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July 27, 2008


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I have finally realized that reading blogs or almost any site online is more similar to watching TV than it is to reading books, or even magazines or newspapers.

All of the latter forms of media have been edited extensively. They are much more factually reliable, and largely devoid of useless information. And when you see the useless bits, it's much easier to avoid wasting extensive amounts of time wading through it.

Finally, reading paper is relaxing. Reading a screen engages you more like a video game. It heps you up rather than allowing you to relax. The mere fact that words on paper do not change seems to give me the feeling that I can take my time, think, and not race through what I'm reading. I enjoy that much more than surfing...

And I was a software architect, so I'm not a clueless luddite.

Still, some info you just can't get offline.

"All of the latter forms of media have been edited extensively. They are much more factually reliable, and largely devoid of useless information."

...ahahaha...ahah...ahah...ah...wait what?

"And when you see the useless bits, it's much easier to avoid wasting extensive amounts of time wading through it."

This is why I forgo buying newspapers and opt for magazines.

“I would believe people who tell me that the Internet develops reading if I did not see such a universal decline in reading ability and reading comprehension on virtually all tests.”


SAT verbal
1981 = 504
2002 = 504


NAEP Reading
4th grade 1998 = 28% proficient
4th grade 2007 = 32%

8th grade 1998 = 30%
8th grade 2007 = 29%


In my opinion, reading on the internet is more stimulating because you often have the opportunity to respond and debate. And it's arguably more reliable in that it's much easier to find and consider contrasting viewpoints.

I don't see the Internet as being a strong competitor for books, as books offer so much more depth. Newspapers and magazines? It's harder and harder to see what their whole purpose for being is, what with Internet competition.

It's not just the fact that they're doing all their reading online.

It's constantly switching back and forth between the Wikipedia tab, the Facebook tab, and cumguzzlers.com tab, skimming articles and stalking classmates while waiting for creampie and facial vids and pics to load.

All while launching a ferocious manual attack of powerstrokes with a vise-like, vein raising, purple hue imbuing grip, along with at least two unwashed digits in the stink.

I use the Internet as a cursory browsal to topics I'm interested in, and then I turn to books for a more investigative look. Once I'm finished learning a significant amount from books, I go back to the Internet to discuss what I've studied.

The Internet used in tandem with more traditional print media should, in theory, improve reading comprehension and intellectual curiosity among the young.

HS thanx for short post, I finished it

I'm so sick of reading stories about rich kids and their cool toys that they store in their master bedrooms. Look at that 15 yr old's bedroom? And those two brats have their own Apple laptops? And that Dad on the cover photo looks like a real prick. I bet the mom is a neurotic mess.

So that's where my surplus value that my labor produces goes to. To produce the next generation of privileged brats who don't read books.

If you hadn't noticed, those brats are from Old Greenwich, Connecticut. Their Apple laptops don't surprise me.

Nadia said she wanted to major in English at college and someday hopes to be published.

Doesn't EVERYBODY say this at least once during their teen and college years? And how many of them actually succeed? And the many that didn't succeed, this message is for you: Get back to work!

The simplest argument for why children should read in their leisure time is that it makes them better readers.

Reading for leisure while you're a kid was for the nonathletic and boring nerds. The cool kids played outside. I don't think I ever read a book for leisure as a kid.

found that nearly 90 percent of employers rated “reading comprehension” as “very important” for workers with bachelor’s degrees.

Right next to "kissing your ass" of course.

I'm so sick of reading stories about rich kids and their cool toys that they store in their master bedrooms. Look at that 15 yr old's bedroom? And those two brats have their own Apple laptops? And that Dad on the cover photo looks like a real prick. I bet the mom is a neurotic mess.

A cheap house in Greenwich costs well over $1 million. And while we only see the inside, that's enough to tell that their house is not one of the cheap ones. At least $2 or $3 million, I'd bet.

Dad looks like a typical testosterone-dripping, cartball-playing, Alphanumeric-driving and NFL season ticket-owning ultra-Alpha SCA, the sort that practically gets wood from the pleasure of tormenting me on the train every day.

That NYtimes article was out to lunch. At it's base, reading is reading, and many online sources are much harder to read than a well-flowing book. Reading is the act of decoding words into thoughts. New code words like LOL and RU and l8r make reading HARDER not easier! Adapting to various text sizes, scrolling, etc all make it a harder, more complex task. Internet reading is more practically useful than novel reading, it is learning to pull information out of text. No one is going to pay you to read The Scarlet Letter.

As the above commenter pointed out, test scores are FLAT (largely because at high levels they tend to reflect IQ more than reading skill) not declining. I beleive they should really be going up, and the flatness calls the validity of the tests into question. At medium-to-high levels reading tests measure the ability to make complex inferences from text. This is more a measure of verbal intelligence than reading ability, but it also depends on skills that do tend to be developed more from book reading than online reading (if only because the passages on the tests virtually always come from books). I imagine if you looked at a measure of reading that was more technical than most reading tests, you MIGHT see an increase. And in fact on the NAAL quantitative reading score there has been an increase:

1995 275
2003 283

And that was back in 1993.

A commenter above mentioned that online reading is more like a video game, as if this were a bad thing. Both mediums are interactive, while the older mediums of television, radio, novels, and movies were passive. One sits down and absorbs, the communication is one-way. It is quite shocking to see how many supposed experts question this movement from passive to active activities, despite the obvious benefits. For example, the NYtimes arts section has yet to pay much attention to video games, despite the fact that the video game industry is now equal in size to film and music. Interactive media are much more stimulating to the brain than passive media. Who would you rather hire, a guy who spends 10 hours on TV, movies, and novels per day, or a guy who devotes 10 hours to internet browsing and video gaming per day? I have experience hiring both types of undergrads and I can tell you the new-media people are so much faster using the computer that you would be crazy to pick the TV watcher.

Another major problem that needs to be mentioned is that for the typical kid today the alternative to online reading is not To Kill a Mockingbird, it is a video game, movie, or other activity. So the whole online vs. novel reading debate is rather moot.

"I would believe people who tell me that the Internet develops reading if I did not see such a universal decline in reading ability and reading comprehension on virtually all tests.”


SAT verbal
1981 = 504
2002 = 504"--Rain, didn't you know that the SAT was "recentered" between 1981 and 2002? I probably don't need to tell you why is was "recentered" [demographic shift]?

Links are the best thing about the Internet,along with fabulous search engines. They are separate media, so books/magazines should not be compared with the 'Net.

All while launching a ferocious manual attack of powerstrokes with a vise-like, vein raising, purple hue imbuing grip, along with at least two unwashed digits in the stink.

That's how I got kicked out of the library.

Seriously though, when writing college papers, I've noticed that books go into a lot more depth than anything on the net. For example, I once took out several books on the Crusades for a "medieval magazine" assignment.

With that research, I ended up writing the "inaugural" edition of Soldier of Fortune. (FWIW, the date on it is December, 1189.) It turned out pretty well, especially as I was able to use real names, events, and dates.

Also, I once had to write a short "travel" story for an English class. To prep for it, I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Although that book may be lurking somewhere on the 'net, I couldn't find it. And regardless, there just isn't that much fiction online.

Anyway, I just renewed my subscription to Analog magazine. I haven't read much sci-fi in years, but would like to get back into it.

Analog Magazine

Sorry for the broken link. (As if you folks are just dying to subscribe, anyway.)


Books would tend to propagate more depth than the internet. It all has to do with the medium being the message as professor Marshall McLuhan wrote about. A book or a magazine has a higher barrier to publication which means people probably think more deeply about what they are writing in a focused attempt to surmount the barrier. There are also space constraints with book which probably leads to greater intentionality in what is actually included in the book.

All things being equal, writing found in a book is more considered and deliberated writing than writing found on the internet.

This is a silly debate. Reading a book can mean reading "War and Peace" or it can mean reading the latest "Left Behind" trash. Online reading could be news, blogs, fan fiction, book reviews, icanhascheezeburger, or reading electronic journal articles. It is probably fruitless to look for main effects of "online reading", or to debate books vs. internet.

The GSS looked at how people spend their time on the internet. It wasn't abysmal like everyone says. They broke it down roughly (listen to music, read, etc.) and finely (listen to classical, listen to rap, etc.).

Does porn count as online reading?

Dad doesn't look that macho, IMHO. I've seen much worse.

It is funny, though, how the Times insists on asking the New England/York elite about everything! Not surprising, but amusing. Gotta cater to your audience I guess.

And I loved the bit about the girl who was obsessed with anime and wrote fanfiction about human/cat hybrids. Something tells me if I had grown up now instead of in the 80s I would have had a lot more fun in high school. ;)

And I loved the bit about the girl who was obsessed with anime and wrote fanfiction about human/cat hybrids. Something tells me if I had grown up now instead of in the 80s I would have had a lot more fun in high school. ;)

She sounds like a "furry" with Asperger's.

"And I loved the bit about the girl who was obsessed with anime and wrote fanfiction about human/cat hybrids. Something tells me if I had grown up now instead of in the 80s I would have had a lot more fun in high school. ;)

She sounds like a "furry" with Asperger's."

Ha ha ha, that's one thing the net does; it makes social maladjustment flourish. I have no doubt that the illiteracy rife on the net has made our children lose their grasp of basic English.

Hell, even I have lost my abilities to type out grammatical correct sentences. I impute the net and society for my plight, since I am thinking of converting my religion to liberalism. ;D

I find it ironic that an article proposing that internet reading is possibly deleterious to kids is an article on the internet.

I think reading in general is cognitively salubrious. Reading on the internet isn't necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on the subject matter. One would incontrovertibly agree that reading an article about nuclear fusion is more beneficial than reading an article on Brittney Spears' latest scandal.

I assert that internet reading is just as beneficial as novel reading as long as the subject material is not frivolous.

Hell, even I have lost my abilities to type out grammatical correct sentences. I impute the net and society for my plight, since I am thinking of converting my religion to liberalism. ;D

Obama gonna fix all dat. Now you don't worry your little self into a tizzy about anything...Forget the old ways, brother, all the old hatreds...

Maybe there is a little bit to say about book reading that I think is important. The deeper internet reading just isn't that deep compared to the deeper books. It's to be expected. A person who writes a book will often spend years on their topic. The typical person who writes on the internet might spend a week at most on a piece of writing.

I think some people are talking about reading like sitting and browsing, passing your eyes over the page and then being done with things. That wouldn't really work for reading more complex texts like War and Peace for example. The writer put a lot more in than be gotten out in a single reading.

Of course, one can do a close reading of text found on the internet also. However, one can really only get out what the author originally put in. The best books (and here I mean a book not a magazine or a newspaper and not a dime store novel or that ghost written drivel they pump out in barely a few months) are more likely to be like this, to have layer upon layer of carefully constructed prose and intricate ideas. Most text on the internet is superficial, not because of the qualify of the minds, although that might a factor but because of how little time even the better writers spend on slapping together what they are writing.

Sure, one could download War and Peace off the internet but it was not created in that media and there is a good reason for that.

Has anyone heard of a book that supports sigma's thesis? The Dumbest Generation? There may be something to this.

"Sure, one could download War and Peace off the internet but it was not created in that media and there is a good reason for that."

Yup: the technology didn't exist then ROFL

More good news:

Governor Deval Patrick: "Together We Can" Have Racial Preferences
By Matthew Richer

Those who wonder what to expect from a Barack Obama White House should start paying attention to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, currently the nation’s only elected black governor.

Governor Patrick and Senator Barack Obama have long been close friends and political allies. In fact, Obama was recently accused of plagiarism for excessively "borrowing" from a speech Deval Patrick delivered during the 2006 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign. Obama even modeled his campaign motto "Yes, We Can" on the Patrick campaign’s motto "Together We Can" although Patrick did not have a Spanish language version, as Obama does ("Si, se puede").

Deval Patrick was born and raised in Chicago’s South Side, near where Barack Obama now lives. In the eighth grade, he won a minority scholarship to prestigious Milton Academy in Massachusetts, and from there went on to Harvard University and Harvard Law School.

After law school, Patrick worked for the NAACP where he befriended then Governor Bill Clinton when the NAACP sued the state of Arkansas over an alleged voting rights violation. He then joined, and eventually became a partner, in the respected Boston law firm of Hill & Barlow (famous for having represented Sacco & Vanzetti). In 1993, after Lani Guinier’s nomination for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights collapsed, President Clinton offered the position to Deval Patrick.

"You have had the best that American education can give you," said Senator Diane Feinstein to Deval Patrick during his confirmation hearings. "You are articulate. You are handsome. You are young. You have the opportunity to provide a unique level of leadership."

What was most strikingly unique about Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick’s leadership was the degree to which he used the power of his office to intimidate American citizens into conforming with his vision of civil rights. Patrick knew well that most cities, towns and small businesses cannot afford to defend themselves against a Justice Department lawsuit. All it often took was for Patrick to initiate a Justice Department "probe" of some civil organization, and then he could bend it to his vision of justice.

During his confirmation hearings, of course, Deval Patrick claimed that he did not believe in racial quotas. But once confirmed, Patrick arrogantly began to impose racial preferences in the guise of law enforcement. He was especially opposed to cognitive examinations for prospective police officers and firemen alleging that they result in an unjustly high failure rate for black applicants. Patrick then tried to force municipalities to adopt a Justice Department-approved employment exam that amounted to a non-cognitive personality test (much of it administered by video). The exam was specifically designed to assure a high score among minority test takers. In fact, the vice president of the company that produced the test (Aon Consulting, Inc) described it as "more than satisfactory if you assume a cop will never have to write a coherent sentence or interpret what someone else has written." [Testimony Of Linda S. Gottfredson, MAY 20, 1997]

The exam questions remain secret, except for two sample questions:

When you were in high school, you were a member of a sports team.
A. Yes
B. No

Which of the following statements is most like you – A or B?
A. I’m always in a hurry at work to get things done.
B. At work, I think of myself as part of a smooth running machine.

Some local governments capitulated and adopted some form of the exam. But a few fought back. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division had to reimburse the city of Torrance, CA $1.8 million in legal fees after suing them for alleged discriminatory hiring and losing.

Most troubling of all, however, was Deval Patrick’s involvement with Piscataway v. Taxman. In 1989, the Piscataway, New Jersey Board of Education decided to lay off faculty due to declining enrollment. Their standard practice had been to lay off teachers with the least seniority, and if there were two teachers of equal seniority, to cast lots. However, in this case, there was a choice between a white teacher and a black teacher who had both been hired on the same day and worked in the same department. Rather than toss a coin, administrators fired the white teacher, Sharon Taxman, and retained the black teacher for the sake of "faculty diversity." Moreover, they sought to preserve not just the diversity of the overall school faculty, but of the individual department itself (business education). Ms. Taxman then sued and the Justice Department under President George H.W. Bush supported her claim. The courts eventually ruled in Taxman’s favor and ordered that she be rehired and paid $144,000 in back pay.

However, the Piscataway Board of Education appealed and when the Clinton Justice Department inherited the case in 1994, Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick ordered the Justice Department to reverse itself and take the side of the Piscataway Board of Education against Sharon Taxman. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals, however, was not impressed with this reversal and they terminated the Justice Department’s role as a co-plaintiff in the case.

So fanatical was Deval Patrick in his desire to take Sharon Taxman’s job that he forced the Justice Department to back a case that was a sure loser. In fact, the NAACP later had to persuade the Piscataway Board of Education to drop a proposed appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court because their likely defeat might have proven a death blow to affirmative action. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and the NAACP also quickly helped to raise a large settlement for Sharon Taxman.

The Taxman case is no doubt the reason Patrick’s successor, Bill Lann Lee, had to settle for a recess appointment at the Justice Department after the Senate showed zero interest in confirming him. Indeed, Senator Orrin Hatch gave a speech on the Senate floor claiming that he could not support the nomination of another "liberal civil rights ideologue" like Deval Patrick. [November 4, 1997,]

After leaving the Justice Department, Patrick returned to private practice in Boston and began making a good living off discrimination lawsuits. Indeed, the curious thing about Deval Patrick is his habit of suing an organization for discrimination, then parlaying the relationship into a coveted position with the same organization later on, just as he once worked on a lawsuit against Governor Bill Clinton, and then later acquired a federal appointment after Clinton became president.

For example, in 1997 Deval Patrick chaired the task force that administered the settlement of a $176 million racial discrimination lawsuit against Texaco, then the largest ever settlement of its kind. While Patrick was still on the task force, however, Texaco’s CEO offered him the position of vice-president and general counsel, with oversight over Texaco’s hiring practices. As Assistant Attorney General, Patrick sued several alleged "discriminatory lenders" such as Fleet Bank and Ameriquest Mortgage – "Loans should be based on risk, not race" said Patrick at the time. But several years later he joined the board of directors of Ameriquest’s parent company, ACC Capital Holdings, earning $360,000 a year for apparently little work. This, despite the fact that Ameriquest is alleged to be one of the most egregious "predatory lenders" in the country.

On immigration, Deval Patrick is about as open borders as any public official in the country. Patrick supports multilingual voting ballots ("minority languages" as he calls them), drivers licenses and in-state tuition for illegal aliens, and a state-wide sanctuary policy. His predecessor, Governor Mitt Romney, had initiated an agreement with the federal government to allow certain state troopers to determine if arrested criminal suspects are illegal aliens. But within days of taking office, Governor Patrick withdrew the state from the program.

In 1994, when the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR) was campaigning for Proposition 187, then Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick sent the FBI to interview its leader, Barbara Coe, on the grounds that CCIR planned to engage in "voter intimidation." The source of the allegation was a letter sent by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) to Patrick’s office accusing Coe and CCIR of conspiring to violate the Voting Rights Act. The purported violation was a plan to hold signs near polling places that reminded people that it is a crime for non-citizens to vote.

In due course, then, and without warning, two FBI agents knocked on the front door of Mrs. Coe’s home and grilled her on Proposition 187, her organizational tactics, and even asked if her children supported her positions. Coe was so appalled that she demanded that the agents leave her home.

In contrast, some Latino groups publicly threatened actual violence if Proposition 187 ever passed. (It did pass, but Gray Davis sabotaged it. )But Deval Patrick never investigated them for voter intimidation.

All of these facts were largely glossed over or buried when Deval Patrick ran for governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2006. Indeed, the local intelligentsia had placed enormous pressure on the voters to elect a black governor. The general attitude, as expressed in particular by the establishmentarian Boston Globe, was that electing Deval Patrick would allow the state, and the city of Boston in particular, to put a large part of its racist past behind it and give the region an opportunity to "move forward."

Now it’s no secret that the practice of racial guilt mongering is stronger in Massachusetts than in most places. Many claim it stems from Boston’s forced busing imbroglio of the 1970s. However, the truth is the politics of racial guilt have long been a part of the academic and elitist culture of Massachusetts. It was actually more a cause, than a consequence, of the experiment in forced busing. Moreover, the Bay State liberals who indulge such racial paternalism do not feel guilty personally—they just like to remind themselves that others are not as open-minded as they.

In other words, Deval Patrick’s job is not so much to govern, but to advertise the open-mindedness of his supporters. Perhaps that helps to explain why Governor Patrick has been largely manhandled by the Massachusetts political establishment, despite the fact that his party holds an enormous majority in the state legislature. His tenure in office has thus far been a series of embarrassing moments.

Deval Patrick, like Barack Obama, campaigned as a "bridge builder" who would put an end to "politics as usual." The biggest problem with black elites, however, is that they tend to have an even stronger sense of entitlement than white elites. And if Deval Patrick has an Achilles heel, it is his enormous ego and sense of entitlement.

Unlike his predecessors, Governor Patrick chose to have not one, but seven inaugural receptions for himself across the Commonwealth. He then quickly upgraded the governor’s state car from a Chrysler Crown Victoria to a much more expensive Cadillac Deville—earning him the moniker "Deville Patrick" from one local pundit. And when he tires of getting chauffeured around in his new Cadillac, Governor Patrick likes to use the state police helicopter to fly across tiny Massachusetts. In his first month in office, Patrick used the state police helicopter more than his predecessor did during the previous four years. (The state’s last Democratic governor, Mike Dukakis, preferred to ride the subway to work.)

Most embarrassing of all has been Deval Patrick’s grand plan to reduce the commonwealth’s billion dollar budget deficit: a proposal to have statewide casino gambling. This very controversial proposal went virtually unmentioned during the campaign, and Governor Patrick was incapable of making any sensible case for it. Soon many citizens began to wonder how our "bridge builder" of a governor could have such a tin ear toward the electorate.

Certainly, no one was surprised when the Democratically-controlled legislature crushed Governor Patrick’s casino proposal last spring. What surprised people was how indifferent he seemed to the defeat. Indeed, on the very day of the vote, Deval Patrick flew to Manhattan to negotiate a $1.35 million book deal for his life story. Even better, in his pitch letter, Patrick boasted of his enormous popularity, claiming that "I was able to fill the Boston Common recently with ten thousand people eager to hear my dreams for the future." Patrick was actually referring to the moment last fall when 10,000 people showed up at a Barack Obama campaign rally and he introduced the senator to the assembled crowd.

However, Deval Patrick’s latest proposal, the "Commonwealth Compact," is the one that should worry us the most. It was devised by Patrick and a group of local academics and business leaders and its stated mission is to "establish Massachusetts as a uniquely inclusive, honest and supportive community of—and for—diverse people." The Compact requires employers to commit to a diverse workplace and to post online the race data of their current workforce and new hires. Employers are not actually forced to sign on, but who can doubt they will feel pressured to do so, especially if Governor Patrick requires state contractors to be signatories.

One obvious impact of such forced racial preferences is to accelerate the growing exodus of citizens from the state. Indeed, despite its rich history Massachusetts has long been among the country’s worst in terms of retaining its residents. I call them "Bay State Refugees" (and I am certainly one of them). Some 2.2 million native-born Bay Staters now live elsewhere. And the commonwealth is attracting fewer transplants from other states.

The most oft-cited reason for this "mass emigration" is the state’s high cost of living. But the media will never mention the fact that the state’s increasing diversity has also driven many to abandon it for good. Some 200,000 immigrants have moved into the Boston area since 2000 alone, pushing the state population up to nearly 15% foreign born. Tellingly, perhaps the most popular destination for Bay State Refugees is New Hampshire, with its low taxes, low cost of living, and low diversity.

Deval Patrick has no plans to stick around either. Rumor has it that he is already eyeing a position in future President Barack Obama’s Cabinet. Most likely, he is seeking to become the first black Attorney General in American history.

So if you are wondering just what to expect from a Barack Obama White House, just contemplate having an arrogant, aggressive racial bean counter like Deval Patrick as the top law enforcement official in the country.

Matthew Richer (email him) is a public relations specialist who divides his time between New York City and New Hampshire. He is the former American Editor of Right NOW.

Thanks, Buckwheat, for the enlightening look at Deval Patrick--the future of American politics and law. Deval Patrick seems to be the person that Barak Obama would have been, had Obama talent for anything beyond public speaking from a teleprompter. Patrick earned his millions through skillful lawsuits and extortionary practises. Obama has a couple of ghost-written books, and a long string of coincidental opponent-scandals allowing him to skate into the US Senate as baby senator from Illinois.

There is a lot to admire about Patrick, scum that he is. Obama is just a waft of half-condensed vapour. You suspect something is there, but you can never prove anything.

July 28, 2008 at 02:03 PM

LOL. Books go into more depth because of MONEY. Nobody wants to pay 20 bucks + for a text file, and you can only read so much text on a monitor before your eyeballs fall out.


any chance you can post on the perfect defeat-obama strategy? think it'd make an interesting thread

Obama is probably going to win. Luckily, he's not so bad!

"Obama is probably going to win. Luckily, he's not so bad"

Wait until he gets in...then whatever his agenda (I'm guessing a total disbandment of immigration control, and enforced gun control...open us up to a state-to-state civil war with the stuff coming across the border unchecked) is will be revealed. Americans have the right to revolt in the case of an unsatisfactory presidency...but no matter how bad it gets, the majority of Americans are just apathetic fools who say "Oh wells...maybe the next guy will be better."

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