Saturday Assorted Links

1. Alison Byrnes’s dream vacation. Maybe yours too?

2. Kate Wynja, high school golfer of the year.

“. . . it broke my heart for the team.”

3. Restaurants of the future. Count me as pro simplification.

4A. Female members of congress by party affiliation.

4B. The future of the Democratic Party. Maybe.

5. Republicans’ latest tax con.

6. The future of cycling.

The 5 Most Important Things You’ll Read All Week

1) Have you noticed? Increasingly, bloggers are inserting numbers into post titles to increase readership and improve search engine rankings. “5” has replaced “3” for most popular number. “17” is trendy too. I don’t know why numbers increase readership and improve search engine rankings. I find it disingenuous at best and insulting at worst. As if all anyone can process anymore is a list. My one-time use of it here is sarcasm. I should start a movement. . . force a number into your title and we’ll refuse to read what follows. Who is in?

2) Imagine a world in which everyone reads and discusses books with people different than them. My favorite story from last week.

3) The Seattle Mariners are the best team in baseball when it comes to this.

4) Is this a trend. . . dad’s helping grown daughters who aren’t necessarily interested in their help? I’ve never offered unsolicited advice to my daughters. . . that’s an additional serving of sarcasm. One of my daughters’ friends laughed at her dad for sending her an article on “How to save and invest money”. Another “couldn’t believe” her dad mailed her bicycle to her at college, then assembled it during a visit. The “extremely large” bike box was difficult and embarrassing to pick up at the mail room. The two wheeler was used one or two times during the school year. This isn’t limited to dad’s and daughters. Parents often presume their young adult children want to save money, invest wisely, prepare healthy meals, bicycle, etc., etc. Maybe I should start a movement where parents let their young adult children know they’re interested in sharing different “lessons learned” if and when they’re interested. And then we’ll sit back and wait for our young adult children to ask us for help.

5) I’m filing this under “Sometimes I Amaze Myself”. I’ve done it again, I’ve come up with a brilliant idea. This one will enable me to extend my triathlon career for many more years. Based upon my swimming, cycling, and running training log, I have a very good feel for how fast I can swim 1500 or 1900 meters, how fast I can ride 40k or 56 miles, and how fast I can run 10k or 13.1 miles. That means all I have to do is guess how bad my transitions would likely be, and presto, I can spend a few minutes on-line on Mondays to see what place I would’ve finished had I actually shown up at that weekend’s races. This way I save tons of coin and race every weekend without swimming through seaweed or increasing my exposure to the sun. I “won” my age group at a few recent races.

 

21st Century Reading

When flying, I’m often impressed by the percentage of people reading. Mid-flight, on the return from FL, I walked up and down the center aisle. Interesting to survey people’s reading formats of choice. Like fish that don’t notice the water (Margaret Mead), it’s easy to forget we’re living in the midst of an Information Revolution that will alter nearly every aspect of our lives.

Among the readers, old school hard copy books held a slight advantage over Kindle and Nook-based electronic books. I only saw one other iPadder.

The transformation to reading electronic books will probably take a decade. Sometime relatively soon I’ll tell young people, “When I used to fly, the airlines provided every passenger warm meals on trays.” And “Before and after those meals, we read hard copy books, some that weighed a couple of pounds each.”

I’m a periodical junkie, so to this point, I’ve been using the Pad to read newspapers, magazines, and blogs. Yesterday, I purchased and began reading my first electronic book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life, by Francine Jay.

Today, while reading The Joy of Less through the Kindle app, I came upon an underlined sentence which I of course tapped. Up popped this message, “Five readers highlighted this passage.” Had you been in the Toyota dealership at the time, you would have seen a look on my face that was equal parts shock and horror.

Stunned and creeped out by biblio big brother.

I could not care less about the passages other readers highlighted. A cardiac arrest was averted by the remainder of the message which said I could adjust the settings so that I couldn’t see others’ recommended highlights and also so that my own annotations would not be factored into the recommendations.

Done and done.

I suppose I should go along to get along with respect to the increasing popularity of social networking technologies, but for me, reading is intensely personal. My choice of material, my pace, my interpretations and internal dialogue. Don’t tell, but I sometimes get irked when the galpal reads outloud from the paper.

Are there really readers who want help figuring out what parts of a book are most noteworthy? Or is this feature a technological point of diminishing returns? Just because we have the technology to do something doesn’t mean it adds value. But again, since readers are free to decide whether to opt in, (awful cliche alert) it’s all good.

A lot has been written lately about the impact of electronic readers and the changing nature of book publishing. Traditional book publishers are understandably nervous. The digitization of music provides some clues as to what is likely to happen, like ever shrinking profit margins and the option of purchasing portions of books, but it’s still challenging to accurately extrapolate and identify clear winners and losers.

I’m optimistic that distinctive, clear, creative, insightful, engaging writing will still be rewarded with large, appreciative audiences.

What I’m Reading

The WSJ recently reviewed the top economics blogs and one I read regularly, Marginal Revolution, by Tyler Cowen, was highlighted. The one critique of MR was that Cowen’s sporadic “What I’m Reading” posts make people feel inferior because he’s always reading about 20 different books stretching across about 10 different fields, many quite esoteric. Cowen is a unique dude, incredibly well read, a prolific writter (he blogs 3-5x a day and writes nonstop essays and books), and a connoisseur of ethnic cuisine among other things. 

I’m always reading email, student work, and lots of print and electronic periodicals. On top of that, I have book reading periods, one of which I’m in right now. So with no Cowen-like pretense, here’s what I’m reading.

Nancy Pearl, on Seattle’s NPR station, KUOW, turned me on to “the best teen novel” she had ever read, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. I purchased it for my soon to be 14 and 17 year olds. I’m reading it before wrapping it and to say I’m wrapped up in it is an understatement. You know how we all have things we wish were different about ourselves, I wish I made more time for fiction. I really believe in the power of fiction, I just don’t make time to drink from the well often enough. Synopsis. . . elite boarding school, 10th grade girl, 12th grade boyfriend, secret all male society, feminist pushback, timely, and smartly written. 

I’m also reading The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner. The subtitle hints at the thesis: Why even our best schools don’t teach the new survival skills our children need-and what we can do about it. Overlaps almost directly with my primary professional interests so I’m enjoying it. Wish I wrote it first.

Last, but not least, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. I heard the author, John Gottman, on NPR one night and thought he was the clearest and most interesting and insightful speaker on marriage I had heard. When I told the wife that she ran out and got a few of his books. Should I take that as a bad sign? I negotiated down to taking turns reading alternate chapters of “Seven Principles”. Funny thing, she hammered out chapter one and then we stalled. Yesterday she told me she has to return it to the library soon, a not so subtle hint, but first I have to wrap up The Disreputable History. How can I concentrate on my marriage before knowing how things turn out for Frankie, Matthew, and the other Loyal Basset Hounds?