Sunday, July 18, 2010

Catering to the Lowest Common Denominator: The Slow Reading Movement

When I was in school, I remember how much emphasis the teachers placed on speed reading. We were constantly being timed or using tips and tricks to improve our reading times. I'm an avid (and 'rabid') reader - there is nothing I enjoy more than to curl up with a good book, so my reading speed is naturally fast just due to practice. I never liked how teachers were so fixed on speed-reading. I think one should read at a pace that is comfortable to them. Granted, when it comes to second language learning, I can see how you would want to increase your reading speed in order to become more fluent (or at least sound that way). That also just requires practice of reading over and over and over again. No tips, no tricks, no timers - just practice. And I really disagree that speed readers are more intelligent than other readers. If anything, I think that speed readers attained their speed through practice of reading books, magazines, newspapers and/or whatever they could get their hands on and therefore introduced themselves to new ideas. THAT is what adds to a person's intelligence; the speed reading is just a side effect and not really related at all.

As much as I disliked teachers preaching about speed reading, I was horrified to learn this week about the Slow Reading movement. (Wish I was kidding) Seems society and teachers have done a 180 and now believe the way to go is Slow Reading. Apparently the premise is that we are so focused on doing things fast, that we miss the important things in life. And I don't disagree with that. There is a time and place to stop and smell the roses, but in the real world, if you do that all the time, you will be left behind. For instance, for dinner choices - home cooked is a much better option than fast food (and tastier/healthier too). But taking your time on a project for work, not such a good idea.

And the same for this "slow reading" stuff - sure, slow down for technical books, non-fiction science, computer books what have you. They are very dense with information should be read at a slower pace than a fiction novel. But to snail read through a light-hearted fiction novella is rubbish.

In the Seattle Times, the executive humanities editor at Havard says there's a world-wide reading crisis (I agree there) and thinks there should be a "revolution in reading". Yes, encourage people to read more. Don't encourage them to read slowly.

For the most part, I think this whole slow reading nonsense is nothing more than pandering to the lowest level so they don't get their feelings hurt. It's some sort of extension of "everyone's a winner/let's make everyone feel good" rubbish that they are spreading through schools now. Or the "Did I read the bill? I'm a Senator - I don't have time for that" attitude in Congress. I don't care if the students read fast or slow, just as long as they read, but don't you dare make a person feel bad about being a speed reader.

In the Newsweek article, there were some gems of quotes:

"But mostly the “movement” is just a bunch of authors, schoolteachers, and college professors who think that just maybe we’re all reading too much too fast and that instead we should think more highly of those who take their time with a book or an article."

So yes... now reading 50+ books in a year is no longer an accomplishment. And pretty soon, they'll be telling us to think highly of people who don't read books at all. We all just need to slow down, enjoy ourselves and melt all of those fast-moving neurons while we watch American Idol. I'm being sarcastic (mostly) and I get what they are saying about taking your time and not treating reading like a race, but the article goes on...

"Instead, Newkirk says, schools should encourage old-fashioned exercises such as reading aloud and memorization. He says that when he uses these exercises in his college-level classes, his students thank him and tell him that it helps them concentrate, unlike the surfing they do online."

'Reading aloud' in college? Are you kidding me? I had a professor who did that and I was bored to tears. College kids know how to read already (I hope)! Helps them concentrate, my foot.

Then an author of a book about slow reading  (does that seem odd to anyone else? An author promoting slow reading...? Yeah, encourage people to read less and slower and they won't be buying as many of your books... Or maybe he only has the one book and he doesn't care. I don't know...), John Miedema says:

"Slow reading is about bringing more of the person to bear on the book."

Huh? What kind of BS is that? What does that even mean exactly - relating more to the book by reading slower? Sounds pretentious to me...

And then the author admits there isn't any scientific backing to his idea.

"When you bring more of the person to bear on the book -or maybe more of the book to bear on a person in a sense - you develop a more intimate and rich relationship with the information that builds richer memories and richer intelligence."

Believe me, I have a relationship with my books and the information in them. I collect books like some women collect shoes. They overflow my bookshelf, camp out on my bedside table and accompany me to work. And the ones I have, I usually read multiple times. I have rich, fond memories of books I read when I first started to read and many, many more since then. Don't tell me that I don't properly enjoy books because I'm a speed reader. I may read fast, but I comprehend what I read too. It's comfortable to me - slow reading is not and it is distracting. And to claim that it builds a "richer intelligence" after you admitted that there's no scientific evidence to support your idea is poppycock. Reading alone builds intelligence; don't try and promote your idea with silly claims that have no basis.

The author of the article concludes that he's going to start "slow reading" and the worst thing he can think of happening from doing so, "is racking up a few overdue fines at the library". And this after admitting that he placed "in the middle of the pack" in a speed reading test. Sounds like speed reading envy to me.

And another load of BS related to reading: "Liberals Read More Books than Conservatives". Is that why books by conservative authors are always in the top of reading lists (Amazon, New York Times Bestseller)? Or how about books that recommended by Glenn Beck are on back-order by Amazon for months? And why did a certain 50-year-old, 1000+ page book (Atlas Shrugged) suddenly jump to the top of reading lists, sell-out in bookstores around the country and cause libraries to order more copies? Yeah, no liberal I know read any of those... Publications like Newsweek and liberal newspapers are going bankrupt due to lack of readership... Hmmm... just who reads more than whom?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Financial Reform and Scott Brown

I was disappointed to hear Scott Brown sided with them on this financial reform. Just goes to show that not only to we need to vote out the lazy "you-don't-actually-expect-us-to-read-the-bill-do-you?" and "let's spend more to get out of debt" types, but we need REAL conservatives. Those that will cut spending or cut back on government. Granted, Scott Brown may have been better than the alternative, but we need to stop voting for the lesser of two evils. We need to get some people in Washington that actually want to represent us first ahead of their career.

Back to the financial reform - no doubt we need it, but government isn't the way to do it. They have no business regulating Wall Street, no matter how harmless it may seem. This bill was co-authored by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. If those two names don't send up alarm bells, I'm not sure what will. Those two are always up to something and it's never pretty. This Pelosi/Reid/Obama/Frank/Dodd crowd is only after one thing and it's not hope, change or helping anyone out. It's usually about power and how they can it away from us. And with swine like Frank & Dodd crafting a bill, you can almost be sure it'll come with a nice heaping side of pork.

Pork like this little tidbit, which I have no idea of how it pertains to "financial reform":

"Section 342 of the bill calls for an "Office of Minority and Women Inclusion" to be established in each of 29 federal bureaus and offices."

Seems like it calls for a sort of affirmative action for jobs? It even goes further:

"The regulations appear to go beyond ensuring that discrimination in hiring decisions does not occur. Instead, it requires assurance of "fair inclusion." Furchtgott-Roth says it will pressure companies to find and hire minorities even if one hasn't applied for a specific job."

"FIND minorities even if one hasn't applied for a specific job"??? WTF? So 30 qualified people apply for a job and it just so happens that none of the are classified as a minority. So that means the company will turn away all of the candidates that applied, leave the job open and go out to find a random minority, just to fill a spot?

And even though as a woman, I'm apparently included into this whole deal, but I want a job that I'm qualified for - not because I was the first woman the hiring manager ran into at the supermarket. How insulting is that?! And what the hell does this have to do with financial reform?

Oh I get it now - this affirmative action rule isn't for all companies, it's just for federal offices and other financial-related companies that do business with them. That includes:

"29 federal agencies and all financial institutions, investment banking firms, mortgage banking firms, asset management firms, brokers, dealers, financial services entities, underwriters, accountants, investment consultants, and providers of legal services who do business with them."

And let's not forget those firms' sub-contractors as well - "including office-cleaning crews, paper-shredding vendors, office-party catering firms -- if they wish to do business with the government."

Well, okay, so I stand corrected. That's kind-of sort-of financially related in a Seven Degrees of Separation sort-of way... No idea of how that's supposed to help the financial institutions, other than making them go bankrupt. But if you think about it, I guess it could be considered "reform", although it's certainly not the good kind...

I know I don't want to do business with a company who hires based on race or gender, rather than based on qualifications. Certainly don't want someone handling my money like that. Shameful that the government is forcing them to and probably only so they can keep saying how many jobs they've "created or saved".

If the NAACP wants to stop racism, they should focus their attention at this bill, instead of wasting their time making up stuff about the Tea Parties.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

So Sue Me

So the Federal Government actually sued Arizona today. I honestly thought it was an empty threat - I didn't think they'd actually do it. Their stupidity never ceases to astound me.

This lawsuit reminds me of the type when people sue McDonalds for making them fat. The United States just sued itself for enforcing a law that it refuses to uphold. Confused yet? Yeah, me too. I never saw this episode of The Twilight Zone before. We must have really hit our head hard when we fell down that rabbit hole. Geez... is there going to be a day where I don't wake up with a confused face, saying "WTF? Is there something in the water up in Washington? How are they competent enough to dress themselves in the morning"?

Oh, but the best part about this lawsuit is that the government didn't sue because of discrimination or racism or profiling like they were all screaming about earlier. Oh no, they are suing Arizona because their immigration law, according to the New York Post, "usurps federal authority". Excuse me, what? Did I really hear that correctly? You are kidding, right?

So the Federal government won't do the job it's supposed to do by protecting our borders and you know, actually making illegal immigration illegal.So Arizona steps up and passes a redundant law and the US sues them for "usurping federal authority"? It sounds like the script to a really bad movie. Heck, that wouldn't even be believable in a movie script...  It just blows my mind. I'm at a loss for words.

I do like this:

"State Sen. Russell Pearce, the principal sponsor of the bill co-sponsored by dozens of fellow Republican legislators, denounced the lawsuit as "absolute insult to the rule of law" as well as to Arizona and its residents."

Thank you, thank you, thank you, State Sen. Russell Pearce. And let me add, it's an insult to the residents of the rest of the US too. (At least, the ones of us that HAVEN'T lost our minds).

This lawsuit makes the federal government sound like a bunch of spoiled, whiny kids - "You took away my authority, so I'm gonna sue you". And who is going to pay the legal fees? Us, the Taxpayers, no doubt. Great, more money that we can't afford to spend. I personally think the lawyers and people in the government who are behind this lawsuit should pay out of pocket. No donations, no taxes, no gifts. You want to waste our time and money by suing yourself, go ahead. But do it on your own time and with your own money. I hope the judge in this case is wise enough to throw it out.

And have I mentioned how much I love Gov. Brewer? I wish Sonny, the Governor of GA, was more like her. I wish more Governors were like her. Look at this quote from her that I found on

""Today's filing is nothing more than a massive waste of taxpayer funds," Brewer said in a statement. "These funds could be better used against the violent Mexican cartels than the people of Arizona.""

Another 'Thank you, thank you, thank you'! Another person in government who actually gets it! Good for her!

And you just gotta love this! More language from the brief:

"[its] mandatory enforcement scheme will conflict with and undermine the federal government's careful balance of immigration enforcement priorities and objectives."

"Will conflict with and undermine the federal government's careful balance of immigration enforcement priorities"??? What "careful balance of immigration enforcement priorities"??? The Federal Government has NO immigration enforcement priorities (except maybe amnesty...and yeah I can see the Arizona law being in conflict with that 'careful balance'). What a load of crap. Hope those lawyers and politicians are wearing knee-high boots to wade through that.

And B.S. Alert:

"The law also has 'the potential of violating the rights of innocent American citizens and legal residents, making them subject to possible stops or questioning because of what they look like or how they sound.'"

Obviously the lawyers suing Arizona haven't read the law either.

Wow, for being speechless about this, I could certainly go all night. We can be puzzled by this and scratch our heads at it. We can get angry and get frustrated at the government for this. We can joke about it and poke fun at the government, but the bottom line is that things like this are currently and will ultimately tear our nation apart. I'm afraid at what consequences this holds  for us. It seems laughably absurd for the United States to sue itself, but it's no laughing matter that we are headed down the road to separation.

And on a final note - those lawyers and politicians who think that this Arizona law is unconstitutional... Read Article IV- The States, Section 4:

"Section 4 - Republican government

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence."

So wouldn't you say failure (and refusal) of the Federal Government to protect one of its states against invasion and violence is unconstitutional? Maybe it'd be time better spent to sue itself for breech of contract. That's a lawsuit I can get behind.

For further blog reading:

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

In remembrance of the celebration of our independence and in-between all of the hot dogs and fireworks, I sat back and reflected on what this country means to me, and lamented on the direction it is heading.

Everyone is celebrating today, but are they really celebrating independence? Do the people who want health care for everyone really honor independence? How about the people who think the government should take over and nationalize everything - do they respect independence? And the people who want to 'fundamentally transform' this country - do they really want independence? I think a big group of people out there, waving their flags and watching fireworks doesn't really know the meaning of the word and that's sad.

Here's a refresher from

"in·de·pend·ence   /ˌɪndɪˈpɛndəns/ Show Spelled[in-di-pen-duhns]


1. Also, independency. the state or quality of being independent.

2. freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others."

And unfortunately, a third definition, which is sadly (and ironically) listed as archaic:

"3. Archaic Sufficient income for comfortable self-support; a competence."

Some of us were lucky enough to be born here. Others of us worked hard enough to come here legally and adopt this country as their own. No matter how we got here, we are living in the best country on Earth. If you want something and are willing to work hard enough to get it, you can. The land of opportunity. The land of dreams.

Our ancestors and the Founding Fathers believed in this country so much that they risked their lives for it. If you haven't watched the HBO mini-series about John Adams, you need to watch it. It gives an insight of not only John Adams, but other Founding Fathers and the birth of our country. The king wrote a letter saying they were committing treason by wanting independence from England and they would be killed as traitors. They looked at one another and agreed to do it anyway, fully knowing what the consequences of their actions might be. That spirit is rare these days.

They passed down this great country to us and entrusted us to guard it, just as they did. Perhaps with not the same life-and-death situation, but definitely with the same spirit. But we relaxed and put too much displaced trust into the government. We fell to sleep at the wheel. We have not be vigilant as we needed. The situation we are now in did not happen overnight. If we look back in history, we can see shadows of this nightmare forming back with FDR and the New Deal, and perhaps even before then. Our country has been 'fundamentally transforming' for a long time and just recently we became aware.

I believe we can save our country. It's the place I and so many others call home. It's the place where my ancestors gave up everything to move to so they and their descendants could have a chance at a better life. I'm not giving up yet. It's our turn to stand up for our country now. As Herman Cain says, "We are the Defending Fathers".

We've been doing a great job with the letter writing to our representatives, the Tea Parties, writing blogs, writing to the editors of newspapers, and tax protests. But we need to do more. More letter writing, more Tea Parties, more people writing blogs, more writing to the editors of newspapers, more tax protests. Form constitution study groups, talk with your friends (especially the more liberal leaning ones).

This I believe is one of the biggest problems we are facing. It's not that we're not loud enough or not doing enough - it's that not everyone is listening. The media and the liberal politicians have turned off the liberal voters so much that they aren't listening to our message.

"A house divided against itself cannot stand."  - Abraham Lincoln

As long as we are divided and fighting about little things or calling each other names, we will never save this country. The liberal politicians know that and they are using it to their advantage. They are egging them on and trying to drive us apart. Now I know, there are those that you will never convince no matter how much you try, but even if you talk to 5 of your liberal friends and get one to listen, then that's a start.

I heard a good quote on Beck's radio program this week, which is very scary yet very true: "Socialism happens one teacher at a time". We can turn that around, however, and save this country - one person at a time. Talk to everyone you can. Not in a confrontational manner or an angry one. Just in a calm, rational way, using just the facts. Or dare one of your lifelong liberal friends to a town hall meeting or Tea Party - no one can resist a challenge.

"Not racist. Not Violent. No longer silent."

Enough of the "us vs. them". Enough of the labels. No matter what we believe, we are all still Americans. No matter who we are or where we came from or what color our skin is. We are all Americans.

And yes, there will be some who honestly believe that our country is heading in the right direction right now. They believe that the United States is too powerful and it's time to give someone else a turn. They value countries like Cuba or Venezuela over our own and believe we should be more like them. Those are the people we will never convince and for them, here is a quote from Samuel Adams:

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

In other words, we won't hold it against you if you love it so much that you want to move to Venezuela or Europe. But we WILL take it personally if you try to change our country and take it away from us. This is the United States of America and we will do our best to keep it the way the Founders intended.