Rainbow Rowell is the best thing to happen to young adult literature in ages

Old adults read as much — and possibly more — YA fiction than actual young adults, and authors like Rowell and Green (and many others) arent writing down to appeal to younger audiences. Theyre simply writing from the viewpoint of teenagers, which is really the only useful definition left to describe YA fiction.

Rowells success is interesting in the way it both reflects YAs recent history and challenges perceptions of the genre. Heres what you need to know about her, her delightful books, and what those books say about the current state of YA.

Rainbow Rowell didnt set out to write YA

Rowells debut novel, 2011s Attachments, is not considered YA; its a workplace romance set in a newsroom (Rowell used to be a columnist at the Omaha World-Herald). Told in part through inter-office emails between two women friends, its a breezy, thoroughly charming read that you can finish in a few sittings, but by virtue of it centering on adult characters, its considered adult fiction.

William Goldman Brings Misery to Broadway

In adapting the show, Frears and Goldman knew they couldnt compete with the movie. Without the benefit of close-ups and quick cuts, they had to approach the horror more psychologically.

Shifting focus away from action sequences and toward what Frears calls the internal struggle of Paul Sheldon, he and Goldman went back to the well of the novel and emerged with new exposition. Frears learned Adventuress lesson that Screenplays Are Structure (as opposed to dialogue). When he asked Goldman for a monologue about Sheldons childhood, Goldman complied but added, I followed your terrible idea, and I dont think you should do it. In the end, Frears didnt.

Frears also tutored Goldman, though, on writing for a looser, chattier medium and staging transitions instead of simply writing cut to. I have very little visual sense, Goldman says during a post-rehearsal chat with Frears. His reasons for never directing have shifted over the years, but he settles now on that shortcoming. Its just something Ive never had any interest in doing, he says. And Im very anxious, and this is a big thing for me, he adds, turning to Frears, to see your play today.

The possessive pronoun isnt incidental. Even in theater, where the writer supposedly has final cut, Goldman feels the weight of all those actors and directors who rode to glory on his shoulders, compensating him only with lots of money and several books worth of anecdotes. I came to him hat in hand, Frears remembers, and said, lsquo;Tell me what to do and Ill do it. And he said, lsquo;Look, I work for you. He writes to order like no other playwright Ive seen.

Goldman has called the auteur theory demeaning and dangerous, but his governing attitude toward directors is There but for the grace of God go I. I have no way of knowing if Bruce Willis is a prick or a fabulous creature, but this is not my problem, he says. I dont want the power. When a project is given to me and I say yes, Im gonna oblige everybody who has the power to try to make it work.

He doesnt much envy younger screenwriters either. Hes written five unproduced screenplays since 2003. I dont like a lot of movies that get made now, he says. Goldman could never be mistaken for an optimist. He had a hard upbringing a deaf mother and an alcoholic father who killed himself in their house and the last couple of years have brought declining health and private losses. But hes feeling pretty good about the play, especially after this run-through. I think were all in agreement that we saw a quality show today, he says. Frears agrees: Were getting there.

Weezer "Do You Wanna Get High?"

Last month, Weezer returned with a surprise new single (and bizarre video) called Thank God for Girls. Regardless of what you thought of that one, the long-running alt-pop act are back with a new drug anthem called Do You Wanna Get High?

Regardless of its on-the-nose stoner lyrics, the songs got a classic Weezer structure. Its built on a classically-inspired bass-line that eventually builds up to a massive singalong. Switch out Buddy Holly for Burt Bacharach, whos shouted out in every chorus here, and youve got a modern take on the band.

The song premiered on Zane Lowes Beats 1 show. Rivers Cuomo told the host that the group doesnt currently have a record label, and theyre simply writing and releasing singles without necessarily worrying about a full album.

Listen to Do You Wanna Get High? below.

Everyday Cheapskate: Here’s how to spend $500 less this month, every month

Eat the sales. As you shop for groceries, stop putting anything in your grocery cart that is not on sale. Got it? Great, because that will net at least $50 savings each month.

Switch to tap water. Stop spending $1 a day for a 1.5-liter bottle of water. Drink water free from the tap. Monthly savings: $30.

Replace dessert. Notice I did not say give up dessert, simply replace a $5 restaurant dessert with a 75-cent candy bar. But go easy. Once a week is more than enough and will save you $17 in a month.

Trade dinner for breakfast. Dinner for two in a typical restaurant costs about $40. Breakfast for two: $15. Make this switch twice a month and save $50.

Track your spending. By simply writing down how you spend your money, experts say you will recover the 10 percent of your net income that disappears through impulsive purchases. Net savings each month: $200.

Give it up. Vow to give up one vice. Come on, even if its a challenge seeing how much you save by not smoking, not drinking a 6-pack of beer every weekend or not getting your nails done every week. Maybe you can try mowing your own lawn or washing the car. Whatever it is, determine to give up one thing and you will net at least $25.

There you have it, 10 simple changes that will net you more than $500 each month. You could use the money, right? Well then, what are you waiting for?

Remember, its the money you dont spend every month that ultimately will give you the freedom to live the life you love.

Write to Mary Hunt at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740.

Copyright Captures APIs: A New Caution For Developers

Google v. Oracle. It’s a sensational case. A battle of tech heavyweights — and a software copyright case that went all the way to the US Supreme Court. Millions of dollars are at stake. And the ramifications for software entrepreneurs are significant.

The facts are not in dispute. Google copied a portion of Oracle’s Java application programming interface (API) to create the Android operating system — the most installed mobile operating system in the world.

Oracle then sued Google for copyright infringement, but lost in federal district court. Then, surprising many, it won a major victory — a reversal at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit — an appeals court directly below the US Supreme Court.

The Federal Circuit, overturning the district court’s decision, decided that Oracle’s Java API is copyrightable. And in June of this year, the US Supreme Court refused to consider the case.

Software developers routinely treat APIs as exempt from copyright protection. That was Google’s assumption when it copied the Java API. That assumption must now change. Under the court’s logic, nearly any API larger than a few words or phrases could be protected by copyright.

Now, Google and other developers who copy an API without having a license to do so may have only one defense: a doctrine in copyright law called “fair use.”

The jury in the district court case already considered whether Google’s copying was fair use, but was unable to decide. So this high-stakes case now falls back into the hands of a hesitant jury charged with deciding whether Google’s having used Oracle’s Java API for its Android operating system was in fact fair use. There is no way to predict the outcome.

Because using APIs is so common, startups, as well as established software companies, need to operate with a clear understanding of this legal battle. They need to understand the implications of this decision in order to avoid running afoul of others’ copyrights — and to leverage their own. 

Copyright Versus Patents

The difference between copyright and patent protection is often misunderstood. In the context of software development, copyrights and patents protect two entirely different, non-overlapping aspects.

Patents protect functional aspects of software, such as processes and methods of operation. We generally think of these as features of the software. Reproducing patented processes and methods, even in independently written code, is patent infringement.

In contrast, copyright only protects artistic aspects of software code, not its functional aspects. Consequently, if software is protected only by copyright, then others may appropriate any of the features implemented by the software by simply writing their own code independently.

America’s courts have historically struggled with how to separate artistic aspects of software code from functional aspects. Because software is mostly functional, you might think that copyright protection of software is weak. Generally, you’d be right.

But copyright protection is very useful if someone copies either the source code or the compiled code. If someone literally copies all or a portion of such code, then a court would probably decide that at least some artistic aspects were copied, thereby infringing the original developer’s copyright.

But, you think, if that is the case, why would Google think it could literally copy a portion of the Java API? The answer is based on a well-established principle of copyright law that tries to prevent granting patent-like rights through copyright. Specifically, according to the Copyright Act, copyright protection in a work must not extend to any functional system or method of operation, regardless of the form in which the system or method is described in the work. 

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Mary Hunt: Changes to save $500 per month

REPLACE DESSERT. Notice I did not save give up dessert, simply replace a $5 restaurant dessert with a $.75 candy bar. But go easy. Once a week is more than enough and will save you $17 in a month.

TRADE DINNER FOR BREAKFAST. Dinner for two in a typical restaurant now costs about $40. Breakfast for two: $15. Make this switch twice a month and save $50.

TRACK YOUR SPENDING. By simply writing down how you spend your money, experts say you will recover the 10 percent of your net income that disappears through impulsive purchases. Net savings each month: $200.

GIVE IT UP. Vow to give up one vice. Come on, even if its a challenge seeing how much you save by not smoking, not drinking a 6-pack of beer every weekend or not getting your nails done every week. Maybe you can try mowing your own lawn or washing the car. Whatever it is, determine to give up one thing and you will net at least $25.

There you have it, 10 simple changes that will net you more than $500 each month. You could use the money, right? Well then, what are you waiting for? Remember, its the money you dont spend every month that ultimately will give you the freedom to live the life you love.

Daily chart

Much has been made of cash purchases of homes in the US in the aftermath of the recession.

I have a question. Perhaps the Economist can investigate this.

How do we know how many of these cash purchases are completely un-leveraged, true cash purchases? In other words how many foreign buyers of US homes and US-based investors are simply reaching into their cash reserves and simply writing a check against a completely unencumbered pile of cash that they have sitting in a vault?

The next question is that if these cash purchases are not the product of someone reaching into a vault and pulling out this cash, then if there is leverage, then what is the source of this lending? What are the terms of the lending that is being provided to these cash purchasers.

As the Economist duly reports, Id suspect that many of these cash purchases of homes are in fact leveraged, perhaps highly leveraged. The source of this borrowing is likely to be the shadow banking industry of which the Economist has reported widely.

What is the due diligence in the US when a foreign cash purchaser pulls out his/her checkbook to buy a home in the US? What do the sellers know of to whom this cash purchaser may owe money? What do we know of the financing of the partnerships that may have funded these cash purchases? What do we know of the repayment schedules set up for these cash purchases? What is the economic exposure behind these cash purchases.

If cash purchases of homes in the US are the product of a money pulled out of the vault from pure savings or retained earnings, or the exchange or sale of other hard assets, then perhaps we have half of an issue.

Unfortunately, for the housing market in the US, any type of inflated pricing for houses is never a total non-issue. As the Economist has reported so well, based on almost 400 years of sales history, the very long-term pricing of homes is about 3 times incomes. We are again, far past this ratio.

In my non-coastal, non-dot-com city, new homes are being built for 5 to 9 times the prevailing household income in my town. Id like to know where the jobs are that are paying for these homes; Ill take the risk and say that these jobs are not out there.

Moving past the cash purchase phenomenon, and onto the other false sense of security from higher underwriting standards and buyers with a solid credit history, we can point out other uncomfortable realities for the housing market in the US.

No one I know–even at levels far above the median income level in the US– are getting raises. Real incomes, as we enter open enrollment for health insurance, are sure to take a dive, unless one down-markets once again to a lower grade health insurance. For those at Bronze insurance–a growing cohort where I work–there is no more of a raise to be had from skimping on health insurance. Jobs continue to be insecure, and even for the knowledge workers of America.

In short the real incomes of Americans that are supposed to support this supposedly safe and secure housing recovery are not there. We are priming the pump for Housing Collapse II (in stereo perhaps).

Perhaps this reprise of the collapse will be less dramatic than the one from 2008. My guess is that, for American home purchasers for the 5x to 9x income homes, the collapse will come in a silent, grinding, upward churn in foreclosures. For today, a job loss, particularly when one of our new homes is involved in a persons financial liabilities, will by default manifest itself in a foreclosure statistic.

For foreign purchasers, we can only wonder what the provenance of this cash is for home purchases. We know nothing of what arrangements have been made to make this cash available. Home sellers in a post-recession America probably arent asking much questions of any obscured arrangements behind these nominally free-and-clear cash purchases.

As to the American home purchaser, just look behind the headline numbers of housing, and a far less sanguine reality would be found. Credit worthy purchasers in America, while even qualifying for higher standard of underwriting, are nonetheless taking on greater financial hardship, and ever greater risk, to underwrite Americas housing recovery.

As a final note, Ill paraphrase a recent letter writer to the editor of The Economist. This writer pointed out that in Britain (and why should the US be any different) only a small percentage of experienced investors were in the housing market to gain shrinking rent yields. This writer also pointed out that in Britain many of the gains in rental incomes accruing to investors were more the product of a new round of eager investors, than any sort of economic fundamentals to justify the returns from housing as an investment in Britain.

The 3 AM infomercials and cable shows are back in the US, again.

Wait for the sequel of this movie; it stands to be just as unpleasant as part one.

Housing First and the Research and Practice Relationship in Advancing a Field

Editors’ note: Stephen Gaetz, a professor in York University’s faculty of Education, director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and of the Homeless Hub, and president of Raising the Roof, is at the forefront globally of research on homelessness and mobilization of that research to effect change at the level of public policy. His most recent publications are A Safe and Decent Place to Live: Towards a Housing First Framework for Youth and Coming of Age: Reimagining the Response to Youth Homelessness in Canada (both 2014).

Pathways to Housing was formed in 1992 under the principles of the “Housing First” approach, innovated by founder Sam Tsemberis, at the time a professor of psychiatry at New York University, whose work around solving chronic homelessness began in New York in the early nineties and since then has become a model that is replicated globally. The Housing First model is based on a core set of principles: (1) Move people into housing directly from streets and shelters without preconditions of treatment acceptance or compliance; (2) The provider is obligated to bring robust support services to the housing. These services are predicated on assertive engagement, not coercion; (3) Continued tenancy is not dependent on participation in services; (4) Units [are] targeted to most disabled and vulnerable homeless members of the community; (5) Embraces harm-reduction approach to addictions rather than mandating abstinence. At the same time, the provider must be prepared to support resident commitment to recovery; (6) Residents must have leases and tenant protections under the law; (7) Can be implemented as either a project-based or scattered-site model.1

While there are critics who argue that the model rewards bad behavior (housing is provided for addicts without the usual preconditions demanded by other programs, such as, Kick the addiction first, then you get a home) the radically simple approach has, according to advocates, been incredibly effective with those who are most chronically homeless.

This article is from NPQ’s fall 2015 edition, “Making Things Work: Considerations in Nonprofit Strategy.”

Stephen Gaetz calls himself an engaged scholar, which means that he sees himself as an agent for change, having an impact on both policy and practice. Gaetz is well known for his work in Canada on Housing First, the homelessness program that has proven itself to be extraordinarily effective with–predominantly–single homeless men in the United States, Europe, and Canada. His work focuses less on the level of outcomes and more on looking at the processes of applying the model in various communities–or, as he puts it, “How you get from the concepts to the actual implementation, and what happens in between.”

Gaetz has embedded himself in the field, doing a lot of collaborative work with communities, national and regional organizations, and all levels of government. For instance, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness is currently working with the At Home/Chez Soi team (the world’s largest research project on Housing First) to develop evidence-based assessment tools for communities engaged in the Housing First approach. In an area where private consultants’ products dominate, the goal is to connect researchers with the users of research in the nonprofit sector and in government in order to help provide communities with options that are reliable and evidence based. So, as he summed it up, “like the applied side of the research across Canada. That’s it.”

But that is a lot. Getting an effective program proven, recognized, replicated properly, and then written into policy in such a way that funding becomes available is no small feat. “There were clearly Housing First-like programs in existence before it became a popular concept,” says Gaetz, “but between Pathways in New York and then some work in LA in the ’90s, it started to get traction and a name. The good news is that someone like Sam Tsemberis [the psychiatrist credited with firmly establishing the concept] thinks very conceptually, so the model was not simply a description of the clinical side of the work but–perhaps even more important–laid out the key core principles that underlie the work.”

In addition, the effort to establish an evidence base for the work started early. Gaetz described the attention to research as key to the program, because “the reality is that policy and practice aren’t always driven by evidence. So, Housing First is one of the models I think we can legitimately call a ‘best practice’ now, because over the years the evidence has accumulated across sites and involved different types of research.”

But according to Gaetz, being a good idea that is well proven and has effective spokespeople is not enough. “It also aligned with a number of other things going on in the early part of the turn of the century. You had a convergence of things happening politically that aligned with the model. You had this evidence base for a very significant conceptual paradigm shift in how to respond to homelessness. And you had the ten-year plan idea emerge. These began to be supported by the nonprofit advocacy sector, which had some effective spokespeople–the National Alliance to End Homelessness taking the lead–and then also at the government level through the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. These thought leaders were successful in conveying to communities and local government that we can and must do things differently.

“And this might sound odd coming from me,” Gaetz continued, “but style is important. Can you grab and keep an audience? It’s funny, but in our sector we always say, Ohhhh, tsk-tsk, too showy! But it’s important, and that is something that I’ve had to learn.”

Presentation is important, says Gaetz, because “even if people hate the present, they tend to hate change more. You have to grab people. So, you have people, you have the idea, you had the conceptual shift that was tied to ten-year plans, you had support within government and outside, you had infrastructure in place to spread the ideas–and then come the funders in force.”

But that certainly was not a time to rest, because that convergence point that advocates long for carries its own set of problems. “I think it’s important to realize that when something becomes well known and popular–when it becomes official policy and something funders want to do–that’s a good thing, but it’s also dangerous, because communities may feel that they need to implement the idea but may do it very poorly because they do not understand or care about the design.”

And, as with every such policy, there are unintended consequences that should be–but often are not–watched closely. Gaetz believes that in the case of Housing First, the consequence of singularly prioritizing chronically homeless people with high-acuity mental health and addiction issues, while a laudable goal, also resulted in not sufficiently attending to the whole array of issues fueling the problem–in other words, prevention. “To me, this selectiveness comes from the politics of scarcity in the United States–you know, we only have this much money–and I think that the consequences of that are very negative, and I’m wary of when we say we have to do this first. And the metaphor that gets used–and gets used up here [in Canada], too–is that it’s like an emergency room: we triage and prioritize people who are close to dying. But you would never, ever build a whole healthcare system around what happens in the emergency room.”

And the metaphor, he says, is false, in that it limits the response to homelessness to one priority group, thus excluding much-needed focus on other populations. Housing First has primarily been proven successful with single adult men, “but how do we deal with homelessness among adult women fleeing violence, who are often not necessarily visible because of safety issues but are nonetheless important?,” he asks. “How do we deal with youth who are maybe too young to be considered chronically homeless? It’s hard to be homeless for twenty years when you’re sixteen! So, that kind of thing. What I’m saying is, we need a ‘solutions to homelessness 2.0’ that still keeps Housing First central, that recognizes the importance of prioritizing chronically homeless people–but as one priority–and that also focuses on the needs of other subpopulations and works on addressing the flow of people into homelessness. Because, in a way, we’ve talked ourselves into a trap, I think, by overpromising that if we do ten-year plans–if we simply prioritize chronically homeless people–we will solve homelessness.”

You need to do three things to address homelessness, says Gaetz: “You’ve got to prevent it from happening in the first place, number one. You’re going to need a crisis response (because no matter how good your prevention is, bad things will happen), number two. And, number three, you’ve got to move people out of homelessness with the supports that they need. And for the longest time, we were stuck on that middle part. That’s where investment is, and I would argue it’s still in many ways largely there.”

Asked about the rather phenomenal volume of research associated with Housing First as compared with other approaches and interventions, Gaetz replied that the historical lack of a strong link between research, policy, and practice in the homelessness sector may in part be due to a lack of interest among funders but may also reflect a kind of anti-intellectualism about the role of research in decision making. “When I worked in the sector, there were always people who said, ‘We don’t need research–we know what the problem is, we know what the solution is.’ And I always tell people we’re generally at least partially wrong on all three of those. But maybe the reason that Housing First has been so researched is very directly because it emerged out of a mental health and addictions space, where there are not only substantial funding differences but also an inherent interest in research. If Sam Tsemberis had been a social worker in Idaho doing Housing First, things may not have evolved in the same way–but he’s a researcher. My point is, the intervention emerged out of the mental health sector, not the social work sector, even though there are strong social work components. And again, most of the homelessness work, if up to social workers, would mostly be situated not in that space but in a more social work/charitable model context.”

But some of the research about the model that received the highest profile was on cost savings, meaning the idea that if formerly chronically homeless people were off the street and had resources to pull from, they would pull less from expensive crisis-service budgets. “I think it’s what we would call ‘symbolic’ or ‘strategic’ use of research. For some decision makers, that’s what they want to listen to. And rhetorically, what a brilliant (and true) point to be able to make. Because the ‘something different’ that we are asking you to do may be counterintuitive, but it works. Not only does it work, it saves money.”

Of course, acknowledges Gaetz–understanding the complexity of how in-government cost offsets really work–this doesn’t mean that when you house somebody and they use less of or become less involved with the legal system, or use health services less, the government then reduces its health budget or its corrections budget. But it does mean that those institutions can do different things.

“A lot of people I know will complain that you can’t reduce homelessness to a dollars and cents thing, but my argument is, You know what? In your arsenal of tools, use whatever works and is really good. And the At Home/Chez Soi project in Canada has, I think, done the best work on that whole issue of cost offsets that’s ever been done–the most sophisticated work in terms of service utilization prior to being housed and after. And the evidence is there–particularly for that very complex group of people that were served by Housing First. That’s actually where most of the savings accrue, so it’s been good. It’s been strategic, but that’s a good use of research. And we shouldn’t be afraid of that.”

This style of engaged and formative research is all about creating impact, says Gaetz, and simply writing an article that three people read is not that. “You want policy-makers, you want to help practitioners and the public, and as researchers we’re not trained to do that. You want those people to take on and learn from the research and do something. So, yes, my role is to help figure out what works, for whom it works, how it works–and figure out how to communicate that effectively to the people who need to know.

“But convincing people to pay attention is insufficient. We need to keep testing the model and expanding the view. We need to understand how it works for different subpopulations, because if you’re in education or healthcare, you’d be a fool today not to talk about diversity and the need to make sure your response addresses the needs of different groups of people. Some proponents of Housing First assume that those kinds of issues of difference disappear, and really it’s all about individuals.

“In Canada, the issue would be around Aboriginal people and the history–what we’ve done to that population and thus how we’ve alienated them from service use. How do we make this or another approach work in that context? How do we make it work with families? How do we make it work with young people leaving care? The point is, Housing First is based on solid principles and theoretically should work for anyone. We just need to adapt it to meet the needs of different population groups.”

Gaetz returns again and again to the importance of the principles of Housing First when implementing and researching the model. “Educating people about Housing First is a huge challenge, because you think it’s straightforward: read this document, watch this film by Sam Tsemberis, read this paper, read this report. But in fact, people may or may not do that, and the misunderstandings about what it is, even for those who buy into it, is profound. The principles can bring you back to basics quickly. So that whole piece around fidelity to the model accompanied by necessary technical support is really key to its success. So we have to be mindful of that. I think with any model it’s not enough to have the good idea, it’s not enough to write it down; that won’t ensure good implementation. I think that, as I said earlier, when Tsemberis first declared the core principles, that was a gift. Of course, they can be modified and reshaped, but they are a central reference point. That was very smart, I think, because, as I say, you have to be really careful when funders and policy drive an approach. I like that that happens, but one just has to be careful, because things can go awry.”

Note

  1. Housing First core principles as outlined by DESC in Why Housing First?