Monthly Archives: February 2018

Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors

28 February 2018

PG has observed some confusion among authors about the copyright doctrine known as Fair Use.

PG has also observed some confusion among lawyers about the copyright doctrine known as Fair Use.

Fair Use describes an exception to the protection extended by copyright law to original works of various types.

First, the basics:

From the US Copyright Office:

Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.

In the United States, the rights of the copyright owner (usually the original creator, but can also be another party to whom the original creator has transferred the ownership of the copyright or to whom the original creator has granted a license to rights under the copyright together with the right to enforce such rights against unauthorized third-party infringers) are set forth in Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 106 of the US Code.

Here is Section 106 with some highlighting by PG:

Chapter 1, Section 106. Exclusive rights in copyrighted works

Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:

(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;

(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;

(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;

(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and

(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

As PG mentioned above, Fair Use is an exception to the exclusive rights of copyright owners. Under Fair Use, without permission of the copyright owner, someone may, for example, reproduce a paragraph from a literary work.

Section 107 describes Fair Use:

107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

PG says it could almost sound simple if you read the statutes for pleasure.

The following discussions dissect a few of the complexities that arise from the 175-word text of the Fair Use statute.

From Findlaw:

Under the doctrine of “fair use,” the law allows the use of portions of copyrighted work without permission from the owner. Fair use is a defense to copyright infringement. This means that an unauthorized use of copyrighted material is excusable if it falls under the principle of fair use. Although the law does provide guidelines for making this assessment, determining fair use is not always easy since it is a grey area of the law. Consequently, courts make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

What Work Does Copyright Protect

Under Title 17 of the U.S. Code, copyright owners have the right to limit the use of their creative work. An owner has the right to distribute, reproduce, display, make derivatives, or perform the work in public. This right applies to both published and unpublished works fixed in a tangible medium. Creative works include:

  • Literature
  • Music
  • Motion pictures and other audiovisual productions
  • Sound recordings
  • Pantomimes and choreography
  • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptures
  • Architectural designs

Copyright law does not apply to ideas and facts; names, pen names, titles, or slogans; extemporaneous speeches; blank forms and standardized material; and government works. Although copyright law does not protect facts and ideas, copyright protects the author’s phrasing or form of expression.

. . . .

Under the Copyright Act, the fair use of copyrighted material without permission is allowed when used for the following purposes:

  • Criticism;
  • Comment;
  • News reporting;
  • Teaching, includes making copies for use in the classroom;
  • Scholarship and research;
  • Parody.

These uses do not grant the right to use the copyrighted work in its entirety. Rather, the use should be limited to quoting, excerpting, summarizing, and making educational copies of the material.

. . . .

Courts evaluate fair use on a case-by-case basis. The following are cases in which a court ruled that an unauthorized use was fair:

  • Google’s reproduction of images into thumbnails to display on search results pages was fair use because the alteration of the image was transformative, and therefore, it outweighed the commercial benefit received by Google.
  • A biographer’s quotation of 16 unpublished documents was fair use because it comprised no more than 1 percent of Richard Wright’s unpublished documents and it was for an informational purpose.

The following are cases in which a court ruled that unauthorized use was not fair:

  • It was not fair use for the Nation magazine to publish central parts of former President Gerald Ford’s memoir prior to its publication because it substantially decreased its marketability.
  • Paraphrasing a substantial portion of author J.D. Salinger’s unpublished letters in a biography was not excusable under the fair use doctrine because the general public would view them in this format for the first time and the paraphrased material was a central part of the biography.

Link to the rest at Findlaw

More on Fair Use from another source.

From the Stanford University Libraries:

The Transformative Factor: The Purpose and Character of Your Use

In a 1994 case, the Supreme Court emphasized this first factor as being an important indicator of fair use. At issue is whether the material has been used to help create something new or merely copied verbatim into another work. When taking portions of copyrighted work, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has the material you have taken from the original work been transformed by adding new expression or meaning?
  • Was value added to the original by creating new information, new aesthetics, new insights, and understandings?

In a parody, for example, the parodist transforms the original by holding it up to ridicule. At the same time, a work does not become a parody simply because the author models characters after those found in a famous work.

Purposes such as scholarship, research, or education may also qualify as transformative uses because the work is the subject of review or commentary.


Roger borrows several quotes from the speech given by the CEO of a logging company. Roger prints these quotes under photos of old-growth redwoods in his environmental newsletter. By juxtaposing the quotes with the photos of endangered trees, Roger has transformed the remarks from their original purpose and used them to create a new insight. The copying would probably be permitted as a fair use.

. . . .

The Nature of the Copyrighted Work

Because the dissemination of facts or information benefits the public, you have more leeway to copy from factual works such as biographies than you do from fictional works such as plays or novels.

In addition, you will have a stronger case of fair use if you copy the material from a published work than an unpublished work. The scope of fair use is narrower for unpublished works because an author has the right to control the first public appearance of his or her expression.

. . . .

The Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Taken

The less you take, the more likely that your copying will be excused as a fair use. However, even if you take a small portion of a work, your copying will not be a fair use if the portion taken is the “heart” of the work. In other words, you are more likely to run into problems if you take the most memorable aspect of a work. For example, it would probably not be a fair use to copy the opening guitar riff and the words “I can’t get no satisfaction” from the song “Satisfaction.”

This rule—less is more—is not necessarily true in parody cases. A parodist is permitted to borrow quite a bit, even the heart of the original work, in order to conjure up the original work. That’s because, as the Supreme Court has acknowledged, “the heart is also what most readily conjures up the [original] for parody, and it is the heart at which parody takes aim.” (Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569 (1994).)

. . . .

The Effect of the Use Upon the Potential Market

Another important fair use factor is whether your use deprives the copyright owner of income or undermines a new or potential market for the copyrighted work. Depriving a copyright owner of income is very likely to trigger a lawsuit. This is true even if you are not competing directly with the original work.

For example, in one case an artist used a copyrighted photograph without permission as the basis for wood sculptures, copying all elements of the photo. The artist earned several hundred thousand dollars selling the sculptures. When the photographer sued, the artist claimed his sculptures were a fair use because the photographer would never have considered making sculptures. The court disagreed, stating that it did not matter whether the photographer had considered making sculptures; what mattered was that a potential market for sculptures of the photograph existed. (Rogers v. Koons, 960 F.2d 301 (2d Cir. 1992).)

Again, parody is given a slightly different fair use analysis with regard to the impact on the market. It’s possible that a parody may diminish or even destroy the market value of the original work. That is, the parody may be so good that the public can never take the original work seriously again. Although this may cause a loss of income, it’s not the same type of loss as when an infringer merely appropriates the work. As one judge explained, “The economic effect of a parody with which we are concerned is not its potential to destroy or diminish the market for the original—any bad review can have that effect—but whether it fulfills the demand for the original.” (Fisher v. Dees, 794 F.2d 432 (9th Cir. 1986).)

. . . .

In some cases, the amount of material copied is so small (or “de minimis”) that the court permits it without even conducting a fair use analysis. For example, in the motion picture Seven, several copyrighted photographs appeared in the film, prompting the copyright owner of the photographs to sue the producer of the movie. The court held that the photos “appear fleetingly and are obscured, severely out of focus, and virtually unidentifiable.” The court excused the use of the photographs as “de minimis” and didn’t require a fair use analysis. (Sandoval v. New Line Cinema Corp., 147 F.3d 215 (2d Cir. 1998).)

As with fair use, there is no bright line test for determining a de minimis use. For example, in another case, a court determined that the use of a copyrighted poster for a total of 27 seconds in the background of the TV show Roc was not de minimis. What distinguished the use of the poster from the use of the photographs in the Seven case? The court stated that the poster was clearly visible and recognizable with sufficient observable detail for the “average lay observer” to view the artist’s imagery and colorful style. (Ringgold v. Black Entertainment Television, Inc., 126 F.3d 70 (2d Cir. 1997).)

. . . .

What If You Acknowledge the Source Material?

Some people mistakenly believe it’s permissible to use a work (or portion of it) if an acknowledgment is provided. For example, they believe it’s okay to use a photograph in a magazine as long as the name of the photographer is included. This is not true. Acknowledgment of the source material (such as citing the photographer) may be a consideration in a fair use determination, but it will not protect against a claim of infringement. In some cases, such as advertisements, acknowledgments can backfire and create additional legal claims, such as a violation of the right of publicity. When in doubt as to the right to use or acknowledge a source, the most prudent course may be to seek the permission of the copyright owner.

Link to the rest at the Stanford University Libraries (Author: Rich Stim, Attorney at law, Nolo Legal Editor, Blogger — Dear Rich: Nolo’s Patent, Copyright and Trademark Blog, Author, Nolo Press)

In PG’s perfect world, there would be more bright-line rules denominating the coverage and limits of the Fair Use law. Such rules would certainly assist creators who want to use some of the expressions of the creativity of others without giving rise to lawsuits for copyright infringements or threats thereof.

Here are some Fair Use bullet points from The Ohio State University Pressbooks Sites:

Common Examples of Fair Use

Students and teachers rely on fair use in order to accomplish many of their educational goals. Below are some, but by no means all, educational activities that rely upon fair use.

Student Projects
Includes both media and text.

Your fair use analysis will change depending on how the project is presented, i.e. only the professor sees it, you present it to the whole class, you present it to a group outside of the class, or you post it online for anyone to see.

. . . .

Sound or Video Clips for Teaching
Students and teachers can make use of video or sound clips in creating multi-media presentations for use in the classroom.

. . . .

 Content in Scholarly Articles
It is common to quote other researchers’ writings or use others’ images, graphs or charts in your own scholarly writing. These practices have long been considered acceptable under fair use.

. . . .

Fair Use for Non-Educational Purposes

Fair use is not only available for educational purposes. Many other commercial and non-commercial activities depend upon fair use. Some of these common fair uses include:

  • Quotes in books, news reports and blogs
  • Mash-ups and remixes
  • Parody, such as on television shows like South Park or Saturday Night Live
  • Video or sound clips in documentary films
  • Thumbnail images on search engines

. . . .

 Myths about Fair Use

Many people have heard of fair use and have some ideas about what it is. Unfortunately, there are many myths or misunderstandings about exactly what fair use covers, what the law states or how it can be applied. Below we dispel just a few of the most common myths about fair use.

Myth 1: All educational use is fair use.

Fact: While many educational uses are considered fair use, there are some activities that do not meet the fair use criteria. For example, a teacher can’t make copies of an entire text book so that students don’t have to buy it.

. . . .

Myth 3: All socially beneficial use is fair use.

Fact: Fair use is designed to help balance the rights of the creator and the social benefit of using copyrighted works in certain ways. Not all uses of copyrighted works that would be socially beneficial, however, qualify as fair use. For example, scanning and posting an entire medical text book online for anyone to access for free is socially beneficial but probably not fair use.

. . . .

Myth 5: It is not possible to have a fair use when a permissions scheme exists for a work.

Fact: Just because rights holders are willing to charge you to use their copyrighted material, does not mean that fair use cannot apply. For example, the Associated Press created a licensing scheme to quote from AP stories but quoting from news stories has long been considered fair use.

Myth 6: Fair use specifies a percentage or amount of a work that is okay to use.

Fact: The law does not state that using 10% of a book or 30 seconds of a song or video clip is fair use. You can often use more than these arbitrary limits, while sometimes using even less might not be fair use. The amount of the original work used is only one of the four factors to consider.

Link to the rest at The Ohio State University Pressbooks Sites


Plots may be simple or complex

28 February 2018

Plots may be simple or complex, but suspense, and climactic progress from one incident to another, are essential. Every incident in a fictional work should have some bearing on the climax or denouement, and any denouement which is not the inevitable result of the preceding incidents is awkward and unliterary.

H. P. Lovecraft

Reading Horror Novels Helped Me Deal with OCD

28 February 2018
Comments Off on Reading Horror Novels Helped Me Deal with OCD

From Electric Lit:

When I was growing up, my mother’s worrying was a bit of a shared joke between the rest of the family. If, in the car on the way to the store, my mother turned and asked my father if he had turned the stove off, he would sigh and say, “Of course, dear,” before turning and smiling conspiratorially at me in the backseat. If my brother used a chair as a stepstool, I would joke that I was going to tell mom.

As I got older, her worrying got worse, and it stopped being funny. If she thought the stove was left on, we might turn around; if she caught us using a chair as a stepstool, she would shriek as though she had found us juggling knives. Her worrying was turning into fear, and her fear into panic. It made dealing with her more and more difficult. Still, she remained undiagnosed until I was nearly 18.

My own anxiety didn’t take form until my mid-twenties. As I got older, I started to see more and more of my mom in my thoughts and behavior. It became normal to triple-check the stove, stave off panic attacks at hibachi restaurants, and avoid crowds. I clung to established routines and rituals out of fear that to do otherwise was to invite terrible consequences.

. . . .

In January 2015, I fought past my fear of change and started my first semester in graduate school as an MLS candidate. It was a big step. It up-ended my life in many ways, and — as happened throughout my four years of undergrad almost a decade earlier — I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by both the upheaval of my routine, and the pressure to succeed.

By May 2015, my anxiety had spiraled out of control, manifesting as an uncontrollable fixation on bugs. Bed bugs, carpet beetles, termites, lice — in my mind, I was surrounded by insects. I spent my nights crawling on all fours with a lighted magnifying glass, examining carpet fibers and every nook and cranny of my bedroom. I poured over Internet forums and websites for information about the identification and eradication of my imagined enemies. I couldn’t sleep because I imagined my skin crawling with bugs. During the day, I was a zombie — exhausted, consumed with my fears, and sure that everybody who looked at me could sense that I was contaminated, and that I was a failure.

. . . .

In the interminable weeks between my initial spiral and the medications kicking in, reading saved me. Though I’ve always used books to help me deal with negative emotions, I had used them to escape into worlds that felt better and brighter than my own. They were fantasies of a life full of agency and joy, both of which seemed to elude me.

But at the peak of my anxiety and obsession, I didn’t reach for those fantasies. They would only make my life seem worse by comparison. I needed a different escape. And I found it in a genre I’d had little interest in through most of my life — horror.

As someone who was terrified of the dark till my mid-twenties, and who still sleeps with the TV on most nights, horror was something I’d avoided. But as my anxiety grew, it became a safe haven. It gave me something else — something besides my own obsessions — to channel my fear into. The generalized fear of an anxiety disorder creates a fight-or-flight response to an intangible threat, a threat that can’t be fought nor fled from. Reading horror allowed me to take all that adrenaline and pour it into something outside of myself, something that I could see resolved at the end of the story. It gave me the gift of catharsis.

It also gave me the gift of perspective. The characters in horror stories suffered from circumstances far worse than my own. I could tell myself that no matter how anxious I felt — or even if my anxieties proved to be true — it still wasn’t as bad as contracting a deadly virus, getting lost in a hostile wilderness, or having to choose between my own life and that of someone I love.

. . . .

With medication and therapy, my obsessive-compulsive behavior faded, and my anxiety became more controllable. But I still turn to horror. As I approached graduation, the stress once again triggered my anxiety. In addition to the pressure of completing large final projects in each of my classes, I felt unable to rise to the challenge of taking my next steps into adulthood, of beginning a career and all the new responsibilities that entailed — especially since I hoped to relocate, adding an extra layer of uncertainty to a future I was already apprehensive about. I combated these fears with book after book.

Link to the rest at Electric Lit

Do Resume Typos Matter?

28 February 2018

PG asks an additional question – Do typos in indie-published books matter?

From Fast Company:

A few months ago, I posted a question on LinkedIn: “If someone who is not a professional writer has a couple of typos in their resume, why does that speak to anything more than being human?” 1,270 comments later, it’s abundantly clear to me that people have some pretty strong opinions about this.

The reason I brought it up is because I’ve read thousands of resumes while hiring for my company, and every so often I’ll catch a typo, which plenty of hiring managers and recruiters have told me is a pretty big red flag. For many, a single typo is an automatic veto. If someone isn’t going to pay attention to details here, the logic goes, where else won’t they pay attention?

“It’s a total disqualifier for me,” one user wrote. “I am always interested in candidates who are willing to put that degree of effort into the detail of their work.”

“Warrants a giant red X,” declared another.

“I asure you that I have the rite skills, kwalifications and ecksperience to add valew to the bisiness,” a third cheekily weighed in.

After reading through hundreds of the comments that poured in on LinkedIn–including plenty that were more generous-minded than these–I’m still not convinced that a resume typo is as a big a deal as it’s sometimes made out to be. Let me explain.

. . . .

Looking for a job is a daunting task. You usually have to apply to dozens of jobs to get a single interview, but you’re also told that every resume and cover letter has to be personalized to each company. And that’s just table stakes. This means that in between your current job (if you’re lucky enough to have one), you also need to think and perform at the level of a professional writer while looking and applying to open positions.

You don’t have to bemoan that challenge as categorically “unfair” (which I don’t, by the way) in order to see hiring managers’ one-strike policy as a little extreme. “[Typos] are unacceptable,” one commenter averred. “They create an impression the applicant does not care.”

But is that impression accurate?

. . . .

This might’ve made sense around 1985, but we’re now in a world where much of our work output is digital, where websites and even social media posts (Twitter being a silly exception), are editable. The ubiquity of the “edit” button is a humane concession to life in an attention economy where attention spans themselves are fleeting. It’s an acknowledgement that speed and the ability to multitask are the most critical skills.

Being responsive–and knowing how and when to revise or update your work–is the better test of someone’s “attention to detail” than getting everything perfect the first time.

. . . .

The fact is that not everyone has the money or time to spare to give their applications an expert-level polish–but they’ll almost certainly be competing against candidates who do.

Link to the rest at Fast Company

PG notes that in 1985, he was using WordPerfect (may it rest in peace) in his law office. He is pretty certain that a separate spell-check program was necessary in the WP 4.0-4.1 era and checking for spelling errors was definitely part of PG’s workflow for creating documents.

With automatic spell-checking programs available (even unavoidable) everywhere in 2018, PG thinks a typo (which was a no-no that required retyping a résumé – by hand – in the 1970’s) may say something about a contemporary job applicant’s overall tech savvy and social awareness in addition to the applicant’s basic writing skills.

The OP says, “The ubiquity of the ‘edit’ button is a humane concession to life in an attention economy where attention spans themselves are fleeting.” But doesn’t a typo indicate a problem with recognizing the need to use the edit button which is something other than making a typo and quickly correcting it?

What are you hiring an applicant for? Is a keyboard involved in the job?

Is the applicant’s attention span important for her/him to do the job?

Is there a reason why the applicant would have been unable to use one of the ubiquitous spell-checking tools in creating the résumé?

(PG will admit that, while he still likes to see the accent marks in résumé, the absence of those characters on a contemporary English-language keyboard make resume an acceptable substitute. Résumé would give an applicant a couple of bonus points if PG were involved in the hiring decision, however.)

Perhaps PG (who works in a profession where a single word can make a big difference) is being too picky. He can certainly imagine applicants for some jobs with excellent talents beyond writing (artists and some types of engineers, for example) who shouldn’t be automatically excluded by a typo in the résumé, but it would not be possible for him to forget the typo during an interview with that applicant.

However, back to his question at the top of this post – Does a typo in an indie-published book matter? If an author gets 79,999 words right and one word wrong, is that acceptable? Ten words wrong? Twenty? Will references to it show up in Amazon reviews?

Or is it something readers will not care about or overlook?

Sell More Books With These Critical Cover Rules

28 February 2018

From Author Marketing Experts:

Almost every author that reaches out to me wants to sell more books, so you’re not alone. But surprisingly, aside from doing no marketing, the number one hurdle is often the book cover design.

Unfortunately this is a much more common problem for indie authors because we’re left to our own devices, we don’t have a publishing house making expert recommendations  to a team of in-house professional designers.

. . . .

Your book cover needs to be clear, concise, and easy to read.

Yes, you may have a great review and you may think slapping it on the cover will help you sell more books. But if you can’t incorporate it in an visually appealing way, it will just detract from your book marketing efforts.

Same goes for photographs. I’ve worked with a lot of authors that bring some great personal photographs to the table, but they don’t translate into a powerful book cover.

. . . .

This is a great example of a clear, concise, easy to read cover:

. . . .

Book marketing in this day and age is about being savvy online, and your book cover is no exception.

So if you want to sell more books you need a book cover that’s been designed for online shopping.

Yes, your original design may look good as a full sized PDF on your computer, but shrink it down to an Amazon-sized thumbnail before making final decisions.

Link to the rest at Author Marketing Experts

Facebook’s vaguely worded face recognition “announcement” coincided with a legal setback

28 February 2018

From Fast Company:

Perhaps you saw a post this morning on your Facebook feed touting face recognition for “more features.” According to the social network, this ability to analyze users’ faces–which before only helped users tag photos–is becoming even more widespread.

. . . .

For background: Facebook has long analyzed biometric data in photographs to make it easier to tag people. In fact, this technology has been the subject of many lawsuits–most of which took place in states like Illinois, which restrict companies’ ability to collect and store biometric data without consent. (Facebook did announce last year that it would update its privacy settings to better advertise its face recognition features.)

It seems the purpose of this new Facebook post isn’t so much to herald new face-recognition features, but to disclose vital information–namely, that you can opt out of face recognition. After seeing the post, I was surprised to learn my face-recognition setting was on, so I turned it off. Others I talked to say their setting was already off. Either way, this looks an awful lot like Facebook gaining consent from its users to read their face data.

The timing is very interesting. Yesterday, for example, a federal judge ruled that Facebook will be subject to a class action lawsuit about its biometric gathering and storage program. The company had filed to dismiss the case, but the U.S. District judge ruled against it.

Link to the rest at Fast Company

How to Create New Book Habits

27 February 2018

From The Wall Street Journal:

Even the most accomplished readers get stuck in a rut, defaulting to books in a genre they know they’ll enjoy instead of taking a chance on something different.

But publishing professionals and readers who regularly flick between genres say you can find a new groove by looking to reliable sources and closely examining your literary habits.

Not knowing where to start in a new genre is “a classic challenge that most people face,” says Elizabeth Khuri Chandler, co-founder and editor in chief of Goodreads, a website where members record what they’re reading and rate and discuss books. Goodreads compiles lists of top books by genre by considering both a book’s average site rating and the number of members who have read it. ( Carl Sagan’s “Contact,” on the science-fiction list, for instance, recently had a 4.12 rating on the site’s 5-star scale with more than 100,000 readers weighing in.)

Lists like those are a good place to start if you’re looking for something in a new genre, says Ms. Khuri Chandler. But she cautions readers to make sure that a book that is highly rated overall doesn’t also have multiple one-star ratings. “Don’t read something polarizing,” she says. “You want something that has a universal appeal for your first outing in a new genre.”

. . . .

Ms. Khuri Chandler picked up a genre she usually avoids after accepting her husband’s challenge to tackle Frank Herbert’s science-fiction classic “Dune.” He, in exchange, read her pick: “Pride and Prejudice.” While her husband plowed through Jane Austen’s love story in a day, she admits she struggled a bit. Still, she says, the experience was positive.

“It does give you insight into other people if you’ve read a book that is one they count as one of their all-time favorite reads, or is something that has really affected them,” Ms. Khuri Chandler says.

. . . .

Readers who want to make sure a book in a new genre speaks to their personal tastes should carefully consider why they love the books they do, says Gwen Glazer, a librarian at New York Public Library who co-hosts the podcast “The Librarian is In.”

“For people who read romance, it’s not that they only like love stories, it’s how it makes them feel,” Ms. Glazer says, noting that those books often evoke cozy or hopeful emotions. “There are lots of books outside that genre that will make you feel that way.”

Ms. Glazer, who trains her colleagues on improving their book recommendations, says she gets into a reader’s mind-set by using the “librarian party trick” of listening to whether a person focuses on language, story, character or setting when describing a favorite book.

If someone begins their description of a novel with its location—“I felt like I was in Alaska in 1952!”—Ms. Glazer says setting might be most important to them. But if someone describing, for instance, Brit Bennett’s “The Mothers” says they appreciate reading about struggles through an unexpected pregnancy and familial loss, that person is likely to care most about story.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

PG has read a lot of Twentieth Century history and is nearing the end of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, by Victor Davis Hanson. It’s the best and most comprehensive history (720 pages in hardback) he’s read of the Second World War.

PG says if you wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night, aroused by the need for a good WWII history, this is the one to get.

PG has read quite a few histories of the war in Europe on the Eastern Front, primarily fought between Germany and Russia (which was much bloodier by far than the Western Front, where Germany fought primarily the US and UK forces), but Hanson’s review and analysis is the best PG has read about that part of the war that is lesser-known in the West.

While the armed forces engaged in the war were both large and extremely powerful, by far the greatest number of deaths during World War II were civilians. About 20 million civilians died in China during its long war with Japan (with some credible estimates reaching 50 million Chinese civilian deaths) and about 24 million civilians died in Russia.

The largest share of civilian deaths in Russia, Germany, China and Japan were due to starvation instead of being bombed or shot. Through either policy-driven campaigns or as a side-effect of war, food production was totally disrupted around many battlefields and in occupied zones. Quite a large number of military deaths were also due to starvation of prisoners interned in Russian and German POW camps.

Great Britain went through some lean years, but serious consequences from food shortages were rare due to regular shipments of food from North America. On the other hand, at one point, 80% of the children in Belgium suffered from rickets. In German-occupied parts of the USSR, Jews and children were allowed only 500 calories a day. Some of the stories of starvation in China are too gruesome for PG to include here.

In the continental US, the civilian population largely escaped the direct suffering occurring in so many other places. (PG is not forgetting Pearl Harbor, the US-controlled Commonwealth of the Philippines, and several Pacific island groups or the merchant ships that were sunk by German U-boats within sight of Miami and other East Coast cities).

The outsized contributions of the United States during World War II were based upon a huge expansion of the country’s manufacturing sector and substantial increases in US food production. The starvation in Europe and Asia mentioned earlier both during and after the war was partially ameliorated by food produced in America.

Shipments of food supplies, clothing, goods, equipment and weapons manufactured in the United States were delivered to Russia by US and British merchant vessels through the extreme northern (north of the Arctic Circle) ports of Archangel and Murmansk during the 872-day siege of Leningrad and thereafter throughout the remainder of hostilities. By the end of the war, 75% of the trucks operated by the Russian army were manufactured by Detroit automakers.

Here’s an excerpt from a description of Freedom’s Forge (which PG has read and highly recommends):

“Knudsen? I want to see you in Washington. I want you to work on some production matters.” With those words, President Franklin D. Roosevelt enlisted “Big Bill” Knudsen, a Danish immigrant who had risen through the ranks of the auto industry to become president of General Motors, to drop his plans for market domination and join the U.S. Army. Commissioned a lieutenant general, Knudsen assembled a crack team of industrial innovators, persuading them one by one to leave their lucrative private sector positions and join him in Washington, D.C. Dubbed the “dollar-a-year men,” these dedicated patriots quickly took charge of America’s moribund war production effort.

Henry J. Kaiser was a maverick California industrialist famed for his innovative business techniques and his can-do management style. He, too, joined the cause. His Liberty ships became World War II icons—and the Kaiser name became so admired that FDR briefly considered making him his vice president in 1944. Together, Knudsen and Kaiser created a wartime production behemoth. Drafting top talent from companies like Chrysler, Republic Steel, Boeing, Lockheed, GE, and Frigidaire, they turned auto plants into aircraft factories and civilian assembly lines into fountains of munitions, giving Americans fighting in Europe and Asia the tools they needed to defeat the Axis. In four short years they transformed America’s army from a hollow shell into a truly global force, laying the foundations for a new industrial America—and for the country’s rise as an economic as well as military superpower.

As mentioned, Roosevelt assigned Henry J. Kaiser the task of creating an enormous merchant fleet to carry the huge amounts of armaments, food and other materiel across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to supply the needs of both civilian populations and those who were fighting.

Kaiser’s Liberty ships were mass-produced up and down the Pacific and Atlantic seaboards. The principles of mass-production that characterized American manufacturing of automobiles, trucks, planes and other war supplies were applied to shipbuilding.

In 1936, the American Merchant Marine Act was passed to subsidize the annual construction of 50 commercial merchant vessels which could be used in wartime by the United States Navy as naval auxiliaries. That number was doubled in 1939 and again in 1940, but few ships were actually constructed due to limited industrial capacity.

A new, simpler design – the Liberty ship – was approved and construction responsibilities were given to Kaiser and six of his engineering and construction companies (which had been building huge dams in remote locations prior to the war). Kaiser focused on creating the maritime equivalent of a production line to build sound ships very quickly.

One of Kaiser’s innovations was to weld the Liberty ships together instead of using thousands of rivets, something which had never before been done. This was not only faster, but, unlike the heavy and exhausting work of riveting, welding could be performed quickly and efficiently by female welders

The first Liberty ships required 230 days to build but mass production techniques quickly improved efficiency and one of Kaiser’s shipyards could complete a Liberty ship in 45 days. This was remarkable, but insufficient, so Kaiser and his engineers expanded existing shipyards and built more. Soon, a three Liberty ship were being launched every day. By the end of the war, eighteen American shipyards built 2,710 Liberty ships between 1941 and 1945.

The German and Japanese military forces literally could not sink allied merchant ships faster than Kaiser’s shipyards could build them. Similar production innovations made it possible for other US manufacturers to build aircraft, tanks and trucks faster than they could be destroyed by enemy action.

Visitors to TPV will notice PG’s interest in these topics, but he will try their patience no longer.

But, this is what a Liberty ship looks like:

160520-N-OH262-241–NORFOLK, Va. (May 20, 2016)– The World War II Liberty Ship S.S. John W. Brown sails up the Elizabeth River to downtown Norfolk, Virginia, May 20. The Brown pulled in to provide public tours and an underway cruise as part of the city’s National Maritime Day celebration. The Brown is one of two remaining operational World War II Liberty Ships. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Bill Mesta/Released)


Amazon buying video doorbell company Ring

27 February 2018

From Axios:

Amazon has agreed to buy video doorbell startup Ring, Axios has learned.

No word yet on price, although a source calls this Amazon’s second-largest acquisition of all time (behind Whole Foods). That would seemingly mean it’s above $1.2 billion (the amount Amazon paid for Zappos), which is in line with earlier reports that Ring was fundraising at around a $1 billion valuation.

Why it matters: Not only is this another connected home play for Amazon, but it also could further its plans to enable delivery people to leave packages inside of buildings.

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Sources also tell Axios that Amazon had earlier made a play for smart-lock company August (which instead was bought by Assa Abloy), while Walmart had discussed buying Ring.

  • Late last year, Amazon also purchased home security and video doorbell Blink, although that’s a much smaller business.

Link to the rest at Axios

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