Sunday, April 1, 2012

Kindle?--- I got one? Why?

Yes, I brought a Kindle. I have always said I wouldn’t. After all, there is nothing like a book to caress and hold, when you are reading in bed or sitting propped up in your favourite chair while the rain beats on the window. The cat is curled up by your feet, competing with the dog. For once, all is at peace.
I love the covers of books and feel of the pages, so long as no one has left anything disgusting in the way of food bits, or worse as they read their ‘library book.’ Reading is something that I need to do before I go to sleep. That’s just me. It may only be for a few pages, but it is all part of my nightly ‘protocol.’
So what’s all this fuss about Kindles and their counterparts? I hear people raving about how good they are, when you are traveling.  If you are flying and there is a limited amount of luggage one can tuck along, then Kindle seems to offer a sensible solution. But it’s not a book is it! Maybe there are some other reasons why I caved in and brought my first electronic book. Oh my God, am I a traitor to tradition?
I f you have read one of my other blogs about an upcoming book, ‘Talk To Me,’ you will know that I am going to blog it. It has its ISBN number so I will also be publishing it as a real book and as an eBook. I thought about it a lot before I finally brought my Kindle. After all the crap surrounding actually getting the courier to get it to me---they didn’t--- I had to collect it myself in the end---- that’s another blog too, I set about finding out how it works.
I used to be called ‘rip-shit and bust.’ Sorry for the crudity--- well you can understand what I mean. I am one of those guys who buys something (usually electrical and expects to plug it an----‘hey presto!’--- It should work. Well of course you know that is not the case. One should read the manual or instructions and take time to make sure that you are being safe and know which switch or functions make it work effectively. I must say that I have raised my standards somewhat in the last few years and this time I did take a cursory glance at tiny bit of cardboard that had the ‘what to do now’ b its. I found out how to plug it in to my computer, because it didn’t come with a charger. I looked at the screen and then read about some of the buttons and functions--- enough to get me started, but that was when I had to call my mate to show me how to register it and do all sorts of things. I won’t bore you with the details--- that’s why I have a good mate.
Once it was set up, and it did take a little effort, I played around on it to get the feel of it. It is very light--- much lighter than some of those huge monstrosities that I like to take to bed. (Some books are more than 800 pages.  With the Kindle it doesn’t matter how big they are—electronic words don’t weigh anything.
Now--- to the reasons why I chose a Kindle. I am with Amazon for some of my business and will be growing that arrangement. I want to get my books onto Amazon (Coastal Yarns was until things went belly-up), especially in eBook form. I hooked into the shopping part of Kindle and found out how to buy downloads. This of course required another bit of help. I had to register my credit card etc. --- you know all the stuff you need to do. After that was done--- I was free to browse and buy. I did just that and before long I had chosen a book that cost me the grand sum of $2.50. Wow--- so cheap. Even best sellers are not too bad. I want to get my books on there and in the holidays I shall explore that option.
That night I went to bed with my Kindle (no comments please!) and it soon had me as happy as a chook on the loose in a granary. I managed to read far more than I would have first thought. There is a little problem though. I would like to be able to have the screen a bit brighter--- maybe that is something that I have not yet found out about. Overall, I am going to love my Kindle. I hope I can see my books on there real soon. But--- I still love my real books too! --- Just in case there is a book God up there somewhere.

Trayvon was shot because America allowed it!

A young man’s life was taken last month because the USA allowed it. I know that sounds simple but, tell me I am wrong and I am sure all of the extremists and nutters on both side of the question will be out in force. Yes--- it will bring out the good and the bad in the USA.
 The ‘gun lobby will wail and groan about ‘their rights to defend themselves and things will get ugly down on the mean streets as vigilante type groups will seek redress. Where there is other ‘injustice’ the emotional flood banks will be at risk of being breached as the USA grapples with fallout of that tragic shooting. President Obama summed it up in his remarks that Trayvon could easily have been his kid if he a boy.
Travyvon was an ordinary kid, not a gangster or a criminal. I am sure that there will be attempts to put ‘spin’ on the character Trayvon. I bet that there will be attempts to paint him in a less than positive light. Perhaps that has already happened.
There is much that is not good in American society, just as there is here too in NZ, but history has shown us over and over that despite rules around the carrying and use of guns, there is no guarantee that citizens will be protected from the misuse of guns. I can hear the hunters and ‘Mums and Dads’ who just want to be able to protect themselves, screaming from the heights, about their constitutional right to bear arms. I can also see the anguish as more and more innocent people are killed, leaving their families bereft and angry.
Will the USA ever find a balance between the opposing arguments or will politicians step aside from their responsibility to care for all of the citizens? Is the USA still a wild frontier that demands one should keep a gun under  the pillow or in the glove box in the car, or worse still, carried somewhere on the body.
From a distance, it appears that the USA is at war with itself. We have seen the demonstrations around the distribution of wealth in the USA and elsewhere, but have things reached a point where the guns will be turned to a different reason to shoot and maim? Are the huge numbers of homeless people going to become a target, because they represent a threat to those that ‘have?’
The USA is a huge country with diverse geography and history. Sure it is united in many ways too, but the variance in wealth and ownership within the economy creates vast differences in responses to everyday events. For those living in down town New York, the pressures are very different to someone living in Wyoming or Texas. The ‘gun laws in each area and the availability of guns also varies. The perceived threats that citizens face will also play a part in whether one deems that they should own a gun and how they should use it.
How is it then, that the USA keeps witnessing Columbine type incidents, in a variety of cities and towns? It must come back to a collective culture that not only allows, but seeks to guarantee that these tragic events will play out on our TV screens and the internet.  This culture has been present right from the founding constitutional era. If anything, it has grown and become embedded in the American psyche; becoming something untouchable and there it would take an extremely brave or foolish political action to make any changes. The debate rears its head regularly, before being parked until the next revolting incident.
Many in the USA would point to the other potent threat to their country since 9/11. They may use the excuse that if anything, it is now even more important that bearing weapons is not only their right but a necessity. I have some sympathy for them, but doubt the validity of that argument. I doubt that any number of guns in hand will stop that threat. The reasons for the ‘attack’ on the USA are far more complex and quite frankly, ones that need more than the USA looking at itself.
I feel for the families and individuals in the USA who have been victims in one way or another of the ‘guns,’ that beset their society. The debate will go on and I suspect that we will still be watching from afar in the next century. God only knows what the guns will look like and be capable of then!