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How journalism changed America

For more than 300 years, investigative journalism has been a driving force in the American reform tradition.
Now a collection of these articles has been assembled by a Knight-Ridder editor and a New York University journalism professor.
In Muckraking: The Journalism That Changed America, Judith and William Serrin include passionately written material published from mid-1700 to today.
Although the term “muckraking” was coined to describe shameful conduct, the authors say it should be an accolade. They agree with the famous saying that “The job of a journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
The book is divided into 13 sections, including those on the poor, politics, America at war, railroads, and oil.
In the early years of American history, journalists such as Frederick Douglass rallied public opinion to end slavery. In the same era, Edwin Markham pushed child-labor reform laws.
There is one of the Watergate articles by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. Among other well-known reporters are John Steinbeck, Drew Pearson, Edward R. Murrow, Nellie Bly, Lincoln Steffens, and David Halberstam.
The interesting stories include that of Robert S. Abbott. He founded the Chicago Defender in 1905 with 25 cents in capital and a borrowed card table. Within 10 years, it became the most important black newspaper in the country. Heurged Southern blacks to move north.
Some of the important material came from smaller publications such as the National Catholic Reporter, a weekly; McClure’s; The Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald; Jewish Frontier; and Harpers.
These reporting gems show how strong American journalism can be.

Muckraking! The Journalism That Changed America edited by Judith and William Serrin, New Press, 392 pages, $25.


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Stay sharp with stronger muscles

Here’s a surprise, there’s a link between muscle strength and brain health. One study published in the Archives of Neurology, shows that muscle strength is actually linked with a lower risk of cognitive impairment. In older people, lack of strength is an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.
That doesn’t prove that weak muscles cause Alzheimer’s, but it does support the idea that there is a real link between physical health and brain health. It also suggests that keeping strong is important at all ages.

Netbooks aren’t as capable as PCs

Netbooks aren’t as capable, but are smaller and cheaper than a PC

The small netbooks are lightweight, less expensive than a PC, and can fit into a handbag or a briefcase.

More than 11 million consumers bought one for as little as $269 in 2008, and prices may continue to fall. PC makers say notebook computer prices could be affected by the trend, possibly with a 20 percent drop from early 2008 prices by the end of 2009.

The $269 netbook is made by Asus ‘Eee PCs (Eee stands for “Easy to learn, Easy to work, Easy to play.”). They are designed for basic tasks of Web surfing, email and word processing. They use Wi-Fi but have a limited storage drive capacity. To keep costs down, some Asus models ship with the Linux operating system rather than Microsoft Windows.

The keyboards are small, which could be a problem for some adults, but the size is perfect for kids. Dell’s $349 Inspiron Mini 9 has an 8.9-inch LED screen. It has 512 MB of system memory and Intel’s Atom 1.6-Ghz processor.

You can order it with Windows XP operating system instead of Linux. Dell has three netbooks, all of which have USB ports, other features and four hours of battery life, depending on the applications being used.

The $349 Acer Aspire One has a bright 8.9-inch screen, a 120-gigabyte hard disk and one gigabyte of memory. It’s about an inch thick. The keys are large and separated in order to make typing comfortable for limited work.

For $50 extra, you can get twice the battery power.

It’s learning, practice, not natural talent, that brings success

According to Geoff Colvin, senior editor at Fortune: “Talent is Overrated.”

In his new book by the same name, he says researchers see little evidence of talent in high-achieving individuals before they had intensive training. The findings show up in every kind of endeavor and in business people, artists, sports figures and others. The researchers don’t say talent doesn’t exist or help, but that practice and diligent work are more important to success.

“Deliberate practice” designed to improve performance is the key. It includes continually stretching yourself just beyond your current capabilities. You have to identify the elements of your performance that need to be improved and work intensely on them and with repetition. That means using deep focus and concentration.

For deliberate practice to be effective, do what is difficult and painful. Seek out what you are not good at.

In the beginning, and sometimes long after, you should have a teacher to guide you, says Colvin. Anyone who thinks he’s outgrown the benefits of a teacher’s help should question that view. You need feedback.

It may seem that the most important things you can do to improve in your work are not fun.

But if the activities that lead to greatness were enjoyable, everyone would do them. There would be no way to distinguish the best from the rest. Bottom line: If you think you aren’t highly talented in an area, you can still become great by learning and practicing deliberately.

Video conferencing at home

At the Consumer Electronics Show, Cisco Systems showed its videoconferencing system for the home. It’s similar to Cisco’s TelePresence, a high-end videoconferencing system for businesses.
The home version lets consumers do the same on high-definition TVs. The system is not available yet, but home trials are beginning.
Internet-enabled TVs are a big trend. An estimated 45 million will be enabled by 2014, according to ABI Research. This year, there are 32 million U.S. households with broadband connects that can support videoconferencing.
In the meantime, TV makers Panasonic and LG are adding Skype, the free online telephone service, to internet-connected high-definition televisions. Users with a Web camera and microphone can create live video chats and phone calls.

More textbooks to be available on digital devices

Will iPad, or devices like it, transform the classroom? Will they reinvent books? Save newspapers?
Some think so.
Textbook publishers are already making deals with software companies to digitize their texts. ScrollMotion is one example of a software company positioned to adapt books, create textbooks, texts and study guides for the tablet computer market.
According to Compass Intelligence, a market research firm, investment in technology is set to grow from $61.9 million in 2013, up from about $48 billion in 2008.
No one knows now whether the revolutionizing product, one that would be embraced by students and teachers, will be the Apple iPad or something else. Contenders in the sector are netbooks, very small laptop computers, and the Kindle, an electronic reader that lets users instantly and seamlessly download books from
Also unknown are the applications that will dominate digital education.
ScrollMotion’s chief executive John Lema is sure of one thing. “This is the beginning of handheld education,” Lema told the Wall Street Journal.
The iPad’s entry level price of $499 puts it well in range of investments for schools. But experts don’t expect schools to adopt the device right away.

Good college courses for kids

If your student is deciding on a major course of study, the beginning pay in various careers may be of interest.

Jobs that are most in demand and pay more. They are technical felds requiring a specific degree, such as health care, engineering or computer science.

On average, these are the starting earnings of some degrees: chemical engineering, $63,773 per year, computer and information sciences, $58,677 and economics, $51,062.

Researchers for Money magazine say the visual and performing arts pay an average of $35,073 for the first year; English, $35,453, and liberal arts, $36,715.

Cell Phone usage in USA infographic

This is interesting information on how much phone and text messaging we use each day.It compares teens to adults.
Cell Phone Usage
Via: Online IT Degree

Job hopper finds retail outfits have a lot to teach

On the surface, it might look as if Alex Frankel didn’t really want a steady job. The truth is that the Brown University grad was writing a book about the retail experience. His quest was not that easy. Whole Foods, Home Depot, and Best Buy wouldn’t hire him. He writes about those that did.

At UPS, he found high spirits and a place he wanted to work. He felt like one of the chosen few, but he thinks not all drivers have the same attitude.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car was almost cult-like, he reports, and was demanding. The customer-service section of the training binder was 73 pages long. It made him feel like they were supposed to be insurance sales people.

Starbucks looked like it would have an easy job for him. Not so. He was surprised by the tremendous amount of learning it took in the early weeks and how taxing the job was.

At the Gap, Frankel said all he was expected to do was fold clothes. He folded a lot of clothes.

The Apple Store was something else. There was not much learning to do because Apple only hired people who were experienced with their products. Quoted in USA Today, Frankel said workers didn’t seem to be working or selling, just hanging out and dispensing information. As much information was being shared as products being sold.

In his book, Frankel skillfully imparts the feeling of what it’s like to be an invisible person looking for a job. He thinks the reason he was turned down by Best Buy and Whole Foods was because he failed the online test.

Both companies have applications that include 100-question multiple-choice questions. The software company Unicru has such systems for hiring and tracking employees. It flags those who appear to be the best choices.

The system was right in not choosing Frankel.