Monthly Archives: August 2013

Library of Paris

Free Textbooks? Yes Please!

Library of ParisCollege education has never been more expensive so when a company comes along with the aim of changing the status quo and providing free textbooks to students all around the country than people are bound to sit up and take notice. That’s just what non-profit Openstax College is promising to do. Openstax has one goal to provide low-cost textbooks to as many students as possible.

Openstax offers free textbooks to students whose faculties allow their courses to participate in. These textbooks are developed and peer reviewed by the very educators who will be using them and thusly are guaranteed to meet the scope and requirements of the course. Since 2012 they have been producing open source textbooks under creative Commons licence and have helped over one half million students around the country, and have an aim to help a further 40,000 students save around $3.7 million on textbooks this year alone.

The College accepts content in any form and follows the traditional path of peer reviewing content, but follows the very non-traditional path of licensing the books under the creative Commons licence so that teachers and lecturers can redistribute these materials to their students for free.

Free digital textbooks with no expiration date that are be accepted in more and more universities around the country, this is a great initiative and one that we should all get behind as education should be cheaper not more expensive.

dont take rented textbooks across state lines

Amazon says don’t take your Rented Textbooks Across State Lines.

dont take rented textbooks across state linesMore and more students are saving money on their college textbooks by renting them out for the semester rather than buying them outright, but many college students may not realise that if they are renting their textbooks from Amazon then they face heavy fines if they take their rented textbooks over state lines.

Amazons textbook rental service contains fine print that allows them to bill your credit card for the full price of the book if they suspect that you have crossed over state lines. The terms and conditions of the Amazon textbook rental subsidiary contain a condition that the rented textbook must not be taken out of the state from which it was originally rented. As stated on their Textbook Rental Terms and Conditions page:

You may not move the textbook out of the state to which it was originally shipped. If you wish to move the textbook out of that state, you must first purchase the textbook. You can purchase the textbook by going to Your Textbook Rentals to view your rental library. Select the textbook you wish to purchase and then proceed through the checkout process. You may also contact us to purchase the textbook. When you purchase the textbook, we will charge you the buyout price of the textbook, and the textbook will be yours to keep.

If Amazon suspect that a student has violated these rules and taken a trip with their rented textbook, they will use their discretion and charge the remaining amount of money from the textbooks original price to the assigned credit card.

Why?

It is thought that this is an attempt by the company to fight certain state governments sales taxes. If the book is being rented to a person who is located in a state where Amazon is not officially doing business, then an argument could be made by the state that they actually are doing business in the state and as such must pay the states sales tax.

Whatever the reason, if you are renting your textbooks this semester be careful taking your textbook across state lines, even if you are just going back home for a weekend study session, it could end up costing you a whole lot more than you may have bargained for.

Should we be boycotting Enders Game

Should We Be Boycotting Orson Scott Cards ‘Enders Game’?

Should we be boycotting Enders Game

Science Fiction Author Orson Scott Card has long come under fire for his opposition to marriage equality and his vigorous, violent opposition to homosexuality. This years release of the film adaptation of Card’s most famous book Enders Game, has come at a time when the call for social and marriage equality has never been more in the publics eye, and as a result, those who find the authors religious and social beliefs abhorrent have been louder than ever in their calling for a boycott of the movie Ender’s Game.

Orson Scott Card, for those who don’t know is, among other things, a Mormon, a pretty darn good Science Fiction Author and a very passionate opposer of homosexuals and their right to marry. So passionate that he actually advocated a violent revolution of the government in order to prevent gay marriage.

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn. Source.

But then maybe this is simply because as he sees it, homosexuality is a merely a result of trauma:

many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse. Source.

Now Mr Card is a man of his word and puts his money right where his mouth is. in 2009 he was made a member of the board of directors of the National Organisation for Marriage, or NOM. The deliciously acronymed NOM is a group that actively campaigns against same-sex marriage. A quote from their website tell us what they imagine will happen if same-sex couples are allowed to marry:

Based on what has already happened elsewhere, we predict that people of faith will face lawsuits, lose contracts, be denied employment and be forced to stop providing goods and services. Charities will be forced to close.

Thats right, same-sex marriage will close your charities.

But with the impending cinematic release of Enders Game, Orson Scott Card has realised that his anti-homosexual stance has the potential to hit him right where it hurts the most. His bank balance. As a result he has resigned from his position at NOM and he has “softened” his position thusly:

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

Ignoring the fact that these issues did in fact exist well before 1984, now that the Supreme Court has voted in their favour, supporters of same-sex marriage are expected to show the tolerance that was never afforded them, to those people who simply disagree with them. Somehow Orson Scott Card equates giving his money and throwing his support behind a group that actively works to stop all American citizens receiving equal rights to be a mere difference of opinion.

No, Orson, it doesn’t work like that, your intolerance does not itself demand tolerance.

I can not put it more eloquently than this:

Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. […] We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. Karl Popper 1945.

So, should we all unanimously boycott this movie because of the authors hateful opinions?

No, of course not.

History is full of bigoted, morally disgusting people who nonetheless created great and beautiful things.

This list could go on forever, and were we to run to the libraries and cull all the works from authors who held racist or bigoted views there would be no books left from before this century.

We all need to take a step back and remember that it is entirely possible to learn something, even to find beauty in works from people whose morality or personal beliefs sickens us to our stomach.

So will I be watching Enders Game?

No, I will be boycotting it.

Orson Scott Card was not having a mere “Disagreement” with the LGBT community as he suggests, he was actively fighting against it. He gave money and sat on the directors board of an organization that actively opposed same-sex marriage. It is not an unimaginable leap from reality to envision profits made from the Ender’s Game movie ending up supporting a hate group that is active and functioning today, be it NOM or any other anti-homosexual organization Orson Scott Card sends financial support to now or in the future.

I can in no good conscience support that, any more than I could support a movie funded by the Taliban.