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10.29.2010

Dear World,

God provides. Don't believe me? Well . . . he does. That's all I can say.

On a strangely not unrelated note, I've been thinking about how Harry Potter, or more specifically, Hogwarts, has set the cultural stage for the successful rise and dominance of Steampunk as a legitimate and widespread aesthetic. Just stick that in your cap and chew on it. Or . . . something.

10.27.2010

Developing Healthy E-Habits

The morning is already thick with book news. It was only a matter of time before a full-fledged children's e-reading system hit the market, and it looks like today is the day. I am typing this with the sound of a creepy voice reading "Jamberry" from the NOOKKids website in the background.

I know, simple interactive e-readers have been around for kids for a while now, but none of them have been mainstream. They've been overpriced, under-quality devices with a very limited library. Now with about 12,000 titles ranging from Rick Riordan's popular series (which has been available on e-readers since the beginning) to Go, Dog. Go!, the new color-based Nook has youthful legs. Of course, unless the techno-savvy parents who are considering these devices for their children have unlimited resources, there is one very obvious concern: What parent is willing to spend $150 dollars to give a sensitive, easily damaged, touchscreen e-reader to their three year old? The last thing we want to do is teach children not to pick up their books because they might hurt them. This is why we teach them to read with board books and tough paperbacks. So, in a practical sense, how are parents going to handle this? Or will they bother at all?

I might ask why bother with this development at all, but I already know the answer. We do it because we can. That seems to be a great impetus of most modern technology. Little of it is really helpful or even essential.

People have been wondering about children's e-reading for a while. I don't know anyone in particular who has been waiting for this break-out with baited breath. None of the five-year olds I've met with have begged me to give them an update on the latest digital media for their demographic. But we've expected it. It was inevitable. And it's just like Barnes & Noble to come up with the latest feature that will add to their list of perks without ever actually setting them above the market (shall we say book lending anyone?). Color is cool, but the Nook people have a way of releasing the newest thing ahead of anyone else just to get those initial sales. I assure you, before the novelty has worn off, Kindle and perhaps even Kobo will come out with a color device that will function more smoothly and work more accessibly - all because they took a little time.

I am being generous with the e-culture, of course, because I know that more inevitably than color screens, future generations will read almost exclusively through pixelated monitors. To balk against it will be as futile and absurd as objecting over the development of the steam engine. But I will say for the record, because many of you are with me on this, that the sight of Jamberry on that screen, pausing mid-creepy-voice narrative for a capture the berries game was beyond depressing. Our children will have very quick brains, able to capture and conceptualize information at an alarming speed. That is certainly a good thing. But they will have lost the ability to ruminate, dwell, contemplate, and even be careful.

Not to mention - which is a whole separate argument - that the spread of technology like this only serves to further broaden the gap between developing nations and our own. But as I said, that is a whole other argument - and certainly not one which is intended to suggest halting the flow of progress so that our sister nations can catch up with us.

Oh, the changing world. Who can keep up with it?

YA Shelves

Here's an excerpt from an article on dystopian fiction over at Popmatters:

It’s possible YA shelves act as a sort of magic 8 ball for the rest of the literary scene because they are so unbiased. Few bookstores break their YA sections into defined genre shelving. Sure, there are series shelves, and some very broad genre shelving, usually associated with age breakdown. Beyond these, though, most YA books are shelved in alphabetical order. Magic realism lives next to humor, which cuddles up to romance, which nudges sword and sorcery. Most teens, too, are open about their reading choices—when was the last time you heard a teenager claim they prefer Jack Q. McWriterson’s less mainstream, more critical earlier work?

I knew there was a reason I loved that stuff. Have I not always been talking about genre-melding? The beauty of the young adult section is that sci-fi, suspense, and serious all sit right next to each other, on an equal playing field. Of course, they have their cover art to distinguish them, but there's no implicit division of worth or quality based on their location. Thank you.

10.22.2010

This is my idea of investing: http://www.cnbc.com/id/39340301/

10.11.2010

Philippians 3. 12-14

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, though I have assurance of salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit of God. We live in a time-bound world. We obtain nothing, nor is perfection a thing to be grasped. We live, and life is a process. Change is, in fact, proof of life.

But I press on to make it my own. What is it? Knowing Him and the power of his resurrection, becoming like him in sufferings and death, that by whatever means (because life is a process) I may attain the resurrection from the dead (because death in Christ is also life in Him).

I make this my own because Christ bothered to make me His own. He went to a lot of trouble for me, too. This is not about evening the score. What other response can you give to the Hound of Heaven than hot-blooded pursuit?

Brothers and sisters, I haven't made it yet. Because life is a process, of course, and because my failures can be counted just as well as my successes. But one thing I do: failures and successes both, I forget. They're in the past, and don't do me much good anymore - being past. I forget these things because I'm no longer responsible for them, though I may live with their consequences. I am responsible for what I do now. With this in mind, I put them behind me where they belong. And I strain forward to what lies ahead.

I press on. Which is the same as pressing into. Press forward, into the Spirit of God who lives within and without, who paves the forward way with a Will. There is a prize ahead, and it is my high calling. I press on.

10.10.2010

9 Things I Wish I Could Do:

1. sew all the clothes in anthropologie myself
2. decorate cakes
3. carve ornate furniture
4. oil paint
5. play Bach
6. speak three other languages fluently, particularly Russian, Italian, and Greek
7. fashion books by hand (working on that one)
8. make people feel welcome
9. shop at thrift stores
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