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I hate taking sick days

I hate taking sick days, but I think today I am forced to. What I thought was a brewing migraine seems to have yielded to a virus. At least, I have a fever. I went to work yesterday feeling crappy, and felt like I didn't really do my job properly. I hate that feeling too. Perhaps a day in bed will put things right. I just feel so guilty.

Meta-Moderating

Tonight I "did" my first meta-moderation. Now I will be plagued by self-doubt and fears of inadequacy for an undertermined length of time ... it's just very lucky I have such poor short-term memory. I should be able to overcome the anxieties associated with the .... errr ...um, what was I saying?

The public library didn't escape this chill

I didn't obsess about religion, but every now and again a question would pop up, and I hunted for answers in the only place I thought might have some. Picture it: the public library in the pre-Internet period of the 1980s and early 1990s. Most of what I'd read about Islam exuded a textbook tone. Lots of reference, little risk. Then, on February 14, 1989, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. This "unfunny valentine," as Rushdie would later call the fatwa, demanded of Westerners more than a collective tiptoe around theocracy. Many people in the West did take a stand against the death warrant and I'd be disingenuous to deny that. But the commentaries I tracked down at the public library seemed satisfied with merely explaining Muslim outrage; they steered away from asking if the Koran is as virgin, as divine, as the effigy-burners would have us believe. What happened to the religiously respectful yet intellecutally messy West I'd fallen in love with? Was multiculturalism losing its mind?

In a crucial sense, I think so. I say this because my trips to the library coincided with the era of Edward Said. He was the Arab-American intellectual who, in 1979, used the word Orientalism to describe the West's supposed tendency to colonize Muslims by demonizing them as exotic freaks of the East. A compelling theory, but doesn't it speak volumes that the "imperialist" West published, distributed, and promoted Edward Said's book?

Within a decade, Said was all the rage among young academics-turned-activists in North America and Europe. Their worship of him effectively stifled other ideas about Islam. By the time Salman Rushdie came out with The Satanic Verses, Said's acolytes stood ready to denounce as "Orientalist" (read: racist) just about anything that affronted mainstream Muslims. In my experience, the public library didn't escape this chill.

I began to regain faith, in both the West and Islam, after the mid-1990s. Praise Allah for the Internet. With the Web making self-censorship irrelevant -- someone else is bound to say what you won't -- it became the place where intellectual risk-takers finally exhaled. They reasserted what makes the West a fierce if imperfect incubator of ideas: its love of discovery, including discovery of its own biases. And as the critics probed Islam, I picked up on some jaw-dropping aspects of my religion.

-- Irshad Manji, The Trouble With Islam (Muslim-Refusenik.com)

Micro$oft's DNS Client on 2000/XP

Why am I not surprised? Well, it was definately not the proxy autoconfiguration script, or the caching proxy server itself. It all has to do with the rediculous DNS client Micro$oft silently runs as a service that is automagically started after installing either OS. This service is only useful for Active Directory, does absolutely nothing for that machine if your domain is not Active Directory.

rewarding the wicked

A disturbing trend: people have been erasing other people's names on our real high tech internet sign up sheet. While I want to commend these people on their ingenuity (and their perceptiveness of at least being able to look at, then figure out our high tech sign up sheet) I feel that this is morally... well, it's between stealing candy from a baby and kicking a dog.

What concerns me more is how I handle it if I am just coming on to the reference desk. Sure, I can see a name has been erased and another has been put in. Sure. But how do I know if your name was there previously? Plenty of people erase their own names when they leave. Besides, if you were really sneaky, you could see someone else's name was erased and say yours was.

So I have to go by what's on the sign up sheet at the present time, if I haven't been there to see who was waiting. That's just not fair. The eraser then gets positive reinforcement, for, as Beavis would say, being a dillweed.

I so want timed access software.

Another disturbing trend: people are telling me our computers suck. Of course they do. The poor things are abused for twelve hours a day. (This was incidentally, uttered by the same aforementioned patron whose frequently uttered cry of "I don't know what I pressed!" is known by the whole staff.) If a machine had feelings, these would be crying out from the ground, folks. Don't mean to get all biblical (but that line is just so poetic). Until the money tree sprouts in the garden though, libraries in general (not just this library, or even libraries in this state) are out of luck.

So they do their best. Go easy on them.

Disturbing trend trois: Library cards are being stolen and bizarre books are being checked out on them! And naturally, are never returned. I've heard this complaint three times in as many days. Odd. As some LISNews stories have reported, if I were going to steal a library card and then steal library materials, I'd steal resaleable stuff. Like DVDs. Not histories of doilies. (Not to insult anyone who's seriously into doilies).

Conservatives are stoopid; LISNewzsters are smart :-)

[Note: this journal entry is occasioned in part by Ender's posting noted below, but also in part by Blake's daring to suggest that there actually is intelligent conservative opinion worth listening to.]

In a reply from Ender, Duke_of_URL (posting as an anonymous patron) in a thread on Christian publishing and culture, said he felt that Christians were more thievish than the rest of the population.

His generalization reminds me of the Duke U. philosophy professor (hmm, Duke_of_Url, Duke U., I wonder ...), who stated that stupid people were generally conservative, by way of explaining why there were so few conservatives in Duke's humanities departments:
"We try to hire the best, smartest people available," Brandon said of his philosophy hires. "If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire.

"Mill's analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of the Republican party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in academia. Players in the NBA tend to be taller than average. There is a good reason for this. Members of academia tend to be a bit smarter than average. There is a good reason for this too."

Observe:

  1. Brandon misrepresents Mill;
  2. Brandon commits a non-sequitur in the first paragraph;
  3. Brandon has the demographics wrong--conservatives are not more stupid than others (scroll down to the Lindgren quote; wait, here's a sample:

    If one breaks down the data by party affiliation and political orientation, the most highly educated group is conservative Republicans, who also score highest on the vocabulary and analogical reasoning tests. Liberal Democrats score only insignificantly lower than conservative Republicans. The least educated subgroups are moderate and conservative Democrats, who also score at the bottom (or very near the bottom) on vocabulary and analogy tests.
    [emphasis mine--ChuckB])

Now think about this for a moment: if LISNewzsters are drawn chiefly from liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, then we come from the two smartest groups in the country!

Ocean Treasure: Commercial Fishing in Alaska: Suggested Read

In keeping with the Alaska theme of the last journal, I'm suggesting an informative book with many pictures for any of your patrons interested in the Alaska fishing industry. There might be more of those in your library than you might think. Each summer, thousands of college students and others come up to Alaska to work on boats, canneries (slime lines), and other desparately hard work that allows them to work in some of the wildest areas America has to offer.

Without further ado, here is some publisher provided information on the book "Ocean Treasure: Commercial Fishing in Alaska":

------------------
Web page with photos: http://www.uaf.edu/seagrant/Pubs_Videos/pubs/SG-ED-41.html

Ocean Treasure: Commercial Fishing in Alaska

Author: Terry Johnson
Editor: Kurt Byers
Pub. no.: SG-ED-41
Year: 2003
No. pages: 200
Price: $25.00 US
ISBN: 1-56612-080-2

Ocean Treasure is a full-color book about the Alaska fishing industry. Author Terry Johnson provides an engaging and authoritative overview of the seafood industry, combined with color photos and drawings of fish and invertebrates and the gear used to harvest them. Ocean Treasure tells how to recognize fishing boats and gear, what the fish look like, and how good they taste. Readers are treated to an account of the fascinating history of Alaska fishing, insight into mariculture, how the fisheries are managed, and the lifestyle involved in subsistence fishing. The book also offers a bibliography, a glossary, and a full index.

Visitors to Alaska whose curiosity is piqued by the fishing vessels and dock activity they see, as well as "armchair" Alaska tourists, will be
rewarded by the information-packed pages presented in the easy-to-read, friendly text of this book.

A resident of Homer, Alaska, author Terry Johnson is a marine advisory agent and journalist, and has sixteen years experience as commercial fisherman.
---------------------

For those you still reading, I came across this book because it is a publication of Alaska's Sea Grant College, and thus is subject to the Alaska State Publications program, which I am responsible for. Ironically, Alaska's "sea grant" college is based at University of Alaska Fairbanks, which is in the central part of our great state and is hours from any part of Alaska's coast.

Reading in bits; no job rights; more random thoughts

Well, I am going back to the Pullman series that starts with The Golden Compass. I started the Subtle Knife and put it down for awhile. I have developed a bad habit of starting novels and putting them down. I guess part of it is that I don't have blocks of time to read anymore.

How to spell "Newbery" - as in the award

A couple of years ago, a friend and I got in a discussion about how to spell "Newbery", he was sure that there are two r's. I was certain there is only one. (Need I say which one of us was correct?)

Anyway, this got me thinking, so I did a web search on "Newberry Award". Hundreds upon hundreds. So every once in a while, I send a few simple e-mail informing webmaster or whoever is listed that Newbery is incorrectly spelled.

random acts of shut down

What does the public do to computers? Honest to pete... I know that people have the tendency to want to really finish what they start and log out of the computer after they finish using the browser (and some staff members are having a hard time grasping if I disable log out, then no one can log out, public or staff). Logging out I don't mind. People have taken to shutting it off entirely. Either that, or it's crashing and no one is telling me.

migraine time!

I get migraines, and I think there's been a doozy brewing all week. I can sort of tell when they're coming. I start getting nauseous, then losing feeling in my arms and legs intermittently, then I start seeing stuff out of the corner of my eyes. Today there was something black flitting around in my field of vision. We on occasion get bats in the library, but this wasn't a bat.

I can only pray it comes tomorrow, when I don't have to work. I feel mighty guilty if I have to take sick time only two and a half months into the job.

Fresh baked cookies!

I've reworked all the cookie settings, so your best bet is to delete any LISNews cookies, and log back in. You should only have to login once now for all sections/areas/journals, whatever, they all use the same settings now, so I think I've fixed the long running cookie problems. If you have any troubles with being asked to login after you've already logged in, let me know.

Speaking of fresh baked, I'm hoping to have LISNews.org up and running on the new code today. I've got a 50/50 shot at gettin it running today I think.

Charges against "Skeptical Environmentalist" dismissed

You may have heard of Bjorn Lomberg, the Danish statistician and director of Denmark's national Environmental Assessment Institute. He wrote a highly controversial book The Skeptical Environmentalist, in which he questioned much of the "scientific consensus" concerning global warming.

Saturdays are a double edged sword.

In a way, I like working Saturdays. It's busy, but it's a spread out busy, not a "the library is full of bored kids from 2-5:30" busy. However, you run into the same problem you run into on Fridays in that when the children's room closes at five, you get a wave of bored children coming downstairs.

This will get me death threats I'm sure: I'm not a big fan of kids. I mean, some kids are fine, but I choose not to have them myself. I'm not overly fond of the neighbor's kids. I don't like to go to restaurants have a cranky six year old screaming in my ear (a cranky one year old I have a higher tolerance level of. I can understand that. It's age appropriate.)

But my distaste for children isn't particularly why I don't want them downstairs. They bang on keyboards, sure, and sometimes, when they get real bored, they whip all the paperbacks off the shelves. That's annoying. That ticks me off.

But I worry about my responsibility to them. I can't babysit them. I mean, technically the poor children's librarians shouldn't be doing that either (though I know they are). But at least they were hired to specifically deal with the children. I was hired for all ages, but primarily above twelve. Usually, from five to six, I am helping people over twelve. I can't be watching a five year old left by mom and dad. Or by their "very mature and responsible" eight year old brother (happens-- a lot.)

I wish the library were a safer place, at least, as safe as parents seem to think it is. I wish that I could throw these children out when they're really misbehaving (as they sometimes do), without guilt that I now have a six year old wandering the streets. But I can't in good conscience do that. I'm not a big fan of children -- but I care enough not to put them in harm's way.

Which I think, sometimes, is more than some parents do.

Okay... comment away. I know librarians as babysitters is not a new phenomenon and in many ways I am preaching to the choir. And I know that my not too fond of children stance ticks many off... Go easy on me. I'm fragile.

Voting as a consumer + getting the lime-pricing you deserve

On the political front: I threw a fit of journal-entry proportions this morning because a friend and I went to the ghetto Safeway and discovered limes cost 50 cents apiece there.

I’m convinced the pricing of the limes has more to do with the fact that most folks who shop the ghetto Safeway do not own cars -- or enjoy a straight shot on mass transit to the competition -- because you can get limes five for a dollar elsewhere if you have a car; I purchased about 50 limes a week ago for 20 cents apiece.

(And, yes, I'm aware that someone has to labor for less than nothing and no hope for the occasional trip to the salon to get me limes at that price; jump to the wrap at the end if that's your shtick.)

My argument is that the pricing has nothing to do with fluctuations in the wholesale lime market, that we could have hit another Safeway served by the same warehouse and found limes five for a dollar.

The friend disagreed and is (begin emphasis) still (end emphasis) actively disagreeing. (Continuous action in the present, he.)

He says “they would get busted if they did that.� He says every Safeway served by the same warehouse has limes for 50 cents apiece right now.

Hello? Who is going to bust Safeway for pricing limes based on what X captive market is willing to pay?

The larger argument: Fordist urban planning is a barrier to folks getting the lime-pricing they deserve. (I caved and bought a few of the 50-cent limes. They were underperformers.)

If we had great mass transit and sensible urban planning, not only would uniform pricing of limes result from everyone having equal access to all retailers, but Walmart would not be No. 1 in all significant retail categories -- folks would not necessarily patronize a retailer based on the asphalt-availability index alone.

My two neighbors, both under 30, do not have cars, and they report -- this while drinking wine on the balcony beginning at 10 or so on a Friday morning -- that it would not matter to them if they could get 50 rolls of toilet paper for 50 cents or 20 limes for $1, they would not patronize Walmart or its subsidiaries.

The one 23-year-old and said voting with your consumer dollar is equally as important as voting in elections.

If you think the larger argument is that you'd have to stop buying much of anything if you really wanted to stay clean karma-wise, this is the wrap: Yes, in a perfect world you'd have to pay the lime workers a livable wage and pass the non-savings onto me. But that goes against the Walmart worldview and would require a sustainable economy -- on and on.

Safer Internet (Double)Plus

Perhaps someone is tempted to imagine (or even assert) that I suggested the story about the EU's attempts to protect children while they use the Internet to make an argument for filtering along these lines:

Serves me right; gorgeous day; and other random topics

Serves me right. I am nice. Even though the guy didn't watch his class last time; when he buzzes up, I say sure. The gym was being used for Senior cap and gown pictures, and he needed somewhere to take his kids. For a second time, he sat in the large conference room (now the police officer's office) with his feet propped up. I will say no next time ...

It is a GORGEOUS day outside. I am taking a personal day next Friday and am hoping it looks like this one. Thank goodness the daycare center my son is in takes the infants outside.

love in the stacks

I love our closed stacks.

I wasn't so sure about them at first. I mean, it's scary back there. The floor is glass and very sci-fi. This scary glow comes up when the lights are on on the floor below. The lights are just exposed bulbs. Some floor panels on the sides are pieces of plywood that look like they might not hold some of the kids that come in for story time, never mind me.

Mel Gibson and anti-Semitism

From Steven Greenhut's review of The Passion of the Christ at LewRockwell.com:

[Gibson's] only on-screen performance was of his arm and hand hammering the nail through Christ’s hand. In one small dramatic act, Gibson exposed Abraham Foxman’s and the Anti-Defamation League’s efforts to defame the biblical account of Christ’s death as anti-Semitic.

John Whitehead: ultra-conservative authoritarian

John Whitehead has a new article up at Razormouth. In it, he worries about the too-uncritical embrace of politics by Christians. The whole article is worth reading, especially for Christians. I offer two representative quotes:

The religious fervor of the gladiator salute “Hail, Caesar!� finds its counterpart in today’s political scene. Candidates in modern election campaigns present themselves as heroes whose election will mark the advent of a new society. More and more, even in the United States, they claim that the state will provide all the answers to our woes. (Consider the present administration’s assertion that the government can now heal our marriages, cure our health problems and take care of us from cradle to grave, as well as save us from terrorists.)

And:

As Professor Alan Johnson once wrote: “A Christianity tied too closely to the civil authorities soon finds itself being used as a tool to sanction the particular policies and acts of a government which uses the church to win citizen approval.� In other words, believers must avoid becoming merged with the state or politics, or else they risk becoming partners in the government’s ultimate goals.

Fang-Face, if you are reading this, would you please contact Whitehead somehow and let him know what an authoritarian religious extremist and drippy-nosed malodorous pervert he is. I'm so incensed, I can't bring myself to do it.

He concludes his article with the acquiescence of the German church to the Nazi regime prior to the Second World War. While I find his comparison of Nazi Germany to our present situation rather over-the-top, not to say krankhaft (pardon the pun), as long as he is bringing it up it is an example we should bear in mind. Fortunately, our constitution is a good deal stronger than that of the Weimar Republic, and our economic woes ain't got nothin' on the Germany of the 20's and 30's. Still, we dare not cease our vigilance, whether or not we support the Patriot Act.

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