Thursday, July 31, 2008

Good Afternoon, Future of the Internet, Solar Concentrating


Google DC Talks: The Future of the Internet

Good Afternoon

Good afternoon, I am not going to post a huge amount today. I started reading a bit of The Future of the Internet And How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain. This book is about the excesses of the internet like Web 2.0, iPhones, Opensource, and various other slightly incomprehensible things. This book is attempting to suggest a practical way to deal with these things. Making these things seem practical is rather impractical to me, but it should be rather interesting reading.

I also learned something kind of interesting by following my stock, Capstone Turbine. They are working with a company called HelioFocus to develop a hot air powered turbine where the air is heated by solar concentrators. The concept is quite interesting.

Mostly, I have been resting today and getting some extra sleep. I'll probably go drive around this afternoon a bit after I take a long nap.

Between the zinc tabs, the vitamin c, the tylenol, and napping, I sm starting to feel a lot better. My head doesn't ache as much.

I took a short drive on both the highway and the city streets. I think the car will pass inspection now. I drove down to Circuit City and looked at the computers. I still have an inkjet printer. Now, they sell these printers with a fas, scanner, copier, and printer all built into one unit for about $150.00. Also, I still don't have a flatacreen, which I can get for about $200.00. I have a big old clunky monitor. To tell you how old my computer is, there is a 3 1/2 inch floppy drive in it.

It still works. I keep on promising myself, I will get an upgrade. If I got the cheapest computer from Dell, it would still outperform my current computer. I have the patience to look for a package deal, computer, monitor, and printer as a bundle.

I do have a cable modem however. Fiber optic is much faster. I might look at Verizon which just got the right to sell fiber optic around New York.

I feel like I fell off the tracks today. I seem to be losing focus right now on this blog. I think I will be back on point tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blogging Break Today

The Sick Doctor

Blogging Break Today.

Time for a rest.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good Afternoon

Cruikshank, The Headache

Good Afternoon

I am going to pick up my car this afternoon. Today has been interesting.... It was a two car alarm night outside last night. It made me a little groggy. Combined with the car thing, I felt a bit disoriented this morning.

I got a notice in the mail requesting me to disband a corporation in New York State. I have to do it by August 28, 2008, or they will charge me an approximated tax. There is a sixty dollar fee for disbanding the corporation plus I have to fill out some corporate tax forms. I haven't done anything with it for several years. I am going to see an accountant, because it looks like it could be deadly if I make a mistake...

I formed the corporation in 2002 to see if I could show a business card and get a few part time jobs. Someone offered me some consulting work searching the internet for company information, people, and other things. Fortunately, I got my job at my current position. It is very easy to from a sole proprietorship and get a business card. I got my last batch of business cards at Vistaprint for the cost of shipping. Now, I find it costs as much to dissolve a corporation as found a sole propietorship. It is pretty ironic. It looks like a way for the government to generate cash like parking tickets.

I have done this kind of thing before. I did a little bit of human resource sourcing for someone. I can't say who because of disclosure problems. I also have done searching for information over the internet and magazine databases searching on a contract basis once or twice. It really is not that exciting looking for people or searching databases. I can do it, but it is not something I would want to do on a permanent basis. Books and graphic novels are far more interesting.

Anyways, I am trying to rest my brain a bit this morning. I am feeling a tiny bit under the weather, combined with the latest stressful events, I want to make sure I don't get very sick. This nursery rhyme from Mother Goose reminds me a bit of how I feel.

The Ten O'Clock Scholar

A diller, a dollar, a ten o'clock scholar!

What makes you come so soon?

You used to come at ten o'clock,

But now you come at noon.

I was looking around the internet a bit when I came across an interesting announcement, apparently Acacia Book One: the War With the Mein which I reviewed on this website earlier is going to be made into a movie.

I had an interesting afternoon. I went and picked up my car. They told me that I had to drive the car a lot more then return on Saturday to have them do another inspection. I spent four hours driving around the neighborhood. I drove to the Barnes and Noble bookstore in the mall. I stopped for a minute but didn't find anything I wanted. I noted down a few graphic novels. Then I drove to Target in another mall. Then I drove down to the supermarket and back. Then I drove down to chinatown. I had some noodles. I like to have specific places to go when I drive...
I would rather be at home reading than driving.

Sometimes, you want to figure out what happened. Apparently when you replace the battery in a car it resets the sensors for smog and other conditions. The battery was replaced before the New York state car inspection. This effectively set most of the sensors to zero. Now, in order for the sensors to test things properly, the car has to be driven under a variety of conditions. This includes hghway and city conditions. My understanding after reading various things on the internet, this might take a few days.

Today was an example of human folly.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Car Troubles, Queens Library

Postage Stamp of the National Library of Faroe Islands.

Car Troubles

Like many of you, I have car troubles. I had to take my car in for an inspection. They told me that it hadn't been driven enough, I had to take it out and drive it around for at least an hour on the freeway or else the inspection equipment wouldn't pass the car. It has been quite an annoyance.

My car is still in the garage getting maintenance done. They have to change the oil, rotate the tires, change the battery, and a bunch of other things to get the car in proper shape.

Right now, I am sitting at the main library in Queens, New York. Queens Library has the highest circulation of any library system in the United States. In other words, more people use it than any other library system. In some ways, it is laid out very differently than most libraries I have been to.

First of all, the library is heavily merchandised with lots of display racks for a variety of subjects including computers, self-help, mythology, new books, bestsellers, and any of a number of different subjects. You could spend a whole day wandering through the merchandised sections of the library. The bookshelves run along the walls, while the merchandised sections are in the center. Green and white signage hangs from the ceilings which is quite visible.

I went through and looked at a bunch of different subjects and wrote down a variety of new titles for computer books. They have more computer books than I have seen in most large bookstores. They also have a greater variety of subjects on computers. I still have a couple thousand dollars of computer books to order.

Sometimes when I go to libraries or bookstores I carry a small notebook to jot down titles which I am interested in. I have several pages of books jotted down after this visit. After walking through the computer books section, I walked through the social science section and noted down a few books that looked interesting. One title which really stood out was The Blue How To Profit By Investing In A Better World by Daniel De Faro Adams and Joe Andrew.

After I was done with the more serious works, I went to the manga and graphic novels section. There were a few things that interested me. Herge's Tintin can be quite controversial, but I think we might want to get a couple for the adult section. Some people consider them to be quite ethnically and racially biased. I also am going to probably order a few books by Goscinny who does the Asterix books. These in a sense are comics classics. I am also considering getting a few reprint volumes of Segar's Popeye.

Not everything in comics is about graphic novels and manga. We still have to get editorial cartoons and comic strips. Aaron McGruder is fairly popular at our library. We also don't have many popular strips. I intend to get a few of Scott Adam's Dilbert books for our collection after looking at the queens collection.

We have a very large African American population where we work. Three cartoonists which stand out who are African American are Lance Tooks, Aaron McGruder, and Kyle Baker. All do excellent work.

The computer station where I am sitting is very busy. There is a very large line to use the computers. It has a very large variety of people in the lines. Queens is also one of the most ethnically diverse places in the United States.

It is odd looking at the screen because they have set the standard type to very large to help the visually impaired. It is like reading a large print book. I don't particularly find it comfortable.

I have an hour to sit here before I go back to check on my car. I checked back on my car and it won't be ready until tomorrow. It is one of those things where unexpected things happen. I'll deal with it as I go along.

I don't really have to worry about driving it unless it is the weekend or I have a specific trip I have to make. I usually take the train to work.

Something I noticed about the Queens main branch is that it is not that effectively designed for reference work. Because almost all the collections are focused on high circulation and there is not as much reference material, there are a lot less people seeking reference questions.

People come in to check out material and use the computers more than anything else in Queens. There were no really identifiable special collections at all. I did not even see a multicultural collection. There is a very large Job Information Center collection. This seems to be the main specialized collection for reference in Queens.

It seemed that an emphasis on circulating material limits the amount of research being done. A research collection is structured differently than a circulating collection. In a more research oriented collection like New York Public Library there tends to be a lot more older material and much greater depth to the collection. It also is much more prestigious because of the depth of the collection. Most of the material in Queens was new material on the shelves. I did not find this particularly appealing. It reminded me too much of a bookstore model for libraries.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Morning Thoughts, Conan The Conqueror

Robert E. Howard

Morning Thoughts

I have started reading Fueling Our Future An Introduction to Sustainable Energy by Robert L. Evans (Director Clean Energy Research Centre The University of British Colombia) , Cambridge University Press, c2007.

This looks to be a rather interesting book. It will be interesting to read a non-Us perspective on renewable energy. There are sections in the book on ocean energy which is not often covered in books on renewables. The author is also comparing nuclear, clean coal, and renewables as future energy sources. The author also compares two future transportation infrastructures, one based on plug in hybrid electric vehicles, and one based on a hydrogen transportation infrastructure.

This book is proving to be very fascinating reading. I have learned quite a few new things like the process of extracting oil from tar sands and oil shale. It also describes how it may be possible to extract methane from coal seams.

Robert L. Evans also gives a description of how carbon capture technology for coal plants would work that makes far more sense than any other description I have read. Often carbon dioxide is pumped into wells to force oil to flow out of nearby wells better. These are called CO2 injection wells. The drill holes with the carbon dioxide are then capped. The oil wells become carbon dioxide storage sites.

I often think not enough people are aware of all the technological options for renewable energy. Very few people know about wave energy, plasma conversion, solar updraft towers, biomass co-firing, landfill gasification, micro-hydro, hybrid turbine electric engines, and hybrid electric trains. There are many other options which could expand the mix of renewable energy options.

Conan The Conqueror

Robert E. Howard only wrote one full book length Conan novel, The Hour of the Dragon, or Conan the Conqueror.

While there has been a Conan movie made starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, there never was a Conan movie made based on Conan The Conqueror. There were plans for years that Schwarzenegger would make a King Conan film based on this book. It never happened due to differences in opinion on how the movie should be made. I hear rumors that they may make a new Conan movie. I hope they don't choose a bodybuilder or someone from World Wrestling Entertainment.

I always thought that Schwarzenegger was too slow moving to be Conan. They need someone who is very quick, athletic, and able to express a lot of rage.

I would not mind if they restarted the franchise, but please choose the right person for the role. King Conan would be a fabulous movie if it was done right. Supposedly New Line Cinema is releasing a new version of the Conan movie in 2009.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Morning Thoughts

Morning Thoughts

Please excuse me if I haven't been doing too much writing this morning. I've been soaking in nostalgia for a bit. I rather like to do this. It reminds me of when I was younger and more carefree. It has been enjoyable lazing about and reading Savage Sword of Conan.

I had my morning coffee already, but haven't had a chance to read the paper yet. Sigh...
It is nice to have a day off on Saturday.

This afternoon, I did not do much either. I even skipped my daily chores today. I am off on Monday, so I am relaxing.

I finished watching The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. The plot didn't matter in the slightest to me, neither did the actors. I wanted to watch the stop motion animated monsters. They were a lot of fun to watch. Ray Harryhausen somehow gives his monsters more character than a lot of actors. I liked the roc, the cyclops, the dragon, and the animated skeleton. They were fun to watch just moving around. I especially liked the fight sequence between the dragon and the cyclops.

Monsters are fun to watch on film. I prefer if they are just presented as monsters with few ulterior motives. King Kong is a great monster. Mighty Joe Young is a great monster. Harryhausen did a lot of the stop motion animation for the original Mighty Joe Young. Godzilla is also a great monster because she seems to be a force of nature primally destructive. There is something primal about watching monsters destroy things and make loud noises. They are like hurricanes or earthquakes. I personally am not interested in particularly scary monsters. I want some of my monsters to be destructive not have motives.

Savage Sword of Conan, Volume 1, 2, and 3, Dark Horse Press-- Thoughts

Savage Sword of Conan, Volume 1, 2, and 3, Dark Horse Press-- Thoughts

I have been reading the Savage Sword of Conan compilations. Volume one contains issues 1-10, Volume 2 contains issues 11-24, Volume 3 contains issues 25-36. Savage Sword of Conan was a magazine size comic book produced during the 1970s. Roy Thomas is the writer of all these stories. Roy Thomas essentially popularized Conan for the comics format. This was after L. Sprague De Camp started creating new Conan stories for the paperbacks.

These collections are a veritable whose who of fantasy and comic artists. Some of the cover artists represented are people like Frank Brunner, Ken Barr, and Boris Vallejo. It is a veritable who's who of fantasy artists. The internal artists in these books are also very interesting, Barry Windsor Smith, John Buscema, Gil Kane, Neal Adams, Alfred Alcala, Gene Colan, Carmine Infanto and Others. The cover art on Volumes one and two is by Boris Vallejo. Almost all the stories are beautifully drawn.

It is Conan in his classic form. The first volume is mainly Roy Thomas adapting the original Robert E. Howard stories for the comic book format. This is the classic barbarian with a sword tales. The stories are predictable full of violence, gold, monsters, and all those fantasy things which expect in a classic swords and sorcery sense. The whole set is very nostalgic, very predictable, and very fun to read. The third volume in the series has Roy Thomas adapting a number of the L. Sprague De Camp Conan stories to comic book form. L. Sprague De Camp is my favorite writer of the derivative Conan works.

Conan lives in these works. He lives for fighting, women, gold, strong drink, song, revenge, rage, and all those manly man things which makes him the king of swords and sorcery characters. The monsters in the stories are the things which crawl out of the pit, skeletons, giants, snakes, spiders, winged demons, and unnamable slithering horrors from before time. Also the dangerous jungle things, the giant apes and cats are of course represented. The tribes are the afghulis, the vanir, the picts, the kushites. He goes by many names, Amra the lion, Conan the Throat Slitter, and King Conan.

This series focuses mostly on when he is a wandering adventurer, thief, and mercenary. There are some episodes about when he becomes King of Aquilonia. Conan mainly discriminates against civilization, preferring to be with the wild fighting men of all races and cultures. It is machismo at its fullest. Women are not treated well in these stories. I would call some of these stories quite misogynistic. The exception are women who can use a sword, or who help Conan escape from danger. He turns Zenobia a slave into his queen in Aquilonia for saving him. He does not believe in slavery and keeping women as slaves.

Conan faces a variety of adventures with traps, tricks, and skulduggery. There are all the things you would expect, poisoned wine, pits with snakes, giant magnetic tables which trap swords, evil wizardry, treacherous thieves, sinking boats, deserted islands, long lost civilizations, and slavery. Conan is not a good guy, he is in it for his own ends. He kidnaps princesses for ransom, steals jewels, practices piracy and raiding, and fights for whoever who will pay him initially.

He however, does have a sense of honor, hates wizardry, hates monsters, hates slavery, and ultimately sides with men over the things from the pit or the dark past. In other words he has a well developed sense of character.

There is also an underlying rage in the Conan character. He is a berserker and often cannot stop himself from fighting. This rage fuels him to constantly seek new people to fight with. Also in his early life, he cannot hold onto wealth spending it freely on strong wine and women. There is a certain tragic sense to the character which many people do not see. His life is one of anger at having lost his family at an early age. He rages against the Vanir who raided his hill village. He is very much drawn with heavy eyebrows and a deep, dark brooding look in the comics.

One of the main differences I see between Conan and many characters is people assume the stories are only about fighting. Conan uses subterfuge, trickery, and his skills in hiding, tracking, and climbing to escape from his enemies many times. His instincts keep him alive on many occasions. He is often captured, beaten down by groups of men, and must escape.

In the books, Conan is not described like a bodybuilder. He does not look like Arnold Schwarzenegger who I thought butchered the role in some ways. There is some of this in the comics, but not as much as in the movies. He does not pose in bodybuilder positions in the comics. He is described as being lithe and moving like a tiger. I especially like how John Buscema draws him.

If you like swords and sorcery, high adventure, or machismo with a sword you might like these stories. They are classic stories and are very nostalgic. You might have read these stories if you were a teenager or adult during the 1970s. These stories are definitely not for children. The comics were not restrained at all, they did not bother to follow the comics code when they made these comics.

The only drawback with the series is that the covers which are shown are not in color like the originals. Also, the original size of Savage Sword of Conan was larger than the collected books. This causes some shrinkage in the size of the pictures and makes the print smaller making them a little less detailed. Also, these reprints only contain the main stories, not the smaller side stories in the original magazine size comics.

Still, this is a very complete series. You get 544 pages of comics in Volume 1 and 2. For the price of $19.95 it is a good deal. I am surprised that Marvel comics which owns the rights, let Dark Horse comics print the books. These books were on the Diamond Comic Distributors list of top 50 bestselling graphic novels.

Don't Make Me Think A Common Sense Approach To Web Usability, Second Edition, Steve Krug-- Review

Don't Make Me Think A Common Sense Approach To Web Usability, Second Edition, Steve Krug-- Review

Don't Make Me Think is a book about web usability. Usability is basically how easy it is too efficiently use a website. It tests how to make a website easier for the average visitor.

This book gives you insights into how to make a website easy to use. The first principle is to make your website as obvious as possible. For example, if the visitor is looking for employment information, it should use the most obvious words to describe employment like jobs or resume.

The other point it makes is that people don't read websites they do magazines or books, they scan through a website quickly. Most people do not want to scroll through screens of information. They want to go to the first place which gives them relevant information. They are seeking "satisficing", that is the place where they will get the information they need, not the best information.

Steve Krug describes how a website is more like a billboard than a magazine. The title should be prominently displayed on all the pages, and there should be a link back to the home page on every page. The most important piece of information on the web page should be the most visible.

Links should be obviously shown as links. This is why I usually put the full url in my blog posts for sites that you can visit.

Steve Krug quotes from The Elements of Style, "Omit needless words." He further says you must eliminate happy talk, marketing talk, and jargon from your site. People do not have very much patience on the internet.

There are some interesting concepts described about how people find things. He has many diagrams on how people seek out to buy things on the web. These diagrams explain how to make the experience quicker and easier. He also describes how to create a visual trail for the user on a web site. This often called "breadcrumbs." At times this gets a bit complex.

There is also a description of the basic elements of a homepage for a business. This book is mostly focused on business and professional websites, not the home user. It often describes how a development team in a business would build or test a website. This is my first experience with this kind of material.

Some of the elements in a professional homepage are search functionality, timely content, and shortcuts. He mentions that the title of websites should have a catchy tagline attached to them. This should explain exactly what the website is about.

The final chapters are how to do usability testing in a very inexpensive manner. He describes the basic setup with a camcorder, cabling, computers, and screen capture software. Then he tells how you can test a website with small groups of people to see whether or not it is easy for them to use. I understood the majority of this. However, it is not something I am planning on doing immediately.

Immediately after the cheap usability testing, he gives an outline of the context of what generates goodwill and bad will in a website. For example, some of the elements which generate goodwill are making it easy to recover from errors, putting in printer friendly pages, and knowing what the main thing people want in your website then implementing it.

The last few pages have several books which he recommends you read to improve your web site usability. Some of them look quite interesting. I may order several of them for my library. There is an index in the back of the book as well.

The book is illustrated in full color. There are pictures on almost every page. The artwork is pleasant to look and relevant to the content of the book. The book itself is designed so it is easy to read. The author claims you should be able to read through the book in about two hours. It took me three hours with several interruptions.

This book is very basic. It gives you an idea of what web usability is. I think it is helpful for basic tips on how to improve a website. The material is not advanced or complicated. It is the kind of thing you can read in an afternoon. This is a beginners book. If you already have advanced usability skills, it might not help.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Good Morning, Good Afternoon

Brain in a vat. I don't know why I chose this image. Maybe, I feel a bit dreamy today.

Good Morning

I read Black and White on the train in to work today. I reserved By Schism Rent Asunder, a new David Weber in his series Armageddon Reef. This series reads very differently than his books published under the Baen label. This book is published under the Tor label so the editing should be considerably different.

I also found a review for The Automotic Detective on This is the exact link to the review . I liked the review enough to recommend it. It is accurate.

Good Afternoon

During lunch, I noted down the outline for the review of Don't Make Me Think A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. I am not going to write it out today. One review in a day is enough. I think more than one review would be rushed and a little sloppy.

I am feeling a little better than this morning with two cups of coffee fortifying my thinking.

One of the reasons I am doing this blog is for self motivation to get myself to do a little bit every day of different library and literature related things...

I weeded some of the graphic novels in the adult section. I did not get rid of a lot of the classics. People still read Milton Caniff, Rube Goldberg, Jules Feiffer, Al Capp, Gary Trudeau, and Berke Breathed. I know these are often quite old, but people are still checking them out. As soon as the new graphic novels I order are here, they go out very quickly.

Often the people who sit at the computers have a waiting time of half hour or longer. Many of them read graphic novels while they are waiting for their turn on the internet computers. Graphic novels are quick and easy to read.

I checked out a few graphic novels for me to read this weekend. I always check out the books which I am going to use. It is the right thing to do for librarians. Check out your books. It increases the amount of circulation for your library. Libraries are partially funded by circulation.

I have the following graphic novels, The Facts In The Case of the Departure of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman, Michael Zulli, and Todd Klein, Usagi Yojimbo The Mother of Mountains Volume 21 by Stan Sakai, and The Savage Sword of Conan Volumes 1, 2, and 3 written by Roy Thomas. These are Dark Horse comics compilations. They should remind me of when I was younger and liked to read Conan. It is a bit nostalgic to look at these three volumes.

Also, I have The Future of the Internet and How To Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain. This should be interesting. Finally, I am looking at Fueling Our Future An Introduction To Sustainable Energy by Robert L. Evans.

Black and White Tekkon Kinkreet All In One, Taiyo Matsumoto, Review

Good Morning

I was reading Tekkon Kinkreet Black & White All In One by Taiyo Matsumoto on the train in from work. It is a really incredible manga. Some of the content defies definition. It is about an orphan pair of children who look to be about ten or eleven years old in a run down city, Black and White. There are some very unusual things about them. They are extremely violent, they also can fly which makes for a very strange story. In an odd way, they are almost super powered.

They are in conflict with various denizens of the city including the yakuza, foreign criminals, and other street gangs. They seem to be the spirit of a city which has turned into a rather nasty slum. The characters are interesting. They get help from a drunken old man sometimes. Interspersed with their violent dealings are various episodes like visiting a video arcade, eating apples, going to the public baths, pickpocketing money during a boxing match, and mugging people for their watches.

The art work is stunning. It has an odd feeling, somehow. It is mostly drawn in black white. The drawings are not traditional, they have a rough quality to them which makes them both childlike and at the same time very dark. Towards the end of the story, Black gets separated from White and takes on the spiritual aspect of the Minotaur, the destroyer of men. He fights two assassins who also can fly and kills them. At moments there are pictures of a good Black and a Black that is the essence of evil.

White weres a kind of a weird outfit with a lion mask, and regular all white childrens clothes, Black wears a necklace of a big skull, aviator goggles, and black clothing. This makes them odd. They also sometimes carry big metal pipes.

There is a lot of strangeness in this story. For example, Black and White meet another pair of street children, Dawn and Dusk with powers. You see them on top of buildings, sitting on telephone wires, jumping on moving cars. The two children are completely without fear. Also, they sleep in an old rusted out car. There is a little plot of land where White has planted an apple seed.

The villain is a foreign asian man with rings on his fingers and in his ears. He is trying to build an amusement building for children and take over the town. The villain wants to change the whole character of the city into something like Disneyland. He wants to unite the yakuza and tear down the old strip mall which they hang out at.

Sometimes the police talk to them. They don't know what to make of the children. They have a record of violence. In one scene they attack another little kid and take his backpack. The whole story is very surreal. The story at least ends with peace in the city.

This story is definitely not for children. It is an adult story despite having super powered street orphans as the main characters. The main characters, Black and White sing naughty childrens rhymes, swear, and cause mayhem. The villains are violent. There is some nudity and sexuality. One of the yakuza is depicted talking to his wife while he is in bed about having a child. There is an odd mix of real life and otherworldly powers.

The book is an odd size 7 inches by 10 inches making it very large for a manga. The panels are also larger than usual. They are not laid out in a traditional manner and vary from page to page. The book was turned into an anime film in 2006. It is very avant garde. I am surprised that this was published. It is very unusual.  There is a parental advisory symbol on the front of the book which says "Parental Advisory, Explicit Content."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Afternoon Thoughts

Unknown Master Artist, Vanitas With Sun Dial

Afternoon Thoughts

This morning, I spent three hours answering peoples reference questions. It was rather interesting and busy.

Anyways, I am reading Steve Krup, Don't Make Me Think, A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Second Edition, New Rikers, c2006. Usability is how to make it easy to use and navigate websites. This book makes many suggestions on how to do this. It is a quick read. I am already half way through the book.

I will work on writing a review of The Automatic Detective tomorrow. Sometimes, I have to let a book sit in my head for a little bit before I start writing a review about it. I don't even seem to think about it in my conscious mind.

The room is set up for my poetry open microphone this afternoon, I have to pick out some poetry books to bring down for the audience to look at. A bit later the refreshments will be set up.

The Public Domain How To Find & Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art, & More-- Attorney Stephen Fishman--Review

The Public Domain How To Find & Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art, & More-- Attorney Stephen Fishman--Review

This is an excellent overview of how to find and use material that is in the public domain. It is quite an interesting book. There is a lot of material that is in the public domain. You have to be very careful with copyright. The United States government for example encourages people to put copyrights on things even if they are in the public domain. The maximum fine for putting a copyright symbol on a public domain item is $2500. This is a pittance compared to what most companies stand to gain by claiming copyright.

Copyright is used to ensure that authors gain money and recognition for their work. According to the author, almost everything in the United States written or published before 1923 is no longer under copyright. There are ways which publishers get around this.

For example, the author, Stephen Fishman describes how Lexis licenses the use of its databases creating a contract for use of legal documents. The legal documents themselves are in the public domain, but the contract spells out how the database will be used. Another example is that the cartoon Krazy Kat is in the public domain, but, the name Krazy Kat is still trademarked. Also, if a person appears in a photograph, they may have rights of publicity which are different than copyright.

I learned a lot from reading this book. Some of it is directly applicable for my job. For example displaying a book in a library or museum is not a violation of copyright because the book is not being distributed or intended to be distributed.

In my blog, I use many pictures produced by the United States government. Most of the material published by the United States government is not protected by copyright. There are some exceptions like the Smithsonian and some documents produced by the Department of Commerce. It is fun to look through the photographic archives of the Library of Congress available on the web.

The book covers a huge variety of different formats including writing, photographs, art, maps, software, television, radio, recordings, music, architectural drawings, choreography, and more. There are also sections on the copyright and the internet and international copyright.

Just because someone put something on the internet does not make it public domain. Even if a person does not put a copyright notice up, they can claim that their publisher forgot to put the notice up and they are protected by copyright.

Also virtually all software is protected by copyright. No software was produced before 1923 in the United States, the same goes for television. There are a variety of software licenses which organizations have created including creative commons, freeware, and shareware. These are licenses for use which are legally different than the terms of copyright.

The way the Author describes "fair use" is quite interesting. There is no equivalent of fair use in most other countries than the United States. Also, many countries have very different copyright terms than the United States. Publishing something on the web can put you in jeopardy of violating international copyright laws.

The one idea in fair use that I get is the right to criticism. I have a right to take small pieces of an authors work from a book so I can criticise the content. The same goes for film. I do this all the time on my blog.

This book was fascinating to read. Because it was was written by a lawyer for laypersons, the book was very precise and clear in its language. It is also very intense in depth reading. It took over a week for me to read the book. There is a set of related internet links and books at the end of each chapter to provide further understanding of the subject matter being covered. There are also numerous black and white photographs throughout the book. The book is c May 2008, Nolo Press, 4th Edition. It was listed as a Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title. Choice reviews academic books. Nolo Press publishes many books of law for the layperson.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Evening Thoughts

Statue of Niccolo Machiavelli. Supposedly Machiavelli used to like to put on his court robes at night before he sat down to read so he could be in his imagination with the great thinkers throughout history.

Evening Thoughts

Today has been very busy. I haven't really had a chance to write the reviews of two books which I have read, The Public Domain, and A. Lee Martinez, The Automatic Detective. I enjoyed reading both titles. I forgot to bring a pen on the train this morning. Maybe, I am making an excuse. I try to write a little bit on my blog every single day.

I tried to read the manga, Ruruoni Kenshin by Nobuhiru Watsuki a bit this morning, but found myself a little bored. It seemed a bit too formal in some ways to me. The little bits of history on the characters were interesting, but overall the story did not excite me that much.

When I read the history of Japan, I prefer to read about Japan before westerners came. This is just a personal bias. The setting in this manga is during the Meiji period. This means there are elements added like guns and other elements.

The volume I read was the Vizbig Edition, Volume 1, which compiles Volumes 1-3 into a single trade paperback volume. I think people who like more formal traditional manga will like this work. It combines sword fighting with romance and intrigue.

This morning I spent some time weeding the computer books. I am trying to thin out the collection of items that are not being used before more of the new books start coming in. We have to keep many of the older books because of the issue of legacy computing.

Underlying programs like c, perl, java and html remain the building blocks of newer programs like xhtml, c++, css, and other computer programs. Also many people still use older editions of windows, we still get requests for windows 95, 98, and XP. The same thing applies to things like unix and linux. Not everyone is hurriedly switching over to Vista or Ubuntu.

Books on the older programs are often no longer sold in the bookstores even though people are using them. They turn to the library because it is the only place where people can get the material. Not everyone wants to switch to a newer fancier system.

I spent several hours looking at computer books to see if we still need them. I also spent some time looking at some of the new books which just came in. I am going to wait and see what is coming in before I order more new books. I will probably also weed our current graphic novel and manga collection, both to reduce the number of books that are not circulating, and make the newer material look more visible. Very crowded, packed shelves make it hard to find new material. I like to have around 6 inches to one foot at the end of each shelve.

Tomorrow, I also have my poetry open microphone. We moved it down from four o'clock to five o'clock to have a chance for more adults to come. Hopefully, we'll also get a new microphone. I think, I will be ready for the program. I also usually pick out a variety of poetry books for people to look at which I bring down on a book truck. In addition, we will be serving light refreshments. I like to serve water and juice. I don't like serving soda, especially when little children are around, it makes them very jumpy.

I picked out a few books from the new books to look at. One is a manga, Tekkon Kinkreet Black and White All In One by Taiyo Matsumoto. There is a parental advisory on the cover for content. Also, there is a label which says now an animated film. Another book which looks interesting is Don't Make Me Think, A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition, by Steve Krug. The final book which I plan on reading is The Future of The Internet And How To Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain.

Once again, I am starting to pile up books to read. Oddly enough, I didn't really have any magazines to read today. I read the paper this morning with my coffee, but that is an almost ritual thing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thoughts For Today

Thoughts For Today

I read the July 7 Publishers Weekly this morning. There was an interesting title listed for graphic novels. It is War Eagles by Carl Macek. There is an introduction by Ray Harryhausen. Ray Harryhausen currently is working on a new animatronic film called War Eagles. This is the graphic novel adaptation of the film.

Also, we had a Dominican lady come in and talk about her new poetry book. We may be doing a poetry reading in Spanish which should be quite interesting. We just have to make the arrangements for the program.

I am almost done reading The Public Domain.

I have a copy of Usagi Yojimbo Tomoe's Story, Volume 22 by Stan Sakai. I think this is my favorite manga and possibly one of the best comic series I've ever read. I love the story and the style of the artwork. Usagi Yojimbo means "rabbit bodyguard". The main character is Miyamoto Usagi, a wandering rabbit ronin inspired by Miyamoto Musashi. It is an anthropomorphic or furry comic book. Stan Sakai was inspired to write the story while he was a letterer for Groo the Wanderer.

It has numerous elements from Japanese folklore including ghosts, tengu, spirits, and demons. There are also ninja, assassins, bandits, and other adventures which Usagi runs into. He fights numerous duels with the sword. There are also different furries some of them present unique challenges. Stan Sakai has a website at:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Acacia Book One The War With The Mein-- David Anthony Durham-- Review

Acacia Book One The War With The Mein-- David Anthony Durham-- Review

This is the story of an invasion of a fantasy empire, Acacia, by a foreign people the Mein. The Acacians are a dark skinned desert people represented by the Acacia tree. The Mein are a light skinned people from a cold northern land that remind me a bit of the Finns or Laplanders.

The Mein are seeking vengeance for the Acacians driving them north into the frozen tundra for many generations. They had to survive in a harsh environment. The Mein worship their ancestors and wish to seek revenge for the slights received by the Acacians years ago. They also despise the Acacians slave keeping and trade in the drug called the mist.

The opening story is a story of brutal conquest. I rather like it because the writer does not hold back, he describes all the tools of war. The Mein use disease on the Acacians, surprise attack, subterfuge and treachery in their initial bid to seize power. There is a wonderful description of the assassination of the Acacian emperor. The assassin announces his name after he succeeds to prove he did it.

However, after the conquest initially succeeds, the Mein fail to capture the royal family. This leads to the second part of the book where the royal family grows up. One of them becomes a raider, another a living goddess, another a hunter and warrior, and the last a captive of the Meinish court.

There is a sense in the writing that the author is drawing from North African and Scandinavian history to create a unique clash of cultures. This makes the story very interesting. You can even see in parts where he is using the story of the Barbary pirates. The Mein are not mainland Europeans.

Mixed in the unique setting is the use of very dark subject matters, the drug trade, and the slave trade in building imperial power. The drug is Mist a kind of will sapping substance which is smoked.

The magic in this story is not the kind of thing where wizards throw thunderbolts and summon strange creatures. It is much more subtle. There is a strange and terrible race in support of the Mein, the Numrek, a race of giant cannibals who ride furry rhinoceros creatures who come from deep in the frozen ice fields. The magical elements when they are described don't seem too gripping. They need to provoke more of a sense of wonder.

The writing is solid but not astounding. I think he could have described the physical surroundings of the characters a little better.

It is the uniqueness of the setting, and the willingness to cover dark topics which separates this novel from other fantasy novels. Also, there is a focus on the details in the battles which is unique. The author does an excellent job of describing bow, spear, sword, knife and axe fighting. He even describes a set of martial forms which the Acacians use in their fighting.

The final part of this book is how the Acacians retake their throne. This part of the story has a lot of court intrigue in it. It has an interesting surprise ending which is very different from what I expected. I will definitely read the second book in this series when it comes out.

Morning Thoughts

19th Century Phrenology Chart. Nothing like a little pseudoscience.

Morning Thoughts

I have been looking at Baker & Taylor online for a little bit. They have a section of selection lists for libraries. I have been looking at their starred reviews lists of books as well as some of their specialized e-lists on different subjects. Some of them are useful for selecting items. Baker & Taylor is a very large book distributor. We buy most of our books through Baker & Taylor. So do a lot of the public libraries in the United States. We do our own technical processing.

I spent some time looking through the Strand Books website . They are arranged very differently than Amazon or Barnes and Nobles. The Strand has a number of categories for books which are interesting like substance abuse and social work which are worth looking at. We have a fairly high demand for items in these categories.

I also took a few minutes and looked at the different categories at Powell's bookstores. Powell's is another megabookstore like the Strand. I find Powell's categories to be much more refined than Barnes and Nobles or Amazon.

The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez has come in for me to read. I didn't realize until I picked up the book that the author also wrote Gil's All Fright Diner, a humourous horror novel about preventing the end of the world.

I am also thinking about what I am going to do for my Open Microphone Poetry Reading on Thursday. We moved the time down to 5:00-6:00 p.m., it really should be later, but there is no one who can fill in for the time slot.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Morning Thoughts

A bust of Homer in the British Museum in London.

Morning Thoughts

Good morning. I had my morning coffee, so I am not feeling too bad. I watched a little bit of the 7th Voyage of Sinbad. It is much better than Harryhausen's other films. I rather like the Valley of the Cyclops. The animation for the cyclops is quite interesting. I like the way it uses a tree to smash several of Sinbad's companions.

There is a lot in this movie so far which is quite interesting. Sinbad often creates his own problems when he hires criminals who would be facing the gallows to voyage with him to the Vally of the Cyclops.

The special effects, even if they are old are quite interesting. The miniature princess that is three inches tall is entertaining, so is the scene of the four armed snake woman.

The way the story is told reminds me a little bit of the Odyssey. It is an old fashioned adventure story with gold, magic, and monsters. I will write more about it as I watch some more of the film.

I took a break from the movie and am reading a bit more of Acacia: The War With the Mein. The story is interesting, it seems to draw from African myth and legend, as well as North African history. The scenes with pirates remind me a bit of the pirates of the Barbary coasts from North Africa. The setting is a bit different than your usual fantasy setting. It seems to mix a bit of African history with Roman history.

I also like some of the themes in the novel so far. For a while, the Acacians ruled the known world through a combination of a drug called the mist and various forms of slavery including child slavery. Now they are being attacked by the Mein who consider the Acacians unjust and dishonorable.

I finished reading the novel this afternoon. It has a rather interesting and surprising ending. I will write up a review later this week.

Entrecard is still having some problems. Apparently Amazon S3 which provides remote memory storage and other applications to Entrecard is having some problems with their cloud computing system. Cloud computing is a form of distributed computing.

Amazon S3 rents applications and memory to other companies through the internet. In other words you can rent chunks of memory, internet bandwidth, and complex computer programs by the hour at reasonable rates.

Unfortunately when Entrecard added Sezwho and Diggit, it looks like the new applications disrupted the cloud computing system on Amazon S3. It is rather interesting to follow.

It is a bit annoying. It means that I will be getting less blog traffic through Entrecard. Hopefully, Entrecard and Amazon S3 will fix this soon. Still, it is rather fascinating to follow the process. I am learning something about how social networking systems can have problems.

I am trying to understand this stuff in terms of Occam's Razor, otherwise it would be completely over my head. "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best."

While I was at the laundromat during the evening folding clothes, I was watching television. I have a television but it doesn't work properly, you have to subscribe to cable to get any channels so I don't watch it at home. The television I have at home has a built in VCR and DVD player which is easy to use. I watch movies on my television but not any television shows.

Anyways, I was watching the news on television at the laundromat when I saw a rather interesting advertisement. Apparently T. Boone Pickens the oil billionaire has an energy plan which he is advertising on television. I went to the site and it was very straightforward. Invest in wind power, solar power, and natural gas. Straightforward, easy, something which we can definitely do. I liked it enough that I looked at the website. He says some things which are quite correct. Oil peaked in 2005 and we are sending too much money to foreign powers. Here is the link:

Iron Man-- Peter David

Iron Man-- Peter David

This is a paperback novelization of the movie by Peter David. Because it is a novelization of a movie, it has to stick to the story in the movie. The paperback was released a month before the movie was released. There is a picture of Iron Man's face on the cover. The goal of these type of paperbacks is to encourage you to go out and see the movie.

The story modernizes the comic book iron man. Iron man was retired in comic book form a while ago. Marvel comics is reviving the franchise.

Tony Stark is a world leading weaponry salesman. His goal is to sell weapons to the United States so the United States military can be the best in the world.

Stark makes a trip to Afghanistan and is driving in a convoy when it is hit by insurgents. He is captured. The terrorist insurgents demand he fix some of his own weaponry so they can use it against American troops. He sees firsthand that the enemy is using his weaponry.

Instead, Tony Stark builds a prototype of his iron man suit and fights his way out, escaping to freedom. He makes a vow to stop selling weaponry the world over. His experience creates a change of heart. Also, he gets shrapnel near his heart signifying a physical change. He has to have a magnetic chest plate put in to stop the shrapnel from entering his heart.

The story is very straightforward, the writer, Peter David makes it come across easily. There is not a lot of angst or deep thought. It is action oriented and about change.

When he gets home, he announces the change in his company. However, many people in the company don't want to change. They plan for Tony Stark's downfall. Thus we have the classic Judas story, where there is a traitor in the midst.

Tony Stark builds a new more powerful iron man suit and goes to defeat the terrorists, destroying the weapons which were manufactured by Stark Industries.

When he gets home, he must face the Judas, an appropriately named villain, Mr. Stane. Mr. Stane has built a suit similar to Iron Man's which he plans to sell as a weapon of war, the Iron Monger. A major battle ensues where Iron Man destroys the Iron Monger.

This is very straightforward action. Iron Man even plays Metallica and Black Sabbath rock music while he is fighting the villains. Peter David does a good job creating a straightforward story of good versus evil. Tony Stark starts out as a millionaire playboy without a conscience and gets a conscience through directly experiencing the bad guys.

The book was quite easy to read. I finished it in about two and a half hours. It is the kind of thing which you can read in an afternoon.

Peter David has written numerous Star Trek novels, for Babylon 5, for Marvel and DC comics, as well as a few of his own novels like Tigerheart. Tigerheart is advertised on the inside front cover of the Iron Man paperback. He is an entertaining bestselling writer.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Morning Weekend Thoughts

This is a path in the grounds of Down House. Darwin regularly walked along this path for exercise of body and mind. He called it his "Thinking Path". Ted Grant took the photograph and released it into the public domain.

Morning Weekend Thoughts

I am at the library sitting here at one of the computers. I am fifty minutes into my alotted hour. While I was looking around on the internet, I got a blocked site. I must have been looking at something quite spicy. I am really not sure why I was blocked. I wasn't even aware they had filtering software on my local libraries computers.

I visited a number of social networking sites. Entrecard is very slow today. I should not be obsessive about these things. Apparently, they partnered with a company called , a company that has comment management software for blogs. I am not sure if it is working right now. It did not work out too well. Now Entrecard is quite slow.

Sezwho was not properly prepared for a large volume of blogs to manage. For Sezwho to index a single blog for comments takes about two to three hours. Imagine if they suddenly have thousands of blogs to index.

I also returned my book, The Other Wind today. I dropped it in the book slot. Not very exciting.

Today seems like it is just starting and it is almost noon. I had my morning coffee already, so I am awake.

Sometimes you want to do nothing. I certainly am in one of those moods. I feel pretty relaxed. Right now, I am the only one sitting at the computers in the library. It is quiet and peaceful. I will be walking down the hill soon to go back home. I still haven't looked around for things to read.

I didn't find anything to read at the library this morning. There is a heat advisory outside until after six o'clock so it is a bit hot outside.

I did however, have a chance to read Iron Man by Peter David. It was a nice lite read with all the trappings of what should go into a superhero novel. I haven't seen the movie so I don't know if it is an exact match. Still it was fun to read this afternoon. It took me about two hours to read. It is the kind of book which you can read in a single afternoon.

I also watched part of another Ray Harryhausen film, 20 Million Miles to Earth. It was about a creature from Venus that grows into a giant creature from Venus which terrorizes the Sicilian countryside. At least, the monster had the good taste to go after a coliseum. The movie was light entertainment. It was basically a giant bipedal lizard.

Unfortunately, I could not watch all of it because the DVD was scratched. It is hard to know if the DVD works sometimes. People who return the DVDs often don't tell us that they are damaged. We have a machine downstairs at the library which is supposed to fix most scratches on DVDs. I will bring the movie in to get it fixed.

I am preparing to watch these slightly cheesy films for the grand finale of Harryhausen films, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad tomorrow. There are supposed to be several animatronic fight sequences between Sinbad and various monsters.

If you are wondering if I did anything constructive today, I did go shopping for groceries this afternoon. I know it has very little to do with books.

Vampire Hunter D -- Hideyuki Kikuchi-- Adapted and Illustrated by Saiko Takaki

Vampire Hunter D -- Hideyuki Kikuchi-- Adapted and Illustrated by Saiko Takaki

This is a manga novel for adults. The themes and the violence give it a rating of 16+. It is quite graphic. The illustrator is translating a Japanese novel into manga form. She includes a few short comic strips on this process at the back of each manga. Despite being very action oriented, there are some interesting characteristics about the way the vampire hunter is drawn. He is physically lithe and beautiful to women. The lady monsters and vampires find him very attractive as well as the women he ends up protecting.

The setting is quite interesting. Long ago there was a nuclear war which annhilated most of civilization. Mutants and horrible things roamed the earth for thousands of years. Then out of the darkness rose the nobility vampires who ruled humanity for five thousand years. This rule collapsed eventually. Now, hunters roam the land, men, women, and others who unceasingly try to protect humanity from the dark creatures while a new civilization is being built. It has elements in it that remind of Jack Vance's the Dying Earth, gothic horror, a post apocalypse west, and classic horror novels.

Vampire Hunter D is a dhampir, half human and half vampire. He can walk during the daylight. He constantly seeks out the nobility which is what the monsters call themselves and kills them. He often draws sustenance from the nobles he has defeated. He dresses elegantly in a wide brimmed black hat, black leather armor, a dark cloak, and carries a sword. He also has a hand which is possessed by a ghost or spirit which talks to him sometimes.

When he is not fighting, he is talking to the local townspeople. He comes across as a kind of chevalier in his personal manners. He is shown riding a kind of mutant horse in the beginning of the story.

In Volume 1, D helps a young woman, Doris Lang, who has been bitten by a vampire. He must seek out and destroy the vampire lord which has bitten her. It reveals the inner tension inside him, as his hand says, you wanted to drink her blood more than you wanted to lay down with her. It seems that numerous of the local men have the hots for the woman he is supposed to protect as well. He must convince them to leaver her alone.

First D must face down the local townspeople who either want him dead or to leave very quickly. He also has to fight off a team of mutant hunters who want to kill the vampire lord themselves. There is constant fighting with lots of swordplay, monster fighting (a giant snakebodied woman, a werewolf, a golem and a few other creatures as well).

The manga is full of action sequences. The drawing uses very thick dark flowing lines. There is also a lot of jagged lettering used to show the fight sounds. During the fights, creatures use mystical powers against each other. For example when a creature sends a cloud of spiders to enwrap him, he uses his ghost hand to suck in all the spiders. The characters have big eyes and big hair, and finely drawn clothing.

There are three settings in which most of the action occurs, the farm of the girl and her little brother, the town which looks like something from the old west, and the gothic castle of the noble vampire.

The climactic battle is between the vampire lord Lee and Vampire Hunter D. Vampire Hunter D is revealed to be a possible scion of Dracula who most people never speak of the name of. D defeats the lord and all is put right again for the moment.

I really enjoyed the feel and style of this manga. I had seen the anime earlier. It is not for children. It is written for adults. If you like fantasy and vampire stories, you would probably like this manga.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fables 1001 Nights of Snowfall-- Bill Willingham-- Thoughts

Fables 1001 Nights of Snowfall-- Bill Willingham-- Thoughts

Snow White comes as an emissary from Fabletown in New York to court of the Arabian Nights ruled by king Shahrayar. She is there to seek help against the adversary. During her audience with Shahrayar she takes the place of Sheherezade for a while having to tell tales to preserve her life.

The tales Snow White tells are fractured fairytales for adults. She is describing the fables fight against the adversary, a compilation of oz, pinocchio, and other modern mythical concoctions that is slowly taking the place of the traditional tales. She conjures up modern boojums like goblins, orcs, and other critters.

The traditional fairytales must outwit these modern tales to escape to freedom in Fabletown.

This is a graphic novel or large format comic book. There are a wide variety of artists presented. Bill Willingham, however, is the sole writer.

There are a number of tales presented. There are three stories which I liked more than all the rest. The first is the tale of how Snow White achieved her revenge on the seven dwarves with a little help from Prince Charming. The second is how Reynard the Fox tricks the goblins of the adversary into providing christmas pies for the talking animals before they escape to freedom. The third is how Mersey Dotes becomes a mermaid.

The stories are presented in a variety artistic of styles. I especially liked the art of Brian Bolland, Michael Kaluta, Charles Vess, and Tara McPherson. All of the stories are in full color illustration. There is a brief paragraph biographical snapshot at the end of the book of each artist.

Of course at the end of the book, Sheherezade comes to take her proper place from Snow White, and Snow White is gifted with many magical treasures to help defeat the adversaries including a magic carpet and several djinn's bottles.

This is a very interesting collection of short stories presented in graphic form. It is part of the Fables Series. The Fables Series is a graphic novel series under the DC Vertigo imprint. This is the same imprint as Sandman.

If you want some interesting non-superhero tales in the graphic novel format, this collection is for you.

Morning Thoughts, Afternoon Thoughts, B Movies In the Library

Taft's auto leaving New York Public Library.
This photography comes from the Library of Congress photo archive on Flickr.

Morning Thoughts

This morning, I read a little bit more of Acacia on the train as well as some of the book, The Public Domain. It was a quiet, peaceful morning. The only difference this morning is that I had half and half instead of milk in my coffee.

I also requested a robot detective novel, The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez. This is a classic theme in science fiction. I rather like science fiction detectives.

When I got in to work, the first thing I did was look through the Nutshell series printed by Thomson West. They are legal summaries for different subjects like constitutional, family law, and criminal law. I requested a bunch of these be ordered along with a variety of Nolo books for our collection.

Right now, I have a copy of Iron Man the movie novelization by Peter David sitting next to me. The cover says "Based on the screenplay by Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway." That is a lot of authors for a single screenplay.

Afternoon Thoughts

I am looking at the two copies of Vampire Hunter D, volume 1 and 2 by Hideyuki Kikuchi. The novel is being adapted into a manga comic by Saiko Takaki. The publisher is Digital Manga Publishing. The story is rated 16+ on the back of the book. It would be close to the equivalent of PG-13, maybe R, for its content. A lot of the manga publishers are now providing ratings for their books.

I saw Vampire Hunter D as an anime film a while ago. I would give the film about the same rating. It is not a childrens movie. It is full of all sorts of strange mythical creatures, vampires, werewolves, and other things. I enjoyed watching the film, I hope that the manga is just as good.

Right now, I am also contemplating whether or not I should watch Finding Neverland starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. It is the story of J.M. Barrie the author of Peter Pan. For some reason, I like watching films about authors.

I can recommend another film about a fantasy author, Robert E. Howard, The Whole Wide World starring Vincent D'onofrio as Howard. It is a very tragic story.

B Movies In The Library

I got home tonight. I watched a short bit of Earth Versus The Flying Saucers. This was a 1950s film, it just was colorized recently. The special effects are by Ray Harryhausen. I think it is kind of funny. I rather like how hokie the flying saucers look. The beginning of the film is classic as soon as the aliens show up, the United States military starts shooting at them.

Watching this film reminds me of some things that have been happening with videos recently. We actually circulate more videos of movies than any other item in our collection. My experience is that these are not great videos, they are often the most mind numbing things imaginable. People love to escape. They especially like television series like the Sopranos, Gilligan's Island, the old Star Trek reruns, and other things like that.

A lot of people come in to check out movies to escape. They want the B movies which aren't in our collection sometimes. We get asked for Rambo a lot even though it is not available. Mindless horror films like Chuckie, or Freddie vs. Jason are also popular.

Also, there seems to be a preference for R rated films. Some even want the unrated versions. There really is no one watching what you bring home to your family. So, people can and will take out anything. There is not an audience like in a theater and nobody knows whether you are watching a good quality film. The only real limitation is that we don't really have anything that is pornographic.

It really is hard sometimes to say why are you checking this thing out. I actually have asked some people why are they checking out American Pie, or Norbit and the generally answer is we need to unwind and escape. We don't want to think too much, we have been thinking a lot at work and we want something which we can laugh at.

It is no different than a lot of the things at the public library in book form. Romance is the most popular item in the fictin room. It is nice to dream about having romantic notions and read inexpensive Harlequin romances sometimes.

Sometimes, you wonder about the choices being made. It is hard to fathom why someone wants to watch House of Frankenstein, or all five seasons the television show Colombo. I guess people have different ideas of what is fun to watch.

You also wonder sometimes about people who will come in and check out three or four videos or dvds every single day and return them the next day. I guess it is free entertainment. It is really not something which I am supposed to ponder too much. If you ask these questions, you are often called an elitist in the library setting. People check out a couple books every single day and return them the next day sometimes.

Are videos and dvds the main point of the library? It seems to be the thing which most people want more than anything else in the library. It becomes a question in the movies also what should we get. A lot of the old classics are not ever watched. However, surprisingly there is a strong demand for the old silent films and some of the classic black and white films. People want to see every old silent ever made.

At one point, I decided that I wanted to see every classic science fiction film ever made. I've seen The Day The Earth Stood Still, 2001, Godzilla, The Empire Strikes Back, Bladerunner, Metropolis, Things To Come, and a huge amount of old science fiction films. I am sure that there are plenty of people who want to see all the classic horror, detective, and monster movies ever made.

I don't always want to see things that make me think too much. I rather like The Three Stooges and I can understand why so many people love Jim Carrey movies. Watching deeply intellectual things can make your head hurt.

Still, you ask yourself, is the library an educational institution for self-education and self-improvement or is it purely for entertainment value. Is it more important to house ballet tapes or slapstick comedy. Where is the balance? I think there is not enough self-reflection on what we are doing sometimes.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thoughts For Today

New York library on opening day, shot between 1910 and 1915 from the Library of Congress Flickr photoarchive.

Thoughts For Today

I read some more of The Public Domain on the train to work this morning. I also started reading Acacia Book One: The War With The Mein by David Anthony Durham. It is a fantasy novel.

I have been running around making sure everything was running right for the film we were showing today, Cars by Pixar. I had to switch the dvd players with the childrens room. Also, I asked a volunteer to buy soda and popcorn at the supermarket. We like to get the little single packets of popcorn because they are neater. This was billed as a family film for both childrens and adults. I ended up starting the film five minutes late. I think over twenty different people attended the film. This is actually a pretty good turnout for us.

I haven't done any ordering today. I have quite a bit of new reference books to look at to make sure everything is done correctly, and a number of looseleafs to file for the law collection.

I am waiting for them to finish process the manga and science fiction books which came in a couple days ago. I really want to look at the new Vampire Hunter D manga which came out last month. Also, Peter David did a mass market paperback novelization of the film Iron Man. I rather like Peter David's writing. He is entertaining and funny.

This afternoon, I did more looseleaf updating of the law collection. I replaced the supplement section for Basic Legal Forms With Commentary. I also put in some updated reference books in the reference collection. These are just everyday things that need to be done.

I also glanced through Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the New York Times Book Review. I will look through Library Journal tomorrow. There was one new title in Publishers Weekly which looked interesting, Sly Mongoose by Tobias Buckell. It is science fiction.

We also have been getting requests for Neil Gaiman books, especially, the Sandman series of graphic novels. Sandman is published under the Vertigo imprint of DC comics. I'll definitely order some of these in my next graphic novel order.

The book The Public Domain has a blog about copyright attached to it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Other Wind-- Ursula Le Guin-- Thoughts

The Other Wind -- Ursula Le Guin-- Thoughts

I wrote this while I was sitting on the train into work.

The Other Wind by Ursula Le Guin is part of the Earthsea series of novels. Earthsea is a fantasy world filled with magic, dragons, and wizards. Even though it is fantasy, it is often focused on the everyday thoughts of the people who live in the world.

Alder, the main character, is having dreams of his dead wife who he loved passionately. His wife seems to be reaching across the wall between the worlds of the living and the dead. She seems to want to be with him. Alder is a mender, a kind of magician that fixes broken things.

In his worries, Alder travels to see the king with a letter from Ged, a once great magician asking for help. Alder's experience is enough to get the king to seek help.

There is a sense that the writing flows both intuitively and rationally. The writing is focused on the everyday feelings and experiences of the characters. These are not separated from normal living. Alder keeps a kitten to help keep the bad dreams away. Even the description of the fantastic mixes the grand with the mundane. For example, when Irian, the dragon takes woman form she is a barefoot lady with a black dress, and deeply piercing amber eyes which are hard to look at.

As the novel progresses, Alder travels with the king, a princess of the Karg, the lady Tehanu, and several magicians to the wood at the center of the world. There we learn the differences between dragons and men. Dragons chose freedom and magic, and men chose order and the ability to make things.

Earlier in the novel, Tehanu stops the advance of the dragons into the lands of men by offering to travel to the center of the world. The dragons want their land back and are destroying the houses, fields, and livestock of men. They are not killing people, just turning them into refugees.

In the Imminent Grove at the center of the world on the isle of Roke, both dragon and human must make the world right again. I won't reveal the ending. It is about the place of magic and the living and the dead.

Ursula Le Guin is a wonderful writer. Her works of science fiction and fantasy are very interesting. She has won five hugo awards and five nebula awards for her writing. The Earthsea series is fantasy. I would also recommend two of her science fiction novels, The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness.

If you want to read a style of fantasy focused on peoples needs and wants, not fantastic exploits, it is well worth reading her books. I enjoyed reading The Other Wind.

Morning Thoughts, Afternoon Thoughts

Muse reading a scroll.

Morning Thoughts

I've had my coffee and I've done a few errands. I am working a little bit late tonight. They had copies of both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal at the diner I went to this morning. It is $1.50 for the Wall Street Journal, and $1.25 for the New York Times so it was a bargain. It is always nice to read the paper with your coffee. It is a very traditional thing to do.

I am heading off to work soon. I am bringing the new blank journal I have with the Cat In The Hat picture on it on the train with me this morning. I am hoping that I will get a chance to write some notes in it. It is time for me to head out the door.

I ordered some more social science books this morning. I am also going to put in an order for legal books for the layman. I'll order books from Sphinx Legal, Nolo Press, and the West Nutshell Series. These three series are good basic material for understanding the law in everyday terms.

On the train to work I read some more of The Public Domain How To Find & Use Copyright Free Writings, Music, Art and More. I am finding the book to be very interesting. For example the maximum fine that someone can receive for putting a copyright notice on a public domain item is $2500. This encourages people to claim copyright for things that probably should not be copyrighted.

Another example is that displaying an item in a museum or library is not an infringement of copyright because it is not an attempt to distribute the item to many users. There are a lot of really interesting facts in this book. Some of them are probably quite useful to people in the book business.

Afternoon Thoughts

There is a program running right now. A lawyer is doing an estate planning workshop in the community room. There are eleven people downstairs taking notes. She left a couple handouts with people. I asked the maintenance people to set up four tables with chairs so people could sit down and take notes. A few fellow staff members are downstairs taking notes.

I requested that the volunteers pick up some items for refreshments: 1 gallon of apple juice, 1 gallon of water, 1 packet of napkins, 1 packet of small paper plates, 1 pack of sandwich cookies, and 1 large container of strawberries. It is always important that the speaker have water to drink whether or not you are serving light refreshments. Remember this as a courtesy for every event.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Todays Thoughts

Jan Van Eyck

Todays Thoughts

I haven't really had a chance to write up a summary of The Other Wind. Life has been too busy. I napped on the train coming in to work. I'm a bit tired today. I had three cups of coffee at lunch time to keep myself awake.

Right now, I am working on three programs. The first is an estate planning workshop from a local lawyer. We have found that creating a sign up sheet beforehand guarantees a certain amount of audience. We have seven people signed up for the workshop tomorrow evening. Usually we get another group of people who come in who don't sign up as well. In addition, I do traditional announcement over the intercom half hour before the program starts as well as make sure there are fliers around the building for the program.

The next day, we are showing Cars by Pixar. The director has asked me to show a "Family Film" suitable for all ages. At first I tried Because of Winn Dixie and Madagascar, but they didn't seem quite right. We usually buy small packets of popcorn and apple juice for the films. Next month, I am showing The Jackie Robinson Story starring Jackie Robinson because there is a baseball program in the evening.

Next week, I am doing a poetry program where we do an open microphone. I like to serve fruit and juice for the poetry program. I think we might get eight to ten people who will read poetry next time. I actually get up and read a few of my own poems. There are several audience members who do as well. Hopefully, there will be some momentum and we will get more people.

Programming is not something which I have done that much of before. It seems like it kind of sneaked up on me. I'm just starting to get the hang of creating fliers and get the feel of writing simple press releases for the calendar of events in newspapers.

This morning, I did more ordering of social science books. I went through The New York Review of Books for the last several months looking for titles in the 300s. I am actually not that fond of The New York Review of Books, it seems to be a bit exclusive in its taste aiming for the upper middle class. I did find several titles to order however. Some titles which looked interesting were Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, The Warhol Economy, and I Don't A Contrarian History of Marriage. I also took a look at the latest several issues of Choice magazine.

In addition, I took some time to look at New York Public Libraries recommended reading lists which are quite interesting. They have links to lists of books which have won various literary prizes. Queensborough Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library also have recommended reading lists which I look at occassionally. Libraries tend to compile these lists on their websites.

I also took a few minutes to look at the graphic novels I ordered. Most of them have already been taken out by patrons. I have Fables 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham in my hands as well as DC Showcase Presents Challengers of the Unknown Volume 2. Challengers of the Unknown is a classic science fiction comic book with golden age science fiction stories.

Several boxes of new books from my orders are coming in as well. The order of Manga and science fiction books is being processed as we speak. Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the new Vampire Hunter D manga are sitting on the cart as well as the science fiction novel, Space Vulture.

There is a lot happening very quickly right now. There are a lot of new books for me to examine. I find myself busier than usual right now.

Tonight, I erased a video game which I had purchased from my hard drive. I had it for about a week. I found that I felt compelled at times to play it a little bit too long. Get to the next scene or go to the next level. It was eating into my time and making me a little bit tired. The game promised 1000+ hours of gameplay. This is a bit much.

Something in me said stop you are spending too much time on this thing. For me video games can be hypnotic and distracting. They are hard for me to stop playing sometimes. It is like alcohol for some people. I enjoy playing them for a short time. But, the games they are designing these days can be very long complex and overly involved.

I think I will step back and go to my other distraction right now, blogging.