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Daily Archives: December 3, 2013

Are paper books becoming obsolete in the digital age, or poised to lead a new cultural renaissance?

Papyralysis by Jacob Mikanowski Are paper books becoming obsolete in the digital age, or poised to lead a new cultural renaissance? November 14th, 2013 The following is a feature article from the inaugural issue of the LARB Quarterly Journal.

“WE’RE LIVING IN A WEIRD MOMENT. Everything has become archivable. Our devices produce a constant record of our actions, our movements, our thoughts. Forget memory: if we wanted to, we could reconstruct every aspect of a life with an iPhone and some hard drives. But at the same time, physical archives seem to be fading away. Once, they were supported by a whole ecology of objects and institutions, including prints, presses, notebooks, letters, diaries, manuscripts, and marginalia. Now, each of these is vanishing, one after another. Letters don’t get written. Handwriting’s been forgotten. Presses crumble. Paper molders. And everyone agrees: the book is next to go. Of course it won’t happen all at once. Maybe it isn’t even happening now. Digital books are increasingly popular — but paper books are more popular still. Publishing is a mess — unless you’re a giant multinational or a thriving independent. Readership is in decline — but that depends on what you think ought to be read. Paper is a frustrating anachronism — and our offices and homes are full of it. The clash of  technologies that we’re living through is probably less a case of the silents vs. the talkies than of radio vs. TV. However popular e-readers become, paper books will still be able to carve out a space in their shadow, at least in the short term. But how long will the short term last? It used to be possible to imagine books disappearing in the distant future. Now it feels like even money that it’s going to happen within our lifetimes…For almost 2,000 years, a technology called the codex held a monopoly on the physical form of truth. The codex was made popular by members of the early Christian church, who gathered individual scrolls and letters between two covers, creating a bible. With time, the Christian book replaced the pagan scroll, and ever since, our relationship to the format has been tinged by a reverence that’s at once reflexive and frequently denied. The written word has long been held to be close to the sacred. Milton thought that books made better receptacles for human souls than bodies. Jews and Muslims in the Middle Ages refused to throw out any texts, lest they inadvertently destroy the name of G-d. Perhaps the purest expression of the idea that books are a form of life comes in the story told by the Mandeans, an Iraqi people who practice a gnostic religion. One of the Mandeans’ great sages was a creature named Dinanukht, who was half-book and half-man. He sat by the waters between worlds, reading himself until the end of time…”

National Conservation Easement Database

“The National Conservation Easement Database (NCED) is the first national database of conservation easement information, compiling records from land trusts and public agencies throughout the United States. Voluntary and secure, the NCED respects landowner privacy and will not collect landowner names or sensitive information. This public-private partnership brings together national conservation groups, local and regional land trusts, and stateContinue Reading

Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation

Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation: Geographic Differences and Trends, 2012. November 2013, EBRI Issue Brief #392. Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2013 Executive Summary “Retirement plan participation varies widely by type and characteristics of both workers and employers. In 2012, 39.4 percent of all workers (or 61.6 million Americans) participated in an employment-based retirement plan, compared with 39.7 percent and 61.0 millionContinue Reading

New York Fed Launches Center for Microeconomic Data

“The Federal Reserve Bank of New York today launched a new research data center: the Center for Microeconomic Data. The “CMD” unifies the collection and analysis of microeconomic data at the New York Fed.  It will also act as a catalyst for microeconomic research by fostering collaboration among the Bank’s microeconomists and promoting engagement with theContinue Reading

FinCEN, Federal Reserve Finalize Rule Amending Definitions in the Bank Secrecy Act

“The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday announced a final rule amending the definitions of “funds transfer” and “transmittal of funds” under regulations implementing the Bank Secrecy Act. The final rule adopts the amendments as proposed in November 2012. The amendmentsContinue Reading

Report – Linux Worm Targeting Hidden Devices

“Symantec has discovered a new Linux worm that appears to be engineered to target the “Internet of things”. The worm is capable of attacking a range of small, Internet-enabled devices in addition to traditional computers. Variants exist for chip architectures usually found in devices such as home routers, set-top boxes and security cameras. Although noContinue Reading

NOAA: New edition of New York harbor nautical chart provides post-Sandy updates

News release: “Ships, barges, ferries, and recreational boats in the busy New York Harbor will be able to navigate more safely thanks to an updated version of the harbor’s nautical chart recently issued by NOAA that includes data gathered in the navigational response to the damage caused by Sandy in October 2012.The latest edition of ChartContinue Reading

Navigating the market

CFPB: “To understand the wide range of information sources consumers could be exposed to in making financial decisions, we commissioned a study of the size and scope of the financial information field. The results give an overall indication of the relative amounts spent in the U.S. on financial education and on the marketing of certainContinue Reading

Affordable Care Act: Improvements Are Needed to Strengthen Systems Development Controls for Premium Tax Credit Project

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration – Affordable Care Act: Improvements Are  Needed to Strengthen Systems Development Controls for the Premium Tax Credit Project. September 27, 2013. Reference Number: 2013-23-119. “The overall objective of this review was to determine if the IRS is adequately managing systems development risks for the PTC Project. TIGTA evaluated the IRS’s key management controls and processes forContinue Reading

RMB now 2nd most used currency in trade finance, overtaking the Euro

News release: ‘”Recent SWIFT data shows that RMB (Chinese Yuan) usage in traditional trade finance – Letters of Credit and Collections – grew from an activity share of 1.89% in January 2012 to 8.66% in October 2013, propelling the RMB to the second most used currency in this market. It ranks behind the USD, whichContinue Reading