Armstrong. Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

This is an important book. But it is a book which cannot simply be read to do any good. Caveat: I simply read it.

Before I go on, let me recommend that you get the book from a library and read it. If you decide that you want to actually work at being more compassionate, if you want to work at the twelve steps in your own life, then go ahead and purchase yourself a copy. When Sara gets around to reading it we will probably purchase a copy.

The book itself is a quick read; but it is meant to be read slowly. Each chapter (step) is supposed to be mastered before moving on to the next. That is kind of difficult when you have a copy from the library for four weeks, like I did.

As Armstrong writes in the conclusion (“A Last Word”):

“It is rather a reminder that the attempt to become a compassionate human being is a lifelong project. It is not achieved in an hour or a day—or even in twelve steps. It is a struggle that will last until our dying hour. … You will have to work at all twelve steps continuously for the rest of your life—learning more about compassion, surveying your world anew, struggling with self-hatred and discouragement. Never mind loving your enemies—sometimes loving your nearest and dearest selflessly and patiently will be a struggle!” (191-2)

The author makes a good case for why we need more compassion in the world today, even though that claim should be self-evident.  This project arose from the TED Prize that the author won in 2008. Besides the cash prize, recipients get a wish. Hers was for a Charter for Compassion, “written by leading thinkers from a variety of major faiths [which] would restore compassion to the heart of religious and moral life” (6).

The six major faith traditions of Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are used throughout the book to show how we may become more compassionate.

Armstrong shows how each of these major faiths were founded on compassion, how they each, among others, have all formulated some version of the Golden Rule. But the beauty of the book is in how religion does not matter. What matters are the ideas which underlie these faiths. This book is written and intended for the non-believer just as much as for the believer of any specific doctrine, whether of these six faith communities or any other.

As an agnostic (epistemically) and an atheist (commitment-wise), I quite enjoyed this book and Armstrong’s approach. In fact, ancient Greek mythos and culture is used as much as any of the main faiths are. Shakespeare, Joseph Campbell, assorted 20th century philosophers, and others are also made good use of.

This book would make a great selection for a committed book club, as it would for a campus reads program, or a first-year experience. In fact, a lengthy (one- or, preferably, two-semester, or a year or two for a book club), committed engagement with this book and the texts and doctrines and world views which surround it would be ideal. Many different approaches can and should be taken with the ideas presented.

One of her suggestions is to form a book group to go through the twelve steps with, and suggestions are made throughout of possible issues for discussion and further reading in such a group.

In the end, it is up to ourselves as individuals to become more compassionate. But if Armstrong, and all of the major faiths and ethical systems are correct, by treating others with compassion we will change them too.

As Armstrong writes at the end of the preface (“Wish for a Better World”):

“I am in agreement with His Holiness the Dalai Lama that “whether a person is a religious believer does not matter much. Far more important is that they be a good human being.” At their best, all religious, philosophical, and ethical traditions are based on the principle of compassion” (23-4).

Contents:

  • Preface: Wish for a Better World
  • The First Step: Learn About Compassion
  • The Second Step: Look at your Own World
  • The Third Step: Compassion for Yourself
  • The Fourth Step: Empathy
  • The Fifth Step: Mindfulness
  • The Sixth Step: Action
  • The Seventh Step: How Little We Know
  • The Eighth Step: How Should We Speak to One Another?
  • The Ninth Step: Concern for Everybody
  • The Tenth Step: Knowledge
  • The Eleventh Step: Recognition
  • The Twelfth Step: Love Your Enemies
  • A Last Word

As a good companion book to this Armstrong book I would recommend Paul Woodruff’s Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue

I read Woodruff’s book in January 2009 and my, sadly, short comments can be seen in item #10 at my Books Read in 2009 post.

[This post was written for my dear friend, Jen!! I was thinking that I wasn’t going to say much about this book as I read it but I knew she was looking forward to my review. After discussing the issue of how it might work as a campus reads or first-year experience book with my lovely wife I realized that I might as well write those things down, too.]

The Ethics of Information Organization

I am at The Ethics of Information Organization conference in Milwaukee for the next two days and I am really looking forward to the presentations.

Hopefully I will find time to blog about this soon; unlike so many other things. With any luck the conference site will have wireless available. It is in the public library. If so, and I can find power, then I may be tweeting it with the hash tag #EIO09. Update: Seems they want #IOETHICS

More importantly, though, I hope to learn a lot and be given lots to think about.

Where is the guy who runs this blog?

That is a complicated question for which I have very little that I can or will say directly.

WordPress upgraded

I did just upgrade WordPress to the newest version so if anyone is still reading this feel free to click through to the blog proper and see if you see anything amiss. Thanks.

Some reasons for being quiet

Recently someone gave me and this humble little blog some very high praise in a different venue. While I appreciate/d it greatly I do not feel that I have in any way merited such praise in a very long time.

I have so many things to write about but find that I cannot. I have tried to do so for a couple of these topics, and loving friends have provided suggestions on how to tackle some of them. Good advice even, which I attempted to take. But I am currently not up to the task.

I am on the market for a job and have said far too much in this space already about too much of my life. There are issues about our profession that are quickly destroying me and it seems that our profession finds discussion of such issues to be unprofessional.

Issues in cataloging and an analogy

I have a draft post on this topic in relation to issues in cataloging but am simply unable to say anything that many would find acceptable. In it I made an analogy to current issues in cataloging and the running of the Vietnam War by the Americans.

The juxtaposition of current discussions, mostly higher-level, about things like RDA and other major issues in the arena of cataloging and the complete lack of discussions of what I see as the important issues “on the ground” in cataloging departments and facing individual catalogers across the field are much like the discussions within the military services and government agencies running the war in Vietnam.

All frank, honest, and real discussion of the issues facing those on the ground were deemed “unprofessional.” Commanders and senior NCOs quickly discovered how to play the game of “reality-based” reporting and discussion.

Now my analogy quickly breaks down because it’s not like many of us are losing our lives due to this forced “professionalism” in our field. But I know for a fact that it is causing far more angst, fear, and burnout than should be happening.  Highly capable and dedicated people are being affected in extremely damaging ways.

I recently read and wrote a review of:

Budd, John. 2008. Self-Examination: The Present and Future of Librarianship. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

Budd presents dialectical methodology as a means to overcome the different epistemological positions within librarianship. He also clearly demonstrates that “service to clientele, [professional] judgment, and education [for the profession] are moral undertakings” (p. 251). We must consider what our moral principles will be, and what moral responsibilities they imply for us as reflective professionals. Discourse—open, honest, and frank—is the only means by which to do this.

But this is exactly what we do not have. It is what has been deemed unprofessional because someone’s feeling might be hurt, someone or some place might be made to look bad, because we only discuss success whether it is real, imagined or projected.

As to what I think about this situation … it is (long past) time for me to shut the heck up.

How I became a librarian

Christina tagged me for this a while ago and I did start working on a draft post to answer it. But I am unhappy with it and it has gotten too long anyway without actually answering the question. Perhaps that is because there really isn’t an answer. At best it explains how I got into the cataloging and metadata arena but not how I got into librarianship itself.

The other answer which I strove not to give in my more official response is that I am not a librarian; at least not as many (most?) who hold the professional credentials would accept. Although I have worked in academic libraries for 10 years now, and I earned my MS in May 2006, I have never held a professional position. Thus, in the minds of many I am not a librarian.

Of course, in the minds of even more (as in the general population) I have been a librarian for 10 years now. There is even a well-known dictionary definition to suport that statement. I shall not cite it as that would make me a scoundrel, though. Let’s just say that I have had several people get mad at me for my denying to be a librarian when they are full well aware of the more formal definition we apply to ourselves, and this was before I even came to library school.

I have had professional-level responsibilities of varying kinds in all of my jobs in academic libraries, whether it was as a student worker, student supervisor, staff member, or my assorted graduate assistantships and hourly positions while in library school.

There may be some news on the horizon soon but until then I do not want to offend any professionals in the field and thus can only claim that I cannot answer the question as I have never yet been a librarian.

Maybe I’ll get a chance to apply this label to myself before I decide I have no desire to do so. Not because I do not want to be a librarian—I do, but then I also apply a different definition than any I apparently espoused here—but because so much about the actual lived, non-reflective, practice of so many in the mainstream of our profession—those with the power to tell others of us what passes for “professionalism”—are, in my opinion, failing us badly.

Hopefully no one is still wondering why I am being so quiet here

I had several other things to comment on but I am losing focus and they, too, are things that are probably just better to let be.

I have been home all day [Friday] because I have been feeling crappy all week and have not been getting any better. Until things get really bad there is no sense in trying to go to the doctor. I am currently working as an academic hourly and thus have no benefits. I am not totally in the dark for health care as I am able to use the VA over in Danville. But I see no reason to try and figure out that system and make a 45-minute drive each way for a low-grade bug of some kind that probably cannot even be identified.

I wrote this yesterday during the day and have sat on it since. I re-read it several times trying to decide if I was going to post it. Perhaps I should just trash it and move on. But I feel as if I no longer have anywhere to move on to. I am prevented from discussing the things that are most professionally relevant to me and, as far as I am concerned, should be to many others.

Bottom line: I am immensely dedicated and care deeply about many of the issues facing our field. I want to contribute to moving us intelligently forward into the 21st century. But the truth is I am floundering badly and do not know what to do about it.

So I guess folks should not expect to hear much from me here for a while. I have no idea what to write since I am unable to write about that which I care most deeply about.

There must be a light of some kind

2 views on the slipperiness of words:

Words are clumsy tools. And it is very easy to cut one’s fingers with them, and they need the closest attention in handling; but they are the only tools we have, and the imagination itself cannot work without them.

(Frankfurter 1947: 546) as quoted in Harris, R., & Hutton, C. (2007). Definition in Theory and Practice: Language, Lexicography and the Law London: Continuum: 135. [as seen in my “Words of Wisdom” text widgety thing on the upper right column on my blog’s main page. Wow, I really need to do some CSS work; I can’t stand that being all caps.]

And/Or:

wish i didn’t have this nervous laugh
wish i didn’t say half the stuff i say
wish i could just learn to cover my tracks
guess i’m not concerned enough
about getting away with it

every time i try to hold my tongue
it slips like a fish from the line
they say if you’re gonna play
you should learn how to play dumb
guess i can’t bring myself to waste your time

there must be a light of some kind

ani – light of some kind – Not A Pretty Girl

[light of some kind last used here 3 years ago] Quite interesting some of the issues discussed in that post from just under 3 years ago to those of today. I clearly face many of the same frustrations.

Looking for a light of some kind

So. Words and me lately. Some successes; some phenomenal failures. The failures are failures of presentation, and not failures of intellectual content or intention, but they need to be exposed to a light and I need to figure this out. Thus, my current prayer that “there must be a light of some kind.”

It may be hard to find a light while locked in a gas station bathroom to think, but for now I’m thinking about possible resources ….

the heat is so great
it plays tricks with the eyes
turns the road into water
then from water to sky
there’s a crack in the concrete floor
that starts at the sink
there’s a bathroom in a gas station
and i’ve locked myself in it to think

ani – shy – Not A Pretty Girl

[shy last used here Dec 2006] Still some of those issues being faced, also.

I have decided not to follow up on my Gorman posts, the comments others and I made on them, nor on MG’s presentation. I realize that I said I would but I have changed my mind. Things did not turn out so well and I had to consider myself a failure, on one scale at least.

I have forgiven myself (somewhat) and am trying to put it all in perspective. This has been good for me in that it brought to head something that has been bugging me [about myself] for a while. I am getting some help for the issue, and am open to other ways to think about and act on doing what I need. In that regard, I’m pursuing a few discussions on how others deal with issues of communicating their concerns within the field at large. On that note, my thanks to those who sent me some perspective after writing the failure post.

I intend to continue pursuing the same sorts of arguments, and lines of reasoning, as I have been but I also intend to strive to find a better way of presenting my ideas and critiques. Here in my space I will continue to push the bounds of what passes for “professional discourse” in the larger field, as I feel that there is plenty of ethical justification and even ethical responsibility for doing so.

Towards that end, I hope to soon have a comment policy and a “statement of purpose” which in some manner lay out what it is I am attempting to do: what kind of critique[s] I am making, the purpose[s] of my critique[s], my desire for seeing [and participating in] actual dialog, my express desire to be challenged and called on something when I should be, etc.

On the fine art of not being self-conflagrative

we couldn’t all be cowboys
some of us are clowns
some of us are dancers on the midway
we roam from town to town
i hope that everybody
can find a little flame
and me, i just say my prayers, then i just light myself on fire
and walk out on the wire once again

and i say …

counting crows – goodnight elisabeth – recovering the satellites

This song was once very important to me, primarily this section. Every morning, walking into work, was like lighting myself on fire and stepping out on the wire. Every. Single. Day. During the depths of my deepest struggles to climb out of the depression these words had motive force for me.

In fact, there was a curb out back of my previous library that ran from the street to almost the back door itself. It swept down a small incline from street-side to door-side. Straight ahead [and in line with a pillar and one long edge of the building] it ran until almost the end where it curved rapidly 90 degrees to the left. The surface of the curb was interesting in its own right. It was generally a bit higher than the surrounding sidewalk and several inches higher than the parking lot and drive that it bordered. The surface was not entirely even and even had a slight tilt to the sides at points [both directions], covered in yellow paint it could be slippery faster than the surrounding bare cement, and over time portions [much eventually] got literally torn up and made ragged by all the university service vehicles parking along it, running over it, and tearing it up with the plow in winter. I imagine the elements did a little work on their own over time. [Sadly, now, a few years later the curb is a complete mess and is, as such, highly demoralizing on the rare occasion that I see it any more.]

One day, dangerously depressed, heading into work I was listening to this song when I came upon the curb. “Hmmmm,” I wondered. “While I metaphorically continue to light myself on fire, can I actually walk down this curb?”

I did OK for a first effort. From then on, I walked down (and up) that curb whenever an opportunity presented itself. Winter was frequently not a good (or possible) time for curb-walking, nor were rain and wind, generally. But there were always exceptions. Keep in mind I frequently had a backpack.

I became quite good at “walking out on the wire.” I walked it no matter who was at hand to see me do so. [If this was the oddest thing that they thought about me I was on solid footing. 😉 ] It soon became somewhat of a small omen as to how the day was going to go. If I swiftly sashayed down the entire length then the day would be great; if I made it but had to struggle for it then I needed to be “cautious” [in some regard] that day; if I fell [or stepped] off then just hold on because there was soon going to be another time on the wire.

I sometimes walked the curb more than once in a day, and while each time had some “power”, it was the first of the day that had the most impact for the whole day. Rest assured, I made great strides to not let it actually be causal, at least not on the days I fell off. Sometimes an early “falling off” was just the universe’s early warning system letting me know that “today is not a day to be doing this.”

My point, long in coming, is that I need to learn how to walk out on the wire without the self-conflagrat*

Getting back on the wire—repeatedly—is perfectly fine. Missteps are expected. The lighting oneself on fire first has got to go, though.

NOTE: This was mostly written a week or so ago and should have closely followed the “O, most frabjous day” post.

I have been very quiet lately and there are several reasons for this. Despite the distraction of a new girlfriend and, in fact, thanks to much she offered there has been quite a bit of contemplation and reflection going on here. There still is.  I am working on some things but expect a bit more quiet and hopefully something different (soon).

This has been a most productive summer for me, personally, in many ways.

Some things seen around the Internet lately

Drinking with the Troops

From a local blog, Urbanagora, comes “Drinks with a Soldier.” I just love how some jackass commentor tries to hide behind the shield of anonymity and call the post author a liar. Certainly there are all sorts of views on this war, including those of the troops fighting it.

Perhaps if you ever get the chance—you could try arranging the chance—you, too, should have drinks with a soldier (or sailor, airman or marine) and find out a bit about what it is like on the ground in this war.  Of course, don’t forget the millions of servicemembers still living who served in our previous wars. A patient, caring ear would do many of them a world of good.

The value of a liberal arts education

For an interesting discussion on the value, or lack thereof, of a liberal arts education and liberal arts colleges see “On Liberal Education” at the Academic Librarian blog. Wayne Bivens-Tatum critiques the views of the author of a new book on the subject, as presented in The Kansas CW.

A spirited back-and-forth between Bivens-Tatum and the book author follows in the comments. I should state up front that I agree entirely with all of Bivens-Tatum’s points and his larger argument. The book author tries to point out some flaws in Bivens-Tatum’s arguments which simply are not there. I found that rather humorous.

But the one point I was hoping Bivens-Tatum would take up was the author’s insistence that some immediately practical subjects should get substituted for liberal arts classes because students are incurring too much debt, can’t pay their student loans, have to take high paying jobs vs. the job of their dreams, have to move back home with mommy & daddy, etc. because colleges are financially predatory.

So the solution is immediately practical vocational training? Wouldn’t better financial counseling for students, laws barring credit card companies from preying on students, educational finance reform, and so many other things be helpful, too, and perhaps even more ethically important? Have a look and see what you think.

Early Mike Wallace interviews with “important people”

Via Resource Shelf comes The Mike Wallace Interview.

In the early 1960’s, broadcast journalist Mike Wallace donated 65 recorded interviews made in 1957-58 from his show The Mike Wallace Interview to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. The bulk of these were 16mm kinescope film recordings, some of the earliest recordings of live television that were possible, and that survive today. Many of these have not been seen for over 50 years, and they represent a unique window into a turbulent time of American, and world history.

See interviews with jockey Eddie Arcaro, stripper Lili St. Cyr, actress Gloria Swanson, Steve Allen, Frank Lloyd Wright, birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger, Eleanor Roosevelt, novelist Pearl Buck, and many others.

Doing the dirty fictionally

Via 3 quarks daily we get a book review in the New York magazine of Robert Olen Butler’s Intercourse: Stories. Find it in a library near you via WorldCat.

Robert Olen Butler’s new story collection, Intercourse, is, as its title suggests, totally about doing it. It imagines the thoughts of 50 iconic couples as they knock the proverbial boots, beginning with Adam and Eve copulating on “a patch of earth cleared of thorns and thistles, a little east of Eden,” and ending with Santa Claus blowing off postholiday steam in January 2008 by doing the nasty with an 826-year-old elf in the back room of his workshop. But, as the clinical tone of Butler’s title also suggests, Intercourse is very much not a work of erotica. It tends to ignore messy fluids and crotch-logistics in favor of wordplay and psychological nuance.

Civilization and cultures

Also via 3 quarks daily we get Tzvetan Todorov in the Pakistan Daily Times thinking and writing to his usual standard of quality.

But if you look at this line of argument more closely, the flaw in Barnavi’s argument is immediately apparent. The meaning of the words civilisation and culture is very different when they are used in singular and plural forms. Cultures (plural) are the modes of living embraced by various human groups, and comprise all that their members have in common: language, religion, family structures, diet, dress, and so on. In this sense, “culture” is a descriptive category, without any value judgement.

Civilisation (singular) is, on the contrary, an evaluative moral category: the opposite of barbarism. So a dialogue between cultures is not only beneficial, but essential to civilisation. No civilisation is possible without it.

[There, S, I did it. And no, neither linking to the Academic Librarian nor WorldCat invalidates my effort. 😉 ]

I am a failure

I have come to realize that I am a failure at the professional role that I have been trying to adopt for the last several years.  It is one which, in many ways, I am perfectly suited for.  For instance, I can shoot holes in most any argument presented by most anyone, preferably with the intention of helping the argument be strengthened.  I’m also pretty good at adding nuance to arguments and discussion, or at least insisting that others do so.  Unfortunately, in other ways, I am ill-suited for it.  Sadly, the ways in which I am failing are much, much harder to change than others.  I cannot simply acquire more education to fix this.  I need to change a fundamental way in which I present myself.

I am a very passionate person, about a great many things.  Professionally, my greatest passions run to our bibliographic structures, past, current, and future.  It is why I spent another 40+ hours on my education post-Masters.  A job doing something with these structures, traditional or otherwise, is what I desire.

Unfortunately, my passion, especially in its extemporaneous, face-to-face version mostly seems to come out as anger, at least to others.  I do not fully understand why that is, but it is old and deeply ingrained.  It is also somewhat connected to my coming back to life from the intensely deep chronic depression I was in when I retired from the Army.

I would give anything to change this and have desired to and have worked on it for the last several years.  It is certainly a professional handicap, particularly for the role I want to play.

Was my behavior yesterday—my comments to Michael Gorman—disrespectful and/or unprofessional?  Only you can decide.  My intended behavior was not, in my opinion.  You may well disagree.  What about my manifested behavior?  Well, I won’t say I’m proud of it.  But neither was it what I intended.

I do stand by everything that I’ve written or said on the subject, though.  Some of it I wish was expressed better, especially what I said in room 126.  But then that is the issue.

Another place where I am failing is in much of my blogging.  I frequently take a comment by someone and in my reply broaden it so greatly—kind of like riffing on it—that I am no longer addressing the comment author.  I may, in fact, specifically not be addressing the commenter.  But.  That is a dangerous thing to do because I am often unclear that that is what I am doing and, thus, some folks take my replies personally when they really shouldn’t.  Or they simply don’t believe my intentions.  Now in external appearances they are fully justified in doing so.  I cannot deny that.  Thus, I am a failure at that, too.

Another area in which I often fail is distinguishing at what level, if you will, I am talking.  I also make frequent shifts between “levels”—theory vs. practice, cultural reality vs. how I believe the world (or some portion of it) ought to, and could, be, and so on.  This one plays out frequently in my exchanges with my dear friend, Jenny.  Jenny frequently argues from the cultural reality or, at least, cultural perception perspective.  This is something she is imminently more qualified for than me and I greatly appreciate her doing so.  It reminds me of how the world really is, or seems to be, for many others, sometimes even for myself.  I, on the other hand, am often arguing for how I think the world ought to, and could perhaps, be.  Our discussion of whether or not Michael Gorman is qualified to address the topics on which he spoke is a perfect example.

Jenny’s argument (greatly simplified) is that having been ALA President does, in fact, in our cultural context of librarianship qualify anyone to address the future of libraries and other topics.  This is true. But my argument is from another angle.  I prefer a world in which real qualifications are required for something this important.  I am not saying he is completely unqualified.  That would be completely asinine.  He is highly qualified to address much of what he did, and much of it he did so eloquently.

But much of it he is not.  The fact that he was ALA President is completely irrelevant to whether he is qualified to speak about Dublin Core or metadata in general.  And the fact that he willfully and belligerently holds to a view of DC and metadata that is so overly simplistic is one prime reason why he is unqualified, in my opinion.  He is an extremely intelligent person who could easily choose to upgrade his knowledge if he chose to.  But his willful disregard for the state of portions of our field is a political move.  In fact, it is a move which plays well with many in our profession and serves a purpose.  The purpose is even one which I greatly support.  But there are far better and more honest ways to do so.

But I have a hard time expressing these things so that people will listen, especially the people I am trying to critique.  And no one, including myself, is above critique.

So.  There it is.  I am a failure.  I am, currently anyway, constitutionally incapable of playing the professional role that is most important to me.  I have no idea what I am going to do about this.  I truly don’t.  And that fact scares me.

Over time I have had many, in various ways, tell me that they appreciate what I do and that the profession needs people like me.  I cannot agree more.  But it needs people who do what I do who can do so more eloquently and either with much less passion or, at least, with that passion much better expressed.

Even if librarians and the profession don’t deserve it, those for whom we do what we do do deserve better.  Better than I seem capable of.

To anyone affiliated with GSLIS who is embarrassed or offended by my behavior—here, in person, or elsewhere—I truly and sincerely apologize. Offense is not my intention, but I do think what I am attempting to do is critically important to our profession. I just wish I could do it better, now.

[Comments are disabled for this post.]

I am a patriot

I. Am. A. Patriot—not to be confused with a nationalist—but today, once again, I loathe my country and the vast majority of its citizens.

This great and grand country and its citizens have once again sent my child to war. I will not forgive you.     Us.

Please do not in any way misunderstand this post. I am not seeking your sympathy, your empathy, your prayers, karma or anything else. In fact, I have turned off commenting on this post.

If you feel you must pray or meditate for me and my son, or whatever makes you feel better, then please start with the millions of Iraqis whose lives we have so seriously impacted—destroyed and, yes, even terrorized. Only after that can you morally begin to consider the large numbers of American servicemembers and families who have lived with the terror and sacrifice of this war.

Those of you who asked me to pass on your various sentiments to my son when I visited should know that I did and that he appreciates them.

If you feel you must express something to me then you know the usual routes. I warn you though. If we do not know each other well enough that I can fully appreciate where you are coming from then you might want to reconsider your “need” to do so.

My close friends—those at hand and those further away—will look out for me. That I do know. The next 15-months will be hard. I did not deal well with his first deployment. At all. That was only 11 months, but no one knew how long going in (initial invasion).

He has chosen to come home on mid-tour leave next May as his birthday is then. He gets no choice over which half of May, but there it is. With any luck I’ll be driving back down to central Texas to see him again in less than a year.

SFC Lindner, do your utmost to keep your troops safe and healthy. That is all anyone can ask of you. I know that you will because that is your duty and because it is your calling. Just please do not forget to take care of yourself, too. You can only do your difficult duty if you are well yourself. I love you and am so very proud of you. The ribbon is back on my backpack where it will remain until you and 4th ID are safely back home again.

[Yes, if you must know, most of this was written on Father’s Day. I love my country. But. I hate Amerika!]

Some things read this week, 20 – 26 April 2008

Sunday – Thursday, 20 – 24 Apr 2008

Lodge, David. 1992. Changing Places: A Tale of Two Campuses. New York: Penguin Books.

Wasn’t sure if I was going to continue this but I read it on and off on Sunday and made a big dent at dinner in the Alley on Monday. I’m 66% of the way through so I imagine I’ll finish it and then shift back to more serious things.

Finished this Thursday afternoon. I guess it was OK as it had some moments but I can’t recommend it overall.

Wednesday, 23 Apr 2008

2007. Running & Philosophy: A Marathon for the Mind. Malden: Blackwell Pub.

  • Ch. 17 : “Where the Dark Feelings Hold Sway”: Running as Aesthetic Experience by Martha Nussbaum
  • Ch. 18 : The Power of Passion on Heartbreak Hill by Michelle Maiese.

Only one chapter left to go. Good book.

Friday – Saturday, 25 – 26 Apr 2008

Guarino, Nicola and Christopher A. Welty. “An Overview of OntoClean.” In Staab, Steffen, and Rudi Studer, ed. 2004. Handbook on Ontologies. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

Actually a fairly good article, but I have major concerns over their explanation of rigidity. It has certainly been a bit since I last read Kripke or any other relevant literature on rigidity … but they blow it in their explanation, IMHO.

I think they have it right in the end. But. Their presentation is confused. They use a highly questionable example and then make several implicit assumptions in its use and description. It might actually work if they spelled out all of their assumptions but there must be better examples.

I ran it by one or two people and would read a sentence and they’d say, “See, they’re assuming such and such and they are right.” Then I’d read the next sentence where the assumption seems to be reversed and they went, “Oh!”

Lest you think this is nit-picking—it may be but I do not think so—I also have the same complaints about many of the examples used in the cataloging and classification literature. These examples are critical. Many of these concepts are extremely difficult and nuanced. Crystal clear and meaningful examples are a must. Also, in today’s world, quit with the culturally-specific examples. I fully realize that The Wizard of Oz is fairly international by this point. I also realize that there may be few to no fully international examples available, but with a little care I do think excellent examples could be found for anyone who might be reading this kind of literature in the first place.

Recommend. But read carefully.

Saturday, 26 Apr 2008

Frohmann, Bernd. 2008. Subjectivity and information ethics. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 59, no. 2:267-277. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/asi.20742 (Accessed March 2, 2008).

Recommended if you are into information ethics at all.

Some things read this week, 13 – 19 April 2008

Sunday – Friday, 13 – 18 Apr 2008

2007. Running & Philosophy: A Marathon for the Mind. Malden: Blackwell Pub.

  • Ch. 6 : Running Religiously by Jeffrey P. Fry (Sun)
  • Ch. 7 : Hash Runners and Hellenistic Philosophers by Richard DeWitt (Mon)
  • Ch. 8 : A Runner’s Pain (Mon)
  • Ch. 9 : What Motivates an Early Morning Runner? by Kevin Kinghorn (Mon)
  • Ch 10 : Performance-Enhancement and the Pursuit of Excellence by William P. Kabasenche (Tue)
  • Ch. 11 : The Freedom of the Long-Distance Runner by Heather L. Reid (Tue)
  • Ch. 12 : Existential Running by Ross C. Reed (Wed)
  • Ch. 13 : Can We Experience Significance on a Treadmill? by Douglas R. Hochstetler (Wed)
  • Ch. 14 : Running in Place or Running in Its Proper Place by J. P. Moreland (Thu)
  • Ch. 15 : The Running Life: Getting in Touch with Your Inner Hunter-Gatherer by Sharon Kaye (Fri)
  • Ch. 16 : John Dewey and the Beautiful Stride: Running as Aesthetic Experience by Christopher Martin (Fri)

This has been an excellent read so far. Very motivating. The authors all take a different starting point and make use of (generally individually) a great breadth of philosophies/ers. I can personally make a point of contact with all of them even if I don’t agree with how each of them flesh out their arguments. Some good arguments. Some presented well. And the rare few are both.

Recommended if you are a runner that has never “gotten” philosophy, or if you are a fan of Dr. George Sheehan’s writings, or you are a philosophical runner. I don’t actually understand how one could be a (distance) runner and not be somewhat philosophical. Seems downright absurd to me but one must leave open the space of logical possibility. [Or so I am repeatedly led indoctrinated to believe.] Oooh. One more category of recommended readers: philosophers who value a disembodied philosophy; one that has removed the experiencing subject in anything but the most clinical and sterile [and non-productive] way.

Monday, 14 Apr 2008

Banush, David, and Jim LeBlanc. 2007. Utility, library priorities, and cataloging policies. Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services 31, no. 2:96-109. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VSH-4R718K6-1/1/b1967e800400df0464b6b26bfa785a1c.

A clearly ex post facto attempt at ethical justification for cataloging policy at an ARL library. The fundamental good was “no backlogs.” I read this because David had sent me a response, which I hope is being published somewhere.

Bade’s response to the above.

Going to be vague on this as I think David has it out for publication but yesterday when we were hanging out I failed to clarify what I can say about any of the recent things he sent me. So, vagueness ensues.

Excellent! Even more eviscerating than I was and far more eloquently put than I would do.

Friday, 18 Apr 2008

Lodge, David. 1992. Changing Places: A Tale of Two Campuses. New York: Penguin Books.

Began book at diner. Perhaps read some Saturday. Finished 2 out of 6 chapters.

This is a book that was recommended to me by the man who sold it to me. Now I only paid about $3 for it and he has a limited knowledge of what fiction I may have read, except he has as good of knowledge as is possible for any other human being to have of my literary reading. Brian of Babbitt’s Books (of Normal, and, also formerly, Champaign) and I have been in several book discussion groups during my 6 years in Normal at ISU [Oh, and the 1st year I was here I would drive over pretty much once a month].

Somehow I managed to fall into this small group almost immediately. Most importantly, we were in the Auerbach Mimesis group for over 3 years. That is where the vast majority of my literary reading comes from. He also knows of my love for White noise.

I think he recommended it because is set in two campus environments, one in some fictional state between Northern and Southern California and somewhere in England.

I was beginning to question how much time I was going to give it but I’m 150 pages in now after reading it some Sunday and tonight [Mon.] at dinner in the Alley. It’s had its moments of humor