April 2004

Texas Libraries Eliminating D.B.s

The AP reports that financial shortfalls are causing Texas libraries to drop two popular databases from its collections: HeritageQuest and STAT!Ref. The two sites are primarily used for research by genealogists and medical students.

There may be a slight reprieve however, as the Dallas Morning News reports that library officials are starting a fund-raising campaign to keep the databases on-line.

Boom time for manga books

One From The NYDaily News reports on Japanese manga – edgy, graphic novels with translated storylines steeped in mystery, fantasy and the surreal. They say the books are multiplying in bookstores, as well as in video shops and other retailers.

The $100 million U.S. market for these paperbacks – focused mainly on ‘tweeners and teeners, 12 to 17, but with many older fans – is booming and drawing in new players, including mighty Random House.

Patriot Act Suppresses News Of Challenge to Patriot Act

The Washington Post Reports on The American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging the FBI’s methods of obtaining many business records.

The lawsuit was filed April 6 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, but the case was kept under seal to avoid violating secrecy rules contained in the USA Patriot Act, the ACLU said. The group was allowed to release a redacted version of the lawsuit after weeks of negotiations with the government.

All The Google IPO News You Can Take

If you’re not yet sick of reading about the big Google IPO, here’s a few of the better stories out there. One of the more interesting is This One from the NTimes, which includes the Letter From the Founders that was included with the filing. In short, the NYTimes says Google is doing everything they can to fight the shortcomings of going public.

ITWorld Says the IPO could provide a boost for other technology companies seeking to raise public funds. cbs.marketwatch.com says the innovative ways in which they will come to market won’t make Google’s stock a good investment.

Other coverage at Contra Costa Times, CNET, Reuters, and, of course, Wired who says Google execs have a profound contempt for Wall Street types.

And finally, From CNN, It may sound strange, but a company in the bluest of blue states may play a big role in helping to return President Bush to office this fall.

‘Poop fiction’ big hit with kids

CNN has a
into the recent phenomenon of “Poop fiction.” Books such as “Walter the Farting Dog,” the Captain Underpants series, The Day My Butt Went Psycho,” and its sequel, “Zombie Butts from Uranus!” have become a big hit with kids (Can’t imagine why). Some quotes below:

Glenn Murray blushes a hearty shade of red when a cashier at a Chicago deli recognizes him: “Heyyyyyy!” the young man shouts gleefully — and loudly. “You’re the fart-man!”

“For many, many kids, this is the first book they read that starts them on a path of reading,” says Barbara Marcus, president of Scholastic’s children’s books division.

Librarians call such stories “book hooks,” says Barbara Genco, immediate past president of Association of Library Services to Children.

Gail Glover, a mom from Port Crane, New York, bought the latter book for 9-year-old son Robbie, but later wondered if she’d made a mistake.
Among her objections were “descriptions of bodily functions that made my hair curl.”
“But of course, they solicited howls of laughter from my son,” Glover says, chalking it up to “a rite of passage in the development of his sense of humor.”

Saving Our Children From the First Amendment

Fang-Face writes “Here is a book review on a work by a censorship advocate, written by Marjorie Heins and posted to the Free Expression Policy Project. The author, Kevin Saunders, is basically calling for the kind of draconian measures that would ensure mass book burnings in the library parking lot to clear all the “hate speech” and “Harmful To Minors” material from the shelves. The review also has a link to a reply by Saunders.

At first glance, I would say Saunders’s agenda is based on the same basic attitude that wholesale filtering is: Adults are forbidden to speak in the presence of children, or where any child might be present.”

Gay Pride Display at HS Libraries Draws Complaints

An exhibit called “Out and Elected in the USA,” which features 60 photos of elected gay and bisexual officials has been on display in Alaska libraries, according to this story in the Anchorage Daily News. While not getting much attention at the Loussac (AK) Public Library, some parents are retroactively uncomfortable at having learned that the exhibit had showed at some Alaska high schoools.

Created by former Anchorage resident, R.S. Lee –the pen name Ron Schlittler, who is now the policy director at Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in Washington, D.C.–the exhibit features not only photos, but articles that tell of experiences of trying to be elected while grappling with sexual orientation.

New books sidelining hacking’s criminal stigma

A Neat Little Book Review from the Hartford Courant takes a look at hackers.

There’s an older, more honorable tradition that defines a hacker as someone who discovers a simple shortcut or an elegant solution to a technical problem.

Say your TV reception is poor. You tape a clothes hanger to the antenna, and it works much better. That’s a hack.

Lately, that original meaning of hacker seems to be coming back into style.

U.S. students set to hit the latest e-books

REUTERS Is Reporting In Forney, Texas, a fast-growing suburb of Dallas, 10- and 11-year-old schoolkids are set to cross a technology divide to an area many adults won’t venture into – electronic books.

Starting in August, more than 100 students in the fifth and sixth grades of the Forney Independent School District will receive notebook computers that contain as many textbooks as the school can muster the rights for, as well as thousands of classic works of art and literature.