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Writers and Editors (RSS feed)

Which LED light bulb to buy: A WATTS-to-LUMENS conversion chart

Thanks to My Green Montgomery (Maryland) for this wonderful chart and explanation:
Compared to less-efficient incandescent bulbs that emit light everywhere, LED light bulbs more efficiently emit light in a particular direction. What needs to be lit will still be bright, just without wasting energy.
 
LEDs are versatile and can be used in a variety of lighting situations. They use far less energy and last significantly longer than other light bulbs (for approximately 50,000 hours). If used for 8 hours a day, an LED bulb could last more than 17 years! For “Going Green,” this means less energy and materials will be needed for replacement bulbs.
 
For fuller explanations, and answers to questions you might not even know enough to ask, read
 
Light up your home with LED light bulbs

Connection between craft brews and LED light bulbs
 
 

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How and why does one choose who to write a biography about?

Here are two stories that came from Washington Biography Group discussions early this year of how people chose the topic for their first biographies.

 
Ken Ackerman's story

 

Ken grew up in Albany, NY, politically a machine-run town. One mayor held office for 41 years, from fixing votes. Ken learned at some point that his father, a lawyer in the 1930s, tried to run for the NY state legislature, which was run at the time by the Tammany Hall machine.  Ken took a job in DC, and worked for a government official accused of taking sports tickets (which had only recently been barred under federal rules), then pilloried by a special prosecutor, only to be acquitted on all charges. With all that in mind, Ken came across Boss Tweed, all that corruption resonated, and that's who he wrote about.

 

Read Growing Up in the Last Century—My First Taste of Politics: Getting Kicked Out of the Polls by the Albany Machine, June 1972, an interesting story, illustrated, on Ken's Viral History blog (visually delightful in its new incarnation). Fittingly, there is a Museum of Political Corruption in Albany.

Sally's story


In retrospect, Sally Berk realizes that she chose to write her thesis about Harry Wardman, and to continue researching him in the hope of writing a book, because in general she wanted to explain the built environment into which she was born. Were she to write more books, they would all be about the architects and developers of the first half of the twentieth-century. Wardman has been a mythical figure since Sally's childhood. Her mother loved to tell the story of having, as a teenager, danced at Walter Reed Army Hospital and at the Wardman Park Hotel to entertain World War I veterans. But it was the Wardman Park that made a lasting impression. Later, Sally learned that Wardman, who constructed more than three thousand buildings, was—more than any other developer—responsible for the tree-lined streets of row houses that, as a child, she found so enticing.

 

While Wardman was wildly ambitious and extraordinarily energetic, his success was also the consequence of the state of Washington DC’s built environment when he arrived in 1893. The city was experiencing an extreme housing shortage as a result of the huge growth in population during and immediately following the Civil War. Large tracts of farmland north of the L’Enfant-planned city were being sold to developers and streetcar lines were being extended to access the new developments. Wardman had little trouble obtaining financing to benefit from these construction projects.

 

Wardman’s career was further enhanced by a second influx of population during and immediately following World War I. But the rules of development changed in the early years of the 1920s, when zoning was introduced in Washington. This change did not, however, impede Wardman’s rapid pace of development. It was the Stock Market Crash of 1929 that dramatically impacted his career. Over-extended, he was forced to declare bankruptcy. He might have eventually recovered from that dramatic setback had he not contracted colon cancer and died shortly thereafter, in 1938.

 

Does Sally Berk’s About the Author page make you curious about her subject and book? Another page on her website, Wardman's Washington, features some of the best-known buildings Wardman built.

 

Why did you choose the subject of your first biography?

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Wallace Stegner's 'Angle of Repose,' a novel based on a true story

What happens when a novelist writes a novel based on a real life story but changes the main character and the arc of her life?

 

Artist-Author Mary Hallock Foote and her Angle of Repose (Casey Bush, Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission, 2003). "The same year that Angle of Repose won the Pulitzer Prize, Foote's autobiography, A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West was published by the Huntington Library at the urging of Foote's descendents who objected to the great liberties that Stegner took in telling her story. Straddling fact and fiction, Angle of Repose was also met with charges of plagiarism in academic circles."
A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West: The Reminiscences of Mary Hallock Foote (by Mary Hallock Foote, edited by Rodman W. Paul)

Angle of Repose, the novel by Wallace Stegner
‘The Ways of Fiction Are Devious Indeed’ (Sands Hall, Alta Online, 4-4-22) Finding current relevancy—and outrage—in the accusations of plagiarism that have long haunted a classic of the West: Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose. "Yet in the end, it wasn't that Stegner copied so much, verbatim, that incensed me. Nor that, in creating the Wards, he followed so precisely—for 523 of the novel's 569 pages—the trajectory of the Footes' lives. It was that, in the process, he altered Mary's character. Susan emerges as a griping, entitled, discontented 1950s housewife, nothing like the adventurous, deeply intelligent, resilient woman on whom she was modeled....Stegner didn't physically assault Mary Foote, but he abused her—her life, her writing, and, as it turned out, her reputation. And he got away with it because he was a man." Having started with material from Mary Foote's life, Stegner the novelist adds "adultery, infanticide, a destroyed marriage" and "dramatically alters the climax of that life, and, in the process, her entire character."

     Hall continues: "In choosing to climax the story of the Wards in a romantic tryst gone terribly wrong, Stegner not only "warped" the Footes' story; he missed the opportunity to unfold the remarkable final act of their lives." And Hall writes of the real happy ending to the family's story, concluding: "We have a word for the theft of writing; we do not have one for a stolen life."
A classic, or a fraud? (Philip L. Fradkin, LA Times, 2-3-08) Plagiarism allegations aimed at Wallace Stegner's 'Angle of Repose' won't be put to rest. "Stegner used the private letters of Mary Hallock Foote and additional portions of her unpublished memoir intact, edited or combined with invented material for the basic structure of his narrative. He included page-long passages and entire paragraphs unaltered, slightly changed or invented, and borrowed specific details of her life for his most memorable character, Susan Burling Ward...

      "Stegner had permission to use the material and ... he acknowledged its use, [although he] altered Foote's life to fit his needs for a multidimensional novel of the American West." He told the family he would alter the story, mixing fiction with fact, but the novel implies a romantic liaison that didn't happen in real life, which the family found objectionable. In the introduction to a paperback edition of the novel issued in 2001, Jackson J. Benson, a Stegner biographer, writes about this controversy. This article is worth reading if you're planning to base a novel on a true story.
List of fake memoirs and journals (Wikipedia) Another angle on the same theme.

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Best books, movies, TV, and online content of 2021

BEST BOOKS
What’s the Best Book of the Past 125 Years? We Asked Readers to Decide. (New York Times, 12-28-21)

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. (Do read why they won.)

2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

3. 1984 by George Orwell

4. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

5. Beloved by Toni Morrison

Nominees in

Science Fiction: Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Horror: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Nonfiction: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Children’s Book: Watership Down by Richard Adams

Cookbook: The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer

Self Help: The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

      Three writers — John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner — received nominations for seven of their books.

     Other popular authors included James Baldwin, Margaret Atwood and Virginia Woolf, who each had five books nominated.

     And readers nominated four of Joan Didion’s books: “The Year of Magical Thinking,” “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” “The White Album” and “Play It as It Lays.”

Runners Up

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

 


The most popular US library books of 2021 (Clarisa Diaz, Quartz)
The 100 Must-Read Books of 2021 (Annabel Gutterman, Cady Lang, Arianna Rebolini, and Lucas Wittmann, Time)
Best Books of 2021 (New York Public Library)
74 mini-reviews to help you find a great book to read next (David Bauer, Medium, 1-5-21) Book recommendations, from climate change to robotics, from food to superforecasting, from leadership to writing, and more.
The best books for white people to learn (just a little) about Black people (Lawrence Goldstone, Shepherd for Authors)
How will sharing book recommendations help me sell books?

THE BEST MOVIES:
Best movies of 2021 (Ann Hornaday, Washington Post) Almodóvar just gets better, family films make a comeback
The movies that wowed Post critics in 2021 (Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post)
30 Movies That Are Unlike Anything You’ve Seen Before (David Sims, The Atlantic, 5-30-20) These movies "are singular, whether they’re experimental documentaries, visionary works of animation, or labyrinthine epics. Each is unforgettable, and a reminder of cinema’s potential to flout narrative convention, subvert visual traditions, and find new ways to express timeless themes."
Winter Movies 2021: Here’s What’s Coming Soon to Streaming and Theaters (Ben Kenigsberg, NY Times, 11-16-21) Get ready for originals like “House of Gucci” and “C’mon C’mon” or franchise updates like “The Matrix Resurrections” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.”
11 Overlooked Classic Films for a Pandemic Winter Old Rex Reed recommendations, posted12-11-21)
Readers, Streamers, and Watchers (Marcy Davis’s great private Facebook group)

 

GOOD TV AND CABLE:

"Few shows get better over time and are worth recommending to new viewers after they're done—Schitt's Creek, Better Call Saul, and BoJack Horseman are rare examples." ~ Jordan Calhoun, The Atlantic, 6-22  

 

 

BEST TV SHOWS OF 2021
The 16 Best TV Shows of 2021 (Sophie Gilbert, Megan Garber, and Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 12-9-21)

“Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip With Sam and Graham" (Starz)

“Mare of Easttown" (HBO)

“Lupin" (Netflix)

“Dickinson" (Apple TV+)

“The Chair" (Netflix)

“Ted Lasso" (Apple TV+)

“Hacks" (HBO Max)

“Insecure" (HBO)

“Girls5eva" (Peacock)

“The White Lotus" (HBO

“The Underground Railroad" (Amazon Prime

“Reservation Dogs" (FX on Hulu)

“WandaVision" (Disney+)

“Only Murders in the Building" (Hulu)

“Squid Game" (Netflix)

“The Other Two" (HBO Max)


The Best TV Shows of 2021 (Doreen St. Félix, New Yorker, 12-8-21) In no particular order:

"The Underground Railroad” (Amazon Prime)

“South Side” (HBO Max)

“Reservation Dogs” (FX)

“The White Lotus” (HBO)

“We Are Lady Parts” (Peacock)

“Succession” (HBO)

“Philly D.A.” (PBS)

“Hacks” (HBO Max)

“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake   City” (Bravo) which is morphing into a true-crime hit

“Love Life” (HBO Max) which gets the award for most improved Bonus Awards for Consistent Excellence: “Evil” (CBS)

“Bob’s Burgers” (FOX)

“What We Do in the Shadows” (FX)

“Work in Progress” (Showtime).

 

A shout-out to the shows that didn’t “make” the list.

The troupe on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” is jelling in a way that is reminiscent of the Gilda Radner golden era.

Martin Short and Steve Martin have invented a vibe that I’ll call “uncle-core,” on the snappy Hulu murder mystery “Only Murders in the Building.”

The kinky historical fictions of “The Great,” also on Hulu, and of Apple TV+’s “Dickinson,” which is in its third and final season—and ending at precisely the right time—are consistently engaging.

HBO’s “100 Foot Wave” is a beautiful colossus; its director, Chris Smith, has merged an intimate look at the surfer Garrett McNamara with stunning footage of the sea in Nazaré, Portugal.

“Heels,” on Starz, a sentimental drama about professional wrestling, intriguingly mirrors the meta-theatricality of “Glow.”

“City of Ghosts” (Netflix),

“The Good Fight” (Paramount+), and

“Call My Agent!” (Netflix) kept me sane.

The noir humor of “Odd Taxi” (Crunchyroll), an anime, made me feel crazy—in a good way.’


The Best Feel-Good and Feel-Bad TV of 2021 (Naomi Fry, New Yorker, 12-22-21)

 

BEST HACKS – HOW TO LIVE LIFE
100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying (The Guardian Saturday Magazine, 1-1-22) Whether it’s being polite to rude strangers or setting time limits to your apps, tons of ways to make life better, with little effort.
How to Treat Skin Hyperpigmentation Naturally (Healthline) Apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, red onion, green tea extract, black tea water, licorice extract, milk, buttermilk, tomato paste, orchid extracts, red lentils.



TOP ONLINE CONTENT (a few links to "best" and "top" lists)
All the top (good, intelligent) radio talk shows and podcasts (McNees links)
Great podcasts to listen to while your hands and eyes are doing something else (McNees links)
Podcasts about health, health care, medicine and medical science (McNees links to best podcasts)
A+ blog and newsletter roll (Writers and Editors)
25 Newsletters and Tools to Discover Shareable Content (Kevan Lee @Buffer)
31 Bookish, Brainy, Beautiful Blogs for Readers (Tracy O'Neill, NY Public Library)
17 Unique Places to Find Great Content to Share (Kevan Lee @Buffer)
14 Newsletters You’ll Want in Your Inbox (Anum Hussain @Buffer)
Great search links (Writers and Editors)

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Narrative medicine and medical narrative

Updated by Pat McNees from an earlier version (12-2-11)

At a narrative medicine workshop at Columbia University, I learned that narrative training with stories of illness "enables practitioners to comprehend patients’ experiences and to understand what they themselves undergo as clinicians."

• In The Wounded Storyteller, Arthur Frank writes about restitution narratives (in which the narrator, expecting to get well again, is focused on the technology of cure), chaos narratives (in which the narrator sees illness lasting forever, with no respite), and quest narratives (in which illness is transformative, as the storyteller gains insights and becomes someone new).
Narrative Medicine: A Way Out (Corinne T. Feldman, Clinical Advisor, 2-25-22) In the practice of street medicine, which is the direct delivery of primary care to people experiencing homelessness living in parks, underpasses, and abandoned buildings, we have the privilege of witnessing those lives lived as society casually passes by, seemingly blinded to the suffering happening at their feet.
Safeguarding Our Communities: Get to Know Your Lifeguards (Corinne T. Feldman, Clinical Advisor, 2-25-22)
Narrative Medicine blog (an extension of the work, discourse, teaching and learning that takes place in the Narrative Medicine Program at Columbia University -- "Practicing clinical care with the ability to recognize, absorb, interpret, and be moved by the stories of illness") I took in in 2011 and found in valuable.
Pulse—voices from the heart of medicine (excellent Web-only journal) and Pulse: Voices From the Heart of Medicine - The First Year, anthology edited by Paul Gross and Diane Guernsey
Narrative Medicine Rounds, lectures or readings presented by scholars, clinicians, or writers engaged in work at the interface between narrative and health care. Rounds are held on the first Wednesday of each month from 5 to 6:30 pm in the Columbia University Medical Center Faculty Club, followed by a reception. Rounds are free and open to the public. Podcasts MAY be available.
Stories in Medicine: Doctors-in-Training Record a Different Type of Patient History (Margot Adler, NPR, 10-28-03)
Family Medicine (official journal of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine; check out its feature “Lessons From Our Learners." Often publishes personal essays, 55-word stories and poems.
Poetry and Prose Rounds (Washington University, which provided some of the following links)
Fifty-five Word Stories: “Small Jewels” for Personal Reflection and Teaching by Colleen T. Fogarty (Family Medicine, June 2010), PDF
Narrative Medicine Heals Bodies and Souls (Lorrie Klosterman's interview with Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Utne Reader, Sept-Oct 2009)
What to do with stories: The sciences of narrative medicine (Rita Charon, Canadian Family Physician Vol. 53, No. 8, August 2007, pp.1265 - 1267)
Illness as More Than Metaphor (by David Rieff, Susan Sontag's son, NY Times Magazine, 12-4-05)
How to Do a Close Reading (Patricia Kain, Harvard University Writing Center)
Close Reading of a Narrative Passage (K. Wheeler, Carson-Newman College)
Explorations: An E-Journal of Narrative Practice. See for example: Re-membering Pets: Documenting the meaning of people’s relationships with these family members by narrative therapist Barbara Baumgartner
Literature, Arts, and Medicine database (NYU hosts)

And here are some books on the subject (there are many more). If you order something after clicking on one of these Amazon links, we get a small commission, which helps support maintaining this website:
The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing, and the Human Condition by Arthur Kleinman
Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness by Rita Charon
Narrative Medicine: The Use of History and Story in the Healing Process by Lewis Mehl-Medrona author of Coyote Wisdom: Healing Power in Native American Stories
Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine, ed. Peter L. Rudnytsky and Rita Charon
Theft of the Spirit: A Journey to Spiritual Healing by Carl Hammerschlag
The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics by Arthur Frank.Both the collective portrait of a so-called "remission society" of those who suffer from some type of illness or disability and a cogent analysis of their stories within a larger framework. Frank is also the author of At the Will of the Body: Reflections on Illness

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20 places Americans can donate to help the people of Ukraine

Updated 3-30-23.   See also Good reporting on the Ukraine-Russia military situation.

 

"The opposite of good is not evil; the opposite of good is indifference. In a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible." ~Abraham Joshua Heschel

 
President Obama's list, which seems more targeted to Ukraine region:

President Obama stated, “People of conscience around the world need to loudly and clearly condemn Russia’s actions and offer support for the Ukrainian people.”

He recommend helping the people of Ukraine by supporting one of several organizations, specific to the region
How You Can Help the People of Ukraine (President Barack Obama, 3-3-22):
---Fight for Right Helps make it safe for people with disabilities to stay in Ukraine.
---Hungarian Helsinki Committee provide free-of-charge legal assistance and representation to asylum seekers
---Fundacja Ocalenie (for African and Indian students at the border)
---Kyiv Independent, which has a GoFundMe site, to keep accurate news coming.
---Polish Migration Forum a free crisis hotline
---Cordélia Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (Hungarian site provides counseling and advanced psychiatric support for trauma survivors)
---Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights supports women, transgender, and nonbinary activists on the ground in and around Ukraine
---International Organization for Migration (IOM) scaling up its humanitarian operations in Ukraine and neighboring countries
---Association for Legal Intervention A Polish NGO providing pro bono legal work for migrants and refugees

 

 

My original compilation, before President Obama's appeared:
Doctors Without Borders is working in Ukraine 

Global Empowerment Mission (GEM, Miami-based) Doing strategic assistance at the border and on the ground in the tiny village of Medyka, Poland, it uses donations to buy refugees train and plane tickets to help them reach any family or friends they may have in Europe.

GoFundMe has launched a centralized fund that includes verified fundraisers.

International Rescue Committee is mobilizing resources to aid the people in Ukraine who were forced to flee their homes.

Kyiv Independent journalists have done tremendous work covering the war, offering constant updates as they fear for themselves, their families and their homes. The Independent has started a GoFundMe asking for support, but they’ve also promoted a separate GoFundMe — “Keep Ukraine’s media going” — for journalists around the country who have received less international attention “[Ukraine’s reporters] have shown extraordinary courage, but the reality on the ground is that most operations cannot continue from Ukraine alone,” one organizer wrote. “This fundraiser is aimed at helping media relocate, set-up back offices and continue their operations from neighboring countries.”

National Bank of Ukraine has created an account where people from around the world can donate to support the Ukraine military. Even with Western support, Ukraine’s army and its legions of volunteer fighters are severely outgunned by Russian forces.

Razom for Ukraine was founded in 2014 to build a stronger democracy in the country. Now the nonprofit is “focused on purchasing medical supplies for critical situations like blood loss and other tactical medicine items. They have a large procurement team of volunteers that tracks down and purchases supplies and a logistics team that then gets them to Ukraine.” Razom — which means “together” in Ukrainian — posted a list of the lifesaving supplies it has already purchased and is asking for more support.

Red Cross in Ukraine (0 800 332 656)

Save the Children helping children in Ukraine, Afghanistan and around the world who might be caught in the middle of armed conflict, forced to flee their homes and exposed to injury, hunger and sub-zero temperatures.

Sunflower of Peace Foundation A Boston-based nonprofit whose current mission is to support the people of Ukraine affected by the Russian military invasion, in collaboration with a global network of established organizations and institutions.

Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund (Global Giving) Donations help "affected communities in Ukraine, with a focus on the most vulnerable, including children, who need access to food, medical services, and psychosocial support."

World Central Kitchen Chef Jose Andrés and his staff are feeding Ukrainian refugees streaming across the border into Poland, as well as those who remain in Ukraine. With their mobile kitchens and local chefs they've helped on the ground in Galveston, New Orleans, and Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria (even before other relief agencies), in Beirut after the giant blast, and helping asylum seekers in Kentucky, Texas.

Voices of Children focuses on helping children recover from the psychological trauma of war. During the full-scale Russian invasion, they are providing non-stop assistance to affected children and families from all over the country, providing emergency psychological assistance, and assisting in the evacuation process. Donate here.

 

SOURCES:
How You Can Help the People of Ukraine (President Barack Obama, 3-3-22)
How to help Ukraine: 7 verified charities working to help Ukrainians amid invasion (Joyann Jeffrey, Today, 2-28-22)
Here’s how Americans can donate to help people in Ukraine
(John Woodrow Cox, Ian Shapira, and Omari Daniels, Washington Post, 2-27-22)
Five ways to help Ukraine right now in NYC (TimeOut, 2-28-22)

 

Good reporting on the Russia/Ukraine military situation.
20 Days in Mariupol: The Team That Documented City's Agonies (Mstyslav Chernov, 3-21-22) Vivid account of covering Russia's systematic destruction of most of the city's lifelines, starting with power and communications, by two journalists taking risks to get stunning images of the damage to the world, while Russian propaganda denied what their visual record made evident. Follow AP coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war here
The Grand Theory Driving Putin to War (Jane Burbank, NY Times, 3-22-22) Since the 1990s, plans to reunite Ukraine and other post-Soviet states into a transcontinental superpower have been brewing in Russia. A revitalized theory of Eurasian empire informs Mr. Putin’s every move. Post-imperial egos felt the loss of Russia’s status and significance keenly. Ukraine sovereignty is a threat to Russia's Eurasian empire.
The View from Warsaw ( Joy Neumeyer, The Baffler, 3-21-22) After decades of conflict, Poland stands in solidarity with Ukraine. In Poland, NATO membership is supported across political lines as a basic guarantee of sovereignty. Over two million Ukrainians have entered Poland, where lawmakers voted to grant them free travel on public transport, access to health care, and the possibility of three years of residency without a visa. Relations between the two countries have been fractious in centuries past, but the overwhelming support for the refugees is perhaps "a form of apology by a former ruler and fellow sufferer."
Best Reading On Ukraine and Russia (The Browser, 3-18-22)
Understanding Russian Offensive Campaign (Backgrounder, Institute for the Understanding of War, Assessment 3-15-22)
Ukraine’s Three-to-One Advantage (Elliot Ackerman, The Atlantic, 3-24-22) It’s not technology or tactics that has given Ukrainian fighters their greatest edge. A really good explanation about the military story.
Putin Doesn’t Realize How Much Warfare Has Changed (Antony Beevor, The Atlantic, 3-24-22) The Russian president’s obsession with World War II is hindering his invasion of Ukraine.
Why Z Is for Putin (The Economist, 3-8-22)
In the Ukraine Conflict, Fake Fact-Checks Are Being Used to Spread Disinformation (Craig Silverman and Jeff Kao, ProPublica, 3-8-22) Social media posts debunking purported Ukrainian disinformation are themselves fake. That doesn’t stop them from being featured on Russian state TV.
What Racism Taught an American Journalist About Covering the War ( Ruby Cramer, Politico, 3-19-22) Seeing persecution, a Black reporter in Ukraine refuses to keep his distance.  Terrell Jermaine Starr is redefining what it means to be a journalist who is as much a participant as an observer.

What a World War II Survival Story Reveals About Putin’s Lies (The Experiment Podcast, The Atlantic, 3-22-22) One Jewish American family’s debt to Ukraine.

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Henry Louis Gates Jr's reading list of African-American literature

here's a reading list of African-American literature from How Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Helped Remake the Literary Canon (David Remnick, New Yorker, 2-19-22). Remnick asks, "If I were to ask you to recommend ten works of fiction and ten works of nonfiction to a citizen wanting to get a handle on the canon that you’ve worked so hard to refine and supplement, what would those works be?" Gates provided these three lists plus a wonderful quote:


Fiction:
1. “The Conjure Woman,” by Charles W. Chesnutt
2. “The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man,” by James Weldon Johnson
3. “Cane,” by Jean Toomer
4. “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” by Zora Neale Hurston
5. “Native Son,” by Richard Wright
6. “Invisible Man,” by Ralph Ellison
7. “Mumbo Jumbo,” by Ishmael Reed
8. “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
9. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison (or “Sula,” “Song of Solomon,” or “Jazz”)
10. “At the Bottom of the River,” by Jamaica Kincaid

Nonfiction:
1. “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself,” by Frederick Douglass
2. “A Voice from the South,” by Anna Julia Cooper
3. “The Souls of Black Folk,” by W. E. B. Du Bois
4. “Black Skin, White Masks,” by Frantz Fanon
5. “Notes of a Native Son,” by James Baldwin
6. “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
7. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
8. “Angela Davis: An Autobiography,” by Angela Y. Davis
9. “Playing in the Dark,” by Toni Morrison
10. “In My Father’s House,” by Kwame Anthony Appiah

For reference:
1. “From Slavery to Freedom” (ninth edition or later), by John Hope Franklin and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham
2. “The Betrayal of the Negro: From Rutherford B. Hayes to Woodrow Wilson,” by Rayford W. Logan
3. “Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877,” by Eric Foner
4. “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,” by Annette Gordon-Reed

In one of the most beautiful—of so many—passages that he wrote, W. E. B. DuBois captured the wonder of the Black experience in the New World. He said, 

      “The most magnificent drama in the last thousand years of human history is the transportation of ten million human beings out of the dark beauty of their mother continent into the new-found Eldorado of the West. They descended into Hell; and in the third century they arose from the dead, in the finest effort to achieve democracy for the working millions which this world had ever seen. It was a tragedy that beggared the Greek; it was an upheaval of humanity like the Reformation and the French Revolution.”

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From Section 230 to The EARN IT Act and still controversial

assembled, edited by Pat McNees  (updated 9-20-22)


The law that made the Internet what it is today (Susan Benkelman, Opinion, WaPo, 4-28-19) A review of The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet by Jeff Kosseff.

(The 26 words: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

      In other words, it lets them off the hook.

 

The obscure law that explains why Google backs climate deniers (Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian, 10-11-19) "Google wants to curry favour with conservatives to protect its ‘section 230’ legal immunity. For Google, providing financial backing to groups such as CEI and the Cato Institute – staunch free marketeers – has nothing to do with climate science, and everything to do with its effort to curry favour with conservatives on its most pressing issue in Washington: protecting an obscure section of the US law that is worth billions of dollars to the company. The law – known as section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – was established in the 1990s, at a time when the internet was in its infancy, and helped to give rise to internet giants, from Google to Facebook, by offering legal immunity to the companies for third party comments, in effect treating them as distributors of content and not publishers. Section 230, in effect, allowed Google and Facebook to be shielded from the kinds of libel laws that can ensnare other companies, such as newspapers."

      Few anticipated the consequences of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Ron 'Wyden acknowledged to Kosseff that although he knew that Section 230 was going to be important, he “never thought that its reach would be this dramatic.” Nor could he possibly have foreseen platforms whose algorithms would help surface and amplify conspiracies, fake images and news stories, and even depictions of violence online, creating the distorted-mirror effect that is so prevalent and troubling today.

     'Now something needs to change, whether it is the law or the companies’ behavior. Section 230 may have created the mirror of society that the Internet represents. But the tech companies now hold it in their hands, which means they may want to move more aggressively to remove its distortions — before the government tries to do it for them.' 

 

STOP the Earn It Act (The Woodhull Foundation's petition) The EARN IT Act, a bill being pushed by faith-based anti-porn and anti-sex work groups, makes online platforms and services liable for any potential abuse of their platform. Using the distribution of child sex abuse material (CSAM) as its cover, EARN IT strips away Section 230 protections, allowing no safe harbor for any site, even those that work aggressively and admirably to block and report potential bad actors.

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A resurrected bill troubles digital rights advocates and journalists (Mathew Ingram, The Media Today, Columbia Journalism Review, 2-17-22) In 2020, members of Congress introduced the EARN IT Act—an abbreviation for the full name (the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act). The act proposed a national commission for developing best practices for the elimination of child sex-abuse material (CSAM). It also stated that any online platforms hosting such material would lose the protection of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives electronic service providers immunity from prosecution for most of the content that is posted by their users.

     Some groups criticized the bill, saying "that Section 230 doesn’t actually protect electronic platforms from liability for illegal content such as CSAM, so passing a law exempting them from that protection is redundant and unnecessary. Critics of the bill also said it might pressure online services to stop offering end-to-end encryption, used by activists and journalists around the world, because using encryption is a potential red flag for those investigating CSAM."

     The bill was dropped, has now been resurrected. Article19, an international nonprofit that supports freedom of expression, warned "that the act makes it more likely platforms will 'engage in overbroad censorship of online speech, especially content created by diverse communities, including LGBTQ individuals, whose posts are disproportionately labeled as sexually explicit.' By opening the door to potential liability for encrypted content, Article19 says the act 'would strongly disincentivise providers from providing strong encryption.' ”

      When the original version of the bill came out, Runa Sandvik, who has worked on security for journalists at the New York Times and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, noted at TechCrunch that the bill, while intended to combat “a horrific crime,” nevertheless “introduces significant harm to journalists’ ability to protect their sources.” “Make no mistake,” Riana Pfefferkorn, a research fellow at the Stanford Internet Observatory, wrote at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society. “This was a dangerous bill two years ago, and because it’s doubled down on its anti-encryption stance, it’s even more dangerous now.” By threatening tech companies with litigation for not doing enough to fight CSAM on their services, Pfefferkorn wrote, EARN IT “would do a lot of damage to innocent internet users who have broken no law”; if passed, she wrote, the act will result in companies “overzealously censoring lots of perfectly legal user speech just in case anything that could potentially be deemed CSAM might be lurking in there.”

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Fact-Checking the Critiques of Section 230: What Are the Real Problems? (Ashley Johnson Daniel Castro, Information Technology Innovation & Foundation, 2-22-21) Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has become a key battleground in the larger debate over free speech and content moderation. There are legitimate and illegitimate critiques about it—but they don’t negate the law’s many benefits. Key takeaways:
---Section 230’s liability protections were intended to be broad. But they are not limitless. Courts continue to identify exceptions to the liability shield.
---Contrary to critics’ claims, Section 230 is not a gift for Big Tech. Many different types of organizations—large and small, tech and non-tech, companies and individuals—benefit from Section 230 protections.
---The First Amendment, not Section 230, gives online services the right to remove content they find objectionable—and it protects individuals from government censorship, not from removal by online platforms.
---Most online services that benefit from Section 230 are legitimate, but since some bad actors take advantage of the law it makes sense to consider ways to reduce these harms without overburdening online services.
---Limiting or removing Section 230 protections would be harmful to innovation, free speech, and competition, so policymakers should carefully consider the consequences of any proposed reforms.

But keep going and read the 10 main critiques, in summary and in detail.

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Anti-exploitation bill advances in Senate despite free speech concerns (Russell Brandom, The Verge, 2-10-22) Critics say the EARN IT Act would ‘make it far riskier for platforms to host user-generated content’ H/T to Technology and Press Freedom, which adds that " critics say the bill would undermine all users’ security by discouraging platforms from adopting end-to-end encryption."

A controversial bill to protect kids online just advanced in the Senate, worrying privacy and human rights advocacy groups because of its implications for free speech and encryption services. Here's what you should know (Brian Fung, CNN, 2-11-22) [EARN IT Act stands for "Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act"] "By narrowing Section 230's scope, the latest bill seeks to create more legal exposure for companies that fail to do enough to remove child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Tech platforms can already face criminal prosecution at the federal level for knowingly facilitating the spread of child pornography, but the legislation goes further, making it possible for states to bring civil and criminal suits on the matter, too.
       The bill also seeks to establish a commission, led by federal law enforcement, charged with publishing voluntary best practices for tech platforms on how to combat child pornography. It's a carrot-and-stick approach that effectively tells websites how they may, as the bill's name implies, earn their liability protections.

 

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 • Sex trafficking law looms large over latest bid to weaken Section 230 (Cristiano Lima, Washington Posst, 2-10-22) "In 2018, Congress passed FOSTA-SESTA, a contentious measure that opened digital services up to lawsuits if they knowingly facilitated sex trafficking on their sites. Despite its aims, critics warned that the measure could have an unintended chilling effect on free speech and harm sex workers trying to safely communicate online.
     "Now, civil liberties advocates, human rights groups and tech industry leaders are again sounding the alarm that the new bill could endanger the people it’s seeking to protect.
     "The legislation, called the EARN IT Act, would create a commission tasked with issuing recommendations to platforms on how to best curtail child abuse on their products. It would open platforms up to liability under any federal and state civil laws, as well as state criminal laws, related to hosting child abuse material. (Section 230 allows for liability under federal criminal law.)"

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Trump escalates war on Twitter, social media protections (AP, 5-28-2020) "Trump, who personally relies heavily on Twitter to verbally flog his foes, has long accused the tech giants in liberal-leaning Silicon Valley of targeting conservatives by fact-checking them or removing their posts....Companies like Twitter and Facebook are granted liability protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act because they are treated as “platforms,” rather than “publishers,” which can face lawsuits over content."


Section 230 — Nurturing Innovation or Fostering Unaccountability? (U.S. Dept of Justice, Key Takeaways and Recommendations, June 2020) Antitrust law prohibits dominant firms from engaging in anticompetitive conduct that harms competition. In some cases, online platforms have argued that Section 230 creates an immunity from antitrust claims. Immunity against antitrust claims, however, was not part of the core objective of Section 230. In an antitrust case, the key question is whether a defendant is engaging in conduct that harms competition. Such claims are not based on third-party speech, nor do they focus on whether the platform is a publisher or speaker.

     Given this, and the existing market dynamics, it is important to ensure that Section 230 is not used as a tool to block antitrust claims aimed at promoting and preserving competition. The Department believes it would be useful to create an explicit legislative carve-out from Section 230 for claims under the federal antitrust laws.

     Until then, there is a risk that defendants will continue to try to use Section 230 creatively to block antitrust actions. Suggested reforms to promote open discourse and greater transparency:

   1. Replace Vague Language to Address Moderation Beyond Section 230

   2. Provide Definition of Good Faith

   3. Continue to Overrule Stratton Oakmont to Avoid the Moderator’s Dilemma ("forcing a platform to choose between moderating content (and therefore exposing itself to liability for all other user-generated content), or not moderating at all (and therefore hosting whatever content, however repugnant, that users post).


FOSTA/SESTA. A new law intended to curb sex trafficking threatens the future of the internet as we know it (Aja Romano, Vox, 7-2-18) Trump signed into law a set of controversial bills intended to make it easier to cut down on illegal sex trafficking online. Both bills — the House bill known as FOSTA, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, and the Senate bill, SESTA, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act — have been hailed by advocates as a victory for sex trafficking victims, but the law doesn’t appear to do anything concrete to target illegal sex trafficking directly, and instead threatens to “increase violence against the most marginalized.” And makes it a lot easier to censor free speech on small websites — as evidenced by the immediate ramifications the law has had across the internet, affecting such sites as Reddit, Craigslist, and Google.
SESTA Bill Will Not Prevent Sex Trafficking But Will Silence Online Speech "While the sponsors of these bills contend that they are aimed at stopping sex trafficking, neither bill actually helps sex trafficking victims confront their abusers and instead both focus on curtailing online speech. Even sex workers oppose the bills, which are likely to make consensual sex work more dangerous. The National Coalition Against Censorship joins with our allies in the free speech community to oppose this bill." See From Section 230 to The EARN IT Act and still controversial (blog post with links to more on this issue)

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Trump vs. Big Tech: Everything you need to know about Section 230 and why everyone hates it (Jessica Guynn, USA Today, 10-15-20) Section 230 "helped fuel the rise of the modern internet. Companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube say they could not exist in their current form without its protections."... 

        "There are exceptions to the law, such as federal crimes and intellectual property claims. Also, lawmakers in 2018 chipped away at Section 230 protections by passing a law that makes it easier to sue internet platforms that knowingly aid sex trafficking."
    "Nowhere, perhaps, is that backlash bigger or more consequential than in Washington, DC. In Congress, both parties have singled Section 230 out for attack, with some Democrats saying it allows tech companies to get away with not moderating content enough, while some Republicans say it enables them to moderate too much."


Everything you need to know about Section 230 (Casey Newton, The Verge, 12-29-20)
EARN IT Act (Wikipedia's useful overview and history) .


The Fight Over Section 230—and the Internet as We Know It (Matt Laslo, Business, Wired, 8-13-19) Mass shootings and executive orders have dragged the web's most consequential law back into the spotlight.
       "Something tech companies have really gotten wrong—they've proceeded for years basically treating Section 230 like it's a right that's enshrined in the Constitution, and I think, frankly, some of the large platforms in particular have gotten incredibly arrogant," says Jeff Kosseff, who wrote a book about Section 230 called Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet. "And now what you're seeing is a backlash to that arrogance."

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Dear Reader: Have I missed any important arguments or points or material to link to??

 

 

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Thinking of recording your own audio book?

Guest post by Melanie Chartoff

 

For all who are publishing, traditionally or not, read this account of one author who audio-recorded her own book, Melanie Chartoff, author of Odd Woman Out: Exposure in Essays and Stories:

 

It's great to touch and educate people. For those who are considering narrating their own work, here's my experience trying to get my creation inside the minds and viscera of readers:

As an actor and voice actor, I recently published and narrated my first book, after doing so for other authors and producers in the past. I seemed best suited to the task, since my memoir is personal and comedic, featuring many characters from my personal history. My book was 73,513 words long, minus the table of contents, "Previously Published" page, and dedication. It took 20 hours and cost me $2000 for eight hours and twelve minutes of finished work. The engineer/editor split the fees of $100/hour with the owner/director/composer (who wrote a recurring theme ditty for the book). I was free. You can sample the audio here.

In its first six months, despite being well reviewed, the audio book did not make much money, but listeners write that they have enjoyed its company on car rides or exercise excursions and at bedtime, so I've had other gratifications.


When I've worked for others, it's usually a 4-hour session of constant speaking at a consistent level of energy throughout. I stop and do pickups frequently for words I've slurred or sections that weren't intelligible or expressive enough because I spoke too fast. There are generally 9200 words in a finished hour. I'm paid $300 per recorded hour (post edits), in order for the audio to be cost efficient for the producer or author.


It's hard work. It was hard work for my own book, too, which I produced out of pocket. I was highly motivated to enact scenes from my own experience at peak energy, but I'd get exhausted in those 4 hours. If I recorded in my home studio, I could have taken far longer, worked fewer hours and spent many hours in the tedium of listening to my own voice and editing. But I wanted an objective ear, and getting spontaneous reactions from the the booth made the read far more pleasurable.

 

Before you embark on recording your own book, I'll share my experience coaching authors and later listening to their books. They start out great, but unless they have vocal training or are accustomed to speaking for many hours with full conviction, they can run out of steam and get monotonous. They stop imagining the listener struggling to grasp the gist. Endurance and focus are mandatory, and if your book is dramatic, giving different characters distinct nuances that repeat throughout the story is a challenge. (Record samples so you can refer back.)

 

It's less about having a good voice and more about maintaining peak interest and energy for many hours and days, discovering the text as if for the first time, so the reader will, too.


You can listen to samples from professional narrators on many sites, and perhaps find a voice as suitable as your own, of any gender, for your work. And you may favor your own performance, but practice for awhile first. You might first volunteer and read textbooks for the Braille Institute in your region, or at hospitals where folks need a good story or educational text. Record yourself and see if you are galvanized when you listen to the playback.

Whatever your decision, I wish you a great audio version of your work!


Write on,


Melanie Chartoff
charmel444@gmail.com
melaniechartoff.com
Actor/Writer/Charisma Coach

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Authors' wills, trusts, and estates

 

As a writer, have you spelled out who inherits the rights to and income from the work you leave behind--your intellectual property? Here are some helpful explanations, for various scenarios.


When a Writer Dies: Making Difficult Decisions About the Work Left Behind (Eric Newton on Jane Friedman's blog, 2-1-22) When an author’s death leaves a manuscript unfinished, her husband tries to put together the pieces and complete the book.
Death is not the end: the lucrative world of literary estates (John Gapper, Financial Times, 7-26-19) The growth of streaming services, demand for audio books and the globalisation of publishing are a boon for a writer’s descendants. Excellent overview of flourishing estates.
Important. And pass it on... (Neil Gaiman, A Simple Will,10-30-06) Download "A Simple Will" and fill it in for yourself.
Neil Gaiman on why writers tend to put off writing wills, particularly wills that spell out how their intellectual property should be handled. You can download a template (PDF) of a generic will for U.S. authors but maybe run it by a lawyer, as laws vary by state.
Estate Planning for Authors: Tips for Your Financial and Literary Legacy (Edward M. McBoyd, YouTube video of Authors Guild webinar, 11-6-19, 1.4 hrs). Pretty thorough legal overview for providing for your author's estate. McBoyd explains wills, trusts, and other estate planning vehicles; the possibility of appointing a “literary executor” or “literary trustee” to manage the copyrights in the author’s estate; providing for the administration of “digital assets,” such as the author’s website or social media pages; and the exercise of statutory rights to terminate copyright grants, including after an author’s death. You want to be sure not only that the income goes to the right heirs and that your intellectual property is being properly managed.
Estate Planning for Your Indie Author Business (Karen Myers, Alliance of Independent Authors, 1-4-19) "We indie authors are typically one-man businesses. We don’t think in terms of key employees, since we haven’t got any, but we are ourselves the key employee, and we need to make plans for what will happen when we are no longer able to run our business. And if we’ve managed to grow large enough to have actual employees, we have the same issues as any other small business. We need a business succession plan."
Estate Planning for Self-Published Authors With Kathryn Goldman (video, 40 min, copyright attorney Goldman on The Creative Penn, 11-13-15)
When A Self-Published Author Dies What Happens To Their Books? (Derek Haines, Just Publishing Advice, 7-9-21) When a self-published author dies, there is no clear process. What to do if you have self-published with Amazon KDP, Draft2Digital (D2D), or Smashwords.

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Estate Planning For Writers (Matt Knight, Sidebar Saturdays, 12-2-17) The advantages and disadvantages of wills and trusts, whether you need both an executor and a literary trustee, how to structure a literary estate.
What Happens When An Author Dies. Estate Planning With Kathryn Goldman (Joanna Penn, Creative Penn, 11-23-15) Podcast and text.
The Death of a Writer (Allison K Williams, Brevity's nonfiction blog, 6-4-19) Who is going to deal with your literary legacy, and what do you want done with your journals, family photos, genealogical research, story notes, complete and unfinished manuscripts, published works (who inherits the copyright?), treasured mementos, social media (wipes? or legacy status?), passwords and account numbers for whoever wraps up your estate? And do you want any old letters or evidence of love affairs preserved or destroyed?
Death is not the end: the lucrative world of literary estates (Financial Times, 7-25-19) The growth of streaming services, demand for audio books and the globalisation of publishing are a boon for a writer’s descendants.
Bitter feuds, buried scandal: the contested world of literary estates (Leo Robson, New Statesman, 1-2-19) When an author dies, literary estates take over – bringing disputes, fraud and conflagrations.
The great estate: those global literary brands roll on (Robert McCrum, The Guardian, 3-15-12) The recently deceased Dmitri Nabokov made a fortune from his father's estate, while the houses of Fleming, Tolkien et al are equally at home in the digital age.
Writers' wills: a rich legacy for readers (Claire Armitstead, The Guardian, 1-8-14) As a stock of famous authors' final testaments are posted online, we can be glad of the insights they leave to us.

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An end to bad heir days: The posthumous power of the literary estate (Gordon Bowker, Independent UK, 1-6-12) ""On the last day of 2011, the 70th anniversary year of his death, James Joyce's work finally passed out of copyright. It was the dawn of a new age for Joyce scholars, publishers and biographers who are now free to quote or publish him without the permission of the ferociously prohibitive Joyce estate."
Wills of the Rich and Famous (aka "celebrity wills," posted on Living Trust Network, an estate planning portal). Featured: Warren Burger, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Princess Diana. Walt Disney, Doris Duke, Elizabeth Edwards, Henry Fonda, Benjamin Franklin, Clark Gable, James Gandolfini, Katherine Hepburn, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, President John F. Kennedy, John Kennedy, Jr. and more.
Famous wills 1552-1854 In 2014, the National Archives (UK) brought online this collection of documents that will delight biographers and historians. Among them, the wills of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Admiral Lord Nelson, Dr. Samuel Johnson, John Donne, Sir Francis Drake, William Congreve, Samuel Pepys, William Penn, George Frederic Handel, and William Wordsworth.

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• Guest-blogging on Writers in the storm, Susan Spann (author of the popular Shinobi Mystery series, published a series of pieces advising on authors' estate planning and authors' trusts, under the Publaw theme (where you can find more of these). I link to some of them here:
--- WHO WILL YOU TRUST? Wills in Author Estate Planning Susan Spann, guest blog on Writers in the Storm, 5-10-13).
---Who Inherits Your Copyrights? (4-22-13)
---Do You Own Your Copyrights? (Susan Spann, 1-10-14)
---Do You Know Your (Copy) Rights? (Susan Spann, 12-13-13)
---Who Can an Author Trust? Trusts in the Author Estate Plan (6-14-13).
---Do You Need a Literary Executor? (Susan Spann, 7-15-13)
--- How to Choose a Literary Executor (Susan Spann, 8-9-13)
---But What Does a Literary Trustee DO? (Part 1) (Susan Spann)
---Trust The Process: Literary Executors, Part 2 (Susan Spann)

Rights and Royalties Management, Licensing,

issues about and problems with authors' and artists' estates. What happens to works after authors die. (Writers and Editors, Copyright, work for hire, and other rights issues)

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• SFWA runs two helpful lists (which cover more than genre fiction writers):
---Estates Contact Information
---Estates we’re looking for
Literary estates administered by The Society of Authors (UK)
Wills, Probate and Trusts For Writers (H.S. Stavropoulos, author of crime fiction with a Greek-American flavor)

Now some stunning photographs:
15 Famous Authors’ Beautiful Estates (Emily Temple, Flavorwire, 1-24-12) Photos of the beautiful homes of Anaïs Nin, Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, Evelyn Waugh, Gore Vidal, J. K. Rowling, Kurt Vonnegut,Vladimir Nabokov, Mark Twain, Stephen King, Robert Graves, Victor Hugo, Eudora Welty, William Shakespeare, Frederick Douglass.'
18 Famous Authors’ Houses Worth Seeing (Nick Mafi, Architectural Digest, 10-4-19)

What other resources are helpful? Tell me about experiences you've had or know about that it might be helpful for others to know about -- particularly problems to avoid or minimize.

Updated from original entry Dec. 12, 2014

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