Showing posts from July, 2014

Retirement is Not a Dirty Word - It's a Golden Opportunity!

Today I woke up to the good news that one of my articles was on Boomer Café,  here it is:
Retirement, for baby boomers, is not a dirty word July 29, 2014

Claude Nougat, author of the new book Forever Young, has written many pieces from her home in Italy for BoomerCafé, and what they’ve shown is a woman with an active, lively life. But what does it all mean? Is this the definition of retirement? That’s what Claude writes about now for baby boomers at BoomerCafé: Retirement, she insists, is not a dirty word.

When I was a young woman working for the United Nations, I sometimes came across older colleagues at the cafeteria whose heated discussions seemed to indicate that their only concern in life was retirement.

I was appalled.

I heard them counting the years and even the days to retirement, the pros and cons of the best pension packages on offer, and I couldn’t believe it. They sounded like Martians. To me, work came first, I was proud to be able to serve in the fight aga…

Why Instagram is Displacing Twitter

Here's another article Impakter Magazine published - as usual, under my real name:
Why Instagram Is Fast Becoming King of the Social Media on 15 July, 2014 at 07:00
Instagram, started in October 2010 as a simple iPhone app to edit and share photos, had acquired by  September 2013 some 150 million users and was said to be the fastest growing social platform in the world, with a 23% annual increase
That sort of growth is unique, it has displaced Pinterest for good and it looks like it’s ready to overtake Twitter.

Everyone says it’s because of the kind of audience Instagram draws in: mainly women and mainly teenagers. Conventional wisdom has it that women are more “visual” than men and teenagers don’t read or write. They are only attracted to images, and that’s what Instagram is all about, images!

Well, that’s too simple.

First, regarding women. It is true that Instagram attracts a majority of women, according to Wikipedia, up to 2/3 are women, but this i…

Digital Revolution Act Two: TheTrue Nature of Amazon Revealed?

Fascinating report from Author Earnings (see here). In the traditional publishing world, the reaction to that report was rather negative (according to the UK Guardian), putting into question the methodology. But even taking into account all the limitations of this report, it still reveals a lot about about Amazon, keeping in mind that 120,000 books included in the report comprise approximately 50% of Amazon e-Book revenue and that Amazon's own publishing ventures (five imprints) account for only 6% of the total, a surprisingly small share compared to 38% of the "Big Five" (legacy publishers):

OK, Indies account for 31 percent. Fascinating but at the same time frightening: remember, we are dealing here with JUST 120,000 titles (so, out of those, some 40,000 titles are indies) But this is out of a total of how many books in the Kindle Store, 3 million? 4 million? I’d love to know.

Assuming it's somewhere between 3 and 4 million, that means less than 3% float to the su…

FAO Revived: But For How Long?

This is the fourth (and last) article about FAO that I wrote for Impakter magazine:

FAO: Revived But For How Long? on 16 July, 2014 at 07:00
Over the past 100 years, agro-biodiversity has steadily disappeared with the adoption of modern agricultural practices and the globalization of the food system and marketing.

Something has gone seriously wrong with agriculture worldwide.

Every year local land varieties and landraces are lost, livestock breeds are at risk of extinction and, on average, six livestock breeds are lost each month. As of now, some 75 percent of the world food comes from only 12 plants (mostly rice, maize and wheat) and five animal species. More than 90 percent of crop varieties have disappeared from farmers’ fields.  In fisheries, all the world’s 17 main fishing grounds are now being fished at or above their sustainable limits.

Who says so?

Read the rest here.
Related articles that show the kind of revival FAO is undergoing:Farmers' battle t…

A Perfect Summer Breakfast

What a way to start a perfect summer day! A foamy cappuccino, a crisp croissant (or cornetto if you are in Italy), fresh fruit and a good book:

Am I plugging my latest book? Yes, shamelessly, ha ha! I just got it in the mail, brand new, fresh from Create Space's printing presses (you can see it here on Amazon - for some mysterious reason, the blue in reality is several shades darker than on the website, looks much better).

I confess that I love a printed book. It looks more real than the digital version, it's got pages you can turn, a shiny cover you can slide your fingers on, and you can write in the margin. Call me old-fashioned, but I don't feel I've published a book until I hold it in my hands...

And I'm not afraid to say it's a damn good book...Though I must also confess that I find it hard to self-promote, it goes against the grain. I've been brought up by old-fashioned parents who felt children should be seen and not heard.

...Well, not quite like th…

Digital Revolution Act Two, Amazon vs. Hachette: What Future for Indies ?

The on-going Amazon-Hachette war that started in April is viewed by many as a paradigm shift. The digital revolution is not over yet and the ground is moving, major actors are re-aligning themselves. Whether Hachette or Amazon wins or loses and with what results for authors, particularly for self-published authors, remains to be seen. 

In short, Amazon is shaking up the publishing industry and a lot of people don't like it. I blogged about this last week, (see here), and got a remarkable comment from Bob Rector, who's not only a talented novelist (if you haven't read Unthinkable Consequences yet, you should) but also a successful playwright (Letters from the Front, an award-winning play that toured the world for 15 years) and a veteran film director who first became famous with "The Now Explosion", historically the first experiment in music video.
He has a uniquely upbeat take on the changes happening to the publishing industry, no doubt because of his long experie…

More About FAO: the Dark Years

Another one of my articles about FAO appeared on Impakter, see here:

FAO: A Descent into Hell on 9 July, 2014 at 07:00 In the 1990s, the political world,  the so-called “international community” could not countenance the growth of a UN agency that apparently was a sinkhole of ever-growing expenditures and seemed to have more highly-paid directors in its organigram than anyone else. FAO and its Director General were violently criticized in the media, especially by the Heritage Foundation and by Graham Hancock in his book Lords of Poverty.

To read the rest, click here.

More About GMOs, Big Pharma, Big Corporations and Our Future

Farmer plowing in Fahrenwalde, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia) One of my readers had more to say about the last post about GMOs:

"'s not that I disagree with you in theory re GMOs; it's that I'm sharply concerned that agro-giants like Monsanto are as prone to self-deception regarding the "rightness" of their actions or beliefs (that's human nature) as are Big Pharma, BIO, Big Oil/Gas/Coal, Big Medicine, nuclear power, and major food manufacturers. So much done and planned by these entities is about control, securing their long-range power, and profits. Also, the nature of Capitalism and competition demands that new technologies and breakthroughs are rushed into production before potentially catastrophic 'bugs' are worked out. Considering the stakes involved with GMOs and their global use, I can't see them at this point as a boon for Man, and definitely not wielded as a proprietary weapon by Monsanto for…

About GMOs, Climate Change and Our Future

Yesterday, following up on my articles about FAO, I received a couple of interesting questions in my email box from a reader who was concerned with GMOs and wondering about their nutritional worth and safety and whether they might provide a solution to feeding mankind in the face of the population explosion and climate change. He was worried that demands for consumer goods and services would "skyrocket while supplies plummet and consumer abilities to pay higher prices could be non-existent" - and that, as a consequence, our political class would "embrace solutions that [coincidentally] promote and entrench the fiscal aims of the world's richest corporations and richest 1%."

This person asked me whether anything I had experienced through my work with FAO indicated whether these concerns are grounded in fact.

My response was an emphatic "yes!", and I gave him some arguments that I want to share here with you.

First the GMOs. 
A lot of nonsense has…

The Author-Reader Amazon Revolution:Mirage or Reality?

Indie writers, and that means "self-published authors", are up in arms over the Amazon-Hachette spat, all rushing in the defense of Amazon. For a perfect example of the sort of blog post siding for Amazon, see here (or link to it here):

Yes, the Big Publishers, once upon a time six big publishing houses and now down to five (but for how long?), "controlled the book industry." As explained in that blog, "They decided which stories you were allowed to read. They decided which authors were allowed to publish. They charged high prices while withholding less expensive formats. They paid authors as little as possible, usually between 2% and 12.5% of the list price of a book".

Amazon, on the other hand, "trusts you to decide what to read, and they strive to keep the price you pay low. They allow all writers to publish on their platform, and they pay authors between 35% and 70% of the list price of the book."
Then, at the end of the post, there's a…