Working Poor

Working Poor by David K. Shipler is a terrific book. One of those books that helps you see the world through somebody else’s eyes. I remember standing behind a woman in Walmart once who didn’t have enough money to pay, and instead of taking out the DVD or the tennis shoes, she took out the food. The good food, not the junk food. Shipler’s book helped me to understand how someone could make that choice in that situation. He explains that the poor are in a cycle of poverty because they don’t have the skills or resources to teach their children better. I won’t try to explain it all to you – read the book! But I thought a couple of his concluding points were worth calling out.

– David Shipler advocates not for raising the minimum wage, but for creating a path to better jobs. People that start out at minimum wage should have a clear training or experience path to a job with better wages. There will always be people around to fill the entry jobs, however, to end the cycle of poverty, we have to allow those that are working hard and well to progress.

– Job education is key. Many children from poor families don’t learn the basics of job interviewing, showing up on time, customer service, etc. As hard as it is for some of us to accept that, we could do the best good by teaching them the basics. Shipler had quite a few positive examples in this space.

Through real people Shipler shows us what the life of the working poor is like in America. Check out a copy from your local library or click on the link to the right and buy it. Read it.

Does Money Buy Happiness?

This article,How not to buy happiness, suggests that it can if you use the extra money to shorten a commute or otehrwise alleviate stress in your life. “… if we use an increase in our incomes, as many of us do, simply to buy bigger houses and more expensive cars, then we do not end up any happier than before. But if we use an increase in our incomes to buy more of certain inconspicuous goods–such as freedom from a long commute or a stressful job–then the evidence paints a very different picture.”


This BookMachine can print a book in five minutes. Select the book you want, insert your credit card, and in 5 minutes, your book comes out the slot. Imagine what this will mean to bookstores! To all the industries involved in getting books from publishing houses to bookstores!

Will your local chain bookstore still stock thousands of titles to browse through? Or just the bestsellers? Will there be “bookstore kiosks” at the local mall? The airport?

If these machines catch on and publishers buy into it, I would expect book prices to drop significantly as shipping costs decrease and overprinting and overstocking problems are eliminated completely.

The New York Times & Google

Search for news on Google, and the New York Times articles rarely show up. This article in Wired discusses why. “The New York Times requires that its users register, which makes it difficult for search engines to spider its content. Perhaps an even more impenetrable barrier is the Times’ paid archive. Because it stows material more than a week old behind an archive wall, you have to cough up $3 per article. Since few are willing to pay for content they can get free elsewhere, search engines, which often base results on relevancy (read: popularity), will continue to dis the Times.”

I had to post this because just a day or two ago, my mom suggested that I not link to NYT articles in my blog since after a couple of weeks they are no longer available for free. The article had the perfect solution. This New York Times Link Generator offers a solution. They keep an archive of all of the NYT articles. Enter a NYT url and they will give you a “weblog-safe” link, one that will continue to be freely accessible even after two weeks.

Get email when your dog leaves the yard

Attach the collar to your dog.  Define the area you think your dog should stay in (i.e., the backyard, Chase!) When your dog leaves that area, you’ll get an email that says he’s left AND the location where your dog is at the moment.  If this is going to work for Chase, it better send an update every thirty seconds.

The device is supposed to be out by the end of the year and will cost $300 plus a $13 monthly fee.  As to what this means if applied to children is a topic I will leave for another time.

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > What’s Next: For the Fretting Pet Owner, a Wireless Distress Signal

10 Partisan Myths

I haven’t read this book, but I just added it to my wish list after reading this Newsweek summary.

“Running on Empty: In his new book, Peter G. Peterson, chairman of the Blackstone Group and a former secretary of Commerce, explains how the theological war between Republicans and Democrats is bankrupting our future” It seems to add factual material to my theory that we exaggerate the differences between the parties and follow our party’s belief a little too blindly.

Goal Setting Causes Cheating

Setting goals and then missing them may make people more likely to cheat than if they hadn’t had any goals, especially if they missed them by just a little. This Wharton article, Goal setting and Cheating: Why They Often Go Together in the Workplace – Knowledge@Wharton, talks about several studies that relate goal setting to cheating and gives very tangeable, believable examples. It does end on a positive note with some suggestions for how to minimize cheating. For example, they suggest that the rewards should be graduated, so if selling one more car will win you a trip to Hawaii, there had better be a pretty good second prize or you’re likely to cheat on that last car.