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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.
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:
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!
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.
This is in the last 36 hours:
10 /~Great Western Dragon/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.
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....
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 http://www.casinocitytimes.com/news/article.cfm?contentID=140114
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.
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!
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. ;)
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
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!
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.
Here's my wish for a good new year; for the economy to improve, for Iraq to recover, for Osama to be unearthed, for a new administration in the White House, for people to find a little more peace, understanding and brother/sisterhood.
Wow - just had an inspirational thought: let's put Saddam and Osama in adjoining courtrooms (maybe in Jersey City), and have Judge Judy and/or Judge Marilyn try them both. Cut court costs and increase viewership...I'd watch...provided Walmart didn't sponsor the show.
Hello all! I am a graduate student in library science. If I survive I will be a librarian. I hope I will be here for a while.
Oh my, I have finally joined LISNEWS.com. This may prove interesting...
http://search-engines-web.com/ writes "How are "SCORE"(s) assigned to Submissions - What exactly gets "Calculated"..
Does Higher mean better...
Does it have any effect on whether a submission is "Accepted" or "Rejected"...
Instead of the term "Rejected"
Could we consider "Declined" as an option :)"
Actually I've been meaning to change "Rejected" for quite some time, I just forget. So, yes, good idea, and I changed that to "Sorry".
Now, as to the why...
The FAQ which I need to update, does a good job of explaining it. There's no score on the submissions, we read them, and if it looks good it gets posted. Sometimes it's obviously bad, and it gets deleted right away. Usually the ones we're not quite sure about sit in the queue for a while until a few of us have had a look. If no one posts it after maybe a week or so I usually delete it.
Unfortunatly, it's an either-or thing, either it getes posted, or it gets deleted.
Shlashdot is famous for not posting people's submissions. I think we use most of what we get, but not always.
I get yelled at for not posting stuff, and I get yelled at for posting stuff.
Two articles highlighting the increasing secrecy of the US Gov't and of the Defense Department in particular.
Secrecy News reports that the Dept of Defense Inspector General's new policy is
"Not only will classified information be banned from the web, as always, but so will all other information that has not been "specifically approved for public release," as well as "information that is of questionable value to the general public."
Secrecy News points out that although few of us wish to curl up at night with a DoD IG report, journalists and public accountability groups find them extremely helpful in identifying fraud, waste and abuse in our military that might otherwise be tolerated by an overworked Congress whose members live in terror of being "weak on national defense" by questioning DoD expenditures.
The Washington Post article cover other cases where information that could not possibly be of interest to terrorists (like the Energy Task Force members and minutes), but is of vital domestic interest is being removed or kept hidden from public view.
Sometimes lost in all of the ink about secrecy and erosion of civil liberties under President Bush is that nearly all Presidents since Wilson, and including President Clinton, have helped to expand what many people call the "National Security State."
Loss of information should not be a left/right issue -- it's a matter of basic democracy.
In addition to my Library day job, I also helped set up and now volunteer alternate Sundays at my church library.
As a result, I've been reading a lot of Thomas Merton, whom you can read more about at http://www.merton.org/. My current Merton book is New Seeds of Contemplation, which you will be hearing from often in the next few weeks.
This morning I came across this quote about peace:
"If men really wanted peace they would sincerely ask God for it and He would give it to them. But why should He give the world a peace which it does not really want? The peace the world pretends to desire is really no peace at all.
To some men peace merely means the liberty to exploit other people without fear of retaliation or interference. To others peace means the freedom to rob others without interruption. To still others it means the leisure to devour the goods of the earth without being compelled to interrupt their pleasures to feed those whom their greed is starving. And to practically everybody else peace simply means the abscence of any physical violence that might cast a shadow over lives devoted to the satisifaction of their animal appetites for comfort and pleasure."