Books in home increase children’s education level

Whether rich or poor, residents of the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain, according to a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of sociology and resource economics.

For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home compared to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate…compared to having parents who have a university education… Both factors, having a 500-book library or having university-educated parents, propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average.

Being a sociologist, Evans was particularly interested to find that children of lesser-educated parents benefit the most from having books in the home. She has been looking for ways to help Nevada’s rural communities, in terms of economic development and education.

“What kinds of investments should we be making to help these kids get ahead?” she asked. “The results of this study indicate that getting some books into their homes is an inexpensive way that we can help these children succeed.”

Evans said, “Even a little bit goes a long way,” in terms of the number of books in a home. Having as few as 20 books in the home still has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books you add, the greater the benefit…

The researchers were struck by the strong effect having books in the home had on children’s educational attainment even above and beyond such factors as education level of the parents, the country’s GDP, the father’s occupation or the political system of the country.

Having books in the home is twice as important as the father’s education level, and more important than whether a child was reared in China or the United States. Surprisingly, the difference in educational attainment for children born in the United States and children born in China was just 2 years, less than two-thirds the effect that having 500 or more books in the home had on children.

I presume the benefit was from having access to the books. It certainly was an advantage for me and my sister.

Though both of us were taught to read before entering kindergarten, though both took those long Saturday roundtrip walks to the Carnegie Library in our community – our parents had belonged to a couple of book clubs for all their lives together. It took me years – enjoyable years I might add – to catch up to both of them reading through our home library.

Photographer Brian Duffy dies


William S. Burroughs, 1960

Brian Duffy, whose photographs helped define the mood of the Swinging Sixties, has died aged 76.

Together with David Bailey and Terence Donovan, Duffy formed part of the trinity of photographers who became as famous as the models, musicians and film stars they worked with…

His work also spanned reportage and advertising, including two award-winning campaigns for Benson & Hedges and Smirnoff in the 1970s. He shot three David Bowie album covers, including Aladdin Sane.

Some of his work is particularly memorable. A little shiny.

Medicine, superstition clash at Bronx hospital

A Bronx woman with internal bleeding was on the verge of death, and doctors wanted to save her with a transfusion.

The only problem was the incapacitated patient’s family wouldn’t allow it because they are Jehovah’s Witnesses who believe her fate is in God’s hands.

The clash of modern medicine and religion led doctors at St. Barnabas Hospital to rush into court for an emergency order – granted by Judge Faviola Soto.

“The attending physician felt it was urgent that if she didn’t get a transfusion, she would die,” said St. Barnabas spokesman Steven Clark. “Hopefully, the patient will be okay now.”

The patient, Jean Leslie, 55, is a stroke victim who had been living in the St. Barnabas Nursing Home since 2008.

She was admitted to the hospital on May 21 when doctors noticed a problem with some blood tests, according to court papers. Dr. Edgar Pimentel believed Leslie was suffering from internal bleeding and asked a gastroenterologist to perform a colonoscopy – but her mother wouldn’t allow it.

“Ossien Leslie has refused consent on the grounds that God alone and prayer will save her daughter,” the hospital wrote…

Well, modern medicine saved her daughter.

I tire so, over and again, watching ignorant, fearfilled, small-minded people cling to the sort of superstition that helped them sleep when we mostly feared things that go boomp in the night – in the darkness beyond the mouth of the cave.

Fears and dangers don’t lessen through education and understanding. But, your ability to comprehend real forces and factors equips you better to deal with them. Relying on superstition only locks you in a closet – with no light to see what else in is there with you.

Successful maiden flight for SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket


Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Powered by 10 engines and the vision of an Internet entrepreneur, an untried Falcon 9 rocket blasted off Friday and successfully boosted a dummy payload into orbit on a maiden voyage intended to help pave the way for commercial missions to the International Space Station.
In a major milestone for the commercial launch industry, the two-stage Falcon 9’s nine first-stage Merlin engines, fueled by liquid oxygen and RP-1 kerosene rocket fuel, roared to life at 2:45 p.m. EDT.

After computer checks to verify engine performance, four hydraulic hold-down clamps pulled away and the 157-foot-tall Falcon 9, riding atop a torrent of orange flame, climbed away from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station…

The initial stages of the ascent appeared normal as the rocket climbed straight up and then arced away to the northeast on a trajectory tilted 34.5 degrees to the equator…

By the time the second stage engine shut down, the roll was more rapid than is typically seen with large rockets. But in an evening teleconference with reporters, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the second stage engine shut down on time, putting the rocket’s dummy payload, a structural test article representing the company’s planned Dragon space station cargo module, into its intended 155-mile-high orbit.

“When the rocket achieved orbit, there was tremendous relief and elation at SpaceX,” Musk said. “People have really put so much blood, sweat, and tears into Falcon 9 and bringing that to launch…Things were extremely tense here, everybody was glued to the monitors looking at the data streams and the video as I was. And then just a huge elation and relief that it reached orbit and we achieved 100 percent of the objectives on the mission…”

Musk said the success of the first Falcon 9 launch gave the company a “huge boost of confidence, really.”

“We’re really at the dawn of a new era,” he said. “You had the sort of Apollo era, the space shuttle era–and those were government eras. And the government will continue to play a significant role in the future. But I think what you’re really seeing is the rise of commercial as well, in many ways a partnership with government.

Good for you, folks. Always pleasing to see another geek succeed. A special treat to witness the result of a leaner sort of design and engineering project get off the ground.

Pic of the Day

A three-storey building in China could possibly be the world’s thinnest. At one end it measures only 0.4 metres wide, while it is three metres wide at the other.

The building in Haikou, Hainan Island was built three years ago. The government appropriated most of the land the property is built on from its owner, leaving him with only 20 square metres. The owner then built the skinny building on his remaining land as a way of protesting.

Local residents are now worried that the thin building may be blown over as Hainan Island is famous for its frequent typhoons.

Har! I hope he has it insured.