Christmas visit with family and friends

I went to Falls Church, Virginia to visit family and friends 20 – 29 December. I got home yesterday evening. Drove to Bloomington (1 hour) and flew through Detroit to Dulles and back again.

Going out of Bloomington vs. Champaign is about $150 cheaper round trip and parking is free, which is a substantial savings. BMI now has free public wireless! Yay! Champaign did already for UIUC folks since it’s owned and run by the University, but I read recently that they opened it up to all of the public. Bravo! Now if only the larger airports could get on board.

I was overjoyed to have wireless in BMI on the way out since my flight hadn’t arrived and I got an update from Orbitz before the airline (Northwest) even mentioned it. It seems our airplane couldn’t see well enough to land and got diverted to Champaign to refuel before coming back to Bloomington. Other planes were landing and taking off, though. We left Bloomington after my flight to DC from Detroit had left; many others on our flight missed their flights.

I used the wireless to get several more updates from Oribtz and found a phone # for NWA. They had me re-booked already on a later flight out of Detroit so
I got to DC a couple hours later.

Coming home, our plane in Detroit had maintenance issues and we finally got another plane scheduled for about 3 hours later. Not too bad, but it’d sure be nice if the airline had paid for wireless. I think free public wireless should be at all airports, for many reasons. But until wiser minds see reason and understand service it’d at least be nice of your airline would provide it once you have a delay. Oh well. Travel; it could’ve been much worse.

I had a wonderful visit with my mom, sister, brother-in-law, niece, son, daughter; and friends, Miss E, and Christina Pikas and her husband, Mark. Thanks all.

Saw several movies. Ate assorted cuisine, including Vietnamese with Christina and Mark. Also had great Chinese with E. Played games. Talked. Went to the Natural History Museum and Botanic Gardens. Helped figure out the audio wiring in a new house. Helped with the cooking, sometimes. Ate lots of tasty food.

I fear Christina’s Mark had to suffer through a goodly amount of librariana/grad school talk. Sorry, dude.

No idea what the mail state is since it’s been held since the 20th. Perhaps it’ll get delivered tomorrow; I believe that’s what I asked for. Online holding of your mail is easy, btw.

I have to say that I’m already feeling overwhelmed. So much to do. Bottom line, I put off a major decision until after this visit. Now, I’m back and facing a massive deadline on the 11th of Jan. I was ordered to leave it be until after my visit, so I did. If this does not go well then it’ll be decision time. I have only discussed this with an extremely small number of people; can only think of 2 at the moment and I did not bring it up on my trip. While I love and trust everyone I saw on my trip, I wasn’t ready to discuss this. Don’t really have the words to explain it anyway.

I did 4 loads of laundry this morning, which is a large number for me. Went to the grocery store. Trying to do final updates to several posts; publishing one. Need to reply to a couple serious comments. Changed the header images on a single post and the main Archives page with some slices of a couple photos I took at the United States Botanic Garden. Published another post [Sorry if I’m overloading you, Christina.]

Photos of Christmas presents (known, to date; see mail comment above). Red penciled the current state of my bibliography. Read some. Watched 3 episodes of the Simpsons Season 2.

I know this is fragmented and brief. So much more could be said about many things.

I relaxed while on vacation, while I did not end on a relaxed and rested note, since I was tired most of the time on my visit. I might ought to broach a serious topic with some other folks, but I have to focus on moving forward towards the 11th first. If I reach that OK then other issues may melt away.

I really did enjoy spending time with everyone I saw. I sure wish my niece had been less sick, though.

Perhaps I’ll write more about this year ending and the new one beginning tomorrow. Perhaps not.

Books Read in 2007

Late last year I decided to participate in a reading challenge (2007 TBR) that I found at Joy Weese Moll’s blog, Wanderings of an online librarian. I generally don’t do these sorts of things but when I had looked back over 2006 at the hundreds of article I had read I found that I had read something like 13 books. My post linked above lists the books that I chose as possibilities. Maybe I didn’t follow the rules exactly (Yay me!) and I don’t care as I read more than 3x as many books as I did last year; although I also read far fewer articles.

So how did I do? Of my “(probable) definites” I read 3 and most of a 4th, and of my “possibilities” I read half of 1. Perhaps not so good, all in all. But I do not care. I read far more books and I found new interests. And all of the books that I did not get to are still on my to be read list.

The numbers seem to come out at 33 books read, 3 of those read a 2nd time, and 9 books and one online proceedings mostly read.

I’m thinking that I won’t undertake any such challenge for 2008 as I will be focusing on my CAS paper for the first 4+ months of the year. Towards that endeavor I will be re-reading some of the books from this year. I will certainly try to keep track of what I read next year, but I see no reason to set myself a goal that only causes me frustration and guilt.

In late January of 2007 I wrote a post that listed some of the things I had read that weekend, “Things read this weekend.” With that post a habit was about to be born. I know that some of you would rather I didn’t write these “Some things read …” posts, but I have gotten enough positive comments and discussion generated from them that I will probably continue for a while.

The 1st full “Some things read this week …” post came for the week 29 Jan – 3 Feb where I discussed the possibility of continuing the practice while knowing that some things of merit would get missed.

It was quite a year of reading.

Books read in 2007

Dates are the dates I read the book.

very late Dec 06 – 7 Jan 07
The Art of Living : the Classic Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness / by Epictetus (1995), 1st ed. [WorldCat]

Ambient Findability / by Peter Morville. [WorldCat]

14-19 Jan 2007
Humanism and Democratic Criticism / Edward W. Said [WorldCat]

10-12 Feb 2007
Declamation on the Nobility and Preeminence of the Female Sex / Henricus Cornelius Agrippa ; translated and edited with an introduction by Albert Rabil, Jr. [WorldCat]

12-16 Feb 2007
Silas Marner : the Weaver of Raveloe / by George Eliot, David Carroll and Q. D. Leavis. [WorldCat]

17 Feb 2007
Life of Pi : a novel / Yann Martel. [WorldCat]

  • Yes. I read this one in one day. I did enjoy this although the epilogue (or whatever that thing at the end was supposed to be) really put a massive damper on the story and the “feel” of the story.

Jan – 15 Feb 2007
The Archaeology of Knowledge ; And, The Discourse on Language / by Michel Foucault. [WorldCat]
Discourse – read 14-15 Mar

  • The Discourse was much better than Archaeology, which was a real slog.

mid-Jan – 17 Feb 2007
Relationships in the Organization of Knowledge / edited by Carol A. Bean and Rebecca Green. [WorldCat]

This book was highly productive for, and influential on, me. Highly recommended!

18 Feb 2007
It’s Not Easy Being Green And Other Things to Consider / Jim Henson, the Muppets, and friends ; with drawings by Jim Henson ; edited by Cheryl Henson [WorldCat]

8 Mar – 20 Dec
Break, Blow, Burn / Camille Paglia. [WorldCat]

This book was as hard to slog through as Raber’s The Problem of Information. At least with that book I knew that there was a point. Oh. That sounds wrong. I don’t mean a point in a rational sense. Not sure how to say it.

I read a great review of this book a couple years back and knowing I needed to broaden my extremely limited exposure to poetry I added it to my wishlist. My daughter gave it to me as a present and I finally got to reading it earlier this year.

I think I would have enjoyed it much better if I had just read the poems and ignored all of Paglia’s commentary. Sometimes she had something enlightening to say but often as not she was also condescending to the reader. My main issue with her commentary is that she has serious issues with sex and God. I was amazed yesterday when a poem finally cropped up in which she had nothing to say about God, sex, or even God and sex. I could be wrong but I believe it to be the only one out of 43 to have the honor of not being defiled by often forced references to either. That poem is May Swenson’s ‘At East River.”

Am I now more attuned to poetry than I was before reading this book? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. I am willing to try again, though. As long as Paglia isn’t involved!

18 – 20 Apr
Atheism : a Very Short Introduction / Julian Baggini. [WorldCat]

18-22 May
The Language Machine / by Roy Harris. [WorldCat]

23-25 May
Balanced Libraries : Thoughts on Continuity and Change / Walt Crawford. [WorldCat]

26-30 May
The Language-Makers / Roy Harris. [Re-read 28 Oct – 10 Nov] [WorldCat]

2-4 Jul
The Successful Academic Librarian : Winning Strategies from Library Leaders / edited by Gwen Meyer Gregory. (most of it anyway) [WorldCat]

4 – 7 Jul
The Semantics of Science / by Roy Harris. [WorldCat]

7 – 12 Jul
The Language Myth / by Roy Harris. [WorldCat]

14 Jul – 15 Dec
Peace is Every Step : the Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life / by Nhat Hanh, Thich [WorldCat]

16 – 19 Jul
First Have Something to Say : Writing for the Library Profession / Walt Crawford. [WorldCat]

? 22 Jul – 25 Aug
The Problem of Information: An Introduction to Information Science / by Douglas Raber. [WorldCat]

Despite my many (and valid) complaints about this book, it was a very productive book for me. If one looks closely at my “Some things read …” posts while and after I read this book you will see a multitude of sources cited by Raber. There are still some I acquired and haven’t read and many more I “need” to acquire.

I really, really wish it was edited better. The topic is so very important. It deserves an excellent book and not one that the reader has to slog through thanks to poor editing and a style that could use a bit of tweaking so that the reader knows which arguments are the author’s and those of others’ which he is presenting for consideration.

19 Aug – 30 Aug
Library Juice Concentrate / edited by Rory Litwin — mostly [WorldCat]

23 Aug – 7 Sep
Definition in Theory and Practice : Language, Lexicography and the Law / Roy Harris and Christopher Hutton. [WorldCat]

9-16 Sep
Introduction to Integrational Linguistics / by Roy Harris. [WorldCat]

17-21 Sep
The Language Connection : Philosophy and Linguistics / by Roy Harris [Re-read 10-20 Nov] [WorldCat]

21 Sep – 19 Dec
Integrational Linguistics: a First Reader / Edited by Roy Harris and George Wolf. [WorldCat]

Contains many highly interesting chapters. Divided into 6 parts: Language and Communication, Language and the Language Myth, Language and Meaning, Language and Discourse, Language and Writing, and Language and Society.

23-28 Sep
Synonymy and Linguistic Analysis / Roy Harris. [WorldCat]

28 Sep – 5 Oct
Words : an Integrational Approach / Hayley G. Davis. [WorldCat]

13-19 Oct
The Interface Between the Written and the Oral / Jack Goody. [WorldCat]

26-28 Oct
Redefining Linguistics / Edited by Hayley G. Davis and Talbot J. Taylor. [WorldCat]

28 Oct – 10 Nov
Harris, The Language Makers [Re-read, see 26-30 May]

5 – 12 nov
Introduction to Integrational Linguistics / Roy Harris. [Re-read. See 17-21 Sep]

10 – 20 Nov
The Language Connection : Philosophy and Linguistics / by Roy Harris [Re-read]

15 – 28 Nov
Crossing the Postmodern Divide / Albert Borgmann [WorldCat]

This book has done a lot to change my views on postmodernism. I still do not like the word at all, but this book contains some good ideas on how to overcome the postmodern condition, how to move forward positively as a society as we recover from the failures of the modern project.

20 – 24 Nov
Language, Saussure and Wittgenstein : How to Play Games with Words / Roy Harris. [WorldCat]

Despite the differences between Saussure’s and Wittgenstein’s later thoughts on language they are remarkably similar. In this book, Harris explicates the games analogy that both used.

24 – 27 Nov
Understanding Computers and Cognition : a New Foundation for Design / Terry Winograd, Fernando Flores. [WorldCat]

A very interesting book that is frequently recommended by Hjørland in his writings.

9 – 13 Dec
The Foundations of Linguistic Theory : Selected Writings of Roy Harris / Edited by Nigel Love. [WorldCat]

I had read a few of these pieces before as a couple are excerpts from other things, but many of them were new. All in all, I found this to be an excellent volume and overview of Harris’ thought.


18 Feb – [mid May] present
Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things : What Categories Reveal about the Mind / George Lakoff. – not finished [WorldCat]

about 2/3rds of the way through it, but no progress since mid-May

19 Mar – 7 May
The Semantics of Relationships : an Interdisciplinary Perspective / edited by Rebecca Green, Carol A. Bean, Sung Hyon Myaeng. – not finished [WorldCat]

2/3rds through; read all of Part I and III, III left.

5 – ? Jun (most of this proceedings, online)
NASKO 2007

Re-read several chapters (about half) of Svenonius early in the year.

24 – 25 Feb
The Power to Name: Locating the Limits of Subject Representation in Libraries / Hope Olsen. [WorldCat]

I had to give this up because the methodology is reprehensible. I have long had a draft post on this book and several of Olsen’s articles waiting to be finished but more important issues are and have been attracting my attention.

McIlwaine, I. C., ed. Subject retrieval in a networked environment : Proceedings of the IFLA Satellite Meeting held in Dublin, OH 14-16 August 2001 and sponsored by the IFLA Classification and Indexing Section, the IFLA Information Technology Section and OCLC. München: K. G. Saur. 122-128. [WorldCat]

Much of it.

23 Aug – 26 Oct
Python Programming : an Introduction to Computer Science / John M. Zelle. [WorldCat]

Read 12 out of 13 chapters in this book.

Fall semester
Computers Ltd. : What Computers Still Can’t Do / David Harel. [WorldCat]

Read almost 2/3rds of this.

27 Sep, 13 – 20 Nov
Information Seeking and Subject Representation : An Activity-Theoretical Approach to Information Science / Hjørland, Birger.

Halfway through it; need to get back to it soon.

13 – 29 Dec
Toolan, Michael J. 1996. Total Speech: An Integrational Linguistic Approach to Language. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press.

Halfway through it; my currently most active book.

Author-Date Bibliography [COinS data]

Agrippa von Nettesheim, Heinrich Cornelius, and Albert Rabil. 1996. Declamation on the Nobility and Preeminence of the Female Sex. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Baggini, Julian. 2003. Atheism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bean, Carol A., and Rebecca Green, eds. 2001. Relationships in the Organization of Knowledge. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Borgmann, Albert. 1992. Crossing the Postmodern Divide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Crawford, Walt. 2003. First Have Something to Say: Writing for the Library Profession. Chicago: American Library Association.

———. 2007. Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change. Morrisville, NC: Lulu.

Davis, Hayley G. 2001. Words: An Integrational Approach. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon.

Davis, Hayley, and Talbot J. Taylor, eds. 1990. Redefining Linguistics. London: Routledge.

Eliot, George, and David Carroll. 2003. Silas Marner : the Weaver of Raveloe. London; New York: Penguin Books.

Epictetus., and Sharon Lebell. 1995. The Art of Living : the Classic Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness. [San Francisco]: HarperSanFrancisco.

Foucault, Michel, and Michel Foucault. 1972. The Archaeology of Knowledge ; and, The Discourse on Language. New York: Pantheon Books.

Goody, Jack. 1987. The Interface Between the Written and the Oral. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Green, Rebecca, Carol A Bean, and Sung Hyon Myaeng, eds. 2002. The Semantics of Relationships: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Gregory, Gwen Meyer, ed. 2005. The Successful Academic Librarian: Winning Strategies from Library Leaders. Medford, N.J: Information Today, Inc.

Harel, David. 2000. Computers Ltd.: What They Really Can’t Do. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harris, Roy. 1973. Synonymy and Linguistic Analysis. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

———. 1980. The Language-Makers. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

———. 1981. The Language Myth. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

———. 1987. The Language Machine. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press.

———. 1988. Language, Saussure and Wittgenstein: How to Play Games with Words. London: Routledge.

———. 1990. The Foundations of Linguistic Theory: Selected Writings of Roy Harris. Ed. Nigel Love. London: Routledge.

———. 1996. The Language Connection: Philosophy and Linguistics. Bristol, U.K: Thoemmes Press.

———. 1998. Introduction to Integrational Linguistics. Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon.

———. 2005. The Semantics of Science. London: Continuum.

Harris, Roy, and Christopher Hutton. 2007. Definition in Theory and Practice: Language, Lexicography and the Law. London: Continuum.

Harris, Roy, and George Wolf, eds. 1998. Integrational Linguistics: A First Reader. Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon.

Henson, Jim. 2005. It’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider. New York: Hyperion.

Hjørland, Birger. 1997. Information Seeking and Subject Representation: An Activity-Theoretical Approach to Information Science. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.

Lakoff, George. 1987. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Litwin, Rory, ed. 2006. Library Juice Concentrate. Duluth, Minn: Library Juice Press.

Martel, Yann. 2001. Life of Pi: A Novel. New York: Harcourt.

McIlwaine, Ia, ed. 2003. Subject Retrieval in a Networked Environment: Proceedings of the IFLA Satellite Meeting Held in Dublin, OH, 14-16 August 2001 and Sponsored by the IFLA Classification and Indexing Section, the IFLA Information Technology Section and OCLC. München: K.G. Saur.

Morville, Peter. 2005. Ambient Findability. Sebastopol, Calif: O’Reilly.

Nhat Hanh, Thich. 1991. Peace is Every Step : the Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. New York N.Y.: Bantam Books.

Olson, Hope A. 2002. The Power to Name: Locating the Limits of Subject Representation in Libraries. Dordrecht [The Netherlands]: Kluwer Academic.

Paglia, Camille. 2006. Break, Blow, Burn. New York: Vintage Books.

Raber, Douglas. 2003. The Problem of Information: An Introduction to Information Science. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press.

Said, Edward W. 2004. Humanism and Democratic Criticism. New York: Columbia University Press.

Svenonius, Elaine. 2000. The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization. Ed. W.Y. Arms. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Toolan, Michael J. 1996. Total Speech: An Integrational Linguistic Approach to Language. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press.

Winograd, Terry, and Fernando Flores. 1987. Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley.

Zelle, John M. 2004. Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science. Wilsonville, Or: Franklin, Beedle.

Some things read this week, 23 – 29 December 2007

This has been a very light week due to my visiting relatives and friends in the Washington, DC area.

Toolan, Michael J. 1996. Total Speech: An Integrational Linguistic Approach to Language. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press.

  • Finish Ch. 1: On Inscribed or Literal Meaning (21-25 Dec)
  • Ch. 2: Metaphor (26 – 29 Dec)
  • Ch. 3: Intentionality and Coming into Language (29 Dec)
  • Half of Ch. 4: Further Principles of Integrational Linguistics, or, On Not Losing Sight of the Language User (29 Dec)

Saturday, 29 Dec 2007

Diaz, Aaron. Enough is Enough: A Thinking Ape’s Critique of Trans-Simianism. Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that such a post-simian future is possible or even probable. Is it really a world we should want to strive for, where our very ape nature is stripped away in the name of efficiency? Technologies such as the bow and arrow already desimianize the act of hunting. While our ancestors were able to experience the pure ape feeling of clubbing an animal to death with a rock, we are left with the cold, sterilized bow that kills cleanly and quickly from a safe distance. This separation from basic daily activities is a slippery slope. What would happen if we no longer had to gather fruits and nuts, and they simply grew wherever we wanted them, or had drinking water flow right to our feet instead of wandering in search of streams for days? These seeming conveniences would rob us of what it means to be an ape.

Sent to me by Jodi Schneider.

Barreca, Gina. The Other Woman’s Holidays. Chronicle‘s Brainstorm.

Found at journey of a kitten by barbara ‘kitten’ trumpinski-roberts. See also Circulating Zen.

Pretty clear that my reading this week was done on my travel day. I went to Falls Church, VA on the 20th and got home this evening. Trying to get settled in. So much to do. Even just to get settled in.

Movies watched in 2007

Unlike last year, I am not going to split this apart into any categories and am only listing them chronologically. I am also only listing them by months instead of by explicit date. Those seen in the theater are so noted, as are a few other details of little relevance to anyone else.

Last year’s list

As best as I remember:

  • * – particularly enjoyed. I have no doubt that there are others I really enjoyed but I am not sure which.
  • ** – one of this year’s favorites

January 2007

Touch the Sound
Pirates of the Caribbean 2
Akeelah and the Bee
Goal: The Dream Begins


Night at the Museum – at theater with Jenn Miller
Crank – borrowed from Terry & Mary
Cars – borrowed from Terry & Mary


Black Snake Moan — theater
300 — theater
War of the Worlds (Spielberg) – borrowed from Terry & Mary
Babel – borrowed from Terry & Mary
The Prestige – borrowed from Terry & Mary
Spanglish – library
Unleashed – library


Dirty Pretty Things – library
Porco Rosso – library
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls – library *
Casino Royale – borrowed from Mary & Terry
Nanny McPhee – borrowed from Mary & Terry


Ladder 49 – IFSI
The Guys – IFSI
Pirates of the Caribbean III – Boardman’s Theater


all i want – library
Blue Crush – library
De-Lovely – library
Sicko – with Tracy at Boardman’s


D.E.B.S. – library
Hidalgo – library (pretty sure i saw it before)
Constantine – library
Blade Trinity
Swimming Pool
Ghost Rider
Curse of the Golden Flower
La Tigre e la neve (The Tiger & the snow) **
The Cave of the Yellow Dog (Mongolian) **
Price of Milk (NZ) *
Sensitive New Age Killer (Australia ?)
Children of Men
Coffee and Cigarettes (Jarmusch) *


Shortbus **
A Toute de Suite
Wild Tigers I Have Known
Tarnation (Jonathan Caouette) documentary
The Bow (Korean)
Intermission (IRE)
Big Girls Don’t Cry (Grosse Madchen Heisse Nicht) (DE)
Succubus: Hell-Bent


Offside (Iran)
The Last Mimzy
The Triplets of Belleville *
Hot Fuzz *
Day Watch – Boardman’s with Richard & Jenn *
White Palms (Hungarian gymnast)
L’Iceberg (BE) **


The Goddess of 1967 (AU) – 1967 Citroen
Old Joy – Will Oldham, camping in the woods of Oregon


Dynamite Warrior (Thai) *
Happy Times (China) **
Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) *
Citizen Dog (Thailand) at Boardman’s for East Asian Film Festival *
Sepet (Malaysia) at Boardman’s for East Asian Film Festival
Singapore Dreaming (Singapore) at Boardman’s for East Asian Film Festival
Meet the Robinsons
The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico *
Played – British gangsters
Daredevil – library
R.O.D.: Read or Die – library
Respiro (It) – library – saw before
The Barbarian Invasions (Fr) – library – saw before *
Taste of Cherry (Iran) – library
American Gangster – Columbus, OH with Sara, Max, Max’s parents, Joey & Ben [Turkey Day]
Buena Vista Social Club *


Running with Scissors
Danny Deckchair
Beshkempir: The Adopted Son (Kyrgyzstan)
Beowulf 3D – theater
The Thin Man – at Jeanne’s (I’m counting this because it’s been decades since I last saw it)
I am Legend – theater with Mom
Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix
The Bourne Ultimatum

It appears that I saw almost 91 movies new to me this year. Yes, I watched more than this. Except in 3 cases, I did not list any movies that I had seen before.

I certainly recommend any with * and I highly recommend those with **, at least if your movie mind is wrapped as oddly as mine.

Accountability and Acts of Professional Classification

As I wend my way through ever more readings on integrational linguistics I become even more enamored of this view of language. Vastly more important than the valid reasons for liking it that arise from the excellent philosophical, sociological and historical critiques of Western views of language, and of academic linguistics, in particular, that Roy Harris and others have generated is the fact that it begins to explain my own lived and felt experiences of language use. And that is one powerful reason.

I have just finished the book, Integrational Linguistics: A First Reader (full citation below), with the last section, entitled “Language and Society.”

Ideas from 2 chapters read Tuesday (18 Dec) really resonated with me regarding issues within librarianship and, in particular, professionalism. The first are from Hutton’s chapter, “Law Lessons for Linguists? Accountability and Acts of Professional Classification.”

Hutton writes:

Thus, while academic linguists might consider themselves professionals, and might even be regarded as such by non-academics (for example in marketing surveys, sociological categorizations, etc.), they rarely have the kinds of professional skills that are exercised at the intersection of academia and society. In this sense, they are not professional experts: their professional standards and professional knowledge are largely discipline-internal. Linguistic theories are created, debated, rejected or affirmed primarily by other linguists, and career advancement in linguistics, as in other academic careers, depends on peer review, on what ‘the field’ has to say. This is not necessarily to imply the theoretical beliefs of doctors and lawyers or better grounded in empirical reality than those of linguists; rather that there is no automatic challenge to linguists’ professional language that arises out of their daily professional experience. They do not have to explain themselves, or what they are doing, to others qua specialists (294-295).

In brief, linguists are not accountable or responsible to non-linguists, broadly speaking, for their acts of classification (303).

The discipline of linguistics as a whole can only make a contribution to interpretive issues by accepting, at least in principle, some form of social accountability for its acts of classification. As long as linguists seek to accrue all the trappings of professionalism, such as academic status, prestige, influence on neighbouring disciplines, a masterful and opaque terminology, with none of the costs (the scrutiny of those acts of classification, public debate, criticism, challenges to those ideas from ethical and other standpoints, a critique of opaque terminology), the profession will continue to experience a sense of crisis that threatens the existence of linguistics departments in the United States and worldwide (303).

Any new metalanguage must arise out of a genuine attempt by linguists to understand the beliefs, practice and customs of … in relation to language, … (303-304).

Take that 1st paragraph and substitute librarians and (academic) librarianship and you have a pretty accurate description of librarianship and particularly academic librarianship. Be aware that I am not arguing that this is how it should be; in fact, I am arguing the opposite.

These sentiments, I feel, go a long way to explaining much of the angst and, often, hostility that goes along with many of the changes we face in the practice of librarianship. Long gone is that world where we are free to dictate, with no responsibility for, our practices.

We need a new metalanguage of librarianship. We need a metalanguage which is fully engaged and conversant with “the beliefs, practice and customs of” our patrons; whomever they are. We must strive for “social accountability for [our] acts of classification,” broadly construed.

I do believe that academic librarianship is, perhaps, a bit more accountable than linguistics in that there is some influence on our career advancement that isn’t strictly internal, but it is not much.

Perhaps, as Hutton claims, if librarianship was more engaged with those we serve we would not be facing such an existential crisis as we are currently. We must begin to explain ourselves. And by that I do not mean marketing. If you choose to spin it broadly as marketing fine. But marketing serves a vastly different aim than does explanation. Both are needed, but we must not confuse the goals to be achieved by each means.

Morris on translation: I also take much of what Morris writes about translation as a highly applicable (metaphoric?) description of what we do with our classifications, subject headings, thesauri and other forms of description/subject analysis. Thus, all of his caveats about translation apply to our work as well.

He also had some comments on anthropology as “cultural translation” that I wanted to include but the quotes didn’t work as well. I also see much of what I do as a “cataloger” as anthropological. It is cultural anthropology in many and varied ways, be it description and translation of other “cultures” to description, interpretation and evaluation of assorted material cultures and artifacts. Thus, many issues of concern to anthropology ought to concern us in our libraries and as librarians.

… but the translator is exceptionally well placed to appreciate how many areas of human life are taken in, experienced and expressed in irresolvably distinct ways. The issue is not whether something will be lost, a nuance or a shade of meaning, for these certainly will, but whether something more important, the overall sense of a text, its meaning in its context, will be permanently obscured even by the careful and respectful moving of each linguistic brick (313).

This directly and forcefully applies to the work of assigning subject descriptors and classifications, at least as currently practiced. Our tools and practices constrain us in our ways that we can “translate” what a work is about. Sometimes our tools work well towards this end, but more frequently they fail us and force us to describe something in ways in which the creator and the audience would disagree with our translation. We may only lose some “nuance or a shade of meaning” but we will often obscure meaning by removal of important context.

The essential problem that aspiring innocent translators face is not the oneness of the world, or the sameness of experience that they imagine can be relexified, language by language. It is the differences we experience in contact with another society which happily afford us meaningful surprises. But beginning translators, intent on finding the word or phrase that corresponds to the ‘same’ experience in their own language, overlook and miss the significance of what might otherwise surprise them (314).

Ah, yes. Searching LCSH and DDC for that subject heading or classification “that corresponds to the ‘same’ experience in [our] own language” can cause us to “miss the significance of what might otherwise surprise [us]” or, even worse, to ignore it.

Here is a kind of limit to the idea that we should trust not the teller but the tale. No tale is told with absolute completeness, the listener must always supply what language points to. The translator-listener must not only supply what the listener in the original language would normally supply from experience of that other society, but also specifically refrain from supplying what would not be supplied. And in a sense, business letters, government documents, personal accounts, words spoken in court, all are tales (315).

Our tools, due primarily to their slowly changing nature, can force us to supply “what would not be supplied” and to leave out “what the listener in the original language would normally supply.”

The specific ways we analyze and teach language, and the tools we use – dictionaries, grammars and so forth – not only illuminate but can interfere with our understanding, impose a kind of pattern that diverts attention as one tries to listen to the language of the text, which is someone else’s language, after all. The continuity of the writer with his world may be lost to the translator in the choppy reduction that the formal study of language implies.

These wonderful tools of analysis, instruction and reference, monuments to the creative richness of a tradition of thought, all essential in translation, may also have the effect of authorizing translators to only think in their terms, and so constitute a limitation on the imagination (315).

DDC, LCC, LCSH all authorize us “to only think in their terms,” even when their terms are clearly wrong. These are fine tools, and they are testaments to “the creative richness of a tradition of thought” but like any tool they have their limitations. Just as any particular hammer or screwdriver is not suited to any and every job that calls for a hammer or screwdriver, respectively, neither is every classification system or subject description language suitable for every job to which they might be applied.

These are somewhat tentative thoughts in that I imagine they could be said better, and that much more could be said. They are not tentative in the sense that they are metaphorical. Please do not fall into the orthodox linguistic view of metaphor as an aberrant kind of meaning. Far more is metaphorical than most can even begin to imagine, much less comprehend. Without metaphor meaning could not even begin to exist in anything close to what we know it as. Even analytic philosophers and logicians with their seriously impoverished views of meaning could not get started as their way of imagining meaning is itself metaphorical.

For my own CAS purposes: These ideas also mesh with Hjørland’s views on domain analysis, subject expertise, epistemological priority, and so on.

Hutton, Christopher. 1998. Law Lessons for Linguists? Accountability and Acts of Professional Classification. In Harris, Roy, and George Wolf, eds. Integrational Linguistics: A First Reader. 1st ed, Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon, 1998.

Morris, Marshall. 1998. What Problems? On Learning to Translate. Also in the above.

Some things read this week, 14 – 22 December 2007

Friday – Wednesday, 14 – 19 Dec 2007

Harris, Roy, and George Wolf, eds. Integrational Linguistics: A First Reader. 1st ed, Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon, 1998.

  • Ch. 16: Hutton, Christopher. “Analysis and Notation: The Case for a Non-Realist Linguistics.”
  • Ch. 17: Harris, Roy. “How Does Writing Restructure Thought?”
  • Ch. 18: Harris, Roy. “Writing and Proto-Writing: From Sign to Metasign.” (Sat)
  • Ch. 19: Cameron, Debbie. ” What Has Gender Got to Do With Sex?” (Sun)
  • Ch. 20: Davis, Hayley. “What Makes Bad Language Bad?” (Sun)
  • Ch. 21: Hutton, Christopher. “Law Lessons for Linguists? Accountability and Acts of Professional Classification.” (Tue)
  • Ch. 22: Davis, Daniel R. ” Teaching American English as a Foreign Language: An Integrationist Approach.” (Tue)
  • Ch. 23: Morris, Marshall. “What Problems? On Learning to Translate.” (Tue-Wed)
  • Ch. 24: Wolf, George, et. al. “Pronouncing French Names in New Orleans.” (Wed)

Thursday – Saturday, 13 – 15 Dec 2007

Toolan, Michael J. 1996. Total Speech: An Integrational Linguistic Approach to Language. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press.

  • Introduction
  • Part of Ch. 1 (20-22 Dec)

Saturday, 15 Dec 2007

Budd, John. “Exploring Categorization: Undergraduate Student Searching and the Evolution of Catalogs.” Library Resources & Technical Services 51(4), October 2007: 286-292.

I wasn’t too impressed with this article. Not sure why, but I certainly expected more from Budd. I think it tries to cover too much in too little space. Maybe the author never decided for sure what he was trying to say. He certainly does not do a good job tying the undergrad research part to the overall conceptual parts as far as I am concerned.

I also didn’t think the “come up with some subjects based on the title of these books” was the slightest bit useful or relevant. This is not to claim that this doesn’t perhaps happen on occasion with students, but it seems so far removed from the normal course of their scholarly habits as to have little, or no, applicability.

Two reasons: (1) That is, aren’t they generally going in the opposite direction? This is not to question whether having some idea how students would describe our resources is irrelevant, it isn’t. But Budd did not tie this in well with the theoretical part. (2) For that method to have much relevance the research would also have to include a study of catalogers assigning subjects based on title alone. But that is certainly not how we do it.

Nhat Hanh, Thich. Peace is every step : the path of mindfulness in everyday life. New York N.Y.: Bantam Books, 1991.

Finally finished this after leaving it the side for several months. I really need to internalize much of this way of thinking.

Sunday, 16 Dec / Thursday, 20 Dec 2007

Paglia, Camille. 2006. Break, Blow, Burn. New York: Vintage Books.

  • Wallace Stevens, “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock”
  • Wallace Stevens, “Anecdote of the Jar”
  • William Carlos Williams, “The Red Wheelbarrow”
  • William Carlos Williams, “This Is Just to Say”
  • Jean Toomer, “Georgia Dusk”
  • Langston Hughes, “Jazzonia”
  • Theodore Roethke, “Cuttings”
  • Theodore Roethke, “Root Cellar”
  • Theodore Roethke, “The Visitant”
  • Robert Lowell, “Man and Wife”
  • Sylvia Plath, “Daddy”
  • Frank O’Hara, “A Mexican Guitar”
  • Paul Blackburn, “The Once-Over”
  • May Swenson, “At East River”
  • Gary Snyder, “Old Pond”
  • Norman H. Russell, “The Tornado”
  • Chuck Wachtel, “A Paragraph Made Up of Seven Sentences”
  • Rochelle Kraut, “My Makeup”
  • Wanda Coleman, “Wanda Why Aren’t You Dead”
  • Ralph Pomeroy, “Corner”
  • Joni Mitchell, “Woodstock”

Thursday, 20 Dec

Hjørland, Birger, and Lykke Kyllesbech Nielsen. 2001. Subject Access Points in Electronic Retrieval. In Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 35 (2001): 249-298. Medford, N.J.: Information Today.

Anyone in DC area care to meet up?

I will be in Falls Church, VA for a portion of the holidays this year. If anyone is in the area and would like to meet up for dinner, or drinks, or coffee or some such please contact me via my contact form (or any other way you are aware of).

I realize that being more specific as to my dates would be useful but I also don’t want to broadcast to any local shady types that, “Hey, I’ll be gone for x days so feel free to, like, take my stuff.” So if you contact me I can reply back with the exact dates (barring bad travel weather).

I know my friends E and Shane are there and know how to contact them once their plans coalesce a bit more. Sid, please get better!

Christine, I have no idea how close you are since I don’t know exactly where you are. On previous trips to DC we often went to Baltimore, though.

Anyone else?

In memory of those I never knew

Last Thursday, 6 December, as I was heading out of town for my aunt’s funeral in St. Louis, I stopped at the student health clinic to pick up my allergy meds.

As I was standing in line at the pharmacy, a young man who was obviously suffering from a sever cold or flu and who looked vaguely familiar said to me, “Mark?” I replied, “Yes” and he said, “I’m Mark, too.” I reached out my hand and told him that I was pleased to meet him. He shook my hand and then several seconds later said, “Oh, I probably shouldn’t have done that.”

It was then his turn at the counter so our brief encounter ended and we went our separate ways. Once he introduced himself I realized that he was one of our newer students at GSLIS who I had seen in the department’s computer lab on occasion. As I was heading out of the clinic I told myself that I must make the effort to actually get to know him the next time I see him around the building.

I will never get that chance.

Less than 8 hours later Mark Everett Moss was dead. He will be buried today in the St. Louis area. Yesterday his wife, Sarah Reed, and their daughter, Madeline Reed-Moss, were buried in the St. Louis area.

We will probably never know what truly happened that tragic night, and even if we do we shall not know why. There are still a lot of unanswered questions. No doubt many will remain unanswered. I will certainly never know why this soft-spoken young man chose to introduce himself to me that Thursday afternoon. But I am glad that he did.

My thoughts are with the families of Mark Moss, Sarah Reed and Madeline Reed-Moss during this most difficult time. They are also with his fellow students and professors, friends, and anyone else who knew Mark, and those of Sarah Reed’s students and fellow teachers at Urbana High School.

May you all find whatever peace you may.

Some things read this week, 9 – 15 December 2007

Sunday, 9 Dec 2007 and Tuesday, 11 Dec 2007 +

Harris, Roy. 1990. The Foundations of Linguistic Theory: Selected Writings of Roy Harris. Ed. Nigel Love. London: Routledge.

  • Editor’s Introduction.
  • Ch. 2: Words and Word Criteria in French.
  • Ch. 3: Semantics and Translation.
  • Ch. 4: Performative Paradigms.
  • Ch. 5: Semantics, Performatives and Truth.
  • Ch. 6: Truth-Conditional Semantics and Natural Languages.
  • Ch. 7: Making Sense of Communicative Competence. (Tue)
  • Ch. 8: Communication and Language. (Tue)
  • Ch. 9: The Speech-Communication Model in Twentieth-Century Linguistics and its Sources. (Wed)
  • Ch. 10: Must Monkeys Mean? (Wed)
  • Ch. 11: Scriptism. (Wed)
  • Ch. 12: Language as Social Interaction: Integationalism versus Segregationalism. (Thu)
  • Ch. 13: The Semiology of Textualization. (Thu)

I had read a few of these pieces before as a couple are excerpts from other things, but many of them were new. All in all, I found this to be an excellent volume and overview of Harris’ thought.

Harrison, Colin. “Semantic Specification/Semantic Emergence: Against the Container Metaphor of Meaning.” In 23rd LACUS Forum (1996), pp. 95-107.

Cited by Walrod (2006), “Language: Object or Event?”, p. 72.

Critiques Lakoff’s handling of polysemy in Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. Proposes a connectionist explanation that is a far better neurocognitive model.

OK. I have no idea how this got published already. I’m giving up and going to bed.

Thursday, 13 Dec 2007

Morgan, Eric Lease. Today’s digital information landscape.

Pointed to by someone on AUTOCAT trying to stir up even more hornets. I take the gist to be reasonably accurate but it was a little overwrought at times. And I absolutely do not like his ideas of automatic search refinement/relevance ranking. In fact, I think “relevance ranking” as a term is one of the worst named concepts we have and we have some doozies.

Thursday – Friday, 13 – 14 Dec 2007

Halpern, Joseph Y. and Vicky Weissman. “Using First-Order Logic to Reason about Policies.” ACM Transactions on Computational Logic Vol. V, No. N, May 2006, 1-39.

Um, no. I did not choose this for myself. Read it for my Python class final.

This is most likely the last edit. I swear. I still have no idea how this ever got published a couple days ago. Clearly, I must have clicked Publish and not Save. But knowing that I must have is not the same as knowing that I did. 🙁

LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control

I read it. I made plenty of notes. I fully intended to write up my comments and submit them and to also post them here. I began writing them up.

I stopped.

And that is where I’m staying. Stopped.

It truly isn’t that I don’t care. I do. All the way down to the marrow care.

There is just too much going on right now in this arena. Far too many people talking so far past each other they must be in other solar systems. Almost all at some kind of cross purpose.

I’ve read a few blog posts, literally several hundred listserv postings and other assorted “comments” on the report or related to it. Now I’m just despairing of any sort of reasoned community-level discussion on the issues involved.

Add to that the frustrations I face daily as I go about my job cataloging monographs and serials (based on our tools, not my workplace) and I have just become despondent about it all.

I think the Working Group got some things right. I was far more impressed than I expected to be. But. It is very vague and hand-wavish about major topics. E.g., intellectual property rights. And several others.

But one of the main points in the report is that the community must broaden. I agree. Maybe I differ on the details, but then I am pretty sure that the committee members disagree amongst themselves, too.

But here’s the deal (actually one piece only) with why I am so despondent about it all any more.

At my institution I do I-level cataloging. [OCLC Input Standards] That is, Full-level input by OCLC participants. For serials I even do original cataloging inputting on average 1.5-2 original records per week. I have probably input somewhere around 100-200 original serials records. I have also been able to derive a couple original monographic records thanks to my serials work, but I mostly do copy cataloging of monographs.

Cooperative cataloging it is supposed to be. That’s what I learned in classes. That’s what the Working Group says. And I’m all for that. I will gladly fix any record I want to use if it needs it. But most often I cannot do so. Not allowed to.

Today. Well, let’s just say that today took the fucking cake. Can’t find a record I need by title so try ISBN. Oh, 2 records exist. One touched at some point by LC and the other by the British Library. Both pure crap. In fact, both are Level 8 records. Goddamn prepublication level records and I am not allowed to fix them!

Both records have the title wrong. Both have errors in the publication area. Both have “p. cm.” in the physical characteristics area. Both have the wrong no. in the 490. Both only mention the index when it has extensive bibliographical references. …

Now I realize full well that these records are based on prepub data (probably CIP) and that the book was only published last month. But I was one of the first to need the record and could have fixed it. In fact, I tried. Maybe the 6 others who hold it and got to it before me tried, too. I don’t know. But now there’s 7 of us with it in our OPACs who have fixed our copy while the piss poor record still exists in WorldCat.

But if I cannot even upgrade a goddamn Level 8 prepub record then what good is cooperative cataloging? Can anyone answer that?

What am I supposed to be able to contribute to any discussion on the future of bibliographic control when I am not able to contribute to the daily work that is needed now?

Yes. There truly are many other issues also fueling my current bout of despondency. So please do not respond and tell me that I’m just overreacting to some pitiful Level 8 record.

This discussion may well be the most important of my young career. Only time and a couple decades will tell. But I am going to withdraw from it. For now, at least.

Judge me if you choose. Or if you must. Just don’t misunderstand. I am not abandoning it. I am only choosing to sit on the side, listening and observing. I may well jump in at any point.

Due to the many other things going on in my life at the moment I seem unable to focus on these long-term, big picture issues and discussions when I daily work with horrible tools and misguided policies (none of which are issues with my institution, but are above it) such that at least 50% of the time they get square in the way of my (and my co-workers) ability to do good work.

That’s the best I can do right now. Sorry. Truly.