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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.

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.

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 Democrats.com 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."

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If you want to explore the "Bush-Hater's Handbook" in more detail, go to http://www.nationbooks.org/book.mhtml?t=huberman. 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.

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.

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.

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:

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:

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.

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.

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
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3868332/.

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.

ORIGINAL STORY
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.

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.

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.

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."

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"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."

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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.

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