Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reading Books is Bad for You

Yet another study has been done on sedentary lifestyles and how even a little exercise helps us live longer. What's funny to me is the conclusions they draw.

This one says an hour of TV takes 22 minutes off your life - the equivalent of two cigarettes. Why an hour of TV? Why not an hour of reading a book? I guess they decided that reading a book for an hour offers more benefits; but who are they to decide which hour is bad for me?

I like to watch The Science Channel. Does that not outweigh the 22 minutes lost? What about the time I spent catching up on the day's news or writing this blog?

One conclusion we can draw, however, is that movies are definitely healthier for you than books. It takes several hours to read a book, but a movie with the same story only requires you to be sedentary for about 2 hours.

This is good news for smokers, too. According to the math behind this study, going to a 2 hour movie instaed of reading an 8 hour book saves you 6 hours - meaning you offset 12 cigarettes.

My point is that the math behind these kinds of studies can be used to say just about anything. Here's a final calculation for you. To me, the hour spent exercising is an hour of my life gone. I'd rather lose only 22 minutes while I enjoy an hour of TV or video games... or even a book.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Kindle Decision

My wife and I are looking into eReaders. If we do get one, it will be the Kindle 3G without ads. The problem is whether or not to pull the trigger.

The recent price drop is frustrating because they cut the price of the 3G with special offers by 25 bucks, but did not drop the one without special offers. I like to think of the different versions in terms of the marginal cost of features.

The base model is still $114. It used to be: add $25 to get rid of special offers and/or add $50 to upgrade to 3G. The price drop messed up that equation. Now it's: add $25 to get rid of either special offers or upgrade to 3G or add $75 to get rid of both. Or, to put it another way, getting rid of special offers on a wi-fi Kindle only costs $25, but removing it from a 3G Kindle costs $50.

Even though the price of the one we wanted hasn't changed, I would feel ripped off if I bought it, now.

The bigger issue, however, is whether to buy an eBook reader at all. I've listed the pros and cons below. Please help me decide if the pros outweigh the cons.

- Single device stores your entire eBook library
- Download books instantly from anywhere
- Cloud stores bookmarks and notes that transfer to other devices/apps
- eBooks linked to account, so no risk of loss or damage
- Lots of free and really cheap books
- Free library lending without haveing to go to the library (coming soon to Kindle)

- Can only lend a book once, and only for 14 days, and only if the author/publisher allows
- Cannot sell, exchange, donate or give away used eBooks
- New/popular books cost the same as print copies, which is expensive considering the above restrictions and the fact that I will have spent money on the reader, too.

So, right now we're in a holding pattern. I think it will come down to how the library lending ends up working out. The Cons all go away if you only use it for free and library books. Some of the pros go away, too, but any remaining pros outweigh zero cons. Then the question remains: do we buy any books for it?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Jobs Americans Will Do

According to a recent Bloomberg story, McDonalds hired 62,000 people across the United States. It's great to see positive economic news.

What's shocking about this story is the fact that over a million people applied for these jobs. I understand that a lot of these jobs are higher level positions, but I would guess that most are entry level. This completely destroys the premise that there are jobs that Americans won't do.

One major argument that illegal immigration supporters use is that the millions of people that come into the country each year fill positions that Americans don't want. That argument may hold some water in booming economic times but these are not booming economic times.

Imagine if those million prospective workers could find jobs in the labor and service industries that illigal immigrantss typically occupy. The fact is that there is some pride left in America. There are people who would rather work than collect unimployment or welfare - even if that means taking a job that society looks down on.

No job is shameful. No job is beneath us. What's shameful is giving up. What's shameful is looking forward to your next handout and electing politicians who will protect that lifestyle. What's beneath us is accepting a flood of illigal immigrants because they keep prices down.