• 31 Jan 2010 /  News, Opinion, Rants

    DRM'ed BookRecently several authors, including people like Cory Doctorow and J.C. Hutchins have reported that Amazon.com has gone to war with Macmillan Books, pulling their entire library off its virtual shelves. The New York Times reports that the reason behind this “ban” is a dispute over pricing of eBooks. The story is that Macmillan wants Amazon to increase the base price for eBooks to $15 US, up from $10 US and in response Amazon has stopped selling Macmillan’s products.

    Has Amazon Gone Too Far?

    Herein lies the problem with allowing Amazon to become so powerful as to dictate to publishers what they will be charging for the items that they’re selling. For years publishers have been telling authors just how much they would be selling the author’s works for and now the tables are turned. The average cost for a first-run hardcover book is approximately $30 US, or about $38 CAN if you live in Canada like I do. Authors receive royalties based on the selling price of the book, so a lower cover price means less money for the authors. Publishers never seemed to have a problem with giving authors less money for their books—the average selling price for a hardcover book these days runs around $20 US despite the $30 cover price. People just don’t seem interested in buying books at the current cover price so publishers are constantly dropping that price in order to get more books off the shelves which means that authors are getting less and less money back in royalties. For years books have been perceived as “disposable” by many people which is a huge problem in itself. Now that Apple has released it’s new “larger iPod Touch” (ie: the iPad), there are more options for publishers besides Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Nobles Nook.

    Amazon has thrown down the gauntlet and said, “We will sell your books on our terms or we will not sell your books at all.”

    Publishers Not Without Fault

    Publishers print thousands of copies of their books knowing that they will never be sold because it’s almost as cheap to print 75,000 copies as it is to print 50,000 copies—once the book is on the press and running, it really doesn’t take much more effort to print more copies. However all of these extra copies must also be transported and stored, and the paper doesn’t come cheap either so printing thousands of extra copies doesn’t really make sense. I’ve also read somewhere that Publishers feel that consumers will buy more books if they see more books on the shelves and that they commonly pulp (destroy/recycle) up to 40% of the books that they’ve printed! An article by the BBC in 2001 suggests that, “300,000 books are shredded in Britain every week.” A more recent article by the UK Daily Mail suggests that, “Publishers are quietly disposing of around 77 million unsold books a year.”

    This is insanity.

    eReading Devices Are Inherently Flawed

    Now back to the problem of eBooks and eReading devices. The main problem with these devices is that most of them rely on DRM and closed operating systems to keep their customer base. This forces the user to purchase a closed device to consume closed content and only the closed content provided by the retailer. In other words, once you start adding to your Kindle or Nook library you are pretty much stuck in buying only the content that Amazon or Barnes & Noble sells because you cannot read this content on another device, you cannot resell it and you cannot lend it to someone else. And, as I’ve said before, you aren’t even purchasing the content that you’re getting, you are RENTING it. This makes the provider happy but it doesn’t do much for the end user.

    Amazon’s End User License Agreement states;

    Use of Digital Content. Upon your payment of the applicable fees set by Amazon, Amazon grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Device or as authorized by Amazon as part of the Service and solely for your personal, non-commercial use. Digital Content will be deemed licensed to you by Amazon under this Agreement unless otherwise expressly provided by Amazon.

    Restrictions. Unless specifically indicated otherwise, you may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense or otherwise assign any rights to the Digital Content or any portion of it to any third party, and you may not remove any proprietary notices or labels on the Digital Content. In addition, you may not, and you will not encourage, assist or authorize any other person to, bypass, modify, defeat or circumvent security features that protect the Digital Content.

    Which would make you think you own the content you’re purchasing, but while it says you can keep a “permanent copy,” it is a “permanent DRMed copy,” and we’ve already seen that Amazon can, at any time the wish, remove this “permanent copy” from your possession without you even knowing it. Also when someone owns an item, they generally have the right to resell it. Not so with Kindle eBooks.

    A very useful annotated version of the Amazon EULA can be found here.

    It is also common knowledge that Amazon is quietly compiling information on everything you read on your Amazon Kindle.  This includes any websites that you may be scanning via your Kindle, except that up here in Canada the websurfing ability of the Kindle has been locked out with the exception of popping over to Wikipedia because we know that Canada is on another planet and we should not be allowed to surf the web up here. Amazon also knows where you are on the planet when you’re surfing or downloading information to your Kindle by pinpointing you through the 3G mapping feature and Google Maps. So if you’re using your Kindle, Amazon knows. Common sense would also imply that devices such as the Nook and the iPad will also have these tracking features quietly included in their core software.

    An article by Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing entitled “EFF’s ebook-buyer’s guide to privacy” states;

    “…your Kindle will periodically send information about you to Amazon. But exactly what information is sent? Amazon’s wording—”information related to the content on your Device and your use of it” —reads so broadly that it appears to allow Amazon to track all content that users put on the device, regardless of whether that content is purchased from Amazon. Some security researchers have indicated that the Kindle may even be tracking its users’ GPS locations. Is this the future of reading?”

    Which begs the question, “Do we have the right to privacy when using our eReading devices?” The answer should obviously be YES… but is this the real answer?

    Some Possible Solutions?

    With the Amazon vs. Macmillan in the news, now is the time for other publishers to step forward to say, “Yeah! We want more money for our products!” Amazon can’t pull them all off their shelves otherwise they won’t have any products left to sell.

    Secondly, Publishers need to rethink how they sell and publish books. Consumers enjoy the immediacy of an eBook but do not want the draconian DRM measures that come with a book in electronic format. You need to find another way to provide this content without DRM. You also need to look at new ways of providing physical books to the consumer—Most consumers only want to read the book, they don’t care if it’s a hardcover, trade, or mass market paperback. You should be providing them with choices from the get-go. Printing up 75,000 hardcover books in order to sell 25,000, sell off 10,000 as remainders and pulp the other 40,000 is just stupid and insanely wasteful. You need to start offering the consumer choices of format—Bibliophiles will be happy to pay $25 for a hardcover version of your publication which most other people would probably rather have a trade version or a paperback version. Sure you will end up selling books at a lower price, but you will sell MORE books in the end.

    You also need to start providing the consumer with an electronic copy of the book when they purchase the premium version (hardcover/trade) of the book. When the Apple iPod first came out, people could take ANY CD, pop it into their computer and put it onto their iPod, this is what we need from publishers for eBooks. Providing a CD with each book may not be cost effective, but you could certainly provide a PIN number in each book and allow users to log onto a website to download the electronic copy onto an eReading device of their choice.

    Finally eReading devices need to be as universal as iPods, but cheaper. If you want people to use your device then it needs to be open, and it needs to cost between $100 and $150. We also want the right to privacy and the expectation of not being tracked and scrutinized while we use the device that we’ve purchased. Retailers have no right to invade the consumer’s privacy by tracking their reading and surfing habits. It’s only a matter of time before a lawsuit pops up because of this.

    Purchasing a current eReading device is like purchasing an automobile that will only run on a specific kind of fuel that is provided only by the car manufacturer. For the consumer to buy into this is just plain stupidity and shortsightedness, but then that’s what retailers like Amazon are relying on. It’s about time that we, as consumers, start speaking with our wallets and stop being stupid because of the sheer convenience of immediacy.

    Use your head for more than a hat rack, people!

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  • 17 Nov 2009 /  Rants

    amazonkindleSo they announced on Monday that the Amazon Kindle is now available in Canada. (Please insert a half-hearted woo-hoo here.)

    The “new, lower” price is still a hefty $259 US (approximately $271.50 Canadian) plus you’ll pay an additional $31 Canadian (approximately) per device in Canadian Customs charges to get it over the border. It also appears that you need to log on to the (American) Amazon.com website to order the device as the Amazon.ca website doesn’t even list it for sale (currently). And while it says that the item “qualifies for FREE Super Saver Shipping,” I am unsure if that applies to items that are shipped over the border to Canada. Under the terms for “Free Shipping” on the Amazon.com website, it only talks about US destinations.

    While reading the various articles on the Kindle coming to Canada, I also noticed one important detail; The Kindle web browser will NOT work in Canada, “but customers will have free access to Wikipedia.”

    Why was the device delayed in coming to Canada after being launched almost worldwide about a month ago? No surprise there; difficulty finding 3G access for Amazon’s Whispernet connectivity that runs on AT&T in the US. Up until recently, only Rogers Communications had access to 3G connectivity, but since then Bell Canada and Telus Mobility have also announced that they now how a 3G network. Rogers Communications also lost their monopoly on the Apple iPhone when Bell and Telus announced that they would be offering the iPhone on their own 3G networks, although this didn’t seem to decrease the cost of running an iPhone. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—Whispernet is a liability, not a feature for this device. WiFi would be much easier and 10 times more effective and more economical.

    As usual, there seems to be all sorts of fawning and drooling over the announcement of the Kindle coming to Canada with so-called experts saying, “Canadians have been excited and have wanted Kindle” and “We know that Canadians are passionate about books and reading.” Well the second statement may be true, but the first statement is NOT. At least not for this “passionate reader.”

    Everyone continues to talk about the “ease of access to thousands of books online,” and how you can “subscribe to your favorite newspaper by subscription,” but the fact remains that the content is still protected by DRM.

    You do NOT own anything that you purchase for your Kindle! You are RENTING books!

    I don’t know how many times I have to yell this in the streets before it dawns on people that they don’t own the content that they are purchasing. You are paying approximately $10-12 to RENT a book that you could get at the library for FREE. You can also read this content on your computer as Amazon has released Kindle applications for the PC and Mac, however you still do not own this content and once you’ve consumed it, it’s worthless. You cannot resell your content, you cannot lend your content to a friend, and you cannot put this content on a shelf in your living room for all to see. (Although some people see books as just clutter anyway.)

    Also look at the price of the content with books starting at around $10 (US at Amazon.com) for brand new books downloaded to your Kindle device. What does this do to the authors and the publishers? Amazon is trying to fool you by offering books at a reduced rate in order to convince you to buy their price-bloated reading device. In the end, Amazon wins and authors lose. We have already seen that Amazon is quite capable of removing purchased content from the Kindle at any time they please, what makes you think they won’t do it again? Despite Amazon’s “promise” I have a hard time believing that any business in the same situation will balk at removing content when they decide that they need to.

    But the electronic book market isn’t limited to Amazon, Canada’s Chapters-Indigo also has it’s own eBook retail store called Shortcovers which allows you to purchase and download electronic book content via devices like your Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry® Smartphone, and Android enabled phones using either WiFi, 3G, or by direct connection to your computer. One of the annoying things about Shortcovers is that it doesn’t download the entire book in one go, it downloads new chapters as you read them so you have to have a constant WiFi connection in order to read your eBook. Prices at Shortcovers also run around $10-12 Canadian for brand new books.

    PUBLISHERS: Your current business model no longer works. Get over it. Move on.

    I love Chapters-Indigo, I buy thousands of dollars of books every year from Chapters and other bookstores online, but I’m not interested in paying 10 bucks for ephemeral content that is essentially worthless after I’ve consumed it. If you want to convince me to consume books as data, then you need to offer me a larger incentive, like how about including the eBook with the printed book? Seems pretty logical to me! Charge a couple more bucks for the printed book! Throw in a PIN code with the purchase receipt so that people can log into their Chapters-Indigo account and download the eBook to their device of choice via the Shortcovers app. Very simple.

    Also, I would like to know why lately new hardcover books are being released with “list prices” around $38 (Canadian) but they are usually offered for sale at 30-50% less ($26.50-$19). If you can publish a first edition hardcover book and charge only $19 for it, then WHY aren’t you pricing it at $19 to begin with?! For that matter, why are we wasting resources on printing hundreds of hardcover books when publishers usually only sell about 30-40% of the print run while the rest either go to liquidators or get pulped as recycled paper. Wouldn’t it be more logical to introduce first run books as Trade Paperbacks at around $15 and print far fewer hardcover editions for institutions and die-hard fans to purchase? When you release a new book and then make people like me, a passionate reader, wait for almost a YEAR to see the mass market paperback; YOU ARE LOSING SALES. It’s almost 2010, how about we stop thinking like we’re still in 1970’s?

    eReading devices will never get a solid foothold in the market until the price drops.

    The fact also remains that there are many more cost-effective devices out there for reading electronic content at this price that do a lot more than just allow you to read eBooks! For under $300 I have the choice or purchasing either a Netbook, which will do a hundred more things than the Kindle can do or an iPod Touch, or even a cell phone for that matter. The price for these eReaders remains way too high.

    Also we’ve seen these devices seen eReaders starting to filter into schools, with at least one school choosing the Sony eReader over the Kindle because, “Sony e-readers have much more flexibility in what you can get, in terms of the files that it will read.” (Source: Brandon Kerstens, Director of Development at Blyth Academy, speaking to The Globe and Mail.) “Blyth Academy already has plans to provide Sony Reader Digital Books—preloaded with textbooks, course outlines and assignments—to all its students under an arrangement with Sony and textbook publisher Pearson Canada.”

    This is the future of eReaders, people! And in order to get that penetration into the schools of tomorrow, these devices need to be (a) cheap, (b) have a screen that is approximately 8.5 inches by 11 inches, (c) have an OPEN file format, and (d) provide easy connectivity. The next steps, which should follow almost immediately are; a colour screen, the ability to annotate documents right on screen in real-time, and the ability to connect to SMART Board-type technology within a classroom environment (which needs more penetration itself).

    Until these devices are open and cheap, they will remain just a geeky toy used by very few people. Take a note from Apple’s iPod; Provide an open device and the public will provide the content. Then you can monetize your own content on top of that.

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  • 01 Nov 2009 /  Rants

    Time—stock.xchng image ID: 632283I have far too many clocks in my house for one single person. Just sitting here at the computer right now, I have NINE clocks at hand. Ten if you count my wristwatch. I know that I have far too many because I just went around the house and set all of my clocks of my clocks back one hour for Daylight Savings Time.

    What is it with man and time?

    Why must man measure out and control every tiny second of the day?

    Back in the day, man would mark time with the sun. He would awake and get out of bed when the sun rose, and he would lay down and go to sleep shortly after the sun set. In the middle of the day, when the sun was directly overhead, he would put down his tools and have a bit of a rest and something to eat during the heat of the day.

    These days it seems that every single electronic device that you purchase has a clock in it. It’s almost as if manufacturers need to justify their existence by adding a clock to their product.

    “Hey, it might be a useless piece of tech but at least it has a clock in it!”

    I think part of the reasoning behind manufacturers jamming a clock into everything they can find is because of what they call “standby power.” It should be a tip off when people call it “vampire power,” so why do manufacturers continue to add this “feature” to their devices? It’s costing us BILLIONS of dollars every year! Surely we, as consumers, can afford to wait a couple of seconds for our Idiot Boxes to power up before something appears on the screen, no? Apparently not! It’s all about time.

    Deadlines are another tool of the “time people.” Why must people set arbitrary deadlines for things? In the industry I work in clients are forever setting arbitrary deadlines! Everything must end on time! I often hear, “This book must be finished by Friday.” and I think, “Why!?” When is this book going to print anyway? April in 20-freaking-10! So why are you setting arbitrary deadlines and unrealistic schedules? Why not do a proper job of it?!

    I’ll tell you why… It’s all about time.

    Time is money.
    Time is relative.
    Time is fleeting.
    Time marches on.

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  • 01 Nov 2008 /  Rants

    Working for Peanuts

    The Global Recession

    They say that Canada isn’t in a recession, but recently the company I work for did something I never thought it would ever do. I’ve been working for the same Canadian Educational Book Design company now for about 10 years and recently, as a direct result of the USA’s financial crisis, my company laid off almost 20 employees and cut the remaining staff’s remuneration by 10%.

    Everyone was in shock.

    Yes, we knew that the economy was bad and we knew that we didn’t have as much work running through the company as we usually do for this time of year. We’re not a new company, we’ve won all sorts of awards for Textbook Design, we may even be the most prestigious Textbook Design company in North America, certainly Canada. Yet here we are struggling to make ends meet. Sure we’ve had slow spots before, but nobody ever got fired or laid off. We all got together and reduced the number of hours we spent on the clock or took holidays when things we slow, but this time it was bad. Really bad. For the first time in the company’s 26 year history, the boss was actually forced to reduce the numbers of staff and it hurt.

    The “New” Economy

    Here’s the problem in a nutshell, as it were; “Offshore pricing.”

    Places like China and especially India have huge numbers of people who will do hours of mindless and repetitive labour for peanuts. Someone figured out that if you put enough of these people in front of a computer and let them hammer at it long enough, eventually they could get things done. And the best part is that you can pay them about $3 per day and they’ll be happy to take it. There are “comp houses” in India that will run a couple hundred people in three shifts for six days a week and pay them next to nothing. Turn over is huge, but they don’t care because there will always be someone else willing to take their place. We’ve all seen the results of low ball pricing recently, with toys covered with lead-based paint and melamine in food, but it’s all about the bottom line isn’t it? Who cares who gets hurt?

    So what’s happening now is that all of the major US publishers are being run by the bean counters. These people have no concept of book design, content, production, or anything else related to creating a usable textbook, all they do is count beans. The fewer the number of beans it takes to get the job done, the better. They don’t care about how many man-hours a book takes to complete the job, or the extra processes that were involved because the editors rewrote four chapters, or the fact that a lot of work goes into preparing the electronic files so that they can be reused or re-purposed, all they care about is the bottom line. So when once a book design company would get $50-60 a page for a book, now they get $15-25 a page. And don’t try to negotiate these prices because if you do, then the bean counters will blacklist your company and you will not get work from them again.

    On the other side of the fence we have the authors, editors, and all of the other people who write these books and they’re expecting the Book Design companies, like the one I work for, to do the same quality job that we’ve always done. What they don’t realize is that for the money that we’re getting per page now we can hardly meet our day-to-day expenses never mind make a profit. You get what you pay for.

    And the bean counters don’t talk to the editorial side.

    Burning Bridges

    Recently a bean counter told us, “Don’t even THINK about asking for more money.” It’s almost like spitting in our faces—Take it or leave it! These people have no concept of reality. In some cases we are actually subsidizing the creation of the book because we are losing money on every page that we create! But we have to take every job that we’re offered because we have to keep the people that we have left working. So how can anyone stay in business when they end up paying out more than they’re taking in you might ask… Well, that brings us to the problem we’re having right now.

    These idiotic bean counters are burning bridges at an alarming rate. As more companies go into receivership, the number of people that they can screw goes down, however the companies in India are still there with their hands out saying, “Oh, we’ll do it for $3 a page. No problem.” But, when you pay $3 per page, you get $3 worth of quality and it shows in the end product. Think of that the next time you shell out $100 for a textbook for your child and you find glaring errors all the way through it, and then thank the bean counters for a job well done.

    What’s Coming?

    The US Presidential election is coming soon. With it comes promises of more spending for education, which means more textbooks. Also, 2011 is an “adoption year,” which means that all sorts of States will be updating their textbooks to new State Standards. This means a lot of work for a lot of people and when all of that work hits, the bean counters will be falling all over themselves trying to find someone to do that work for them. That’s when all the crap that they’ve dished out now, when times are lean, comes back to roost for them. They may have saved themselves a dollar today, but they’ll find that they’ll have to spend five dollars tomorrow just to catch up and that’s when the North American Book Design companies will have the last laugh.

    We just have to survive until then…

    (Image from the stock.xchng)

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  • 13 Sep 2008 /  Rants

    US and Canada Flags

    Canada and the USA then…

    I live in Canada. The Canada/USA border is approximately 8,891 kilometres (5,525 miles) long and runs roughly along the 49th parallel. Canada has had a friendly relationship with the USA for more than two centuries, once we got over that little skirmish called “The War of 1812,” where Canada beat the US. The border was demilitarized shortly afterwards and became the “longest undefended International border in the world.” We had always enjoyed a large volume of trade and migration which helped strengthen the ties.

    The US had become Canada’s largest market, and after the war the Canadian economy became dependent on smooth trade flows with the US so much that in 1971 when the US enacted the “Nixon Shock” economic policies (including a 10% tariff on all imports) it put the Canadian government into a panic. This led in a large part to the articulation of Prime Minister Trudeau’s “Third Option” policy of diversifying Canada’s trade and downgrading the importance of Canada – US relations. In a 1972 speech in Ottawa, Nixon declared the “special relationship” between Canada and the US dead. [Source: Wikipedia]

    From then on, the US-Canadian relationship headed downhill. NAFTA, tariffs on softwood lumber, bans on beef, restrictions on wheat, magazines, and television, it all started looking bad for us here in Canada. The United States had stopped looking to us as a “partner” and started seeing us as the annoying little brother that was always tagging along with the big boys.

    Once a Canadian could cross the US/Canada border with only a photo ID or a driver’s license shown to an agreeable US Customs agent at one of our many border crossings, pop over to the US to do some shopping and return the same day without question. Once, in order for a Canadian to fly into the US we only needed to show our ID to the airport agents, answer a couple routine questions and then be waved on through. We were comrades, we were trading partners, we had collaborations and friendships.

    No more thanks to the events following September 11th, 2001.

    Don't fence me in.

    The USA to come?

    Here is where I see the USA in 10-15, maybe 20 years if they continue down their current path.

    Imagine the entire country encircled by a 20 foot high wall similar to the wall between the USA and Mexico, only imagine it bigger, higher and defended by an armed militia representing “Homeland Security.” Guard towers, video surveillance, nobody enters or leaves the USA without prior written permission from a governmental authority. Imagine random security checks on average people for just walking down the street or for taking a photograph in a public place. Permits required in order to carry out conferences, assemblies or to be out after dark. If you’re thinking of the right of “freedom of assembly” given by the Constitution? Forget it. You happily gave up several of your Constitutional rights in the name of “a safe America.” Imagine special permissions being required to own a motor vehicle, there’s an oil shortage you know, and you can only operate that vehicle during certain times of the day, week and month depending on where you live and how important your job is to the country. Imagine the USA demarcated into “security zones,” possibly broken down along political lines where ordinary citizens are forbidden from crossing state lines without the proper security clearances and permits. Imagine a USA-only Internet, firewalled off from the rest of the world “for your own safety.”

    Sound impossible? Improbable? Maybe. But maybe not.

    Continued paranoia about the “forces trying to destroy the American way of life” is destroying them as surely as the “terrorists” are. Military spending is out of control. A war (or was it an invasion?) with Iraq started in 2003 continues to destroy the American economy. Technically the war was over about two weeks after it started, but the occupation of Iraq continues because the US claims the region is “fragile.” Billions of dollars of been spent fighting a war based on a lie in retribution for the attack on the World Trade Center. Someone had to pay for those attacks and they did. But where does the revenge end?

    The USA is spending more money on a military action in another country that it is spending to keep it’s own people educated, fed, and sheltered. One B2 stealth bomber costs the US approximately $2.1 billion dollars and yet the education budget for the state of Arizona was only $1.5 billion dollars, and they have 30 of these bombers in service. Hundreds of people in the US go hungry, without shelter and without proper health care each day, but instead of spending money to help these people they spend $4.35 million on an M1 Abrams tank and they have approximately 5900 of these tanks in service. Imagine how much good the money from just a couple of these tanks could do.

    Thousands of people are employed right now in order to keep this war going. But why? Is it because the war provides a convenient rally point? Is it just to keep them employed and doing something? Or perhaps it provides a convenient distraction from the real problems at hand—The US is destroying itself in order to keep it’s citizens unaware of what is going on around them. Every day we hear about security policy that takes another bit of freedom away from us. Air travel into the USA is becoming more and more impossible, soon we’ll all need to have travel permits and visas in order to cross the border. Normal citizens are under suspicion for “anomalous behaviour.” Everyone is a suspected terrorist until proven innocent.

    America will soon cease to be the world’s “big brother” and the European Union will take over as the leader in World economy, if it hasn’t already. The oil standard is sure to switch to Euros in the next 5 years anyway. I see the EU expanding more quickly in the coming years to encompass a third of the planet. Already Iceland, Norway and Switzerland have signed up to be European Free Trade Association states and 10 or 11 other countries are poised to join the Union.

    There is a grim future ahead for the USA and the rest of the world, especially Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia by association. With the upcoming election, hopefully the irrationalities of George Bush and his cronies will be reversed or at least diminished. I had hopes for this Obama character, but it seems that he has stopped looking at a “better America” and has started playing into the old political feuds of the old guard. Isn’t it time America started solving America’s problems and let the rest of the world worry about itself for a while? If they continue down the current path, I see America ceasing to be “The United States of America” and becoming “The American Republics” as the country breaks down along political lines and goes the way of the USSR.

    The terrorists don’t need to destroy the American way of life, America is doing a fine job all on it’s own.

    Images provided by Stock.XCHNG.

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