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The Loss of Time, Book, and Freedom
by Kellia Ramares-Watson
Sunday Jun 9th, 2013 1:13 PM
An independent journalist about to move makes some points about time to write, the dangers of having all your books and info in the hands of third arty corporations, and the need for everyone to speak out about current injustices in the news.
My husband and I are moving at the end of this month. I have been living in this apartment for 25 years and it is difficult for me to uproot myself. People ask me if I am excited and I tell them no. That's because I am preoccupied with the logistics of the move.

My husband and I are moving to a space that is much smaller. Most of my books, which I admit I haven't opened in decades, now have to be taken to various stores that buy used books, or given away to the Bay Area Free Book Exchange in El Cerrito. I am making such a book sell/giveaway run later this afternoon. Fortunately, a good fried with a car and a need to create space at her place by clearing out some of her vast book collection is driving me to this errand. Still, it takes time and a lot of muscle--I live on the second floor of an apartment building with no elevator--neither of which I have in abundance.

I have been collecting books for a quarter of a century. Books are important to my work, my spirituality, and my entertainment habits. When you buy one or two books at a time, you don't notice how they accumulate weight that has to be moved all at once at a time like this. The idea of changing my reading over to e-books and library books is disconcerting I don't like the idea of having a time limit on having a book I might need again later, or having to wait for it to be available at a library, especially if I need it for my work. I don't like the idea of paying again for many of the titles or not being able to find certain titles in e-book form. I am keeping my 1914 edition of Shakespeare just because it is a 1914 edition I bought during my school days in Indiana. I like owning books, physical books that delight me because of their age, or because I can hold and dog-ear and highlight and write marginalia in them. Those last two habits render them unsellable, but useful in my research.

I am certainly not against e-books. I've written one myself, and plan others. But I am still not used to an e-reader even though I have a Nook, an iPad, reading apps for my computer and I use the Internet extensively. I am have concerns about relying on web applications. The concerns are greater than what e-reading may do to my eyes, my brain or my wallet. My main concern is power: Do I really own what I have downloaded, even if I paid for it, or will the corporatocracy someday erase my e-book library just because it can? Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Computing Foundation, told The Guardian newspaper that cloud computing is a trap. He's got a point. Too many of us, myself included, have become accustomed to letting third parties hold our information. What is given by the corporatocracy can be easily taken away by the same. Never underestimate the cupidity of corporations.

At this time, we are hearing a lot of bad news, particularly about the federal government's massive data mining and now President Obama's invoking of state secrets privilege to keep courts from looking into this presumption that basically everyone is a potential terrorist and thus must be tracked, even if all they are doing is protected, legal First Amendment activity. Obama, Senator Feinstein and others who defend this system say, "It's OK, we are not listening to the phone calls." While others are talking about privacy, I have something to say about the Minority Report "pre-crime" attitude the government is displaying here. We are fighting a global war on terror and anybody, even in the homeland, could one day be a plotter. We've got to be prepared. The actual plot of the 2002 movie, set in 2054, seem only a step or two away. Instead of human psychics, they'll use computer algorithms based on all the government and corporate data mining. But I can't write the column it deserves right now.

There's a Christian Jihadist railing about paganism and the need to fight, literally, to "restore" America as a Judeo-Christian nation. (I think the Judeo part is just window dressing so he can draw on Leviticus to somehow justify the intense homophobia he displays in his screed.) I'm a Pagan American straight ally of the LGBT community and I am champing at the bit to take this subject on. But it might take me a week to get the wording right, and I don't have a week right now.

I did manage to get an op-ed off to the Leftist Review about the Chicago Sun-Times recent firing of its entire photography department; I am still waiting to hear back from the publisher. I also told him that I probably won't write again for him this month, and I am grateful that, thus far, I have not heard from an author whose manuscript I am contracted to copy edit when she's done. Take your time, G.

I have managed to do just a little marketing of my e-book Eating Poison: Food, Drugs and Health. My next book will be a collection of op-eds I have written over the years. It will include my concerns about pre-crime and Christian Jihadists. But it has to wait until after the move.

Those of you who are not moving might want to make your voices heard on these and other important issues. Don't be afraid. They are tracking you anyway. Silence will not protect you.