Sunday, April 24, 2022
Monday, December 27, 2021
A Year of dashed hopes & Disappointments
No irony was greater, no hope more callously dashed than living through a year that promised a return to normalcy but ended up rudderless, with more chaos than the one that preceded it.
As fear of the Omicron variant gripped the world, the Center for Disease Control, CDC, in the U.S. approved the Covid-19 booster shot for all people, irrespective of age. Meanwhile, the annual music festival, Astroworld, organized by Live Nation and headlined by Travis Scott, turned deadly this year. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a 39-year-old man, in what seemed like a deliberate act of terror, drove through a Christmas parade in Wisconsin, killing 5 and injuring 48. In an unrelated development, Steve Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist for President Trump, was charged with contempt of Congress after refusing to give information to the committee investigating the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol.
December:Due to the crippling effect of Omicron, now the dominant variant across the world, air travel was disrupted during the festivities as several airlines—from the U.S. to China and beyond—canceled hundreds of flights, ruining Christmas for many. Two notable deaths occurred this month: former Presidential candidate, Bob Dole in the U.S., and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a prominent anti-apartheid voice in South Africa.
With about a week to go before the end of the year, it seemed 2021 would end the way it began—on its knees.
Monday, February 1, 2021
~ Patricia Hampl
The reality of the publishing industry today, particularly for indie authors and
writers with small publishers is that gaining recognition in a crowded marketplace with hundreds of new titles released every other month, has become a struggle. Getting written reviews on such websites as Amazon and Goodreads, therefore, is an excellent way of making their work stand out. Unfortunately, though, it can also be the quickest way to get their work trashed, and their reputation as authors tarnished by toxic reviewers. In recent days, stories have proliferated online that some trolls on Goodreads who’ve been posting one-star reviews on books, sometimes without even reading them, have demanded payoffs from authors to remove them.
Authors have no control over what readers think of their work, and that’s fine as long as readers are honest. Honesty, in this context, does not necessarily mean positive feedback, but it also doesn’t have to mean an unwarranted attack on the author. While criticism is an integral part of publishing, a dislike for a particular book does not justify ridiculing its author. In the same vein, a writer’s crave for recognition does not justify paying for positive reviews. Not only does this mislead potential readers, but it also deprives the authors themselves of a fair and balanced appraisal of their work. As the American journalist, Jack Shafer noted in his 2005 piece, Fair Is Square, “… book reviews aren’t yearbook photos for authors to treasure. They are for readers.”
But that appears to be a memo some authors have not received. Not only do they indulge in the now frowned upon practice of review swaps, some, ignoring the reputable review groups on Goodreads, partake in toxic review exchange groups online where, as someone puts it, “anything less than a four-star review is flat-out rejected and considered harsh and unhelpful.” The trouble with this practice is that those who relish being flattered by their fellow authors deny themselves the chance to learn of any structural weakness in their work that might need attention. Since books are written for the public, eventually, real people will buy them, and if they find such books to be mediocre works, not only will the authors lose credibility, but they’ll have to face the disappointment of their readers which might manifest itself in angry one-star reviews on Amazon. If many readers, decrying the deception, leave such reviews, it’d inevitably call the authenticity of the earlier positive reviews into question.
Another negative aspect of certain review exchange groups is that since members do not get to choose the books they must review, some end up with genres they have no affinity for, which often deprives the book’s author of unbiased feedback. It is also interesting to note that outside of these review exchange groups, while authors crave positive reviews from readers, they are sometimes not equally generous in their reviews of other writers’ works. There are cases in which authors take issue with certain characters in a book, and strangely enough, based their review of the book on the bias they have towards the character rather than on the literary merit of the book.
Now the industry is riddled with so much bias that some readers claim they are no longer swayed by the reviews they read on Amazon or Goodreads. Having bought books on the strength of the starred reviews, only to find the writing quality wanting, a new reality is dawning on many readers. Yet, these starred reviews continue to determine which books are promoted, and to some extent, which ones are bought. Fairness—once the hallmark of literary assessment of
Thursday, December 31, 2020
On December 9, the courts again rejected a bid by Trump lawyers to overturn the election result in Pennsylvania, though the President continued to seek recounts, so far, with no results overturned. On December 11, in another blow to President Trump, the Supreme Court rejected Texas’ bid to block thousands of ballots. Soon afterward, the electoral college convened and finally confirmed Joe Biden’s win.
On December 14, a Trump loyalist, Attorney-General William Barr who refused to go along with Trump’s claim of voter fraud, announced his resignation. By December 22, Trump began a pardon spree, favoring many of his allies, business associates, and loyalists.
15 Quotes That Define The Year 2020
1. “Day 7 of social distancing: Struck up a conversation with a spider today. Seems nice. He’s a web designer.” ~ Unknown
2. “My life feels like a test I didn’t study for.” ~ Unknown
3. “First time in history we can save the human race by laying in front of the TV and doing nothing. Let’s not screw this up.” ~ Unknown
4. “If you had asked me what the hardest part of battling a global pandemic would be, I would have never guessed ‘teaching elementary school math.'” ~ Simon Holland
5. “The only thing I gained in 2020 was weight.” ~ Unknown
6. “So far, 2020 is like looking both ways before you cross the street only to be hit by a passing drone.” ~ Unknown
7. “Coronavirus has turned us all into dogs: We roam the house looking for food, we’re told ‘no’ if we get too close to strangers, and we get really excited about car rides and walks.” ~ Unknown
8. “After all the stupid things I’ve done in my life, if I die because I touched my face, I’m gonna be pissed.” ~ Unknown
9. “‘He chewed too loud’ became the number one cause of divorce.” ~ Unknown
10. “I’m not saying I’m going to suck at homeschooling my kids but my daughter just asked, ‘Dad, what’s a synonym?’ And I replied, ‘It’s a spice.'” ~ Joe Heenan
11. “2020 is the strictest parent I ever had.” ~ Unknown
12. “I picked a hell of a time not to have learned how to cook for the past 29 years.” ~ Alyssa Limperis
13. “My husband and I switched sides of the bed this weekend and that’s what we call ‘vacation’ now.” ~ Ilana Glazer
14. “I wish days of the week underwear was still a thing so I knew what the hell day of the week it is.” ~ Mommy Owl
15. “After years of swearing that I couldn’t clean my house because I didn’t have enough time, 2020 has proven that may have not been the reason.” ~ The Super Mom Life