Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The PB on the closing of Borders and Revival of Written Word

The Panda Bear is tired of the moaning, gripping and kvetching that is going on with the close of Borders bookstore such as an article in which equates Borders with the culture of books.   While the Panda Bear can have some sympathy for published authors whom Borders helped, to the Panda Bear Borders books is nothing but a big and probably greedy corporation that failed because it did not keep up with the times;  it is not a small independent bookstore that reflects the community it serves; Borders was a mega corporation into making prof.    The Panda Bear gets most of her books from the library where she feels true book culture live and now libraries are now doing better than ever.   The Panda Bear lives in an urban area where there are many other Borders is not leaving the area book deprived.

It was Charles Darwin who said “It is not the strongest of the species who survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”  Borders failed to adapt to change.  It did not until it was too late realize the impact e-books would have on the market.   The Panda Bear heard the upper management at Borders were not experts in books;obviously they made some wrong decisions.    In a capitalist system, they theory is the inefficient and outmoded organizations should go under; competition is what makes organizations to try to become more efficient(however, the recent US government bailouts recently violated these principles).    The Panda Bear remembers hearing in class that a problem is communist countries was that they tried to keep organizations operating that should fail and this made communist countries poor because this was inefficient.

Furthermore, there historically been changes in the written word that have effected its operations.   The printing press did away with people having to copy books by hand.   It amuses the Panda Bear to read in the old novels of Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and D.H. Lawrence that if one needed a copy of something, a person had to copy it by hand.    Improved methods of copying have probably thrown hundreds of people out of work!!!  However, no rational person wants to go back to the times of writing and copying everything by hand.

The Panda Bear has suffered some losses in her daytime job as a result of the new technologies.   She started her work life as a professional typist, typing insurance forms on carbon paper.  She worked in secretary/assistant positions which there are now fewer of because of the invention of the word processor and personal computer.   In fact the Panda Bear was not that enthusiastic about either word processing or the world wide web when she first used them but she had adapted and now loves these technologies.

As stated in previous posts, the Panda Bear likes eReaders.  The Panda Bear's Kobo eReader broke.   She was able to to return it to Best Buy and exchanged it for the NOOK The Simple Touch Reader.   As she has stated her previous posts on eReaders, she finds it easy on the eyes, very convenient in that one can now download books from the library,  to a large extent have the feel of a book and saves the Panda Bear from having to carry lots of books.

However, in addition to the above benefits the Panda Bear is finding that eReaders are making it "cool", "hip" , "tech" and "trendy"to read.   At work, everyone looks so proud of their eReaders.    The Panda Bear and her coworkers take out their eReaders and compare features.  They show each other the their eReader libraries.   The Panda Bear can dazzle people with her ability to read a library eBook well within two weeks(the library has a two week takeout period).  The visual arts have had their upgrades in technology with photographs, movies, and television.   The audio arts have had their technological upgrades with  records, CDs and MP3s.    Now books have caught up with the other arts with eReading.

About half the books the Panda Bear takes out from the library are out of copyright.   She can get these books for free on the Internet and download them to her eReader.   This where eReaders will really hurt the publishing industry-so many classics and old books people will be able to get for free on the Internet.

The Panda Bear thinks the digital revolution will lead to a renaissance in the written word.   Just think a hundred and fifty years ago people had no alternatives to newspapers, written letters and the telegraph.   The written word was the supreme not in person form of communication.  Then telephones, radios and televsion came in making the written word slow in comparison to the newer technologies in terms of communication.   Now in the digital age the written word can compete with sound and sight technology in terms of getting information fast.

It is up to writers to take advantage on this change.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Panda Bear on Coffee, Fruit, Foreign Aid and Spies

The Panda Bear has resolved not eat crackers or sweets(realistically this means eating very few sweets) in favor of snacking on fruits, nuts and cheese.   She has read several places that unprocessed food even if it has the same calorie content as processed foods are still much better for you and are less fattening.  The Panda Bear has noticed that cold fruit is very refreshing in the summer and for the most part she does not miss her diet ice cream.

The Panda Bear loves coffee.   She feels she should reduced the amount of caffeinated coffee because the caffeine makes her tense.   Usually, she is not consciously aware that the coffee is making her more tense but she believes on an intellectual level that it makes her tense.   However, today she declined an additional cup of caffeinated coffee because she felt it was making her too tense.   This is the first time the Panda Bear has turned down caffeinated coffee because of the way it made her feel rather than an intellectual resolve to drink less coffee.

The Panda Bear stated in a previous post how huge amounts of foreign aid gets stolen.   This morning the Panda Bear read on how billions of dollars given to Afghanistan has been diverted to the Taliban whom there is some disagreement among US officials on whether they are the enemy.

In her July 14 posting, the Panda Bear examined the word communism and what it actually meant.  She found this information very useful when reading Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest which she was reading this weekend(in a later post she will review the Larsson series).  The book also used the term "agent of influence".   According to Rodney Carlisle in his book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Spying and Espionage, an "agent of influence" is someone who has friendly dealings with the USSR and its officials and tries influence his/her home country's foreign policy to be friendly to the USSR.   According to Carlisle, some officials in Franklin Roosevelt's administration were agents of influence for the Soviet Union,.   Also, Carlisle states there was suspicion that British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was working for the KGB.   There is discussions in Stieg Larsson's book The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest whether the Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme worked for the Soviets.

The Panda Bear had a great, great Uncle who was killed in Nazi Germany for being a Communist.   The Panda Bear hears conflicting stories from her relatives whether her father's father who lived in the US was a communist(pro-Soviet) or just a leftist.   According to the Panda Bear's father, his father was a communist, other relatives say he was just extremely pro-labor left wing.  The Panda Bear's father's father died before the Panda Bear was born.

As stated, in her July 14 posting, the Panda Bear was once written up on her place of work for calling the managers of her work "communists".   What the Panda Bear meant when she used the term "communist" was that the motivation to work was the "common good" or good of the organization/humanity rather than the advancement of  individuals.   Also she meant, that the organization treated good workers and bad workers alike.   The Panda Bear remembers in a economics class that in the Soviet Union the most productive farms where being run to profit individuals farmers rather than the collective farms which were growing food for the common good.

In later posts, the Panda Bear will be discussing work place "collectivism" which does not treat people like individuals.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Panda Bear on Diana, Medical Doctors and Dentists

The Panda Bear is continuing to feel lazy(please keep in mind she has a nine to five job).  Therefore, she will have a short blog post.

As readers of previous posts may know, the Panda Bear does not yet have a working DVD player for her  television. She could watch movies on her computer but somehow that does not seem like fun.  Like many people nowadays who use the computer for work, computers are associated with work.   However, she has won a free rental from so she might try it to see how it works.   The Panda Bear and some of her friends find it frustrating that people are constantly being forced to upgrade their technology and the Panda Bear has not seen many new movies for the past several years because she only has a VCR.

Recently, a lot of speculation has come out what Princess Diana would be like at fifty.   The Panda Bear speculates that Diana may at mid-life have found more personal happiness than she did in her younger years.   However, as they say victors write the history, the Panda Bear is concerned that the survivors from the royal family are writing the ending story of Diana's life.   If one reads Kitty Kelley's book, The Royals, one finds that Diana was a real thorn on the side of the side of British Monarchy and it was very convenient for them that she died(however, the Panda Bear does not subscribe to any conspiracy theories about her death).   Diana seems to have felt hurt and used by the royal family.  Charles's and Diana's problems hurt the image and public standing of the British Monarchy.   The Panda Bear thinks if Princess Diana were still alive she would still be in conflict with Charles and the other Royals.  She would stay in Great Britain enough time during the year to claim it as a home so as not to be loosing any of her rights.   She would not quietly fade away.   The Panda Bear thinks the only thing that might make Diana less argumentative with the Royal family is consideration for her children and wanting  them to get the throne.

In previous, post, The Panda Bear on Healthcare, the Panda Bear stated the she preferred seeing her dentist to her medical doctors.   Since this post, the Panda Bear has met several other people who say they prefer seeing the dentist over the medical doctors; Physicians make people very nervous.  Modern physicians seem very cold and technical.   While the Panda Bear does not question their medical knowledge or ability, they seem to have a very limited medical scope.  Their function seems to be:
1) Perform medical tests that are uncomfortable
2) Make diagnoses
3) Give prescriptions(are the being bribed by the pharmaceutical industry?)
4) Give medical directions that seem to have no connection to reality.

The Panda Bear found this quote on a friend's Facebook page:

Some doctor on tv this morning said the way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started. So I looked around my house to see things I'd started & hadn't finished, then I finished off a bottle of Vodka, a bodle of Baileys, a botle of wum, a pock of Prungles, 1/2 chesecke an a boc a choclez. Yu haf no idr how bludy fablus I feeel now. Plaese sned dhis orn to dem yu fee ar in ned ov iennr piss.

The Panda Bear is feeling a little sarcastic in her description of doctors.   She is sure they are very competent in what they do.   Life expectancies are going up.  However, she still thinks it hurts medical care that people are finding going physicians uncomfortable. 

Mr. Panda had to go to the dentist this weekend(The Panda Bear and her husband use the same dentist).  While at the office, the dentist said he had put up his web site.   Mr. Panda said told him about the Panda Bear Blog.  The Panda Bear said she had mentioned in her blog that she preferred the dentist to the doctor and she would put his information on her blog.  Her dentist Robert Hutner of Brookline.   Click here for his website.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Panda Bear on the lazy days of summer, DVDs, eReaders

The Panda Bear this year is feels like she wants to enjoy the "lazy days of summer".   There was time when the Panda Bear was young and more idealistic.  She felt that with air conditioning summer could be more like the rest of the year.   There were times in the Panda Bear's youth where she felt the summers could be too slow.  Now in mid-life Panda Bear welcomes the summer.   She now feels that this has been a downside to air conditioning that the "need" for a summer vacation has been reduced(in a few office buildings in Boston that aren't air conditioned many of them will offer a reduced summer schedule probably because of the heat).  The Panda Bear is old enough to remember that things slowed down when there were fewer air conditioners because heat.   Now the Panda Bear just wants to spend all day sitting outside enjoying the sun.  In New England, there are so very days that it is nice to be outside and the Panda Bear just wants to enjoy them all.

Mr. Panda was very good this weekend and helped clean-up alot of dishes(the Panda Bear promised to reward him by giving him a good write-up in her blog).  The Panda Bear has not seen many newly released movies for a while because the theaters in Boston are very few and they are expensive.  In addition, she does not have a DVD player.   At first the Panda Bear was mad at the movie industry for forcing people to upgrade from VHS tapes to DVDs.  Now she has relented.   She and Mr. Panda after deciding to buy a DVD over a year ago(they are slow)  finally bought one.   They returned it because it did not connect with their television set(they set if from about 1990).   After, they returned it, some one in the store said they needed a kind of adaptor to make the connection in the set.   Mr. Panda did not want buy the DVD player with the adapter the same day after they returned the DVD player because it might be an issue with store credits.   However, hopefully, they will get a DVD player by September 1st.  In contrast to the stereotype, it is the Panda Bear not her husband who is responsible for installing new technology in their household. 

The Panda Bear does not want to bore her readers with further discussions about eReaders.   However, in Boston they were in the news this weekend because a major book chain is going out of business here in part because of  eReaders.   This article appeared in the Boston Globe this Sunday on the effect eBooks on reading.   However, the Panda Bear wants to stress to her readers that some eReaders more closely feel like a paper book than others.  The Panda Bear would not want to read books on a tablet(i.e IPad) -she likes the "unplugged" feeling of reading and she likes the epaper screen(it tries to be like paper) over an LCD screen.   To Panda Bear the advantages of eReading are that is is easier to carry a lot of books, the font size can be adjusted on some so people don't need reading glasses) and it is convenient just to be able to download books from the library rather than physically have to go there.

The Panda Bear notices that very many people who work or are otherwise very busy they like things because they save time rather than they are always the "best" way of doing things.  

The Panda Bear will be cutting this posting short.   She has being enjoying reading outside during the lazy days of summer.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Panda Bear on Name Calling, Bullying and Communism

The Panda Bear in thinking about her experiences of childhood bullying started to ask herself what similarities there are between childhood and adult social behavior.    She thinks office relationships and classroom social relationships are similar in that there is a hierarchy to them.

However, where she thinks adult and childhood bullying and intimidating behavior are the most similar is that they call each other names.

The Panda Bear remembers both she and her best friend were taunted for being lesbians by the "popular:"  girls when  they were eleven.   FYI, the Panda Bear remembers the school doing nothing to stop this name calling(lesbian was meant as an insult).   The Panda Bear and her best friend actually turned out to be straight-not that this matters.   Recently when programs have started to come to help bullied gays the Panda Bear remembered  these girls thought  they were so politically incorrect.

When the Panda Bear tells this story now people express sympathy for the Panda Bear and think it was very odd of these girls to be calling people lesbians when they were eleven.   More to the point, many people have asked did anyone know at eleven what being a lesbian was.   The Panda Bear and the "popular" girls knew that it had something to do with females preferring females to males(which the Panda Bear did at eleven-she did not get interested in boys until she was about seventeen).   However, the Panda Bear does not think they understood the full meaning of the word.

However, the Panda Bear believes that in the political arena the name calling is very similar to what the "popular" girls did to the Panda Bear and her friend in elementary school.   It can be insulting even ruin people  but people don't realize what the word fully means.   The Panda Bear will be starting a series of posts about political terms and/or insults  and what they really mean.

For today's post, the Panda Bear will examine the word "communist".   Both she and Mr. Panda have used the term in a technically incorrect way.   According to Rodney Carlisle in his book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Spying and Espionage, a communist was someone who was took orders from the communist party in Russia and/or the former Soviet Union.  The Panda Bear might expand this definition to include the communist parties of Cuba, China and North Korea.    These people would technically be traitors to the US or other Western European countries because they pledged there loyalty to another country.

According to Dr. Carlise, under this definition of communism, there were some US communists in the 1930s and 1940s who were attracted to the USSR for ideological reasons and members of the US communist party were recruited to spy for the Soviets.   However, most of the protesters of the nineteen sixties who where investigated by the FBI for being communists including Martin Luther King were not communists but just political protesters.

Both the Panda Bear and her husband having been guilty of confusing the term communism(allegiance to the communist party of a foreign government) with socialism.   Once the Panda Bear was written up at work for calling her managers communists in an e-mail which ended up getting  passed around b other workers   What the Panda Bear meant was that the managers did not know how to motivate their work force and did not use merit based systems to reward the individual efforts of employees.   However, the Panda Bear now admits that she was wrong to call the managers communists-they were not taking orders from hostile foreign governments.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Panda Bear on Vacation, eReaders, Congress, Milatary Speding, Bullying

The Panda Bear has just returned from her vacation.    At her daytime job, she is doing what many office workers do after returning from vacation which is catch up on her e-mail.  She will probably spend the next couple of days mostly reviewing her e-mail.   However, the Panda Bear is fortunate in that she does not have to check her e-mail while she is on vacation.

Yesterday, she spent the day discussing with other US citizens the larger amounts of vacation time most Europeans have over Americans.   Someone said how in Europe, mostt workers take the entire month of August off.  The Panda Bear does not think in her entireworking life that she will get to take a month of from work.  However, the Panda Bear pointed out that Americans pay more for defense and military than Europe does-perhaps that is a major reason US citizens work harder and have less social services than their European counterparts.   The Panda Bear believes that with the end of the cold war the US should reexamine its defense commitments to Europe since the US and Western Europe no longer have the common enemy of the USSR.   She thinks Western Europe should take more responsibility for its own defense.

During her vacation, the Panda Bear watched the US congress discuss, debate and vote on US military actions on C-SPAN which is a cable television station that covers government hearings. (The Panda Bear and her husband do not have cable at home so cable television is a treat when they go on vacation).   The Panda Bear was surprised that votes regarding US military policy did not follow party lines as much as she would have expected.   She was impressed that the voting was not as partisan as she would have thought it was from the news.

The Panda Bear is in eReader heaven. As readers may know the Panda Bear bought an Kobo eReader during her vacation.  (Economists and Retailers-please note, that vacations are when the Panda Bear spends the most money-the Panda Bear believes vacations should be seen as a highly economically productive and valueable activity).   She finds her eReader is very easy on her eyes and she can adjust the font size to make it easier to read.   She can download books from the library and no longer has to worry about returning them(on eReaders, you can't read the book on the eReader after 14 days-no more library fines for nonreturned books).   The Panda Bear no longer has to strain herself by carrying lots of books around.   She can carry around 1000 books in her eReader.   Through Google eBooks there are lots of books Panda Bear can get for free.  Alot of books whose copyright has expired become free eBooks and the Panda Bear LOVES old books.   Through she also found a lot of eBooks for ninety-nine cents.  No more going to the bookstore or library for the Panda Bear!!!

The Panda Bear plans in the future to return to her discussions of childhood bullying.  She has reviewed some information on the web regarding childhood bullying.   She finds it interesting that many sites states that girls aren't violent when they bully.  The Panda Bear and her bullied friends know this is not true-girls can be physically brutal when they bully.

The Panda Bear also believes that some of the information on the web does not deal with how mean children can be to each other.   The Panda Bear believes that children are meaner than adults.  Adults when they are mean try to justify and rationalize their behavior while when children are cruel it can be just for the sake of being cruel.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Panda Bear on Vacation, eReaders

The Panda Bear will not be able to do her usual posts because she is on vacation this week. Tomorrow, she will go away for a few days to a local hotel that is near the beach. The Panda Bear thinks that part of the pleasure of going away is getting away from home chores and household tasks. She thinks her female readers probably feel this way more than her male readers.

The Panda Bear finds it work getting ready for the vacation. In the United States, it is a long weekend. What the Panda Bear and her husband did is go shopping-the Panda Bear would rather go to a barbecue. The Panda Bear does not like spending her limited spare to shopping. She and Mr. Panda got a DVD player(yes, the Panda Bear knows that she is slow-she has not seen many recent movies because they don't have a DVD player). Mr. Panda was surprised to know how cheap televisions have become.
The Panda Bear also did some impulse buying. She brought a KOBO eReader. As the price of eReaders has gone down, the Panda Bear has gotten more interested in purchasing one. As she and Mr. Panda were in Best Buy, she saw an eReader that said "Buy me". What she liked about the KOBO e-Reader is that you can take books out of the library with it but you CAN NOT use it for email and web browsing. The Panda Bear likes the off-line, unconnected feel of reading. Also she likes the eReaders where the page tries to look like a book page. The computer screen bothers the Panda Bear's eyes after a while.
The Panda Bear has downloaded her first e-book and find eReaders easy on the eye. It is a bit of a challenge to read and not be holding a book. However, the Panda Bear thinks she will get used to it in time. On the whole the Panda Bear is happy with her eReader. It will make her packing much easier since the Panda Bear likes taking a lot of books on her vacation and in her e-Reader that fits into her purse she can hold 8000 books. Actually, the Panda Bear has gotten used to looking at magazines and newspapers online and now finds print periodicals a little unusual.
However, the Panda Bear is very busy running errands and preparing for her few day vacation. She has never been so busy for a while. She hopes to resume her normal twice weekly postings next week.