Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Blog Kicks NPR's Wimpy Ass

If you’re reading this, you’ve discovered my new blog, The Way Things Turn. You might be a first time visitor, or maybe, you’re a savvy internet browser who keeps clicking through and coming back for more every day. Either way, you have no doubt already noticed the striking similarities between my blog and your local NPR radio station.

These two renowned sources of news and information are, in fact, so similar that you’re probably thinking…do I really need both of these thought-provoking media juggernauts in my daily life?

Honestly, no you don’t. As you’ll see from my penetrating and unprejudiced analysis, The Way Things Turn is exactly like NPR (only better). Here are just a few of the remarkable parallels and important distinctions between these two great resources (I didn’t include a comprehensive review of the advantages of the blog, as I am too kind to embarrass NPR with that kind of braggadocio).

  • NPR makes your daily work commute more enjoyable with their unique brand of radio “journalism,” but The Way Things Turn is super fun to navigate on your smart phone while trying to keep your eyes on the road.
  • NPR has original programming like “Talk of the Nation” and “Car Talk,” but The Way Things Turn has…other stuff…with photos sometimes. And hey, you can’t see pictures on the radio now can you?
  • NPR features insightful interviews with fascinating people, but so does my blog. (Okay, that’s just a lie. But if my blog was broadcast on the radio, I would totally include “Fresh Air with Terry Gross” in my programming.)
  • NPR news suffers from a perpetually left-leaning slant that my blog simply doesn't have. (True, I am a democrat, and I did vote for Obama and Gore and Clinton and other democrats before that. And no Republicans. Ever. At least if you’re a Republican blog reader though, you can quote The Way Things Turn without having your Republican friends look at you with scorn and disdain like they would if you mentioned NPR.)
  • Unlike NPR, you can access The Way Things Turn anytime of day anywhere there is internet access. (Radio kind of works the same way, I guess, but NPR is not available online! By the way, there is no need to access, as I am fairly certain that NPR in this instance simply means “not particularly relevant” and is not an actual website.)
  • Journalistic integrity – need I say more.
  • Finally, there is no annoying bi-annual pledge drive to raise money for programming on my blog. (No shameless pandering and no ridiculous self-promotion. None that I can find anyway.)
There you have it. The case has been clearly made, and it's obvious that my blog kicks NPR's wimpy ass! Now, what are you waiting for? Make The Way Things Turn a favorite in your browser, or sign up on the site to "follow via email," or subscribe through Google Reader, or just type the damn website address every day. C'mon, all the cool kids are doing it. Tell a friend, and oh yeah, thanks for reading!

Baseball, Enough Already

NPR's Frank Deford is right on time (and right on the mark) with his plea to Major League Baseball to shorten the season by about a month. I enjoy baseball as much as the next person, which is to say about three innings in one sitting if I'm watching a game on television, or with a couple of hot dogs and a few giant beers if I'm attending a game in person. For the love of Wrigley Field though, 162 games in a season is ridiculous! Baseball is clearly less physically demanding on its players than other major sports, but they don't need to drag the regular season out forever just because they can.

I agree with Deford in the article linked below - end the regular season around Labor Day and get all the way through the playoffs in September. I'm ready for some football!

Too Many Days Hath September

Daily Zen - Wednesday, August 31

Life is not meaningful...unless it is serving an end beyond itself; unless it is of value to someone else.

- Abraham Joshua Heschel 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Bay Bridge Lit Up for First Time

The suspension tower of the east span of the new Bay Bridge linking San Francisco to Oakland was illuminated for the first time on Monday. The current Bay Bridge is in the background still doing its job until the new bridge is finished. Look out Golden Gate, you ain't the only pretty bridge in town for long!

Michele Bachmann: Lunatic or Just an Idiot?

Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Congresswoman and Republican presidential hopeful, "joked" that Hurricane Irene and last week's rare East Coast earthquake are God's way of getting the attention of Washington politicians who are failing to effectively address our nation's fiscal woes. Most people didn't find her supposed attempt at humor to be all that funny, particularly the millions of mid-Atlantic folks who were impacted by the storm and who are still without power.

I really hope she stays in the presidential race for a few more months. America needs someone with her obviously well-honed comedic instincts to keep the political mood from getting too tense.With the ten year anniversary of 9/11 coming up soon, I can hardly wait to hear her World Trade Center one-liners.

Daily Zen - Tuesday, August 30

If you choose a job that you like, you will never have to work a day in your life.             - Confucius

Monday, August 29, 2011

Opt-Out of Yellow Pages Delivery – It’s Easy, Almost

I arrived home one afternoon this week to find my free copy of the 660 page San Mateo County Central “Buy Local” Phone Book for 2011-2012 waiting on my front porch. As you might guess, I was not one of a “chosen few” to receive a hand-delivered hardcopy of the updated telephone directory. It seems we all still get them, and a quick check of neighboring doorsteps revealed that enough copies of the new Yellow Pages were floating around our condo complex to build a fort with (granted, it would be a pathetic flimsy fort with pale yellow walls, but you get the idea).

The folks at Yellow Pages still insist on printing and distributing gazillions of paper copies of the phone book, whether you want them or not. And why wouldn’t they? In this age of digital technology, where else could you readily find such useful information? Well, there’s Google and Yelp, and the millions of websites they link to, and of course, there’s the Yellow Pages own website ( which contains essentially all the same data as the printed phone book. But who wants to bother with fishing a smart phone out of their pocket and clicking a button to access a world of information, when you can just walk to the kitchen (if you're home), and rearrange your cupboards until you eventually dig the Yellow Pages out from underneath a bag of kitty litter in the bottom of the pantry?

 It’s possible that I am being unnecessarily smarmy about all the paper and energy that are wasted in the production and distribution of the Yellow Pages. It’s not that I am mortally offended by the existence of telephone books, and I am not even saying they are completely unnecessary. I’m sure there are those who can’t get (or don’t want) access to the internet who probably still use the phone book. And even for the rest of us, it’s occasionally helpful, once every three years or so, to be able to get your hands on a phone book when you can’t find a decent cell phone signal or wireless connection. I don’t begrudge anyone their right to make telephone books for just such instances. I simply resent the (seemingly bi-weekly) automatic home delivery of telephone books that I’ll never use. It’s annoying, and more importantly, it’s wasteful.

I’m not known for my overzealous commitment to recycling (I DO participate in our community’s recycling program, but I have to admit that I’m not giving a restaurant quality dishwashing to that empty plastic ketchup container so that it can be recycled), but even I can’t stand to let half a dozen 600 page books pile up uselessly in my cupboards.

Dick Cheney Lives Up to His Name

Colin Powell is such an intelligent and classy statesman. And Dick Cheney? Well, he's appropriately named. Powell defends himself and Condi Rice in the article linked below. He also rightly points out that if Cheney and his buddy "Scooter" had been more truthful and forthcoming with the FBI then Scooter might not have enjoyed prison time. Sucks getting caught, but it's nice to see it happen in Washington from time to time.

Visit the Quiet Place, Please

When was the last time you took 90 seconds to relax and not think about work-kids-dinner-money? Try it. It's not as easy as it sounds, but it'll do you good.

Click here and visit the Quiet Place. 

Use the space bar to proceed through the white space at your own pace.

The Shallow End - Hurricane Irene Auto-Corrects

It's low-brow, but damn these are funny. Click the link below and don't be ashamed to laugh.

Daily Zen - Monday, August 29

When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways - either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength. - Dalai Lama

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Shallow End - New Geico Ad

What could be better than a dog playing keyboards, a singing bird, and an 80s music classic?

Geico's new TV ad will leave you  with one deeply embedded thought - "Hit it Mr. Butters!" Click the link below to experience the magic.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Digital Overload: Man Has 24 Fingers and Toes

Cuban man makes the most of his God-given extra fingers and toes. You do have to appreciate how he handles his unique condition. Click here to get the full story.

Daily Zen - Friday, August 26

Live in love and do your work. Make amends of your sorrows. - The Dhammapada

Headlines Demonstrate Amazing Grasp of the Obvious

The headlines I read today in my various Google Reader feeds were clear evidence that journalistic excellence is alive and well in these United States. Here are just a few examples of the hard-hitting news stories I had to choose from this morning:
  • Obama Says Hurricane Irene “Extremely Dangerous” (Reuters)
  • Obesity to Worsen, Weigh Heavily on Healthcare Costs (Reuters)
  • At Apple, Cook Has Tough Act to Follow (NY Times)
  • Bernanke Proposes No New Steps to Boost Economy (SF Chronicle)
  • Pew Poll Finds Public Has Low Opinion of DC (NPR)
  • Gas Prices Rise (NPR)
Each of these headlines (which took a mere three minutes to collect) brings one thought to mind…”you think?” Granted, these are only the headlines and not the full stories, but they indicate minimal examination, negligible thoughtfulness, and little more than an amazing grasp of the obvious. In fairness to the news media, maybe these headlines and the subsequent articles merely reflect the absence of meaningful dialogue about critical issues in our society and the general pathetic (or apathetic) state of our nation. Or maybe news organizations have just figured out that our collective attention span is simply too short for any significant analysis of news events (he writes in his short blog post). Spoon feed us the obvious – it’s all that we can handle.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Daily Zen - Thursday, August 25

The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.  - Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Turn Up the Sound - Salif Keita

I'll be posting the occasional song/video for your listening pleasure. No specific theme...just whatever strikes my fancy that I hope will strike yours.

QUESTION: What happens when African beats crash headlong into the French language (as well as Portuguese and a couple of other languages)? What happens when the strength that is Salif Keita joins forces with the power that is Cesaria Evora?

ANSWER: Yamore

I have a very hard time trying to figure out exactly what emotions this song invokes in me. It might be sadness or devastation or triumph. I don't know what I feel when I hear it (beyond gratitude for being able to listen to it). I would love to hear what it makes you think about or how it makes you feel. Viewing Tip: Click on the title bar at the top of the clip to open the video in a larger YouTube window.

Daily Zen

The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there.

- Yasutani Roshi

Obnoxious Authors and Bookstore Shennanigans

Most authors understand that bookstores are businesses and that they, the authors, are simply one important component of the total bookselling machine. Authors are typically gracious and pleasant people who show respect and appreciation in their interactions with booksellers.Occasionally though, an author comes along who exhibits a surprising lack of perspective and awareness about how the industry really works (or that bookselling is an industry at all). 

As you would expect, these uninformed folks are often the authors, celebrity or otherwise, who have just been published for the first time. Jane Lynch, who plays Glee's Sue Sylvester, demonstrates just how challenging these authors can be in this humorous video short promoting her new book. Viewing Tip: Click on the title bar at the top of the clip to open the video in a larger YouTube window.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Daily Zen

I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind. I should not be ungrateful to those teachers.           - Kahlil Gibran

Monday, August 22, 2011

Daily Zen

The world is unstable, like a house on fire. This is not a place where you stay long. Impermanence comes upon you in a flash, no matter whether you are rich or poor, old or young. If you want to be no different from a Zen master or a buddha, just do not seek outwardly.   - Lin Chi

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cincy Tennis - Day 4 (Roger Pics Finally!)

Quarterfinals day proved to be enormously difficult for some of the most beloved tennis players on the tour. Australia's Samantha Stosur was soundly whipped and knocked out of the women's draw, while Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were both taken out easily on the men's side. I can still be totally interested in the outcome of the tournament without these megalo-superstars, but I'm certain that ESPN and the rest of the sports world will care about Cincy just a little less this weekend with these guys gone.

Still, some big names remain in the semi-finals on Saturday. World #1, Novak Djokovic, will try to extend his unbelievable hot streak in 2011. With a record of 55-1, he has amazingly lost only one match since last December (his completely unbeaten streak ended with a loss to Federer at the French Open). He's won EVERY other tournament he's played in this year. Tomorrow, Novak takes on top ten player Tomas Berdych. The other men's semi-final features world #4 Andy Murray taking on top-ranked American, Mardy Fish (who I actually picked to win it all earlier this week!). On the women's side, Maria Sharapova is the most exciting name left in the draw. She's had a long comeback from shoulder surgery a couple of years ago, so I'm hoping she can prevail.

Having featured only women players yesterday, the pictures included below are the top four men's tennis players in the world, with the most attention given to Roger Federer because, well....he is the greatest player in the history of the game. We were fortunate to see all of the top four ranked guys play today - and that is the miracle of tennis in Cincinnati (who woulda thought that, right? I mean this is reeeally close to Kentucky!).

On a personal side note, this week has also been extremely difficult for my butt ...which can only take so much sitting on metal bleachers. I broke down today and bought a stadium cushion for $9. I'm happy to report that the pain in my ass has subsided and that there will be no photos of this particular tennis injury.

Andy Murray from Great Britain. Paul and I saw him when his first big title in 2007 when he won here in Cincinnati. He is a notorious ass to work with, but he's a pretty phenomenal talent.
Rafael Nadal (Rafa to those of us who know him so well)  is the talented Spaniard who finally ousted Roger Federer from his post atop the tennis world. After an 18-24 month run of seeming insurmountability, Rafa has finally shown some weakness in his game, and he has now been toppled from the top spot by Novak Djokovic. 
Novak Djokovic, proud Serbian, has had a remarkable year.  He has won a record-breaking five "masters" level tournaments (the most important tourneys other than the four Grand Slams), and winning Cincinnati would make six. He has also won two Grand Slams in 2011 (Australian Open and Wimbledon), and he is a favorite for the upcoming US Open. One thing I learned this week - don't piss off Serbian tennis fans. For them, tennis is not just a game, it's a matter of national pride. 
Roger Federer from Switzerland - finest tennis player ever, one of the greatest sportsmen in history, among the smartest athletes you could ever hope to meet (he speaks four languages), and all-around classy guy. 
Fed's grace is apparent on the court as well as off the court. On the court, he floats elegantly from baseline to net. Fed tennis = sports ballet. Off the court, you'll never find a more gracious winner or loser.
Remember, take the racket back early, stay poised and balanced, keep your eye on the ball, and don't forget to look like a graceful Adonis while you do it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Daily Zen

The cloud is free only to go with the wind. The rain is free only in falling.                    - Wendell Berry

Cincy Tennis - Day 3

Big things happening in Cincy! Today the "Round of 16" wrapped up and so the Quarterfinals begin tomorrow. In the men's draw, 7 of the top 8 seeds are in the QFs so there will be some terrific match-ups tomorrow of the world's best tennis players. The women's draw, on the other hand, is wide open as many top players have been beaten already. It's anyone's game, though I am pulling for Aussie Sam Stosur.

Today I am going to feature (mostly) pictures of the women players we saw in action this afternoon and evening. There is also a special ESPN behind-the-scenes pic. More pics of top men players are coming soon. I knew I would see them in the quarterfinals and semis this weekend, so I spent time earlier in the week with the other guys and girls. Enjoy the pics.

Na Li of China. She won the French Open this year becoming the first person from an Asian country to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Marion Bartoli of France. She jumps around so much before a point that you feel compelled to sedate her...but it seems to keep her focused.

Jelena Jankovic of Serbia. Kinda whiny and bitchy and annoying.

Francesca Schiavone of  Italy - she won the French Open Grand Slam title in 2010. She plays with so much obvious passion that she's a total fan favorite.

Ever wonder what those on-the-scene ESPN broadcasters are wearing under that desk? Chris Fowler (above) and  Patrick McEnroe both had on shorts and sneakers tonight to complete their shirt/tie outfits.

Weather has been great with highs in the low-mid 80s (not too hot Greg Fugate!). This was a nice shot of the night sky at sunset  taken from inside the "Grandstand" arena, the second largest court.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daily Zen

Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.  - Lao Tzu

Cincy Tennis - Day 2

The first full day in Cincy was a ridiculous success. I saw several really great tennis matches, and as expected, had several opportunities to get photos and interact with some of my favorite players when they were on the practice courts. The one big disappointment for the day was that Serena Williams pulled out of the tournament with an injury, but there was still tons of great tennis to watch.

Best part of the day for me was meeting my favorite doubles team (Michael Llodra of France and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia). I know they aren't household names for most people (what doubles teams really are though), but they are ranked #3 in the world. They were funny and entertaining, and they took pics with us!

Later in the day, during Llodra's single's match, I happened to sit in the bleachers near his coach, only to have two tour players (Zimonjic and a French player named Adrian Mannarino) come join us to watch the match. Yea, I know they are just tennis players, but many are very popular in their countries, so I was just a little starstruck when they sat right next to me. I guess everyone has their idea of "celebrity" and for me that includes tennis players.

Here are a few pics from the day. I have been taking pics with my iPhone because I've had complications with my camera so some of the zoomed pics are a little grainy. Hope you enjoy. (And yes, Federer pics are coming.) In case you want to be super nerdy and learn more, I linked the players Wiki pages in the captions.

Jeff and Serbian doubles champion Nenad Zimonjic. He and his former partner Daniel Nestor won three grand slam doubles titles (2  Wimbledon titles and 1 French Open) in the last three years.

Frenchman Michael Llodra is a top ranked singles player and half of the #3  ranked doubles team with Nenad Zimonjic. Like Zimonjic, Llodra has won three grand slam doubles times (1 Wimbledon and 2 Australian Open).

Gael Monfils, also a Frenchman and the 7th ranked player in the world, is the best athlete in professional tennis. He is like a tennis "acrobat."

David Ferrer, Spaniard and 6th ranked player in the world.  Ferrer is a skilled tennis player, but he is most known for being a "workman" and a bull dog, a guy who absolutely positively never quits.

Samantha Stosur just broke back in to the women's top ten rankings (she has been as high as #4). She's an Aussie I photographed while signing autographs. She always wears those cool shades. 

Me and Carlos Bernardes - one of the best known and  most respected chair umpires in professional tennis. Carlos is from Brazil, and he was happy to take pics with both me and Paul. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Daily Zen

We must be the change we wish to see in the world. - Gandhi

Cincy Tennis - Day 1

Here are a few quick pics from our first night of tennis fandom in Cincinnati. The thing we love most about this tournament is that it manages to feature EVERY major played in the sport, but still maintains a feeling of intimacy. You get to see your favorite players up close and personal while they are practicing, being interviewed by the media, and of course playing matches. Lots more to come...

Part of the city skyline (taken on the drive in from the airport).
Before we even entered the tennis complex, we walked past Rafael Nadal  who was  being golf carted away from one of the practice courts. 
This one is for Alyssa. Former player and commentator Justin Gimelstob was prepping at the Tennis Channel outdoor broadcast desk. I approached him and pointed my iPhone at him and said..."Justin - help me make our friend Alyssa jealous." He spun around in his chair and turned on the charm (and a pretty damn winning smile) instantaneously. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Daily Zen

The mind is like a mirror through which you can see infinity, but if you put the blackness of hatred over it, you will see nothing.  - Yogi Bhajan

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Like Fish on a Tennis Court

Veteran tennis player Mardy Fish, currently #8 in the world, is America's highest ranked player. At the age of 29, this "old man" is having his best year ever. Mardy just made his third consecutive final, and he's our best hope at having an American champ at the US Open in a couple of weeks. Come on Mardy!

Read more about Mardy's recent success here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Joys of Organic Milk

Writing at Starbucks has its drawbacks (see the earlier post - Yes, Lady at Starbucks), but it also has its benefits. Today I was stalked by a precious little Spanish girl who was enjoying a carton of organic milk and a cookie. She wouldn't stop staring at me, and at one point she literally laid across the table to get my attention. So, I gave her a smile and took her picture. (No, it wasn't all creepy - I asked her mom's permission before taking the pictures). On second thought, is that still creepy? Whatever!  

Who Knew Dancing Could Make Me Cry

I am not a professional dancer. Okay, that’s a bit of misstatement. To say I am not a “professional dancer” implies that I might have some talent as a dancer, but that I have never danced for money. I am, in fact, not any kind of dancer, professional or otherwise. 

The sad truth is I simply cannot consistently move parts of my body in a rhythmic (or even remotely eye-pleasing) fashion when music begins to play. Put on old Aretha Franklin song or a new Lady Gaga tune when I have been drinking and you will see a valiant effort at something – that still falls far short of being classified as “dancing”– along with the most severe case of WMB (white man’s overbite) ever known to mankind. With dance having only been a source of intense personal discomfort and public shame for me, I would never have expected to fall in love with a dance reality show on television, and yet, that is exactly what has happened. So You Think You Can Dance has made a dance believer out of me.

 My primary exposure to watching organized dance prior to SYTYCD (that’s what we groupies call the show) was theme park dance reviews of cartoon movie songs. With that exhaustive background, I never imagined that dancing could captivate me, much less stir me, of all non-dancing people, to tears. So You Think You Can Dance proved me wrong. If you watch the show, you already know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t watch the show, well, the season finale was last night so you’ll have to wait a few months. But it will be worth the wait.

I’m linking a clip below to my favorite performance of the season – one of the routines that made me weepy. The routine is a contemporary piece set to the song Fool of Me sung by Me ‘Shell Ndegeocello, and performed by two of the shows best dancers (Sasha and Kent). If you've ever had your heart broken, you’ll probably think about that as you watch the clip – even if you don’t want to. One viewing tip: you might want to click on the title bar at the top of the clip to open it in a larger YouTube window.

What I learned from SYTYCD is that dance, when done with artistry and soul, is as striking, as gut-wrenching, and often as emancipating as any other art form, and that even a guy whose primary dance move is synchronized finger-pointing on the steering wheel when an Adele song plays on the iPod, can be moved to tears by dance. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Yes, Lady at Starbucks, I Hear You

Yes, lady at Starbucks, I hear you. Everyone does. How could I not?

When you walked in the front door, I heard your flaming orange blazer announce your arrival. When you came and sat down at the next table over, I heard the hard screechy slide of your chair across the tiles. I know, chairs are heavy. I’m sure you don’t have a great deal of experience moving them, as someone usually pulls them out for you. I also heard the loud rap your keys made when you smacked them on the tabletop. Who knew keys slammed down aggressively on a pressed wood table could produce that many decibels?

“Oh my God, Cindy, I know.” Yes, I overheard your cell phone conversation. Don’t be angry with me for eavesdropping though. I swear I turned up the music on my iPod as loud as it would go, but I just couldn’t drown you out. Sorry. One quick note, though. About the other conversation you are having at the same time with that guy you came in with. He is only about a foot and a half away from you. Just wasn’t sure you could tell.

Borders Bookstores and the Deathly Hallows

Over the next few days, all Borders bookstores around the country will begin a multi-week Going-Out-of-Business sale.  The liquidation of the company means the closing of the remaining 400 stores, and it leaves 11,000 booksellers jobless. It also means that booklovers will have one less place in their communities to discover great new writers, and one less place close to home where they can spend a comfortable, enlightening, and cheap Saturday afternoon with their kids.
It was purely coincidental that the final Harry Potter film, “Deathly Hallows Part 2,” was released last weekend, the same weekend that Borders came to the undeniable conclusion that their jig was finally up, but the parallels don’t stop there. Just like Harry…
  • Borders was on a collision course with its own destiny. While things could certainly have turned out differently for both Harry and for Borders, neither could deny that for the last several years a war has loomed on the horizon that eventually had to be waged.
  • Borders faced a seemingly insurmountable army of destroyers. For Borders, just like for Harry, many enemies were clear and present external forces (e-commerce, e-books, and of course the e-conomy), but some of the damage came from within as well. Harry carried a little Voldemort within himself, and Borders, likewise, was sometimes its own worst enemy.
  • Borders could not succeed without the help of unparalleled acts of magic. Alas, Harry found a wand; Borders did not.

I worked for Borders for a little over 16 years, and in that time, the company evolved dramatically. Company vision and strategies were altered radically to reflect new competition and new technology (though clearly not always as quickly or effectively as needed), and as new CEOs and executives came and went, the company’s leadership philosophy also changed (sometimes for better, and sometimes not). As you can imagine, all this change is difficult to manage, and occasionally difficult to swallow. Throughout the transformation though, two critical constants remained that kept folks like me working at Borders for years – the books and the people.