It's one thing for the NSA to scrape the Internet of private citizens.
That thing would be this: probably wrong but to be expected since we have all of us been cautioned over and over again about not expecting to keep anything private when we go online.
It's quite another for the NSA to spy on heads of government in allied states.
These folks have every right to believe what they say and do will be theirs alone, not plucked from cyberspace by an American agency.
That othr thing is this: clearly wrong and, to put a name on it, stupid.
Stories running today say President Obama did not approve NSA spying on the likes of Angela Merkel and didn't know about it. One would certainly hope not.
But one would also hope heads would roll and that the president would in outspoken language distance himself from what the NSA has been up to.
In this week's New Yorker magazine, Evgeny Morozov has an essay entitled "Only Disconnect: Two cheers for boredom."
In it, he complains about the urgency of now, the imperative to be constantly connected to everything in the world around us, thanks to Twitter, smart phones, etc.
The antidote, he suggests, is to be unplugged and bored.
I would add this: Seeking quiet? Come to the library. We have a quiet zone.
But, even in that space, if you really want quiet, leave your phone, laptop and tablet at home.
Then, pick up a book and connect with just one other person, an author.
The news-brief headline in the October edition of Harvard Health Letter sure caught this librarian's attention:
"Read a book, preserve your memory."
Research published in July and earlier shows that if you're older and you are a regular reader, you can slow ordinary mental decline by a substantial amount.
But while this sounds like a real boost for publishers and authors and libraries, it turns out to be a little less than exciting because the same article notes that other studies have shown that just about any mental stimulation in old age forestalls decline.
Dance, sing, paint, do Sudoku, do a puzzle -- and read. It's all going to help keep you alert and mentally quick.
I just participated in a webinar sponsored by the American Library Association about e-books and libraries.
If you have tried to borrow books through our Overdrive program on our catalog page, you have undoubtedly concluded that there are not many e-books out there for you to download.
That's because publishers are not wanting to let us buy books to loan to you. I understand that.
But, after listening to an hour's worth of information, I also understand that the issues are far bigger than just the fact that every publisher has its own model for selling to libraries or not doing so.
Just consider what school and college librarians face as they try to buy books for one class for one term, and then multiply that by who knows how much.
I can definitively say the selling-lending situation is not going to improve much any time soon.
And that's bad for all of us.
Back on Sept. 1, when things governmental looked a whole lot brighter, I read a heckuva column by Pamela Druckerman in The New York Times.
Druckerman was making a very good argument for early childhood education. She cites her own experience with small children when she lived in France. There, they have what she says is a very good early childhood education/care system.
Get this: It's paid for by the government.
She wants that here because she thinks small kids who start being educated at a very young age grow up to be smarter/more useful citizens on down the line.
She's not alone in that belief. Researchers in the neurological development of children believe the same thing.
And, so does, by the way, President Barack Obama.
But, remember: This column filled with hopeful idealism was published Sept. 1.
Before real gridlock.
Before the shutdown.
Before the can was kicked down the road, the first time.
Druckerman, the president, a host of scientists -- all these people can make all the noise they want to about this issue and a vast array of other ones.
I'd say the time and place for ideals and great strides to improve the lives of even the youngest Americans, the place and time for common sense approaches, is not now or even soon and not in the United States of America.
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