In life only the survivors get to tell their stories. The dead, the vanquished, must have someone else do it for them.
In real life espionage, the survivors are the ones that don’t get their stories told. They are the ones who evaded capture, so there is no account of how law enforcement or counter-intelligence agencies ensnared them, or how they slipped up or were betrayed. Their missions, whether diplomatic, military or industrial, are ongoing or successfully completed. The concerned citizen will never read about them, because they are still undetected.
Western nations, because of their openness and support for cultural diversity are replete with low-level intelligence gatherers who observe and record mundane facts about where they live or work. Many of these individuals and groups are on the radar of the host countries, monitored and penetrated where possible at ever increasing cost to the treasury. A kind of ‘homeostasis’ exists whereby countries identify and counter threats on a daily basis according to the laws of the land, constantly weighing civil rights against the need to protect the nation.
No nation in the world faces a greater onslaught of professional and amateur spies than the U.S. Still the dominant economic power by an ever diminishing margin, its military technology is years ahead of any other nation. Critics across the globe like to trumpet the “decline of the American Empire” and there are so called “friendly” nations that would like to see it come to pass. But America seems to have weathered the economic storm and that is a good thing for the stability of all.
No other powerful country on the planet is as committed to global human rights as America, and the rest of the free world can be thankful for that because in the global village there’s only one cop.
Today I concluded the free book promotion for my novel ‘When Truth Awakens’. Whether anyone who took me up on the offer decides to give it a review, I’ll just have to wait and see.
I always have the nagging feeling that I could (should) be doing more to market the book, and the fact remains that I am forever on the lookout for new ideas and methods of doing so. Implementing any type of promotion invariably takes longer than I thought it would. Anyone who has self-published from square one, without a platform, knows exactly what I mean.
No matter what your personal financial budget is, your time budget remains constant – 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week. Day job, commuting to and fro, family responsibilities, errands, shopping and finally sleep must fit into 24 and 168 hour cycles. If we’re lucky and we’ve budgeted correctly there’s some time left over to write, or market what we’ve written.
Just like with the financial budget we borrow from next week’s time budget, only to realize that we must repay with interest. This may result in several days of lost writing time. Some just give up against relentless odds. Others, reaffirmed by the daily sanity check of staring deeply into our own eyes in the bathroom mirror (the absence of spontaneous rage or tears constitutes a pass for me) press on in the pursuit of their writing goal.
Dedicate yourself to a certain activity for a long enough period of time, then it’s no longer a question of what you do, it’s a question of who you are.
‘Truth in Sentences’ has been online for a few months now, and since the beginning I’ve been meaning to run a promotion for my novel When Truth Awakens, but somehow never got around to it. I now have 10 digital copies of the novel for the first 10 people who respond via the Contact Form on this site (just click Contact on the menu above).
I will email the first 10 responders with a Smashwords coupon code that enables them to purchase the novel at no cost, and in the digital format of their choice. Those interested parties who don’t have access to an ereader can download the PDF version. Another alternative is to download the free Adobe Digital Editions which allows the user to read in either PDF or EPUB format.
If you enjoy the novel, please consider writing a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo. If you don’t have the time or inclination to write a review, send me a comment instead.
No one knows what the new bill to replace SOPA(Stop Online Piracy Act) will look like, but you can bet on one thing: the U.S. government is serious about stemming the huge job losses and money that online piracy has been siphoning at a growing rate.
The long arm of law enforcement is reaching out around the globe. This past week the U.S. indicted Kim Datacom, aka Kim Schmitz, and three others associated with Megaupload, a file-sharing company based in New Zealand. The CEO has been denied bail while the extradition process works its way through the courts. Other file-sharing sites have already heeded the warning.
While big Internet Techs have made the valid case that the original SOPA would do more harm than good to the internet, they will now have to contribute viable alternative strategies to stop the ongoing theft of intellectual property, something they fight tooth and nail to protect in courts throughout the U.S.and elsewhere.
In this weak global economy which may even grow weaker before it grows stronger, stemming job losses is a huge priority. This is a Presidential election year and industries with a long history of promoting and selling American culture will be pressing for a solution sooner rather than later.
If you think I am fixated on this issue, you could be right. Any independent artist, designer, musician or writer who creates original content should also be very concerned. If the big guys can’t protect their intellectual property from theft or piracy, what chance does the little guy have?
It’s the dead of winter in Ottawa, my town, the coldest capital city in the world, if not the coolest. Mostly it’s shivering cold, but there are days when the thermometer rises above zero degrees, a rare occurrence in January when I was a kid. One thing holds true for me every January — no matter how many (or few) tasks I’ve juggled in December, I just can’t seem to keep them all in play the following month.
I’m sure I’m not the only person that notices a perceptible drop in productivity. After all, it’s only a few weeks after Christmas and New Year’s, a time of family, festivity and friends. Career goals and must-do tasks are postponed, kicked down the road or shelved indefinitely. It could be due to the fact that January is the coldest and snowiest month of the year in Ottawa, thus making all movement, physical and intellectual, more viscous.
Surely, the same January inertia obstructs people in more moderate climates as well. Or is it just me?
This will be the last post for a while on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) sitting in the U.S. Congress. It is flying under the radar for a lot of internet users, but it has big repercussions for anyone involved in content creation, the value-added kind that requires major investments of time and money. Of course, for Indie authors and self-publishers the stakes are substantial as well. And while many stake holders would like to see a stronger mechanism to discourage piracy, they don’t want to see the internet gutted to the point where it no longer facilitates the free flow of information.
And gutting would not be too strong a word if the bill were to pass in it’s original form. The most troubling provision identified by most objectors is that U.S. federal courts could order ISP’s and search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo to block websites that contravene copyrights and trademarks. They would do so by filtering their own Domain Name System (DNS) servers to block infringing websites from showing up on the user’s browser when requested.
But this past Friday, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Lamar Smith, stated that he would remove that controversial provision. Whether that will placate the diehard detractors when the bill comes up for scrutiny in the House Judiciary committee remains to be seen.
It’s amazing the number of people out there who use the the worldwide web on a daily basis, but have never heard of SOPA or the PROTECT IP Act, two bills currently in the U.S. Congress that once enacted will radically change the Internet as we know it. These two acts in their present form will transform the web for better or worse, depending on which side of the argument you adhere to. Here are two of the biggest stakeholders on opposite sides of the issue.
Big Tech. Large IT companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn believe the legislation currently in Congress puts too much onus on them to stop activity they have no control over, and will damage free speech and innovation as well as stifle economic growth. Other opponents have stated that the bills amount to censorship online with virtually the same restrictions that are currently used in China. Unlike the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) which has been around since 1998 and grants immunity to websites when content is uploaded to their sites by users, the SOPA bill does not. It forces site owners to take responsibility for any and all content that is on their site.
Big Entertainment. Virtually all of the U.S. film and music industry as well as the secondary and tertiary industries they support are behind the SOPA and PROTECT IP bills as they are currently drafted. Proponents decry not only the loss of profits, but point to huge job losses as well. The International Chamber of Commerce reports that piracy and counterfeiting costs businesses $775 billion annually. That number is protracted to rise to $1.7 trillion by 2015, and put 2.5 million jobs at risk each year.
Whether either of these bills will pass, or radically curtail diminishing profits and jobs in the culture and entertainment industries remains to be seen, but the stakes are high on both sides. And like any clash of titans, there will likely be some collateral damage.
Since I started ‘Truth in Sentences’ this past spring and then self-published my novel “When Truth Awakens” on the Kindle and Smashwords shortly thereafter, the weeks have literally flown by. I have learned a lot and hope to learn a lot more in 2012.
One constant that I’ve come to expect with self-publishing is that it is time consuming; if you were to do everything you know you should do, you’d have no time left for any other necessities like sleep and a job that pays the bills. But like Mordecai Richler once quipped to a colleague who lamented the state of his writing career versus Richler’s: “Nobody drafted you…you volunteered.”
There are a lot of changes coming the publishing industry this year and even the sharpest industry analysts can’t agree on how it will all shake out.
One way or another, there will likely be some structural change to the Internet itself. Two bills sit at the committee stage in the U.S. Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (Prevent Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property) in the Senate.
The battle lines have been drawn between content producers led by Hollywood, and big silicon valley companies like Google and Facebook who don’t want any restrictions that hinder innovation or growth. There will likely be revisions to both bills before they pass, but publishers and writers, big and small, are going to be affected. When the changes come I will blog on how they affect me.
One has only to read the headlines to realize we are living in interesting times.
The jury may be out on the long term effects social media has on individuals and their real life relationships with other humans (face to face), but it certainly impresses with its ability to focus and enable the collective will of everyday people who want political change in their respective countries.
It all started with Mohamed Bouazizi, the humble Tunisian fruit vendor who set himself alight to protest the corruption and repression that would not allow him to make a living. Bouazizi likely never had a Facebook or Twitter account, perhaps never owned a cell phone. But many of his fellow citizens did and they used all of the above plus YouTube to record the resulting, forbidden protests and uploaded the video for all the world to see.
Several months and several countries later, the hunger and demand for change has come to Russia. Although technically a democracy since 1991, Russia under Putin has slipped back into some of the old totalitarian ways, and since the December 4th elections, many citizens have decided that they have had enough.
In the past few years several journalists have been killed or beaten up for stories they have written about corruption in high places. Now bloggers have taken up the call for change in their country by rallying support to deny Putin’s bid to become President once again in March 2012. Given the history of their country, to say that these bloggers and the protestors that rely on them are a brave bunch is an understatement. But more and more citizens are starting to feel like they have already crossed the Rubicon and to remain silent is to give up on their future.
One way or another 2012 promises to be another pivotal year in the long history of Russia.
Winter has yet to arrive in the northern hemisphere, but by all indications it promises more than a little hardship and strife around the globe.
While the average citizen in America and Europe is tightening his belt to weather a precarious economic future, the people of Russia, Syria and several Arab states in the middle east are agitating for what most of us in the West take for granted – democratic freedom.
Because of its size and history no other country has the potential to influence or disrupt global affairs with this struggle more than Russia. Faced with what they believe to be election fraud and vote rigging for seats in the Duma, thousands of protesters took to the streets across the largest country in the world. Protesters here as in Syria face a much higher risk to life and limb than any comparable gathering in the West. On December 10th, upwards of 100,000 turned out in Moscow to show their displeasure with the current regime while being closely watched by hundreds of interior ministry trucks and at
least one helicopter.
It has yet to be seen whether the Russian protesters have the tenacity and resolve of the Syrian and Egyptian demonstrators, but it is a given that they have watched them night after night on television and YouTube. And they have access to the same social network tools, Facebook and Twitter, which allow them to organize a protest in a matter or minutes, not hours or days.
Democracy is still very young in Russia as are most of the protesters, but there are others who have lived most of their lives under the authoritarianism of the Soviet Union, and realize that if they don’t resist now, they will lose what precious little they have gained. The presidential elections do not take place until March 2012; regardless of the temperature it will be a long, hard winter.
The Communist political philosopher, Karl Marx, observed: “Religion is the opium of the People”. Not anymore. The new opium is transparent democracy. Once sampled, it is addictive.