Monthly Archives: April 2012

Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned

And now, for the lates update of Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned.

The new ones are at the top.  Enjoy!

Want to know why I’m doing this? Click this link.

Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned

And now, for the latest update of Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned.

The new ones are at the top.  Enjoy!

Want to know why I’m doing this? Click this link.

Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned

And now, for the latest update of Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned.

The new ones are at the top.  Enjoy!

Want to know why I’m doing this? Click this link.

Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned

And now, for the latest update of Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned.

The new ones are at the top.  Enjoy!

Want to know why I’m doing this? Click this link.

Rumors of the Book’s Demise Are Premature

There is a long-standing debate about whether the book – the dead-tree version, that is – is outmoded and dying. And about whether we as a society (civilization?) should just stick a fork in it and declare that “it’s done”!

I’d like to present some evidence that the book is, perhaps, Not Dead Yet.   Yes maybe sometime in the future it will be; but for now, it’s not.

Full disclosure:  I read e-books using a Kindle app on my HP Touchpad. I’m particularly addicted to Amazon’s Daily Deals and only purchase books that I don’t believe my husband will want to read.  Print books are preferable for sharing.  I also read print books; in fact, since I started reading e-books, I believe my print-book reading has increased.

Exhibit 1

Libraries.  I volunteer at my local branch library, and every day that I’m there, I see everyone from the youngest tykes (with their moms) to senior citizens walk in.  And they come for more than to use the free internet access that’s available.   It’s a constant stream.  I’m only there for 4 hours one day a week, so I don’t witness the usage on other days or in the evenings.  But I’m sure it’s high.

I believe the vast majority of people are there primarily for the books.  Yes, they are checking the Internet, they are checking out audio books, or they are reading magazines and newspapers;  but the books are the biggest draw.  In a typical week, patrons at my branch check out approximately 14,000 books.  Fourteen thousand. For these folks, the book is definitely NOT dead.

One of my earliest book-related memories was going to our local library with my father.  I was about 6 or 7, and was in awe of the place.  It was (and still is) a grand building: marble columns soaring up from marble floors to reach the high, ornate ceiling. And books everywhere!  And it had that typical mainstay: the center desk with the librarians who checked out books and kept order in the place. (Shhhh!)

I’m hoping that the children coming to the library where I volunteer – really, any library – will look back fondly at those days of discovery: of checking out the books, carrying them home, curling up with Mom or Dad and reading the “picture books.” And later, when they’re older, they can curl up on the sofa for a solitary read.  (Is there anything more wonderful than to nod off while reading and wake up with the open book on your stomach? Ah, bliss…)

Exhibit 2

Amazon.com. Amazon was created on the premise that people want to read books.  They built their whole business model on it.  Yes, they’ve added non-book products (which I love them for), and added Kindle books as well as streaming music and movies. But the physical book is still a large part of their business.  They did, however, announce in May 2011 that sales of e-books had surpassed sales of print books on their site.  This statistic bears watching to see how it trends, and the velocity of any growth.  There may a tendency to characterize prematurely the statistics provided by just one book outlet (Amazon) as evidence that the print book is dead. 

According to a Pew Internet & American Life report just released, 21% of Americans have read an e-book in the past year.  But the good news (from my point of view at least) is that physical books still rule.  The following is from the Pew report:

The prevalence of e-book reading is markedly growing, but printed books still dominate the world of book readers.

Exhibit 3

My experience with digital books.  Reading is about more than just seeing the words on the page   It’s the little things; but the little things are important.

  • Portability.  I don’t want to take my tablet to the beach to read a trashy “beach read.”  I don’t mind if a paperback gets wet from touching my web bathing suit.  I can leave it on my towel when I stroll the beach looking for shells.  I wouldn’t do that if I had my tablet or phone with me.
  • Tactile Sensations. The feel of a book in your hands.  It’s nice to feel something in your hands and to actually turn the pages.  There’s a satisfaction with looking at the thickness of a book and gauging how far from finished you are, based on the location of your bookmark.
  • Marginalia.  (This is only for books you own.)  I love to be able to put an asterisk, star, or exclamation point in the margins to mark passages that I want to be able to read again (or tell someone about).   I can get the book off my bookshelf, flip the pages and quickly, and find the passage I want.  I’d love to see “time tests” of this with e-books.  Particularly those you don’t own. Ha!

And finally, I think this website gives a definitive answer to the question “Is the book dead?”

Too Much Sweetness Is…Toxic?

Ed: I started this post back in October 2011.  It’s been lounging around unfinished since then. I saw a 60 Minutes story this past Sunday examining the toxicity of fructose and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  Sooooo, I’ve dusted it off for publication.

CBS seems to have been “all over” this issue for some time.  In February 2010, Katie Couric interviewed Dr. David Kessler  and author Eric Schlosser about the issue.

And then in March 2010, CBS News carried a report ,”Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup Really So Bad?,”  which cites a UC Davis study to investigate conflicting claims about the use of HFCS and sugar. (This is the same study that informed the 60 Minutes report.)  The free Abstract of the study is here (subscription is needed for the full text).    But the main findings of the study are that consumption of fructose and HFCS differs significantly from consumption of glucose in raising blood-sugar levels in the test group.  This news report explains the study and its findings.

…study participants consuming fructose or high fructose corn syrup exhibited increased bloodstream concentrations of three known risk factors for heart disease: LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and a protein known as apolipoprotein-B, which can lead to plaque buildup in arteries.

Which brings me back to the latest CBS look at the sugar/HFCS issue: Sunday’s 60 Minutes report.

Another interesting site is “High Fructose Corn Syrup vs. Pure Sugar — Is One Worse Than The Other?

Some reports claim that ingesting HFCS suppresses the levels of the protein hormone leptin in the blood which in turn affects the appetite and hunger, causing overeating.  But the pro-HFCS side begs to differ.  [Note: The site linked, “SweetSurprise.com is run by the Corn Refiners Association.] One of the studies they cite was conducted on lean women over 2 days [my emphasis].  That surely doesn’t seem realistic for a snapshot of the general population; and 2 days cannot provide the basis from which to extrapolate for long-term consumption of any substance.  In fairness, they did call for studies of obese individuals.   I’m still looking for these studies, as well as for studies over a longer period of time.

Disappointingly, the Mayo Clinic provides a somewhat non-answer to the question “What are the health concerns about high-fructose corn syrup?”  with this response.

So, sugar can be toxic. I don’t consume much sugar, and as little HFCS as I can manage (i.e., NO diet drinks). I always check the labels and pick the product that does NOT have HFCS.

My artificial sweetener of choice, if only for cold foods such as iced tea or cereal, is Splenda ™.  And yes, sucralose has also been studied for possible negative effects.  After reading this report  I think I’m going to start sweetening my cold drinks and cereal with a simple sugar syrup. Just need to watch the amounts!

Here’s to more-healthful eating!

Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned

And now, for the latest update of Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned.

The new ones are at the top.  Enjoy!

Want to know why I’m doing this? Click this link.