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Librarian Blog

Butting out

I'm full of excellent advice on, among many other things, how to raise children.
Just ask me.
Go ahead and ask -- because you'll be the only person to have done so in my long tenure as a parent and grandparent. No child of mine or anyone else has ever asked me so much as a question about how to dispose of a dirty diaper, much less how to stop babies from playing all night and sleeping all day. And that's completely in spite of the fact that I do know these things.
Like your children and granchildren, mine know everything. Or they can afford to hire someone not related to me to tell them what to do.
I don't resent all this. Maybe they know that my advice at this stage in my life would be for them to relax and let their kids be kids, for the most part.
That's not a very satisfying answer to a quesion about how to get a kid to get along in kindergarten.
Although, I have learned recently that it is very sound advice, indeed. Alison Gopnik has written a book about letting kids be kids. It's called "The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children." (Whew)
I read a review of the book in Sunday's New York Times.
I would buy the book, but won't.
Why should I? I could get better educated on my philosophy and still nobody would care.

Writerly art

More thoughts on the death of handwriting.
A couple of sessions ago, I wrote a brief obituary for the art or necessity of handwriting, particularly cursive. Research shows it is on the way out in classrooms all across the country, to be replace by instruction on typing, I guess.
Now comes Anne Trubeck, a professor at Oberlin, who takes a booklength rope to hang cursive until it is dead, dead, dead. Or so she thinks. Jessica K. Jenkins thinks not, in a book review published Sunday in The New York Times book section.
Jenkins' main argument is that cursive instruction or handwriting may be going away but shouldn't because brain studies show a positive link between writing by hand and accumulation of information and knowledge and because kids ought to write pretty.
Those may be unfair summarizations of what she writes, but they are close to her arguments.
The brain studies, if they rely on MRIs, may be unreliable. An article in the very same New York Times suggests that MRI brain studies don't get the results they intend for a variety of reasons. So, the jury seems to be out on that.
As for the artsy argument, it sounds pretty esoteric, unpersuasive -- just as are most arguments, alas, that suggest art has a value in the course of human existence, even the one posited by Keats: Truth is beauty, beauty truth. I mean, who cares about either these days unless one can make money off it.
Where does this leave us? Probably in the hands of people who don't get or don't care about the nuances of destroying cursive and handwriting but want to soldier on for the good of tomorrow's technological demands. One need not be a Luddite to see the folly in that.

Does cursive matter?

Well, does Latin?
Not any more, at least in mainstream education, even at the higher levels.
So, is the argument over whether cursive matters similar to an argument that was probably made 100 years go Latin still mattered?
Seems to me like it is.
The New York Times had another op-ed piece Sunday about the debate over the demise of cursive in elementary schools.
I think it's too late to debate. Pressure across the technological universe has built so overwhelmingly against cursive that there's no going back.
Et factum est ita.


One of our volunteers sells a lot of books on Amazon. She's very professional about what she does. And she offered recently to sell the book about the May 23, 2015, flood at Amazon just to see if there was any interest out there.
I'm happy to say that the first flood book she listed has now sold. Others, of course, are available.
Be aware, though, that there are two selling intiatives under way at Amazon. The one I'm talking about sells the book for $26.95. The other is trying to sell the book for $45. The lower figure is the best figure because you can buy the book from us for $20. We don't mail oiut copies. If we did, it would probably cost us close to $6.95 to do so. Obviously, someone is making a lot of money off the sale of a book that costs $20 for $45.
I'm not saying you shouldn't buy that $45 version. I'm just saying there is a much cheaper and more realistic option.
Or ...
You can come to Market Day next Saturday in Wimberley, and buy the book in person for a flat $20. I'll be there selling and signing the book.
So, stop by!

Not ranked

The United States may have ended the Olympic Games in Rio with the most medals won by any nation -- by far -- but ...
In other rankings, the U.S. may not set the standard.
For example: The Economist Intelligence Unit has just released its list of the most liveable cities in the world. The list is based on 30 factors that the Unit has tracked over time.
The most liveable city turns out to be Melbourne, Australia. Coming in second is Vienna, Austria. The next three are in Canada.
In the Top 10, three of the cities are in Australia, three are in Canada, one is in Germany, one in Austria, one in New Zealand and one in Finland.
Altogether, the most liveable cities are mid-sized and are in wealthier countries, according to The Economist.
I'm not at all surprised that American cities are not at the top of the list. Most of them are too crowded, poorly laid out, hard to get around in and downright ugly (think "Houston").
Not that these kinds of rankings will make much difference in where people decide to live. They are mainly going to follow jobs. Which is why Houston is so big and Austin so popular, even though not particularly liveable.
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