06 APR 2011 by ideonexus

 Middlebrow Culture of Effort

The distinctive feature of American middlebrow culture was its embodiment of the old civic credo that anyone willing to invest time and energy in self-education might better himself. Many uneducated lowbrows, particularly immigrants, cherished middlebrow values: the millions of sets of encyclopedias sold door to door from the twenties through the fifties were often purchased on the installment plan by parents who had never owned a book but were willing to sacrifice to provide their children w...
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The post-WWII people who bought encyclopedias and literature were trying to better themselves and believed in self-improvement through self-education. When that culture was lost in favor of pop-culture, America lost its middle-class intellectualism.

03 JAN 2011 by ideonexus

 Number of Bits for a Set of Encyclopedias are Minuscule C...

I have estimaged how many letters there are in a the Enclyclopaedia, and I have assumed that each of my 24 million books is as big as an Encyclopaedia volume, and have calculated, then, how many bits of information there are (10^15). For each bit I allow 100 atoms. And it turns out that all of the information that man has carefully accumulated in all the books in the world can be written in this form in a cube of material one two-hundredths of an inch wide--which is the barest piece of dust t...
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Feynman estimates the number of atoms neccessary for storing a set of encyclopedias, and then compares that to the amount of data included in a DNA string.