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Obvious results

More than 3,000 children's books were published in this country last year, according to a report in The New York Times on Sunday.

Of those, only 93 (!) were about black people.

And another 58 (!!) were about Hispanics.

That's just stunning, isn't it?

Years and years ago, women began making the case for a change in the way media of all kinds depicted the possible things girls might become other than nurses and mothers.

Their argument was solid and sound: People need narratives to help define who they are and where they can go. They need road maps.

Books, movies, plays, songs, all these help not only set the stage but also people it with actors that are role models.

Perhaps it's the case that every little black boy and little black girl will benefit so enormously from just one of those 93 books that no more are necessary.

But, I doubt it.

The two Times stories about this situation don't tell us why so few children's books are about blacks and Hispanics.

I'm sure the reasons are many. Just like the excuses.

When school is for kids

It appears an increasing number of school officials are getting serious about something that's really important.

No, not athletics or band or snow days or parental schedules.

They're getting serious about having their students ready to learn.

The New York Times reports today that more schools are looking at starting later in the day, having come to grips with research that shows teen-agers don't sleep like adults or smaller kids.

Teens are wired to stay up late and get up late.

So, it is kind of ridiculous to start school at 7:30 a.m.

And even more crazy to make teens get up at 4:30 a.m. to climb onto a bus at 5:30 to get to school by 7 or so.

Millennials surveyed

New poll results just released by Verizon Digital Media Services raise some questions.

The VDMS polled millennials, people born between 1982 and 2002, a huge cohort, about their media use.

I have read the report, and I am both confused and worried.

I'm confused because there is no mention in the results about use of things like books, magazines and radio.

I wonder if these media were simply omitted from the mix by Verizon or just never mentioned by those polled. (!)

If we take the report at face value, then schools, libraries and the country as a whole are in big trouble. That's because millennials are absolutely tied at the waist to television and laptops and smart phones.

They seem to have little time for even their families.

Maybe I'm missing something here ... but ... wow.

Tweeting feelings

It was only a matter of time before someone at Twitter began mining tweets for keywords to help us understand the Twitter-verse.

In today's official Twitter blog, they tell us what they learned when they looked at aggregated tweets to see when we are happy and when we are sad and when we are hungover.

Seems that we tweet most about sadness on a Sunday in December or a Monday in October. Tweets about happiness hover around a Tuesday in December and a Tuesday in January. And people tweet most often about being hungover on Sundays in March (St. Patrick's Day?) and Thursdays and Fridays in November (Thanksgiving?).

I see a lot of tweets about the miserable weather this winter. Wonder if that's a trend nationally.

Yet another mystery

In a given week, we probably check out several dozen CD books.

A lot of them go to people who live here but commute to Austin, I'm guessing.

Awhile back one of our volunteers was preparing to take off for a summer of travel in his motor home, and I asked him if he listened to CD books while he drove across America.

No, he said, they were too distracting, and he did not feel comfortable getting mentally lost in a book while driving such a mammoth vehicle.

At the time, I correlated that thought to the problem presented by cell-phone use while driving. Your attention is almost completely drawn to the act of communicating on a cell phone, so you don't pay attention to where you're going.

But, I'm not so sure the correlation works out because so many people do listen to CD books and don't seem to have a problem.

Perhaps there are two (maybe more) kinds of people -- those who can drive and listen to a CD book and those who can't. I do think, though, that when it comes to using a cell phone while driving there is one kind of people -- those who cannot do both at the same time successfully.