We wait. Torture! The company issues a weekly update — I sure hope for a progress report by the weekend.
Bob Stromberg: “Here is a great 3-minute YouTube about a grassroots organization that beat the Tea Party. It changed the conversation from ‘taxes taxes taxes’ to ‘book burning’ and then ‘vote yes for a 0.7% tax increase to save the library.'”
Of course, it’s hard to know exactly where physical books go in an age of Kindles and iPads — I’m actually in the process of digitizing my own out-of-print books.
Those of us who love books — and the environment and instant gratification — love that we can learn of a book and, minutes later, be reading it, without ever having to cut down a tree or burn gas driving down to Borders to try to find it.
Yet at the same time we also hate that Borders and so many independent bookstores are gone. (Remember Brentano’s? “Brentano’s was an American bookstore,” begins its Wikipedia entry.)
Do we still need libraries? I think we do. They are like secular churches — places of community and respect and contemplation and, potentially, joy and self-improvement. And belonging. And, now, computer stations and Internet hook-ups for folks like my octogenarian pen pal in North Carolina who can’t afford these things on his own — he lives on $827 in monthly Social Security plus $66 in food stamps — but finds hours of connection when he can afford the gas to drive to the library.
Craig Gawel: “With respect to yesterday’s post and the Supreme Court decision to let corporations contribute to campaigns, one quick question …. Can corporations vote? As I see it, if they cannot vote they should not be allowed to contribute to political campaigns. And as to foreign corporations, since the beginning of the Republic we have tried to limit foreign influence.”
Ed Miske: “I wonder how the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, et al, will feel Wednesday morning after the election if President Obama prevails? Will they have second thoughts about spending billions on future elections?”
I’m afraid not. To them, it’s pocket change. As Chris Hayes frequently points out, a guy with $21 billion giving $10 million is like a guy with $21,000 in the bank giving $10. Nothing. And as I mentioned yesterday, often they won’t even have to give it to get their way — just threaten to give it.
Joel Margolis: “Did you ever, even once, condemn Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign for being the first major party candidate to opt out of public financing for the general election? If not, please get off your high horse.”
Even if there was something wrong with what Senator Obama did — and there are strong arguments that there was not — how would that justify what John McCain calls “the worst decision of the Supreme Court in the Twenty-First Century?” And how can the small to medium size contributions of millions of inspired ordinary citizens in the 2008 campaign be considered undemocratic? By contrast, I think the billion dollars in superPAC money from just a few dozen individuals can be considered undemocratic.
I have written before about our hallway — pictured here — because what self-respecting financial writer does not, sooner or later, turn to that topic? But now I have a confession; and great news. The confession is that the 16 halogen lights that make it pop like a theatrical set burn 24/7. It’s a shared hallway with no on/off switch and no easy way to make the lights motion activated, though that remains on my to-do list. In the meantime, I’ve just now installed these LED replacements at a projected energy saving of 71% — 10 watts instead of 35. Yes, they cost eight times more, but they may last ten times as long. So leaving aside the benefit to the planet, and counting nothing for the convenience of having to change them only a tenth as often, the cost of the bulbs themselves may over time be a wash. In which case, the 71% energy saving is all gravy. Now, dear readers: can you think of an easy way to take a hard wired system and have it turn on any time one of two elevator doors or four hallway doors starts to open? If the lights then stayed on for 5 minutes, this system would cut their energy consumption yet a further 85% or so. Without even the slightest sacrifice in quality of life.
With so much room for improvement, our future — should we rise to the challenge — is . . . bright.
Quote of the Day
To the BELOVED REPUBLIC under whose equal laws I am made the peer of any man, although denied political equality by my native land, I dedicate this book with an intensity of gratitude and admiration which the native-born citizen can neither feel nor understand.~Dedication to Andrew Carnegie's Triumphant Democracy (Scribner's, 1886)
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