Encouraging Your Children to Be Lifetime Readers


&nbsp:
When I was a child, my mother and I rode a bus to and from the downtown Wichita Falls, Texas library every Wednesday and Saturday morning. I can still see it now: a brick, three-story building with floor-to-ceiling windows and the children’s section tucked away in the basement. The librarian, a kindly woman with gray-streaked hair, was always there to help me find the three books I could check out with my library card.
 
Polished wooden benches were scattered across the linoleum floors, each filled with boys and girls looking through books as their parents made their selections from the stacks on the upper floors. Returning home, Mother and I would hurry to sit on the daybed that served as our sofa, where she would read aloud one of my treasures, each filled with colorful pictures and illustrations to enhance the excitement of the narrative.
 
Those early years of being read to by my mother, father, aunt, and grandmother spawned a voracious appetite for reading that has remained constant for threescore and seven years. In my experience, a love of literature of all types is perhaps the greatest gift any parent could give their child, a passport to distant lands and a time machine to other eras. It can also give your child many advantages in the years to come.
 
Here’s how reading can help your child succeed, and how to introduce them to the joys of reading.

Literacy vs. Reading

Stories have been a primary medium of communication since the first family clans. Storytellers capture our imaginations, link us to the past, and establish the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Myths and legends passed from one generation to the next explain the unexplainable and remind us of the human values considered essential and ethical, both now and in the past.
 
In the ancient Western world, only those wealthy enough to afford a life of leisure or those in religious positions had the opportunity to learn to read. With the advent of the printing press, which made reading materials widely available, as well as improvements in public education, literacy became the norm rather than the exception for the common man.
 
However, the ability to read and write does not necessarily equate to a love of the written word. Many people assume “literacy” and “reading” are the same thing, but the former refers to the ability to read and write, while the latter refers to the act of interpreting printed words. And while most people today have the ability to read, fewer and fewer are doing so for enjoyment.

The State of Reading Today

The percentage of American adults who read any work of literature declined from 56.9% in 1982 to 43.1% in 2015, according to the National Endowment for the Arts. This is even though the percentage of college graduates in the population more than doubled in the same period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Pew Research reports that one-quarter of Americans did not read a single book, in whole or in part, in 2017.
 
Read More. . .

7 Ways to Prevent Political Arguments With Family and Friends


 
“There cannot a greater judgment befall a country than a dreadful spirit of division as rends a government into two distinct people, and makes them greater strangers, and more averse to one another, than if they were actually two different nations.”
 
So wrote English essayist and playwright Joseph Addison in 1711 of the hyper-partisanship that led to the English civil wars of the 17th century. Almost 100 years later, George Washington warned of the dangers of political parties in his 1796 Farewell Address. Despite these cautions, America still struggles with partisan politics, today more than ever.
 
Political party affiliation has become the measure we most often use to distinguish friend or foe — more defining even than race, religion, or relationship. Politics draw lines between us, creating tribes surrounded by moats of mistrust. As a result, family gatherings have become battlegrounds with each side determined to take no prisoners.
 
The first step to calm political strife between family and friends is to understand what causes extreme partisanship. Here’s a closer look at why people hold on to their beliefs so fiercely, followed by seven ways you can defuse tensions when the topic of politics crops up at your social gatherings.

The Origins of Hyper-Partisanship

A “partisan” is a member of a group that shares similar interests and goals. Political parties and partisanship have existed since the ancient Greeks and arise when people disagree with a government’s actions (or non-actions). Driven by different visions of the future, partisanship is a natural outcome of democratic government.
 
Political parties in the United States began as broad umbrellas under which members had similar, though not identical, interests and views on a majority of issues. Tolerating these differences was necessary to build political strength and win elections in the beginning, but in the two decades following WWII, both parties developed conservative and liberal wings. Inter-party battles over platforms were intense, concluding in compromised positions that few liked but the majority could accept. As a result, the final platforms of the two parties often resembled each other and left voters feeling that there wasn’t “a dime’s worst of difference between the two,” as candidate George C. Wallace, who represented the American Independent Party, famously said in the 1968 presidential race.
 
The splits within the parties also diminished the power of party leaders to force maverick officeholders to hew to the party line. Legislation, the result of cobbling together ad hoc coalitions of officeholders, was rarely extreme and reflected the trade-offs necessary for passage.
 
Read more . . .

Understanding Block Chain Technology – How It Will Change the Future


In November 2008, an anonymous author using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto issued the white paper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” which outlined “a system for electronic transactions without relying on trust.” This system, known as blockchain, became the basis for the world’s first widely accepted cryptocurrency, bitcoin. It’s also a foundational technology that has the possibility to impact society as dramatically as the invention of the Internet itself.
 
Don Tapscott, author of “Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World,” claimed in an interview with McKinsey & Company that blockchain is “an immutable, unhackable distributed database… a platform for truth… a platform for trust.” An unapologetic, enthusiastic supporter of blockchain, he adds, “I’ve never seen a technology that I thought had a greater potential for humanity.”
 
Is the hype around blockchain justified? Let’s take a look.

The Dangers of Digital Transactions

Mutual trust is the basis for business transactions. Yet as society has grown more complex, our ability to trust another party — especially if they’re unknown and halfway around the world — has decreased. As a result, organizations develop elaborate systems of policies, procedures, and processes to overcome the natural distrust arising from the uncertainties of distance, anonymity, human error, and intentional fraud.
 
At the heart of this distrust is the possibility of a “double spend,” or one party using the same asset twice, particularly when the assets being exchanged are digital. When exchanging physical assets, the transaction can only occur at one time in one place (unless forgery is involved). In contrast, a digital transaction is not a physical transfer of data, but the copying of data from one party to another. If there are two digital copies of something for which there should be only one, problems arise. For example, only one deed of the ownership of a house should be applicable at a time; if there are two seemingly identical copies, two or more parties could claim ownership of the same asset.
 
Unfortunately, the systems and intermediaries required to ensure, document, and record business transactions have not kept pace with the technological changes of a digital world, according to Harvard Business Review.
 
Consider a typical stock transaction. While the trade — one party agreeing to buy and another party agreeing to sell — can be executed in microseconds, often without human input, the actual transfer of ownership (the settlement process) can take up to a week to complete. Since a buyer can’t easily or quickly verify that a seller has the securities the buyer has purchased, nor can a seller be confident that a buyer has the funds to pay for that purchase, third-party intermediaries are required as guarantors to ensure that each party to a trade performs as contracted. Unfortunately, these intermediaries often add another layer of complexity, increase costs, and extend the time it takes to complete the transaction.
 
Our existing systems are also vulnerable to intentional attempts to steal data and the assets they represent. International Data Corporation reports that businesses spent more than $73 billion for cybersecurity in 2016 and are projected to exceed $100 billion by 2020. These numbers don’t include security expenses for non-businesses or governments, the cost of wasted time and duplicated efforts due to data breaches, or the expense of any remedies to those affected.
 
Blockchain technology presents a remedy for these issues that could significantly alter the way we do business in the future.

How Blockchain Technology Works

Understanding blockchain requires an understanding of “ledgers” and how they’re used. A ledger is a database that contains a list of all completed and cleared transactions involving a particular cryptocurrency, as well as the current balance of each account that holds that cryptocurrency. Unlike accounting systems that initially record transactions in a journal and then post them to individual accounts in the ledger, blockchain requires validation of each transaction before entering it into the ledger. This validation ensures that each transaction meets the defined protocols.
 
Read more. . .

Flying on a Private Jet – Advantages and Costs


Taking a commercial flight today is “the equivalent of traveling via Greyhound bus in the 1970s,” according to Victoria Person-Goral, one of USA Today’s panel of frequent travelers.
 
It’s not hard to see why she says this. Today’s flight passengers are herded through slow-moving security checks that require the removal of shoes and jackets, as well as being subject to an invasive X-ray. Complain too loudly, and you may be placed on the Federal Government’s No Fly List or charged with a civil fine.
 
When you finally board the plane, you discover your assigned seat is between two strangers, one who keeps sniffling and another whose elbow continually trespasses into your space. There’s no room in the overhead bins for your carry-on. To add your misery, the child behind you spends the entire flight kicking the back of your seat. If you’re really unlucky, you discover on landing that your checked bags are on a different plane headed to the other side of the continent.
 
Fortunately, there is a better way to fly, and it’s not as expensive as you might think.

The History of Private Planes

The Piper J-3 Cub was one of the first airplanes designed for personal use. It sold for just under $1,000 in 1939 and became synonymous with the term “tail-dragger.” In the early years of flight, all planes were designed with a wheel under each wing and another under the tail, hence the name tail-dragger. This design was subsequently modified to simplify ground travel, takeoffs, and landings by moving the third wheel from the tail to the nose of the plane in a tricycle configuration. The Piper Cub carried one passenger and flew at a maximum airspeed of 74 mph. More than 20,000 Cubs were purchased by aspiring pilots, and many of these planes are still flying today thanks to committed hobbyists.
 
The personal aircraft market took off after World War II, with Piper, Cessna, and Beech offering multi-passenger, propeller-driven aircraft that could cruise at more than 100 mph. These light planes could utilize very short runways made of pavement or level pasture. The years between 1960 and 1980 were known as the “Golden Age of Flying” as small and large businesses used airplanes as a substitute for automobiles, trains, and commercial airlines.
 
Today, there are 14,485 private airports in the United States, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – nearly three times the amount of public airports (5,116). There are almost 175,000 FAA-certified private pilots. According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), more than 200,000 private planes were active in the U.S. in 2016, including almost 128,000 single-engine, piston-driven models. Pilots spent more than 24 million hours in flight that year, averaging 135 hours per plane. The average age of private pilots was 44.8 years, with most student pilots learning to fly in their early 30s.

My Experience as a Plane Owner & Pilot

I know from experience how rewarding private aviation can be.
 
In the 1980s, my company had subsidiary operations in small towns from New Mexico to Mississippi. The officers, including myself, visited each site monthly, so every week someone was on the road. Commercial airlines didn’t serve the small communities where our facilities were located, so we had to rent a car and drive several hours to and from our plants and larger airports. Missing a flight led to an overnight motel stay, wasting time and money.
 
In the summer of 1984, two of the traveling executives and I purchased a used 1969 Cessna 210 airplane. The plane had room to carry four to six people with luggage with a load limit of 1,012 pounds. The Cessna cruised at over 200 mph and utilized the short runways common to our sites.
 
Read more . . .