Boredom

I can’t remember ever being bored. When I was a child, I must have been bored at least once. Maybe I said the word but didn’t mean it. After all, a lot of people talk about being bored, especially children.

In an interview, the teenage pop-singer songwriter I admire the most even mentioned being bored. I was surprised. How could anyone as talented as her be bored?

Looking for a reason why people get bored, I looked up the definition and the first one I found offered no help. The first definition was “The state of feeling bored.”

Huh?

I wondered if the person that came up with that one was bored when they wrote it, so I found another one, and Merriam-Webster at least tried to come up with a more interesting one.

“The state of being weary and restless through lack of interest – the boredom of a long car trip.”

I can’t remember ever being bored on a long car trip. My legs and back get stiff. I might get sleepy, but never bored. The scenery grabs my attention. It doesn’t matter if it is in the mountains, desert, farmland, a forest, there is so much to see that I’d rather let someone else drive so I’m free to explore with my eyes, and I always take audiobooks on long car trips and the stories keep me focused and awake because I want to find out what’s happening to the characters in the stories.

The video above mentions one writer who said, “Boredom has historically been an important source of creativity, well-being and our very sense of self.”

After hearing that I thought, maybe I’ve been bored but didn’t know it.

That’s where my overactive imagination comes in. When there is nothing else to do, my imagination fills the empty time with amazing or frightening stuff. Then I have my woodshop with all those tools and the house I’m renovating.

As a child, when I had nothing else to do, instead of sitting around complaining about being bored, I went outside and let my imagination carry me away to other places and times. I literally became a time machine where I could become anyone I wanted to be at any time in history, even the future.

Scientific American says, “There is no universally accepted definition of boredom. But whatever it is, researchers argue, it is not simply another name for depression or apathy. It seems to be a specific mental state that people find unpleasant—a lack of stimulation that leaves them craving relief, with a host of behavioural, medical and social consequences.”

The narrator in the video with this post also said, “People who are often bored are at greater risk of developing anxiety, depression, and drug or alcohol addiction; displaying anger, aggressive behavior and lack of interpersonal skills …”

After reading the last two paragraphs, I was glad I never feel bored.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat veteran with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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Is there a Silent Majority in the United States and, if so, do they have a seat at the table of power?

President Reagan often talked of the silent majority as if he were its voice—like the Pope for the Catholics— but I think that was far from the truth. In this post, I’m going to reveal who that silent majority might be. But first, let’s eliminate the tea party people, who are not silent, because over time, various polls have found that slightly over 10% of Americans identify as a member of the tea party.

There are several groups that rule America, and they are not all in the Congress, the White House or the Supreme Court. Some are billionaires—for instance: the meddling Bill Gates, the Koch brothers, the Walton family, and Eli Broad along with a few other fools with too much wealth.

Then there are the citizens who vote, because they are a powerful force too. The popular vote may not elect the President of the U.S. or the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court but they do elect—for instance—the members of Congress, governors, mayors, state legislatures and public school boards in almost 14,000 school districts.

In the late 18th century, the Founding Fathers of the United States didn’t set up a democracy where every citizen could vote. In fact, the Founding Father were afraid of mob rule, and only allowed about 10% of the citizens to vote. When the Constitution was written, only white-male property owners (about 10 to 16 percent of the nation’s population) had the vote.

By 1850, almost all adult white males could vote, and in 1870, the 15th Amendment gave former black male slaves the right to vote.

Then in 1920, the 19th Amendment gave women the vote.

Along the way, there were attempts to limit who could vote through poll taxes and/or literacy tests—aimed at minority men, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some states are still attempting to do this, but people who can’t pass literacy tests are not the silent majority I’m talking about.

From the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press we learn that only 35 percent of the adult population votes regularly. Another 20 percent votes intermittingly, and 23 percent of registered voters rarely vote while twenty-two percent are not registered.

I’m going to focus on the regular voters, because they have the power to decide who wins most elections in the United States.

Twenty-eight percent, who were high school grads or less, are regular voters—meaning 72 percent are not. Then 38 percent of those who have some college are regular voters in addition to 46 percent of college graduates.

Did you notice that when it comes to voting, a large gap separates those with low literacy skills from those with higher literacy skills?

The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in 2003, 31 percent of college graduates read at the highest proficient literacy level and 53 percent read at the next highest intermediate level. Intermediate indicates skills necessary to perform moderately challenging literacy activities. Proficient indicates skills necessary to perform more complex and challenging literacy activities.

Together, this reveals that 84 percent of college graduates read at a high level of literacy and as you saw earlier in a previous paragraph, they also vote in dramatically higher numbers.

When we look closer at the high school (HS) graduates and dropouts, we discover that 48 percent of HS graduates read at intermediate or above, while only 17 percent of HS dropouts do. (NCES.ed.gov). I think it is arguable that the majority of this group with only HS degrees, that votes regularly, are also more literate than those who don’t vote.

If we boil all of these numbers down, who represents the largest, most powerful regular voting bloc in America?

In 2013, there were 242.4 million adults in the U.S., and if only 35 percent are regular voters, which means 85 million American citizens age 18+ belong to that group, and more than 62 million of those regular voters have some college or are college graduates. In that block of voters, almost 53 million read at high literacy levels, and it is arguable that they are harder to fool with cherry picked lies, because they are more likely to have the skills and knowledge necessary to turn to sites like Vote Smart, Fact Check.org, or Snopes.com to discover who is lying to them, and then vote accordingly. Actually, I use all three and a few more.

Among regular voters, that block of 53 million represents 62 percent, and all that’s needed is a simple majority to swing elections to decide who ends up in Congress, governors’ mansions, state legislatures and school boards. If we add a few million more highly literate readers from the HS only crowd, that number of more informed voters could be much higher.

Simply, the more you read, the better informed you might be and according to the Pew Research Internet Project, 62 percent of high school grads or less read at least one book in the past year compared to 83 percent of those with some college and 88 percent of college graduates.

In addition, adults with some college or college graduates read more e-books (77 percent) compared to those with a high school education or less at 14 percent revealing that those who have more education with higher literacy levels spend more time on the internet. In fact, 45 percent of adults with some college or who were college graduates are frequent readers compared to HS grads or drop outs at 12 percent. (The General Reading Habits of Americans)

Once informed of the facts that reveal the truth of an issue, it will be this group of regular voters who could easily change the political climate of America for the better and limit the power of the loud 10 percent that belong to the tea party, and the billionaire oligarchs like Bill Gates and the Koch brothers.

For certain, it’s clear that small groups with agendas that will hurt the majority of Americans in the long run don’t want this group of regular, literate voters to become informed. Because they are more difficult to fool, it’s this block of regular voters that the United States must depend on to preserve the people’s freedom.

In conclusion, the silent majority of regular voters in the United States is highly educated and likes to read, and even if they don’t know it, they have a seat at the table of power, because the fate of most elected officials is in their hands. Imagine the power this group would have if they organized.

UPDATE on 7-11-2014 @ 12:20 PM PST

In another forum where I mentioned this post, I got this comment:

Unfortunately Lloyd, literate, well-educated over 65s, in the 2012 elections voted overwhelming for Republicans, see Alliance for Retired Americans website .. We have been doing a poor job .. Too much of what we do is defensive .. Too much is tearing down rather than leading .. What is our message?

Here’s my reply:

While it is true that the majorly of tea party thinking Americans are well educated, they are also mostly older men. How many college educated are in this group?

I’m talking about all highly literate Americans age 18+ who have some college or are college graduates. The men over 65 who think tea party poop are a small segment of that group.

“In 2011, the percentage of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 with a two- or four-year college degree was 38.7 percent. This is an increase from last year’s report; in 2010, the attainment rate was 38.3 percent. Overall, the U.S. attainment rate has been increasing slowly but steadily; in 2008, it was 37.9 percent, and in 2009 it was 38.1 percent. …

“In 2011, 45 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 64 held a two- or four-year college degree, compared to 40 percent of men.”

http://www.luminafoundation.org/stronger_nation/report/main-narrative.html

In fact, people age 65 and over only make up 14.1% of the population and persons under 18 make up 23.3%. That leaves 197.8 million (62.6 percent) who are between 18 to 64. In addition—3.08% of those people over the age of 65 have some college while only 2.86% have BA or better college degrees and that leaves 8.15% of this age group with a high school desgree or less.

Click to access p20-566.pdf

Let’s crunch the numbers:

About 75 million between ages of 25 – 64 have some college or have college degrees compared to 2.56 million over age 65 who have some college or a college degree.  The over-the-hill tea party gang is severely outnumbered by the silent majority I’m talking about.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

International PISA test misconceptions (lies, lies and more lies) when comparing the US public schools to the world

On December 4, 2013, a New York Times headline shouted: “Shanghai Students Again Top Global Test”, and once again, America’s vocal critics of the U.S. Public Schools called for more reforms.

Not so fast. In fact, maybe not at all.

In China, the first nine years of education is compulsory starting before age 7. Primary school takes the first six of those nine years; then there’s middle school for grades 7, 8, and 9.

Fifteen is the age of students who take the international PISA test—and in China [so-called] compulsory education ends at the age of fifteen and students who decide to stay in school have a choice between a vocational or academic senior high school track. That’s where the choice ends because in China the senior high schools pick students based on merit.

To explain how this works, the CCP has acknowledged a “9-6-3 rule”. This means that nine of ten children began primary school between the ages of 6 and 7; six complete the first five years and three graduate from sixth grade with good performance.

By the time a student reaches senior high school—grades 10, 11, and 12—most enrollment is in the cities and not in rural China. Most rural Chinese don’t value education as much as urban Chinese do. And many of the migrant urban workers from rural China still have some family back in the village where they often leave their younger children. And many migrant workers, when they retire from factory work, return to the village and the family home.

The United States, by comparison, keeps most kids in school until the end of high school at age 17/18. About 75% graduate on time and another 15% earn their high school diploma or equivalent GED by age 24—all on an academic track because there is no vocational public schools k to 12 in the U.S.

In addition, in China there is the Zhongkao, the Senior High School Entrance Examination, held annually to distinguish the top students who then are admitted to the highest performing senior high schools. This means that if the highest rated high school in Shanghai has 1,000 openings for 10th graders, the students who earn the top 1,000 scores on the Zhongkao get in and then the second highest rated high school takes the next batch of kids until the lowest rated senior high school in Shanghai gets the kids with the bottom scores on the Zhongkao.

Maybe actual numbers will help clarify what this means:

In 2010, 121 million children attended China’s primary schools with another 78.4 million in junior and senior secondary schools. That total is 199.4 million kids.

According to World Education News & Reviews: “In 2010, senior high schools [in China] accommodated 46.8 million students (23.4% of the  199.5 million). But about 52 percent or only 40.8 million were enrolled in general senior high school, and 48 percent of those students were attending vocational senior high schools.”

That leaves 21.2 million enrolled in the senior high school academic track designed to prep kids for college—that’s 10.6% of the total. Then consider that Shanghai’s public schools are the best in China. This means that the fifteen-year-old students who take the international PISA in China are the elite of the elite attending China’s best public schools.

For a fair comparison—not what we’ll hear from the critics of public education in the United States—the Economic Policy Institute reports: “The U.S. administration of the most recent international (PISA) test resulted in students from the most disadvantaged schools being over-represented in the overall U.S. test-taker sample. This error further depressed the reported average U.S. test score. … But U.S. students from advantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the top-scoring countries [Canada, Finland, South Korea, France, Germany and the U.K.]” and “U.S. students from disadvantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the three similar post-industrial countries.”

In fact, “U.S. students from advantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the top-scoring countries of Finland and Canada. … and—on average—for almost every social class group, U.S. students do relatively better in reading than in math, compared to students in both the top-scoring and the similar post-industrial countries.”

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the multi-award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Who’s better off compared to what?

Carol Hymowitz writing for Bloomberg Business Week reported that [some] baby boomers are poorer in old age than their parents. My response: “Who cares?”

To gain a much wider perspective on the quality of life today, I think we must consider what life was like before minimum wage laws, labor unions, child labor laws and women gaining the right to vote and own property—that didn’t come about until the early 20th century contributing to the creation of America’s modern middle class.

For most Americans today even if they are worse off financially than their parents, they are still much better off than most Americans in the early 20th century and the entire 19th century.

For instance, the average life expectancy in America in 1900 was 48 years. Today that average life expectancy is 78.7.

And in 1900, only 6.4 percent of Americans earned high-school degrees compared to 90% today (by age 24 because some do not earn their high school degree on time at age 17/18). Logically, if only 6.4% of Americans graduated from high school in 1900, there must have been a high rate of illiteracy and ignorance in the United States.

What about college graduates in 1900 compared to today—how many graduated from college back then? The answer is 38,000 (in 1900 there were 76 million Americans meaning less than 0.05% of the population graduated from college mostly from families that were in the top 1% financially).

But this year: During the 2013–14 school year, colleges and universities are expected to award 943,000 associate’s degrees; 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees; 778,000 master’s degrees; and 177,000 doctor’s degrees.

In fact, more than 20% of adult Americans have college degrees today—that’s almost 46 million.

Even if the parents of Baby Boomers have more money—which makes since because they are older and worked longer—life is much better than it was in 1900 and the public schools are succeeding at the job of educating America’s youth better than at any time in the history of the United States regardless of what the critics who want to destroy public education claim.

And where did America’s modern middle class come from in the first place?

The period from the end of World War II to the early 1970s was a golden era of American capitalism because—for instance—the G.I. Bill financed a well-educated work force, and the middle class swelled.

The U.S. underwent a golden age of economic growth distributed fairly evenly across the economic classes, with some credit going to the strength of labor unions—labor union membership peaked historically in the U.S. during the 1950s, in the middle of this massive economic growth.

You also may want to seriously consider this: Think Progress.org reports that as union membership decreases, middle class income shrinks. In 1967, when union membership was high, the middle class earned more than 25% of the national income but by 2007, that ratio had fallen to 10% of income, and the rich—who are often critics and enemies of labor unions—just get richer.

In addition, much of the growth of the modern middle class came from the movement of low income farm workers into better paying jobs in the towns and cities—a process largely completed by 1960.

In 1801, when Jefferson became president, 95 percent of Americans essentially made their full-time living from agriculture. By the turn of the 20th century, it was 45 percent, and by the turn of the 21st less than 2 percent. (An America without farmers?)

Maybe the real truth is that following World War II, America grew a middle class urban bubble as Americans fled farms to the cities and now that bubble’s getting ready to pop just like the dot com and real estate bubbles exploded.

When many are starving in the cities, will the few farmers left in the United States be starving on their farms?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Did I hear Abraham Lincoln groan as he rolled over in his grave? Part 3 of 3

Back to the question that I asked in Part 1—why has it been so easy for the GOP to fool so many adult Americans into believing that President Obama is responsible for the growth of the national debt since he took the oath of office?

I think it has to do with adult literacy skills where one cannot understand what he or she reads, and those adults turn to some other source for information—for example—Fox News; Rush Limbaugh; Sean Hannity; Glenn Beck and others just like them who spew misinformation cherry-picked from facts that mislead fools.

In the United States, 43% of adults read at the most basic level and only 4% read at the highest level of literacy. … [the 43%] is a class of adults who, although not meeting criteria for functional illiteracy, face reduced job opportunities and life prospects due to inadequate literacy levels relative to the requirements of contemporary society.

And these people are eligible to vote. In fact, ten of the eleven poorest states in the US voted for McCain, the Republican candidate for president in 2008. In addition, the top 15 most educated states voted for Obama while 82% of the least educated states voted for McCain. Source: DailyKos.com


Bill Maher: most Americans are Dumb and Uneducated

My conclusion: if your literacy skills are so low you have no idea of how to find the facts to check what your favorite conservative claims is the truth as he or she cherry- picks the facts, then you are easy to fool.

And if you are among the 4% who read at the highest levels and you believe that President Obama is one-hundred percent responsible for the increase in the National Debt since he took the oath of office, then you are lazy because the facts are there—from primary sources—for anyone who wants to spend the time to discover them just like I did for this series of posts.

If you have read this far and want to learn more, you may want to read about discretionary spending versus mandatory spending at Keeping America Great.org. And if you read this short explanation, you may notice that the word “President” doesn’t appear anywhere. But the word “Congress” does—over and over.

Here’s my first recommendation for spending cuts: cut the Department of Defense by 50% and stop fighting wars with countries that never attacked America. Vietnam never attacked America. Iraq never attacked America.  And it could be argued that Afghanistan never attacked America. The attack on 9/11in New York was caused by al Qaeda who was operating out of Afghanistan when the Taliban ruled that country.

Al Qaeda is made up of terrorists who are scattered across many countries but rule none. They are hunted criminals, killers and outlaws and the Taliban were removed from power in Afghanistan during the war and now are no different than al Qaeda.

Do we really need to spend $700 billion annually to fight these terrorist gangs who have no country?

Abraham Lincoln was right. There will always be some people who will be fooled all of the time.

After reading all three of the posts in this series, if you still believe Obama is responsible for the increase in the National Debt while he has been in office, prove it by showing us where he increased discretionary spending without approval of the Congress.

Return to I heard Abraham Lincoln groan as he rolled over in his grave: Part 2 or start with Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Did I hear Abraham Lincoln groan as he rolled over in his grave? Part 1 of 3

The Republican Party—known as the GOP or the Grand Old Party—was founded on February 28, 1854, when Alvan E. Bovay called an anti-slavery meeting at the Congregational Church in Ripon, Wisconsin. Abraham Lincoln was the GOP’s first elected U.S. President.

Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

That leads me to this question: why is it so easy for the GOP—or Democrats for that matter—to fool some of the people all of the time, and why am I asking this question?

Let me explain, and I hope that I don’t lose the thirty-second people who make up the average readers surfing the Internet.  Short attention spans and poor reading skills often don’t make for educated people and ignorant people are easy to fool.

I left a comment for an ABC-Yahoo! News piece about the US National Debt and the Deficit. Many of the comments blamed Obama for the increased National Debt. Anyone who disagreed was voted down by a large margin.

President G. W. Bush’s 2009 budget—the last budget he submitted to Congress—left the national debt at $12,311,349,677,612 [that’s more than $12.3 Trillion].

Near the end of Obama’s first term in office in December 2012, the debt had reached $16.4 Trillion, and conservative-media critics and tea-party politicians blamed Obama for the increase—in thirty seconds or less, I’m sure—and in my comment, I explained—until I ran out of room—why President Obama could not be held responsible for most of what has been added to the debt since he has been President.

Then an anonymous person left a comment and accused me of lying and this anonymous person left no evidence to support that accusation. I did not lie and the facts—when one spends the time to understand them—also do not lie.


Mandatory and Discretionary Spending Explained

All I did was explain—probably in too much detail for the average 30-second fool—that the annual-federal budget had two parts: 1. mandatory and 2. discretionary spending.  According to NationalPriorites.org, 62% of the annual budget is mandatory and only an act of Congress can change this portion of the budget. When I say mandatory, I’m talking about programs like Social Security that’s been around since 1935 and Medicare since the early 1960s. Without approval from Congress, the president cannot change the way these programs are funded, because they are on automatic pilot. If you want to discover more about mandatory spending in the U.S. Federal Budget, you can find it here at cbo.gov

It is Discretionary spending that funds the departments and agencies of the federal government and here is where the President has some input, but he still needs approval from Congress. He can’t force Congress to approve the budget.

For example, the Department of Defense [DOD] gets 57% of discretionary spending [in 2011, President Obama proposed $549.1 billion to fund the DOD, but Congress only approved $530.8 billion]; the Department of Education received 3% of discretionary spending; Department of Labor 2%; Department of Transportation 2%, etc.

Discretionary spending may be increased or decreased on an annual basis by Congress. In other words, what will it cost for each agency to operate for another year to fulfill that department or agencies duties according to laws that were passed by Congress?

There is one department that has both mandatory and discretionary spending. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was formed in 1778, and for 2013, 54.4% of its budget [$76.3 Billion] was considered mandatory and could not be touched. Therefore, the President can only submit the VA’s discretionary budget of $64 Billion to Congress for approval.

This paragraph offers an example of the challenge that comes with cutting federal budgets: VA Medical Programs make up 87.9% of the Discretionary Budget for the VA—programs that are in place because they were promised to military veterans who fought in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, The Iraq War and Afghan War. Millions of troops who fought for their country—for you—have service-related disabilities that need medical care, and each year the cost of this medical care increases requiring the President—no matter who he or she is—to request more money to fund this program.  Source: va.gov

And some fools blame the president for increasing spending for the VA and other departments. Do you want to refuse medical care for the troops who fought in America’s war—the troops who defended this nation; who defended you?

As you might now understand—I hope—based on the needs of the federal agencies and departments, the president’s budget proposal projects estimated spending, revenue, and borrowing levels for the coming fiscal year starting each October 1. The president’s budget proposal serves as a starting point for Congress to consider, and Congress is under no obligation to adopt all or any of the President’s budget and—historically—often makes significant changes.

And deficit spending happens when tax revenues do not cover mandatory and discretionary spending. If the law didn’t allow the federal government to borrow money, one of four things might happen: 1. The Congress drastically raises taxes; 2. The Congress drastically cuts funds to federal departments and agencies like the DOD ending the ability of the U.S. to defend itself; 3. The Congress raises both taxes and cuts funds to some agencies and departments to find a balance if possible, or 4. the government goes bankrupt, shuts down and the United States collapses as a civilization erupting into anarchy, chaos and violence.

Maybe China would send troops to the United States to restore order, because after the West collapsed financially, China might be the only country left that could afford to do that.

Continued on November 15, 2013 in I heard Abraham Lincoln groan as he rolled over in his grave: Part 2

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Do you want to support Indie Bookstores?

I have a suggestion: Take the KOBO pledge. I plan to.

It’s easy to support an independent bookstore because hundreds are participating in KOBO’s e-reading program.  All you have to do us buy a Kobo e-reader and then click on the following link to contact an individual indie bookstore that is participating in the program close to where you live to discover the details.

List of Indie bookstores that belong to the Kobo e-reading program

For example, in California, I counted fifty-six bookstores. Then I clicked on Green Apple Books in San Francisco—I’ve been there and enjoy browsing and shopping at this indie bookstore that has a unique character of its own. In addition, Green Apple is in one of San Francisco’s three China towns—a fun place to eat and shop.

Here’s what Green Apple Books says, “We’ve partnered with Kobo to bring you eBooks and eReaders, so that however you read, you can support Green Apple and browse our recommendations. Kobo offers over 3 million eBook titles that can be downloaded instantly over Wi Fi and stored in a library you take with you wherever you go. Once you set up your Kobo account through us, from then on all of your Kobo purchases will support Green Apple.

Green Apple has links to pages on their site to the Kobo Mini with a list price of $79.90 and the Kobo Glo for $129.99—very competitive prices compared to Kindle.


Kobo Mini on The View

Therefore, if you are an author/reader—I hope most authors read. It would be a sad day if authors were not readers—and you want to support your local indie bookstore, all the information is in this post. But, first, you must pick out an indie bookstore near you to support by using the first link in this post and contact them to set up your account so all of your purchases will support that local independent bookstore.

I’m not making any money from anyone for this post. So, why am I suggesting taking the Kobo pledge? Because I’m tired of my Kindle giving me problems downloading books I buy through Amazon, and it isn’t easy to keep looking for the help link on Amazon to fix this every time it happens and it has happened several times. I want ease of shopping and ease of use.

And if you are worried that Kobo is a small player in the field, it isn’t. To discover more, I suggest reading what Jeremy Greenfield has to say in Indie Bookstore Sales of Kobo Ebooks Dwarf Google: Still Small – published April 5, 2013

Greenfield says, “According to the ABA, Kobo has helped indies sell more eBooks in its first month working with them late last year than Google did in more than two years in a similar partnership.”


Kobo Aura HD

In addition, Kobo’s market share in Canada in January 2012 was 46% compared to Amazon’s 24%. And in France Kobo has 50% of the market share.  Source: Wiki: Kobo eReader Market share

Kobo-owner Rakuten’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani says that Kobo is “number one in France; they’re ahead of Amazon in Japan, partially because of us, and Australia and New Zealand as well.” Source: Forbes

If you are dedicated to helping indie bookstores, please retweet, reblog (if you have a WordPress Blog) or share a link to this post to every author/reader you know. I’m going to retire my Kindle e-readers and try out a Kobo. If it is easier to use, then I will stay with it, but I will buy my Kobo from a local indie-bookstore and register my Kobo account through them.

Amazon’s Kindle is not the only game in town, and readers do not have to plunk out several hundred dollars for an Apple iPad to read eBooks.

And if you think indie authors can’t sell books through Kobo, check out Draft2Digital and/or Smashwords to learn why that is not the case.


Kobo in Conversation with Jowita Bydlowska, author of Drunk Mom.

Discover what I think about Barnes & Noble, and if you want more reasons to buy all kinds of books from an indie bookstore—The CEO of Barnes & Noble is William J. Lynch Jr., and he has a basic annual income of $1.62 million (not counting bonuses and stock options). He also owns 846,811 shares of B&N stock. At today’s closing price of $22.16 per share, that comes to almost $19 million—but total debt for Barnes & Noble, Inc. was $155.8 million today, with a quarterly revenue drop of –8.8%. Source: Finance.Yahoo.com

And “National chains take far more out of a community economically than they ever put back in. According to a study conducted by the firm Civic Economics in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago, trading independent retailers for big-box chains weakens the local economy. … Local Payroll: The locally owned businesses spent a larger share of their revenue on local labor (29% vs. 23%), because they carried out all management functions on-site, rather than at a corporate headquarters.” Source: Voices.Yahoo.com

Now do you understand why I plan to take the Kobo pledge to support an indie bookstore?

_______________________

 

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

 

 

Phillip Jose Farmer’s “Riverworld”

If you were or still are a Philip Jose Farmer fan and read his Riverworld series years ago, did you know that there are now films? And if you weren’t a fan, maybe you will become one. If you like Sci-Fi, the odds are you will enjoy this story.

In 1971, while I was still in college, I read Philip Jose Farmer’s “To Your Scattered Bodies Go”.

The novel begins with adventurer Sir Richard Francis Burton waking up after his death on the earth but in a strange new world with an endless river. He soon discovers that he is but one of billions of previously dead people—many are well known historical figures— from throughout Earth’s history stretching from the Neolithic age to modern times.

Next I read “The Fabulous Riverboat” (1971) where the main character is Samuel Clemens—Mark Twain—building a riverboat.

I have been an avid reader for most of my life. In fact, when I was in intermediate and high school (grades 6 to 12), I filled my free time reading and often read one or two books a day. Of course to achieve that, I ignored the homework. And sports weren’t an issue, because I was under a doctor’s care for years being treated for a virus that wanted to destroy my heart.

To give you an idea of how serious my condition was, when I graduated from high school, I stood 6’4” and weighed 125 pounds. From the side, I was all but invisible—a shadow, a thread. After high school graduation,—with the virus defeated after what felt like a thousand needle shots—the doctor said I could join the Marines.  In MCRD in San Diego, I added thirty pounds. Today I’m about two inches shorter and weight more than 180—we shrink as we age.

Even as a college student, I still managed to read at least one book a week when the average for an avid reader in America is 9 to 10 books annually.

Six years later, when the 3rd book in the “Riverworld” series was published—“The Dark Design” (1977)—I was teaching full time in the public schools and missed the book’s publication.  I also missed “The Magic Labyrinth” (1980) and “Gods of the Riverworld” (1983).

After I started teaching (1975 – 2005), the 60 to 100 hour work weeks—teaching, planning, correcting papers, dealing with the daily challenges like protecting my students from bullies, doing grades, calling parents—took a toll on my reading time. In addition, I was struggling to find time to write after I was bitten by the writing bug in 1968 during my first year of college. With the demands of teaching getting in the way of writing and reading, I often got up at 3:00 AM to write for an hour or so before going off to the classroom.

In Farmer’s series a number of historical figures—including Sir Richard Burton, Samuel Clemens, King John of England, Cyrano de Bergerac, Tom Mix, Mozart, Jack London, Lothar von Richthofen and Hermann Göring (for example)—interact with fictional characters with a goal to discover why they were brought back to life and the purpose behind the Riverworld’s creation.

Now retired and with real free time, I discovered that the Sci-Fi channel had produced a television series of Riverworld in 2001, loosely based on the Farmer’s books.  The film was released in 2003. Because I still have fond memories of reading the first two books, I searched Amazon and found the 1-hour and 30 minute Sci-Fi pilot episode and bought the DVD. This version starred Kevin Smith and Brad Johnson. It wasn’t the greatest quality production, but that film lit a hunger for more, and I went hunting.

Then I found the 175-Minute Riverworld film staring Tahmoh Penikett that was released to DVD in 2010.  According to Wiki, this 2nd version of “Riverworld” was supposed to be a 4-hour TV movie. I wonder what happened to the other 65 minutes. I feel cheated.

I think the production quality of the second film was better than the first but both took to many liberties with the story that I fondly remember from forty-two years ago. And I want more.

Discover Barber Shop Quartets and Amazing Acappella

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition].

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Global Readers of English

In the United States, Digital Book World.com reported, “In 2012, for the first time ever, online channels accounted for more book purchases than bricks-and-mortar retail in the U.S., according to new data from Bowker Market Research.

“In 2012 (through Nov.), 43.8% of books bought by consumers were sold online versus 31.6% sold in large retail chains, independent bookstores, other mass merchandisers and supermarkets. This is nearly a direct reversal of the situation in 2011, when 35.1% of books were sold online and 41.7% were sold in stores.”

In addition, Jeff Bezos said in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report, “After five years, e-books [are] a multibillion-dollar category for us and growing fast—up approximately 70 percent last year. In contrast, our physical book sales experienced the lowest December growth rate in our 17 years as a book seller, up just five percent.” Source: Business Week.com (January 31, 2013)

Let’s look at this from a global perspective.

According to the British Council.org, there are about 1.5 billion English speakers in the world living mostly in seventy-one countries where there are at least a million or more English speakers (not counting Hong Kong, mainland China has 10 million), but how many are avid readers of English—someone who might buy books published in English?

With more books—including e-books—being sold online, you may want to know how many global readers are out there who might want to read a book published in English.

To get an idea, in this post, we’ll focus on five countries with a potentially large market for books published only in English.

1. United States
2. India
3. United Kingdom
4.
Canada
5.
Australia

For the United States, Book Business Magazine says 62.4 million Americans (20% of total population) are avid readers and 63% are women—34.9 million—leaving 23 million men.

Among avid readers in America surveyed by the AP, the typical woman reads nine books a year, compared with only five for men. Women read more than men in all categories except for history and biography. Source: npr.org

In India, the Deccan Herald quoted Ken Follet saying India has more English speaking readers than England … and increasing numbers of books are being sold here … There are apparently 89 million people in India for whom English is the first language. It is more than the number in England.

In addition, The Hindu.com reported, “Boom time for English-language books in India” … the number of books published in English is growing by 30 percent a year.

And “India is the only country in which books are published in some 18 languages, with English representing the most significant share at approx. 40-45 %. India ranks third behind the USA and England in the publication of English-language books. Source: buchmesse.de

In the United Kingdom—population 62.6 million—even with discounting, last year UK consumer publishing drew in sales of £1.7bn, up 36% on 2001. Adult fiction saw an increase of 44%, to £476m; and young adult and children’s fiction … saw sales more than double to £325m. Source: guardian.co.uk

Canada—population 34.5 millionCBC News reported January 2011, that Canadians buy about 2.7 million books a week. … Canada’s population is about 34.5 million, but 42% of Canadians are semi-illiterate and probably do not read many books leaving about 8.56 million Canadian adults—24.8%—that may be avid readers. Source: cbc.ca

Australia—population about 23 million—isn’t much better than Canada with 47% considered functionally illiterate. “That means they can’t read the instructions on a medicine bottle, they can’t read a map, they can’t read a recipe.” Source: abc.net.au

However, a major survey of how Australia engages with the arts revealed that 85% of Austrians—who had to be literate enough to read and answer the survey—are avid readers of poetry and literature. Source: the australian.com

Crunch the numbers and Australia may have 8.3 million avid readers—36%.

Note: To arrive at these numbers, children age 14 and younger were subtracted from the total along with the functionally illiterate.

You may be wondering how authors in, say, America, may sell his or her books in India, for example. Well, that’s where Kobo, Amazon and Apple help out.

Amazon has sold my English language e-books—for example—in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, France and Germany.

Kobo has sold my work in the US, Canada and Great Britain while Apple’s iBookstore has sold copies in the US, Great Britain, Canada, and Australia.

In fact, Apple’s iBookstore is available in 51 countries and offers hundreds of categories including cookbooks, history books, biographies, picture books and children’s books with free books available in 155 countries. Source: Apple.com

Countries where there is an Apple iBookstore:

Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Bolivia
Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Guatemala
Honduras
Hungary
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Mexico
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Norway
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom
United States
Venezuela

Source: Smashwords.com

In addition, Amazon sells books in 11 countries:

Austria
Canada
China
France
Germany
India
Italy
Japan
Spain
United Kingdom
United States

 Source: Amazon.com

Note: On March 18, 2013, it was reported that Amazon opened an iBookstore in Taiwan.

And what about KOBO?

According to Kobo, they have attracted millions of readers from more than 170 countries, and Kobo-owner Rakuten’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani has additionally stated that Kobo is “number one in France; they’re ahead of Amazon in Japan, partially because of us, and Australia and New Zealand as well.”

Then there is the Sony eBook Library store.

Discover more at Authors Finding Readers

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

East Bay Area Author Event, March 2nd, 2013

MEET & HEAR LOCAL AUTHORS AT THE FIRST ANNUAL EAST BAY AUTHORS BOOK FAIRE – FREE

Searching for a way to give themselves and the general reading public a venue to get together, a group of published authors in the East Bay have set up a free-to-the-public Book Faire for March 2nd, 2013, in Walnut Creek, from 10:30 AM to 5 PM .

Fifteen published authors will be talking throughout the day about the subject of their books, about their work, and about the process of writing and getting published.  When they’re not speaking, attendees will have plenty of time to chat with them. They will also have a number of their books for sale (and autograph) at their own tables at the event. Some will have other wares they produce for sale (including chocolate!).

Doors will open at 10:30 AM with the authors’ tables, and presentations will begin at 11 and end at 5.

HERE’S WHO WILL BE THERE AND AN IDEA OF THEIR WORKS (AND TOPICS)

Loyd Auerbach: one of the world’s leading experts on the paranormal and author of many books including The Ghost Detectives’ Guide to Haunted San Francisco – plus he’s a chocolatier, and will have samples to taste!

Richard L. Wren: reinvented himself in his mid 80s as a mystery/thriller writer. Author of Casey’s Slip, Joshua’s Revenge and a great little booklet called A Practical Guide to Writing & Publishing a Novel.

Richard L. Wren

Susan Pace-Koch: children’s book author and publisher, including her award-winning illustrated book Get Out of My Head, I Should Go to Bed and other picture books.

Denise Kalm: personal coaching for those in transition, with much of her work around career management. Author of the novel, Lifestorm and the career management guide Career Savvy.

Denise P. Kalm

Bee Hylinski: former attorney and past Mayor of Moraga before becoming a writer and professional editor. Her novel Contract Year: A Baseball Novel is a labor of love for the game of baseball.

Bee Hylinski

Lloyd Lofthouse: author of Running with the Enemy, a suspense thriller set during the Vietnam War and The Concubine Saga, historical fiction centered on Robert Hart and his place in modernizing China in the late 19th Century.

Elaine Starkman: poet and writer, teacher of literature, writing, poetry and memoir, and author of Learning to Sit in the Silence: A Journal of Caretaking and a book of poems, Hearing Beyond Sound.

Elaine Starkman

Dave Case: lifetime professional pilot and sailor, he’s the one to ask about flying and sailing. Author of Sailin’ South and Maverick Pilot, and the novel Keeper of the Secrets.

Dave Case

Jeffrey Hickey: composer, performing artist, teacher, coach, and author of Morehead, a novel about a young man living in San Francisco during the height of the sexual revolution, the late 70s to mid-80s.

Lise Pearlman: retired judge, legal scholar and author of The Sky’s The Limit: People v. Newton, The Real Trial of the 20th Century? She will be teaching “Landmark Trials of the 20th Century” in Lafayette this Spring.

Jay Hartlove: professional writer for over 30 years, blogger, and teacher (seminars on the craft of writing), he’s the author of The Chosen, a supernatural thriller.

Harlan Hague: historian, novelist and screenwriter, author of biographies, travel articles, and historical novels, including Road to California: The Search for a Southern Overland Route, 1540-1848, and Santa Fe mi casa.

Harlan Hague

Lani Longshore: blogger, fiber artist and science fiction writer, and author of Death By Chenille and editor of Voices of the Valley: First Press,  the first anthology of the California Writers Club Tri-Valley branch. She’ll also be talking about and selling her fabric art.

Lani Longshore

Joe Cohen: author of six published works of fiction, including Wandering Cain and The Rabbi and Princess Harmonica: A Tale of Human Trafficking.

Joe Cohen

Sandy Blaine: yoga teacher and author of Yoga For Computer Users and Yoga for Healthy Knees, she’s also a wellness consultant and resident yoga instructor for Pixar Animation Studios.

Come talk to authors/writers of all sorts of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Each author will be speaking from the stage for approximately 15-20 minutes throughout the day, beginning at 11 AM and running until 5 PM. They’ll all be there throughout the day at their own tables, to talk with individuals, answer questions, and of course, sell their books (and other wares in some cases).

The free event will be held in the Oak Room on the grounds of the Grace Presbyterian Church complex, 2100 Tice Valley Blvd., Walnut Creek, CA 94595. Plenty of free parking.

DIRECTIONS to 2100 Tice Valley Blvd., Walnut Creek, CA.

2100 Tice Valley Blvd

NOTE ON PARKING: There is a small lot adjacent to the Oak Room building. Not big enough for all of our cars, but you can pull in and unload easily here. The driveway is right before the building (first drive/first building on the left past the light at the intersection with Rossmoor Parkway).

Directions from points West of Walnut Creek: Take Highway 24 East to Pleasant Hill Road South. Turn Left on Olympic Blvd. Turn Right on Tice Valley Blvd. Go through the light at Rossmoor Parkway, and the Oak Room is the first building on your left. PARKING is past the several buildings in the complex, on the left.

2100 Tice Valley Blvd - Two

Directions from points North of Walnut Creek: Take 680 South to Olympic Blvd. Right on Olympic. Turn Left on Tice Valley Blvd. Go through the light at Rossmoor Parkway, and the Oak Room is the first building on your left. PARKING is past the several buildings in the complex, on the left.

Directions from points South of Walnut Creek: Take 680 North to Olympic Blvd. Left on Olympic. Turn Left on Tice Valley Blvd. Go through the light at Rossmoor Parkway, and the Oak Room is the first building on your left. PARKING is past the several buildings in the complex, on the left.

___________________

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