Friday, February 29, 2008

Remember those 80s wrestler action figures?

Considering it has been so long ago, that I did not collect them back in the day, and most importantly, that some of those figures are ugly as heck and look nothing like the wrestler they depict, I am surprised I got a decent score and missed only three. Having said that, I did enjoy wrestling back then. To be honest, they just don't make it like they used to (back when it was WWF). So, if you want to take a trip down memory lane, give it a try.

WWF Superstars Quiz

Score: 79% (11 out of 14)

My political profile

Once again, we made it to another Friday, and hey, it's Leap Year. Anyways, leaping or not, the two readers of this blog know what it means. Quiz time. Since it is an election year, I will probably put a few political theme quizzes up. As for this one, who would have guessed I would come out as liberal. Though I was a bit taken I was 0% conservative on social issues and fiscal (actually, there are a few things in fiscal manners I would agree with conservatives, and I mean true conservatives, not the "spend like drunken sailors" bozos running things now). Maybe the questions led to that, who knows. Overall, I think this caught me ok.

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Social Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

You sure you want to go into that pool?

We all know the risks of swimming pools, especially kids. All is going well until suddenly little Johnny or Susie has a little accident, and the water turns yellow. Time to get out of the pool. Well, that is usually the type of accident that may go unnoticed in a large public pool. However, when the accident is a little more substantial, there are actually guidelines that suggest you may need to close the pool.

The Centers for Disease Control publish a document known as the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (and no, I don't read it every week. That's what feed readers are for: to point out the highlights for me). Recently, there was a notice on "Revised Recommendations for Responding to Fecal Accidents in Disinfected Swimming Venues." As I often tell my students, government documents are a good information source because the government pretty much investigates just about everything, and then they type it up neatly. As you can see, they even make documents for keeping your pool safe and clean. Now, a lot of the report is a little technical, making a distinction between "diarrheal fecal accidents" and "formed-stool accidents." In other words, the difference between a few floating objects and a spill that rivals the Exxon Valdez disaster. Guess which one the CDC sees as a higher risk of infection.

If you are curious, you can read the full set of response guidelines here (PDF) which will tell you "what do you do when you find poop in the pool" (their words. I wish I was making it up). One of the suggestions is explaining to patrons why a pool closure may be necessary. After all, closing the pool causes an inconvenience and ruins everyone's fun. But more importantly, you may have that one reticent person who does not think a little poo is a big deal. They may think they can just swim around it. So, pool operators are advised to remember that "understanding that pool closure is necessary for proper disinfection and protection of the health and safety of swimmers is likely to promote support rather than frustration" (1). If you have to actually tell people that getting out of a poopy pool is a good idea, you've got more problems than just the accident. Once you do close the pool, there are guidelines for how to treat the pool, how long you have to stay closed, and what to do to open it again.

For additional information, the CDC does have a section in their website on healthy swimming. Then again, you sure you want to go into that pool?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Maybe we could elect this guy instead?

If only, but it is a fun idea.

From the campaign letter on the website:

"In the coming election, there is no better candidate to lead America into a new era of straight talk and strong security. After all, you'd have to be insane to attack a country that has McClane for President."(emphasis added).

And folks, on a serious note, please remember to vote.

So, I watched the debate last night.

And I am not impressed. Now, before I go on, I should point out that I am the type of guy who does not care for debates a whole lot. Heck, when it comes to events like debates, the Oscars, etc., I catch the highlights the next morning. Why waste the time when you can get the results without all the extra padding the next morning? Besides, I am a librarian. I can find all the information, analysis, propaganda, and other stuff you did not even know existed when I want it.

So anyways, there I was last night watching Countdown, which is one of the few programs I actually try to watch on a regular basis. Since our daughter is about to go to bed, while the little one gets ready, the missus suggests, "let's just watch the first five minutes or so." It was probably something between we did not feel like changing the channel and what the heck, how bad can it be? We ended up watching the whole thing, if by watching you mean us commenting on what the candidates were saying as they were saying it.

What they actually said was not that much different than anything they have said before. Anyone who has half a brain and at least reads some news will have heard it in one form or another. So, what did catch my eye?

  • Hillary's first question remark. Sorry hun, but whining does not really befit you, especially when after complaining you throw in the "but I am glad to answer it" anyways. What the hell was that anyways? I could not help but wonder if it was actually part of her plan or not. I think the lady does best when she sticks to the issues. When she tries for snark, personal attacking, or playing the victim, it just looks fake and/or desperate. Not very inspiring.
  • Russert's hypotheticals. Another wtf moment. Obama clarified the line about bombing Pakistan, to which I thought, in a mean moment, "why the hell not?" Let's be honest, the so-called ally in the region is a two-bit dictator who is doing the absolute minimum to appease the U.S. and keep any aid coming. The terrorists are in Afghanistan, right next door, and they often hide in Pakistan. Pakistan not cooperating, I probably would say "bomb them, and anyone else who does not like it" for good measure. This is probably why I would never run for any office. I say what I am thinking without reservations. Because, historically, the U.S. has a bad habit of coddling dictators if it somehow "helps" U.S. interests. All you have to do is look at the history of U.S. interventions in Latin America. Oh, and by the way, no mention of Latin America in the debate.
  • The Farrakhan thing. Ok, that seemed to come out of left field, as the saying goes. Obama denounced it, so what the heck else did Russert want him to say? Obama does have a point: the reverend can say and support whoever he wants. It is a free country last I looked. Farrakhan, I believe, is a U.S. citizen, so he would be entitled to vote for whoever. Does not follow the candidate embraces the support. You got your answer Russert, let it go already and move on.
Overall, it was a pretty bland affair. I even grabbed some paper to see if I could outline the debate. Back when I was a debate coach in high school, I could do that pretty well. After a few minutes, I gave up, since they were not saying anything different. On health care, their details are pretty similar. And to be honest, either of them would likely do better than the guy in office now or his party.

One thing that did strike me, now that I have time to think about it, was a point in the debate when the missus and I were talking. She made some observation, I can't recall, and I said, "well, that is a good point, but unfortunately, most people will either miss it or not think about it like we are doing now." And that, in the end, is what really worries me. You see, I don't have a whole lot of faith in people. Most people are like sheep, and they just go along. Throw them a few platitudes, some bread and circuses, and they are happy. They would not think to dig deeper into what a candidate says. Supporters of one or the other are pretty predictable. They are like religious people in way, which live by faith, and faith requires no proof. I require proof, and lots of it. Do I think this may be a historical time? Sure, when will you again get a woman and Black man running for the highest office? However, are they really that much different from the politicians we have now? A colleague of mine said her spouse sees politicians as "those lying sacks of shit." To be honest, I would agree with the guy. Because even if we were to elect someone new to the Presidency, that person has to deal with the Congress, and they are all "lying sacks of shit." Just look at the lack of any serious work they do, the fact they are pretty much beholden to the highest paying lobbyists, who actually write a lot of the legislation for them, and their bickering over minor stuff (baseball steroid hearings anyone?), and you get the feeling it will be business as usual.

So, I was not impressed last night. Like Fox Mulder with his poster in his basement office, "I Want to Believe." But I know how people tend to behave, and I know politicians will be politicians. There are so many problems to fix in this nation, so many miles to go, and I am not hearing anyone even try to address those problems in a significant way. Yes, health care is important. I think you should treat it as a basic human right as is the right to life, education, so on, not as a business transaction. Neither one of them dares say such a thing (neither does the guy on the other side by the way). But what about education? Or any other myriad of things? When are we going to hear something truly meaningful like, "poverty is morally reprehensible, and we will do our best to erase it from the face of our nation?" Now that would be impressive, especially if whoever got elected actually followed up on it without regard to any lobbyist who may get pissed off.

I could probably go on, but I have gone on longer than I usually do when it comes to politics, which I keep close to my vest usually.

Monday, February 25, 2008

When it comes to college fundraisers, stay the hell away from me

I am sure at one time or another some readers out there have gotten one of those pesky telemarketer calls. By now, I have reached the conclusion that no matter if you register with the Do Not Call list, something will always slip. So, for me, caller ID and an answering machine are wonderful tools. We screen every call. Unknown number? So long. Does not leave a message or identify itself? Farewell. Charities tend to be one of the loopholes in the registry, one that, as far as I am concerned should be closed like any other. By now, I am used to pretty much tuning out any unwanted phone call. So, why bother writing about it now? Well, this article on USA Today (February 22, 2008 written by Ledyard King) about how colleges are going after their graduates to hit them for money after graduation sort of got my goat, as the saying goes. In particular, this remark really got my attention:

"We don't have a lot of individuals who understand that giving is a responsibility," he said. "We have to do a better job of making sure our students understand how a university is funded."

"He" is University of Arizona Foundation President James Moore. Let me bust your bubble, Mr. Monroe. Giving is a personal choice, not a responsibility. Your campus nor any other are entitled to any extra money after graduation. You already took a lot of my money (and some from my parents) when I got my education. Not to mention that the financial aid was not exactly generous, and as a result I not only had to work a job on campus (ok, I did not mind that one as much), and I had to take out some loans. So you will forgive me if I am not feeling particularly generous since I still have some items to pay off from my education. And you can take your condescension and put it where the sun don't shine. I understand exactly how a university is funded, not only as a student, but as an employee in higher education. I am aware of how legislatures across the nation are making it a national pastime to cut funding for campuses. I can certainly sympathize, but trying to brainwash the students who are already giving you a lot of money into giving you something extra after they leave is just not right.

"They're mobile. They're going through graduate school and moving on, taking jobs outside of the country," [Jim] McKey [VP Institutional Advancement, Earlham College] said. "There's lots of reasons they're difficult to find."

Hmm, did it occur to you and your ilk that maybe a good number of us do not want to be found? Actually, considering that I do not pay any alumni dues (so not a member of any alumni associations, undergrad or grad), and you people still manage to find me goes to show your degree of perseverance to the point of annoyance. I suggest for some of those larger, well endowed campuses, that they follow the lead of some of the Ivies and spend a little more of that endowment on actually bringing good students to your campuses, you know, maybe providing a scholarship or two here or there? Considering that you folks keep raising tuition at rates that are simply alarming, it may be the least you can do.

In the end, the guilt trip is not going to work. Like many other people in this nation, I have my share of bills that need to be paid a lot sooner than writing my alma mater yet another check. They already took my money when I paid them to educate me. I suggest you find other ways, maybe learn to live within your means some more. Or maybe, convince some of those rich alumni to donate money for things that are a little more practical than a fountain, a bell tower, or a statue. You know? Like a new computer lab, or a better library. And stay away from me already.

Besides, I'll just keep ignoring you anyways when you call.

A hat tip to The Kept-Up Librarian.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My autobot

Well, we made it to another Friday, so the two readers of this blog know what this means. Yep, it's quiz time. I am an old school sort of kid, and Transformers was one of my favorite cartoons (well, for the most part. The fact the original had those pesky human kids getting in the way was annoying as hell). Anyways, here is a little quiz if you want to find out what your Autobot might be. A Porsche? Not too shabby. Anyways, have a great Friday folks.

Your Score: Cliffjumper

4 Firepower, 4 Speed, 3 Skill, 3 Strength

"Strike first, strike fast, strike hard."

Fast, courageous, and a bit brash, Cliffjumper is what you could call a "gun-nut". His daring and eagerness sometimes gets him in trouble thats too much for him to handle. His vehicle form is a Porsche 924 Turbo.

Link: The Which Autobot Are You? Test written by imaginationsoul on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(imaginationsoul)

Book Meme I got tagged with.

It seems the serious cousin got tagged with some Book Meme by the Effing Librarian. Since the serious cousin is, well, serious, he just passed the buck over here. So, since we do memes and other silly fun here, here goes the meme then. First, the rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pgs.)
2. Open the book to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Post the next three sentences
5. Tag five people

Ok, now my reply. The closest book at the moment for me is the novel Star Wars: Death Star. So, opening page 123, and finding the fifth sentence, these are then the next three sentences:

Atour let him babble on while he waited for the docking procedure to begin and considered the vagaries of fate that had led him here, so late in life. That the library was a potentially good one had been an unexpected bonus, because he had not been posted here as any sort of reward. He'd been shunted off into this world-forsaken assignment as a way of getting rid of him, at least in a manner of speaking" (123).

Kind of cool that part actually was dealing with the one character who is a librarian in the novel. What are the odds? As for tagging people, those who know me know I will happily do most memes, but never impose on others. But if it moves you, go right ahead. I would love to see what you guys and gals may be reading out there.

If you do the crime, don't take the evidence home

Criminals are not exactly the sharpest tools in the shed. Stories like this in the Los Angeles Times about tagger extraordinaire "Guser" is a case in point. Allegedly (isn't that always how it is? Allegedly, even when they get caught red-handed? But I digress) the fellow was busted with "an arrest warrant [that] named him in 72 acts of vandalism, resulting in $108,000 of property damage." Some would call him prolific, but according to authorities:

"We have to come up with something bigger than prolific," [Sheriff's Sgt. Augie]Pando said. "That word doesn't describe adequately the amount of tagging this guy's done."

Anyhow, there are some lessons here to be learned.
  • The most important lesson to any criminal out there: DON'T TAKE YOUR WORK HOME WITH YOU. Most workers know the concept of "quitting time." When you get done with your labor, go home. Don't bring the work home. Case in point:
"It was smeared on the curb in front of the home of Gustavo Romero, 23, when sheriff's deputies arrived Wednesday to arrest him during an early morning raid at 77th and Main streets. Inside, they even found the tag scrawled across Romero's mattress."
  • By the way, the above is not just my advice. The police make the point as well. Then again, what criminal is going to take advice from cops? Anyhow, here goes and enough said:
"We had one guy on the Internet telling everyone to not keep items connected with tagging in their house and guess what? When we searched his home there was evidence everywhere," said Sheriff's Sgt. Estrada. "They think they'll never be caught."
  • Don't advertise yourself on YouTube, MySpace, or other social networking site. This may or not be as applicable to the Guser, but a lot of his friends make use the many 2.0 technologies. Sooner or later, you will get caught, and guess what evidence the cops will you use against you. Yep, the YouTube video you made and advertised to all your friends. "Sheriff's detectives say they catch taggers on film or video from cameras on trains or buses, and sometimes in the act; four skateboarders were arrested Tuesday in a train station elevator that had just been marked up."
  • For the cops carrying out the raid: Always have a nice meal before you go. Case in point: "Before dawn Wednesday, deputies gathered in a trailer south of the 105 Freeway for a pre-raid briefing. On the table were scones and blueberry crumble, baked by Pando the night before." To be honest, I have no idea why the reporter needed to put that detail in. It does show Mr. Pando is very thoughtful of his colleagues, if nothing else.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Remember: You put money in the ATM, not meth

You can file this under "dumbass of the day." A woman in Washington State went to make a deposit at her credit union. Seems like a simple enough transaction. However, most people usually deposit legal currency. This lady not only deposited her money, she also included a baggie of methamphetamine. Yes, the illegal stuff. The drug. My bet is she probably skimmed a little off the deposit before actually doing the transaction. Find the story in the Miami Herald here.

A hat tip to Say No To Crack (and obviously she should have said "no" to meth while she was at it).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another clueless legislator and the Internet

Just when I thought that Ted Stevens would no longer serve as a butt of jokes, along comes another legislator to renew my faith in the fact that most of those people serving in legislatures simply have no clue how the Internet works. Add to it that, for some reason, when it comes to legislating the Internet and children, they always neglect the most obvious solution: parenting. Case in point.

Meet Bradley Daw. Andy Carvin, of the blog Learning Now, tells us that Mr. Daw is a Utah state legislator. His latest proposal is the following:

"According to the latest draft of the law, “A person may not provide wireless Internet access to the public unless the person restricts access to prevent a minor from accessing material harmful to minors.” It would require operators of open wifi networks to “use a reasonable method for ascertaining the age” of a user, such as requiring a credit card number to secure access."

Because we all know that every kid in America never leaves the house without their American Express. Or better yet, they know that for everything else, there is Master Card. And they sure feel good knowing that VISA is everywhere you want to be. You get the idea. Let me put this in simple terms. Mr. Daw, if he has his way, would want those folks who provide those very popular wifi hotspots to make absolutely sure that no minors are surfing the Internet on their wifi. This is so clueless that laughing simply does it no justice. Under presssure, Mr. Daw, who apparently can read writing on the wall when it is not favorable, has moved to the idea of filtering instead, an idea we all know has its own defects. Mr. Carvin points out what is probably the most significant point, and it is a point that librarians should be getting behind. After all, librarians pride themselves on promoting access to knowledge and resources for all, especially public librarians. Mr. Carvin writes:

"Filtering freely available Internet access would basically send the signal that open access is a privilege only for those who can afford it. Others who rely on free public wifi - adults as well as minors - would be relegated to a smaller, less useful Internet - an Internet where some nameless person determines for them what’s acceptable for them to use and what’s not. Given the track record of Internet filters being used in schools and libraries to block content capriciously just because it’s posted on a blog or Twitter or YouTube, would similar problems arise on filters placed on public wifi networks? Probably."

Let's be honest. We want to talk censorship? Let's talk censorship. Why should some nameless person determine what is acceptable for the rest of us to look at or not online? It's none of that person's business. And those people who supposedly claim they want less government should be the first ones rising their voices at this blatant attempt of the government to yet again tell them what they can and cannot do, what morality should be, and more importantly, parenting on their behalf. Because this is where the issue comes in. No one is saying that maybe parents should be doing their jobs. When it comes to minors, it should be the parents regulating and supervising, and that includes knowing where their kids go online. Seems simple enough for me, but let me put it in terms even my minor daughter can understand. This is what I tell her: "when you turn 18, you can do whatever the hell you want. Until that day, what I say goes." You see, people like Mr. Daw can get away with suggesting stupid legislation like the one he is pushing because a lot of parents are simply not supervising their kids. They just throw their arms up in the air and claim, "oh my Lord! This internet is full of porn, and my kid will get to it. What shall I ever do?" Uh, maybe you should watch your kid so he or she does not get to the porn. Just a suggestion. Not like I would pretend to tell you how to raise your kid or anything. Besides, everybody knows the internet is for porn. Well, most everybody anyways, but joking aside, that is the point. As I often tell my students when I am teaching information literacy, the internet is like the Wild West. It is an open frontier where pretty much anything goes. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Because in the end, it's what you do with it.

If you don't like porn, don't go looking for it. If you do not want your child to see it, then make sure you supervise them. It's your brat; it's not my duty to watch him or her for you. He or she stumbles upon porn because you were not watching the brat, don't come crying to me or yelling for the legislature to do your job. Besides, after a certain age, if your kid really wants to see certain areas of the internet, he or she will figure it out. Do your job as a parent. In the end, this is not just about finding the porn. It is about fair access to the internet and its many resources. There are a lot of excellent resources out there that often get blocked by filters. Public educators are often frustrated by unreasonable restrictions on online resources reflective of paranoid administrators often responding to hysterical parents. Quite a little chain of ignorance when you think about it. We don't need any more bad legislation. We need to dispel the ignorance. We need parents who will do their jobs, and we need to continue educating our children in the best way possible with the best tools available, including the internet. We don't need to be closing frontiers. We need to be exploring more.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy New Year to our Chinese Friends

Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year. (Get a bit more information about it here). In the Chinese zodiac, this is a year of the Rat. Following the lead of other librarians with enquiring minds who checked, I went ahead and checked what my Chinese zodiac animal would be. My animal would be the Dog. According to some sources of information:

  • On the positive side: Loyal, modest, dependable, generous, patient, intelligent, straight-forward, attractive, well-meaning, spunky loving.
  • On the negative side: Worrier, quick-temper, blunt, restless, self-righteous, pessimistic, critical, petty, accusing, rebellious, reckless, eccentric.
  • And I could make an excellent businessman, activist, teacher, or secret agent.
Hmm, I would have to admit that a lot of those traits fit me quite well, although I am not so sure about the "attractive" part. And I did become a teacher. Anyways, a Happy New Year to our Chinese friends and those who celebrate with them.