EppsNet Archive: Reading

Profanity in Book Titles

Powell’s Books emailed a list of self-care titles aimed at making readers happier and healthier and saner. A surprisingly high (to me) percentage of the titles — 3 out of 25 (12 percent) — contain the word “fuck.” One title includes the word “shit” but it’s also one of the titles that uses “fuck” so I’m not going to double-count it. Is this a new publishing industry strategy to reawaken people’s interest in reading? Personally I don’t care for it . . . Read more →

Happiness is Not . . .

Happiness does not consist of the gratification of your wishes. Anna Karenina, for example, is quite illuminating on this point. Try reading a book once in a while, you’ll pick up on a lot of universal errors like that. Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Collected Thoughts

If you recognize the person on this next slide, please raise your hand. Don’t yell out the name, just raise your hand. About two-thirds of you recognize Derek Jeter. I thought everyone would recognize him, but still a clear majority. I’m not a Yankees fan or a Derek Jeter fan particularly but the Captain and I are on the same page on this topic. I have to admit I was pretty competitive as a student. I didn’t want anyone to do better than me and I especially didn’t want anyone to do better than me because they worked harder than me. This Jeter quote reminded me of a quote from another notable sports figure . . . This is Bob Knight, college basketball coach, most notably at the University of Indiana. He won 902 games, three NCAA championships, and he coached the 1984 Olympic basketball team to a gold medal.… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Those Who Don’t Like to Read

I recommended a couple of books that I’ve read recently and liked — Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman — to the class in case anyone was looking for a book to read over winter break or maybe as a holiday gift. “What if you don’t like to read?” someone asked. “Well, in that case you can spend your entire life inside your own head and never know or care what life looks like to other people.” In hindsight, it occurred to me that I could have suggested audio books for people who don’t like to read, but . . . woulda coulda shoulda, you know what I’m saying? Read more →

We’re Still Smarter Than You Are

Teens from Asian nations dominated a global exam given to 15-year-olds, while U.S. students showed little improvement and failed to reach the top 20 in math, science or reading, according to test results released Tuesday. — Why Asian teens do better on tests than US teens – CSMonitor.com Why am I not shocked by that? Because Americans on the whole are dumb and lazy. We have lots of dumb, lazy parents raising dumb, lazy kids. The average American kid doesn’t compare well academically to the average kid in an Asian country where academics and hard work are valued, or to the average kid from a small, homogenous European country where it’s easier to get everyone pulling in the same educational direction. The U.S. is a big, diverse country and the average academic results are pulled down by a lot of dummkopfs. But still, the smartest people in the world are… Read more →

We Need Better Parents

Kids can’t do well in school unless their family has a lot of money, according to an op-ed in the New York Times, which goes on to argue that massive intervention by “policy makers” is needed to confront this issue head-on. The authors, Helen Ladd and Edward Fiske, are a husband-and-wife team of academic researchers. Education reform in a nutshell: First thing, let’s kill all the academic researchers. Helen and Ed cherry-picked the results of a Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) study to show that students with lower economic and social status had far lower test scores than their more advantaged counterparts. But they didn’t actually link to the PISA results, because if they had, people would see that Helen and Ed just ignored the three main findings, which are: Fifteen-year-old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher… Read more →

A Long and Short Explanation of Why Borders Books Went Out of Business

Borders, unable to find a buyer willing to get it out of bankruptcy, plans to close its remaining 399 stores and go out of business by the end of September. — msnbc.com “When Borders started up 40 years ago,” I explain to my son, “there was a certain percentage of the American public that bought books and read them. “It wasn’t nearly as large as the percentage who preferred to sit on their fat asses and watch television but it was there. There was a profit to be made from it. “Today, if I tell someone about a book I’m reading, they look at me like I’m confessing a perversion. Reading a book?! “Not only does no one read books but if anyone does get a notion in their head to read one, they’re likely to buy it online and/or download it onto a device. “The market for people who… Read more →

Hockey Parents

Originally uploaded by lippo At hockey tournaments, especially travel tournaments, there’s a lot of down time between games. I usually bring a book to the rink so I have something to do. Nobody else does this. Nobody. In hockey circles, I’m known as the guy who brings books to the rink. This weekend, we’re at a tournament in San Jose. One of the dads from our team — I think he’s a copier salesman — says to me, “I can’t understand why anyone reads fiction.” He says it, not in a rude way, but not in a complimentary way either. I say, “Oh. Well, I can’t understand why anyone lives his whole life inside his own head and never gets curious about what life looks like to other people.” So I probably won’t have to talk to him the rest of the season. Later the same day, this guy knocks… Read more →

Family Happiness

I was reading a Tolstoy story called “Family Happiness” in bed last night. It was close to midnight when I finished it. “Good story,” I announced to my wife, although she was 90 percent asleep by that time. Without opening her eyes, she asked, “What was it about?” “A man and a woman fall in love and get married. They’re very happy for a while but then the marriage starts to come apart.” “Because the husband spends too much time on Facebook?” she asked. “No, they didn’t have Facebook in 1860. What I didn’t see coming though is that the story turns out to have a happy ending after all.” “Perfect,” she said. “What did you learn from it?” “The past is gone, but you can still find a new life and a different kind of happiness.” “With the same wife?” “Yes.” “Perfect,” she said. Read more →

Classification of Books You Haven’t Read

From Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler: Books You Needn’t Read Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading Books Read Before You Even Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First Books Too Expensive Now And You’ll Wait Till They’re Remaindered Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback Books You Can Borrow From Somebody Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too Books You’ve Been Planning To Read For Ages Books You’ve Been Hunting For Years Without Success Books Dealing With Something You’re Working On At The Moment Books You Want To Own So They’ll Be Handy Just In Case Books You… Read more →

The Giving Tree

From the weekly Northwood High School bulletin: Do you like reading? Do you like children? Do you like children but not reading? Or reading but not children? Come to the Giving Tree meetings every Monday in Mr. Emery’s room 1103. Read more →

Communication Bandwidth

As I’m writing this article, I’m trying to formulate ideas, understandings, and experiences into words. When you read this article, you try to understand what I’m saying within the context of your experiences. In the process of narrowing my bandwidth to words, and you trying to expand the bandwidth from words to your understanding, a lot is lost. No matter how well I write and you read. And, most of us are not superb writers and readers. — Ken Schwaber Read more →

The Average Software Developer

The average software developer reads less than one professional book per year (not including manuals) and subscribes to no professional magazines. These developers are not developing or advancing themselves professionally. About 75% of these people do not have a degree in computer science or a related field. They learn by trial-and-error and on-the-job training, which means that they risk learning other people’s bad habits rather than industry best practices. This method of professional development perpetuates ineffective, inefficient practices that hinder the success of software projects. — Construx.com Read more →