Friday, November 29, 2013

A Recluse In The Internet Age

Author J.D. Salinger was known for his withdrawal as much as his classic work of fiction, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. His retreat from publicity has now met the age of the Internet and he can roll over in his grave all he likes, but there is no going back.
J. D. Salinger

By most accounts, Mr. Salinger did not enjoy fame once it came to him after his debut novel was published, and he essentially went into hiding. He kept writing, of course, but did not publish everything, perhaps in an effort to maintain control over the product, or perhaps due to psychological issues relating to self-confidence. For whatever reason, some of his stories were never put into print, but ended up in Princeton's library for examination by scholars. The stories were not to be published until 2060, when the author's children would be long dead and anyone resembling one of the characters would be equally deceased.

In 1999, a collection of stories was published without Salinger's permission, but back in 1999, it was possible to go to court and order publication halted. The few books that existed became collectibles, for the enjoyment of those who could get their hands on a physical copy, but that was largely the extent of it.

One such copy was auctioned on eBay, and was purchased by someone who did not want the words of J. D. Salinger to be hidden.

Books are regularly scanned these days in the age of Google, and at some point, the unauthorized story collection was scanned and then turned into a pdf. Three stories in that file were posted on the Internet, and it is not just scholars at Princeton Library who can read them.

Suddenly, the illegally published works could be seen by anyone with Internet access, and as we all know, once something is in the ether, it's there forever, no matter how many court decrees ban publication.

Before Mr. Salinger died, he stipulated that those stories were not to be published, but how can his estate control what is uncontrollable? Sue the Internet?

It's possible that the author's estate could go after whoever posted the stories, but there is no erasing things in the digital world. No matter that Mr. Salinger wanted to delay the release of his words. The three short stories are released, unofficially, but there for the reading by anyone who wants to read more Salinger.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Snidely Whiplash As Played By Clayton Pullins

Since the day she was born, Dolores Pittman has lived in the same house. She knows it well, every nook and cranny, the number of steps from her door to the places she needs to go. It's the number of steps, and the locations of things, that are so important to her because she is blind.

The land on which her home stands was owned by a church that rented ground space to the Pittman family. The Pittmans owned the house itself. The rent was next to nothing, and Dolores kept up the payments long after her mother passed away. She kept up the payments after the land went into receivership and the county took over, the local government that accepted her check without question.

Or warning. Or even a notice that the land was going to be sold for back taxes and she could bid on it if she wanted. They must have been too busy in Cedar Lake, Indiana, to take a few minutes to explain how the process worked. There's just so much going on in the tiny town. Like, sitting around drinking coffee and cashing Ms. Pittman's rent checks.

The land was sold at auction for back taxes, but no one bothered to tell Ms. Pittman. For the sum of $43, she could have bought up the property under her floor and been well set for the rest of her days. She was getting by on her small pension. She was comfortable with her house and her cats and the security of knowing exactly where everything was.

Clayton Pullins bought the parcel and promply issued an eviction notice to an old blind woman.

One of the vulnerable in our society, Ms. Pittman has no choice but to leave what she knows and find someplace else. At her age, she will have to learn a new lay-out, find her way to her favorite stores and church by different routes, and all because Clayton Pullins doesn't give a flying fuck about her hardship.

It's his property now. It's too bad for Ms. Pittman that she wasn't reading the tax auction notices. Yes, and it's too bad she's blind so she couldn't read them if she even knew about them. It's all too bad, but the land in Cedar Lake, Indiana, is valuable and cold-hearted Clayton Pullins has every intention of realizing that value as soon as possible.

On this Thanksgiving day, let us give thanks that we are not in Ms. Pittman's position, forced out of our homes because we have no advocates to look after our interests when we are disabled. Let us thank God that we are not blind and poor. And let us thank God that our families are not cursed with someone like Clayton Pullins to bring shame to the family name, an individual so heartless that we would be embarrassed to acknowledge kinship.

Friends of Dolores Pittman are holding fundraisers to pull together enough cash to help her out as she searches for a new home. Donations are being accepted at the DeMotte State Bank, 10119 W. 133rd Ave., PO Box 683, Cedar Lake, IN 46303.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Divorce In Bad Taste

A very public marital dispute in Mayfair
You knew it would get ugly when photographers snapped noted television cook show host and cookbook author Nigella Lawson being choked by her husband.  Within days of the incident, Ms. Lawson moved out and Charles Saatchi declared he was making an end of the marriage.

Follwing the airing of those antics, the upcoming divorce proceeding cannot be done quietly, discretely or tastefully.

Mr. Saatchi looked very bad indeed, with his big hand around the throat of a distraught woman, and that sort of negative image is not easily erased. His name besmirched, he has thrown a counter punch to tarnish his ex-wife's image. If he manages to destroy her cooking career, all the better. This is war.

According to Mr. Saatchi, the woman is off her head on drugs, with a fierce cocaine habit. It's a miracle that the inside of her nose exists at all, so heavy a user is she. Ten years of snorting, and managing to disguise it while doing her job.

The accusation of drug use was revealed as a related lawsuit is beginning, a case which has been suggested as the reason behind the choking episode. Mr. Saatchi claims that sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, working as personal assistants to Ms. Lawson, used Mr. Saatchi's business credit card for a lavish spending spree that included bundles of designer goods and air fare to New York City. Post-choking, the women were given the sack and Mr. Saatchi filed charges.

We are to assume, apparently, that he choked his wife in anger because she would not discipline her trusted assistants when the evidence of their fraud was so obvious to Mr. Saatchi.

So not only did she not listen to him, the voice of reason, but then she drew him into an unflattering position over his attempt to straighten out a financial mess. Perhaps he held her by the throat because she refused his demand that she testify against her beloved employees. We shall all have to wait for the divorce trial to find out how he rationalizes the rather violent attack in Mayfair that was splashed all over the tabloids.

The judge hearing the fraud case allowed the drug abuse accusation to be heard. Mr. Saatchi is concerned that his case will be lost because the Grillo sisters will claim that they are innocent and it's all on Ms. Lawson who was high and spending without knowing what she was about. Or Ms. Lawson was paying them off, using a business credit card, to keep quiet about her drug use.

The sisters could just as easily accuse Ms. Lawson of shopping under the influence of Ambien, I suppose, and clear themselves that way, but too many jokes have been made about people doing strange things after taking Ambien and that's not going to tarnish Ms. Lawson's image in the least. She'd be that much more sympathetic, and anyone getting a divorce knows that the other party has to be made out to be a demon.

The divorce is just beginning. Like the throttling, it will play out in public, the very definition of a display in bad taste.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The New Breed of Navvies

Once upon a time, the Irish had no work. Right, they have no work now, but this was another time before the current era. No work, and no social welfare. The boss was rich and the workers were slaves, before Big Jim Larkin came to town.
Amazon appears great because we are on our knees! Let us rise!
Faced with starvation, the Irish emigrated in droves and went across the Irish Sea to England, to do the work that the English did not want to do because those jobs were back-breaking and grueling. It is said that the Irish built the British Empire. They did the manual labor that laid the train tracks and dug the ditches and laid the pipes and paved the streets and on and on.

The money was not great but it was better than the nothing at home, so the Irish put their backs into it and supported those they left behind.

No one did any documentaries or explorations into their working conditions. No one much cared that they were treated like animals and routinely abused because they were Irish.

How things have changed. Times are hard in Ireland, but not so bad that the young are flying off in droves to take whatever miserable jobs they can find in England. The poor British have to do the heavy lifting themselves, at the Amazon warehouse, and the public is shocked to learn that life as a factory hand is not an easy one.

The BBC sent an investigative reporter into the Amazon fulfillment center and filmed his arduous night shift. Adam Littler, an educated man, played at being a working class drone and discovered that he did not like it at all, at all. Unlike sitting at a desk typing up reports, his Amazon stint required physical effort of a sort that would make a navvy laugh off as a day at the park. But there are no more navvies working the hard jobs and the hard jobs are now worthy of a BBC probing.

The shift lasted ten and one-half hours in which Mr. Littler had to walk from place to place, picking an order with an electronic monitor to guide him along. Poor man walked his feet off. This was not anything like the treadmill at the health club, clocking five miles. No indeed. This job required him to walk up to eleven miles, and the damn monitor kept beeping at him if he didn't go fast enough because time is money and Amazon is all about money.

Why, those conditions are stressful, according to an expert selected by the BBC. Workers will suffer from stress and mental illness. It was all right when those workers were poor Irish migrants, but these days, we cannot allow it.

Amazon defended their practices, saying they have consulted their own experts and the warehouse pickers are not put under excessive stress. The time schedule is all perfectly legal, and the pressure to perform tasks in a given amount of time is no different than any other factory position that uses people like machines.

Perhaps Mr. Littler would next like to work an assembly line at an automobile manufacturing plant. He would realize why his parents urged him to get a good education so he could get a good job and never have to skivvy like a navvy, like the Irishmen who built the British Empire with their sweat and blood and toil.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Considerations When Selecting A Library Site

Architects consider the site before they design the building that will sit on it. Vistas must be considered. Ease of access, availability of roads, and the presence of necessary infrastructure all go into site selection.

When it's a library that's going to be built, those considerations have to be examined and discussed, with every site getting a thorough analysis. You wouldn't build a library that was difficult to get to, nor would you want to start construction when there was no existing sewer service in the area.

And all that is just for an ordinary library. It gets more complicated when it's a presidential library to be situated.

For all the hoopla surrounding the notion, presidential libraries don't get all that many visitors. Scholars might take a look at the presidential papers contained in the stacks, and sometimes an ordinary visitor will show up to look at a display of presidential memorabilia, but the facility is more of an ego-boost for the former president and a status symbol for the library's host.
Better for poker than presidents

So if there won't be a lot of visitors, the City of Chicago would just as soon not have the library committee consider the valuable undeveloped property on the city's south side, the former Michael Reese Hospital grounds that were originally purchased for Olympic housing. Well, the Olympics didn't come, and the area is unused, but a Barack Obama Presidential Library is not the sort of facility that Chicago needs at that place.

They'd much rather see a casino there. People actually go to casinos, in large numbers, and they gamble, which the city gets a cut of. Presidential library? There's no money in it.

The University of Illinois at Chicago, formerly known as Circle Campus, would very much like to add an Obama library to its collection of buildings. The new building could sit right next to the Mayor Daley library, adjacent to Hull House. Or what's left of the old Hull House complex. Most of it had to go, to make room for the new university that Richard Daley was determined to build in his city, even though it displaced thousands of Italian-Americans and destroyed a vibrant neighborhood. It was put up as part of the great urban renewal push in the 1960's, and stands today as one of the ugliest college settings in the nation.

But it also sits at the conjunction of several major highways. The infrastructure is there. The space to build is there.

Granted, there is no connection whatsoever between President Obama and Circle Campus, except for a friendship with William Ayers who was a long-time professor of education at UIC. Mr. Obama is associated with the University of Chicago, well to the south of UIC, a fact that UIC must somehow counter if they are to win the coveted collection of memorabilia associated with America's first African-American president.

So while the University of Chicago and UIC fight it out with the University of Hawaii, the city of Chicago will step back and let them have at it. The former Michael Reese Hospital site, with all its acreage, is not going to become a presidential library any time soon. Unless Mr. Obama would not object to having his important papers housed next to the banks of slot machines and video poker games?

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Book Collector In The Library

Bank robbers rob banks because that's where the money is. So it stands to reason that a book collector would work in a library because that's where the books are.
So many books, so little time

The National Library in Ireland was employing one such book collector, up until the time someone noticed that valuable, and highly collectible, books were missing. That's the thing with national libraries that are stuffed full of old books. Until some scholar comes looking for a paticular volume, it sits on the shelf among scores of other equally valuable books, largely ignored. One fine day, someone wants it and the librarian can't find it where it's supposed to be and then the game is up.

The as-yet-unnamed librarian who collected books took advantage of the lack of oversight for a couple of years. He lifted a book here, a pamphlet, there, and put a considerable dent in the Sean O'Casey collection. The National Library was quite proud when it acquired the papers of the famed Irish playwright. They were not delighted to find that much of it was gone, found in the flat of one of their trusted employees.

Like many avid collectors, the now-disgraced librarian shared his passion for antiquities with other collectors, who were not so fortunate as to have unrestricted access to the holdings of the National Library. He sold some of the books, although it will take the gardai a bit of time to determine the extent of the theft and the benefit derived by the book collector who became a seller of rare antiques and collectibles.

You would think you could trust a librarian, one of those mild-mannered book worms who love books. But didn't your mammy always tell you that you can't judge a book by its cover?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Creative Writing

No one guessed that Nora Connolly was such a prolific and creative writer. Her prose moved a woman to tears...and on to a nervous breakdown.

The author of a ream of hate mail has now discovered that creative writing doesn't pay. Indeed, it's going to cost her a considerable amount of money.

Ten years ago, Ms. Connolly was considered a close friend by Eileen Nestor, residents of Gort in County Galway. Their relationship changed when Ms. Nestor started a new job, and suddenly she was the recipient of anonymous hate mail that suggested she was actually a man in drag, among other bizarre accusations. Some of Ms. Nestor's superiors at her place of employment also received letters disparaging the woman, who naturally became distraught. She felt helpless to stop the harassment, and had no idea who was behind the letter writing campaign.

Over the course of two years of constant bombardment, Ms. Nestor worried herself into poor health and a nervous breakdown. It was enough to drive anyone mad, to receive a letter every six weeks, to wonder what sort of job security she had when her bosses were getting hate mail and no doubt wanted it stopped. She held the job for two years before she was so broken that she had to give it up. And it wasn't as if she and her husband were so well off that they didn't need the income.
And a great place to write

Mr. Nestor went to the gardai to put a stop to the campaign, and a stroke of luck broke the case. Ms. Connolly sent a downloaded picture in one of her epistles and the guards were able to determine what website the photo had come from, which allowed them to determine which computer in Ireland had been used to obtain it. As simple as that, they traced the letters back to Ms. Connolly.

From there, it was a matter of searching the Connolly home to find the offending computer, and then lodging charges against Ms. Connolly.

Technically, there was no way to verify without question that Ms. Connolly had actually done the writing, and no one could figure out why Ms.Connolly would want to harass Ms. Nestor.

It is clear that Nora Connolly is a frustrated writer who, like so many others, cannot get her words published because it is near impossible to break into publishing. The woman has word-crafting talent, given the evidence at trial. Her prose drove a reader to the brink, which shows how compelling her sentences were.

Ms. Connolly was levied a very heavy fine, a sum of money that could have gone far if she'd used it to earn a master's degree in fine arts. Literary agents would have taken notice if she'd had such a stellar credential. She might have channeled her ability for good, instead of wasting her skill.

Epistolary novels are quite popular. Perhaps Ms. Connolly can channel her mania for writing and produce something for the masses, rather than an audience of one neighbor.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Nun's Testimony

Sister Ugbome is not believed
There was a time when the word of a nun was a step away from the word of God Himself. Those days, clearly, are over.

Sister Ugbome claimed that she had been rear-ended by another driver one fine morning as she was driving home from her job at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown. Minding her own business, and then, boom, someone crashed into her. The Sister suffered injuries to her neck and shoulder and back, likely whiplash caused by the force of the impact.

Ms. Edel Macklin says she never hit the nun's car. In fact, she was just sitting in her car waiting for the traffic light to change when Sr. Ugbome approached her and asked for her particulars because there'd been a collision. Ms. Macklin may have thought that the nun was a bit deranged, but she did give out the information so that she could get on her way and put some distance between herself and the addled nun. There had not been any sort of collision, Ms. Macklin said. Not the slightest tap, not at all.

Back in the days of the industrial schools, nuns often testified in court when the children were on trial, making claims that would see the child in the dock removed from its home and brought to one of their facilities for re-training. For decades, nuns swore that children were begging when they had done no such thing, but the word of the nun was good enough to tear families apart. In time, the victims found the courage to speak out and the truth was exposed. These days, the word of a nun is far from sacrosanct and more likely to be questioned. They lied back then, the thinking goes, so what's to stop them from lying now?

Rather than accept Sr. Ubgome at her word, the judge heard evidence that the sister had called at a garage a month prior to the alleged collision with Ms. Macklin's vehicle, to get an estimate on repairs to the rear end of her car.

Putting things in a most diplomatic fashion, Judge Jacqueline Linnane decreed that she "preferred" Ms. Macklin's testimony. Well, there's still that glimmer of respect for the clergy out there, isn't there? The judge couldn't just state that Sr. Ugbome was flat out lying, now, could she?

Possibly Judge Linnane took into consideration the fact that Sr. Ugbome is from Nigiera, which is over-run with former government ministers and deposed royalty seeking the world's help in removing millions of euro from various banks accounts if only the person receiving their e-mail could send them a bank account number and varioius identification requirements and then all can share in the vast wealth. What can you expect from a native of a country that has made the scam such a fine art?

But what does it say about the Holy Family Sisters of the Needy that one of their own can't seem to remember the commandment against bearing false witness?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Libraries Also Have Books If You Don't Just Want To Look At Pictures

The movement to build public lending libraries was intended to bring literacy to the masses. Back when Andrew Carnegie donated his millions for the construction of buildings to house books, there was a notion that the poor who couldn't afford to buy books could find knowledge and the means to improve their lives.

We've sure come a long way since then, haven't we?

Does anyone use the library to get their hands on a free book anymore?

Libraries are places for kids to go after school because no one is home, sort of a free baby-sitting service that turns librarians into study hall monitors.

The homeless find libraries useful because they are quiet and warm. If you need a place to sleep, it beats the streets.

You can borrow music of all sorts from a library. You can borrow DVDs and watch old movies, new movies, television programs, travel shows, and all sorts of things that you'd otherwise have to pay for if you used Netflix. 

More and more, libraries are a place for the public to have access to computers and the Internet because those are a couple of fairly expensive luxuries, especially when you don't have a job. The job hunting function of public libraries often surpasses the book lending function.

Still, all those books. All those representations of an American's right to speak freely without government censorship. Libraries are now at the forefront of a debate on what constitutes that free speech and what constitutes an offense to the community in which the library and its computer terminals sit.

The suburb of Orland Park, Illinois, is in the midst of such a debate. It doesn't seem to have all that much to do with free speech, however. It's more about free online pornography.

Anyone can sit at the computer in the Orland Park library and bring up whatever they like, and that includes online pornography.

Mothers who bring their children to the library to introduce them to the marvels of reading are less than pleased to see men hunched over computer screens, entranced by images that the mothers deem obscene. They don't want their little ones to be exposed to filth, and they sure don't want their teenage sons to be wandering through the library and catch a glimpse of smut. They want the Internet access to be filtered so that porn doesn't stream in so very public a place.

The library, however, is all about free speech and, apparently, free porn falls into that category. When the complaints came in, they were brushed aside as violations of First Amendment rights. It's not as if some creep was masturbating right there in public, and none of the mothers went into the men's room to see if there was anything lewd going on so they had no proof that the children were being harmed.

Those mothers vote, however, and the mayor of Orland Park has now weighed in. He informed the library board's president that it was perfectly legal for the library to limit access to porn on the public computers, and if someone really wanted to watch it, they had only to ask a librarian to remove the restriction. In other words, the mayor told the library to install filters and stop making the town look stupid because it's not healthy for anyone's political health.

If you want to watch pornography at Orland Park Public Library in the future, you'll have to go ask the librarian.

You'll have all your First Amendment rights. It's the right to privacy that was once enjoyed that has to go away.

Never underestimate the determination of a woman with children and an agenda. Porn-loving men don't stand a chance.

Friday, November 15, 2013

It's Where The Children Are

Alarming, according to Toronto police inspector Joanna Beaven-Desjardins. After cracking an international child pornography ring, she found it alarming that many of those arrested were in positions that put them into contact with children.

Where else would they be? And why is that fact alarming when it makes perfect sense?

Thieves looking for large amounts of cash target banks because that's where the money is. It follows that child abusers would choose professions that grant them access to as many children as possible.

In Ontario, Canada, about fifty people have already been arrested for possessing or creating child porn, including graphic videos for distribution over the Internet. The vast majority of those arrested were school teachers, who spend days and months in the company of our children, days and months of developing trusting relationships and establishing control.

The police inspector was alarmed. She must not be familiar with Ireland's industrial school system, in which vulnerable children were placed into State care and left in the hands of the clergy. The abuse was horrific, although it's not thought that anyone took photos to share. All that remained to document the decades of horror were the survivors themselves, who were not believed initially because they accused people in positions of respect. Like school teachers.

The Canadians are particularly troubled because one of their own was running a business specializing in the production of child pornography videos, right there in Toronto. Brian Way, now under arrest, is thought to have run a massive operation that netted him around four million in profits.

The police also noted that nearly four hundred children had been rescued, but this was a world-wide sting and they did not offer further specifics beyond a suggestion that Mr. Way was paying operatives in Eastern Europe to produce child pornography videos.

Even at that, Canadians must wonder if any of the nearly four hundred children were found in Toronto, and why no one noticed anything amiss or troubling. And you can be sure that every parent is looking at their child's teacher and fearing that their son or daughter is not safe in the classroom. When they drop the little ones off at some after-school activity led by a volunteer, they will not be so keen to leave, not sure if that volunteer is present to protect the children or find vulnerable individuals to explot. Is that coach all right, they will ask each other, and they will realize that child abusers do not have any outward scars or marks to identify them as dangerous.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Somebody's Somebody

It's been nine years since David Koschman was killed outside of a Chicago nightclub. The man who killed him has been free for those nine years, because he's somebody's somebody.

Richard Vanecko, who threw the punch that sent Mr. Koschman to the pavement where he struck his head, is the nephew of former mayor Richard M. Daley. That would make him the grandson of the previous mayor, Richard J. You can't get more connected than that.

Clout held the police at bay when it was time to investigate the incident that led to the death of a young man out celebrating with friends. Clout kept the facts from being revealed in court, so that the fault for the death could be assigned entirely to Mr. Koschman. Nobody said nothing about the disparity in size, that the mayor's nephew was built like a linebacker while the victim was short and skinny. The facts didn't matter because somebody's somebody never goes to jail.

The lack of justice is nothing new in Chicago. The murder case described in Jack O'Malley's THE KING OF THE IRISH was a case of injustice with strong political overtones. And like that 1889 incident, there were those who did not accept the verdict that came from influence and manipulation. After nine years, the Koschman family is finally getting some justice.

Investigative reporters could smell something bad about the way the initial investigation was handled, and they didn't stop making noise until a special prosecutor was appointed to look into things.

The police line up that made Richard Vanecko (2nd from left) look smaller
Dan Webb, who used to be the U.S. Attorney in the city, was given the task of conducting an investigation into what happened, a probe that required the granting of immunity to witnesses who would not much care to be prosecuted for perjury. The judge hearing the case has refused to release the report. Judge Michael Toomin fears that the Daley nephew would not get a fair trial if the potential jury pool was exposed to the facts contained in that document, so he won't let the public see what clout can do for somebody's somebody when he should have been charged with murder or manslaughter.

To no one's surprise, the police union wants the judge to seal that report for all times. So you know that there are cops who did what they are supposed to do, which is to protect those with clout because they'd get fired if they did not. They managed to manipulate the line up to confuse the witnesses, just like the cops did in 1889 when Daniel Coughlin was charged with murder. The union does not want the general public to know how easily the rank and file are manipulated by forces beyond their control, a situation the union bosses allow to flourish because that makes it easier to work out new contracts with plenty of nice benefits. Don't rock the boat and everybody gets a chance to wet their beak.

The Daleys are no longer running Chicago and they can't protect their family members like they used to. Judge Toomin wants to ensure that somebody's somebody gets a fair trial, same as anyone else, but that isn't likely no matter what he does.

The mess that Daley left behind is too fresh in people's minds. Unless Mr. Vanecko's attorneys can pluck carefully from the jury pool, it's likely that there will be a majority sitting in judgment who resent all that the Daley name represents. They'd see Mr. Vanecko hanged if it was possible, just to express their outrage at the clout and the protection and the favors that they are left to pay for.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Welcome To Australia

The land down under has been overrun by Irish migrants seeking work, just as it was overrun by Irish convicts when England used Australia as a large penal colony.

Now Australia is about to be overrun by Amazon.

Fremantle Gaol as featured in A TERRIBLE BEAUTY
Readers in Perth and Sydney and Melbourne can now buy all that Amazon has to offer in their Kindle store, including the latest incarnation of the company's e-reader. All the books published by small presses, independents, or authors will be available for the entertainment of those who might have felt forgotten, far away in the back of beyond.

Just in time for Christmas gift-giving, the descendants of Ireland's diaspora can purchase books that have been available to their distant relations back in Ireland. At last, they can enjoy all the novels from Newcastlewest Books, featuring characters or authors with Irish roots, works of historical fiction that resonate in our modern times.

It's great news for readers, and better news for publishers on a tight budget who could not crack the Australian market until Amazon opened a Kindle store there.Australians will no longer feel left out of the niche markets that are filled by independent publishers, as if they did not matter.

Brick and mortar shops, however, will not celebrate the entry of Amazon's Kindle store. They will have a difficult time competing against a behemoth that can set prices to suit the corporate bottom line, leaving those with rents and utility bills struggling to keep the doors open while clients reap the short-term rewards of Amazon's low, low prices.

Yet there are many, many books that are available in digital format only, including those produced by literary agents who believe in their authors even if the big five publishers don't.

Good news for Australian readers, or bad news for Australian book shops?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Abridging The Freedom Of Speech

According to the First Amendment, Congress shall make no laws abridging the freedom of speech, which is why the law does not apply to Chicago State University. Congress isn't running the school. Therefore, the professors have to shut up and stop beefing about the administration.

As a college, CSU is geared towards the unprivileged who don't have the background for rigorous university-level study. Graduation rates are low, and the incoming freshman class shrinks year after year. For a long time, it was the pet project of former State Senator Emil Jones, who directed millions of dollars in state funds to prop up the institution. Those who found jobs thanks to Mr. Jones returned the favor by voting him into office again and again, which is not how you expect the average four-year university to operate. But this is Chicago.

Chicago State has been in turmoil for years, going back to an attempt to replace the university's president that was followed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's changing of the board. Clout-heavy Chicagoans were inserted into place, and the school's president was suddenly given a vote of confidence.

With that kind of political shenanigans going on, it's little wonder that the faculty of CSU is fed up with the way things are run. They're all about education and intellectual pursuits, which is not the primary function of the school. CSU serves as a source of employment in an impoverished neighborhood, and a source of patronage jobs. When such widely divergent functions collide, the result is a public airing of complaints.

The university's lawyers sent a cease and desist order to political science professor Phillip Beverly to stop him from blogging about the problems and gripes of the faculty. There can be no freedom of speech at CSU. It's making the policians nervous.

Mr. Beverly and several of his colleagues are using their blog to expose the cronyism and chicanery that goes on behind the scenes. He was called out by the school's attorneys for using what they called trademarks, which would be the CSU logo. In response, Mr. Beverly adjusted the school's name to something more appropriate: Crony State University.

That will not satisfy the administration, however, which longs to silence Mr. Beverly and his fellow beefers. The powerful who run the school do not want the general public to know how their tax dollars are being wasted on clouted hiring practices that reward the connnected and leave the school without sufficient money to improve and, well, teach those most in need of education.

The university's spokesman, Tom Wogan, wants everyone to know that the administration is not threatening Professor Beverly to shut him up. No, not at all. It's that misuse of trademarks that must be stopped. And the professor cannot represent himself as an employee of the institution either. There's a rule in place that forbids all the school's employees from using any and all social media to air the school's dirty laundry without permission of the administration, but other than that, they can blog all they like.

The First Amendment doesn't explicitly say anything about censorship, right?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Consider Graduate School

You'd think that the only way you could get a literary agent's attention would be to go back to school and acquire a master's degree in fine arts to prove that you can write a coherent paragraph.

Somewhat new authors are making their debut soon, with deals inked by agents who are no doubt aware of who is winning what writing award or writing fellowship. It's almost a shorthand, a way to separate the trained writers from the rest without having to spend time reading manuscripts. Agents don't have a great deal of time to spare, and if you can put something in a query letter that signals your abilities, why wouldn't they be more likely to ask for your manuscript as opposed to someone who just has raw talent?

Katherine Heiny earned her MFA from Columbia University, which has a stellar reputation among New York's literati. It's a known commodity, located in the city where all the publishers hang their shingles. Then there are her short stories that have appeared in various literary journals, along with the Henfield/Transatlantic award she added to her roster. It wouldn't be a surprise to find that Kim Witherspoon of Inkwell Management approached Ms. Heiny, rather than the other way around.

It's easier to sell a manuscript when the agent can show the author's platform, constructed of solid credentials.

Whether the public will agree with the assessment of literary scholars who teach creative writing and grant prizes is part of the gamble that is publishing. All the editors can know for certain is that the manuscript is highly polished and ready to go. The best they can do to hedge their bet is to regulate the size of the advance, with more paid up front for a manuscript that seems highly marketable. Based, again, on the publishers' best guess as to what people will pay money to read.

Not to be outdone, P.J. Mark at Janklow and Nesbit worked a nice publishing deal for Valerie Brelinski, whose MFA was granted by the University of Virginia. Here again is a writer who is assumed to have the ability to write a complete novel that doesn're require a great deal of expensive editing, just as someone with a degree in accounting could be trusted to write up a profit and loss statement. It's what was taught in school, studied and practiced and tested.

Ms. Brelinski won a fellowship, an indication to Mr. Mark that she knows a thing or two about creative writing, above and beyond the MFA. The fellowship is another plank in the platform, one that separates the average MFA holder apart from the rest of the herd.

You, too, could get more attention from literary agents if you had a graduate degree to flesh out your weak biography. It would cost a small fortune, and in the end, there are no guarantees that you could land a nice publishing deal. In which case you'd have spent a lot of money with no return on the investment.

The publishers are taking a gamble on these two writers. The reading public may not be craving a novel about jealousy in marriage or the effect of extreme religious beliefs on two sisters who break away from the overly-faithful family. You'd be gambling as well, if you went back to school for more education in the writing arts.

Life is one big gamble, isn't it?

Saturday, November 09, 2013

To Be Reclassified As Fiction

When news breaks, there are publishers who stand ready to produce the first account of that incident and then rush the book to print. It's a matter of riding on a brief spurt of public interest before something else attracts everyone's attention and the book is as dated as yesterday's news.

The attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, is exactly that sort of topic. Threshold Editions, which just happens to be a branch of the CBS empire, took on a manuscript written by a man who said he was an eyewitness to the devastating events that left four Americans dead. It was sure to be a big seller, with the author featured on a CBS news program to talk about his book. Author Dylan Davies had a strong platform from which the parent company of CBS and Simon & Schuster could launch a guaranteed best seller.

Marry in haste, repent in leisure?
British security contractor and fiction writer Dylan Davies

Threshold is pulling Mr. Davies' book after his interview on "60 Minutes" because it became clear that Mr. Davies was a fraud.

The author was on "60 Minutes" because of the tie-in with CBS and Threshold, a marriage that led to humiliation for news anchor Lara Logan. She was doing her job as a reporter, but had been handed a subject who was not who he claimed to be, and no one vetted him because he had this book to hawk and Viacom had a vested interest in the success of the publication. Since Viacom owns both Simon & Schuster, of which Threshold Editions is a part, and CBS, the whole mess was tied up in one nasty package that Lara Logan got to open.


In their haste to get a blockbuster book into the grasp of paying readers, Threshold did not thoroughly investigate Mr. Davies' bona fides. After the "60 Minutes" story, it came out that he was not really an eyewitness to the Benghazi attack. In fact, Mr. Davies told the FBI that he was not at the diplomatic compound on the night of the attack, even though in his book he says he was there and did some very dramatic things.

No one at Threshold bothered to check the facts, if it was indeed possible to check them. If the members of Congress can't get answers about what happened, how likely is it that a publisher could follow up with the other survivors to see if Mr. Davies was really the first person to identify the ambassador's dead body in a Libyan hospital?

Instead of waiting, Threshold went right ahead because they recognized how narrow the window of opportunity is for sensational reports on real events. Then there was the whole stonewalling of Congress issue, in which information was being withheld but here was Dylan Davies with a timeline of events, the eyewitness account that was not forthcoming from standard sources.

The book is being pulled from publication and Threshold is inviting all the booksellers who stocked it to return unsold copies.

At some point, it's likely that someone will sue Threshold and/or Mr. Davies for fraud, not unlike previous lawsuits lodged against other memoirists who proved to be fantasists. Refunds will be issued while Threshold issues apologies and the acquisitions editors skulk around the office trying to hide from retribution. When a company loses money because of employee error, the employee can count on being fired. Fingers will be pointing in multiple directions at Threshold, at least until the story dies down and something new comes to take its place.

But will someone do a better job of fact checking next time, or will the rush to publish a blockbuster and catch a profitable comet by the tail override the lessons learned by the Dylan Davies incident? Or could Threshold reissue the book as a work of fiction and hope nobody notices?

Friday, November 08, 2013

Writing Prompt For NaNoWriMo 2013

If you want to join the madness that is National Novel Writing Month, but didn't know what to write about, here is a prompt to get you started.

Thrillers are popular, so you need a tale with skullduggery and underhanded dealings. Having the main characters in clerical garb can't hurt. Dan Brown made a fortune off the clergy so why shouldn't you indulge?

Using a real life incident makes the plot evolution a bit easier because it's already been done. All you have to do is flesh out the narrative arc and you're on your way.

Your novel opens in Italy, in a charming town in the Roman hills called Arricia. They are famous for their wild boar pasta sauce, a fact you might want to insert at some point to add local color to your story. Ladle that on a pile of polenta on a cold day, sip a glass of red wine, and you could hike for hours in the bitterest cold and never feel the chill.

But that's the fluff that goes in between the action.

Back to your opening in Arricia. Two priests arrive on the train and walk to town, where they have been summoned by someone claiming the priests have been engaging in some financial shenanigans. This happens on the same day that their fellow clerics of the Order of St. Camillus are meeting in Rome to elect their new superior general, a man who will hold great financial power once he is elected because he will be in charge of a collection of hospitals that buy expensive supplies. The contracts are lucrative and the temptation to influence the election is great.
A vote for Father Salvatore is a vote for corruption

While the priests are grilled for hours, your scene shifts to the Rome conclave where a seemingly innocuous accountant appears, to whisper in the ear of the leading candidate who happens to be Italian. The other priest in the running is an Irishman, capable enough but not "one of us" as the accountant might put it.

As the story unfolds, you insert bits of backstory that show the accountant is not the least bit harmless. Indeed not. He has been implicated in other schemes, such as misuse of public funds and acting as the bagman for Silvio Berlusconi in a plot to hide bribes. Paolo Oliverio, the accountant, is trying to fix the election so that he can manipulate the hospital contracts and get kickbacks from those he selects as vendors to the network of Camillan hospitals in the south of Italy.

Your protagonist could be an undercover carabinieri or a priest assigned by Pope Francis who is responding to the complaints of those two Camillan priests who were mysteriously detained in Arricia while the vote was being taken in Rome. They would have voted for the Irishman, you see, and their detention was all part of the plot to get Father Renato Salvatore elected.

It's your novel so you can go where you like, but if you're following the real escapades of the Order of St. Camillus, you'll have Father Salvatore arrested along with four other priests and the accountant. The Pope could make an appearance in your novel, if you felt so inclined, perhaps meeting secretly with the protagonist who uncovered the evil in the heart of a man of God. Of course, you'd want the Pope to select the Irishman to the post of superior general while Father Salvatore rots in prison, and that would be a fine place to end your book.

In the middle you'll put in a Vespa chase or two through Rome, and perhaps a foot chase through the hills, around the volcanic lakes near Arricia. Don't forget a few red herrings to throw your reader off track so they can't guess right off who is conniving and who is innocent.

Now go sit down and write.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All The Law School Applications

Matthew Willens is a personal injury attorney. He will pay you not to go to law school.
Matthew Willens and his team---no job openings available

In a case of "do as I say not as I do", Mr. Willens is offering a scholarship of $1000 to someone who is considering law school if they will apply to some other post-graduate program. Any program. As long as it isn't law school.

Don't look at his website that lists the millions in settlements he's won, because you'll only start calculating his cut and you'll be blinded. A successful personal injury lawyer can make a very comfortable living, you'll start thinking, and then your rational brain will shut down. Mr. Willens wants to catch you before you see those dollar signs dancing because he knows it won't be like that for you coming out the other end.

It's long been known that there are too many lawyers in the United States. Far more are being churned out of law schools than society needs, which means law school graduates won't find jobs after all those years of hard work. They are left with a crushing burden of student loan debt that has to be paid off, and when all you can find for work is a job as a minimum wage barista at Starbucks, you won't be getting your life on track much before you've reached retirement age.

Mr. Willens wants to catch students before they make that fateful step. He admits that his offer is selfish, in part. The profession he loves is being damaged by fresh graduates who can't get positions at existing firms to learn the business, so they go into business on their own but they don't really know what they're doing. Sure, they know the law, but they lack experience in practicing it. Then they screw up, and the general public gets an even more negative impression of lawyers, and that isn't good for the profession.

So if you're thinking of law school, and could use $1000 to help pay some of the expense of graduate school, here is your chance to save yourself from yourself.

How about a master's degree in library science? Or maybe you have some creativity in you and a master's in fine arts would send you along the road to being a teacher in a graduate program while working on your novel at night. Mr. Willens has $1000 to help you reach that goal.

Doesn't the world always need physicists? Or hedge fund managers? Maybe a degree in finance or business would be of more use than that law school diploma. At least you could be $1000 to the good on your debt load. And you still get to wear a suit to work.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Step Into My Parlor Said The Kindle To The Indie

With apologies to Mary Howitt 

The Kindle And The Indie

"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Kindle to the Indie;
"'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you may spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many ebooks at 10% commission for you there."
"Oh no, no," said the little Indie; "to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."

"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with retail prices up so high.
Well you rest upon my little bed?" said the Kindle to the Indie.
"There are pretty incentives drawn around; my ereaders are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest a while, I'll snugly count you in!"
"Oh no, no," said the little Indie, "for I've often heard it said,
They never, never wake again who sleep upon your bed!"

Said the cunning Kindle to the Indie: "Dear friend, what can I do
To prove the warm affection I've always felt for you?
I have within my selection all the bestsellers at a nice price;
I'm sure you're very welcome to a piece of profit - will you please to take a slice?"
"Oh no, no," said the little Indie; "kind Kindle, that cannot be:
I've heard what's in your long-range plan, and I do not wish to see!"

"Sweet creature!" said the Kindle, "you're witty and you're wise;
How handsome are your bricks and mortar; how brilliant are your buys!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf;
If you'd step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."
"I thank you, gentle Kindle," Indie said, "for what you're pleased to say,
And, bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day."

The Kindle turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Indie would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web of discounts in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the Indie;
Then came out to his door again and merrily did sing:
"Come hither, hither, pretty Indie, with your stacks and children's wing;
Your covers are green and purple; there's a knowledge of books within your head;
Your ability to recommend is diamond bright, but mine is dull as lead!"

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Indie,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With fear of being run out of business near and nearer grew,
Thinking only of her bottom line and monthly rent due,
Thinking only of her lost sales to showcasing. Poor, foolish thing! at last
Up jumped the cunning Kindle, and fiercely held her fast;
He dragged her up his winding stair, into the dismal den -
Within his little parlor - but she ne'er came out again!

And now, dear little booksellers, who may this story read,
To offers too good to be true I pray you ne'er give heed;
Unto an evil predatory competitior close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Kindle and the Indie.

Pity The Jurors

Kevin Trudeau, pitch or con man
For reasons no one can determine, I have never been called to serve on a jury. I am a registered voter and I have a driver's license, the two ingredients needed to get the notice of the court clerk, but still. No one has ever invited me to sit in judgment.

People tell me how lucky I have been, as they go on to describe their futile attempts to get out of jury duty.

It sounds like something fascinating, to sit in a court room and take in the entire process.

As it turns out, I may be more lucky than I realized.

Kevin Trudeau, the notorious pitchman who made a fortune off questionable scams and then hid his money when the Feds came calling, is finally going to trial in Chicago. His tendency to live the high life while crying poor has not gone unnoticed and the authorities want him to pay his fines or go to jail. Having been ordered, to stop hawking his books, it appears that Mr. Trudeau did not, and this time the Feds are going after him hard. They have not been able to find his money, so they would like to remove him from access to it.

The trial is getting underway, and the jury has been selected. They have been given their homework, to help them understand what Mr. Trudeau is all about, with his pitch about "them" not wanting you to know certain secrets that will cure every illness, including cancer, get you free money, lose weight, and get out of debt.

He pitched his lucrative schemes on television, making a name for himself in the world of the infomercial, and as the jury didn't buy any of his books before, they have to read them now to be better informed.

It sounds like a form of torture, to read such garbage. To be forced to give up precious reading time to devote to a study of hucksterism and falsehoods and conclusions drawn on distorted premises is enough to make anyone fight like mad to get out from serving on the jury.

Because the case hinges on the fact that Mr. Trudeau did not stop selling his dangerous weight loss strategy after the government ordered him to do so, the jury has to read his book about how to loose weight the easy way (500 calories a day will see the pounds fall away, to be sure, in company with all the serious health consequences of starvation) to see why the order was issued in the first place. The book is pure bunk and when sold as fact, that's illegal.

His defense is that we Americans can write whatever we want in a book. Whether or not things described in the book actually worked is not the issue. There was something about a money-back guarantee, wasn't there? Caveat emptor, as the Romans said. No blood, no foul.

If found guilty, Mr. Trudeau could face life in prison for his role in the massive scam. If a jury buys his arguement, that he could write whatever he pleased and then pitch it because in his opinion he was saying the truth, he can stop going through the motions of hiding the millions in profits he made from his books.

And the old adage about not believing everything you read will be proved true, especially when there's a sucker born every minute and there's someone out there looking to fleece every one of them.

Monday, November 04, 2013


Hildebrandt Gurlitt did not obey orders.

After his Nazi superiors told him to destroy all the artwork they had stolen and put on display as examples of degenerative art, he said the artwork was lost when his flat in Dresden was bombed. To the rest of the world, the works by artists such as Matisse and Picasso were presumed lost.

Hildebrandt Gurlitt lied about the devestation. He had all the work hidden away and knew it was perfectly safe, completely intact.

After the war, he could have turned it over to the victors, but Dresden was claimed by the Russians and Mr. Gurlitt was not going to let them have the priceless art. It would only be taken to Moscow, to hang on Stalin's walls or be stuck in some storage place and left to rot. He kept hiding the trove, through the Commuist takeover and the subsequent misery that followed. He never let on that he still had 1,500 pieces of art that he was supposed to have destroyed.

He died in 1956 and his son carried on the family tradition of safeguarding artwork that the rest of the world was not looking for because it was presumed lost forever.

In time, the Berlin Wall fell and the old Soviet Union collapsed. With east and west united, it would have been possible for Cornelius Gurlitt to come forward, but he was not the type to be forward about anything. The 80-year-old son of the Nazi-era art collector has been described as reclusive. In less polite terms, he was more of a hoarder, perhaps driven to maniacal secrecy by the contents of the family flat and the paranoia generated by the Communist regime.

His Munich apartment was raided after customs officers found 9000 euro in Mr. Gurlitt's possession. If the EU is good for one thing, it's good at collecting its share of everyone's earnings, and they are very concerned with money being transported across borders to avoid taxes. As it turned out, they had stopped a man who had never held a job or registered with German authorities. The money in the old gentleman's pocket came from somewhere, however,  and the EU wanted its piece of the action. The apartment raid was intended to uncover something like money laundering or a black market operation, but what was discovered was more than amazing.

As best as authorities could determine, Mr. Gurlitt sold a painting here and there to get enough to live on, and his living standards were more than modest. The apartment was cluttered with empty tins of rotting food, the lare of a hoarder. Clearly he was not selling art to fund a lavish lifestyle, but to squeak by, as if he was driven by desperation to sell what he did not wish to sell.

What will become of Mr. Gurlitt is not an issue being mentioned because the art world is too stunned by the news that what was once thought lost has now been found. All the items in the Munich flat were purchased from Jews fleeing the Holocaust, sold for a pittance to Hldebrandt Gurlitt. Because the art is considered stolen, authorities are focusing on the nearly impossible task of reuniting the artwork with the descendants of the original owners.

Mr. Gurlitt's hedge against old age is gone, and he could be charged with selling stolen art. The auction house that represented him in his most recent sale will be entangled in a legal mess, and the person who bought the art in good faith will have their own set of lawyers to defend them, or at least get full restitution.

To think that a man could defy the Nazis to preserve something so valuable to society is remarkable. That his son managed to keep his secret for seventy years is a story worth telling. We can only hope that Cornelius Gurlitt will finally speak.

Friday, November 01, 2013

A Little Nibble Of The Whale On The Menu

If you have always dreamed of owning a piece of a publishing empire, the once mighty whale that was HMH-Riverdeep-Greenwood-and-who-can-remember-them-all is soon to be available for your dining pleasure. Small bites, like tapas, are going to be on investors' menus on 14 November.

Is it a treat worth buying, even at $14 per share, or is it still an overpriced offering that won't hold the initial price beyond the first rush, when the market movers snatch it up in the hopes that others will nibble on their leavings as they walk in and walk right out with more money than they came in with?

To be sure, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has seen a bit of a renaissance, after a debilitating series of sackings (also known as realized synergies) that shrank the once huge publishing houses. The merged corporation is hoping that buyers will see the bright side, and buy the stock as a solid investment that will yield some respectable returns. Not that HMH will gain a penny from the IPO. All the funds collected are going to pay off creditors who can't wait to get out from under the weight of the dead whale.

Before you jump in, you'll have to ask yourself how much you believe in CEO Linda Zecher. She has brought the struggling publisher through the bankruptcy process, but is that enough to put HMH on a solid footing going forward? Or has Houghton Mifflin Harcourt gone as far as it can go?

Some say that investing in stocks is little different from gambling, and there is a high element of risk in taking on a refigured company at a time when textbooks are not flying off shelves as local communities scale back purchases to rein in costs. But economies go up as well as down, and HMH stands to profit when the curve heads up.

That's the gambler's take when making a bet. There's such a surge of excitement while you wait for the outcome, to see if you've made the right call and you're about to come out a winner.

Thou Shalt Not Let A Prestigious High School Be Mocked

Yesterday, a friend in Chicago sent me a link to a story that was splashed all over the local news, about a young man in a suburb north of Chicago who dressed up as Jesus for Halloween and was promptly told to take off his costume because it could be construed that he was mocking Jesus.

The ban on the costume did not last long after the story got out. Highland Park High School could not tolerate the perceived lack of tolerance on their part. And the young man in question was black. They really don't want to invite scrutiny by the NAACP. It spoils their image.

Very few of the student population at the secondary school would have been offended by the costume, according to my source, because the majority of the students are Jewish. If anything, they might have complained that their classmate was guilty of proselytizing, trying to convert the unbelievers to Christianity when they believe that the Messiah has not yet come.

The citizens of Highland Park vote Democratic and support all manner of liberal causes. They want the rest of the world to perceive them as accomodating to all, of accepting all manner of faiths and ethnicities. With that in mind, they also want to show how they do not tolerate a lack of that same sensitivity in others.

In this case, the reaction was over the top and made the school administrators look rather petty, if not foolish. News crews descended on the normally sleepy suburb, and you can be sure that nervous parents were calling in to find out why there were satellite trucks ringing the front entrance and reporters were doing live remotes with the school's name as their backdrop. Those who watched the story play out would have been calling in as well, to voice their opinion on the decree against Black Jesus. Once the school became an item of mockery, the ruling had to be quickly reversed.

Whether or not the young man donned his Jesus outfit after he was told it was, upon further review, acceptable, is not known. Nor does it matter.

The teen's parents can sit at home and silently fume about the Jews hating Jesus, or picking on their boy because he is in the minority, from a basis of both religion and skin color. The school adminstrators will wipe their nervous brows and feel that they dodged a bad case of negative publicity, even as they write up a new set of guidelines for next year's Halloween fun.

Rather than ban Jesus, why not encourage others to adopt Moses or David or Esther as their costume for the day? Why not encourage the diversity that exists and help the students understand where others are coming from, instead of trying to keep the unpleasant realities of a diverse society from entering the doors of Highland Park High School?

Soon enough, the teens of today will have to leave their protective bubble and discover what the outside world is like. Their education should prepare them for more than scoring high on their ACTs or getting accepted at an Ivy League school.