Review: ‘Something Ventured’ on how to thrive in tumult the DVD cover to visit the Amazon page.“Something Ventured: Risk, Reward and the Original Venture Capitalists” is packaged and marketed as though everyone suddenly is, indeed, focused on “The Economy, Stupid” in this election year. And, perhaps millions are interested in learning more about how capitalist systems work these days. But, as a journalist for more than 30 years, I know this truth: Ask your audience to tell you what they want to learn about and they will sound like high school students filling out their college-bound lesson plans. But, instead, watch them actually open their newspaper and we discover that what they really want is their favorite comic strip, maybe a new recipe, perhaps the employment listings and especially advertisements for their real interests, such as movies, new restaurants, the latest electronic gadgets or maybe a reliable used car.

So, I will say this about Something Ventured: You certainly will learn the 101 textbook lesson about America’s first true “venture capitalists” in this movie. And,  yes, it is startling to learn that the red-hot vocation of the digital age is only a few decades old. The original “venture capitalists” are still around and are happy to reflect on what they got right—and what they got wrong.

Now, we’re starting to talk about the real reason to get this new Zeigeist release and watch it soon with your spouse, with friends, with your teen-aged and 20-something kids or with friends at work.

I wound up watching the film twice just to make sure that I will recall some of the fascinating tips and techniques these super-smart and super-adaptive investors reveal about what makes them so successful. Here are just a few lessons you’ll learn (don’t worry, there are so many tips in this film that this doesn’t spoil the experience):

Tip 1: When you pick up a daily newspaper, read the obituaries first. You’re likely to spend only a few minutes with the newspaper in our busy culture and you should start by reading about lives we have collectively identified as having wide appeal. Why do we want to remember these people who have died? In your own life, pay more attention to the values celebrated in the daily obituary columns. (This tip comes from “the first venture capitalist,” the now near-legendary George Doroit, who taught at Harvard after World War II and influenced a lot of the venture capitalists who emerged in the ’60s and ’70s.)

Tip 2: Try lots of new ideas, because the vast majority will fail. As innovators at ReadTheSpirit online magazine and publishing house, we live by this rule. Month to month, you’ll find fresh ideas brimming from our webpages. Year to year, we keep emphasizing the small handful that are successful—and quickly forget the duds. That’s how all of these successful venture capitalists conduct their lives. and Jobs in the early years at Apple. (This was after Jobs shaved off his Fu Manchu beard, a grooming detail included in the documentary.)Tip 3: Even with that code of conduct, you’re still going to make mistakes. You’ll absolutely groan when you meet the investor who turned thumbs down to a desperate young Steve Jobs when Jobs was willing to hand this guy one third of Apple’s shares for just $50,000. Believe me, the guy who rejected that deal is still beating his head against a wall. At the time, though, he just couldn’t understand why anyone would want a home computer and he didn’t like the over-confident young Jobs with his Fu Manchu beard.

Tip 4: Now is the time to open up markets no one dreams will exist in 10 years. Everyone who watches the digital industry knows the kind of story about home computers that I just mentioned. No one could envision that, soon, everyone would want a computer within easy reach. But, the new Zeitgeist film also tells the painful story of Atari. Currently, home gaming represents one third of all of the billions of dollars spent each year on entertainment. But, back when Atari was first hawking a home game console—every smart venture capitalist in the country shot down the idea. No one would want to play electronic games at home, these smart investors reasoned. Not worth risking a dime on home gaming. Boy, were they wrong!

With a surprising humility, all of the venture capitalists in this documentary urge viewers to dream about the horizon line. In the vast majority of cases, these guys—and most of them are guys—placed the majority of their best bets on dead wrong ideas. These capitalists are featured in this film as success stories because, somewhere along the line, one or two light bulbs blinked at just the right moment for them.

All of them, in chorus, say that the best time to innovate and start new ventures is when everyone else is scrambling for the exits in the midst of tumultuous change. For example, in the 1970s, when major computers were locking up on a daily basis, one guy at Tandem computers figured out the next step—and launched a billion-dollar segment of the industry that had not existed before. In the 1980s, just two people realized the potential of simply making the world’s most powerful routers—the two engineers who dreamed up what today is the behemoth known as Cisco Systems.

So, sure, if you’re eager for an Economy 101 lesson on the relatively recent history of venture capitalists, then watch Something Ventured. But there’s a whale of a lot more wisdom in this documentary. Don’t miss this good bet!


Get the film: Something Ventured: Risk, Reward and the Original Venture Capitalists is available from Amazon on DVD.

Care to read more about Georges Doriot? The book, Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital, is also available via Amazon.

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MSU & RTSpirit publish New Bullying in 101 days State University journalism students who worked on this project, from left: Leslie Tilson, Hayley Beitman, Colby Berthume, Nicholas Roddy, Devyne Lloyd, Tony Briscoe, Dustin Petty, Rachel Jackson, J.T. Bohland, Alethia Kasben, Thomas Franz, Lynne Werner, Lynn Bentley, Samantha Schmitt and Seth Beifel. Not shown: Dmitri Barvinok and Allen Martin. THIS COVER to visit the Amazon page.There’s not a hotter topic than bullying this spring.
To help people understand the problem and find healthy solutions, ReadTheSpirit teamed with students from Michigan State University’s journalism school to produce a book, “The New Bullying.”
And—Wow! We did it in 101 days.

Many leading journalists and publishers are trying to work like this. Journalists are at their best when investigating new problems faced by readers nationwide. When covering a problem as tough as bullying, journalists produce a lot of important information—often more than can be shoehorned into a newspaper or magazine. From book publishers’ perspectives, we want to rush the most urgent books to readers as soon as possible. Some major publishing houses already are producing quickie books. But those books rarely involve tackling subjects this complex, coordinating a team of writers and editors this big and producing all formats of the book (from ink-on-paper to all e-editions) in a single flow through the publishing software.

It took Michigan State University journalism instructor Joe Grimm, ReadTheSpirit publisher and software developer John Hile—and the talented students pictured above—to pull off this feat. They have set off a buzz across their home state of Michigan, appearing on radio and television and in other news formats since the book was finished.

The New Bullying:
MSU School of Journalism perspective

By JOE GRIMM ON THIS IMAGE to jump to the New Bullying website.The publishing arm of ReadTheSpirit helped our team of young journalists at Michigan State University to take an edgy idea—and turn it into something that is bleeding edge. Our idea, as 2012 began, was to take one semester’s worth of work by a specialized reporting class at MSU’s School of Journalism and produce a book. After all, a website already was planned, so a book was not far beyond that, we reasoned. “The New Bullying” became the name of the website and the book.

There were several reasons we wanted to produce a book:

A FIRST: The class had never been done in this way.
FLEXIBILITY: This project taught students multiplatform publishing across the Web, traditional print publishing and various e-book readers.
AUTHORITY: Even in this digital age, books still command respect and confer credibility.
REVENUE: While people expect the Web to be free, they will pay for books. We want journalism to generate revenue.

We combined with ReadTheSpirit’s publishing arm, David Crumm Media LLC (DCM), and invited DCM publishing innovator John Hile to work with our class. John’s expertise and his software system added several layers of sophistication to the project. He visited with the students, interacted throughout the semester and let our team use the software suite he has developed.

What are those layers John added?

RESEARCH: Our MSU journalists started the whole project by using sophisticated tools John demonstrated to analyze what people are searching for online about this topic. That showed us specific information on bullying that real people are trying to find, right now. This information changed the way we approached the broad topic of bullying.

STREAMLINED PRODUCTION: We reached the finish line in 101 days partly because John’s software system adds all the necessary coding for final publication as the chapters are being prepared by copy editors. Instead of two processes, back to back, this approach completes the editing and the digital styling in a single pass.

SINGLE-SOURCE PUBLISHING: Usually, an ink-on-paper book is produced, then e-books are produced later by designers adapting the book’s text files for digital readers. When we were ready to publish, we produced all formats for the various reading platforms—from the paper format to e-reader editions—from a single source file in a unified pass of the publishing software.

How is the public responding? People are impressed. Most of the early news coverage of this project is about bullying—which is as it should be—but the success of the project will come as much from how the class published as from what it published.

The New Bullying:
RTSpirit publisher’s perspective

By JOHN HILE ANOTHER WAY “IN”—Scan this QR code to visit the MSU New Bullying site.The book is dead.
Long live the book!

At Read the Spirit, we all love books—I mean we really love books, including those old-fashioned books that were printed on paper. Remember those?

That statement seems premature today and maybe (hopefully) for a long time to come, but don’t doubt that what an increasing number of people, especially the younger variety, mean when they use the word “book” is changing—and fast.

Since its inception, Read the Spirit Books has looked at a book as something more fundamental and elemental than beautifully printed pages wrapped in a cover: it’s the voice of the author, the valuable ideas and insights caught, shared, networked, linked, read, re-read and planted in history.

Technically, around the RTS (virtual) office, that printed, tangible thing that most of us still envision when we think of a book is really only an optional implementation. To us (well, at least to me as RTS Publisher) a book is an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) file that contains all the structure and content we need to create many, varied implementations: print, iBook, Kindle Book, Nook Book, ePub3, Mobi, HTML5, PDF. With every passing season, new names and acronyms are strutting around, roaming everywhere, getting into scrapes with each other. But, using our publishing system at RTS—all of those forms are born at the touch of a (software) button once we have that all-important XML file.

So when our good and talented friend, Joe Grimm, had the wild idea of using an upper-level journalism class he teaches at Michigan State University to create and publish a book in one term, we didn’t edge away. In fact, since the RTS hive is overrun with veteran journalists, we thought it might do the new crop good to get an early look at some of the mind-bending twists they’re destined to encounter on their journey into publishing land.

These students came through! They tackled keyword research, high-quality subject exploration and writing, designing, brainstorming and innovating until they had a book they could be very proud of publishing. How did they handle our newly minted and unconventional publishing tools? Like they handle the new social media platforms coming out every month; like they handle the latest gadgets coming out just as fast to connect to the new social media platforms coming out every month. In short: They handled this big challenge like enthusiastic students who regularly explore and experiment with anything put in front of them.

And they didn’t fail to push our boundaries in the process: No video in print or on older e-readers? No problem, they said, let’s just throw some QR codes into the text, then everyone will know how to view those videos with their smart phones.

So, check out their book. While you’ll learn a lot you didn’t know about why bullying isn’t what you remember it was in your day, you’ll also be encountering a significant data point in the history of publishing and the first published output of some great and innovative publishers of the future.

The New Bullying:
Get the book! And read/view the news:

FIRST: Take a look at the MSU New Bullying Website! You’ll find news stories and videos. To dig even deeper, check out the various links in the black index bar across the top of the page.

MSU NEWS: Michigan State University News covers the project in an online news story that also provides contact information for an MSU representative and for Joe Grimm.

THE STATE NEWS: Story reported by Derek Blalock, headlined “Journalism Class Publishes Book on ‘New Bullying.’

RADIO INTERVIEW: WILS RADIO interviewed Joe Grimm about the work of his MSU team. Here’s a link to the 11-minute audio of the interview.

WOOD-TV: For its web version of the story, WOOD-TV Channel 8 ran the Associated Press report.

WANT IT IN NOOK? (The link with the cover image, above, goes to Amazon’s Kindle page.) The book also is available via Barnes and Noble for Nook.

WANT IT VIA GOOGLE? Google’s own bookstore is both powerful and popular, these days.

Watch Channel 7 Interview on New Bullying

Click the video screen below to see the short TV report. If you don’t see a video screen in your version of this story, click this link to reload our story in your web browser.


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Originally published at, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.


Finding the best Charles Dickens 2012 books & Apps Dickens began his career as one of London’s top journalists. As a teenager, he learned a system of shorthand and practiced it so skillfully that he won competitions among reporters based on speed and accuracy. All his life, Dickens looked for the smartest ways to bring timely stories to his ever-growing audience. When he first switched to fiction, Dickens wrote funny vignettes of life in the big city, skewering many of the larger-than-life figures he encountered in London. Today, Dickens surely would be in the forefront of embracing the Internet. We’re not alone in drawing that conclusion—it’s also the argument made in the official Dickens 2012 iPad App that was released late Tuesday as part of a Dickens bicentennial festival.

Want to read more about the Dickens 2012 Bicentennial celebration? Our Holidays and Festival column has the full details.


The great news for Kindle owners (or readers with Kindle apps on other devices) is that Amazon pretty much is giving away the works of Charles Dickens. Here is the Amazon Dickens’ Author Page on Amazon, where you’ll find that most of his works are priced at the very attractive: $0.00 for the Kindle versions. So, what to choose first? From that long list—as editor of ReadTheSpirit and a life-long Dickens buff—I would urge you to start with either David Copperfield or Bleak House. Copperfield has the serpentine villain Uriah Heap and the amusing rogue Mr. Micawber. If you want to dive into the deep end of the Dickens’ ocean, then tackle Bleak House, which many critics regard as a master work.
Also note:
If you visit the Dickens page on Amazon, you’ll find other authors linked in the right-hand column—and you’ll find that many of their works also are free (or nearly free) on Kindle.
Kindle Fire Users already know:
While the Fire is advertised as a competitor to the iPad—any Kindle Fire owner knows that it’s not, by a long shot. Mainly, it’s much cheaper than an iPad. So, if you’re looking for Dickens Apps—see the items below. There are some Apps available for the Kindle Fire, but most are second-class versions of more exciting Apple Store options. And, for the Dickens’ bi-centennial—sorry to say, all the really cool Apps are on the iPad.

BEST DICKENS APP: Dickens Newspapers, Part of Dickens 2012 chose this turquoise and navy rendering of Dickens for the opening page of his new Dickens Newspapers App for Apple.On Tuesday, February 7, 2012, the Prince of Wales and other British leaders gathered with Dickens buffs and Dickens’ descendants to lay a wreath near his tomb in Westminster Abbey. He was praised with music, prayer and ritual. But his 200th birthday is only beginning and many Brits are hoping his enduring appeal will lead to increased tourism this summer. (Along with the Queen’s Diamond Jubliee, of course.) Tons of Dickens’ books and digital Apps now circle the globe—but one special Apple App was created by graphic designer Kent Lyons and launched in conjunction with the Westminster ceremony.
Other multi-media designers have grabbed similar concepts, drawn from Dickens’ lifelong love of vigorous walking all around the London area. In his prime, the author was infamous for getting rid of boring guests by inviting them on a walk—then leaving them in the dust in a far longer and far faster hike than they had ever imagined. The historical fact that Dickens was a frequent walker is a designer’s dream: Dickens loved London streets; the UK loves to promote tourism; Dickens’ fans love to walk where the master trod.
Lyons plans to release six editions of “Dickens Newspapers” (and note that phrase—typing it precisely into the iTunes store ‘Search’ box is about the only way you’ll find this brand-new App). The first “edition” of the planned six parts is called Night Walks and uses a magazine column that Dickens actually wrote about strolling the city during a bout of insomnia. Not only is Lyons’ design of the typeface and animation brilliant—but here’s the really cool part of the App: Read it like a book and you’ll get Dickens’ text. Tilt each page sideways on the iPad (to landscape format) and suddenly high-res photos (or a few short videos) will pop up showing you what these areas of London look like today. Whether you’re planning a trip to the UK, or you simply love Dickens—get this free App now.

MULTI-MEDIA FUN WITH DICKENS’ ALL-TIME BEST SELLER course, A Christmas Carol is Dickens’ all-time, record-setting hit. Countless versions of the tale are available in virtually every form of media imaginable from old radio recordings by Orson Welles to Disney cartoons to historical reproductions of original etchings. Artist and pop-up book designer Chuck Fischer released a pop-up version of A Christmas Carol in 2010. Just before this past Christmas, he poured his artwork into a multi-media Apple App. As editor of ReadTheSpirit, I can tell you: I’ve enjoyed that iPad App Christmas Carol for a couple of months—and it’s fun. Hand-painted imagery decorates every page, plus there are plenty of full-page scenes with animations. (The illustration here shows the App’s “front cover” and one full-page painting.) Some animations pop on their own throughout the book. Others require tilting or tapping. There is a “Free” version of the Chuck Fischer App in the Apple Store. But, it’s a pale version of the full App. If you’re a Dickens fan, you’ll want to pay the $8.99 for the full version to get all the little gems.

ONE TO STAY AWAY FROM: DICKENS’ DARK LONDON final App is labeled “Streetmuseum: Dickens’ Dark London” in the Apple Store. We’re warning you about it, because this App is far more likely to pop up in a search of the App Store than the new Kent Lyons’ App above. And, when you run across it—Dickens’ Dark London sounds a lot like the Dickens Newspapers idea. This App also is designed to show you around some of Dickens’ favorite haunts in the city. However, Dark London was mainly designed to accompany an exhibition at the Museum of London. It’s a complicated App that requires high-speed WiFi downloads to work properly. Even more disappointing: The initial Free App is actually just a framework, asking you to pay further fees for individual portions of the content. To be fair to the App’s creators—this mainly is intended for people traveling around London and planning to see the exhibition. So, if you are a heavy-duty Dickens’ fan, then you may want to monkey with this somewhat buggy App and its multiple parts. The graphics are remarkable and the subject matter is darker and that means it’s more—well, it’s actually more Dickensian—than the Kent Lyons’ App. But our advice for most readers and App users is: Steer clear of Dickens’ Dark London.

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Originally published at, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

Celebrating Alan Lomax on the eve of his Global Jukebox young Alan Lomax performing at a traditional music festival in the South. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.Suddenly, American media is rising to celebrate Alan Lomax! We say: Hooray! He’s one of the great but largely unsung heroes of global culture—a true world-class Peacemaker. On Sunday, as editor of ReadTheSpirit, I was teaching a class in Ann Arbor near the University of Michigan in our new Blessed Are the Peacemakers project. I introduced a short documentary film about Alan Lomax’s work by asking for a show of hands:
“Who has heard of Alan Lomax before today?”

Only one hand went up—a recently graduated university student who had studied American history. No one else recognized the name.

That’s all about to change. From the New York Times to the Atlantic Magazine to the pages of ReadTheSpirit today, we all are cheering the realization of Alan Lomax’s once-far-fetched dream of creating “A Global Jukebox.” No, this isn’t a news story about iTunes expanding. No, not YouTube, either—although we will share two YouTube videos (below) to illustrate Lomax’s legacy.

Alan Lomax (who died in 2002 at the age of 87) is a legend among journalists, musicians and historians for devoting nearly his entire life to collecting the world’s traditional music. He packed loads of recording equipment into a van and journeyed to remote mountain cabins, Southern chain gangs, wee islands off the coast of Scotland—anywhere people would sing or play a song that represented their community.

Without Alan Lomax, it’s safe to say we’d never have a contemporary movie like “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” or a “Down from the Mountain” revival in old-time Southern music. Without Alan Lomax, work songs from places like stone quarries and Scottish fishing villages—now a rich legacy in our diverse global culture—would have all but disappeared. The Coen brothers found actors to dress up and sing prison songs. Lomax recorded the actual prisoners. Artists like Bruce Springsteen still perform Woody Guthrie songs. Lomax recorded Woody himself. Guthrie in his prime. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.Still doubt those claims about Lomax’s impact? Here’s how the New York Times summed up Lomax’s importance: “Starting in the mid-1930s, when he made his first field recordings in the South,  Lomax was the foremost music folklorist in the United States. He was the first to record Muddy Waters and Woody Guthrie, and much of what Americans have learned about folk and traditional music stems from his efforts, which were also directly responsible for the folk music and skiffle booms in the United States and Britain that shaped the pop-music revolution of the 1960s and beyond.”

In a new story on Sunday, the Atlantic wrote, in part: “No one was more aware of this fragility (of traditional music), and more determined to preserve what was so easily lost, than Alan Lomax. … Even as old and beautiful folk musical traditions persisted in America, Lomax knew that they wouldn’t persist forever, and for years and years traveled tirelessly, especially throughout the South, lugging every technology of preservation he could think of: tape recorders, cameras, video cameras, notebooks. … He wanted to record everything, to make what he called a Global Jukebox that anyone and everyone could use. And now Alan Lomax’s dream is coming true.

Here’s the big news making headlines this week: Lomax’s vast archive of 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, 5,000 photographs and a huge array of related manuscripts is being digitized. By the end of this month, February 2012, the first portions of his giant Global Jukebox will begin streaming for free online.

Can’t wait for the free streaming? To tease the audience and spread greater awareness of Lomax’s huge range, a sampler of 16 pieces from 1947-1982 was just released for sale on January 31, called The Alan Lomax Collection From The American Folklife Center. Those 16 pieces are drawn from Lomax’s thousands of recordings housed at the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center. The collection starts with America’s great folk hero, John Henry, and includes ballads, blues, dance tunes and sacred songs from around the U.S. with a Gaelic ode, Galician alborada (dawn song), Genoan chorale, Grenadan shango ritual, Trinidadian calypso, and the ashug bardic music of Azerbaijan.

Want to discover more about Alan Lomax? In 1983, he co-founded the Association for Cultural Equity, the central website online for news about Lomax’s archives and legacy. Of course, Wikipedia also has a pretty extensive Alan Lomax page.

Much ado about nothing? Well, let’s turn to the Atlantic’s conclusion: “This is an astonishing haul. People have known for decades that Lomax was maniacal, obsessive, and relentless, but it’s only now that everyone can discover the real scope, and real import, of his achievement.”

Sample of Alan Lomax’s work in Audio/Video

ONE SONG in the latest collection is called Joe Turner. The exact origin of this legendary figure—and associated songs about Joe Turner—apparently was never nailed down by Lomax. But, the tale of Joe Turner extends deep into the 1800s among black communities in the South. Joe Turner was a kind of supernatural figure who could emerge—and disappear—without warning and set things right for oppressed people. Below you should see two video screens. Click to watch these two versions of Joe Turner from Lomax’s work. If no video screen is visible in your version of this story, here’s a direct link to the first one on YouTube. Then, here’s a link to the second one on YouTube.



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Originally published at, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

Why you and your congregation should oppose SOPA for stopping by ReadTheSpirit today, Wednesday, January 18, 2012! The entire Internet is quirky today—full of dead ends and blacked out pages—as many Web giants we all use, including Wikipedia and Google, are “on strike” for a day to protest dangerous legislation working its way through Congress.

We are striking, too!
Our mid-week author interview, this week with best-selling author Bishop John Shelby Spong, will be delayed one day. Similarly, our daily OurValues series, our regular Holidays column, our Spiritual Wanderer blog and our Friendship and Faith series are all on strike today. No new stories will appear on Wednesday.
Fresh stories will return on Thursday.
Because we are a news magazine, covering important stories affecting religious life and values around the world, we are only publishing this analysis of the SOPA issue today.

The two acts before the U.S. Congress may sound great but actually would wreak havoc on many important Web resources—and might have dire effects on peaceful freedom movements around the world. The two pieces of legislation are known simply as the U.S. House’s SOPA and the U.S. Senate’s PIPA. They stand for Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act. They appear noble: Any serious media professionals, including all the writers and editors at, want to protect copyrights and properly credit the work of other professionals.

But here is the dangerous flaw: This legislation is overkill. It’s basically a giant club that media moguls in places like Hollywood and Nashville want to swing against websites they claim are improperly using copyright content. And “claim” is enough, in this case. Court action always has been available in copyright cases, but the proposed legislation lets a mere “claim” shut down entire accused websites—or block off entire regions of the world.

AND YOUR CONGREGATION STAFF POSTED THIS EXPLANATION.Most of our readers are part of religious groups, nonprofit organizations and countless online groups that have noble spiritual motives. Imagine if some online robot documenting your website spotted a photograph or a bit of text or music—even if it was posted by a well-meaning but clumsy amateur in your group. If such a Web search turns up such a flaw—and a claim is filed against you or your group—then: BANG! Your entire website can be shut down.


Even if you think that copyright infringement deserves a tough response, this new legislation poses global problems of serious concern to most of our readers. For example, in our popular new Blessed Are the Peacemakers book and online efforts, global peace negotiator and author Dan Buttry is encouraging all of us to help nonviolent freedom movements. SOPA and PIPA target entire regions of the world where copyright infringement and piracy occur regularly. While knocking out piracy is a noble goal we share—imagine giving this big club to dictators clinging to power against the Arab Spring or other freedom movements. Or, consider all the American-supported, religious-freedom campaigns aimed at helping faithful men and women in countries like China. That’s a nation that would be targeted for Web blockades in this new legislation. We all could wind up dodging clubs and blackouts—in some cases based on claims made by brutal dictators who suddenly seem to be getting tough on copyright laws as a way to repress grassroots movements. In the waning days of Egypt’s dictatorship, unsuccessful attempts were made to black out the Internet. Imagine if SOPA and PIPA gave such brutal strongmen a seemingly noble way to go: BANG!

EVEN SOPA SPONSOR FELL VICTIM Rep. Lamar Smith violated the terms of SOPA on his own website by using the background photograph of a rural area to frame his home page. Smith’s webmaster never contacted or credited the photographer.You may ask: Why shouldn’t everyone just start living by copyright standards? In an ideal world, that might be a solution. But this problem of infringement—on giant and on small websites—is such a difficult challenge that the sponsor of SOPA, U.S. Rep. Lamar S. Smith (Republican of Texas), was exposed in a Forbes article as having violated SOPA rules himself in his own website. Someone built his website with a gorgeous rural photograph as the backdrop—a photo used without proper permission from the photographer.

Just imagine what might happen with your church’s, or your denomination’s or your nonprofit’s website if this kind of club is handed to media moguls. Imagine a member of your youth group proudly posting a YouTube video with a bit of copyright music on your church’s site? A colleague in ministry might post a helpful tip about a new hymn for worship and include a little audio clip. Some volunteer might build a great new website for your charitable group, and it turns out one photograph deep in the site is owned by Getty. BANG! It happened to Rep. Smith; it could happen to you.


At ReadTheSpirit, we are defenders of the Bill of Rights, especially freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of press. We also defend the principles of copyright—the right of creators to own their intellectual property. But we also believe in new forms of licensing that allow creators to widely share their work. The entire ReadTheSpirit website is produced under Creative Commons licensing. Basically, that means our writers, photographers and artists own our material, but we are formally offering to share our online stories widely with our readers. Creative Commons allows us—and Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Commons website that provides many of the photographs we publish—to specify how that content will be shared. We require, for example, that a link back to the website accompany any sharing of our stories. See our Creative Commons logo at the bottom of our home page.


First, make yourself aware of these issues. Properly police your own websites and publications. Even if current versions of SOPA and PIPA are torpedoed, some new forms of tougher anti-piracy legislation are on the horizon. Penalties for violating intellectual property rights are likely to rise. Contact members of Congress. Let them know you are concerned.

We encourage sharing at ReadTheSpirit. Look for special sharing arrangements like ReadTheSpirit’s provisions through Creative Commons, which is linked at the bottom of our home page.


Wikipedia is “down” on January 18, 2012, but has an in-depth article on SOPA with lots of background information and links. There’s a separate article about the Protect IP ACT, called PIPA.

Legal expert Laurence H. Tribe made quite a stir by coming out in public opposition to SOPA and PIPA. Here is a story covering Tribe’s decision to go public with his opposition. You also can read Laurence H. Tribe’s entire analysis of the legislation.

On February 17, 2012, Forbes reported that U.S. Rep. Smith intends to keep chugging away on his legislation, no matter what happens this week. Interestingly enough, even though Forbes is a business-themed news publication, a number of Forbes writers seem clearly to oppose SOPA and PIPA.

Here’s an ABC News report by Ned Potter posted on January 17.

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Originally published at, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

Guide for Caregivers: Recommended Resources

Guide for Caregivers:
Dr. Benjamin Pratt suggests … THIS BOOK COVER to read more about Dr. Pratt’s Guide for Caregivers!THE FOLLOWING GROUPS, WEBSITES and RESOURCES are recommendations from Dr. Benjamin Pratt—the pastoral counselor, caregiver and author of Guide for Caregivers: Keeping Your Spirit Healthy When Your Caregiver Duties and Responsibilities Are Dragging You Down.
We share these recommendations as part of the ReadTheSpirit Caregivers project—as an aid in your own online research into assistance you need.
We know that the following groups have a track record of helping people.
NOTE: We have taken special care in these entries to provide links to what we regard as especially helpful areas of these groups’ websites.

This list of Recommended Resources is just the beginning …
Our latest additions: February 6. The list will expand through 2012.
Please, help by sharing your suggestions!

Know a group, website or other resource that should be listed here?

Email us at [email protected]

Inspiration from ‘Superman’

Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation offer this resource for caregivers in grateful memory of Dana (March 17, 1961, to March 6, 2006) and Christopher (September 25, 1952, to October 10, 2004) Reeve. As caregivers, we face the question from friends: “Are you a Superman?” Or we ask ourselves: “Am I a superwoman?” Many of us feel we need to be emotionally, physically and spiritually a super person to accomplish and survive our daily tasks. It can be a big mistake to lay such expectations upon ourselves. I found this very down-to-earth, thoughtful and helpful interview with Dana Reeve, the wife of the man many of us thought of as Superman. Read this excellent interview with Dana Reeve and take a moment to visit the Foundation established by Christopher and Dana Reeve.
Dr. Benjamin Pratt

People You Should Know:
Jeanne Robertson

NOTE: As you scroll down, you will see that other recommendations on this page lead you to websites and helpful organizations. Now, we also are including recommendations of talented people who share caregiving issues in creative ways. Here is what Dr. Benjamin Pratt says about Jeanne Robertson:

I teach that laughter is vital for caregivers to sustain a healthy spirit.  Here is a marvelous woman who will keep you laughing.  6’ 2” Jeanne Robertson is a Person You Should Know.  Jeanne Robertson is a professional speaker who steps on stage at 6-foot-2-inches and quickly engages audiences with humor about real-life experiences. Speaking to thousands of people annually, she utilizes her positively funny style to illustrate that a sense of humor is much more than a laughing matter. It is a strategy for success.
Enjoy these two episodes from her talks …

Family Caregiver Alliance this image to visit Family Caregiver Alliance.If you are providing care to an older or disabled family member or friend, you know that navigating the long-term care system can be difficult. The Family Caregiver Alliance was founded in 1977 among a group of families and community leaders in San Francisco. It grew into the first nationwide community-based nonprofit to focus on the needs of families and friends providing long-term care at home. Within the larger site, the state-by-state resource provided by the Family Caregiver Alliance is intended to help you locate government, nonprofit, and private programs in your area. It includes services for family caregivers, as well as resources for older or disabled adults living at home or in a residential facility. It also includes information on government health and disability programs, legal resources, disease-specific organizations and much more.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation this image to visit the Cystic Fibrosis FoundationWhen the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation was established in 1955, most children who developed the disorder did not live to attend elementary school. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). A defective gene and its protein product lead to life-threatening lung infections and problems with properly absorbing food. Today, the predicted median age of survival is in the late 30s, thanks—in large part—to the care provided though the national network of CF Foundation-accredited centers. This Care Center Network provides expert cystic fibrosis care for people living with the disease and supports 260 clinics that specialize in caring for children and adults with CF. Besides taking care of people with CF, care centers also focus on the entire circle of men and women who are primary caregivers. In addition to an excellent monthly online newsletter, CFF provides a Patient Assistance Resource Library that can help families navigate the maze of health care.

Multiple Sclerosis Society

Multiple Sclerosis Foundation this image to visit the National Sclerosis Society.Fear. Isolation. Confusion. These feelings are common when someone is diagnosed with MS. Although more than 450,000 people in the United States have multiple sclerosis, people who are newly diagnosed have often never heard of the disease; they don’t know where to turn for support. MS was identified as a disorder in the 1860s but, to this day, there is no cure. Treatments and support groups work with people to help return function after an MS attack, prevent further attacks and prevent disability.
Click this image to visit the National Sclerosis FoundationThere are at least a dozen MS organizations and foundations working across the U.S. on various issues from funding research and advocacy to directly helping families. The Society and the Foundation are two of the most important non-profits with a solid track record across the nation.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society was founded in 1946 and works on promoting research, services for people living with MS, education and advocacy. Look around the website and you will find lots of information on all of these ongoing efforts. If you are a caregiver, especially interested in advocacy and keeping up on new efforts to combat the effects of MS, check out the group’s Advocacy section. Advocacy takes many forms through the Society, but on this landing page you’ll find links to efforts that may interest you.
The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation was established in 1986 with a mission and a range of programs similar to that of the Society. If you or a loved one have just received this diagnosis, you might start on this landing page within the MSF site, called Coping with Multiple Sclerosis. The links from this page provide answers to all sorts of common questions about topics ranging from “Newly Diagnosed” and “The Search for Causes, Treatments and a Cure” to special topics like “Pediatric MS.”

Alzheimer’s Association researching the new book, A Guide For Caregivers, I attended one of the Alzheimer’s Association’s excellent educational programs designed to help caregivers. I can personally vouch for the quality of their programs. This global organization now ranks as one of the most important first stops families should make as they prepare to care for a loved one with this kind of health issue. In 1979, Jerome H. Stone and representatives from several family support groups met with the National Institute on Aging to explore the value of a national, independent, nonprofit organization to complement federal efforts surrounding Alzheimer’s disease. That meeting resulted in the April 10, 1980, formation of the Alzheimer’s Association with Stone as founding president. The Alzheimer’s Association works on a global, national and local level to enhance care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and related dementias and is the largest private, nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research. Local chapters provide services within many communities. Use the group’s main website to find a chapter near you. Or call the professionally staffed 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900 for information and advice, including translation services in more than 170 languages. The organization runs more than 4,500 support groups throughout the country and connects people around the globe through their online message boards and deliver 20,000 education programs annually. While writing A Guide For Caregivers I attended one of their excellent educational programs for caregivers. You can find numerous resources through this excellent Association site, but a good place to begin is

Home Caregiver Network the image to learn more about Home Caregiver Network.Frustrated by a new challenge in your home? Want someone to show you how to do it? The Home Care Library is developing a series of helpful How To videos on specific skills home-based caregivers need to learn. You may not need all of these videos, but when you need to answer a crucial new challenge? These videos can help. In addition to the basic How To lessons, some videos help you realize the importance of taking care of yourself and how to do it. Among the general themes the Network is trying to cover: How to cope with the numerous challenges of caregiving, successful communications skills, what to look for when choosing a nursing or long-term care facility, and extensive tips and information to make the home caregiving experience more enjoyable. Once you become a subscriber to The Home Care Library you’ll be able to watch all of the videos you like— as many times as you like. Videos range from Basic to Advanced Caregiving Skills, Helpful Products, Coping Skills, Emotional Support and techniques as essential as Moving a Person to the Side of the Bed. For this recommendation, we’ve had several people preview videos on the site, including colleagues who work with caregivers, and what we’ve seen is quite helpful. If you decide to subscribe, you may want to try a single month and judge the usefulness of the videos for your own situation. We don’t recommend paying for a full year of the service until you’re sure it’s helpful in an ongoing way.

Funny Times the image to learn more about Funny Times.One of the most popular chapters in our new Guide for Caregivers encourages people simply to laugh—and laugh on a regular basis! A sense of sense of humor is vital to keep your spirit healthy. Here is an opportunity to load up some guaranteed laughs! The Funny Times is a monthly forum for humor and satire for people who understand that their world does, indeed, seem totally insane sometimes. The Funny Times team reads thousands of cartoons to find and collect what they regard as the “best of the best” each month. Celebrating their 25th year, they supply us with delightfully funny, intelligent humor. Every issue has more than 100 cartoons and at least a dozen written features. You may find some old favorites as well as up-and-coming artists you’ve never met before. “Come over to the funny side and join our more than 70,000 subscribers who love to laugh at us,” say Ray Lesser and Susan Wolpert, who call themselves Publishers, Editors and Troublemakers at The Funny Times.

United Cerebral Palsy to learn more about the mission of UCP.If you are familiar with Cerebral Palsy, that’s because United Cerebral Palsy is noted among charitable nonprofits for its early development of fundraising telethons. The group was founded just after World War II by four friends, including Leonard Goldenson, who later was president of ABC Television. Goldenson and his wife Isabel had a daughter with cerebral palsy; so he began raising funds for supporting disabled people via a telethon from a station in Chicago. From those roots, United Cerebral Palsy became one of the most important nonprofits advocating and providing support for people with a spectrum of disabilities. The backbone of UCP is the services and supports that are provided by its approximately 100 affiliates worldwide, which reach 176,000 children and adults, daily. Affiliates’ services include housing, therapy, assistive technology training, early intervention programs, individual and family support, social and recreation programs, community living, state and local referrals, employment assistance and advocacy. Each affiliate offers a range of services tailored to its community’s needs. Their One Stop Resource Guide helps you find answers to the most commonly asked questions. And, for people without disabilities, UCP provides a very helpful Ten Commandments of Etiquette for Communicating with People with Disabilities.

ARCH National Respite Network to learn more about the mission of ARCH.Respite is a lifeline for millions of hard-working caregivers nationwide. The term, as defined by ARCH (Access to Respite Care and Help) means “planned or emergency care provided to a child or adult with special needs in order to provide temporary relief to family caregivers who are caring for that child or adult.” Millions need this assistance—but quality respite care often is difficult to find. The mission of the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center is to assist and promote the development of quality respite and crisis care programs in the United States and to help families locate these services in their communities. The National Respite Locator Service helps parents, family caregivers, and professionals find respite services matching their needs—and located appropriately close to their homes. Are you interested in making a difference on this issue? The group’s website also provides links to current legislative efforts to expand respite care. You might want to start by reading the “About Us” page that summarize’s the group’s mission and history.

National Alliance on Mental Illness THE IMAGE to visit the NAMI website.NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, support and research. These days, the nonprofit organization that was founded in 1979 also works on issues of particular concern to our thousands of recent veterans and their families. For emerging issues and news about NAMI’s latest programs, watch the Newsroom section of the group’s website. NAMI works on national, state and local levels. The national office coordinates work through organizations in all 50 states plus more than 1,000 local affiliates. The group’s website now is enormous. So, depending on your particular interest, click around to find information on everything from support groups to NAMI’s “Legislative Action Center” to ways you can help fight stigma against mental illness. If you’re just grappling with news of mental illness in your circle of family and friends, check out NAMI’s extensive section on basic information about 17 different forms of mental illness.

Lotsa Helping Hands ON THIS IMAGE to visit Lotsa Helping Hands.Lotsa Helping Hands is trying to close the “digital divide” that keeps many caregivers and care receivers from using online tools to connect with a larger community. Clearly, there are many powerful connective tools families can use—if they know about them and understand how to use them. Lotsa Hands makes the process simple, flexible and secure. A Washington Times story about the group reported: “Lotsa communities can be created and dissolved easily, and revolve around all kinds of issues: parents who need help caring for their newborn triplets, military families caring for loved ones who came home wounded, families caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or cancer. Some communities last only a few months.” Here’s the About Us page that explains the group’s guiding vision. But you’ll find the How It Works page more helpful in welcoming newcomers to the site’s nuts and bolts.

National Family Caregivers Assoc. ON THIS IMAGE to visit NFCA’s home page.Believe in Yourself. Protect Your Health. Reach Out for Help. Speak Up for Your Rights. Those are Caring Every Day messages from the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA). Founded in 1993, NFCA educates, supports, empowers and speaks up for the more than 65 million Americans who care for loved ones with a chronic illness, disability or frailties of old age. A major NFCA priority is fostering a grater public awareness of caregiving challenges, educating caregivers themselves and helping family caregivers work more effectively with healthcare providers. Look within the NFCA site and you’ll find the Caregiving Resources section. Sign up with the group and you’ll have access to a wide array of helpful information. NFCA’s News Releases section also is worth a look. In the last couple of years, the group has published a series of news items about everything from national polls to new studies of caregiving.

AARP ON THIS IMAGE to visit AARP’s Caregiver Resource Center.AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people age 50 and over find independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them. Since 1958, this vast organization has been leading a revolution in the way people view and live the later years of life. AARP members reflect a wide range of attitudes, cultures, lifestyles and beliefs but this collection of diverse individuals function as one through this organization to influence positive change. You may be familiar with AARP, but the organization offers such a vast array of information that it may be tricky to find the Caregiving area on AARP’s website. The AARP Caregiving Resources Center is worth checking out! As a Caregiver, AARP emphasizes that you’re not in this alone. Nearly 44 million Americans are taking care of an older family member at any given time. Whether you’re just starting out in your new role or caring for someone who’s near the end of his or her life, this AARP resource center will provide you with all the information you’ll need to help make the job as easy—and rewarding—as possible. They offer advice and assistance on topics such as starting out, financial and legal issues, ideas about housing and much more.

The Autism Society ON THIS IMAGE to find Autism Society resources.The Autism Society, the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization, exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. The nonprofit increases public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people across the spectrum of autism, advocating for appropriate services for individuals throughout their lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. The Autism Society’s strength is in its vibrant grassroots community of chapters and its network of national partners and collaborators. For Caregivers in particular, the Autism Society has developed in-depth information on a variety of topics related to living with autism. This information is by no means exhaustive, but it should help to equip families with some of the basic tools they may need to provide the best outcomes for their loved ones with forms of autism. These publications are available through the group’s Resource Materials page. Note: You will want to register with the Autism Society to use these resources and get the group’s free biweekly newsletter (you can unsubscribe from that e-newsletter anytime).

The Arc THIS ARC IMAGE to jump to the Arc Resources Page.The Arc is the nation’s largest grassroots organization advocating for the rights and full inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Founded in 1950, the Arc has 140,000 members in 700 chapters—so there is sure to be an Arc group near you. In addition to its major goal of changing public perceptions about people with conditions ranging from autism to Down syndrome—the Arc also is a support group that provides resources to families. Within the larger Arc website, check out the Resources page that includes an ever-changing array of materials:
You’ll find basic fact sheets on various issues that concern families, other kinds of publications, too—and a blog with postings about recent news.

Mended Hearts THIS MENDED HEARTS IMAGE to jump to the group’s website.F
or 60 years, Mended Hearts has served as a national support group for heart-disease patients, their families and caregivers. With chapters in more than 200 communities nationwide, you’re likely to find one nearby. Recognized for its role in facilitating a positive patient-care experience, Mended Hearts partners with 460 hospitals and rehabilitation clinics and offers services to heart patients through visiting programs, support group meetings and educational forums. The national office also publishes a quarterly magazine, Heartbeat, to share news and inspirational stories. Within the larger Mended Hearts website, check out the Resources page: The best choice is “Managing Your Heart Health,” which downloads a 40-page, full-color guides to issues you—or a loved one—will face after any serious episode with the heart.

CaringBridge ON THIS CARINGBRIDGE IMAGE to jump to the website.
eadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm discovered CaringBridge—like so many other men and women—when his far-flung family hit an unexpected crisis. His uncle was undergoing critical medical procedures and the extended family wanted updates. CaringBridge let relatives on the scene pass along vital news. In our Caregivers Resources list, CaringBridge ranks as one of the newest organizations. Founder Sona Mehring developed this concept after a hastily created personal website back in 1997 helped her friends through a crisis. This worked so well that Mehring wanted to make the basic web tools available to everyone. Mehring is based in Minneapolis, and her leadership team is clustered around the Twin Cities. But, their web concept now is used each day by half a million people. Within the larger website, check out the Our Service page, which provides lots of information about using this free resources for your own circle of loved ones.

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(Originally published at, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.)

Can’t pronounce that Bible word? There’s an App!’s one of the common questions I get as editor of ReadTheSpirit: “How do you pronounce this?”
Then, the person asking the question lifts an open Bible and points at a word like: Ba’al. That’s the Hebrew word for “master” or “lord” in reference to various ancient deities in the Bible. If you regularly attend Bible study, you’ve almost certainly run across Ba’al many times. He shows up more than 50 times from Numbers to Zephaniah and once in Romans chapter 11.

I happen to know this particular answer. It’s not pronounced like a high-society gala. It’s not ball. It’s like a bundle of hay in a barn. It’s bale.

But what do I do when someone shows me: Shealtiel. That name only shows up a dozen times in Old and New Testaments. It’s an obscure figure—but a wonderful name. In Hebrew, it means that this person was born as an answer to prayer to God.

I’ll admit: I didn’t know how to pronounce that name, until … Well, until I downloaded Bible Audio Pronunciations to my iPhone. However you access the App Store, search for “Bible Audio Pronunciations” and you’ll find both a Lite and a $1.99 version. I recommend: Go ahead and pay the $1.99 and get the full version. In this case, the Lite App is just a preview with 100 fairly common words. For $1.99, you get the full index of 1,600 terms.

How is Shealtiel pronounced? It’s she-AL-teh-el with an emphasis on the second syllable.

The App is simple yet perfectly designed:

  • Search for a word on the opening screen.
  • The term pops up with a big arrow to play the audio pronunciation.
  • If you want to know more, two buttons will take you either to a Google search or a Wikipedia entry.

Cool App! The only down side is that, if you load it onto your phone or iPad, you’ll become the “go to” person in Bible study to help with all the challenging terms!

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Conversation is far better than the dangerous shouting matches we’ve been witnessing in our global culture. So, please, email us at [email protected] and tell us what you think of our stories—and, please tell a friend to start reading along with you!

We welcome your Emails! . We’re also reachable on Twitter, Facebook, AmazonHuffington PostYouTube and other social-networking sites. You also can Subscribe to our articles via Email or RSS feed. Plus, there’s a free Monday morning Planner newsletter you may enjoy.

Originally published at, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.