Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sly Mongoose-- Tobias Buckell-- Review

Sly Mongoose-- Tobias Buckell-- Review

Sly Mongoose by Tobias Buckell is the third book in a science fiction series starting with Crystal Rain, then advancing to Ragamuffin. The setting for the third novel is quite interesting. It is on a planet like mercury with floating cities in the clouds, and very high pressure on the planet below. The clouds are acidic and the air is not breathable. It is also one of the homes of the Azteca, a human group once ruled by ruthless aliens. The Azteca have since declared the aliens false gods, and formed a democracy based on group consensus.

The story begins with a Pepper, a character who has appeared in the previous novels, falling from the sky into the dome of a floating city. Because of the alien biotechnology permeating his body, he survives the fall, although he is missing an arm and a leg in the story. This does not stop him from building a working armored suit so he can move around in the story. Pepper is the founder of the "Mongoose Men" and a member of the Dread Council on a world built by Caribbean immigrants.

Pepper has just escaped a harrowing battle with plague zombies on a passenger liner. He is wanted by several factions who want to know what happened on the ship. There are at least three different factions in the story, The Dread Council, The Azteca Consensus, and the Human League (which is virulently anti-alien).

Pepper is the center of intrigue. There is another character Timas, a teenage boy who goes to the surface sometimes to scavenge technology in a pressure suit. Timas provides the spare parts for a pressure suit so Pepper can lead the fight against the plague zombies.

This book has lots of action in it. There are battles aboard a spaceship, airship battles, pirate confrontations, and constant intrigue. The characterization is quite intriguing. The different characters in the story are culturally and individually distinct.

Pepper, one of the heros of the story leads the fight against the zombies, and must help the people of Chilo defend themselves. He helps them prepare the defenses and makes a last stand until the Mongoose Men can help. There is another hero in this story as well, Timas who has seen something which the zombies are seeking on the surface.

This was a fun book to read. The setting, plot, and characterization were all unique. Most science fiction stories are based on cardboard cutouts with aliens that are little more than substitutes for human fears. This was not one of them. An excellent addition to a series that gets better with each book. Once the action starts in this book, it does not stop until the book is done. Ragamuffin was short listed for the Hugo award. I think this book will be listed for the Hugo award and might win it.

Morning Thoughts

Interior view of the Jones & Co bookselling premises in Finsbury Square, London.

Morning Thoughts

I have started reading Groundswell Winning In A World Transformed By Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. So far, it is quite interesting. The book is very concrete. It gives many real life examples of what can happen on the internet.

This morning I was looking at bookstores listed on Wikipedia. There is an interesting short description of the history of the Strand founded by Fred Bass in 1922 on Wikipedia.

Anyways, I am also thinking of my endless internal debate on whether or not to take the Bookselling Institute at the next Book Expo America in 2009 on how to open a retail bookstore. I know that I have no intention of opening a traditional retail bookstore. It is not a profession that rewards one well financially. Being a small bookstore or comic shop owner pays even less than being a librarian. It would probably be an enjoyable lifestyle if you did not get eaten by either the chain bookstores or the very large independent booksellers.

In some ways, I am frighteningly bad at business. I have an entrepreneurial streak. I rather liked working part time at a small bookstore and trading in comic books I found at flea markets and garage sales. I really enjoy this kind of thing. But, alas it is not a paying career. I also like investing in the stock market. A lot of the small bookstores have died in New York because of competition from the internet and the chain bookstores. Actually, this is not quite true, Strand Books ate many of the local chains and small bookstores.

I have looked and pondered on the idea of opening an online bookstore. You actually get more money from a physical bookstore of the same size as an online bookstore. Online bookstores work with economies of scale. You can sell a lot more books online on a website than you can in a physical store, unless your store is gigantic like Powell's or The Strand.

I have thought about how you would combine social networking with books. There could be some very interesting combinations. There are already some like Shelfari and Librarything. I really don't have the connections for this kind of thing right now. I would have to come up with a very interesting and unique combination of services built around collaborative tools.

Right now, I am just amusing myself with these kind of ideas. I had mentioned that I would be interested in working with an attempt at a total media site like Contentville which didn't do too well. Maybe, someone will figure out how to do it right.

Anyways, I am meandering along. If I was truly over the top, I could change this into a social networking site for a small fee. Something like Ning would allow me to do this. . I am sure there are already a variety of social networking sites on books. I could point and click my way to a social networking site in a few days if I really wanted.
Right now, I am just meandering along.

I am still having problems with Entrecard. I still cannot log into Entrecard from my home computer. I have talked to them for three weeks and gotten a completely unsatisfactory response. The technician who helped me kept on giving me suggestions I had already done. Then when I told him I already did it, he tried to tell me that I should try what I had already done in a different way. It definitely makes me want to try a different service.

I can log in elsewhere with no problem. I think what is happening is that when I log in, I get the message you need to go to the login page. So I have to be logged in to log in.

I removed my widget. It was taking up too much time anyways.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Good Evening

A portrait of Pierre de Fermat, French lawyer and mathematician.

Good Evening

I wrote a short review today. Today has been a day for relaxation. I finished reading another book, The Last Theorem by Frederik Pohl and Arthur C. Clarke. Arthur C. Clarke died before the book was published. Frederik Pohl might have finished Arthur C. Clark's novel. I am really not quite sure about this one. It is a solidly entertaining book. It is not as good as I would have liked, but things often get a little fuzzy when one author finishes another authors work or writers collaborate.

The craftsmanship in the book is excellent. The story at times does not read like a traditional science fiction book at all. It is more of a near future novel, than a science fiction novel. It reads very much like a novel. The characters seem like people you might meet in real life. The book is on the Locus bestseller list.

It is Labor Day Weekend. I hope for all of your sakes you consider the plight of labor. I wish you all luck wherever you work. I hope you have a place where there is little plight between labor and management and cordial relations. If you are in the corporate world, I wish you a bit of profit sharing. I believe in a certain amount of employee ownership. I am glad to be part of a union.

Wikinomics How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams

Wikinomics How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams

This book is about the new world of shared digital information production. It has a lot of spin and hype in the writing, but at the same time it reveals many new ideas. The book is quite entertaining to read and well written. It has a nice exuberant feeling to the writing which is clearly tech evangelist oriented.

With wikis, blogs, and other mass forms of internet communications we have become the producers of a large slice of our own media. Large chunks of the publishing world have been freed up from direct corporate control and formed it communities of production. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can start creating their own content. This has extended beyond computers to include peripheral devices tethered to computers like camcorders, iphones, and similar things. The book does not talk a lot about this a lot, however.

Suddenly content can be shared in various spaces like Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger. I belong to all four of these spaces. More importantly, the content is syndicated and connected together with advertising like Technorati, Entrecard, and other services. Everyone participating in a sense becomes a producer of content.

This has not just extended into the public spaces like blogs and wikis, but has also moved into corporations and universities. This is not as visible to most social networking users. The book covers the use of collaborative technologies in corporations and universities. Things like open source software, patent and idea sharing networks like and Innocentive, and modular open source style manufacturing are discussed. It even discusses MITs fab lab which is a modular home manufacturing center.

The book points out we have in a very real sense become the designers of our own products and the producers of our own media. People don't wait to have new features put into their Lego sets they send in custom designs to the factories, or hack new features into their Xboxes. When a news story comes on television it is often the result of someone catching it on camcorder or writing about it on a blog. Sometimes this is better than what the television shows produce.

Welcome to the new world of Wikinomics or massive collaboration. Those who produce the best content win. According to the book, it takes seven skilled people to build a world class content site. This can be done anywhere in the world where people have the skills and the internet connection. The internet runs in an "Always On" mode. (I am not an always on kind of person.) Step in and get ready to face obsolescence in a flash. This world is merciless, full of hype, and offers no guarantees.

Wikinomics is deep and complex. However, it fails to point out that some of the ideas in this book are flawed. For example, in touting the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, they don't acknowledge that for a while there were production problems for the plane. They had not gotten their open source form of sourcing parts together that well.

Also, I found the section on Geek Squad to be an extreme example of hype. I would not buy a computer from Best Buy and saying that Geek Squad are the best possible technicians seems overblown. Having a technician drive up in a black and white volkswagon beetle is not that impressive. Having them fix my computer is.

I also can understand the desire for IBM and Red Hat Linux to push open source for people. For the non-technically minded linux is incredibly complex and not that well documented. IBM clearly makes it fortune from providing consulting services and customizing linux services which can cost a fortune. The initial up front costs can be cheaper, but the customization and technical support requires people who have excellent computer skills.

Despite this if you want to know a bit of history on Wikipedia, or other collaborative projects this book will give the basics as well as many interesting facts. For example, Wikipedia has exactly five full time employees. The site is almost entirely run by volunteers.

The book is great if you want to learn about how business is using collaborative tools. It even includes the hype to go with it. There is a profusion of ideas; ideagoras, peering, wikis, prosuming, Wikipedia, open source, and so much more. In addition to this profusion of ideas, it does include how Wikis and collaborative tools may have an effect on your workplace. A lot of the material is focused on things which are currently happening, not theory.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Morning Thoughts, Afternoon Thoughts

Alice In Wonderland, Alice and the Caterpillar smoking his hookah. I really just like the image. It is just as good as the Cheshire cat.

Morning Thoughts

I was reading Slanted Jack by Mark L. Van Name on the train this morning. It is solid writing, not exceptional. The book is the second in a series (John and Lobo). John is a mercenary with some unique abilities. He can listen to machines and talk to them. Lobo is his PCAV, a form of assault vehicle. It is kind of interesting in a way. John has a personal relationship with an assault carrier. This is the second book which the writer has done. It is a little more polished than the first book. The story is a little bit better in the first book, One Jump Ahead. The publisher is Baen books which publishes military science fiction.

This morning, I went through the civil service test books and weeded out some of the older titles, I also went through some of the career titles and weeded out older duplicate titles. One of the major reasons I weed books is to make the other, newer books more visible to patrons. Also, it makes it much easier to find things if you have weeded the collection. I always like being very systematic and checking every book. This makes it easier for me to order new books and manage my shelving library aide.

Weeding, ordering, and managing shelving in combination make it easy to find things. The location of many items becomes almost second nature. Combined with regularly checking the stacks to see if they are in order, it gives me a pretty good idea where everything is. It is up to the point where I can find many books if someone just mentions a popular title. It would be almost the same experience if you worked in a bookstore and you ordered, shelved, inventoried, and returned items from a specific section of books.

Afternoon Thoughts

Sometimes I think a lot about the idea of a core collection. The idea is that in most libraries about 10% of books are used regularly. The other 90% of the books are not used that regularly. This applies also to bookstores. When you think about this, it amounts to about 1 in 10 books in most libraries.

Theoretically, through improved selection, you may be able to increase the amount of books to 25% of the collection. This requires a lot of selective regular weeding, being very selective in purchasing, and improving the usability and visibility of the shelving. It means the shelves should not be packed too tightly, and there should be room for expansion of the collection.

I like to expand the idea of core collection to a map of a whole collection. In some ways, I think of the collection as consisting of a set of core classic books like Machiavelli, The Prince, Plato, The Republic, Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Darwin, Origin of the Species, and similar titles. Surrounding this are practical titles that are used a lot, high use and high popularity items. Things which would appear on the New York Times Bestseller List, or be needed for everyday activities like buying a home, or growing a garden.

For me there is a kind of map when I am selecting things to buy. I like to think of core and popular titles which might be in a subject. When I buy popular titles, I like to expand the places which I might search for popular titles to include specialty magazines and sites. I don't just use the New York Times Book Review, I also look at places like Business Week Bestsellers, Locus Bestseller List (Science Fiction), Romantic Times, and The National Indie Bestseller Lists , I also look at Diamond Comic Books Distributors Bestsellers

Then I like to think in terms of community. Demographics and community statistics are actually fairly important when you are looking for books to buy. What languages does a community speak? What ethnic groups are there? For example if you have a lot of Brazilians, you might want to buy a decent amount of Brazilian fiction. We also buy a lot of urban fiction. Who are the local authors? What is the local industry? The largest professional association in our community is nursing, so we buy a lot of nursing test preparation books for the NCLEX. What is being assigned in the schools?

Then I like to think of the special collections which we maintain. Some libraries may have collections that focus on special areas. We have a large multicultural collection covering a wide variety of ethnic groups, a job information center collection, a law collection, a very large mystery collection, a collection of musical scores, a special collection of African American audiobooks, an African film collection, a very large cookbook collection, and recently I have been expanding the graphic novel collection.

There are also some surprising things. We have a refrigerator factory in our area, so we have to buy more HVAC books than might be expected. Then we have some things which are just uncategorizable that people like for some reason or other. There is a lot of interesting in knitting and crocheting in our community. We have a knittig club at the library.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Good Afternoon

Persepolis ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire during the Achaemanid Dynasty

Good Afternoon

Good afternoon. I finished reading Wikinomics on the train to work this morning. Basically the book is about collaboration between different groups using a computer. I am going to write a review for the book soon. It might take a little while to get all my thoughts together.

This morning, I faxed in the request for a free pass to the New York Anime Festival and put in my paperwork for work to go there.

One book came in for me this afternoon, Linnea Sinclair, Shades of Dark. I really enjoyed her other science fiction romance novel, The Down Home Zombie Blues. I hope this novel is just as good.

I did some more weeding of books this morning. I am starting on the oversize or quarto books focusing on business. There are a lot less of these than in the regular collection, so it should go fairly quickly.

I also wrote my monthly report for my supervisor. It was a little shorter than usual this time. I'll probably be making up for it this coming month. I think there will be a lot for me to do. More than ever.

One of my favorite graphic novel artists is Marjane Satrapi. She has written a number of graphic novels that I have really liked including Embroideries, Chicken With Plums, Persepolis, and Persepolis II. Her graphic novels are about everyday life of ordinary citizens in Iran. The stories are quite interesting and very sophisticated.

I just placed the movie she adapted from her graphic novel, Persepolis on hold. The animation won the Jury Prize for the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Oscar. It has won numerous prizes. I am really looking forward to seeing this film. I am currently #29 in the holds queue for the item, so I may have to wait a couple of weeks to get it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New York Anime Festival, Good Morning

Anime DVDs

New York Anime Festival

I think I am going to go to the New York Anime Festival on September 26 with a free professional pass. Librarians get in free on professional day. I think it will be fun to do. Plus, I want to see all the swag. This would be a perfect day to get lots of free giveaways so we can give them to the teenagers during programming. There should also be some manga and martial arts films, I hope.

Hopefully, it should be interesting. I went to New York Comic Con. I think this might be even bigger than New York Comic Con. A lot of the teenagers really like anime. We have an anime club at our library.
I know this seems to have nothing to do with books. However, we also order books on drawing manga and anime. I also have bought some books on how to do cartooning.

Good Morning

I just had my morning coffee. I am waking up a bit.

I spent pretty much the whole day finishing up weeding the business management books. The section ends with the advertising books. At least, I have looked at all the books in the section so I will have a much better idea of what to order. Next, I have to focus on doing the oversize computer books, the oversize business management books, and finally, the social science books. I have lots and lots of weeding to do.

Later this week there should be more items from my orders coming in. Things have been both busy and very predictable.

I have been spending a lot more time lately answering questions at the reference desk. It has been a bit of a vacation season.

Nothing new has come in for me to read. I still have to review a few books. I am a little tired right now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Morning Thoughts

La Censure by George Lafosse c 1874

Morning Thoughts

I am not happy with the publisher Chelsea Green's decision to limit sales of the book Obama's Challenge: America's Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency to for the first week of the release. This shows a disregard for openness in competition in the book industry. It also restricts people's choices of where to purchase books. In some ways, I am not a fan of Amazon's practices in selling books. I think it was a bad decision on the part of the publisher.

In a similar vein, September 27- October 4, 2008 is banned book week. There is a site up for booksellers and libraries . It shows one of my favorite books on the site, Maurcice Sendak In The Night Kitchen.

We have six of the ten Most Banned Books of 2007. Most are young adult titles or classics. I don't know why they want to ban teenage books so much. I put up a small display of the six books. I am going to try and get the other four as we go forward this month.

I am up to page 200 of Wikinomics. It is getting even more complicated. Wikinomics is writing about mashups, combining two or more sites to create a third sites. For example, you might combine google maps with the location of vacation rentals to create a new kind of information-- maps to vacation rentals.

I also took a break again and started reading Sly Mongoose by Tobias Buckell. I especially like Pepper, the main character who has been in all the novels. Pepper is the essence of being beat down and still going. I also like the new enemy, space zombies. They are a lot of fun to read about. I also like the continuity of setting. The Azteca even though they lose their alien masters, still remain a coherent culture in the novels. They proclaim that the aliens were false gods and become a democracy led by a council.
Today, I plan on doing some weeding of the business books. I still have quite a bit more to do with this.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Morning Thoughts

Information is where it is at. Information cannot be created or destroyed according to some theories much like matter or energy.

Morning Thoughts

I put down Wikinomics for a night to read something a little bit more lightweight. I read Space Vulture by Gary K. Wolfe and Archbishop John J. Myers. This book is something that might have been written in the golden age of science fiction. It is very campy. However, there is a much more complex underpinning of morals to this story. I am going to take some time to review it later. Gary K. Wolfe is famous for creating Roger Rabbit.

Wikinomics is a fairly complex books. It covers a lot of collaborative ideas like prosuming, open source software, wikis, and ideagoras. It really makes you think when you read the book.

Afternoon Thoughts

I just got back from vacation. I did a variety of minor clean up activities, filing some legal looseleafs, making sure there were plenty of books on the display stand, walking around the stacks to make sure everything looked orderly, and picking up various papers to check from my work mailbox.

Most of my orders were processed during my vacation. I returned some of the books which I read during the vacation.

A bunch of science fiction books came in for me to read, Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl The Last Theorem, Gregory Frost Lord Tophet A Shadowbridge Novel, Mark L. Van Name Slanted, and Tobias Buckell Sly Mongoose. The book I really want to read is Sly Mongoose. I think this book will be nominated for a hugo award.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Good Morning

Young Romance Comic Book

Good Morning

Good morning, I'm up, I've had my coffee. I put a science fiction romance paperback on hold Linnea Sinclair Shades of Dark. I actually read romance novels on occasion. Mostly science fiction and horror romances. There is just a lot more sex and relationships than in most science fiction and horror which tends to have cardboard cutout action heros as the main characters.

I think a lot of science fiction writers could learn something from reading a few romance novels. The exceptions of course are Philip Jose Farmer and Tanith Lee who have written science fiction novels about love. One of my favorite novels was Name of A Shadow by Ann Maxwell. It is a science fiction romanc that was nominated for the Hugo award. I think it probably would have won if people had less prejudice against the romance genre.

Romance is the most read genre of fiction. There is nothing like sex and relationships. Another author who started out as a writer of gothic romances is Marion Zimmer Bradley. She then switched to science fantasy with her Darkover novels. I rather enjoyed reading them when she was writing them. I don't particularly like the author who took her place to continue the series.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Library Fines, Good Morning, Afternoon Thoughts

The 2005 Hugo Award from Worldcon.

Library Fines

This is a nice little article on a woman going to jail for not paying $38.00 in library fines. I think it is a bit extreme to call the police for not paying library fines. We have a collection agency that calls to collect money from patrons and attaches the bill to a persons credit card. We also put a block on a card if they have over $10.00 in fines. Still, it is an interesting if a little bit wacky article. The New York Post is a slightly muckraking paper.

Good Morning

Good morning to you all. I am having a nice moring. I have a 16 ounce cup of coffee in front of me from the local deli. Hot and fresh and time to wake up. Today, I am going to do some recaps from the news. There is going to be a Hugo award for the best graphic story. I am surprised that Locus and SFSite have not picked up on this yet.

Steven Brust author of the Taltos novels has written a free fan fiction novel based on the television series Firefly. You can get it here. I hear the magical call of the word free.

Afternoon Thoughts

I have been reading some more of Wikinomics. I am learning some interesting facts. Wikipedia has five full time paid staff members, the rest are volunteers. It takes approximately seven people to build a web company from scratch that can start on the way to becoming a top competitor in the web industry. (A pretty wild claim). Still a quite entertaining read.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Good Morning

Image of the Canadian Library of Parliament from 1877. The picture looks more like the outside of a gothic castle than a library to me.

Good Morning

Yesterday was a day for lawyers and accountants. A day which I wish would have magically and permanently disappeared. There is nothing like getting up to go to see a lawyer early in the morning, then going and spending an afternoon with an accountant to try and solve a financial fiasco. It is a blessing that day is over.

I read some more of Wikinomics which is turning out to be a very entertaining and informative book.

I also rejoined Technorati. My anger is now over against Technorati. I realized that I probably should not have gone on a favoriting binge. It is like the endless clicking on Entrecard which I still can't get to work in my browser at home. Technorati is basically a way to get more traffic on a blog and be recognized.

Afternoon Thoughts

I got a chance to go to the library this afternoon and return some books. I also got a chance to spend a little time on the library computers. It wasn't that exciting this afternoon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Afternoon Thoughts

Hokusai Manga

Afternoon Thoughts

I watched three short half hour episodes of InuYasha. It was kind of fun. The story was not very complicated. A girl falls down a well and finds herself in medieval Japan. She turns out to be a protector of a gem which can give demons spiritual powers. InuYasha is a half demon fox, half human person who lusts after the gem. Kagome Higurashi, a fifteen year old girl must stop various evil entities from getting ahold of the gem, but it is broken into many pieces. An entertaining lighthearted story. There is some mild non-frontal nudity without any exposed breasts or groin. It is an anime specifically written for teenagers. It is rated 13 plus.

Anyways, I also read The Discworld Graphic Novels. It was solidly entertaining, but not as entertaining as the books. I think the graphic extrapolation of the stories could have been done much better. The books were both better written and much funnier than the graphic novel. Still, it is fun to read about Cohen the 87 year old barbarian, Rincewind the magician who cannot cast spells but somehow survives everything he encounters, and Twoflower the visiting tourist.

There are parodies of evil trolls, monsters from the dark, death, the mystical magic shop, dragons, and barbarians. This all of course occurs on Discworld which is a world on the back of a turtle with four giant elephants on top of the turtle supporting a disc where various mythical kingdoms live. The story starts in a mythical place called Ankhmorpork.

If you are looking for an afternoon or morning of light entertainment this graphic novel is worth reading. However, it is not spectacular or exceptional. Still, it is sort of worth reading. The books by Terry Pratchett are far better than the graphic novel. I espeically liked Making Money.
I have started reading Wikinomics. The book starts with the story of Goldcorp who decided to put all their geological data on their mining site since 1948 and offer rewards for people who could identify where the gold was for their mining corporation. This made them lots of money. They got lots of responses from a variety of web resources.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Elvis Lover Has Tagged Me With A Meme

Elvis Lover has tagged me with a meme.

The chore here to reveal six unspectacular quirks about myself and challenge other bloggers to do the same.The rules here are simple:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules.
3. Tell six unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag six bloggers by linking.
5. Leave a comment for each blogger.

Six quirks about me: :)

1. Depending on my mood, I will drink either tea with lemon and honey or coffee with milk in the morning when I go to work.

2. I like to read paperback books on crowded subway trains.

3. I collect science fiction art books with full color illustrations.

4. I keep a bag full of convention name tags from conventions and workshops which I have attended. There are name tags from PC World, American Library Association, New York Comic Con, Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival, and many more places.

5. I have a television but I never watch television on it. I use it to play videos and dvds.

6. I like organizing other peoples paper, but not my own.

The Thin Red Line. A very interesting book blog about a library clerk who has a lot of books passing under his scanner. He reviews many things which are different than what I review. Cookbooks, picture books, architecture books, children's books, home decorating and design, and many other titles are reviewed.

I'll Never Forget The Day I Read A Book. This is a fairly intellectual site which reviews books. He reviews mostly nonfiction focused on a variety of subjects including politics, science, and the environment. There are a few science fiction reviews as well. He reviewed one of Charles Stross's books.

Pick of the Literate. I rather like the site because the design is very easy to follow. He reviews a variety of science fiction books by very mainstream authors that are solid writers with interesting books. His latest review is of a Mercedes Lackey book. He also swaps books. His heart seems to be in the right place.

Stella Script. Haiku, poetry, and writing. It is about the writing, especially the classics, and inspired haiku. A blog well worth visiting.

The Singing Librarian. An academic librarian who sings and performs in shows. This blog is quite interesting. The librarian is in Kent UK which provides some interesting insights to librarianship.

Cromely's World. A variety of book reviews. Life in Seattle including things like cafes, Ikea, and various moments in life. Includes some humorous material on comic books.

Morning Thoughts, Afternoon Thoughts

This image was taken by a government employee. I think this image is in the public domain. Anyways, there it is a great photograph of Elvis with Nixon.

Morning Thoughts

I don't know what happened to me yesterday morning. I couldn't get myself to write anything at all. Right now, I am drinking my coffee a little bit before noon. I read a little bit of Snopes this morning. A little odd and humorous news.

I am trying to do very little. I went to the laundromat yesterday and read some more of Manga The Complete Guide by Jason Thompason. Jason Thompson is an editor for Viz publisher which publishes manga. It was a very interesting book to read through. One of the huge faults with this book is that it only reviews manga from Japan that has translated into english. There is no coverage of original American manga from companies like Tokypop, Del Rey Manga, or Darkhores. There is now a lot of manga style comics being written by authors from others countries than Japan like Korea, China, and Canada.

Still the book is quite interesting. It reviews manga from the very beginnings starting with Four Immigrants Manga all the way through 2006. It uses a star rating system for the different manga comics with stars and half stars. I think it is pretty accurate. There is a lot of material covered Ranma 1/2, Lone Wolf and Cub, Iron Wok Jan, Harlem Beat, Sailor Moon, and a huge variety of subjects are covered.

In addition to the coverage of individual reviews there are two page overviews of different subjects in manga like Cooking, Crime and Yakuza, Fantasy, Japanese History, Otaku, Martial Arts, and many other subjects. This is quite interesting. It also includes discussions of the more risque material in manga, cross dressing, gay and lesbian, and sex.

There are separate review sectsions for Yaoi and Gay Manga, and Adult Manga. As part of its rating system, the book discusses many of the issues with differences in culture. The Japanese have very different taboos about nudity than westerners or people in the United States. They also have a tendency to include sexual innuendo about little girls. This is something we are careful about in our library.

We have had some interesting issues with Sailor Moon and older men (There is even a "Sailor Moon" fan made dating sim which is quite creepy.) Because of the issues of sexuality, we have to be very careful when ordering things for teenagers. Some of the material goes right to the adult section where there are less problems.

Ranma 1/2 for people in the United States also has some interesting connotations. When water is thrown on him, he turns into her. For some people in the United States this is more x-rated than sex. It would be no problem in the adult section, but some people sometimes object to it being in teen section or getting the book at all.

Still even in the adult section, the material can be quite explicit. I was surprised at how explicit Path of the Assassins was. It is on the top 50 bestselling manga by Diamond Comic Distributors. Just because something sells well does not make it non-explicit.

There is a glossary and an artist index. The artist index includes the titles they have published as well as links to their website if it is available.

The book has numerous black and white illustrations of covers. The back has a photo credits section. There are also a few panels from different manga in the book.

I think that this is an excellent guide to Japanese Manga. The key here is that it only covers manga in translation to english from Japanese. This is an awful lot of material.

Afternoon Thoughts

I looked at 101 Ways To Promote Your Website by Susan Sweeney, C.A. . In a way I was not impressed with the book. On the cover it says "Main Selection of Computer Books Directs book club" I wanted to see if this club still existed, so I looked it up and the membership is closed. There are also a lot of complaints Computer Books Direct from various people. This knocked the book down a little bit in my mind. I also read the very short section on blogs and was not impressed with her suggestions for promoting blogs. They were very basic. So, I am putting the book down for now.

I also took a few minutes to start reading, Wikinomics How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. It seems entertaining so far. They have a blog promoting the book which has a nice fluffy branded feeling to it.

I went to my local library today. However, I got there a bit late. The computers were closing in fifteen minutes so I decided to take a pass. I picked up a few items to read, The Darkness, A Vampire Huntress Legend by L.A. Banks and The Discworld Graphic Novels The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett. I am hoping this will have a nice dose of humor in it. I also picked up a DVD, Inuyasha, I have not watched any of the television series anime, I have watched quite a few anime movies that are stand alone. So, this will be a slightly different experience for me.

Entrecard is still not working on my home computer. I wish they could tell me what was wrong with it, but they have not been able to.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Alan Moore, Morning Thoughts

Alan Moore, mad, mindbending genius of comics

I have not started reading that much this morning. Anyways, good morning. I am drinking my coffee now.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Evening Thoughts

Evening Thoughts

I was surprised with the latest bunch of grapic novels and manga which I took out. I did not expect the manga, Path of the Assassin to be basically X rated with lots of steamy sex in it. Because of this, I would not recommend it. It looked like it was the same kind of thing as Lone Wolf and Cub. Lots of samurai violence, but very little sex. Path of the Assassin is truly steamy. It includes everything from palace intrigue, sex, and ninja assassins. You would call it humanity laid bare at its most base level.

I also found League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Black Dossier, by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill to also have gone a little bit too far. The section called The New Adventures of Fanny Hill in the book was pretty extreme. It had a lot of erotic drawings done in a very similar style to Aubrey Beardsley. I like Aubrey Beardsley, but this goes pretty far. Also, the ending is done in 3D. There is even a pair of 3D Glasses included in the book.

Kevin O'Neill is drawing, "The Blazing World" or a kind of higher dimensional space in 3D. It is very strange looking. The actual pictures have a 3D quality, while the text bubbles appear flat. The effect is very mind bending, almost psychedelic in quality. There are all sorts of odd things in the pictures, whales, superheroes, buildings, and other things.

There is a lot of material that is truly over the top in this book. I could not begin to create what Alan Moore has written. Alan Qatermain and Mina are being chased through a 1950's style dystopia by the agents of a kind of big brother style government.

This is one of those books written with a singular purpose to confuse and blow your mind. It breaks pretty much every convention. My favorite part, and one of the few pieces that I found readable is "The Life of Orlando", a series of panels recounting the tale of an immortal person who changes sex every hundred years or so. It tells a story of a man consumed by warfare and intrigue traveling all of histories byways.

This book will not be for most peoples taste. If you want something very odd to read or something quite mind expanding, almost psychedelic read this book. Large portions of this graphic novel were very hard for me to read. Alan Moore wrote the comic book V for Vendetta. He also wrote one of the most famous comic books ever written, Watchmen. Watchmen is being made into a movie. I think at this point in his career he is free to write almost anything which he wants.

I did not read much that I wanted to review or write about so far this weekend. The Complete Guide to Manga by Jason Thompson is not bad. It covers all the basics. I am looking through it right now.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Today' Thoughts

The author (Yves Rodier) does not claim copyright over this work. The album in its entirety is prohibited because of the illegal use of Hergé's characters, but this image does not contain character by Hergé, so it can be considered as free.

Today's Thoughts

Today was my first day of vacation. I lazed around a lot today. I finished reading Reaper's Gale. I liked reading the book because of the character Karsa Orlong. I did not care for a lot of the other characters. This character really made the book for me. Sometimes, just one character can hold my interest.

I didn't do a huge amount today. I went for an evening walk. I sat around the house a lot. I didn't go shopping or do the laundry.

I went to the local Barnes and Noble today. I had a cup of coffee there and a bit of lemon cake. It was actually pretty good. The coffee was a bit too strong though. Starbucks is a little bit strong...

I didn't buy any books. I found one book which looked good though. It is called:

500 Essential Graphic Novels: The Ultimate Guide (Paperback) by Gene Kannenberg (Author)

The book is $24.95. It came out on August 5, 2008 so the reviews are very recent. It is comprehensive and contains comics lit, alternative comics, manga, and superhero comics. Each graphic novel has a color illustration of the cover and a basic description. I am definitely going to order this for my library. I am hesitant about getting it for myself.

I finally had the time to sit down and write a brief review of Saturn's Children.

Saturn's Children A Space Opera by Charles Stross-- Review

Saturn's Children A Space Opera by Charles Stross-- Review

Saturn's Children A Space Opera by Charles Stross is the story of Freya Nakamichi 47, a femmebot android originally programmed to be companions to humanity. She is a free android in a society where 80% of the android population is slave chipped. She relies on her sibs (androids of the same model) to hold things together.

In the late 21st century humanity died out leaving androids to pick up the pieces. Androids had been sent out to build colonies on Mars, the Moon, Saturn, and deep space for humanity, but humanity never made it there. Now everything is run by androids. The androids who first bought out their corporate contracts from their human masters before humanity went down are now the aristos who own almost everything.

Freya is almost out of credits to pay for her power consumption, heat, and space on Saturn and she desperately needs a contract. She signs up to be a courier for the Jeeves corporation. The Jeeves are androids that look like the classic butler, Jeeves, a rather fit middle aged man. Because she reacts sexually to anything very close to human, she gets it on with a lot of different robots in the story.

The Jeeves corporation hires her to deliver a small package. They also give her the chip of her sib Juliette who had the skills of an agent provocateur. During her inital assignment she must avoid the "pink police" robots who try to stop other robots from restarting humanity.

Freya goes on a romp across the solar system. She gets tied to train tracks and escapes, fights chibi android ninjas, hides on the outside of a spaceship, and has various escapades. She upgrades herself at android body shop. Mixed in with this are various sexual escapades including a space capsule, a hotel, and various androids. The story reminds me of Jane Fonda in Barbarella where Barbarella breaks the orgasmotron. It has a very similar feeling.

The characters are entertaining. There is a hobo mining robot, Doctor Ecks who has recreated a lemur, and a variety of evil aristo androids.

There is an underlying message to this story that runs throughout the book. We will destroy ourselves and lead ourselves on a downward spiral if we turn intelligent machines into slaves. The aristos are the result of brutal human programming designed to create absolute subservience. The only way to create absolute subservience is through trauma, torture, or rape. In the story, Freya is programmed to view humans as her "one true love".

I really enjoyed reading this book. The main character is a cross between Barbarella and James Bond in an android body. There is a lot of sex, violence, and humor. This book is written for adults. The cover is of a sexy android in a purple bodysuit.

Charles Stross is a really entertaining writer. I have enjoyed reading all of his books. He won the Hugo award for the book Halted States.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Afternoon Thoughts

Vladimir Lenin reading the newspaper, Pravda. Lenin is gone with the old Soviet system which in my view is a blessing.

Afternoon Thoughts

It seems like the day disappeared in the blink of an eye yesterday. I try to post every day, but right now, I am finding it more than a little difficult to do.

This morning, I did some more desk cleaning. I like having a clean desk before going on vacation like most people. So, I went through piles of papers and sorted things to put in different places. Mostly, I put things in the trash.

I also did a whole lot more business book weeding. I also picked out a few more business books for the display stand. It has been a slow but steady day.

Before going on vacation, people like to pick out books to read. I have a stack of them. Space Vulture by Gary K. Wolf and Archbishop John J. Meyers. This book claims to be in the tradition of the old science fiction pulps. Gary K. Wolf wrote Who Killed Roger Rabbit, so I am hoping they write something similar to Alex Raymond or Tom Godwin.

I also have Groundswell, Winning In A World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li (Forrester Research) and Josh Bernoff, c2008. It is printed by Harvard Business Press. It is about how social networks are affecting corporations. Another business book I intend to read is 101 Ways to Promote Your Website by Susan Sweeney, C.A. It is the sixth edition.

For comics, I picked out Dan Dare, by Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine. It is a new interpretation done by Virgin Comics. It is c2008 released in April. So, it is very new.

And for something a little different, I picked up The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Black Dossier by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill. This had very mixed reviews. It looks wildly over the top with some very unusual illustrations. This is a graphic novel for adults.

I also picked out some Manga, Manga The Complete Guide by Jason Thompson, and Path of the Assassin by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, Volumes, 9, 10, and 11. There is a parental advisory on the cover.

I still haven't had a chance to write a review of Saturn's Children. I have quite a bit to do. So, I have a quite bit to read on my vacation. I hope it is also a chance to relax a bit.
The diner where I sometimes go take my lunch is also on vacation next week. I read the paper there during lunch. I have coffe with my lunch and a paper. It really doesn't work too well lately reading the paper on the subway.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Afternoon Thoughts, Reaper's Gale-- Steven Erikson

Kay Nielsen Illustration from East of the Sun West of the Moon, c1914

Afternoon Thoughts

Tonight is my late night. This morning, I did some desk cleaning. I got rid of more old phone books, processed some law material which had been laying on my desk for a while, and went through some of my piles of paper. I am one of those people who are a paper magnet. I attract paper to my desk. We got a directive to clean all of our desks. So, it is a cleaning day.

When I did some desk cleaning, I went back to weeding more business books. The section is starting to look much better. I like to have 8-12 inches at the end of each shelf. I can put bookends in the shelves now.

Every day this week, I am going to do a little bit of weeding and desk cleaning.

Apparently, my business book orders are doing well. Some of the books I am ordering are getting two or three hundred holds already. Many of the titles like Michael Porter's Competitive Intelligence and The Complete MBA for Dummies are new to our library cooperative. So far, I am pretty happy with the orders that are coming in.

We also got a new octagonal book display with three levels. The book display itself is kind of ugly, but it is very functional. You can display books in a 360 degree fashion. There are a lot of new books being displayed.

I reserved a few books, Lord Tophet by Gregory Frost which is the second book in a fantasy series, Sly Mongoose by Tobias Buckell. I am really looking forward to reading Sly Mongoose.
I also had a chance to look at the New York Times Bestseller List for Business and reserved The Drunkard's Walk How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow.

I spent a little bit of time picking out films for the September and October films. I am going to do an anime and a science fiction film this time. We also ordered a new microphone for the Open Microphone poetry readings. One of the patrons didn't like the current one which is not working too well. We are going to do a Spades card tournament. Cards are a dollar a pack, so it is another cheap program activity you can do.

Today has been very busy.

I was reading Reaper's Gale by Steven Erikson on the train this morning. Reading this book is quite an experience, there is not a single main character. Each chapter seems to have a different viewpoint character. The story is almost historical in sweep. There are at least five main characters, Rhulad Sengar-- The Emperor, Karsa Orlong, Icarium Lifestealer, Fear Sengar, Silchas Ruin, and others. This makes the story quite interesting.

In the front of the book, there is a large map of The Empire of Lether where much of the action takes place, and a list of three pages of Dramatis Personae, these are broken down by nation or status, Letherii, Tiste Edur, The Malazans, The Awl'Dan, and Others. The names of the characters are very interesting along with the place names.

However, because there is so much action, and so many intrigues the book reads like a giant jigsaw puzzle with many pieces. I just read through it enjoying the characters who are mostly very dark in their natures.

In addition in the back of the book, there is a two page glossary describing different made up things in the fantasy setting, everything from nasty brutish creatures to weapons to groups like the Patriotists who are the the nationalistic thugs of the Letherii empire.

The book is practically impossible to review in many ways because describing the plot would take several pages. Even figuring out what is happening can be quite tricky. There are many different factions in the book with opposing goals.

Despite this I am enjoying the book. I don't try and figure out all the twists and turns, I just read taking in the complexity of the wording, the names, the setttings, the place descriptions, the characterization, and marveling at how the author can put together a book, no less a series with eight books in it that are this complex.

The setting often switches between tribesmen and city dwellers, gods and men, warriors and scholars. This is what makes the book so interesting to read.

The book is very dark and bloody. There are ghosts, demons, witches, shamans, and all the things that go bump in the night. However, they are not the familiar fantasy creatures for the most part, and they are described very differently than most other fantasy books. The names like Emlava-- a sabre tooth cat say it all.

The setting is a fantasy empire, The Empire of Lether. It is kind of hard to pinpoint where it would be in terms of time. The setting is not medieval, and it is not quite roman. It has that feeling of a bygone age much like Robert E. Howard's Cimmeria might where things mix and flow together.

This is book seven in the series. It is a tome of a book. 823 pages long of complexity. There is an eighth book in the series coming out soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Morning Thoughts

Sculpture near the entrance of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle, Washington (United States)

Morning Thoughts

I finished reading Saturn's Children. Despite it being a science fiction adventure story, there are some very interesting themes in the book about freedom, slavery, and the meaning of having robotic slaves. These themes make the book much deeper than it appears on the surface. It will take me a little while to write up the review.

I also placed The Last Theorem by Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl on hold. This is a hard science fiction book. It was released on August 5, 2008. The book is currently on the Locus bestseller list. The authors are both masters of writing science fiction.

I read a little bit of the fantasy book Reaper's Gale on the train in to work this morning. It is a classic swords and sorcery series. I am really enjoying Steven Erikson's writing.

When I got to work, I had to do a little bit of updating the reference books. That is, replacing the old books with new ones. It is just one of those every day activities which I do.

I also did more weeding this morning of the business management books, the 650s.

I am on an early lunch because I have a meeting this afternoon. It should be interesting...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Morning Thoughts, Afternoon Thoughts

A scene from the cartoon Superman The Mechanical Monsters. I don't know quite why I chose this image today.

Morning Thoughts

I have been having problems with Entrecard at home. I think my browser is not working correctly on my home computer so I can't login from home. I can login from other places. This makes it a bit difficult to use this service right now.

This morning, I went through the Demco catalog, the Gaylord catalog, and the Librarian's Yellowpages to look for furniture and some other items like book displays. We need a new globe, I am requesting the Pioneer Political Globe to replace our old globe which is long outdated. I'm also looking at some clear plastic wall shelving for papers and handouts in the Job Information Center. I am also requesting some clear plastic bookstands, both single tier and three tier stands for display materials.

I am probably going to do some more weeding this afternoon.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie premiered yesterday in Los Angeles, so we are going to buy some more of the Star Wars Clone Wars graphic novels. It should spawn various books as well. I hope they did a better job with this movie than they did with the last one.

I am reading Saturn's Children by Charles Stross. Think Barbarella meets James Bond in the far future where everyone is an android. It is fun, sexy, and very entertaining. There is some really interesting writing here. Charles Stross recently won the Hugo Award for Halting State. He is currently one of my favorite authors. This is a link to his online Journal He has a computer science and pharmaceutical background so he uses a lot of hard science in his writing.

Afternoon Thoughts

I have been weeding the business management collection, the 600s. It is a slow tedious process where it is better to be careful than anything else. The collection is packed with older books, some of them are quite interesting. There are books by Robert Half, Peter Drucker, Jack Welch and many prominent business writers.

Another book came in for me to read, Reaper's Gale, A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. I really like the character Karsa Orlong in this series. He is one of my favorite swords and sorcery heros.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell-- Review

Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell-- Review

I really enjoyed reading this book. It is the first book in the Ragamuffin series. Ragamuffin was the second book. There is a third book in the series which I am hoping to read soon. I thought this book was better in many ways than Ragamuffin. The setting is wonderful. It is set in the country of Nanagada, on a planet in the far future. Caribbeans and South Americans settled the planet originally creating two distinct cultures, the Azteca and the Nanagadans. There are also the Tolteca who are mentioned briefly in the story who have fled the Azteca homeland.

The story is set around one John De Brun, a fisherman who has lost his memory. He is also the hero of the story who has to make a long journey to recover a fallen starship. He must escape the Azteca, and save the day. There is escape, capture, intrigue, fighting, and all the good stuff that makes an adventure story. I like the soldiers of the Nanagadans, the Mongoose Men.

The Azteca are a group of humans who are ruled by the Teotl, aliens who have taken on the role of cruel gods from humanities past. The aliens are trying to keep humans in a fallow state as worshippers and soldiers. They have reshaped human culture along ancient lines to be cruel and ruthless. The aliens are masters of biological engineering and have created a few monsters to add some spice to the story.

There is a counterpart among the Nanagadans, the Loa, a group of aliens who have taken on religious purpose of their own. When the humans arrived on the planet, they became involved in an ancient conflict between the Loa and Teotl. Humans became unwitting pawns in the initial conflict. There is a faction of humans, the Preservationists who have driven the Loa underground and redeveloped human technology.

The technology in this story is interesting in addition to the Caribbean and Aztec style cultures. Most of the fighting occurs using steam age technology. There are battles in airships, in the jungle, on the ice, and on ships. You see glimpses of a bygone cataclysm. There are rusted hulks of ships in the oceans, in the north, there are frozen over cities with glass office towers.

As the story advances, we learn John De Brun is more than he seems. He does not age, and sometimes he has uncanny skills of survival.

An intriguing story with a unique setting. I really enjoyed reading this book.

The Post American World by Fareed Zakaria-- Review

The Post American World by Fareed Zakaria-- Review

I did not like The Post American World by Fareed Zakaria. I thought it was a hyped up book designed to capitalize on Americans preconceptions of how the world works. The book focused on India and China and their rise in the world. It fed into the idea that a rising China will be the most important world power. So will a rising India. I think that this is overblown. Certainly, the world is changing, but not in the way the author is describing.

While the book applauds China's rise to being the largest manufacturer, it does little to point out that while China is a producer of cheap goods, it is not as productive in patents and selling end products where most of the money is made. Essentially, China has become the worlds manufacturer for basic goods the world over.

It also applauds India's rise as a manufacturer and producer of services. Once again, the book misses the boat in many ways. The Philippines are producing nurses, doctors, and programmers and sending them abroad. Indonesia is doing the same. We look at India and we see their ubiquitousness in customer service and call center work. India is very good at producing high technology manufacturing. The Tata corporation is massive. It already is producing the worlds cheapest cars.

My main objection to the book is that it mainly focuses on second world countries, glosses over the European Union, and does not touch deeply enough on the rise of the Scandinavian countries, Australia, and Canada. While India and China are important, several other things which will have more impact are already occurring than the rise of India and China.

Also, I think it avoids talking about the rise of the Central Asian Republics, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and the rebirth of Turkey as a world power. There is also very little about the coming energy crunch which will reshape the middle east.

The Canadian, Australian, and European currencies are matching the dollar. Canada is growing much stronger economically. Australia is also. Canada has the largest reserves of tar sands or hard to extract oil. It is also adopting clean energy technologies at a much greater pace than the United States.

We look at China making goods, but the book does not acknowledge what is happening with  German reunification. Germany is becoming even more of a manufacturing powerhouse. It is now the third largest exporter in the world after China. Germany is not manufacturing cheap goods. German machinery is already becoming superior to American counterparts. For example, BMW had to send Americans to Germany to train them for precision manufacturing. No American trade school could match their training.

There is a brief nod toward Sweden when Fareed Zakaria mentions that China is looking towards the Swedish model for its future economic and political success, not the American model. However, the author once again does not acknowledge the changes in politics which are putting many of the Scandinavian countries as the model for economic and political development. It is not just in economics that we are seeing changes. Australia, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, and many of the European countries have higher standards of living than the United States.

United States politicians like this author are telling us to look backwards and be afraid of (BRIC) Brazil, Russia, India, and China because they are taking jobs away from us. It is called outsourcing. These jobs, however, are often not the highest paying jobs, nor the most technically skilled.

In many areas of manufacturing other countries are moving way ahead of the United States. The United States imports most of its solar panels from Japan and Germany. Vestas sends us many of our new windmills. We buy many of our cell phones from Nokia.
Mr. Zakaria talks about how the world is slowly pulling out of poverty. India and China have moved away from a large portion of their populations being in poverty. So have many other countries like Nigeria and Vietnam. This is a good sign that the world is changing in positive ways. However, it has not changed enough. There is still too much poverty in the global south.

I think the book panders to much to what we expect seeing. It focuses too much on China and India which are important, but not as important as the story of the rise of  Australia, the Scandinavian countries, Canada, and the expansion of the European Union. The book should have been more inclusive. I thought it missed too much.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Relatives Visit Day Off

Van Gogh Picture of A Baby

Today, I drove down to Brooklyn to visit my mother-in-law and visit my wife's brother's baby.  It was a pleasant visit.  They don't have a lot of books in the house like I do.  It took up most of the day with a long drive back.

I did finish reading Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell last night.  I thought it was much better than Ragamuffin because it had a single consistent setting and did travel all over the place.  It was quite an interesting story.  So, I have two books to write reviews of tomorrow, Crystal Rain and The Post American World.

Today was not a book day which is a bit relaxing sometimes.  

Friday, August 8, 2008

Morning Thoughts

Morning Thoughts

I felt a little tired on the train in. Then I drank some coffee and still felt a little tired. Then I took a light nap and did not miss my stop. I'm still a tiny bit groggy.

When I got in to work, I went to my main focus right now, weeding out the business management books. We have a lot of really old material. Mixed in with this is a lot of new material which I ordered. One of the books I ordered is Wikinomics How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Dan Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. Nothing like new economy headgames. Hopefully, this book should be interesting to read.

I was feeling "googley moogley" as The Ferocious Beast says from Maggy and the Ferocious Beast children's cartoon, so I pulled a Youtube video of Don Tapscott about the book Wikinomics. Or if you want to be a little more focused "googley", adjective-- like google the search engine. Not googley like googley eyes. Now for some corporate speak directly from the Google Blog. "What Makes A Design Googley."

A book came in for me this afternoon, Saturn's Children by Charles Stross. It has an appropriately themed purple haired, purple eyed sexy android on the cover. The main character is named Freya Nakamichi and is a femmebot. Human beings went extinct sometime in the 21st century, and society is run by androids. I like the premise of the book. It should be interesting.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Morning Thoughts

Some things don't change that much. The Standard Oil Octopuss from 1904

Morning Thoughts

I started reading The Post American World by Fareed Zakaria on the train last night. It has been interesting reading so far. I think he misses some important points. There is too much emphasis on BRIC (Brazil India China) and not enough on some of the European countries and Australia which are quickly rising to become leaders in standard of living and quality manufacturing. Still, it is quite interesting to read.

Things are changing at a face pace in the world. Hopefully, we will have leaders who can create a situation where a rising tide of economic and social benefits helps all over the world. This is of course a dream. Despite what people are seeing on television, there are a lot less despots and a lot less wars.

I spent more time weeding the 650-659 dewey number collection this morning. I am going to order books to fill in many of the gaps I am finding in the collection. Part of the issue with ordering business books, especially accounting and finance books is many of them are very expensive and very academic. Some of the academic business titles are too complicated for lay readers. As a public library, we don't actively purchase textbooks. Even some of the non-academic material is in the hundred plus dollar range per book for business which is out of our budget range.

On the train home, I finished reading The Post American World.  I have mixed opinions about the book.  In some ways it is interesting.  I think it is a bit predictable and clearly aimed at an American audience.  I think there was a lot missing from the view he was presenting.

I also started reading Crystal Rain.  I rather like the Caribbean style future culture clashing with an Aztec future culture.  It makes for some interesting science fiction.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Future of the Internet And How To Stop It-- Jonathan Zittrain-- Thoughts

The Future of the Internet And How To Stop It-- Jonathan Zittrain-- Thoughts

The Future of the Internet and How To Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain is about the difference between generative or open technologies and tethered or controlled technologies. The author takes the position that free and open generative technologies are the best technologies for the internet.

The central thesis is that there is a conflict between having an open, disruptive, creative, often unsafe internet versus having a tightly controlled, monitored, and surveilled internet. Various connotations come to mind freedom versus safety, open access versus closed access.

The book also traces the origins of the internet starting with the Hollerith punch card machine, going through the early telelphone system, to the modern personal computer. Jonathan Zittrain talks about how the internet was created by academics and other professionals. It was based on rough consensus. He quotes the saying, "No presidents, no kings, no voting."

There is an unwritten vision of two different internets, one where we access the internet from dumb terminals through a router to a fixed access point with high security, and another where we have very powerful personal computers with firewalls, cloud computers, and a policy of open access and freedom of use.

The book brings up many more questions than it answers. The writing is complex, at times confusing, and often deeply interesting.

Jonathan Zittrain views the generative internet as the best possible world. He uses Wikipedia as an example of a superb invention created by the free exchange of ideas. He points out that it is often inaccurate, subject to scurilous content, and cannot be cited as an authoritative source most of the time. Still, his description of how Wikipedia is self correcting and employs many mechanisms to protect its data is very interesting.

In contrast, he describes what would be called, the situation of perfect enforcement, where everything is under universal monitoring. Your cell phone listens to your calls, your computer tracks which websites you visit, camera phones watch everything you do on the street, your tivo lets everyone know what you are watching, and everything you buy is tagged with RFID (radio frequency identification.) You are not the only one being watched. You are watching the police and bureaucrats with camcorders (a la Rodney King), reporting on your local politicians in blogs, and watching the police and bureacrats. In other words a totally monitored society. This is a very real potential future.

The author is arguing this may not just come about because of a police state, but because everything we do will become copyrightable media. This includes videos we place on youtube, personal songs, things downloaded from Ipods. There are already "black networks" of copyright infringers who share illegal downloads.

The book is very interesting. It is well worth reading. It will expand your horizons on issues that have to do with the internet. I enjoyed reading it a lot. I support the idea of a generative internet.

I personally don't like cell phones, ipods, and other tethered devices like xboxes which tie directly into large companies like Apple Computer, Sprint, and Microsoft. I do really enjoy my personal computer and would like to be able to be as creative as possible with it. I also like web suring and blogging as you can tell. Read this, it will keep you informed.

Afternoon Thoughts, Evening Thoughts

A copy of The Thinker by Auguste Rodin at Columbia University in New York.

Afternoon Thoughts

Tonight is my late night. It is a day for minor cleanup. I finished most of the ordering I plan on doing this week. Right now, I am sorting the boxes next to my desk to see what I will send to the recycling bins. I already sent several old phone books to the recycling boxes as well as some dated law material. We really can't save old phone books and legal materials because it ceases being accurate. Actually, this isn't quite true, we do keep a copy of the old phone book each year for the local history collection.

We have over fifty years worth of old phone books for our town. Occassionally people use this for genealogical purposes. Looking up old obituaries is also the main reason we keep the old newspapers on microfilm. People often send us letters requesting obituaries from the old papers. We search for them then print them up and send them out to requesters.

Someone wrote a review for this blog. I am posting a link to it here.
best blog

Evening Thoughts

I did some weeding of the business management and leadership sections the 650 dewey numbers. It looks like I'll have to replace a lot of the material on office automation. Most of the material was very outdated. I'll be ordering "administrative assistant" handbooks, office planning, home office books, keyboarding, and wordprocessing books.

I am looking at a copy of Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell. It comes before Ragamuffin in the series.

I have written a bit of the review for The Future of the Internet by Jonathan Zittrain. It has been a slow, but steady process.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Afternoon Thoughts, Comics As History

Romulus and Remus Discovered by A Gentle Shepherd, From The Comic History of Rome (1850)

Afternoon Thoughts

I finished reading The Future of the Internet and How To Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain this morning on the train. It was a quite enjoyable read. I will try and get a chance to write my outline for a review very soon.

When I got in this morning, I started off by weeding the oversize graphic novels. While I was weeding I came across a very interesting book, The Great Comic Book Heroes, The Origins And Early Adventures of the Classic Superheroes of the Comic Books-- In Glorious Color. Compiled, introduced and annotated by Jules Feiffer. Jules Feiffer is a very famous editorial cartoonist. This book is c1965. It is kind of interesting. It has the origins of Batman, Superman, Captain Marvel, Human Torch, The Flash, Green Lantern, The Spirit, and many other superheroes. I am mostly letting go of the 0lder books that people have not read.

After weeding the oversize graphic novels, I did a display. The display is a collection of graphic novels on history: Joe Sacco, Safe Area Gorazde, Howard Zinn, A People's History of American Empire, Osamu Tezuka Adolf ( a manga biography of Adolf Hitler), Art Spiegelman, In The Shadow of No Towers, and a few other titles. There are a lot of graphic novels that are based on history. The movie 300 is adapted from the Frank Miller graphic novel on the Spartans fighting the Persians. This isn't exactly accurate, but it is interesting.

This afternoon, I spent a little bit of time compiling a computer book order as well. Mainly it is titles I picked out from Queens Library when I visited their computer books section. I also went through and made some small orders for the Job Information Center and the social science books. I mainly ordered licensed practical nurse and practical nurse test books for certification.

Again, today has been mostly focused on doing everyday activities. I still have to go through and file some more inserts for the law books. I also plan on doing a little desk cleaning so my desk will be a little less messy. I have a big messy desk. Things tend to pile up on it.

There is a cart of uncataloged books from the order I placed. Quite a few of the books which I ordered were not in our library system. It may take a while for them to be cataloged so they can be added. I am interested in reading them. Sometimes, this makes me a little impatient. I like seeing the books I order go out to the shelves very quickly.