In case you didn't know, libraries are cool as heck.

They've been around for — well — ever (or at least thousands of years), there are more than 17,000 of them in the U.S., and they serve a myriad of purposes beyond just access to an unlimited number of free books (which, let's be honest, is pretty great in itself). Nearly all libraries offer access to computers and Wi-Fi, and many serve double as venues for community events. Best yet, libraries can help people develop the tools they need to combat the spread of false stories on the internet and identify reputable sources of information.

Don't worry! No books were harmed in the making of this photo. Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images.


With all those awesome things about libraries, it's kind of mind-boggling that someone call for them to be replaced by Amazon.

Economics professor Panos Mourdoukoutas published a (since deleted) blog at Forbes on July 21 arguing for shutting down local libraries in favor of brick and mortar Amazon stores "in all communities." His argument centers around the idea that "third places" like Starbucks and affordable content-streaming options like Netflix and Amazon Prime have all but made libraries irrelevant.

He wrote:

"Amazon Books is a chain of bookstores that does what Amazon originally intended to do; replace the local bookstore. It improves on the bookstore model by adding online searches and coffee shops. Amazon Go basically combines a library with a Starbucks.

At the core, Amazon has provided something better than a local library without the tax fees. This is why Amazon should replace local libraries. The move would save taxpayers money and enhance the stockholder value of Amazon all in one fell swoop."

According to the American Library Association, Americans check out an average of eight books a year, which costs them an average of $36.96 in total taxes. As far as plans to "save taxpayers lots of money" go, this is a pretty huge dud.

Naturally, librarians weren't exactly thrilled about the idea.

Not to get too snarky here, but if you're planning to write an opinion article about why a private company should replace a public good, a librarian would be the perfect person to help with your research.

Many (correctly) said that the article's premise seemed to ignore the fact that there are millions of low-income individuals who rely on libraries. Replacing them with Amazon stores would take away their ability to apply for jobs, learn new skills, or just be able to read bedtime stories to their kids.

And not everyone has the cash to dish out for a Netflix account, either. A year of Netflix costs more than the average taxes that go to local libraries.

Plus, there's a community element that just can't be replaced by a for-profit company like Amazon. When the end goal is to make money versus to provide a service, events that don't help increase profits get cut.

The idea that physical books are some kind of relic of the past is simply false.

Some suggested that maybe, just maybe, the author hadn't actually visited a library in recent years.

And others reiterated this idea wouldn't actually save people who need libraries any money.

If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that replacing public services with private ventures is a bad idea. That and don't piss off librarians.

Libraries are a lifeline to people of all income levels. Replacing it with something that would cater solely to middle and upper class families in order to save $40 a year won't exactly elicit a standing ovation from most people.

According to these tweeting librarians, it sure sounds like Mourdoukoutas didn't do his research. If only there were a place where he could go to read up on subjects he doesn't quite grasp...

OK, so this is a runway model during some sort of library-themed fashion show in 2015. Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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