Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Quiz: Halloween 2008 edition

What would a Friday be here at The Itinerant Librarian if it did not have a quiz or two? I cannot disappoint my two readers, so here we go:

First, what does my favorite candy say about me?

What Your Love of Twix Says About You

You are a generous and caring person. You are soft hearted.

You're the type who needs a partner. You just don't feel right on your own.

You are more fragile than outward appearances would suggest.

You tend to be a pushover. You are very sensitive and easy to break.

I don't know about the pushover part, though I often do find it hard to say "no" to some people. And here is one more:

You Are a Vampire

You are charming, sensual, and even a bit manipulative.

You can't help but get people to do what you want.

You have sharp senses and a strong predatory instinct.

You go after what you want, without mercy.

While you have the heart of a killer, many people are drawn to you.

You are elegant, timeless, and mysterious. You are the ultimate fantasy object.

I will admit I liked that result, since I like vampires a bit better than werewolves. In fact, I have dressed up as a vampire in the past. This year I am going out as a devil, hehe.

A hat tip to Liz at Library Tavern for pointing these out.

A post for Halloween 2008

Tonight is Halloween. I'll be going out tonight to take the little one to trick or treat in the early evening, and yes, I will be in costume myself. Now that I got my early voting out of the way, I can go enjoy the night. By the way, if you are in Texas, today is the last day of early voting. If you are registered to vote and live here, dang it, go vote today.

Anyhow, for the amusement of my two readers, here are some links and fun things I have found around the Internet to help you celebrate Halloween:

So, have a Happy and Safe Halloween. If you go out, watch out for the little ones who may be out trick or treating. If you drink, please do so in moderation, and please, please, if you drank too much, pass the keys and don't drive (or call a cab or crash on a couch).

Oh, and since we can't seem to get away from thinking about the economy, here is a spooky thought:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Number of homeless growing, or why homeless jokes bother me

Recently, I posted about a story in our local campus paper where they made a little joke about homeless people and dumspter diving. I saw this article in the USA Today on "Homeless numbers 'alarming,'" and I knew why that joke bothered me. The number of homeless in this country is growing, and it is not just the stereotypical "bums" and "winos" we think about often. As Wendy Koch's article points out, a lot of the new homeless are people who suddenly found themselves in dire straits. Often they are renters with a landlord that had the house or building foreclosed. The renters did nothing wrong; they paid their rent on time, so on, but through no fault of their own find themselves on the street. So, are we as a society expecting them, and many other homeless, often families with children, to simply go dumpster diving? Now some readers may say that the article deals with big cities, so it is obvious they will have homeless. But, we can look at these people as the canary in the mine. Guess where the situation may end up happening next? If you guessed smaller cities and towns, give yourself a prize. According to the article:

"'Everywhere I go, I hear there is an increase' in the need for housing aid, especially for families, says Philip Mangano, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates federal programs. He says the main causes are job losses and foreclosures."

This will get worse before it gets better. As the old saying goes, for those of you with more of a spiritual persuasion, "there but for the grace of God go I." What also moves me when I see pieces like these in newspapers like USA Today that allow reader comments is the constant lack of compassion. No sense of common good whatsoever from people who, though they claim to be much better off, I am willing to be if they used their real names, we would find out they are really a step away from a financial disaster themselves. And therein lies a lot of what is wrong with this nation these days. There is no sense that, when we help out those who are less fortunate, we are in reality helping out ourselves and all of us. Because, if the economic forecasts and numbers are any indication, things will get worse before they get better; today we had reports of the GDP decreasing as "Economy flashes recession signal" from USA Today. Even the rich are finding, according to Andrea Stone for USA Today too, that "Luxurious lifestyles take a hit." Now, I am sure the folks that merely have to trade in their expensive facelift for botox are not going to be homeless anytime soon, but I hope the picture is becoming clearer. If you still have a roof over your head and food on your table, consider yourself fortunate (thank your deity of choice if need be). The next time you could be the one on the street. Thus, show some compassion and human decency for a change. Just a thought.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tips for avoiding trouble or hassles when voting

I posted this to my Facebook feed, but I think you can't disseminate it enough. The ACLU's blog has provided a small list of things to do to avoid trouble when voting. Doing everything may not guarantee everything will go smooth, but it will likely help. Here is the list in brief:

  1. Check your voter registration status as soon as possible.
  2. Vote before Election Day if you can.
  3. Locate your polling place before Election Day.
  4. Plan ahead if you need special assistance.
  5. Don’t wear political attire to the polls.
  6. Bring some form of identification if you have it.
  7. Vote early in the day.
  8. Follow all instructions.
  9. Ask for help if you need it.
  10. Take your time.
A lot of this is common sense folks. By now, unless you live in one of those states that let you register on Election Day, you should be registered. Make sure you are indeed registered. Do find your polling place if you plan to vote on the same day. Go read their post so you can get more details.

Solution to the financial crisis: dumpster diving

It is not very often I pay attention to the student campus newspaper. If there is anything that I have learned from working in higher education for a few years now in different campuses is to keep my expectations low when it comes to a student campus newspaper. So, like a good librarian I scan it since this is often a source of information for what is happening on the campus. Otherwise, I tend to skip. However, this week's issue of our paper, the Patriot Talon, had an opinion piece that caught my eye. It mostly caught my eye because it seemed something between a tasteless joke and some degree of ignorance. The piece in question is the opinion piece by Fields-Thomas on "Have No Fear; financial meltdown solution is clear." Sure, it is clear the author is making light of the situation, and hey, I am the first to appreciate a joke or two over the financial mess certain people have put the country in. However, it's her "advice" which does not necessarily come across as very funny, and at least in one example, it is clearly insensitive. Under her checklist for "procuring a financially stable future," she writes:


At least stop eating inside the restaurants. Try your hand at dumpster diving in the back of the building. The homeless have been doing it for years, and trust me it will not kill you. Although, when you’re done you may believe you’re dying."

I don't know about the rest of my two readers, or anyone else for that matter, but I don't think making a joke at the expense of the homeless reflects well on the paper or the author of the opinion piece. In fact, the "joke" is reminiscent of the same insensitive attitude that Northwest Airlines displayed a couple of years ago when they were having layoffs. Northwest decided to send a little guide for money saving and economizing to their workers, a good number of which were getting laid off through no fault of their own. You can likely find the story in a few places if you Google it. Here is a link to it from the Washington Post written by Michelle Singletary. Now, Northwest may have been insensitive, but at least they were a bit more coy in their "advice:"

"Don't be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash."

That's how Northwest phrased it. It's still dumpster diving, but at least it pretends to just be "you are pulling something out of the trash" as opposed to "dumpster diving" which is something "the homeless have been doing for years." We have enough of a problem in this country with homeless and their plight without one of our students, who probably should know better, making light of it. Maybe instead of using the homeless for a cheap joke, some education might be in order. For starters, I would suggest a visit to the National Coalition for the Homeless website. If you go under the link for publications, you will find various sources of accurate information, and if you go under FactSheets, you find a variety of brief resources that will provide a serious overview of the issue. I know Tyler is not the most diverse of towns, but I know there are some homeless in Smith County; I am sure folks working for organizations like Tyler Path or the East Texas Rescue Mission will be able to have a say on the matter. And, given that these days, many homeless are actually "couch homeless," one of those homeless persons could be a student right here at UT Tyler, and one would never know it.

The bottom line: advising people to quit eating out, or at least, eat out less often is probably a good idea. "Advising them" to go dumpster diving because the homeless have been doing it for years certainly is not funny, and it clearly is tasteless, showing a certain lack of compassion.

And I am not even going to touch what Fields-Thomas said about global warming. Not that funny either, but I am only doing one issue at a time. You folks can go look at it if you want.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why Atheists care about your (oppressive) religion

Or I could have called this post, why I pretty much have no use for organized religion, its oppressive promotion of ignorance, bigotry, war, repression, etc. However, I think the young lady, user gogreen18, says it a lot better than I could. So, have a look (and any religious nuts out there can keep the flames to themselves).

A tip of the hat to Pharyngula.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I guess advertising for a burrito is not way to raise college revenue

Folks, once again I get another chance to make light of colleges trying to use advertising and corporatization to make some money. I have done this before here (which has links to other times I have made light of the issue). This time the story deals with a professor who was advertising for a burrito restaurant. The restaurant in question basically paid for advertising space in the professor's class. Actually, given the scheme, I don't think it was terribly disruptive to the educational process. Here is how it was supposed to work out:

Kyle Volk, an assistant professor of history, placed stickers promoting El Diablo on a syllabus for “The Americas: Conquest to Capitalism,” his survey course covering American history to 1896, with an enrollment of 250. He also mentioned the restaurant by name during class, and projected its logo on a screen.

Now, that does not sound like a big deal. It's kind of like saying, "this class is brought to you by El Diablo Restaurant, makers of fine burritos" or something like that. And besides, Dr. Volk was being resourceful. His department ran out of funds for paper and copier toner, so he did what a lot of entrepreneurial Americans do: he sold ad space. If Dr. Volk would have been in the business school, instead of the history department, this probably would not have been an issue. The department would have been funded just fine. But even if he did do it in the business school, my guess is he would have been praised for his ingenuity and his sense of entrepreneurship. I bet his initiative would have been taught in other business classes as a good business model. Hey, selling ad space works for MySpace, Facebook, The New York Times and even Google. So it ought to work for academia, right? Unfortunately, our dear doctor works in the humanities, where they have a bit more concern about not selling out. And since administrators often have little concern for the humanities, departments like Dr. Volk's run out of supplies to teach their classes. So, you can't advertise in textbooks apparently, and now you can't even place an ad for a burrito in your classes either.

Damn, and here I was thinking that I could sell some ad space during my BI sessions at the library to help with the funding issues. Think about it. We could sell space for things like coffee (Starbucks), food (pizza), computers (pick your brand, though our campus I believe contracts with Dell), and so on. Heck, I could even advertise burritos (Taco Bueno and Taco Bell, not to mention a few Tex Mex places, can be found in town. I am sure I could get a good deal). And it could work out pretty easy. I could put a small logo on any pathfinders I use for BI (sticker if print, or online for websites). I could feature the business's logo at the start and end of the session with a small mention, then move on. And we could raise some much needed funds. It's not like the university is giving us a whole lot of anything for materials.

And by the way, advertising in a class called "The Americas: Conquest to Capitalism" practically means the jokes write themselves. One of the commenters over at the story asked why should the athletic departments get all the sponsors? Something to ponder.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Political objectives test

Well folks, we made it to another Friday, and a new month. For the two readers of my blogs, they may have noticed that blogging over at The Gypsy Librarian fell off last month. Work has been busy for one, extremely so. And two, to be honest, librarianship has not been too exciting; it seems the blogs in that sector pretty much rehash the same thing, so I have been tuning a lot of them out to be perfectly honest. Add to that the fact the political climate is just not good, which adds to my general malaise, and it is a miracle I have been blogging at all. Anyhow, since we are in political season, with the election about a month away, here is the Friday quiz. This one was not too bad in terms of the result I got. While it may paint me as a bit more permissive than I usually view myself as, overall, not bad. For instance, while I do support private enterprise, I do support regulation as well. That some folks still think we should just let the markets do what they will without any oversight after the current debacle is just plain wrong. But I digress. Anyhow, have a good Friday folks. And with the new month, I hope we can get back to a more regular blogging routine.

The results then:

Your Score: Progressive

You scored 64 Equality, 78 Liberty, and 21 Stability!

Your commitment to both liberty and equality makes you a blend of the Liberal and the Socialist. For you liberty and equality are two parts of the same condition. Everyone has to be free to pursue their own way-of-life but in order for that to happen everyone must start with a similar basic standard of living.

You value liberty particularly in cultural and personal life. You also value government intervention to promote equity in economic life while still supporting private enterprise. If this is too bland for you then try the Radical on for size.

Link: The Political Objectives Test written by Originaluddite on OkCupid Free Online Dating

A hat tip to Liz at the Library Tavern.