Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thoughts for Today

We received a huge cart of advanced reading copies today in the basement sent to us by Baker & Taylor. I haven't really had a chance to look at them closely. I will get a chance to look closely at them later today.

I was reading through Kirkus Reviews, the May 1, 2008 issue. They have a book which I am looking forward to reading. Reinventing Knowledge: From Alexandria to the Internet by Ian F. McNeely and Lisa Wolverton. The review was quite interesting. The book is not out until August 1, 2008.

Two new books came in in the pile from Baker Taylor from Sterling Publishers, Batman The Dailies 1943-1946, a collection of the daily batman comic strip syndicated in the newspapers. The cover art for this book is by Dick Sprang. It is quite striking. In combination with this is Batman, The Sunday Classics, 1943-1946, a collection of the full color Sunday newspaper strips.

Both of these books are quite interesting to look at. They have a much more compact feeling than the comic books. The stories occur in short bursts. They have word bubbles in almost every panel. The feeling is more of a story than an action sequence. I rather like them. I will probably look at them more closely tomorrow.

Free For All Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library-- Don Borchert-- Comments

Free For All Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert is a slice of life book about working in a public library in an inner city Los Angeles neighborhood. It covers the career of Don Borchert in the library.

This book touches on the different personalities wandering into the public space that is the public library. There are the usual oddballs, the little old ladies that want to give you greeting cards and cookies when you find their books, the old eccentric gentlemen into space aliens, the wild kids who run around unattended when their parents drop them off until closing time.

Most of the people who come into the library are not sinister, they often just want a place to rest, or pursue their reading interests. However, there are often problems that occur because the library is a public space. The book touches on incidents in public restrooms, inner city gangs in libraries, people viewing porn on the public internet terminals, and the almost homeless or slightly mentally disturbed who need a place to spend their days. It points out correctly that a large part of library workers jobs is to diffuse anger, calm people down, and keep the place quiet.

The usual career eccentricities of civil service public librarians are touched on. Public librarianship is often a career for the public intellectual or artist. Once a person becomes a librarian in a public library, it becomes very hard to get rid of them. Most public libraries in the United States are unionized. There is the usual talk about library romances, staff intrigue, long hours, and odd proclivities. Most librarians become librarians because they love books and information.

As an aside, not part of the book; I personally think of the library as its own kind of separate space like a bar or an airport. Time is different in libraries. You can set the clock approximately fifteen minutes ahead in many librarians minds. Also, it is a kind of neutral ground, where people can hide from their troubles in peace. In the book, the librarians end up helping many stray teenagers and others get back on their feet.

This book is quite fun to read. It includes all the things which people don't talk about. The book seems to be a pastiche of many different peoples experiences written into a single persons experience. I think the depiction is somewhat accurate. I've had some pretty unusual experiences as a public librarian.

There is a bibliography in the back of the book which can be quite humorous. For example, Chapter 25: Senior Librarians cites How To Buy A Franchise by James A. Meaney. There are also several recommended reading lists in the back. One of my favorite childrens books, The Cricket In Times Square by George Selden is on the list.

Some people will hate this book because he says some not so nice things about homeschoolers, librarians, and other people. This is the kind of book that will cause extremely positive and negative reactions. I think that you might want to borrow this book to see if you like from a public library before you buy it. Other people will say it is too mild mannered and not extreme enough. They are looking for titillation. I happened to enjoy reading it a lot.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thoughts, Back To Work

My vacation is over. It is time for me to become inundated by books. There are piles of things for me to do. Mainly updating the law books and straightening up the reference room. A lot of it is simply being methodical.

I returned my pile of ten books which I checked out for my vacation. Sometimes, I think I read more books than many of the patrons. In a way this is part of my job. I haven't had a chance to look through what is in the new books section.

Now, I will go back to doing what I do, reading more books. There were three books waiting for me on reserve: Power Sales Words How To Write It, Say It, and Sell It With Sizzle by Vicky Oliver, Sourcebooks, Inc. c2006. This is a book on copywriting that I reserved over a month ago. Earth: The Sequel The Race to Reinvent Energy And Stop Global Warming by Fred Krupp (President of Environmental Defense Fund) and Miriam Horn. This was on the bestseller list. The last book which was waiting for me was a book which I selected from The Thin Red Line's blog, Free For All Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert. This sounds like my kind of book.

I also checked Locus Magazine and the New York Times Bestseller List. Armageddon In Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut a series of essays on war and peace is on all the bestseller lists. I requested it to be sent here. For good measure to keep my fantasy interest going, I put Harald by David Friedman on hold. I checked the Baen books publishing schedule and placed When The Tide Rises by David Drake on hold as well.

I was looking at Publishers Weekly for April 15, 2005 at the advertisements. Apparently a new star wars film opens August 15, 2008, Star Wars Clone Wars.

I looked to see what had come in during my short absence. We have a brand new copy of the McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. There is nothing likethe look of shiny new books with pictures. Also we just received a nice bright red copy of African American National Biography edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham.

I read part of Free For All by Don Borchert on the train home today. There is something calming about reading on trains. You can hear the rhythm of the train moving on the tracks. The train glides in and out of the stations. You read avoiding other peoples eyes. Then the train stops. Last stop time to go. I like reading in motion.

Monday, April 28, 2008


I created a simple Myspage page, . I wanted to see what the craze was with social networking sites. It really is not that fascinating to me. When people sign up to use the computers in the libraries, they often go to myspace to post messages or look for hot dates. I guess, I am not part of this generation. Sometimes, if I am not careful and I look to closely, some of the things I see make my eyes burn and pop out of my sockets a bit. It can be a bit explicit or suggesive.

My colleagues often speak of Myspace with hushed tones. I don't think librarians understand social networking that well. Being a librarian in many ways is a very traditional job. There is a sudden invasion of new computer programs and applications which change the way reference can be done. Unfortunately, this is being approached in a quite haphazard way.

Blow up the reference desk, use blackberries to answer reference questions, carrie your laptop around the library to do reference. Roving computerized reference, the wave of the future. I can imagine carrying around a tablet pc in the future and actively looking for people to help. I would be in a star trek style uniform with a big librarian tag on the front and back. I wish people would think through a little bit more as they implemented new technologies.

I also went on Facebook today. I had a bunch of people sign up as my friend. Yesterday, I had one freind. Today, I have seven. It is kind of interesting. Maybe, I will build a unique offbeat literary network. It also showed me a bunch of places that my freinds joined as well. I joined a publishers group and posted something.

I had one person join me on Myspace as a freind. Then I searched for groups that were related to librarianship on Myspace. There were very few, much less than on Facebook.

I think as a potential professional networking tool, Facebook is much more useful. If you are looking for a hot date or a chance to discuss the latest rap song which the teenagers do at our branch, try Myspace.

I finished reading Scott Gier, Genellan Planetfall, on the Baen Free Library Site. I didn't realize it was part of a larger series. Scott Gier has a website devoted to the series. I may read a few more books in the series. Only the first one is free. This is the classic way to hook you. The first one is free, then you have to buy the book or borrow it from the library. This is why it is profitable to give away older books if you are a publisher.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Read With Me Online

Right now, I am reading, Genellan Planetfall by Scott Gier from the Baen Free Library. It is a free online science fiction book.
You can read it with me if you want. I am on Chapter 9 right now.

Yesterday, I went to my local library but didn't find anything I wanted to read. I spent a little while looking around for something to read but couldn't find anything that I wanted to read. I saw something interesting. My local library subscribes to a few issues of comic books, wolverine, batman, justice league, and superman. We don't subscribe to any individual issues of comic books. They also subscribe to Mad Magazine. At my library we subscribe to Mad Magazine. Mad Magazine is a kind of a guilty pleasure.

I looked at the computer books. There was a book on how to do a Facebook page and a Myspace page. I don't think I want to do this yet. It would probably increase my web traffic considerably, but would create a lot of additional work. I might learn something however. A lot of people when they come into the library I work at use Facebook and Myspace when they sign up to use the computer. I overheard the librarians discussing doing a Myspace page for my local library. That would be kind of funny.

There are actually a few librarians with Myspace pages. This is the Myspace page of the Librarian Dress Up Doll. A warning, the page plays "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" as background music. It might be a good exercise for young adult librarians.
On a more serious note, I found the Myspace page for the American Library Association.
I guess, this must be important.

When I was sitting down at the computer in the library. An older guy in his forties was checking the calendar for when the rock band, Judas Priest was scheduled to come to town. I was rather amazed that the band was still together. I remember them from when I was a kid.

Today I went back to the library and picked up a few books. The first is Extremetech Hacking Myspace by John Pospisil, I started reading it today. Right now, I am reading about HTML and CSS. I really don't know much about CSS so at least I'll get an introduction to the subject. I already know a bit about HTML

I have had a chance to look through the manual on MySpace. I don't think this is a service that I want to use. It would require me to do a considerable amount of manipulation of the style of the page to get the results I wanted. Also, Myspace while it has a 90 million user base, is focused on a younger crowd, less literary in nature. Supposedly there are a 1/2 million bands which are registered with MySpace pages. MySpace also has its own record label, MySpace Records.

The manual is fairly complex it goes into how manipulate images, create animations, manage audio, manage video, upgrade background images, change the cursors, prepare an overall design for your MySpace page. This is a lot more than I am willing to do. I have pretty basic skills with this kind of thing.

The other book which I haven't started is Facebook, The Missing Manual, The Book That Should Have Been In The Box by E.A. Vander Veer. Facebook seems to be a more appropriate service for my page. The majority of the users are over 25, they include a recruiting function for employers, and seem to be a service much more focused on professional networking than MySpace which seems to be more of a fun site. I think I am going to review this book.

I was hoping that I could use Book Calendar as my identity, but Facebook is being a bit funny. I am supposed to provide a "real name". I am thinking about this. Also, Myspace is doing the same thing. I tried out Book Calendar as a first and last name, but that is not allowed. I guess something like Jack Kerouac is more believable.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Morning Thoughts, Deadly Beloved-- Max Allan Collins-- Review

Right now, I am looking at the Advanced Uncorrected Proofs for Chalice by Robin McKinley. It has the standard statement, not for resale on the front cover. There is also something else interesting on the inside front page.

"In quoting from this book, for reviews or any other purpose, it is essential that the final printed book be referred to, since the author may make changes on these proofs before the book goes to press."

I think that this means the publishers would like me and other reviewers to not review the book before the review comes out. Something irks me a lot is at the convention they didn't include review sheet with a return address in the advanced uncorrected proofs. What I am supposed to do with this is read and said comments back to the author or editor about mistakes in the book before the final printing.

I am looking at Adam Nimoy, My Incredibly Wonderful Miserable Life An Anti-Memoir. On the back cover is a similar quote. (PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT CHECKING AGAINST THE FINISHED BOOK)

There is also a box on the copyright page of My Incredible Wonderful Life with the following statement. Do not quote for publication until verified with finished book. This advance uncorrected proof is the property of Simon & Schuster. It is being loaned for promotional purposes and review by the recipient and may not be used for any other purpose or transferred to any third party. Simon & Schuster reserves the right to cancel the loan and recall possession of the proof at any time. Any duplication, sale, or distribution to the public is a violation of the law.

I think this is standard boiler plate which goes into the front of most advance uncorrected proofs. Some bookstores sell these things to their customers even though they are not supposed to. Also, if the author is a major author like Stephen King, the Advance Uncorrected Proofs can become quite valuable. They are usually printed in a shorter run with less distribution than the book when it comes out.

Sometimes we get the offical books before their publication date. We cannot let patrons check these books out before their official publication date. Libraries have been fined for copyright violations for doing this.

Today I am in quandrous mood. I am not even sure there is a dictionary entry for quandrous. I checked but could not find it. I am not going to dig any deeper.

I was reading Bananas How The United Fruit Company Shaped The World by Peter Chapman. I have been reading it on and off for about a week. I managed to get to page 120 and I am thinking there are better books than this. If I was really into the evils of an international megacorporation that caused wars in Honduras and Guatemala so we can have our fruit, I might continue reading it.

There is something mildly absurd about this book. Carmen Miranda and Chiquita Banana as symbols of oppression are kind of surprising. This book does demonstrate how cruel people can be. If you want to understand how a corporation can act badly in the era of globlization this book describes it beautifully. United Fruit essentially created the background for the term "banana republic."

Another book which I am having some trepidation about is Deadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins. This book is not written like other detective novels. It is pure pulp in its style with a graphic novel feel to it. If you like hard hitting dark violent noire, or like to read graphic novels you will love this book. However, it is written in the tradition of the pulps so many people will not like it because the language is stilted violent and cartoonish. It is not a literary book in any way. I love the line in the book, I used the secret kind of kung fu I knew, first I kicked him in the ass, then I kicked him in the balls.

It is filled with the classic cliches of noire. The man who gets shot in the stomach by an assassin as the detective comes into the mans office. The nurse with the poison needle. The cop secretly involved in a dark conspiracy. The trailer park fight. The murder at the seedy hotel with a prostitute and a business man. This has all the classic film noire elements. The book reads like a cross between a graphic novel and a movie.

In creating Ms. Tree, the detective in the story, Max Allan Collins says it beautifually, I took Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer's love interest Velma paired her with the detective, then killed Mike Hammer. Velma is Mike Hammer as a woman in Max Allan Collin's mind. After reading the book, I should correct that, she is more violent than Mike Hammer ever was. She also has training as both a detective and a police woman. She also dresses nicer in Gucci, silk, and beautiful clothes and drives a Jaguar. In other words, Ms. Tree has more class than Mike Hammer ever had. She also is sexier, smarter, and crazier.

Some of the devices which the author uses are interesting. Ms. Tree visits a psychiatrist to discuss her personal problems with violence. She also feels sympathy for the crazy woman who killed her accountant husband. However, as you read the book, you realize that the criminals who she interacts with her are often terrified of Ms. Tree,they are worried correctly that they may die, and think Ms. Tree is crazy.

While there is sex in the book, it is not described. Instead the author describes the physical body, much like you would a pin up calendar or cheesecake images. This has a rather odd effect making it even more noirish.

Ms. Tree is the longest running detective comic book. It ran from 1980 to 1992. If there was a comic book censorship craze again, this book would be pulled from the shelves for its morality. It is quite dark.

Max Allan Collins is the author of Road to Perdition which was turned into a graphic novel and a film. This is what he wrote before Road To Perdition. I think the Ms. Tree comics would make a better television show than a film.

This book is part of the Hard Case Crime series. It is a series of paperbacks written in the Gold Key style of old fashioned noire.

I actually bought this book at the New York Comic Con. Dorset Publishers had a booth there. They were displaying a horror paperback series, a historical romance paperback series, and the Hard Case Crime series. I suggested that they might ask Omar Tyree as a possible author for a Hard Case Crime book. I would call their books trashy, but well written fun.

I was originally a bit hesitant to put a picture of the book up on this website because of the almost cheesecake quality to the cover. Terry Beatty, the illustrator for the Ms. Tree comic book created the cover.

Thi is an example of the comic book. I think Frank Miller worked on this particular issue.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I managed to do nothing library related today. I just relaxed and read a few books and wrote two reviews. It was a slow day.

Living Like Ed A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life-- Ed Begley, Jr. -- Review

Living Like Ed A Guide to the Eco-Freindly Life by Ed Begley Jr. This book is not your typical celebrity endorsement for the environment. This is a comprehensive guide on how to live a more environmentally freindly life. It covers the Home, Transportation, Recycling, Energy, In The Garden and Kitchen, Clothing and Hair and Skin Care. Ed Begley has been a committed environmentalist for 30 years. It shows in this book. He has an electric car, solar panels and a wind turbine on his roof, is a vegetarian, sells a line of environmental cleaning products, and grows his own fresh produce.

This book is fairly practical in nature. It suggests things buying energy star products for your appliances like air conditioning and refrigerators. In addition it gives numerous examples of small things which you can do everyday like; cleaning your refrigerator coils, putting trees and awnings around your house, using a broom not a hose to clean your sidewalk, buy milk or juice in glass containers, get a time of use meter and similar things.

Some of the suggestions are surprising. He describes some interesting companies that can help home owners like PacWind which sells a noiseless 500 watt vertical axis wind turbine that can be installed in urban environments or Phoenix Motorcars where he bought his all electric car.

Ed also describes hierarchies in choice for environmental decisions. For example with transportation, first he walks, then he bikes, then he drives a car as a last resort, and very rarely does he fly in airplane. When he does he buys carbon offset credits from a company called Terrapass.

There are some examples that are a little bit odd, like keeping a solar oven in the back yard instead of a barbecue, and his iZip electric powered bicycle. I think at times the book can go to extremes, but mostly his ideas are fairly practical.

He covers some material on green living which I haven't seen before. Suggestions like buying in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging which you purchase and look for products with less packaging were a surpsise to me. He also covers organic and natural fiber clothing. Things like hemp shoes, natural silk, organic cotton, and recycled clothing. There is also a discussion on peak usage for energy. That the best time to use energy and the cheapest time is between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m.

The book is very easy to follow. It has a checklist of things which you can do in the back for energy savings and water savings. There is also a recycling crib sheet. The back of the book has an index.

The book is written in an informal style which makes it a quick read. I read it in three hours. There are numerous black and white photographs and simple diagrams throughout the book.

The Ten Cent Plague -- David Hajdu -- Review

The Ten Cent Plague The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hajdu is about comics book censorship in America. Comic book censorship occurred at about the same time as McCarthyism. This is a book about morals and aesthetics. Specifically, it talks about how and why comic books were challenged. We get to read arguments against teaching criminal stories to childen, as well as sexual impropriety, and grotesque horror. Only superhero comics and funny stories seemed to be unaffected by this short period of censorship.

It was not uncommon for patriotic organizations, school organizations, and civic organizations to have comic book burnings during this time. Police would also raid the newspaper stands to confiscate comic books with sex, crime, or terror. Even Archie was considered salacious by the Catholic church. Many police organizations viewed comic books as encouraging juvenile delinquency. The comic books of the time often portrayed how crimes were committed and told cops and robber stories.

There seemed to be a cycle where first crime comics were challenged and many were removed from the newsstands, then romance comics were challenged and removed from the newsstands, and then horror comics were challenged. Romance comics were challenged because they represented a chance to escape from parental control and in some cases attempts at sexual freedom.

A classic claim about juvenile delinquency was that if a child saw someone rob someone in a comic book they would do it. Or if they saw someone attempt to hang someone, they would hang themselves. It is no different than saying if a child reads Superman, he might put on a cape and jump off the roof.

There is quite a bit on the famous book, Seduction of the Innocent by Fredric Wertham, a German emigrant psychiatrist who spoke out against comics. He claimed that Batman was homoerotic, Superman was fascist, and Wonder Woman was kinky. The last bit about Wonder Woman was actually true. William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman was into sexual dominance and submission and believed that the United States was drifting towards an Amazonian matriarchy. He was a classic crackpot like many of the people for and against comics.

In order to tell the story, the author writes a lot about the the history of comics. He tells the story of Bob Kane, Will Eisner, and many other famous comic book artists. This story is centered on New York where comic books were first created. Comic books were started as an original American art form much like jazz. One of my favorite pieces in the book is the story of the first "picture novel", a book length comic called It Rhymes With Lust printed in 1950. With titles for stories like "The Laughing Sadist" n Crime Does Not Pay, we can almost understand why parents would object to some of the material.

In the 1940s and 1950s comics were sold to children at a dime apiece. They were not marketed to adults. At my library, we separate the comics for adults, and the comics for teenagers. We don't buy a lot of comics for very little kids. Most are simply too violent or sexy. A lot of what was written for teenages like Tales From The Crypt, and Haunts of Fear we would place in the adult section. A lot of the EC comics can be bought as repritns. Some of the EC science fiction titles are really fantastic and include stories from writers like Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov. A comic book with a picture of severed head and a man holding an ax is not appropriate for little kids.

The book describes legislative hearings where comic books are derided as smut and legislation is encouraged to put criminal, sexy, and immoral comic books out of the hands of children. Between 1954 and 1956 more than half of comic books disappeared from the newsstand. The number of titles published dropped from about 650 to some 250. In 1956, EC Comics closed its doors. Bill Gaines revamped his business keeping one title, Mad Magazine.

An earlier step had saved the industry, the introduction of a censorial governing body by the industry, the Comics Code Authority. Artists were no longer able to show things like hypodermic needles, pools of blood, drugs, racism, disrespect to policemen and teachers, broken families, and other things.

We sometimes forget that this period in the history of comics still affects us today. DC stands for Detective Comics, it produces mostly superhero comics. Most of the comic books produced today are still superhero comic books and funny books. I rather like the revival of comics lit and slice of life comics that has happened recently.

There is a black and white picture section in this book. They even have a picture of people burning comics. There is also a 15 page appendix of comic book artists that no longer made comics after 1956. The book is well researched; it includes extensive notes, acknowledgements, a bibliography, and a comprehensive index. The website for this book is

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Daily Thoughts

It is going to make me a while to read The Ten Cent Plague. It is quite interesting, some of the material on Wonder Woman is quite funny in darkly humorous way. There was an article on Library Journal's blog today on the New York Comic Con.
There are some very nice pictures of the convention on the blog.

I went to my local library today. I sat for an hour using their computers again. Mostly to fool around with the various social networking sites. Then I looked around the library to see if there was anything I wanted to read. There wasn't anything to read, however, I noticed there was a completely new selection of manga for the teenagers. Manga is not something which I know a lot about. Sometimes, you visit other libraries to see what they have to help you find material. There looked to be an interesting selection. Bleach, Case Cloaed, Fruits Basket, Full Metal Alchemist, Naruto, Peach Girl, and Yu-Gi-Oh were there. I think Yu-Gi-Oh and Full Metal Alchemist are on Nickelodeon or the Cartoon Channel.

I think I saw one of the librarians from my local library at New York Comic Con. I think she orders the graphic novels for my local library. I really didn't say anything at all.

I requested three books on socially responsible stock investing at the information desk. I didn't ask for any titles. I'll probably send one or two of them back after I look at the books. I am very interested in this type of investing. Today, I got some relief, Time Magazine has an article on a stock which I am intested in Finavera. This issue is for earth day, April 28, 2008. So the article is forthcoming.

I know this has very little to do with librarianship, or books but I feel that I should post it anyways. This is a film from Youtube on the technology. It is not fully developed yet, so there is a considerable amount of risk involved. However, it is a potentially disruptive alternative energy technology. The technology is called aquabuoy.

Everyone is talking about Earth Day. I don't think too much about it. But, I will tell you this. Everyone spends too much time in their cars. Maybe, I am a little strange. I try and walk a little bit every day. I like being outside, not in a car or a bus. I walk to the library, the deli, the produce stand, and the park. I am glad that I live in livable community, not a giant urban sprawl where you have to get in your car and drive five miles to do anything.

Go outside today and if you can make it a habit, go outside a bit every single day. You don't hear it much anymore, but my father used to insist that I went outside a little bit every day to play when my freinds came by. Now, everyone is inside all the time glued to computers and television. It is unhealthy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Daily Thoughts, Authority

Today I am on vacation. It is the first truly free day I have had in a while. Yesterday, I went to the library for a bit, sat at the computers for an hour, and checked out two books, Confessions, Romances, Secrets, and Temptations Archer St. John and the St. John Romance Comics by John Benson, and Living Like Ed A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life by Ed Begley.

Right now, I am reading The Ten Cent Plague, The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hajdu. last night, I took a bit to read the Advanced Uncorrected Proof of the graphic novel Daniel X Alien Hunter by James Patterson. The graphic novel will be coming out in December 2008. I wasn't particularly impressed by the story.

There was a little bit too much super powered wish fulfillment. I like my heros to fight for their successes not be saved in the nick of time by luck. This is why I don't like the Harry Potter books, there is too much luck and not enough work.

The art by Leopoldo Gout is fantastic. It has an ethereal quality to it and expresses emotions quite well. I am just not that impressed with James Patterson's writing. It is a new format for him.

Someone asked me about the concept of authority. Technorati Authority is different from most types of website authority. It is determined by how many people comment on your posts as well as the number of favorites you have. This can be gamed. Things like the Big Bang Meme, and the Six Word Biography Meme are widely discussed on Technorati. If you join these memes, your Tehcnorati authority tends to jump way up.

Web authority is different. Most people want to know how reliable your website is. There are a number of indicators. Just for fun, I am going to go over this blogs authority. Here are some of the questiosns?

1) Who is the author?

Because I don't give my name and am anonymous, I have no real authority here. However, if I had a specific name, I would be identifiable. Also, if you could look up my name on the web on a place like and find a concise biographical summary, I might have more authority. In addition, if I used my name, I might have professional recognition attached to my name so the blog would be more authoritative. It is not enough to have a name, I must be able to be contacted. It is important to be able to contact the author by email, address, or phone number. Websites without any contact information are not as trustworthy.

2) What can the url tell you?

Does the site author own the site. Why is this important? A registered domain can be searched for and the owner can be identified easily. Alexa allows you to do this. . In addition, Alexa will tell you what related sites that the addresss is attached to. Also, if the author has taken the time to spend money on the url, he is automatically identified as being more serious in most peoples eyes.

I do not have my own site, I am part of blogspot. This automatically weakens my authority. However, if I get my own domain, I have to restart all over with getting traffic to the new url. This is why I am hesitant. I would lose all my old traffic.

What else can the url tell you. The extension of the url can tell you about the type of site which you are dealing with. Some types of sites are considered more reliable .org usually indicates nonprofit status. Some people consider nonprofits more reliable than .com companies. There is also the .edu and the .gov which indicates even more authority in some cases.

In addition, the url can be searched for links to the url. The more authoritative the links are to the original url, the more authoritative the site becomes. For example, if I linked to a lot of government and educational institutions, I would have a lot more authority. However, I am doing this for my enjoyment, not necessarily to prove I am an expert.

3) Is the site current?

Sites which are updated regularly are read more and provide more current information than sites that are updated irregularly. Regular posting creates more trust.

4) Are the citations authentic?

This is the url thing again. Citing sources that are unbiased and themselves have a lot of cache tend to increase authority. Thus if I cite things like the New York Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly, Professional Publishers blogs, the authority of my blog in the world of publishing increases.

5) Is the page easy to read and follow?

A more usable blog is generally considered a more authoritative blog. I know that my blog has slow load times up to five seconds. This makes it considered a less reliable source. However, the layout is simple and easy to follow. Four column blogs are hard to read and move around in. This makes the blogs less acceptable.

Is the grammar and writing correct. If you have bad grammar and spelling, your blog automatically is considered less reliable. I don't check my spelling or grammar; I just write. Some people would consider this unprofessional.

6) What is the bias?

Because I am writing for my own entertainment, I don't attempt to pretend to be neutral. However, I am not trying to hide my opinions which many blogs do. If your blog is too biased towards a specific viewpoint it can be considered unreliable. Hiding your bias makes it even more unreliable.

7) Is your blog ironic, humorous, or a spoof?

Humor and irony are not a way to make a blog authoritative. Most people will consider humor in a blog to be a sign of unreliability.

8) How can you satisfy questions about a blog?

If I was really serious about this blogs authority, I would include a faq (frequently asked questions) sheet. This will cover most of the questions people ask. Also if you answer your comments on a blog, you are given a lot more credibility. Blogs which erase comments or limit ability to ask questions are taken less seriously.

9) What is the writing style?

Is the writing style formal or informal. Does the blog use recognizable business or technical language? My blog uses an informal, some people would call whimsical writing style which detracts from its authority. I also tend to put more than one subject in a post and meander a bit.

10) Has the site been reviewed?

Have people reviewed the site on other websites or magazines. When a website has been talked about and reviewed it automatically is considered more authoritative. If I did interviews on other blogs, it would make this blog more authoritative. Even better, if I was mentioned at CNN, or an article was written in the local paper about my site, it would become more authoritative. Daisy the Curly Cat's blog was briefly mentioned on CNN. This increased her authority as a fun place to visit.

11) What is the purpose of the site?

Is it a personal site? Is it a commercial site? Why was the site built. I know my site originally was an attempt to see if I could sell books on a blog. It didn't work so it became a personal site to discuss books, librarianship, and literature. It still remains a log where I tell you about the books I have read and my experiences with librarianship and publishing.

12) Is the site measurable and findable?

If you left the site would you be able to find it again easily. This means is the url easy to remember. If I searched for it in a search engine like google or yahoo would I be able to find it quickly. Is the site easily findable on multiple search engines, yahoo, google, fast, and others. Does the site measure itself? Does it have a sitemeter? Can you track it easily?

These are a number of questions you can ask in evaluating a web site. I hope this was somewhat helpful.

I am going off to the mall to visit the bookstore. I went to the mall and acted like a typical mallrat. I went to Boston market and had lunch. Then I went to Barnes and Nobles. I didn't buy anything at Barnes and Noble. I like to go there sometimes to check their selection. Quite a few librarians and booksellers do this. It is a time honored tradition.

I took some notes in the science fiction aisle, the manga isle, and the graphic novels aisle for some things which looked interesting. A science fiction books which looked like they might be worth getting are When The Tide Rises by David Drake. There were a couple of new graphic novels which looked interesting, Jon Muth M (this is the graphic novel adaptation of the Fritz Lang film M), Ironman Beneath the Armor, and The Eternals by Neil Gaiman (This appears to be a takeoff on Jack Kirby's Eternals. Also there was a compilation of the newspaper strip Pearls Before Swine.

Thinking back to the New York Comic Con show. I saw a few titles there which intrigued me. Kyle Baker's Nat Turner, a historical graphic novel, Emily the Strange (A kind of odd little goth comic), Osamu Tezuka's Buddha (a manga version of the life of buddha), and Superman All Stars. They were also advertising heavily for the Speed Racer film which is coming out soon as well as the movie, The Spirit, which is based on Will Eisner's spirit, and scripted by Frank Miller who wrote Sin City and 300. I haven't seen either of these films. I am not in a hurry to, because I like story more than I like violence, and both of these films are quite violent. I really do want to see The Spirit which is supposed to be coming January 2009. Some fantasy violence as long as it is cartoony doesn't bother me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Big Switch Rewiring the World From Edison to Google-- Nicholas Carr-- Essay

The Big Switch Rewiring the World From Edison to Google by Nicholas Carr is a book about the change from small scale computing to utility scale comping. It is a book which I cannot be neutral about. There is a lot said in here which will affect my profession and my future in surprising ways. I think the book is eye opening. So, I am going to include a lot of my experiences with what is being written in this book.

Nicholas Carr compares the transformation of electricity from small power plants to large scale centralized power plants to what is happening with computing today. He posits that we are moving from individual scale computers to large utility scale data centers and application service providers. He claims it is easier and cheaper to centralize computer applications into offsite management.

For example, I find many of Yahoo's services to be superior to using my home computer. I sometimes backup files on . I also keep a separate list of my favorite online sites on . These are both remote functions.

I have always wondered why I could not simply log into an application service provider and do all the work I needed from anywhere. Google has recently created a suite of business applications called Google Apps. For $50 per person per year, you can get the advertisement free version of business applications to use to run a business. This is run from Google's giant data centers.

There are other utility scale computer companies that manage programming remotely for much cheaper than having an in house service;, Savvis, Amazon S3 Computer services, and Savvis. Microsoft is preparing to virtualize its services and programs.

This is not necessarily a good thing for the middle class. As services move from in house technology departments to outsourced IT data centers, less people are required to do the same job. Not only are less people required. These centers can be built in a wide variety of places around the world. This creates shrinkage in the amount of knowledge jobs available. I have seen this happening in the profession of librarianship in every sector, academic, public, school, and special libraries.

Also the larger centralized data centers have more computing power and a greater variety of programming power than most in house technology departments. These data centers can provide services like Flickr, Blogger, Youtube, Wordpress, and other programs which can be used with minimal computer skills. It is very easy to join "the horde" of users that have become invested in these services. For example, I am a member of Entrecard, which on closer inspection uses Amazon S3 partially, a service which provides virtual computing.

One of the current features of "the horde" as it is sometimes called is that entrepreneurs can tap the horde to create free wealth for them. They are not paying us for our labor in creating blogs, posting amateur photographs, or sharing music. For example, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen sold Youtube to Google for $1.65 billion. Youtube employed sixty people. It is a situation where those producers who succeed get a massive jackpot.

Because the labor is free, however, it hollows out the traditional middle class jobs. The reward which people are getting is one of status, or hits on a computer screen. There is little money attached to this status. For example if someone creates a service where thousands of people try to answer a question for free, it challenges my job. This is happening with journalism a lot. Someone reports an event as it is happening on their blog and it appears on the news. The bloggers often are not being paid for this.

Wikipedia is a classic example of this. The majority of people who provide information to Wikipedia are volunteers. Yet, it has provided a direct challenge to the encyclopedia companies. There are articles which claim that Wikipedia is as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica. The unrealized problem is one where Wikipedia is replacing more than one paid for service.

At the same time this concentration of wealth is happening for the "producers", the amount of jobs in technology are shrinking. People cannot rely on a "gift economy" or an economy based on popularity to live. There is a real divorce from reality in how people are promised lots of money from advertising on their blog, or selling affiliate nick nacks. It simply does not happen most of the time. Problogger said it beautifully, it takes 10,000 hits a day to make approximately $50,000 a year if you use advertising and affiliate programs on your blog.

The author calls this phenomenon, The WWC, the worldwide computer. It is a much better name than Web 2.0 which means essentially nothing in my book. I think this phenomenon creates too much power for business and government. Instead of "Big brother is watching you," we are getting "Mega-marketer is selling you." He gives the excellent example of "personalization" where companies collect your information so they can make their product more suitable for you.

My opinions are not necessarily the same as the authors. However, many of the things he says in this book really hit a nerve with me. It helped explain a lot of the things which are happening with computers today. The idea of computing as a utility is an interesting one. The authors promotional site for the book is at

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Public Domain Superheros, Copyleft

This is the symbol for copyleft, a form of mark that indicates that an author wants you to distribute their work as widely as possible.

This is a copyleft image of Scott McCloud, who is the author of Understanding Comics and Making Comics.

I wanted to post a picture of a superhero on my blog with a comic book character in the public domain. I ran into a little problem. Nerod comics had a number of characters that were in the public domain, but these characters had been recreated for the current market in a very simiilar manner to the old characters creating a kind of weird hole of legality. I am very careful about this kind of thing. There are numerous articles on this subject. This is article seemed to sum it up very well.

So, I decided to post a Krazy Kat panel. What I found out was very interesting. While the image was in the public domain, the words Krazy Kat had been trademarked. You could not use the words without permission.
Today, I have started reading The Big Switch, Rewiring The World, From Edison to Google by Nicholas Carr. Hopefully, it will provide some interesting insights.
Last night I did a search for sites which linked to my website. I checked my site referrals on Sitemeter. Then I did a search on Google to check for any sites that had linked to my site. There were a few. I looked at a few of the sites. Finally, I checked to see who was commenting on my blog posts on Technorati. This gives me an idea of who is linking to my site. If you are new, it can be a way to build your blogroll or link exchange.

The Rabbi's Cat 1 & 2, By Joann Sfar-- Review

The Rabbi's Cat by Joann Sfar is a really interesting graphic novel. The setting is truly fantastic, 1930's French Algeria in North Africa. This adds an exotic, almost mystical quality to the book. The artwork is very beautiful and different than most graphic novels which I haveseen. The books are illustrated in full color with strong earthtones. The descriptive boxes use a fluid cursive script which I haven't seen used before in graphic novels. The word bubbles are filled in with a neat pen handwriting. The actual panels appear to be handpainted and inked without typesetting.

Another of the authors books, a children's book, Little Vampire Goes to School was on the New York Times Bestseller list. The author is French so the book has a different sensibility than most graphic novels I have read which are either American, Spanish, or Japanese. On the back flap of the book cover is a picture of the author holding a grey cat which the author must have used as a model for the Rabbi's cat.

This is the story of the Rabbi's cat who eats the Rabbi's obnoxious parrot and then begins to speak. It tells a philosophical story of how the cat first wants to learn the Kabbalah, but then asks to become Bar Mitzvahed because he is too young to learn mysticism. The cat studies with the Rabbi. The cat is absolutely loyal to the Rabbi's daughter his mistress.

A whole series of adventures follows. The best part of the graphic novel are the characters and their development; there is Malka of the Lions, a wandering storyteller with a pet lion, Jules Nahaum a French Rabbi, and Sheikh Muhammad Sfar a singer, poet, and freind of the Rabbi.

Numerous details liven the story up. In one scene, the cat is talking to a donkey because animals can talk to each other, but humans can't understand what they are saying. The Rabbi says it is time to sit down because the animals are making too much noise. Because the main character is a cat, it can follow people around, watch what people are doing, and make comments which would be inappropriate if he was a person.

The second book is even better than the first book. It has much more intense, fantastic stories than the first book. The cat travels through the desert with Malka of the Lions, listens to Malka and talks to the old lion. He even has dangerous encounters with a scorpion and a snake. It gets even better when a Russian Jew appears in a crate. The Russian is seeking the land of Jerusalem in Africa. He is referring to the Falasha in black Africa. They assemble a group of people to make the journey from "North Africa" to "Black Africa", a sheikh, the rabbi, the Russian Jew who is a painter, the cat, and a few others. Numerous adventures follow. They even run into Tintin.

This story is for adults, there is sex, violence, racism, and religious conflict throughout both of these books. This makes the books tell a very interesting, sometimes profound story. It is very enjoyable reading. Some people may not like this book because parts of it are definitely blasphemous from a strict religious point of view. There is also some use of curse words and foul language. The second book is much more explicit. It includes some drawings of sex. This is not done in a prurient way.

Also, sometimes the story wanders a bit. I like that it wanders because it provides a variety of different views of Algeria. This is definitely not a book for children. The artwork is very nice to look at. I think both of the books are worth reading. However, I think people will have very different opinions on the graphic novels because of the way it is written. I personally would give it a five stars, but some people might find it objectionable enough to give it a one star.

Amazon did not have a picture for this one.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Morning Thoughts

Gertie The Dinosaur (1914), Winsor McCay

Next week is vacation time. I am still thinking a bit about the New York Comic Con yesterday. While I was there I signed up for the CBLDF, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and paid my membership dues of $25. They had switched web providers earlier so I had trouble paying on line. I noticed that they had a membership table, a raffle table, and a special event that night with Neil Gaiman doing a fundraising dinner.

Anyways, I will be heading to work with my big bag of books in tow. I still have to do some minor things today to get ready for a program which will happen when I am away. There was a film program which I was supposed to do on Thursday while I was at the Poverty Workshop. Someone else did it. I also have arranged for a jazz lecturer to come in next week while I am out. This makes me a little bit nervous. I fret a bit about other people taking over things for me.

One of my colleagues showed me an article in the New York Times, Young, Hip and Wild About Comics, it is in the Metro Section, April 18, B2 Column 3. This is the link to the article online: It says essentially what I saw at the New York Comic Con. A lot of young men and women in their twenties drawing art for publishers who are very interested in comics. The New York Comic Con is very different than most of the other comic conventions. Because it invites in professionals from the industry as well as librarians, comic book store owners, editors, and literary agents, you get a very different crowd than is at your usual comic book convention.

I took a look at the Weird Tales in its latest incarnation. The article, The 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Last 85 Years. Most of the authors are people who I recognize. They recommended Virgil Finlay one of my favorite artists. Another of my favorite author pairs was mentioned, Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore who worked as a husband and wife writing team. The article is well worth looking at if you want to see an interesting selection of unusual authors.
Weird Tales, March/April 2008 issue.

I took some time to look at the sites which were mentioned in the Online Journalism panel for comics on Friday. I rather like (Comic Mix) and (The Beat), not because I know anything about the sites having seen for them about fifteen minutes so far today, but because they both have pictures of the New York Comic Con. The pictures are kind of fun to look at with people in goofy costumes, or just looking a bit eccentric.

This morning I had one of those moments when I was looking out the window staring off into the trees as the train rolled on. I really wasn't thinking of anything in particular. A thought rolled through my mind:


I am nothing
I know nothing
I feel nothing
I hear nothing
I taste nothing
I smell nothing
I see nothing
I am everything...

Friday, April 18, 2008

New York Comic Con

Today is New York Comic Con day. I get a free pass today to wander around and look at graphic novels. Hopefully, I will get a chance to pick up some free graphic novel donations as well as numerous catalogs and bookmarks. We like to get bookmarks to give away for the teenage programs. Last time I was there they had free DC and Marvel bookmarks which we gave to the teenagers. Hopefully there will be some free manga material we can use in our manga program at the library.

I am going to get a chance to see a lot of people that I recognize or know when I go this morning. My pass is ready. I have to pick up a convention book. There is a screening of a film on Will Eisner which I want to see. I'll probably walk the whole convention floor. The last time I was at the show, there were also several science fiction publishers, a few gaming publishers, and a few oddball exhibits.

I am a bit tired from the workshop yesterday, but I am really looking forward to this convention. I hope they have a lot of freebies. I actually bought a few things last year.

I am going to concentrate on writing my experience at the convention today. I already have finished reading the Rabbi's Cat 1 & 2, and am about to start reading The Ten Cent Plague. However, I think it might be interesting to write my experience of seeing the big convention.

Hopefully a few of you people will be there. Look for me anonymously. Anyways, I am off to start my day. The Jacob Javits Center where the convention is being held is positively enormous. It will take me the whole day to look around.

I never did see the film on Will Eisner, I did get to see some other panels, though. I got there at nine o'clock a.m. The floor did not open until 10 a.m. I spent some time organizing which booths I would go to by floor location. This way, I could visit the booths I wanted to see first then wander. Here is the order
Darkorse (Comic Book Company) #823
Activision (Game Company) #1048
Wizard (Magazine) #1056
Marvel Comics #1141
Publishers Weekly #1164
Diamond Comics Distributor #1231
Tokyopop (Manga) #1321
Image (Comics) #1407
Oni (Comics) #1413
Tor Books #1533
DC Comics #1627
Nickelodeon #1657
Harper Collins #1814
NBM #1917
Penguin #1941
Random House #1920, 1921
Fantagraphics #1948

I basically was looking around to see what they had which we might get for our library. I was surprised by the number of publishers that said that I should look at their website, they no longer sent out catalogs. I ended up giving my address and name at six different places to request paper catalogs and free samples of material. I also picked up a variety of free items which will most likely be added to our collection. I picked up two hardcover books, a dozen free paperbacks including a star wars and several star trek paperbacks, the 30 Days of Night Adaptation to novel form from the movie, and four graphic novels.

This is nothing like Book Expo America, last time I was there I paid to ship 100 pounds of free books and material back to my library. Compared to the book industry, the comic book industry is quite parsimonious. Most of the time they ask you to pay for things at a discount.

I found a really interesting press, Dorchester Publishing which was displaying the hard case crime series, I ended buying a Max Alan Collins Paperback, Deadly Beloved, The first ever Ms. Tree Novel. Ms. Tree was a famous syndicated hardboiled mystery cartoon written during the 1980s and 1990s. It is one of the better black and white mystery noir comics that I have seen. Max Allan Collins also wrote Road to Perdition which was turned into both a graphic novel and a movie. I rather enjoyed the graphic novel.

I ended up walking around for some four hours total. I looked for something to eat, but a sandwich costed $8.00 and I decided it would be better if I just ate when I got home. Drinks were still $3.75 for a soda which was a bit outrageous.

After walking around for quite a bit, I sat down and rested my feet. By that time it was 2:00 P.M. I decided to go and see a few of the panels that they were doing. The First panel was a Choosing The News, The Changing Face of Online Journalism:
Quoting the catalog description:

It's a fact - journalism has changed. With more outlets than ever, more demands from news sources, and comics increasingly covered by the mainstream, how do comics news sites navigate the uncharted waters? Join Matt Brady (Newsarama), Richard George (IGN), Rick Marshall (ComicMix), Brian Heater (Daily Cross Hatch) and others for this engaging discussion, moderated by The Beat's Heidi MacDonald.

Most of the discussion was not focused so much on actual news but what the process was. They said basically, you have to put out news every single day, those who work harder are the ones who win in the end. Also, you have to produce more original content, it is too easy to just take a press release and stick it on your site. This is really a waste of time because it does not have any unique opinion. They pointed out that hype is read a lot more than real journalism, people basically want to be entertained more than get good criticism. Also, you have to watch viral announcements, it is like giving away free advertising and you don't want to do that necessarily.

The next panel which I saw was at 3:00 P.M. It was a set of comic books legends. I am going to list and summarize what I think each one said from:

Joe Simon: Joe simon is most famous for creating Captain America with Jack Kirby. We should bring back the spirit of Captain America without his shield and all the extra gadgets just like he was before. Captain America is the symbol of American spirit and we really need that right now. My brightest student was Stan Lee, and Stan Lee andJack Kirby were the best team together.

Joe Sinnott: The greatest person is Stan Lee I have been working with him for over 58 years. My favorite comic book work was on the Beatles and Babe Ruth.

Murphy Anderson: I worked in the production department in DC comics. I think the greatest comic book artist was Will Eisner.

Jerry Robinson: I remember curating a show at The Kennedy Center. They spent $100 for my picture of the joker, and across the room was a pop art picture of the Joker by an artist named Ramos that was insured for $300,000.

Stan Lee: My greatest contribution will be determined by posterity in the future. My real greatest contribution was paying my wifes allowance. Jack Kirby was the greatest comic artist, he had a tremendous ability to tell a story.

Ramona Fradon: There was never any discrimination against her in the comic books industry. But, sometimes it got a little scary in the afternoon in the bullpen when everyone was yelling. Her most important influence was a woman named Linda Fight. She drew aquaman, plastic man, and Brenda Starr.

Dick Ayers: I had nothing left from Marvel or DC, they still had all of my work. I was writing an autobiography because I wanted to write a story, but I couldn't I could only draw it. When I was contacted by publishers to see if I had any work, I ended up producing my autobiography. I started as a magazine editor. Gene Colan was my the best artist.

Irwin Hayson: When I was drawing Wonder Woman, it drove me to go out with a lot of really tall women. Dondi, my syndicated newspaper strip was a labor of love.

Carmine Infantino: John Infantino, my son is doing marvelous work, much better than I ever did. He also got in in time to get the benefits which we never had during the silver age of comics. My greatest influence was Milton Caniff, I tried to draw like him but never could.

At the beginning of the panel, everyone was clapping and cheering for the artists and editors as they were heading to the stage. There were at least five people with cameras shooting footage of the show. In addition people were taking pictures and using their cell phones to take pictures. A few people were on their laptops typing things up.

This panel was truly incredible to watch. It represented from the beginnings of the comic book industries until the present day.

The last panel I attended was from 4:00-5:00 p.m., Weird Tales-- 85 Years, 85 Storytellers. This panel was on the history of Weird Tales magazine. The panelists were several people from the latest incarnation of weird tales. There was also an archival specialist who was working with Weird Tales. Weird Tales was the first magazine exclusively focused on science fiction, horror, and fantasy. Originally, the stories were not called that. They were simply stories about weird things. It was the source of H.P. Lovecraft (Modern Horror), Robert E. Howard (Swords and Sorcery, and Clark Ashton Smith (Fantasy Poetry or gothic tales.)

I would contest this one, I think Sidney H. Sime, although not as well known as Clark Ashton Smith was the precursor for gothic poetry.

Weird Tales has started adding comic book inserts into the magazine. The panelists said that many of EC Comics stories during the 1950's originated in Weird Tales.

They suggested the March/ April 2008 issue was available at Table D 33 for sale for $5.00. I think the lady was worried that I was going to ask for it for free. I paid the $5.00. The issue is kind of interesting. I am looking at the 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Past 85 Years article on Pp. 24-41. I haven't actually read it yet.

Anyways, I finished the convention and sat down for a little bit. Then I went to catch a taxi. The taxi man wanted $20.00 for a trip from 34th street to 42nd street. I decided to take a pass and walk to the subway. On the way home, I read a little bit of a star wars paperback in one of the bags which I brought home with me.

I got home and sorted the books which I would keep at home and those which I would bring back to work. I put all of my publishers catalogs, nick nacks, and bookmarks in a separate bag for work. I put this bag in my bag with the books I am bringing in tomorrow.

What I have left is a bunch of Advanced Reading Copies which we are not supposed to add to the library. Adding them is forbidden by the publishers. Some of the Advanced Reading Copies or Advanced Uncorrected Proofs are The Dangerous Days of Daniel by James Patterson and Michael Ledgwick, Little Brown, Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link, Little Brown, The Twelve Kingdoms by Fuyumi Ono, Tokypop, Chalice by Robin McKinley, My Incredible Wonderful Miserable Life by Adam Nimoy (Adam Nimoy is the son of Leonard Nimoy), Daniel X Alien Hunter, A Graphic Novel by James Patterson and Leopoldo Gout, Little Brown. This is the first advanced reading copy of a graphic novel which I have seen.

I also received an interesting graphic novel designed for literacy. It is called The Word Eater by Michael Dahl. The RL is: 2.9 2nd grade, 9th month. The main character is a librarian. He is the hero. I rather like this idea. It is quite appealing.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bridges Out of Poverty-- Workshop

Today, I was sent to participate in a workshop, Bridges Out of Poverty at the Hudson River Museum. The program ran from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. it was presented by a lady named Terie Dreussi Smith. I got there in time to have a section of muffin, half a croissant, and a cup of coffee. Several of my colleagues also went. I often see these events as a chance to gab with colleagues and find out a little bit about libraries in different places. A lot of these events exist for networking.

As a presentation it was kind of interesting. The presenter suggested several books as she was doing her talk. Many of them are classics on poverty issues. I am going to list a few of them. Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities, Rick Bragg All Over But The Shouting, and Paolo Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed. She also talked about a book which creates a better framework for explaining poverty than the ones beings used now; The Persistence of Poverty: Why the Economics of the Well-Off Can't Help the Poor (Hardcover)
by Charles H. Karelis.

We watched a few video clips as part of the presentation. One which was particularly entertaining was a clip on a movie on social class in the United Staes, People Like Us

I think the talk was aimed at administrators who were going to create policies or pick up programs to help poor people in their agencies. The focus of the program was not how to turn poor people into middle class people, but to help poor people improve their economic stability. I am really not sure how effective this would be.

We got a lot of statistics. One of the most striking is that 49% of poor people spend more than half their income on housing. Also poverty is increasing inside the United States. As more globalization and deindustrialization occurs there are less and less middle class jobs in the United States. Jobs are moving overseas.

Something else which she said was the need for sometimes extreme entertainment for poor people. Because so many people who are living on the edge are so close to losing the roofs over their heads, not having enough to eat, and they can't afford to buy a lot of things, they often turn to public sources of entertainment.

The public library gets a lot of people who are very poor. Some people will come in who appear to be on public assistance or disability, are retired and living on a fixed income. They often borrow four or five different dvds every single day and return them the next day.

I really am not sure what I will do with the information I received from the program. I am hoping that we will get back our GED program, the afterschool tutoring program for little kids and maybe some more programss on helping people get jobs. Hopefully the recent work on improving the Job Information Center might help.

Things are getting harder lately. Gas and food prices are rising. The middle class is struggling in the United States right now. For people who are already poor it is probably really rough.

There is a websites for the seminars. The seminars apparently were done at Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queensboro Public Library.

I have noticed that a lot of consultants have been moving into the nonprofit sector recently. Recently we did a film program with Healthfirst a Medicaid Part D provider.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pump Six And Other Stories-- Paolo Bacigalupi-- Review

Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi is a short story collection. It is mainly science fiction. The short story, The Calorie Man, won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. This collection comes from a relatively new press, It looks like they have an excellent selection of new science fiction and fantasy titles. This book is c2008.

The style of writing is very dark. They address the destructive side of human nature. Contemporary issues like water pollution, agricultural seed control, water supplies, and mans relation to nature are addressed. I would think of this science ficiton as being focused on biological, environmental, and psychological issues. The stories at times are quite cruel.

There is quite a bit of irony used in the stories. For example in The People of Sand and Slag, a group of cyborgs finds a dog in a wasteland, they keep it as a pet until it ceases being satisfying to them, then they eat it.

The Story The Calorie Man and The Yellow Card Man seem to be set in the same future dystopia. It is a future of agricultural plagues and giant companies controlling the genetically modified grains which are used for both the food supply and energy supply. To be at the bottom is to be under the thumb of the environmental police.

In The Pasho, the author philosophizes on the differences between soft power; power coming from technology, culture, and philosopy, and hard power; power coming from war. A Pasho is a kind of pirest of knowledge bent on rebuilding civilization after a long collapse.

There are a total of eleven stories in the collection. I really look forward to when the author finishes writing his novel. The writing itself has surprising imagery in it. There are cheshire chameleon cats, fields of soyPRO and HiGro. The characters have varied names and backgrounds, Soldier Wang, Lao Xia, Lolo, Raphel Ka'Korem, Lalji, and others. This is a writer worth following closely.

Morning Thoughts

American Treasure Room, U.S. Library of Congress. I visited here when I was at library school. There is an original Gutenberg Bible under glass.

I decided I needed a break from nonfiction. On the train home last night, I read The Collected Works of Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey, Volume Three and Four. It was lightweight and funny. Something which made me laugh and smile a bit. It didn't take me that long to finish. As usual Uncle Gabby the Sock Monkey, and Drinky Crow, the stuffed Crow were up to mischief. This time they were playing with a victorian hunters taxidermy exhibit with various stuffed critters deer, birds, and insects. Afterwards they went on a hunting exhibit with a butterfly net to collect some small lizards, beetles, and ladybugs.

After finishing Sock Monkey, I started on a new collection of science fiction short stories, Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi. The writing is quite interesting. It is focused on the environment and biology. The characters come from a variety of different walks of life. For example in the short story, The Fluted Girl, it seems to be set somewhere in Eastern Europe. A girl and her sister have been transformed into living instruments with fragile hollow bones by their owner. It is a tragic story. It is also one of the free sample stories avaialable on Paolo Bacigalupi's web site. . There is some mature content in this story. It looks like quite an interesting site.

I plan on reading some more of the short stories on the train. I work late tonight, so I am off this morning. It is rather odd, having to work very late one night, then very early the next day. I really should not complain. I have a job in an American economy that could possibly be heading south very soon.

Tomorrow, I go to a seminar on poverty alleviation. I wonder how libraries can alleviate poverty. My boss asked me to go. I hope, I at least get to keep a name tag as a memento. The next day after that is the New York Comic Con so I should have a very interesting week.

I was thinking about muckraking stories this morning. One problem I have with them is that they solve nothing. They just point out problems which are often obvious. You get to read how terrible things are. I am beginning sometimes it is more constructive to read about how to invest in renewable energy than to read about how terrible the oil, gas, and coal companies are. Companies are made of people. Some are terrible and some aren't. Muckraking in some cases seems to distract people from creating solutions.

I found an interesting article in Library Journal this morning. It is Venezuelan saber rattling against the U.S. Library of Congress. I found it to be profoundly entertaining in a way. I have actually been to the Library of Congress. You can't go inside the actual building if you are a visitor, but you can look down into the reading room from above.

Here I am in the afternoon. Two books or should I say graphic novels came in for me. They are The Rabbi's Cat and The Rabbi's Cat 2. Dine-O-Meter Deb said she was reading The Rabbi's Cat as part of the Graphic Novel Challenge. I wanted to see what it was about so I requested it to be sent to my library.

I also took a minute to look through the New York Times Nonfiction Bestseller List and put Earth The Sequel: The Race to Reinvent Energy And Stop Global Warming by Fred Krupp who is the President of the Environmental Defense Fund.

I think right now, I have more than enough to read. Books are starting to pile up and I now have three small stacks of books to read.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Howard Zinn, People's History of American Empire, Drop In Readership

The Jabberwocky.
I have been in a snarky mood today. I think I could slay dragons.

Not everything you read is something that you want to review. Although, I read Howard Zinn, A People's History of American Empire on the train this morning and enjoyed it, I have decided against reviewing it. I am also not going to put an Amazon button to sell it.

There are pieces of it which I am not sure which I can give justice to. I think part of reviewing is making decisions about what you want to give an opinion on. There is a lot which is covered in the book that is not part of mainstream history. It is more a history written from a radical left viewpoint. Some of it is frankly quite uncomfortable. This is the type of book which speaks for itself when you read it. I don't agree with some of the things being said. I am going to include the Youtube clip on the book which is a very nice summary.

I have a few problems with the darlings of the left. Howard Zinn is a close friend of Noam Chomsky who writes anarchist criticism of American power. I think I have a different frame of reference than Howard Zinn, more business oriented, I am more interested in clean technology, direct or e-democracy, green capitalism, economic quality of life, and employee owned enterprises. I am not a fan of pure socialism. There are some sections in the book which say how wonderful Eugene Debs is as well as idolize the wobblies. While they are interesting, they don't seem to be a good direction for this country to go.


There has been a steady decline in readership of my blog lately. I am not sure what is happening. It would be nice to see some feedback on why. First my readership declined with the changes in Entrecard. Now, I am getting some steady readers, but not a large amount of them. I have tried a variety of different traffic generators, but this does not seem to help.

I am also interested in hearing about which things you like to comment on. If you tell me what you like to comment on, I will do more of it.

I am in a snarky mood today. A bit sharp and biting. So I will include an appropriate poem to signal my mood. I feel like I could slay dragons today. Maybe I should read some science fiction.

Lewis Carroll-- Jabberwocky

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought--
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two!
And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe

Monday, April 14, 2008

Afternoon Thoughts

I wrote the book review for Untapped while I was at the laundromat. Then I typed it up at home. While I was at the laundromat I had a cup of tea with lemon skipping the honey. Honey is still 25 cents a packet at the Korean deli next door to the laundromat. They told me it costs them 13 cents a packet to buy. When people ask for 2-4 packets of honey, they lose profits on tea. I had English Breakfast Tea this time. The packet was a Celestial Seasonings packet.

There is an odd little story about the company Celestial Seasonings. I heard that Celestial Seasonings was started by a hippy that used to wander around Berkeley California selling herbal teas out of a basket. It sounds like the kind of thing that would happen in Berkeley California. It is probably just an urban legend. You see their tea sold in supermarkets now. They have quite colorful packaging.

I took a walk this afternoon to the library. It was a chance to get some fresh air and stretch my legs. The library was pretty quiet today. I am typing this blog entry on a public library computer terminal not from home. I signed up for it for a half hour block of time.

I took a few minutes to look around the library. I found a graphic novel that looked kind of interesting. A People's History of American Empire by Howard Zinn. Howard Zinn is famous for writing A Peoples History of the United States a very popular leftist interpretation of American history. I have read other graphic novels that are historical. Because comic books are sequential in nature, they are an excellent medium for presenting history. My favorite example of this is Larry Groening's A Cartoon History of the Universe. Also cartoon panels are very easy to annotate. You can put a small box in the corner of a cartoon and put a citation in it. I rather like history presented in the graphic novel format.

Untapped The Scramble For Africa's Oil-- John Ghazvinian-- Review

Untapped The Scramble For Africa's Oil by John Ghazvinian is the story of the recent rush to develop Africa's oil. It is the story of John Ghazvinian's travels through twelve countries in African and firsthand observations on how oil development is affecting many countries in Africa. We get accounts on Nigeria including the Niger Delta, Chad, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Congo, Sudan, Sao Tome, and Cameroon. The author speaks directly to government officials, NGOs, company representatives, and local people.

This story is a muckraking expose of corruption, crime, underdevelopment, and grinding poverty. It describes the "Dutch Disease", a process where oil becomes the major export, and local manufacturing and agricultural industires collapse as the upper classes become awash in foreign currency from the oil fields.

The next stage is when oil becomes the major source of revenue. The state becomes the central source of revenue not local business. This often leads to the state not paying attention to local sources of tax revenue and losing focus on building things like roads, schools, and infrastructure. Control of the state becomes the major source of revenue. In Equatorial Guinea one family holds most of the high government positions and thus control of most of the wealth in the country. Thus whoever happens to be in control of the government is in control of the major source of wealth.

This process is described firsthand with visits to the Niger Delta where local people have turned to banditry tapping the pipelines illegally and selling oil on the black market, a self-contained walled Exxon-Mobile city with armed guards in Chad, talking to politicians in Sao Tome, and many other first hand accounts.

We also get to see the international scramble for oil in Africa. The Middle East is viewed by many countries as an unstable source of oil. The European Union, China, India, Australia, the United States, and Indonesia are all in the scramble to get the oil concessions first. Many of the multinationals are trying to get concessions offshore so they do not have to deal with ethnic conflict, war, and sabotage onshore. I found the story of how China is approaching African nations to acquire oil to be surprising. Apparently, China is making big inroads in Africa with very long term promises for development aid in return for oil.

This book definitely has an anti-globalist slant to it. It also seems to be left leaning. The book is muckraking in the tradition of Upton Sinclair. However, it is not meant to be a fictionalized account. The author has a list of suggested reading on Pp. 302--306. These are mainly books and reports. An interesting thing which reflects throughout the book is that his suggested reading is international in scope. There are books and reports in the recommended reading list printed in Lisbon, Paris, Brussels, London, New York, and Washington D.C. Most of the books are still english, a few are French and Portuguese.

I enjoyed the book. It is an interesting story about an important subject. The authors interviews sound real, but you can never tell completely. John Ghazvinian has written for Newsweek and Nation so he is a reputable author. One thing which is missing from the book is pictures. It would have been nice to see a few of them.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Morning Thoughts, Thumbnail, Social Networks

This is the new thumbnail I am using for websites like Technorati, Blogcatalog, and Fuelmyblog.

I started reading John Ghazvinian, Untapped, The Scramble for Africa's Oil. I found the listing fo this book when I was looking at the blog, The Thin Red Line. I am past the first fifty pages already, so I will definitely finish reading this book and review it.

I even sent an email to him requesting he put up a Youtube video. There are a lot of authors who use Youtube to promote their books.

Hello, John Ghazvinian,
I am reading your book Untapped The Scramble For Africa's Oil. I was hoping there was a Youtube video of you talking about the book, about two minutes would be fine. It is a short way to promote your book. There are actually a lot of interviews of authors on Youtube. I know it sounds like an odd idea, but it makes it easier for me to review a book on my website. I am blogging anonymously, well sort of anonymously.


Book Calendar

I am beginning to think that in the not too distant future every author, editor, and publisher will have to have a social media kit for the web. It will consist of an image representing the author in multiple sizes, 125 pixel by 125 pixel, 50 pixel by 50 pixel, and 400 pixel by 400 pixel. I think most authors have this. This image will be used to post on sites like Technorati

In addition to this the author or editor will be expected to create either a short talk of about two minutes on the book they are editing or writing, or a brief reading which they did at a store or other venue. Usually, this will be posted as a video on Youtube. It can't be can too long because then the author would be giving away too much. It would be nice if every recent book I read had a short video clip about it.

One of the things I did tonight is go on Technorati and add some blogs to my favorites. Many of these blogs were already in my blogroll on the side of the page. I Technorati favorited Joe Wikert's Publishing 2020 Blog and The OUP (Oxford University Press) Blog. Now I have both of these blogs linked in more than one place. This creates a kind of network of shared places.

I have done this with some other blogs, I have The Thin Red Line as one of my Entrecard favorites, in my Blogroll, and as a "friend" in Blogcatalog. I think this has helped turn some blogs that share social networking sites into regular readers. There is a web of linkages between the different social network sites where you begin to recognize and read blogs which belong to more than one social networking site.

Some blogs purposefully join you in belonging to more than one social networking community because they like the content of your blog. While I was using Entrecard, the Inkweaver Review asked me to do a link exchange with their site. I did this and now we share use of Entrecard and links between our sites. I hope this helps to build regular readers.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Adventures of Sock Monkey-- Tony Millionaire

How does one describe Tony Millionaire's work? Is it salty like a sailor? is it about drunken toys like Uncle Gabby The Sock Monkey, or Drinky Crow, a sawdust stuffed crow made out of an old pea coat with button eyes. Tony Millionaire is one of my favorite cartoonists. His cartoons seem to escape the panels. He varies the size of his panels and sometimes lets the word slip out of the balloons.

I am not a cartoonist, but I like the elegant black and white ink drawings he uses. They are often quite detailed. I also like the setting of his cartoons; a kind of child's 19th century dreamland populated by irreverent old fashioned children's toys. These toys are boisterous, violent, destructive, vivid and drunken. They are always fighting with mice, birds, bats, alligators, and other small animals.

In The Adventures of Sock Monkey, the places where the stories occur are interesting; aboard old sailing ships and victorian houses. Much of the time the ships or houses end up getting burned down.

Thre are some very interesting moments in the panels. I like when Uncle Gabby the Sock Monkey is talking to the shrunken head from Borneo and I also like when Drinky Crow sings O' Whisky Made The Bosun Call. I also like that when grownups are drawn in the panels, the sock monkey and crow turn into ordinary toys.

The Adventures of Sock Monkey won the Eisner Award for best comic. This graphic novel is a graphic novel which I can read again and again. Despite the toys, this is not a comic for small children. Tony Millionaire has a separate site for his Maakies comic strip.

I read this as part of the Graphic Novels challenge. It is the first graphic novel which I read as my promise to read six graphic novels this year.