Monday, January 30, 2006

Article Note: On Homeland Security, Militarism, and Latinos

Citation for the article:

Mariscal, Jorge. "Homeland Security, Militarism, and the Future of Latinos and Latinas in the United States." Radical History Review Issue 93 (Fall2005): 39-52.

I read the article in print.

The article opens with a brief but very good overview of Latino groups in the United States. The article's author then moves on to discuss the recent backlash against Spanish-speaking immigrants under the umbrella of fighting illegal immigration. The events of September 11, 2001 only served to augment the rhetoric of hate against immigrants. As Mariscal is reviewing various recent writings from the Right, he makes an interesting observation about San Diego columnist Joseph Perkins. Perkins, according to Mariscal, "in a February 2002 op-ed, explained that the fear inspired by immigrants from the Middle Eastern countries was related to the University of California's recent decision to grant in-state tuition to academically qualified undocumented students" (41). While critiquing Perkins' racist logic, Mariscal goes on to observe that Perkins himself is African American, and that fact might make for another essay. I have to agree that there is an essay topic there waiting to be written.

The purpose of Mariscal's essay is "to begin to outline the many ways recent developments in the United States affect one sector of the North American working class: the diverse Latino community in the United States" (39). His initial review of the overall situation illustrates some of his purpose, but he looks into this further.
  • On economic conditions for Latinos, Mariscal points out that they have gotten worse since the 2000 election. "Although Latinos have a high rate of participation in the labor force, over 11 percent of Latino workers live in poverty. About 7 percent of Latinos with full-time jobs were still living below the poverty line in 2001 (compared to 4.4 percent for African Americans and 1.7 percent for whites)" (45).
  • On health care figures for Latinos, the picture is not better. "According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in the year 2001 only 49.7 percent of Latinos under 65 years of age had private health insurance, compared with 80 percent for Caucasians and 61.9 percent for African Americans" (45). Note that while the Bush administration opposed the Immigrant Children's Health Improvement Act, green card holders are very welcome in the U.S. military, "and many of the early casualties during the invasion of Iraq in March of 2003 were among the some forty thousand noncitizen soldiers who serve in today's ranks" (45).
Given the bleak economic prospects for Latino youths, they make an attractive target to military recruiters. Mariscal outlines the various initiatives for recruiting Latinos into the armed forces, which show that, among other things, "Latino youth are being targeted at about twice their rate in the general population" (46). What is fascinating, or disturbing depending on your point of view, is how the military has entered public schools through programs such as JROTC and Troops to Teachers. There are other programs designed to instill military values in students, and they take advantage of the fact that many public school districts are dysfunctional and "thrown into chaos by massive budget cuts, overcrowding and neglect" (49).

Mariscal's conclusion asks:

"With the United States engaged in protracted military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with domestic crises in education and health care, Latino communities are slowly awakening to the fact that a permanently militarized economy and culture will not benefit them or their children. If the homeland to be secured willingly seeks Latino youth for the ranks of its military while continuing to portray Spanish-speaking communities as a foreign threat to national identities, what will be the long-term gains for the vast majority of Latino working familes?" (50)

This last question made me think of two things. One, of George Orwell's 1984 and Oceania's war economy where we learn war does not produce anything but can keep an economy running (albeit in a destructive way). Two, the history of the Roman Empire and how its decline became apparent as soon as they began to recruit into their legions the very barbarians they denigrated as foreigners. History has this way of repeating itself. I will let readers ponder the rest. Overall, this is an article I recommend. Additionally, the article is part of a special issue of Radical History Review on Homeland Securities, so it may be of interest to readers. I am thinking for college students writing on topics of homeland security, this may be another resource. Also, CR: The New Centennial Review recently had a special issue of the topic of Terror Wars. I made a brief note about that special issue here over in my main blog.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dumbest Business Moments, all 101 of them for 2005

The Money section of CNN has this list of 2005's 101 Dumbest Moments in Business. Go take a look and have a laugh or two. Here are some of my favorites. These are from the site:

5. So that's why they call it a CrackBerry.
A study by the University of London's Institute of Psychiatry, commissioned by Hewlett-Packard, finds that "an average worker's functioning IQ falls 10 points when distracted by ringing telephones and incoming e-mails ... more than double the four-point drop seen following studies on the impact of smoking marijuana."

11. To leave a message, press ... right ... there ... no, a little lower ... that's it ... ah-h-h-h-h.
In July, Gerald Martin, the founder of a physicians' answering service in Westchester County, N.Y., is charged with computer tampering after a competing service discovers that its system has been hacked. Patients trying to reach their doctors were instead greeted with busy signals or the sounds of sexual moaning.

20. He's a perfect 10 -- a 1, plus 9 glasses of sparkling Lambrini!
Having barred alcohol marketing that associates drinking with sex, British regulators block an ad that shows women imbibing Lambrini sparkling wine while using a fishing pole to hook a hunky guy. The Advertising Standards Authority says the ad violates its guidelines because the guy "looks quite attractive and desirable to the girls." It would pass muster if only he were "overweight, middle-aged, balding, etc." The company then runs a version of the ad using a paunchy, chrome-domed model.
And while on the topic of sex:

21. Sounds OK, so long as all the men are overweight, middle-aged, balding, etc.
Developers announce plans for the London Academy of Sex and Relationships, an $8.3 million sexual theme park. The project, a spokesperson says, is "committed to avoiding the sleazy image that the sex industry usually conjures.... Titillation is not the goal."

I think people get the idea. By the way, they have other lists as well here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The problem with boys?

I just finished reading the cover story on Newsweek for the week of January 30, 2006 on "The Trouble with Boys." The usual caveats about how long the link may last apply. From reading the article, you would think that boys are dumb as bricks and pretty much messed up by their genes. We are just outmanned (pardon the pun) and outgunned. The story is not as simple as the article makes it sound. The article places a very strong emphasis brain research and biology, and while those may be important, other factors come into play. However, the author of the article does not acknowledge these other factors until the very end of the article. In the meantime, the article pretty much reads like a tale of woe about how boys' brains are different; how they mature slower than girls; how their primate minds are wired differently due to the testosterone; on and on. The numbers certainly don't favor boys. For instance, "at many state universities the gender balance is already tilting 60-40 toward women." There are many other factors. The article cites how feminism may have gone overboard by favoring girls more and leaving boys on the wayside. It cites tools like Title IX, but again, things are not as simple as that. Overall, this has been brewing for years, and now society is reaping the results of policies and practices that have neglected boys.

I was fortunate. My father was at home, and our family was together. My mother raised three boys, and as rambunctions as we could be, none of us dropped out of school, and we turned out ok. I think a lot of that had to do with having a father who was a good role model of what being a man and a father was all about. But in addition to that, I had extended family as well. My uncles, especially my godfather, were good role models as well. Unfortunately, this is not found in today's society due to family break-ups, single family households and so on. I am not saying that a single woman, or a lesbian couple, or any other arrangement, cannot raise a decent boy, but it certainly takes something away from that boy if he does not get any exposure to other males, especially older guys who can model good behaviors. The article mentions some of this and about mentoring, but it is done very briefly. I think a lot of what I disliked about the article was its alarmist tone. Do we need to do better by our boys? Yes we do. Do we need to get hysterical over it and portray them as primal neanderthals who can't help themselves? No. Learning discipline and restraint are part of what growing up to be a man is about. These things are learned, and society has to face the fact that for the most part it has done a lousy job in providing such opportunities for learning.

There is plenty of blame to spread around. The educational system that simply does not know or refuses to teach to different learning styles. This is not just gender based. Both genders have people with different learning styles, and this needs to be addressed. Why is this not being addressed? I would say the over-compulsive obssessive drive to use standardized tests has a lot to do with it. Then again, let me use this an illustration:

"For Nikolas Arnold, 15, a sophomore at a public high school in Santa Monica, Calif., college is a distant dream. Nikolas is smart: he's got an encyclopedic knowledge of weaponry and war. When he was in first grade, his principal told his mother he was too immature and needed ADHD drugs. His mother balked. "Too immature?" says Diane Arnold, a widow. "He was six and a half!" He's always been an advanced reader, but his grades are erratic. Last semester, when his English teacher assigned two girls' favorites—"Memoirs of a Geisha" and "The Secret Life of Bees" Nikolas got a D. But lately, he has a math teacher he likes and is getting excited about numbers."

For one, assigning two female favorites in one class does not exactly sound like the teacher is addressing multiple learning styles let alone different reading tastes. If I would have been assigned Memoirs of a Geisha in school, I would probably would have balked too. I know my brothers would have hated it, and we all come from a home where reading was always valued. I can only imagine homes where that is not the case. In that case, it sounds like some teacher needs to do a little reading on literature groups, on offering choices in reading, and on teaching to all the class. His situation also illustrates another problem: easy medication. It is so easy to take a restless boy and medicate him. In my time, if you were overactive, your parents disciplined you and got you to settle down. That was all there was to it. I am not saying there were no kids with actual psychological health problems, but these were rare when compared to today. A lot of parents today actually pray the kid is diagnosed as ADHD so they can stick a pill or two on them. As a teacher, I have seen what some of those pills can do. I have kids in my classroom who were literally zombies as a result of such medications. Has society really fallen so low that rather than work to raise a child they would prefer to drug the child? Additionally, from the illustration above, we see the boy has found a teacher and a topic he likes. The fact he is succeeding means he can actually do the work. Will school always be pleasant? No. I certainly could have done without chemistry for instance, but overall, boys can learn when given an even playing field and are treated decently, which seems to be lacking these days.

It was easy to get to the state we are in today. While many efforts were done to get girls to advance, and those efforts were certainly necessary, everyone assumed boys would just cope fine. After all, they are boys; they are tough; they can take it. But boys also need to learn how to grow, how to be productive, how to learn, and how to be good men. And society needs to step up to this responsibility. Every time a man is left off the hook by abandoning their sons (and daughters), the children suffer. And these men get left off the hook very often by women who either decide not to pursue child support or make the man take responsibility, but they are also left off the hook when they hear women simply decide to raise the kids on their own. Those guys simply say, "fine by me." We could go into a whole philosophical debate about how society emasculates males these days, but that is only part of it. There is some of that, but very often it is a lot of simply women telling men, "don't worry about it. I'll do it." Who knew the guys would actually say, "go right ahead?" And thus another reason why boys have the problems they have: there are no good men to look up to. Note that we can cite a good number of not so good men boys often look up to, but that would be another essay.

The point is there are a lot of factors involved in this, and those factors will have to be addressed if we want a solution to the problem. Nature is not everything. There is nurture and environment. Now some will say, what about a bad environment? That can be overcome, but it seems it easier to blame that bad environment than to actually move to do something about it. You have to address the environment. You have to address the lack of good role models. You have to address the fact of different learning styles and needs. There is a lot of stuff for parents, teachers, and society at large to work on in order not to fail our boys. There are solutions: mentoring programs, schools willing to take risks and try new things, dedicated parents and teachers, but these solutions seem in small supply. We need more and soon. In the end, this is not about whether colleges now have more girls than boys. It is about whether we can afford to lose so many boys because of neglect and false assumptions or overgeneralizations. It's going to take work.

I am raising a daughter now; one of my brothers is raising a son, with another boy on the way. Things like this make me think. For one, what kind of things am I teaching my daughter? What will she learn about men in what she sees from me, from the way I treat her mother, and from the way I interact with others? And what will she learn from other boys her age? She is quite the tomboy, so I know she has a lot of friends in school who are boys. And what about her male teachers? There is the gym teacher and her science teacher. As for my brother, I am sure he wonders about the same things with his boy. I know one thing: being a parent has likely gotten him to settle down a bit. Because in the end it is a great responsibility. It can take a male to make a child, but it takes a man to raise that child, boy or girl. And I think that was the lesson, one of many, my father tried to instill in his boys. I would like to think he succeeded. It's not that boys are a problem. It's that they have needs, and girls have needs as well, and as a society, we have to meet those needs. It's not a matter of using feel-good philosophy. It will take work, and it will take discipline. Shortcuts won't cut it here. Lessons like the ones my brothers and me learned are lessons we should be passing along. Can our society afford to continue the neglect and justify it by saying "oh, boys will be boys?"

On an additional note, the Salt Lake Tribune for January 17, 2006 also had a story on boys and learning. The article discusses issues such as the fact drop out more than girls and face more disciplinary actions. It also goes over the brain differences and ways to solve the problem. I think this article is an example of a small trend. The question is will the reporting lead to some action, or will it become another issue swept under the carpet after a while?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Article Note: On How Curious George Became Frightened George

Citation for the article:

Greenstone, Daniel. "Frightened George: How the Pediatric-Educational Complex Ruined the Curious George Series." Journal of Social History 39.1 (2005): 221-228.

I read the article via ProjectMuse.

I will warn readers that if they hold a very cherished memory of Curious George, and they worry any criticism may change that memory, to stop reading this. Otherwise, here we go.

This short article looks at how Curious George has changed thoughout the series. The author argues that changes in the character reflect changes in child-rearing views in the United States. As a reference, Greenstone cites Peter Stearns' Anxious Parents, which is a history of child-rearing in the 20th century. "Stearns convincingly shows that Victorian era parents generally thought of their children (particularly boys) as resilient, hardy and tough. Because some fears could not be avoided, parents instructed their children to face and overcome them" (222). What happened then by the 1930s is that the attitudes began to change. The attitude moved to one of shielding the children from exposure to any form of fear or crisis. Greenstone then shows how this change is reflected in the book series. Initially, George is self-reliant and nonchalant about danger. Eventually the little monkey's autonomy erodes as the man in the yellow hat supervises George more closely. Greenstone concludes that "in short, in the final three books, by turning over the reins of the series to the pediatric-educational complex, the Reys allowed their most famous creation to be transformed frmo a lovable scamp into a nervous, anxious child" (224).

Greenstone goes over the seven books in the series. He also looks at events of the time such as the publishing of Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat (1957, significant for its use of a minimal set of words) and the launch of Sputnik (1957). Overall, Greenstone makes an interesting argument about the books and closes by saying, "when literature, even children's literature, subordinates itself to larger social aims, it often does so at the expense of its own vitality" (226).

Friday, January 20, 2006

Are you a librarian? Take the quiz and find out.

It's Friday, so odds are good you know what that means. I picked the tip on this quiz from, which to be honest is not the first blogger I would think would do one of these, but hey, everyone is entitled to wander. Anyhow, the actual quiz is linked below, and some of the comments people left on her blog are amusing as well. My results below:

Head Librarian
You scored 82% on knowledge of librarianship.

No pun intended. You know your stuff! Not only do you know the basics,
but you know your library history, your who's who, your politics, and
your technicalities. You are a true-blue librarian.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on knowledge
Link: The Are You a Librarian Test written by attention on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test
The only thing I don't like about taking these little quizzes is that they never show you what you missed. Though I have a sense which ones I may have missed (there were some things I never heard of, and I am only a year out of library school), I would actually like to know for sure. Then again, a lot of these quizzes are not meant to have right or wrong answers, but for this one, I would be curious. Anyhow, I am not sure about Head Librarian. I mean, no one in their right mind would place me in charge of anything.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

This reminds me why I stopped going to movie theaters.

Peter Rainer, writing for the Christian Science Monitor, has a piece on movie manners for January 13, 2006. It clearly reminded me of the many reasons I just don't go to movie theaters anymore. The last big movie I saw in a theater was Star Wars: Episode 3, and it was only because I had seen the other two the same way. I went long after the buzz had passed and at off hours, anything to avoid the rude people that populate movie theaters as of late. Mr. Rainer is a film critic, so I feel sorry for him since he has to go to theaters in order to do his job. Actually, he writes that film critics can be just as obnoxious as regular people in a movie theater. He writes,

For example, there is one group (whose identity I won't divulge except to say that it dispenses Golden Globes every year) that's notorious for smuggling hot and spicy entrees into screening rooms (often poorly ventilated) while pursuing a line of nonstop chatter in heavily accented English. Then there are all those critics who pull out their lighted pens at the drop of an insight.

But that's old-school behavior. New school is bringing your laptop into the theater and typing your insights as you go along. If enough of these typists are in the theater, the collective sound is like a squadron of rats clacking across a linoleum floor.

I don't have that kind of work; I don't think anyone would want to pay for my opinions anyways, so I decided I had one rude patron too many and gave up on the whole thing. Besides, given that the movies in the theaters now will be in rentals within a few months, if not sooner, I can certainly wait and then rent anything I want to watch. Mr. Rainer has all sorts of coping ways when he does go to the movie theater, but the way I see it, I should not be the one having to cope because other selfish people feel a need to behave in a way they most likely would not behave in their home. Then again, I bet they actually behave that way in their home, if not worse, which makes a sad commentary on the state of affairs when it comes to manners.

Mr. Rainer also points out that he is middle-aged, and he has noticed the decline in manners within the last decade. I think this has been going on a bit longer than that, and I have not reached middle-age yet. So I wonder if I am really that much different. In my day, misbehaving in a theater (movie theater. Playhouses for now still have strict manners) meant serious consequences for me if I went with my parents, but even without them, people were not very tolerant of rude behavior. I don't think it was that long ago. In the end, as Mr. Rainer points out, "age has no dominion over manners." Middle-aged, older and younger can all be rude. Cellphones, kids too young to be in a theater, talking, the running commentary from some people, etc. Mr. Rainer describes them all, and I have seen them. Actually, when I think of people too rude to turn off their cellphone, I think of some very creative ways to take the device and introduce it into certain body orifices. And then theater owners wonder why their ticket sales are getting lower. I will tell you, not that they will listen.
  • The price of admission. I am sorry, but paying eight to ten dollars when I can get anywhere from three to five rentals at that price to get my movie fix is simply not reasonable. Given that movies come out on DVD so much quicker now, I honestly do not see a reason to pay that. If you have to take the family with you, do the math. My family was five members. On the high end, that would have been up to fifty dollars if we did it on today's rates.
  • The concessions. Pretty much the same rationale. My wife makes one mean popcorn. Not the microwave stuff. She uses a pot and popping corn, none of that jiffy stuff either. So, if I can get that at home, in my leisure, why would I bother with theater popcorn?
  • The movies that Hollywood is putting out as of late. With a couple of rare exceptions, let's be honest. What is coming out of the movie industry these days is pretty much crap. Why would I waste an hour and half to two hours on a bad movie? If I want to watch a television show, I will watch the reruns thank you, not the next mediocre remake. As for the few good ones, I can definitely wait.
  • The bad behavior. Well, that is what the essay is about, but I don't think the movie theater owners actually care. I am willing to bet if I made a complaint about noise, that absolutely nothing would be done. You try being disruptive in a playhouse or symphony hall, and see how long before someone escorts you out. Although, I am starting to wonder how long before the bad manners start seeping in there too. At any rate, I don't care about the idea of people feeling they have a right to answer their cellphone anywhere. In a public place, the rest of us have a right to some peace. You know what you can do with your cellphone, you inconsiderate egotist.
I make a reference to playhouses because plays are actually one performance I will go see. I don't do it very often because it requires planning on my part (reserve the seats, dress up for the ocassion, unless it is a student production or a more casual local theater) and getting a sitter for the little one. However, it is one of the few places where once the performance starts, people do shut up and actually turn off the cellphones (or put them on vibrate at least).

So don't ask me if I saw the latest film. If it is still in the theater, odds are I am waiting for it to come out on DVD to rent it. I would rather spend some quality time with my family watching something good in the privacy of my home than bothering with rude people. That's just me, but I wonder how many other people like me may be out there.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Top Ten Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2005

File this under the stories you will never hear about in the mainstream media. Doctors without Borders has filed a special report, for the 8th year, on the "Ten Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2005". Not exactly the most uplifting reading, but it is certainly important reading because if nothing else once in a while we should have some knowledge of what is happening in the rest of the world. This is stuff you won't see in your evening news or your favorite network on cable. It's the type of thing you have to make a bit of an effort in order to remain informed. So take a look at the world from Sudan to Haiti to the crisis of spreading HIV in the world.

Hat tip to the blog Stories in America for the pointer.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Happy Friday the 13th

I was going to do a little feature on the topic of Friday the 13th, but Mark over at . . .the thoughts are broken. . . has provided some links with excellent information. So why not just jump over there and learn a few things about how this superstition got started and what it means. Personally, I am not anxious about the day. Sure, I am aware of the date, but I am not one to go out of my way to worry about it. I am definitely not paraskevidekatriaphobic. Besides, driving in this town means I push my luck every day anyways.

Booknote: Thriving on Vague Objectives

Title: Thriving on Vague Objectives: A Dilbert Book
Author: Scott Adams
Publication Information: Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2005
ISBN: 0-7407-5533-1
128 pages
Genre: Humor
Subgenre: Comics, Workplace humor

If you are a Dilbert reader, then you will definitely enjoy this book. If you are not, than this is as good an introduction as any to Dilbert and his corporate world. In this volume, the workplace thrives on vague language as there is play on vaguely defined objectives (as if they are ever defined), goals, acronyms, and a lot of HR issues as well. Overall, as someone who has been reading Dilbert for a while, I have to say this book is good, but not as great as previous works. I don't think Adams is losing steam just yet, but some of his previous works just seem funnier. By the way, this is the book that contains the strip about dolphins and lawyers.

Well, at least my brain is balanced.

I picked this up from Mark Lindner over at . . .the thoughts are broken. . . . I finally took some time to read the article from The Guardian and do the quizzes. Mark asks if he is normal. The tests are based on the work of Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, and they measure your Empathy and Systemising Quotients. From the article:

Baron-Cohen's theory is that the female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy, and that the male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems. He calls it the empathising-systemising (E-S) theory.

Empathising is the drive to identify another person's emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion. The empathiser intuitively figures out how people are feeling, and how to treat people with care and sensitivity.

Systemising is the drive to analyse and explore a system, to extract underlying rules that govern the behaviour of a system; and the drive to construct systems.

My results were as follows. On EQ, I scored a 46. According to the article, this means I fall within the range of those who have an average ability for understanding how other people feel and responding to them appropriately. I know how to treat people with care and sensitivity. Most women score about 47 and most men about 42. I was not surprised by this. I think I needed to score like this given the type of work I do. I am willing to bet that a lot of professionals in caring and nurturing professions such as teachers, nurses, doctors, and social workers would score on this range or probably higher. On my SQ, I scored a 23. This falls within the average range, on the low side (the average range is 20-39). According to the article, this means I have an average ability for analysing and exploring a system. Systemizing is the drive to analyze and explore a system, to extract underlying rules that govern behaviour of a system; and the drive to construct systems. On average women score about 24 and men score about 30. On the SQ test, I found some of the questions interesting. I think in terms of systems, it really depends on what it is is. For instance, they asked if I would read a legal document closely. I strongly agreed with that, but only because I believe only a fool would not read any legal document closely. Maybe it is the cynic in me who knows they'll catch you on the fine print if you let them. On the other hand, I really don't care much for auto mechanics (a car's inner workings) or computers. They asked questions such as if I felt a need to know a car engine's performance (other than does it give good gas mileage, and is it reliable, no) and the insides of a computer (no. All I want to know is does it do what I need it to do. Sure, I understand concepts like memory and speed, but as a layman). As long as they work, that is all I really care about. I just want to know enough to understand them and not get ripped off by the IT person or the car mechanic or car saleman (again, the cynic in me), but I don't have the male gene that triggers excitement over muscle cars (for instance, this latest Urban Assault Vehicle does not excite me one bit) or the biggest baddest gaming computer (I consider myself informed enough to know how a computer works, some troubleshooting, and what it can do, but I am no IT guy nor have any interest to be one in spite of what some librarians may advocate). When it comes to systems, I guess it depends on the system if I am interested in fully knowing it or just knowing enough.

So, where does this place my brain? Well, based on the plot, I have a Type B or "balanced brain." This is the type for individuals who are equally strong in their systemising and empathising. Well, Mark compared a little to a different and much less scientific test on sex roles. I took that test too, my results are here. It turns out I was pretty balanced on that one as well. At any rate, this new set of tests seemed a bit more useful in helping look at myself. I did find it interesting that both the one for fun and the more "serious" one yielded similar results. Anyhow, maybe readers want to try it out for themselves and see what they learn. Now, if I can just balance a few other things. . . .

Thursday, January 12, 2006

So that's why I now and then get the urge to strangle someone. . .

. . . well, not really (yet). I picked this up from the Librarian Avengers blog, a link to an article from the BBC entitled "Librarians 'suffer most stress.'" Actually, I would have expected something more in the lines of librarians have a systematic madness or such, but who knew, stress? Well, I can see where this is possible. I think reading some of the public librarian blogs out there, especially the anonymous ones, one sees that there is a lot of stress out there in libraryland. The study reported in the BBC article is based on a survey of 300 people drawn from firefighters, police officers, teachers, train operators and librarians. They thought librarians would be the less stressed of all. Ha! Apparently they did not interview librarians on this side of the pond. On a serious note, the stress librarians face is based on the work environment, the repetive nature of the job, and other stress factors, according to the report. This does make me wonder where does this put me. I was a public school librarian, and I can tell readers it is a very stressful job, and that does not include the kids, which add to the stress. So, am I less stressed now? Overall, I have to say I am. Sure, there are some days that really elevate the old blood pressure, but most of the time things are pretty good around here. Well, I haven't strangled anyone yet. I wonder what other folks out there in libraryland would say about this report.

By the way, my job? Anything but repetitive.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Booknote: The Last Don

Title: The Last Don
Author: Mario Puzo
Publication Information: New York: Ballantine Books, 1996
ISBN: 0-345-41221-4
Genre: Fiction
Subgenre: Mafia, Organized Crime
498 pages

This was the very last book I read for 2005. Once in a while I get in the mood to read Puzo or something similar. The Godfather is one of my favorite novels. I have read a couple other Puzo novels and enjoyed them. I liked The Sicilian and The Family. Actually, The Family, set in the Renaissance, is a different novel than Puzo's usual fare, but fans will probably like it.

In the Corleones' saga, readers, or movie viewers, know that the Don wanted Michael to eventually make the family legitimate, to be Senator Corleone or President Corleone. In The Last Don, Don Domenico Clericuzio is the last Don, and it is his wish to have his children live legitimate lives. This seems to be a recurrent theme in Puzo's Mafia novels, but I may have to read the rest to make sure. Don Clericuzio has planned, plotted, and worked all his life to make sure that when the time comes, his children will be able to take the family into the legitimate world and leave the underworld behind. As the novel opens, plans are about to fall into place to assure this. However, as with any best laid plans, things happen. In this novel, events from the past come back to haunt the family as a terrible secret threatens Don Clericuzio's carefully laid plans. It has something to do with a great war the family had with the rival family of the Santadios. Also two of his grandchildren are headed for a war of their own that threatens to rip the family apart.

In typical Puzo fashion, the family's reach is vast and powerful from New York to Las Vegas to Hollywood and Europe. This particular novel has a significant element set in Hollywood, showing the place as a ruthless and corrupt establishment. Readers of Puzo know his novels have some strong elements, so I make the comment more for readers who may not have read his works before. I happen to enjoy Puzo's fiction, particularly his strong sense of place and descriptions as well as his characterizations. The attention to detail is also something I enjoy in Puzo's work, and it is present in this novel. In terms of pacing, this novel was fast paced and engaging. While not as ornate as The Godfather, if ornate is the right word (maybe I am thinking in terms of artistry), it is still engrossing. Readers who have read Puzo's other works will enjoy it. Those who pick it up without previous reading, may want to seek out Puzo's other works. As a note, I know this novel was made into a mini-series a while back, but I have not seen the mini-series. However, I am willing to guess the television event leaves a lot out. This is seen in watching The Godfather. The movie, which is one of my favorites, is a great film, but once you read the book, you see that so much is missing. Overall, I do recommend the book.

Forcing parents to pay for little kids' laptops, the next trendy thing?

The first time I read this story from January 2nd edition of USA Today, about schools asking parents to pay up for laptops, it bothered me as an educator and as a parent. Thinking about it some more, it bothers me because it seems more like another example of a school district jumping on a bandwagon just because it is the thing to do. Let me begin by saying this: I have a nine year old daughter. She is very smart and capable, but I am not about to put an expensive laptop in her hands and tell her, "go at it." She does get exposure to computers since she uses the family computer with supervision. So, why does this story cause concern?

I really question if an elementary school student really needs a laptop at all. As Ms. Cornelius points out in her blog post replying to the laptop story,

"I also doubt the efficacy of placing an iBook in the hands of a first grader. How long do you think it would take a six-year-old to break an iBook? I’m not willing to let my kids play with mine to find out, but I bet it would be one week, at the outside, especially if it was in my kids’ backpacks (shudder!) which get slung around more that a calf in a rodeo roping contest—I actually watched my adventurous middle child slide down a snow-covered hill on hers once. True, maybe the kids would take better care of the computers if they were theirs. I have a long-standing policy of never giving pencils to students who don’t have one, from the bitter experience of learning that when you give something away, it becomes worthless in the eyes of the recipient. But since the kids themselves would not be paying for the computers, I still predict that the machines would be treated the way most of their other toys are."
I cannot envision a first grader being able to care for a laptop. I don't let my daughter near my laptop, and as I said, I trust her. I can only imagine some of the more "destructive" children out there. OK, let's not call them "destructive," just mechanically curious. My baby brother at that age took apart just about anything mechanical: radios, toys, clocks, video games, etc. just to look inside and see how it worked. I am sure there is a good number of kids like that out there. Do people really think a six year old like that can handle a $1500 piece of equipment if they can't even keep their toys in one piece? Now sure, some people may say their parents will watch them, but the if the kid is carrying that laptop in a backpack, odds are good it won't stay in one piece for long.

But even if they do not break it, what exactly do they need to learn that cannot be learned in a school based computer lab, or with basic classroom tools (you know, paper and pencil and blackboard?). Does it really enhance education at all, or will the computer be just another toy? The author at Education Matters. US! considers some important issues in the post about laptops in schools. That author is looking at a different story, one about a state that pays for 7th graders to have laptops. I point the story out because the author raises some important issues as he looks at some places that have followed the laptop route. Some other questions to consider include:

  • How will the computers be integrated into the classroom?
  • What happens when the teacher chooses not to use them?
  • Computer support? Who will provide it? The school? Do the parents now have to help maintain a laptop, keep it virus-free, etc.? What are the costs?
The key question the author brings up is whether such initiatives will really enhance education. Will they help raise test scores, which we all know is the measure du jour for whether a school is successful or not? So far, the answer to that question seems to be "no." See the post for details, but it seems that after three years of providing laptops in Maine, there have been no increases in those test scores. It's a feel good measure without any hard evidence to show it is educationally sound.

And then, there's the whole idea of requiring parents to pay. I certainly would not appreciate being told that I need to fork out $1500 for a laptop for my child. Before anyone wants to label me a cruel parent for denying my child, readers may want to ask themselves how many of them can just cough up that amount of money for a laptop. I especially ask any readers out there who may have more than one child. We were three boys in my house. My father would have likely protested loudly if told he had to spend $4,500 on laptops for his boys. Add the issue of possibly stigma. If I do not buy the laptop, how does that affect my child in relation to the other children whose more affluent parents can afford it? It is supposed to be a free public education. For the amount of money they ask, I can probably find other educational options from transferring to another school to homeschooling. A parent should not be forced to pay for some unproven tool simply to follow a seductive technolusty trend. Either the school should provide them, if they can prove that they will really be used to enhance education, not for games and other frivolous activities, or do without. Now, before someone says, "well, you pay taxes for the school and other things anyways, why not this too?" Here is Ms. Cornerlius' reply, which I think answers that nicely,

"Now some people might say that there is no difference between having a bond issue to help the district to provide computers and having the parents buy the computers outright. I would disagree. If a family has three children in this program, they are being asked to pay $1500 a year in addition to their taxes and the cost of all the other incidentals involved in their children’s education"

This is not just an incidental like the stuff you have to buy when you get the list of materials from the school, which by the way keeps getting bigger over time. Now, those materials are shared in the classroom. In this case, the parent is asked to pay for something specific for one child. Again, what about those who simply cannot afford it? This story seems more like another example of a school district trying to be trendy, not doing something of actual benefit to the students. In the end, it should be about a free quality education for all our children with the best educational practices in mind.

I found the blogger replies through the Education Carnival, Week 48 edition.

Friday, January 06, 2006

So that's why my cats behave the way they do

A story in the BBC News reports that a new cat family tree is revealed. Based on DNA studies, it turns out modern cats have their roots in Asia 11 million years ago. From the article,

It turns out that the domestic cat is most closely related to the wild cats of Africa, Europe and China.

"You can take a look at your cat, that you share so much of your life with, and imagine that in the relatively recent evolutionary past, it was connected and related to species such as the European wild cat," Dr Johnson told the BBC News website.

"We now have a much better idea of where the domestic cat fits in with all of the 36 wild species and what ecological and geographical events led to the development of each one of these species," he added.

"Through that we have a much better understanding of what makes a domestic cat a cat and what evolutionary event distinguished the domestic cat from its ancestor and what it retains today."

I have certainly looked at my cats. I know to an extent those two ladies, Autumn and Isis, are the queens of their domain, that they just tolerate us. I always find it amusing, heck fascinating, when they pounce at objects or chase each other. The way they can be so patient, their tails just moving so, you know she is just waiting to pounce on some prey. They may be known as domestic cats, but I still see a lot of the wild side.

Booknote: Mujeres Alteradas

Title: Mujeres Alteradas
Author: Maitena Burundarena
Publication Information: Buenos Aires, Argentina: Sudamericana, 2004
ISBN: 950-07-2354-9 (vol. 1), 950-07-2355-7 (vol. 2), 950-07-2356-5 (vol. 3), 950-07-2357-3 (vol. 4), 950-07-2337-9 (vol.5)
Genre: Humor
Subgenre: Comic strips

I saw this in a review (I think it was in Criticas, but not sure now), and right away I got them for our library. It was well worth it. The title translates as "Altered Women," and Maitena defines that in terms of how women have changed, how their lives progress, for to alter is to change. Yet there is a little bit of play in the word as well for "alterada" can be close in meaning to "histerica" (hysterical) or "stressed." The art is simple and colorful, and it complements the humorous text very well. My only regret is that this is not available in English translation to share it more with some of my colleagues and friends. Maitena looks at women, their relations, their families, their situations, and she basically depicts a universal language. Whether she makes a cartoon about "Four Reasons Why People Should Not Marry" (vol. 1) or "Why Can't Women Do_____?" (vol. 3), when we read them, we laugh, but we also see a bit of truth and reality. The books are great fun to read, and the pace is easy and fast. Each volume averages about 80 pages, so you can pick one or all up at the same time. There is no need to read them in order.

Only two very small caveats. One, there are some words from Argentinian Spanish, which some readers outside that area may not recognize. However, I found most of them you recognize from context. For instance, apparently "lolas" is a term for "breasts" much like we might say "tits." Second, some of the strips have nude women, so if a cartoon female figure bothers you, you may want to stay away. However, it is part of the art. For instance, when she is depicting the travails of women and clothes (trying out new clothes, dealing with fashions), sex, relationships, etc. Let me be honest, ordinarily I would not feel the need to give such a caveat, but given the climate in some parts of the United States, I figure I better do so. To be blunt, if a pair of cartoon "lolas" offends you, go find some Peanuts instead. This is a book for adults. Overall, I cannot recommend this series highly enough for a good laugh. I think it may make good reading for couples as well as for single people. Definitely recommended for any public library with a large Spanish reading population. I think the books may also work with some introductory Spanish classes in college. I know now I would have liked to use some of it when I was teaching Spanish many years ago.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Books in Spanish Making Headway in the U.S., but Still Have Ways to Go

This is a summary in English of a story from Mexico's newspaper El Universal. I got the tip to the story from the REFORMA listserv, of which I am a member. The headline in Spanish is "El libro en español se abre camino en EU." The story appears in today's issue, and it was written by Luis Espinosa. The summary is mine.

The story begins with the observation that the constant influx of Latin Americans to the U.S. (EU is the Spanish abbreviation for U.S., Estados Unidos) has made Spanish into the second most predominant language in the U.S. after English. This means there is a great market opportunity for Spanish books. However, this also represents challenges for this market due to a lack of bookstores that provide Spanish books. For instance, ten years ago there were four Spanish language bookstores in New York. Today there are only two. The article provides insight from Teresa Mlawer, director of Lectorum Books, the largest Spanish books distributor in the United States. Lectorum is owned by Scholastic.

According to Ms. Mlawer, the lack of bookstores makes distribution of Spanish books difficult. It is necessary to reach the Spanish reading population in the United States through the American chains, who are attempting to provide this service, but they just lack the personnel to provide adequate help to the Spanish language customer seeking books. A book company can have a good Spanish language selection, but it is not worth it if a person comes in and is unable to find what they seek.

Another factor that makes distribution difficult is the wave of puritanism that is running rampant in the United States. Even children's books have to go through a censorship process. Books need to leave out references such as the word "negro," no one can be depicted smoking or drinking, and even Darwin's theory is restricted in some areas. Ms. Mlawer adds that this puritan position has always existed in the United States, but not in all regions of the nation. In some places, even Harry Potter is banned. She clarifies by praising public libraries for their role and vocation in serving their communities and for the fact that often public libraries ignore/disregard groups that advocate such puritanism.

Yet another challenge facing Spanish books distribution is the vast geography of the United States and the diversity of Hispanic groups in the United States. Ms. Mlawer points out that serving Hispanic communities can be challenging because there are communities from Central and South America. Bringing every book published in Latin America is impossible, but her company strives to provide what the readers want. The Spanish language itself faces challenges in the United States in spite of its growth. For instance, the loss of bilingual education in California. This meant a five million dollar loss for Lectorum when it happened because most of their sales were in California.

The article provides some demographic numbers to illustrate how the Hispanic population is the largest growing group in the United States. Mexican editorial houses see this growth as a great opportunity. In fact, the Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE by its Spanish acronym) just signed a contract with Lectorum for distribution of materials in the U.S. According to Mlawer, the only place that Spanish editions were sold during the 60s was on college campuses for Spanish classes. Today, Lectorum distributes books to schools, public libraries, school libraries, bookstores, commercial chains, universities, and nonprofit organizations.

When asked if racism makes the distribution of books in Spanish difficult, Mlawer says that as a Cuban American, she has not suffered racism, and she does not believe that books have been affected by this but rather by the lack of bookstores and capable personnel.

The article ends with a brief company overview of Lectorum. It went from a bookstore in New York four decades ago to the largest and main Spanish books distributor in the U.S. Mlawer sold Lectorum to Scholastic in 1996. The deal allowed her to remain in charge of the company. Lectorum Bookstore was opened on May 1, 1960, and it is located on 14th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues in Manhattan. Mlawer recalls buying it from an Argentinian friend in 1971, a man she calls the true pioneer. It is a store where you can ask for the latest work by Elena Poniatowska, and the sales associate will know where to find it; no need to use the computer to look it up. Who sells the most? According to Mlawer, it is still the big names like Carlos Fuentes, and more recently Laura Esquivel and Ángeles Mastretta.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Article Note: On Reference Service to GLBT Youth

Citation for the article:

Curry, Ann. "If I Ask, Will They Answer? Evaluating Public Library Reference Service to Gay and Lesbian Youth." Reference and User Services Quarterly 45.1 (2005): 65-74.

I read the article via Omnifile.

Curry's research for this article "investigates the level of reference service provided by public librarians for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT), or questioning youth in the Greater Vancouver area" (65). The research is very localized, and I wonder how librarians in the United States might do in a similar study, especially given the climate in some areas. The article begins with a brief overview of librarians and their importance for GLBT youth. Given that a school library can be a threatening environment, the public library becomes the logical place to seek out information. Curry observes that this is a common theme in GLBT literature. Curry also reviews some of the professional guidelines that librarians abide by such as RUSA's guidelines for reference services. However, Curry observes that, in spite of guidelines and courses on ethics in library school, many librarians may remain antagonistic or indifferent when it comes to GLBT issues.

In the literature review, the author notes that the Internet is now a vital source of information for GLBT youth. However, the same report that Curry cites to make this observation also notes that "questioning youth still living at home many be reluctant to access such information on home computers, and therefore the public library could and should provide the anonymity and safety necessary for such Internet searches" (66). Curry notes further on that most of the literature on library service to GLBT youth focuses on collection development (adding current reources on these topics for instance), treatment of subject headings, and GLBT fiction (specifically the depictions of GLBT character in the fiction and finding good review sources to identify works). The fact that GLBT youth are considered "at-risk" adds to the significance of the issue and the research. Two observations related to this:
  • "Youth in general are often consumed with feelings of isolation, but for gay and lesbian youth, these feelings may be exacerbated by teasing and harassment that escalates to physical abuse" (67).
  • "A survey of teachers indicated they are often unaware of the issues surrounding GLBT youth, and that some would feel uncomfortable if they had to work with an openly gay or lesbian fellow teacher" (67).
Experiences like this means these young people will be reluctant to approach any adult, including reference librarians at a public library. Now, some readers may ask why is this important if the young people can find all the information they need, and then some, on the Internet. Curry cites Richard Huffine with an answer. Huffine, according to Curry, "fears that without any human mediation, GLBT youth will not get the best information available as they struggle with an avalanche of sexual information without the context or reliability and outside the appropriate level for this age group" (67). Librarian can help provide some context and mediation with confidentiality and without prejudices. I know, this sounds very idealistic, but I would like to think most in our profession would do as much. I know I would.

The research project was carried out as an unobtrusive observation. This means that the librarians were not aware they were part of a study. For readers interested in this method, Curry gives a good explanation of how it works, why a researcher might choose to use the method, and the ethical concerns to consider. To gather the data, a proxy was used. The proxy was a 19 year old college student who appeared to be about 16. The rationale was that an older youth would be a better observer and the fact that researchers could not use a minor. Her pseudonym in the article is "Angela."Angela visited various libraries and asked the same question. She then recorded her interactions with library staff as well as her impressions. She made notes on elements such as approachability, first words or greetings, body language, search strategies, and closure. These are basic Reference 101 elements. Overall, the findings are interesting and revealing. Here are some highlights:
  • "Disappointinly, only three librarians explained to Angela how to use any sources--the catalog, the Internet, journal indexes--but they did an excellent job that Angela much appreciated. Instruction of this type is always important, but to empower a youth to find information in the library about GLBT issues could literally save his or her life" (71). In other words, the librarians in this instance provided not only answers but gave help and instruction as well.
  • "In her comments about why she would return, the common elements were that she felt welcome, the librarians were able to place resources in her hands and recommend other sources, and that she received some instruction on how to locate material herself for any future inquiries" (72).
  • "Common elements among the twelve libraries to which Angela would not return were that she received negative physical reactions from the librarians, either because of their disapproval of or unfamiliarity with the subject; that she encountered abrupt or very hurried communication from the librarian; and that she received no concluding statement or question, making her feel that the librarians 'sent me away'" (73).
The article concludes that a "welcoming, enthusiastic, and compassionate librarian can indeed have a positive impact on the life of a GLBT youth as he or she struggles through the emotional quagmires of discovering the personal, physical, and societal aspects of sexual identity" (73). I will simply say this is the type of librarian that we should strive to be for every patron. At least, that is what I aspire to be, and I do better at it some days than others. Back to the article, Curry goes on to advocate for LIS programs to include service to GLBT youth in the curricula. As practicing professionals, we must practice what we preach and ensure equal access to information for all our patrons.

On a final note, Curry suggests that practicing librarians should ask some self-assessment questions in order to be better prepared to serve this population. The questions are as follows:
  • "Do I feel confident responding to questions on GLBT topics? If not, what would I need in order to become more confident?"
  • "Am I familiar with the current concerns and information needs of GLBT youth in my community?"
  • "Am I aware of local GLBT resource centers and information sources to which I could refer library users?" (73)
I may challenge myself and write the answers to these as a post in the near future. In addition, the list of references for the article has some works that I would like to read or look over, and those readings may lead to further writing and reflection as well. Those may take me a while longer since, based on a preliminary search, it looks like I will have to call on the powerful staff of ILL to find them for me. Overall, this is an article that I highly recommend for library school students as well as practicing librarians.

Update note (1/5/06): Around the time I was reading this article, I came across this posting on to a video from BBC. A humorous piece about making sure your library makes available books on gay topics and themes.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Make notes while in the shower

How often have you been taking a shower, and a wonderful idea or thought pops in your head, only to have it fade away by the time you get out of the shower to jot it down someplace? Well, that may be a problem of the past with the erasable shower tablet. I found this through Boing Boing, where the author notes:

"This Erasable Shower Note Tablet comes with waterproof crayons with which to jot down all the ideas that occur during your showers. I often have great ideas in the shower -- the problem would be getting these things from the shower tablet into my organizer. . ."

I am not too keen on his additional idea of a webcam in the shower. He just mentions it and then rejects it, but it is an amusing thought. Go take a look.

Back from the Holidays

(Crossposted from the Gypsy Librarian)

Well folks, this is the first day back at work for me. Students do not return to campus until the day after the Martin Luther King Holiday (January 16). This means I have about a week and a half to do some catching up before the academic semester goes into full swing.

I noted before I left that we had planned to go up to Fort Worth. Well, the flu bug had other plans as it struck both my parents right around Christmas, so we had to stay away. Not that it did any good in the sense that I myself caught a cold right on New Year's (in fact, I am still trying to shake off "la cariñosa" as my father calls it. The term means "the loving one" because it holds on to you and does not let go). However, we still had a nice time at home for Christmas and New Year's. Since my wife took some days off from work, and I had last week off due to library closure, we had some time to relax.

Day after Christmas, like many Americans, we decided to go around shopping. We were actually looking for some wrapping paper and a couple of nice serving plates, but otherwise, we mostly went to watch people, for the amusement value. The mall was not as crowded as it could have been in my estimation.

The following Tuesday, we got some day care for the little one (the local YMCA is great in that regard, providing camps and such for kids when school is off), and then the missus and I went in search of some wine. When our stock at home runs low, we know it's time to get some more. We both enjoy drinking local wine when possible, so I hit a couple of Websites to see if there was anything nearby. I used the Texas Wine Trails Website. The site has a good map of the trails where you can click and get a map with links. We had tried a nice winery up north, Messina Hof, but it was a bit too far for us. Also, when we went, the place struck us as a little on the snobbish side for jean and tees sort of folk. We had also gone to a couple of places not far from Fort Worth, but clearly, that was not within driving distance. We decided to go find a place called Wimberley Valley Wines, in Spring, Texas. Since there was another winery in the area, Red River Winery, we figured we would just kill two birds on one stone. It was an easy drive to Spring, Texas once we got on I-45. When we got there, it turns out that there is this area known as Old Town Spring, which is basically a historical district. The Website I link to hails it as "the Mall Without Walls." The place is a small, cozy area of shops featuring antiques, collectibles, cafes, the wineries we went looking for and a few other interesting things. So, we ended up spending the afternoon walking along the streets, browsing here and there. I had no idea this little place was so close, and it only took us about 40 minutes to get there. Houston being such a big city did not seem like the place to contain such a little place. My wife was reminded of some of the small towns back in Indiana. We did enjoy some wine tasting, and we brought some wine home, making a note to plan on attending the Art and Wine Festival on March 18 and 19, 2006. Hey, any place where you pay admission and get a wine glass to go around tasting local wines sounds good to us. Indianapolis has its VintageIndiana, and we went there a couple of years ago. It's a big event in Military Park. They close off the park, and they have music, an area for kids, various craftspeople and artisans, food, and of course, the wines. They give you a nice etched glass, and you go around like a "beggar" for the winemakers to pour you some wine to taste. It was great fun. One of the things we always worry about is that we often travel with a nine year old. Some wineries are ok with that fact, even offering the little one some grape juice; others are not, not in the sense that they bar you, but more in the subtle hints, usually in the form of some discomfort level on the host's part. Overall, we have found that the smaller the winery, the less pretentions of grandeur it has, and therefore, the more relaxed the ambiance. Indiana had a lot of those, usually in more out of the way places, but since I am a gypsy at heart, driving was not an issue. Also, one of the things I miss from Indiana is the fact that many of those out of the way places still have that rural charm. I am not sure you can call it charm, but it's the feeling of hospitality, the feeling that it's ok to leave the door wide open for people to come in. The two places in Spring seemed to fall under the small and friendly category, and the prices were good too. I think I was amazed about Old Town Spring because being within the scope of Houston, I did not expect such a place. I would have expected it after driving way out of the metropolitcan area. It was a pleasant discovery. One of these days I will have to write that essay I have been meaning write about our travels to various wineries and vineyards. We have a wineglass collection at home from the various places we have visited, mostly in the Midwest, and now Texas. I think that would make a nice piece of writing sometime.

In the meantime, I wish everyone out there a Happy New Year, and Feliz Año Nuevo for our Spanish speaking friends.