More composed and composing

My fixing o' the Dell seems to have quieted some of my fears about my new position. At least, I didn't have dreams of computers bursting into flames last night (as I did the night before).

I think I even know what the problem might be with the printer, but I'm not telling any one at work. I don't want the poor souls to get their hopes up.

Nice thing: the assistant director sat down with me yesterday (you know, before the computers started freaking out on me all at once) and told me that Rome wasn't built in a day and that I shouldn't feel pressure to have the, er, wide variety of issues we face fixed immediately. Since I am someone who puts an inordinate amount of pressure on myself, this was greatly appreciated.

"A" drive man came in yesterday. He wanted desperately to use the A drive on the information desk computer (later I realized it didn't have one...) Little did he know I was about ready to hide all the public access computers yesterday and keep them under lock and key where no one could break anything, never mind the staff computers.

Last night I bought an iPAQ, even though I once swore I would never give more money to HP. Why? Because with all the crud I have to keep track of, my old Handspring Platinum (which I adore) isn't going to cut it. It's running Palm OS 3 point something I believe. Anyway, the iPAQ seemed to be the best received for the buck.

And as they say "LOCKSS" (Lots of copies keeps stuff safe)... Meaning I need to get some semblance of order on the computers at work, and I don't quite trust the old IBM that's sitting on my desk. Or all those celeron processors.

Ah, a day off till Monday, when I will have yet more adventures in computing, I'm sure...

information overload

Just ran across a fascinating tidbit in a book I'm rereading*.

A footnote on page 152 reads "Researchers at Bell Laboratories estimate that there is more information in a weekday edition of the New York Times than a person in the sixteenth century processed in a lifetime." Pretty interesting to think about.

...and this (1979) was before the NYT added Weekend, Circuits, Dining and World Business, etc.

*The book is Lawrence Shainberg's BRAIN SURGEON (Lippincott, 1979). It's the psuedonominous biography of Dr. Joseph Ransohoff, MD, now deceased, whom I knew in the early '90s.

Why I won't be buying "Bush-Hater's Handbook"

This week I got an e-mail solicitation to purchase:

"The Bush-Hater's Handbook: A Guide to the Most Appalling Presidency of the Past 100 Years"

The e-mail quoted Bob Fertik, co-founder of as saying: "Bush-hating is a
demanding vocation. Beginners simply hate Bush's character--ignorant, warmongering, and contemptuous of those who dare to question him.
Intermediates cite Bush's theft of the presidency, turning a $5 trillion surplus into a $5 trillion deficit, destroying 3 million jobs, and waging a war of lies in Iraq. But advanced Bush-haters need an in-depth understanding of the devastation Bush has wrought at home and abroad. From AIDS to the 'War on Terrorism,' from Ashcroft to welfare 'reform,' there is no better guide to Bush's reign of horror than The Bush-Hater's Handbook."

If you want to explore the "Bush-Hater's Handbook" in more detail, go to This book may well have a place in libraries, as might Richard Perle's new book "The End of Evil", but I don't plan to purchase either book.

My particular problem with this book starts with the title and the attitude expressed by Mr. Fertik, which I know is shared by many otherwise reasonable people. That of total visceral hatred of the President and his minions, which extends to bloody frothing and frequent crude humor.

I do hate many of the President's unjust and unwise policies. Many of these policies, especially that of "preventive war" will eventually destroy this country if continued indefinitely.

However, as Gandhi teaches, it is VITAL that we separate our anger at his policies from personal hatred of the man. In Christian tradition, "Hate the sin, but love the sinner."

Why is it vital? In my view, for two basic reasons related to November. First, focusing our hatred on the man, taking it out in crude humor, painting swastikas on his ties, etc, takes away energy that could be used to better explain the President's failed policies and more importantly, formulate some authentic alternatives. Second, the more we accept the originally Republican label of "Bush Hater," the easier Karl Rove's work is as he helps push the meme of "The hate Bush/Hate America" crowd. We sadly live in a society increasingly accepting of bald propaganda -- think of the "Saddam did 9/11" thinking that held (still holds?) more than half the country in thrall -- even though even the DoD disavowed a connection when they had a chance to have a "See I told you so!" moment. In the same way, the more that Republicans can say:

Democrats hate Bush
Hatred of Bush = Hatred of America
Therefore, Democrats HATE America

They can still TRY if we focus on the policies the President is pursuing, but it will be much harder to fool "middle America" if we're not flinging obscenties and ridiculing our enemies.

Going back to the example of Gandhi, he often stated that he hated every last brutal, unjust policy of the British Gov't in India, but he wished nothing but health and blessings for the Governor-General and prayed each night that the Governor would be converted to right and justice. Gandhi's approach did eventually lead to home rule. If we adopt his ways in our politics, perhaps we can convince the 5% or so of our opponents we need to send Mr. Bush back to Crawford. We sure won't get there by calling them mindless evil ones following their dark lord.

This is Trey, your customer support buddy

I don't know what happened on the circulation desk this morning. All the computers rebelled. Refusing log ins, then finally one just gave up the ghost, right there on the circ desk.

Pahphooey! Beeeeeep! Beeeeep! Beeeep! Six long beeps, no signal on the monitor. When my supervisor asked what that meant, I said, "He's dead, Jim."

It wasn't that bad. It was memory that somehow got shook loose, and I put it back in. Trey at Dell gave me the hint, and opening the case confirmed it.

If it wasn't the memory, it would have been the mobo. Thank god it wasn't. That requires the nice Dell man come out and fix it. I mean, I could do a mobo. If I had the time.

Where does the time go?

A fight also broke out over who got to use the payphone. Yeah. Like there's only one payphone in the whole state.

The public is just so civil.

2505 LISNews Lane

The term "pack rat" is thrown around a lot these days... I'm about half way to being a digital pack rat. I've got maybe 100 CDs of backed up old stuff. I save all the sent emails I can, which is about 80% of what I've sent in the past 6 or 7 years. I save very few other emails, but a few make it to my special "stuff" folder that's chock full of email goodness. There's a few flames, some praise, reminders of friends I've lost, job offers, and various other tid bits. One of the emails in there was a reply from long ago, and part of the reply had my little message from the mailing list that day, in which I write "The LISNews mailing list is now over 500 people!" I went on a bit about how nifty that was.
This week, we went over 2500 members, a bit different than the old mailing list counts, but a significant number nonetheless. Although, you might notice, the newest member is currently #2572, I've killed off around 70 accounts for one reason or another. The mailing list number seems to have been more or less consistently at half of the daily visitors number for the entire life of LISNews, which is some what interesting, if that kind of thing interests you.
I swear I had a point when I started writing this, now I've lost it.

Forget money. Printers are the root of all evil

After spending eight hours trying to get our printer software to work with our security software, I've made some progress. However, why I am still in front of a computer screen typing this is beyond me.

I think I am going to go let my brains leak out my ears.

The cost of "free"

I've been thinking about our crazy society, and how Americans are wildly attracted to anything and everything that's FREE. Surely people must realize that there's always a cost somewhere along the line, if not directly from their pockets, then from somewhere along the supply chain. Case in point being the new "free" AM newspapers being handed out at NYC subway stations, published by none other than Rupert Murdoch. Likewise, "free" samples given and sent by advertisers,"free" e-greeting cards, "free" subscriptions of print magazines and "free" offers from those ridiculously greedy prescription drug companies. If anyone has other examples, please chime in.

Trial by fire (reference can be fun!)

I'd done (some) reference work at the MoS, and I enjoyed it. Yesterday, my second day on the job, two people called in sick and I got to man the reference desk (at least not all alone) for an hour and a half or so.

Here's what I learned:

  • People get emotional over museum passes. And boy are they popular. Every other person had a museum pass question. Or statement, anyway.
  • Sometimes, web servers just stink.
  • There's no way to search the catalog for all the books with green covers and red lettering
  • PC users are afraid of Macs. (They make them those colors so they're friendly. ) Mac users, however, just hate PCs.
  • The closed stacks have low ceilings, and alas, it confirms my suspicion: I am very short.

All and all a good experience. I was more uncomfortable with the phone. It all seemed so immediate on the phone. In person, I could smile and people could see it and that was nice.

Today: weeding and systems work!

OK, now I feel guilty

According to Blake's journal, there have been 14 hits on my journal in the last 36 hours. I guess I should start writing in here again.

More Journal Stats

This is in the last 36 hours:

46 /~shoe/journal/
41 /~Daniel/journal/
37 /~AshtabulaGuy/journal/
32 /~Blake/journal/
27 /~Rochelle/journal/
16 /~birdie/journal/
15 /~mcbride/journal/
14 /~Marlene/journal/
14 /~djfiander/journal/
14 /~Bibliofuture/journal/
13 /~Karl/journal/
11 /~misseli/journal/
11 /~jeni/journal/
11 /~bibliothecarius/journal/
10 /~singingbelle/journal/
10 /~shoe/journal/173
10 /~sabine01/journal/
10 /~Great Western Dragon/journal/
10 /~Daniel/journal/167
10 /~daidy/journal/

When I get a chance I'll write something more automagic that builds a page every so often, or better yet work something into slashcode.

Soliciting last minute advice, good wishes for interview

Pardon my shameless ploy for head-patting and soothing/inspiring words. I've got a phone interview for a general reference academic position tomorrow. Quite a jump from my near-decade in public libraries, but I'm stoked and feeling extremely positive about it. Any advice from others who have made or attempted to make the jump? Would also appreciate any pennies thrown in fountains, wishes on stars, good words put in with whatever brand of diety you keep in touch with....

LISNewsers at Midwinter?

Will any of the LISNews assemblage be trekking to San Diego for Midwinter? It's always a bear to organize gatherings at conference, but if anyone would like to say hi, I will be pretty much ball-and-chained to the convention center owing to my brand-spanking-new role as ALA Councilor, and my duty as Cognotes editor.

Jen--will see you (and all you other Illinois alums)at the Downs reception, eh? Safe travel to you all!

Today I met a computer louder than the ubercomputer

It lives in the reference department. I bet the two, when networked together, could make sweet music. Or at least be really really loud.

My first day was good. I am tired. Boy, am I ever tired.

It's pretty scary... come see the systems librarian that couldn't figure out what the hell she did to clog her inkjet printer. Honestly, if it's a computer I can deal with it.

A Perfect Score?

I just noticed there are three people who have a "perfect" karma score now, Mock Turtle, Fang-Face and mcbride. I'm not really sure if anyone cares, or pays attention to that kind of thing here or not, but it's kinda interesting to watch the numbers. The single biggest karma bump at LISNews is submitting a story. Well, having a submitted story posted, to be more accurate. Maybe I'll change that and have the max karma be a million or something.

One person has meta-moderated 685 times, while the most active moderator (behind me) has only done it 64 times. 2 people have more than 100 comments in, while one other is close to 100. I'm 4th at 58, which suprises me, I thought I had far fewer (or is it far less?). This doesn't count "Anonymous Patron" who has well over 400.

I've just started looking at journal stats, and the numbers there are much higher than I suspected as well. In the past 11 hours, the most popular journal, Daniel, was read 32 times, next in line, Shoe, 27, followed by Ashtabula guy at 21, mcrbide, me, birdie, and bibliofuture all at 10. There's almost 20 more with less than 10 hits.

Deep, cleansing breaths

I am nervous. I am wicked nervous, as they say in my neck of the woods. Plus, I predict a bad hair day for my first day of work. Not that my hair is ever particularly good or anything, but it's supposed to sleet tomorrow.

It's good to be employed after doing the student thing. I am scared to death, but I will keep telling myself that.

No,really, it is.

You know, the ubercomputer, which I am sitting at now, is the love of my cyberlife (my real life is dominated by my love for Paul, alas). Sure, you boot it up and it sounds like a jet taking off, but it's just so speedy and cool. No, I mean cool. If you had twelve fans in you you'd be cool too.

I am running a dual Win2k/SuSE Linux 9 set up on it. It's overkill to run Linux on this chip, for sure, but hey. Of course, I know guys running Linux on X Boxes. Any excuse to run Linux is a good excuse to run Linux.

BB Watching Vegas / Almanacs vs. Guns

UPDATE: Newsweek reports that the names the FBI collected (see below) were searched against some master terror list. The full story can be read at

My concerns about the FBI needing EVERY name, and doubts about the accuracy and comprehensiveness of federal terror watch lists remain. Better that they should come up with a system like the National Instant Background Check that gun dealers use.

1) Big Brother is watching you go to Vegas

To those who truly believe that our civil liberties have not been threatened since 9/11, check out the article, "Casinos, Airlines ordered to give FBI information" at

For at least the past few weeks, Las Vegas hotel operators and airlines serving McCarran Int'l Airport have been required to turn over ALL guest and passenger names and personal information. According to hotel operators who asked not be identified, this information includes: names, addresses and personal id information, but not casino records or guest gambling information. An FBI spokesman in the article confirms the request, but said "at this point" they were only collecting names. The article estimates that as many as 300,000 visitors A DAY were having at least their names passed to the FBI.

All but one of the hotel operators turned over their information simply on request. The one operator demanded a "National Security Letter" before complying. Remember, a "National Security Letter" requires neither probable cause nor judicial review.

This appears to be a waste of time and tax dollars in addition to a significant invasion of privacy. I'm not an intel expert but this seems like an open-ended fishing expedition that is meaningless as intelligence -- particularly if they truly are only collecting names. Remember how many false positives the No-Fly-Lists keep turning up?

What's happening with these names once they reach the FBI? Are they being searched against a database of known terrorists? I could ALMOST live with that, except that I know the GAO has reported serious factual and technical problems with the ten plus lists floating around the federal gov't. They should fix their database first, then collect names. If they're looking for one or two specific people out of 300K daily, they should just pass on those names, preferably with bio info. Call them car theives if you don't want to panic people.

Based on the gov't's past care for personal info (dating back decades), I'm willing to believe that that all these names, plus identifying information is flowing into some database for some future, yet unkown purpose -- CAPPS II? TIA II? Who knows? I just don't think it's the feds business if I go to Vegas.

2) Almanacs vs. Guns - Does anyone else think it's sadly funny that you can trace the buyer of an almanac using Section 215 of USAPA, but the FBI is PROHIBITED from using the National Instant Background Check Database from determining if a terror suspect has bought a gun? Which would fill you with more fear at your local McDonalds -- someone browsing an Almanac at the next table, or someone standing in front of the exit with an automatic pistol?

I just find it just short of infuriating that with this growing National Security State, so much is being done to track ordinary people and so little is being done that would actually make us safer -- there are still tens of thousands of shipping containers that go uninspected each and every day.

Book recommendations / nondenominational prayer

I had a chance to read CS Lewis' "Commentary on the Psalms" today. I can definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in the Psalms. Very down to earth, as many of his books are. Not a psalm by psalm annotation, but a series of essays on different themes.

Another book I've started reading is called Sun in Glory and other Tales of Valdemar, edited by Mercedes Lackey. Those familiar with the world of Valdemar will enjoy this book, even though they are written by other writers.

Strangely, even though this isn't a religious book, there is a wonderful prayer that I wanted to share with whomever might be interested. Although the prayer is addressed to Vkandis the Sunlord, the sentiment can be adapted to any faith tradition of good will:

"Vkandis Sunlord, Giver of Life and Light, be with us today. We praise you, we honor you, we keep you in our hearts and minds. What is good and true, help us to do and become. What is hateful and cruel, aid us in denying. We offer this day to you, Sunlord, and seek your blessings on all that we do."

Praise the Lord -- Keep him in our hearts and minds. Help us to do what is good and true. Help us reject what is hateful and cruel. God we offer this day to you and ask your aid in our work during it.

That seems like as sincere a prayer as you can get! Would that more of our national leaders who claim Christianity would pray that prayer!

Take care,

And the countdown starts...

Monday I start my new (first and only, except for a weakling internship at the Museum of Science) library job. Yes, I am a new systems/reference librarian at the local public library. I'm scairt.

They tell me scairt is good, sometimes.

I just finished my MLS from Simmons. I went mostly three quarters time, except for the summers.

And I finally signed on for a LISNews account. Been meaning to. Then the stupid stock heatsink and fan broke on the good computer, and then Linux went away while I had the fan on order... and I really didn't want to deal with the annoying pop ups on the Compaq and evil IE...

I was a real beyoch without my good computer. You know, more than I usually am. ;)

Happy New Year / Moral Theology of the Devil - Thomas Merton

A Happy New Year to everyone! May everyone find rich blessings irrespective of their faith tradition. May those without a faith tradition diligently seek and live truth as they understand it. As God is Love, so God is Truth.

As a committed Christian, I am the first to confess that the humans who embody my tradition have often failed (sometimes in spectacular ways) to live up to either Love or Truth. May God forgive us these failures and empower us to live according to God's Love and not according to our fears and pride.

As I write these words from Alaska, it is about 19 degrees (F) with winds up to 50mph. Sunrise is 8:46am and Sunset will be at 3:17pm. Mountains around my home cut off about an hour on either side of that figure. If I'm lucky enough to have readers, then PLEASE click on the comments links and let me know how the weather was on YOUR New Year's Day.

Ok. Now I'm ready to discuss "The Moral Theology of the Devil." This is Chapter 13 of Thomas Merton's "New Seeds of Contemplation." If I didn't support copyright as strongly as I do, I would key in the entire chapter into this blog, I think it is so important. As it is, I STRONGLY recommend that you consider ILL'ing the chapter if not the whole book. The citation for the book itself is:

Title: New Seeds of Contemplation
Author: Thomas Merton
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Company
Pub Year: 1961
ISBN: 0-8112-0999-x
LC Number: 61-17869

As I mentioned above. "Moral Theology of the Devil" is Chapter 13. I find this chapter important because it answers an important question about America's civil religion/nominal Christianity. How do we go from the radical love and self-sacrifice of Christ who healed his enemies to the fife-and-drum of the Presidential Prayer Team, which roots for a President to bring God's swift justice to the nations in the form of America's mailed fist?

Here are some quotes from Thomas Merton, written more than 40 years ago, that I think explain things:

"So, according to the devil, the first thing created was really hell--as if everything else were, in some sense, for the sake of hell. Therefore, the devotional life of those who are "faithful" to this kind of theology consists above all in an obsession with evil. As if there were not already enough evils in the world, they multiply prohibitions and make new rules, binding everything with thorns, so that man might not escape evil and punishment."


"Not love but punishment is the fulfillment of the Law. The Law must devour everything, even God. Such is this theology of punishment, hatred and revenge. He who would live by such a dogma must rejoice in punishment. He may, indeed sucessfully evade punishment himself by "playing ball" with the Law and the Lawgiver. But he must take good care that others do not avoid suffering. He must occupy his mind with their present and future punishment. The Law must triumph. There must be no mercy."


In referring to the "faith" that these sorts of people have as being a type of "magic" -- a "will power that is generated by 'profound convictions'", Merton writes:

"We will become popular because we have 'faith.' We will be rich because we have 'faith.' ALL OUR NATIONAL ENEMIES WILL COME AND LAY DOWN THEIR ARMS AT OUR FEET BECAUSE WE HAVE 'FAITH.' [Emphasis mine] Business will boom all over the world, and we will be able to make money out of everything and everyone under the sun because of the charmed live we lead. We have faith."

Is this not the public faith of the President, of Pat Robertson, and the backers of the Presidential Prayer Team? "God is ALLWAYS on our side, we have NO guilt whatsoever, and what we do, is good -- because it is of God?" If you disagree, click on the "comments" button and lets talk. Please look at my very first blog entry before posting.

Thanks for reading! I don't think most entries will be this long!

Tomeboy has a point about 9/11

In the recent discussion on the FBI alert on Almanacs, Tomeboy made this comment:

"The paradox that drives me mad is that many who decry supposedly draconian measures to thwart terrorism are the same ones demanding answers why Bush didn't know about 9/11 before hand. (except for Dean who believes he did). A discussion for another time."

I figured my journal would be a better place for this comment than another on the Almanac story.

I think it's definitely true that SOME civil libertarians protesting the PATRIOT Act, et al, are either saying 9/11 should have been known about about or, more darkly, that the President knew it was coming.

We civil libertarians should make it clear that we accept the risk of terroristic acts as part of the open society we want to live in. "Live Free or Die" was the cry of our founders, and it should be good enough for us today.

However, we should also point out that according to publically known information, the great failure of 9/11 wasn't the lack of intelligence per se, but a failure of agencies to share the information that they had. A few of these problems were addressed in the USA PATRIOT Act, but the most major -- the lack of coordination between FBI and CIA and the lack of translation resources for the National Security Agency were left unaddressed.

Additionally, I believe it can't fairly be said that the USA PATRIOT Act was meant "to fix the problems of 9/11" because 1) similar legislation had been proposed and rejected back in 1996, and 2) The Act was passed in Oct 2001, months and months before any reports on "what went wrong" were available.

One final note on 9/11 is that according to the minority authors of the Joint Intelligence report on 9/11, available through GPO Access, is that if standard visa procedures had been followed, 15 of the 19 hijackers would have been prevented entry. This might not have prevented 9/11, but probably would have diluted its impact.

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