Friday, March 23, 2007

But they keep coming back. . .

Once again, we have made it to another weekend. The four or five of you out there who actually stop by know what that probably means. Yes, it's another quiz. Interesting result on this one, pretty close to reality. The rub is they keep coming back, haha. Well, the more, the merrier. Anyhow, go find out what food type you would be.

You Are Chinese Food

Exotic yet ordinary.
People think they've had enough of you, but they're back for more in an hour.

A hat tip to Liz at The Library Tavern.

Racing to get foreign students to the U.S.

This has been a small topic of interest for me, in part given that I work in higher education. But I am also a believer in diversity and in sharing knowledge. I think the idea of students going around the world for an education, learning about another country, and taking that back to their homes is great. That includes those that come to the U.S. and then take what they learn here back. Here is a recent report on "The Race to Attract International Students" from the Education Sector think tank that caught my eye. Its conclusion:

To retain its position as the destination of the greatest number of foreign students—and the advantage that such students afford in the battle for global economic competitiveness—the U.S. will have to be increasingly proactive in international marketing, simplify visa processing and increase affordable educational opportunities.

I have addressed the topic before here, here, here, and here. I also link this to visiting scholars, since the educational process is not only students, but it is also scholars sharing their knowledge.

A hat tip to Docuticker.

Update note: today it seems the report is getting picked up on all sorts of places. Inside Higher Education's coverage, "New Worries on Foreign Students" is one example. The comments following the story are interesting to look at, if for no other reason that to witness a lot of overreaction and some degree of xenophobia.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Take the challenge to unplug

March 24, 2007 is World Shutdown Day. It's exactly what it sounds like: a day to shut down your computer and get away from it. This also includes your devices like a PDA or a Blackberry. From the website:

"Be a part of one of the biggest global experiments ever to take place on the internet. The idea behind the experiment is to find out how many people can go without a computer for one whole day, and what will happen if we all participate!

Shutdown your computer on this day and find out! Can you survive for 24 hours without your computer?"

I know I will be shutting mine down that day. Can you do the same?

Monday, March 19, 2007

First and Last Lines 06

I found this meme via Liz's Library Tavern, and it is one of those things that have been sitting on my clips folder for a while. The idea, in some form, is to take the first and last sentence from every month of the year. I drew on this blog, because the serious cousin usually does not do these things. Besides, the fun stuff is here anyhow, hehe. So, for my five or six readers' amusement, here we go. In retrospect, it turns out that once in a while I write something of some substance in this blog other posting quiz results and memes. What do you know?


First: Well folks, this is the first day back at work for me.
Last: I made a brief note about that special issue here over in my main blog.


First: The Independent (UK) for January 29, 2006, in the article, "Why Men Don't Fancy Funny Women," reports on a study to be published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.
Last: Anyways, go read the rest of the list.


First:At a time when teachers are often under fire, usually by people who would never dream to do what we do, this reminds us of the difference that a teacher can make in someone's life.
Last: On the other hand, if you offend easily, you may want to skip this one.


First: I found this book interesting and engaging.
Last: At any rate, here is what I learned. (refers to the results of one of those quizzes)


First: It is not very often that I express myself on politics and such.
Last: But as I said, overall, the argument is interesting, and it may be of interest to some of my students.


First: I have new heroes, or maybe they were heroes all along.
Last: . So in other words, he just reinstated it because he got a little too much heat.


Here is an interesting little list of salaries for various Latin American presidents .
Surprised? No.


First: Someone must have snuck into our conference room for one of our librarian meetings.
Last: Happy Blog Day!!


First: The New York Times for August 27, 2006 had an article entitled "Words of Wisdom vs. Words from Our Sponsor."
Last: Anyways, TGIF.


First: I am being dragged here by the serious cousin.
Last: I think that covers it.


First: Ok, so maybe there is no need to be that extreme.
Last: Warning, if you happen to be prudish, this is not for you.


First: This was a short book that I found hard to read because the more I read, the more angry I got at the government's incompetence and flat-out negligence during Katrina's passing.
Last: Best, and keep on blogging.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Some things for Women's History Month

I admit that initially I was not going to do this kind of post. The reason is that I saw more than enough places in the librarian hangout of the blogosphere, so I figured it was well covered. However, I have been finding a couple of interesting things, so I figured I would put them together in a little post. March may be Women's History Month, but as far as I am concerned, we should be celebrating women every day of the year.

Crossposted to Gypsy Librarian on Vox and to Alchemical Thoughts.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I never read newspapers in school, and I turned out fine

The Newspapers in Education Program provides free or low cost newspapers for classrooms via local newspapers. To get it in your school, you need to contact your local newspaper and see if they participate (here's the link for my local paper, the Houston Chronicle). It sounds like a great idea. However, times have changed.

When I was in school, we did not get any newspaper. However, I did not grow up without newspapers. My parents made it point to make sure we got at least one newspaper in the house. I remember my father reading the newspaper at a glance before heading for work and then reading it more closely when he got home; my father did not have the kind of work where you could sit around reading a newspaper. My mother read most of it at home. This was before the Internet, but even today, my parents still get a local newspaper. I got my habit of reading a newspaper from them, though that habit has given way to reading my news online. We even dropped any newspaper subscriptions we had in print at my home. My wife has been a bit slower in adapting to reading the news online, but saving a few bucks was attractive enough.

In my case, I pretty much don't have much use for a local newspaper. If I want local coverage, I look to any local alternative newspapers, then to any local bloggers, and sometimes the online edition of newspapers like the Houston Chronicle, but I get its headlines in a feed reader. Now, I am sure there is some reader out there cringing at the thought of a librarian who pretty much cares little for the local paper. I can get any local information I need online just fine. At any rate, most local newspapers are pretty much compilations of the Associated Press, and I can simply look at AP headlines online. The local coverage is pretty much seriously lacking in most local newspapers, so I see no reason to bother. What else would one do with a newspaper? Check movie listings or other events like theater? Go online. Classifieds? I don't use them much, but I can probably go online for those. Local news from the communities? You can probably find a couple of good bloggers who pick up on and comment on the small local events. Overall, I think the local papers pretty much dropped the ball when they abdicated their role of being the local voice.

So, why am I bringing this up? Well, I came across this report: "The Internet and the Threat It Poses to Local Media." (warning: PDF file. About 20 pages, but the report itself is about 8 pages). It presents some interesting findings related to classrooms and use of news as part of the lessons. It made me think a bit of my experience with newspapers when I was in school, but it also made me think of my daughter. She is not exactly shaping up to be a newspaper reader. She reads voraciously though, and she is in the G&T program for reading in her school. However, she does not get exposure to newspapers at home, since we don't subscribe, and at the moment, none at school either. She does have access to the Internet (under adult supervision, of course), so once she gets ready to be informed, my bet is she will get her news online too. We do watch some television news, but usually it is a brief look at some local channel in the morning for the traffic and weather (i.e. I need to know how fucked up my commute will be that morning, and if the weather will make it worse); for the rest, it's CNN pretty much. If local papers are counting on getting her generation to read their print product, I am telling you right now, you may as well give up the fight because it is pretty much over. I am not saying I would not read a newspaper. If no online access were available, sure, I would look at one, but I would not go out of my way to buy one.

In a way, the study confirms some of my feelings as I have described them so far. It also shows that most newspaper editors have no idea of what the real situation is. Let me provide some highlights from the study:

  • "Though still in an early stage, Internet-based news is already the dominant news medium in America's classrooms" (5).
  • "One teacher said: 'I would use the newspaper more but that takes more time than watching television news. [But] television news is difficult because it has so much fluff. The Internet makes it easier to pick and choose'" (5).
That is another turn off for me when it comes to local newscasts. All the fluff. I usually tune out as soon as the latest "cutie" story makes an appearance on the local news. With the Internet, like that teacher, I can pick and choose what I want.

  • So, what's stopping more teachers from using the Internet? "A third of teachers said they are not yet making much use of Internet-based news because their classrooms are not equipped for it" (5). Yes, lack of access to the Internet. If they had it, they'd be there.
  • Also, according to the study, teachers do prefer print newspapers, though this seems to be declining between the old guard and the new teachers. "The Internet is their second choice, though it ranks first among teachers with five years or less of experience" (6).
So, what are the teachers using?

  • "As teachers have turned to the Internet, they have switched from hundreds of local news to a small number of national ones" (6).

I know I have switched to some broader sources, including some international sources as well. As I said, why read the recycled AP coverage in the local paper when I can get it directly from AP, as well as Reuters, EFE, and any other news agency as well as coverage from national resources like CNN? And teachers, according to the study, are also using international sites as well like the BBC. According to the study, "in other words, sites such as have a larger classroom audience than do the websites of either local newspapers or local television stations" (8).

In the meantime, it seems most newspaper people are clueless.

  • "However, America's NIE program directors are only vaguely aware of the Internet's inroads on newspaper use in the classroom" (8).
  • "NIE program directors underestimate the erosion in their newspaper's position in the classroom" (9).

Meanwhile. . .

  • "In the classroom and elsewhere, local media are losing the Internet-news revolution to 'brand name' news organizations like CNN, the BBC, and the New York Times."

The report notes that local media should not be entirely to blame for their woes because they have decided to stick with the old technology. Some economics are involved; they make more from a print subscriber than from a guy like me who may read their newspaper online. I can understand that. However, their main problem is that they simply gave up on the local coverage to try and be like the bigger national news organizations. In doing so, they abandoned what is their traditional role as well as an important part of the American citizen democracy: giving a voice to the local events and people of their own community. "What local news organizations bring to the mix is the local angle--the community's story" (10). They don't seem to be very good at that, and if they don't do it, someone else down the road will. Local newspapers and television have the resources and reporters to cover their communities, but they choose not to do so, or they do so in a small fashion. This leaves openings for various citizen reporters, bloggers for instance, to do what the local news should be doing. Maybe a solution lies in the local news nurturing some citizen reporters, some kind of partnership that favors both.

However, here is the possible significance of all this:

  • "As students learn in the classroom to rely on websites such as and, they will become accustomed to using these sites outside the classroom, thereby contributing to a permanent movement of audience away from local news outlets" (10).

Again, all I have to do is look at my own daughter to see this is true. I can add more evidence if I look at the students I work with every day. When I teach library instruction, I often ask how students get their news. A lot of them simply don't get any news, which is another problem, and it could be the topic of another post. However, those that do often say they get them on the Internet. I never get a single one mention they read the local newspaper. True, it is only anecdotal evidence, but it still says something. And then there is the whole issue of excessive reliance on online tools like Google to get information, which is the bane of professors and some librarians (I don't get fits of apoplexy when I hear of students using a search engine. I just try to educate them to better ways). But that is another post. In the meantime, I don't read newspapers, but it does not mean I don't read news. In fact, I keep track of a lot of news from a broad variety of sources. And I am doing fine.

A hat tip to Docuticker for pointing to the study. The study document includes the survey questions used for the teachers and the newspaper people.

Additional notes: After I wrote the post above, I was looking over one of my clippings files for something else, and I came across something that I can add here. Once again, serendipity is a wonderful thing.

Anyhow, Jason Kaneshiro's weblog Webomatica had a post discussing "I Don't Read Newspapers, But I'd Read Your Blog." The post is a response to a Wall Street Journal article written by Steven Rattner entitled "Red All Over" that looks at the decline in newspaper readership and blames it more on readers being interested in fluff rather than news. The blogger at Webomatica argues that is not the point, but rather that the problem is with the "container" of the information, namely the print newspaper. Mr. Kaneshiro wrote something that stuck with me (emphasis in the original):

Yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s fish-and-chip paper. When I pick up a print newspaper, I feel like I’m reading yesterday’s news today".

That is exactly how I feel at times when it comes to reading a print newspaper. By the time I get it, it's old news. In fact, very often I feel that way about television news as well. The local newscasts are bad in this regard. Very often, when I am glancing at that morning newscast waiting for the traffic report, I will tell my wife, "oh honey, that story, I saw it a week ago online someplace or other." I am not trying to sound smug; it's just a fact that local news not only fail at keeping up with the local news, when one looks at it closely, they don't even keep up with the national or international stuff they claim they are informing you about. Do more people want fluffy news? That's another post. The fact is the format of many local news is just not nimble enough these days. Both the WSJ article and Mr. Kaneshiro's post are worth a look as well.

Friday, March 09, 2007

My Muppet Personality

Welcome to another Friday here at the Itinerant Librarian. Recently, Mark Lindner, from the blog Off the Mark, read the book It's Not Easy Being Green (you can find my note on the book over at the serious cousin here. It is still one of my favorite books). So, in honor of another reader, and because it is Friday, I am posting the result of this quiz, which seems to go right along with the theme. Happy Friday.


You scored 68 Mood and 57 Energy!

You are cheery, energetic and achievement oriented. You are a hard worker and you are proud of your accomplishments.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Mood
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Energy

Link: The Muppet Personality Test written by TheLadyEve on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

When Shift Happens

This link to a video from Glumbert, on Shift Happens, definitely puts a few things in perspective. Definitely interesting and definitely worth thinking it over a bit.

A hat tip to Burger's Blog.

Get a bit more background on the video here.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

So Labels Don't Match the Actual Belief

Here is a study on reporting that "For College Students, Political Labels Don’t Always Reflect Attitudes on Social Issues or Religious Beliefs." The study is produced by the Spirituality in Higher Education Project at UCLA.

Based on the study, it seems that what students label themselves as politically does not always match their actual beliefs or religious persuasion. For instance, though many would label themselves as "liberal," they would actually be "conservative" based on their actual beliefs. From the news release:

  • "Based on their attitudes toward 'hot button' social issues, the four most 'conservative' religious groups are Baptists, Mormons, 7th Day Adventists, and 'Other Christians' (mainly Evangelicals). Large majorities of students in each of these groups (58%-80%) oppose 'liberal' views such as legalizing marital status for homosexuals, keeping abortion legal, and legalizing marijuana."
  • "However, in none of these denominations, nor in any other religious group do as many as half of the students describe themselves as either conservative or far right in their politics. Moreover, among 7th Day Adventists, students identifying themselves as 'liberal' actually outnumber those identifying themselves as 'conservative' (29% vs. 21%), despite their clearly conservative views on key social issues."
  • "And substantial minorities of students in groups that are popularly regarded as holding strongly conservative views on selected social issues do not follow the expected pattern: more than one-third of Baptist, Mormon, 7th Day Adventist, and Other Christian students, for example, support legal marital status for same-sex couples, and nearly half of all Catholics (49%) support keeping abortion legal."

My father used to say that you never know who is working for who ("uno nunca sabe para quien trabaja") when faced with something like this where someone seemed to be one thing only to be revealed as something else. So much for labels. Though I wonder why some people who clearly disagree with their belief system choose to remain within it. I am not looking to be simplistic. And in the interest of full disclosure, I would fall under the people with no religious affiliation. Does not mean I am not spiritual; it just means I have no use for organized religion, but if it works for you and moves you to do good things, more power to you. I am pretty much "live and let live." I guess I find this interesting given my work where I meet so many different students. I am in an academic setting that is very diverse. Anyways, food for thought. It may go to prove that when it comes to young people and college students, you can't just put them in a box.

Crossposted from Alchemical Thoughts.

A hat tip to Docuticker.