Monday, September 29, 2008

Kindle: You Too Can Rid The World of Books for Only $359.99

Kindle hits close to home. I am an avid reader, and I have devoted all of my studies to writing and editing. After college, I want to go into book publishing-- that would be real books, with covers and real pages. As if the the why-read-when-you-can-WATCH-reality-television mentality and the sad economic state of our country as of late weren't enough, Amazon's newest technology, Kindle, is at least toying with the idea of ruining my future--and my day.

Introduced in November of 2007, Kindle is marketed as a convenient, portable reading device that is able to wirelessly download more than 170,000 books as well as national and international magazines, blogs and more. According to Amazon's website, Kindle was created to provide a reading experience like none other, with its electronic paper, a technology that gives readers the natural feel of reading off of real paper without the strain or glare of reading from a computer screen.

Kindle is available anywhere because it is wireless and doesn't require a computer for syncing or downloading. With 3G network, material is delivered from source to Kindle via a wireless delivery system called Whispernet anytime, anywhere. Great, right? Want to read a 600+ page book but don't feel like lugging it around? Kindle weighs only 10.3 pounds and is roughly the size of a small novel. 

Even as I write this, I must admit it sounds pretty enticing. If you finish a book while on vacation and don't have access to another book, you can download another onto your Kindle. You can download a book in the car, while doing dishes, even in the shower. What more could avid readers want? Toni Morrison supports Kindle, so why can't I? 

When I was young, me and my sisters trailed along after my mother to the public library every week to check out books. So, since a very early age, I have experienced the wonder of reading, and the excitement of exploring a new book. I love cracking the spine of a brand new book, I love the feel of the pages, I love holding a book between my fingers. It sounds dramatic, but it's true. The act of flipping the pages, skipping forward and back at leisure, is all part of the experience. Books are important! They must be saved!

Some would argue that if a Kindle will encourage more people to read, it has served its purpose, and this is true. I just don't think our society needs another technological crutch, this one ensuring our personal educations are not only sound, but available 24/7 in 6 different fonts, in varying sizes. Perhaps Kindle is the future of books, and a more successful avenue to develop readership than real books are, but as for me, give me a paperback any day. My reading shouldn't be affected by a battery-life or an available server. Plus, a book can be dropped without its screen cracking, and when is the last time your favorite book malfunctioned? I am resentful of technologies like Kindle because I think they feed into our society's Veruca-Salt-like tendency to scream "I want it nowwwww." If you ask me, as big of a book worm as I am, there is a time for reading, and a time for being outside, a time for interacting socially, a little time for movies. It's even biblical, there is a time for everything. I just don't ever want to make time or what little room is necessary for a Kindle in my life. I'll take my books and my paper cuts and I will like them just the same.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

4D Sonograms, Pregnancy: Not Just For the Ladies Anymore

I was fascinated after reading Kelly's blog about 4D sonograms. I am one of eight children,  so I am familiar with the apparently "old school" black and white fuzzy images that my mother used to present to us proudly with every pregnancy. (We still laugh about the sonogram picture of youngest brother Aidan that bore a striking resemblance to Elmer Fudd.) The idea that expectant parents can see their babies in such detail may seem excessive or unnecessary at first. But to some, like Kelly's husband who is serving in Iraq and is able to see digital images of his growing baby girl from thousands of miles away, the 4D sonogram technology is both heartwarming and beneficial.

My only question is why the FDA wouldn't fully approve of the 4D sonogram--could it pose any harm for those who chose to get one? Is it not officially approved just because it has no medical relation and neither helps nor hinders the mother?

To be honest, I replied to this particular blog entry because I have pregnancy on the mind. Good gracious, not for me, personally, but because I recently heard that it is physically (and medically) possible for a man to carry a baby up to 3 months of a pregnancy! As I looked into it, I found myself on the website of the RYT Hospital-Dwayne Medical Center, the center treating the first pregnant male, Lee Mengwei. According to the website, the RYT Center has been working to establish a viable method for successfully impregnating males ever since the first "test-tube baby" was born in the late 70s. 

First, doctors administered oral hormones to ensure Mr. Lee's body would be receptive to the pregnancy. Then, using in vitro fertilization, an embryo and placenta were implanted into Mr. Lee's lower abdominal cavity, where he currently carries the healthy, growing fetus. Anyone interested can log onto the website and see recent photos, read Mr. Lee's pregnancy journal and even check his recent vitals. Though a due date has not been released, the delivery will take place in the form of a Cesarean C-Section open surgery. Removal of the placenta is said to be one of the most dangerous procedures, and can lead to hemorrhaging and serious damage to internal organs.

The RYT Center is not accepting any new patients for the procedure, explaining that "male pregnancy is still in its experimental phase and will not be available to the public in the immediate future." A big relief, because I know a few guys who are just dying to experience child birth, no matter the form. 

Honestly, do men need to have babies? Is it essential? Whether you are an Evolutionist or a Creationist, you must believe that somehow human females were deemed the child-bearers, why mess with nature? If you ask me--despite the fact that it's kind of cool that Arnold's "Junior" may be becoming a reality-- any time, money and energy put into this kind of research is not well spent. With the statistics of diseases such as breast cancer--1 in 8 women experience the disease-- our society cannot afford to pour money down the drain just so working women can side-step morning sickness. It's all part of the beautiful and scary process of pregnancy, its its raw, natural form.

Most of all, it looks gross--sorry guys. Spend your time paying for your wives to get 4D sonograms and you can continue to enjoy the wonders of pregnancy from at least a few feet away rather than inside your own body. 

Monday, September 1, 2008

Campaign Strategy: A few quick clicks

Name: David Dangelico

Race: Caucasian

Gender: Male

Age: 21

Hometown: Wilmington, North Carolina

Education: Senior, Political Science Major, UNCW

Current Occupation: UNCW Campus Chair, Students for Obama

                                        Volunteer, Obama for America

L: How big of a role would you say technology plays in your everyday life, as well as currently with your career in campaigning?

D: I'd say it plays a large role in every aspect of my life. Especially in the campaign process, as a lot of what I do is centered around constantly being in contact with my superiors, other volunteers and being up-to-date on the most recent developments.

L: What would you say are the top two most valuable pieces of technology to your career and why?

D:  I would have to say the VoteBuilder program is the most valuable, then definitely my BlackBerry.

L: What is the VoteBuilder program?

D: The VoteBuilder program is a database that political campaigns, and specifically the Obama campaign, use in order to access up-to-date voter information. A large part of my job is voter registration; getting people registered to go out to the polls in November, as well as voter persuasion. When a person is registered to vote, and he or she puts down their political affiliation as either Democrat or Unaffiliated, his or her information is put into VoteBuilder. VoteBuilder keeps track of e-mail addresses and contact information for those who have expressed interest in Obama's campaign. Our volunteers as well as myself then log into VoteBuilder and make phone calls, and use the information found on VoteBuilder to acquire volunteers, grow support and easily distribute information, such as where one-stop early voting takes place, to voters.

L: Where did this program come from, and why do you think it was created?

D: VoteBuilder is part of a series of programs called Election Central, created specifically with political campaigns in mind. What I like about it is that each page of the program can be customized to fit just my needs. If I'm in charge of making phone calls one week, it can be arranged so that all the names and phone numbers I need are displayed clearly for me.

L: You identified the second most important piece of technology as your BlackBerry. What role does it play in your campaigning schedule?


D: While I am a new to my BlackBerry--or if we're on the street, Crackberry-- I'm already addicted. It's essential because it keeps me in touch with everyone 24/7. If something happens on the campaign trail, I don't have to wait to get to a computer or T.V. to get the news. My BlackBerry has Wi-Fi, so it doesn't depend on typical cell phone service coverage. Wherever I can connect to a wireless network, I have immediate access to my e-mail, the internet--VoteBuilder in particular. With the two, I can make important campaign calls between classes, or while walking around BestBuy.

L: How do you think technologies--like VoteBuilder and BlackBerry--have changed the way political campaigns are run? Have they made campaigns more or less successful?

D: I think that they've both made it tremendously successful in every way. VoteBuilder makes it easier for us to know who to reach. Before programs like that, it was knock on every door, call every number--which really wasted a lot of time. It has allowed those of us who work in the campaign field--as well as many other occupations--to reach more people in less time. BlackBerrys--cell phones in general--give us a mobility that we never had. I don't have to sit at my desk and make calls on a phone that's connected to the wall. I can go anywhere and still be able to reach and be reached by whoever I want. We also reach voters via text message, with alerts and information, so with a few easy clicks we can contact supporters in the community and around the country without ever actually talking.

L: In what ways have they changed your personal experiences as a campaigner?

Well, I'd have to say that internet in general opens so many doors for getting the truth out there. As made obvious by my occupation, I am an Obama supporter whose father is a staunch Republican refusing to consider putting a Democrat in office, for fear of many things, but namely an increase in his taxes. The other day one of my superiors gave me the web address for, a website that allows viewers to input their own personal tax information and an e-calculator then calculates the amount of money that Obama's tax cuts will provide for them. I sent my father this link via e-mail on my BlackBerry and within minutes, he was texting me about the website and how it calculated he would actually save almost a thousand dollars with Obama's plan. His response was, "Well this certainly makes Obama more appealing." That fact is ground-breaking coming from someone who has argued politics with me since I was sixteen. It astounds me as I think about how easy we have it now, compared to how difficult it must have been for die-hard campaigners of the past. But, I'm just glad we're able to get the Truth out, and that people are getting excited about the next President of the United States, Barack Obama.