Tag Archives: science

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MPR News Reports: “One Rough Month in No Way Proves or Disproves Climate Science”

FROGTOWN, USA–Minnesota received a record amount of snowfall last month, that’s a fact. Let’s look at a direct quote from an MPR article discussing climate change related to that fact:

Yes, it’s been cold. And snowy. But remember: One rough month in no way proves or disproves climate science.

Now, think about that quote in relation to the headline of the article wherein that quote is found, referencing how Minnesota snowfall records “might” be aided by climate change.

Those details considered, how might our snowfall records be aided by climate change, as the headline suggests, when this one record snowfall event in no way proves or disproves climate science, as the article suggests?

Source: MPR article

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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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Declutter of Meaningless Associations — There is Only Time For What is Important to You

I am not friends with 99.8% of the people I went to high school with and that is a subjective fact.  As a 31 year-old Millennial dad I find myself only having about three or four  real friends in my life at any one point in time, and I think that calculation is great! This understanding is kind of an amazing thing to consider; it’s beautiful, I love it.  I smile more.  Less of a crowd to impress, less to persuade or be a spectacle for, or to simply agree with to avoid conflict.  Gossip did that, so did a minimalist mindset. 

Moreover, I lost most of my “friends” about two years ago, around election time, around the time I realized that I didn’t necessary absolutely agree with being one of the progressive/regressive herd, or what was said on CNN or Facebook or Twitter et al. and on the mainstream news–which is everything and everywhere.  You could say I like diversity of thought.  At that time, I found myself realizing there is only time for what is important:  MY  individual  beliefs and goals.  I had to declutter my personal life of excess, so I made a plan and followed through.  It just involved being my true self and being able to walk away from things I did not need while amassing more of the essential things necessary to making my future better.  

One is aWOKEn quickly when there are mouths to feed that none of your so-called friends, the ones who don’t really do anything in a give-and-take relationship, will be putting lunch on the table or give you positive ideas and motivations or pay your credit card or student loan debt.  (Not only do they not do those things for you but YOU DO NOT NEED TO GET THEIR APPROVAL TO DO YOUR LIFE.)  I don’t expect them to, but they don’t expect you to either.  That lack of vision and support is stagnation, there needs to be positive diversity of thought in all situations.  Further, those friends may tell you big ideas and wallow, that is anitmotivational.  They may tell you they aspire but don’t have motivation or action to try, that is pro-sedentarism and takes you nowhere.  You could have mannequins around you giving thumbs up and they would do more for your self care purposes.

Realizing this is important: you make you.  Realizing it’s just you and what you make of life is key to the success you find in your life.  Friends I have lost have offered commiseration for a period of time and were necessary, approval that it is acceptable to be subpar.  Not anymore.  I declutter my basement and I declutter my friends.  I don’t need excuses or malarkey from people around me, I need action and awareness and planning, which are qualities some people my age may lack–especially the loudest ones with the biggest dreams and even bigger fingers to point at everyone but themselves.  However, I would agree some people do have these winning qualities and that is a HUGE positive, and they are close to me.  (The quiet ones with winning qualities get to work with their hands and their brains and not their mouths.)  I may be callus and I may be calculated, but only God can judge me perhaps. 

Accordingly, after reading and taking in much Brian Tracy and Dave Ramsey and documentaries on minimalism, I want role models around me, I want people who are flawed that come out better than when they started, human ones, empathetic: ones that make mistakes and come out better by experience.  I want quality not quantity.  I don’t need a bunch of virtue-signalists around me waiting for their big break.  I am flawed but I am striving for better for myself and my family and my future.  I am in debt but I have a plan to become a millionaire if I simply follow that plan. 

Everyone is flawed, so what?  I want to make tomorrow better for those I find around me and myself, so do I complain and blame or make change?  A better me means a better you for all of us.  In the past, perhaps that might have been not so, and I wondered who was around me at that point in time, what encouragement creates.  Which support systems and rules did I follow to get here or there?  Realizing that debt was controlling my life, my work, and my freedom at every moment was important to realizing I needed less of some things and more of others.  That was a great lesson but it would have never been learnt had I not been to the bottom or experienced hardships.  We find ourselves cleansing in times when we feel impure, we find ourselves taking a shower to wash clean our bodies and start new days.  I am cleansing of my student loans of credit card debt to be completely free, that is a part of this metamorphosis.  

We can think on the positive aspects of any negative situation and learn from them and and grow from them.  Every hardship or struggle or tragedy we face is a moment to learn, to come back stronger and better and more equipped to manage the world around you in the future.  We can do this with anything: friends, debt, ideology, religion, identity, etc.  Those are the times we live in; you can be a bobcat, a dinosaur, or an astronaut.

When I have a problem that I can’t solve I wait for a new day and think it over again, new thought may come my way.  This is a new day.  You have a new day now too.  Today I find myself marveling at quality not quantity.  I have friends I truly laugh with daily, truly care about constantly.  I have friends who are thoughtful and listen.  I have friends who hear my ideas and do not judge me for my honesty.  I see that with a plan and positive thinkers around me I can make it, or I can make it by myself with positive thought. 

I believe anyone can make it irregardless of everything.  I don’t have to believe that the world is ending because the television tells me so.  Or that we are going to hell because 100 % of half of the scientists in the smart part of town agree generally speaking on Headline News.  I can believe in the church but not believe in God.  I can believe that Texas Toast is made in Ohio.  I don’t have to hate a politician because everyone else does and says that I must too.  This is America!  I don’t have to show intolerance to those who I don’t agree with and then ask for tolerance from everyone around me so I can look good in my social circles, or on social media.  I can be kind all on my own, to all without being prompted.  Maybe my social circle is broken and that is tolerance.  Maybe forget social media.  Nothing is complete, except for death, probably. 

And if you agree with that and more, then that is perfectly fine, that is so.  You may just be my new friend, like at the beginning.  Perfect, right?  Well, I hope not.  Perfect is complete, ended, finished, dead.  This is just the beginning.  Maybe you will open up and cleanse yourself of the clutter you don’t need, tying you down.  You are all right with that and I am too.  Being all right is good, but it’s not the best.  You don’t have to and shouldn’t be perfect.  I am nowhere near perfect either.  Neither is this idea or this written piece, it’s fluid abstract and important and not and open to new ideas.  Though, I find myself closer to making change daily and seeing where that takes me, with or without every other individual around me who agrees or doesn’t and doesn’t change themselves or have to anyway because of it. 

There is an old saying about who needs friends, but ever better would be saying who needs you?  You NEED YOU.  Those you love NEED YOU.  They NEED YOU TO BE OPEN MINDED AND POSITIVE AND READY TO MAKE CHANGE not complaint.  I think YOU NEED YOU, too, the most because I know I need me the most too.  

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Annihilation – The End of the Original Sci-Fi Movie Plot – SPOILERS WITHIN

*** SPOILER ALERT  ***

Last night I saw a movie for the first time in years.  That movie was Annihilation.  I had little prior knowledge of the film before seeing it.  I didn’t see a trailer.  I didn’t read a review.  I just went and saw it with my wife.  Here is the gist.

As a disclaimer I will admit I enjoyed this film.  I enjoyed going to a movie for the first time in a long time.  It was great, minus the idiot on his phone in the row in front of us.  It was a pleasure.  Thank you for reading my review of Annihilation.

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Best Shot: The best shot in this film, aside from all of the visually stunning flora and fauna, is at about the midpoint when the team of experts stumbles upon a mess hall.  They find a video of some sick death by a cadet before them.  The crew finds the scene of his death has turned an  abandoned swimming pool into an explosion of colors and what appears to be mold.  This grotesquely morbid end creates creates and aesthetic I have rarely seen in films.  Like zombie ants with fungus shooting from their heads.  Like mummies on display.  This was the best shot in my opinion.  Although everything seems to sparkle and shimmer in alien phosphorescence.

Worst Shot:  Spoiler alert the worsts shot is at the end when the alien in the lighthouse pirouettes the main character.  It’s far too long.  Far too played out.  I have seen in before.  It adds very little.  We know that the alien is trying to mirror the humans before this point in the film.  Also, the shots of the extra-marital affair involving the main character.  This affair does nothing to move the plot.

Plot:  Perhaps we have reached a point in the sci-fi cannon when all ideas have been exhausted to the point at which we just basically are trying to understand us, while realizing there is nothing out there beyond us.  Perhaps.  The pedestrian alien in Annihilation are basically the same alien in Signs, or any other cartoon alien–except for with a smaller head and limited facial features.  Aliens are still somewhat green and still somewhat humanoid and thinking.  However, these aliens may not understand the ideological concept of “want”, “wanting”, or “preference”.  The just do.  They just change.  For whatever reason, it’s never really explained.

Takeaway:  Annihilation is visually appealing, it’s visually appealing like Prometheus.  The film offers moments of tender human relations, marriage, and longing.  It also bring a bit of horror with a monster bear and the idea of going nuts in a world where, or in a bubble–ironically for our times, a bubble, where those around you are going clearly mad.  Changing from one thing to another irregardless of the individuals intentions.  These things happen.  Like biology, I guess.  Near the end of the movie the main point shows through: things change for the simple reason that they can.  Outside alien entities change us for their reasons and their reasons are unknown.  That’s basically it.  Annihilation poses more questions than it answers while still making me thing a little bit but not offering much novel idea.  It was an entertaining flick, but it has some explaining to do, and of course a work cited may be necessary in the credits.

 

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.

Manspreading caused by male organ placement science reveals, new study of anatomy exposes the goods 

Full spread on a subway

Frogtown, USA–In an unbelievable turn of events, new revelations about the once thought to be loathsome male act of “manspreading” has been revealed, science has unsheathed the exact cause stemming from males having an external reproductive organ between their legs due to anatomy.

In recent years, the gaping phenomenon of the “manspread” has been spotted all over the world and called out and disparaged on transit lines and in metro buses ubiquitously, seen as an unforgivable negative offense of the male persuasion. Now what seems to be a completely obvious reason for spreading one’s legs has been put forth to the masses, suggesting the opposite.

Two days ago, in a secret laboratory at Area 51, which only creates scientific laws, hot air balloons, cowardly lions, and never-fails, the act of “manspreading” has been proven to be brought on by an excruciating condition linked to the male anatomy’s mass in relation to thighs proximity rather than by individual preference to take up an entire row of seats, unnamed official sources close to the secret undisclosed laboratory have said.

“We are one hundred percent certain that the reliable scientists at Area 51, researching this matter have said that one hundred percent of the males who manspread have genitals between their legs which cause an uncomfortable feeling while sitting in a constricted manner on transit, causing kinetic spreadage.” One anonymous dependable source expressed.

After a day of rigorous studies and head-scratching, this amazing conclusion was absolutely found to be conclusive–and now, soon to be made into scientific law in the United States.  This research is a prime example of the power of modern science, specifically related to human anatomy. And it shows how more studies could challenge the way society views actions deemed as negative habits.

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