Monday Open Thread

“Hear reason, or she’ll make you feel her.”

–Benjamin Franklin

101 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavidThi808 says:

    IAmA

    If you could add one course to a student’s curriculum, what would it be?

      Course title every university should offer: “How to tell when someone else is full of shit”

    • ajb says:

      Here’s another tidbit:

      If you could impress one thing on young people today, what would it be?

      That adults are not all they’re cracked up to be. And most of them are wrong most of the time. This can be quite revelatory for a kid – often launching them on a personal quest of exploration, rather than of Q&A sessions with their parents.

  2. DavidThi808 says:

    Google’s Lab of Wildest Dreams

    It’s a place where your refrigerator could be connected to the Internet, so it could order groceries when they ran low. Your dinner plate could post to a social network what you’re eating. Your robot could go to the office while you stay home in your pajamas. And you could, perhaps, take an elevator to outer space.

  3. VanDammer says:

    It’s being reported that PA Judge Leslie Dutchcot granted child rapist Sandusky

    unsecured bail — prosecutors sought half-mil & a monitor but judge reduced it to $100k and then made it unsecured. Basically child rapist Sandusky walked in-and-out of the courthouse and has no conditions on release.  

    Even more egregious is that judge Dutchcot  is a volunteer for Sandusky’s charity.  She doesn’t feel it in anyway necessary to recuse herself?  Wow – that’s ugly.

  4. DavidThi808 says:

    Figure over the next 10 years we’ll get to the point that not only does just about everyone have an eBook (including young children), but what you get in an electronic book will be so far beyond paper that printed books will go away.

    Libraries will still have some utility, providing public access to the Internet for the few that don’t have it and community meeting rooms. But the ROI to society on that will be substantially less than the budgets we presently put into libraries.

    We do still need them today. But looking forward, they are going to go away and we should look at when/how we wind that down and what we do, if anything, to provide the other services that you presently get from a library.

    • redstateblues says:

      to look up “myopic” in their eDictionaries?

        • redstateblues says:

          You’re accusing me of being a Luddite when we’re having this conversation on a blog while I type on my laptop? Can they look up Red Herring too?

          • DavidThi808 says:

            I’m sorry as I didn’t mean to upset you.

            • redstateblues says:

              But your oblivious contempt/utter ignorance of people poorer than you does have a tendency to make me sad.

              • Fidel's dirt nap says:

                those are the rules.  Now open wide.

              • DavidThi808 says:

                It’s understanding that much of the technological change we see does make it’s way to everyone, even the poor. In addition, as libraries fall into disuse, I think the tax dollars that go to libraries could better serve the poor elsewhere.

                • sxp151 says:

                  which will presumably trickle down?

                  Look, I know you don’t actively despise the poor, but our political institutions are run by people who do. If funding for libraries gets cut, where else do you think it will go? I think it will go to tax cuts for the rich.

                  Besides, as some have hinted, libraries are not just for poor people. Story time at the library with sxp152 is one of the highlights of the week for us, and the library has plenty of other community activities that wouldn’t be replaced if funding dried up.

                  Besides, I don’t see the libraries becoming irrelevant like CD stores mostly have. Bookstores are still around, for example. I think the reason music went completely online is that it’s easy to hear a bit of a song online and see if you like something. With books it’s the opposite; you really can’t get a sense of how much you like an unknown book unless you can pick it up and browse through it, maybe sit in the store for half an hour reading the first chapter, etc. I think the library is very similar.

                  • DavidThi808 says:

                    you really can’t get a sense of how much you like an unknown book unless you can pick it up and browse through it, maybe sit in the store for half an hour reading the first chapter, etc.

                    I download the first part for free, read that when I get the time, then buy it if I like it.

                    ps – I have lots of fond memories of the library too, both with my kids and going there myself. But I don’t see it continuing to be viable.

                    • sxp151 says:

                      but you haven’t proposed anything to replace libraries. Are you planning to give away Kindles or whatever to kids in school? And how are people supposed to read books they don’t want to buy? (Like kids who read lots of books, or who need them for reports.)

                      You say people can just buy an e-reader like they buy a TV, but there are two big differences: first, reading is more effort than watching TV, so if they’re equally expensive it will just encourage people to read even less (in the same way that junk food is much cheaper than fresh food). Second, once you buy a TV you in principle have a bunch of content for free, while with all models of e-books I’m aware of you have to pay for each book individually. That also encourages people to read less.

                      Destroying the libraries is a bad idea. Why have you suddenly decided it’s necessary and inevitable, and why have you not spent a few minutes thinking about the consequences?

                    • DavidThi808 says:

                      And when a change is going to occur, it’s better to plan around it than just let it happen and play catch-up.

                      As I posted below, I think subsidizing eBooks for the poor like we do phone service makes a lot of sense. And we can then set up free lending of titles.

                      There’s a lot of things we can do to mitigate the bad consequences of declining library use. But the sooner we start thinking about it, and figuring our what/when to do it, the better we can address this.

                    • Sir Robin says:

                      has certain insights and conclusions that have bearing on this discussion:

                      http://www.energybulletin.net/

                      From the article:

                      I frequently disagree with Sharon, but I do find some points of agreement on this question of the informal economy.  My sense of the likeliest evolution of society in coming decades is that global economic capitalism will persist but that it become more efficient by continuing to become more automated.  Thus it will be able to serve the interests of economic and cultural elites while requiring fewer resources (particularly oil) because it will increasingly not require the services of, or serve the interests of, the masses.  I’ve written on a number of occasions of how I think one of the earliest symptoms of the gradual approach of the “singularity” is the continued lowering of the US male employment/population ratio9

                      This is one of the more insightful articles I’ve read regarding what a prolonged slowdown in the economy might look like.

                      This “singularity” discussion is also worth looking into.

                    • DavidThi808 says:

                      I would phrase it a bit differently, we’re entering an era where a subset of working age people can produce the goods needed by everyone. And capitalism is not designed to handle that situation. Craigslist eliminated over 100,000 jobs (both selling/printing classified ads and funding news people) and they employ 27 people.

                      This is why I think fixing education is so important. We will eventually figure out jobs to replace those jobs that have gone away. But the new jobs will almost certainly require a college level education, innovative thinking, etc.

        • ClubTwitty says:

          doesn’t make one a Luddite, unless they bring their wooden shows into a Best Buy and smash all the Kindle E-Book readers…

          • redstateblues says:

            I just don’t expect everyone else to have to buy one if they want to educate themselves or enjoy a book.

            • ClubTwitty says:

              I like the Kindle too. E-Books area great.  But they ARE NOT a substitute for public libraries.  I guess (according to some) that means I’m a Luddite…?

            • ajb says:

              in the not-too-distant future, Kindles will cost less than books. And managing a collection of e-books will be cheaper than managing a collection of physical books.

              So why not a library model of checking out Kindles and e-media, rather than warehousing books?

              I don’t think this will work for all books and all media, but it would cover probably over 90% of a library collection.  

    • MtSherman says:

      We will not get to a point in the next 10 years where everyone has an eBook, only the middle class or rich will have them. But that’s the only people who matter. Libraries will be shut down not because they are no longer needed, but because middle class people no longer see it in their own interest. “I’ve got mine and devil take the hindmost.”

      For someone who can express this idea much more fully and eloquently than I can:

      Seanan McGuire, Across the Digital Divide

      • Gray in Mountains says:

        we won’t have to encounter the unwashed.

        I hope libraries don’t go away in my lifetime. Our local library offers reading groups for kids that have very large participation. I love the tangible feeling of a book-book, turning pages, etc.

        • MtSherman says:

          They are already busily shutting the libraries in Aurora and one of primary reasons I live in Denver rather than Aurora is the library system. Also being centrally located so no matter what job I get it is not terribly far away, but libraries are a big bonus for me. And not just for books, I watch most of my TV shows and movies through checking out discs from the library.

          If it were not around I would make due or do without. Probably a lot of doing without in the case of movies and TV, but I surely appreciate the opportunity.

      • redstateblues says:

        Thanks for posting it.

      • DavidThi808 says:

        99% of households in the U.S. have a TV. I think eBooks will be a bit less because some people have zero interest in reading. But we will soon approach the point where everyone who wants to read has one.

        The best indicator of this? Walk into a Barnes & Noble – the books are spread out to cover up the fact that the in store inventory appears to be about half what it used to be.

        • redstateblues says:

          Television is a terrible analogy of technological pervasiveness. A better example might have been music, where major labels have been thinking about doing away with the compact disc format, which will probably put music stores out of business (using your own example of B&N, I went into one the other day and there isn’t a music section anymore.) If and when book publishers decide to stop printing books, then maybe it will be a smart idea to rethink libraries.

          we will soon approach the point where everyone who wants to read has one.

          No, we won’t, at least not for a very long time. As Matthew’s post showed, there are people who can barely afford used paperbacks now, and certainly rely on libraries for a lot more than internet use. It also said that only 80% of people have access to the internet, which is a requirement for eReaders. So, unless you’re saying that only the middle class and above want to read, then you’re just wrong.

          B&N may stop selling books, but again, it will only be when publishing companies stop using paper as a format for publishing them. You’re trying to impose your upper middle class world view on public libraries. I’m surprised you’re not suggesting getting rid of RTD because why doesn’t everyone just drive their BMWs and Nissan Leafs?

          • DavidThi808 says:

            I asked when do we start winding them down. Absolutely we need libraries today. And even when paper books go away, I pointed out there are other services libraries provide.

            But saying nothing’s going to change and leave libraries as they are makes no sense. Paper books are going away. And there are advantages to electronic books, even for the poor.

            As to what level of use we need from eBooks – under 50%

            • ClubTwitty says:

              Already kids, for instance, spend too much time ‘interacting’ electronically and not in real life.  In most countries there are public spaces that are used, regularly, by all aspects of the public.  Our nation already lacks that, in large degree.  

              And–in many places–when the ‘wrong’ people show up in the few such that we do have (you know, like homeless people) there is an effort (or at least an outcry) to ‘clean them up.’  Reducing these places further is a problem, IMO.  

              I think that as we diminish public institutions and public spaces we diminish our civic society.  I support libraries not only for what they provide(which, obviously, does need to adapt to changing demands, technologies, etc.) but also for what they represent.  

              • DavidThi808 says:

                But rather than retaining a declining public space, what if instead we figured out how to create some public spaces and institutions that will pull in increasing numbers of people. And redirect our tax money there?

                There’s got to be a better way to accomplish this. Society has changed a lot and so the most effective way to bring people together has certainly changed too.

                • ClubTwitty says:

                  I really don’t think that’s too likely.  I’d rather figure out how to keep libraries viable in a changing world.

                  • DavidThi808 says:

                    Yes money is spent long after the need is gone. But I’d prefer to see us be as effective as possible with our tax revenue.

                    I also would like to see libraries remain viable. And if that can be done – great. But in that case people should be looking at that rather than just saying leave it alone.

                    • ClubTwitty says:

                      My guess is if we didn’t have libraries, and Ben Franklin himself came back and proposed such, he’d be run out of the country as a communist.  If libraries are closed the money won’t go toward a better option IMO, (which I am still not convinced would be met by e-books) but to line some well-connected person’s pocket.  That’s the lesson I was referring too.

                      Congratulations for keeping your (unfounded?) optimism intact.  

                      Me, I’ll stick with defending what we have so we don’t lose that small bit of public institutions/space we have.  

                • sxp151 says:

                  How about waiting until you can think of at least one new idea for such a space before eliminating one of the only places people currently have? If it’s easy to find a replacement, then do it. If it’s hard, maybe that’s why everyone has been opposing you on this.

                  Coffee shops didn’t disappear once caffeine pills were invented, bars didn’t disappear when liquor stores opened, town hall meetings didn’t disappear once email was invented, and stadiums didn’t disappear once games starting airing on TV. Humans still like social interaction and doing things in places where other people are.

        • MtSherman says:

          32% of US Households do not have a computer.

          12% own a eBook.  

    • Aristotle says:

      then based on your record, I’ll add a zero to the number of years that this will actually happen. 🙂

    • dwyer says:

      Suppose we burn all the hard copy books and then find out that the ionizing radiation from digital devices is making the whole world sterile??? Then what, smartie pants.

    • Alexei says:

      Especially of a historical nature.

      White eReaders are fibne for current books, there generally are not e-version of older books except maybe some best sellers and classics.

      A lot of what I currently use a library for will likely never be in an ebook. The information may one day be available on-line, but having original source material is invaluable.

    • I can go to a library for the amount of money it takes out of my taxes every year, which is relatively tiny.  They lend me stuff for free.

      If I buy an eReader, I get to pay B&N or Amazon if I want modern content, either a pretty hefty subscription (i.e. Prime) or a price that’s usually as high as the dead tree edition to “purchase” it.  What I get is a locked up file that becomes a bunch of useless bits if the company goes away or decides to stop supporting the format.

      My library gives me (and a bunch of people who can’t afford it nearly so well as I can) free access to books both old and new, including books that are so local and rare that Project Gutenberg and Google Books will likely never come to digitize them.

      I won’t dispute “death of the library system”, but it won’t be due to fully realized electronic access – it will be because some people don’t look past their own fortunate circumstances to see the benefits of the library system offered to others.

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        . . . . it will be because some people don’t look past their own fortunate circumstances to see the benefits of the [  ] system offered to others.

        . . . “fuck ’em, I got mine.”

        • DavidThi808 says:

          If library usage drops dramatically, wouldn’t it make sense to start using that money elsewhere? My point is we should adapt as the world changes. I personally like libraries, I just don’t think they’re going to see much use 10 years from now.

          • I mean, as more and more rich people move to e-books, why shouldn’t we just close down the libraries for the rest of everyone?

            Until you replace the service that a library serves, the best use of our tax dollars it so provide that service.

            • DavidThi808 says:

              We subsidize phone service for the poor. Why not the same for eBooks and provide free rentals of titles?

              • sxp151 says:

                What about middle-class kids whose parents don’t want to constantly buy new e-books for them? Are we OK with kids being actively discouraged from reading a lot? The library isn’t just for poor kids.

              • In the end, eReaders will be a near non-expense.  Not now, perhaps, but in the not too distant future, I can foresee eReaders being extremely cheap as they merge with the tablet space.

                The problem is title availability.  Many publishers already don’t like the concept of libraries; they really like the idea of digital publishing because it gives them the fig leaf of “licensing” rather than right of first sale.  And eReader manufacturers don’t want the content they licensed from the publishers to be accessible on competitors’ readers because they lose the advantage of their reading device. (For example, Amazon’s Kindle Fire retails for a buck or two over the wholesale cost of its parts – they’re selling it at a loss and making it up on content.)

                So we are currently – and legally – in a world where publishers like DRM, device manufacturers like closed formats, and lending is done via a license agreement probably on a per-lend basis.  This is highly incompatible with the library concept, where a library gets a book at retail price, puts it on a shelf, and lends it out until it expires from overuse.

                This is probably a situation for Congress to remedy, and given the power of the various publishing lobbies, it isn’t likely to happen any time soon.  Until we get an open standard for eBooks and any ownership DRM associated to them, and a clear reassertion that publication content – books, movies, music, etc. – is sold and not licensed if it wishes to have Copyright protection, we will probably not have an effective replacement for libraries.  And considering how long we’ve known about this problem on the software side of the fence and had nothing done about it, I don’t expect a functional change any time soon.

      • Ralphie says:

        loans books in E-reader format.

        Any library on the Marmot system will.  The catalog is small at this point, but growing.

  5. VanDammer says:

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides an Economic News Release asking executives to report the biggest reasons for layoffs.  The data from last weeks report shows that just about 0.4 percent of layoffs in Q3 2010 were due to “Govt regs.” It dropped even further in Q1-Q2 of 2011. Compare that to almost 35% of layoffs due to business demand.

    Related WashPo report: Does government

    regulation really kill jobs? Economists say overall effect minimal.

    “Based on the available literature, there’s not much evidence that EPA regulations are causing major job losses or major job gains,” Richard Morgenstern, a former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official who now works at the nonpartisan think tank Resources for the Future, told The Washington Post.

  6. VanDammer says:

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides an Economic News Release asking executives to report the biggest reasons for layoffs.  The data from last weeks report shows that just about 0.4 percent of layoffs in Q3 2010 were due to “Govt regs.” It dropped even further in Q1-Q2 of 2011. Compare that to almost 35% of layoffs due to business demand.

    Related WashPo report:  Does government

    regulation really kill jobs? Economists say overall effect minimal.

    “Based on the available literature, there’s not much evidence that EPA regulations are causing major job losses or major job gains,” Richard Morgenstern, a former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official who now works at the nonpartisan think tank Resources for the Future, told The Washington Post.

  7. DaftPunk says:

    I know, not news.

    Aurora Democrats mostly come from hard working class families and they are not at all like the Nancy Pelosi liberal Democrats of Denver and Boulder.

    From that paper.  Is this any kind of argument?

  8. PPP (PDF) (national survey of Republican primary voters):

    Gingrich 28%

    Cain 25%

    Romney 18%

    Perry 6%

    Bachmann 5%

    Paul 5%

    ORC International for CNN (PDF) (national survey of Republican primary voters):

    Romney 24%

    Gingrich 22%

    Cain 14%

    Perry 12%

    Paul 8%

    Bachmann 6%

    Polling Company (Iowa Republican caucus voters, for private Republican clients):

    Cain 25%

    Gingrich 19%

    Romney 14%

    Bachmann 10%

    Paul 10%

    Perry 5%

  9. redstateblues says:

    Sen. Tom Coburn (Socialist, Oklahoma)

    “The income of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans has risen dramatically over the last decade. Yet, the federal government lavishes these millionaires with billions of dollars in giveaways and tax breaks,” he wrote, referring to the growing income gap recently documented in stark fashion by the Congressional Budget Office.

    “The government’s social safety net, which has long existed to catch those who are down and help them get back up, is now being used as a hammock by some millionaires, some who are paying less taxes than average middle class families,” Coburn contended.

    • $100 billion – amount given back to the rich via the capital gains tax rate.  (Assuming the capital gains rate of 15% and top marginal rate of 35%)

      Still, it’s shocking to hear Coburn – not generally known as a moderate – talk in such populist, ‘99%’ terms.

  10. DavidThi808 says:

    Sacramento State psychology professor won’t teach without snacks

    Sacramento State professor George Parrott walked out of his Psychology 101 lab class Thursday morning because his students didn’t bring any snacks.

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