to any persons who are unfortunate enough to possess a vagina, so, to teach her a lesson, they ordered her ears and nose to be cut off. These people are pond scum. If not people like them, who are we fighting against?"

Unfortunately, fighting the Taliban doesn't stop atrocities like this, either. What's the answer? Unbearable pain and suffering are going on right now, somewhere in the world, all the time, and we are powerless to stop it. Perhaps because we occupy Afghanistan, we have a special responsibility there. I dunno. All I know is that the Taliban is pure evil, and good people are responsible for stopping evil. Isn't that why we have police and prisons? Can't we just arrest everyone who behaves like a psycho?

I hate feeling powerless. I'll just share one of my favorite quotes: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." - Philo


Stories from a perilous youth #1: "Chris Stops Smoking"

A friend going through a difficult patch requested a funny story. Not being a joke-teller, I wrote up a tale from my childhood, and thought I'd share it here, and figured I oughta make this a regular feature. So, without further ado, here's the story of how I quit smoking:

In the summer between my fifth and sixth grades, one of my best friends stole a case (as in dozens of cartons) of cigarettes from the country club where he worked. Being generous - at least with ill-begotten goods - he supplied me with as many cigarettes as I could smoke. We rode our bicycles all around the town of Ortonville and our two-stroke dirt-bikes across the western Minnesota countryside for several weeks, cigs dangling rakishly from between our lips, chain-smoking everywhere we went to the tune of about five packs per day. Each. We thought we looked pretty damned good.

After participating as hard as I could in this attempt to be cool, I developed a cough. Amazing, I know. It got pretty bad, to the point that my mom took me to see the doctor. Turns out it was bronchitis. This was in the days when parents accompanied children into the examination room (do they still do that?), so when the doctor - a gray-haired, gruff mountain of a man - asked me, "Chris, do you smoke?" there was only one answer: "No, sir." Mind you, my mom wouldn't know any better, because she turned at least a pack a day into piles of ash, so I figured my fib would be successful. Unfortunately, Dr. Gruff turned to my mom - whom, I should mention, was also a big, scary woman, nearly six feet tall and prone to emotional outburst - and asked, "Linda, do you smoke in front of your children?" Being smarter than I, she knew the stink would put the lie to her denial, so she admitted to it.

What followed was Dr. Gruff berating my mother for what felt like hours, enumerating the ills of smoking in front of developing children, not to mention her own health, etc. She immediately quit smoking, then resumed but only smoked outside.

I had gotten my mom in trouble! That was it: I never smoked again.