My English paper includes the Saturday inserts on Fridays. One of them is the Boo review section. Today's section had an interesting article on amazon.ca- the Canadian subsidary of Amazon. As a Canadian bibliophile, Amazon is a breath of fresh air and a welcome entry into the stuffy, closed world of Canadian publishing and bookstores.
I live in a midsized town and there's always been an English bookstore. I never liked ordering books from that bookstore. Back in the mid80s when I started to buy my own books, I would often need to order them especially those devoted to my hobby.
I disliked dealing with the bookstores- whether French or English. First, ordering a book would take anywhere to a month to 6 weeks. Second, at the English bookstore they could never guarantee the book's availability; third I'd often end up waiting so long for the book that I'd often cancel the order. If I wanted an English book really badly, I'd either have to go to Montreal or buy it outside the province. Most of the time I bought from American stores. It was more or less par when taking into account the exchange rate and transport costs.
When I first heard of Amazon, I took a look and I was hooked. I could buy the same books but at steep discounts: 15-30%. Depending on the exchange rate, I was able to get several books for the price of one. My only grumble was that there was no Canadian subsidiary and I was fed up paying in American dollars. Part of the problem was the restrictive cultural legislation in Canada which limits foreign ownership of the cultural industries. Of course such a policy has lead to Indigo books controlling 70% of the bookstores and 80% of the book distribution, shoddy service, limited book selection and high prices.
Heather Reiseman- CEO of Indigo- complained very loudly when amazon.ca set up shop but nobody was fooled. I took a look at the Chapter/Indigo website when it was first launched and I was deeply unimpressed. I got no discounts, the book selection was limited and I paid a fortune for both the book and shipping and handling. I've only bought once from the website. Further, Amazon was quite smart- it partnered with the distribution arm of Canada post and thus bypassed the restrictive laws. More importantly amazon.ca wants my business. Not only does it have English books at a great discount- 15% minimum- but also French books. Its selection wasn't great when it first started but it's getting better. Now I also have free shipping for orders over 39$CDN.
Thre was one comment that I found hilarious in the article;some bookseller was tutering at how a 40% discount is an insult to the book. Insults?! Tell that to JK Rowling! Thanks to amazon.ca's generous discount, I bought 5 copies for the family who paid me back. Amazon sold 1 million copies and helped it break even. If such numbers insult authours, I'm quite sure they'll want more of it.
In any case, the competition from amazon.ca has prompted Indigo to match the formr. In fact, I got an e mail giving me a coupon for 10$ off the next purchase as the store wanted me back. Further the website offers free shipping for orders over 40$. As I've told my parents that buying English books at the bookstore isn't worth it; you can get the same books from Amazon cheaper. I haven't talked much about French books. In general there are more French language bookstores so the competition is pretty good. I only buy those books that are really hard to get or I'm better off buying directly from the publisher. All in all, I'm really happy with the choices and prices that Amazon gives Canadian bibliophiles.
I read in my morning paper that depression in the advanced industrialized countries is rapidly rising and will be the number 2 health risk by 2020. I'm unsurprised. It's one of the consequences of a modern society which prides itself on individualism, relatively complete freedom of action, self-sufficiency.
While industrial society is much freer than past societies, there come a cost: alienation, loneliness, isolation. Modern man forgets a rather basic, hoary characteristic: man is a social creature; thus enjoys the company of others and especially of like-minded individuals. Unfortunately, modern man has sucked out the joy of socialization through rational, social contract ideas. Modern man has to practically conduct his socialization and friendships as if were negotiating a contract each time and it becomes such a grind.
Yet to me the most ironical aspect about mental illness is how much we stigmatize it even though we're the best informed in history about the causes and coping . To be diagnosed with a mental illness or a psychological problem is to be ostracized from society. So much for our false assumptions at how tolerant we are.
Why does modern man stigmatize mental illness? Mark Shea cites an article about how the needy i.e. the mentally ill in this case, are dependent on others. That dependency challenges modern man who's built up a somewhat false concepts of autonomy, self-sufficiency and initiative and is scared witless . I suspect that as mental illness becomes more prevalent, modern man will be force to re-evaluate the old assumptions that shape industrial societies.
I'm bitter because all these melodramatic commentaries are so gratuitious; the rest of the world isn't so dunderheaded when it shakes its head and says we toldja so. True the expressions of anti-American sentiment are unacceptable but sneeringly scolding the rest of the world as effete and weak-willed for advocating a new UN remains foolishly tactless.You don't mock cautious allies; lest you need them in the future. Bottom line, the Americans will just have to suck it up, grit their teeth and accept a more expanded UN role than was envisaged.
In the gee what did you expect depatment, this article And no it's not illegal copying or file sharing that are to blame it's the prices.Personally I haven't bought a new CD in 2 years. Why? Because it's very difficult for me to swallow the 23,95$CDN price tag for dubious music quality. I hate buying an album where you basically have to wade through crap only to finally hear a good song towards teh end of the album.
I usually wait for a CD to gone sale and even then I just buy one not 3 or 4.Also I refuse to buy CDs to protest the RIAA's absolutely boneheaded heavyhandedness. Treat your cutsomers as crooks and they just won't buy. Yet the RIAA stil hasn't gotten its ticket to the clue train.Perhaps when it has no more money to pay for its existence, then it'll change but then it's too late.
I read in my local paper about the death of Su?er Serrano, Franco's brother in law, Foreign and Interior minister. His death marks the end of an era. No not the fact that he was one of the last person to know Lenin or Hitler; rather Su?er Serrano was a witness to perhaps the most tumultous times in human history.
More significantly, Serrano Su?er was the last of the true believers in totalitarianism qua political regime. In fact, he was pushing Spain to become a more totalitarian state ? la Hitler and Stalin before Franco cut Su?er Serrano's legs and eventally reimposed his authourity; Serrano Su?er politically never recovered and was eventually pushed out of politics altogether.Contrary to some historians' claims, Serrano Su?er would've brought Spain on the Axis' side in WW II. Fortunately, Franco was far more realistic and knew that the Allies would win as early as 1940. True that meant that the Catalans and Basques, in particular, would have to endure another 40 years of the most brutal dictatorship Spain has ever had.
Another more prosaic reason was that the Spanish economy was in absolutely in no shape to contribute. Remember, the Spanish civil war ended in July 1939 and WW II started in September. Spain's economy was completely devasted and by 1940-41, the Franconits regime was twisting the garrotte on the Catalans and Basques. It was their darkest midnight. Also there was some maquis. Rather uneffective but imagine if the Spanish maquis had Allied support if Franco had sided with the Axis.In any case, Serrano Su?er's death ends an important chapter in Spain's history and signals the end of an era in world history.
Well, well. Here's an interesting article from Le Figaro The French have invited some American experts on the health issues during heatwaves. Looks like the French are being dastardly: they're actually very serious in learning from their mistakes during the heatwave and not the complacent fuck ups so many presume them to be.
I sincerely hope that the French will undergo some serious soul searching. One of the most obvious attitudinal reforms that the French will have to face is their excessive reliance on the state for even the most natural of tasks.
I was quite stunned to read at how many families never bothered to rush back to see if their parents or elderly family members were alright. Further I was disgusted at how many of the deceased haven't yet been claimed by their family.
To me, the crisis provoked by the heatwave wasn't so much about the lack of airconditioning or oppressive taxes; rather it was a expos? of a profound moral emptiness in French society and mores. Unfortunately, I doubt that very many French will realize this; they focus on the more technical issues but won't introspect about how the abandonment of the elderly during the height of the August holidays exposes just what kind of people they've become. I suspect the implications are quite horrify but sometimes moral shock therapy is sometimes required to shake societies from their indifference.