Someone got the bright idea to petition the White House to build a Death Star. In order to evoke an official response from the government, the petition needs to be “signed” by a minimum of 25,000 Americans. As expected, this petition crossed that threshhold. And so we now have the government’s official response, which is well worth reading:
January 18, 2013
December 21, 2012
I think the title says it all — a video well worth watching with a positive message. Now if only more people, particularly politicians, would take the message to heart.
December 14, 2012
I find that having grown up in a rich nation like the United States, I do not always appreciate the extent of the poverty that is found in the world. More importantly, I find that I have neither an appreciation nor understanding of how less-fortunate people deal with poverty. Although I clearly know better now, it wasn’t until I was in my teen years that I knew there were people who did not have indoor plumbing and children who did not eat three healthy meals a day. I thought everyone lived as I lived.
I had my wake-up call when I traveled through America’s Mississippi Delta region in the early 1960s. It was as if I had left America and entered a new, strange, foreign land.
Because I think we all need reminders that there are people, including children, who are not as fortunate as ourselves yet who do amazing things to improve their lives and to become productive citizens of their countries that I try to promote videos such as the following. I find it amazing how these children and their teacher have overcome at least one obstacle in their education. I hope you find their story as inspirational as I do.
November 2, 2012
Beginning this month be prepared to be annoyed wherever you are if you have a cell phone with a U.S. carrier and number. This month, or so I have been led to believe, cell phone numbers go public and are being released to telemarketing companies.
Unfortunately, it means not only will I get at least three telephone calls every week from “Rachel” of Cardholder Services on my landline — and it doesn’t matter how many times I tell “Rachel” that (a) I don’t meet their criteria, (b) I’m not interested and wish to be removed from their calling list, and (c) that I’m on the Do Not Call list — both New York and federal — she still faithfully calls every week — but “Rachel” will now harass me on my cell phone.
I’ve filed numerous complaints against “Rachel” but they are a shifty (and sleazy) outfit. Their caller ID phone number changes almost weekly.
(The other frequent telemarketing call I get is from a company trying to get me to sign on for their electric service. I’ve pointed out numerous times that I would sure like to take advantage of their exorbitant rates [no I wouldn't] but I, unfortunately for them, am not within their electric service area.)
And now I’ll get all those sheriff’s union and police benevolent charity solicitation calls everywhere I go. And now the politicians will be able to annoy me everywhere, too. I almost pray that our telephone system gets nuked just to stop the harassing calls.
But I’ve wandered. For whatever good it will do, to put your number on the Do Not Call list, either call 888-382-1222 or go to
Putting your number on the list will mostly block unwanted calls permanently. May the force be with you and not the harassers!
[Postpublication Addition -- November 2, 2012]
Interestingly, I learned this morning after publishing the above that the FTC has finally taken steps to terminate “Rachel”. For followup, please see
August 3, 2012
In prior posts, I have discussed and extolled the virtues of PerfectIt during the final editing stage (see, e.g., The 3 Stages of Copyediting: III — The Proofing Stage). Now version 2 of PerfectIt has been released.
The major enhancements found in PerfectIt 2 include the following:
- Quickly scan through errors with a new slider
- Return to past issues with the new Back button
- Clearer view of the working document with PerfectIt running to one side
- Compatibility with 64-bit versions of MS Office
- Quickly assess a document with consistency reports
- List revisions with reports on changes made
- Limit checking to sections of your document
- Significantly faster document checking
The following video demonstrates some of the enhancements found in PerfectIt 2:
PerfectIt 2 is available as an upgrade for current owners of PerfectIt. For more information, please visit Intelligent Editing at
July 6, 2012
The following video is a must-view video. It may save a life. Please click the link to view it.
June 29, 2012
June 22, 2012
In the current issue of The New Yorker, Ken Auletta writes about the Department of Justice’s collusion lawsuit against Apple and the Agency 5 publishers. The article makes for interesting reading and is highly recommended:
May 25, 2012
This is really just a quick note to let you know about a new book I bought. The book is Fairness and Freedom – A History of Two Open Societies: New Zealand and the United States by David Hackett Fischer.
I was in my local Barnes & Noble to buy an antiglare filter for my Nook Tablet and after purchasing it, I decided to browse the new history shelves. (I bought the antiglare filter because I want to use my Tablet outdoors this summer, but unlike eInk screens, the tablet LCD screens washout in sunlight, necessitating some auxiliary help. I could have ordered the filter, but if you buy it in the store, they will put it on for you, which means that practiced hands will do it rather than me.)
Fairness and Freedom caught my eye because of the subject matter: a comparison of the United States and New Zealand. I had just finished Shayne Parkinson’s Daisy’s War (see Worth Noting: Daisy’s War by Shayne Parkinson for a review), which takes place in New Zealand, and I realized that what little I know about New Zealand comes largely from geography classes taken 50 years ago and from Parkinson’s novels. Consequently, this book looked like an excellent introduction to New Zealand. David Hackett Fischer is a well-known historian of American history, with Washington’s Crossing, which I read several years ago, probably being his best known work, having won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for History and being a 2004 National Book Award for Nonfiction finalist.
The book is described as follows:
Fairness and Freedom compares the history of two open societies–New Zealand and the United States–with much in common. Both have democratic polities, mixed-enterprise economies, individuated societies, pluralist cultures, and a deep concern for human rights and the rule of law. But all of these elements take different forms, because constellations of value are far apart. The dream of living free is America’s Polaris; fairness and natural justice are New Zealand’s Southern Cross.
Fischer asks why these similar countries went different ways. Both were founded by English-speaking colonists, but at different times and with disparate purposes. They lived in the first and second British Empires, which operated in very different ways. Indians and Maori were important agents of change, but to different ends. On the American frontier and in New Zealand’s Bush, material possibilities and moral choices were not the same. Fischer takes the same comparative approach to parallel processes of nation-building and immigration, women’s rights and racial wrongs, reform causes and conservative responses, war-fighting and peace-making, and global engagement in our own time–with similar results.
I look forward to reading Fairness and Freedom and learning more about New Zealand and America.
May 21, 2012
Last week I wrote about my experience with Barnes & Noble’s customer service and how frustrating I found B&N’s attitude. Ted Weinstein twitted about the article and received back a suggestion that “Dan” at B&N be contacted, with an e-mail address. Ted was kind enough to post that reply as a comment to the article.
So I did write Dan and I commented, in reply to Ted’s comment about the response I got. However, the story does not end with that reply.
I’m a firm believer that when an effort is made to rectify a situation, that effort is deserving of attention, just as the original complaint was. I think the failure of much of the media and many of our fellow citizens to acknowledge that their complaint was heard and addressed or of acknowledging it in such a way that it is never really heard speaks volumes about how ill-mannered a world society we are.
As to Barnes & Noble, the e-mailed response I received, which was not a very helpful response, was followed a day later by a telephone call from “Stephanie”, who is a high-level executive in customer service. Stephanie assured me that steps are being taken to retrain customer service representatives based on the lack of service I received. She said that the records of my calls were being pulled and the responses given by service representatives to me were being used to illustrate exactly what not to do.
And unlike earlier representatives, Stephanie told me that regardless of whether the problem with delivery was B&N’s fault or that of the New York Times, it is B&n’s responsibility to address and fix the problem. Stephanie assured me that I can expect to see significant improvement in this regard now that the problem has been brought to her attention.
Stephanie also gave me a separate telephone number to call should I continue to have a problem with either Times delivery or with a customer service representative. This number will connect me with the people who report directly to her and should I wish to speak with her, rather than one of her colleagues, all I need do is ask.
In addition to apologizing and telling me that there will be service improvements and that B&N, indeed, does want to put the customer first, Stephanie offered me a $50 B&N gift card for my troubles, which I declined. I am not interested in making money off B&N and nothing occurred that warrants giving me a $50 gift card. I do not make my complaints lightly and when I do make a complaint, it is not in hopes or expectation of being financially rewarded. What I do want is good customer service and my Times delivered timely, and if you are not going to deliver the Times timely, then a credit for the value of that issue of the Times as I have already paid for it in advance.
While on the telephone with Stephanie, I told her about my “adventure” in getting the Nook Tablet and the Times subscription originally. I noted that in that case customer service was fine, it just couldn’t solve the problem, which should have been an easy problem to solve. (See The Tablet and Me: The Nook Tablet.)
Will there be an improvement in B&N’s customer service? I hope so because I would like to see B&N survive. I consider this response a good start and I feel better about continuing to deal with B&N. I also think that B&N deserves a few kudos for making the followup effort.
The flip side is that B&N shouldn’t have had to make the effort to reach out to me and an Internet complaint shouldn’t have been necessary to instigate that reaching out. Yet if B&N makes the transition from a B&N-centric to a customer-centric organization, it could become a formidable competitor to Amazon. Unfortunately, it will take more than Stephanie to make the transition, but every great movement has to start with a first step.