Thursday, April 9, 2009

Daily Thoughts 4/9/2009

Chicago : Illinois WPA Art Project, [1940], Government Poster, No Known Restrictions.

Daily Thoughts 4/9/2009

I enjoyed reading On The Road, The Original Scroll by Jack Kerouac. It is one of those things that really does not need a separate review because the writing is truly classic. The novel is often assigned for high school and college courses. My one caveat is that not everyone will like this novel because of the looseness, drug use, and casual almost wild sexual escapades and footlooseness of the characters. On the other hand if you want to read a novel about people who live on the edge wandering everywhere (a lot of the novel is on the American highway either hitchhiking or driving) , listening to music (jazz and bop), drinking hard, living a carefree loose existence this is an excellent novel to read. The scroll version would not be appropriate for a high school audience because it is much more adult in content than the regular novel. This is Kerouac uncensored.

The thing that amazed me about the novel is how much Jack Kerouac seemed like a wild person compared to Allen Ginsberg or even William S. Burroughs in the novel. Both Ginsberg and Burroughs despite their habits and unique characteristics seemed to have much more solid foundation in the world and a kind of predictability which the other characters lacked.

Web Bits

I rather enjoyed this article from the New York Times Books section. It is about how Americans are reading a lot more fiction, especially romance and science fiction. I rather like that people are reading more romance. People need a little more romance.

Principles of Scientific Management Frederick W. Taylor

I read this book online for free, it was written in 1911. Frederick W. Taylor was considered the father of efficiency in management. Many people find his ideas quite controversial as well as demeaning to labor. The ideas which came out were not what I expected. I felt that many of the ideas which were expressed by Frederick W. Taylor seemed to be exaggerated. He often says that where they were applied they were 100% effective which sounds very unbelievable.

He did numerous time motion studies at Bethlehem Steel where he timed how long it took laborers to do certain actions. What was really interesting and almost counterintuitive was that he found that people need breaks every couple hours, and that an 8 1/2 hour work day was as efficient as a ten hour work day in terms of productivity. Still he described workers as being not that intelligent.

He also describes how it is necessary to adjust the tools to the job, redesigning things like shovels into multiple varieties depending on the type of material and the job being done. He also describes a process of advancement which we follow now, describing starting as a laborer, advancing to a mechanics helper, to becoming a mechanic. It reads ike civil service advancement.

The issues he is describing in the study don't seem that different from the issues happening in todays workplace. One of his central themes is that you must pay laborers more if they are going to be more productive. It is one of the few incentives that work. He also states that management must do half of the job and labor must do the other half in terms of productivity and planning. He is as hard on management as labor in this book. Management is expected to work directly with people to make the job more efficient and easy.

The book seems to have a lot of impractical idealism in it. There seems to be an underlying assumption that people will not take advantage of each other in a well run workplace and there is no need for unions if people are paid well and given the right atmosphere. Unfortunately, many of the ideas in this book can be abused easily like time motion studies, a goal of maximizing the amount of things being produced, and speeding up the workplace. There is not enough focus on quality, proper use of resources, and the problem of overproduction.

Another idea which he says is that profit sharing is not very practical because of the problem of losses. You can't expect laborers who are paid very little to give back to people who are earning far more than they are.

The major contention unions have with the ideas in this document is his intense push against what he calls soldiering ( slowing down the workplace ). I find this idea to be questionable. He describes a very divisive process of paying some people more to get them to speed up the workplace. It is very much a hard edged style of management.

This is a link to the book which I read on the web. The document is short and easy to read.

I read another very short work today. I got it from my local library. It was a nice day for me to walk up there. The guide is called Collection Management and Development Guide No. 8, Guide For Training Collection Development Librarians, edited by Susan L. Fales, American Library Association, c1996. The book is a bit dated, it could have used more content on selecting electronic materials and using the internet.

This is a short focused work of 61 pages. It tells you that the need for training in collection development is an immediate practical one. Then, it gives a variety of checklists of things which a librarian needs to show a new person selecting books, as well as what a collection development librarian is supposed to be doing. I really have not put together a three year plan like they suggest. It gave me a few ideas of things which I need to do. It is more of a checklist than anything else of things that you might need to do.

The guide reminded me to review the outstanding holds at my library and how they are being presented to us. Also, it has an interesting format for reviewing a library for collection purposes. I may photocopy the section in the book on this and fill it in. I would not recommend it unless you were looking for a checklist of what a collection development librarian does.

This afternoon, I watched some of the movie, The Fantastic Four while I was doing some stretching. I am enjoying the film, even though the critics panned it. I have also started reading We The Media Grassroots Journalism By The People For The People by Dan Gillmor. This book is supposed to have quite a bit about blogs as a source of news.


Anonymous said...

I like that they are reading more science fiction. To me, it requires the reader to suspend disbelief and I find that hopeful. Future-looking.

Book Calendar said...

I have always been forward looking. I think there is more hope than most people believe. The future is getting better, not worse.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was recently given an award and I just dropped by to pass it on to you, if anyone deserves an award for cultural and ethical values, I think it has to be you.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Book Calendar said...

Bookpusher, thanks for the Blog Meme. This is a classic example of one of these. It is a chain award attached to an idea. I will think it out and send it out.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Book Calendar, I actually had second thoughts about sending it out because it was a chain meme. I didn't want to offend anyone by not accepting it. But I won't be at all offended if you ignore it. Mind you, what I said about your blog emboding cultural and ethical values stands, I look forward to your posts. I just don't always comment.
Thanks for the post on e-books, it is something we are trying to utilise more and more.

Book Calendar said...

Don't have second thoughts. I have participated in a number of chain memes. They are fine. It is a good way to promote a blog. It has a nice literary theme.