Paper, digital or otherwise, people read to escape

Pew Internet Research is looking into the rise of e-books and what motivates people to buy them. The obvious first question is: why do you read books at all?

Their list of responses – which were directly quoted, then reviewed and categorized for the poll results – is interesting. Knowledge-building is the top most common answer, but the second most-common answer was, in one form or another, escapism:

Those who talked about quiet entertainment tended toward phrases like “a stress-free escape,” “a nice way to relax,” “I read because it’s not work,” “diverting, entertaining and educational,” and “It draws me away from reality.” That was echoed by a respondent who said reading “takes you away, like a movie in your head.” One wryly said he liked reading “because it helps me with my temper and relaxes me.”


One respondent noted: “I am an English teacher, so I read to save my sanity from grading essays.”

Interestingly, the full report notes that, regardless of how they consume books, technology owners generally read more. What is not noted – and might have provided some interesting insight – is why people read, as broken down by e-book readers vs. paper lovers. Might the escapism and fantasy of books lure more paper readers than digital? Maybe Pew will ask that question next time…

Why people like to read | Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

Well, Now. There’s a Compliment. . . .

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s new book has the typical revelations we’ve come to expect from books written by once-loyal Republicans who are now fuming over the Bush Administration and the Republican-led Congress.  Turns out, he doesn’t like Bush, either.

But inside all that non-controversial controversy is an interesting compliment for President Bill Clinton, as backhanded as many of us who voted for Clinton might regard it:

Greenspan book: GOP ‘swapped principle for power’ –

Greenspan said Clinton and former President Nixon were “by far the smartest presidents I’ve worked with.”

I’m thinking this was said in absence of irony, as in my experience, Greenspan’s public persona has ever been without it.

Patriot Acts

Hi, everyone. I’m frontpaging for the next while, while Thomas is on vacation.

It’s rather late at night, so I don’t trust myself to say anything important past midnight.
Random political cartoons, however, are great.

I just bought George Lakoff’s latest book, Whose Freedom? : the battle over America’s most important idea. Sounds like it would be interesting. George Lakoff, by the way, is the same guy who wrote Don’t Think of An Elephant, so this sounds like it’ll be good. Speaking of freedom:

How We Got Our Freedom

The D&C has a great article on the war protesters who’ve gotten louder and more numerous in Rochester over the last year.  I remember the war protest on East Ave being a small gathering of 50-somethings, shivering solitarily against the cold.  Now the protest stretches down the block and through generations.

But what interested me most in the article was the following passage covering the pro-war community’s response:

Anti-war voices turn up the volume || Democrat & Chronicle: Local News

Supporters of the war say that withdrawal of U.S. troops would lead to greater bloodshed in Iraq and that the war is a matter of American self-defense.

“I think people better understand how we got our freedom,” said the Rev. Carley Touchstone of Glad Tidings Church in Irondequoit, adding:

“Freedom came from defending ourselves against evil empires. Terrorism is one of those evil empires.”

Whoa.  I guess that whole “Glad Tidings” thing is subjective. . .

Actually, on this Flag Day I rather think a lesson in how we got our freedom would be very instructive, indeed.  

Tempting Faith

Yep.? Just got the book, and put down my other one (or two, depending on how you look at it) to jump straight into it.? Now, as a teaser, I’m going to do what every other commentator on politics and culture does when a book first comes out: I’m going to quote something fromt the forward.? Unlike most commentators, however, I’m not going to pretend I read the whole thing:

When I talk to neighbors or strangers and tell them that I try my best to follow Jesus, many look at me queerly.? I’ve come to learn that their first thoughts about me ar political ones – they figure I don’t care about the environment, I support the war in Iraq, I oppose abortion, I am ambivalent about the poor, I want public schools to evangelize students, and I must hate gays and lesbians.? That is what they associate with my faith.? And it isn’t just a Washington thing.? I’ve heard it everywhere.? Moreover, in the heat of many political moments, I have been what they feared.? I have been far more partisan than Christian.? I hated Bill Clinton, yet he is a Christian just like me.? I took sides on issues that don’t have much to do with my faith.? Above all, I let the passions of politics distract me from what matters in life.? By some “severe mercy,” however, God has given me the chance to step back and take a look at it all. . . .

I’m thinking that whatever I might have thought about this book, I might be in for a surprise from a thoughtful and well-reasoned man.? I’m looking forward to this.

1491: On Sociology as Ecology

I’m still wending my way through the first portion of 1491, discussing the coming of Europeans to America. Specifically, I am at the point where he analyzes Pizzaro’s amazing conquest of the Inca civilization. I’m finding myself with more questions than answers about a lot of things I thought I understood about that period of this continent’s history, but I had a thought I thought I’d share with the Internet.