Mysteries of the sibling, the women who was exhausted defending the president loses her job, the daily pat-down, autotuned scientists, and Minnesota' barns.
Yesterday, Netflix announced that it will begin to offer a lower-priced package for people who would rather stream movies than get a DVD in the mail. It's big news in tech circles today and judging by the number of blogs I've read today, people are switching their plans without giving it a thought.
I, however, did.
Netflix's announcement has spawned another panic attack that my family's analog -- and now, digital -- history is disappearing in a hurry and I probably shouldn't put off saving it any longer. But save it... to what?
Over the weekend, I crawled into the space under the stairs to get the Christmas tree and decorations (the earliest I've ever done that so I'm not completely losing the non-procrastinator war) and stumbled across this:
It's a Super 8 mm movie projector, still apparently in good shape after 20+ years of no use. Inside was this treasure:
A take-up reel (this was once an "every day expression"), a rusty shoe horn (beats me, but I think I've used the projector more recently than the shoe horn) and the only roll of film I ever shot of my oldest son, on his first days home from the hospital more than 25 years ago.
What would you do now? That's exactly what I did.
Unless I get around to finding some place that will convert Super 8mm film to digital, that history is gone. Forever. When I was growing up, my parents had a huge drawer of these films, documenting the lives of me and my four brothers and sisters. As far as I know, that's all gone now, too.
My house is full of disappearing history. In closets and cabinets all over the house, there are VHS cassettes -- unindexed -- occupying space. I didn't shoot a lot of video of the kids -- I didn't want to be that guy -- but what little I shot is around here somewhere.
And if I ever find it, this is the last remaining VHS player in the house: the old TV.
Another one died a month or so ago and has left us permanently. When this one goes, all that VHS history probably goes too, unless I get around to transferring it to another media -- perhaps DVD. Underneath the TV is a DVD player we bought when VHS started to disappear.
This week, an old desktop PC which has most of my digital images started dying. Of all the important data that's on it, my first action was to save the pictures -- our history. I burned them all onto a DVD.
And that will work fine, until DVD players disappear too. That will probably happen in my house, because last month we bought this:
It's a home-entertainment system that connects to the Internet and allows us to stream video. No DVDs necessary. This is why Netflix did what it did yesterday. And this is why all the other media in the house is nearly obsolete.
I'm not recommending we go back to the old days. But as technology moves along at an ever-increasing pace, it makes it difficult for us to preserve our visual histories. Maybe today you'll upload your images to Picassa, or a blog, or Flickr, or Facebook, or leave them on your phone, not thinking that there's no guarantee Picassa, your blog, or Flickr, or Facebook, or your phone technology will be there 30 years from now, any more than there was a guarantee that my movie projector would work today. Maybe that doesn't matter to you now, but it'll matter in 30 years. Trust me on this.
Now here's the odd part: Of all the technology that exists and has existed to preserve our histories, this is still the one that seems to work the best over time in my house: a shoebox.
Beat that Netflix.(12 Comments)
This video, released by Columbia Journalism Review earlier this month, is a perfect example of how the political news you hear on your radio this afternoon gets made. It features NPR's congressional reporter Don Gonyea and two other reporters.
"My wife is a teacher and has to call child protection services quite frequently. She is often told that they can't do anything, or given the "what do you want us to do about it" response. Maybe the drop in requests for help is because people realize they won't get any help, so requesting help is a waste of time." -- Minnetonka
The fact is, Minnesota has been grossly overreacting to alleged child maltreatment for as long as reliable records are available, which is about a decade.
Year after year, Minnesota takes away children at one of the highest rates in America. Even now, with all the improvement in recent years, (and there has been real improvement) that rate is nearly double the national average and more than double and triple the rate in states that are, relatively speaking, national models for keeping children safe.
As the story itself points out, "70 percent of the cases involve neglect." But definitions of neglect are so broad that any impoverished family can be defined as "neglectful." This confusion of poverty with neglect is the single biggest problem in American child welfare.-- Alexandria, Va.
Would have appreciated a deeper treatment of this story. Community-based practitioners working with children and families know from experience that it has become increasingly difficult to access child protection. Cases that would have been opened 5-10 years ago - routinely go un-investigated. The impression is that the threshold for response has been rising. In addition the when the CPS system does response they often do so in erratic and unpredictable manner - making professionals sometimes hesitant to make reports. Please go deeper - there is a more complicated story! -- Minneapolis
The Hennepin County study referred to showed that most of the decrease was due to a reduction in referrals from non-mandated reporters, that is from relatives, neighbors, community members rather than physicians, teachers etc. At this point no one has come up with solid information on why this might be. People quoted in the article speculate on reasons such as changed societal attitudes, but there are other viewpoints that were not included. One that I have heard is that poor communities in general and communities of color in particular have become sufficiently distrustful of the child welfare system that they believe children will be better off in almost any situation than if the authorities become involved. There is no solid research on this either, but it would have been better had the story consulted some leaders in these communities to surface any other points of view. -- St. Paul(2 Comments)