Blogs

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."

------

"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.

2004 - a wish and a silly afterthought

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!

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.

And so it goes...

Oh my, I have finally joined LISNEWS.com. This may prove interesting...

How are "SCORE"(s) assigned to Submissions -

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...

Another blow to the free flow of information -DOD IG Reports

Two articles highlighting the increasing secrecy of the US Gov't and of the Defense Department in particular.

Quotes from Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation

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:

Hello World & tentative blog scheme

Having been reminded by one of Blake's automated e-mails that I have journal space here at LISNews.com, I will try to take advantage of it.

In case other people choose to read my musings, here is my current plan for updating this blog:

Frequency - Once a week, usually on weekends. I reserve the right to post more often, but know my own weaknesses well enough to realize that once a week is probably the freshest I can manage.

From Free to Fee in 10 Easy Steps

Just take a look at ABQ's homepage and you know what business they're in, advertising, plain and simple. The stories take a back seat.

Reading the story on how the moved from free to pay just reinforces that. Citing increased costs, and lowered paid subscriptions to the print paper Donn Friedman argues there is nothing wrong with building a wall around your website, after all, they made a quick $100k. Page views are up 30 percent; advertising revenue is up more than 50 percent. And print subscriptions are not falling.

"Like anything else you consume, you should pay for your local newspaper, whether you get it on your doorstep or online."

So why can they charge people? They "… happen to be the sole provider of local news in a remote place, like Spokane or Albuquerque... In remote places, charging for news online can work, the logic goes, because readers don't have another place they can easily go to get the content and service you provide."
In other words, we've got you, you owe us, and you're going to pay. What're you going to do, there's no where else to go!

The arrogance runs deep in this piece, but what really strikes me is this paragraph:

"Reporters may be your hardest sell. What reporter would be in favor of reducing his potential audience? Reporters often choose journalism because they want to report the truth and share it with the largest number of people that they can. Journalism is a higher calling to them, not a business."

I've always felt journalism is a higher calling; it's not just a business. Journalism a corner stone of democracy, and it needs to be as open, accessible and honest as possible. There is nothing wrong with making money with whatever you do, but I just don't feel good about the politics of greed and power that control what gets reported, and in this case, who reads it. Especially in this case because they " happen to be the sole provider of local news in a remote place." In my mind this is an argument to leaving access open, to finding another way to get the site to pay for itself.

So, lets play what if… What if some, most, or worse case scenario, all local papers start charging for access? What happens to weblogs, alternative local papers, the newswire services and other news outlets? Do weblogs dry up and die from lack of places to link to? Do we start to become sources of news? Do we simply rely on any free sources we can get our grubby little links on? There is nothing wrong with having a profit motive behind what you do, but I really believe it should take a back seat in many cases, and it never does.

"What I do has value, he said, and people ought to be willing to pay for it."

…And if they're not willing to, we'll force them to pay.

*waves*

I'm not a librarian, I just work for a library. I'm considering going for an MLS after I finish my undergrad, but things may change.

In memory of Wallace Kuralt, a David among Goliaths

Read yesterday of the death of Wallace Kuralt at age 64, former owner of Chapel Hill NC's Intimate Bookshop and brother of journalist Charles Kuralt.
He ran the store for over thirty years, but had to close it down in the late '90s due to the growth of the mega-chains, Barnes & Noble and Borders. He was a hero among indies (independent booksellers) for launching a suit against the chains; regrettably the judge ruled against him, but an appeal is planned(see website:
lawmall.com/rpa/rpa_whk1.html

downsizing?

Well. The memo came out several days ago that there were going to be cuts at the seminary where I work (standalone seminary in the south). It's depressing naturally. But its feeling more than depressing too. No one knows who will go/stay.


It means that I have to screw up the courage (again) to look at job ads. I thought this would be the last place I'd work until retirement in twenty something years. Now I feel torn; have to do what is right for the family and all.

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