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Gaming the systerm

The results of this experiment seem intuitive, if you know anything about boys.
The test was conducted in a small set of third-grade classrooms in France.
Only a handful of boys and girls were involved. They were asked to read a passage and underline the names of animals. When the kids were told that the test was a reading assessment, the boys did worse than the girls. When the kids were told it was a contest or game, the boys did better than the girls.
The conclusion: Boys beat girls at reading -- if the exercise is called a game.
I'm not surprised. Boys, from the time they are little bitty, are challenged to this or that competition. They learn early on to play the game and try to win.
That seems to be true not just in America, but in France, as well. And maybe that's just a universal situation.
I don't know, but I do know that this competitive spirit serves boys either well or ill, depending on  how you see them in the workplace, marriage and retirement.

A whirlwind flop

The New Day wasn't born dead. Just almost.
It was a new daily newspaper launched in Great Britain. It was available in print only. It launched 10 weeks ago. It died this week.
Wow.
Lots of other newspapers are dying. They're just taking a lot longer.
Why?
For the same reason The New Day wasn't destined to live beyond a couple of months: Nobody gets their news that way anymore. Well, some do, but fewer and fewer, and they are grayer and grayer and, thus, less and less likely to buy products that appear in the ads that pay the bills for newspaper publishers.
The American-Statesman is clearly sputtering, for example. Only a desperate group of Texas newsies would quit covering Friday Night Football and Saturday Night Football to save money. Alas, there went the A-S, following The New Day, only with a publishing empire that can't imagine just going quietly into that good night.
There will be no New Day for print newspapers.
The New Day stated the obvious.

Heroes vs. Action Heroes

Have SuperHero action movies killed the comic spirit that spawned them in the first place?
Yes, according to the writer of a piece on the subject in a weekend edition of The New York Times.
The movie versions are chliches, trite embodiments of the same super powers over and over again, all designed to make money not, well, cultural significance.
Maybe action comics from the '50s and '60s were more authentic, more purely incandescent than today's movie of a similar genre. Maybe not. Ask my mother and father. (Only you can't; they died long ago.)
They were not impressed with my all-too-abiding interest in Superman and Batman, et al. They wanted me reading Jack London and the Hardy Boys.
The issue was not action heroes. The issue was the medium: the comic book.
I paid them no nevermind.
Just like I pay no nevermind to reviewers of today who think the Super World is going to heck in a handbasket because of the movies.
Probably not.

A truly great book if ...

My son and daughter-in-law had their first and probably only child last July, and for the first many months they didn't expect him to sleep through the night.
Then, a few months ago, they wondered if they would ever again get a full night's rest themselves. You know how it goes: up and down, up and down.
About that time, I ran across a book called "The Rabbit Who Wants to Go to Sleep," and I looked at it and read it and thought, Wow, what a great idea for a book. I bought it and gave it to them.
I guess it didn't do much good because a couple of weeks ago, they actually bought the services of a professional child counselor to tell them how to get the boy to sleep through the night. (They don't ask their grandparents because, well, we only raised seven children between us, and most of them learned to sleep through the night before they were 10 months of age.)
Mark O'Connell, who writes for The New York Times Sunday magazine, is not quite so stubborn. He got the book for his child, and, voila!, it worked.
I think it will work for your child, too.
It will have you nodding off right with them at bedtime.
 

They're still reading

Forecasts about the death of books are pretty much just wrong.
The Association of American Publishers just released data from last year. Sales of books for consumers were up about 1 percent in dollar volume. Overall, though, revenue was down about 3 percent.
Ebook sales were down a lot in children and young adult categories. Growth continued in audiobooks.
Paperback sales were strong.
Here at the library, we see fewer and fewer people who want to learn to download ebooks or audiobooks. Maybe that process has gotten easier or people are more adept at trying those tasks by themselves.
Still, it looks as if the doomsayers are nowhere near right. Yet.
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