Friday, March 28, 2008

Financial theme song

Well folks, we made it to another Friday, and thank the powers that be. This has been a very busy week for me, and it is not quite over yet. It's been one of those weeks where I have daydreams of what I would do if I won the lottery. Of course, I would have to win one of those big jackpots--at least 10 million or so. After, the IRS takes half anyways, and I want enough not just to retire in some measure of style, but to share it around. Because I don't know about the rest of you, but if I had a lot of money, I would certainly share some of it around. Wouldn't that be fun? Anyhow, back in the real world, when it comes to it, I feel life is a lot more than just having money or not. As long as I have enough to cover the basics, I am ok. It's family and friends which are the real measure of your wealth. My humble opinion anyways, and this is just a roundabout way for what the two readers of this blog already know happens on Fridays: the quiz result. And the song result seems quite appropriate. Anyways, have a great Friday folks.

Take this test!

The Beatles were right (aren't they always?). For all the importance people put on wealth these days, it simply can't buy happiness. From the looks of it, you learned that lesson long ago.

You don't need material things to be content, and you tend to place value instead on the relationships in your life. In fact, we'd guess that the whole conspicuous consumption thing turns you off. After all, what's the sense of chasing after false happiness? Your mission in life is not to accumulate wealth, but to accumulate love, and the decisions you make are sure to lead you to that end.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter is my holiday?

Well, we made it to another Friday, and it is Easter Weekend this time around. The two readers of this blog know what Fridays usually mean around here, and what better than a quiz for holidays. Having said that, I am not 100% sure this quiz is as accurate about me. I can be optimistic and hopeful, but I think cuddly things should be items for target practice. Sticking explosives inside teddy bears and blowing them up is certainly funny (if the person doing it blows off some body part in the process, it is funnier. If he loses the family jewels, funny and eligible for a Darwin Award). But yes, I do love holidays. They are great times to relax and slow down to enjoy life. So, if you celebrate Easter or the arrival of Spring, have a happy and safe one.

You Are Easter

You are an optimistic, hopeful, and genuinely sweet person.
Sensitive and affectionate, you are easily touched.
You love nature, animals, and anything cute or cuddly.
For you, every day is a new chance - no matter what happened yesterday.

What makes you celebrate: Almost anything. You love most holidays and celebrations.

At holiday get togethers, you do best as: The peacemaker. You can prevent any squabbles that might break out.

On a holiday, you're the one most likely to: Remember to include everyone

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, one of scifi's finest, dies

With the passing of Arthur C. Clarke, the triumvirate of Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein is now gone. Those three were seen by many as the great three in science fiction. Find the story in MSNBC here. Find the New York Times obituary here. Like Heinlein, I liked some of Clarke's works better than others. I read Childhood's End, which I remember liking. I strongly disliked Rendezvous with Rama, which I found boring. Yea, I know, that is probably sacrilege to some fans, but there you have it. I enjoyed a lot of his short fiction better I think. However, one cannot deny the talent and great influence that Clarke had not only in science fiction but in science and technology as well. Rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

So now we have to watch what we read too?

The next time some conservative person says to you, "there is no censorship in the United States," do feel free to point them to this article about Keith Sampson, IUPUI worker, who was reprimanded and forbidden from reading a book during his free time. It is clear that censorship, spurred by ignorance, is alive and well. That it happened in Indiana, where I lived prior to moving to Texas only makes me ashamed there are such ignorant people there.

In brief, Mr. Sampson was reading Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan in the employee break room during his break time from his custodial work at IUPUI. This was, again, during his break time. A couple of oversensitive busybodies complained that Mr. Sampson's reading was harassing them. Here are some of the ignorant highlights of the story:

  • "Sampson recalls that his AFSCME shop steward told him that reading a book about the Klan was like bringing pornography to work. The shop steward wasn’t interested in hearing what the book was actually about."
  • "Another time, a coworker who was sitting across the table from Sampson in the break room commented that she found the Klan offensive. Sampson says he tried to tell her about the book, but she wasn’t interested in talking about it."
  • The Affirmative Action Office on campus got involved after "a coworker had filed a racial harassment complaint against him for reading Notre Dame vs. the Klan in the break room. Sampson says he tried to explain to Watkins what the book was about. He says he tried to show her the book, but that Watkins showed no interest in seeing it." Watkins is the AAO Officer.
And you may be wondering what this heinous book is all about. According to the article:

"The book is about how for two days in May 1924, a group of Notre Dame students got into a street fight with members of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan was meeting in South Bend for the express purpose of sticking a collective thumb in the eye of the country’s most famous Catholic university. Notre Dame vs. the Klan was a Notre Dame Magazine 'Pick of the Week' and garnered an average customer review of 4.5 stars on In its review, The Indiana Magazine of History noted that Tucker 'succeeds in placing the event in a broad framework that includes the origins and development of both the Klan and Notre Dame.'”

Indiana has a very notorious history of being a hotbed for the Klan. I lived there long enough to learn that and of the efforts to get rid of the Klan. This book is basically a part of that history. Mr. Sampson, an avid reader, was basically engaging in his desire to educate himself as well as just doing some good reading. The fact that certain people clearly have no clue and refused to even listen highlights the need for books like these.

Then again, those ignorant busybodies should be minding their own business. After all, what the guy is reading on his free time is none of their concern. If Mr. Sampson had actually been reading pornography, which obviously the shop steward can't tell what it is, then this would be a different story. While Mr. Sampson certainly has a right to read his porn, he does not have it at the workplace. Fine, but this book is not pornography. The shop steward is simply a close-minded person who clearly can't tell a history book when he sees one. Maybe he should read one now and then. And may we also suggest the coworker educate himself or herself better as well before flying of the handle and engaging in ignorant self-righteousness?

But since the complaint was made, one would think the AAO would have been able to make a distinction and put a stop to the nonsense. Oh no. Instead, they go along with the aforementioned nonsense and in the process deny Mr. Sampson his due process rights as well. Not that he did anything wrong, but still, not even a chance to explain himself. That is definitely the type of behavior one would expect in an institution of higher learning. Yea, right. That this happened in a university where the free flow of ideas should be the norm is simply shameful.

I know I will be adding the book to my reading list now. Even the book's author has come to Mr. Sampson's defense. And I can only hope the author gets a few more sales out of this, and that maybe IUPUI learns something in the process.

Story found via FIRE's site here.

Update Note (6/4/08): The Heretical Librarian points to reports that the university, under pressure from the ACLU and FIRE, dropped the charges. Not that there should have been charges in the first place. So much for an institution of higher learning. Kind of makes me ashamed I got my LIS at IU (I went to Bloomington, but still, IUPUI is part of the same system).

Monday, March 10, 2008

Put whatever the hell you want on your bookshelf

See if I care. OK, allow me to explain. Recently there was a column in Inside Higher Ed, "Bookshelf and Self," discussing another column, "The Unabridged Rules of Library Management," and a small Klein blog post, which led me think a little. Let me put in plain English: there are no rules. Keep whatever books you want on your bookshelves. If you actually have time to come up with petty little rules with corollaries, you probably have too much time on your hands. May I suggest you read some more of what is on the shelf?

Seriously folks. I think you should keep the books that make you happy. I think Klein suggested about your shelves reflecting the kind of person you want to be. That's not bad advice, just don't come to my house and look into my workstation. It may make you wonder what kind of person I am or aspire to be. For a while, I was drafting a post on how I organize my books at home, but it got longer than I intended since, when it comes to my workstation, I do keep some arrangement. But in terms of what goes where, most everything is eligible. Have I read it? It can go on the shelf. Not read it yet? Put it in too, I'll get to it (or at least I hope I will). Read what you like, and keep what you like as well. I do believe that you can tell a lot about a person by the books they read and/or keep. From being laid back to being a pretentious snob, you can tell from their books. At least from the ones you see. In my case at least, I have a few in closed cabinet (mostly ones I would not like my child to find just yet). So hey, it's your bookshelves, put what you want on it.

Songs from my high school senior year

I saw this meme over at A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy, and I held on to it for a while. Life and all, you know. Anyhow, here we go. My year is 1988, and this is the list of top songs at the time.

Bold= Loved it.
Italics= Liked
Strikeout = Hated it.

And my addition:

Left the same (unmarked) = blah (indifferent. Usually a song that was either ok, or one I just don't care enough to even hate it.)

The list:

1. Faith, George Michael
2. Need You Tonight, INXS
3. Got My Mind Set On You, George Harrison (what can I say? Catchy tune, at least back then)
4. Never Gonna Give You Up, Rick Astley
5. Sweet Child O' Mine, Guns N' Roses
6. So Emotional, Whitney Houston (liked it back then. These days, I can barely stand Whitney Houston. Goes to show tastes do change)
7. Heaven Is A Place On Earth, Belinda Carlisle
8. Could've Been, Tiffany
9. Hands To Heaven, Breathe
10. Roll With It, Steve Winwood
11. One More Try, George Michael (I remember this was popular for slow dancing back then)
12. Wishing Well, Terence Trent d'Arby
13. Anything For You, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine (meh. I sort of liked MSM and Gloria back then. Sort of lukewarm now).
14. The Flame, Cheap Trick (I actually heard them in concert while I was in undergrad).
15. Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car, Billy Ocean
16. Seasons Change, Expose
17. Is This Love, Whitesnake (Cool video. I liked some of their harder music better like "Heat of the Night.").
18. Wild, Wild West, Escape Club
19. Pour Some Sugar On Me, Def Leppard (still love Def Leppard. Any song pretty much works for me).
20. I'll Always Love You, Taylor Dayne (Actually, when I think of Taylor, it's not Dayne I think about but Taylor Wane, the adult star. Go figure. Yes, my brain is weird like that sometimes. Then again, who'd you rather have, so to speak?)
21. Man In The Mirror, Michael Jackson (I like Jacko's music, but this is not his best)
22. Shake Your Love, Debbie Gibson
23. Simply Irresistible, Robert Palmer
24. Hold On To The Nights, Richard Marx
25. Hungry Eyes, Eric Carmen
26. Shattered Dreams, Johnny Hates Jazz
27. Father Figure, George Michael
28. Naught Girls (Need Love Too), Samantha Fox (silly song, but funny)
29. A Groovy Kind Of Love, Phil Collins
30. Love Bites, Def Leppard
31. Endless Summer Nights, Richard Marx
32. Foolish Beat, Debbie Gibson
33. Where Do Broken Hearts Go, Whitney Houston
34. Angel, Aerosmith
35. Hazy Shade Of Winter, Bangles (I also saw them in concert as an undergrad. This show I liked a lot better).
36. The Way You Make Me Feel, Michael Jackson (still not his best)
37. Don't Worry, Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin (I don't really hate a lot of songs. This one I hate with a passion.)
38. Make Me Lose Control, Eric Carmen (I had not heard it in a while. Cool)
39. Red Red Wine, UB40 (I thought it was just annoying as hell, like a loud whine.)
40. She's Like The Wind, Patric Swayze
41. Bad Medicine, Bon Jovi
42. Kokomo, Beach Boys
43. I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That, Elton John
44. Together Forever, Rick Astley
45. Monkey, George Michael
46. Devil Inside, INXS
47. Should've Known Better, Richard Marx (meh. It was ok).
48. I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love, Chicago
49. The Loco-Motion, Kylie Minogue (sort of like it, but since it has become one of those wedding staples, sort of annoying now. I do like Kylie Minogue overall.).
50. What Have I Done To Deserve This?, Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield
51. Make It Real, Jets (I barely remember this, even listening to it now.)
52. What's On Your Mind, Information Society
53. Tell It To My Heart, Taylor Dayne (I like this one slightly better than the other one above.)
54. Out Of The Blue, Debbie Gibson
55. Don't You Want Me, Jody Watley
56. Desire, U2
57. I Get Weak, Belinda Carlisle
58. Sign Your Name, Terence Trent d'Arby (Not bad, just one I don't recall much)
59. I Want To Be Your Man, Roger (don't recall this one either)
60. Girlfriend, Pebbles
61. Dirty Diana, Michael Jackson (see note above. Still not his best)
62. 1-2-3, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine
63. Mercedes Boy, Pebbles
64. Perfect World, Huey Lewis and the News
65. New Sensation, INXS
66. Catch Me (I'm Falling), Pretty Poison
67. If It Isn't Love, New Edition(ah, the boy bands, even then, sort of blah)
68. Rocket 2 U, Jets
69. One Good Woman, Peter Cetera
70. Don't Be Cruel, Cheap Trick
71. Candle In The Wind, Elton John
72. Everything Your Heart Desires, Daryl Hall and John Oates
73. Say You Will , Foreigner
74. I Want Her, Keith Sweat
75. Pink Cadillac, Natalie Cole
76. Fast Car, Tracy Chapman (this is one my wife likes as well.)
77. Electric Blue, Icehouse
78. The Valley Road, Bruce Hornsby and The Range
79. Don't Be Cruel, Bobby Brown
80. Always On My Mind, Pet Shop Boys
81. Piano In The Dark, Brenda Russell Featuring Joe Esposito (I don't think this one made it to my circles back then, so to speak. It's ok though now that I've heard it).
82. When It's Love, Van Halen
83. Don't Shed A Tear, Paul Carrack
84. We'll Be Together, Sting
85. I Hate Myself For Loving You, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
86. I Don't Want To Live Without You, Foreigner
87. Nite And Day, Al B. Sure (apparently this one did not make it either, so to speak.)
88. Don't You Know What The Night Can Do, Steve Winwood
89. One Moment In Time, Whitney Houston
90. Can't Stay Away From You, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine
91. Kissing A Fool, George Michael
92. Cherry Bomb, John Cougar Mellencamp (overall, you can never go wrong with Mellencamp).
93. I Still Believe, Brenda K. Starr
94. I Found Someone, Cher
95. Never Tear Us Apart, INXS
96. Valerie, Steve Windwood
97. Just Like Paradise, David Lee Roth
98. Nothin' But A Good Time, Poison
99. Wait, White Lion
100. Prove Your Love, Taylor Dayne (I like this one better than her other song)

The list comes from this site. If you want to do a different year, and you use the link, easiest way is simply to use the search box typing "top songs" and the year; it will get you a link. For stuff I did not recall off the top of my head, YouTube worked quite well, except for one song. It was interesting to look them up and go, "oh yea, I remember that now." I should clarify, since I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, I missed a couple in favor of the Latin Music that was popular back then as well. Rock and pop were popular, still are, back in Puerto Rico, but so are the sounds of salsa, merengue, and now reggaeton for instance. Result is I have a very eclectic music taste. Maybe a list of Latin music for next time? Who knows. In the meantime, I will be adding a few of these to my favorites list in YouTube.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Libraries banning sex offenders?

Here is the story: Mayor of Albuquerque signs executive order banning sex offenders from libraries.

A hat tip to LISNews, where some of the comments are worth a look, if for no other reason than to see a few more knee-jerk hysterical reactions.

Here is my take folks. When it comes to sex offenders, I have no tolerance whatsoever. Having said that, I think a little common sense should apply. I also think we should end the hypocrisy. Allow me to explain.

The hypocrisy lies in society pretending that sex abusers don't exist, and when they do appear, that you can simply give them some light punishment, then simply make them vanish after their sentence. You can't hide a problem by closing your eyes, and this is a perfect example of trying to cover the sky with your hand. People who abuse children sexually are among the most hideous criminals. Even other convicts hate them. Society hates them, and with a good reason for they prey on the most innocent in our society. So, if the crime is so grave, as some advocates would have us believe, then you should treat it accordingly. In other words, you think it ranks up there with murder, well, give them the same sentence as murderers. Put them away for 20 to 50 years. Period. No negotiation on this one. No possibility of parole. Anyone who destroys the life of a child should be given the harshest penalty possible. So, to legislators, activists, and other interested parties, have the guts to admit there is a problem and act accordingly. Increase sentencing times and make sure they stick. None of that nonsense of a 20 year sentence, and the guy gets out in five or so for good behavior. He or she serves the whole thing. And this leads me to the next point.

Once a person has served their sentence, they are done. Their debt to society as society has determined has been paid. It means that, whether we like it or not, these people have paid for their crime, and it is time to let it go. They have a right now to remake their lives and get back into society. This includes trying to get a job, find a place to live, and many of the other things we take for granted. For many of them, the public library may well be the place where they go to find some information on said jobs or housing, or maybe find some solace. Should they be hanging around children? Probably not, but again, see my point above. If you don't want them out, maybe you should keep them locked up for longer periods of time. Otherwise, they served their time, it's time to cut them a break. Otherwise, you are simply just adding to a problem by increasing the actual risk the offender may actually offend again. If society gave its sentence, and that sentence has been paid, then it is time to stop being hypocrites by saying, "well, you went to jail, but we still want to ostracize you and punish you more." That is pretty much punishing the person twice. Like or not, those people have rights as well. As a society, we should be better than that.

Now, some may point to the sex offender registry. OK, let's look at that. It is common knowledge that all sorts of offenses will get you on the registry. Anything from actually raping a five year old boy to someone mooning a bunch of strangers for fun. Common sense has not been something found in sex offender registries. Basically, and this adds to the hypocrisy in society, we are equating the two teens who have consensual sex in the back of a car, who had the bad luck to get caught by some overzealous adult, with the monster who rapes his little daughter. The first case should be, at the most, a slap on the wrist; the second should be a very long sentence in a supermax with no parole. This would seem like common sense, but the crusaders who usually yell "think of the children" usually react out of a hysterical moment instead of actually thinking. And of course, legislators and judges who want to be seen as tough on crime to get reelected go along without thinking as well. So, if you are going to use an offender registry, at least have the honesty to make it work and to put in it the people who ought to be in it. Until that actually happens, you can't come with a straight face and say that the list is an effective tool. And until you can prove the list has been made an effective tool, you are not displaying justice.

Which then takes us back to the library. There are a lot of things that no one taught me or told me in library school. Being a police figure is certainly one of them. Yet here is the mayor of a major city, clearly acting in a hysterical fashion, banning a whole group of people from the library under the war cry of "let's save the children." Well, for one, the children would be safe if the parents actually did their job of watching them when they take them to the library. It is not the librarians' job to act as babysitters or "in loco parentis." That's what parents are supposed to do. No stranger is going to nab a kid with the parent right next to them; it ain't happening, and I challenge anyone to prove otherwise. And, if it is the parent who is the offender, this measure will not do anything since the parent can simply do his or her deed at home. See where I am headed with this? The mayor is not really solving anything other than making himself feel good by acting tough. Not to mention all of a sudden he is making librarians and library workers do a job for which they are not qualified, nor is something that they should be doing.

And for those who say, "you bleeding liberal, you want an offender in a library or a school?," reread my first paragraph. You don't want them out there? Keep them locked up. And in the most heinous cases, I will go a step further. I say the death penalty should definitely be on the table just for such extremes. Now, if those who use the "bleeding liberal" label are not actually working for things like increasing sentences and treating the crimes as they should, then they should shut up. Pure and simple. Because hysterical rantings while pretending that somehow sex offenders will simply disappear are not going to solve the problem. Banning them from the library will not solve the problem either, even if it makes a nice feel good measure, and it may end up violating their rights since society, once it let them out of prison, basically told them they can rejoin society.

So, stop the hypocrisy and use some common sense. Then again, politicians are not known for common sense, are they?

Crime novels read? Not a whole lot.

Crime fiction is not one of my favorite genres, so I rarely read it. I like a few things, but very few. Here is a list I found via Ruminations of 50 Best Crime Novels. The list follows, with the ones I have read bolded. I am just doing the exercise and posting the list. Who knows? I may discover something new to read. So, to my two readers. Anyone out there read crime fiction? Any recommendations on what to read or avoid? Feel free to comment.

So, the list then (with any comments of mine added)

GK Chesterton - The Complete Father Brown (1986)
Arthur Conan Doyle - The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) (I have read all the Sherlock Holmes works by Conan Doyle, and a good number of the creative extensions).
Edgar Allan Poe - The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841)
Ed McBain - King’s Ransom (2003)
Kyril Bonfiglioli - The Mortdecai Trilogy (1991)
James Ellroy - The Black Dahlia (1987)
Janwillem van der Wetering - Outsider in Amsterdam (1975)
Carl Hiaasen - Double Whammy (1987)
Dashiell Hammett - The Maltese Falcon (1930) (I have read some of his short fiction)
Dan Kavanagh - The Duffy Omnibus (1991)
Margery Allingham - The Tiger in the Smoke (1952)
Charles Dickens - Bleak House (1852-3) (I have read Dickens, which I detest now. Reason I detest it is I had to teach Great Expectations to 9th graders. It was their required novel. Not Dickens's best, and certainly not very interesting to kids that age no matter what the curriculum "experts" say. The experience basically soured me on Dickens.)
Georges Simenon - The Yellow Dog (1931)
Agatha Christie - Peril at End House (1932) (I have not read this one, but I have read a couple other Poirot mysteries. My mother loves Agatha Christie, so her liking it led me to explore the works. I have read The ABC Murders and Murder on the Orient Express. However, I don't like Miss Marple).
Wilkie Collins - The Moonstone (1868)
Jonathan Latimer - The Fifth Grave (1941)
Ruth Rendell - The Water’s Lovely (2006)
Ngaio Marsh - Vintage Murder (1937)
Benjamin Black (a.k.a. John Banville!) - Christine Falls (2006)
John Dickson Carr - The Hollow Man (1935)
Michael Innes - The Weight of the Evidence (1943)
Raymond Chandler - Farewell, My Lovely (1940) (Again, an author I have read their short fiction)
Friedrich D├╝rrenmatt - The Pledge (1958)
Michael Gilbert - Even Murderers Take Holidays and other Mysteries (2007)
Donald Westlake - What’s So Funny? (2007)
Colin Bateman - Wild About Harry (2001)
Frances Fyfield - The Art of Drowning (2006)
Reginald Hill - Good Morning Midnight (2004) (Never read it. One of the librarians when I was in library school was a big fan of this author, which is why the name sticks with me.)
Andrea Camilleri - The Patience of the Spider (2007)
Henning Mankell - Sidetracked (1999)
Patricia Highsmith - The Talented Mr Ripley (1955)
James Lee Burke - Black Cherry Blues (1989)
Jim Thompson - The Getaway (1959)
Walter Mosley - Devil in a Blue Dress (1991)
Denise Mina - Garnethill (1999)
Steig Larsson - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2008)
Ronald Knox - The Viaduct Murder (1925)
EC Bentley - Trent’s Last Case (1913)
Lawrence Block - All the Flowers Are Dying (2005)
Edmund Crispin - Holy Disorders (1945)
William McIlvanney - Laidlaw (1977)
George V Higgins - The Rat on Fire (1981)
Dorothy L Sayers - Five Red Herrings (1931)
Anthony Boucher - The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars (1940) (I know him better from his scifi short fiction, which I have read).
Mickey Spillane - I, the Jury (1947) (I love Spillane: his Mike Hammer is hard, tough, and no nonsense).
James Grady - Six Days of the Condor (1974)
George Pelecanos - The Big Blowdown (1996)
Robert Crais - The Watchman (2007)
John Lawton - Black Out (1995)
Elmore Leonard - Maximum Bob (1991)

Yea, I know: three is pretty dismal. Oh well, maybe I will try something new soon.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Gygax goes on his final quest

Gary Gygax, co-creator of the RPG Dungeons and Dragons died yesterday at the age of 69. Salon offers a story here. I was one of those kids long ago who discovered role playing games with the original Dungeons & Dragons set. Back then, I ran a campaign with some friends and cousins. I have not played recently, but it has been mostly lack of time. It probably added fuel to my interest in reading and learning about fantasy and mythology. In addition to the games, he did write some fantasy fiction. I read some of his Greyhawk ages ago. Maybe it's time I see if I can find them again.

Thanks for your creations and the memories Mr. Gygax.

Update Note (3/17/08): The New York Times published a nice obituary article on Gary Gygax. Makes me want to go buy myself a new AD&D set.