Thursday, July 18, 2013

How Technology Is Making Books More Engrossing for Readers

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Yuri Arcurs -
Books are becoming more interactive.
(StatePoint) Are you reading less than you used to? You’re not alone. Between our smartphones, endless cable channels and all those other forms of modern entertainment, it’s no wonder book-reading is on the decline amongst American adults.

In fact, the percent of adults who didn’t read even one book in the previous year increased from 12 percent in 1978, to 22 percent in 2011, according to Gallup surveys.

But new technologies and trends in the world of literature are making reading more entertaining and more interactive than ever before. And many experts predict this age-old pastime will grow in popularity as people catch on to the evolution of books.

“Reading is often thought to be a passive activity,” says M.D. Kaczkowski, author of the new thriller, “The Seers, New World Order,” a book that is breaking new literary ground by including an interactive digital component. “But in the Internet Age, people are looking to truly engage and interact with creative content.”

In the pages of “The Seers” -- a fast-paced crime drama with supernatural elements -- Kaczkowski enhances his readers’ experience with Quick Response (QR) codes that are compatible with smartphones, illustrations and video links. Sprinkled throughout the book, these elements provide a fictional platform that goes beyond the pages of the book.

By accessing these elements, readers are taken to The Seers website at, where they are presented with videos, audio recordings, letters and other texts that expand on the narrative. They can even choose original songs to listen to while reading different chapters and to participate in an augmented reality game that draws on their own personal environment.

Other authors are even giving audiences control over content, using feedback garnered from modern “choose your own adventure” books and Internet forums for fans to help dictate future plotlines.

“If you’re craving a deeper engagement with your reading, you were born in the right era,” quips Kaczkowski. “For my new thriller, for example, it made perfect sense to integrate new technologies directly into the pages of the book, since the novel combines science with spirituality.”

And reading books electronically makes for a more interactive experience, too, as one can highlight text, search for key passages and look up words.

If the last time you picked up a book was for a school assignment, it’s definitely time to check out how new trends in literature can put some excitement into reading.

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Yuri Arcurs -

Monday, July 8, 2013

Progress Report on the Obama Presidency

Here is a brief progress report on the economic aspects of the Obama administration. Some of the numbers in the following graphic had to be updated as they didn't seem quite right, but they are still bad.

Number 4. in the graphic is wrong due to perhaps being outdated. The federal debt of the United States is now 100% of GDP. This means that the debt of all the citizens of the U.S. due to government spending is equal to the production (in terms of dollars) of the economy over one year. And as you can see in the chart below, that debt is growing by more than a trillion dollars per year. Who thinks that's sustainable? It is crippling, actually. What can we do? Elect people to Congress and the Presidency who want to tackle the debt.

An updated figure from the labor department says that Number 5. in the graphic is now 63% of the population is employed, which is up, but 8 million of these workers are working part time when they want more hours according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These people are often referred to as under-employed.

Additionally, according to Gallop, the home ownership rate is 62% as of April 2012, so I don't know where the number in Number 8. in the graphic above comes from, but 62% is still a lower home ownership rate than all of the Bush years.

In a country where we spend 1.5 trillion dollars more per year than we take in in revenue, how can the following chart be justified? Surely millions of these people on food stamps don't actually need food assistance. How many are illegal aliens? How many are employed citizens gaming the system? This administration has marketed the food stamp program like no other administration before it, in fact markets all of its assistance "products" like Coca-Cola markets Coke. No wonder the numbers are up.

Why didn't President Barack Obama get voted out of office during the last election if his economic numbers are so bad? Because the phrase coined by James Carville, "It's the economy, stupid" doesn't hold sway with a large portion the voting public anymore. Mr. Obama was re-elected by people who think a generous, big government that gives more than it gets and over-regulates big business is a good idea.

The numbers show that the housing market is still weak, unemployment is still high, gas prices are still high, electricity prices are up, health insurance costs are up, and the cost of food is up. It has taken many years for the slight improvements to the economy that we have at this point, which is worse than any other recovery from a recession.

Unfortunately, the economic policies of this administration (of which these examples represent just the tip of the Titanic crushing iceberg), if continued, will sink this ship. In the short term, the only relief on the horizon are the 2014 congressional elections, where fiscally responsible senators and representatives must be placed into office.