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Beth Cox Report: October 2014
Dear Loyal Readers, Authors, and Publishers,
I'd like to begin with a shout-out to the Midwest Book Review's longtime colleague, contributor, editor, and friend Diane C. Donovan, who has recently revamped her website, "Donovan's Literary Services" (she offers critique, proofreading, copy editing, content editing, and much more).
I recently had the opportunity to meet Diane and her husband in person for the first time - ever! (We all went out for pizza and Italian food). She lives in California and we're in Wisconsin, so all our collaborative work on the MBR's monthly Bookwatch magazines is via the miracle of the internet.
On to October's link of the month. It's IT World, a website dedicated to Information Technology news, business, and careers:
One doesn't need an extensive IT background to learn new things from IT World's articles. For example, its Halloween feature "10 Things that Scare the Bejeezus Out of IT Pros" at
couches in plain terms several bitter realities of computer programming, engineering, and related fields.
My favorite terror-inducing comment is #8, "We're assigning more programmers to the project." Highly creative and collaborative tasks such as advanced computer programming can't be accelerated simply by throwing more people at them. Attempting to incorporate more people into a complicated computer project will most likely slow things down, at least in the short run, since all those new people have to become acclimated to the project before they can begin to do any work!
I first learned about IT World from a July article they wrote, "Google, Dropbox Band Together to Fight Patent Trolls", about a collaboration between businesses with potentially far-reaching repercussions:
For the uninitiated, "Patent Trolls", also known as "non-practicing entities", are companies that purchase patents but never use them to make products. Instead, patent trolls threaten to sue other companies over allegations of patent infringement. These allegations can be exceptionally flimsy, but since defending oneself against a lawsuit is exorbitantly expensive, patent trolls often extract large settlements.
The mounting toll that patent trolls take on America's innovation and economy, and the failure of our legal system to throw out spurious patent troll lawsuits, has led Google, Dropbox, and other high-tech firms to create their own workaround. They've created a License-on-Transfer network, essentially a club of members who share legal rights to one another's intellectual property even if the associated patents are sold or tranfered.
This is a form of mutual legal self-defense, and I hope it's successful - but it isn't a complete substitute for our broken judicial system, since anyone not in the License-on-Transfer network is still vulnerable.
Now for October's Review of the Month. This review is about a series of informative books for young adults and teens:
Marylou Ambrose and Veronica Deisler, authors
Enslow Publishers, Inc.
Box 398, 40 Industrial Road, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
9780766042537 $24.95 www.enslow.com
"Investigate Alcohol" is a leading title from the middle school educational series Investigate Drugs. Presented in 6 chapters, 102 pages, "Investigate Alcohol" tackles problems related to alcohol overconsumption from a historical aspect, an observation of how alcohol works, alcohol's dangerous or "uncool" aftereffects, dealing with alcohol in everyday life, and recent treatment trends in "What's Up Next." A glossary, chapter notes, and references for more information, including suggested books and web sites are provided, along with a list of organizations to aid in recovery from alcohol addiction. Further enhanced by informative sidebars, tables, graphs, and color photographs, "Investigate Alcohol" presents a careful miniature portrait of modern outlooks on alcohol usage and interventions for alcohol abuse for middle schoolers. Also highly recommended are the following titles from the Investigate Drugs series: "Investigate Club Drugs" (9780766042216, $24.95), by Alison and Stephen Eldridge, "Investigate Steroids and Performance Drugs" (9780766042407, $24.95), by Sara L. Latta, "Investigate Cocaine and Crack" (9780766042551, $24.95), by Marylou Ambrose and Veronica Deisler, and "Investigate Amphetamines" (9780766042544, $24.95), by Marylou Ambrose and Veronica Deisler.
America has a terrible, ongoing drug and alcohol addiction problem. Demand for illegal drugs funds murderous organized crime cartels in Mexico and other nations. Alcohol is a legal drug by necessity (Prohibition was a colossal, historic failure), but alcohol's misuse kills people every year, whether directly through binge drinking/alcohol poisoning or indirectly through drunk driving accidents.
The best way to combat these pervasive social problems is through education - teaching every young person exactly what these substances are, how they affect people, and why they are so dangerous. "Investigate Alcohol" and other books like it deserve to be a staple of every children's public and school library.
I'll conclude with a quick reminder that it's only a few days before the November 4th elections. I urge every American reading this to spend a little time researching the candidates on your local ballot, and vote your conscience at the polls. In today's era of smartphones and the Internet, becoming an "informed voter" is quicker and easier than ever before!
That's all for October 2014 Beth Cox Report. Happy Halloween, everyone!
The Midwest Book Review
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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