Category Archives: education

Are “Fine Free” Public Libraries Really Better For the City of St Paul?

Up until the new year I was a fine-paying public library patron, as many people in St Paul were.  I paid my fines, it was painful, it didn’t seem fair, but I paid them. This was the case up until recently when St Paul Public Libraries went “fine free”.  The fines I paid over the years happened because had I forgotten or I didn’t have the time to turn in materials. Each time I thought: next time, I would remember to bring my materials in before they were overdue, given the opportunity.  I would change for the better from this lesson. However, there won’t be next time in St Paul, these fine events are something many people will no longer experience. And in being unable to accrue library fines in St Paul, I found out that lack of in-depth research and hopeful positive intentions are perhaps why it is that way.  Let me share with you some research on the topic and you decide on fines or no fines at the public library, what you learn through data from fines studies may surprise you, I was certainly surprised.

The St Paul Public Library’s “Fine Free” webpage asks the question: Why go fine free?”  and they answer: “It’s good for our community. Our community is stronger and healthier when people have access to the programs, services, and materials they need to pursue their educational, career, family, and life goals. We hope this will encourage prior users to come back to the library and attract new users to experience our offerings.”  All of these hopes and aspirations may have good intentions, but does ending fines and fees at the public library help our community? Does it make our community stronger and healthier? Does it allow for more programs, services, and materials that patrons need to pursue their educational, career, and life goals?  Let’s look at a few studies and find out.

On the St Paul Public Library’s (SPPL) website (https://sppl.org/about-fine-free/) it states that: “Late fines are not effective. Studies have shown that small fines have no impact on return rates. According to “Removing Barriers to Access,” a Colorado State Library whitepaper: “The scant research on the impact of library fines and fees does not indicate a clear benefit to administering these polices and may be costly to enforce.”  This line is directly taken from “Removing Barriers to Access” research which is not a peer reviewed journal, which ironically, provides many references to prove the ineffectiveness of fines while providing zero references on the effectiveness of fines and fees, further suggesting there is more than “scant research” and perhaps exposing an information bias.  

Moreover, SPPL’s “Fine Free” webpage cites this single study on the effectiveness of fines and fees, but there has to be more to the story than “scant research”.  Simply suggesting with a broad generalization that there is a lack of research on library fines does not prove that those fines are ineffective–or effective, especially when citing only one study.  This study proves that one side of the argument might show a result happened in this single study or other case studies under certain conditions, based on other studies with the same opinion, but fail to mention any benefits of fines and fees.  Nothing to change policy on, more information is needed, right?

In an attempt to retrieve more information I found the study SPPL offers is only one of at least a few studies on the topic; each with a somewhat different conclusion, making any decision on eliminating fines premature.   

A study at The Journal of Librarianship (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2013.08.011) shows the opposite may be true about eliminating fines: “The results indicate that fines indeed make a difference in patron book return behavior. Patrons who borrowed books under a fines policy returned books before due dates at a statistically significantly higher rate. As a result of this study, it is determined that a fines policy is an effective tool to ensure that books are returned on time and available to the maximum number of library users.”  The maximum number of library users sounds like a lot of people who would be positively impacted by fines and fees. This data being acknowledged, the debate over library fines is far from a conclusion.

Another interesting point related to financial resources is cited on SPPL’s website: “It’s fiscally responsible. Due to the rise in electronic materials (which do not accrue late fines) and other factors, fines are not a sustainable form of revenue for the library. Money collected from fines and fees has gone down steadily for the past 10 years.”, no source was cited with this information.  Yet, a study from Bowling Green State University, Fine Efficacy: An Experimental Study of the Effect of Daily Fines on Borrower Return Habits  (https://libguides.bgsu.edu/fine-research)  indicates that “eliminating fines caused a 33% decline in revenue generated, despite increasing reserve fines and billing fees to compensate for the loss of daily fine payments  They also saw a small increase in number of books that became overdue, even though loan periods had been extended.” This data is compelling considering modern libraries need all of the funding resources they can acquire to provide the valuable resources and services to our communities.

Now, I ask: to what end is SPPL eliminating fines and fees when there is counter-research that suggestsµ doing so could create a negative outcome?  To look good? Good intentions abound but there is lack of evidence that the practice of ending fines or making libraries “fine free” does anything to improve or expand the community readership, patron satisfaction, or even benefit those who no longer accrue fines at any income level.  What happens when patrons can no longer check out a book because it is drastically overdue or assumed lost, and that higher cost to cover a new book is not paid, what costs will the library incur to replace that material resource and have it sent out in a timely manner, if at all? These are some questions undiscussed, seemingly brushed over.  

When taking an assortment of library fines and fees studies into account, perhaps, it is safe to say that there is more research needed and necessary to responsibly change policy within public libraries, especially if it has the potential to decrease fiscal resources for library functions and increase the number of overdue books, essentially limiting those resources for fellow patrons.  Forgiving fines may remove a great lesson from our society, it may show that punctuality and holding to a plan, and having responsibility, is an outdated practice. But eliminating fines may prove beneficial, and create more access. Either way we must keep learning in order to understand the weight of decisions on such important institutions, both sides have plenty to check out.

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Time Machines Exist, and They are Outlawed by Mankind

There is a way to travel back in time already, I figured it out in deep thought yesterday. (It’s been outlawed by mankind though.) A person would simply need two massive space drones, some poles, and a camera. Basically, just attach the drones to the axis of the earth, halt it from spinning, then set to work spinning it backwards. Simple, easy. I think we already all know this.

The problem with this idea is that time is relative. It’s not that it doesn’t work–that we couldn’t go back in time, but it would be nearly impossible to set it straight to a direct time. Imagine setting an analog watch, no watch is exactly on time. Greenwich isn’t ever on time. Time is relative. SO how fast or slow we spin and where we end up is a gamble.

This time machine idea would impact the entire world, as it would alter the entire world. No one is ready for that change. We can’t even agree on politics. Stopping the world for someone in the prime of their life to go back to your prime would ultimately not be a good deal for the former. There is too much riding on it. End of discussion. Call it insane, impossible.

It’s already been done though, we have gone back in time. We have interpreted and created our dead ones again: look at museums. We are there. The technology is there. Two drones, some poles and a camera. Stop the world and spin it backwards. That is how we create what a time machine would create. How we change time. The camera is how we know what the past looks like. Don’t agree? Prove me wrong.

Under Control of My Ideas

Maybe my ideas suck just as bad as the next person, no matter how hard I try to make them heard or make them law.  And here, I attempt to control my life in all decisions, I wake up and wonder how in control I am about my ideas. Control over other people’s ideas.  Have I tried to control too much? Too many fingers in too many idea pies? A thought I like to reflect on, old and played-out by now: when you focus on everything you focus on nothing. By making my ideas center stage have I taken the light away from other people’s ideas? I am not sure, but I recall this idea of control: When you attempt to control others you lose control of yourself. I wake up from a dream where I am visiting a counselor, she says that same thing, like a past life, as if it’s true. I know it now.  Oddly, I concede and take it all back because I know dreams can be right.  I know because they have been. Who is in control of my ideas, what ways can they show it through listening and relating under control?

Less is More, so many generalizations

Recently, I have come under the idea that less is more. I’ve been reading Walden on Wheels. I have been seeing that what I have, too much, is very too much. I want out of it. I say now, less is more, less is more. This is so true.

This realization started after reading The Millionaire Nextdoor, a book about being frugal. A book about just living with less, not overspending, and living on the means that you have, and becoming a millionaire.

I set new goals because of it. I want nothing. I want to have nothing but liquid security in wealth. The lesson I learned is be prepared for anything and don’t live beyond your means. Keep an even keel. Sail your boat and don’t sink.

Yes, I do believe less is more… So I give you less words. But I must admit it. I am starting to like the idea of having less and feeling it more. As Dave Ramsey says (I have been listening to his podcast) “Live like no one else and you can live like no one else.”

I am ready to live like no one else. Have been for some time. I always felt like a nonconformist. Now I can prove it in actions. No more too much. No more overspending. We all owe it to ourselves to get ourselves right first. Then we can help everyone else. But only then.

Things I notice when I think

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A refreshing beverage to help me unwind 

1.) Group think is much easier than having an individual abstract thought that is different than what the majority thinks.  If we all just agreed then there would be no argument, ever.  And making all of the arguments that we don’t agree with out to be wrong or bad or misguided makes our point more relevant and digestible to us.  I remember in elementary school where being different was unique or a good thing, now it’s just not falling in line.

2.)  Occupy Wall Street was a good movement, perhaps.  It included all the poor class(es) perhaps.  It was against the upper class perhaps.  It did not divide the poor individuals by race, gender, nationality, or creed, perhaps.  It was the 99% against the 1% perhaps.  That’s America mothertrucker!  Alas, the 1% own the media; the media stopped covering the Occupy Movement, now they tell us things like flamethrowers are for peace, so is punching, perhaps.

3.)  Most people have passionate feelings about Trump, though they have never met him in person… So they don’t know him from Adam, aside for what certain secondhand accounts paints him.  That is more weird than Trump himself.  I don’t know you, someone who doesn’t know describes you to me, I know everything about you apparently from what they tell me about you: same thing.  I don’t believe in polls.  I don’t believe in advertisements.  I believe in empirical experience.  Did I see it?  Most people have strong opinions of Trump and they have never met Trump.  He is an easy distraction.  He is easy to dislike, perhaps a group thought.

4.)  While all are fighting to protect everything they hold near and dear– identities, everyone else’s identities, rights, freedoms, livelihoods, neighborhoods, peace, and jobs, by fighting–demonstrators are out there doing what they say they are against.  Ideology is an important aspect of any movement, I once thought.  Not really sure.  These actions disenfranchise all of our rights.  These actions put our freedoms at more danger than anything.

5.)  People are crazy.  Ever watch a garden grow into a salad?  Ever mow the grass and see it come back again the same?  Ever watch a sun set on a Sunday?  The news should be on this stuff.  I have never been to North Korea, that place is fine with me.  I have never been to Russia–I have met a russian, all that is fine with me.  It’s all good.  Crazy people assume a stance given to them by the very people they dislike and go with it, even if it doesn’t work a million times over.

6.) These are just things I notice when I think.  I am defending and denouncing no one.  I am merely positing abstract thought to think about.  No need to take it as fact or persuasion.  I think thinking is good.  I think having different ideas and questioning conventional-now wisdom is a fantastic practice, and healthy.  Why not ask why the sky is blue, or why the earth is round, or why global warming is going to drown us all?  Think about it…  Texas Toast doesn’t have to be made in Texas to be called Texas Toast.

Protesters shut down Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ press conference, demanding new leadership now, continued unrest

In an odd turn of events, the protesters attempted to oust Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges calling for her and her entire staff to resign.

This action come in lieu of the recent tragic shooting of Justine Damond, chief of police Harteau was asked to resign yesterday in relation to this event.

At the press conference, a group of protesters from a Justine rally appear to take over the meeting and demand that Hodges also resign.

Hodges made no remarks to signify if she were or were not to resign, simply leaving the conference abruptly.

Wreckage of Doomed Nantucket Whaling Ship Pequod Discovered in Pacific Ocean, Likely Destroyed by Moby Dick–Russian hackers to blame

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Actual photo of the infamous Nantucket Whaler, The Pequod in her final resting place. -Google

The infamous long-lost Nantucket whaler, The Pequod, has been found in less than pristine condition at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Papua New Guinea,  just below the equator, researchers have said, in a discovery that challenges the accepted history behind one of whaling’s deepest and most revered mysteries.

 

The Pequod was destroyed in heavy seas in an epic historical battle with the tenacious and malevolent white whale, Moby Dick, in the 1850s, during Captain Ahab’s much storied doomed attempt to pay vengeance on the while for taking his leg.

 

All men on Ahab’s fateful expedition, except for Ishmael–by way of, ironically, a coffin, perished, in the worst disaster to hit Nantucket in its long history of whaling. Search parties continued to look for the ship for 11 years after it disappeared, but found no trace, except for Ishmael, and the fate of the missing men remained an enigma that tantalised generations of historians, archaeologists and adventurers for years to come.

 

Now that enigma appears to have been solved by a combination of intrepid exploration, literary sleuths – and an improbable tip from Team Zissou.  

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Team Zissou -Photo from Google

 

On Sunday, a team from the charitable Hennessey Research Foundation manoeuvred a small, remotely operated submarine from a dinghy through an open hatch and into the ship’s lumber to capture stunning images that give insight into life aboard the vessel close to 170 years ago.  “We found the food storage room with plates and one can on the shelves stove in.”

 

Alistair Hennessey Pacific Research Foundation

“We have successfully entered the captain’s quarters, we presume, worked our way into a few cabins, potentially, and found the spermaceti storage room with barrels and harpoons asunder,” Adrian S’moreschnapps, the foundation’s operations director, told the reporters by email from the research vessel Martin Bergmann.

 

“We spotted harpoons, a gold doubloon nailed to one of the ship’s masts, mixed with tables and empty shelving. We found a deck with curious peg holes and instruments for the purpose of whaling.”

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Not a picture of the Titanic, but a picture of The Pequod resting at the bottom of the ocean. -Photo from Google

 

The destroyed wreckage matches that of The Pequod in several key aspects, however it lies 60 miles (96km) south of where experts have long believed the ship was catastrophically done in by the hatefully-maligned white whale, and this discovery may force historians to rewrite a chapter in the history of whaling.

 

The 20-member Mountain Man crew found the absolutely obliterated shipwreck, with her three masts broken but still standing, one with a gold doubloon nailed to it, almost all hatches destroyed and everything stowed, in the middle of a vast underwater crag in the Pacific on 3 September.

 

After discovering little in an early morning search, the research vessel was leaving the bay when a grainy digital silhouette emerged from the depths on the sounder display on the bridge of the Bergmann.

 

“Most on board were up in the wheelhouse by that point in disbelief, obviously,” said Michael James Bond, 27, who was at the helm when the research vessel steamed straight over the sunken wreck.

 

Since, then, the discovery team has spent more than 5 weeks quietly gathering images of the vessel, re-reading Moby-Dick, and comparing the facts with the Pequod’s 17th century builders’ plans, descriptions, and peculiarities which match key elements of the sunken vessel.

 

At first, The Pequod seemed to be listing at about 45 degrees to starboard on the seabed. But on the third dive with a remotely operated submarine from a dinghy, “we noticed the wreck is sitting exploded to splinters on the ocean floor listed in a pile – which means the boat sank by being eviscerated by a spiteful white whale with a vendetta,” S’moreschnapps said Monday.

 

Approximately 200 metres (656.168ft) down, the wreck is in a horribly dismal condition, with American wood lumber that reinforced the hull against ocean currents clearly annihilated, visible amid swaying kelp, sharks, and giant squid.  

 

A long, heavy hemp rope line running through a hole in the ship’s deck suggests an anchor line definitely had not been deployed before the Pequod violently went down.  Which makes this event believable.

 

If fact, that sets up the tantalising possibility that Nantucket whalers sank with the vessel in an all-out impossible final battle with the notorious white whale, leaving only Ishmael to float to safety in a coffin on the vast Pacific.  

 

One crucial detail in the identification of the ship is it’s smashed in hull, damage sustained only by being smited in by a white sperm whale.  

 

“This is in the precise location where barrels stored oil in the Pequod’s belly to finance the ship’s whaling voyage, to fuel candlelight, and to squeeze coagulated spermaceti, through whaling perils and successes,” said S’moreschnapps in a phone interview.

 

The ship’s wood lies on the ocean floor, close to where the whaler on watch would have swung the clapper to mark time, and yell “There she blows!-there she blows! A hump like a snow-hill! It is Moby Dick!”

 

“The wreck is clearly in disrepair, the glass panes are blown out in three of four tall windows in the stern cabin where the ship’s commander, Captain Ahab, schemed and plotted his redeeming final battle,” S’moreschnapps added.

 

“She [The Pequod] looks like it was buttoned down tight for winter’s night and sank, after falling off mount Everest and then being hit by twenty trains,”– he then quickly added. “Everything was shut and decimated. Even the windows defenestrated by wood shards. If you could lift this boat out of the water, and pump the water out, it would definitely not float.”

 

Adrian S’moreschnapps, Pacific Research Foundation

The Pacific Research Foundation was set up by Jim Belushi and Alistair Hennessey, a naval tech tycoon and socialite philanthropist, who co-founded Research in the Ocean, creator of the loveable Furbies.

 

Belushi, who also played a key role in planning the expedition, proposed a theory to explain why it seems The Pequod sank far south of where they believed.

 

“This discovery changes history,” he told the Guardian. “Given the location of the find [in James Bond Bay] and the state of the wreck, it’s almost certain that The Pequod was not operationally closed down by the remaining crew who then did not re-boarded another vessel and sail south to safety where they would not have met their ultimate tragic fate.”

 

The 21st-century search for Ahab’s expedition was launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of a broader plan to assert Russian sovereignty in the Pacific and promote development of its non-renewable resources – including vast reserves of sperm whale oil, ambergris harvests, and coral reef mines, which will be easier to exploit as the Pacific warms and sea ice disappears, naturally, this is attributed factually to global warming.  

 

Putin’s underwater archeologists have led the mission since it began in 2008. Now they must confirm the wreck is The Pequod, either by examining the foundation’s images or visiting the site themselves. With the first winter snow already falling in the South Pacific, James Bond Bay will soon be encased in thick sea ice.

 

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The Dramatic Sinking of The Pequod:  

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Artists accurate depiction of the sinking of The Pequod

“Only Ishmael [was] unable to return to the boat. He [was] left behind in the sea, and so [was] the only crewman of The Pequod to survive [its] final encounter. The whale [then] fatally attack[ed] the Pequod. Ahab [realizing] that the destroyed ship [was] the hearse made of American wood in Fedallah’s prophesy.

 

The whale (Moby Dick) return[ed] to Ahab, who stab[bed] at him again. The line loop[ed] around Ahab’s neck, and as the stricken whale sw[am] away, the captain [was] drawn with him out of sight.

Queequeg’s coffin c[a]me to the surface, the only thing to escape the vortex when Pequod sank. For an entire day, Ishmael float[ed] on it, and then the Rachel, still looking for its lost seamen, rescue[d] him.” -Wikipedia’s actual account of the last known sighting of the Pequod.

 

The latest discovery was made two years and a day after Canadian marine archeologists found the wreck of Erebus in the same area of eastern of the South Pacific where Inuit oral history had long said a large wooden ship sank.

 

The same stories described startled Inuit stumbling upon a large dead man in a dark room on a different vessel, with a big smile. Experts have suggested that may have been a rictus smile, or evidence that the man had suffered from scurvy.

 

Putin’s Russian archeologists found The Pequod standing in just 11 meters of ocean. Sea ice had taken a large bite out her stern, and more than a century of storm-driven waves had not scattered a trove of artifacts around the site.

 

So far, archaeologists have brought up nothing from Ahab’s flagship.

 

Inuit knowledge was also central to finding the James Bond Bay wreck, but in a more mysterious way. Crewman David Lee Roth, 49, of Gjoa Haven, had been on the Bergmann for only a day when, chatting with fon the bridge, he told a bizarre story.

 

About six years ago, Roth said, he and a hunting buddy were headed on snowmobiles to fish in a lake when they spotted a large piece of wood, near scrimshaw, which looked like a mast, sticking out of the sea ice covering James Bond Bay.

 

In a phone interview, Roth said he stopped that day to get a few snapshots of himself hugging the wooden object, only to discover when he got home that the camera had fallen out his pocket along with his selfie stick.

 

Roth resolved to keep the encounter secret, fearing the missing camera was an omen of bad spirits, which generations of Inuit have believed began to wander James Bond Bay after Ahab and his men perished.

 

When S’moreschnapps heard Roth’s story, he didn’t dismiss it, as Inuit testimony has been so often during the long search for Ahab’s ship.

 

Instead, the Team Zissou crew agreed to make a detour for James Bond Bay on their way to join the main search group aboard the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Shawinigan, at the north end of Victoria Strait.

That is where the only known record of The Pequod’s journey coordinates pointed for what experts now call the point of abandonment.

 

An indecipherable scrawled note dated sometime around that time, and concealed in a stone cairn at a secret point on northern James Bond Bay, said The Pequod had been obliterated three days earlier, smited by a hateful white whale.

 

Starbuck was in command of “the officers and crews, consisting of 105 souls”, because Ahab had gone to chase Moby Dick the note continued, “and now our captain has lead us to our demise, ignoring all foreshadowing and ominous tell… ”.

 

Stubb and First Mate Starbuck signed the note, which had what seemed a hurried postscript, scrawled upside down in the top right corner: “Listen here, ye men, we are going to die, maties!!!  The very end is nigh, in three horrible parts, Old Thunder has done us in, old boys, stove us with the mighty DICK… we drown now and go, no, no, no…  AHHHHH!!!!”.

 

Survivors apparently hoped to float to the river – now known as Henry David river – south to safety at a Jack Sparrow Bay Company fur trading outpost.

 

All perished, except the narrator, and for generations, the accepted historical narrative has described a brutal death march as the Nantucket whalers  tried to walk out of the South Pacific, dying along the way.

 

Now Moby Dick experts will have to debate whether at least some of the dying sailors instead mustered incredible strength, fighting off hunger, disease, frostbite, and a giant loathsome white whale, in a desperate attempt to sail home.

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Mimic article from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/12/hms-terror-wreck-found-arctic-nearly-170-years-northwest-passage-attempt