Sunday, November 30, 2008

Good Morning

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902)Le Journal [The Newspaper]Etching and drypoint, 1883

Good Morning

Sometimes I decied to do things a bit differently. Yesterday, I went to my local library. I think that I often walk there because it is just about a mile away, so two miles there and back is just right for a short walk.

I had my jolt of coffee this morning. I am wide awake now. I haven't read the newspaper yet. It is going to be a long slow day. I am going back to work after vacation. I hope everything will be alright.

I put Watermind by M.M. Buckner on hold. It looks to be an interesting hard science fiction novel.

My muse is wandering today. I have started reading Prince of Stories The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman. There are many many pictures throughout the book, a lot of them are in full color. The introduction is by Terry Pratchett. I think I will enjoy this. Prince of Stories is not just criticism of Neil Gaiman, it also contains some of his early journalism articles, interviews, and short stories by him. This should make it very interesting for people who like to read Neil Gaiman's works.

I learned that Dave McKean is the first comic book artist that Neil Gaiman worked with. Dave McKean's artwork can be seen here. It is more than a little bit interesting. It has a slightly mythic otherness to it.

For some reason I could never get myself to read Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I just could not imagine a novel about the children's book The Wizard of Oz being that great. However, I am going to try one of his early novels, Mirror Mirror, a combination of Lucrezia Borgia and Snow White. It sounds quite interesting.

Yale University Press Books Unbound program has a nice selection of ebooks for free to use on the internet. This includes both computer titles and poetry books. I read one of them as a hardcover, The Future of the Internet and How To Stop It. This is a nice selection to stimulate your mind.

Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

This book is quite special. Besides being a great story, it is a book about seeing the world differently. It shows how a change in perception can break you out of ruts and rough spots. The power of the main character, Alcatraz Smedry is to break things. He can break just about anything by accident. Door handles fall off in his hands, the stove breaks, the pots break, just about everything breaks in his hands.

When Alcatraz Smedry, who is in foster care, turns thirteen, he receives a special bag of sand from his parents. This prompts the evil librarians to steal it from him. it is very unique sands from the desert of Rashid.

Grandpa Smedry rescues him from being killed by librarians. Thus begins a fantastic adventure. The librarians are secretly controlling everything by providing misinformation about how the world really works. There are really six continents, dinosaurs are alive, and the whole world is a lie.

This book is wonderfully silly. Alcatraz Smedry reminds us that he really is no hero and that it was all a mistake. We learn that stairs are more advanced than elevators because they don't break and provide exercise, swords are more advanced than guns, and magic is as real as physics.

The book is filled with metaphors. One of the magics used in the book is oculation. Different eyeglasses give different powers. There are tracking lenses, fire lenses, and torture lenses. Different ways of seeing give you different powers. The world becomes a very different place for the main character, Alcatraz Smedry. Alcatraz even has a companion, Bastille who is his protrectress. Alcatraz and Bastille of course are the names of prisons.

One of my favorite settings is the giant library hidden inside the regular library. Imagine vaulted ceilings, cantaloupe shaped lamps, and overstuffed shelves with metal plaques at the ends proclaiming their contents.

I even didn't mind the caricatures of librarians. Imagine a lady in a black skirt with a bun and horn rimmed glasses, or a heavily muscled gentleman in a pink dress shirt with pink bow tie and sweater vest. It was done with just the right amount of silliness.

Despite being written for 4th graders, this book has a timeless quality to it. It is also 303 pages long which makes me question the rating of 4th grade reading level. I think it is closer to young adult. It is like the Cricket In Times Sqare, The Phantom Tollbooth, or Alice in Wonderland. In a modern sense, I might say that I liked it as much as Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. The fantastic elements are accessible to almost anyone. The setting is at the borders of our world.

Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review. I saw the cover and title and immediately grabbed it. It is a true "gimme" cover which makes you want to just grab it. It deserves to be read. There is even a second book in the series which just came out, Alcatraz Versus The Scrivener's Bones. I put it on hold already.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Numerati by Stephen Baker

The Numerati by Stephen Baker

This book is about measuring people. It visits the companies and individuals that are creating the mathematics to measure and track people. IBM is seeking to track all of its 50,000 workers using complex social networking software. The company, Umbria, has created software to track blogs. Casinos are trying to find cheats in the least intrusive way possible.

The Numerati tells the story of how you are a statistic which can be broken down into a category then tracked using mathematical algorithms. These algorithms see if you are a productive white collar worker, what you buy, how you vote, and what you write in your blog.

In addition, these numbers can become intrusive and be used to determine if you are terrorist or criminal, what your medical problems are, and who you might fall in love with. As they say, the only way to really insure your privacy is to not put it online or over a cell phone.

You have value as a mathematical commodity to many people. You get a supermarket discount card so the retailer can track what you buy filling up your cart with your weekly groceries. You receive a constant stream of junk mail based on what you buy online or over the phone. I regularly receive mailers from Haband because I buy from them online.

People exist in what is called the, "attention economy". Your attention has value. You might even pay money to a search engine optimization company to make your blog more visible on the web so more people will pay attention to it. I constantly ping my blog to make sure places like Technorati and Google know it has been updated.

What you do at work and on the web are monitored. There are now thousands of security cameras everywhere; in supermarkets, at the job, and on street. The government and private industry is both protecting and surveilling you. It has become an age of ubiquitous tracking.

This surveillance can be beneficial as well as harmful. In healthcare, it can monitor alzheimers patients, and check for future health problems. As things improve, you might live in a house with built in circuitry that checks your physical condition constantly.

I found this book insightful. It reminded me that I need to keep some control over where I spend my money and who I give my information to. I don't take surveys over the phone. Often, I will make purchases with cash. One of the reasons I often use the library is the records of what I read and watch are purged regularly. Library records can be supinaed. Making choices of how you are recorded is paramount in an attention economy.

I enjoyed reading this book. There is very little complex math in it. It also maintains a very neutral tone and does not sensationalize the subject. This makes the writing very accessible.

Good Morning

van Gogh - Still Life with Bible

Good Morning

It is the weekend and I am up typing away this morning. I came across a rather interesting article from the New York times about personal bookshelves. At least, I found it interesting:
The Well Tended Bookshelf. .

Of course where would the New York Times be without books. I make it a point to read all of the books in my bookshelves. I am not one to fuss about eye tracks even for more expensive books.

Thus I open with two links to articles on bookshelves. Where would a library be without them. Just to be a little prickly, I am adding a quote by a famous author.

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. Anna Quindlen

Friday, November 28, 2008

Good Morning, Miscellaneous Thoughts

William Randolph Hearst (1863 – 1951), American newspaper magnate, politician, c1910

I took a walk up to my local library this morning and dropped off a few books. I also picked up two new books, Management Skills for New Managers Based on the Bestselling Seminar by the American Management Association by Carol W. Ellis, and The Numerati by Stephen Baker.

Right now, I am thinking about the concept of management. It is not something which I like to think about. In some ways, I know it is not something which I am used to. My upbringing always hammered me with the idea of being an excellent specialist. That is exactly what I am a senior librarian, a librarian II as they call it in civil service.

All of the librarian III positions are management positions unless you happen to be lucky enough to get into a specialty. The specialist positions like collection development are fast disappearing in the library world. I did not do well the last time I tried for a management type position.

This means if I have ambition, I have to reprogram my attitudes about managing people as well as change my skills considerably. This is not an easy thing to do. It takes time and patience. The first step is improving my time management and organization skills. Having the appearance of organization whether or not you work hard automatically changes the way people think about you.

I am an idiosyncratic person, I don't do well with recruiters. As Popeye says, "I yam what I yam." I have always found my own work. I am not going to go into a recruiters office and say, "Here I am find me a wonderful new position." Acting classes are not going to help me with this.

As I read and understand the various management books, they say one thing. Perform exceptionally and people will notice and seek you out. Resumes and complaining don't get you very far.

The third component is managing people. This is another skill which I will have to learn. It will not be easy for me. I unfortunately don't have lots of extra money to spend on improving my skills. I am thinking of doing a couple units of MIT Open Courseware. There are no credits for these courses. I am strong believer in self-education.

Right now, this leaves me with three goals, improving my organizational skills, performing better, and learning some basic management skills over the next year.

I finished going through Management Skills for New Managers by Carol W. Ellis. This is not a management theory book. It is a set of checklists, questionnaires, and surveys on how you interact with your current reports. The whole book is about creating a better work environment. There is no theory. It is all actions. For a manager to properly use this book they would have to be managing a number of people, communicating, training, evaluating, and coaching them.

It is of not much use for someone who wants to learn management theory. It does give an overview of what you are supposed to be doing. The book seems practical enough. But, you need to already be in a management position to use it properly. It is a skills workbook. I might find it useful later.

I have started reading The Numerati by Stephen Baker. So far, it is a book about the people who make mathematical models of human behavior for different corporate and business purposes. I rather like the writing. There is a strong human interest angle.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

I have been playing with twitter lately. I have a learned a few things about the service. Apparently, it is more important to be followed than follow people. In order to be able to follow more than 2000 people, you generally have to have over 2000 followers. Once you reach this number you contact twitter and they generally let you go above their limits.

I also have been trying out an application called Mr. Tweet, This is supposed to generate more "influential"people to follow. I don't see how it works, but I am trying it out.

I checked my sitemeter today to see who has come to visit this site. There was one rather interesting list of book sites. Apparently, a plug-in for internet explorer, Zemanta has added my site to a long list of book sites .

Ten Roads to Riches by Ken Fisher

The Ten Roads To Riches the Ways The Wealthy Got There (And How You Can Too) by Ken Fisher with Lara Hoffmans

This book outlines ten different ways to become rich; start a company, become a CEO, ride along with the CEO (Charlie Munger rode along with Warren Buffet), become famous, marry into wealth, become a plaintiffs lawyer (sue people), manage other peoples money, become a land barron, invent things (songs, patents, books, intellectual property), and manage your wealth slowly and frugally. There is a chapter on each road along with an introduction and conclusion. The book is not rocket science but it is entertaining.

Ken Fisher is one of the richest people, he is on the Forbes 400 list and manages $45 billion in investments. He wrote this book because "he likes to write", not because he needs to make money. He should know a little bit about becoming rich.

I like the combination of humor, irony, and straightforwardness in this book. Ken Fisher said he had his lawyers go through the book twice to make sure he would not be sued for libel. He reminds us that not every way which people get rich is appealing to many people, a lot of people hate stock brokers, distrust plaintiffs lawyers (modern day pirates), and think it is tacky to seek out rich people to marry.

Each chapter also includes a section on how to not break the law and still make money. Carly Fiorina and Bill Lerach are two examples of how not to do this.

At the end of many chapters there is a reading list. I found two books that I plan to read, The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall and Beyond Entrepreneurship by James C. Collins and William C. Lazier. There is also a short bulleted list of the basic first steps you need to take down each path.

This book is not complicated. It is methodical and straightforward. There are no secret formulas, no complex charts, and no incredible promises. It is so real at times that it becomes darkly humorous. I can recommend this book for people who are interested in building wealth. It is currently on the New York Times bestseller list.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, Good Morning, Grateful

John Bunyan the author of The Pilgrim's Progress

Happy Thanksgiving, Good Morning

I drove to my relatives early in the day to celebrate thanksgiving. We had the traditional turkey, stuffing, corn, sweet potato pie, gravy, and yams. It was a nice afternoon meal. We also watched Kung Fu Panda which was a fun little Dreamworks animation film. We brought my niece a couple of toys, a doll, and a little musical hammer toy. It was a very nice afternoon.

We left early, about four o'clock and by five it was pitch black on the New York freeways. It was also packed on the freeways. I guess a lot of people wanted to do their holiday a bit early.

Although, I finished Ten Roads to Riches yesterday night, I am going to wait until tomorrow to write about it. It feels like something better done on a non-holiday.


This is a day to be grateful for what we have. There are many reasons for giving thanks.

I give thanks for having enough food on the table.

I am grateful for having a roof over my head.

I am grateful for having a profession where I can help people every single day.

I am grateful for being able to live in a place where I can express my views freely.

I am grateful to live in a country where I can believe as I see fit.

I am grateful to live in a country where hatred and oppression are not the government norm.

I am grateful every time I get up in the morning and go to sleep at night.

I am grateful that I can pursue my own happiness.

I am grateful that I have a degree of liberty.

Not everyone has these things. Take a moment and wish these things for all people. Be grateful for what you have. Again, happy thanksgiving.


Gratitude comes when

You least expect in heart felt moments

Often from total strangers

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (A Trip to the City)

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (A Trip to the City)

I read the Ten Roads to Riches on the way into the city on the subway. Then I finally got to the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. There was a five dollar fee to enter. I found out the comics library was still in upstate New York in storage. Still, it was really interesting looking around the exhibit of Kim Deitch's works. There was original art work from Gothic Blimp Works, an underground tabloid comic done in 1965. Later that day when I visited Roger's Time Tunnel, a comic book store, Roger told me that the last time he had seen a copy of Gothic Blimp Works was seven years ago. He showed me a few listed on ebay with a $120 starting bid.

There were also pages from Boulevard of Broken Dreams, a graphic novel which we have at our library. One of Deitch's characters that is very interesting is Waldo, a kind of psychedelic version of Felix the cat. There were also a variety of other works throughout the room, including color pages from Fontaines Fables. It was a very interesting exhibit.

This is a short video from Youtube interviewing Kim Deitch at the MOCCA opening reception. His frenetic energy also shows in his art work.

After I went to the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, I went to Housing Works Used Book Cafe and looked around for a bit. They had an interesting young adult paperback which I bought. Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson. It is c2007 by Scholastic for half cover price $3.50. I just couldn't hlep myself. It is a perfectly wicked title. It is worth having just for the cover.

I had a chance to walk through the village. I stopped in the Strand Bookstore and used the bathroom. It is often hard to find decent bathrooms when you are walking around New York. I was going to stop in Forbidden Planet, but when I went inside, it was so packed that I could not walk three feet without bumping into a person.

I then walked down to Roger's Time Machine. I have to give them a plug. Roger always gives me a very nice deal when I buy comics from him. Today, I bought Andromeda #6 Alan Dean Foster Special issue c1979, Star Reach #7 c1977, Myth Adventures #2, 3, 4, and 6 by Warp Graphics based on the novels by Robert Asprin and drawn by Phil Foglio for $19 total which is a very good price. The store had a lot of people coming in right before thanksgiving.

Fairytale, Good Morning

The Frog Asks To Be Allowed To Enter The Castle - Illustration For "The Frog Prince" by Walter Crane 1874. The Frog Prince is one of my favorite tales.


Snow white, rose red, briar rose

they run through my dreams

singing, dancing, flitting about

sweet voiced, pure, clean

I imagine jack, anansi, coyote

tricking them away from their

handsome frog princes, prince charmings

to take them to fairyland

Where they live in wooded cottages

serving dwarfs, trolls, and ogres

They dream of more common saviors

puss n'boots, tom o'thumb, the little tailor

Good Morning

Last night I started reading The Ten Roads to Riches The Ways The Wealthy Got There (And How You Can Too!) by Ken Fisher and Lara Hoffman. I am really enjoying this book because he tries to tell you how people got wealthy in an honest manner without hype. There are points where it be can be darkly ironic and quite fun. He is attempting to tell a truth.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Good Morning, The Green Collar Economy by Van Jones

Inkweaver Review (Nathan KP) gave me the Butterfly Award

Winslow Homer, The New Novel, 1877

Good Morning

I spent five hours in the garage while my oil was changed, my filter was changed, and my car was inspected. It was a long wait. I managed to finish Why Some Companies Emerge Stronger And Better From A Crisis 7 Essential Lessons For Surviving Disaster by Iam I. Mitroff. I did not much care for the book after a while, but it was better than the talk show hosts on the television in the waiting room. The television had this ridiculous thing on television, a large shrimp on a treadmill. Sometimes, things like this make you wonder at people. They at least had a decent cup of coffee to drink.

The Green Collar Economy How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems by Van Jones

After I came home because I am on vacation, I got to do what many people wish to do, lie down and read all day. I read The Green Collar Economy How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems by Van Jones. This book is not what I expected it is really not a book on finding solutions. It is a book motivating you to be green and come up with green solutions. In other words, it is focused on getting you to join up with a green social movement.

The first several chapters do focus on the combination of our energy, environmental, and economic crisis. His solution is to create a lot of green jobs. There was a very interesting section on Hurricane Katrina which I found quite informative.

The book really is not about business or finance, or even government like it claims to be. It is more about how you can be inspired to support a social initiative to green the country. The resources at the back of the book say it all; Green Worker Cooperatives, African American Environmental Association, B'more Green, Build It Green, Local Government For Sustainability, and many others.

This book is focused on a progressive green social movement. I kind of fit in here. Some of the themes are locally produced organic produce, public transportation, employing the ex-inmates in green jobs, environmental social justice, and similar ideas. Van Jones comes up with new terms, eco-equity and "The Green New Deal."

The central idea of eco-equity is that everyone should have a seat at the table in the new green economy. It should include issues like environmental justice, and creating jobs to clean up neighborhoods as well as urban agricultural initiatives.

"The Green New Deal" is the idea that we should rebuild the country along green lines. The central themes are more renewable energy, more energy efficient construction, retool our automobile factories to produce hybrids and electric cars, rebuild our national power grid, invest in clean technology. It is very much a populist ideal aimed at breaking environmentalism out of the elite green mentality.

I found the focus on community organization, government spending, and populism a little bit disconcerting. He evokes massive New Deal style green programs to jump start the economy out of its current conditions. Van Jones doesn't really go into how the economics or the policies would work. He paints a rosey idealistic go out and serve your country to make it better through environmentalism picture.

I wish he had brought the conversation down to earth a little bit. We need to have his vision tempered with some more real ideas like renewable energy cheaper than cole. or the business advantages of investing in environmental technologies.

Another problem I had with this book is that it pictures environmentalism as being easy to do. It is not. It is quite hard to follow through with. This is a major problem with the environmental movement. I have always found health food stores, community organizations, and city council meetings hard to take sometimes. Putting recyclables in the proper cans, eating healthier, driving less, using more public transportation, and other simple things are not that easy.

I found the book to be very impractical, but at the same time inspiring and full of ideas. It is worth reading if you are a progressive inspired by environmental idealism. I don't think conservatives will like this book that much. It is written in a very partisan style.

There is an index, a resource list of organizations in the back which are mainly community focused, and a list of green companies. The book is clearly very popular. It was on the New York Times Bestseller List. I think it will widen the base for a green populist movement.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Good Morning

A view from the balcony of Brooklyn Public Library. I remember this view well.

Good Morning

Today has been a day of small things. Taking care of all those little things that slip you by. Sending out things to your relatives, going produce shopping visiting the doctor, setting up an appointment for changing the oil in my car.

I have started reading The Green Collar Economy How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems by Van Jones. It has the feeling of a true believer writing for a cause. He is a member of the Apollo Alliance and has two web sites and . The idea is for a "Green New Deal."

Anyways, I think I am going to go up to my local library and drop off the books on organizing which I read earlier.

It was very quiet at my local library. I don't know why I am doing this. I guess I am obsessed with books. I picked up two dvds, Finding Neverland starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. Finding Neverland is about James M. Berry the creator of the childrens story, Peter Pan. I rather like dramatic movies about writers. I reviewed Miss Potter about Beatrix Potter which was quite charming. I hope this is a very good movie.

The other movie which I picked up was A Scanner Darkly based on the Philip K. Dick novel. Philip K. Dick was a fantastic science fiction writer. He also was quite paranoid. He wrote Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep which was made into possibly the best science fiction film ever made Blade Runner. I am hoping this is also a very intriguing film.

I can't seem to avoid books on management. I picked up Why Some Companies Emerge Stronger And Better From A Crisis, 7 Essential Lessons For Surviving Disaster by Ian I. Mitroff. I hope the book is useful. We are going through quite a few changes at work.

After I went to the library, I went and saw the doctor. I lost another five pounds. I still have quite a ways to go. I am still following the Yoga RX books set of exercises for obesity. I doubled the repetitions because I know myself well enough to know that I am not going to do the exercises twice a day like the book suggests.

I am planning on going to the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art so I can look at their library of graphic novels. I keep saying that I am going to do this. Hopefully, I actually will this time. Maybe on Wednesday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Good Morning, Poetry --Not Doing, Futon (Haiku), Slacker

Gerard Ter Borch (1617-1681)A Lady Reading a Letter

Good Morning

This morning, I finished watching Sleeping Beauty, the Disney 50th anniversary platinum edition. I really enjoyed this animated movie. The thing that set it apart from other animated movies was the score. The film was filmed around the ballet of Peter Tchaikovsky, Sleeping Beauty. The animation was synchronized with the music, and many of the scenes looked like dancing from a ballet. This separated the movie from many other animated movies I have seen. I also liked the artwork. It seemed to have a touch of the Eastern European style. The scenes of the three good fairies granting wishes looked very much like russian style animation with each wish.

There were a few things which I hadn't learned before. In most of the childrens stories I have read, I did not learn the princess's true name was Aurora. I always thought it was Briar Rose.
The blu-ray dvd also included the Peter Tchaikovsky Story a Disney short on the life of the composer that was distributed before the film was released. This added additional historical context for the film which made me appreciate the animation even more. This is a film well worth watching with your children.

The Drinky Crow show is going on Adult Swim on November 23, 2008 at 12:15 a.m. in the wee morning hours. If you want something that is completely gross you might want to watch this. At moments it can be funny, but mostly it is too over the top for me. I do like Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey, but this is extreme. It is definitely for adults.

I also read Collins Best Practices, Difficult People Working Effectively With Prickly Bosses, Coworkers, and Clients by John Hoover. The book is fairly short. If you want an outline on how to deal with different types of people, the Slave Driver, The Black Hole, the Minutiae Monster, this might be helpful. I thought it did not have much depth.

It explained some strategies on how to minimize conflict including how to use constructive criticism and rewards to get people to do their work. The four steps of constructive confrontation are conversation, covenant drafting, giving feedback, and celebrating accomplishments. It reminds people that firing is a tool of last resort.

The book is something which most people can skip. There are only a few things worth reading. It does give a nice bibliography at the end of the book with suggestions of books to read. The book could have been better. I am not putting a picture up of this one.

Hmm. Now, I see. I think you would much rather that I wrote about things like current events, poetry, and fiction. Nothing really work related. This means I am skipping reviewing Collins Best Practices Managing People Secrets to Leading For Managers by Barry Silverstein which I found much better than the first book. It has quotes from Peter F. Drucker, Jack Welch and numerous short one page case studies from companies like IBM and Dell.

Instead I should focus on something to escape the long days at work. I am starting on reading Mary Elizabeth, Painless Poetry. One of the things I promised to do on my vacation was write a few poems for you as well as myself. Something relaxing and easy to follow. It is time to let go and forget about work for a little while.

Not Doing

Today is a day
For not doing
Not cooking, not cleaning
Not writing, not reading

Today is a day
For being tired
Not working, not striving
Not thinking, not leading

Today is a day
For being lazy
Not walking, not running
Not driving, not cycling

Today is a day
Where I rest
Not sorting, not filing
Not organizing, not arranging

Today is a day
Where I lay down
Not watching, not listening
Not feeling, not imagining

Still I can't close my eyes

I am feeling lazy this afternoon. I don't usually take naps, but this time today I did. I feel a little less wound up than I usually am.


Laying on the futon

A long lazy Sunday afternoon

Feeling hazy and tired


I am studying slack

Hang up my spine on a rack

Lay down on my back

Eat an afternoon snack

Read a cheap paberback

I feel very laid back

On another note, I found a silly little contest called "Pimp My Bookcart."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Good Morning, The Complete Idiot's Guide To Managing Your Time

Italian panel depicting Charles Darwin created ca. 1890, on display at the Turin Museum of Human Anatomy.

The Complete Idiot's Guide To Managing Your Time by Jeff Davidson

This morning I finished reading The Complete Idiot's Guide To Managing Your Time by Jeff Davidson. This is a practical book. What people want to know about these kinds of books is not whether the book itself is good and easy to read, but whether they would get something worthwhile out of reading the text. By the way, the book is easy to read, although it is a bit formulaic.

The main concept that interested me was the idea that your desk is like an aircraft carrier, it needs to be completely swept clean of everything before you put anything down on it. This way, there are no distractions when you are working on something. I never thought of it like this. I always had piles of paper on my desk. I did not think of them as being distracting, but that is how I am.

Now, I kind of understand why people think people are more productive if they have an absolutely clean desk. The funny thing is that the time I see most people cleaning their desk is just before they go on vacation when they will be doing nothing. It is kind of perturbing.

The book reinforced some of my habits. I try to get enough sleep every night, I don't always succeed, but I try. I always take my lunch hour and try to take my scheduled breaks. I know I will not work as well if I don't. I also believe in doing one thing at a time consistently every day, day after day. Right now, every day, I am taking time to order books, weed books, check the displays, and make sure the area I am in is clean and orderly. I also try to take lunch outside. This gives me a slight breather from being in the building.

I think the book would be useful for most people in some way or other to learn about time management. It is not just about managing time, it is also about how not to get overwhelmed by the office. How and when to say no, when to take vacations, how to be orderly, and how to make decisions quickly.

Good Morning

This is the kind of review that makes you want to go out and buy the book. Review of Your Hatemail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 by John Scalzi. . I am rather surprised that I have never received any truly dreadful hatemail for writing this blog. I have been contentious at times, but nothing which is dreadful.

The library is having its book and bake sale today November 21 and November 22. I went downstairs to the community room to buy a cup of coffee from The Friends of the Library. It was a rather genteel environment. They were playing I Got My Thrill on Blueberry Hill by Louis Armstrong on the CD Player. There was a nice assortment of baked goods next to the coffee which was 75 cents. I looked around at some of the books. There were a few nice art books, which people might buy. A retired librarian runs the Friends of the Library sale. I thought the best selection was in the childrens books.

Prince of Stories, The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman, Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden & Stephen R. Bissette came in for me to read. It is a fresh new book. There is a foreword written by Terry Pratchett. The book is a doorstopper. It is 545 pages long.

I am also going to try and read The Collins Best Practices series of business books: Managing People Secrets to Leading for New Managers, Difficult People Working Effectively with Prickly Bosses, Coworkers, and Clients, and Hiring People, Recruit and Keep the Brightest Stars. These are short concise books which look practical.

I went and gave instructions for the Job Information Center books to be taped and labeled, weeded some more books in the social sciences, and did a few miscellaneous tasks to make sure everything was in order before I left for vacation.

I changed the floor display from "energy issues" to books on globalization and the issues surrounding globalization; free trade, fair trade, immigration, NAFTA, hegemony, the rise of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), and other large things. I am hoping that people will like the books.

I sometimes feel a little nervous before I go on vacation, that there will be some mistakes that will happen. I can be a bit cautious about these things.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Afternoon Thoughts

Michelozzo Di Bartolomeo Library 1396-1472, Marble 1437-1451, Convent of San Marco, Florence. A different view of what a library looks like. Books were rarer then.

Afternoon Thoughts
I am on vacation next week for Thanksgiving week. I'll probably go visit relatives and eat turkey and stuffing until I am bursting. In a way, I am looking forward to it.

This morning, I wrote my monthly annual report because I am gone next week. I also did a little bit of organizing files. I am about half way through my files. There is the usual clean up of small things to make sure everything goes smooth when I am on vacation.

This morning, I got up very early and the trains ran perfectly, too perfectly. I got to work a little early so I spent a few minutes drinking tea and reading the Daily News waiting for the building to open.

I put in a small order for financial literacy books, then tried to convince my boss to order some monster movies unsuccessfully. He was willingly to do a few Godzilla films, but that was it.
I also did a small amount of weeding. The head of the library might want me to pick up the pace on weeding so we have more space.

Right now, I have three books which came in for me, The Green Collar Economy How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems by Van Jones, The Ten Roads To Riches by Ken Fisher, and The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I also picked up another book, Big Box Swindle by Stacy Mitchell because of an article in Bookselling this Week,

It was rather interesting. I learned that U.S. News and World Report will no longer be in paper next year, PC Magazine is also going to online only in January 2009, The Christian Science Monitor in 2009 will only be available as an online edition. These are big changes for the world of magazines. I guess the online world is thoroughly shaking up the magazine business.

More people use the computers to look up information than read magazines right now. I can imagine as the technology for blogs and websites get cheaper and more accessible, many magazines will go the way of the dinosaurs.

The only magazine I ever subscribed to online was Consumer Reports. I did it when I was buying a car. I didn't renew the subscription, but I found it to be quite useful. It is articles like this which make Consumer Reports a great resource. How to save $500 a month.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Winning by Jack Welch and Suzy Welch

Winning by Jack Welch and Suzy Welch

This book is about business and how to succed in business. It is very candid. There is a certain hard edge to the book despite its very positive presentation. Jack Welch likes to differentiate the top 20% best players, the 70% in the middle, and the 10% on the bottom on the way out. A lot of this book is about how not to be in the bottom 10% despite being advertised as being how to win.

A lot of the basics of business are covered; mission statements and values, what makes a winner, how to succeed in your career, and how to have a positive energetic attitude that will lead to success. Jack Welch was very successful in his career; at the same time some people described him as being too candid and willing to fire people too quickly.

He warns people against complaining and resisting change. The best way to get out of a hard situation is to either buy in to change or move on somewhere else. He tells you that a sure way not to get a new job is to complain about your current job, underperform, and sent out resumes to everyone in existence. According to him, the best way to find new work is to improve your performance so you stand out.

There are many insightful ideas in this book which I found quite useful. Jack Welch says that many of his ideas came from working at General Electric as well as teaching and consulting after retirement. He describes how he has learned from many different people, not just fellow CEOs.

One of his ideas is that organized people automatically have better work life balance. This is because they are more able to do more at work and at home. Organization and time management are something I am working on.

The book is well organized and easy to follow. Winning was a bestselling business book. It will remain a mainstay of business reading for a long time. If you are interested in the basics of how to succeed in a career or business this book offers a lot of insight.

Good Morning, Good Evening

Good Morning

There is a new book on Neil Gaiman out, Prince of stories : the many worlds of Neil Gaiman by Hank Wagner. I am looking forward to reading it soon. I really enjoy Neil Gaiman's writing. I think it is better than his films. Neil Gaiman's graphic novel writing is also very interesting.

If I could put together a panel of interesting fantasy writers and put them in one room, I would put Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, and Alan Moore as my first three choices right now. I really like their writing.

Good Evening

I dropped off my books at my local library and checked out a few more; The One Minute Organizer Plain & Simple 500 Tips For Getting Your Life In Order by Donna Smallin and The Complete Idiots Guide To Managing Your Time by Jeff Davidson.

I finished clearing off the top of my desk at work yesterday. Now, I have to go through my files and put them in better order tomorrow. It is a first step. It already has made things a little easier to do.

My house is starting to get a tiny bit better as well. It is going to take a little time. I feel like saying a platitude; the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Things have been getting a lot more expensive lately. I started clipping coupons this week and used my first $1 coupon for paper towels. I have a really hard time finding worthwhile coupons. I never clipped coupons before. Maybe, I'll learn something. Most coupons are for trash which I really don't need. I usually buy generic.

I found a funny little thing while I was searching the web, The Genuine Haiku Generator. It appears to be a program to randomly generate haiku. I rather like the idea of it. It is of course slightly ridiculous. Please try it out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good Morning

WPA Adult Edution. Works Progress Administration New Deal. This is the way the United States will be heading if business people do not get their act together.

Good Morning

Last night I read some more of Winning by Jack and Suzy Welch on the train home. For a while the train was so crowded that I could not sit down so I didn't get as much reading done as I would have liked. The trains have been much more crowded lately. People are driving less. Cars are very expensive.

I finished ordering for romance paperbacks. There should be a nice solid order coming in. I went in the storage area and looked at the books I ordered. There are lots of computer books, Job Information Center books, business books, social science books, and professional books waiting to go out on the circulating shelves. There is something satisfying about seeing books which you have ordered on the shelves.

I am doing a film program at my library today. I just checked to make sure the room setup was done, small individual bags of popcorn and juice were ready. I'll make an announcement over the intercom later this afternoon. The computer technician is going to check the dvd to make sure it works. We have an extra copy of the film ready in case the one being checked doesn't work quite right.

We had fifteen people who came to the program, eight people stayed for the film, and seven more came for a short while. There were also a few people who came and looked in the room to see what was happening. I gave out two calendars of events for other programs. A lot of people come initially just because of the popcorn and juice.

I also compiled some patron requests for ordering. Items like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 on dvd, the author Zane, the subject of how to find and buy foreclosures, and a young adult paperback series--Angels In Pink.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Romance Books

It has been a rather interesting day like all lovely days.

Romance Books

My director asked me to place a large order of romance paperbacks. Apparently, our racks were emptying. So, I went to and picked out a variety of romance paperbacks. I actually don't mind trashy romance paperbacks.

I sometimes read Elizabeth Lowell, and I reviewed Linnea Sinclair's The Downhome Zombie Blues which is kind of like Star Trek except for with sex. Elizabeth Lowell wrote as the science fiction author, Ann Maxwell, and was nominated for a Hugo award for her science fiction romance, Name of A Shadow.

There are a number of authors who are popular at our library in the romance section, Donna Hill and Gwynn Forster are two best selling black romance authors. I also like Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series which is quite interesting, it is a vampire romance story. There are of course all the campy contemporary authors like Amanda Quick, Candace Camp, and Linda Lael Miller.

In addition to spending time at Romantic Times, I also visited the Eharlequin site . Eharlequin bought out BET Black Entertainments line of romance novels, so they now have an extensive set of African American romance books, including the Kimaru series. The other romance publishers I looked at were Avon Romance, Tor/Forge has a science fiction romance section, and Bantam/Dell. Dorchester Publishing which does the Hard Case Crime series of hardboiled mystery noire paperbacks also has a romance line which looks very campy.

I am about halfway through my order of mass market romance paperbacks. I'll probably finish it tomorrow.

I was busier than usual today, again. We had a meeting to discuss the agencies that served the disadvantaged and we divided up the telephone list to call different agencies for an open forum discussion.

Other than that, I spent some time as usual on the reference desk, did some weeding, and cleaned up my desk a bit more. It was a quite full day.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Good Morning, Good Evening

Hans Holbein The Younger, Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam Writing 1523

Good Morning

Library journal has a nice short article on personal finance books. I think I will add some of the titles which I have not ordered yet to my financial literacy order.

A large portion of this morning has been spent going through my desk throwing out old things and sorting things into files. The piles are slowly disappearing from my desk. I also am clearing some old work, mostly discards which I hadn't made the final decision on. My desk should be cleaned out by tomorrow or the next day.

I also have been clearing things from the reference desk. There is some older material than needs to be put away or discarded. It might take me a little while to look through everything.

There was a pile of magazines Publishers Weekly, New York Times Book Review, and Library Journal which had been routed to me this morning. I spent a portion of my lunch time reading through them. There wasn't anything particularly striking in the library news today.

I am still working on doing more discards in the social science books. It is a job which will take me a very long time to do.

Good Evening

Today was one of those days where nothing went quite the way I expected it to go. I got a chance to work a little more on cleaning up my desk, but did not get far. I still have quite a bit to do. I'll have to work on it some more tomorrow.

I compiled a list of films for my boss to order of animation, anime, and martial arts films. There are a couple of films that I really want to see which I ordered, Ong Bak, Once Upon A Time In China, some early popeye cartoons, and a collected Max Fleischer Superman.

Some books came in for to read through the interchange, Winning by Jack Welch with Suzy Welch. I am on the second chapter of the book. I stopped reading Winning, and finished reading Dororo Volume 3 by Osamu Tezuka. The finish of the story is excellent. My favorite part of the story is when Hyakimaru fights the shark demon. The Van Rijn Method by Poul Anderson also came in. I am going to read it after I finish reading Winning.

I rather like reading practical books sometimes. I still have not finished using Organizing for Dummies. I think of books as tools for self-education. That is one of the primary purposes of libraries. I am still doing the simple yoga exercises from Yoga RX as well.

I never did get a chance to order any of the personal finance books. I was too busy. Sometimes work gets like that. There were a couple other things which I did not finish as well.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Good Morning, Evening Thoughts

, Claude Monet Reading A Newspaper, by Pierre August Renoir, 1872

Good morning. I finished reading Iron Man Demon In A Bottle last night. It consisted of a compilation of issues #120-128. Iron Man #128 was the best. It was the story of how Iron Man overcame his addiction to drinking. I find it a little inspiring. The rest of the book was not as good. There was also the Iron Man origin story set in Vietnam in Issue #122 which was interesting to read. The rest of the book was not as good as these two parts. It was enjoyable but not fantastic.

I also started reading Organizing for Dummies by Eileen Roth with Elizabeth Miles. The book starts with some goal setting. I am supposed to write down what I want to do with my organizational skills. My mission is to change the appearance of my house and work so I sppear clean and organized. My initial goals are to have a clean, organized desk at work, and have clean bookshelves at home.

This morning, I cleaned my bookshelves a bit and put away some of my graphic novels into storage boxes. I also spent some time cleaning off the top of my dresser. On Monday, I intend to spend a half hour first cleaning out my files, then a half hour cleaning off the top of my desk. There is a section in the book on how to organize a desk which I think will be useful.

I bought some magnetic page clips a few days ago. They are better than bookmarks because you can clip together several pages without damaging the books. The ones I have are small in the shape of ladybugs. They are available at on the front page.

I just closed my facebook account. It was taking too much time with very few results, plus they planned on charging $2.99 per month. This was more than a phone call. I don't think facebook is worth more than a package of peanuts $1. So, I am ending that experience. It was very easy to deactivate.

Evening Thoughts

Paco Ignacio Taibo II, a famed novelist has died. I really loved his mysteries featuring Hector Belascaron Shayne. They are some of the most original mystery novels I have ever read. They are set in Mexico. Most people won't recognize this novelist, but I certainly do. I have looked forward to all the novels he has ever written.

Winning The Answers Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions In Business Today by Jack and Suzy Welch

Winning The Answers Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions In Business Today by Jack and Suzy Welch

This book consists of 74 chapters. Each chapter is headed by question related to business and success. The questions cover all aspects of business from resistance to a new boss, what to do if you are promoted, when you should leave a company, and how to win in the world. Here is an example question.

"Do tough bosses get more out of people? Of course they get short term results -- but do they really help a company win in the long run?" The answer is complicated, the Welch's ask what is tough? Being tough can make things go wrong if it is purely spiteful or pushy.

Some of the answers are not what you would expect. There is a consistent theme about resistance to change and complaining a lot being very bad for your career. In any career people prefer people who are positive and upbeat.

I definitely do not meet the Welch's definition of what a good salesperson or entrepreneur is. I don't have an incredible new idea or am constantly seeking new ways to expand my market share. Well, I sort of am with this blog. I also realize that I have to improve my organization and scheduling skills before I go anywhere else.

There are some excellent tips on goal setting in this book. The Welch's believe in incremental goal setting. Setting goals which you can reach in a practical, systematic manner. This is what separates the winners from the losers. Being able to reach life goals in a clear consistent way whatever they are is what makes a winner. It does not matter whether it is helping the homeless, becoming a published poet, or starting a successful business. Those who win set goals and achieve them consistently.

This book is a useful, practical book. It is very easy to read. The writing is very direct. There is no obfuscation or jargon. I recognized some of my own strengths and weaknesses in many of the questions. Many of the questions are universal in nature and would be useful to people anywhere in the world.

I didn't focus on the questions on China, Russia, and international business which I am sure would help some people. I focused on the questions which would help me in my own career. The book makes me want read the first book, Winning by Jack.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bookworm Awards

Bookworm Awards

Alabama Bookworm has tagged me with a meme.

Here is how the meme works:

Open the book closest to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56.Write out the fifth sentence, as well as two to five sentences following there.

I am holding Wining: The Answers by Jack & Suzy Welch.

On P. 56, We're talking about bosses who operate in the middle ground-- bosses who are tough but fair, push hard but reward in equal measure, and who give it you straight.

Weak performers usually wish these bosses would go away.

People who want to win seek them out.

I am supposed to pass this on to five blogging friends, the people I am tagging are:

I'll Never Forget The Day I Read A Book

Inkweaver Review

Pick of the Literate

The Thin Red Line

Writing Help

Morning Thoughts

Paul Cezanne, Porträt Gustave Geffroy, 1895 . I think the painting looks timeless, it could be a professors or an academics office today.

Morning Thoughts

This morning I walked up to my local library. It was drizzling outside. I got there at 9:50 a.m. and the library was closed so I walked down to the fruit market and bought some cuccumbers, plum tomatos, plums, and a piece of watermelon. I also bought some shaving razors. I almost got caught in a downpour on the way back to the library. It left me standing outside Walgreens for about fifteen minutes waiting for the rain to stop.

When I got to the library, I looked around for books on scheduling. I thought it would be part of time management books in the management section of the library. I found out it was in books on organizational skills. I picked up a copy of Organizing For Dummies by Eileen Roth and Elizabeth Miles. I am not incredibly organized. I like organizing other peoples things more than I like organizing my own things. I've noticed this is a common trait among librarians.

I also picked up two other books, Iron Man Demon In A Bottle by David Micheline, Bob Layton, and John Romita Jr. and Winning: The Answers Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions In Business Today, Jack & Suzy Welch. Jack Welch was known as "Neutron Jack" because between 1981-1985 he fired over 100,000 people at General Electric.

I have started reading the Winning: The Answers. Each chapter begins with a question, followed by a short discussion of the answer to the question. I like the book so far because it is very straightforward.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thoughts For Today

Thoughts For Today

I have a bit of a cold, so I relexed a bit today. I also spent some time looking at websites for dvds. Kung Fu Cinema reviews some 500 different martial arts films. Also, the selection of Midtown Comics for dvds is rather interesting for cartoons. I spent some time looking at the dvds from them as well as Forbidden Planet.

There is some money in the budget still for purchasing films for the library. I am looking out for myself and suggesting some cartoons, animation, and martial arts films because I like to watch this kind of thing. I am not in charge of ordering films, so I have to be selective and not suggest too many.

I am going to try and get some Max Fleischer cartoons. He is famous for his Betty Boop, Popeye, and Superman cartoons. Max Fleischer also did a number of cartoons featuring Cab Calloway and other famous jazz musicians which are currently out of copyright.

I also read a little bit from a collected work by Image Comics, The Savage Dragon. It is light entertainment, but not something which I really want to review.

Library Funding in New York State

Library Funding

It looks like there may be a 20% cut in library aide coming up for New York state. I hope this does not leave me in a tough spot. I know it may affect the library where I work considerably. It may be protest time. Times are about to get very tough.

If you are in New York, you can locate your assemblyperson on this page by putting in your zipcode. . All of the assembly people have an email contact form where you can send a comment directly to them. I have already done this. I'll probably find myself at a protest sometime soon. I regularly write short comments to my assembly people and usually get a response back.

You can also search for your state senator using the zipcode form. . All of them also have a contact form on their senate web page.

Do not be afraid to contact your local politicians. It is what they are there for. If your politicians democrat or republican is unwilling to take messages they should not be in office. They are there because you voted for them as citizens.

I realize some people think it is not a good idea to be politically active. State employees are funded by politicians. If you are not active sometimes, your job can be voted away, or budgeted away. This especially true when government budgets get tight.

Here is another article from the New York Library Association on the further proposed cuts.

Good Morning, Dororo by Osamu Tezuka

Good Morning, Dororo by Osamu Tezuka

Good morning. Last night on the train, I read Dororo. We have the first two volumes at our library. I put the third volume on hold. The author is Osamu Tezuka one of Manga's most famous writers. He is best known for Astroboy, and won the Harvey and Eisner Awards for his manga Buddha.

This ranks with one of the strangest manga I have ever read. Dororo is a young orphan thief and troublemaker who wanders around during the warring states period of feudal Japan. He meets up with a wandering Ronin, Hyakkimaru who is a very odd character.

Hyakkimaru was born without any body parts. His father gave 48 pieces of him to various mythological demons. A doctor found him, raised him, and replaced his parts with prostheses. Now Hyakkimaru is wandering the countryside seeking the demons and killing them. Each time he kills a demon, a body part grows back, and he no longer needs a prosthesis.

This makes for a very bizarre story. The two heros wander through the ravaged war torn countryside seeking out demons. The demons are all different. There is a moth demon, a demon that steals faces, a demon that grows as a face on peoples bodies, a fox demon, and many other strange creatures from Japanese legend. Dororo is always getting into trouble with the villagers stealing food and valuables and Hyakkimaru is always trying to make Dororo act good.

The art work is in black and white. It has a kind of cute quality to it with big eyed innocent looking characters. It is written for boys. There are allegories throughout the story about seeking to become complete. There is a lot of fighting and bloodshed in this manga.

The cover art is unique on this series. The publisher is Vertical, Inc. who publishes a lot of better quality manga that is not quite mainstream. I really enjoyed reading this. It may not be for everyone. I do not think this was originally written for export and translation.

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Morning Thoughts

Felix The Cat with Charlie Chaplin.

Morning Thoughts

Yesterday was a thoroughly unexceptional day. I read a bit of DC Showcase Presents Batman, Volume 1 on the train home. It was 500 pages long of different batman stories. These were the old fashioned stories, the ones that inspired the television show. You had many of the classic batman characters, the riddler, the joker, penguin, hypnotists, crooks, and thieves. The stories were not that extreme. They had this wonderful hokey, gosh wow quality which is missing from most of todays comics.

Also, the poetry program did not do too badly, we had people come in and out reading several poems. Most people did not stay. There were fourteen people who came in and out to read poems. One of the teenagers who hangs out in the library had a notebook full of stories and poems which were quite good.

I put the book, The Van Rijn method : the technic civilization saga by Poul Anderson. Poul Anderson is one of the classic science fiction writers. I am hoping this collection of short stories will be excellent.

I've spent some time suggesting some black history books. A lot of our patrons like non-traditional histories on Africa. They have an interest in authors like Cheikh Anta Diop and Ivan Van Sertima who are quite interesting. I also suggested some books on somewhat interesting subjects, the Maroons, slavery in the Caribbean, Darfur, the history of Ethiopia, Kush, Axum, and Niger, and other background subjects.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Daily Thoughts

I rather liked the image. Quentin Massys, Money Changer With Wife

Daily Thoughts

I spent some time today ordering financial literacy books for the collection. Nothing particularly spectacular, credit, credit cards, personal finance, bankruptcy, simple living, mortgages, buying a car, debt, retirement and similar subjects. I am going to spend a little more time looking for titles in this subject.

I returned my books. There was nothing new waiting for me to pick up. I read through a copy of Kirkus Reviews but there was nothing that stood out too much.

The community room downstairs is set up for a poetry reading later in the afternoon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Morning Thoughts

Abraham Lincoln with his son Tad reading.

Morning Thoughts

Today is Veteran's Day. Think of all the people who have fought for your country. We would not be sitting here, free and comfortable if someone was not ready to fight for our beliefs.

I think I am ready to write something a little less dark. Right now, I am reading Mary Gentle, A Secret History, The Book of Ash #1. The language and characters can be quite crude at times. I was debating putting it down because of the excessive use of foul language and sex for a while. But, because the story is well written I am still reading it.

The book uses a very interesting literary device. There is the fantasy story of the visigoths having settled a colony in North Africa, then invading the kingdom of Burgundy and then Europe. At the same time, a pair of archaeologists in the future have found a manuscript about the main character, Ash, a mercenary captain. The archaeologists make some strange discoveries, among them is a golem made of clay with bronze joints. This dual story is very entertaining.

Sometimes, you get a hankering for old games. , Good Old Games has some very interesting old games to download for a very fair price, I have been considering getting Fallout Tactics for $5.99. Games are one of my weaknesses.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Mass expulsion of the Poles by the nazi Reich in 1939.


I feel a little remiss for not having written something earlier. This is a kind of hard topic for me to write about. Philosophically, I believe more democracy in the world can help stem the tide of refugees. Because I am not a particularly violent person, I support the notion of nonviolent ends to bring more democracy to the world. Numerous dictatorships have fallen recently because of the educated will of the people. This is a free ebook From Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharp.

People are more likely to flee oppression and dictatorial rule than open democracies. Genocide is often the product of harsh dictatorial regimes. Also, in democratic regimes people have a tendency to not starve.

Many of the problems of todays refugees stem from totalitarianism and genocide. Every day we see news about genocide in the Congo and Sudan. There is always some new atrocity being committed. Now, they no longer call it genocide, they call it ethnic cleansing.

The perpetrators claim they are cleansing an area of a particular people. Of course, it is not genocide because they are not necessarily killing all the people, they are instead forcing many of them to become refugees. This is a link to the Merriam Webster definition of "Ethnic Cleansing".

Every "ethnic cleansing" creates refugee camps where the people from a particular ethnic group are concentrated into a camp where they wait for help. These refugees are forced into neighboring countries where they bring chaos. This is an interesting article on the chaos which has been caused in Chad from Sudan.

Oppressive regimes have learned it is impolitic to committ genocide, but it is still somewhat acceptable politically to force people from their homes into refugee camps. The people are not dead. But many seem to be waiting to die. Many of the camps seem like concentration camps with open doors.

I do not have a solution for this. It is an eternal problem. Sometimes being aware and telling others is the only thing you can do. The euphemisms being used in todays media are misleading at best. They are designed to lull you into accepting things which are inhuman.

Afternoon Thoughts

Continuing from yesterday...

Afternoon Thoughts

On the morning train, I read a bit of Writing The Mind Alive, The Propioceptive Method for Finding Your Authentic Voice by Linda Trichter Metcalf, PH.D. and Tobin Simon, PH.D. It is a very syncretic book, it combines three different methods of western medition, listening to baroque music to increase your concentration, lighting a candle to indicate the start and stop of an event, and free writing in a journal. This makes for an interesting meditative form of writing. I may try it soon. I have to buy a candle, some Bach, and a blank journal to do the exercises properly.

This morning, I checked my displays, weeded some books, and made sure my area was in proper order. Things are moving along very nicely.

I asked to do an order for financial literacy titles. The director gave the alright. So, I have one more ordering project to do. I also worked on a flier for a film program. While I was ordering financial literacy titles, I found an interesting title Kenneth Fisher with Lara Hoffman, The Ten Roads to Riches: The Way The Wealthy Got There (And How You Can Too!). Kenneth Fisher is a portfolio manager on Wall Street and is very wealthy. He also wrote The Only Three Questions You Need To Ask.

His father, Philip Fisher wrote Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits which is the basis for much of the growth investing strategy in the stock market. He would be a person who knows about creating wealth.


The day goes slowly,
Rolling by with sweet predictability,
Smooth as coffee and cream

On the evening train, I read some more of Writing The Mind Alive. I contemplated the exercises in the book and realized that in terms of time, five one half hour sessions a week, it would not work out very well. I am already doing blogging and it would take up too much time.

There were a few insights in the book which were interesting. It is rather easy to be afraid of your own writing. I have learned that it is easier to express your feelings in writing than leave them simmering in the background where they make you do things unconsciously.

When I got home this evening, I found my American Library Association membership fees waiting for me. I am a member of the Intellectual Freedom Roundtable and the Reference and User Services Association as well. I don't really do anything with these memberships. I really have not figured out what to do with them. I do rather like the magazine, Reference and User Services Quarterly. So I paid my dues. Maybe, I should figure out what to do with the membership now.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hitler's Private Library The Books That Shaped His Life by Timothy W. Ryback

English: Book burning memorial on Bebelplatz at night in Berlin, Germany.

Photographed by Daniel Neugebauer (nick: Energiequant)

This work is under the Creative Commons-- Share Alike 2.5 Generic License:

Hitler's Private Library The Books That Shaped His Life by Timothy W. Ryback

Right now, I am reading Hitler's Private Library The Books That Shaped His Life by Timothy W. Ryback. It is very different than I expected. I am learning something about how the "war of ideas" or creation of an ideology works, specifically the nazi ideology. There are many things in this book which are not part of the standard history books so far.

The majority of Hitler's private papers were burned after he committed suicide in 1945 before the allies got to his bunker. This left a kind of hole in the history on what was going on inside the mans head. I think the author is trying to reconstruct the ideology of Hitler through the books he was reading and the marginalia or notes inside the books he had read. The Library of Congress houses The Hitler Library in the Rare Books and Manuscripts division.

The book traces many early influences on Hitler, his Catholic upbringing, his army experiences, his mentors who provided the underlying ideology which shaped Hitler. It takes the man out of a vacuum and shows the roots of his thinking. Books and ideological conflicts inside nazi Germany are gone over to give an argument of how Hitler thought.

We get a picture of an obsessive man who would read until two or three in the morning every single day, at least one book a day, then get up and recite portions of his readings to his secretary in the morning. Hitler had an incredibly extensive library. There are some influences and books which are not what you expect; Shakespeare, Goethe, Henry Ford, and Carl Von Clausewitz. Henry Ford, the industrialist, wrote a virulent anti-semitic tract, The International Jew.

This book is a little bit dry. I find it too objective and not scathing enough against Hitler's personality. It is almost like someone dissecting a frog to find out what is inside the frog. At times it can be creepy, but rarely outright condemning. It is a bit intellectually tiring.

It is definitely not the kind of book which I could bring on the train. There is a big picture of Hitler on the cover and the cover is very visible. It is quite provocative. It is the kind of book which you read in private at home.

Each chapter seems to be a patchwork of accounts and articles on what might have been with Hitler's library. At the end of the book, we learn that only 1200 of Hitler's books are extant in the Library of Congress in the United States.

There were some that were supposed to be stored in a church in Moscow, but they disappeared. Apparently, the allies looted the library and the majority of the books are spread between the homes of various World War II veterans as souvenirs.

This book is entirely based on accounts of what people perceived the library and Hitler's reading habits to be. There is an Appendix A which says Hitler had 16,300 books in his private library of which 7,000 were military books, a large portion were art books, and the rest were a mix of things related to nazi ideology and philosophy.

There are some consistent threads throughout the book. Hitler seemed to be obsessed with Frederick the Great and Prussia, as well as military details from all the armies of the world.

One of the most interesting sections in the book I found was the fight over ideology between the Catholics and the Nazis. Hitler was raised as a Catholic and was a choirboy. Apparently, a Catholic bishop, Alois Hudal wanted to fuse catholicism with nazism to change the ideology of nazism from one of anti-semitism based on pseudoscientific racism to one of anti-Judaism based on religious intolerance and remove many of the stranger ideas of the nazi party; sterilization of the disabled, and polygamy.

Hudal did not succeed, Alois Hudal's book was placed on the Index of Prohibited works for Catholics. Pope Pius the XI sent Hudal to an obscure monastery.

The story is very interesting to me because Spanish fascism created strong ties between church and state. Francisco Franco encouraged the fusion of religious intolerance with fascism.

This book is chronological in nature. It starts with his induction in the army in World War I and his reading The Architecture of Berlin. Then it moves to his mentorship under Dietrich Eckart and his first joining the nazi party. The book attempts to chronicle the most important works which Hitler read throughout his life. I have a hard time believing that everything is accurate about when he read various works. It seems a bit contrived at times.

There is almost nothing on the atrocities being committed by Hitler and which books convinced him to build the gas chambers. There are some hints that he was reading works that suggested the extermination of the Jews as early as 1918. Hitler claims Dietrich Eckart created the lie of a conspiracy between jewish people and bolsheviks. I find this to be very strange. It is a giant hole in the book. Maybe the author found it too dark to contemplate.

This book is deeply fascinating and deeply researched. It is an attempt to dig out of the historical background what Hitler read when where there are only vague hints. I think the book is not dark enough. It does not go deeply enough into the dark corners of Hitler's mind which would lead him to committ atrocities. It successfully shows Hitler's imbalanced military ambitions and drive to conquer. The book is darkly fascinating.