Reading Books vs Watching TV

"‘When we “get lost” in a good book, we’re doing more than simply following a story. Imagining what’s happening is as good at activating the brain as “doing” it.’

New MRI scanning techniques now enable science to prove this. In 2009, an American brain-imaging study showed that when we read and imagine the landscapes, sounds, smells and tastes described on the page, the various areas of the brain that are used to process these experiences in real life are activated, creating new neural pathways.

In other words, our brains simulate real experiences, just as if we were living them ourselves.

This doesn’t happen when we’re watching TV or playing a computer game."

More: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2193496/Getting-lost-good-book-help-healthy.html

WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. www.SPYWRITER.com


Literature's place in society

"Literature should reach out to people and it should not limit itself within the confines of literacy. It should make an impact on society, should transform history, and demolish hurdles that hinder the growth of society."
From: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/article1480695.ece

WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. www.SPYWRITER.com

Espionage Monopoly

"In WWII, agents of the British secret service unit MI9 oversaw the development and distribution of special-edition versions of the board game Monopoly to British POWS held in German camps. These boxes were secretly packed with maps, compasses and other tools that would be helpful to a solider who wanted to escape. The games were one of the items that were permitted by the Germans from humanitarian groups like the Red Cross. Each of the special-edition games concealed silk maps of the areas around known German POW camps, compasses, and real bank notes mixed in with the game money. British pilots were told to look for the games in the event of their capture, and some estimate that the games' secret tools were used by thousands of POWs over the course of the war. Sadly, all the special edition sets known to exist were destroyed after the war."

More: http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/gadgets-electronics/stories/4-unbelievable-spy-gadgets

It's the year of election The Coup


Judging Literature

Rumors circulate about the likely recipient of this year's literary nobel prize. But is judging literary work possible and apropriate?

"To any reasonable man or woman, the Nobel Prize in Literature seems rather innocuous.  But the Nobel Prize in Literature is not the truth.  The Nobel Prize in Literature is not fair to all concerned.  The Nobel Prize in Literature will not build goodwill nor better friendships.  The Nobel Prize in Literature is not beneficial to all concerned.  And therefore, the Nobel Prize in Literature fails the Four Way Test and cannot be considered an ethical institution.

Let me explain in more detail.  First and foremost, the Nobel Prize in Literature is not the truth.  When the Swedish Academy chooses an author to be a Nobel Laureate, they are effectively saying that this author has attained literary greatness. They are attempting to objectively rank a subjective art.  Unlike other literary awards such as the National Book Award, the Man-Booker Prize, or the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, the Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded for a body of work rather than a specific book.  Thus, it represents the world's most important instrument in codifying literary greatness.

This is why it is not the truth.  It is impossible to objectively rank literature, and any institution that purports to do so is, to an extent, lying."

From: http://westport.patch.com

WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. www.SPYWRITER.com


Literature for social woes

"A writer has two personas, one social and one personal. In his personal life he has his own particular tastes and preferences. When an educated, cultured person reads fiction, poetry or literature, he derives an aesthetic pleasure out of it, and finds inspiration to create a work of similar nature. After this the issue becomes external. What does he write and why does he write? If he is writing for his personal pleasure or for money, then his contributions remain superficial. If, however, he writes for a greater purpose of social change, then this brings harmony into his personal and social literary personas, and the two are essentially conflated.

Life is complicated, and literature is a reflection of life, and true literature therefore captures that complexity. And if you treat literature only as an instrument for entertainment and amusement, it will lose its authenticity, and will be alienated from its nature. If you make literature a guide to life, then it is inevitable that you will have to take up social issues as well. If an artist is incapable of doing so, then I believe that there is something deficient in his skill."

More: http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta3/tft/article.php?issue=20120817&page=23

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Faking It, or sticking it to the establishment

"the literary fake—a piece of fiction that pretends in some way to be true. Is it fact or fiction? Is it good fun or something more disturbing? By operating under the auspices of traditionally nonfictional modes to tell its story, the literary fake chooses to bring the reader to suspension of disbelief through means that include extreme guile—and, in cases where the reader recognizes the trick, continues to amuse, entertain, and say something interesting about the human condition regardless. As such, it destabilizes our view of reality, which can be uncomfortable, sometimes unforgivable, especially if we think someone is laughing at us. We don’t always appreciate things that look like other things, even if there’s a purpose to the mimicry; perhaps this is a vestige of an ancient evolutionary trait that allowed us to discern between the harmless and the harmful.

Nor do some readers, apparently, like to think they are being made to believe something false against their will. Fakes are especially divisive at two essential moments in time: when they slip past the reader’s defenses and when the reader discovers the deception. Whether this latter point occurs soon after picking up the book or halfway through it, a literary fake eventually forces the reader to decide whether to be sympathetic or hostile toward the fakery."

But writers may be onto something when they fake it:

"Fakes [...] can be a form of guerilla warfare against the establishment, acting out against the artificiality and sheer bureaucratic impulse that animates much of modern book culture. Naturally, then, a fake can “disturb the guardians of literary studies, book-reviewing, and the literary awards system."

More: http://www.newhavenreview.com/index.php/print-editions/the-art-of-the-literary-fake-with-violin/

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Who needs literature?

"Starting this year, at least half of all reading in our schools is supposed to be non-fiction. And that includes kindergarten.

What makes matters even worse for later grades is that students already read non-fiction almost exclusively in all their other courses, so if you take science, social studies, and math into account, only one-eighth of student reading will be literary. And that fraction is likely to shrink in the future.

So the question looms: Is literature necessary? ...

While ripping “The Cat in the Hat” from the hands of kindergarteners and replacing it with “How Factories Work” may, in the long run, produce better factory workers, it is unlikely to produce better citizens. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be operated on by a doctor who couldn’t master “Dr. Zhivago,” nor do I want to be defended by a lawyer who thinks Sydney Carton is a box of Australian cigarettes.

In truth, we should be encouraging students to read more literature, not less. Literature allows us to see how all humans are connected through common experiences and emotions. It allows us to examine our past and plan for our future. It can help make us more empathetic to our fellows. Perhaps most importantly literature exposes us to new ideas and forces us to think in new ways.

If our goal is to improve education, what could be more practical than that?"

From: http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/08/15/never-mind-algebra-is-literature-necessary/

From reading to leading

Want to be a leader in your field? Read.

"The leadership benefits of reading are wide-ranging. Evidence suggests reading can improve intelligence and lead to innovation and insight. Some studies have shown, for example, that reading makes you smarter through "a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to the abstract reasoning skills." Reading — whether Wikipedia, Michael Lewis, or Aristotle — is one of the quickest ways to acquire and assimilate new information. Many business people claim that reading across fields is good for creativity. And leaders who can sample insights in other fields, such as sociology, the physical sciences, economics, or psychology, and apply them to their organizations are more likely to innovate and prosper.

Reading can also make you more effective in leading others. Reading increases verbal intelligence (PDF), making a leader a more adept and articulate communicator. Reading novels can improve empathy and understanding of social cues, allowing a leader to better work with and understand others — traits that author Anne Kreamer persuasively linked to increased organizational effectiveness, and to pay raises and promotions for the leaders who possessed these qualities. And any business person understands that heightened emotional intelligence will improve his or her leadership and management ability.

Finally, an active literary life can make you more personally effective by keeping you relaxed and improving health. For stressed executives, reading is the best way to relax, as reading for six minutes can reduce stress by 68%, and some studies suggest reading may even fend off Alzheimer's, extending the longevity of the mind.

Reading more can lead to a host of benefits for business people of all stripes, and broad, deep reading can make you a better leader. So how can you get started? Here are a few tips:"



Writers and morality

"Political correctness is now about to affect the behaviour of writers, with the American arm of HarperCollins introducing a "morality clause" that gives it the right to terminate a contract if "an author's conduct evidences a lack of due regard for public conventions and morals or if such behaviour would materially damage the work's reputation or sales".

Ironically - HarperCollins, one of the Big Five publishers, is part of the entertainment and media empire run by Rupert Murdoch of the phone hacking scandal...


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Why novelists love and hate Hollywood

"The private, personal goal of the novelist in Hollywood is to successfully adapt their best prose for the silver screen.

Hollywood income was money that compelled writers like Faulker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Aldous Huxley to try their hands at screenwriting. But Fitzgerald had problems with the studio system of the 1930s because he virtually had no control over what happened to what he wrote. As an employee at MGM, he was just another scenario-writing cog in the massive machine ... A screenwriter must relinquish a significant amount of control. The novelist, whose craft is largely defined by the vibrancy and specificity of detail, is naturally resistant to surrendering their right to micromanage."

From: http://highbrowmagazine.com/1469-why-faulkner-fitzgerald-and-other-literary-luminaries-hated-hollywood

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Writing motivations: Ambition and Hope

"How does one keep on writing knowing that you might never reach the level of the great writers?

You hope that your next work will take you to a level slightly higher. Faulkner says in one of his interviews 'If you were satisfied with what you wrote, there is nothing more to do than cut your throat and quit''. Shakespeare, Donne etc existed so that I may learn from them and attempt to be better. And you have to have the ambition. There is a letter where Keats says 'what is the point of doing anything unless you are the very best' and he very nearly was. Hart Crane the American poet of the early 20th century, says at the age of 22 that 'nine tenths of anything you can think of writing has already been done much better than you ever will do' so it's no use simply repeating those same old things unless you can find a style in which you can do it in a way it has never been done before."

From" http://thefridaytimes.com

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The 7 Reasons to Read Fiction

"If you’re anything like me, then you’ve been searching for justification for your fiction reading habit. So, I decided to create that justification instead of waiting around for someone else to do it!

1. Fiction increases your creativity.
2. Fiction sharpens your writing skills and boosts your vocabulary.
3. Fiction reduces stress and provides a safe haven through escapism.
4. Fiction provides insights into the human condition.
5. Fiction improves your focus.
6. Fiction polishes your analytical abilities.
7. Fiction gives you something to talk about.

You see, there’s no need to feel guilty about picking up that novel. ... The fiction genre is brimming with vast knowledge just waiting to be tapped."

From: http://www.business2community.com/marketing/7-ways-your-fiction-addiction-makes-you-a-sharper-marketer-0244129

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Books make Friends for Life

"Data from the NEA points to a dramatic and accelerating decline in the number of young people reading fiction. Despite their enthusiasm for books in grade school, by high school, most kids are not reading for pleasure at all.  

Statistics don’t bode well for a happy ending: One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. Over 58 percent of the U.S. adult population never reads another book after high school. Nearly 42 percent of college graduates never read another book. Over 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year. Just under 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years. There’s more, but you get it. If 4 out of 5 adults aren’t reading, then their kids will never read either.  

And that’s a shame. Because good books, like good friends, stay with you for life, always there when you want or need to draw on them. I can’t imagine life without them.  

No matter what your child does in life, the key to success will be reading skills. You owe it to your children to read with them, as well as to them. You’ll not only be teaching them a critical life-skill, you’ll be giving them the one thing they crave from you the most – your time."

More: http://www.tctimes.com/columnists/if_i_were_king/help-wanted-must-be-able-to-read/article_f77c1fe8-d97b-11e1-95a5-001a4bcf887a.html

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Have friends will publish

"Nowadays when a writer or illustrator wants to submit something to a publisher, he or she usually will use the U.S. mail or another delivery service to send the material. In the 1930s and 40s, however, it was not unusual for people to actually carry their manuscripts or drawings from publisher to publisher in New York City. That is exactly what Ted Geisel did. During the winter of 1936-37, he showed his book to twenty-seven different publishers.  One after one, they rejected A Story That No One Can Beat, often commenting that it was “too different” from the kinds of children’s books being developed at the time. Few rhyming books were being published, and the odd illustrations Ted had drawn were even more atypical.  Some publishers even complained that his story had no moral or lesson for the child. Ted was especially upset about that criticism. He had not intended to preach to children; instead, he merely had wanted to give them something fun to read.

The twenty-seventh rejection was the last one for Ted.  Dejected, he shoved the papers under his arm and decided to do two things: to return to his advertising and cartoon work for adults and to burn his only copy of A Story That No One Can Beat. He headed for home, walking along Madison Avenue in New York City. Lost in thought, Ted was surprised to hear his name called by a familiar voice. It was Mike McClintock, a fellow classmate of his from his college years at Dartmouth.  Right away, Mike asked Ted what he had under his arm.  Ted answered that it was a children’s book manuscript that he was taking home to burn because no one was interested in publishing it. Mike smiled at Ted and pointed at the building in front of which they were standing. Ted’s old friend had just been hired, only three hours previously, as the juvenile book editor at that particular publishing house, Vanguard Press. He invited Ted to come up to his office so they could take a look at the book he was getting ready to destroy.
Thirty minutes later, Vanguard Press’s publisher James Henle agreed to publish the book."

Ted Geisel is, of course, Dr. Seuss...

Source: Who Wrote That, by Tanya Dean

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Know your online friends

How well do you know your Social Networking "Friends"?

"the U.S. Strategic Command (overseeing the nuclear strike) will concentrate on military computer hacking and cyberdefenses. The Joint Staffs will take responsibility for deception operations, while Special Operations Command will take the lead in military information gathering aimed at supporting secret operations. [...] the Central Command (covering the greater Middle East) has recently purchased a $2.7 million software, especially designed by San-Diego based Ntrepid. The material will permit the manipulation of social media through the use of fake online "personas" managed by the military, followed by all kinds of infiltration and intelligence operations, while being able to keep the trickery under the radar."


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