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. 😉 ]

Some things read this week feature is over

Back in mid-January 2007 I started a “feature” entitled “Some things read this week, …”. I have, for a long time now, been unhappy with it. I have rarely addressed the important things in the depth which they deserved and to which I would like. The date data is generally recorded in at least one other place, if not more, for all items listed in those posts, but they did serve a sort of chronological collation function for me, though, which was in a sense more easily useful for my own purposes.

Another issue which has recently arisen for me is that I have been reading a few books on a topic vastly different than what was normal for me. But our circumstances can change our reading preferences as I would hope most anyone would admit. The issue is that I, after discussion with a trusted confidante, do not feel comfortable listing and discussing them here. Actually, I feel perfectly comfortable listing and discussing them with many people.

The problem is librarians as a group. As a group, librarians are uncomfortable with this topic, as they are with many topics. Now these are books that I walked over to my local library, Champaign Public, and checked out. I was planning on putting a big (Self-)Censored heading in my post for this upcoming week before discussing the issue much as I am now.

But, based on my unhappiness with the “feature” anyway, and adding in that I am now painfully self-censoring myself, I see little need to continue it.

Rest assured that I will continue to blog about some of the things I read. But not having to worry about trying to say something about everything and feeling bad when I don’t—which was frequent—I can now concentrate on saying something of potential use to others and myself. I imagine something along the lines of The Gypsy Librarian‘s Article Notes and Book Notes features.

I honestly do not imagine anyone will miss the weekly list, except perhaps me, and I will certainly not miss the work involved in writing and constructing the blog posts.

Andrea Mercado and her Conversants article

This is going to be kind of weird but I don’t know what else to do. 🙁

Andrea Mercado of LibraryTechtonics has a new post, Article in Conversants. Recommended, by the way.

I read her post and then her article, Making library schools smarter. Conversants is using CommentPress which I am happy to see, but until I know whether I will read and comment regularly I really have no desire to set up yet another account. So I went back to Andrea’s post and attempted to make a comment there. Eventually I got a captcha but with no image. Seems to be a fairly frequent issue with some of those captcha plugins, unfortunately.

So I refreshed the page hoping to maybe luck out. No luck and it also told me I was submitting a duplicate comment. Huh? Did I or did I not succeed the 1st time? OK. She has an email contact form. Paste my comment in there, explain the situation and how I hope I’m not unknowingly overloading her and hit send.

Nope. That failed too.

Now, honestly, this comment is not that important. But I would like to talk with Andrea about her undergrad alma mater and I was hoping that email contact form would be my means of doing so.

I imagine there are lots of reasons these things could be failing me. OCLC and Voyager were certainly screwing with me enough today so maybe it is me. But some days I really despise the internet. You try and have a conversation and it does everything in its power to thwart you. Far too frequently.

Captchas that don’t load an image. Completely unreadable images in captchas. Requiring accounts at a million places. People with Blogger (or other) blogs that only allow those with Blogger/Google accounts to comment. And on and on ad infinitum.

All I can say is this internet thing is at about the level of an 18-month old in conversational skills right now.

Anyway, my comment is reproduced below with the hopes Andrea will see it and perhaps comment so I can get her email addy so I can have the real conversation I want to have. 🙂

Interesting article, Andrea. I wanted to comment over there but until I am sure I will read (and comment) there often I am NOT setting up another account.

In paragraph 7 you talk about tech skills which I can only assume you mean should be had before entering school. How do you intend for schools to pragmatically assess such skills?

Here is a link to our admission requirements and also to those intended to be acquired before leaving:

By the way, these are being upgraded from the pathetic state they are in right now (floppy disk, anyone?). But they are in no way checked as neither are the ones “expected to be acquired during your time at GSLIS” so I am unsure what purpose they really serve.

I do agree that these are important and that something needs to be done. But how is that to be accomplished? Are we going to require potential students to show up on campus prior to final submission of the application process for an interview? Or are we going to do like some of the preppier schools my boy applied to and have an alum out in the “local” community (perhaps 100s of miles away in reality) do the interviewing? That could be a long, slow process until we get enough qualified alums to do the interviewing.

While both of these might, in fact, be feasible I do not really seeing the schools implementing either.

Any thoughts? Thanks for the link to the article and the journal.

In feed reader limbo

A couple of months ago it was announced that NetNewsWire was now free for individuals. I saw this news in a few places and read some high praise for it in those and other places. Having been fed up with the assorted problems Bloglines has been having for quite a while now, I decided to try NetNewsWire.

NetNewsWire seemed to fit my requirements quite well. I do not necessarily need a desktop client reader but neither am I averse to one as I have a laptop which goes lots of places with me. Also, NetNewsWire syncs with NewsGator, which is their web-based reader.

The export of my OPML file from Bloglines and import into NetNewsWire went flawlessly. I took a couple of days playing with NetNewsWire to decide if I liked it at all. Seeing as I did I turned on the syncing capability and logged into NewsGator and tested it. NewsGator is not what I would prefer for my standard reader but it seemed sufficient for those times when I would be checking my feeds from somewhere other than my laptop.

I was pretty much pleased with this setup and thus logged into Bloglines a few times just to clear the unread posts that were adding up. I still have around 5000 posts marked unread in Bloglines that either need weeded or posted to so I didn’t want to just dump it.

Of course, after two or so weeks of using NetNewsWire I had somewhere between 100-200 posts being kept alive until I decided what to do with them [I know, I know. I need to change my work habits!].

And then it happened.

NetNewsWire began crashing upon launch. Every. Time. It simply will not load. I’ve searched the support forums and have even re-installed it a few times and it simply will not load.

Thus, I’m now relying on NewsGator as my primary feed reader and that is simply not acceptable. It seems to be heavily AJAX-based (or something similar) and is, thus, slow. Once you click a post to mark it read you have to wait to do anything else. This is a several second wait. There are other reasons why it is unaccaptable as a primary feed reader but, for me, that is the main one.

So for several weeks now I have been struggling to engage in any successful manner with the blogosphere. I am, of course, keeping up with the blogs of people who are really important to me for assorted reasons (mostly friends) but I am only haphazardly able to keep up with my normal feed load.

To say the least I am extremely unhappy! On top of all the other uncertainty in my life this does not help.

After only a few days of using NetNewsWire I was looking forward to writing a post that said I had successfully found an alternative to the frustration of using Bloglines. Now I simply wish I had never changed.

I haven’t logged into Bloglines in a couple weeks now to clear out new unread stuff and I am scared to do so. Also, any posts I had marked to keep in NetNewsWire are unavailable to me. Thus, I’ve lost a couple weeks of engagement with friends and others where I have left a comment or something that I meant to get back to when I had time.

If anyone knows how to solve this problem of NetNewsWire’s crashing please pass along any help you can. If anyone has any suggestions for other feed readers I might try (on a Mac) because you use them and like them, please pass those along, too.

Almost the day : Birthday Month update

Today has been a fairly laid-back day. Considering.

I got up at 10-ish and have been on slow ever since. Pauline & Kathryn’s class was having a reading day and I decided to forego more Protégé work this evening in Allen’s class. We will be doing more next week.

So I have been giving myself a break.

Last night was my party at Crane Alley. I thought it turned out nice [some pictures someone else’s]. Thanks to all who came! I hope you find something to enjoy in your presents but I know music is a very personal thing. More in a bit about the party.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is actually my birthday but it is set to be a little more down-to-earth than last night. I have an hour massage scheduled in the afternoon and there’s a full lunar eclipse early enough in the evening and it is supposed to be clear out. Bitterly cold. But clear.

I know to be a realist about the weather here in mid-February but I have some hope. That is, 28-hour or so forecasts are starting to be admissible evidence in my world.

I’ll probably take myself out to dinner somewhere—no idea—and if anyone wants to join me let me know. You are definitely off-the-hook for buying my dinner but I’d love a little company. Probably 6 or 6:30ish.

I went and saw my friend, Eva Hunter, perform solo Friday night in Danville. Gina was there, too, so that was nice. Eva was willing to sing me a song for my birthday but unfortunately the song I want hasn’t been in her repertoire for a while now. Since before I started seeing her perform 5-6 years ago. 🙁

A large amount of my “free time” after work and sleep from the evening of the 13th until sometime yesterday afternoon was spent compiling these, writing notes, burning and packaging them. Everyone who came to my party got a set. [One person left their’s so if it was an accident just let me know and I’ll happily replace them. But if you’d rather not that’s fine, too.]

I haven’t made a compilation CD since coming to Urbana-Champaign in August 2004. Actually. The last one ended in August 2003. Oh my. A time of pure hell, but a year before I left and moved here still.

This was a hasty project that took up much of my time for 5 days, and it is certainly no attempt to be comprehensive. That would be a fool’s errand. I do like it, though, as I have listened to them over and over for much of that 5 days—certainly since the playlists were finalized. Of course, getting them finalized takes a lot of listening to transitions and such.

Starting tomorrow, I need to get back on track. Sure. It’ll be my birthday.

So I won’t try and make up 5 days of work in one—another fool’s errand—but I will begin with something I enjoy like beginning a new-to-me Harris book that looks very important to my paper.

Back to the party …

Thanks so much to whomever paid for my dinner and drinks. And an especially big thanks to those who took good care of Lisa. She would not let me give her a tip. She said my friends took care of me and very good care of her. Thank you!

She then told me I could come in for dinner next Monday and give her the tip. I told her I would do my best but laughed and said it would be smaller next week.

I got a ride over from a vixen and a ride home from a wonderful couple I wish I saw far more of. Of course, I wish I saw much more of everyone who was there. Tentative, vaguish commitments were made with a few folks. I certainly hope I see Ben around at some point. He’s at GSLIS but I just met him last night.

Rachel knit me a sweet hat during the party, or at least finished it there. Tom gave me a productive-looking book: Hickman, Larry A. 2007. Pragmatism as post-postmodernism : lessons from John Dewey. New York: Fordham University Press.

I had the butternut squash ravioli, which was OK but it was much better the 1st time. I had 4 pints of Guinness (and have felt surprisingly good today) and 3 sips and a lot of sniffs of a fine scotch compliments of El Diablo. A few other sips were had by others so it did not go entirely to waste; not that it did anyway. But more was “consumed” in the typical sense with the help of others.
Oh, by the way, the shirt I was wearing was having a birthday of a sort itself, it is 29-years old.

In between most of the above and here, I took myself out to the diner for dinner and began on that Harris book: Harris, Roy. 1996. Signs, Language, and Communication : Integrational and Segregational Approaches. London; New York: Routledge.

I’m going to close this now as I want to go back to slowly passing the evening. Tomorrow involves work and meetings and so on beginning at the normal time. But that is tomorrow still.

Successful WordPress upgrade?

I finally got around to upgrading this blog’s version of WordPress from 2.2.3 to the newest, 2.3.2. There’s an brand-new updated version of the Cutline theme that I use that I still need to do but …

… I did something really stupid when I did the upgrade. With printed instructions in front of me. One of the critical early steps. What a freaking oaf!

So please have a quick look around and let me know if you see anything amiss if you have a moment and the inclination.


Where are the blogging LIS educators?

Back in August 2005, Joy Weese Moll started a movement to identify the MLS student bloggers, which also led to many questions and discussions. Nowadays we have a Ning to hang out in.

I think it is time for a new list and some more questions. Who are the blogging LIS educators? Why are there so few? [assumption and anecdote] What prevents or holds them back from doing so? [I can think of a few possibilities]

I am aware of Michael Stephens and Jens-Erik Mai. Who else is there?

Yesterday a friend wrote me with the following questions:

I’m getting ready to do my Field Exam list and it struck me that the
blogosphere keeps me pretty up to date on practitioner stuff in the
field – but other than Michael Stephens, i don’t think I have many LIS
faculty blogs in my list of feeds.

Are you aware of any good L (particularly I)S blogs by faculty members
where they discuss emerging literature and research practices?

There’s some good ones emerging for digital humanities (Matthew Kirshenbaum, Dan Cohen, etc.). Who’s our LIS faculty blog star?

I had to reply with my addition of Jens-Erik Mai as a possibility. I find that sad. I can think of many reasons why LIS educators might not blog, and those may even be very good ones on an individual basis, but I told him I would ask my people on the tubes anyway. [I definitely 2nd reading Dan Cohen. I suggested his blog for the LISNews list of 10 Non-Librarian Blogs to Read for 2008. Submit here]

As we send this out to the larger group I think a wave in the general area of what is meant by “LIS faculty” [my friend’s term] or “LIS educators” [mine] is warranted. No disrespect meant towards librarians with faculty status [or those in the track] but you are not what we mean (probably). I think faculty in the official sense, restricted to faculty of the LIS schools, is too narrow. Many LIS students are educated by adjuncts of various stripes, both locally and by distance ed. I think all of the educators of our students who meet the other sorts of criteria my friend proposed (or similar enough) could go on the list.

So if you are a librarian who also teaches and commits a decent amount of your blog to items of educational interest then I am interested in putting you on the list. If you teach a course or two as a side job and your blog is on the supreme awesomeness of your cat … well, I feel sorry for your students and I’m not interested in you probably. 😉

Somewhere in between all that and towards the positive side are folks like Meredith and Dorothea. I am interested in them and I read their blogs. I also find them educational. But not the sort of educational my friend means anyway, plus he knows of them already.

I guess we can call it the “Supreme Court” test. We’ll know one when we see one.

And as far as that goes, I am agnostic on whether Stephens and Mai make the list. 🙂

So who, or where, are they?

Send me some suggestions for blogs by LIS educators that contain a fair amount of educational content, if you know of any.

Need a New Name, Round 2

Don’t worry … I’m not looking for a new name for this wittily named blog (wasn’t christened by me anyway 😉 ). I’m starting a 2nd blog and no worries. I am not breaking my thoughts here, either. This is nt a professional/other stuff split like has been discussed here before from assorted angles.

My intention is to install a 2nd WP install and the CommentPress (“a WordPress theme for social texts”) theme. If you’re not familiar with CommentPress you should check it out as it has some real potential in varied circumstances. Comes from the good folks at The Institute for the Future of the Book. Here’s an example install with the Iraq Study Group Report.

So, what would I use it for? Current and recent past thoughts (barring unforeseen copyright issues) include: Draft Final Working Group Report, Hsieh-Yee’s report on cataloging/metadata education*, Panizzi’s 91 rules, drafts of parts of my paper as I write it, suggestions from others that fit within my interests, … and then hopefully discussion around those sorts of entities, at assorted resolutions down to the paragraph.

On one hand, I have a very specific and timely (past now) idea and, on the other, a very vague one.

And the beauty of it all … I need a name for it. This is your chance for fame and glory in perpetuity. Just ask Richard and Walt; they still get the credit (or blame?) for naming this blog after about a year and a half now.

With any luck it will be a proverbial water cooler.

Please send suggestions. Most likely without water cooler being involved, though; or, at least it was not an explicit hint.

Now is your chance to:

Find the line, find the shape
Through the grain
Find the outline and things will
Tell you their name

Suzanne Vega “Night Vision” Solitude Standing

Also, it’s your chance to prove Andrew wrong:

you weren’t there that day for the naming of things
the naming of things

Andrew Bird “The Naming of Things” The Mysterious Production of Eggs

Will you be there on naming day?

* Hsieh-Yee, Ingrid. “Cataloging and Metadata Education: A Proposal for Preparing Cataloging Professionals of the 21st Century.” A report submitted to the ALCTS-Education Task Force in response to Action Item 5.1 of the “Bibliographic control of Web Resources: A Library of Congress Action Plan.” Approved by the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. Web version available since April 2003 at

Color me “Tickled Pink”

The LISNews 10 Blogs To Read In 2008

Kirsten gets the credit for bringing me the news. 😉

Congratulations to all the outstanding company I found myself amongst. Wow!

Thanks Blake and the perhaps one person who nominated me!

I really love the write-up Blake gave me. 🙂 If those aren’t your reasons, and you have no good ones of your own then perhaps you don’t need to read me. But if they are ….

Hopefully not a factor at all but in the spirit of openness, Blake and LISHost are my hosting service. I recommend them highly.

This really made my day as I headed out of the house about noon. As many of you know I haven’t been doing too well for awhile now, and this year (although I have been somewhat mute about it) has really gotten off to a crappy start. So this was kind of like a 2nd New Year’s Day for me.

I haven’t given up yet and a new start to the year helps a lot.

I left for class after a leisurely morning in 18° sunny weather shortly after finding out about this. It was actually pretty nice out for semi-cold day; no wind). And I chose the music perfectly as I started American Beauty, which begins the immensely aproposBox of Rain“:

… any morning, any evening, any day
Maybe the sun is shining
birds are winging …


Look into any eyes
you find by you, you can see
clear through to another day
I know it’s been seen before
through other eyes on other days …


Walk into splintered sunlight
Inch your way through dead dreams
to another land
Maybe you’re tired and broken
Your tongue is twisted
with words half spoken
and thoughts unclear
What do you want me to do
to do for you to see you through
a box of rain will ease the pain
and love will see you through

David Dodds, The Annotated “Box of Rain”

David Dodd’s assessment of the connections between this song and “Ripple” are the exact same ones I have made for decades. And first song on the respective sides of the album; that way of knowing is pretty much gone, sadly. And while unclear thoughts are not exactly broken thoughts, there is some kind of connection, in my life at least.

There are, of course, many other wonderful tie-ins to a sunny day, a new beginning, an awakening.

Thanks again, Blake.