Come visit my blog

After quite a bit of manual twiddling I was able to get all my hits by country for this blog versus a list of the country domains now active in the Internet. Slightly less than half of those domains have visited here.

So, folks from Afghanistan, Åland, American Samoa, Andorra, Angola, Anguilla, Antarctica, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Ascension Island, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Comoros, Cook Islands, Côte d’Ivoire, Curaçao, Czechoslovakia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Falkland Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Guiana, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Gabon, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guernsey, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Honduras, Iran, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Kiribati, Kurdistan, Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritania, Mayotte, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Pitcairn Islands, Qatar, Republic of the Congo, Réunion, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, Samoa, San Marino, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sint Maarten, Solomon Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, South Sudan, Soviet Union, Suriname, Svalbardand, Swaziland, Tajikistan, The Gambia, Togo, Tokelau, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Wallis and Futuna, Yemen, Zambia

Come visit! I wonder how many of these places actually have web surfer registered to their domain, clearly some of countries are big enough it would be likely. Maybe this tells me what I should be talking about to attract some more users.

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You can’t fool Mother Nature

There used to be some product, margarine, IIRC, that had my title as their catchline in their commercials. So I’m reading an article about the severe mess in South Carolina, No, not the rains, but the absurd state of dam safety, no flood warning systems, and uncontrolled building in flood zones. Now I sympathize with the ordinary people in South Carolina about the disaster that has befallen them. But the wakeup call has to also impact their head-in-the-sand politics.

You see, nature doesn’t care about politics. It doesn’t even care about human beings. It just is what it is. Living in the fact-free world of climate change denial doesn’t have an iota of effect of rain. Deniers may stop all progress in the political system but the rain just keeps on falling. And now profits for the Kochs are actually damaging real human beings, so maybe reality will finally begin to balance ideology. But being it’s South Carolina, a state whose legislature tried to ban any discussion of sea level rise or flooding, maybe not. Awh, they’ll just go to the evil big government in Washington and get the people from the other 49 states to pay for their neglected infrastructure.

Now wait a minute you say – this is a natural disaster and everyone should have sympathy for the people of South Carolina. But here’s the thing, according to this article (from a Carolina paper, not the evil leftie media):

South Carolina has for years had one of the nation’s weakest dam safety programs, consistently ranking near the bottom of rankings in federal and state government reports.

In 2013, the state spent less than $200,000 on its dam safety program, employing a handful of people devoted specifically to inspecting and regulating the structures. That’s roughly the same amount the state spent on the program in 2010, when a national report rated South Carolina 45th nationally in financial resources committed to dam safety.

and just to add fuel to the fire:

All told, South Carolina has 2,300 dams, most of them privately owned and made of earth.

So while South Carolina argued about continuing to fly the Confederate Flag, symbol of slavery, meanwhile they almost totally ignored climate and then flooding and then dams. I’m sure this ridiculously low level of spending was justified by a Repug legislature as controlling spending of big government so they could give tax cuts to the rich.

South Carolina effectively has followed another Repug mantra and that is privatized most of their dams, with rare inspections, and no warning systems for dam breaches. Brilliant, guys, head-in-the-sand: just deny that climate exists or that public works are needed and it will all go away.

It may be a natural disaster, undoubtedly exacerbated by the, of course, liberal conspiracy known as climate change, but it is a manmade political disaster that the dam situation is abysmal and that real people died and their homes flooded over an irresponsible dogma of small government.

I hope the people whose lives have been so disrupted manage to ask a few questions about why this was allowed to happen. Unfortunately, most likely, given it’s South Carolina, they’ll blame Washington (while simultaneously expecting huge funding from Washington, and Obama, of course) and many will claim this is their sky-man’s wrath over SSM. Fine, deal with real problems with political talking points.

But you can’t fool Mother Nature.

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Lindsey Graham had to check his talking points

Despite the reboot of this blog to a lighter side I’m not totally going to avoid a little political snark, especially when it’s more amusing than disgusting as most news is these days. I learned from this article that when asked about his vote for Hurricane Sandy relief, why he voted against it while naturally recommending aid for his home state. Apparently he either couldn’t remember how he voted (which is sad by itself) or he evaded the question by saying he couldn’t remember (more likely, not quick on his feet as thinker, which is generally characteristic of him – remember Lindsey Graham was the attack dog in the Clinton impeachment).

So he got back to his staff and got his talking points written up and then posted his response, starting with the usual:

I really didn’t quite understand his question,

Really, Lindsey, CNN asks you why you voted against aid for New Jersey and that’s such an ambiguous question you couldn’t think of answer!

Of course the focus-group tested and spin-doctored answer went on about how the Sandy appropriation was all pork (despite a fellow Republican, Chris Christie asking for it, of course Lindsey could have pointed out how Christie is a crook, but declined that spin). Then he goes off on denouncing Amtrak (a favorite Repug whipping boy) and of course that the Repugs had their alternative bill which the big government Congress didn’t adopt.

Spin, spin, spin – pure talking point nonsense. And purest hypocrisy!

And of course he ends with:

When I put together a package, if one is needed, it will be detailed for this event. It won’t have anything to do with other needs in South Carolina, and I will fight like a tiger to make sure somebody doesn’t use our tragedy for their advantage. You’ll see how it should be done.

More like a feisty and bad-tempered mouse after spewing so much outrage about non-events like Benghazi and bombing Iran, but I digress:

Oh, so I’m supposed to pay taxes to have money go exclusively to South Carolina with no other plausible benefit to the nation as a whole. I’m sure all those rich people with megahomes, in gated communities (that I’ve personally seen, although only from a distance as I was riffraff and locked out), along the South Carolina coast will be glad to hear they get all the money to rebuild even bigger mansions just in a flood zone for the next disaster – a new way of getting remodeling done to your mansion on someone else’s nickel.

Thanks, Lindsey, your second answer was worse than your first one. You should have quit while you were ahead (merely ignorant) instead of digging a deeper hole.

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Hurrah for Jerry Brown!

News just in – Jerry Brown signed the assisted suicide law in California. It surprised a lot of people it even passed through the legislature (as did the pro-vax law, how come California can be sane when the rest of the country is nuts). But getting a staunch Catholic, even a former Jesuit seminarian to sign the bill is astonishing and total credit to his integrity.

I have no doubt Jerry Brown is a thoughtful and religious man. But unlike Kim Davis he put his job as governor of a large state ahead of personal religious beliefs and did what the majority of the people wanted. What a breath of fresh air! A person can have religious belief (and religious “freedom” as Jerry admits he considered the religious POV in his deliberations to sign or not) and still represent the people of his state. His personal views are second to his constitutional duty and so he does, exactly as the U.S. founders intended, put his oath to the people ahead of a personal view he might have tried to impose on others.

Now I’ve written about assisted suicide before, what I project will be the new frontier (and battle-line). Like SSM I expect it to win, but this time the money guys and the anti-tax guys will be cheering from the sidelines (don’t want to spend their money treating old folks). But once again the religinuts will parade their (very assorted and contradictory) beliefs as a requirement to force upon the rest of us, But I think this wagon is going to roll. Of course the rock-ribbed theocratic (and too poor to pay for us elders) states will resist, but this is going to be legal in most of American soon. And just in time.

Not anticipating my own death, quite yet, I recently instead got to deal with a family member. After considerable deliberation and the longest talk I’ve ever had with a doctor I (and as the legally responsibly person, and I, is correct, just me) placed the family member under hospice care (not a place I quickly learned, but a service that can be performed in many places). That’s a toughie – as much as it might seem the right thing to do (plus the family member’s choice) it’s still hard. And I managed to get that decision freely without some religinut telling me I’m committing their definition of mortal sin.

And you know what, good old Sarah Palin’s “death panels” – that scared enough Democrats that Obama had to remove it, simply a provision that a doctor can bill their services to Medicare (note, NOT Obamacare) for consultation to family members about end-of-life issues. My family member’s doc (name withheld to protect the innocent) jokingly told me it was irrelevant, she’d just put a different code on the Medicare billing and it was the stupidest thing around about the medical system and Medicare and one almost every doctor ignores. What an absurdity, some stupid bubblehead politician (and hardly even that) makes noise and millions of people who face a very real and serious decision are affected by campaign propaganda. What about families, Sarah, shouldn’t this be up to them instead of big government. I assume probably most of the Repugs ignore all this too, but oh the outrage just to make a stink and really try to kill medical care because they’re to cheap to pay for it.

So why can’t a single one of the Repugs (esp. The Donald, as he’s certainly no bible-thumper) stand up against this crowd like the courageous Jerry Brown did.

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Comments on Self-help article of the day

Since the news is so universally depressing these days I’ve abandoned looking at it as a source of inspiration for my return to regular blogging. So I now look for some fluff pieces and see if I can poke a little fun at them. As I read other people’s blogs and they’re out doing all these fun things I can only envy them that they actually have something they’re doing to talk about. I’m not getting much inspiration from my (lack of) activities so I’m reduced to commenting about what others say.

So, in that light, I found a good starting article, 5 Ways Your Body Actually Improves With Age. Since I’m definitely in that “age” category I thought I’d take a look. The sub-title of the post is even more fun, as a pessimistic, to poke at: It’s not all downhill after 50. Oh good, so it’s mostly downhill but not entirely, or as the articles says:

It’s easy to buy into the myth that everything really is headed downhill

Well the easy to buy into part is clear enough but myth is harder sell (am I just imagining my body is falling apart?). But lists are always great to poke at so I’ll just crunch through the list with my comments.

1. You might have fewer migraines.

Not a problem, never had any. But good news for the people who do, if this is true. Of course migraines are now going to be replaced by chronic joint pain, but after all the article is saying it’s not all downhill, so this is something to cheer about.

2. You can probably go longer between shampoos. 

The article makes the claim this is due to shrinkage of oil glands, fine assuming it’s true. When I saw the headline my instant reaction was, sure, less hair, less need to wash. I’m getting close to where it’s how dirty my scalp gets, not any hair covering it, that determines my need for shampoos. But score one for the article, perhaps though not for its reason.

3. You’ll have fewer colds. 

Now this is interesting, basically claiming you acquire immunity over the years. True, but cold and flu virus are very sneaky at constantly mutating so I’d have to see some science to demonstrate mre immunity. And what about a common counter-claim that overall activity of the immune system decreases with age (or in my case with increasing neutropenia). Well, haven’t had too many colds lately (but then I rarely did when younger) so maybe true.

OTOH, maybe it’s just not being around a lot of people at work or worse around your kids who are walking carriers of infectious diseases. So again maybe true by default. My mother, like many people, believes that cold (low temperature) brings on colds (an infection). Perhaps, cold weather may dry out nasal passages and make them more susceptible to the virus, but most medical opinion of this is simply that cold locks us indoors with lots of recycled air from heating systems and puts us in closer proximity to infection carriers. So maybe in that line the best reason you’ll get less colds is just that, less exposure. OTOH, more than likely you’ll also spend more time in doctors’ offices and even hospitals, filled with other sick people, even better than pre-school as an infection transmission vector. So let’s call this one a tossup.

4. Your teeth aren’t as sensitive. 

For me this is true but for a simpler reason, most of my teeth (still got some) are made of synthetic materials mostly on top of root canals. Yep, less sensitive. You could probably achieve this method of desensitizing your teeth, at a younger age, but just a batch of the Hollywood smile enhancing time in a dental office.

And finally

 5. You’ll feel happier. 

Tough call on this one, hasn’t happened for me yet, but maybe I’m just not old enough yet as per this quote from the article:

In fact, the poll showed that 85-year-olds reported greater happiness than they did at age 18. Just goes to show, there’s still plenty to look forward to.

Oh good, only 15 more years to go before I get this benefit. It’s not going to help much, though, that global warming will be much worse and the Repugs will probably have finally killed Social Security and Medicare leaving the 85YO’s out the cold, where maybe they’d hope they’d get bad flu and die instead of the suffering being inflicted upon them so the Kochs can have more money. Oh bad boy, this wasn’t supposed to be about our broken politics, so let’s stick with the fluff.

So I just recently had to deal with my 100YO mother requiring a care facility, which she hates. She tried to avoid it and did so successfully for a while, but after numerous falls and now some chronic illness there really is no choice. In dealing with her (far more upbeat than me, somehow I never inherited that part from her) I watched over the years how her life steadily was reduced, activities she enjoyed in the past no longer possible (sorry optimists, losing vision, hearing and mobility kinda takes away doing marathons). But then simple things somehow got better. After her teeth were gone and she ended up eating the equivalent of baby food she’d smile and say how wonderful the glop was that would probably gag me. Even in the nursing home where she now has to be fed a special diet (really unappealing) she still raves about the food. Good for her! Finding any joy she can is great.

So maybe what age really means is coming to terms with reduced expectations. Remember all those things you were going to do? The time has passed for most of them, so you either did them or you didn’t, but now you’re out of second chances. So your choices and options shrink. Perhaps for a while you’re gloomy about that loss, but then perhaps also learn to value, more, the ones you’ve got left. Maybe a day with only mild pain is a good day.

In my view, watching both my parents (and now seeing myself) aging sucks. Sure it can be better or worse though based on how you can handle it. Today’s elders have it fairly good, the first generation (and probably the last) to have society protecting them with some safety nets. And at least those of my parents’ generation had the hardship of the Depression to teach them to be prudent about planning for old age, plus not too many the Wall Street 2008 style scams to destroy their retirement. But it’s going to be tougher in the future, at least in the regressive U.S., so you’d better plan for it.

Now I face a dilemma. Due to my weight control kick (ample number of old posts here about that) I’m actually, in a few ways, in my best fitness shape ever. Sure when I rowed crew at 20 I was more athletic than today, or even doing a triathlon at 40 my getting-older body could achieve a pace I can’t do today. But I’m lucky, thus far avoiding joint degradation and emphasis on exercise to control weight has allowed me to actually pass my old distance records on walking.

But I know this is going to last much longer, time (and possibly the exercise itself) takes its toll. If I’m not at my peak for walking distance then I’m close and it will be all downhill soon enough. So I want to do a long walk, caught up in the romance of something like the Camino de Santiago, but probably something different than that. Unfortunately I’ll have to do it completely alone and with any form of support and that’s how to manage. Fortunately if I scrimp somewhere else I can afford it. So my age clock is ticking, do it or forever lose the chance and have thre regret I didn’t.

I was generally a bit too conservative (personally, not politically) to do some of the wild, footloose-and-fancy-free things of my generation. Yep, missed out a bit, but I also DID DO things a lot of other people didn’t do. So I don’t have a lot of regrets of missed opportunities. And I think bucket lists are silly, it’s not going to matter when I lay dying how many countries I visited.

But here’s an interesting thing I’ve learned. When you do something for the last time you won’t know it’s the last time. I’ll never go backpacking again and I sure didn’t realize that when I went backpacking for what turned out to be the last time.

So I’ll add a sixth item:

6. Carpe diem. (seize the day). Aging will teach you that you don’t know when something is over. Health issues, financial distress, life’s other curveballs can strike you at any time. If you want to do something, do it now because if you put it off to a better time you may have lost your chance.

So I guess I’d better talk that walk, I’m not getting any younger.

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Hard to find something light-hearted

In the tone of my revitalized blogging I now scan news for some subject as grist for a light-hearted post, hard to come by today. I know the late night comedians, esp. the late great Jon Stewart have their staff comb through the dismal new stories to find one that is particularly amiable for jokes. Well, they manage, but I’m finding it tough.

So let’s start with a few breaking stories.

Nebraska loses a football game. I chose this wording deliberately in that reading the reports you’d think a body blow was delivered to the entire state of Nebraska, driving a gut punch into its core. When I watched the last play I knew the long knives would be out today, a state full of coach wannabes all claiming they could have done it better and what a fool nice guy Riley is and, as usually, how more running and none of that evil Commie plot, passing, would have won the game. Well, actually I think they should have won too, but not just down to the infamous 3-and-7, where a high spirited QB goes for the win instead of avoiding the loss (I’ve had my share of negative comments about Armstrong but when it comes the guts and leadership and drive to win he’s shown this season, he’s won me over – go Tommy and don’t let the armchair QBs crush you). And though I’ve always believed in a more aggressive offense than the outdated ground-and-pound of yesteryear, yep, they did pass too much, as the conditions were lousy (maybe Riley can be faulted for that, being too used to wet weather of Oregon and thought he was back home). But it’s hard to find anything light-hearted about this news event since it’s probably just the start of a gloomy season with the fans calling for firing Riley and bringing back Bo, at least he’d throw some temper tantrums in for comic relief.

Then there is the immediate rightwingnut outrage over SNL’s skit with Hillary. Frankly I thought it was funny. Maybe being around a great comedian (Kate McKinnon) really did loosen her up a bit. A few zingers and all in all what SNL is supposed to be about, humor. But the wingnuts immediately thought: a) SNL is just in the tank for Hillary (as opposed to just trying to get ratings for itself, which is its job), and, b) all the jokes should have been about email or Benghazi (do they actually think that would be funny?) It’s jokes, folks, lots of politicians have been on SNL and a few are funny. It’s not world-changing, the sky-is-falling, oh no, Hillary didn’t look too bad – it’s comedy. Would SNL love to have Trump for their ratings. But for a guy who is already a parody of himself, he’d be telling jokes just by doing his straight lines, but of course as the wingnuts don’t already get the joke The Donald is pulling on them I doubt they’d get SNL humor. Now putting on Carson might satisfy the righties, but everything Carson says is so absurd it’s beyond a joke, but the Repugs don’t get that either. So tough to make humor out of the absurd that many take as serious. So not much fun in this story.

Oh, I’ve got one, but only a minor tidbit. The video clip of Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Bill Maher. The best part of this was Bill’s joke about Neil’s vest, his now signature eccentricity that’s always good for a laugh – great for Neil, a serious guy who knows how to have fun. Meanwhile it’s clear there is some nervous tension there given Bill’s wacko views on medicine and probably it’s hard for Neil to not take a few cheap shots at Bill’s woo, but Neil played it straight for a few laugh and the very serious point that science makes discoveries that often seem irrelevant at the time and later end up being a major driver of the economy (or other values). Now while I love science and discovery I do think it’s a stretch that water on Mars is going to lead to the next unicorn startup, but who knows.

Oh here’s a funny one: “US lacks bubble fighting tools”. That would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Every time the financial markets spin up another obvious bubble that will inevitably crash (of course, Wall Street gets its cut on the way up, the way down, and the bailout that will follow, so why should they worry) there is the claim the bubble isn’t a bubble or even sillier you can only spot a bubble after it burst. No, too gloomy to make fun of that. The Fed dithers about a tiny interest rate increase that only affects bankers and is a tiny fraction of what interest rates should be because the banks want to continue to borrow Fed money for free (and then, it turns out, deposit said money in the Fed as “reserves” at a substantial interest rate). Imagine that – someone offers you the chance to borrow at zero and lend at 2%, sheesh, sign me up for a trillion. There has to be a catch, right. There is, these free profits to the banks are what the Fed does these days (you don’t hear the rightie free market preachers complaining about this handout to the poor, oops I meant rich) and while a 1/4% interest rate hike would do nothing to the economy (except maybe trigger consumers to grab all the no-money-down, 0% forever deals they can find and stimulate some sales), it’s a bit of drizzle on the banker’s free lunch parade. But not much funny, there.

So I’ll close on this shocker (someone actually had to do a study to figure this out!): “Ad Blockers Help You Browse Faster And Save Money”. Now that has to be the scientific discovery of the century. And I thought all those ads made selfies show up quicker and save money. This does say something about the dumbed-down education that mobile devices users have received that they need a study to prove this. Now, that’s funny.

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Pick up that Kindle! One Reason E-Books are Better Than Print Books

I previously published a post that was a response to this post.  But in this post I want to kick about just one point made in Drop That Kindle! 10 Reasons Print Books Are Better Than E-Books. The claim in that post is:

1. Print books have pages that are nice and soft to the touch. Paper makes reading physically pleasurable. Reading an e-book, on the other hand, feels like using an ATM. And after staring at a computer screen at work all day, how relaxing is it to curl up at home and stare at another screen?

The aesthetics of a physical book is the most common reason I’ve heard from ebook haters. Their point is true, but sorry, it’s still makes you look like a Luddite.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love print (actually I’ll expand that to publishing). I spent a fair amount of my life building computer systems to create print (initially typography, eventually full color pre-press systems, the first fully integrated one). In figuring out how to create a print book I learned a ton about what goes into that. Typography is a fascinating and beautiful art (but sorry, another antique technology, hot lead is way inferior, in aesthetics, to modern typesetting). Color printing is a phenomenal technology and at the moment my monochrome Kindle is a terrible device for a gorgeous cookbook (yes, a tablet is good enough but I hate the power waste making light and thus the shorter battery lifetime, but as a color publishing device, including the possibility of adding sound and video, even interactive illustrations, a tablet has it hands-down over a static, even beautiful book).

I had to good fortune to show my prepress product at Drupa, in Germany, a gigantic trade show of all the technology for printing. All sorts of things I couldn’t even imagine were on display there (and readers just see the product of all this, go watch a binding or folding or cutting machine in action, there is a treat). And color, wow, I thought 4-color printing was cool, what about 8 or even 12 colors, or using multiple types of varnishes to create “depth” in the printing. Printing is a fantastic technology that can produce artifacts electronic devices have yet to duplicate. And a great job inventing all this stuff.

But I’m going to rebut this common claim, that touching paper and smelling ink (and moldy or dusty paper) is “physically pleasurable”.

First, this is partly a romantic view. Often reading a real book means wrestling with the binding, trying to get the entire page in focus of my aging eyes, arm fatigue holding that heavy thing up, getting enough light in a dim environment. As often as not it is NOT pleasurable to hassle with a physical book.

Second, “pages that are nice and soft to the touch”, but in a binding that, not so much. My first Kindle (the first generation) slick and unfriendly plastic, but hand-feel of the electronic devices has improved a lot. Plus, guess what, I can choose among a huge variety of covers for my Kindle. Its touch is just fine, thank you very much.

Third, tell me you’ve never gotten a paper cut with a book, where’d that little detail go in your euphoria about “soft to the touch”.

I’m sorry, touching dead trees is right up there with standard shifts in cars (vs automatics, which I resisted for a very long time too) or cotton vs synthetic (sorry my biking jersey out of synthetics is a whole lot more pleasant to wear than a T-shirt). Making a souffle with a whisk is fun, but frankly I’ll take my KitchenAid. I made bread and kneading dough is pleasing, but for a long kneading time, sorry I’ll again use my KitchenAid. Handwriting a beautiful note, a great skill, sorry I prefer a keyboard where I can easily obliterate my mistakes.

People denounce technology as cold and sterile and physical objects as warm and cuddly, but: 1) that’s not always true just on the facts, and, 2) it’s often a criticism of immature technology (tell me you want to lug around the books made on a Guttenberg press when paper was thick and heavy and the ink was blurry). The early plastic Kindle was short on tactile appeal but try a new one. EBooks are very young and the progress they’ve made in a very short time is huge. And makers of ebooks are not insensitive to these aesthetic issues and have made significant strides and will continue to. So comparing a very old and mature technology (and print is just a technology, not something magical or mystical) to a rapidly evolving, but still immature technology, ducks the point of which method of getting works (and images) to your eyeballs inherently works best.

So I’ll shift gears a bit and say that I mostly think the fondness for the physical book is just an expression of nostalgia for venerable old things and a rebellion against today’s life that technology creates. Even having created lots of technology I hate seeing people with their noses buried in their phones (their right though, more power to them) or taking stupid selfies with mediocre cameras (photography was another love of mine). The hectic pace of today’s world and even unexpected consequences like terror groups using technology for abhorrent acts. Yep, technology sometimes degrades our lives, as the price for the benefits it provides us.

And reverie for the old is entirely understandable. Once visiting Smithsonian I saw marvelous mechanical devices made of beautifully finished wood and brass (and remarkably accurate), no match for a modern computer but certainly a valued artifact in its own right. My first luxury purchase in life was a Nikon F camera. I dreamed of it for years, saved almost as long to purchase, and lovingly used it in my early photography habit. I still have it, almost certainly it works (they built ’em tough) if I could find film and processing. My first digital camera, while convenient, more flexible, and affordable didn’t hold a candle to my treasured Nikon. But my latest Nikon simply blows away my first one; it takes photos I couldn’t dream of doing with my old film Nikon. But I keep my old Nikon, now as just an antique and it brings back memories of the fun I had with it, how excited I was to be able to buy it, how carefully I protected it. But I wouldn’t trade it for my new one.

Technology can degrade products or it can enhance them. Technology is automatically better, even if it is almost always more convenient (where ebooks are the clear winner), but all that means is we need to put as much aesthetics into our current digital technology as we did in the older stuff.

I think we also lament the lost arts of the publishing process, beautiful handwritten drafts replaced with word processors, carefully typesetting with sloppy but resizable and flowable print, maybe even the writing process itself, getting the lines right in the author’s mind rather than innumerable easy-to-do revisions on the word processor. Yes, lost virtues, but still possibly we gain more than we lose (and after all as the reader it’s the final product I consume, not the author’s or printer’s process).

I once bought an electric saw with every attachment known to shape wood. The few things I made were junk. My dad with his old, but lovingly cared for, manual tools, had the skill to make things my fancy high-tech tools, but with no skill in my hands or eyes, could never produce. Books are electronic medical records or business documents, they are works of art, so naturally the art of the book itself is held in high regard by readers.

But is the reading process really impeded, I mean really once you subtract nostalgia and anti-technology attitudes (and is it the technology or how it changes society that you’re complaining about) is the printed book really a superior way to read.

Well, here’s the good thing. You get to have a book if you want and I get to have an ebook (and an occasionally printed book, for those types of books where ebooks are inferior). But perhaps, this is part of it too. I constantly hear how tablets will drive PCs into extinction. And I lament that. As a programmer (and other content creator) tablets suck (although as passive readers they excel). I look at a lot of dumbed-down software that has a much larger market on phones than PCs and hope my choices don’t disappear (and given the nature of mass markets they may). Some people may have revived 33s instead of giving into CDs but the choices sure are limited (and as CDs die out to downloads, it may get worse). So perhaps these holdouts for the book are trying to protect more than they realize and that is their choice – if they love books and hate Kindles, will someday Kindles make books be some uneconomical they’ll mostly cease to be available (I suspect this will happen).

And that would be shame. But lots of things from the past have disappeared and we can mourn their passing, but, sorry folks, wake up and smell the coffee – for better or worse it’s called progress and denouncing it probably won’t stop it. So I’d suggest you adjust your thinking and learn how to embrace the Kindle you’ll own one of these days and demand that its manufacturer put as many of those features you enjoy now with books in the replacement device. Let’s not have Kindles just be cheap and convenient and just barely good enough to accomplish their purchase – let’s demand that they be great.

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