Breaking: Hillary Won’t Run, Won’t Serve

–March 16, 2011

ABC Eyewitness News has just reported Hillary Clinton said today that she won’t run for President in 2016. If Obama wins in 2012, she will not stay on as Secretary of State, nor does she have interest in being Vice President. She is very happy in her current position and looks forward to the next two years of working at the State Department.

Addendum: HRC’s statements are from a stellar sit down interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer during her visit to Egypt. In answer to Blitzer’s questions, she also stated that she does not want to be Secretary of Defense. Her empathetic and serious expressions of concern about the nuclear threat in Japan were delivered much more eloquently than the president’s cool, monotonic, prepared statements.

Clinton was ebullient in characterizing her good fortune to represent the US and President Obama in helping solve international problems on the world stage at this time in history.

Addendum.1: (continued from Wolf Blitzer’s interview)

Libya: SOS Clinton said she thinks Obama is doing the right thing in not taking unilateral action on Libya. Paraphrasing the SOS: We have a lot of problems around the world that need resolution (she named several countries, but I couldn’t type that fast–she’s so smart), but they must be authorized by the international community.

Japan: It’s minute by minute, but we’re currently not recommending that U.S. personnel leave the country. Based on the feedback she’s getting from the experts, there was a lot of confusion as there would be in any disaster of this magnitude. “I mean if you’re hit first by an earthquake then a tsunami [….]”

That’s our girl!

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When the Upside is Three Mile Island

Two days ago I felt like saying, “this is going from bad to worse,” but I held my tongue thinking it was too pessimistic to put out there — just focus on recovery from the devastating earthquake and tsunami. How could it get worse?

And now, fifty people are left to protect Japan and the world from having a nuclear catastrophe at four of the six nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daichi facility. Each of the reactors is equal to one Three Mile Island.

Back up power and emergency systems are gone. There have been radioactive releases. There’s more waste in the spent fuel pools than in the reactors. Normally the water should be twenty feet above the fuel. Perhaps the rods have fallen down into the water. At Three Mile Island, it took five years for the system to cool down. Only then did they discover that there had been a fifty percent meltdown after the system was turned off for only two hours. In Japan it’s been much longer.

All the fuel could melt and go through the bottom of the pressure vessel. None of these structures is made to cope with this kind of event. If this happens, there would be an easier path through the molten vessel to the outside. Once the spent rods are in the pool, no one thinks about it (protecting them further).

Wikileaks revealed the U.S. had said that Japan wasn’t properly regulating its nuclear power industry. Japan built six reactors at one location, concentrated them there, because everyone said “not in my backyard.” (duh!)  That’s never been done before, and it makes things much more complicated and likely to happen with them all subject to the same conditions.

GE whistleblower – In 1975, in the design of Mark 1 containments they hadn’t taken into account loads caused by loss of water and other events. At that time he was asked to be project manager. Event: large loss of coolant accident – break of pipe and release of steam and containment products into the pool itself. Heavy vibrations weren’t considered. The steam from a large break should be condensed by water in the suppression pool. You could have a meltdown, or an uncontrolled release of radiation.

The cause of accident is the combined earthquake and tsunami which wiped out all backup systems onsite, so they haven’t been able to cool the system as designed. On all five of the Mark 1 plants at Fukushima, the spent fuel is on the reactor fueling floor. Why? It’s handy because they don’t have to move it very far. After it cools, the fuel is moved into another storage pool that’s outside of the reactor building. Under normal circumstances, it’s water-filled.

Usually you’d have a couple of days in which to act. Unit 4, which is now under threat of meltdown due to a fire wasn’t even in operation at the time. (Now @ 9pm ET, it’s claimed the fire is out.) However, in a horrible confluence of events, Unit 4 was under a maintenance program, and all of the fuel in the reactor had been off-loaded from the reactor into the fuel pool. So, it was verrryyyy hot.

* This post is comprised of my notes from Elliot Spitzer’s interviews of nuclear energy experts on his CNN show tonight 3/15/11. Although they are experts, these interviews are opinion and likely we will not know exactly what happened for a long time — if ever.

Obama needs to re-chart his energy course, which is heavily laden with nuclear, NOW! Declare a MORATORIUM on building new plants! Here we go again: NO MORE NUKES! NO MORE NUKES!

Praying for Japan and its people. God bless us all.

Blizzard Gate!

Stuck MTA bus, slid to to wrong side of 79th Street @ 1st and 2nd Avenues in the blizzard. Photo 2010 by Lady Boomer NYC

CBS-2 TV News, covering the NY area, reported that sanitation workers who should have been at their posts cleaning up after the blizzard were discovered to have been doing just the opposite. Instead of plowing the streets, it’s alleged that workers were hanging out for hours inside a lunch spot or using the equipment to drive down roads without really clearing them.

The blizzard crippled Manhattan, and especially the boroughs. Streets in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx remained uncleared for a week since the storm struck on December 26, 2010. (I’d source it for you, but so far the report’s so fresh that it’s not yet on the CBS local station’s website that reported it.

We’ll see. This could become a criminal investigation. A number of deaths have occurred because ambulances were unable to get to those in need. Until now, the department of sanitation has said that it was unable to clear the roads due to abandoned cars. Some residents and borough elected officials have blamed Mayor Bloomberg for slow response and it looks like the mayor is trying to defend his record by getting to the bottom of these rumors.

It’s been reported in days since the blizzard that some supervisors told some workers to stand down because they were angry at the city and/or Bloomberg for various concessions they had to make in contract negotiations. NYC is launching an investigation into the “stand down” rumors.

I’ll get you a source when I can. I have to run out! Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays: Inspired by a Shopping Cart Tree

Shopping Cart Tree by Artist Anthony Schmitt, Santa Monica, CA, 2010

Chanukah came right after Thanksgiving this year, and I felt compelled to visit my grown kids in California to celebrate both holidays—especially magnetized by my grandbaby of fifteen months, already a jokester in her own right.

On one of my walks near the beach, I became captivated by the Shopping Cart Tree at Edgemar, itself a site with a storied past. Named for its proximity to the ocean (mar in Spanish), it was once the home of an ice plant, then an egg hatchery. The current arts center, built by Frank Gehry using the original structure, housed the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMOA) at its inception.

My first fascination with the tree was the message it seemed to impart about how commerce defines Christmas. Yet the tree appeared so pretty and delicate taken as a whole. It was a brilliant dichotomy, indeed—expressed in an almost three-story-high tree made of 86 full-sized, coated steel shopping carts. (Ever try to wrangle one that’s got a recalcitrant wheel? Acgh! Urgh! They’re unwieldy, heavy, and bulky.)

When I looked up the artist, the narrative he gave of his work’s meaning was a 180 degree twist from what I’d imagined. Schmitt says,

The tree symbolizes generosity and abundance as well as acknowledges those less fortunate, where their whole world may be housed in a shopping cart.

My Y2010 contained hard work and fighting for financial increasing against a background of family joy. During the course of some of my work I interacted with hundreds of troubled homeless and sheltered people. In the course of my body-mind coaching practice, freelance editing, and personal life, I helped others who gave me their trust and support, and felt sustained by the deep compassion of those who helped me. Everything seemed to grow in momentum and depth as the year progressed. I am in appreciation and awe of everyone’s generosity.

But in the end what really sold me on the tree was its construction. You see, the sculpture’s only means of structural support was a circular iron frame at the very bottom of the piece which secured the bottom layer of carts. The entire rest of the work was held together merely by balance and plastic grip ties. I was mesmerized.

In the case of living beings, having the most basic connections in place as framework can sustain us, fulfill our needs and wants, and supply the basis for the rest of our connections. I see this at play in my granddaughter, as she grows with confidence into toddlerhood, based on the love in her family.

This year, I was gifted with meeting my first grandbaby over four separate periods of time, participated in the wedding of my first born, landed a book contract, new clients, venues, and channels of referral for my work. The unexpected conversations and “accidental” meetings with strangers provided welcomed sustenance in a city suddenly no longer inhabited by my immediate family.

I appreciate all of it—even feeling somewhat alone here in winter. My reward of imaginary distance is in sitting in my NYC writer’s den-styled apartment and writing my book—in the midst of a quiet corner of the busiest island in the world, three blocks from a river where barges, ships, tug, tour, and police boats, water taxis, yachts, and jet skis travel with and sometimes against the currents. I turn inward in order to extend my voice deeply into the world.

In the end, isn’t all the gift-giving really about wanting and trying to give people what we think they want or need, or what they tell us will make them happy? That’s such a darned good thing to attempt, and hopefully it fills us with joy in the process! These days, for me, the thought and care that go into my decisions are necessarily more important than the dollars spent.

It’s my wish for you that your deepest and most precious dreams, needs, and wants are fulfilled and enjoyed. May we all continue to open our hearts to love and appreciate the time we have here together–whether in-person or across the miles. May we extend our inner depth and our outer reach to reach our ultimate purpose. And may we grow as we increase in compassion for ourselves as well as others.

Happy Holidays, Happy Belated Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year, everybody!

Sic the Spies on Bin Laden

As a peace-loving liberal, I won’t score points with this one. I’m certainly not a pro hit squad or targeted assassination kind-o-gal. However, what do you think of the idea that instead of probing the Mossad for sending spies to kill a top Hamas military commander in Dubai last month, or putting them on the Interpol wanted list, we just send them in to get Bin Laden?

Yeah, it’s a flawed strategy you could say, without principle, but look at all the lives, resources, money, heartache, trauma, and irreversible injury we could save by one or two smart, stealth actions. For how many more years will the U.S. play the role of “trying” to catch OBL, Taliban, and Al Qaeda? Why not let the Mossad top spies do what they do best, or at least better train our people? Let’s get it over with and “bring the troops home.” Why don’t we spend the money to rebuild our country and its defenses instead? The U.S. is such a lumbering hulk.

Speaking of Israel, did you see the small blip on CNN during the first days of Haiti’s disaster? The Israelis had set up an entire surgical hospital in Port au Prince, with separate wards for each type of injury. While they were highly organized, mobilized, and got their trauma facility up and running right away, we Americans were still struggling to get the food and supplies out of the airport.

Having just flown to Cali in early February after the crotch bomber was foiled, I can’t help but think that, with how we handle security, the economy (banks rule), the job force, manufacturing, and business incentives, our government only knows how to react. We think it’s smart to simply counteract the latest “evil doers'” scheme? We have become so short-sighted as a nation, that the smartest people can’t seem to, don’t want to, or don’t care to think far enough into the future to realize the responsibility and consequences for their political, military, domestic, and foreign choices and actions.

After seeing the past two years of governmental folly, posturing, gridlock, and self-serving, ideological behavior, I say, yes, let’s start over. Only compassionate listeners and non-ideologues need apply.

Meanwhile, I finally did it . . . my heart was a bit nervous as I hit the send button. Yes, I know, I know, many or most of you did this a long time ago: I just now unsubscribed from the DCCC’s email list. I kept on way past its shelf life because it always felt like oppo research to stay up on their latest. But, I’m finally done. They only write to me to slam Republicans and blame it all on them, then to ask for money to counteract them. First, I don’t have money because I don’t have a job or work. Second, the Dems need to f’in get something done in DC rather than complain about the other guy. You know, those sixty votes and all that crap. Congress should be ashamed, and I feel liberated.

Amazon Blinks

In an update of yesterday’s Amazon/Macmillan dust up, Amazon has blinked. In a letter to customers, they announced their decision to carry Macmillan titles at the publisher’s asking price and let the market decide. Duh. Amazon said they just needed to make a point.

Dear Customers:

Macmillan, one of the “big six” publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don’t believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.

Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy!

Thank you for being a customer.

[h/t to Media Bistro’s GalleyCat blog]

Shocker: Amazon Pulls All Macmillan Titles

The entire post below is republished from Publishers’ Weekly. This was a January 30 6pm update to their original posting of the news at 6am this morning. The news was so shocking that I had to pass it along. If they ask me to take it down, I will. It’s pretty amazing, and a sign that the lines are being drawn in the sand by large publishing houses to try to survive and keep their boats and those of brick and mortar bookstores afloat. Authors and booksellers want to make money from their labor, talents, and intellectual property. Of course, readers like amazon.com and its populist reach, low-cost products, and easy-ordering methods, and want to pay as little as possible for titles in this economy. ©

Read the article and the letter and chime in. What do you think?

Saturday Update

The Battle Over the Agency Model Begins, As Amazon Pulls Macmillan Buy Buttons
As originally reported last night and many readers know by now, sometime yesterday evening the buy buttons for apparently all of Macmillan’s books–including bestsellers and top releases, and Kindle editions–were removed from Amazon’s site. Macmillan books remain listed but can be bought only through third-party Marketplace sellers, while Macmillan Kindle titles all lead to pages that read, “We’re sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site.” It is the first shot across the purchasing bow in big publishers’ efforts to reset ebook pricing above the loss-leader $9.99 price point and retake control over that pricing by moving from the wholesale selling model to an agency selling model (first reported exclusively in Lunch Deluxe on January 19), at least for ebooks published simultaneously with new hardcover releases. Kindle customers further reported on Amazon forums that any Macmillan books that were on their “wish lists” disappeared from those lists with no explanation, as apparently did Macmillan sample chapters that had been downloaded previously.

Macmillan has commented by way of a paid message to authors, illustrators and agents, reproduced below this story. Amazon has declined to comment thus far, either to the media or directly to their customers.

Among the books subject to the greatest potential short-term effect of Amazon’s buy-button removal is Andrew Young’s just-released THE POLITICIAN, which curiously still ranks at No. 9 on Amazon’s bestseller list (and has been between No. 4 and No. 6 today at Barnes and Noble.com). Hilary Mantel’s WOLF HALL was at 69 on Amazon last night, falling steadily today and now at No. 128. Atul Gawande’s THE CHECKLIST MANIFESTO: How to Get Things Right was at 34 last night on Amazon, now at No. 66,–and has risen from 112 up to 86 at BN.com in the same time period. (These numbers change slightly every hour we’ve been checking them.)

We were able to reach a couple of agents for some of Macmillan’s current bestselling authors. Co-head of the William Morris Endeavor books department Eric Simonoff, whose clients include Douglas Preston (author of the January Tor release Impact), told us: “The current model of Amazon selling Kindle editions as a loss-leader is fair for publishers and authors in the short-term but as we have told Amazon we don’t believe it is sustainable in the long term. Something had to give to prevent the ongoing devaluation of e-books. Macmillan is the first to draw a line in the sand but we expect not the last.”

Tina Bennett at Janklow & Nesbit, agent for Atul Gawande’s new bestseller, comments: “This development is very unfortunate for my author, but it’s also troubling for public health. The checklist approach that Gawande describes in his book is a major life-saving advance. It has been demonstrated to reduce harm to surgical patients by more than a third, but has yet to be widely adopted in US hospitals. To make THE CHECKLIST MANIFESTO unavailable for sale is the equivalent of blocking the distribution of a book announcing the discovery of penicillin.”

Agent Robert Gottlieb at Trident Media Group offered this view: “The agents I know feel the $9.99 price for new releases is not good for the business. They want the publishers to work with all the retailers in a peaceful manner. I don’t think it is in any book retailer’s interest both short and long term not to do business with companies like Macmillan and at the same time Macmillan needs Amazon. What will Amazon do if S&S moves in this direction or Hachette? If consumers can’t get the books they want from Amazon they will move to other retail sites for what they want.”

One senior publishing executive called the move by Amazon “fairly draconian” but added that their company had not received any threats of similar action from Amazon. As we’ve said before–though consumers have not yet gotten the message–the agency model that publishers are trying to implement with Apple and across their customer base actually lowers the publishers’ proceeds from each ebook sale and gives more profit to sellers versus the current loss-leading model behind the $9.99 price point.

Another senior publishing executive said that “Amazon may ‘spin’ that the consumer is at the heart of the decision, but really their goal is a monopoly position in books. Publishers don’t want a monopoly – they want consumers to have choice through a number of partners and channels. They want digital pricing which allows bricks and mortar retailers to survive and thrive alongside a growing digital market.” That person added, “This reaction proves what Amazon’s true motives are. It is a signal to any other publishers not to change the model and weaken Amazon’s pathway to a monopoly. I hope authors, agents and publishers see what these motives are and stand by Macmillan.”

Among remarks from Macmillan authors posting online, perhaps one of the most curious came from Sherrilyn Kenyon, who posted to Facebook and then later in the day removed her entry, which read in part: “All of you asking why you can’t find my books on Amazon Kindle? It seems that Amazon is the one to blame. They are in a disagreement with my publisher and to prove a point, they have removed Macmillan books from their Kindles.

“You know, as a Kindle owner, I have problems with this. They’re not cheap and I bought it so that I could download the books I wanted to read. I don’t like a store taking something from me like this without warning. It’s just like when Amazon removed books from my Kindle that I’d paid for because they didn’t have permission to sell them.”

In comments over at John Scalzi’s blog, bestselling Simon & Schuster author Scott Westerfeld writes, “The real power we authors have is removing links to Amazon from our websites and such…. Random blackouts do not make customers happy.”

Amazon’s own forums have been quite busy with postings today, with customers expressing a wide range of everything from support to dismay with the etailer’s move. The most damaging aspect of their action in the short-term may be the removal of Kindle “wish lists” and sample chapters. For some posters that action has echoes of the incident last summer when Amazon deleted copies of certain books from Kindle owner’s libraries, in violation of the site’s own terms of use. As one person writes, “we do feel vulnerable, even if Amazon is right to fight. Wishlists disappeared, with no backup of what the titles were. Sample books we chose to download lead to links that say Error. It reminds us that we do not have control over the situation, even if we backup, since what is offered today may not be available tomorrow.” (Amazon apologized for that earlier incident, provided refunds to customers, and eventually settled a customer lawsuit.)

While many customers support Amazon’s efforts to provide low prices, one “open letter” suggests that the company let customers decide for themselves what is the right price. “Here’s a thought Jeff: You list them and I will decide if I want to buy them or not. How’s that sound? I agree with you they should not cost more than $10, but I can enforce that with my pocketbook. I don’t need you to make a big hairy freakin deal out of it on my behalf and I certainly don’t need you to limit my choices based on this principle.”

To listen in, and help explain by posting, check out these two Amazon customer forums, and look at the bottom of each page for the names of other recently-posted forums worth following.

Comment here at PublishersMarketplace, or e-mail us.

To: All Macmillan authors/illustrators and the literary agent community
From: John Sargent

This past Thursday I met with Amazon in Seattle. I gave them our proposal for new terms of sale for e books under the agency model which will become effective in early March. In addition, I told them they could stay with their old terms of sale, but that this would involve extensive and deep windowing of titles. By the time I arrived back in New York late yesterday afternoon they informed me that they were taking all our books off the Kindle site, and off Amazon. The books will continue to be available on Amazon.com through third parties.

I regret that we have reached this impasse. Amazon has been a valuable customer for a long time, and it is my great hope that they will continue to be in the very near future. They have been a great innovator in our industry, and I suspect they will continue to be for decades to come.

It is those decades that concern me now, as I am sure they concern you. In the ink-on-paper world we sell books to retailers far and wide on a business model that provides a level playing field, and allows all retailers the possibility of selling books profitably. Looking to the future and to a growing digital business, we need to establish the same sort of business model, one that encourages new devices and new stores. One that encourages healthy competition. One that is stable and rational. It also needs to insure that intellectual property can be widely available digitally at a price that is both fair to the consumer and allows those who create it and publish it to be fairly compensated.

Under the agency model, we will sell the digital editions of our books to consumers through our retailers. Our retailers will act as our agents and will take a 30% commission (the standard split today for many digital media businesses). The price will be set for each book individually. Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99. At first release, concurrent with a hardcover, most titles will be priced between $14.99 and $12.99. E books will almost always appear day on date with the physical edition. Pricing will be dynamic over time.

The agency model would allow Amazon to make more money selling our books, not less. We would make less money in our dealings with Amazon under the new model. Our disagreement is not about short-term profitability but rather about the long-term viability and stability of the digital book market.

Amazon and Macmillan both want a healthy and vibrant future for books. We clearly do not agree on how to get there. Meanwhile, the action they chose to take last night clearly defines the importance they attribute to their view. We hold our view equally strongly. I hope you agree with us.

You are a vast and wonderful crew. It is impossible to reach you all in the very limited timeframe we are working under, so I have sent this message in unorthodox form. I hope it reaches you all, and quickly. Monday morning I will fully brief all of our editors, and they will be able to answer your questions. I hope to speak to many of you over the coming days.

Thanks for all the support you have shown in the last few hours; it is much appreciated.

All best,
John

G’bye J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger, reclusive author of the seminal teen angst novels of the fifties and sixties, The Catcher in the Rye and Frannie and Zoey, has died. Withdrawing from the media craze after his characters and their dialogue embodied the voice of the times, I often forgot he was still around. It’s been so long since I read him in junior high that I had to look up the quotes. His writing was incomparable.

An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s.  ~J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

It’s funny.  All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to.  ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 21

You take a look around your college campus, and the world, and politics, and one season of summer stock, and you listen to the conversation of a bunch of nitwit college students, and you decide that everything’s ego, ego, ego, and the only intelligent thing for a girl to do is to lie around and shave her head and say the Jesus prayer and beg God for a little mystical experience that’ll maker her nice and happy.  ~J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

RIP, J.D.


What We All Want

What we all want . . . It’s not what you think. I mean, I’m not talking politics. I’m not even talking about peace on earth or health care, none of that. Freddie Mercury said it best. More and more everyday, I find that people are searching for love. They are not satisfied with a portion of their life–that part which makes them feel fulfilled, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, or sexually. They want to feel alive, vibrant.

They don’t always know it, but they are seeking intimacy, a connection to the world or with a special someone. Sometimes they are seeking that connection with themselves, knowingly or not. Even those who have given up and come to the conclusion that they will never find real love or that the love they once had is dead–even they can feel or know they don’t have “it.” Sometimes they say, “That’s okay. It’s been this way for a long time, and it doesn’t matter anymore. Yes, I still love her/him. S/he just doesn’t have the urge, never really did.” Sometimes, they decide they want to try for more, to fill the void. Sometimes, they just want someone to listen and say, “It’s okay. Whatever you want. I’m here for you.”

“Somebody To Love” by Freddie Mercury

Can anybody find me somebody to love?
Each morning I get up I die a little
Can barely stand on my feet
Take a look in the mirror and cry
Lord what you’re doing to me
I have spent all my years in believing you
But I just can’t get no relief, Lord!
Somebody, somebody
Can anybody find me somebody to love?

I work hard every day of my life
I work till I ache my bones
At the end I take home my hard earned pay all on my own –
I get down on my knees
And I start to pray
Till the tears run down from my eyes
Lord – somebody – somebody
Can anybody find me – somebody to love?

(He works hard)

Everyday – I try and I try and I try –
But everybody wants to put me down
They say I’m goin’ crazy
They say I got a lot of water in my brain
Got no common sense
I got nobody left to believe
Yeah – yeah yeah yeah

Oh Lord
Somebody – somebody
Can anybody find me somebody to love?

Got no feel, I got no rhythm
I just keep losing my beat
I’m ok, I’m alright
Ain’t gonna face no defeat
I just gotta get out of this prison cell
Someday I’m gonna be free, Lord!

Find me somebody to love
Can anybody find me somebody to love?