Thursday, December 30, 2010

Deep State, by Walter Jon Williams---Review

Orbit Books, ISBN 9780316098045, Publication Date 1/19/2011

Dagmar Shaw is running an Augmented Reality Game, an ARG, in Turkey to promote the latest James Bond film, Stunrunner. She's not happy about being in Turkey, where a military junta has recently seized power, because she's had some seriously unpleasant experiences with military governments in the past, but, really, what can go wrong? Turkey is benefiting from the positive PR and the increase in tourism, and the generals are very pleased by that. Her company, Great Big Idea, is being very well paid by the movie promoters.

     And then Dagmar and some of her people are invited to meet the generals, and Dagmar accidentally offends the head of the junta, General Bozbeyli.

    Dagmar, her immediate boss Lincoln, and her top on-site American and Turkish employees, have to evade the junta while staging the last live event of the ARG--and that means moving the live event at very short notice. Dagmar and her team work out a way to do it, wrap up the game, and head home.

     But before she leaves, Lincoln offers her a new job. Lincoln, it turns out, works for the US government and is in Special Ops. The current Turkish junta, unlike previous ones, is not interested in restoring a secular state and then turning the government back to democracy; they're in it for the money. Lincoln wants to use Dagmar's game-running skills to peacefully destabilize the current Turkish regime and force a return to democracy.

     Working from a British military base on Cyprus, Dagmar and her team--Turks Ismet, Tuna, and Refet; Americans Judy, Lloyd, Lola, Magnus, and Byron--set to work, running an Augmented Reality Game with the very real-world goal of bringing down a government. Flash crowds form in places where it's hard for the police to respond quickly, and melt away before they can react. They wear scarves, carry towels, postcards, DVDs, flowers--things that look like they have meaning but really only have the purpose of identifying participants in the flash crowds. It's all going well, and the regime is looking more and more foolish and impotent.

     Then demonstrations start that aren't planned by Dagmar and her crew, and the astroturf revolution is becoming a genuinely grassroots one, and shortly after that, the regime feels threatened enough to deploy a secret weapon that Lincoln helped create, years earlier--the High Zap. It allows the power that has it to selectively take down the internet--in fact, anything that relies on TCP/IP protocols--and Turkey has it because two agents were deployed to use it against Syria right before the Turkish coup, and the generals wound up in possession of the laptop containing it.

     Dagmar and her friends find themselves in a wild contest to survive, defeat the High Zap which now threatens the economic stability of the world, and maybe even achieve their original goal, as some of them are killed, some revealed to be traitors, and Lincoln and their government resources and status are pulled because Lincoln's plan has gone so badly wrong.

     It's an exciting mix of spy thriller, adventure, and romance, and as is typical of Williams, it's all extremely well-done.

     Highly recommended.

     I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Against the Fire (The Raines of Wind Canyon), by Kat Martin--Review

Harlequin/Mira Books, ISBN 9780778329305
Publication date 01/25/2011

The is the second book in the Raines brothers trilogy, and it's the second brother, Gabriel Raines's turn. He's built a successful construction business, and life is looking good until someone starts torching his construction sites.

     After the first fire, the police quickly pick up a young man seen near the fire, Angel Ramirez. He had a previous arson conviction, but his family has been getting help from the Family Resource Center, and he's become a hardworking, well-behaved  high school student. Mattie Baker, a rising young architect and also an active supporter of the Family Resource Center, visits Angel at the police station, meets Gabe--and convinces him to keep an open mind about Angel, and look for other, more likely, possibilities.

     Gabe listens to Mattie mostly because she makes cogent arguments and is completely sincere, but there's no denying he's attracted to her--and she to him. This unacknowledged mix of motives is behind their decision to begin their own investigation in parallel with the official investigation, and when the police quickly uncover evidence that an unusual accelerant was used, and was purchased by a man who looked nothing like Angel, the young man decides that he's going to help, too. Mattie and Gabe tell him to take no chances, to ask no questions, just keep his eyes and ears open, but of course he feels the need to do more than that. The wrong person notices, and hits Angel on the head from behind, landing him in the hospital, in a coma.

     The attack on Angel heightens the sense of danger, as do the subsequent fires at other Raines Construction projects, and, for Mattie, mysterious hang-up calls she's getting, which she does not tell Gabe about. As the investigation throws them together, and their mutual attraction draws them together, they are pushed apart by Mattie's fear of relying on anyone other than herself. That fear was created by her father's early death, leaving her mother and herself in poverty, and compounded by a previous romantic involvement that ended very painfully. In counterpoint to Gabe and Mattie's courtship is the courtship of Gabe's friend Sam and Mattie's friend Tracy, who has her own very different yet equally painful issues making it difficult for her to commit to a relationship. Each woman, of course, can see the ways the other woman is frustrating her own happiness.

     As the fires continue and threaten Gabe's business, red herrings and confusing clues confound both the official and the unofficial investigations while an unbalanced but very clever and vengeful killer draws closer and closer. Whether or not Mattie and Gabe can find their way to true love will be moot if they don't find the killer before the killer catches up with them.

    A good, satisfying read.

   Note: I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Strangers, by Mary Anna Evans--Book Review

Poisoned Pen Press, ISBN 9781590587423, 400 pp.
Publication date 10/01/2010

This is Evans' sixth novel about archeologist Faye Longchamp and her husband Joe Wolf Mantooth. I haven't read any of the others, and didn't find it an obstacle to following and enjoying this story. Faye has turned her archeology degree into a business rather than a tenure-track teaching position, and she, Joe, and their employees, including Magda Stockard-McKenzie, Ph.D., are in St. Augustine, FL, excavating the back yard of the Art Deco-era mansion, Dunkirk Manor, whose current owners want to add a swimming pool. Dunkirk Manor is in a historically rather uninteresting section of  St. Augustine, and it'a a relatively easy assignment, perfect for the last month or so of Faye's pregnancy. An unexpected bonus is the discovery, in a storeroom, of the journal of a priest, Father Domingo, who accompanied the first Spanish expedition to the St. Augustine area.

     Or so it seems, at least until Glynis Smithson, assistant to the owners, Daniel and Suzanne Wrather, disappears. Her car is parked out back, there's some blood in her car and a lot more just outside it--and if there was any trail of blood leading away from the car, it has possibly been washed away by the automatic sprinklers. There are also a few odd items in and near the car, artifacts apparently dating to the 16th-century arrival of the Spanish.

     Faye becomes involved in the investigation into Glynis's disappearance, which becomes a murder investigation when her boyfriend turns up dead, because of the archeological connection. At the same time, the excavation at Dunkirk Manor becomes more interesting, as they uncover evidence of a previous swimming pool, as well as buried 1920s-era children's toys in what looks very like a small shrine. As Faye learns more about both her employers and the 1920s owners, she discovers an unsolved murder of a beautiful starlet, and an odd parallel between Suzanne and her great-aunt Allyce Dunkirk, in that they both lost very young children whom they continued to mourn many years later. The archeological items and the fact that her boyfriend was murdered leads to the suspicion that Glynis was murdered or kidnapped because she discovered a construction project going forward illegally after discovering an unreported archeological site.

    Faye divides her attention amongst the Dunkirk Manor dig, Father Domingo's journal, the unsolved murder, and Glynis's disappearance, and they all tangle together in unexpected ways. And when she gets too close to some of the answers, the situation turns dangerous, and she's fighting for her life against an unexpected villain.

     I found Strangers engrossing and highly readable, and I'll probably be looking for more of Evans's books about Faye.

     Note:: I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Janus Stone: A Ruth Galloway Mystery, by Elly Griffiths--Review

336 pp., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 9780547237442, Publication Date January 2011

Forensic archeologist Ruth Galloway is settling back into normal after the unsettling events of a few months ago when she gets a call from the head of the university archeology department. Construction workers on the site of an old house in Norwich that previously served as a children's home have found the bones of a young child. The bones need to be identified, and it needs to be determined as quickly as possible if this is an archeological find or a crime scene. Knowing the police need to be involved, Ruth calls Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson, whom she's worked with in the past.
     What she hasn't yet told Nelson, who is married and has two teenage daughters, is that she's pregnant as a result of their one night of  "We Didn't Get Killed" sex four months ago.
      As they piece together the evidence and determine that they have the body of a young girl, they also learn that two children disappeared from the children's home in the early 1970s--and that one of them was a girl about the age of the child whose bones they have. And in the mid-1950s, the young daughter of the family living there at the time, when it was still a private home, also died at the right age--supposedly of scarlet fever.
     Meanwhile, another archeologist, Max Gray, working on a site in Swaffham, is showing a friendly and possibly more than friendly interest in Ruth. Ruth is interested, but does she need the complications? Will he still be interested when he knows she's pregnant?
     While she's juggling all these problems and complications, alarming things start to happen around Ruth. Someone sacrifices a cockerel and writes her name in blood at the Swaffham site. She hears someone breathing nearby when she's out in the dark, and stumbles and passes out when she sees what appears to be a dead baby--and turns out to to be a model from a museum exhibit.
     The tension develops nicely, and the mystery is satisfyingly complex and interesting. This is the second of the series, and some things, such as Ruth's pregnancy and the relationships among some of the characters, are products of the events of the earlier book, The Crossing Places. However, since I have not read it, I can feel completely confident in saying that this book stands on its own sufficiently to be a satisfying, enjoyable read.
     Strongly recommended.

     Note:: I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Advent of a Mystery, by Marilyn Leach--Review

256 pp, Barbour Books, September 2010, ISBN 9781602605695

Berdie Elliott is a former investigative reporter, and the wife of the new vicar of Aiden Kirkwood. This is a new calling for Hugh, after a military career, and Berdie has retired from her own career to be the vicar's wife. But she hasn't given up her skills or her active mind, and when an elderly parishioner, Miriam Livingston, is murdered in her home after an evening of caroling and an Advent party at the vicarage, Berdie can't help looking into things. Especially when the village constable is willfully blind to anything but the most obvious evidence, and locks up the most immediately obvious suspect, Jamie Donovan, who quarreled with Miriam Livingston at the party, and whose engraved screwdriver was found near the victim's body and had clearly been used as the murder weapon.
     Hugh wants Berdie to stay out of it, to avoid risks both to her own safety and to their still-new status in the village. Both her professional instincts and her sense of justice draw her in, though, and Hugh also can't remain opposed. Too many things don't add up, and Berdie, with her friend Lillie in tow, keeps digging. When they discover that Miriam Livingston is someone other than whom the village has always believed her to be, things start to spiral out of control and the dangers to Berdie that had worried Hugh from the beginning begin to materialize.
     This is a really engaging "cozy" mystery, with likable and interesting characters. I hope we'll be seeing more of Berdie and her friends and neighbors.

Note:: I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley

Against the Wind (The Raines of Wind Canyon), by Kat Martin--Review

MIRA Books, January 2011, ISBN 9780778329190
Sarah Allen, finally freed from an abusive marriage by the unsolved murder of her husband, gathers up her young daughter and the few possessions left to her after everything is sold to pay her husband's debts, and returns to her childhood home of Wind Canyon, Wyoming. She's rented a small house on the property of one of the local ranches, and landed a job with the local newspaper,. She'll finally be putting her journalism degree to some use, and as a bonus she'll be living near enough to visit her last surviving relative, her grandmother.
       But Sarah's troubles aren't over yet. She's getting calls from a former business associate of her husbands, who is quite certain that Sarah knows where Andrew kept a disk or flash drive with some vital information. And the owner of the ranch she's moved onto is Jackson Raines, whom Sarah yearned for and spurned in high school. Sarah and Jackson resist their mutual attraction while the calls get more threatening--but when the calls progress to the trashing of Sarah's cottage and her grandmother's home, she has no one to turn to but Jackson.
     Trouble keeps closing in on them, as the FBI threatens Sarah with charges to force her to give information she doesn't have about Andrew's business activities, and his former associates get more violent in their pursuit of that flash drive. And there's still one secret Sarah is keeping from Jackson, something she knows will kill his growing love for her.
     This is a well-written romance with interesting, likable characters, and the added bonus that no one does anything stupid or creates a willfully stupid misunderstanding in order to create necessary plot complications. Sarah's secret reason for pulling back is real and serious, and Jackson reacts like an adult, not an over-reactive teenager. These are solid adult characters, well worth the time spent with them.

Note:: I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley

Thursday, November 4, 2010

God Soul Mind Brain: A Neuroscientist's Reflections on the Spirit World, by Michael S. Graziano

156 pp., Leapfrog Press, September 2010, ISBN 9781935248118

Michael Graziano is a professor of neuroscience at Princeton. He freely identifies himself as an atheist, and suggests that he may somewhere on the autism spectrum and that this may affect his view of the world and of people.

Graziano argues that a belief in God is not imaginary, a delusion, or even a "belief" in the usual sense, but rather a perception that grows directly out of the same neural circuitry that allows us to perceive consciousness not only in other people, but in ourselves. We (those of us who are religious) perceive God in the world for the same reasons we perceive consciousness and personality in other people--because evolution has created the machinery in the brain that allows social animals to predict and understand each other's behavior. This is an essential ability for animals in complex social relationships, and like other abilities, likely varies in degree between individuals. Graziano suggests that the ability is somewhat less intense than average in people with some degree of autism, and that it may be stronger than average religious visionaries, those who see ghosts, and others with a higher than average degree of engagement with the "spirit world."

The discussion of the "spirit world," however, is only a part of this book, and although it's the obvious interest, in fact I found the overall discussion of how the mind and consciousness originate in the brain, and key developments in neuroscience related to this, to be every bit as fascinating. This is a short book, and an easy read considering its subject matter. There's an ample bibliography for those interested in further reading, but you won't be tripping over footnotes while zipping through the main text.

Highly recommended if you're at all interested in the subject.

Note:: I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Don't Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style, by Randy Olson---Review

Island Press, (c)2009, ISBN 1597265632

Randy Olson is a marine biologist who did his research, did his publishing, and became a tenured professor at the University of New Hampshire.

And then he resigned to become a filmmaker.

In Don't Be Such a Scientist, Olson talks about his own journey from scientist to science filmmaker, and explores the problems of communicating science to a broad audience. He finds the problems to lie mainly in a disconnect between how scientists learn to communicate with each other and the kinds of communication that work with the general, non-scientist public, and especially what does and does not work in the mass media.

Scientists place the highest value on accuracy; they correct inaccuracies, they question assumptions, they demand evidence. This is all vital to what scientists do; without these behaviors, real advances in knowledge can't happen. But when scientists use those same behaviors when talking to the general public, and especially when speaking on tv or making films and videos intended to reach the general public, these same behaviors come across as negative, argumentative, and unlikeable. Scientists, Olson says, work almost entirely in their heads, while reaching a broad audience--even getting the attention of a broad audience, due to how inundated we are with information--requires reaching the heart, the gut, and even, as he delicately phrases it, "the lower organs."

To illustrate the impact of an over-emphasis on being serious and relentlessly accurate, vs. presenting the information with style, heart, and even humor, he compares the reception given to two 2006 movies about global warming--HBO's April 2006 Too Hot Not Too Handle, and Al Gore's May 2006 An Inconvenient Truth. The first, he says, was "solid, relatively impersonal, objective effort featuring interviews with many top scientists." The second is a personal narrative by Al Gore, featuring his stories of long-term involvement with the issue, the tragedies involving his sister and his son, some humor, along with lots of substance. With all the emphasis on style, Gore nevertheless used PowerPoint graphs in abundance to communicate facts and data.

The HBO movie was completely accurate--but also boring and depressing. It sunk without a trace. Gore's was filled with important information, but had some inaccuracies that would never have survived in the HBO effort. But none of those errors were important enough to undermine the central point--and An Inconvenient Truth was a huge hit, and won both an Oscar and a Nobel Prize. Which was more effective in getting real knowledge of global warming to the general public?

Some of the entertaining stories Olson has to tell include his own collision with acting class (news flash: scientists are not naturals at just going with their feelings), the struggles to make his own 2006 film on evolution vs. "intelligent design," Flock of Dodos, watchable--and then the reaction of science bloggers to a movie that still wasn't accessible enough for distributors to want it for general audiences.

I'm not doing justice to the book, but it's short, pithy, and completely readable, along with providing ample food for thought on how to communicate science to the general public.

Important note: I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, Island Press.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My adventures in ebooks

I've always been a holdout against ebooks. Reading a large amount of text on a computer screen is not appealing, and even a laptop is just not portable enough. It's heavy, you can run down the battery way too soon for a good reading experience if you're not plugged in, etc. PDAs and cellphones are obviously a lot more portable, but really, that's a tiny screen.

As for dedicated ebook readers... One is from Sony. After the rootkit nonsense of a few years ago, I'll never trust a Sony device again. Some of my friends have Kindles, and they love them. I've looked at them, held them--and not loved them. Not hated--just, not loved them. I suspect that if I traveled a lot, and carrying enough reading material on planes and trains were therefore an issue for me, I'd probably have succumbed. But I don't, so I didn't.

Then this summer my mother decided she wanted an ebook reader, or was convinced by my sister that she did, so that she could check books out of the library without having to leave her apartment on the days when she's less than fully mobile. She wanted to go look at ereaders, and asked me to come with her. We wound up at Barnes and Noble, looking at the Nook. Excuse me, the nook. B&N favors the lower-case n for the name of their device.

What can I say? I fell in love. It's the right size. The display is nice, e-ink really is almost like reading a printed page, far better than a typical computer screen display. It's about the weight of a trade paperback, and a bit smaller in dimensions--even with the optional but highly recommended case/cover. The battery life is more than decent, in part because the nook uses power only when changing something (such as turning a page), the touchscreen portion is active, or you're using the wi-fi or 3G capabilities. About once a week, I need to plug it  in for a few hours, and the rest of the time, I don't have to worry about it at all.

It's easy to adjust the size of the text to what's comfortable for you, and I do find that on the nook screen I prefer a larger text size than I would like on the printed page. I've also loaded on a few pictures of my dog to serve as my screensaver; it's easy to do, and fun to see her cute face every time I pick it up. Once you've got the book you're reading open, and the control touchscreen at the bottom goes dark, you can turn pages by swiping a finger over the darkened touchscreen. It's about as close to reading a print book as an electronic device can probably achieve.

Of course, if you spend the money on a ebook device, you're not only concerned about ease of use. You're also concerned about availability of material. Overall, ebook prices are closer to paperback prices than to hardcover prices, but that's not universally true. The sad truth is that many publishers are so afraid of piracy that they make ebooks expensive and load them down with DRM (digital rights management) that makes them hard to use conveniently--and of course impossible to lend.

However, I'm finding more than enough that's available at close-to-paperback cost that I don't feel unduly restricted in my reading choices. Barnes & Noble also offers some free ebooks; so does Amazon for the Kindle. B&N, unlike Amazon, does allow "lending" of ebooks bought from them--if the publisher agrees. It's very restricted (only for two weeks, and any given book can only be lent once), but it's a beginning. When the publishers realize that this is not hurting but rather helping their sales, I'm sure it will expand.

You can borrow ebooks from your public library, too (remember, this is where we started, with my mother's desire to do so.) What and how much is available this way will depend on what library or libraries you belong to, and what consortia they belong to, but if you are open in your reading choices, you may find that there's plenty of reading material available.

There are also other sources of free ebooks. At, there are many older classics and older forgotten-but-excellent books available, out of copyright protection and unburdened by DRM. Some authors offer some of their own books as free or inexpensive ebooks, and some publishers, in contrast to the publishers who are terrified of the digital age, do the same with older titles. If you are a science fiction reader Baen Books is an excellent source of free sf, and you should also check out their ebook store for more current titles, not free of course, but not expensive if they're the books you want.

I'm enjoying my nook, and I think I will continue to do so.

Oh, and my mother? She wound up buying a netbook, instead, which makes sense for her needs. She had no computer at all, and library ebooks need to be downloaded to your computer first and then transferred to your ereader device, so the nook, or the Kindle, or the Sony reader, alone, wouldn't have helped her. She also wanted email access. Her netbook isn't much bigger than the nook, and it does the other things she needs. Less battery life, of course, but since the whole point is that she wanted something that would allow her to not go out when she wasn't feeling up to it, that's not really a issue. She can curl up and read with this, and still keep it plugged in most of the time.

Do I think ebooks are going to replace print books? Not anytime soon, no. They're a nice additional option, though.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pelham Adoption Day 7-24-10

In the morning, Addy landed a starring role in a Greater Derry Humane Society poster:
Addy helps out poster

Then we were off to the Pelham Adoption Day. Davey

and Sparky

and Capone

were among the dogs seeking new forever homes.

Addy helped staff the table:

ARNNE also brought this beautiful girl, Gracie:

Puppies, too! Although I didn't get this little guy's name:

All in all, it was a lively, fun day, with wonderful, friendly dogs seeking their new forever homes. Don't miss the next one!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gucci Needs Your Help


Gucci is a four-month-old shih tzu mix, currently living at the MSPCA Nevins Farm shelter. In his previous home, someone dropped him, and he suffered a serious leg injury. The surgery for his injury was very expensive, and his owner could not afford it, so he came to the shelter. Because of the expense of the surgery, Gucci's adopter will need to pay the adoption fee plus the cost of the surgery.

But you can help! Even if you cannot adopt Gucci yourself, you can make a contribution to the cost of his surgery, which will reduce the cost to his adopter--thus speeding the day that Gucci can be adopted and go to the loving forever home he deserves.

Can you help? Even a few dollars will make a difference for Gucci.

See Gucci's Petfinder page for contact information.

Pet Oxygen Masks for Derry Fire Department

Every pet owner knows that in the event of fire, our pets are at even greater risk than ourselves--more likely to panic and do the wrong thing, and also generally much smaller and therefore more vulnerable to being overcome by smoke. But while fire departments are well equipped with oxygen masks to help rescue humans, they usually have nothing similar for our pets. Because of this, The Greater Derry Humane Society, the Derry Public Library, and Windham Animal Hospital are raising money to donate pet oxygen masks to the Derry Fire Department. On Wednesday, Windham Animal Hospital and The Greater Derry Humane Society presented oxygen masks to the Derry Fire Department.

Zoey tries out the oxygen mask
Zoey the Jack Russell Terrier demonstrates the use of the mask with the help of a Derry firefighter and Timothy J. Butterfield, DVM

Barbara McCarthy, President of the Greater Derry Humane Society, Timothy J. Butterfield, DVM, Zoey and her brother Niles, and other members of the Greater Derry Humane Society, Windham Animal Hospital, and the Derry Fire Department

Dr. Butterfield did the research to identify the best pet oxygen masks to purchase, and Windham Animal Hospital donated several masks in three different sizes. With the masks being purchased and donated with funds raised by the Derry Public Library and others, pets in Derry will have a much greater chance of being rescued in the event of a fire in their homes.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

More Pet Food Recalls--Friday night dump & run recall anouncements

Therese at PetSitUSA caught this announcement of a recall of Merrick Beef Filet Squares Dog Treats for possible salmonella contamination. This is the second time Merrick has recalled these treats for salmonella contamination, although the FDA is annoyed that the first time, Merrick didn't tell consumers about the salmonella contamination.

If you use these treats, please read the announcement and check lot numbers on whatever you have in the house.

Natural Balance has also recalled its Sweet Potato & Chicken Dry Dog Food, also for possible salmonella contamination.

UPG (United Pet Group) has recalled dog nutritional supplements sold under a variety of names. If you use supplements for your dog at all, click the link and make sure your supplements aren't on the (long) list.

And finally (for the moment, as far as I'm aware), Feline's Pride has recalled its Feline's Pride Raw food with ground bone for cats and kittens, Natural Chicken Formula.

For those of us with pets, life has not been the same since the massive, widespread pet food poisonings of 2007. We need to remember that no brand, price level, or quality level of food is immune to problems, and we need to remember that most companies deal with this as a business problem, and try to minimize the damage to themselves, rather than dealing with it as a threat to our pets, and trying to minimize the damage to our pets. And since pet food recalls are not "news" unless they happen on the massive scale of 2007, we need to be alert, and include in our news sources the ones we find to be reliable. The Pet Connection is a great one, as is PetSitUSA. You can check the FDA Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts site regularly.

And above all, just be aware of how your pet reacts to his or her food. If a pet starts refusing something they've always liked, they may be ill--or there may be something wrong with the food. Never ignore what your pet is telling you!

Hopefully there'll be no more bad news this weekend, and we can all enjoy the Independence Day weekend!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Greater Derry Humane Society adoption events

On a sunny Saturday in early June, Greater Derry Humane Society held an adoption day at the Blue Seal feed store on Crystal Ave. in Derry. We had a wonderful turnout of both loving and lovable adoptable pets eager to find new homes, and interested people wanting to meet them.

Among the pets:
Rosco and Ginger
Ginger, a female rat terrier, and Rosco, a male Rottweiler. Ginger is a 8-year-old, affectionate girl who loves her walks, and would make a great companion for someone with small dog experience. Rosco is an extremely gentle boy who is great with kids and with other dogs. He's currently living with Ginger and another rat terrier, so he is comfortable and appropriate with small dogs as well as large ones.

Kody is a whippet mix, a little over a year old, who enjoys the company of other dogs but was very fearful of people. His foster home worked hard to build his confidence and trust, making him a much happier boy. And the great news is, Kody has found a home!

Zeke is a Patterdale Terrier/Lakeland Terrier mix, about twenty pounds of fun and energy. Zeke had a great time getting acquainted at the Adoption Day, and has also found a forever home.

But the day wasn't All Dogs, All The Time! We had cats, too!
Oliver, a fluffy boy clearly showing signs of "barn Maine Coon" ancestry so common in New England cats, was ten weeks old, and is now just about three months. He was happy to meet people, charm them, and show off.

Reecie with GDHS volunteers
Reecie, 3-year-old dilute calico girl cuddling with her foster dad, was also present to meet and greet potential adopters. She's a loving and easy-going girl who enjoys attention, and would fit easily into any household.

This wonderful adoption day is over, but we have future adoption events coming up. Greater Derry Humane Society will be participating in the Pelham Adoption Day, from 11am to 2pm, on Saturday, June 26th, at the Pelham Congregational Church, at the intersection of Rte. 11a and Main St., in Pelham, NH. And then on Saturday, July 3, from 10am to 1pm, we'll be having an adoption day at the Big Lots at Hood Commons, in Derry, NH. Come join us!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Kong Rocket--for your "mad about fetch" dog

Recently The Kong Company sent me a free sample of the new Kong Rocket to try out with my dog.

The Rocket is a ball launcher, about two feet long, and able to hold balls from about two inches to about three and a half inches in diameter. Two balls, a larger one and a smaller one, are included, and both balls have squeakers.

The Rocket has makes it really easy to get more distance, power, and accuracy with your throws. And when your dog brings the ball back and drops it at your feet, with the Rocket you can easily pick it up again--without touching the now-slobbery ball with your hand.

Sadly, my little dog is only slowly adjusting to this, in her eyes, Unnatural way of playing fetch. However, I'm confident that this is not a case of the human thinking something is really cool while dogs think it's boring. That's because I had a friend try it out with her fifteen-week-old Briard puppy. He's not quite down on the rules of Fetch, yet, but he loved chasing the ball!

I'm disappointed that my dog is not taking to the Kong Rocket more readily, but I'm confident that this is going to be a real hit with the ball-crazy crowd, the retrievers and spaniels and herders--and of course their owners.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

No good deed goes unpunished

The story I'm going to tell I got from someone in the group I'll designate 1st Rescue. It's important for context, I think, to understand that 1st Rescue is funded entirely out of the pockets of its active members, no outside source of funds. I should also note that this is not a tale from this or any other New England state.

A man with a very senior position in a large company has no dog because he travels too much on business and can't provide a stable long-term home. However, a young male dog wanders up to his house, clearly in need of help, and he takes the dog in, with the intention of finding a new home for it. He consults a person from 1st Rescue for advice, but after a month no new home has been found, and he really can't keep this dog long-term, because of his business travel.

So 1st Rescue takes the dog, has him vetted (shots and neuter), and subsequently transfers him to 2nd Rescue, which for various reasons is better equipped to place this particular dog. (Rescues tend to have specialties.) 2nd Rescue reimburses 1st Rescue for half the vet bill.

1st Rescue then approaches the man, the original rescuer, and asks him to pay the other half of the bill. 1st Rescue is astonished when the original rescuer is offended by the request.

Person from 1st Rescue then posts the story on a pet forum that shall remain nameless. 1st Rescue person also includes, for contrast, the case of a woman in a much more junior position in the same company, who found a dog and had a yard sale to help pay that' dog's "largish" vet bill.

Person from 1st Rescue proceeds to speculate about whether this is a "guy thing" or a result of the fact that people who are better off have no idea what it's like to struggle with bills and make ends meet, while people who are more precarious economically do understand this and are naturally more generous. In the subsequent discussion, essentially all of the comments discuss which of these is more likely the cause, with the weight of opinion running in favor of the man's "problem" being that he's too well off to understand about paying bills.

Plus, of course, the added observation that he clearly has no idea how rescues work and thought his "problem" was solved when he "dumped" the dog.

Excuse me? "Dumped" ? This was not his dog, and he did not "dump" it; he rescued it, and after he was not able to find an adopting family himself, he got the dog into a rescue.

He's one of the good guys, going out of his way to help a dog even though he's not in a position to adopt a dog himself. Yet he's the subject of hand-wringing over how he could be so shallow as to be offended when asked to reimburse 1st Rescue for the other half of the dog's vet expenses. Certainly it would have been good of him to do so. Certainly it seems likely that it would be no financial hardship for him to do so. But he's one of the rescuers, the first rescuer in this case, the one that made it possible for this dog to have a chance--and he's being talked about as having "dumped" the dog, and tsk-tsked over because he didn't pay the vet bills incurred after the dog left his care, on top of having cared for the dog for a month prior to1st Rescue taking him.

Shouldn't we be celebrating his generosity and willingness to take action?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Facebook and online privacy

I've been thinking about last week's kerfuffle over Facebook's "Instant Personalization" and the concerns it raised over online privacy. One thing that struck me was the dichotomy in the reactions expressed in the comments threads of nearly every online discussion of it.

On the one hand, you had people like the ones writing the blog posts and online articles, and commenters like me, who were various flavors of annoyed at Facebook once again finding ways to make money off of our private information that we thought we'd protected, and forcing us to go digging through account settings to find all the places we needed to change the new defaults so that our private information is protected again. For now, anyway. Until the next time. And on the other hand, you had the commenters who seemed completely dismissive of the whole idea of private information. After all, the online experience is much richer and more entertaining if you and your friends can see all of each other's likes, dislikes, interests, activities...and after all, what's the big deal? What need for this obsessive secrecy about basic information? One commenter explicitly said that privacy is dead and it's no loss, an old-fashioned idea for old-fashioned people who just don't get this whole new online world.

Some of this is the inexperience and lack of judgment of young people who have not yet lost out on, or realized they lost out on, a job or another opportunity because an employer discovered their Facebook pictures of the keg party that got out of hand. Or who do not yet know personally anyone whose identity was stolen, with disastrous consequences for their credit rating and sometimes their employability. One recent example that perhaps few people will feel much sympathy for, but which offers a useful lesson, would be some of the high school students in Mississipi who were involved in the "secret prom" after their high school canceled the official prom rather than allow one girl to take her girlfriend as her official date. The school had, officially, backed down and scheduled a prom---but Constance and her girlfriend and half a dozen other students were the only ones who attended it. The rest of the class attended another event the same night, which publicly they said was "not a prom, just a private party." Unfortunately, several of them posted pictures on their Facebook pages that looked remarkably like prom pictures, and in their comments and status updates described it as a prom. Since they had been allowing everyone to see everything on their Facebook pages, quite a number of sites and individuals captured screenshots and copied pictures before the kids finally woke up and locked down their Facebook accounts. This carelessness will probably affect the court case underway, and will like follow them and be an embarrassment and something of an obstacle for years to come.

The point is not that these students are especially vile and wicked. We all do stupid things, too many of us do unkind and morally dishonest things, when we are young and foolish and the world hasn't taught us empathy yet. The point is that not thinking about their privacy settings, assuming that privacy is an old-fashioned concern irrelevant to the wired-from-birth generation, made this particular unkind act public in a way that is going to embarrass them for years to come.

Situations that more naturally inspire our sympathy include identity theft facilitated by the easy availability of many details of an individual's personally identifying information, but it's the same problem. Carelessness about who may be looking at your personal information that you thought was private can lead to seriously unfortunate consequences. And when Facebook and other social networking sites, as useful and entertaining as they are, compound inattention and inexperience on the part of the user by actively seeking to make it hard for individuals to protect their information, the consequences can be very bad.

You can't enjoy the benefits of online life without some sharing of information, including maybe some sharing of information that in a perfect world you might prefer not to put out there. Further, I honestly do think that there's a grain of truth in the belief that this is a difference in generational attitudes. My generation happily discusses in public things that would have made our grandparents blush to discuss in private. The wired-from-birth generation does not regard as private all the information that my generation considers private. But those are choices that ought to be made by the individual user, on an opt-in basis, what risks they are willing to take in exchange for what benefits.

Control should be with the individual, not with the corporation trying to profit from the individual's information.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

DeCordova Sculpture Park--A Dog-Friendly Art Museum

Only the outdoor sculpture park, of course, not the museum building. But it's still a great outing. Pack a picnic, bring your dogs, bring some friends, and have a great day walking and looking at some impressive and interesting art as well as a lovely landscape. This baseball player graces the beginning of our walk today, near the parking lot and the gift shop:
Baseball player near the entrance

We started the day with a picnic lunch. No picnic tables at the DeCordova, so we brought a sheet to use, which the dogs appreciated:
Addy, Puccini, and Chopper at the picnic

The first installation that stopped us in our tracks was Kitty Wales' Pine Sharks:
Pine Sharks, by Kitty Wales

There were other interesting sights

along the way

but the next installation stop us was this one, called Three Lines. Initially I took several stills to capture the changing positions--and then whacked myself on the head and switched to video mode:

The dogs, also, checked out the art, although canine criticism is strictly forbidden in the park:
Puccini investigates a sculpture

We enjoyed studying this Ent from various angles, although for some reason the artist does not identify it as an Ent, and calls it "Venusvine."
The Ent

Another Kitty Wales piece, "Feral Goose."
Feral Goose, by Kitty Wales

That's just a taste of what we saw today, and as we were leaving we discovered that we had "saved" another entire section of the park for a future visit. Many of the pieces are of course "don't touch," but some are interactive, making this a great excursion for teaching kids that art and museums are fun and interesting, as well as a great way to have an art-enhanced walk with your dogs. As the school year winds to an end, and the weather hopefully gets more reliably nice, start planning for a day there, with kids, dogs, both, or neither. Do plan to carry your own trash (or just move it back to your car before continuing the day) because there are no trash cans. Check with your local library to see if they have passes for the DeCordova; we used a pass that admitted four at no charge. This is a great local treasure, not far from Boston; take advantage of it!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Is Mother Nature annoyed with us?

So far this year we've had major earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Sumatra, Baha California, Spain, the Solomon Islands, and China. That's not a complete list of 6.0 and above earthquakes since January 1.. It isn't even a complete list of the 6.0 and above earthquakes in those places since January 1.

Now, it's worth noting that scientists say this really isn't an unusual level of seismic activity. Six earthquakes of 7.0 or above within the first four months of the year is well within the normal range of variation, apparently. Yet timing, locations, and death toll have been startling and tragic. And the only thing we can do about earthquakes is enforce earthquake-safe building codes in earthquake-prone areas. It's the adoption and enforcement of a sensible earthquake-conscious building code in Chile that helped to make the larger Chile quake less deadly than the Haiti quake.

This week, we have the Iceland volcano. Okay, it's been erupting for a month--but this week, something changed and it started erupting in a different spot, right through icecap, and it's now putting a cloud of volcanic ash into major flight paths all over northern Europe. Scientists can't say how long it will continue to erupt, or how long the eruption will disrupt air travel. Again, this is something we can't control; we can only cope. In this case, that means cancelling air travel for a highly populated area for an unknown period of time. (I should note that what I heard on the news in the last hour suggested that maybe conditions are improving and air travel might start to recover.)

Meanwhile, the ice caps are melting. This March was the warmest March on record. This followed what was, despite the experience of some parts of the US, the fifth-warmest winter on record, worldwide. And that very warming was responsible for some of the American sense of a harsher winter than normal--the melting ice caps means more moisture in the atmosphere, which means storms will produce heavier precipitation, which if those storms happen in areas that are, warmer or not, still below freezing, can result in record-breaking snowfall.

Beyond the obvious yet controversial point that we need to take action to reduce our contributions to global warming if we want to avoid the disastrous effects of some areas becoming much less habitable than they are now while others potentially become more attractive, I have no clear sense of where we go with this. Earth has always been a geologically restless planet; the difference now is that we have both greater means to respond, and greater vulnerability because we depend on high technology and close global interconnections. We need to respect that, and we need to deal with it--intelligently and pragmatically, not ideologically, and not mistake facts we don't like for nefarious political intentions.

We need to start paying attention to what the planet is telling us.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chinook Dogs visit the Greater Derry Humane Society

Last Tuesday, two Chinook Dogs visited the monthly meeting of the Greater Derry Humane Society. The Chinook Dog is the state dog of New Hampshire, a recreational sled dog whose foundation stud, Chinook, accompanied Admiral Byrd to the South Pole.

Chinooks are medium to large dogs, 55 to 90 pounds, muscular, calm, non-aggressive, affectionate with family and generally reserved with strangers. In addition to sledding, they enjoy skijoring, dog agility, obedience, and search & rescue.

A neat giveaway at Two Little Cavaliers

Over at Two Little Cavaliers they're doing a giveaway for some very cute items from All About Yoshi--hair bows for the dogs among us that need them, or just look incredibly cute in them, and hand painted refrigerator magnets. The items are very cute and Two Little Cavaliers is a fun blog, so head on over there. Also check out Beezer's Bistro, also participating in the Davinia's Birthday Bash giveaway with all-natural homemade treats for both people and dogs.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Greater Derry Humane Society

Over the last year, I've become involved with the Greater Derry Humane Society, a Derry, NH rescue group that fosters primarily dogs and cats in private homes while seeking permanent homes for them.
Initially, I was involved only in another activity of GDHS--therapy pet visits to a local nursing home. My dog Addy and I enjoy these visits immensely, and Addy is developing her own little following at the nursing home.
But the main thing is finding homes for homeless animals, and one part of that is getting pictures up on Petfinder so that people looking for pets to adopt can find them. So yesterday, I took pictures of three worthy and deserving cats. Reecie and Angel's profiles are up on Petfinder and their names link to their pages; Domino's should appear soon.
Domino is a big, laid-back, huggable guy.

Angel is a sweet, beautiful girl.

Reecie is another good-looking girl who seemed pretty calm despite her doubts about Addy standing beside me while I took the picture.

Contact the Greater Derry Humane Society if you're interested in meeting any of these lovely cats.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

USS Constitution Fires Away...

...just as it ought to.

Last November, ironically a few days before Veterans' Day, some apparently new residents of the expensive condos around the Navy Yard in Charlestown complained to the USS Constitution's commanding officer, Timothy Cooper, about the noise of the twice-daily cannon salute accompanying the raising and lowering of the flag. One of the many stories at that time is available here:

It's hard to imagine what the complainers were thinking. Proximity to the USS Constitution was undoubtedly a selling point for this high-priced condo development. The twice-daily firing of the cannons has never been a secret, and is a 200-year-old tradition, not something dreamed up last summer to attract more tourists. If their real estate agents did not disclose this feature of the neighborhood before they purchased, perhaps they have a complaint against those agents--but it would also tell us that they did no research whatsoever about the historic neighborhood they were proposing to move to. Also, this is an urban neighborhood--not a leafy suburb one might move to with a reasonable expectation of peace and quiet.

It's like moving in next to a chicken farm and then complaining about the rooster crowing every morning. Or any small farm, and then complaining about the smell of the manure used to fertilize the fields. Except that in addition to being an unreasonable demand that the neighborhood change to accommodate the newcomers who moved there in part because of the very characteristics they now want changed, this is an attack on an essential piece of American history and a fine patriotic tradition.

Happily, Timothy Cooper has decided that the complainers need not be accommodated. Tradition and history prevail, and the twice-daily ceremony will continue unchanged. Story here:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bella the Future Service Dog

Today, Addy and I visited our nursing home friends as part of our regular pet therapy visits, and as a bonus extra, we met Bella, a future service dog. She's a sweet, five-month-old black Lab, and like any young dog with a demanding career ahead of her, she needs lots of practice meeting all kinds of people, dogs, cats, and anyone and anything else she might encounter in the course of her work.

The girls were a little doubtful of each other at first, but soon teamed up to sit side by side so that they could both get liver treats. No pictures of that because I couldn't take pictures and dispense treats simultaneously!

Service dogs such as Bella will be go everywhere with the person they're teamed with, including places that dogs are normally banned from. Federal law protects their human partners' right to have their canine aides with them, but the flip side is that the dogs must able to behave anywhere, in any circumstances. Puppy raisers like Bella's current foster family raise and socialize the future service dogs so that they're ready for the demanding training they will begin when they reach one year old.
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

E-Books and Libraries

On Friday, Chronicle (on WCVB-TV) focused on ebooks, ereaders, and the future of libraries, in an episode entitled What's the Word. The initial presentation was quite apocalyptic--you can download anything you want to read from the internet, so who needs libraries, right? How can boring old dead tree books compete with the shiny new electronic kind? And if we don't need print books, what use do we have for libraries?

The reality, of course, is rather more complicated, and eventually, so was the Chronicle story. After oohing and aahing over the wonders of the Kindle and the Nook, with very little attention to the problems (for instance, Amazon deleting an edition of Animal Farm that they did not have the rights to, without notifying users, and in the process trashing a high school student's English research paper), eventually they visited several actual libraries, including the new Cambridge library.

And what did they find? Libraries are busy. Circulation is up, participation in library programs is up, and the main obstacle to libraries continuing to grow and expand in services is the inconvenient fact that their budgets are being cut. Partly, of course, because state and municipal budgets are under incredible pressure, but also because of the perception that libraries are "old-fashioned" and not really necessary in this modern age.

But libraries provide something that bookstores, including online bookstores, never can. It's not just a wider range of reading material than any individual can afford to buy. It's not even the fact that all that material is free. What they offer is librarians and their services--knowledgeable guides through both the fiction and non-fiction resources. Someone who's always glad to help you navigate both the print and the electronic resources--whether for recreational reading, or because you want more information on something the doctor said, or because you're looking for a job after twenty years with the same company, and have no idea where to start in making a resume, finding job openings, writing good cover letters.

Online resources offer information. Libraries, and librarians, offer the opportunity to turn that information into knowledge.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Digital Complications

I’ve been talking with people lately about the implications of the wholesale rush into the online world—a rush I have happily joined, and enjoy immensely both recreationally and professionally, but which is not without its complications and unintended side effects.

Google, of course, is trying to digitize the world and make it all available via their search engine. For Google Books, they've finally reached a deal--sort of--with the publishers, but the only protection offered for the content generators, i.e., the authors, is an opt-out clause, and not all of them are meekly going along:

The authors ought to have real control over their works and should not find that by signing a contract agreeing to the print publication of those works they have accidentally signed over electronic rights not mentioned in their contracts without additional compensation, and which potentially impairs the future salability of that work. Yet there are real benefits to the rest of the world in making published material available as widely as possible, and there is no question that online availability aids that. As the publishing world grows more accustomed to our new digital world, I would expect that the standard contract will be rewritten to include those online rights. If they do so without including additional compensation for the authors for that use, however, this will continue to be a battle.

The other interesting development in recent weeks was the showdown between Macmillan and Amazon. Macmillan wanted to restructure the way it sells e-books through Amazon, including raising the price on some books from $9.99 to $14.99. Amazon responded by suspending sale of every single title published by the entire Macmillan publishing conglomerate--not just e-books, but all print books as well:

Now, Amazon caved after a couple of days and the books reappeared:

But the fact remains that a huge quantity of material simply disappeared from the largest and most familiar source. Amazon was not an exclusive source for the print books, of course, but the same thing has happened with "exclusive" electronic content on subscription online services Lexis and Westlaw that is not published by those companies, as corporate entities negotiate, bid against each other, play hardball, etc. Content that was on one system moves to the other, or becomes temporarily unavailable. Corporations, law firms, and public and academic libraries with large enough budgets to have contracts with both suffer less disruption, though still some loss of efficiency, but the only people who can be sure they have uninterrupted access are those who have the print editions.

Both the Google Books story and the Amazon/Macmillan tussle demonstrate that the customer can all too easily wind up getting the short end of the stick.

or all the advantages of electronic access (and they are many), it is concentrating too much control in too few hands, and those hands belong to those whose primary obligation is to the financial health and competitive advantage of their employers, with no professional commitment to the continued and general availability of the content. As a librarian, I find that disturbing. It risks undermining our ability to be an educated, informed society.

Even at its best, electronic access nearly always means you are renting the information rather than buying it. That can be an appropriate choice--but it's important to know that you are doing it, and to make a conscious, thoughtful choice in that regard, and too often it is not.

News from our friends at Two Little Cavaliers

Hard upon my complaint about annoying ads, I'm blogging about a pet-related product review and giveaway over at Two Little Cavaliers. Indiana and Davinia, the two cutest Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in the world, have tried out the Ultra Soft Small Pet Bed by Animal Planet and give it two paws up.

In addition to being incredibly cute, Davinia is also a brave little fighter. Some weeks ago, she was out for a walk with Indiana and their mom, and was attacked and badly injured by two "guard dogs" that got loose from a construction site. Despite major injuries, she has hung in there, kept her sweet temper, and is well on the road to recovery now. Go check out their blog, and admire their cuteness, and Davinia's courage.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Annoying Ads

Yes, I know, there are lots of annoying ads. However, there are two ad campaigns in particular that I'm finding especially egregious at the moment.

Toyota Sienna ads

This is the latest entry in that puzzling category, "buy our product so that you can be like these really annoying people you would cross the street to avoid." A husband and wife, who previously imagined themselves too good to drive anything as plebian as a minivan, have bought a Toyota Sienna, which is stylish and wonderful enough to almost equal their own style and wonderfulness. The hubby calls it "The Swagger Wagon." Of course, we all love people who swagger, right? The wife oozes smug satisfaction in having found a minivan that doesn't make her look middle class and married. She also uses the Sienna as a place to just hang out, doing her nails whatever else. When hubby is talking the words appear on the screen over him, "Daddy like." When the wife is talking, the words appear, "Mommy like."

Added bonus: These ads still brag about Toyota reliability. In the midst of a major recall which keeps getting bigger and bigger, when information is emerging that Toyota worked to limit earlier brake-related recalls, and they're still denying that there are any electrical problems despite customer reports.

Volkswagon "Punch Buggy" ads

There's a children's game, dating back to the 1960s, in which the children watch for Volkswagon Beetles, and when they spot one, call out "punch buggy!" or "slug bug!" and punch each other. Volkswagon has inexplicably decided to use a generalized version of the game in their latest ad campaign, with putative adults punching each other at the sight of any Volkswagon, calling out "red one!" or whatever color as they do so. So, okay, why do I want to be anywhere near people acting like that? As with the Toyota Sienna ads, if I'm going to be influenced in my car choice by ads like these, it's not going to be in favor of the cars featured in these ads. If other people's car choices are going to affect mine, I want to drive a vehicle favored by at least minimally rational adults, not by people likely to randomly punch me, or people whose main concern is whether the vehicle supports their egos.

Yes, I do get that these ads are supposed to be funny. The problem is that they are funny if you are somewhere between the ages of six and sixteen--and in most states, you can't even get a driver's license before the age of sixteen. Who do Toyota and Volkswagon think are making the buying decisions?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tiger Woods' Apology

Yesterday I watched Tiger Woods' apology and the reaction to it with fascination. Tiger did manage the feat, rare amongst celebrities and politicians, of actually apologizing, saying that he was responsible, that he was wrong, and that his actions had hurt other people. None of your phony, "I'm sorry you're so oversensitive you were offended" non-apology apologies that we hear so often. He talked about his faith (Buddhism) and how adhering to its principles would have kept him from the actions that have landed him in this trouble, and he talked about the sense of entitlement produced by fame, wealth, and celebrity.

He did not talk about the women he had the affairs with, or apologize to them or to their families, who were hurt by this just as his own wife has been hurt. And he did not take any questions.

Tiger has courted media attention for his entire career. He has made millions off of his squeaky clean image, even more than off of the fact that he's possibly the greatest golfer ever. But he has always wanted that media attention to be solely on his own terms. He has always wanted total control of the message. But now we have found out that a large part of that message was a lie--he is not the squeaky clean guy he has been selling to us--and he still wants to control the message.

Let me be clear. Tiger telling the media to back off his wife, his kids, and his mom is totally appropriate. I hope the media listen and heed, though I doubt they will. They are not the ones who made this Faustian bargain.

Tiger is. And Tiger Woods cannot seriously expect that saying "sorry, no questions" will be enough.