Monday, March 31, 2008


Today, I chose not to read any books. I did, however, read several newspapers. I read newspapers mainly for the local content and the feature articles. Both the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have feature articles which will not appear in the Associated Press or Reuters. For general news, I read CNN, and Yahoo News. They pick up the news directly from the wire services. I prefer reading the news as close to the time as the news is printed as possible. This does not give as much time for people to request corrections or object to the content of the news.

There was an interesting article in the Metro Section of the New York Times. This is the local section for New York readers so it does not appear in the national version of the New York Times. New York Times, March 31, 2008, B1, Column 1, Snoopers On Subways Beware Digital Books. This article was about the difference between reading a digital book like a Kindle and a physical book. It is much harder to snoop on what one is reading when you are reading a digital book. There is no book cover on a digital book. A physical book is also more of a conversation piece. I really enjoyed reading the article.

I read the New York Times article while I was at the laundromat, doing my laundry. As usual, I drank a cup of tea with lemon and honey. I was a little annoyed at the shop owner next door. She charged extra for a little plastic packet of honey.

I rather like the pictures in the Wall Street Journal. The stippled pen pictures of executives are rather entertaining. I don't read it as often as the New York Times. There were several articles today on the Feds plans to stabilize the markets. The Wall Street Journal has changed recently, Rupert Murdoch has purchased the paper. This means things will lean a little farther right than they originally did. I think Barron's will become less conservative than the Wall Street Journal with the new ownership.

Rupert Murdoch is famed for Channel 5, Fox News, and the New York Post. The New York Post is quite entertaining. It is so biased at times, that it is quite humorous. I don't take it very seriously. The price of a quarter is almost nominal. It seems more of an effort to push Rupert Murdoch's odd ideals on the general populace of New York.

I like to read the New York Post on the train. Some people would consider this a waste of money. I also like to occassionally read its competitor, the Daily News at lunch time with my coffee and sandwich. The Daily News is a much more mainstream paper than the post. I think it sometimes writes articles specifically just to challenge the articles in the New York Post. Occassionally the Post and the Daily News will comment on some things that are happening in the other paper. They are rival papers.

I spent a little bit of time at my local library today. I had the day off because I am working on the coming Saturday. It gives me a chance to take a short walk from my house and catch some fresh air. There weren't really any books which I wanted to check out today. I did sit down for a bit and look at entrecard, blogcatalog, and fuelmyblog.

I went through two people sitting next to me. They don't have separate carels so it is a bit uncomfortable. Quite literally, there is a person a foot away from you working on a computer screen. It would be nice if there was a shield so I didn't see what they were doing. One person was looking for restaurant manager jobs. He even called for the email in a job listing on his cell phone which was incorrect. The other lady was practicing for the drivers test. Both were doing practical, useful things unlike myself. I was wasting time. I could literally stand up and see all four computer screens easily at my local branch.

There were also several order gentlemen in the library, reading the various newspapers, there is also Newsday, the New York Sun, and a few other papers. The civil service paper in New York which people read is the Chief, it lists all of the civil service positions that are opening up in the five boroughs of New York City, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Brooklyn. Crain's New York is the local business paper.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Matter-- Iain Banks-- Comments

Matter by Iain Banks is a science fiction novel set in the far future of the Culture Universe. It is a tome of a book, 593 pages long. The writing is easy to read and flows very nicely. I especially like the setting. It is on a "shellworld". The shellworld is a giant constructed world consisting of multiple layers of shells of an unidentifiable super material. Linking the shells are huge towers that have stood for millions of years. No one knows what exactly is at the center of the worlds. Some of the natives consider it their "worldgod."

The initial start of the book is a story of intrigue and murder. Ferbin, a prince of Hausk witnesses the murder of his father, the king of Hausk by his closest advisor. Ferbin must flee for his life with the help of his servant Holse. Ferbin sees his only hope in seeking the help of his sister, Djan Seriy Anaplin, an agent of Special Circumstances of the Culture, a galaxy spanning, decadent advanced culture.

We get to learn this small incident is part of larger happenings in the galaxy as the story unfolds. Ferbin must make the grand tour, first travelling through the many levels of his homeworld, and finally to the stars. We get to experience many different types of aliens; cumuloforms (cloud beings), insectile beings, octs, intelligent parasites, and various humanoids. One of my favorite parts of the book is when Ferbin and Holse are travelling inside the cumuloform drifting on the winds. The imagery is wonderful.

Ferbins shell level, is backward, what we might call early twentieth century. The closer to the outside of the shell, the more advanced technology becomes. He learns that he is part of a much larger pastime of the larger galactic cultures around him, a game of "diplomatic noninterference." There are many players in this game, the Culture, the Morthanveld, the Oct, and others. This is a metaphor for the "great game" which allows for adventuresome individuals to change things.

He finds his sister, or his sister finds him, after Ferbin's wanderings seeking for help. The action heats up at this point. We get a two part story. We are introduced to the other prince, Oramen who thinks Ferbin has died. There is a war going on for control of the level which Ferbin lives on. This war leads to a potential tragedy. Ferbin and his sister Djan Seriy Anaplin travel home, interacting with the various strange and decadent beings in the galaxy.

There are some things about this book which some people will not like. There is an incredible plethora of ideas in the book. Possibly, too many ideas for some people. This may make some people unhappy with the book. I rather liked it. It is very much a "grand scheme" type of book which stretches the imagination.

Also, some people might consider it rushed. I think it moves along at a very fast pace. Things can happen almost too quickly to understand. I don't mind this. Other people will. It is also very long. There are points where the book could have been shortened considerably. Because, this book is very much in the style of a grand scheme book I don't think it could be shortened without losing some of its flavor. There is something of Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men in this book in the styling of the book.

I almost think he was writing a somewhat literary style of science fiction, not so much for a general audience, but for editors and connoisseurs. Publishers Weekly gave it a Starred Review. This is not always a good thing. Starred Reviews can indicate that a book is exclusive or has a very literary style.

The book ends with a bang. I rather like it when heros sacrifice themselves. The book is quite satisfying and fun to read. It will not be for everyone. I would recommend it for people who like interesting aliens, space opera, and intrigue. The book has been on the Locus Magazine bestseller list for a few weeks. It just came out in February 2008.

Metatags, Wallace and Gromit, American Gods Neil Gaiman Ebook

Last night, I added metatags to the head of this blog. This required me to go into the blog and put them in myself. Blogger does not include metatags as part of its normal service. This should improve the chance for search engines to find this blog. I did both a description and keywords. Often, you have to do minor changes to the CSS of blogger to make the blog workable. Metatags are part of search engine optimization. They are not a visible part of this blog.

I also watched Wallace and Gromit yesterday. I really like them. They are a form of claymation. If you want something amusing to watch check out their website . The websites has a lot of their animated shorts on it.

I also put the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, a claymation film done in 2006 on hold. This is also available as a graphic novel. The claymation is very British with lots of Rube Goldberg type contraptions. I really like the animated short, "The Wrong Trousers."

For some reason, I could not get myself to read The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton. It is another giant science fiction book. Maybe, I need to find something a bit shorter.

I was looking at the internet and found something rather interesting. Harper Collins is making a free browsable version of American Gods by Neil Gaiman available online. You still have to buy it if you want to see it offline.

I guess today has been quite eclectic covering a variety of subjects.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Teach Yourself Copywriting, 2nd Edition, J.Jonathan Gabay, c2000-- Comments

Teach Yourself Copywriting , 2nd Edition by J. Jonathan Gabay, c2000, is a book about how to write advertising copy. It was originally written for a British audience, but it translates well for the United States market. One of the reasons I read this book was that I think many blogs are basically syndicated advertising copy. Things like pay per post and other paid blogging sites make this even more true. I think it is important to understand how this style of writing works because I think it affects which blogs become successful. Many of the most successful blogs like Marketing Deviant, one of my favorite blogs are about advertisement.

I am going to go over some of the things I read about in this book which I found interesting and useful to me. The first is that advertising is about creating a connection on an emotional level between a buyer and a seller. The basic objective is tell the person what they are going to gain by buying a particular item.

Like blogs, it is very informal language. Grammar is not a strong point in advertising language. The objective is to identify as closely as possible with the consumer so they will buy your product. Coca-cola, Dow, and other giant marketers want you to identify personally with their brands so you will buy them. The bigger the company the more they want you to have a personal committment to them. A good thing to remember if you want to protect yourself from advertisers is that you don't have to be personally committed to companies like Marlboro or Nike.

Part of this committment is about identifying who you are. You are a yuppy, road warrior, buppy, generation x, baby boomer, or punk rocker. The easier it is to identify who you are the easier it is for an advertiser to directly address you. This is why when you go to the supermarket, they offer a discount card to collect your personal information. You do not have to get a Macy's card, a Waldbaums card, or anything else. Your personal information is a commodity to advertisers.

Language is simplified to be more informal and thus closer to you. This is the same for blogs. Advertisers and copywriters use cliches like buy now, yours free, limited time offer, cheap cheap cheap, we are here to serve you to create closer identity with the customer. The aim is create recognition where there is none. The language is colloquial, for example, "Where's the beef?"

The aim is often to address universals like love, happiness, revenge. There is an idea that if they connect with you on a basic level, you will buy their products. This book cites an example, that in Hollywood there are supposed to be only 11 film plots.

The objective is to get you to immediately. It is believed that there are 1 1/2 seconds to get through to a person with a headline before it loses its effects. Thus you are bombarded with statments like "Don't Walk on the Grass." Part of sales and advertising is to create immediacy. In newspaper classifieds, it is supposed to be only 3/4 of a second to hold a persons attention. The simple patience to wait a few seconds longer before becoming attracted to something often can break a sales pitch, or an impulse buy in my experience.

There are some interesting ideas which come out of advertising that are useful. One of my favorites is readability. This means how hard is your blog to read. Blogs which are hard to read don't necessarily get as much traffic. I think my blog is about 7th grade reading level.

This book covers a lot of different mediums. I am not sure that I can really focus on television, film, or radio that much. However, we have been scouted to do episodes of some television series on occassion. There is a small financial reward in this. I think we were once scouted for an episode of CSI.

The section on newspaper advertising is rather interesting. We do occassional newspaper ads. Usually we have three lines to put an announcement for a program in the newspaper. This has to be very concise and accurate. I rather liked the books suggestion to focus on action words when advertising in newspapers. The same is pretty much true for libraries and radio stations. We get about three sentences for a community services announcement on radio.

The section on posters was useful as well. He says there are basically three parts to a poster, an intriguing headline, some graphics, and a few company logos. I guess in a way that the fliers I am producing are a bit too complicated.

I can't imagine advertising in trains and subways. However, my experience is that advertisements in buses and trains are much more complicated than posters and billboards outside of trains. People will be sitting for a long time, enough time to read at least a couple full paragraphs of text. In the New York City subways, there is a campaign caled "Poetry in Motion" put together by the Poetry Society to encourage people to read poetry. I guess it would be a form of advertisement.

There is a brief section on websites. His main point is that it is important to keep websites simple to read and use. The website is not a mass marketing tool, but a direct marketing tool aimed at individual readers. You should include words that keep the structure flowing like but, however, so, because. You need conviction or you will lose your audience immediately.

This book was useful to read. It is not a book which I would buy immediately. It is the kind of thing which I would check out of the library first.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thoughts for the Day

Today has been a rather slow day. Two books came in for me, Teach Yourself Copywriting, 2nd Edition, by J. Jonathan Gabay and The Dreaming Void, a science fiction novel by Peter F. Hamilton. I finished reading Matter by Iain Banks on the train home. It was quite interesting with many nuanced levels of complexity.

I hope to learn a few things from the copywritng book; how to write press releases, choose title lines for articles, and write to sell.

Sometimes, as soon as I am finished reading one book, I start reading the second book. I prefer reading to looking at the other passengers on the train sometimes. The books are often more attractive than the smiling face of your fellow passengers. A lot of people wear sunglasses on the train, I prefer a book or newspaper to shield my eyes.

It is a very slow day today. I sorted some pamphlets, checked around to see if we had enough round footstools for the basement. There were quite a few in odd places. I also spent a decent amount of time on the reference desk. I also planned a little bit on what I was going to do next week, weeding, ordering career books, a business program, and maybe a visit to the local art gallery.

It is one of those days where I am not quite sure what to write about. One of the things I have been thinking about is the concept of what a professional blog is. Some people have complained that my blog does not look particularly polished. One of the goals I have in writing this blog is to learn to use the technology of writing blogs. This means designing my own banners, buttons, and similar things. It also means learning to upload pictures and video files.

I am trying to do all of this myself. This means, it will have a very personalized style. I don't expect everything to look perfect. In fact, that is one of the charms of blogging. You get to see a persons individual style.

Another reason I am reading the book Teach Yourself Copywriting is I am a believer in many cases of anti-consumerism. I believe there is an overemphasis on cheap unhealthful products for people. Some might call this Un-American. I call this a type of alternative thinking. This is one of the reasons I reviewed Debt Is Slavery earlier.

I think there is a thread of marketing and advertising which is not good for people in general. I will read material for consumer self-defense. It is not enough to just read on how to save money, but also how to protect yourself from advertising. Some people become overwhelmed by shopping and it destroys their lives.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fuelmyblog and other social networking sites, Walking the Stacks, Jackie Ormes African American Women Cartoonist

Today, I am top blog on Fuelmyblog. It is one of those popularity contest things where you aim to get the most recommendations. Fuelmyblog is a type of social networking site. I enjoy looking at the different sites. They are identified by pictures. I like it when I get showcased. I hope it means more people will read my blog. I removed the link because it only stays up for the day you are featured.

I also changed the banner at the top of my blog after some not so kind complements on the quality of the banner. I used Microsoft Photodraw V.2 to create the new banner. Last time, I used paint. It was not that hard to figure out Microsoft Photodraw. I also created a new thumbnail icon for Entrecard.

Occassionally, I take the time to make a full circuit of the stacks or shelving to make sure everything is in order. I check for items that are lying on top of other books, misplaced books, sections that are out of order. I do a circuit of the area which I am in charge of business, law, reference to make sure everything at least looks neat and in order. If anything is slightly out of order, I let my library aide (they changed the name from pages) know where to put things in order. I also pick up loose material on tables and check to see that the public access terminals for looking up books are working. Adults and children like to hack into the catalogs for looking up books so they can get internet access without having to signup to use computers.

As part of this I take the time to look at the new books section every other day so I know exactly what is there without having to leave the desk. In addition, I occassionally look at what is being processed to go upstairs that needs to be added. Yes, we do see what is going to be put out before the patrons, so we can often get things before the patrons. I will also occassionally look around in the storage area, we have two floors of mezzanine (basement) where we work to look at the older books. There are a lot of really interesting older titles.

When I was looking at the new books section, I came across a rather interesting title, it is an oversize book. It came out in February 2008. Jackie Ormes, The First African American Woman Cartoonist by Nancy Goldstein. Jackie Ormes's work first appeared in 1937. It is the first time I have seen this. There apparently is an Ormes Society which supports African American women cartoonists. . The comic is a title called Torchy Brown in Heartbeats, an African American romance cartoon. She also made the first African American character doll from comics, Patty-Jo. The cartoons are very interesting to look at.

Jackie Ormes The First African American Cartoonist is reviewed in the forthcoming March 30, 2008 New York Times Book Review on P.13. The review is worth reading, for the most part it is on target.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

National Poetry Month, Thoughts, People's History of the American Empire

April is National Poetry Month in the United States. This is a good time to do poetry events, I guess. We had eight people who stayed through the whole poetry open mike the last time and four people who came in and out. It was kind of fun. Some people read their own poetry, but mostly people read from books of their favorite poems. I think it will grow slowly. There is no money spent on this kind of thing. Flyers and press releases cover advertising. I will probably be going around to post flyers at various places in the community as well.

I chose to fill the front three display cases with poetry books. A mix of beat, black, avant garde, and popular poetry. People like Wendell Berrigan, Nikki Giovanni, Charles Bukowski, Sapphire, Langston Hughes, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Alice Walker, Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Diane Wakoski, Sylvia Plath, Gary Soto, Hart Crane, Sandra Cisneros, Jean Toomer, William Carlos Williams, and others. I am hoping that people will take interest in the selection. It is always very hard to know with these things.

Matter by Iain Banks is on the Locus Bestseller list. I am enjoying reading it. It reminds me a little bit of Ringworld by Larry Niven. The action takes place on a giant hollow world with multiple levels and towers between the different levels. There are a lot of different aliens in the story. It is quite intriguing.

A new graphic novel just came out People's History of the American Empire by Howard Zinn, Mike Konopacki, and Paul Buhle. This is a left of center history in comic book form. Howard Zinn is famous for writing A People's History of the United States: 1492- Present. This book has an official release date of April 1, 2008. This means we cannot put the book out for the public without potentially breaking copyright and receiving fines. Publishers do check for this in bookstores to see if you are releasing a book early. One of our local libraries got fined for doing this. I am looking forward to getting a chance to read this book.

I haven't read A People's History of the United States. Sometimes, I can only guess at whether something is good from other peoples recommendations.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thoughts for Today

I've been reading a little bit more Kahlil Gibran. I especially like Kahlil Gibran's book Sand And Foam A Book of Aphorisms. But, then I really like sayings. It is why my favorite part of the bible is proverbs, and one of my favorite classical writers is Aesop.

I put a few books on copywriting on hold, Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman, Power Sales Words How To Write It, Say It, and Sell It With Sizzle by Vicky Oliver, and Copywriting by Jonathan Gabay. I am looking forward to the Adweek book. Adweek is a major magazine about advertising.

I think a lot of blogs are examples of syndicated copywriting. An attempt to sell a product in a syndicated manner. However, most fail because they have little or no idea on how to advertise or sell a product of any kind. I am hoping my blog will improve considerably if I learn a little bit about how to do copywriting.

A new book came in for me today, Matter by Iain Banks, a part of the Culture series. It is excellent science fiction.

This morning, I was looking at the Librarian's Yellowpages It is basically a giant buying guide for libraries. If you need bookshelves, carts, and other products, it is a place to pick out companies to visit their websites. I actually prefer to look at catalogs online from publishers. It is much easier than receiving catalogs through the mail. I was looking at the showcase in Library Journal of online book catalogs . I might go through a few of the newer listings and see if there is anything which I can suggest for reference.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Kahlil Gibran Poem, The Forerunner, Love, Morning Thoughts

Kahlil Gibran

I checked to see if some of Kahlil Gibran's work is in the public domain. There are a few things. Most are still under copyright. This is not. I am currently reading Kahlil Gibran's collected works. It will take me quite a bit of time to read his poetry. I won't do it all at once. I will read his poetry while reading other things. Poetry is often one of those things which is best approached in snippets and read over time.

From The Forerunner,


They say the jackal and the mole
Drink from the self-same stream
Where the lion comes to drink.

And they say the eagle and the vulture
Dig their beaks into the same carcass,
And are at peace, one with the other,
In the presence of the dead thing.

O love, whose lordly hand
Has bridled my desires,
And raised my hunger and my thirst
To dignity and pride,
Let not the strong in me and the constant
Eat the bread or drink the wine
That tempt my weaker self.
Let me rather starve,
And let my heart parch with thirst,
And let me die and perish,
Ere I stretch my hand
To a cup you did not fill,
Or a bowl you did not bless.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Stardust-- Neil Gaiman-- Comparison Book and Film

Stardust was produced in three formats, a graphic novel, film, and a book. I am going to focus on two of them, the book and the film.

Neil Gaiman's Stardust was produced both as a film and a book. I liked the book far better than the film. There was a lot that was very different between the film and the book. Neil Gaiman apparently was inspired by Charles Vess's drawings to write Stardust.

The novel is far different than the film. There is much less violence in the novel and it is definitely more of a love story than an adventure story in the book. The ending where there is a huge battle between the three witches and the hero simply does not happen in the book. The witch cannot have the Star's heart because she has given it to Tristan Thorne because she loves him. It is no longer available for the Lilim to take.

Also the "Babylon Candle" is black magic in the film. I have no idea why they did this. Maybe they were appealing to people who believe all magic is evil. In the book, it's magic comes from the magic of nursery rhymes.

"How Many Miles to Babylon
Three Score Miles and Ten,
Can I get there by candlelight,
Yes, there and back again.
Yes, if your feet are nimble and light,
You can get there by candlelight."

Also a little man gives Tristan Thorne his candle in the book. Maybe the little man is a leprechaun. A person who helps him in the land of fairy.

There is another nursery rhyme in the book which occurs, the lion and the unicorn. Here it might have made sense if Tristan Thorne helped save the unicorn from the lion. Here is the rhyme. It is not clearly explained how the unicorn appears in the film.

The Lion and the Unicorn Were Fighting for the Crown
The Lion Beat the Unicorn All About the Town
He beat him once, he beat him twice
With All his might and main
He beat him three times over
His power to maintain

I rather like this hidden allusion to Tristan Thorne's royal blood. I also like how it describes Tristan Thorne and the Star riding the unicorn in the book. The unicorn is still a very beautiful animal in the film. This would not fit well with the theme of magic being mostly bad in the film.

The way magic was shown in the film was quite sinister. At points it became ridiculous. An old woman shooting flames at Septimus the lord of Stormhold in the final battle seemed overdone. It seemed like the final fight scenes were put in just for special effects.

Three was a lot removed from the film which I would have liked to see. I think, it would have been better if they had shown more of the "faery market" in its splendor. I thought they showed too little.

The best part of the film, I thought was the skyship, Perdida. I liked them catching lightning, dancing, and Tristan Thorne learning swordplay on the flying ship. It was really interesting watching a ship fly through the sky. Some people say that Robert DeNiro's playing a gay pirate was ridiculous. I thought it was funny. This was a very short piece in the book.

The countryside in the film was also very beautiful to look at. It had the feeling of green rolling hills where very few people live. Also the costumes were interesting to look at. They had a swashbuckling feel to them that you would see in historical romances.

There are also small differences in the book which did not appear in the book. Tristan's mother in the book had cat's ears and a tail. I guess this was a bit too odd for the film. In the book, the jewel which the Star wears is around her waist, not a necklace. It is also a topaz in the book, not a ruby. These little details changed the perception of the film ever so slightly.

Also, Victoria is in love with Mr. Monday, the shop owner, not the young fop in the movie. I rather like this a lot. It makes more sense in the book that there would be rivalry and loss of his job if Tristan Thorne worked for Mr. Monday. It is almost silly to see Tristan Thorne hit with a cane in the film.

The scene with the promise of love and following the star for Victoria is done right in both the film and the book. In the book, Tristan Thorne is let through the wall because they know he is part of faery. In the film, he has to fight an eighty year old man... This makes for a kind of silly inconsistency.

The film was enjoyable to watch with excellent cinematography, but it turned the story into a swashbuckling adventure film, rather than a fantasy romance.

Even the ending is different. Towards the end of the book, it is found out the star cannot bear children, yet lives on forever after Tristan Thorne dies. This is an allusion to the immortality of fairy. There is always a sadness which occurs when people with mortal blood love the fae. In the film, Tristan Thorne and the Star live happily ever after and have many children eventually becoming stars again.

I think Neil Gaiman created a different story for the film, one which would appeal to the swashbuckling fan. I would have preferred that he stick to the original story in the book which I enjoyed a lot more than the film. Still, the film was enjoyable enough to watch.

However, I wish they had not chosen to add unnecessary violence and chosen to portray the magic of faery as black magic or evil.

Superclass-- David Rothkopf-- Review

Superclass The Global Power Elite And The World They Are Making by David Rothkopf is about the elite of the elite; the 6,000 or so most influential people in the world. According to Mr. Rothkopf, they are one in a million. He is writing about people like Rupert Murdoch, George Bush, Ayman Al Zwahiri, Bill Clinton, Shih Zenrong, and others. Where it breaks down a bit is the comparison of terrorists and other criminals with regular businessmen. The book can be too expansive at times.

The book is not a complete indictment of the rich and powerful. It does give considerable criticism of the current power of the elites. I think at points, the author is holding back because he is a member of this class; he was the managing director of Kissinger Associates and works for the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace. He also goes to many of the meetings which he describes like the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland.

He does have some very interesting criticism. The main point he makes is about something called "illiberal democray", a two part system originating in Latin America of a rich corporate class with a very small middle class, and a huge underclass. The author is describing how the elites are coming into competition with the middle and working class and cutting the heart out of countries like the United States. He says that income distribution is becoming increasingly inequitable all over the world. It seems the United States is becoming more like Brazil, Mexico, and Russia with extremes of wealth and income distribution.

He further talks about how the IMF and the World Bank are spreading the inequitable distribution. These economic bodies gives loans and support to two groups, very large corporations, and to the poor. There is almost no money distributed in a way that encourages entrepreneurship, creates mechanisms for loans to small and medium size businesses, and provides for business counseling to the middle and working class. Small and medium size businesses and institutions are where the majority of people in the developed world work.

We get a picture of an elite who want exclusive access to each other with private clubs and shared interests. For example Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone Group is on the board of the New York Public Library, the New York City Ballet, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and the New York City Partnership. This forges ties with other elites and creates a kind of exclusive power club. David Rothkopf also paints a picture of an elite that go to the top twenty schools focusing on Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Chicago. With the emerging superclass of information technology it is Stanford and MIT. Stanford is where the CEOs of Google and Yahoo came from.

Personally, I am glad that I will never fall into a superclass. Being one of those who are insignificant in the totality of things is often a blessing. I rather like being comfortable. I also went to what would be the opposite of an elite school for my undergraduate degree UC Santa Cruz.

There is an increasing tension between national elites and international elites. There is no longer a sense of doing business in just one country; now business goes where it is cheapest and easiest. Location for the powerful has been reduced with private jets. They can go easily wherever it is convenient leaving borders behind. This creates tensions between nationalists like Ahminejad in Iran, Putin in Russia, and Chavez in Venezuela who are angry about how the order has left their countries in a power vacuum.

David Rothkopf breaks the world into the globalists and the anti-globalists; those who want globalization and those who don't. I think this is incorrect. I don't think that people don't want trade, they just want fair trade and the chance to move ahead in the world.

Joseph Stiglitz who wrote Fair Trade for All: How Trade Can Promote Development and other people who offer hope for a better world order like Muhammad Yunus who wrote Creating A World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism are not mentioned as part of this book. The fundamental underlying difference in both Yunus and Stiglitz's work is that it creates a middle class, small business class, and a working class. It is not just a poverty alleviation program.

The author posits that two people are the main model for the modern power elite, John D. Rockefeller who founded Standard Oil and Andrew Carnegie. I have mixed feelings about Carnegie, our building, built in 1903 where I work is a Carnegie building. He helped build a tremendous amount for libraries. He was also a heavy handed union buster and an innovative steel magnate. Standard Oil is the father of Exxon and is the reason the energy industry is so powerful today.

If these two people are really the ideal people for the elite, it will lead us into great conflict in the future. We are already seeing some of the fruits of what he calls "superclass" ideology. Charles Wilson in 1944 created the idea of a "permanent war economy" to keep the American economy in leadership position. This helped forge the rationale for strong ties between the United States military and private corporations. And, ultimately it has led to the privatization of the military as well, with Blackwater and other private companies in Iraq. We have not seen a "praetorian guard" for the rich, but some of the larger private military companies are looking to become exactly that in my opinion.

At the end of the book in the last chapter, he brings out the old bugaboo of creating new and better institutions, with the classic Woodrow Wilson ideal of a New World Order. This is the most dangerous of ideologies in my opinion. In 1917, Woodrow Wilson, spoke about creating a New World Order with the ideal of the League of Nations. This led to World War II. Every time the idea of a New World Order is announced a major war or calamity happens. It was shortly after Bush's speech on a New World Order that we had 9/11/2001. There is no need for conspiracy theories. The League of Nations is the model for the United Nations which is in many ways, a very ineffective institutions.

This book covers a huge amount of material. Probably too much material. There is material on the religious elites, elite social clubs like the masons, skull and bones, Davos, and the Bohemian Grove. I only touched on some of the subjects in the book. There is also a brief section on how one becomes a member of the superclass. If you are interested in power and the powerful, this book is quite entertaining.

There are no illustrations or photographs in the book which I would have liked. The book has a 31 page bibliography, and a separate index. It is very thoroughly researched. The writing is very dense with information. Each paragraph says something. There is no fluff in this writing.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Morning Thoughts, Blog Traffic

This morning I got on the train to work. I was sitting drinking tea with lemon and honey. The train was mostly empty because it was a Saturday. It is very nice to be on an empty train with very few people around. It gives one an almost expansive peaceful feeling. I wasn't reading this morning because I wanted to have my head clear for the day. Sometimes, I don't read because I am tired or I just want to think of absolutely nothing and just sit.

It is also nice to look out the window. Usually, you see various brightly colored graffiti, tires, and industrial landscape. Sometimes there are patches of trees and greenery, or you can look out onto a street. It has a lulling effect.

It was rather odd. Directly across from me was poster. It had a picture of a happy fish and a sad fish. I noticed it was about something called The School of Practical Philosophy. I thought it rather odd that they might be teaching something like this. Apparently, it has been part of New York University since 1964.

The idea was rather intriguing. I am thinking a bit about it today. Sometimes, the right thoughts are everything.

I still haven't started writing my review for Superclass. I have to promise myself and you that I will start writing the review tonight. I usually write it out longhand then transfer it to the computer. Writing with a pen has a different feeling to it than writing on a computer. I like the feel of the pen on paper for the first draft of a review. I learn better sometimes when I can feel and see what I am doing.

I wrote some notes on the train home for the review. It is kind of awkward writing on a subway train. I feel a little cramped when I am doing it, but I do it anyway. So, I have enough material to write a review in the morning.

I also will watch Stardust by Neil Gaiman tomorrow. I actually finished watching it tonight. I would give the film three stars. It was light entertainment; not as good as the book.

I am thinking about blog traffic today. I tried something a little nutty today. I clicked on 300 entrecard adds, it took me five and a half hours. It seemed to be almost a waste of time. I wanted to see what the results would be.

Like most people, I am trying to increase the traffic to my blog. It seems to be an incredible popularity contest. The first person who has the most traffic wins. Of course, they don't win anything monetarily unless they are selling or advertising something. I actually do have a goal. I would like to have by December, 1000 unique visitors per day. I know this is a tall order. I don't intend to buy advertisements to do it either. It is a kind of wishful goal that points towards creating a very popular site.

One of the things, I know I will have to do is learn how advertising writing works. One of the most successful science fiction writers, Frederik Pohl, wrote advertising copy. One of his most successful books was The Space Merchants, a classic of science fiction. I think part of his success was writing in a style that sold the book to the reader. I think many of the bestselling books on the New York Times list do this. They don't just write the novel to write a novel, but to sell an appealing idea to the reader.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Morning Thoughts, Sharp Teeth-- Toby Barlow-- Comments

Anyways, good morning to all of you. I was reading, Bookselling this Week, from the ABA-- American Booksellers Association website. They have a nice little article on Green Bookselling written on March 20, 2008. Gary Hirshberg, once again, the CE-YO of Stonybrook Farm is featured in the article.

I read Searcher magazine today. There was nothing which stood out in the articles today, but it still gave me a chance to get a better idea of what is happening in the world of search. There is a new kind of database in the world called Freebase, an open source database of the worlds information. I think it is like Wikipedia in some ways.

I read a piece of the Alchemist. I am finding the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho to be a mediocre book. It is not a bad book. It has a positive message and uses some very pleasant imagery which many people will like, but it is not exceptional writing. If you want something comfortable and reassuring to read with a message of both gratitude and tolerance this book would be a nice book to read. It is like a drink of fresh water for the spirit. I can understand why it became a bestseller. The messages in it are fairly simple and clear. Everyone has a purpose which they seek in life, there is beginners luck, take the time to follow your dreams.

I read some more of the Alchemist on the train finishing it. It is a syncretic work drawing from alchemy and mysticism to create a simplified story of enlightenment and following ones dream. It is too easy to accomplish the goal in the end of finding a treasure and learning the deeper power of listening to the world. I have mixed feelings about the way the book is written. When he is describing the Emerald Tablet it is like he is describing something drawn with childrens crayons. While it popularizes and opens the world to deep insights, it also creates easy unrealistic wish fulfillment.


I spent some time last night submitting my site to various blog directories to increase traffic. Hopefully, it will make a small difference. I also submitted my site to a free search engine service. My understanding is that every couple of months you should resubmit your site to search engines. Things change rather quickly in the SEO world.


I finished reading Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow on the train this morning. It is really fantastic. The book is free verse poetry written in the style of an epic. It is broken into five parts. I think the writing is fantastic. The imagery is striking. The story is funny, sexy, and poignant. It should be put up for the World Fantasy Award, even though it is a first novel. I could not get enough of it. I think that it should be made into a feature film.

I am not going to criticize it a huge amount. I added two promotional videos from youtube for the book. One is funny, the other is an excerpt from the book. The excerpt speaks how the book is written. The writing is consistent throughout the entire work. I am having a bit of difficulty posting the two videos from Youtube right now. I contacted technical support, but they have not gotten to the problem.

I tried something different. I embedded the first video, an excerpt from the book, Excerpt #1 from Sharp Teeth.

Here is the second video, Is Your Dog A Werewolf?, a promotional video for "Sharp Teeth." I think it is funny because one of the main characters is an animal control officer.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thoughts for Today

I finished reading The Global Power Elite and The World They Are Making by David Rothkopf. I will start writing a review soon. It was quite an interesting book. Personally, I am not that fond in some ways of people when they become excessive.

I haven't really started writing yet. I started reading Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow. It is really enjoyable. The free verse (epic poetry) isn't scary, but it is violent and intriguing. I especially like when the lycanthropes go after the dog catchers.

Today hasn't been too exciting. I had to do a library tour last night with the board of trustees. I took them into the bowels of the mezzanine where we store our old books and showed them our treasures. I also gave another lady a brief introduction to some parts of our collections. Things like the African Films collection, the 100 Greatest Films, the Atlas stand, the community file and small things which she might have missed as part of a general tour of the library. She had asked for our original charter. Apparently, it was signed by Melville Dewey.

I have two copies of Searcher, The Magazine for Database Professionals which I haven't read yet sitting on my desk. I might read them during lunch.

The movie Stardust just came in for me, so I will be able to watch the film and compare the book to the film. I am looking forward to seeing Stardust. I really hope the movie is as good as the film. Neil Gaiman is a magical writer, one of my favorites.

I decided to not read the Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho. I got his earlier, shorter work which he is better known for, The Alchemist.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thoughts for the Day

For a while, I thought of doing the M.S. in Publishing at New York University. There was originally a focus in electronic publishing which was what I was interested in. I even took the Introduction to Publishing course from NYU. One of the teachers there suggested I might want to go for the certificate program instead of the masters.

Sheree Bykofsky taught the course. She is a literary agent. She wrote the book, The Complete Idiots Guide to Getting Published. It is not bad, if you want to learn a bit on how to get your book or manuscript published. I think it is a little bit better than How To Get Happily Published by Judith Applebaum.

I have always been very interested in the publishing process. I think a lot about what it would take to create a content supersite. I have talked about this before. It is one of those pie in the sky ideas that I keep coming back to. It is one of the reasons I spend so much of my time online.

The idea of going back to school is daunting to me. It would eat up a lot of time and I am not sure if it would be worth it both financially and in terms of family times. I am not sure what I would do with the certificate or degree.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gallop ! Scanamation

This is absolutely fascinating. It is a new form of animation for children's books. I could hardly believe my eyes.

Thoughts for Today

Last night while I was reading at the laundromat someone asked about the book I was reading Superclass. She said, it looked like one of those new books which you get from the library. I told her it was a nice book to read. So, I actually got to read a bit at the laundromat. There is nothing like sitting in a hard plastic chair, sipping watermelon juice and reading.

Because someone asked about it, this is the link to Paulo Coelho's blog

Today is starting off in an interesting way. I am going to ask SCORE-- Servce Corps of Retired Executives to do a marketing seminar at our library in May or June. A patron (customer) asked for it.

I was also reading and noticed an interesting book in their new books section. Space Vulture by Gary K. Wolf and Archbishop John J. Meyers. Gary K. Wolf is the author of Who Censored Roger Rabbit, the basis for the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I am a little bit surprised that an archbishop is writing a swashbuckling science fiction adventure in the tradition of the 1950's. It sounds like a lot of fun.

I got a very exciting package today from New Jersey. It was in a brown paper envelope. It contained the Super Librarian comic book, one copy in english, and one copy in spanish, plus a business card from Nancy Dowd the creator of the marketing campaign around Super Librarian. This is a great way to draw teenagers who wouldn't otherwise read into the library. The comic book is quite short and very easy to read.

This is an online link to the Super Librarian comic:

Two books came in for me today, so I have a backlog of books to read. The first is Kahlil Gibran The Collected Including The Prophet. I am not sure how Kahlil Gibran compares to Rumi. They have very different philosophical views on religion and mysticism. They, however, are both poets. At one time, Kahlil Gibran was one of the most popular poets in the United States. I remember reading The Prophet while I was in high school. It was one of the books in my fathers library. This particular edition is printed on acid free paper, the book stills crinkles in its newness when you turn the pages.

The second book looking at is a complete surprise. It is called Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow. It is a modern werewolf story written in free verse style. This is the style of Gilgamesh or The Green Night. The cover picture and the design of the book is very cool.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Thoughts for Today

I've been reading Superclass The Global Power Elite And The World They Are Making by David Rothkopf. It is about the elite of the elite, the 6000 or so most powerful, richest people on the planet earth.

Oddly enough, the author, David Rothkopf talks about chatting with Paulo Coelho at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Apparently, Paulo Coelho seems to have quite a bit of influence in world affairs. This strikes me as kind of odd. It is kind of like saying, Stephen King likes to visit with the United States Federal Reserve.

It made me want to get one of Paulo Coelho's books. After all, I am supposed to be tuned into what people are reading. I picked up The Witch of Portobello at my local library. It was translated from Brazilian Portuguese in 2007. I am hoping that it will be an interesting read. With the importance of biofuels and economic changes, Brazil is becoming much more significant culturally and politically in todays world.

I also paid my library fines for my local library. Yes, I actually do this. Sometimes, I return books late. Library fines go to your credit rating eventually if you don't pay them.

I spent about half an hour on the library computer as well. I know I have a computer at home, but library computers are different. They have a different IP address than my home address so the search results will be different from a public terminal than a home terminal. Google localizes its searches and often tailors searches to individuals, so does Yahoo.

I did a decent amount of walking today. I enjoy walking. I also got my haircut. I know this has nothing to do with books. I feel pretty good today. Better than most days.

I am going to do my laundry later. I will try to read in the laundromat. I know I keep on promising to do this. This time, I went shopping at the produce store and the Walgreens already so I won't be distracted by them.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

MSNBC Tech : Physics : Not so impossible

A short piece by Michio Kaku.

Physics of the Impossible-- Michio Kaku-- Review

Physics of the Impossible A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation and Time Travel by Michio Kaku is a popular science title. The purpose of popular science titles is to entertain the layman or the casual reader about science. It is an interesting genre of nonfiction books.

Michio Kaku like many budding scientists got his inspiration to become a scientist from watching science fiction. He wanted to emulate Professor Zarkov from Flash Gordon. He thinks that many young scientists were inspired by science fiction.

This book covers where science meets science fiction. It is broken down into three sections, the first is those things which look possible in the immediate future, those things which may be possible in the far future, and those which may never be possible. He opens the first chapter with Arthur C. Clarke's three laws:

I. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
II. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
III. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

From this point onward, Michio Kaku pushes the limits of the possible. He discusses many new ideas in science that are pushing the boundaries of what might be true. Things like quantum telephortation, metamaterials, plasma fields, lasers, and other currently possibel ideas are discussed. We get to learn about how man machine interfaces seem like telepathy to some. He also debunks many ideas in the process; everything from telepathy to precognition.

As he moves into the second part of the book, he pushes the absolute limits of possibility. You get to read about the Alcubierre Warp Drive
and the Nikolai Kardashev Scale . Many interesting subjects like the latest information on searching for extrasolar planets that might be earthlike are covered.

Each chapter is mostly an outline of a specific issue in physics that is related to science fiction. Thus we have a chapter on time travel, faster than light, and alternate universes. This is more of an overview of the subject than a book with a lot of depth. There are not a lot of technical details, it is written for the layman, and it is meant to be entertaining.

If you like hard science fiction or you like to speculate about what is possible in science, this book would be very entertaining. It pushes the limits of reason. I rather liked it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Thoughts For Today

I just finished reading Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration Into The World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel by Michio Kaku. I am going to write a review of the book tomorrow. What this books really illustrates is that it is possible to live science fiction dreams of yesterday today. You don't have to be Zarkov from Flash Gordon to work with what was truly fantastic yesterday.

Increasingly what was considered science fiction yesterday is the work of today. Because of this, there is less science fiction being written today. It is often coming under new guises. William Gibson recently wrote a recent technothriller, Spook Country. Even things like Tom Clancy with his Ghost Recon books uses science fiction like technology.

Bruce Sterling wrote The Hacker Crackdown about Kevin Mitnick. He is famous for his cyberpunk science fiction novel, Schismatrix. Recently he wrote a pamphlet called Shaping Things about postmodern design.

Wil McCarthy even developed a product based on his wellstone or programmable matter called RavenBrick . Our world is changing so fast, that the science fiction of today is often becoming the product of tomorrow.

What seems impossible is often discussed openly. The idea of a faster than light drive may become an actuality. . Why many people aren't writing it, is that they are creating it.


Anyways, back to my thoughts on other things. I picked up a second book to read, Superclass The Global Power Elite and The World They Are Making by David Rothkopf. It looked rather interesting.

I am still #41 on the waiting list for Stardust the film. I have finished reading the book and am waiting for the dvd to come so I can watch it and review the book and film together. I have read five of the Mythopoeic Award books so I am well on the way to finishing the challenge.

I found an interesting title to look Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy by Eric G. Wilson. Garrison Keillor reviewed the title in the March 16, 2008 New York Times Book Review. Garrison Keillor with his Lake Wobegon radio show seemed to be an appropriate reviewer for the book.

I think it should be interesting hearing the author write about things like blues music, art, and poetry coming from a deeper more melancholic part of the human soul. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the copy we are supposed to own at our library. One of my colleagues also wants to read it.


I went to my local library today and dropped off five books which needed returning. I also sat down and used the computers there for an hour. There is something almost voyeuristic about sitting in a public library and looking at entrecard and clicking little pictures.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Popular Science, Interconnections Report, Book Cover


I am enjoying reading Physics of the Impossible; it is in the same vein as the Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence M. Krauss and Stephen Hawking, or The Singularity Is Near When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil. There is an exuberant silliness to these kind of books. They speculate at the edge of reason.

We might say these are the kind of books that inspire people like JP Aerospace to attempt to build Airships to Orbit , or convince people that one day Cloud Nine tensegrity spheres designed by R. Buckminster Fuller will actually fly.

Maybe, we will see Robert Anton Wilson's R.I.C.H. economy take flight in some whimsical future where people are wonderfully altruistic. I really enjoyed Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus Trilogy by the way if you are looking for a mind bending bit of science fiction, this certainly does the trick.

I rather like popular science titles in this vein. They encourage me to look at the edges of things and see other possible futures than the one which we have now. The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler is certainly entertaining but it probably will never come true in the way he describes it.

There are many missed opportunities and possibilities. A book which many people should read is Technics and Civilization by Lewis Mumford. It is a cultural history of technology and posits a very different more positive future than the one we have now. Technology is very much a choice. I don't agree with some of his leftist views, but I do agree that we could use technology in a very different way to create a much better future.

I am also a fan of R. Buckminster Fuller, creator of the geodesic dome, original thinker, and some would say extreme eccentric. I have read several of his works. One of his most famous is Operating Manual For A Spaceship Earth

Right now, I am pontificating a little bit. Everyone has their utopian dreams. People dream of cities in the sky, giant floating cities, and many other no places. Most are complete failures. Some are viewed as successes only in the artistic sense. I can imagine a future where arcologies dot the oceans; but, I think it will never come to pass. Maybe one day while I am looking out at the ocean, I will see something like Shimizu Megapyramid floating in the harbor of New York

Reading this material is the same reason I like to read Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. I really like green technology and clean technology. I do not see them as a step backward, but a step forward. The idea of a "technic civilization" as Lewis Mumford calls it, a civilization powered by wind, sun, and water on a human scale is doable. Maybe, I am drawing from an impossible dream. R. Buckminster Fuller also saw a future powered by wind and solar power.
I like to speculate about a green future; one not backward, but forward looking and eternal, a place in my minds eye where I can see a green and eternal city floating in a clear sky far in the future. There is more hope for this than most people know.
The Interconnections Report from the Institute of Museums and Library Studies has a very nice positive report. It says that libraries are the most trusted source of public information, that if you are likely to use the internet, you are very likely to use the public library. This is the first good sign for the profession of museums and libraries, I have seen in a long time.
In person visits seeking information seem to be the most trusted source of information. Remote users do not trust their searches as much and much prefer to come in, in person to get what they dneed.
I was looking at , one of my favorite book blogs and found an interesting tool. Apparently you can get your own free book cover made of your site.
Here it is:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Word Game, Thoughts for the Day

This is a short word game. It is taking colors, attaching the words to emotions and arranging them into a poem.

Word Association Game

Red, Blue, Yellow
Anger, Sad, Envious

Green, Black, Purple
Fresh, Dead, Happy

White, Brown, Pastel
Mad, Calm, Empty

Elizabeth Moon, Victory Conditions was enjoyable but not exceptional. It did not have enough depth to write a long review of the book. I felt like I was reading a book which I could add half a star to two stars like they do in the newspapers when they rate films because I did not know whether it was alright or good. If you like military science fiction you might find it good, but it is not as good as her other books in the series. I am noncommittal but not negative. I will continue reading her other books. I liked The Deeds of Paksenarrion much better than this.

Last night, I placed two more books on hold. The first is Kahlil Gibran The Collected Works With 84 Illustrations by the Author. It is a new omnibus edition printed on acid free paper. I also requested a short story collection Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigulp.

I tried reading The Somnabulist by John Barnes, but after reading the first fifty pages, I could not get into the story. I am returning it this morning.

I just picked up a copy of a popular science title Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thoughts For Today

I haven't been doing a huge amount lately. I cut up scrap paper into small pieces for patrons to take notes on and picked up some reserve slips for people calling in to make reserves for items to be held at the front desk. It has been a quiet day so far.

On the train in I read a little bit more of Victory Conditions by Elizabeth Moon. So far, it has been light entertaining space opera with a military touch. I rather like Elizabeth Moon's writing because she has had some military experience as a United States marine and is definitely interested enough in her subject.

Having read a whole bunch of books on grammar and writing recently has changed my reading experience. Now, some books seem much less well put together; others seem to be much better crafted. Reading about writing changes the readers experience.

Sometimes small things of interest pop up in the regular news. Apparently, a Finnish person returned their library book 100 years later anonymously. It is a nice light article. This seems to happen occassionally. People sometimes return their grandparents books which they had laying around the house.

I have been getting various emails from New York Comic Con updating me about what is happening at the convention. If you are a librarian in New York, you can register to attend the conference for free as a professional. I am going on April 18. They had panels on manga, anime, and comics librarianship which were going to the last time I was there. They have been sending me various free movie offers for forthcoming films which are interesting. Unfortunately, I don't have time to go to the films. I saw a really interesting article in Library Journal online. Neil Gaiman is doing an evening to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Book News: Neil Gaiman NY Comic-Con Reading To Benefit Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
I took some time to read a little bit of professional literature. I went through my stack of four publishers weekly. The March 10, 2008 Publishers Weekly is especially interesting. It is a green publishing issue. On Pp. 26-32 there is an article called Toward A Greener Future by Jim Milliott. I found it very interesting. Some of the initiatives including e-galleys, and giving editors ebook readers to limit paper use sounded effective. There is also a push to use more recycled paper in books. For example, Random House intends to use 30% recycled paper by 2010.

The sponsor of these changes is an organization called the Green Press Initiative; I think this is a step forward. I saw, no surprise, Gary Hirshberg, advertising his book Stirring It Up, which I reviewed earlier in the March 10,2008 issue of Publishers Weekly.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thoughts for Today. Graphic Storytelling And Visual Narrative-- Will Eisner-- Recommendation

Good morning,

I put the calendar poster from the Russian Public Library of Science & Technology in our staff room. It was from the conference yesterday. I also took a moment to look at this morning.

I tried to read Mo Yan, Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out, but found it to not be to my liking. The setting was very caustic. It also made constant references to other works by Mo Yan in the middle of the text which I found rather distracting. The writing was good, but I didn't particularly like the story. The main character was a self-righteous , arrogant, workaholic who got on my nerves. I could not relate well to him. I decided to return the book this morning.

Right now, I am taking a few moments to think about a few things. Sometimes people recommend titles without reviewing them extensively.

A title I can recommend highly if you like graphic novels is Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative by Will Eisner. Will Eisner is considered the father of "graphic novels". His book, A Contract With God And Other Tenement Stories, is considered by many to be the first graphic novel.

Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative is based on Will Eisner's class at the New York School for the Visual Arts. I can recommend it highly because although, it is how to write comic books, it covers a lot of material on how to create action and activity in your writing. This is one of the few books which I have read more than once. The style he shows is original and is not based completely on superhero comics.

Two new titles came in today through reserves Victory Conditions by Elizabeth Moon and The Somnabulist by John Barnes. The Somnabulist looks quite interesting, it is a fantasy novel set in Victorian England. Victory Conditions is the fifth and final book in the Vattas war series.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Google and Libraries One Day Conference

Hello, today, I went to a one day conference. Google and Libraries, An International Conference Sponsored by the International Information and Analystical Center (ILIAC) at the Harriman Institute and Columbia Libraries. I took the #2 subway train up to Columbia University around West 118th street. Columbia University in New York is an edifice of brick and stone with very little greenery. It is in an exclusive area in the upper west side of New York.

The conference was on the fifteenth floor. They had coffee when I got there at 8:45 a.m. in the morning. The Metro New York Library Council listed the event.

When I got there the room was full. It was rather interesting, because many of the people were from Russia or other European Union countries. There were four speakers that day. They covered a huge amount of material. I won't be able to even finish writing about it in this post, there was so much material covered. The four speakers were Yakov Shraiberg, Jill Cirasella, Laura Quilter, and Siva Vaidhyanathan.

They all managed to hold my interest for the whole conference. I found these particular things which they talked about in each session to be the best parts of the sessions.

Yakov Shraiberg in his session, Google and Libraries of Russia & the CIS quoted Larry Page with the following quote, "The best working search engine is the one that comprehends what the user is seeking and provides him/her exactly what he/she wants." In Russia, Google is the third most used search engine after Yandex and Ramber. is completely in Russian, so is

Jill Cirasella in her session, Reference Retooled: How Google Tools Strengthen and Streamline Reference basically spoke an ode to how useful Google tools are for the reference librarian. She mentioned a couple of new tools which I hadn't heard of, Google Suggestions, a tool which comes up with suggested endings for searches, and Google Sets, a tool which identifies words that part of a set. These are both example of where Reference often fails to clarify a question. They are both experimental search engines part of the Google Labs website I am not quite sure what this means.

She also showed the video which I have seen at many conferences, Information Revolution by Michael Walsh. The video is available on the internet, however, he specifically asks that you not post it on your website if you sell anything. I am not posting it here because of this. With this, she suggested that people read the article "Ontology Is Overrated" by Clay Shirky.

At this point after the first two speakers we had lunch. I chose vegetarian, because most take out vegetarian is better than ham and cheese sandwiches. They had a mozzarella, red pepper, and eggplant sandwich for vegetarians.

The third speaker,

Laura Quilter talked about Google, Digitalization Projects, and Library Contracts.

A lot of this was about how Google often presented difficult contracts for libraries to follow for digitization of their books. There are numerous lawsuits going on against Google Books, specifically, the Association of American Publishers, and the Publishers and Authors Guild concerning copyright. The lawsuits are focused on Fair Use. Google is claiming that Google Booksearch is a form of Fair Use, while others are claiming it is not.

In response to the Google Digitalization Projects, Microsoft has formed the Open Content Alliance, another digitalization project for public domain materials.

Apparently, many libraries that participated in the Google Digitalization projects are having difficulties with the contracts. There are often exclusivity clauses on how the scanned materials can be used. Also many libraries are reacting against the idea of turning what they consider public domain use over to a private company like Google. The issues presented were interesting. To find out more please look at her website

The last speaker was Siva Vaidhyanathan, whose presentation was The Googlization of Everything. What was very interesting was that he said that Google personalizes all of its searches to the individual based on the IP address or the log in to Google of the person in question. This mean different people get different results based on their search histories.

Siva talks about how Google is trying to become a "Universal library." Their mission statement is very similar to what librarians normally do. He quotes Google with this "To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible." He also quotes the famous line attributed to the unofficial byline of Google, "Don't Be Evil."

He is also is quite critical of Google in some ways. He thinks of them as a private company moving into an excessively public space. The Google definition of "Fair Use" is quite expansive.
He has a blog . Unfortunately, it was down today, Monday, while he was at the conference. He was taking notes though. I think he will post quite a bit.

I was surprised. You could almost say that Wikipedia is becoming all things to all people. It is part of the universal library concept. I have noticed that Wikipedia is increasingly showing up at the top of Google searches. They are becoming more and more popular. I like to think that some of the original founders who were part of the Dorsai Embassy, decided to get together and build the "Final Encyclopedia," a concept forwarded by Gordon R. Dickson as part of his Childe Cycle in science fiction. This is of course a silly rumor. Still, I hope it spreads a bit.

I use both Google and Wikipedia regularly. Google is my favorite for general searches, but for directory searches, I still like Yahoo. For concise searches, I often use Mamma. They are different tools used for different purposes. If I want to find web sites with databases built into them I use Complete Planet which is a site listing over 70,000 searchable databases.

The one disappointment I had with this conference is that they did not provide me with a permanent name badge with the name of the conference. I would have added it to my bag of conference buttons. I got a staples peel off to put my name on. I have the conference program, I may save it. They also had a nice wall calendar in russian and english as a free giveaway.

I am very surprised at the quality of the conference. Very few one day conferences have interesting speakers for all four sessions.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves -- Lynn Truss-- Review

Eats, Shoots & Leaves The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss is a guide to proper use of punctuation. It is meant to be humorous and for the most part succeeds.

The book is partially about how punctuation changes the meanings of words. A nice example of this from book using the dash is extra-marital sex versus extra marital sex. The two phrases have very different meanings. The title refers to the difference between two sentences; one with a comma, one without: "Eats, shoots and leaves" and "Eats shoots and leaves." Changes in punctuation often completely change the meaning of sentences.

Punctuation also creates rhythm in writing. I especially like her quoting Cecil Hartley with a poem. The poem was written in 1818 so it is no longer in copyright.

The stops point out, with truth, the time of
A sentence doth require at ev'ry clause.
At ev'ry comma stop while one you count;
At semicolon, two, is the amount;
A colon doth require the time of three;
The period four, as learned men agree.

She also attacks common grammatical errors that show a lack of basic education. These attacks are of course are primarily aimed against shopkeepers, greengrocers, and signposters. Mistakes like Cd,s, Dvd,s and Tape,s are pointed out for the readers amusement. While this is interesting to grammar mavens and sticklers; it is something which I do not partake in. My aim is to improve my writing.

This book was useful, humorous, and entertaining. It was originally published in Britain, but it still translates well for an American audience. It will help you with punctuation in places where the use of commas, dashes, quotation marks and other grammatical symbols matter.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Easy Day.

I didn't do too much today with my blog. I started reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss. This was a New York Times bestselling book at one point. The writing is light. It is primarily about how punctuation mistakes can change the meaning of sentences. I 'ave learned a few t'ings so far about punctuation. Apostrophes can be used to indicate missing letters in a word.

I also added to my recommended book sites. They earlier said they might be interested in doing some social networking type activity.

Quite a bit of my day was spent shopping and at the laundromat. I watched an old episode of star trek there. I actually have something to look forward to doing while I am there. I don't watch that much television. Actually, you can't get television unless you buy cable where I am located. I am not spending money on television. I have a television, but I use it mainly for playing dvd and vhs tapes.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Clear Blogging-- Bob Walsh-- Review and Comments

I have been reading Bob Walsh Clear Blogging How People Blogging Are Changing the World and How You Can Join Them. This is a technical book, I am going to include what I got out of the book as well as reviewing the book. So far, I have rejoined Technorati at the suggestion of the book.

I also found a decent book listed here Random House, Handy Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation. He also suggests The Elements of Style. The book describes a lot of basic ideas on how to write a good blog.

He also gives an excellent example of a fake blake and a splog on page P.70. On P.76 he introduces one of the first blogs on the internet . I am rather surprised that it is a simple two column blog. I often find three column blogs hard to navigate. I have to move around the screen to see all of the content. This can be quite inconvenient. There is also a short interview of Meg Hourihan.

The book is full of interviews of a variety of different blog luminaries Seth Godin, Kurt Opsahl from the Electronic Freedom Foundation, Darren Rowse founder of Problogger, Shari Olivieri of Sharma Designs, and many more blogging people. Almost all of the interviews are short and to the point and quite interesting. I could recommend the book just for the interviews of high profile bloggers.

There are also a lot of different types of blogs covered, everything from corporate blogs to lawyer blogs, doctor blogs, clergy blogging, kosher food blogs. In addition specialized resources like blogs for lawyers, or blawgs are covered

Two blogging job boards are shown, and are talked about. This book explains a lot about what makes a blog professional. It is clearly meant for both the beginner and the more advanced blogger.

I just finished reading an interview with David Sifry, Founder of Technorati on P.156. He points out that the internet is about people and interacting with people more than anything else. Following this on P. 172 is an interview with Steve Olechowski, Founder and COO, Feedburner, Inc.

A lot of the major technology is quite well covered. But, this book is not just about technology. It is about writing well so you can connect with the "blogosphere". It gives suggestions on how to spellcheck and grammar check blogs, as well as choose topics to write about. The trick of outlining a subject a day; Monday-- tech day, Tuesday-- writing day, Wednesday-- Humor day is suggested. I think I will pass on this one, I would much rather be extemperaneous in my writing.

There is quite a bit on successful blogging. I am learning as I read along with the book. I am not finished with it today. I will continue writing about it as I read more material.

I read a little more and learned some interesting ideas. It takes about a 1000 visitors per day before you can get any significant amount of money through advertising. To earn a living from a blog, it takes about 10,000 users per day. The two main guaranteed streams of income are Google Adsense and Amazon Affiliates. These take a long time to build up. It took several years for Problogger, Darren Rowse to develop his income. There is an interview of Darren Rowse on Pp. 258-262 which is quite interesting.

The last chapters concern reaching out to other people. Most of this is your standard material, join feedburner, remember to respond to comments, be a guest blogger and similar advice. I did submit my blog to a new blog directory at their suggestion,

This book was enjoyable and informative to read. It gives a lot of useful information and suggestions about how to improve your blogging. It looks to be right on target.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Six Word Memoir

My Six Word Memoir

Focused on family, infotainment, knowledge, understanding.

I was tagged by Dorlana to write a six word memoir:

Here are the rules of the meme:

Here are the rules if I tagged you.

1. Write your own six word memoir.

2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.

3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post.

4. Tag five more blogs with links.

5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!"
I tagged:
I'll Never Forget the Day I Read A Book,

Herb Urban (a bit of humor)

The Thin Red Line
I find it odd that when you do a meme, you have to just jump in and put a post into another persons blog in an unrelated place. Maybe there should be a box on blogs which says "Memes Go Here."

Morning Poem, Thoughts for the Day

Sky, Sand, Sea

Can you count the number of stars in the sky?

Can you count the number of sand grains on the beach?

Can you count the drops of water in the sea?

You are on the shore,

Standing next to infinity.

Good morning, I had a moment where a little poem came to me on the train. Sometimes this happens. Here it is.

My book came in today, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. It will be the next thing I read after Clear Blogging.

I noticed a new book which was out in the United Kingdom, Reaper's Gale: Tales of the Malazan Book 7 by Steven Erickson. It was released in the United Kingdom in May of 2007, now in March 2008 it should be here in the United States soon. There is usually a lag of six months to a year between books getting published between the United States and the United Kingdom. I am hoping this will change. I think it might be a little shorter between the United States and Canada. I am not sure about how long it takes for Australian titles to switch between the United States and Australia.

It has been a quiet day so far which is nice. I went around and took note of the various problems with the reference computers which need to be fixed. Mostly it is minor things like sticky keyboards, loose mouse chords, and little programming bugs.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thoughts for Today

Good afternoon to you all. I am a bit lethargic today. I have been so for the last few days. I took a look through a variety of websites. There were a few interesting articles which I saw while looking around the web.

The first is an article by Cory Doctorow, Put Not Your Faith in Ebooks. I found it quite entertaining. He correctly says that we should not put too much faith in ebooks being any more than a niche. Even regular books are increasingly becoming a niche products with many Americans not reading as much.

I also was reading Library Journal online. They have an article about downgrading librarians pay. I think many things which are being said in the article are correct. However, I think the profession needs to take a good hard look at how it is being managed lately. There are a lot of problems.

I could not imagine being in their position. It would be quite hard.

I also took a bit of time to look at places to find books. I put Elizabeth Moon's new book on hold Victory Conditions. It is the fifth book in the series.

I have a bunch of new items to pick up. I will write about them later in the day.

Acacia Book One The War With the Mein by David Durham, Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out by Mo Yan, Blogging For Dummies, 2nd Edition by Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley, and Clear Blogging by Bob Walsh have come in for me to read. I am not sure which book I will start on.

There are not a whole lot of books available about blogging at the library. Blogging For Dummies seems to be the book which most libraries have. Some people hate the title of the For Dummies series and refuse to read the series. They don't like being called dummies or even better Complete Idiots, another series. Most people don't seem to mind the title, however.

I tried reading Blogging for Dummies on the train. I found it to be a little dry. It had all the things which you needed to know to start blogging, but it was not very entertaining. It was essentially a beginning technical manual for blogging. After a bit of time, I put it back in my bag. I am going to return it tomorrow. In contrast, after reading the first chapter of Clear Blogging, I found it very entertaining. It even had an interesting interview in the first chapter. I will continue reading it on my train ride in from work.

I did, however, learn a new term, evergreening. This is taking old articles that are generic like about your neighbors car, or your dog spot, or the history of pet rocks and putting them in your blog if you can't think of anything new to write. I promise that I won't do this. I am not particularly good at being generic; I don't have a dog spot, I don't like pet rocks or chia pets, and I try to write something new every day.

I imagine many of the big news agencies have filing cabinets full of these old articles kept in an abandoned missile silo in Kansas left over from the cold war. Whenever they need filler they call up a guy named Bob and he sends them an appropriately heartwarming article for the day.