Tuesday, March 30, 2010

If Memory Serves… (eBooks vs. Physical Books)

This is just another thought about both physical books and eBooks & their respective benefits.

One benefit of actual books is that you’re less likely to forget you have a physical book that’s on your shelf, where you can see it, than something you can’t see on a device or computer. Perhaps, if you have a Mac or Windows 7 PC, which offer ‘sticky-notes’ for your desktop, you are more likely to forget about books you’ve bought in electronic format.

Personally, I use the ‘sticky-notes’ to keep track of eBooks I still have to read & review. It’s true that I would probably forget about them if I didn’t do this. Because I receive many physical books to review from publishers (both fiction and non-fiction), it’s easy to forget about the books I’ve bought for my Sony Reader.

For example, one of my favourite authors is John Sandford, who, for inexplicable reasons, isn't well promoted in the UK. For this reason, I always make a point of buying his latest novels as soon as possible, which frequently means in eBook format: I have his latest 2 Virgil Flowers novels (Heat Lightning & Rough Country), but only in ebook format. I meant to read and review them close to when they were released, but I keep forgetting I have them, as all I see when I look at my shelves are the physical books that I buy or am sent..

It's very much a case of out of sight, out of mind.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Someone needs to read more…

In an article by Michelle Goldberg, House Minority Leader John Boehner said, in response to the passage of the Healthcare bill,

“Today we stand here amidst the wreckage of what was once the respect and honor that this House was held in by our fellow citizens… We have failed to listen to America.”

Ok, regardless of which side you are on in this debate, this is clearly ridiculous. The House of Representatives has consistently received terrible approval ratings! Let’s just take this Healthcare debate, and a CBS poll shows that only 32% of respondents approved of Democrats’ handling of the issue. Before Republicans get all gleeful, the same poll showed a dismal 25% approving of the GOP (this might be because they failed to offer any proper, adult response).

As for general approval ratings, take a look at this graph:

CongressApprovalRating Source: Gallup

I don’t have the time (at the moment) to check out what caused the spikes in approval (2002’s 84% must have something to do with 9/11, beginning or Afghanistan campaign or something like that – anyone know?), but it’s pretty clear that Congress hasn’t exactly been vastly popular. This does beg the question: how to Congressmen/-women keep getting re-elected? Sure, there’s plenty of gerrymandering, but if approval of these people’s handling of their jobs is so low, why aren’t they kicked out?

To return to the Healthcare debate, let’s take a look at Gallup’s latest polling data on who supports the latest bill:

20100324-HealthcareBacking Source: Gallup

I imagine the slight tilting against for those who have Medicare coverage will have something to do with a belief that this new bill will reduce their Medicare allowances. Or they’re some of the few who want the government to keep their hands out of their… uh, government-provided medical care… (See below)

govtoutofmedicare_1 Source

And this t-shirt design says it all:

MEDICARE350x338 Source

It’s interesting that the bulk of the support seems to come from not only the poor, but also the rich – take a look at the +3 margin for those earning $90k+. That’s something I wouldn’t have expected. Although, one final comment from the Gallup article does not seem to add up with the slight leaning towards yes for the wealthier bracket:

“In a related finding, 73% of nonwhites (disproportionally Democratic in their party identification) say the bill's passage was a good thing, compared with 40% of whites (who lean Republican). The average income of nonwhites is also lower than that of whites, which likely contributes to their higher support for the healthcare vote.”

I’m still sure that, when the bill gets enacted, and people start to see the benefits, it will become another protected provision. After the naysayers start to get cheaper healthcare, or are able to get healthcare, then maybe things will settle down. Who really knows. I only know one person who’s actually read the bill (he’s Republican-leaning), yet he still sees it as some tyrannical provision that will spell the end of America. I shall have to go read it, and report back.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Reading beyond the (Washington) post…

Got a link to a post on one of Washington Post’s blogs, about Sarah Palin’s tale of being taken to Canada for healthcare as a child, which was interesting, illustrating another peculiar incident of selective recall from Sarah Palin (though it’s not clear in which instance the recall is incorrect). What was most interesting, however, was the string of comments that came attached to it. The level of debate was disappointing to say the least. Beyond the occasional “pithy” comment about Palin, the comment string descended oh-so quickly into a conservative-he-said, liberal-he-said bitch-fight. Some of the comments are moronic in the extreme – clich├ęd misunderstandings of what liberals think/want, idiotic and patronising misunderstandings of what conservatives think/want… This on supposedly one of the US’s best, more intelligent newspapers? Really? So very disappointing.

One particularly frequent offender goes by the internet handle “idesign”, who randomly posted the following comment:

“Sarah Palin lives rent free in the heads of deranged liberals...LOL”

Quite beyond understanding what this means, it’s the “LOL” that really made this stick out.

Not to be outdone, a “liberal”, also known as “sasquatchbigfoot”, had this to say:

“I think you need to get on your knees, open your mouth wide and grab the HughGNutts.”

Naturally, “idesign” responds,

“Another intelligent post from a deranged liberal. LOL”

Again with the “LOL”… It totally destroys any impact his correct observation of a lame comment might have (not that we required “idesign” to point it out to us). This was met with another unintelligent comment from “sasquathbigfoot”, which really doesn’t make any argument other than: People who comment on US politics articles online are, by and large, People With Too Much Time on Their Hands…

Disappointment all around, then. To both liberals and conservatives on the internet: you need to stop.