Monday, October 7, 2013

Founder Institute Says It Has Graduated More Than 1,000 Companies

founder instituteAdeo Ressi, founder of the Founder Institute startup incubator, recently told me that FI has hit a big milestone ? more than 1,000 (1,003 at the time of our conversation) companies have graduated from the program. A mind-boggling number of incubators and accelerators have launched in the past few years. That's seems doubly true when you remember how few there were when the Founder Institute launched four years ago. By Ressi's count, FI was one of the first three, following Y Combinator and Tech Stars.


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Friday, October 4, 2013

State Attorney's Office Releases New Details On Facebook Murder

Posted Wednesday, October 2nd 2013 @ 6am

It's clear a South Miami husband and wife were angry at each other moments before she was shot and the photo of her body appeared on her husband's Facebook page.

The state attorney's office has released a Facebook conversation the victim was having with a friend just hours earlier.

Jennifer Alonso said she was furious and considering leaving because her husband broke a promise to watch a movie with her.

Derek Medina has claimed he shot Alonso in self defense.



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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Obama warns Wall Street over fiscal crisis

Washington (AFP) - President Barack Obama sent Wall Street a blunt warning Wednesday that it should be very worried about a political crisis that has shut down the government and could trigger a US debt default.

Obama said he was "exasperated" by the budget impasse in Congress, in an interview with CNBC apparently designed to pressure Republicans by targeting the financial community moments after markets closed.

The president then met Republican and Democratic leaders for their first talks since the US government money's ran out and it slumped into a shutdown now well into its second day.

But few informed observers held out much hope for a sudden breakthrough.

Obama was asked in the interview whether Washington was simply gripped by just the latest in a series of political and fiscal crises which reliably get solved at the last minute.

In unusually frank comments on issues that could sway markets, Obama warned that investors should be worried.

"This time's different. I think they should be concerned," Obama said, in comments which may roil global markets.

"When you have a situation in which a faction is willing potentially to default on US government obligations, then we are in trouble," Obama said.

Obama said he would not negotiate with Republicans on budget matters until House lawmakers pass a temporary financing bill to reopen federal operations and raised the $16.7 trillion dollar debt ceiling.

If the borrowing limit is not lifted by the middle of the month, the US government could default on its debts for the first time in history.

"If and when ... that vote takes place and the government reopens, and if and when they vote to make sure Congress pays our bills on time so America does not default on costs it's already accrued, then I am prepared to have a reasonable, civil negotiation around a whole slew of issues," Obama said.

The president said he had "bent over backwards" to accommodate Republicans -- a statement his foes would dispute -- but warned it would set a terrible precedent to allow lawmakers of any party to hold a White House to ransom over raising the debt ceiling.

"Absolutely I am exasperated, because this is entirely unnecessary," Obama said.

The government shutdown has sent 800,000 federal workers home, closed museums, national parks and monuments and crippled government services.

Obama wants a straightforward temporary spending bill to end the first shutdown in 17 years, while Tea Party Republicans have repeatedly tied the measure to a dismantling or delay of his signature health care law.

With neither side willing to budge, hopes of an early exit to the shutdown are fading.

"Most of the time you can see an end game," Republican Senator Johnny Isakson told MSNBC. "Right now there's no end game in sight."

Some signs of incremental movement emerged, with Democrats pledging to appoint negotiators to thrash out a long-term budget -- provided that the Republicans agree to an immediate six-week federal spending measure with no anti-Obamacare provisions.

Obama met at the White House with his chief political rival, House Speaker John Boehner, as well as top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell to address the standoff.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi were also there.

Boehner's office said the fact the talks were taking place was a victory in itself and had the potential to lead to "serious talks between the two parties."

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi warned Wednesday that a US shutdown "is a risk if it is protracted."

"It would be a risk not only for the US, but also the world economy," Draghi said.

Obama on Wednesday gathered a group of high flying CEOs, apparently hoping they would pressure Boehner to pass a straight temporary funding bill.

Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein warned that America was getting onto dangerous ground by flirting with not raising the debt ceiling. A previous period of brinkmanship on the issue badly hit the US credit rating.

"There's a precedent for a government shutdown, there's no precedent for a default," he said after meeting Obama.

Furious tourists meanwhile are locked out of Washington museums and monuments, as well as national parks and landmarks like the Statue of Liberty in New York. Cancer research and treatment at the world-class National Institutes of Health has ground to a halt.

The fallout has already caused Obama to shorten his long-planned Asia trip, scrapping stops in Malaysia and the Philippines that were due to begin this weekend, so he could attend to the crisis at home.

The president's attendance at regional summits in Indonesia and Brunei was also in doubt.

A no show in Asia would be seen as a blow to Obama's policy of rebalancing US diplomacy and military might towards the fast growing region.

But James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence warned lawmakers that US security was already being compromised.

Seventy percent of the intelligence workforce had been furloughed, potentially offering an opening to foreign recruiters in the field, Clapper said.

"This seriously damages our ability to protect the safety and security of this nation," Clapper said.


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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Kenyan President Declares Victory in Mall Siege

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Kenyan authorities prepared for the gruesome task of recovering dozens more victims than initially feared after the country's president declared an end Tuesday to the four-day siege of a Nairobi mall by al-Qaida-linked terrorists. Officials said the death count could jump by another 60 or more.

"We have ashamed and defeated our attackers," President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a televised address to the nation that was delayed for hours as gunbattles persisted at the upscale Westgate mall. "Kenya has stared down evil and triumphed."

Despite Kenyatta's declaration, troops remained deployed at the vast complex, and security officials told The Associated Press attackers with weapons or booby traps might still be inside. A plan to remove bodies was aborted because of continued skirmishes inside the mall, where three floors had collapsed.

Describing the victims as "innocent, harmless civilians" of "various nationalities, races, ethnic, cultural, religious and other walks of life," a solemn-looking Kenyatta reported the known death toll: at least 61 civilians, along with six security forces and five al-Shabab militants.

About 175 people were injured, including 62 who remain hospitalized, he said, acknowledging that "several" bodies remained trapped in the rubble, including those of terrorists.

However, another government official said a far higher toll was feared and morgue workers were preparing to receive up to 60 more bodies. A Western embassy official said the number of additional dead could go as high as 100. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss information not publicly disclosed.

"They're just seeing dead bodies. They've found no survivors, no live hostages," said a Nairobi resident whose brother was taking part in the military sweep inside the mall. He spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because his brother was not authorized to publicly release the information.

Kenyatta said 11 suspects had been arrested; authorities previously announced that seven had been taken into custody at the airport and three elsewhere.

"These cowards will meet justice as will their accomplices and patrons, wherever they are," an emotional Kenyatta declared.

"We confronted this evil without flinching, contained our deep grief and pain, and conquered it," he said. "As a nation, our head is bloodied, but unbowed."

Kenyatta declared three days of national mourning starting Wednesday.

Kenyatta said forensic experts would examine the corpses of the assailants to determine their identities, softening earlier assertions by Kenya's foreign minister that Americans and a Briton were involved in the siege.

"Intelligence reports had suggested that a British woman and two or three American citizens may have been involved in the attack," the president said. "We cannot confirm the details at present but forensic experts are working to ascertain the nationalities of the terrorists."

Kenyan officials as early as Sunday evening began declaring near-victory over what they said were 10 to 15 attackers, some who wore black turbans and many with grenades strapped to their vests. But battles inside the shopping complex continued, straining the credibility of victory declarations.

Booming explosions on Monday collapsed a second-story parking garage down into a department store -- blasts that lit cars on fire and sent dark plumes of smoke skyward for nearly two hours. Explosions continued throughout Tuesday, and the chatter of gunfire from inside the building could be heard. Fresh smoke rose from the building in the afternoon.

Fears persisted that some of the attackers could still be alive and loose inside the rubble of the mall, a vast complex that had shops for retailers like Bose, Nike and Adidas, as well as banks, restaurants and a casino.

Two Kenyan soldiers who had been inside the mall shortly before the president spoke said the operation was mostly over, but security forces were still combing the facility and had not definitively cleared all the rooms. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were under orders not to speak to the media.

Another higher-ranking security official involved in the investigations said it would take time to search the whole mall before declaring that the terrorist threat had been crushed. That official also insisted on anonymity.

Al-Shabab, whose name means "The Youth" in Arabic, first began threatening Kenya with a major terror attack in late 2011, after Kenya sent troops into Somalia following a spate of kidnappings of Westerners inside Kenya.

The group used Twitter throughout the four-day siege to say that Somalis have been suffering at the hands of Kenyan military operations in Kenya, and the mall attack was revenge.

"You could have avoided all this and lived your lives with relative safety," the group Tweeted Tuesday. "Remove your forces from our country and peace will come."

Al-Shabab, responding to a request from AP, denied that any women had attacked the mall."

"We have an adequate number of young men who fully committed and ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of Allah and for the sake of their religion," said the al-Shabab press office in what is thought to be an authentic email address.

The militants specifically targeted non-Muslims, and at least 18 foreigners were among the dead, including six Britons, as well as citizens from France, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Peru, India, Ghana, South Africa and China. Five Americans were among the wounded.

The mall attack was the deadliest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 al-Qaida truck bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, which killed more than 200 people.

Security officials in Nairobi always knew that Westgate, which was popular with foreign residents of the capital as well as tourists and wealthy Kenyans, was a likely target for terror attacks.

Matt Bryden, a former coordinator of the U.N.'s Somalia monitoring group, said it would have been impossible to adequately protect the complex without transforming its character from a pleasant shopping experience into a U.S. Embassy-like fortress.

"The issue now," he said, "is how this operation escaped detection. Was it so well-planned and operational security so tight that they managed to beat the system, or was it because there was a serious lapse of intelligence, or was it both?"

"To prevent future attacks the emphasis needs to be figuring it out and fix it, and not turning all shopping malls and restaurants and hotels into embassy-like fortresses."

A U.S. Embassy vehicle, identifiable by its numbered diplomatic license plate, arrived at the morgue on Tuesday. American officials have not confirmed the deaths of any U.S. citizens, but it appeared possible the morgue visit was by security officials with an agency like the FBI who were seeking information about one of the bodies inside.

Kenyatta said friendly nations offered various forms of assistance. American, British, French and perhaps most importantly Israeli advisers assisted the hostage-rescue mission, though security officials said all military actions were carried out by Kenyans.

Kenyatta singled out President Barack Obama, as well as the leaders of Israel and Britain, for their support.

-- Associated Press reporters Rodney Muhumuza, Ben Curtis, Adam Schreck and Jacob Kushner in Nairobi, Kenya; Cassandra Vinograd in London; and Abdi Guled in Mogadishu, Somalia, contributed to this report.

? Copyright?2013?Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Will This Relationship Last? Take the Quiz! - Science of Relationships

Are you dating someone and finding yourself wondering, ?Where is this going?? You can easily measure your current level of commitment to the relationship to make an educated guess about whether you guys will stay together. It?s not magic. It?s not a gimmick. It?s just statistics. Give it a try: Take our?relationship quiz.?(I recommend you take the quiz before reading further so that you can give your natural responses.)

Click here to take the quiz >>

Editors' note: This quiz is part of an informal project on great relationships conducted?by contributor?
Melissa Schneider, LMSW,?and is not supervised or conducted by,
other contributors, or the academic institutions affliliated with other contributors.

I think we can all agree that the word ?Commitment? gets tossed around a lot. Will he commit? She has commitment issues...We all say it, but what does commitment really mean? To some, it means not cheating, and for others, it means dating exclusively or maintaining a marriage. For most of us, commitment involves some sort of obligation or promise to the other person.

But to relationship researchers,?commitment is a specific animal with three major organs: relationship satisfaction, quality of alternatives, and investments.1 ?Relationship satisfaction? is fairly self-explanatory?it means how satisfied you are with your overall relationship. Your "alternatives" refer to the other people you could potentially become involved with if your current relationship ended. Lastly, your "investments" are the things you put into a relationship, like time, effort, money, property, or emotional energy. Researchers have refined and tweaked this definition of commitment since the 1980s, and it has become one of the single most-studied aspects of romantic relationships.2?More importantly for us, this flurry of empirical inquiry means we know a lot about the interaction between commitment and a person?s future decision to stay or break up. Essentially, it works like this:

Commitment?s Predictive Powers

Your commitment score is not a perfect crystal ball, but it is a good place to start if you want to predict your relationship?s future. Commitment is one of the best markers of who will break up and who will stay together in the future, anywhere from three months to a year or two later.3?It is also a great way to assess your relationship because unlike other factors, such as how often you fight or how much support you get from your social circle, commitment?s powers appear to work equally for men and women. Also, the relationship between commitment and your future status is also generally immune to your ethnicity, sexual orientation, or how long you?ve been with your partner.

This means that you can measure your commitment at any point in the dating or relationship process and learn something useful about the future. But how accurate a prediction can you make? In one study that followed more than 1,700 people for five months, commitment scores collected at the start of the study explained 22% of the difference between the people who stayed together and the people who broke up after the five months. In normal-speak, this number means there is a moderate connection between commitment and staying together in the future. While a lot of other factors contribute to keeping a couple together, we can confidently say that people?s current commitment to their relationship is an important piece of their future decision to stay with their partner or move on.

Commitment would probably be an even more accurate predictor of your relationship?s future status if it weren?t for one thing: Committed people sometimes get dumped. It sucks but it?s true. If your partner is less committed than you are, he or she might break up with you, rendering your own commitment a much less relevant factor in your future break-up. If your partner is willing, perhaps you can both take today?s relationship quiz and compare your scores. If you have similar scores, then great. If your commitment levels vary, you might want to talk about what is causing this difference. One study of college students found that people who would initiate a breakup with their partner in the next five months had lower commitment levels than people who would still be dating their partner at the end of that time.4?A mismatch in your commitment levels doesn?t have to be cause for panic, but it could be an important thing to discuss together.

Moreover, commitment is not 100% accurate because committed people might leave for other reasons. If you find out your partner is cheating, for instance, or if your parents strongly disapprove of your partner, or if you have to move to China and your partner insists on keeping a position in the state of Wyoming, such factors could prompt a non-commitment-related breakup.

All in all, your commitment score is a significant puzzle piece when you want to know if your relationship will last. Understanding your own commitment will give you a unique perspective on yourself and your relationship. So, go on, click here to find out how committed you are!

Did you miss the last quiz, How Is Your Relationship Doing? Feel free to take it or pass it along to a friend!

Interested in learning more about relationships? Click?here for?other topics?on?Science of Relationships.?Like us on?Facebook?or follow us on?Twitter?to get our articles delivered directly to your NewsFeed.

1Rusbult, C. E., Martz, J. M., & Agnew, C. R. (1998). The Investment Model Scale: Measuring commitment level, satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size. Personal Relationships, 5, 357?391.

2Le, B., Dove, N., Agnew, C., Korn, M., Mutso, A. (2010). Predicting nonmarital relationship dissolution: A meta-analytic synthesis. Personal Relationships, 17, 377-390.?

3Le, B., Dove, N., Agnew, C., Korn, M., Mutso, A. (2010). Predicting nonmarital relationship dissolution: A meta-analytic synthesis.?Personal Relationships, 17, 377-390.

4Arriaga, X. B., & Agnew, C. R. (2001). Being committed: Affective, cognitive, and conative components of relationship commitment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 1190?1203.

Melissa Schneider?-?Science Of Relationships?articles?|?Website
Melissa is a couples counselor and writer interested in the dynamics of romantic relationships. Her first book,?The Ugly Wife is a Treasure at Home: 27 True Stories About Love and Marriage in Communist China,?is coming soon; sign up?here?for the juicy details. See also is an online therapist out her blog:??Where Is This Going???or follow her on?Twitter @luvwiser. Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


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Monday, September 23, 2013

The Washington Post reports on Friday's #TeenDesignFair and #DesignAwards lunche...

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Letter to POTUS: Don???t Allow Sudanese President in U.S.

? 9/22/2013, Tishrei 18, 5774

Letter to POTUS: Don?t Allow Sudanese President in U.S.

Human rights activists, together with several Hollywood celebrities, have sent a letter to President Barak Obama demanding that he not allow Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir into the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly.? The letter asks Obama to stop him upon landing in New York and ?to be turned over immediately thereafter to the Hague to stand trial.

According to international law, as the U.S. is the host country to the U.N., she is obligated to allow international leaders into her borders even if they be hostile countries. Bashir has been accused by the West of war crimes due to his direct responsibility in the massacre of people of Darfur, and elsewhere.


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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Testimony ends in civil trial over Jackson's death

LOS ANGELES (AP) ? Testimony has ended in a negligence lawsuit against the promoter of Michael Jackson's planned comeback concerts.

Closing arguments in the case are expected to begin on Tuesday and jurors will likely begin deliberating next week.

Lawyers for Jackson's mother concluded testimony in the 21-week case on Friday after jurors heard from Jackson's longtime personal physician, Dr. Allan Metzger, and his attorney.

Metzger testified about Jackson's skin conditions, burns and other injuries that required medical care from a variety of doctors.

Jackson's mother is suing concert promoter AEG Live LLC claiming it negligently hired Conrad Murray, then a cardiologist who was later convicted of causing the death of the superstar in 2009.

AEG Live denies it hired Murray or bears any responsibility for the singer's death.


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Friday, September 20, 2013

Patrick Swayze's mother dies at 86


Sep. 19, 2013 at 2:19 PM ET

IMAGE: Patsy and Patrick Swayze


Patsy Swayze, seen with son Patrick in 1989, was a dance teacher and choreographer for years.

Patsy Swayze, who taught her late son Patrick to dance and had a lengthy dance resume all her own, died Monday at age 86, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Patsy Swayze first worked in dance in Houston, where Patrick and her other four children were born and raised. There she taught dance at the University of Houston and founded and directed the Houston Jazz Ballet Company. Her son wasn't her only student to go on to fame -- she also taught Jaclyn Smith, Tommy Tune and Debbie Allen, and Patrick Swayze met his wife, Lisa Niemi, because she too was one of his mom's students.

After she choreographed the 1980 Texas-set film "Urban Cowboy," working with star and noted dancer John Travolta, Swayze moved to L.A., ran her own dance studio, and continued to work with Hollywood's dance needs as her own son's dancing star rose.?

"She was a genuine technician demanding the best and she darn well got it," swim teacher Jan "Mama Fishy" Pierce wrote on her swim school website. "She kept Buddy (Patrick) humble and sometimes we felt sorry for him being a teacher's kid -- like a preacher's kid -- always having to be the best."

"Patsy taught us how to teach because she understood the body and how it worked, whether in water or on land," Pierce recalls on her site. "We could take a kid out of preschool dance class and have him swimming in no time at all. How? We sang some of the same songs we danced to, kicked our legs like a dancer using pointed or flexed feet, worked our shoulder rolls for strokes, and made wet lessons work just as well as dry."

According to the Times, Patsy Swayze discovered dance out of necessity. She was in a car accident as a child, and her mother enrolled her in dance classes to help her recover.

She is survived by three of her five children. Her husband Jesse died in 1982, daughter Vickie in 1994, and Patrick Swayze died of pancreatic cancer in 2009 at age 57. Patsy Swayze died just two days after the four-year anniversary of Patrick Swayze's death.


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The Senator for Sport | Sports Business Insider

The likely election of a candidate from the Australian Sports Party to the Federal Senate has surprised the nation, but it could potentially open huge opportunities for the community sports sector.

At the time of writing, the previously unknown Grid Iron player Wayne Dropulich is on track to win the sixth Senate spot from Western Australia ? despite winning a miserly 0.22% of the vote.? If successful, it seems Mr Dropulich will join an expanded Senate crossbench populated by representatives of Clive Palmer?s Palmer United Party, the mysterious Liberal Democrats, the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, Family First and possibly the Sex Party.

Criticism of Micro-Parties

These so-called micro-parties have attracted widespread criticism in the mainstream media for both their policy platforms (or lack of them), and for using tight preference-swapping techniques to maximise their vote power.

Mr Dropulich hasn?t been immune from this criticism.? Speaking on ACB1?s Q and A program, for example, The Guardian Australia?s Political Editor Lenore Taylor said:

It seems like we?re going to get a Senator whose main and possibly only policy is that he?s in favour of sport.

The public ridicule has been unfair and uninformed.? The use of exchange of preferences between parties is commonplace among all political parties, and you can hardly blame the candidates if voters choose to vote ?above the line? in the Senate.

Furthermore, Australian Sports Party?s platform is not about being in ?favour of sport?, it?s about promoting healthy active lifestyles and using sport to build social capital in local communities.

A Voice for Community Sport

Millions of Australians have an involvement in grassroots sport ? either as participants, volunteers or supporters.? For many, community sport is not just a passion ? it is the backbone of their social networks, and forms an important part of their personal identity.

And as Brad McCarroll has argued, all is not rosy in the world of grassroots sport. ?Declining rates of participation, declining rates of volunteerism, and increasing costs (such as insurance) are putting many community-level clubs out of business ? while the elite end of the industry takes an ever larger slice of the pie.

Through my own experiences as a participant and board member of grassroots sporting clubs, I understand the potential political power of this constituency.? ?If only there was a political party for people involved in sport, we?d be unstoppable? ? is a comment that I?ve heard many times.

But while the Australian Sports Party comes to Parliament with a clear mission, the critics do have a point.? The Party has not made it clear how it intends to achieve its goals, or how it intends to deal with the breadth of complicated policy issues that it will be confronted with in the Senate.

The Party?s web site offers us few clues, other than a list of sound but broad objectives ? such as:

  • Promote a healthy well-balanced lifestyle;
  • Educate and motivate Australians to live healthy lifestyle [sic];
  • Increase sporting participation; and
  • Support Australia?s sporting culture.

So in the absence of any detail about the Australian Sport?s Party?s policies or plans, here are some suggestions as to how the Party could go about achieving its objectives in the Australian Parliament, and how it could play a positive role in the Senate.

Implement the Crawford Recommendations

The first thing the Mr Dropulich should do, if hasn?t already, is carefully read the Crawford Report into The Future of Sport in Australia.? This report is, in essence, a comprehensive manual for achieving the basic objectives of the Australian Sports Party.? It should give him the perfect launching pad for developing sensible, effective and achievable policies.

As discussed previously in Sports Business Insider, the Crawford Report was quietly shelved by the previous Labor Government.? But with a new Federal Government, now is the time to dust off the report?s more worthy recommendations, such as:

  • Taking action to allow greater access to school sporting facilities outside of school hours;
  • Developing a national volunteer program for sporting and physical activity organisations;
  • Encouraging past AIS scholarship-holders to volunteer within community organisations as coaches, administrators and mentors; and
  • Establishing a National Sports Facilities Fund with an initial allocation of $250 million each year for four years.

Most importantly, the Australian Sports Party should be pushing for the new Government to apply a new set of key performance indicators in the sport portfolio.? Success should not just be about the number of gold medals won at the Olympics ? the new Minister for Sport should be reporting to Parliament in his performance in lifting participation rates, and in improving access to active recreation.

Sports issues are also highly topical at the moment.? The use of drugs in sport, match-fixing and alcohol sponsorship are dominating the front and back pages of our daily newspapers.? The Australian Sports Party is in the box seat to work with the sports sector and lead the discussion on these issues inside Parliament, and to help develop effective policy responses.

In the past, the sports portfolio has been about junkets to major events and photo opportunities for politicians, who love standing alongside a winner clad in green and gold.? If the Australian Sports Party can change this, and turn the sports portfolio into something more meaningful, then it will have made a worthwhile contribution to the country.

A Values-Based Policy Framework

If Mr Dropulich?s policies have been vague, then he has given even less away about his party?s approach to non-sport related issues.

In an interview with WA Today, Mr Dropulich said ?at this stage we are just going to see if we get in, then we can address all those issues.?

Nevertheless, the Party does profess to have a set of core values.? These values (identified on its web site) of integrity, responsibility, compassion, teamwork and enjoyment should provide a framework for the analysis of policy issues.? For example, it could be argued that a responsible and compassionate approach on the issue of asylum seekers would be to find more humane alternatives to the Coalition?s harsh treatment of refugees.

A teamwork-based approach to politics (at least for a party with only one Federal representative) would be to actively involve party-members and the wider community in the decision-making processes.? It would also involve using the system of Parliamentary Committees for resolving disputes between the major parties. And a party that values integrity should be advocating for stronger whistleblower protections, protection of freedom of speech, and robust Freedom of Information laws.

Fundamentally, however, the Senate is the State?s House, and the Australian Sports Party will be representing the State of Western Australia.? So the first rule that the Party should adopt is to ask whether or nor a piece of legislation or a government decision is in the best interest of Western Australia.? In that way, the Party would not only be acting in a way consistent with the intentions of the Constitution, it would be following in the footsteps of previous successful independent Senators such as Tasmania?s Brian Harradine.

A Window of Opportunity

The new Federal Government has given early signals that it wants to take sport seriously.? ?While the Minister for Sport gets a seat inside Cabinet, other portfolios such as Tourism, Resources, Aged Care, Disabilities, Resources and Science have all been abolished as stand-alone Ministries.? To many, even inside the Liberal Party, this is evidence that the Federal Government has a warped sense of priorities.? As Federal Liberal Party MP Dennis Jenson said: ?I mean we?ve got a Minister for Sport for God?s sake, but we don?t have a Minister for Science.?

For the sporting community, however, this situation should be viewed as a remarkable window of opportunity.? Now is the time to put community sport issues front and centre in our national political debate.? The sector has been left out for too long ? partly because it has never got itself organised. ?The sports sector must band together, and must quickly develop a constructive relationship with Mr Dropulich and his party.

One thing is for sure, if Mr Dropulich does get his seat in the Senate, he will be in for one hell of a ride over the next six years.


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France's Hollande says to meet Iranian president next week

BAMAKO (Reuters) - France's president, Francois Hollande, said on Thursday he would meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly next week, the first meeting between presidents of the two countries since 2005.

France has been a strong advocate of sanctions to pressure Iran over its nuclear program but has been cautious since Rouhani, a relative moderate, was elected earlier this year. Hollande said he had accepted an invitation to meet with the new Iranian leader.

"There is a plan to meet with the Iranian president at his request," Hollande told reporters before leaving Bamako, where he was attending a ceremony to mark the swearing-in of Mali's new president.

Hollande would be the first Western leader of the P5+1 nations - United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - to meet Rouhani, although the White House said on Thursday it was possible that President Barack Obama could meet Rouhani in New York if Tehran signaled it was serious about giving up its nuclear program.

"We should not slam the door on him. We need to see what is behind the words and things will be judged on the acts. The meetings on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly will enable us to establish what the Iranian intentions are," said a French diplomatic source.

Hollande, who will be the first French president to meet an Iranian president since 2005 when Jacques Chirac met Mohammad Khatami in Paris, is due to attend the U.N. meeting on September 24.

France's foreign minister is also scheduled to meet his Iranian counterpart, the first time foreign ministers of the countries have met since September 2011.

The United States and its western allies believe Iran is working towards developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at power production.

(Reporting Eliabeth Pineau and John Irish, writing by John Irish; Editing by Janet Lawrence)


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Thursday, September 19, 2013


Zact, a new virtual mobile carrier on Sprint's network, offers some killer service plans and useful parental controls. But it's entering a very crowded prepaid market, where its super-cool billing technology can't outweigh the value of unlimited plans for heavy users and a wider range of phones for most people. That makes Zact a true player, but not a leader, in the prepaid space.

Sign Up and Setup
Zact sells online only. You go to Zact's website and pick one of only three available handsets: a $449 Samsung Galaxy S III, a $259 Samsung Galaxy Victory, and a $199 LG Viper. They're all decent Android smartphones, although none of them is state of the art. More importantly, Virgin Mobile is undercutting Zact right now with a $339 Galaxy S III and $149 Victory.?

I got a Zact Samsung Galaxy S III. It came with all of the usual Samsung preloads, but only one carrier app: The Zact carrier management app, which helps you set your plan, monitor your usage, and control your kids' phones.

Zact's plans all work on Sprint's network. My Zact Galaxy S III found Sprint's 3G and LTE networks without a problem, getting around 400kbps down on Sprint's slow 3G network and about 6Mbps down on LTE. If Verizon's signal is stronger than Sprint's where you live, expect some odd behavior from your phone, though. When I went in our building's elevator, the phone flipped over into "roaming" mode for a few minutes, which was a little confusing.

Zact's system requires custom firmware, so it only works with phones bought through Zact. Unlike competing low-cost Sprint MVNOs Ting, Kajeet, and Expo Mobile, for instance, you can't bring your own Sprint phone. And since Sprint is a CDMA system, you can't use unlocked phones, or phones from other carriers. If you choose a GSM-based prepaid service like Simple Mobile or Straight Talk, you can use an entire planet's worth of unlocked GSM phones.

Plan Features and Management
Zact lets you tune your service plan to your exact level of usage, whenever you want. You can change it dozens of times a month if you like; only the last change, before your monthly billing date, matters. Ting also has custom service plans, but Zact's more granular approach generally leads to savings of at least a few dollars a month.

The key is that whatever plan you pick, you're only charged for what you use. For instance, a plan with 500 minutes, 1000 texts and 500MB of data on one phone is $33/month on Ting. On Zact, that comes to $32.93: $27.94 for the plan and $4.99 per phone. But Ting doesn't offer any data buckets between 100MB for $3 and 500MB for $13, while Zact will trim your monthly rate down to what you actually used, in 50MB increments. That means you'll probably pay less with Zact.

Zact rates

Zact's "specialized plans" are even more interesting: you can buy buckets that only work with specific apps. For instance, 275 MB of Facebook or Instagram for a month costs $5. If you're really into tweaking, you can create a plan for precisely your Internet usage and save even more money, but you have to be precise and pay attention.

Both Zact and Ting eschew the unlimited plans that most mainstream carriers and many MVNOs choose. For instance, Expo Mobile offers $50 unlimited talk, text, and 3G Sprint data. Zact can roll up to 5000 minutes per month ($86.97), 40,000 texts ($89.40) and 5GB of data ($104), but as you can see, it gets pretty expensive for very high volume users.

The parental controls here are excellent, and the whole family doesn't need to sign up for Zact to use them. You can control Zact phones from other Android or iOS phones, using an app downloaded from the Android Market or iTunes.

The Zact parental controls let you set restrictions by time and day of the week. You can blacklist or whitelist phone calls, texts, specific applications, and specific contacts?for instance, making it so a tween's phone can only text her friends between 3 and 8PM on weekdays. If you have multiple phones, you can set defined usage limits for each phone. That's really nice.

The only low-cost carrier competing with Zact on parental controls is Kajeet, also on the Sprint network. Kajeet has a limited set of text-focused plans with relatively little data usage on its lowest-cost plans, but it lets you bring most existing Sprint phones over and enjoy cheap plans with parental controls.

The specialized plans also make sense in a family-plan context: For instance, if your kid relies on Instagram, you can just buy her Instagram, but not other Web services.


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AT&T investigating possible $5 billion sale of cell towers


Nearly 10,000 cell towers could be up for sale; AT&T planning to lease back what it sells

Reports today indicate that AT&T is considering a sale of its cell towers to other companies for upwards of $5 billion in order to fund other initiatives in the company. According to sources of Bloomberg, AT&T is partnering up with financial firms TAP Advisors LLC and JPMorgan Chase to explore the merits of selling off the 10,000 cell towers the carrier owns in the US.

These towers currently generate about $326 million in annual revenue from roaming and leasing agreements for AT&T, but reports indicate that an all-out sale of the towers could net it up to $5 billion. The expected buyers of so many towers are expected to be some of the largest tower operators in the country such as American Tower and Crown Castle.

Now a sale of the towers by AT&T doesn't mean that customers will lose coverage area, however. The structure of such agreements usually involves a sale of the physical tower sites as well as an agreement to lease back the use of the towers for its network. Similar deals from T-Mobile in the past netted the company $2.4 billion in 2012, and a similar move by AT&T could give it extra cash it needs to further its other initiatives.

Source: Bloomberg



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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When launching a business, culture is key

Entrepreneurs are paying a lot more attention to the cultures they create in their businesses. Culture is important, but it should never take precedent over a company's financial viability.?

By Dr. Jeffrey R. Cornwall / September 17, 2013

Austrian 'activist' investor Alexander Proschofsky, founder of Cube Invest, gestures during an interview with Reuters in Vienna last month. Cornwall argues that figuring out the culture is key when launching a new business, but it should never be a bigger priority than finances.

Leonhard Foeger /Reuters/File


As someone who has written quite a bit about small business ethics, there is a trend that I find to be quite encouraging.? Entrepreneurs are paying a lot more attention to the cultures they create in their businesses.

Skip to next paragraph Dr. Jeffrey R. Cornwall

Jeff is the Jack C. Massey Chair in Entrepreneurship and Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

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The culture of a business defines and shapes how a company?s owners and employees act, think, and feel as they go about their work. ?Culture sets the behavioral expectations and ethical standards in a company.? It guides how employees are expected to interact with each other, with customers, with suppliers, and so forth.

Businesses with well-developed cultures tend to have a stronger sense of ethical awareness among their employees.? All things being equal, these companies are also are more successful than those that do not intentionally build a strong culture.

So how should an entrepreneur go about building a strong culture in a business?

Creating a culture should be treated just like the development systems, policies and procedures, and structure.? It should be tied to the growth of the business.

As you are getting ready to launch your business, make sure to list your most important core values.? For example, these might include values such as honesty, openness, or fairness.? These values will serve as the core for the ethical standards in your business.

Next, write down a few things that you will commit to doing day-to-day to bring these values to life in your business.? It could be related to how you will work with employees, how you will treat customers, or how you will balance work and family.? Keep this list handy to remind yourself of what you have committed to do to shape the early culture.

Skynet to Launch October 2013 | TIS - Truth Is Scary

Published on September 17, 2013 by admin ????? No Comments



Business insider?published an article about the NSA data center being constructed in Bluffdale Utah. The facility, being roughly 1 million square feet, will house a computing and data harvesting and long term data storage facility to be operational by October 2013.

The stated purpose of the facility is to ?listen and decode all foreign communications of interest to the security of the United States.?? But in light of the recent revelations of NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden, the data center under construction in Utah is far more likely a tool of the United States Government (and its global masters) to collect unimaginable amounts of data on Americans and eventually every human on earth.

In fact, as far back as the mid nineteen eighties, the NSA and other intelligences agencies created and controlled a secret computer monitoring operation in New Zealand and elsewhere called project ECHELON.??Designed and coordinated by NSA, the ECHELON system is used to intercept ordinary e-mail, fax, telex, and telephone communications carried over the world?s telecommunications networks. Unlike many of the electronic spy systems developed during the Cold War, ECHELON is designed primarily for non-military targets: governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals in virtually every country. It potentially affects every person communicating between (and sometimes within) countries anywhere in the world.?[*]

With this so-called leak from Snowden, the public is now aware of something that has been going on for decades and, by now, would have already compiled billions of records about hundreds of millions of people in the America and the world.

In fact this ?leak? really doesn?t provide a lot of new information, since we already knew ?The ECHELON system is not designed to eavesdrop on a particular individual?s e-mail or fax link. Rather, the system works by indiscriminately intercepting very large quantities of communications and using computers to identify and extract messages of interest from the mass of unwanted ones. A chain of secret interception facilities has been established around the world to tap into all the major components of the international telecommunications networks. Some monitor communications satellites, others land-based communications networks, and others radio communications. ECHELON links together all these facilities, providing the US and its allies with the ability to intercept a large proportion of the communications on the planet.?

But what we do learn from the media?s focus on this ?new shocking revelation?, is the technology of secret, off the record, underground intelligence operations working for either a breakaway civilization, living side by side with earth?s existing civilizations, or operated as a spook operation serving a multinational global elite seeking to control and rule the world, is far more advanced than previously believed. Moreover, it would seem likely this new ?leak? is just another bit of predictive programming designed to alert the world?something even bigger is already in the works.

The data center, at a cost of $2 billion ( but much higher, based on the cost of the technology already created to make this possible) is probably the outward tip of an iceberg to introduce and indoctrinate the public to something even worse than the news that every bit of human communication and knowledge is and has been recorded for decades.

In terms of data storage, some publications suggest the data center will house digital storage capacities on the order of YottaBytes which is a number so large it is incomprehensible to the human mind.? A Yottabyte is one septillion bytes or 10 to the 24th power bytes. Enough storage, indeed, to record and keep every single bit of human digital information; every phone call, text message, Internet chat, Email, song, word spoken, every book, bank account, all financial data, patents, stolen intellectual property, and more. With this amount of storage and more on the way, as the ?law of accellerating returns? turns out denser and faster memory, the entire realtime movie of mankind can be recorded, analyzed and used, for what ? only the gods know.

Read More HERE


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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Wordsmith's Forge - Thoughts on Cover Art

Sharon Lee has an article about cover art that raises many interesting points.

Back when Agent of Change was first published ? by which I mean 1988 ? publishers actively discouraged writers and their cover artists from speaking to each other. It was felt, by the publishers, that writers weren?t artists, had no idea what image would sell a book; and would just confuse the artist if they started talking about what the characters looked like, or what the setting was, or what the most interesting scene in the book was.

This is true of the publishing industry. It is also STUPID. First, assuming that a person, or worse yet a whole group of people, must necessarily lack a certain knowledge or skill is prejudiced. Second, it is a writer's responsibility to know their work. They may or may not have visual as well as verbal skills, which influences their ability to identify the most photogenic scenes -- but they really should be able to pinpoint the most important scenes. So it's well worthwhile to ask.

Writer and artist will naturally see the story in different ways. That's a cool thing. Really, seriously, it makes your creative work better, thing. When writers and artists talk with each other about a project, they can use that parallax to generate a sort of stereoscopic vision. Do it right and the result will just pop off the page and grab viewer attention by the lapels.

You can see the appeal and potential of this in projects, often hobby ones, where people are encouraged or required to team up. Torn World has run a number of contests pairing art and writing. Fanfic fests often include this in either direction: story first, then illustration; or art that writers can claim as inspiration for a story. People like it.

The prevailing thought at that point in publishing history was that what was on the cover of the book and what was inside the book really didn?t have that much to do with each other. It was the art?s job to tell potential readers what kind of story was lurking between the covers.

This premise routinely fails to sell me books, and I am an easy person to sell books to. If I'm browsing for unfamiliar material, I am first attracted to the title, and if it appeals, then I will look at the cover and the front and back text. Cover art that looks stupid, sexist, or inaccurate will cost the book points.

By the late 1980s, covers were getting a little more representative of content, though still tilted toward SF?s perceived market ? 14 year old boys.

My inner 14-year-old boy has definite taste in art, and always has. If he wants pinups, well, that's what Playboy is for. Book covers are for illustrating an awesome scene from the story, preferably with a good look at the characters. He likes rockets and aliens and starscapes a lot, also dragons and warriors and castles. And he thinks that if you can't paint things accurately, you shouldn't be making book covers. Benchmarks include Michael Whelan and Larry Elmore.

There are a few of our covers that I?m not in love with, but, for the most part, characters we?ve described as brown ? Meripen Vanglelauf, Jela, Shan, Nelirikk ? or golden-skinned ? Val Con (who also became Asian for a run of covers, that being the result of the authors talking to an artist who had been in Vietnam, and knew exactly what golden-skinned people looked like), Aelliana, Daav, Er Thom ? or pale ? Theo, Miri ? have been painted as described.

Misrepresentation of major identifying features -- skin tone, hair color, eye color, respective height, things like scars or tattoos -- is a huge flaw. These things are how we recognize people. If they are wrong, the painting is misleading and not in fact of the intended character. I have slammed publishers in reviews for changing character race, and also for changing beauty levels or body size.

Do the characters look exactly as I see them in my head? No, of course not, though some renditions have come closer than others.

As a writer, I like seeing an artist's visualization of my characters. Sometimes they nail it, usually they come close, misses are fairly rare. It's partly a test of my skill at description -- which is one of my best abilities -- and partly about the artist's creativity. For me this is one of the exciting parts about writing.

1. Do you, as a reader, expect that cover art will accurately reflect the accompanying novel?

Yes. I see this as a fundamental requirement of cover art.

2. Do you become upset when/if it turns out that the cover does not accurately represent:
2a. The main character
2b. The setting
2c. The kind of story inside the covers

Yes. Sometimes a little, if small details are wrong; this indicates carelessness on somebody's part in producing a precise product. I can become downright irate if the error correlates with sexism, racism, or other oppressions; for example, if a female character is not portrayed in a sexual light in the story and described as something other than beautiful, but the cover has a "standard" slim pretty girl in a sexy pose. Setting has a little more leeway, but if there's an obvious flaw, that still annoys me. I've seen people put the wrong number of legs on an alien. *facepalm*

It's rare for me to see a book cover that doesn't suggest the kind of story, unless it's abstract or random. I dislike the modern trend of non-illustrative book covers. Symbolic is okay if you know exactly what you are doing. This isn't all that difficult; there are many references to symbolism, and it's commonly taught both in art and in writing. I use it a lot; someone could easily do this for a book cover of mine. Yet a lot of people don't know how, and they make painfully stupid mistakes. Know how to do your job, or step aside for someone who does.

3. In 2, above ? which misrepresentation bothers you the most? Why?

Character, setting, then story. Partly because that's how they tend to impact the content; an error in character portrayal is more likely to clash with the storytelling. Setting is usually a background, unless it's a story about exploring a strange new world or for some other reason the location is salient. Mystery novels, for instance, are prone to setting-related fuckups such as having the wrong type of gun, a vital item missing, or a cover that gives away the ending. Story, well, if I want to know that, it's what the back cover blurb is for; and then I read the first page or two.

Character misrepresentation is the one that does genuine harm. The others are just about reader awareness and enjoyment. Whitewashing characters hurts real people by implying that only white people are good enough to be heroes or sell books ... or exist. If all the characters are skinny beauties, that erases everyone who isn't. And it's terrible for writers whose characters are prevailingly people of color, women, size-diverse, people with handicaps, or otherwise outside the artificially narrowed target zone because then the chance of accurate portrayal is very low. This makes it harder to sell books. Those kinds of characters deserve exciting, skillful, accurate covers too. Not just for the story and the reader enjoyment, but so people with those traits can see reflections of themselves that help them feel a part of the world.

4. If you are upset about inaccurate covers, how do you think change can be effected?
4a. By writing to the author
4b. By writing to the publisher
4c. By boycotting authors and publishers who publish inaccurate covers
4d. Nothing will change, so why try?

Use your folding vote. Publishers care fuckall about your beliefs but they sure care about your money. Writers and artists may be influenced to the extent that you deal with them directly, which is relevant in crowdfunding, in buying prints from artists, in meeting authors over a signing table, etc.

I only address artistic issues to the author if I have reason to believe the author had input. I've long been aware that they usually don't and are collateral victims of shabby performance or obnoxious politics. Or people who don't care who gets hurt as long as they make more money.

I have also addressed issues with artists, particularly if a given artist shows a definable bias across their work. I've boycotted people for that reason. I've also pointed out technical, literary, and social problems. Sometimes they listen, other times they don't. But if I point something out, and they agree to work on fixing that in the future? I will actively search their product line for something I can afford to buy. You get what you reward.

Mostly I blame publishers. I blame them a lot. I've written more than one letter on this topic, in addition to reviews. The publisher is where the buck stops on quality control, including cases where it's the printer who botches a cover. I've seen some where the colors were destroyed to the point that the publisher should have refused the product and made them do it over. A publisher who consistently puts out books with inaccurate or offensive covers is probably doing other, less obvious things that are shitty and I don't want to support. One mistake won't usually trigger a boycott, but if there's a trend, then I'll probably shop elsewhere.

Conversely a publisher who uses a lot of great covers full of diversity can quickly hook my interest, assuming the stories follow through. I have occasionally bought a book just for stupendous artwork, even if the story didn't grab me.

5. Other thoughts on the topic? Tell me!

Remember that publishers aren't gods. The only power they have is what people choose to grant them. If you dislike what they are doing, you can take your eyeballs and your money elsewhere. Buy what you want to support. Buy books about diverse characters and nag publishers if the art is wrong. Buy art about diverse characters. Thank writers and artists who make this stuff. If you're a creative person, make your own; feature characters who are like you, your friends, people you admire, people you've never met, a whole range of folks.

And when you see yet another cover that sucks? Poke a bigot in the eye.

Of my three published books, none are novels. ?The two poetry collections have photographic covers; the nature book has flowers and the science fiction one has a nebula. ?My publisher and I picked those together from images in the public domain, and once the text was added, they turned out pretty sharp. ?The nonfiction book has good color contrast but a very soft feminine art style that I personally find disappointing. ?However, the audience mostly loves it and it sells the book. ?This was a learning experience for me: sometimes the publisher, artist, and marketing folks know things that an author doesn't. ?So now I can take that into consideration for future projects, which is satisfying.

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Whelan.. oh, yes, Whelan. There's a *reason* he's been able to come out with coffee table books of nowt but cover art.

And, yes, it *does* make a difference when author talks to artist, or at least when *editor* does... there was a flap a while back about a book about explicitly Asian characters had a white-boy cover... OTOH, my friend annathepiper has published a certain book with a protagonist of colour twice... the first time, the *editor* made sure the cover was right... the second time, the *author* did... and while the covers were radically different (i.e. one was obviously photomanipulation; the other was original watercolour), they both said what needed saying in pictures.

It does help that Anna is a *voracious* reader, and one sensitive to hot-button issues... and since she reads a lot of stuff in and close to her authorial genre, she knows her market reasonably well.

I do have quibble with cover art that's wrong for some reason - colour, weapon, costume, scene not in story... but unless it's a hot-button issue like whitewahsing, I grumble to myself and move on... but, yeah, if somebody writes about girls in the ghetto or barrio and there's all these white dudes on the cover? Yeahhhhhh. That makes my keyboard itch.

>> It does help that Anna is a *voracious* reader, and one sensitive to hot-button issues... and since she reads a lot of stuff in and close to her authorial genre, she knows her market reasonably well.

Yes, this matters. Know your stuff. Make sure other people handle it properly.

>> I do have quibble with cover art that's wrong for some reason - colour, weapon, costume, scene not in story... but unless it's a hot-button issue like whitewahsing, I grumble to myself and move on... but, yeah, if somebody writes about girls in the ghetto or barrio and there's all these white dudes on the cover? Yeahhhhhh. That makes my keyboard itch. <<

I distinguish between varying levels of coverFAIL:

* cosmetic details (i.e. wrong color clothes or flowers)

* details relevant to plot/characterization (i.e. blue eyes on a character whose nickname is Greeneyes)

* things that can hurt people (i.e. whitewashing)

The first merely makes me grumble and move on. The second I grumble about and often remember; this is likely to add up to reluctance to keep buying from this publisher/artist if it persists. The third is most likely to generate a sharp and prompt response, such as complaining to the publisher or eviscerating it in a review or article.

I can only comment on self-publishing, as once in a while I get contacted by authors themselves wanting cover art, and by and large, most are lovely to work with--they send reference photos of their characters, settings, a description of the feel they want. And I like when authors trust an artist enough to hand large portions of the book over for the artist to pick the scene to illustrate, because (and this is where I could be wrong) I don't know if the author has necessarily given me the one that would work out best. I remember Michael Whelan mentioning he usually gets sent the manuscripts and works out the picture from there. Nowadays, there's Pinterest, which I know some authors use for their own inspiration. It would be best if the artist gets to see the visual inspirations the author worked from too, IMO--it would put them both on the same page, in many ways!

I have had clients who had their whole image/cover planned out, from the composition (down to describing elements in divided segments of the picture) all the way to colours (doing everything but dictating the hexadecimal hues, and they WILL compare in the final digital file). The artist becomes mere executor, and it's bothered me when I know the picture/cover design isn't particularly strong, unique or exciting. It may be everything the client wants, but is visually and artistically bland.

I just looked at your published books and I'm afraid I'm one of those who love the Composing Magic cover best out of the three. It's got typography and art well-paired, eye-catching saturated colours, good spacing, and the readability of the info perfect!

That's not a bad idea. For some broad categories of story, an archetypal cover is good -- a spaceship, an alien planet, a unicorn, a castle, a dragon, a cityscape, etc.

Earlier I had the idea of using artist portfolio pictures -- which are often big showy pieces, but very hard to sell -- as claimable book covers. It's not a commission, so the prices would be a lot lower, saving authors money while getting a great cover; and the artist would have a way to make money directly from something that was previously just showcase material.

>> I can only comment on self-publishing, as once in a while I get contacted by authors themselves wanting cover art, and by and large, most are lovely to work with--they send reference photos of their characters, settings, a description of the feel they want.

That's really cool.

>> And I like when authors trust an artist enough to hand large portions of the book over for the artist to pick the scene to illustrate, because (and this is where I could be wrong) I don't know if the author has necessarily given me the one that would work out best. <<

Yes, that's what I'd do -- send the whole manuscript. I've done it with poems that folks have illustrated. One of my favorites is this one from "Restoration" because the artist cleverly reversed the perspective, something I would never have thought to do. In the poem the "view" is from the kitchen, over the shoulders of the monsters looking into the oven.

>> I remember Michael Whelan mentioning he usually gets sent the manuscripts and works out the picture from there. <<

He does that.

>> Nowadays, there's Pinterest, which I know some authors use for their own inspiration. It would be best if the artist gets to see the visual inspirations the author worked from too, IMO--it would put them both on the same page, in many ways! <<

I use an open search or Creative Commons for mine, and I also collect and save visual references that I like. I do the Icon Day with djinni every chance I get, including descriptions and images. It works pretty well.

>> I have had clients who had their whole image/cover planned out, from the composition (down to describing elements in divided segments of the picture) all the way to colours (doing everything but dictating the hexadecimal hues, and they WILL compare in the final digital file). The artist becomes mere executor, and it's bothered me when I know the picture/cover design isn't particularly strong, unique or exciting. It may be everything the client wants, but is visually and artistically bland. <<

Well, some people are control freaks. In some areas I want control, but when it comes to art, I want a partnership because ideally the artist is better at art than I am. My eye for color and composition are perfectly intact, though I lack the handskills in this body. Sometimes people think of things I don't, and that's cool; plus it's just fun to see how someone else imagines my characters. I never get tired of that. I can rarely afford to commission anything, but I watch for free art days and have done some barter. So I've got some stuff.

>> I just looked at your published books and I'm afraid I'm one of those who love the Composing Magic cover best out of the three. It's got typography and art well-paired, eye-catching saturated colours, good spacing, and the readability of the info perfect! <<

It's okay. Those are among its strong points. It's the style of the art that I dislike.

I have had clients who had their whole image/cover planned out, from the composition (down to describing elements in divided segments of the picture) all the way to colours (doing everything but dictating the hexadecimal hues, and they WILL compare in the final digital file)

Ah, yes. I'm familiar with that problem, though I've been lucky not to encounter it much myself. One webcomic depicted it as the commisher using the artist as a blunt object to beat the project with. In my case, since I mostly do character design, I tend to get the control freakiness in the EDITS... which is unfortunate, since it means I don't know their gripes until later in the game.

I circumvent it a bit by offering two rounds of edits and that's IT. After that, they have to pay me extra. (Unless I screw up, in which case I fix it gratis.) That seems to rein people in, thank god. I have a graphic designer buddy who got requested for SEVEN bouts of increasingly trivial revisions. (And it was WEDDING INVITATIONS which really brings out the control freak in some people.)


Edited at 2013-09-16 05:40 pm (UTC)


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