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La Vie Bohème looks inside three unusual North Bay homes p21
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Thereâ€™s more to a book than mere words By Peter Laufer
he other day I was on an American Airlines f light home, and as it crossed the Sierra Nevada and began its descent toward SFO, the stewardess made the usual announcement. â€œPlease shut off all electronic devices,â€? she said, and then added a litany of what she meant. â€œComputers, iPods, Gameboys, Kindles. Anything with an onoff switch.â€? It was the first time I heard the Kindle mentioned as something with the potential to interfere with aircraft navigation systems. I glanced out the window at the snow-capped peaks, looked ahead to the verdant Central Valley, checked my seatbelt and returned to the well-worn Sonoma County public library paperback copy of Lucky Jim that I had been reading since we left Dallas. The Kingsley Amis satire of academia written back in 1953 still resonates well in the 21st century, no batteries required and with no prohibition on reading below 20,000 feet. Iâ€™m an author. I write books for a living. I want the biggest audience I can garner for my work, and so I embrace the new technologies. My latest book is electronicreader-friendly. You can read it for $9.99 on your Kindle, and I hope that you do. But if you choose the electronic version of Forbidden Creatures: Inside the World of Animal Smuggling and Exotic Pets, youâ€™ll miss more than the opportunity to read during take-off and landing. The dust jacket that Georgiana Goodwin designed is brilliant. Literally. Printed on foil paper, the images explode: a slithering and glistening yellow python, an ominous leopard, a wild-eyed chimpanzee and a sharp-toothed alligator poised to bite your thumb off. If you carry around this book, itâ€™s bound to start conversations with passersby. Same with Lucky Jim and its ominous Edward Gorey cover illustration, or any other book made up of words printed with ink on paper. No one knows what youâ€™re reading when you close your Kindle and shut it off. All that shows is a nondescript plastic box that
advertises you as an early adopter of new technology. That anonymity may serve you well if your taste in reading material tends toward pornography or how-to books on bomb-making. But I wager most of us enjoy the impromptu conversations that start with a glance at a book cover. If you want to read Lucky Jim on your Kindle, youâ€™re out of luck even if youâ€™re not descending toward SFO. Itâ€™s not (yet) available on the Amazon electronic reader device, although as of this writing Amazon offers to connect you with 78 used copies of the Penguin paperback edition for as little as 90 cents each. A basic Kindle goes for $259, plus at least $9.99 for each downloaded book. Under the sparkling Forbidden Creatures dust jacket is another surprise. The hardcover itself is textured and as green as the California Central Valley looks from 20,000 feet and dropping. It is embossed with the pattern of alligator skin. Feel the book cover, and you feel one of the eerie animals in the story. The endpapers explode with wild swirls of yellow, ref lecting the python. Donâ€™t look for a switch that allows you to change typefaces on the non-Kindle edition. The choice of the nonintrusive and easy-to-read Akzidenz Grotesque Bold Condensed typeface was made for you. Thatâ€™s part of our job as authors, editors and book designers. We research and write the book, edit it and figure out how to make it appropriately appealing as a unique piece of work. It becomes what a book is: a physical and lasting artifact of our culture. The Kindle is a grand new tool, but itâ€™s no book.
No one knows what youâ€™re reading when you close your Kindle and shut it off.
Peter Laufer is a journalist based in Bodega Bay. He is the James N. Wallace Chair in Journalism at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. His newest book is â€˜Forbidden Creatures: Inside the World of Animal Smuggling and Exotic Pets.â€™ www.peterlaufer.com. Open Mic is a weekly feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 700 words considered for publication, write email@example.com.
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B447>FC74H;8:4ÂźA40;Â˝;854 Reading about or listening to the Goldman-Sachs executives before the Senate Committee in these last months, I remember that the real division in this country isnâ€™t conservatives and liberals, or Republicans and Democrats, or even the extreme right or extreme left. The real division is the same one thatâ€™s been here since the first human who figured out he wanted what another human had: greed. The real division is between the haves and the have-nots, the rich and the poor. To this we might now add: the used-to-be rich and the middle class. After gutting the poor and convincing the middle class that these were the parasites depleting the system, the rich in recent years have gone after the middle class. And in the process, they have robbed many hardworking people of their livelihoods or retirements; things that they themselvesâ€”the richâ€”enjoy quite brazenly, thank you very much.
Meanwhile the Goldman-Sachs guys look down their noses at working-class folks foolish enough to trust them with their hard-earned cash. And then stare back with contempt at the politicians who dare to question them. Not an ounce of humility between them. No regret and, apparently, no regard for the enormous suffering they are responsible for. In my field, we have a term for people like this: sociopaths. And what is our punishment for men so adept at robbing others? Give them more money! Big mistake, I think. These guys represent the absolute worst of our society, our species and the capitalist system. Personally, Iâ€™m disappointed they are not being severely punished for their crimes against the middle class. A logical punishment in my view, and one worse than prison, would be that they are forever banned from working in the banking industry, their bank accounts seized and they be forced to get real jobs to support themselves and their families. The fairest punishment I can imagine is
these white-collar thieves working at 7-11, driving a truck or being greeters at Wal-Mart.
C70C8B9DBCB>2>>; I just finished reading Juliane Poirierâ€™s article â€œGumming up the Worksâ€? (Green Zone, May 26), and my first reaction was to want to help Laretta Powell in whatever small way I can. Iâ€™m sure there are many Bohemian readers who felt the same. Iâ€™m wondering if there is a means for doing so that would be easy and fastâ€”say, a website that lets one make donations for local causes such as that of Ms. Powell? I donâ€™t have much money myself, but I could definitely donate $10â€“$20, and Iâ€™m thinking if others in our community are like-minded, Ms. Powell could have her teeth in a jiffy without Ms. Denny having to take on the task all by herself. Could you assist with this or direct us somehow through your paper?
Dear Dr. Estrada: Thank you for both your compassion and your killer idea. You and other readers who would like to help Ms. Powell pay for a new set of teeth are welcome to contact her directly: 707.287.1242.
Those able to parse the aggressive font of last eekâ€™s cover may have noticed that a letter as strangely ithheld. As evâ€™e kno n lo these many years, a good dubya is darned hard to find, and hile e had one to start ith, it disappeared at the printerâ€™s. Maybe it just didnâ€™t like it there; e dunno. E do kno that e ere bummed and e hasten to apologize to all eekly readers. In a further bit of bummedness, please know that photographer Norah Burrows took that hot shot of singer-songwriter Rose Logue found on our June 2 Calendar page. Perhaps her photo credit ran off with the dubs?
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